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Launchpad: War at the Snow White Motel, by Tim Wynne-Jones

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching War at the Snow White Motel, by the award-winning Tim Wynne-Jones, a story collection for middle grade readers.

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

War at the Snow White Hotel is nine stories about kids getting themselves in huge messes and then trying to get out of them, one way or another. You know those totally dumb things you do by mistake or because you just weren’t thinking? Those things! But it’s also about war, the environment, stolen property, ca …

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Wild Books About the Natural World

By August, your children may be more engaged with the natural world than ever after six weeks of digging in the mud, jumping off big rocks, plucking baby tomatoes from the vine in the garden, and climbing trees. So it's never been a better time for this fantastic list of awesome middle-grade nonfiction from Rachel Poliquin, whose new book is Moles

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With her Supersonic Snout Fingers and Blood of the Gods, Rosalie the Mole is the star of the second instalment in my Superpower Field Guide Series. Yes, Rosalie is a squinty-eyed mole, but don’t underestimate this unlikely hero. One part silly, two parts science, and jam-packed with full-colour illustrations by Nicholas John Frith, Moles will introduce middle-grade readers to their new favourite subterranean superhero. 

I love clever nonfiction that entertains kids while it teaches. And I love that the genre is undergoing a quiet but explosive revolution—particularly in the realm of nature books. Smart and funny authors and superb illustrators are transforming unexpected subjects like supernovas, head lice, and bacteria into serious fun. Here’s a list of highly entertaining and visually stunning nonfiction books sure to make middle-grade readers love the natural world around them.    

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Summer Reads Most Feral

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

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Ever wonder how a baboon thinks about his fellow baboons? Or how a cat views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or how a seeing-eye dog-in-training tunes into people's feelings? This summer list lets the reader explore animal nature.

Book Cover Baboon

Right from the start, Baboon, by David Jones, grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go. The book opens with Gerry in a plane crash in the African veldt, along with his biologist parents who have come to study baboon behaviour. Gerry awakens to find himself injured; even worse, he discovers the hairy arm he's lying on is his own—he’s become a baboon. Gerry watches from afar as his parents leave by ambulance with his (still alive) body before he scampers off to survive. He gets the hang of scavenging for food, struggles to eat naked mole rats, and withstands constant bullying by baboons higher up the pecking order. His human mind allows him to fend off a leopard attack, but the more he moves up in status, encountering poachers and participating in a gazelle kill, he begins losing his ability to count, read and write. He's increasingly forced to rely on smell, rather than reason. These are uncommon themes in junior fiction: the r …

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Middle Grade? Young Adult? New Adult? HELP

Book Cover Something Wiki

During this month, the first of the new year, we're taking a special look at beginnings, a focus that includes the books that help young people get their start for a lifetime of loving books and reading. Suzanne Sutherland is the author of a new middle-grade novel, Something Wiki, and also a new YA novel, When We Were Good

In this guest list, she tries to break down what these terms actually mean, how authors operate within these genres (and beyond them!), recommending some great books in the process.

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To the uninitiated, the labels so casually thrown around by those of us with a professional interest in reading and writing for kids and teens—middle grade! young adult! new adult?—can, at times, get a little bit murky. Defining a novel's ideal readership and the category it falls into isn't always as simple as looking at the age of its characters or of its author. Even trickier: we live in a country with a market that allows its authors the flexibility and freedom to write the books they want to, happily switching storytelling modes and genres as well as age groups at will.

Our books aren't always easily labelled. I started my own writing career with a YA novel called When We Were Good, but my most recent novel, Something Wiki, is written for a middle-grade …

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Most Anticipated: 2015 Kids' Books Spring Preview

January is a fine time for looking ahead, and for scoping out the scene on the forthcoming reading year. Spoiler: it's going to be a good one. Throughout the month, we'll be sharing titles of books you're going to be falling in love with, beginning with kids' books.

On your marks; get set; GO!!!

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Picture Books

Giraffe Meets Bird

Hooray for us! We've got a new picture book from Caroline Adderson, Eat, Leo! Eat! (April), illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, about a clever Nonna who convinces her grandson to eat his lunch using the power of story (and the power of pasta). In Ready, Set, Kindergarten (February), by Paula Ayer and Danielle Arbour, a young girl readies herself for the big adventure that is school. Award-winners Carolyn Beck and Francois Thisdale team up for That Squeak (May), the story of a young boy grieving the death of a friend. In Giraffe Meets Bird (May), Rebecca Bender shares the origin story of the animal friends whose adventures have been captured in her two previous acclaimed books. 

