A Sea of Memories: A Review of When Life Gives You Mangos

cover190381-medium.pngWhen Life Gives You Mangos
Written by Kereen Getten
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Ages 10-14
Available September 15, 2020

Clara lives in a small village on a tourist-destination Caribbean island, but to Clara, it’s not a destination—it’s just home. This summer, she is twelve, and she’s struggling. Her former best friend Gaynah does not want to play in their secret dugout anymore; she is more interested in Calvin and being grown up. Also, Gaynah teases her about last summer. Even though Clara tries, she cannot remember what happened. All she knows is that her parents will not let her surf anymore, and she can never go into the water alone. Sometimes she has nightmares that she does not understand. Her parents explain the imagery, but they tell her not to worry. Clara finds that she angers and frustrates easily, but she does not understand why. Now, a mysterious new girl named Rudy is living on the island and wants to be friends with Clara. But Rudy does not know the rules of the island, and what spots are off-limits. Clara does not want to lose another friend, so she follows along, even though she could get in trouble. Kereen Getten’s When Life Gives You Mangos begins slowly, unfolding the story of Clara’s memory loss. The calm pace and beautiful landscape exacerbate the scary and obscure reason behind the amnesia. The book takes time to reveal what happened, and the grief behind the loss is significant. Newcomer Rudy serves as a stand-in for the reader at times, as she is learning how the village of Sycamore operates. Religion is an important factor in how Clara’s memory loss is dealt with by the community; ultimately Getten reveals that pastors and bishops, no matter how well-intentioned they are, are ultimately human and can make mistakes. The reveal behind Clara’s amnesia involves grief, but also reconciliation as her family makes room for members that have been long shunned in the village. This read emphasizes the power of love and community.

Beyond the Ice and Snow: A Review of The Barren Grounds

51ptXY7Wl5L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The Barren Grounds
Written by David A. Robertson
Published by Penguin Random House Canada
Available September 8, 2020
Ages 8-12

Morgan’s latest foster family isn’t so bad, even Eli, the new foster kid is okay. He’s indigenous, like her, but he never raises his voice or gets angry like Morgan. In fact, he hasn’t said much since he arrived at the foster home in Winnipeg, and he stays quiet at their middle school, too. The only thing he does is draw in his giant artist notebook. But at least Eli shows her his drawings—they’re layered and mysterious and incredible. But when one of his drawings opens up a portal in their attic, the children find themselves transported to Misewa. There they meet creatures, like Ochek, a talking fisher, who introduce them to traditional ways to survive. The community of Misewa, Ochek explains, has been locked in a forever winter following an encounter with a duplicitous man. The community is struggling, and soon food supplies will run out. As conditions worsen, the children and Ochek set off to save Misewa from perpetual ice.

Author David A. Robertson connects Morgan, and the reader, with her Cree heritage, blending difficult truths about First Nations history with middle-grade fantasy. Morgan and Eli, like so many other First Nations children, have been separated from their biological parents and placed in the foster care system. Morgan’s struggles and mistrust of her foster parents come with good reason; she’s been neglected and discarded before. Despite this trauma, Morgan is able to connect with Ochek and Eli. And as her trust in them grows, so do her snappy comebacks. Robertson’s depiction of Morgan’s emotional and cultural journey is compelling, with occasional humorous outbursts. Whether it’s her skepticism with new friends or with her white foster mom’s cringeworthy cross-cultural attempts to make her feel at home, Morgan’s reactions are captivating. Readers do not uncover the whole mystery behind Morgan’s and Eli’s backgrounds, but there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more: The Barren Grounds is Book 1 of Robertson’s Misewa Saga.

Butler Bookshelf

Don’t we all wish we could frolic in the ocean right now? Channel your dreams and dive into Lily Murray’s Beneath the Waves, with illustrations created entirely from hand pressed plants by Helen Ahpornsiri. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Where’s My Turtle?
Written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Infamous Ratsos Camp Out
Written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Matt Myers
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Who’s Hiding on the Savanna?
Illustrated by Katharine McEwan
Published by Nosy Crow
Available now!

Beneath the Waves
Written by Lilly Murray and illustrated by Helen Ahpornsiri
Published by Big Picture Press
Available now!

I thought I saw a… Monkey!
Illustrated by Lydia Nichols
Published by Templar
Available now!

Into the Tall, Tall Grass
Written by Loriel Ryon
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available now!

 

 

Butler Bookshelf

We’re eager to read Nelly Buchet’s picture book Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family, with charming illustrations by Andrea Zuill. It’s about what happens when families come together–all the messiness and the joys. For more great reads, check out this week’s Butler Bookshelf below!

The Water Bears
Written by Kim Baker
Published by Wendy Lamb Books
Available now!

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family
Written by Nelly Buchet and illustrated by Andrea Zuill
Published by Schwartz & Wade
Available now!

A Girl in Three Parts
Written by Suzanne Daniel
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Dirt Cheap
Written and illustrated by Mark Hoffman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Lucky Ones
Written by Liz Lawson
Published by Delacorte Press
Available now!

