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.

Sharing Languages and Stories: A Review of The Day Saida Arrived

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The Day Saida Arrived
Written by Susana Gómez Redondo, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, and translated from Spanish into English by Lawrence Schimel
Published by Blue Dot Kids Press
Available Sept 15, 2020
Ages 3-7

When Saida arrives, she does not speak any English. In fact, she does not speak at all. Sad and silent, the young narrator wants to find words that will help Saida alleviate her sadness. She cannot find them anywhere. So instead, she draws a welcome; in return, Saida draws a smile. The young narrator continues to search and search for Saida’s words, and she learns that Saida is from Morocco. Her mother shows her on a globe. Her father explains that Saida’s words and language are different; she speaks Arabic. The next day, she and Saida write to each other in their native languages. They touch objects in their classroom and write their own version of the name on the blackboard. They work on their “B” sounds and rolling their “Rs” and differentiating between “E” and “I.” They laugh and giggle through their mistakes. As the two friends share their languages, their snacks, and their stories, they plan for when they will travel to Morocco together.

Susana Gómez Redondo spins a beautiful tale. The words curl and warm themselves around the two young strangers and glow as their bond develops. Repetition of the phrase, “The day Saida arrived,” gives the story a timeless quality that is rooted only in the pair’s friendship. The artwork by Sonja Wimmer is exquisite and vivid. Drenched in emotion, Wimmer conjures up the emotions felt by Saida when she is unable to express herself. The illustrations are fantastical: the friends climb onto a hippopotamus, walk a clothesline as a high wire, and sail away on a hot air balloon. Words in English and Arabic dance around the pages. Some Arabic letters sprout wings and fly. The illustrations create a magical and otherworldly exploration of the friends’ journey to understanding one another. The picture book’s backmatter contains a chart of both the Arabic and English alphabet.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we meet Jabari! Jabari is so, so ready to jump off the diving board. He’s done everything he is supposed to: finished swimming lesson, passed the swim test, plus he is an excellent jumper! Despite this, he is still nervous. With his father’s encouragement, Jabari takes on his fear.  Written by Gaia Cornwall and translated into Spanish by Georgina Lázaro, Jabari Salta is a sweet picture book that is perfect for Father’s Day. For more great reads, check out the list below!

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself To Freedom
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Michele Wood
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Jabari Salta (Spanish edition)
Written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall, translated by Georgina Lázaro
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Madame Badobedah
Written by Sophie Dahl and illustrated by Lauren O’Hara
Published by Walker Books
Available now!

Don’t Worry Little Crab
Written and illustrated by Chris Haughton
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Cats in the Crater: My FANGtastically Evil Vampire Pet
Written by Mo O’Hara and illustrated by Marek Jagucki
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Available now!

Big Ideas For Young Thinkers: 20 questions about life and the universe
Written by 
Jamia Wilson and illustrated by Andrea Pippins
Published by Wide Eyed Editions
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!

Exploring Boundaries: A Review of Hug?

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Written and illustrated by Charlene Chua
Published by Kids Can Press
Available September 1, 2020
Ages 3-7

Sometimes a hug makes everything feel better. After a girl’s cat suffers from a gnarly hairball and falls ill, the girl offers a hug, and everything improves! But then one by one, more animals come by for a hug. First, a dog asks politely. Next, a pair of flapping ducks arrive. Third in line is a stinky skunk. And that’s just the beginning! This humorous tale asks, “How many hugs are too many?”

This charming picture book is filled with a delightful menagerie of creatures. Each scene sets the stage for the next potential hug confrontation to come. As the demands increase, so does the girl’s weariness. With each new hug, which demands more of the girl, the reader gets an opportunity to laugh – hug a porcupine?! – and see the girl’s reactive emotions. The images take center stage here, and oversized visual cues about emotions and feelings are both silly and educative. Charlene Chua’s expressive illustrations lay the foundation for conversations around boundaries and empathy. In these socially distanced days where hugs can be few and far between, this book is a timely, lovely addition to a collection.

 

Opposites Attract: A Review of 10 Things I Hate About Pinky

10 things I hate about Pinky

10 Things I Hate About Pinky
By Sandhya Menon
June 30, 2020
Published by Simon & Schuster
Grades 7 and up

Fans of Menon’s previous works (When Dimple Met Rishi, There’s Something About Sweetie, and From Twinkle, With Love) will be excited to read her latest work, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. Pinky is proud to be a social justice warrior, but her mother doesn’t feel the same way. After another fight where Pinky’s mother unfairly judges her, Pinky makes up a perfect fake boyfriend that her mom would love; but now Pinky must find this perfect boy. Enter Samir. A friend of a friend, Samir is stuck in D.C. after an internship with a coveted law firm falls through. When Pinky reaches out to him to be her fake boyfriend, Samir sees his chance to get an in with Pinky’s respected, lawyer mom. Although they start fake dating for their own reasons, they soon find that there might actually be something between them. Lines between fake and real begin to blur, and they both have to decide if this is what they want.

