Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
Hey! You! Want to help kids build great hooks into their stories?
The language curriculum for Grades 3–6 touches on the use of a strong opening, or "lead." Presented here is a smorgasbord of techniques, along with examples from novels and a few picture books.
In these books, the author hooks us with a memorable action.
Lost in the Backyard, by Alison Hughes, begins, “I am lying alone in the dark forest, dying.”
About the book: Flynn hates the outdoors. Always has. He barely pays attention in his Outdoor Ed class. He has no interest in doing a book report on Lost in the Barrens. He doesn’t understand why anybody would want to go hiking or camping. But when he gets lost in the wilderness behind his parents’ friends’ house, it’s surprising what he remembers—e.g., insulate your clothes with leaves, eat snow to stay hydrated, build a shelter, eat lichen—and how hopelessly inept he is at survival techniques.
Picture books...they're not just for kids! They make perfect books for readers of all ages. Here are some of our favourite titles from this year.
A Little House in a Big Place, by Alison Acheson and Valériane Leblond
About the book: Every day, in a little house in a little town in the middle of a big place, a girl stands at her window and waves to the engineer of the train that passes on the nearby tracks. The engineer waves back and his wave and her wave together make a home in her heart. The little girl is curious about the engineer, about where he came from and where he goes. Which makes her wonder if she might go away, too, some day. This beautiful free verse picture book explores the magic of a connection made between strangers, while also pondering the idea of growing up, and what might lie beyond a child's own small piece of the world.
Alison Acheson has created a deceptively simple, warm story that will stay with readers of all ages long after they've closed the book. Children everywhere will relate to the girl at her window—what child hasn't waved to the driver of a train, truck, or bus and hadn't been thrilled to have the wave returned? Valériane Leblond's illustrations echo the girl's feelings for the prairie, the “big place” where she lives, …
Sydney Smith is this year’s Governor General’s Award winner for Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Book) for Small in the City, published by Groundwood Books.
The jury says "Small in the City is visually stunning. The feeling of winter in the city from a child’s perspective is rendered with remarkable feeling and sensitivity. But the genius of the book turns on the collaboration of the pictures and the text—the voice, the pacing and the gentle but striking exposition live up to the brilliance of the illustrations. A tour de force.”
Sydney Smith is an author/illustrator of children’s books. He has illustrated numerous acclaimed children’s books, including Town Is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz, and the wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by JonArno Lawson, which won the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award and many other honours. Smith has received the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award three times. He studied drawing and printmaking at NSCAD University. He lives and works in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife and two children.
Jillian Tamaki is the winner of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young People (Illustration) for her gorgeous book They Say Blue.
The peer assessment committee says "They Say Blue is a wonderful blend of words and art, a sweeping, joyous book from cover to cover. Its lively and dynamic compositions are sure to captivate both children and those who love to read to children. Wonderfully uplifting and imaginative, it spans an entire range of emotions and colours and makes one’s heart sing."
Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator from Calgary, Alberta, who now lives in Toronto, Ontario. She co-created the highly acclaimed graphic novels Skim and This One Summer with Mariko Tamaki, and is the creator of the teen drama webcomic SuperMutant Magic Academy and Boundless, a collection of short comics for adults. She has won many awards for her work, including a previous Governor General’s Literary Award (in 2014), a Caldecott Honor, a Printz Honor, the Eisner Award, and an appearance on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books list. A working illustrator since 2003, she has also taught students of all levels at Parsons and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Trevor Cor …
Ever wonder about the life of a young Victorian chimney sweep? Jonathan Auxier is winner of this year’s Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young People (Text), for his enchanting novel Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster.
The peer assessment committee says “A tender story of what makes us human, Sweep doesn’t shy away from the risks of love and monstrousness of indifference. With an impeccable narrative, Sweep shows how love can breathe life into darkness and how hope can spark change. Auxier weaves a multi-layered masterpiece with endearing characters and gut-wrenching twists that are certain to instill readers with a sense of wonder and discovery for the miracle of storytelling."
Jonathan Auxier writes strange stories for strange children. His debut novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was a Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award Honour Book, and was also shortlisted for both the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Diamond Willow Award. His New York Times Best Seller The Night Gardener was a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award, as well as winner of the Silver Birch Award, Monica Hughes Award, the TD Bank Children’s Literature Award, and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year Award. …
On November 21, the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards will be presented in Toronto. We asked the nominees to tell us about the seeds of their stories, the places from which their inspiration grew. Here are some of their responses. Part Two appears on Thursday.
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, by Jonathan Auxier
Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard is the tale of a 12-year-old book-mender who discovers a magical book that launches her on an adventure beyond anything she has ever imagined. The story is a sort of love letter to dusty bookshops and libraries, which are my favorites places in the world. (I suspect I'm not alone in this feeling!)
