Captured on Camera

by Hal Patnott

In both of the titles featured this week, the teenage protagonists find themselves coerced onto camera. They are cast into roles based on appearances and pressured to meet expectations, sometimes with the stakes of life or death. Additionally, both titles explore the value of thinking critically, and how easily the public buys into misinformation for the sake of entertainment. Continuing our trend of choosing books that uphold ALSC’s Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness), The Special Ones and Waste of Space demonstrate Responsiveness. Stop by the Butler Center to check out our advanced reader copies of these July 2017 releases!

The Special Ones by Em Bailey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017)

He watches them on cameras hidden throughout the house. Esther has never met him, but she knows she must play her part as a stoic, spiritual guide or she’ll get “renewed” like Lucille. It’s only a matter of time until her careful façade slips and she’s forced to leave Harry and Felicity. Every night, Esther and the other Special Ones chat with thousands of followers who watch their videos, purchase their handmade products, and rely on their teachings. When Harry brings home their new Lucille, the balance in the house shifts and Esther can’t stop their lives from changing forever. High stakes and the suspense of a threat without a name or a face makes The Special Ones hard to put down. Esther’s unreliable narration keeps readers questioning. This psychological thriller will appeal to teens who enjoyed The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.

Waste of Space by Gina Damico, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017)

“Catchphrase Forever!” With the help of NASAW, reality network DV8 launches a brand new television series that goes farther than any other reality show ever before—into outer space. Ten teens with forceful personalities and tragic backstories suit up for the mission of a lifetime, or so DV8 hopes the entire country will believe. The network promises twenty-four hour online access to the luxury spaceship’s confessional room and live footage every week. Despite all the evidence pointing to the show’s fraud, millions of viewers tune in for the drama, romance, and space action. Waste of Space is an over the top adventure full of satire. Written as a series of transcripts, the story moves quickly and will appeal to teens who love memes and pop culture references.

2016 End of the Year Selections

The semester is coming to an end and so is the calendar year. We’ve read a lot of fascinating books from our 2016 collection and we are happy to present our 2016 End of the Year Selections. This list features Butler Center staff picks from 2016 that would work well for book clubs, gift choices, or personal reading, on a variety of topics. In keeping with our focus on ALSC’s core values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness), we’ve intentionally chosen books that exemplify one or more of these values. These books were selected by Diane Foote, Butler Center Curator (informational books), Alena Rivers (picture books and children’s fiction), and Hal Patnott (children’s and teen fiction).

We hope you find something that inspires your reading choices over the coming weeks.

INFORMATIONAL BOOKS 

capital-days

Capital Days: Michael Shiner’s Journal and the Growth of Our Nation’s Capital by Tonya Bolden (Abrams, 2016)

The nation’s capital is in the news these days, from the recent presidential election to nuanced issues about how to present (or not present) its history in literature for young people. Here is a factual, welcome volume based on primary source material from the journal of a man born enslaved, who lived through, observed, and wrote about happenings in Washington, DC from 1814 to 1869. Not least remarkable is Shiner’s literacy at a time when it was illegal for slaves to be taught how to read and write. (ALSC Core Values: Inclusiveness, Responsiveness)

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Circle by Jeannie Baker (Candlewick, 2016)

Intricately detailed collages bring to life the incredible journey of bar-tailed godwits, a type of shorebird that migrates immense distances. Along the way, various ecosystems are portrayed including the original beach, cities, woodlands, and parklands; subtle environmental messaging appears when a lone bottle mars an otherwise beautiful strand. The tactile look of the collages invite touch, especially on the downy godwit chicks in their nests. (ALSC Core Values: Excellence, Innovation, Inclusiveness)

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Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box edited by Leonard Marcus (Candlewick, 2016)

Graphic novels are often a refuge for reluctant readers, and the best of them offer sophisticated story arcs, fast-paced action, engaging dialogue, and visual elements that help tie these elements together. Now, fans have a compelling reason to dive into informational books: In their own words, graphic novel creators including Kazu Kibuishi, Hope Larson, Gene Luen Yang, and ten more reveal thoughts on their own art and lives, along with an original short graphic piece to keep the visual interest up. (ALSC Core Values: Collaboration, Inclusiveness)

radiant-child

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe (Little, Brown, 2016)

At first glance, Basquiat’s energetic, colorful creations seem childlike with their unstructured composition and wild, bold strokes and splashes. Upon closer study they reveal layers of meaning and power that will resonate with young art lovers, along with the compelling story of young Basquiat’s life, put thoughtfully into context here for child readers. (ALSC Core Values: Excellence, Inclusiveness)

