Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we have many books with interesting stories, including picture book No Buddy like a Book by Allan Wolf. It’s fun book that reminds us of the power of reading and how far our imagination can take us. For more great reads, check out the list below!

ParaNorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

Written by Stephanie Cooke and Illustrated by Mari Costa

Published by Etch/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Available July 6, 2021!

Ghosted

Written and Illustrated by Michael Fry

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Available now!

Can We Talk About Consent

Written by Justin Hancock and Illustrated by Fuchsia MacAree

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Available now!

Road Trip! A Whiskers Hollow Adventure

Written and Illustrated by Steve Light

Published by Candlewick

Available February 9, 2021!

The Star Outside My Window

Written by Onjali Q. Rauf

Published by Random House

Available now!

No Buddy Like a Book

Written by Allan Wolf and Illustrated by Brianna Farley

Published by Candlewick

Available February 9, 2021!

Finding Kinship: A Review of I Am a Bird

I Am a Bird
Hope Lim
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
Candlewick Press
Available February 2, 2021
Ages 3-7

A young girl joyfully embraces her morning commute, imagining herself a bird flying to school on the back of her father’s bicycle. She waves to friends and neighbors, and sings to her fellow birds as they soar by. A stern older woman is the only thing to dim her smile, when curiosity fights with anxiety about the unknown person and her unfriendly behavior. Her stranger-danger only increases until the day they discover the woman feeding and singing to the girl’s beloved birds. Maybe they’re not so different after all. Hope Lim’s gentle tale of discovering kinship in the most unlikely place is perfect for our current moment of division. The juxtaposition of the little girl’s joy and the woman’s dejected countenance help build enough tension that the revelation of their commonality feels like a celebration. Hyewon Yum’s vibrant colored pencil and gouache illustrations blend an almost architectural precision with softer, freehand coloring and embellishments (and sweet birds). Her emotive faces amplify the story’s sentiment—the girl’s joy and anxiety, the friendliness of their South Korean community, and the woman’s transformation. A sweet reminder that we can all be happier when we focus more on our similarities than our differences.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we are eager to read Over the Shop, a warm tale about a little girl and her grandparents, who need to fill the apartment in their building. This wordless picture book by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Xuan Le spins a sweet story of love and welcome. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Welcome Flower Child: The Magic of Your Birth Flower
Written and illustrated by Brigette Barrager
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

There’s a Superhero in Your Book (Who’s In Your Book?)
Written by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Greg Abbott
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

On Sleepy Hill
Written by Patricia Hegarty and illustrated by Xuan Le
Published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Over The Shop
Written by JonArno Larson and illustrated by Qin Leng
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

In A Flash
Written by Donna Jo Napoli
Published by Wendy Lamb Books
Available now!

The Boy Who Loved Everyone
Written by Jane Porter and illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Pangolin’s Lament: A Review of I Am Not A Penguin

I Am Not A Penguin: A Pangolin’s Lament
Written and illustrated by Liz Wong
Published by Alfred. A. Knopf
Available January 19, 2021
Ages 3-7

