Be a Solution-Seeker: A Review of Girls Who Green the World: Thirty-four Rebel Women Out to Save Our Planet

Girls Who Green the World: Thirty-four Rebel Women Out to Save Our Planet
Diana Kapp
Illustrated by Ana Jarén
Penguin Random House, Delacorte Press
April 5, 2022
Ages 12 and up

In a news cycle (and world) seemingly full of climate disasters, we need stories of women stepping up to fight them more than ever. In Girls Who Green the World, journalist Diana Kapp profiles 34 problem-solvers engaged in this work. They are environmental superheroes and these are their origin stories. No two are the same, with women of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels—from students to Fortune 500 executives—and their personal moments of bravery and inspiration. Mary Anne Hitt spends her time and passion fighting against new coal plants and closing existing ones. Komal Ahmad is tackling “the world’s biggest problem”—food waste at restaurants and facilities while neighbors fight hunger. And Jannice Newson and Nana Britwum, who combined their STEM know-how and conservationist drive to create braids with fiber extracted from invasive plant material. Through interviews with these problem solvers, Kapp uncovers their motivations, successes, and failures with hope, humor, and compassion for their struggles. Each profile begins with a “get to know you” Q&A before exploring each woman’s journey from problem to action. Facts about the associated issues and action-items are included throughout and provide both shock value (“… humans produce 320 lbs. of waste per person, per year.” (36)) and a way to channel outrage to outcomes. Spanish fashion illustrator Ana Jarén brings each woman to life with vibrant and detailed hand-drawn portraits that glow with personality. Her interstitial illustrations help to lighten the tone with color and whimsy. A final “Now What?” chapter encourages introspection before action, to move individuals from reader to changemaker. Kapp uses the chapter to offer inspiration and guidance toward a unique path rather than to preach.

A collected portrait of hope and motivation for tomorrow’s changemakers.

Brain Gain: A Review of Goodnight to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

Goodnight to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain
JoAnn Deak, PhD and Terrence Deak, PhD
Illustrated by Neely Daggett
Sourcebooks
April 5th, 2022
Ages 4+

In Good Night to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, we follow Brain, the pink walnut-looking organ in your head, starting with a brief and general explanation of what Brain does, and going through their nightly checklist, from development all the way through dreaming. With each task coming in the order they happen through a sleep cycle. As psychologists, the authors, Doctors JoAnn and Terrance Deak’s passion for the topic is evident. Using a tone of “isn’t the brain cool!” keeps the reader engaged and never talks down to them. Excelling when paired with a completely natural but potentially scary topic like REM paralysis that is part of dreaming. Illustrations by Neely Daggett are simple abstractions with implied details. For example, Brain has bumps along its edge letting the reader do the work of extrapolating the wrinkles in their mind without cluttering the illustrations. In diagrams, while not realistic, they show locations for different sections of the brain accurately, substituting the anthropomorphic brain for a clear cross-section in profile with colored highlights. The art and the writing use metaphors to explain brain processes to readers, using abstractions like stamping when creating memories and baths when Brain needs to clean themselves, to give children simple reasons to want to sleep. The journey through a sleep cycle wraps up with a reiteration that your brain is you, what happens if you don’t sleep well, and actionable advice on how to improve your sleep that is useful for everybody, not just children. One missing feature is a bibliography or a list of continued reading resources for those who want more.

An enthusiastic explainer made for kids who need a good reason to hit the hay.

Butler Bookshelf

This week’s Butler Bookshelf features recently released and coming soon titles! Once Upon Another Time is the beginning of the storybook character mixing trilogy of middle-grade novels by James Riley. Follow Jin, a young genie, and Lena, the kid of giants, as they try to stop the machinations of the Golden King! Check it out along with the other titles below!

How to Build a Human In Seven Evolutionary Steps
Written by Pamela S. Turner and Illustrated by John Gurche
Published by Charlesbridge
Available April 12th!

Once Upon Another Time
Written by James Riley
Published by Aladdin
Available today!

Planting a Garden in Room 6
Written by Caroline Arnold
Published by Charlesbridge
Available now!

Powwow Day
Written by Traci Sorell and Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight
Published by Charlesbridge
Available now!

She Gets the Girl
Written by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available today!

Smitten with Kittens
Written by Florence Minor and Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Published by Charlesbridge
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

This week’s Butler Bookshelf features recently released and coming soon titles! In Some Questions about Trees by Toni Yuly, an inquisitive child asks about the trees they see on their simply illustrated adventure. Check it out along with the other titles below!

Bristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree
Written by Alexander Siy and Illustrated by Marlo Garnsworthy
Published by Web of Life Children’s Books
Available June 19th, 2022!

The Fairy Garden
Written by Georgia Buckthorn and Illustrated by Isabella Mazzanti
Published by Ivy Kids
Available April 5th, 2022!

Little People, Big Dreams: Florence Nightingale
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available now!

Make This Book Wild
Written by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks and Illustrated by Anna Ivanir
Published by Wide Eye
Available now!

My World in 100 Words: My Garden
Illustrated by Marijke Buurlage
Published by Happy Yak
Available now!

Some Questions About Trees
Written and Illustrated by Toni Yuly
Published by Atheneum Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

Butler Bookshelf

This week’s Butler Bookshelf features recently released and coming soon titles! In Stella Keeps the Sun Up written by Clothilde Ewing and illustrated by Lynn Gaines, Stella schemes to keep the sun up so she never has a bedtime! She learns the benefits of sleeping and why going to bed is great. Check it out along with the other titles below!

Catalina Incognito
Written by Jennifer Torres and Illustrated by Gladys Jose
Published by Aladdin
Available now!

Darryl’s Dream
Written by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Shawnee, Johnny Warfield, and Adam Padilla. Illustrated by Tristan Tait
Published by King of Rock Publishing
Available now!

Emile and the Field
Written by Kevin Young and Illustrated by Choima Ebinama
Published by Make Me a World
Available April 15th!

Finn and the Subatomic Slip-and-Slide
Written by Micheal Buckley
Published by Delacorte Press
Available now!

Lady Icarus: Balloonomania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard
Written by Deborah Noyes
Published by Random House Studio
Available now!

Stella Keeps the Sun Up
Written by Clothhilde Ewing and Illustrated by Lynn Gaines
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Availible now!

Fact versus fiction: The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb

The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb
Candace Fleming
Scholastic
Available September 7, 2021
Ages 8-12

A pharaoh’s tomb—blessed or cursed, ransacked, then lost to sand and time. Until Lord Carnarvon, with money, enthusiasm and a gambling spirit, met Howard Carter with his meticulous methods and love of the hunt. Together they would make one of the most glorious and scientifically significant finds in Egyptian archeology—the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Chronicling the years leading up to the discovery and through Howard Carter’s death, Fleming digs into the shaky allegiances and scheming politics of archeology in Egypt, the colonialist role of the British, and the tragedies that plagued those associated with the venture. She subtly calls out the dichotomy between Carter’s painstaking scientific methodology for excavation and conservation, and his near total disregard for Tut’s human remains. The attention to photographing and labeling all the items and events, and only recording the names of the Europeans in the photos. Heavily based on source materials from those associated with the dig, including Carter’s notes, diaries, and books, the text moves from sympathy for his point of view to questioning his attention to anything other than his work, including the growing agitation for Egyptian self-rule. Interspersed through the chapters, “It was said” tales string together sensational stories attributed to the curse; including car accidents, dead pets, and fatal illnesses. And in something of an anti-climax, Fleming devotes just a few brief paragraphs to her conclusion: “There were no curses inscribed anywhere in Tutankhamun’s tomb.” (244) This recounting of the Carnarvon and Carter’s discovery, full of detailed photography, maps, and illustrations, ties a thorough timeline of actual events to a more melodramatic story of the curse.

*review based on printed ARC page numbering

In Memory of Mary Wilson: A Non-Review of We Are The Supremes—Friends That Change the World

We Are The Supremes—Friends That Change the World
Zoë Tucker, illustrated by Salini Perera
Wide Eyed Editions
January 12, 2021
Ages 5-8

Growing up in Metro Detroit, many a car ride started as a negotiation with my Dad. His radio was “stuck” on the golden oldies station, and we wanted to listen to—literally—anything else. Thanks to parental privilege, or poor negotiating skills, I had an early and frequent exposure to the Supremes. And it has taken quite a while for me to appreciate it.

