A Reading List for Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, here at the Butler Center, we’d like to highlight several 2020 publications that tell powerful, poignant and just plain fun stories about some of the many different African-American experiences. This list is by no means all that has been published in 2020. Instead, it is a sampling of several stories—from bedtime tales, to historical picture books, to family trauma, to the intersection of Black identity and sexuality. 

KingAndThe DragonFlies.jpgKing and the Dragon Flies
Written by Kacen Callender
Scholastic Press
Children’s Fiction
Available now!
Twelve-year-old Kingston James knows what everyone else does not: his older brother Khalid isn’t really dead—he’s turned into a dragonfly. King sees his brother in his dreams, but can’t tell anyone. Not his parents who are shut up in their grief, not his school mates who don’t know how to talk to him, not his best friend Sandy Sanders. Besides, King and Sandy aren’t friends, can’t be friends, because Sandy is gay. This is a stunning, hazy book set in small-town Louisiana, where one boy’s grief transports him into coming to terms with who he really is. Race, sexual identity, family trauma, and abuse all come together in a book that alternates between stark and hopeful. Kacen Callender writes on homophobia and toxic masculinity in the Black community, hard and tough topics, in a truly magical way. You can feel the heat rising off the page and hear the buzz of dragonfly wings in your ears. This is a must-read.

BedtimeFor SweetCreatures.jpgBedtime for Sweet Creatures
Written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published by Jabberwocky
Picture Book
Available now!
The nighttime struggle is real in this effervescent and vibrant bedtime tale. Nikki Grimes enchants the reader with a curious and imaginative story of parent and child going through their bedtime routine.  Grimes takes us through the cycle: denial of bedtime, acquiescing to bedtime with one’s favorite stuffed animal, the quest to find and banish all monsters, a before-bed story—and even a last-ditch glass of water! The difference between the typical bedtime routine and this story is Grimes’ imagination. The story is made even more enchanting with Elizabeth Zunon’s multicolored and surreal animals that gallop through the bedtime scenes. This is a lovely, warm book that elicits a smile and chuckle as you read it aloud.

Brave.Black.First.jpgBrave. Black. First.: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World
Written by Cheryl Willis Hudson and illustrated by Erin K. Robinson
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Non Fiction
Available now!
This book is published in partnership with curators from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and features iconic African American women from the 1700s to the present day. Each woman is depicted in a two-page illustrated spread, with birth and (if relevant) death information, as well as a choice quote, before several paragraphs of biographical data. Readers will surely recognize names of icons like Angela Davis, Simone Biles, and Harriet Tubman, but for younger folks, this may be the first time readers are exposed to women like Civil War army nurse Susie King Taylor or artist Elizabeth Catlett. This biography compilation is a beginner’s guide to the legacy of African American women in the United States and can serve as a stepping stone into more comprehensive information about individuals. This collection includes end-of-book resources to the profiled women, as well as guides to relevant artifacts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, notes from the author and illustrator, and overview of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

BlackIsARainbowColor.jpgBlack Is a Rainbow Color
Written by Angela Joy and illustrated by Euka Holmes
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Picture Book
Available now!
This picture book is a mediation about being Black in the United States; it is an anthem of people, culture, history, and legacy. A child reflects that while red, green, blue, yellow, orange, violet and indigo are rainbow colors, their color is black…and there’s no black in rainbows. But black is everywhere, from “a feather on white winter snow” (p. 3)  to “braids in my best friend’s hair (p. 5) to the “robe on Thurgood’s back” (p. 10) to “dreams and raisins.” (p. 13) Central moments in history, politics, literature, and music are referenced through the text and illustrations of this joyful and exploratory picture book. The illustrations by Euka Holmes carry historical weight, and the detailed images can prompt readers to ask questions. The book’s back matter includes an author’s note and playlist, as well as historical context to events referenced in the text. Several works of poetry alluded to in the picture book’s text are included, and a bibliography. The author also includes a timeline of Black ethnonyms in America, with notes on their development.

CleanGetaway.jpgClean Getaway
Written by Nic Stone
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Children’s Fiction
Available now!
What to do when spring break is canceled and you’re under house arrest by order of your dad? Go on an unsanctioned road trip with your grandma, of course! When Scoob’s G’ma pulls up to his front door in a new Winnebago and announces that he’s going to join her on an epic road trip, Scoob is thrilled. After getting in trouble at school, his spring break is canceled, and he’s basically grounded until further notice. But when G’ma hands him a copy of the Travelers’ Green Book and a treasure box full of memories, Scoob begins to wonder what being his grandmother’s co-pilot really means. Especially when she refuses to call his dad back to let him know where they are. And definitely when she tosses her cell phone at a rest stop. Nic Stone negotiates humor and family trauma against the segregationist history of the American South. Race is central to Scoob’s family story: Scoob is biracial, as is his father; Scoob’s G’ma is white. The road trip juxtaposes the trip G’ma took with Scoob’s grandpa with the present-day trip. While much has changed for the better, much has also stayed the same. This is a funny and poignant tale for younger readers.

