Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


The Joys of a Wild Collaboration

Karen Reczuch and I count ourselves as lucky! Most authors and illustrators do not get to work directly together on a book. An editor is usually the conduit between the two (mainly to protect the illustrator from the possibility of an overbearing author directing the art).

In our case, while we still rely on our wonderful editor, Karen and I also regularly talk about our books-in-progress, share research materials and—best of all—take fun trips to the west coast of Vancouver Island together!

Selfie of Deborah Hodge and Karen Reczuch

Here’s our selfie taken at the start of our most recent trip. We are excited! (Karen on the left, Deborah on the right)]

It all began a few years ago with our first book, West Coast Wild, when Karen and I travelled to the spectacular west coast of Vancouver Island to do photo research. (She and I hadn’t met before—so it was a leap of faith to plan an excursion together!)

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Love Stories: A People and Planet Affair

(We've got Arno Kopecky's The Environmentalist's Dilemma—which Publisher's Weekly calls “Timely and relevant... [offering] plenty to think about” —up for giveaway right now. Enter for your chance today!)

This is a short list of Canadian books that capture the drama of humanity’s relationship with Mother Earth.


The Lesser Blessed, by Richard Van Camp.

A coming-of-age novel set in the rural aftermath of Canada’s residential school system may seem an odd choice to lead a list of environmental literature. But even if it doesn’t mention climate change, The Lesser Blessed always struck me as essential eco-reading. Hilarious, tragic, and ruthless, the novel thrusts you into the living legacy of colonialism, an intensely human story without which no understanding of ecological destruction (and resilience) is complete. I was blown away by Van Camp’s ability to turn such bleak material into a healing voyage—and a page-turner at that. This is one of very few books in my adult life that I read in a single sitting.


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On Our Radar: Style, Represention, and In Praise of Retreat

On Our Radar features books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.


Heaven No Hell, by Michael DeForge 

Reviewed in Comics Bookcase by Zack Quaintance

"I don’t keep a ranking or anything, but Heaven No Hell by Michael DeForge may be the comic or graphic novel that has made me laugh aloud the most this year. And that’s not an easy thing to do, especially not when also operating with Heaven No Hell’s high level of wit, poignancy, and depiction of how it feels to just live right now on this planet as a human today.

This isn’t a book trafficking in cheap fourth-wall breaks of instantly-dated pop culture references. No, this is a smart and moving work. It’s all in here—an excess of heart and thoughtfulness—between a rare sense of humor that made me laugh as much (if not more) than any work I’ve encountered of late in comics or any other medium."


[Michael DeForge] is a comic creator who is lighting the way for a new generation.


Ontario Pi …

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The World Up Close

Book Cover Cattail Skyline

Joanne Epp's latest collection is Cattail Skyline, which is up for giveaway right now—don't miss your chance to win.


I come from a landscape best known for open spaces and wide skies. While I love that about the prairies, when I go out walking I’m just as likely to be attracted by small things: wildflowers, most often, but also birds, butterflies, and interesting twigs.

Likewise, when I write a poem, the starting point is inevitably something small and specific.

All these books share the quality of paying close attention to the small and particular, whether that’s a plot of land with all its seasonal changes or the distinction between one kind of wood-warbler and another.


Manitoba Butterflies, by Simone Hébert Allard

This beautiful field guide contains life-sized photos of every butterfly found in Manitoba, arranged in order from largest (Monarch) to smallest (Least Skipper), along with enlarged photos of their eggs, larvae, and pupae. The book begins with a few chapters of general information, which I confess I have never read. I go straight to …

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New Picture Books for Spring

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


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

 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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Hope Matters: Turning Toward Solutions and Away From Doom

But there are bats

who catch fish

and slime molds that sing

and ancient Greenland sharks

who don’t even reach sexual maturity

until they are 150 years old.


This is what I want to say

to those who believe

the Earth is already doomed:


Just look

at the capacity

of this

gloriously complex planet


I wrote this book for you—and for the people you love who believe the world is screwed.

I suspect you know who I mean—the ones brave enough to acknowledge the existential angst of living and working through a planetary emergency. We see it in students who appear to have everything going for them yet are so desensitized by environmental despair, they are simply done with feeling; or the ones so saturated with doom-and-gloom messages, they honestly believe no future exists. We hear it in adults grieving for the world their children will live in. We watch it echo around the world through the voices of the million and a half students joining Greta Thunberg in school strikes against climate change.

