Four Books for Four Hogwarts Houses

By Hal Patnott and Alena Rivers

In anticipation of the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this weekend, we decided to feature four books and sort them into the Hogwarts Houses based on the traits of their main characters. The original idea for this post came from a post on the yalsa-bk listserv titled “Sort YA into Hogwarts Houses?” written by Rachel Moir, the teen services librarian at Worcester Public Library. The titles we selected are all middle grade fiction from our 2016 collection. Stop by the Butler Center to check them out for yourself!

Gryffindor

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan (Disney/Hyperion, 2016)

When thirteen-year-old Thorn’s father disappeared, he promised his mother and little siblings that he would bring him home by harvest, but ever since he left his village, Thorn’s circumstances went from unlucky to a living nightmare. Bound into the service of an executioner, the road ahead of Thorn leads straight to Gehenna, a kingdom of shadows where necromancers wear the crown.

Lilith never wanted to wear the Mantle of Sorrows and assume the position as the Lady Shadow, ruler of al Gehenna, but after the brutal murder of her parents and older brother, she has no choice. Without her father’s sorcery, her kingdom is falling apart. Magic flows through her veins too, but the law forbids her from learning.

Shadow Magic begins in the thick of danger, and the stakes only get higher for Thorn and Lilith as they become ensnared in dark magic and a murder mystery. To survive and save Gehenna they need the courage to disregard the rules and unleash their own hidden talents.

Slytherin

The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (Penguin/Dial, 2016)

The Gallery begins in present day New York where 100-year-old Martha O’Doyle is being interviewed by a young reporter sent to do a short piece featuring Martha as she crosses over her centennial year. The young reporter has discovered that Martha is the only surviving witness to the death of a newspaper tycoon and his wife who were in their home when it was bombed. Curious about the details of the bombing, the young reporter probes Martha for more information. Though the reporter doesn’t get her story, Martha decides it’s time to write out the details as she remembers them from nearly 90-years ago. She reflects on her year as a maid for Mr. J. Archer Sewell and his wife, Rose Sewell. In her younger years, Rose had been known to be a rambunctious, socialite who was not adverse to scandal. But when young Martha arrives at the Sewell house she finds that Rose has become a recluse, never leaving their home and only caring for the countless, priceless paintings she and her father collected over the years. Rose refuses to interact with anyone other than a small handful of people but Martha is curious, strong-willed and has little regard for rules so she devises a way to communicate with Rose and in doing so, discovers there is more to Rose’s story.

Told in retrospect, Martha’s character is independent, determined and resourceful. Readers will feel the tension between the story’s characters and Martha’s challenge to balance restraining her thoughts and opinions while pushing to learn the truth.

Hufflepuff

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen (Macmillan/Roaring Brook, 2016)

Eleven-year old Quinn’s best friend Kara is moving with her family from Denver to Santa Monica. Quinn and Kara have been best friends since kindergarten and the thought of them being apart has both girls dreading the impending move. Quinn is invited to join Kara’s family on their trip to their new home so she and Kara can spend more time together and to help Quinn reconcile some of her own personal issues. The story opens as the girls and Kara’s family drive through a long stretch of desert. As the evening approaches the weary travellers decide that they all could use a break from the road so they stop at a grand Victorian inn that seems out of place and isolated in the great expanse of desert. While The Inn Between is a magnificent and beautifully ornate building, only moments after checking-in, Quinn begins to feel uneasy about their temporary shelter. After spending the night in the hotel, Quinn, Kara and her brother, Josh, discover that Quinn’s parents are missing and not long after, Josh goes missing as well. These are not the only strange things the girls notice about the inn, its staff and its guests. Quinn and Kara must unravel the mystery of Kara’s missing family or risk never leaving The Inn Between.

Marina Cohen’s story explores the strong bond between Quinn and Kara. Readers will be touched by Quinn’s loyalty to their friendship and they will be drawn into Quinn’s intuitive distrust of their surroundings that is matched by her determination to find the answers to the mysteries that unfold.

