Books We Love by Holly Black

by Alena Rivers and Hal Patnott

The Butler Lecture 2017 will be held tomorrow, March 16th at 6pm. We are excited to welcome our featured lecturer, Holly Black, renowned children’s and teen author of many titles including, the Magisterium series, the Newbery Honor Book, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. If you haven’t read anything by Holly Black, take a look at the ones we’ve highlighted below.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Little, Brown (2014)

In this chilling twist on vampire romance, seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up after an all-night party to a house full of corpses. To protect herself and the ones she loves, Tana, her irritating but charming ex-boyfriend, and a mysterious vampire boy set off on a quest for the last place Tana ever wanted to go, Coldtown. Although many teens dream of an eternal youth in the high-luxury prison, Tana doesn’t thirst for a life of blood and murder. Teen Readers craving a high-action, suspenseful story with a powerful, female lead will devour The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Doll Bones by Holly Black, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry (2013).

Ever since they were young, Zach, Poppy and Alice have been playing an imaginary game filled with the adventures of mermaids, pirates and thieves who are ruled by a bone-china doll they call the Queen.The three friends are in middle school now and their enthusiasm for the game suddenly comes to a stop when Zach puts an end to the game without a convincing explanation. Meanwhile, Poppy has been having dreams of the doll Queen and the ghost of a young child whose grave is empty. Poppy is compelled to find the ghost’s grave where the doll can be buried in place of the missing child and she convinces Zach and Alice to join her on the quest. Adventure, secrets, and strange occurrences will engage middle school readers.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Scholastic (2015).

In this Harry Potter meets Avatar the Last Airbender adventure, Callum Hunt dreads his first day at The Magisterium, a school for children with magical power. His attempts to flunk the entrance exam impress neither his future teachers nor his fellow classmates. Callum’s father warned him of the danger and certain death that awaits him at the school. However, unexpected friendships and mysteries to solve open Callum’s mind to a new world of enchantment and wonder. Perfect for the middle grade collection, The Iron Trial includes a diverse cast of characters and subverts tropes of fantasy.

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)

circle

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)

comics-confidential

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)

we-will-not-be-silent

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)

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)

 

TeenFrankenstein.jpg
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!

 

Time Flies When You’re Reading Books

By Diane Foote, Hal Patnott and Alena Rivers

The Butler Center has received hundreds of books published this year, or to-be-published in the coming months, and the Butler Center staff has been busy reviewing dozens of these books! Our list of books that we would like to read outpaces our time to read them. Our hope is to squeeze in a few hours before fall classes begin so we can read at least one more book from our list. Here is a sampling of titles that we plan to read over the next couple of weeks. What’s on your last minute list?

 

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion 2017)

Salvador Silva experiences the world through the words he meets. See, “words only existed in theory” until “one ordinary day you ran into a word…met it face to face. And then that word became someone you knew” (16). As Salvador’s senior year of high school begins and his Mima’s health starts to fail, new words like “college” and “cancer” loom on his horizon. For the first time, he starts to question who he is and whether he has value.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown, 2016)

Dèja is a fifth grade student starting off in a new school. As the 15th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Dèja’s teacher begins a lesson about the events of 9/11. Dèja and her new friends learn not only about 9/11 but also how it has impacted their nation and their own lives. Dèja discovers more about her family, as they cope with financial struggles while living in a shelter, and she begins to understand the role 9/11 has played in shaping her life. A diverse set of characters lends different voices to this exploration of a topic that is still new to many of our youth.

Booked by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

One of the most buzzed-about books of the year features high-school soccer star Nick Hall as he copes with his linguistic professor father’s “verbomania,” a disinclination to pay attention in class, and the fact that his best friend Coby will now be playing for Nick’s team’s toughest opponent. But nothing shakes Nick the way he’s shaken by a sudden announcement his parents make, throwing the rest of his problems into perspective. Written in verse style familiar from Alexander’s Newbery Medal-winner Crossover (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), Nick’s compelling first-person account is one we’re a little embarrassed not to have read yet.

To Grandmother’s House We Go!

by Alena Rivers

Not all of our summer excursions can be tropical vacations. Whether taking time for staycations or logging miles and miles on the road to visit family, for children, time spent in a different place, or traveling to it, can spark imaginations and inspire new adventures. Long road trips and quiet summer days provide great opportunities for children to explore their surroundings and give their brains the freedom to daydream. Here are a group of newly-published picture books in the Butler Center that feature children and the imaginative ways they spend time with grandparents or passing the time on warrior-style road trips to visit them.

