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CCB Newsletter
March 2015


In this Newsletter…

News and Updates

LEEP Weekend Activities

The first weekend in March will mark the final LEEP weekend here at GSLIS. As the CCB will be used for LEEP classes, our space and our collection will be unavailable from Thursday, March 5 through Monday, March 9. That being the case, we have plenty of exciting events planned during this time! In addition to the annual Gryphon Lecture and Brown Bag (see below), we will also be open from 11:30 to 1:30 on Saturday for a special LEEP Weekend Book Sale. Finally, on Sunday, March 8 at 5:00 pm, we will be hosting a Storytelling Concert in the CCB featuring some of our favorite GSLIS storytellers. As always, please email with questions about any of our closures or events. We hope to see you at the CCB on LEEP Weekend!

2015 Gryphon Lecture: Rebekah Willett

On Friday, March 6 at 7:00pm in GSLIS Room 126, the Center for Children's Books will host the Annual Gryphon Lecture. Featuring a leading scholar in the field of youth and literature, media, and culture, the Gryphon Lecture is free and open to students and the public. In addition, Illinois educators are eligible to receive CPDU recognition for participation. Can’t attend? Audio from the 2015 lecture will be available shortly after the presentation on the Gryphon Lecture webpage.

Dr. Rebekah Willett, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present the 2015 Gryphon Lecture, “Research on Children, Youth and Media: Applications for LIS Education and Practice.” A reception in the GSLIS East Foyer will follow the presentation. During her visit, Willett will also present an informal brown bag on her research, to be held on Friday, March 6 at noon.

Dr. Willett conducts research on children’s media cultures, focusing on issues of gender, play, literacy, and learning. Her publications include work on playground games, amateur camcorder cultures, young people’s online activities, and children’s story writing.

March Calendar

  • Thursday, March 5-Monday, March 9: CCB Closed: LEEP Weekend
  • Friday, March 6: CCB Brown Bag: Rebekah Willett on “Youth Makerspaces, Online Gaming, and Other Research: Questions, Answers, and Feedback,” 12 noon
    Gryphon Lecturer Rebekah Willett will appear at an informal brown bag for general discussion about her research. She is particularly interested in feedback and thoughts about two ongoing projects: Bubbler @ Madison Public Libraries, a makerspace program of pop-up workshops; and a research project “Childhoods online - an investigation into children’s play in online spaces.”

  • Friday, March 6: Annual Gryphon Lecture Featuring Rebekah Willett, 7 pm, GSLIS 126
    Prof. Willett will present “Research on Children, Youth, and Media: Applications for LIS Education and Practice.” A reception will follow in GSLIS 131 and East Foyer.
  • Saturday, March 7: LEEP Weekend Book Sale, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
    Are you a LEEP student who missed out on last month’s book sale excitement? Come to the CCB around lunchtime on Saturday to browse our selection of new fiction and nonfiction titles for kids of all ages. We have plenty of books left, so come by to take your pick!
  • Sunday, March 8: LEEP Weekend Storytelling Concert, 5 pm
    Come watch some of our favorite GSLIS tellers share stories of all kinds. Snacks will be provided.
  • Wednesday, March 18: Youth Lit Book Club, 5-6 pm
    Reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Monday, March 23-Friday, March 27: CCB Closed: Spring Break
    The CCB will be closed for the week of spring break. We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Sunday, March 29: Deadline for applications to CCB Graduate/Research Assistant position

Events take place at the CCB unless otherwise noted. For complete descriptions of events, visit the calendar on our website.

New Bibliographies on the CCB Website

Creepy Covers: Covers That Are Just a Little Uncomfortable
Created by Melissa Albarran, BCCB GA

Sugar and Spice: Stories to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Created by Anna Shustitzky, CCB Outreach & Communications Coordinator

Our Affiliates Out and About

CCB Director Deborah Stevenson will be participating in a number of invited talks and conferences in the coming months. Stevenson will present the Lois Lenski lecture at Illinois State University on Monday, March 30, in a talk entitled, “The Elephants in the Room: The Challenges of Diversity in Youth Literature.” On Tuesday, Friday, April 10, Stevenson will be speaking on a panel at the University of Chicago's GradUCon to discuss hybrid admin/research and teaching careers. Stevenson will also participate in the Texas Summit on Diversity in Youth Publishing at the Texas Library Association conference on April 14 in Austin, Texas.