Ravenclaw

Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, 2016)

Claudia Miravista has no friends in her sixth grade class, but she knows everything about art history. She spends her free time drawing, and reading about the great painters of the past. Her only companion, a mysterious blue-eyed boy named Pim, lives inside the canvas, where he has been trapped for over three-hundred years. Although Claudia has just begun to discover her powers as an Artista, she is the only one with the skills to save Pim and free him from his prison.

Footnotes of historical facts and commentary about art accompany the story in Behind the Canvas. Claudia’s enthusiasm for art is infectious. In spite of what her classmates may think of her at first, she holds onto her passion and learns to harness her artistic power.

Kinship Project

voice from afarThe Butler Center opened in its permanent space two years ago today on September 11th, 2011, the tenth anniversary of that infamous day in world history. To commemorate that occasion we curated an exhibit called the Kinship Project, a collection of books for children and teens that speak to our human kinship. We created a catalog with notes that speak to each of the 29 books connection to the idea of kinship. I link here to the online version. We have some print copies as well (beautiful, actually) and I’d be happy to send some along to you, too. Just fill out the form below with your name and address and I’ll get them in the mail.

How about you? What do you remember of that day? What do your memories have to say to your work with books and young people? Where do you see kinship among the collections we keep?

On the money (mostly)

Back in December we suggested some books as particularly holiday-giftable. Looking back, I see that among the eight books for young people we recommended, half were recognized at the ALA Youth Media Awards! We had the Newbery winner (The One and Only Ivan), The Sibert winner/Newbery honor book (Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon), a Caldecott honor book (Extra Yarn), and a Printz honor book (Code Name Verity). Not bad for a day’s work.

The One and Only IvanbombExtra YarnCode Name Verity

 

 

 

 

You can find a link to all of the ALA award winning titles here.

“Rubberized” book covers?!

Is it just me? It seems that publishers have become really enamored of some new dust jacket treatment that adds an almost sticky texture to the paper. It feels sort of like a neoprene wetsuity material. I was on the Boston Globe Horn Book Award jury for 2012 and we recognized three pieces of fiction: No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Michaux Nelson (winner), Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet (honor book), and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (honor book). And all three have been subjected to these rubbery covers. Two of the three have dark, black backgrounds and I will admit that the matte finish of the texture adds some depth to it. But it also shows fingerprints something awful. And it’s a little tacky (duct-tape-adhesive tacky, not white-pants-after-labor-day tacky). Most libraries will put mylar covers over the jacket, simultaneously solving the problem of the unpleasant feel and compromising the benefits of the matte finish. And, really, at the end of the day, it doesn’t much matter. At all. But, still, someone is going to a lot of trouble (it must be some trouble) to take what might be perfectly fine dust jackets and make them stick.

What do you think?

no crystal stairlife an exploded diagramverity

Novel Gifts

Our holiday gift recommendations continue with a few novels we think young readers might enjoy.

The One and Only Ivan

Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

HarperCollins, 2012

Ivan the gorilla is resigned to his life in a glass enclosure at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. But when Ruby the baby elephant arrives, Ivan commits himself to winning a better life for her. Applegate crafts a natural and believable voice for Ivan, at once plain and poetic, and with it will break your heart (in the best possible way). And Castelao’s gentle gestures only add to the grace. Beautiful prose tells a beautiful story. Poignant, emotional and uplifting.

Shark King

Kikuo R. Johnson

Candlewick, 2012

A Hawaiian legend about a shape-shifting boy who becomes a king is just the thing for a picture-perfect beginning reader with graphic illustrations, comic book panels, word-balloon dialogue and ebullient excitement! Those familiar with the tropes of the graphic novel will appreciate the care with which they are observed, and those new to the format will enjoy its immediacy and its fun. Bright, smart and ebullient.

Code Name Verity

Elizabeth Wein

Disney-Hyperion, 2012

Shot down behind German lines during WWII, and enduring starvation and torture, Julie trades Allied secrets for prolonged safety and a few trifling comforts. Or does she? Wein’s startling novel weaves espionage, honor and indelible friendship into a gripping, revelatory package. Fierce readers will appreciate the investment required to dig through the obfuscation and retrieve a singularlygratifying literary reward. Dense, complex and thrilling.