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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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Exploring Space: Notes From a Children's Librarian

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

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Reading the books on this list (which complement the Grade 6 Science and Technology Unit) will result in a thirst for all-things-space, as well as a deep appreciation for the scientific imagination.

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The picture book Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, is the true story of a NASA aerospace technologist and her early beginnings as a gifted math student. Her calculations were so reliable that John Glenn bypassed the computer-generated numbers to ask if it passed "the Katherine test." When Apollo 13 exploded, Katherine calculated a safe flightpath home, while three astronauts awaited their fate in outer space.

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The Amazing International Space Station, by the Editors of Yes Magazine, covers the ins and outs of this incredible scientific feat. Fascinating facts are presented in a kid-friendly way. Did you know it takes eight minutes to leave the earth’s atmosphere, and 41 hours fo …

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Back to School Books

A wealth of books for readers of all ages about school, learning, friendship, and getting along in the world—an ongoing lesson for most of us. 

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A World of Kindness, by Pajama Press (Picture Book)

About the book: In a series of simple yet evocative questions, this impactful book asks children how they will show kindness and consideration for others. Written by the editors of Pajama Press, and illustrated by celebrated Pajama Press artists, these stunning pages inspire meaningful discussion and storytelling about the understated yet powerful ways in which children might influence the world around them. A World of Kindess goes beyond mere rhetoric to examine, in a child-friendly way, everyday social interactions where a kind word or act could have a transformative affect on others.

Royalties from the proceeds of this book will be donated to Think Kindness

Many of the original images in this book have been donated by the artists. The cover art was created and donated by award-winning author-illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo.

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Counting on Katherine, by He …

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Colleen Nelson on Unlikely Friendships in YA

Just in time for back-to-school and a whole host of brand new faces in the halls, we bring you this list by award-winning YA novelist Colleen Nelson—inspired by her latest novel, 250 Hours—about the amazing possibilities of unlikely friendships. 

BONUS: Until September 2, you can enter to win your own copy of the book! Go here to find out how. 

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My young adult novel, 250 Hours, is about an unlikely friendship between Sara Jean and Jess. Sara Jean, a “townie,” is the caregiver for her grandmother and trapped with a future she thinks she doesn’t want. Jess, on the other hand, lives with his mom in a trailer and he's obsessed with lighting fires. He is also desperate to head west, and will, as soon as he completes his community service hours. And then when Jess is ordered to clean out Sara Jean’s garage as part of his punishment, they discover secrets about the town’s history that draw them together.  

The unlikely friendship that develops between Jess and Sara Jean bridges a gap that has split their community for generations. Through their relationship, Jess and Sara Jean begin the slow process of healing.

Below are my favourite Canadian young adult novels that also feature unlikely friendships. 

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Great Biographies

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

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Here are some great biographies for Grades 3 to 6, part of both the Reading and Writing curricula.

Book Cover Dennis Lee

Weigl’s Canadian Writers Series is aimed specifically at students writing a biography, and it includes Dennis Lee, Gordon Korman (whose first book was an English assignment, mailed to the Scholastic Arrow Book Club address, at age 12), Jean Little, and Melanie Watt. Each book is organized in a way that students can see how a biography might be structured (e.g., Introduction, School Years, Early Writing, Successes, etc.) and includes writing prompts, creative writing tips from the author, and a quiz. Weigl has other series: Canadian Explorer, Canadian Prime Minister and Aboriginal Biography. These also teach the format of a biography along with a concept web and Internet resources. Grades 4–6.

The Scholastic Canada Biographies, by Maxine Trottier, with various illustrators, does it differently with each book highlighting five figures in each of the f …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Books for Young Readers Preview

And Books for Young Readers is the final instalment of our Fall Preview. Whew! It's all shaping up to be an amazing literary season. Happy reading, everybody. 

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Picture Books 

The Imperfect Garden (September), by Melissa Assay and April dela Noche Milne, celebrates naturally grown food in all its imperfection. Cale Atkinson’s Sir Simon: Super Scarer (September) is a haunted house story with a twist—perfect for Halloween. Timed for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication, Linda Bailey tells the story of its author in Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein (August), illustrated by Julia Sarda. Sloth at the Zoom (August), by Helaine Becker and Orbie, is the story of a sloth trying to make friends in a fast-paced world. Award-winning author-illustrator Rebecca Bender pushes Giraffe and Bird to new heights of courage, ingenuity, and humour in Giraffe and Bird Together Again (November). And Florence and Leon (September), by Simon Boulerice and Delphie Cote-Lacroix, nominated for the 2016 Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration (French), now appears in English translation by Sophie B. Watson.  

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