March B3 – Butler Book Banter

After a great group discussion on our featured Mock CaldeNott books for the February B3, we are already preparing for our upcoming March B3. It’s right around the corner on March 1st and we will be exploring gender identity. All of the books we are recommending were either featured on the 2017 Rainbow Book List or are part of our 2017 collection. You can also check out a couple of our past blog posts featuring Newsprints and If I Was Your Girl.

Join us in the Butler Center on Wednesday, March 1st from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. (books and snacks out at 5:30 p.m., discussion at 6pm). We look forward to seeing you in March!

Picture Books

big-bob-little-bob      introducing-teddy

Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe, illus. Laura Ellen Anderson (Candlewick, 2016)

Graphic Novels
newsprints     princess-princess-ever-after
Young Adult
if-i-was-your-girl
 

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)

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

by Hal Patnott

the-art-of-being-normal

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson (Macmillan/Farrar Straus Giroux 2016)

David’s classmates call her a “freak.” It started when she was eight and shared with the class what she wanted to be when she grew up. Other kids wanted to be sports stars, actresses, or the prime minister, but not David. She wanted to be a girl. Aside from her two best friends, Essie and Felix, she is isolated in her posh high school, where no secrets stay hidden for long. Although she longs to tell her parents the truth and start her life as Kate, fear of rejection keeps her feelings locked inside her.

Leo Denton is desperate to escape Cloverdale. His acceptance into the elite Eden Park High School is his best chance to leave behind the bad memories at his old school and his unstable relationship with his mother. He dreams of finding his father who left when he was a baby. All Leo has to do is keep his head down and stay out of trouble so no one will learn about his past as Megan. However, when he finds himself falling for the popular and artistic Alicia Baker, his secrets get harder to hide in the spotlight.

Set in the suburbs outside of London, The Art of Being Normal is a coming-of-age story that explores gender identity, socioeconomic differences, and what it means to fit in. Written in first-person narration, the chapters alternate between the points-of-view of Kate and Leo. Both characters show growth throughout the book. Through their friendship, Kate finds the courage to claim her identity and Leo learns to let in the people who love him. Despite the acceptance that the characters find in their friends and family by the end of the book, they both face violence and transphobic language from their peers. The otherwise engaging story of self-acceptance suffers from a fixation with the achievement of cisnormative standards of gender presentation. Leo “passes” and never once is denied masculine pronouns except in overt instances of bullying. Kate, on the other hand, gets misgendered until the end, even by her allies. No one calls her Kate or uses her preferred pronoun until she starts wearing dresses. The chapter markers designate her as “David” as well. While The Art of Being Normal provides visibility for transgender teens and a message of self-acceptance, it fails to break out of the binary.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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.

Graphic Novels

By Alena Rivers and Hal Patnott

This week we decided to feature a review of one new, and one upcoming graphic novel. Often we select works for our posts based on thematic similarities, but this week we wanted to explore a format we haven’t written much about in the past. Check out our thoughts on Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories by Sara Varon and the advanced review edition of Decelerate Blue by Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro.

What graphic novels are you looking forward to reading this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories by Sara Varon (Macmillan/First Second, 2016)

Sara Varon has published several praise-worthy graphic novels. Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories contains eight stories from her first published book in 2003 titled, Sweaterweather. Nine additional short stories were included in this expanded version. Each of the stories is accompanied by a short introduction explaining the thought-process behind the story, giving readers a sneak-peak into the progressive development of the author’s text and illustrations. The stories are simple in nature, often depicting illustrations of brief moments in the daily life of her anthropomorphic characters. These moments range from the common, such as preparing a meal for a dinner guest in the story titled “The Dinner Guest, to the more imaginative of events like those in “The Flight” where a non-flying character barters for feathers from birds so the character can experience flight. Descriptive panels on the ins and outs of beekeeping or what it’s like to ride a subway in Mexico City provide informative insights into the author’s experiences.

The color palette is a modest deep blue and stark white for most stories, while some of them include shades of pink and purple. The author includes summaries of interviews she conducted with other work-from-home artists in her attempt to discover the secrets to successful work-from-home endeavors. Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories is an illuminating, behind-the-scenes dive into an author/illustrator’s making of a comic that will appeal to both graphic novel novices and long-time fans of the format.

Decelerate Blue by Adam Rapp, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro (Macmillan/First Second, 2017)

In fifteen-year-old Angela’s Velocity Suburb of New Fleet Tempopolis, life never stops accelerating. That’s “the Go Guarantee, Go” (3). At Hyper High she takes classes in Brief Lit, and during Health, her teachers hand out Rapid Jo supplements to keep students alert. Angela’s parents sleep standing up to start their morning more efficiently. No one uses adverbs or adjectives in conversation. The Guarantee Committee holds everyone to the highest standards of speed, monitoring the citizens through surveillance cameras and by implanting tracking chips in their arms. Desperate to escape the regulation of her society, Angela joins forces with a secret, underground civilization that lives slowly in defiance of the Guarantee Committee.  When she discovers their haven beneath the ground, she knows she can never return to her old life. She refuses to live in a haze ever again.

Decelerate Blue is a fast-paced, dystopian adventure.  The sharp-angular design of the characters and backgrounds brings Angela’s efficiency-obsessed world to life. Within the first five pages, Rapp and Cavallaro introduce the steep consequences of defying the Guarantee Committee, which adds to the suspense when Angela runs away from home. Although Decelerate Blue is initially engaging, the resolution arrives abruptly. Angela’s love interest, Gladys—a girl Angela meets when she moves underground—receives a tragic and brutal end when the Guarantee Committee roots out the colony. Ultimately, Decelerate Blue offers an exciting premise, but it lacks a satisfying conclusion.

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.