Whenever I speak about environmental solutions and positive global conservation trends, I encounter people so hungry for hope, they line up to talk to me. They follow up with long, thoughtful emails telling me they honestly believe the state of the planet is past the point of no return. They …

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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.


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.


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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Launchpad: REVERY, by Jenna Butler

Launchpad Logo

Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.
LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today, Ariel Gordon is championing Revery, by Jenna Butler. Gordon writes, "Books are built on the backs and shoulders of other books. I wouldn’t have written my book Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests, if I hadn’t read Jenna Butler’s A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail back in 2015. Back then, I loved Jenna’s stories about building an off-grid farm an hour and a half north of Edmonton. But I needed to read about Jenna’s commitment to her land in an era when the effects of climate change were beginning to make themselves felt in Alberta, where she is, and in Manitoba, where I am.

Five years later, Jenna and her husband Thomas are still on the land, but everything has changed. They’ve moved the farm to higher ground after five years of flooding and are having to re-build their market gardens from scratch, both in terms of plants and the soil bene …

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Ann Eriksson Launches BIRD'S EYE VIEW

Today Ann Eriksson launches her new book Bird's Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight, a compelling children's nonfiction title. Author and naturalist Trevor Herriot writes,  "Anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about the birds that live in their neighbourhood or on the other side of the planet will love this book."

For more on bird books for kids, see our Children's Librarian Julie Booker's recent list of bird-inspired (and inspirING) picture books.


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

Bird’s-Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight, is a nonfiction book with colour photos for middle readers about wild birds and bird conservation with a special focus on what kids (and their adults) can do to improve the lives of our feathered friends. 

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves nature, interested in taking positive actions for the planet, wants to know more about wild birds and how to engage with them and protect them and their habitat.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Other books in the Orca Wild series including Orcas Everywhere, by Mark Leiren-Young; Gone is Gone and Sea Otters, by Isabelle Groc; and Return from Extinction, by Linda L. Richards. 

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/y …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Bird Books

Book Cover That Chickadee Feeling

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


Once when I was young, on a family hike through the ravine, I spotted a man in the bushes with his arms out, a flurry of grey and white, black-capped birds fluttering round him. He put his finger to his lips as we approached. We stopped dead in our tracks, watching the chickadees swoop from nearby branches to peck at seed in the crown of his hat and upturned palms.

I remembered this magical moment when I read That Chickadee Feeling, by Frank Glew, illustrated by the Marna Twins. It begins with a kid who’s really, really bored, so their mom invites them on an outing with some seed and advice to be patient. When a bird lands on the child’s hand, the kid experiences “that chickadee feeling.” It’s the same feeling that comes from riding a bike for the first time, or winning a race (or encountering the Chickadee man in the forest). This tale challenges the reader to find a way out of boredom, with birding as a definite option.


Over the Rooftop …

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Launchpad: Legacy of Trees, by Nina Shoroplova

Today we're launching Legacy of Trees: Purposeful Wandering in Vancouver's Stanley Park, by Nina Shoroplova, which Wayne Grady calls "a fascinating answer to why we should care about trees in the first place." 


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

Legacy of Trees: Purposeful Wandering in Vancouver’s Stanley Park tells the stories of the trees of Stanley Park through the eyes of an amateur botanist and researcher who has much to learn and appreciate.

Describe your ideal reader.

A Vancouverite or a British Columbian who loves our world-class park and wants to learn more about it, especially how the stories of its trees also tell the story of Vancouver.

What books is your work in conversation with?

Gerald B. Straley’s Trees of Vancouver. Alison Parkinson’s Wilderness on the Doorstep. Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World.

What is something interesting you learned during the process of creating and publishing your book?

I set myself the mission of getting to know Stanley Park well enough to be able to confidently call to call it “my park.” To do this, I realized I would have to wander it purposefully, path by path, plaque by plaque, monument by monument, tree b …

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Launchpad: Murmurations, by Annick MacAskill

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.

launchpad logo

Today we're launching Murmurations, by Annick MacAskill, whose previous book was nominated for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and shortlisted for the J. M. Abraham Poetry Award (Atlantic Book Awards).


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

Murmurations is a book of love poems, heavy on the bird imagery.

Describe your ideal reader.

Any reader is my ideal reader! But to play fair: anyone who’s wondered what lovers and birds have to do with each other, or w …

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