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New Picture Books for Spring

A selection of gorgeous new picture books celebrating new life, hope, nature, and mindfulness.

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Outside, You Notice, by Erin Alladin, illustrated by Andrea Blinick

About the book: A lyrical nonfiction celebration of the outdoors pairing childlike observation with facts about the natural world

Outside,
 you notice things.

Time spent in the outdoors stirs a child’s imagination. Nature sparks wonder, wonder leads to curiosity, and curiosity brings about a greater knowledge of the world and one’s self. In Outside, You Notice, a meditative thread of child-like observations (How after the rain / Everything smells greener) is paired with facts about the habits and habitats of animals, insects, birds, and plants (A tree’s roots reach as wide as its branches).

Author Erin Alladin invites young scientists and daydreamers to look closely and think deeply in this lyrical nonfiction text, celebrating all the kinds of “outside” that are available to children, from backyards to city parks to cracks in the sidewalk. Illustrator Andrea Blinick portrays these spaces bursting with small wonders with a child’s-eye view, her naïve and nostalgic style capturing the joy of endless discovery.

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Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

Angela Misri does it all, with her Portia Adams series about Sherlock Holmes' granddaughter and a fantastic middle grade series about cats and a raccoon surviving the zombie apocalypse (why not!). The latest book in the latter is Trip of the Dead, and it's out now.

Here, she shares some compelling companion reads that you can share with your favourite young avid reader.

**Enter here for a chance to win Trip of the Dead and three other middle grade novels as part of the DCB Middle Grade Bundle!**

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Surviving the City, by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

I’m a nerd in every aspect of my life, including my bookshelf, so this graphic novel had me at the cover. This is a story of two friends and their abiding love for each other throughout their lives. It will resonate with anyone who has lost someone who gave them their sense of belonging.

I challenge you to decide which captures you more—Spillet’s finely chosen words or Donovan’s perfect visualizations of a city that doesn’t feel like home.

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Most Anticipated: Our Books for Young Readers Preview

Looking forward to some of the books for young readers (and readers of all ages) that we're going to be falling in love with in the first half of 2021.

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Picture Books

Seeing Stars (April), by Denise Adams, is a quirky, fun book exploring the secret underwater life of starfish, in the style of The Secret Life of Squirrels. Told half in French and half in English, Pierre and Paul: Dragon (April), by Caroline Adderson and Alice Carter, the second book in the Pierre & Paul series, uses simple phrases and clues in the illustrations to make the story accessible to readers in both languages. The Covid-19 pandemic, which seems to be taking some time to go away, has meant big changes for one little girl’s family in When Mom’s Away, (April), by Layla Ahmad and Farida Zaman. Outside, You Notice (April), by Erin Alladin, illustrated by Andrea Blinick, is a lyrical celebration of the outdoors pairing childlike observation with facts about the natural world. Maya’s imagination sets the stage for her friends to act out her feminist play. Can she make room in her queendom for the will of the people? Maya's Big Scene (February), by Isabelle Arsenault, is a funny picture book about leadership and fair play for fans of King Baby and Olivia. And a young boy discovers strang …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Scrumptious Stories

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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The Adventures of Miss Petitfour, by Anne Michaels, illustrated by Emma Block, is a brilliant collection of five short stories, all featuring the enigmatic Miss Petitfour. Miss Petitfour loves to bake little cakes and she loves to eat. She loves her neighbourhood with its bookstore and bakery. And she loves to fly, travelling by tablecloth, puffed up “like a biscuit in the oven,” with her “sixteen cats dangling in one gigantic puss-tail.” Each story brings adventures, big and small: discovering the empty marmalade pot, with the spoon still in it; getting caught up in a jumble of coat hangers; chasing a runaway rare stamp; celebrating Minky, the cheese-loving cat’s birthday; rescuing a neighbour from a confetti explosion.

The charm of this book, besides its obvious appreciation of food and enticing descriptions, is found in the playfulness of the language, imaginative characters and creative plot twists. Plus, there’s the bonus of the authorial voice instructing the reader on key phrases (some of which are even in a different font colour) that can turn a story on a dime or resolve a plot thread or steer into an interesting digression. For example, Mi …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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In all areas of the language curriculum, students wrestle with questions—both direct and indirect. As readers, writers, speakers, listeners and viewers, questions help us make connections and facilitate higher level thinking. Most of these picture books use direct questions.

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Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, is told entirely through dialogue in a made-up language. A lone plant sprout attracts the attention of surrounding bugs. “Du iz tak?” one character asks. “Ma nazoot,” the other responds. (Roughly translated: “What is that?” “I don’t know.”) The bugs wake up their friend Icky, who has a ribble (ladder) to investigate the growing plant, but a voobeck (spider) appears. A bird eats the spider, but the excitement doesn’t disturb the thriving gladdenboot (flower). Seasons change, the gladdenboot dies, snow comes and the whole cycle begins again, with a ta ta (sprout) in the spring. This one begs to be read aloud with multiple voices and varied intonation—a fun way to tackle the oral language curriculum, whilst discussing what’s happening. (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

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What Aging Looks Like: A Picture Book List, with Dogs!

What does it feel like to be old?

It’s so important for children to see positive images of aging. There are many wonderful books about children and their relationship with grandparents or an elderly friend.