Are We There Yet? By Nina Laden, illus. by Adam McCauley (Chronicle, 2016)

A boy and his mother take an extended drive to grandmother’s house. Not long before they are on the road, the boy asks his mother, “Are we there yet?”. The mother simply replies, “No.” This familiar-to-adults exchange is repeated across each two-page spread of the book while readers are taken on an illustrated journey through cities, over bridges past farms and deserts until they reach grandmother’s house. The story is a simple reminder for kids and their adult caregivers of the excitement just outside the car window that can be easily overlooked on long road trips.

Are We There Yet? By Dan Santat (Little, Brown, 2016)

Caldecott medalist, Dan Santat creates a larger-than-life visual voyage when a young boy and his parents embark on what feels like the longest car ride ever to his grandmother’s birthday party. The boy’s initial excitement about the road trip is soon stunted by the bland scenery outside his car window. Santat illustrates imaginative scenes and uses minimal but complimentary text to depict what can happen when you let your brain run wild during the most mind-numbing, tiresome treks to the fun waiting at the end of the road.

The Bell in the Bridge by Ted Kooser, illus. by Barry Root (Candlewick, 2016)

Charlie, a young boy, makes annual, two-week summer visits to his grandparents’ farm. Not much happens during these summer visits so Charlie amuses himself by playing near a stream with tadpoles and turtles. Charlie discovers that by using a rock to hit the railing of a bridge over the stream, the result is a bell-like sound with its faint echo following it. One day after banging the bridge, an extra sound, just like his, is returned in the distance. Who or what is causing this additional sound? The mystery adds just the right amount of excitement to speed up the slow summer days that remain before Charlie’s parents come to pick him up. Soft water color and gouache shades of green, yellow and orange enhance the feeling of quiet warmth indicative of summer mornings and late afternoons.

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Irene Luxbacher (Kids Can, 2016)

Young Theodora, or Theo as her grandfather, Poppa, calls her, decides that a trip on a streetcar to a nearby beach is the perfect birthday present for her adventurous grandfather. The journey takes time but there is much to see along the way. When they finally reach the beach, Theo and Poppa spend the day discovering its many treasures and dreaming up big adventures. Their trip ends with a refreshing meal of gazpacho soup and another surprise waiting for Poppa in his apartment. Colorful, mixed-media artwork provides vivid illustrations of the city, beach and all the places in between.

Holiday Suggestions

There’s no more fun time of the year than the END of the year, when “best of” lists come out; everyone’s mock award results are announced, and we need to buy presents for all the young readers in our lives (and/or hunker down in the cold with some great reads for ourselves)!

This list isn’t a “best of,” nor is it the result of any structured decisionmaking process (stay tuned for our Mock Caldecott results next week). What this list IS, is a brief list of Butler Center staff favorites from 2015 that would make great gift choices, or for personal reading, on a variety of topics.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

PICTURE BOOKS (suggested by Diane Foote, Butler Center Curator)

Bird & Diz by Gary Golio, illus. by Ed Young (Candlewick)
This book’s remarkable design and construction sets it apart from all other books on the topic of jazz music…it unfolds (literally) as the melody and harmony unfold, or it can be read more traditionally by turning the folded pages. Read and listen along with some of Charlie Parker’s and Dizzy Gillespie’s compositions for the most complete and fulfilling experience.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam)
This brightly colorful picture books hits numerous high notes: it’s an intergenerational story; it portrays a nicely diverse neighborhood of folks; and conveys a gentle yet powerful message about grace and appreciation, as CJ and his Nana travel across town on the bus to work at a soup kitchen.

Night Animals by Gianna Marino (Viking)
The nervous-looking possum on the cover gives a hint  of the hilarity inside; one by one the forest animals, portrayed in shiny gray and white against a black nighttime background, get terrified in turn by whatever “night animal” is following them. The joke is on everyone when kids camping in a tent and the bevy of creatures all scatter, each yelling RUN!

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illus. by Zachariah Ohora (Little, Brown)
A wolf in bunny’s clothing stars in this cheerful story about overcoming perceptions. Baby Wolfie is left on the Bunny family’s doorstep, and when they take him in big sister Dot has to get used to her scary-at-first little brother. In the tradition of great new sibling stories (Julius, I’m looking at you), Wolfie and Dot find common cause against an outside threat and the rest is history.

CHILDREN’S FICTION (suggested by Alena Rivers, MLIS student and Butler Center graduate assistant)

Dolls of Hope by Shirley Parenteau (Candlewick)
Dolls of Hope is a follow up story to Ship of Dolls. Both novels were inspired by the Friendship Doll exchange of 1926 between the U.S. and Japan as an act to prevent future wars. Dolls of Hope tells the story of an 11-year-old Japanese girl, Chiyo Tamura, who has been asked to help create one of the dolls for Japan and keep it safe until it is sent to America. ‘Tis the season for an inspiring story of peace and friendship!