Book Cover King of Keji

Brandee Bublé (younger sister of the singing Michael) releases her f …

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E. Paul Zehr: Why We Need Superheroes

Superheroes are not just an idle preoccupation, or even the jurisdiction of the young, as E. Paul Zehr has discovered during his career using superheroes as a basis of science education. His new book for young readers, Project Superhero, is a perfect back-to-school tale blending fiction and non-fiction to connect classroom learning to the real world, and explore the amazing lives of superheroes—including those who live among us. In this essay, Zehr explores what superhero stories mean to readers of all ages, and why their tales are so important.  

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In my popular-science writing I use superheroes as foils for communicating science. Since writing Becoming Batman (2008) and Inventing Iron Man (2011), I have done a huge number of interviews, talks, and presentations in venues spanning the ginormous spectacle of the San Diego International Comic-Con, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, TEDx, scientific conferences, school assemblies, and classroom visits.

I’ve learned from all those conversations that superheroes are super-popular at any age and for any group.

By far, the majority of my school visits have been to middle schools and grades 6 to 8. Which is why, a little while ago, I started to think about writing a book specifically …

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Most Anticipated: Fall 2014 Kids' Books

Canadian children's literature is avowedly world-class, and the selection this season is up to the usual standard. Our Fall Preview offers hours and hours of bedtime reading for lit-lovers of all ages. And don't miss the rest of our Fall Previews: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry.

Picture Books

Book Cover Winter Moon Song

With Good Morning, Canada (September), Andrea Lynn Beck follows up her celebrated Goodnight, Canada, as children across the country welcome a brand new day. You probably know and love Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman's A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, so get ready for their latest, Dashing Through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells (October), which begins with Sasquatch upsetting Santa's sleigh and everyone getting the wrong presents. Sangeeta Bhadra's debut is Sam's Pet Temper (September), an amusing story about a boy who eventually learns to control his troublesome "pet," illustrated by Marian Arbona. In Winter Moon Song (August), award-winning writer Martha Brooks tells her own version of the "Rabbit in the Moon" story, which is shared by many cultures, her tender tale complemented by Leticia Ruifernández's illustrations. 

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Funny Books for Young Readers

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

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A ten-year-old’s question: “Where are the funny books?” made me think. In a sea of junior novels, what are the telltale signs? A jacket quote? A comical cover illustration? A title with whimsy? Beyond that, how does an author make writing humorous?

Each of these books has its own form of “funny.”

Alice, I Think, written by Susan Juby, is a perfect example of comedic voice, and it's written in diary form. Alice, a 15-year-old home-schooled isolate, is finally attending high school. But her retro fashion sense makes her a bully magnet. The reader cringes at her Italian housedress, nurse shoes, accessorized by a Fred Flintstone lunch box. Besides a few beatings (one done by the bully, another done to the bully, by Alice’s mother) not much happens in this book. There’s the druggie cousin Frank who comes to live with them. And the co-dependent boyfriend whom her parents (and the reader) know is a loser. But we have to wait while Alice makes her own decisions. When she finally meets a boy (a male version of Alice) there’s an amusing sex scene suitable for ages 12 and up.

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Books We're Waiting For: Spring 2013 Preview for Kids and Teens

Book Cover Oy Feh So

The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley is a new teen novel by celebrated author Jan Andrews, the story of a young man caught in the foster care system who with a new placement finally glimpses the possibilities of change. Saskatchewan writer Robert Currie's latest is the YA novel Living with the Hawk, a tale of a family torn apart by experiences that read like news headlines. Rachelle Delaney's new novel is The Metro Dogs of Moscow, the follow-up to the much acclaimed The Ship of Lost Souls. Cary Fagan is back with two books, the picture book Oy, Feh, So?, illustrated by Gary Clement, about siblings who push the limits of their imposing relatives' Sunday visits, and also the novel Danny Who Fell in a Hole about a boy who finds himself stranded at the bottom of a giant construction hole.

Book Cover Where Do you Look?

Alma Fullerton's Community Soup is her second picture book, and the first she has illustrated, about a group of Kenyan school-children working together to harvest the vegetables they have grown. Children's literacy advocate Joyce Grant releases her first picture book, Gabb …

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