The seeds of Sophie’s adventure were planted long before I was even born. My mother grew up on a wheat farm in the flats—a region where books were few and far between. Still, she was a voracious reader, and she read everything she could get her hands on. When I was growing up, my mother would occasionally mention how, as a teenager, she ran out of novels to read—there were literally no more stories to read in her library. Any time she mentioned this, I would think: What if she had found one last book hidden in that library...and what if that book was more than just a s …
Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
The following books explore ideas about kindness and caring, which are important traits in character-based education.
Quiet offerings feature in Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith. This wordless picture book follows a young girl walking through the city with her distracted father. He’s often on the phone as they pass shops, fruit stands, taxis, bus stop lineups, and busy pedestrians. All images are rendered in black and white, except the girl’s red hoodie and the flowers she picks from obscure places, including out of cracks in the sidewalk. Their stroll takes them through a park where she lays a bouquet on a dead bird, another near a snoozing man on a park bench, and one behind a dog’s collar. Finally, back home, she adorns her mother’s hair, and then her siblings in the backyard, before walking off into the bird-and-flower-filled endpapers. PreK+
Compassion is the basis for friendship in Abby’s Birds, by Elle …
We've got books under the tree for all the types on your list this season. Here are some recommendations for young readers.
Kate is an odd duck-literally. When the full moon arrives, the rest of her family turns into wolves, but she is a happy wereduck. Relatively happy, that is. Her family has been uprooted from the wilds of New Brunswick to a placid farming community in Ontario, thanks to a fellow werewolf, Marcus, selling them out to sleazy tabloid journalist Dirk Bragg. When Kate discovers her great-great-grandmother's recipe "A Cure for Werewolf," she can't help but wonder—is it really possible? Could she one day resist the call of the moon? Could she be free from the constant threat of exposure? When Marcus's abandoned werewolf son, John, books a desperate train journey back to New Brunswick at the full moon, the ancient recipe and its arcane ingredients are put to the test. Will Dirk Bragg finally corner Kate and John in their wereforms and expose them to the world, or will Cure for Werewolf keep them safe?
In his latest title, prolific author/illustrator Geraldo Valério (a Canadian via Brazil!) brings to life images of Canadian wild animals in a beautiful ABC book. The pictures in Moose, Goose, Animals on the Loose! are created with scissors and paper in amazing collage. We're pleased to feature a selection of spreads from the book.
In this month's illustrator gallery, we're pleased to feature the work of Newfoundland artist Dawn Baker, whose gorgeous images put the spotlight on her home province.
Dawn Baker has been a full-time visual artist and children’s writer since 1992. She grew up in Glenwood, Newfoundland, and has lived in Gander since she was a teenager. Dawn has a bachelor of education (post-secondary) and a certificate in library studies, both from Memorial University, and has served on the board of directors of The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2006. Her work has been shortlisted twice for the Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage and History Book Awards, and she was invited to participate in TD Children's Week in 2014.
From A Newfoundland Christmas, written and illustrated by Dawn Baker.
From Saltwater Joys, written by Wayne Chaulk, illustrated by Dawn Baker
In this month's illustrator's gallery, we feature the work of Mary Wallace, who has spent over 20 years teaching art and has illustrated over a dozen books for children. Her latest book is An Inuksuk Means Welcome.
An inuksuk is a stone landmark that different peoples of the Arctic region build to leave a symbolic message. Inuksuit (the plural of inuksuk) can point the way, express joy, or simply say: welcome. A central image in Inuit culture, the inuksuk frames this picture book as an acrostic: readers will learn seven words from the Inuktitut language whose first letters together spell INUKSUK. Each word is presented in English and in Inuktitut characters, with phonetic pronunciation guides provided.
Canadian children's literature has never been so good. To prove it, we bring you all the best books that kids and teens (and tweens and toddlers) are going to be reading throughout Fall 2015.
The Big Book of Little Fears (August), by Monica Arnaldo, is an alphabet book with a twist (and a few missing letters), in which children explore fears both common and quirky, and imagine how they can be conquered. The latest adventure of Stanley the Dog and his pals is Stanley at School (August), by Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin. Bailey is also author of the Christmas book, When Santa Was a Baby (October), illustrated by Geneviève Godbout, profiling a very unusual child with a strange fascination with chimneys. In A Year of Borrowed Men (November), illustrated by Renné Benoit, Michelle Barker draws on her mother's memories of World War Two to tell a story of kindness during extraordinary times. And Kate Beaton follows up her bestselling Hark, a Vagrant with The Princess and the Pony (July), a farting pony tale for the younger set.