In my book, The Old Woman, I write about an old woman who lives alone with her faithful companion, her old dog. Depicting an old woman on her own, gives a child a different view of what aging looks like. Life is not about new adventures anymore but the old woman is not lonely or sad. She relishes the simple pleasures of each new day and revels in the memories and thoughts that float through her mind. Nahid Kazemi’s beautiful illustrations merge with my words to bring the old woman and her dog to life, creating the unique visual landscape of the story.

In the following picture books authors and illustrators explore the themes of aging, intergenerational friendships, loss, and dogs in a myriad of approaches and tones from the sombre to the hilarious.

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Oy, Feh, So?  by Cary Fagan, illustrations by Gary Clement

– am I really related to them?

It’s no …

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Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

Summer officially starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet. We're so excited to feature two spreads from this beautiful book.

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About Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher:

Hello toes, our tootsie friends
 Hello, summer feet again!

Canada's Dr. Seuss, Sheree Fitch, is back with a brand-new tongue-twisting picture book that celebrates all things summer. From those first barefoot days, wobble-dy walking over rocks and pebbles, to wandering-wild while searching for sea glass and, finally, huddled-up cozy at a late-summer bonfire, these summer feet flutter kick, somersault, hide-and-seek, and dance in the rain, soaking up all the season has to offer.

With Fitch's classic lip-slippery, lyrical rhymes and Carolyn Fisher's bright and colourful illustrations, Summer Feet will be an instant summertime favourite.

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Spread from Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

 

 

 

Spread from Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Books for Young Readers Preview

We're excited to be looking ahead to books for young readers, including picture books and middle grade and YA titles.

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Picture Books

Told half in French and half in English, with simple phrasing and visual cues in the illustrations making the story easy for early readers to decode in both languages, Pierre & Paul: Avalanche! (March), by Caroline Adderson and illustrated by Alice Carter, is an engaging story of friendship and imagination. A girl and her neighbour grow a community from their garden in What Grew in Larry's Garden (April), by Laura Alary, illustrated by Kass Reich. Extraordinary things are happening behind the windows of the city in Marion Arbona's Window (March), an interactive, one-of-a-kind wordless picture book. And Christine Baldacchino follows up the acclaimed Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress with Violet Shrink (March), illustrated by Carmen Mok, about a young girl who navigates social anxiety at family gatherings and works with her father to find a solution.

Pairing creative rhyming similes with cut-paper collage art, …

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STEM Books to Inspire Young Readers

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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These STEM books will inspire young readers to take their curiosity to the next level.

Book Cover Secret Coders

Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang and Canadian illustrator, Mike Holmes, is a unique graphic novel. Hopper doesn’t fit in at her new school until she befriends Eni who teaches her (and the reader) how to read binary code using coins and a piece of chalk. When the two discover a turtle robot, Eni shows Hopper how to use the old programming language Logo to move it. Sometimes they write the wrong number of steps or send the turtle in the wrong direction and have to try again, a great STEM lesson. Progressively harder coding challenges are presented to the reader: “Can you figure it out?” By the sixth book, the reader is writing code to help save the world and find Hopper’s long-lost dad, and working the tasks is a step-by-step tutorial in programming! There’s also a website with videos that do the same. (Grade 4+)

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Zoobots, by Helaine Becker, illustrated by …

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Seeds of a Story: Kids' Book Nominees Tell All

From Beyonce's "Lemonade", to Sigur Ross, a game of shinny in the woods, a grandfather stationed on a training vessel during the Halifax Explosion, and the work of Vincent Van Gogh. These are just some of the seeds of the stories which have been nominated for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards, presented next week in Toronto.  

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Picture the Sky, by Barbara Reid

Nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Acorns and maple keys were the seeds for Picture the Sky. It was while looking at trees for my book Picture a Tree that I found a new appreciation for the sky. 

My illustrations are made by spreading and modelling Plasticine on board; the layers build from back to front. The sky is often the background and sets the mood for the image. I noticed how often the sky appears in pictures by artists from five-year-olds to Vincent Van Gogh, and that the sky is important to the story in those images too. 

But how to fit the sky into a book? When I got a letter from a young artist with drawing of a vertical strip of sky between city buildings I knew I had to try. I chose settings and moments where a child might have an emotional connection to the sky. Things like being part of the sky on a Ferris wheel, cloud spotting from a hammock, or hiding in th …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books on Biodiversity

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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The following books complement the Grade 6 Biodiversity unit. 

Planet Ark: Preserving Earth’s Biodiversity, by Adrienne Mason, illustrated by Margot Thompson, makes biodiversity easy to understand. Using the biblical Noah as a metaphoric guardian, biodiversity is covered in three ways: species biodiversity, genetic biodiversity, and biodiversity within habitats. The text explains that an astounding 15,000–20,000 new species are identified each year, and the reader is asked to think about preservation in the following way: beware trashing your broken skateboard because you might later need one of its parts. At the end of the book is a grocery list of why biodiversity matters, along with examples of modern-day child Noahs who are working to preserve biodiversity. 

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The Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth, by Rochelle Strauss, also illustrated by Margot Thompson, is a great scaffold for learning about biodiversity. The tree me …

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Five Perfect Picture Books for October

The days are growing shorter, but the books have never better. These titles will bring you a bit of spooky, some autumn leaves, a zombie prince, and other great ideas about how to find a place for yourself in the world. 

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Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, by Linda Bailey and Julia Sarda

About the book: The inspiring story of the girl behind one of the greatest novels—and monsters—ever, perfectly timed for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. For fans for picture book biographies such as I Dissent or She Persisted.

How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of 16 runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to …

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