Lights, Camera, Cook! A Review of Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster
Written by Rachelle Delaney
Published by Penguin Random House Canada
Ages 10-14
Available May 11, 2021

Twelve-year-old Alice Fleck likes to help her food historian father cook everything from pigeon pies to blancmange. It’s their favorite pastime, along with watching Culinary Chronicles, a sweet reality cooking show where contestants whip up historical goodies. They have a good time together, but it’s getting complicated ever since Hana came into the picture. Hana is her father Jim’s new girlfriend, and it’s not been an easy adjustment with all the changes to their routines, including the trio’s upcoming trip to a Victorian festival. The latest surprise is a doozy: Hana entered the father-daughter duo into Culinary Chronicles and they were accepted as contestants—and it’s taking place at the very Victorian festival they were going to attend! But Alice is in for a bigger surprise—the kindhearted Culinary Chronicles has been rebranded as Culinary Combat, featuring infamous judge Tom Truffleman and on a premium channel to boot. Alice will start middle school soon and doesn’t want to be splashed across her new classmates’ TV sets. If sharing her break with Hana and critical Tom Truffleman weren’t bad enough, it looks like there is a saboteur in the cooking contestants’ midst. Will Alice and her new friends crack the mystery, or will the saboteur ruin Alice’s cooking chances on national television? Rachelle Delaney’s delightful mystery tackles jealousy, parents’ dating, and middle school growing pains. Alice is a precocious tween who rarely realizes what she’s feeling until she’s in the thick of it, especially when it comes to Hana. The reader sees Alice’s initial skittishness around children her own age and watches her confidence grow as a friendship develops between with fellow middle schooler Octavia Spencer over their mutually unique interests (Octavia is into Victorian ghosts). Alice’s friendship with Octavia gives her an outlet to talk about Hana and the reality show performance pressures, both things that are hard for her to discuss with her father. Alice’s growing maturity also translates into a more open and comfortable relationship with Hana—one where they can even cook their own contemporary fare, like mochi ice cream. This lighthearted book primarily takes on evolving families with a secondary backgrounded mystery; the true star of the book is the changing dynamic between Alice, Hana, and Jim. 

Butler Bookshelf

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, this week’s Butler Bookshelf has many fantastic books featuring female protagonists. Particularly, we are excited to dive into The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson. This story follows Mia, a teen who hates romantic comedies. However, she may be forced to live through her own love story, as she is tasked with finding a date for her sister’s wedding. Mia’s friends–lovers of rom-coms–help by plotting to create the perfect meet-cute. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Hip, Hip . . . Beret!
Written by Melanie Ellsworth and Illustrated by Morena Forza
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Written by Megan E. Freeman
Published by Aladdin
Available now!

Captain Dom’s Treasure (Definitely Dominguita)
Written by Terry Catasus Jennings and Illustrated by Fatima Anaya
Published by Aladdin
Available now!

Zonia’s Rainforest
Written and Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

The Meet-Cute Project
Written by Rhiannon Richardson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Written by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham
Published by Delacorte Press
Available now!

2021 Butler Youth Services Scholarship

Have you applied to DU’s School of Information Studies for Fall 2021?

Do you love youth literature?

Can’t wait to work with kids and teens?

Are you interested in becoming part of a diverse and engaged
youth-services-focused library community?

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021-2022 Butler Youth Services Scholarship for Underrepresented Groups in the Field of Library Science. This $15,000 scholarship will be awarded to a student seeking to earn an MLIS with a planned focus on service to children and young adults.

For eligibility requirements and application procedures, please visit our website or contact Butler Children’s Literature Center Curator, Jen Clemons—

Applications for Fall 2021 are being accepted until July 7, 2021.

Butler Bookshelf

This week, the Butler Bookshelf features Prepped by Bethany Mangle. This story follows Becca Aldaine, a teen who grew up planning for the worst. You see, her family is part of a community of doomsday preppers. But Becca wants more out of life. She risks it all by running away with local boy Roy Kang, wanting to find hope and even love. For more great reads, check out the list below!

The Conjurers: Hunt for the lost
Written and Illustrated by Brian Anderson
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Maisy’s Moon Mission
Written and Illustrated by Lucy Cousins
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Written by Maxine Kaplan
Published by Amulet Books
Available now!

Written by Bethany Mangle
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available now!