A mammal covered in scales introduces himself with, “You may not have met someone like me before. I’m a pangolin,” before beginning his presentation on pangolins to animals unfamiliar with the species. His presentation is soon interrupted by a pig and a giraffe, excited that the presentation may be on penguins (it is not on penguins). As the pangolin continues with his presentation, more animals join the audience. These new audience members, however, focus on more familiar animals that the pangolin’s traits remind them of, like a frog or an anteater. The more traits the pangolin describes, such as claws or a long tongue, the more the animals get confused. When a final hippo shows up, hoping for a penguin, the pangolin shouts that he is not a penguin, or any other animal, and that there are no penguins there at all. Soon though, a penguin crashes the party with a surfboard. The animals squeal with delight and follow the penguin, leaving the pangolin and his presentation. There is one last audience member, a child, who is interested in pangolins. Liz Wong’s playful dive into the curious pangolins is much more than an informational picture book. Wong’s soft and gentle illustrations allow the variety of animals and their reactions to take center stage. Saturated pastel colors pop against the neutral pages, while speech balloons populate the pages as activity increases. Wong takes advantage of page turns and dialogue bubbles to create a pleasing tension as the pangolin’s presentation goes off the rails. After the animals race off to join the hip, shades-sporting penguin, the imagery is apt: the pangolin is curled into a ball for protection following the stampede. Wong’s dialogue is a gift, conversational and hilarious, each animal having its penchant, sometimes for exasperation, like the giraffe, or total fanning out, like the pig. Wong’s picture book ends similarly to how it began, honoring its running gag of animal-association: “What kind of animal are you?” asks the pangolin. “I’m just a kid,” the child replies. The pangolins response is sweet and well timed: “Huh. Like a goat?” The picture book contains informational back matter on the pangolin, written up like pages of a school report.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we cannot wait to begin Mahogany L. Browne’s Chlorine Sky. Written in free verse, this coming-of-age novel explores the loss of friendship, toxic relationships, and self discovery. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Chlorine Sky
Written by Mahogany L. Browne
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Available today!

Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States
Written by Louisa Jaggar and Shari Becker, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Available now!

C is for Country
Written by Lil Nas X and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Midnight Fair
Written by Gideon Sterer and illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
Published by Candlewick
Available February 2!

My Red Hat
Written and illustrated by Rachel Stubbs
Published by Candlewick
Available February 2!

The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Adapted by K. Woodman-Maynard from F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

2021 Follett-Butler Lecture

Dominican University’s School of Information Studies and Butler Children’s Literature Center present: 

Fantastic Black Girlhoods:
A Conversation with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Renée Watson

Join the School of Information Studies and the Butler Children’s Literature Center in conversation with children’s literature scholar and critic Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and award-winning author Renée Watson as they discuss the current moment in literature for black youth and how it fits into the larger body of youth literature. Topics explored include the adultification of black youth, representations of black joy, and diversity within diversity. They will also share their hopes and recommendations for the teachers and librarians sharing books with, and building collections for, all young people.

Monday, March 29, 2021 — 6p.m.
Presented Online
Registration opens in February

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas studies how people of color are portrayed, or not portrayed, in children’s and young adult literature, and how those portrayals shape our culture. She regularly reviews children’s books featuring diverse heroes and heroines, teens and tweens caught between cultures, and kids from the margins for the Los Angeles Times. She has a particular interest in young adult fantasy literature and fan culture. A former English and language arts teacher, Thomas also explores how teachers handle traumatic historical events, such as slavery, when teaching literature. Her most recent academic book is The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games (NYU Press, Spring 2019).

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her poetry and fiction often centers around the lived experiences of black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Renée served as Founder and Executive Director of I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts, from 2016-2019.

Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon and currently lives in New York City.

* Renée Watson photo credit: Shawnte Sims

Butler Bookshelf

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Butler Bookshelf of 2021! We are so glad to have a copy of This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal, a companion to This Book Is Anti-Racist, written by Tiffany Jewell and illustrated by Aurélia Durand. The journal provides information as well as new reflections and prompts to help go deeper into one’s anti-racist journey. The toolkit gives space to learn and grow with activities centered around identity, history, family, your universe, disruption, self-care, privilege, and art. For more great reads, check out the list below!

LOVE
Written by Corrinne Averiss and illustrated Kirsti Beautyman
Published by words & pictures
Available January 19!

A Year Full of Celebrations and Festivals: Over 90 fun and fabulous festivals from around the world!
Written by Claire Grace and illustrated Christopher Corr
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available now!

American As Paneer Pie
Written by Supriya Kelkar
Published by Aladdin
Available now!

This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal: Over 50 activities to help you wake up, take action, and do the work
Written by Tiffany Jewell and illustrated Aurélia Durand
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available February 2!

Prince: Little People, Big Dreams
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Cachetejack
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available January 19!

We Are The Supremes (Friends Change the World)
Written by Zoë Tucker and illustrated by Salini Perera
Published by Wide Eyed Editions
Available January 12!

