Apples Trees and Apologies: A Review of Rita & Ralph’s Rotten Day

Rita & Ralph’s Rotten Day
Written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Pete Oswald
Ages 4-8 years
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Rita and Ralph are best buds who always meet at the apple tree equidistant between their two houses, and spend their days playing games and making daisy chains. But an accident and hurt feelings leave Rita mad and Ralph sorry, but then their roles reverse and then flip again, all while traveling up and down the many hills between their two houses. Only when they’ve exhausted their emotions, can they meet in the middle again and blurt out exactly what they want to say, “I’m sorry.”

Carmen Agra Deedy takes on the familiar fingerplay, “Mr. Wiggle & Mr. Waggle,” and roots it in a relatable story, deepening and enriching it. The actions and feelings flow quickly: an accident leads to hurt noggins, which leads to hurt feelings, which leads to anger, which leads to frustration, which also leads to guilt, which also leads to missing your friend! Quite a ride, but as any caregiver knows: this is part of learning and understanding emotions. After all, who hasn’t caused hurt and felt bad—and who hasn’t let unresolved anger overflow into other things? The song-like nature of the words belies just how complex feelings can be. Pete Oswald’s pitch-perfect drawings are an excellent complement to this complexity. The images are inextricably linked to the up-the-hill-and-down-the-hill refrains. The characters’ eyebrows and wide eyes convey those ever-changing emotions, while the whimsical apple dotted hillside remains bright and safe enough to house those large and upsetting feelings.

In the back portion of the picture book is a supplementary hand game manual, detailing how to incorporate hand gestures into telling this tale.

Butler Bookshelf


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!

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!

Butler Bookshelf


Welcome to our first Butler Bookshelf of 2020! This year brings some great new reads, for history buffs and memoir lovers alike — plus, some cute alpaca action!

Where’s The Narwhal?
Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius
Published by Nosy Crow
Available January 21, 2020

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey
Written and illustrated by Henry Cole
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 7, 2020

Macca the Alpaca
Written and illustrated by Matt Cosgrove
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
Written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published by Jabberwocky
Available today!

Show Me A Sign
Written by Ann Clare LeZotte
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey
Written by Magdalena and Nathaniel Newman
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available today!

Written and illustrated by Allen Say
Published by Scholastic Press
Available March 3, 2020

Kent State
Written by Deborah Wiles
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 21, 2020

‘Tis the (Book Awards) Season

Back by popular demand—the BCLC Mock CaldeNott Awards. After the fanfare of the Youth Media Awards in January, let’s chat about some of the truly fabulous books published abroad or by non-US illustrators that are sadly left out of the Caldecott conversation. We’ll use the official Caldecott terms and criteria to evaluate picture books ineligible for the actual award, due to their foreign provenance, and pick a winner. Won’t you join us?

When: Saturday, February 1, 2020 1-4pm

1-2:00: Books and snacks

2-3:30: Discussion

3:30-4: Voting

Where: Butler Children’s Literature Center, Crown 214

RSVP to by January 29th to save your seat.


2019 Books for Consideration

Angryman by Gro Dahle, illustrated by Svein Nyhus (Norway) NorthSouth

A Visit to Grandad: An African ABC by Sade Fadipe, illustrated by Shedrach Ayalomeh (Nigeria) Cassava Republic Press

Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed (Canada) Simon & Schuster

Birdsong by Julie Flett (Canada/Cree-Metis tribal affiliation) Greystone Kids

Hicotea: A Nightlights Story by Lorena Alvarez (Colombia) Nobrow

The Moose of Ewenki by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane, illustrated by Jui (China) Greystone Kids

My Cat Looks Like My Dad by Thao Lam (Canada) Owlkids

The Piano Recital by Akiko Miyakoshi (Japan) Kids Can Press

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe (Canada) Simon & Schuster

Small in the City by Sydney Smith (Canada) Neal Porter Books

Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home by Guojing (China) Schwartz & Wade

Sweet Dreamers by Isabelle Simler (France) Eerdmans

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi (Iran) Sourcebooks

Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock (UK) Knopf


Holiday Break

The Butler Children’s Literature Center and Dominican University will be closed from Monday, December 23, 2019 through Wednesday, January 1, 2020. Appointments are available by arrangement with the Curator from January 2-10 (email us at, with scheduled open hours beginning the week of January 13, 2020.

holiday 2019 1

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe, and well-read holiday season.


Butler Bookshelf


Goats and tigers and ostriches, oh my! It’s animals galore over here for our latest Butler Bookshelf, a collection of fiction and nonfiction tales (or “tails?”) for elementary age readers.

Tiger Time (True Tales of Rescue)
Written by Kama Einhorn
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available now!

Santa’s Puppy
Written by Catherine Hapka
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available now!

Dog Driven
Written by Terry Lynn Johnson
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available today!

Ostriches (Superpower Field Guide)
Written by Rachel Poliquin and illustrated by Nicholas John Frith
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available now!