The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, September 2019

The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, September 2019

The library is bustling, it’s impossible to find a parking spot on campus, and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils is in the air—it’s fall! My favorite season has arrived with pumpkin spice-flavored everything and I couldn’t be happier to start pulling out my sweaters and adding new titles to my TBR list for the chilly days ahead. But first, an update on all things exciting in the Butler Children’s Literature Center.

Storytelling ref shelf

What We’ve Been Doing–

Storyteller figureSummer can be quiet in a university library, which makes it the perfect time for big, messy projects. Over the past few months, we’ve been evaluating our permanent collections to get a good look at what we have, what we need, and how we can put the information to use for our community. The Butler graduate assistants spent most of the summer at work on the Ellin Greene Folk and Fairytale Collection—sorting, labeling, cataloging new books, and reorganizing (oh my!). Want to see what’s new? The collection is now searchable through the Rebecca Crown Library catalog, or you can stop by to browse the shelves in person. The Effie Lee Morris Collection of African American Children’s Books also got summer makeover. We analyzed the collection for Own Voices content, dividing the collection into two separate categories: Own Voices plus African American Content and Characters. It was wonderful, though not surprising, to see that Morris prioritized authentic experiences in her collection, despite the lack of author diversity when she began collecting in the 1950s. We are proud to steward this collection and continue adding titles from some of today’s influential voices in youth literature.

Guest Reviewers
Earlier this year we put the call out to local authors interested in book reviewing with the Butler Center. Through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, we partnered with many talented authors to review and promote just a few of the wonderful titles we received this year. You can find their reviews on our blog, Butler’s Pantry, as well as information on the authors and SCBWI.

Butler Youth Services Scholarship
Nora Sanchez photoWe’ve been hard at work on a new scholarship initiative this year and are thrilled to announce the first recipient—Nora Sanchez. Ms. Sanchez is a Dominican alumna, local library assistant, and newly-minted student in the School of Information Studies. Make sure to say hello if you run into her at a Butler event. The Butler Youth Services Scholarship will be awarded annually to a student from a background underrepresented in library science and, in addition to receiving financial assistance, Butler Scholars will work closely with their advisor, the Butler Center, and a librarian-mentor as a support structure for their graduate school career and beyond. You can find out more about the scholarship here. The application window for the next award will open in 2020.

What’s Up Next–

Ellin Greene Storytelling Tea
2019 Greene Memorial TeaIn January, we gathered for an afternoon of stories in memory of Dr. Ellin Greene. After that lovely afternoon of stories and memories shared, we were inspired to make it an annual event, but with less chance for a blizzard. Please join us on Sunday, October 13th at 3 p.m. for stories by Janice Del Negro, Marie Ringenberg, and Janet Thompson in celebration of Ellin Greene and her contributions to the Butler Center and the storytelling community. Please RSVP to by October 6th.

Illinois Library Association Annual Conference
Will we see you at ILA? You’ll find the Butler Center at the Dominican School of Information Studies booth (#415) and I’ll be bouncing around to check out all the cool things SOIS alumni are doing at the conference. Stop by to chat at the booth or join us for the Dominican iSchool Alumni Reception on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 5-6 p.m. in the Pebble Beach room at the convention center.

Butler Center Book Sale
Mark your calendars for the annual book sale! Whether you’re looking for holiday gifts or adding to your library collection, we’re here to help with cookies, cider, and expert recommendations. Friday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Dec 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Butler Center.

Fall Open Hours

The Butler Center welcomes teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone interested in literature for young people. Fall 2019 open hours are Mondays 10-6, Tuesdays 3-6, Wednesdays 12-6, and Thursdays 9-noon and 1-6. Or contact us at to schedule an appointment.

The Center is a non-lending library, but our staff is here to assist you in locating books that address specific themes, age groups, or reading levels.

The Butler Center is located in the Rebecca Crown Library, room 214, on Dominican’s main campus at 7900 W. Division Street in River Forest, Illinois. Directions and a campus map are available here. The Butler Center is administered by Dominican’s School of Information Studies and is generously supported by the Butler Family Foundation. We hope you’ll visit us, or join us for an event, and stay tuned for our news and upcoming events. Please contact me with any questions you have. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Jen Clemons

Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center
Dominican University SOIS

Last Night at the Patch: A Review of Pumpkinheads


Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Graphic novel
First Second Books, August 27, 2019
Ages 14-17

It’s the last night of their final pumpkin patch season before Deja and Josiah head off to college. As the weather turns, Deja cajoles her employee-of-the-month pal to leave the confines of the Succotash Hut and give their beloved pumpkin patch an epic sendoff. Author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park) teams up with author/writer Faith Erin Hicks (Comics Will Break Your Heart) to deliver a madcap adventure of two friends navigating their ways through love, friendship, and corn mazes.

Graphic novel Pumpkinheads combines a pithy humor with teenage self-reflection. The quirky pop culture references (there is a John Denver cover band called John Colorado Springs) are delightful, but more delightful is Deja, a pumpkin patch heartbreaker whose love of snacks is only surpassed by her affection for her friend Josiah. Josiah plays the rule-abider to Deja’s social butterfly and the two complement each other well. However, Rowell and Hicks do not let their characters stay stuck in their ways. When the pair’s discussion turns to fate, Josiah says his leave-it-up-to-fate attitude is a perfect match for Deja’s go-getter nature. Deja is quick to reply that his passive nature means that she is the one doing the work to makes things happen.

Rowell and Hicks alternate action sequences with emotional revelations. Despite great dialogue, some of the most powerful moments are close-ups of Deja’s face when her emotions shift. Near the end of their evening together, Deja’s face reacting to a plain but heartfelt admission from Josiah is familiar and priceless to any teenager or former teenager.

[[Following the story is a conversation between collaborators Rowell and Hicks, delving into plot ideas, character development, and the artistic design process.]]


Save the Date

Mark your calendar for the eighth annual Butler Lecture featuring award winning illustrator Bryan Collier.

When:      March 4, 2020 6 p.m.
Reception and book signing to follow

Where:     Eloise Martin Recital Hall
Dominican University, Fine Arts Building
7900 West Division Street
River Forest, IL 60305

The lecture is free and open to the public with registration required. Registration will open January 2020.

collier photo from website

Bryan Collier is a beloved illustrator known for his unique style combining watercolor and detailed collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for Trombone Shorty, Dave the Potter, Martin’s Big Words, and Rosa. His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. His recent books include By and By, Thurgood, The Five O’Clock Band, and Between the Lines. He lives in New York with his family.


To find out more about Bryan Collier’s art and illustration, visit him at



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!





Woman on the Mountain: A Review of At the Mountain’s Base


At the Mountain’s Base
By Traci Sorell
Illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
Kokila September 17, 2019
Ages Pre K-8

In At the Mountain’s Base, Traci Sorell shares the story of a Cherokee family tucked in a cozy cabin, preparing a daily meal as grandmother weaves nearby. As the family works, they sing, focusing their thoughts on a loved one, a US Air Force pilot “protecting and defending” far away. The family’s love and worries unfold in this simple, lyrical poem. Every sentence in the poem starts with a prepositional phrase, “On that stove,” “Around that grandmother,” “Within their song.” This consistent, cohesive pattern draws the reader in and pulls them gently through the family’s actions, those centered around a warm stove and those performed far off in the sky. Weshoyot Alvitre’s realistic illustrations clearly capture the different family members’ emotions, showing their love, worry, and pride. The Cherokee family highlighted in the poem is fictional. However, Sorell’s author’s note provides factual notes on the role of women from American Indian and Alaska Native Nations within the US Armed Forces. She specifically details the role of Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, the only Native woman to serve as a Women Airforce Service Pilot during World War II. As a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Traci Sorell reveals the American Indian experience in a voice as authentic and respectful as in her previous picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (Charlesbridge, 2018). At the Mountain’s Base is a wonderful homage to Native veterans everywhere.

Many thanks to local author, SCBWI-IL member, and guest reviewer, Michelle Schaub. Schaub is a children’s poet and teacher from Downers Grove, Illinois. Her second poetry collection, FINDING TREASURE: A COLLECTION OF COLLECTIONS (Charlesbridge, 2019), shares a release date with AT THE MOUNTAIN’S BASE on September 17th. Learn more about Michelle and her books at