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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolph Hitler by Russell Freedman (Clarion, 2016)

Who better than Newbery and Sibert Medalist Freedman to help readers today understand the climate that first enabled Hitler’s rise to power, then the courage it took on the part of these young people to defy the Nazis? In his trademark factual, non-hyberbolic way, Freedman conveys the terror of these times but doesn’t allow current young readers to become overwhelmed by it. Source notes, an index, clearly captioned archival photos, and picture credits complete the package and make this an example of the very best in nonfiction, for any age. (ALSC Core Values: Leadership, Integrity and Respect)

vietnam

Vietnam: A History of the War by Russell Freedman (Holiday, 2016)

What’s better than one book by Russell Freedman? Two books by Russell Freedman! The Vietnam War marked a turning point in American history; the intertwining issues of domestic policy, foreign policy, geopolitics, and American culture including the maturing antiwar movement, are all effectively addressed here, again, fully supported by clearly captioned and credited photos along with backmatter including a time line, source notes, a glossary, and an index. Now that “fake news” is having an impact on our national discourse, Freedman’s approach is more welcome, and more necessary, than ever. (ALSC Core Values: Inclusiveness, Excellence, Integrity and Respect)

PICTURE BOOKS  

du-iz-tak

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis (Candlewick, 2016)

A group of insects ponders the presence of an unknown plant that continues to grow in front of their home log. An invented language advances the story as readers use context clues from the illustrations to decipher the insects’ conversation. Young children will be enthralled by watching the small yet meaningful changes unfold in the intricately drawn images that carry from page to page in a muted, earth-tone color palette. The insects’ invented argot risks being perceived as “pidgin,” and may distract rather than appeal, but it does present an opportunity for discussions about language and fluency with both children and adults. (ALSC Core Value: Innovation)

maybe-something-beautiful

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

A young girl who loves to draw shares her art with members of her community. She is invited by a muralist to join him in creating a vibrant colored mural on a building in their otherwise gray neighborhood. They are soon joined by their neighbors whose enthusiasm for the project ignites a block party filled with music, dancing and painting the walls, sidewalks, benches and utility boxes. The lively text is complemented by colorful illustrations. Inspired by a true story, Maybe Something Beautiful is a reminder that everyone’s efforts can impact change and that art is a powerful tool for transformation.(ALSC Core Values: Collaboration, Leadership, Responsiveness)

CHILDREN’S FICTION

As Brave As You

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds (Simon and Schuster/Atheneum, 2016)

Twelve-year-old Genie and his older brother Ernie spend a month with their grandparents in North Hill, Virginia while their parents spend time together sorting out their fading marriage. Genie struggles to adapt to an environment unlike his home in Brooklyn and make sense of the growing concerns he has for his parents’ marriage. Readers will laugh and empathize with this coming of age story as Genie deepens his understanding of himself, his family history and his role within the family. (ALSC Core Values: Integrity and Respect)

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Alongquin, 2016)

Everyone knows a witch lives in the swamp, because every year the people of the Protectorate sacrifice their youngest child to keep peace with her. What they don’t know is how she transforms the lives of their abandoned children with starlight and magic. A book about the power of stories and the dangers of sorrow, The Girl Who Drank the Moon has enormous heart. (ALSC Core Values: Innovation, Excellence)

snow-white-a-graphic-novel

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan (Candlewick, 2016)

Samantha, or Snow as she becomes known, is sent away to school as a young girl by her cruel stepmother. While she is gone her father passes away and upon her return her own life is threatened by an assassin hired by her stepmother. Snow runs to safety and finds herself in an alley with a band of seven boys who protect her from the evils of their city and Snow’s stepmother. Set in 1928, New York City, Phelan has created an engaging retelling of a classic fairy tale in a graphic novel format. (ALSC Core Value: Innovation)

 TEEN BOOKS

if-i-was-your-girl

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Macmillan/Flatiron, 2016)

Amanda moves in with her father after her transition for a fresh start and to escape the prejudice in her old town. She wants to fit in at her new school, but she has to decide how much of her past to share with her friends and the boy she is starting to fall in love with. An important book from an authentic voice, Amanda’s story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. (ALSC Core Value: Integrity and Respect)

Saving Montgomery Sole

Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (Macmillan/Roaring Brook, 2016)

Montgomery Sole, a girl with a passion for the unexplained, discovers a dark and mysterious stone with the power to punish her enemies. When a new preacher, hell-bent on saving the “American Family” from “sinners” like her moms, moves to town, she must decide what it means to be a hero and whether to risk her friendships by wielding the stone’s dangerous power. This book has a strong theme of overcoming prejudice and taking the high road.  (ALSC Core Values: Leadership, Responsiveness)

Tell Me a Bedtime Story

By Alena Rivers

This week we spotlight two picture books in the Butler Center sure to help slow down busy nights and provide a comforting bedtime story. Both books feature animals and a familiar bedtime experience where children can watch a young bear cub deny sleepiness or speculate about what animals dream.

