Pure Imagination: A Review of Window

Unknown-1Window
Written and illustrated by Marion Arbona
Published by Kids Can Press
Ages 4-8
Available March 3, 2020

Walking home from school, a young girl looks up at the windows as she makes her way through the city. Each window is shaped differently, and each window holds a different adventure: creatures playing games, a jungle, and even a whale in a bathtub. It is not until the last window, when the girl is back inside her bedroom, that the reader sees familiar faces.

Marion Arbona’s wordless picture book is a treasure. With drawings reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s surrealist style, these black and white images provoke questions and curiosity. The fine detail work within each drawing is puzzle-like: young readers may want to explore and make up their own plot within each window-scheme. Images, like the story’s imagined jungle, have layers of visual information within them; readers can return to them again and again, looking for previously missed pieces and plucking out smaller narratives within the book’s larger plot. Window contains multitudes.

Butler Bookshelf

What do you get when you cross Mean Girls and the supernatural? You get Mintie Das’ debut novel, Brown Girl Ghosted. It’s a high school thriller about cheerleaders, race, and the #metoo movement – all set in a small Illinois town. Check out more great reads below, in the latest Butler Bookshelf!

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor
Written by Ally Carter
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Brown Girl Ghosted
Written by Mintie Das
Published by Versify
Available now!

Prairie Lotus
Written by Linda Sue Park
Published by Clarion Books
Available now!

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Duckling Called Button
Written by Helen Peters and illustrated by Ellie Snowdon
Published by Walker Books
Available now!

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People
Written by Elizabeth Rusch
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

 

Island Adventure: A Review of Lost Beast, Found Friend

butler lost beast found friend

Lost Beast, Found Friend
By Nick Kennedy
Illustrated by Josh Trujllo
June 9, 2020
Published by Oni Press
Grades Pre K-1

Keelee is tired of picking fruits everyday to feed her village. One day while picking fruit Keelee is surprised to find a friendly, big, purple buffalo-looking beast trying to eat her fruit. Realizing that the beast is lost, Keelee sets out with the beast to find his home. The two have fun on their journey and agree to stay in touch even after the beast returns home. Keelee is now excited to pick fruit since it means getting a visit from her new friend.

This sweet story about making friends is whimsical and light-hearted. Vibrant colors are evocative of the island setting, and the non-human characters, like beast and Keelee (who is a bald, blue, creature), make the story all the more fantastical. The story itself is rather basic, but the illustrations really bring to life the words on the page. The story sticks to a simple rhyme scheme giving it a sing-song quality perfect for a bedtime read.

 

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!

The Period Manifesto We All Need: A Review of Go With The Flow

9781250143174.jpgGo With The Flow
Written by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann; illustrated by Lily Williams
Published by First Second
Available January 14, 2020
Ages 10+

Imagine you’re the new girl at Hazelton High, just trying to figure out her locker combination when all of a sudden everyone is staring at you, pointing at you, laughing. You have no idea what’s going on until a friendly face, no three friendly faces, appear and whisk you to the restroom. There you learn you got your period, and that it bled through onto your pants. Oh, yeah, and everybody saw. That’s what happens to Sasha, Hazelton High’s newest sophomore. She was feeling alone before, but now? Well, now she has three new buds—Abby, Brit, and Christina—who have her back. But while Abby freely hands over her emergency pad, the girls realize: all the pad and tampon machines are out of supplies. Always!

The main story revolves around this diverse friend group fighting for female health and empowerment, but it’s about much more: questioning your sexuality, the boundaries of friendship, and finding your place in the world. This graphic novel, with images depicted in spot-on red hues, is warm and appealing. Folks mess up, and conflict between friends is explored with “calling in” and understanding rather than shame and exclusion. Moreover, this graphic novel normalizes menstrual talk and posits that openness about menstruation is necessary for women’s wellbeing. In their authors’ note, Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann say they wanted to create the story they needed when they were growing up, and they deliver. Williams and Schneemann share their own experiences with period pain and fluctuating menstrual cycles; they offer readers valuable resources for their own health and changing bodies, aimed at pre-teens and teens alike.

Butler Bookshelf

bookshelf 3.3.2020.jpgOn this beautiful March day, we’re so blessed with this bevy of picture books. Check out our list below!

On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson
Written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Published by Chronicle Books
Available now!

Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Saffa Khan
Published by Chronicle Books
Available March 10!

Barkus: Dog Dreams (Book 2)
Written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Marc Boutavant
Published by  Chronicle Books
Available April 7, 2020

My Friend Earth
Written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Francesca Sanna
Published by Chronicle Books
Available now!

My Brother The Duck
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Published by Chronicle Books
Available April 21, 2020

Unstoppable
Written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Laura Park
Published by Chronicle Books
Available May 5, 2020

How to Put an Octopus to Bed
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz
Published by Chronicle Books
Available March 31, 2020

A Reading List for Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, here at the Butler Center, we’d like to highlight several 2020 publications that tell powerful, poignant and just plain fun stories about some of the many different African-American experiences. This list is by no means all that has been published in 2020. Instead, it is a sampling of several stories—from bedtime tales, to historical picture books, to family trauma, to the intersection of Black identity and sexuality. 