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (HarperCollins/Amistad)
I can’t wait to read this follow up to Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven! Why not spend my winter break reading a story set during the summer of 1969 in Alabama? Delphine, Vonetta and Fern are back! This time the three sisters are sent from Brooklyn, NY to stay with family in Alabama. Ma Charles and her half sister Miss Trotter aren’t on speaking terms. Delphine and her sisters discover there is more to their family’s history than they knew and they learn the importance of family ties.

The Maloneys’ Magical Weatherbox by Nigel Quinlan (Roaring Brook)
A magical phone booth that siblings Liz and Neil call the Weatherbox rings only to signal the changing of the seasons. The keeper of the Weatherbox is their father; when the Weatherbox fails to ring and signal autumn’s arrival, Liz and Neil suspect their neighbor Mrs. Fitzgerald has something to do with it. They must work quickly to discover Mrs. Fitzgerald’s secret and restore the Weatherbox so the seasons continue to change.

Ms. Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera (Dial)
I am intrigued by the idea of girls attending a boarding school called “Great Rapscott School for the Daughters of Busy Parents.” The headmistress has an exceptional way of teaching the girls lessons on bravery and friendship through the likes of adventures the girls would never imagine! I consider myself a busy parent but, thankfully, not quite so busy that my children need a special boarding school!

The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam)
I can’t pass up an opportunity to read a book inspired by one of my favorite holiday stories, The Nutcracker! My family just saw the ballet performance and I’m excited to read a new tale featuring Stefan Drosselmeyer, the son and apprentice of a toymaker who has been kidnapped. Stefan and his cousin Christian must find Stefan’s father and, along the way, their adventures include saving a princess and battling the Mouse Queen’s seven headed Prince of Mice.

INFORMATIONAL BOOKS (suggested by Diane Foote, Butler Center Curator)

Drowned City by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The latest entry in Brown’s collection of graphic nonfiction brings the disaster of Hurricane Katrina to life for a contemporary audience, many of whom may have been too young at the time to fully comprehend the horror and scale of the tragedy.

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash by G. Neri, illus. by A. G. Ford (Candlewick)
At the author’s note states, Cash’s popularity surged in the 1980s after a period in the doldrums. That means parents today, as well as grandparents who remember hearing Cash’s music when it was first released, will be eager to share this success story with their own kids and grandkids. Painterly illustrations and a design that recalls an album cover with liner notes add to the appeal.

Water Is Water by Miranda Paul, illus. by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook)
The water cycle is of course an essential element of all life on earth, and there are several outstanding books for kids on the topic, including A Drop of Water by Walter Wick. Even so, this one stands out for its clever embedding of a friendship story that unfolds only in the illustrations. Clever!

TEEN FICTION (suggested by Hal Patnott, GSLIS student and Butler Center grad assistant)

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman (Holt)
Alex is she. Alex is he. Gender is not as simple as “boy” or “girl” for Alex, because Alex is both at once. This important, coming-of-age story explores the struggles of defining your own identity when the world around you is trying to tell you who you have to be.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Simon Snow may be the Chosen One, but he struggles with school like any teen. I fell in love with Simon Snow and his evil roommate Baz the vampire when they first appeared in Rainbow Rowell’s 2013 novel Fangirl. Now they’re back, but this time in their own adventure full of magic, mystery, and romance.

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook)
Sedgwick links together four stories across centuries with the image of a spiral. Each narrative takes a different form, mixing poetry, prose, and points of view. The concept reminds me of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, one of my favorite books. I am excited to experience each character’s struggle for survival.

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick)
Fifteen-year-old Kivali doesn’t believe it when her guardian Sheila, a nonconforming artist, decides to send her off to CropCamp, a program for indoctrination into their government-controlled society. I look forward to reading Kivali’s adventure, because it’s not just another dystopian fantasy. Along the way to finding herself, Kivali wrestles with gender identity, first love, and friendship.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
I can’t resist an epic, fantasy adventure. Nimona is the story of a plucky and impulsive shapeshifter who teams up with a super villain to expose the fraud of a so-called legion of heroes. Full of dragons, battles, mischief, and humor, this National Book Award finalist subverts the traditional tropes of fantasy. Originally published as a webcomic, Nimona is Noelle Stevenson’s debut graphic novel.

 

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?