ByandBy.jpgBy and By: Charles Albert Tindley the Father of Gospel Music
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Non Fiction Picture Book
Available now!
This exquisite picture book “sings out” the story of Charles Albert Tindley, who was born in 1851 in Maryland to an enslaved father and a free mother. Following the death of his mother, Tindley was hired out to work in the fields. There he heard the spirituals the enslaved workers sang, and it made him want to read the Gospel. Tindley taught himself to read from scraps of newspaper, later becoming a pastor who preached and sang the word of God. He eventually compiled many of his compositions into a hymnal and is considered the father of American gospel music. Carole Boston Weatherford introduces the story as a sermon inside a song, telling Tindley’s story in rhyming prose interspersed with lyrics from Tindley’s own compositions and African-American spirituals. Bryan Collier’s magnificent watercolor and collage images create both grounded and heavenly beauty on the page. Collier deliberately includes pieces of sheet music throughout the story’s pages, having it dance throughout the book. By and By’s additional resources include a list of songs used in the book, songs written by Tindley, as well as author and illustrator notes.

Butler Bookshelf

A graphic novel that centers women’s health and female friendship? Yes, please! Go With The Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann is just one of the fabulous books we received at the Butler Center this week. Check out the list below for more!

Snakes on the Job
Written and illustrated by Kathryn Dennis
Published by Feiwel and Friends
Available now!

Catching a Russian Spy: Agent Leslie G. Wiser Jr. and the Case of Aldrich Ames
Written by Bryan Denson
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Available now!

Hostile Territory
Written by Paul Greci
Published by Imprint
Available now!

Baby Shark!
Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Published by Henry Holt and Company
Available now!

My So-Called Superpowers: All the Feels
Written by Heather Nuhfer and illustrated by Simini Blocker
Published by Imprint
Available now!

Go With The Flow
Written and illustrated by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams
Published by First Second
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

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Here at the Butler Center, we know we’re so blessed to get copies of great reads before they hit bookstore and library shelves. But there are plenty of great reads that are available right now, like Nic Stone’s Clean Getaway. Road trips? Grandmas? Count us in! Check out this week’s Butler Bookshelf, for titles to anticipate and books to read today!

Wicked As You Wish
Written by Rin Chupeco
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Available on March 3, 2020

A Castle in the Clouds
Written by Kerstin Gier
Published by Henry Holt and Company
Available now!

Real Pigeons Fight Crime
Written by Andrew McDonald and illustrated by Ben Wood
Published by Random House
Available now!

Mañanaland
Written by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Published by Scholastic Press
Available on March 3, 2020

Sarah Bernhardt: The Divine and Dazzling Life of the World’s First Superstar
Written by Catherine Reef
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available on June 16, 2020

Clean Getaway
Written by Nic Stone
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

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Welcome to our first Butler Bookshelf of 2020! This year brings some great new reads, for history buffs and memoir lovers alike — plus, some cute alpaca action!

Where’s The Narwhal?
Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius
Published by Nosy Crow
Available January 21, 2020

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey
Written and illustrated by Henry Cole
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 7, 2020

Macca the Alpaca
Written and illustrated by Matt Cosgrove
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
Written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published by Jabberwocky
Available today!

Show Me A Sign
Written by Ann Clare LeZotte
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey
Written by Magdalena and Nathaniel Newman
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available today!

Almond
Written and illustrated by Allen Say
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Kent State
Written by Deborah Wiles
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 21, 2020

Butler Bookshelf

Just a handful of books in this week – lucky for us, it included a great mix of nonfiction, picture books, and a work of teen fiction. All titles are available as of today!

Winterwood
Written by Shea Ernshaw
Published by Simon Pulse
Available today!

P is for Poppadoms! An Indian Alphabet Book
Written by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Hazel Ito
Published by Beach Lane Books
Available today!

The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up The World
Written by the staff of the Undefeated, portraits by Robert Ball
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available today!

Go, Girls, Go!
Written by Frances Gilbert, illustrated by Allison Black
Published by Beach Lane Books
Available today!

Butler Bookshelf

It may be Halloween week, but there are no tricks on our shelves–only treats! Each of these books is out today. We’re looking forward to Eva Chen’s latest Juno Valentine picture book!

Girls Like Us
Written by Randi Pink
Published by Feiwel and Friends
Available today!

Beyond the Black Door
Written by A.M. Strickland
Published by Imprint
Available today!

Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration
Written by Bryan Caplan and illustrated by Zach Weinersmith
Published by First Second
Available today!

Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure
Written by Eva Chen and illustrated by Derek Deseierto
Published by Feiwel and Friends
Available today!

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars
Written by Richard Ho and illustrated by Katherine Roy
Published by Roaring Brook
Available today!

