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Launchpad: Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney

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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 Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney, which comes highly recommended from CM: Canadian Review of Materials. Their reviewer writes, "How great a treat it will be to read this book in a grandmother’s lap."

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Book Cover Grandmother School

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

Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney: It's a story about grandmothers in a village in India who go to school for the first time in their lives.

Describe your ideal reader.

Rina Singh: A six or a seven year old who will …

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Launchpad: Weekend Dad, by Naseem Hrab and Frank Viva

Launchpad Logo

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 Weekend Dad, by Naseem Hrab and illustrated by Frank Viva, about what happens when parents separate, and the new reality of having two homes.

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

Weekend Dad is a picture book about a little boy who visits his dad’s new apartment for the first time after his parents get divorced; the book isn’t just about a child’s experience of divorce, it is nearly entirely about a father’s love.

Describe your ideal reader:

It’s not j …

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Launchpad: Born, by John Sobol and Cindy Derby

Launchpad Logo

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 new picture book Born, by John Sobol and Cindy Derby, a beautiful story celebrating the ordinary miracle of life.

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Book Cover Born

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

Born is about the magical journey of birth as it is experienced by a baby, beginning with the baby patiently waiting inside her mother to be born and filled with curiosity about the world she hears and feels, and ending with mother and child looking lovingly into each other’s eyes for the first time.

Describe y …

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Children's Books That Will Make You Laugh and/or Cry

Book Cover Weekend Dad

When I wrote Weekend Dad, I wanted it to feel like the least divorce-y divorce book for children ever. Let me explain. Often children’s stories that tackle divorce feel overly chipper and positive to me. I completely understand wanting to reassure kids, but not every child is guaranteed “two of everything” or parents who eventually find a way to get along well. So, I wanted to write a story that was sad and messy and hopeful and loving all at the same time. Even though the loss and change can feel impossible to children and parents alike, with every day that passes a new normal emerges.

My favourite picture books are the ones that show the bittersweet realities of life through a child’s eyes. So, my list includes a bunch of books that do exactly that, plus some funny ones just to lighten the mood a bit. Because life’s not always a dumpster fire, I hear.

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Applesauce, by Klaas Verplancke

I’ve written about this picture book before and I’ll probably write about it again because I absolutely love it. In this story, Johnny expresses all his conflicted feelings about his father: he has a belly that's soft as a pillow, always catches Johnny’s dreams and has fingers that taste like applesauce, but he also has ears that don't always hear Johnny, cold hands a …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books That Make the List

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

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Book Cover Today

Lists are used in different contexts. The Writing curriculum for Grades 1-6 asks students to identify different purposes for writing, to generate ideas, and to write short texts using simple forms. Lists are one of these forms. Similarly, in the Reading curriculum, students are asked to understand the use of different text features, such as lists. The following picture books are useful mentor texts.

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Today, by Julie Morstad, is packed full of choices and to-do lists. The illustrations are detailed and child-like, laid out like a pictorial menu. (Even the book’s large size resembles a menu.) It begins: “What should I do today? Where should I go? Should I stay close to home or go far away? But first, what’ll I wear?” There are hairstyles for the day, breakfast choices, possible activities, ways of travel, flowers to pick. The text is full of quiet surprises. i.e. a page is devoted to a single choice: “…maybe you’d like to be in the middle of a quiet, heavenly nowhere, talking with the minnows?”

About the book: Every day is full of endless possibilities— especially TODAY!

The simplest moment has the potential to become extraordinary in this beautif …

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Launchpad: West Coast Wild Babies, by Deborah Hodge

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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 bringing you Deborah Hodge's West Coast Wild Babies, illustrated by Karen Reczuch, the follow-up to West Coast Wild, which was shortlisted for the Silver Birch Express Award and winner of The Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award.

