Pure Imagination: A Review of Window

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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!

 

Danger in the Water: A Review of Mayhem

cover179111-mediumMayhem
Written by Estelle Laure
Published by Wednesday Books / St. Martin’s Press
Ages 14 +
Available July 14, 2020

Mayhem Brayburn knows her mother never wanted to go back to Santa Maria, a small coastal California town. But when her stepfather goes too far, she and her mom take off for home. Mayhem was only a baby when she was last in Santa Maria, and it’s nothing like Mayhem expected. For one thing, there’s been a spate of girls gone missing—vanished from the beach without a trace. For another, the townspeople seem to think the Brayburns have mystical powers, something Mayhem’s mom and her estranged aunt don’t discourage. And finally, Mayhem’s aunt has taken in several wayward youngsters, around Mayhem’s own age, and they seem dangerous.

Mayhem is a wild story full of supernatural twists and lore, and everyday all-too-common horror (abuse, murder, addiction, sexual assault). Our title character’s name may mean chaos and anarchy, but Mayhem sees clearly through the turmoil that rages around her and her mother. Things go fuzzy for Mayhem when others take control. But what control does Mayhem have if all Brayburns follow the same destiny? Author Estelle Laure hooks readers with a story of magic passed down generation to generation. A journal from the Brayburn women’s lineage interspersed between the present day and illuminates much of the novel’s mystery. Readers should take note: this is an adrenaline-filled book, filled with edgy material and language.

 

Butler Bookshelf

What brings us comfort these days? Lately, it’s what’s familiar–which is why we’re so excited to spotlight so many series in this week’s Butler Bookshelf. Looking for fantasy and adventure? Pick up the latest Will Wilder! Perhaps a heartwarming animal tale? We suggest Poppy the most recent American Dog installment. For more ideas, check out the list below!

Will Wilder #3: The Amulet of Power
Written by Raymond Arroyo
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane
Written by Kate O’Shaughnessy
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (Film Tie-In Edition)
Written and illustrated by Stephan Pastis
Published by Candlewick Entertainment
Available now!

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

A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #12: Space Shuttle Scam
Written by Ron Roy and illustrated by John Steven Gurney
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

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

Mind Over Matter? A Review of The Edge of Anything

41ijEI30ipL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Edge of Anything
Written by Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Published by Running Press Kids
Available March 24, 2020
Ages 13+

Sage is going places: she’s a varsity senior on her school volleyball squad, scouted by Penn State and UNC. But when a court accident leads to a medical disqualification, she’s sent reeling. Her family isn’t helping, and her teammates just don’t get it. But then she meets high school loner Len. Len isn’t going places: Len’s stuck. Ever since a family tragedy, her photography has lacked life and Len has been picking up strange fears: most recently, dirt and the diseases it holds—even though she used to hike the Asheville mountains every day. As Sage and Len’s friendship grows, so does their willingness to face their inner turmoil.

In some ways, this is a tough read. Len, a gifted artist, struggles with grief and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder amidst a troubling family backdrop—a family of free thinkers who believe the mind is enough to cure what ails. Sage, faced with devastating and scary news of a genetic medical condition, also struggles and shuts out her family and friends. Both teenage girls exhibit scary signs that something is wrong, but families, teachers, coaches, and teammates are unable to get through to either girl. Despite the serious topics (mental health, grief, genetic conditions), both Sage and Len are fully realized teenagers—and their big deal topics are imbued with adolescent attitude. Sage doesn’t mean to ice out her teammates, but she thinks that they should be able to intuit what kind of support she needs. Len does not want anyone to feel pity for her family, so she doesn’t seek help or confide in anyone about their financial circumstances. Author Nora Shalaway Carpenter writes the girls’ stories with great care. Her author’s note details her own experience with trauma-induced Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In addition to her own story, she spotlights mental health resources at the close of the book.

 

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!

Stay Present: A Review of Anxiety Relief for Teens

41ypsbnU6fL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAnxiety Relief for Teens: Essential CBT Skills and Mindfulness Practices to Overcome Anxiety and Stress
Written by Regine Galanti, PhD
Published by Zeitgeist
Available March 31, 2020
Ages 13+

In this practice-based book, Dr. Regine Galanti addresses anxiety in teens. Galanti is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of the New York-based Long Island Behavioral Psychology and has expertise in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, as well as parenting and behavior problems. Galanti employs cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, to give teenagers mindfulness tools and coping skills so that they can—with consistent practice—meet their fears and challenges and improve their quality of life.

Mindfulness is a word thrown around a lot these days. For Galanti, mindfulness skills are integral in addressing anxiety because they allow the individual to be present and observe their surroundings without judgment. Of course, as anyone who’s tried to meditate knows: it’s no easy feat. Which is why the realism behind her Galanti’s mindfulness practices will be welcome  to anyone who’s ever worked with teenagers: no quick fixes are promised, but consistent and deliberate practice can improve one’s reaction to life’s stressors. These practices run the gamut from “talking back” to your fears to visualization exercises where teens imagine breathing in a calm color (blue) and exhale a stressful color (in this case yellow, like a caution sign). The sheer abundance of cognitive behavioral techniques (there are over 30 instances) lets readers choose what works for them—and invites them to try on different tools for different stressors. Galanti’s judgment-free writing makes these exercises appealing, never shaming. It is important to note: Galanti is quick to provide hotline numbers and a medical disclaimer in the pages. That warning is serious; this book can be a wonderful supplement to those in treatment—possibly a standalone for a teen who is looking to improve their negative reactivity. This is a great resource for teens, but it should not be the only resource. This book includes quiz-style assessments, sample worksheets, and diagrams; its back matter includes a list of mental health resources.