Tough Chicks Go to Bed
Written by Cece Meng and Illustrated by Melissa Suber
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Just like that
Written by Gary D. Schmidt
Published by Clarion Books
Available now!

Humans in an Animal World: A Review of Invented by Animals

Invented by Animals: Meet the creatures who inspired our everyday technology

Written by Christiane Dorion and Illustrated by Gosia Herba

Published by Wide Eyed Editions

Ages 7-10

Available April 6, 2021

Dive into this nonfiction read that teaches the reader how animals’ natural survival techniques have inspired human inventions. Learn how the woodpecker is helping to create safer helmets, how the kingfisher and the owl are creating quieter bullet trains, and how the porcupine inspired cutting-edge medical inventions. This is a book that will teach children not only about animals and their unique abilities but also how those abilities will help create new technology and save our planet.

Dorion does an excellent job explaining each animal’s backstory and talent in a way that will appeal to children. She writes from the perspective of the animal, giving each one its own personality. It is as though the animals are talking directly to readers. This technique will help children engage with the book and connect with the information. Throughout the book, the animals also ask questions, encouraging children to think critically and creatively. This makes for a worthy addition to any STEM lesson. Herba’s anthropomorphized illustrations of the animals are fun, vibrant, and sometimes silly—see cover art featuring an octopus in a human disguise. It’s beautiful, full colors will entice readers to pick it up. Although geared towards grade levels 2-5, it really is an informative read for all ages.

Butler Bookshelf

In honor of Irish-American Heritage Month, the Butler Bookshelf is featuring The Deepest Breath by Irish author Meg Grehan. This novel-in-verse takes us on 11 year-old Stevie’s journey as she manages her anxiety, tries to make sense of her feelings for her friend Chloe, and explores her identity. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World
Written by Jacqueline Davies and Illustrated by Deborah Hocking
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Samantha Spinner and the Perplexing Pants
Written by Russell Ginns
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Deepest Breath
Written by Meg Grehan
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Nightmare Thief
Written by Nicole Lesperance and Illustrated by Federica Fenna
Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Available now!

The 12 Days of St. Patrick’s Day
Written by Jenna Lettice and Illustrated by Colleen Madden
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

My Magical Leprechaun
Written and Illustrated by Yujin Shin
Published by Harry N. Abrams
Available now!

Community Secrets: A Review of Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter
Written by Angeline Boulley
Published by Henry Holt and Co Books for Young Readers
Ages 14+
Available March 16, 2021

Daunis Fontaine has plans to leave Sault Ste. Marie, a town along the Michigan-Canada border, where she never quite fit in. Daunis is torn between her mother’s wealthy family and her father’s Ojibwe community. She has always planned to leave the town to study medicine at the University of Michigan, but when tragedy rocks her family, Daunis decides to stay home and help her mother care for her ailing grandmother. Her half-brother Levi is thrilled, as is her best friend Lily. Levi soon recruits her to help train Jamie, the newest (and cutest) hockey member in their league, and Daunis finds herself looking forward to their morning runs. Those morning runs are where she fits in the most, though she has a sense that Jamie might be spinning ‘Guy Lies,’ falsehoods Daunis is all too familiar with. The latest ‘Guy Lie’ Daunis has to deal with is from Lily’s ex—they split when he began using meth. Lately, he looks more and more desperate. When Daunis witnesses a shocking act of violence, she is plunged into the world of FBI drug investigations. Daunis goes undercover to look into meth production and distribution, but what she finds is not at all clear and threatens the different communities she is a part of. Author Angeline Boulley’s exploration of Daunis’ relationship with the Sault Ste. Marie tribal community is excellent, particularly her relationship with her father’s sister. Her admiration and wariness of her Aunt Teddie is layered and at times fraught. Daunis’ choice to work undercover with law enforcement is partially driven by her desire to protect the Ojibwe community she is a part of. Boulley’s mystery moves at a quick pace, filled with adrenaline and cliffhangers, but always with a firm grounding in Ojibwe culture. Boulley does not flinch when it comes to the issues indigenous communities face: sexual assault, addiction, and violence–as well as the historical distrust in law enforcement authorities. Daunis has a tendency to fall into black-and-white thinking, and yet Boulley gives her (and readers) issues that are not so cut and dry. Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and former director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. This #ownvoices read is a must for any collection.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’re eager to dive into Yolk, the latest novel by Mary H.K. Choi. Yolk examines the relationship between two sisters, June and Jayne. Growing up, the sisters had a love-hate dynamic, and though they both live in New York City, they are now estranged. Older June is a corporate success, while younger Jayne is in fashion school, trying to make ends meet. When June reveals that she has cancer, the sisters’ silence ends. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Kidstory: 50 Children and Young People Who Shook Up the World (Stories That Shook Up the World)
Written by Tom Adams and illustrated by Sarah Walsh
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Written by Mary H.K. Choi
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Abby, Tried and True
Written by Donna Gephart
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Knight of the Cape (Definitely Dominguita #1)
Written by Terry Catasus Jennings and illustrated by Fatima Anaya
Published by Aladdin
Available now!