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

It’s spring on the Pacific west coast and new life is stirring! Meet the wolf pups, bear cubs, whale calves, eaglets and other baby animals who begin their life in this wild and …

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Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

Book Cover A Forest in the City

A Forest in the City, by Andrea Curtis, illustrated by Pierre Pratt, is the first in Groundwood Books’ new series ThinkCities about sustainability and urban systems. It looks at how trees in the city help mitigate climate change and help us all stay healthy and well. Author Andrea Curtis marks its April publication with a list of books for young people about trees. 

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Trees and nature have provided balm for the stress and anxiety of our lives since, well, forever. But perhaps no more so than in the midst of this pandemic. There can be little that is more soothing than to inhale the smell of green things growing, to gaze up at the swaying branches of a forest and know that these giants persist despite it all. But when self isolation and physical distancing has got your family cooped up, the next best thing might just be reading picture books (fiction and nonfiction) about trees. Here’s a list of some standouts in the category.

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Picture Books

 

The Night Gardener, by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

This fantastical and moving story of a topiary genius, who c …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Catchy Beginnings

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

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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.

Strategy #1: Start with an action

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.

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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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CanLit's Favourite Cakes

Today is Family Literacy Day, a national event that annually celebrates the importance of families engaging in literacy activities together, sharpening skills and building relationships. Literacy activities including reading picture books together—and baking from recipes! Which leads to even deepening relationships as families eat cake together. Picture book cakes, no less!

Of course CanLit's all-time favourite cakes would include the one from Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman (nom nom), or the cake that Rilla, in abject humiliation, had to carry across town in Rilla of Ingleside.

But in the spirit of Family Literacy, we're sticking to our favourite cakes from picture books. With links to recipes, even. Enjoy!

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Sleeping Dragons All Around, by Sheree Fitch and Michele Nidenoff

About the book: Sheree Fitch has read this book to audiences from sea to sea to sea in Canada, in the Himalayas, and along the eastern coast of Africa. Her first two books, Toes in My Nose and Sleeping Dragons All Around, launched her career as a poet, rhymster, and a "kind of Canadian female Dr. Seuss." Fitch has won almost every major award for Canadian children's literature since then, including the 2000 Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work Inspirational to Canadian Children. She h …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Descriptive Language

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

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These beautiful books exemplify descriptive language for Grades 1–6.

Once Upon a Northern Night, by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, is the perfect mentor text for descriptive language. While a little boy sleeps, a snowy night scene is painted for both the boy and the reader.

“Once upon a northern night/pine trees held out prickly hands/to catch the falling flakes/that gathered into puffs of creamy white,/settling like balls of cotton,/waiting.” Check out Pendziwol’s description of deer: “They nuzzled the sleeping garden/with memories of summer.” And “... a great gray owl gazed down/with his great yellow eyes/on the milky-white bowl of your yard.” There are also some beautiful examples of alliteration.

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Another go-to text for vivid language, When the Moon Comes, by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James, captures a nighttime hockey game in the woods.

“End to end and around we fly, the long black stripes of our …

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Six Books that Demand to Be Read Aloud

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

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Inspired by my recent reading of The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon, I am always looking for the next great read aloud. It has always been a cherished time, sharing a story with students of all ages. From a board book that seems so simple but you return to time and time again because the limited choice of words are so clever, to novels that seem to have long and luxurious chapters. Sometimes we get lost in the pictures. Sometimes we get caught up in the words. And sometimes, we can’t decide. The illustrations and the words have us so engaged, we lose track of where we are and fall deep into the story.

As a teacher-librarian, parents and students are always asking about favourite books. However, it is a different story when I say: Do you want to hear a new favourite book? There is a rush to sit up close on the carpet, sometimes pull up a cushion, and then it’s all eyes on me. Actually, it’s not all eyes on me. It is all eyes on the magic I hold in my hands. A creative expression that wants to be opened up and explored through the sound of my voice, using the author’s words and showing the illustrator’s artwork.

Fortunately, I have come across more than one book for all my readers. It's time to settle in on a carpet, cushion, or bed with these new favourites...

 

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