Bewitching: A Review of My Creepy Valentine

My Creepy Valentine
Written and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Published by Beach Lane Books
Available now
Ages 3-7

Young witch Mitzi loves all holidays–except Valentine’s Day. It’s too schmoopy and lovey-dovey for her tastes. What is the appeal in writing Valentine’s cards to your classmates? But then she meets Spencer. Spencer can do so many great things: spurt milk out of his nose, wiggle his ears while hanging upside down, and construct giant Lego animals! Mitzi decides to write her first Valentine to Spencer. She tries her hardest, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. If a boa constrictor squeezed you, you’d be blue too.” But that doesn’t seem quite right. Instead, she opts for, “Lizards like to slither. Black cats like to doze. I’d like to see you with a spider up your nose.” Mitzi hops on her broom to deliver the Valentine to Spencer’s home, air mail style. She tells her dear cat Hoodwink how excited she is for Spencer’s reply. But at school the next day, Spencer does not even look at her. Sad and disappointed, Mitzi disappears in a poof. Her family tries to cheer her up with bedtime stories and midnight snacks. Then Hoodwink noses his way into Mitzi’s room and gives her a loud purr: one of the very best Valentines she could ask for! Arthur Howard’s Mitzi is an emotive, thoughtful, and delightful young witch—gentle illustrations show off her creepy world and preferences, but in a nonthreatening way that invites curiosity rather than fear. Howard’s blend of colored pencil and watercolor creates a soft yet vibrant look, filled with rich and humorous details related to Mitzi’s witchy world. Mitzi is almost always pictured with her dear cat, Hoodwink, except during school. Her friendship and family connections are real and sweet. Her affection for Spencer is demonstrated in tangible and recognizable ways, and her efforts at composing a Valentine that is true to her feelings are admirable. Encouraging animals and friends off-set Mitzi’s disappointment that Spencer seems to not reciprocate her feelings. The best message of all is that Mitzi is cheered up by her forever friend, Hoodwink the cat; Spencer’s returned Valentine’s Day card is a postscript.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we cannot wait to read Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover), a new picture book by Helen Yoon. In Sheepish, a wolf dreams of tasty sheep — tasty sheep sandwiches, tasty sheep tacos! — and comes up with a disguise to infiltrate a herd of sheep. But soon the wolf is part of the community, helping out the sheep, and reading bedtime stories to lambs. Perhaps sheep aren’t so tasty after all, the wolf thinks. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Bedtime for Albie
Written and illustrated by Sophie Ambrose
Published by Candlewick Press
Available January 12, 2021

The Broken Raven (Shadow Skye Trilogy, Book 2)
Written by Joseph Elliott
Published by Walker Books
Available January 12, 2021

Wakey Birds
Written and illustrated by Maddie Frost
Published by Templar
Available January 12, 2021

No! Said Rabbit
Written and illustrated by Marjoke Henrichs
Published by Peachtree Publishing
Available March 1, 2021

Welcome To Your Period!
Written by Yumi Stynes and Dr. Melissa Lang, and illustrated by Jenny Latham
Published by Walker Books
Available January 12, 2021

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover)
Written and illustrated by Helen Yoon
Published by Candlewick Press
Available January 12, 2021

Remembering 2020

Hello Friends—

It’s been… a (add your own descriptor) year! With all that’s happened in the last 12 months, a recap could be overwhelming. Instead, I was inspired by Robert Gray’s Shelf Awareness column (12/18/20) to remember the moments of light in a year that was undeniably dark.

I’m choosing to remember 2020 by…

Our lovely and inspiring Butler Lecture with the talented Bryan Collier.

Spontaneous encounters with colleagues (and their smiling eyes) on a nearly empty campus.

Surprise donations to the Ellin Greene Folk and Fairytale collection, which we’ll debut when we can gather for another tea party.

The chance to support a memorial book drive in honor of a book-lover and literacy champion.

Any for the many small moments of escape, enlightenment, and enjoyment I’ve found on my bookshelf.

Wishing you and yours a joyous, safe, and well-read holiday season. And more moments of light in 2021.

Cheers!