Told in alternating voices, Menon transitions seamlessly between the two. Menon leaves no loose ends, resolving all major and minor conflicts neatly. Clearly inspired by the movie 10 Things I Hate About You—which in turn was inspired by Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew—Menon makes the choice to keep the romance in the forefront but also explore issues of identity, environmentalism, familial discord, and more. All of this make for a refreshing take on a well-known and beloved story. A funny and charming book that will pluck at the heartstrings of many a rom-com lover.

Don’t Trust Your Cravings: A Review of When We Vanished

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When We Vanished (Call of the Crow Quartet, Book One)
Written by Alanna Peterson
Published by Rootcity Press
Available June 2, 2020

After Andi Lin’s family record store goes bust, her dad enlists in a clinical trial run by food corporation Nutrexo that promises big bucks. But when Andi cannot get in touch with him, she starts to worry—especially when she learns that Nutrexo’s involved in a harmful research study. Andi’s next-door neighbor Cyrus is also wary of Nutrexo; his mom worked for them years ago, and he knows she’s keeping secrets from her family.

Alanna Peterson writes a complex and compelling mystery that indicts the U.S. food industry. Even the most innocent-seeming things take on a scary new meaning in When We Vanished. Take Blazin Bitz, that delectable chip from Nutrexo: no one can resist them! And soon enough Andi, Cyrus, and Cyrus’ siblings know why when the break into SILO, Nutrexo’s  top-secret research facility. What they discover there is not for the squeamish. These instances of violence, medical experimentation, and animal cruelty—while crucial to the plot—may upset readers. But there is also plenty for readers to enjoy: wonderful recipes and food imagery, teenage crushes, and unyielding family bonds. These enjoyable parts don’t play second fiddle to the action—the relationships and personalities that make up the characters’ world drive this thriller into unexpected places. With so many overlapping plots, even one concerning the main villain’s background, you’d think the reader would lose track. Not so—every single story sucks you in. Good thing When We Vanished is the only the first installment of the Call of the Crow Quartet. There is plenty of material here for a series.

 

The Great Pet Escape: A Review of The Barnabus Project

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The Barnabus Project
By Terry, Eric, and Dan Fan
September 1, 2020
Published by Tundra
Grades K-2

Underneath the Perfect Pet story lies a huge laboratory where people in green rubber suits make the perfect pets. Pets that aren’t perfect, like Barnabus, are known as failed projects. Failed projects are placed in bell jars where they stay until the green rubber suits are ready to recycle them. Worried that being recycled will mean that Barnabus will no longer be himself, he escapes his bell jar and helps the other failed projects escape the lab. Though they may not be perfect, the failed projects have each other, and they learn to be happy with the things that make them unique.

A sci-fi pet adventure that shows that it’s okay to be different. Where similar stories end with characters being accepted by the group that had previously rejected them, The Barnabus Project makes the interesting choice have the characters be accepted. Instead, the book shows that the failed projects never needed to be accepted in the first place. They just needed each other. Gorgeous illustrations help bring the story to life. A touching story about cute and loveable, misfits that reassures readers that no one has to be perfect.

Butler Bookshelf

Any book about an aspiring trapeze artist has our full attention–that’s why we’re so eager to leap into Harley in the Sky, a new read in teen fiction by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Oh, and did we mention it features a traveling circus named named Maison du Mystère? For more great reads, check out the rest of the Butler Bookshelf for new publications and info on ALA’s National Library Week, which runs from April 19-25!

Harley in the Sky
Written by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published by Simon Pulse
Available now!

Spindle and Dagger
Written by J. Anderson Coats
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Mermaid Moon
Written by Susann Cokal
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Houndsley and Catina at the Library
Written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

The Degenerates
Written by J. Albert Mann
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Available now!

A Wish in the Dark
Written by Christina Soontornvat
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

For more on ALA’s National Library Week:

ALA National Library Week

The theme for National Library Week, “Find your place at the library,” was chosen months ago before the emergence of a global pandemic forced most libraries to temporarily close their buildings.

While most libraries have closed their buildings to the public in the interest of community health and safety, they are open for business online, providing the virtual services and digital content their communities need now more than ever. Many libraries have expanded their access to digital content and found innovative ways to continue their programming virtually.

To highlight these efforts, we decided to build on the original National Library Week theme by flipping the text to “Find the library at your place.” For more tools for librarians, please check out the site.

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!