CCB Affiliate and GSLIS Assistant Professor Carol Tilley will be presenting a number of inviting talks both on and off campus this month. On Tuesday, March 3, Tilley will be the opening speaker for the Central Michigan University ComiConference 3, giving a talk entitled, “The Secret History of Comics Readers.” She will also be an invited panelist for a seminar co-sponsored by the University Library's Scholarly Commons and the Graduate College on managing one's online scholarly presence, Friday, March 6. Finally, Tilley will be an invited speaker for a Center for Writing Studies research brownbag on Wednesday, March 11, for a talk titled, “Kids Doing Things with Comics: Reading, Writing, and Playing in History.”

Feature: Closing the App Gap

Since November of 2013, researchers at GSLIS have been investigating a particular facet of the digital divide: the growing disparity between kids with and without access to apps at home, at school, and in the library. In collaboration with the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, researchers Deborah Stevenson, Kate McDowell, and Cass Mabbott recently completed the Closing the App Gap project, a yearlong planning grant to learn more about the current app situation among today’s youth. We were pleased to sit down with all three of the project’s leaders to discuss the process and potential next steps.

Kate McDowell, a principal investigator on this project, explains that inspiration for the research came while using a reading app with the child of a family friend: “I asked, ‘is this a book or a game?’ and he said ‘this is a game,’ and I thought, ‘wow,’ because I thought this was a book. I thought, ‘wow, there’s a lot we don’t understand about kids and apps right now.’”
With the help of the CCB GAs, the first task was to look at 200 well-reviewed apps and app-like e-books that were recommended through existing review literature. From there, they used a set of criteria to narrow the list down to 29 apps to use onsite with young people at the Douglass Branch. Project coordinator Mabbott and a team of student volunteers then spent the summer working with youth ages 8 and up who came to the program to learn about and play with the apps.

GSLIS and the Douglass Branch have a long history of collaboration, with student practicum and volunteer participation from the branch’s inception.  “The Douglass Branch was the obvious location because we were asking questions about technology access for historically underserved populations in lower socioeconomic status neighborhoods,” McDowell explains, “and that is core to the mission of the Douglass Branch.” At the Douglass Branch, the researchers hoped to investigate whether tablet technology might represent a new iteration of the digital divide. As McDowell notes, “I would say by the success of the program, yes. It was appealing enough just to be able to touch and hold and play with an iPad.”

In addition to observing the patrons interacting with the iPads, Mabbott says, “I was constantly asked to participate with them.” In fact, that was one of many important revelations that came out of this project: although people tend to think of app use as a solitary activity, in reality, Mabbott notes, “It was very collaborative, very friendly.” And although the researchers selected apps with diversity in mind, the especially preferred apps were the ones that had kids that looked like the participants themselves. Other surprisingly popular apps included “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Peter Rabbit,” and as Stevenson observes, “there’s a special place for apps that aren’t introducing a new narrative, but are allowing them to build on an existing and familiar narrative.”

With all of these observations in mind, the next step in the project is called App Authors, a proposal currently at the preliminary submission stage, designed to get older kids developing apps for the younger set with the hopes of promoting creativity and diversity in the world of apps. Regardless of where the project goes, Stevenson emphasizes the importance of staying involved in this research: “This is part of library science, that when it comes to information and media, it is our role to experiment, question, and explore what it can do for people, and, for us, especially young people…. We hope we can play a role in keeping people informed… so [libraries] can help the public and give people as much access and useful information and value as possible.”

Visit the research section of the CCB website for a detailed look at the Closing the App Gap project, along with a full list of the 29 apps and advice about using apps in library programming. For the full transcript of this interview, click here or check out the Research Spotlight on our website.

New Books We Just Had to Read

Every month, the CCB Graduate Assistants highlight books reviewed in the most recent issue of the Bulletin that we were excited to read.  These decisions are based on personal preference, but all books listed are Recommended by the Bulletin. For complete reviews, visit the Bulletin website ( to learn how to subscribe.