KingAndThe DragonFlies.jpgKing and the Dragon Flies
Written by Kacen Callender
Scholastic Press
Children’s Fiction
Available now!
Twelve-year-old Kingston James knows what everyone else does not: his older brother Khalid isn’t really dead—he’s turned into a dragonfly. King sees his brother in his dreams, but can’t tell anyone. Not his parents who are shut up in their grief, not his school mates who don’t know how to talk to him, not his best friend Sandy Sanders. Besides, King and Sandy aren’t friends, can’t be friends, because Sandy is gay. This is a stunning, hazy book set in small-town Louisiana, where one boy’s grief transports him into coming to terms with who he really is. Race, sexual identity, family trauma, and abuse all come together in a book that alternates between stark and hopeful. Kacen Callender writes on homophobia and toxic masculinity in the Black community, hard and tough topics, in a truly magical way. You can feel the heat rising off the page and hear the buzz of dragonfly wings in your ears. This is a must-read.

BedtimeFor SweetCreatures.jpgBedtime for Sweet Creatures
Written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published by Jabberwocky
Picture Book
Available now!
The nighttime struggle is real in this effervescent and vibrant bedtime tale. Nikki Grimes enchants the reader with a curious and imaginative story of parent and child going through their bedtime routine.  Grimes takes us through the cycle: denial of bedtime, acquiescing to bedtime with one’s favorite stuffed animal, the quest to find and banish all monsters, a before-bed story—and even a last-ditch glass of water! The difference between the typical bedtime routine and this story is Grimes’ imagination. The story is made even more enchanting with Elizabeth Zunon’s multicolored and surreal animals that gallop through the bedtime scenes. This is a lovely, warm book that elicits a smile and chuckle as you read it aloud.

Brave.Black.First.jpgBrave. Black. First.: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World
Written by Cheryl Willis Hudson and illustrated by Erin K. Robinson
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Non Fiction
Available now!
This book is published in partnership with curators from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and features iconic African American women from the 1700s to the present day. Each woman is depicted in a two-page illustrated spread, with birth and (if relevant) death information, as well as a choice quote, before several paragraphs of biographical data. Readers will surely recognize names of icons like Angela Davis, Simone Biles, and Harriet Tubman, but for younger folks, this may be the first time readers are exposed to women like Civil War army nurse Susie King Taylor or artist Elizabeth Catlett. This biography compilation is a beginner’s guide to the legacy of African American women in the United States and can serve as a stepping stone into more comprehensive information about individuals. This collection includes end-of-book resources to the profiled women, as well as guides to relevant artifacts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, notes from the author and illustrator, and overview of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

BlackIsARainbowColor.jpgBlack Is a Rainbow Color
Written by Angela Joy and illustrated by Euka Holmes
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Picture Book
Available now!
This picture book is a mediation about being Black in the United States; it is an anthem of people, culture, history, and legacy. A child reflects that while red, green, blue, yellow, orange, violet and indigo are rainbow colors, their color is black…and there’s no black in rainbows. But black is everywhere, from “a feather on white winter snow” (p. 3)  to “braids in my best friend’s hair (p. 5) to the “robe on Thurgood’s back” (p. 10) to “dreams and raisins.” (p. 13) Central moments in history, politics, literature, and music are referenced through the text and illustrations of this joyful and exploratory picture book. The illustrations by Euka Holmes carry historical weight, and the detailed images can prompt readers to ask questions. The book’s back matter includes an author’s note and playlist, as well as historical context to events referenced in the text. Several works of poetry alluded to in the picture book’s text are included, and a bibliography. The author also includes a timeline of Black ethnonyms in America, with notes on their development.

CleanGetaway.jpgClean Getaway
Written by Nic Stone
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Children’s Fiction
Available now!
What to do when spring break is canceled and you’re under house arrest by order of your dad? Go on an unsanctioned road trip with your grandma, of course! When Scoob’s G’ma pulls up to his front door in a new Winnebago and announces that he’s going to join her on an epic road trip, Scoob is thrilled. After getting in trouble at school, his spring break is canceled, and he’s basically grounded until further notice. But when G’ma hands him a copy of the Travelers’ Green Book and a treasure box full of memories, Scoob begins to wonder what being his grandmother’s co-pilot really means. Especially when she refuses to call his dad back to let him know where they are. And definitely when she tosses her cell phone at a rest stop. Nic Stone negotiates humor and family trauma against the segregationist history of the American South. Race is central to Scoob’s family story: Scoob is biracial, as is his father; Scoob’s G’ma is white. The road trip juxtaposes the trip G’ma took with Scoob’s grandpa with the present-day trip. While much has changed for the better, much has also stayed the same. This is a funny and poignant tale for younger readers.

ByandBy.jpgBy and By: Charles Albert Tindley the Father of Gospel Music
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Non Fiction Picture Book
Available now!
This exquisite picture book “sings out” the story of Charles Albert Tindley, who was born in 1851 in Maryland to an enslaved father and a free mother. Following the death of his mother, Tindley was hired out to work in the fields. There he heard the spirituals the enslaved workers sang, and it made him want to read the Gospel. Tindley taught himself to read from scraps of newspaper, later becoming a pastor who preached and sang the word of God. He eventually compiled many of his compositions into a hymnal and is considered the father of American gospel music. Carole Boston Weatherford introduces the story as a sermon inside a song, telling Tindley’s story in rhyming prose interspersed with lyrics from Tindley’s own compositions and African-American spirituals. Bryan Collier’s magnificent watercolor and collage images create both grounded and heavenly beauty on the page. Collier deliberately includes pieces of sheet music throughout the story’s pages, having it dance throughout the book. By and By’s additional resources include a list of songs used in the book, songs written by Tindley, as well as author and illustrator notes.