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton (Candlewick, 2016)

Nighttime approaches in the forest. All of the forest animals are ready for sleep with their eyes drooping or completely closed; all except for a small bear cub whose eyes are wide awake. Little Bear wanders the forest home looking for a playmate asking the sleepy mice, hares and deer if they will play. They each yawn and reply they are too sleepy to play. As the story progresses, Little Bear grows more and more sleepy. Little eyes begin to droop until Great Big Bear carries Little Bear off with a kiss and a snuggle where sleeps finally catches up with the small bear cub.

Characteristic of Haughton’s earlier books, Little Owl Lost and Oh No, George!, one color palette is emphasized in the digitally created images which are saturated in shades of blue, pink and purple. Oranges and greens punctuate some of the images depicting an approaching evening glow as the sun begins to set. The text repeats throughout the book creating a predictable and gentle tone. Preschoolers will enjoy following Little Bear’s quest to find a playmate and will notice how Little Bear’s eyes gradually move from wide open to completely closed, signifying the final surrender to slumber.

When the World Is Dreaming by Rita Gray, illus. by Kenard Pak (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

What do little woodland creatures like snakes, newts, deer and mice dream? Young readers are asked this question for each woodland animal featured in the story. Amusing images of each animal’s dream follow, from a snake that becomes a flying kite tail to a bunny flying over a tree with wings of cabbage. The final Little Dreamer is a young child in bed dreaming of all the woodland creatures visiting her bedroom while she sleeps and they approach the gifts from nature that she has collected for each them.

Recalling a similar style as Pak’s recent Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, the images are done in a combination of digital media and watercolor. The color palette features soft pastels and alternates between spreads with plenty of white space and spreads filled with watercolor images. Rhyming text is repeated throughout the story to allow young readers to anticipate upcoming lines. Preschoolers will delight in the gentle rhymes and the whimsical dreams of each woodland creature.

Twists on Myth

By Hal Patnott and Alena Rivers

This week we decided to take a look at two books that share a tie-in with Greek Mythology. Check out our advanced reading copies of Bull by David Elliott and The Icarus Show by Sally Christie at the Butler Center.

Bull by David Elliott (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

Most stories remember Asterion the Minotaur as a monster, the terror of the labyrinth. They never tell us that he was a boy, half-human and half-bull, rejected by his family, unable to fit in anywhere. Bull, in verse, reimagines the famous Greek myth of the minotaur as a tragedy about a lonely boy struggling with his identity. While the structure of the myth remains in tact, Elliott fleshes out Asterion’s youth and explores his relationship with his half-sister Ariadne. In the backmatter Elliott explains how he altered the myth and the choices he made for poetic form. Poseidon, Minos, Pasiphae, Asterion, Daedalus, and Ariadne share control of the narrative. Each character speaks with their own poetic style. Playful use of modern slang and swearing bring the story into the present and defy the notion that myth should be highfalutin. As Poseidon says, “You think a god should be more refined…[Never bawdy, raunchy, racy, rude]? News Flash: You don’t want a god. You want a prude.” Elliott’s retelling of the myth of the minotaur is part tragedy, part dark comedy, and entirely engaging.

The Icarus Show by Sally Christie (Scholastic, 2017)

Do you believe a boy can fly? Students in Alex Meadow’s Year 7 class at Lambourn Secondary School are suspicious but no less curious when they start receiving mysterious messages in their school bags leading to an invitation to see the Icarus show. While the other students speculate about who is behind the messages, Alex discovers that the showman orchestrating all of this is closer than he would have imagined. Despite the distraction of the upcoming show, Alex must continually work hard to steer clear of the taunting and bullying doled out by Alan Tydman and his “Battalion” of boys who lord over his classmates. Alex has developed rules to help him survive his secondary school years; stay in control, “Don’t React”, “Trust No One.”