I picked up Zoë Tucker and Salini Perera’s We Are The Supremes for a Black History Month book list. Just a week later, with the passing of Mary Wilson, I was distracted and plans changed. Their biography of the group begins when Wilson was a high school student on the east side of Detroit and just meeting aspiring singers Florence Ballard and Diana Ross. Tucker focuses on the girls’ friendship and perseverance in forming the Primettes (their original name), convincing Berry Gordy of Motown Records to sign them, and their rise to stardom against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Tucker leaves out, or glosses over, their difficult childhoods in the Brewster-Douglas Housing Project, most of the drama surrounding the coming and going of group members, and the racism they faced as black female musicians, but does include these themes in the back matter. The vibrant and graphic digital illustrations capture the 1950s aesthetic (saddle shoes and all) and follow them into the more glamorous 1960s look they are known for.

This high level look at the making of the Supremes might not have enough detail to work as a stand-alone title in the classroom, but would make an interesting addition to a Black History Month unit or an exploration of pop culture changing racial perceptions during the civil rights movement.

Looking for a deeper dive for YA and adult audiences? Or for more information on Mary Wilson’s activism and advocacy for the right of musicians to protect their names, songs, and reputations from being used without their consent (Truth in Music legislation). She also wrote several of her own books on her life and legacy: Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme; Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together; Supreme Glamour: The Inside Story of the Original Pop Fashionistas.

Thanks, Dad, for the introduction. And thank you, Mary Wilson, for keeping the Supremes alive for all of us.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’re eager to read a picture book on the Queen of Soul herself–Aretha Franklin! Author Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrator Laura Freeman take readers on a journey back to Aretha Franklin’s childhood and her rise to legendary status in A Voice Named Aretha. For more great reads, check out the list Below!

Arlo Finch in the Kingdom of Shadows
Written by John August
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Available now!

Machines in Motion: The Amazing History of Transportation
Written by Tom Jackson
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

Hop Little Bunnies
Written by Martha Mumford and illustrated by Laura Hughes
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

A Voice Named Aretha
Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

A Beginner’s Projects in Coding
Written by Marc Scott and illustrated by Mick Marston
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

A Way with Wild Things
Written by Larissa Theule and illustrated by Sara Palacios
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

 

What’s Bugging You?: A Review of Bugs Everywhere

Bugs Everywhere cover art

Bugs Everywhere
Lily Murray, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
Candlewick/Big Picture Press
April 7, 2020
Ages 4-8

Bugs really are everywhere, whether we like it or not! This fact-filled picture book for bug-lovers proves it, exploring a wide range of topics from their history, environments, feeding, survival, reproduction, and even their relationship with people—we need them, you know? Small, and often gross, bits of trivia make this title perfect for jumping in and out of, but might induce the curious to settle in for a long, squirm-inducing read. Did you know there are millions of species of bugs? That the cicada is the loudest insect in the world? That there are bugs that live on your face?!?

Lily Murray excels at boiling down the information into concise, yet fun facts that entomologists of all ages will love. Britta Teckentrup’s collage-like, digital illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle and provide a vibrant full-color backdrop to the details. The metallic foil accents and friendly lady bugs on the cover will draw in the reader and delightful, yet detailed illustrations will charm even the bug-shy. This will make an excellent and informative step-up for young fans of Carle’s bug books. Originally published in 2019 by King’s Road Publishing (London) under the title There Are Bugs Everywhere, this first US publication under the new title comes from Big Picture Press.

We’re All in This Together: A Review of One World, Many Colors

One World Many Colors cover art

One World, Many Colors
Ben Lerwill, illustrated by Alette Straathof
Quarto
Ages 5-7
Published March 17, 2020

 

What could be better than a trip around the world while we’re all trying to stay safe at home? Journey from a Paris bakery to a Vietnamese rice field, the peak of Mt. Everest to the streets of New York City. Travel writer Ben Lerwill guides this tour to explore the colors of the rainbow (well, most of them) and where one might find them the world over—comparing and contrasting the way white might look in the desert of Oman, on an Antarctic glacier, or the Sydney Opera House.

With visits to each continent, readers will discover the beauty of new places and cultures in this sophisticated exploration of the color spectrum. Each page gives just a snapshot (a peaceful Japanese garden or raucous Brazilian soccer stands), with spare text that often captures a unique aspect of the location. Alette Straathof’s detailed watercolor-pencil images (her signature medium) are a lovely counterpoint to the text, providing much to explore on each page. Her expressive faces and diverse crowds lend an additional layer of meaning to the title. The final spread, featuring a map of the world, provides an overview of the tour, a recap of the colors, and a timely reminder of the connection we share as inhabitants of this planet.