Bedtime Bonnet
Written by Nancy Redd and illustrated by Nneka Myers
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

This week, we’re taken with the bold colors and charming illustrations in the sweet board book Creature Features by Natasha Durley. Check out the rest of the Butler Bookshelf for some more delightful reads!

All Aboard the Moonlight Train 
Written by Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Annie Won
Published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Available now!

I Found A Kitty!
Written and illustrated by Troy Cummings
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Creature Features
Illustrated by Natasha Durley
Published by Big Picture Press
Available now!

What’s That Noise?
Written and illustrated by Naomi Howarth
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Lost Cities
Written by Giles Laroche
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat
Written by Raúl the Third and colors by Elaine Bay
Published by Versify
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’re fascinated by We Are All His Creatures. Deborah Noyes’ set of interwoven stories is all about the women in P.T. Barnum’s life. We’re excited to read about those in the shadow of this larger-than-life character. For more reads, check out the list below!

Gold Rush Girl
Written by Avi
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Emily Windsnap and the Tides of Time
Written by Liz Kessler
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman
Written by Deborah Noyes
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Thank You for Coming to My TED Talk: A Teen Guide to Great Public Speaking
Written by Chris Anderson and Lorin Oberweger
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Child of the Universe
Written by Ray Jayawardhana and illustrated by Raul Colón
Published by Make Me A World
Available now!

Elmore and Pinky
Written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

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Top on our TBR list? A story about a girl, her grandmother, and an alternate reality–steeped in magic. Diana Abu-Jaber’s Silverworld has us longing to cast spells and learn from our elders. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Silverworld
Written by Diana Abu-Jaber
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Awesome Dog 5000 vs. Major Bossypants (Book 2)
Written by Justin Dean
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Golden Arm
Written by Carl Deuker
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available on April 7, 2020

On The Horizon
Written by Lois Lowry and illustrated by Kenard Pak
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available on April 7, 2020

Bloom (The Overthrow Book 1)
Written by Kenneth Oppel
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Twin
Written by Natasha Preston
Published by Delacorte
Available now!

Brave (American Dog)
Written by Jennifer Li Shotz
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available on April 7, 2020

Taking the Reins (An Ellen & Ned Book)
Written by Jane Smiley
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Stargirl (Movie Tie in Edition)
Written by Jerry Spinelli
Published by Ember
Available now!

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
Written by Jeff Zentner
Published by Ember
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

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This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’ve delving into breakups. Friend breakups. In When Your Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk explores what happens when a teenage friendship implodes, going from nourishing to destructive. For lighter fare, there are also some great new reads like My Life As A Potato and The Third Mushroom, check out the list below for more!

Amelia Fang and the Rainbow Rangers
Written by Laura Ellen Anderson
Published by Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Available March 31, 2020

My Life As A Potato
Written by Arianne Costner
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

What Matters Most
Written by Emma Dodd
Published by Templar
Available now!

The Third Mushroom
Written by Jennifer L. Holm
Published by Yearling
Available now!

Superhero Mom
Written By Timothy Knapman and illustrated by Joe Berger
Published by Nosy Crow
Available now!

The Fabled Life of Aesop: The extraordinary journey and collected tales of the world’s greatest storyteller
Written by Ian Lendler and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

When You Were Everything
Written by Ashley Woodfolk
Published by Delacorte Press
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!

Who’s Ready for School to Start?

Back-to-school butterflies? First day jitters? The newest academics among us will appreciate these sweet, silly, and giggle-worthy introductions to just who and what awaits them in the classroom. This brand new class of back-to-school picture books to will ease the way for the little humans in your library, classroom, or living room as all get ready for the first day of school.

 

Bunnys book clubBunny’s Book Club Goes to School
By Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss
Penguin Random House, June 2019

Josie is worried about making friends at school, but her book-club buddy Bunny can help—he’ll just be her school friend too. As the book club animals search the school for Josie, they’ll introduce kids to all the fun places waiting for them at school. Sweet illustrations complement this gentle story of friendship, empathy, and support.

 

clothes line cluesClothesline Clues to the First Day of School
By Katheryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook, illustrated by Andy Robert Davies
Charlesbridge, June 2019

It’s a laundry basket inspired guessing game in this guide to all the new people excited to meet you at school. A silly rhyme will help set expectations and turn anxiety to anticipation about the first day of school.

 

i will be fierceI Will Be Fierce
By Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani
MacMillan, April 2019

While not strictly a back-to-school-themed book, it follows this fierce little girl to school and back and through all the adventures in between. Brightly colored and boldly written, this is a great illustration of how a little confidence can go a long way on a big (first) day at school.

 

 

if animals went to schoolIf Animals Went to School
By Ann Whitford Paul, Illustrated by David Walker
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2019

Beaver might not want to go to school, but after a day of music, learning, and his fun with his friends, he doesn’t want to go home. A perfectly inspirational story for the tiny human determined NOT to go to school!

 

king of kindergartenThe King of Kindergarten
By Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Penguin Random House, July 2019

An exuberant and imaginative walkthrough of the first day of school! Barnes’ pacing is just right for introducing a new routine and finding the fun in what could be a scary first day.

 

The smell of freshly sharpened pencils is in the air—Happy Back-to-School season, friends!