Butler Bookshelf

We’re so excited about this week’s batch of new books, including Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. A fry bread recipe comes at the end of this warm picture book–as well as an author’s note that provides history to this lyrical work.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
Written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Available now

Our Wayward Fate
Written by Gloria Chao
Published by Simon Pulse
Available now

Light It Up
Written by Kekla Magoon
Published by Henry Holt
Available now

From A Small Seed – The Story of Eliza Hamilton
Written by Camille Andros and illustrated by Tessa Blackham
Published by Holt Books for Young Readers
Available now

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace
Written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan
Published by Atheneum
Available now

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th-October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month! The Hispanic experience is vast, with different cultures, languages, and races all falling under the Hispanic umbrella—therefore, no one book can define what the experience is like for any one person. With the political climate and rhetoric often disparaging Hispanic people and pushing forward policies that deny Hispanic people rights, it can be comforting to read books that extol the Hispanic experience. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we would like to share with you some of our favorite 2019 books about the Hispanic experience. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the Hispanic books that have come out this year, but it is a start for those who wish to read more books where Hispanic culture and people are the focus.

Happy reading everyone!

other sideThe Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refugees Who Dream of Crossing the Border
Juan Pablo Villalobos
Translated by Rosalind Harvey
Farrar Straus Giroux, September 10, 2019
Ages 12-18
This is a non-fiction novel that depicts the experiences of ten Central American teens who crossed the border. To protect their identities, the names of the teens have been changed. Each experience is written in a narrative format that highlights the struggles that the teens had to endure in their home countries, traveling across the border, and in immigration detention centers. Reading about the challenges that these teens faced is heartbreaking. The back matter provides further details about what happened to each teen after crossing the border, as well as a list of resources and readings for those who want to learn more about the migrant crisis.

moon withinThe Moon Within
Aida Salazar
Arthur A. Levine, February 26, 2019
Ages 8-13
Celi is an eleven-year-old Afro-Latina living in Oakland who is dreading the day that she gets her first period. Her mother wants her to have a traditional ‘moon ceremony’ when Celi finally starts to menstruate to celebrate her transition from childhood into womanhood. If that wasn’t enough, the boy she has a crush on, Ivan, has been cruel to her best friend Mar who recently came out as genderfluid. Celi is forced to navigate the emotional waters of puberty, what it means to be a good friend, and who she wants to be. The back matter contains an author’s note discussing the cultural traditions of Mesoamerican peoples and a poem entitled “A Flower Song for Maidens Coming of Age” written in 1440. It is the only Mesoamerican precolonial document written about a moon ceremony. To accompany the poem, there is a moon calendar for those who are interested in tracking their menstrual cycles with the moon.

juana y lucas big problemasJuan & Lucas: Big Problemas
Juana Medina
Candlewick, May 14, 2019
Ages 5-8
Juana lives in Bogota, Colombia with her Mami and her dog (and best friend) Lucas. Juana grows worried as she begins to notice that her Mami is changing. She’s wearing makeup, perfume, changing her hair, and going out more often. Then one day, Juana meets Mami’s new friend Luis. Is Luis going to take Mami away from Juana? The illustrations are simple and vibrant, showing the things that are the most important to Juana. The book contains some Spanish words throughout the text, making it feel more like Juana herself is speaking.

a new homeA New Home
Tania de Regil
Candlewick, April 9, 2019
Ages Pre K-6
A little boy and a little girl are moving to a new city. The little boy is moving to Mexico City while the little girl is moving to New York. Each of them reflects on the things that they will miss about their city, each hoping that they will enjoy their new homes. The illustrations are phenomenal. The colors and details showcase the differences and similarities between the two cities. The last two pages of the book describe some of the locations within the book, explaining their significance to their respective cities.

vamos¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market
Raul the Third
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2, 2019
Ages 4-8
Little Lobo and Bernabe have to deliver supplies to the people at the market. At the market, Little Lobo and Bernabe run into many different people, each new person more interesting than the last. The illustrations are reminiscent of a comic, with the color palette evocative of the desert. Spanish is used throughout the text, with a glossary at the end of the book that translates Spanish words into English. Mexican culture is prevalent throughout the book, not just in the foreground but in the background as well.

 

Butler Bookshelf

 

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Here are a few titles we received this week that we’re excited to read!

The Tenth Girl
Written by Sara Faring
Published by Macmillan / Imprint
Available now

Suffragette : The Battle for Equality
Written and Illustrated by  David Roberts
Published by Walker Books US
Available October 8, 2019

Explorers
Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Published by Macmillan / Feiwel and Friends
Available now

A World of Discovery
Written by Richard Platt
Illustrated by James Brown
Published by Candlewick Studios
Available now

Butler Bookshelf

IMG_3223Here are some books that we got in this week that we’re really excited about:

Paper World: Planet Earth illustrated by Bomoboland, published by Big Picture Press

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

The Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refuges Who Dream of Crossing the Border by Juan Pablo Villalobos, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan, published by Henry Holt and Co.

If Animals Celebrated Christmas by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated  by David Walker, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz, published by Delacorte Press

Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, published by First Second

Life is Short and Then You Die: Mystery Writers of America Present First Encounters with Murder edited by Kelley Armstrong, published by Macmillan

Stargazing written and illustrated by Jen Wang, published by First Second

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Sara Palacios, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Arriverderci Crocodile or See You Later Alligator begun by Fred Marcellino and completed by Eric Puybaret, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Remarkables by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by David Litchfield, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers