The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, November 2018

Book Tree

How is it we are already looking at a Christmas tree in the Crown Library? I may not be ready for the holidays just yet, but it does seem appropriate with this wintry weather. And as the year winds down, it also seems appropriate for the requisite year-end, or at least semester-end, recap. So here’s just a quick look at what the Butler Children’s Literature Center has been up to this semester and a sneak peek at what we’re planning for the Spring semester.


Fall Semester Happenings–

Professional Development

This semester we were thrilled to host two professional development events for librarians, teachers, teacher-librarians, and really everyone interested in great books and getting them into the hands of great kids.

Sarah AronsonIn September, we welcomed Evanston author Sarah Aronson for a chat about local authors and creative ways to incorporate their books into your programming. Her presentation, “Made in Illinois: New Books by Illinois Authors and How to Use them in the Classroom (and Library),” sparked an engaging conversation about how collaboration between authors, teachers, and librarians can make books come alive. She also shared information about READ LOCAL, a new initiative by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for connecting those who create books with those who share them. Find out more at


In October, professional reviewers Janice Del Negro (Associate Professor, Dominican University SOIS) and Hal Patnott (Library Assistant, Oak Park Public Library and former Butler Center Graduate Assistant) led a book reviewing workshop with thoughtful discussion on the history of reviewing and current trends in the field, as well as the resources and skills required for professional reviewing of youth literature.


Illinois Library Association Annual Conference

I was excited to spend three days at the ILA Annual Conference in Peoria this October attending programming sessions, reconnecting with former colleagues and classmates, and chatting with alumni at the DU exhibit table. The knowledge, passion, and collaborative spirit on display throughout the event were truly inspiring. And the ILA staff and conference committee did an impressive job of hosting, organizing, shepherding, and generally managing the chaos of that many librarians in one place.

What’s Up Next–

Butler Center Book Sale

Join us for the annual Butler Center Book Sale on Friday 12/7 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm* and Saturday 12/8 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Get expert book recommendations, enjoy cider and cookies, and check some gifts off your holiday shopping list. Know a teacher or librarian that could use some new books in their collection? Bring them along! Hardcover books are just $5 and paperbacks only $2. Proceeds from the sale support Butler Center programming. *Please note the change in Friday’s closing time from previous book sale announcements.

butlercenter booksale 2018 UPDATE JPEG


Ellin Greene Memorial Storytelling Tea

We were saddened to learn about the passing of Ellin Greene this past summer. This storyteller, author, teacher, mentor, and Butler Children’s Literature Center champion will be missed in the storytelling community and beyond. In her honor, the Butler Center will host a Storytelling Tea on Sunday, January 13th at 3:00 pm. Storytellers Janice Del Negro, Marie Ringenberg, and special guests will share tales in memory of their friend and colleague. If you’d like to join us in celebrating the life and legacy of Ellin Greene, please RSVP to Jen Clemons at by January 4th.


Butler Lecture

carmen_agra_deedy_163x163On March 20, 2019, the Butler Children’s Literature Center welcomes award-winning children’s author, Carmen Agra Deedy for the 7th Annual Butler Lecture. Join us for The End of the Story as Deedy shares rousing tales of her own families’ life experiences and how the most unlikely of teachers coupled with a series of seemingly small events, made an enormous impact in shaping generations of lifelong learners. The lecture begins at 6:00 pm; a reception and book signing will follow the lecture. Registration opens mid-January.


Professional Development

Our professional development series will continue next semester. Keep your eye out for announcements on Spring events focused on self-care (for those of us that invest so much of ourselves in the kids we serve), as well as research and programs to support kids in bilingual homes. Dates and times to be announced on the Butler’s Pantry in later this year.

Open Hours

The Butler Center welcomes teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone interested in literature for young people. As the holiday season approaches, we will be closed following the Dominican University school closing calendar for the Christmas/New Year break, but otherwise open Monday – Thursday from noon-4 p.m., or by appointment with the curator; contact to make special arrangements or just to make sure we’re not on vacation.

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 want to 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!

Happy Holidays,

Jen Clemons

Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center
Dominican University SOIS

Raising Readers: A Review of Mousie, I Will Read to You


Mousie, I Will Read to You
Rachael Cole & Melissa Crowton
Schwartz & Wade Books, November 2018

Young Mousie grows up a reader in this new picture book written by Rachael Cole and illustrated by Melissa Crowton. Mama Mouse takes every opportunity to read to Mousie, from “Long before the words make sense,” to “In the middle of the night,” and “When morning comes.” In this way, Mousie goes from avid listener to a reader himself, choosing his own books and reading them by flashlight after bedtime. The cycle of reading continues as Mousie begins a family of his own.

Digital artwork in soft, primary colors centers on Mousie growing up with his mother and their life together. Small details like background art, book covers, and Mousie’s own toys add to the enjoyment of turning the page. Mousie, I Will Read to You ends with a page of tips for “Raising a Reader,” from Dr. Pamela High of the American Academy of Pediatrics, including ways to make reading together enjoyable and beneficial.

The Wild City: A Review of Animal City


Animal City
Joan Negrescolor
Chronicle Books,
November 2018

Animal City depicts a place overrun by unrestrained animals and plants, which Nina explores. Each day she returns to tell the animals their favorite stories. Some animals love to hear tales about myths and monsters or traveling to outer space while others prefer poems about sailors. The story shows Nina traveling through the forgotten city, emphasizing themes of curiosity and exploration of nature. Negrescolor’s text is simple, yet conveys a powerful message that stories have the ability to enthrall and capture the attention of anyone or anything. The digitally-created illustrations use vibrant and bold shades of red, blue, yellow, black, and green to create their jungle. By using digital art in this medium, Negrescolor depicts a chaotic wilderness, reflecting the mood of the story. The book simulates our curiosity because it is not clear what happened to humanity. The narrative allows for imagination to fill in the missing pieces here. Since there is not a lot of writing, this gives an opportunity for the pictures to tell the story and fully represent this ruined city.

Announcing “Read Local”

As promised in our “Made in Illinois” post, we’d like to share updated information about SCBWI’s Read Local website and resource for anyone looking to collaborate with authors and illustrators from Illinois. Here is their launch video:

We invite local librarians and educators to use Read Local in their programming and instruction, and don’t forget to visit Butler Children’s Literature Center to see what’s new in board books, picture books, nonfiction, early readers and chapter books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction! We are open Monday-Thursday from 12-4 pm, or by appointment (email

Happy collaborating!

Duty, Loyalty, Love: A Review of Empress of All Seasons


Empress of All Seasons

Empress of All Seasons
Emiko Jean
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 2018

As per tradition, when the land of Honoku needs a new empress, a competition is held. All eligible women are invited, and the one who survives each of the four enchanted seasonal rooms is deemed worthy of the title of Empress of Honoku and position next to Taro, the prince next in line to be emperor. Mari has trained for this competition since childhood, though as yōkai she is technically ineligible to compete. Yōkai, supernatural beings, are under threat and enslaved by the current emperor. But Mari cares little about the rules or the prince – she competes for the power of being empress, and to bring change to Honoku from within. Taro himself doesn’t enjoy being a prize to be won, and cares little about his power – he would rather spend time in his lab with his mechanical inventions. Akira, another yōkai and friend of Mari, works to overthrow the Emperor from the outside while Mari keeps her true identity hidden to join the competition. Taro may just become their greatest ally, if they can learn to trust each other when their identities and motivations are revealed.

A detailed world and political structure along with multiple perspectives gives this fantasy novel depth and puts the reader at the immediacy of the action. Inspired by her Japanese heritage, Jean has created an escape for readers that questions the sacrifices made for duty and love, and challenges the notion of tradition as a value to be upheld.

Where Do You Fit In? A Review of Click


Click by Kayla Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2019
Ages 10-13

In Kayla Miller’s Click, the variety show is coming up at school and outgoing Olive has not been asked to join a group. This leaves her feeling outcast and alone when she is unable to find her own “click.” Olive refuses her mom’s help to find a group, instead turning to her Aunt Molly. She decides the best choice is to become a host, the talent show announcer. In her words, “It would be a way that I could help all of my friends with their acts by introducing them” (p.132). This story was heartfelt and cute with bright colored pastel artwork which suggest that the tone is cheerful. The digital medium conveys the lively tone through expressive faces and flat simplistic backgrounds with bold highlight lines. The novel does a wonderful job touching on family relationships, specifically mother and daughter. At first, Olive’s mom oversteps her boundaries in trying to help her. By the end of the novel, a balance is achieved between allowing Olive to be independent and encouraging her to follow through. Olive also learns that, in friendships, growing apart and having different interests is okay. Her friends even encourage her in her choice to become a host. The novel has a solid plot portraying realistic issues for friendship and family. Miller shows these serious middle school themes in a lighthearted way that doesn’t take away from the tension.