Alice’s Choice: Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson
Reading Level: Gr. 6-8
Pages: 161
Publisher and Year: First Second Books, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62672-149-4
Price: $14.99

The way to a girl’s heart is through her stomach in this charming middle grade graphic novel.  With her father King Wulfrun “sick” in bed with a rotating series of exaggerated ailments, the many responsibilities of running the kingdom have fallen upon Princess Decomposia, who really just wants a day off.  When their cook up and quits before a series of important diplomatic dinners with zombies, Japanese demons, and werewolves, Dee has to find a new chef – and fast!  Count Spatula is quickly hired for his delicious pastries that impress both Dee and the various ambassadors, but the King is immediately suspicious of the familiarity between Dee and the Count and the potential implications for his “required” bed rest.  Watson has created a beautifully illustrated graphic novel that captures all the tenderness of a young romance as well as the burden that responsibilities can have on your life.  The black and white illustrations host a slew of expressive and varied characters that add depth to Dee’s world.  Dee herself is an immensely relatable character as she attempts to balance her responsibilities and sense of duty, her desire to have a life of her own, and disappointment in a fallible father, and the other characters have just as much depth.  Anyone in the market for a sweet, humorous graphic novel teetering on supernatural romance will enjoy this delightful addition to the genre.

Michelle’s Choice: Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
Reading Level: 4-6 yrs
Pages: 32
Publisher and Year: Scholastic, 2015
ISBN: 978-0545788922
Price: $16.99

Mr. Panda is not your typical precious and playful panda usually found adorning the pages of childhood animal books. With narrowed eyes and an ornery expression, he asks each animal he comes across his standard query, “Would you like a doughnut?” Each successive animal replies with his or her doughnut preferences and demands, and Mr. Panda retracts his generous offer to each of these rude animals. Finally, Mr. Panda comes across a lemur and makes his inquiry, and the lemur asks, “May I have a doughnut…, PLEASE, MR. PANDA?” Please is clearly the magic word here, and Mr. Panda tells the lemur it may have all the doughnuts, to which the lemur replies with the appropriate thank yous. It is easy for a book about manners to become a pedantic and (pardon the pun) “sugary” mess, but there is enough fun and peculiarity here to appeal to children, especially those who do not care to share their treasured baked goods. Mr. Panda’s tantalizingly arranged, multicolored doughnuts provide contrast with the stark black and white of the animals and the solid grey backdrop, drawing your attention to the true stars of the show: the sugary treats. The illustrations also play with proportion, usually with humorous results, such as when Mr. Panda has to take a very small rowboat in order to ask a killer whale his question. Antony’s aesthetic decisions make this an excellent choice for a manners-themed storytime, or even for general audiences who demand more politeness in this tragic world where people think they are entitled to your prized desserts. For best effect, be sure to add a Krispy Kreme treat to your reading experience.

Anna’s Choice: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Reading Level: Gr. 6-8
Pages: 208
Publisher and Year: Henry Holt and Co., 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9980-5
Price: $16.99

As long as she has her family, thirteen-year-old Sarah is determined to make do with their transient lifestyle as her mother flees the constantly approaching cold. Now, though, something has changed: Sarah’s mother suddenly sets off on her own, leaving Sarah to care for her father as he slowly loses grip on humanity. Her father ultimately sends her to live with her grandmother in a creepy, isolated castle in the woods, where she uncovers the terrible family secret that tied her parents together in a tragic web of curses through no fault of their own. When she discovers that she carries the curse as well, Sarah seeks the aid of her only friend in the world: a beautiful boy who seems remarkably comfortable in this strange, magical forest. As the curse settles upon her, Sarah is frightened but ultimately resilient, determined to confront the forces behind the curse and return as much normalcy as possible to her broken family. This is not a happily-ever-after fairy tale, but the pacing and gorgeous turn of phrase lend this disconcerting story a dream-like quality that keeps it from being overwhelmingly dark. Fairy tales are not just for young children, and fans tired of benign, romantic princess tales are sure to appreciate this lovely, intense alternative.

Highlighted Book from Our Wish List

Igus, Toyomi. I See the Rhythm; illus. by Michelle Wood. New York: Children’s Book Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0892391516.

For more book selections or to order this one, visit the CCB’s Amazon Wish List.

CCB Spring Hours and General Information

  • Monday: 10am-5pm
  • Tuesday: 12pm-7pm
  • Wednesday: 1pm-7pm
  • Thursday: 10am-7pm
  • Friday: 10am-5pm

For more information about the CCB and our collection, please visit the About Us page on our website.

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