Over the course of the weeks leading up to the Icarus show, Alex cautiously befriends a classmate, David “Bogsy” Marsh who, since the start of secondary school, has been a target of Alan Tydman and his Battalion. Together Alex and Bogsy share a secret that eventually allows them to trust one another.

Christie identifies how trust and patience are required to overcome loneliness and how courage is required to confront that which makes us feel different. Issues of bullying and suicide are handled in a subtle manner that allows youth to reflect on these issues while challenging them to explore the big and small ways they can have a positive impact on others.

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

By Alena Rivers

midnight

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

Rose Lee Carter is thirteen years old and learning to navigate the uncertainties of her daily life. Rose Lee is African American and lives in a small town in Mississippi where Jim Crow laws rule. Her story takes place in 1955 over the weeks surrounding the death of Emmett Till, a fourteen year-old African American boy brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Told in first-person narration, each chapter represents a day of Rose Lee’s observations of her family and her community. Rose Lee lives with her grandparents, Papa and Ma Pearl, her 12 year-old brother, Fred Lee and their 15 year-old cousin, Queen. Although she lives with her grandparents, brother and cousin, Rose Lee rarely sees her mother, who left after marrying into a new family.

Along with her mother’s absence, Rose Lee must contend with the lack of nurturing care from grandmother, Ma Pearl, who treats Rose Lee with contempt and indignation. Her situation is further troubled by the constant verbal berating she receives from cousin Queen who receives extreme special treatment from Ma Pearl, likely because of her very light skin color. Ma Pearl and Queen make no secret of their contempt for Rose Lee’s midnight black skin color as they seemingly regard Rose Lee with a Cinderella-like status in their family.

In the end, Rose Lee must make a tough decision to either stay in Mississippi or go north with her aunt and her aunt’s fiancé who want to give Rose Lee the opportunity to find another life for herself. Rose Lee makes her decision in the final page of the story, however, the decision seemed abrupt and the story could have benefitted from more attention to Rose Lee’s rationale for her choice. Rose Lee’s life is rife with influences that negatively impact her and readers may not easily make a connection to the positive influences that affect her final decision to stay in Mississippi. Still, the story lends a unique perspective on the impact of a horrific event on a family and their relationship to a pivotal moment in civil rights history.

Butler Book Banter 10/26/16

It’s nearly October again, and it’s time to announce our discussion titles for our upcoming Butler Book Banter on Wednesday, 10/26/16 “Spooky YA (and Tween).” We listened to you and added some tween titles to the YA roster this time! Be prepared to be scared:

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

 

killingjar
The Killing Jar
by Jennifer Bosworth (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016)

 

LastBogler.jpg


The Last Bogler
by Catherine Jinks (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

 

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Teen Frankenstein
by Chandler Baker (Feiwel and Friends, 2016)


Bonus reading!
We’re starting to prepare for Holly Black’s 2017 Butler Lecture, and her oeuvre fits nicely with B3 this month. Revisit Newbery Honor Doll Bones (Simon & Schuster, 2013) or teen faves The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Little, Brown, 2013) and The Darkest Part of the Forest (Little, Brown, 2015).

Whether you’ve read all, some, or none, join us for a spooky time on October 26. Books and snacks will be out at 5:30 and we’ll discuss from 6-7. Boo!

 

B3 Butler Book Banter

Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 6-7 p.m.

Exploring Farms and Food

From classic picture books such as Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet (Harcourt, 1989) and Growing Vegetable Soup (Harcourt, 1987) and Elisha Cooper’s Farm (Orchard, 2010) to more contemporary middle-grade fiction such as Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez (Knopf, 2009) and informational books including the young readers’ edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (Dial, 2015), food and where it comes from has been a perennial topic in children’s lit.

Fall season is harvest time, and for our first B3 of the year we’ll focus on food, farms, and farmers’ markets. There is a full crop of newly-published foodie books this year, and we’ll focus on these:

Board books: Edible Colors and Edible Numbers, both by Jennifer Vogel Bass (Roaring Brook, 2016)
Picture books: Grow! Raise! Catch! How We Get Our Food by Shelly Rotner (Holiday House, 2016); On the Farm, at the Market by G. Brian Karas (Holt, 2016); and Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle, illus. by Becca Stadtlander (Chronicle, 2016)
Informational: The Story of Seeds by Nancy F. Castaldo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

Whether you’ve read all, some, or none, please join us in the Butler Center to talk about kids books about food, and enjoy some farmers’ market treats. We’ll have the food and, um, books out at 5:30 for perusal and partaking.