Amina’s Song (Amina’s Voice Book 2)
Written by Hena Khan
Published by Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Out of Nowhere
Written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros 
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Follett-Butler Lecture 2021

The School of Information Studies and Butler Children’s Literature Center are fortunate to welcome Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Renée Watson for the upcoming Follett-Butler Lecture—Fantastic Black Girlhoods: A Conversation with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Renée Watson.

When: Monday, March 29, 2021 at 6 p.m.
Where: Presented online
How do I join? Attendance is free with registration.

Join us 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.

If you’re too excited to wait for the lecture, dive into some of their work in preparation!

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
For more information and links to her work,
visit her website here.


The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games (NYU Press, 2019)

Reading African American Experiences in the Obama Era: Theory, Advocacy, Activism (Peter Lang, 2012)

Articles and Interviews:

Thomas, E. E. (2015). “We always talk about race!”: Navigating race talk dilemmas in the teaching of literature. Research in the Teaching of English, 50(2), 154-175. PDF available from Researchgate

Thomas, E. E., & Stornaiuolo, A. (2016). Restorying the self: Bending toward textual justice. Harvard Educational Review, 86(3), 313-338. PDF available from Researchgate

Thomas, E. E. (2016). Stories still matter: Rethinking the role of diverse children’s literature today. Language Arts, 94(2), 112. PDF available from

From NBC Think: From ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘Hunger Games,’ here’s why fantasy struggles to include black girls.

From Penn Today: Children’s literature as ‘seed work’


Renée Watson
For more information and links to her work,
visit her website here.

YA Books:

Love is a Revolution (Bloomsbury, February 2021)
Watch Us Rise (Bloomsbury, 2020)
Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2018) 2018 Newbery Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Author Award
This Side of Home (Bloomsbury, 2017)
What Momma Left Me (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Middle Grade Books:

Ways to Make Sunshine (Bloomsbury, 2020) Golden Kite Winner
Ways To Grow Love (coming April 2021)
Some Places More Than Others (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Picture Books:

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills (Random House, 2012)
A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Dragon Fly Books, 2014)

Articles and Interviews:

From School Library Journal: Finding the Vision for Some Places | A Conversation Between Renée Watson & Shadra Strickland

From BookPage: Renée Watson: Sorting through the good and bad

From CBS: Arts collective in Langston Hughes’ home carries on writer’s legacy

From NPR: ‘Piecing Me Together’ Novelist Says She Writes To Help Kids Feel Seen

From the International Literacy Association: Renée Watson on Literacy Connecting Readers

From The Horn Book: Profile of 2018 CSK Author Award winner Renée Watson

Butler Bookshelf

This week the Butler Bookshelf is celebrating women! Help us kick off Women’s History Month by checking out the titles below featuring great female pioneers and stories of what it means to be a woman. 

How to Spot a Mom
Written by Donna Amey Bhatt and Illustrated by Aura Lewis
Published by Wide Eyed Editions
Available now!

Written and Illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
Published by Walker Books US
Available now!

Trail Blazers: Amelia Earhart: First Woman over the Atlantic
Written by Sally J. Morgan and Illustrated by David Shephard
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Little People, Big Dreams: Megan Rapinoe
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Illustrated by Paulina Morgan
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available now!

Welcome to Your Period!
Written by Yumi Stynes & Dr. Melissa Kang and Illustrated by Jennifer Latham
Published by Walker Books US
Available now!

Women in Chemistry: Science Wide Open
Written by Mary Wissinger and Illustrated by Danielle Pioli
Published by Science, Naturally!
Available now!