Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


11 Books that Write the World

These books take their readers beyond Canadian borders to portray the rich lands, cultures, and adventures that can be discovered in other parts of the world, as well as the devastation caused by wars and other conflicts. Travel with these Canadian writers to Thailand, Syria, Rwanda, Bali, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, and other places, letting these perspectives inform your own sense of home. 


Homes: A Refugee Story, by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung

About the book: In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria—just before the Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy—soccer, cousins, video games, friends.

Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone—and found safety in Canada—with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently nece …

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Writing the World

Stories of travel, migration, immigration, and what we can learn by going to find ourselves in places where we don't belong.


Wanderlust: Stories on the Move, by Byrna Barclay

About the book: Readers of Wanderlust, an anthology of travel stories, will at once feel that need to roam, the longing for surprise, the thrill of just recognizing the threat of danger, and the nomadic impulse simply to move oneself for the sake of moving, that restless and endless quest for a new beginning—even if it means the end of one life and the start of a new one.

In every story a character embarks on a journey of discovery. They travel through the Nordic Viking age, experience family life in Italy, interpret the Lascaux Caves in France, climb Nicaragua’s volcanoes, undertake a road trip through the villages of Mexico, and finally are brought back to the Canadian prairies. Editor and contributor Byrna Barclay draws inspiration from the philosophers who expounded on the theory that, rather than change, a person simply becomes more of what he or she already was at birth.

Why we're taking notice: Award-winning writer Barclay has assembled this collection of travel writing from other Saskatchewan-based writers. There are stories that will take you somewhere, and give you the urge f …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Deborah Ellis

Book Cover The Breadwinner

Our children's librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month. For a complete list of Deborah Ellis's books, check out her 49th Shelf Author Page


I have a confession: I used to often recommend the much-acclaimed Breadwinner trilogy without having actually read it. But now I can finally say I'm a true convert, and a huge fan of Deborah Ellis. Ellis is adept at writing about children who are in impossible situations and forced to make adult decisions. She's written more than 20 books (fiction and non-fiction), addressing issues faced by kids around the globe, donating more than a million dollars from the proceeds of her trilogy to worthy causes including Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Street Kids International, the Children in Crisis Fund of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and UNICEF. All three books in the Breadwinner trilogy are listed for “mature readers” and have an author's note giving context to the stories. These are recommended for Grade 5+.

In the first book, The Breadwinner, 11-year-old Parvana's Kabul house has been bombed many times. Her family has gone from middle class to poverty, and since the Taliban, women cannot walk unattended and without wearing burqas. Her mother refus …

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Books With Global Themes to Read This Spring

Book Cover The Corpse With the Garnet Face

Throughout March we'll be focussing on books that write the world—books set in other countries, about global issues, and cultural intersections. Here's a cross-genre selection of such books (with a balance of heavy and light) that we think you might want to read this spring.


The Corpse With the Garnet Face, by Cathy Ace

About the book: The seventh book in the Cait Morgan series finds the eccentric Welsh criminologist–sleuth accompanying her husband Bud to Amsterdam to try to unravel a puzzling situation.

To Bud’s surprise, he discovers he has a long-lost uncle, Jonas, who’s met an untimely death. Bud's mother assures him Jonas was a bad child, but, from beyond the grave, Uncle Jonas begs his nephew to visit the city he adopted as his home to delve into the life he built for himself there, founded on his passion for art.

With an old iron key as their only clue, Cait and Bud travel to Amsterdam to solve the cryptic message left by Jonas—and to honor the final wishes of a long-lost relative.

Why we're taking notice: A recent Cait Morgan title was winner of the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery, and this new book promises similar fare. Morgan's adventures have taken her all over the world (where they inevitable coincide with a murder or two) and now …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Fostering World-Mindfulness

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


Book Cover If the World Were A Village

How do you foster world-mindfulness in children? With a good wall map that's referred to often. This is one of the great tips found at the end of If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World's People (2nd edition), by David J. Smith and Canadian illustrator Shelagh Armstrong. It asks, "What if the world's population were a village of 100 people?" Each page answers using one aspect of the global village, i.e., nationality (60 would be from Asia; five would be from Canada/US); language (only nine would speak English); age (37 would be under 19); and food (there would be seven times as many chickens as people). The inequities become profoundly obvious when it comes to access to clean air and water, school, work, money, and possessions. Beautifully illustrated, this large picture book is recommended for grades four and up. 

Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together, by Herb Shoveller, is non-fiction told in story form. It b …

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Thai Rainy Season: How to Catch a Fish With Your Hands

Book Cover Chicken in the Mango Tree

In the small village of Kravan in rural Thailand, the food is like no other in the world. The diet is finely attuned to the land, taking advantage of what is local and plentiful. Made primarily of fresh, foraged vegetables infused with the dominant Khmer flavours of bird chilies, garlic, shallots and fish sauce, the cuisine is completely distinct from the dishes typically associated with Thailand.

Bestselling food writer and photographer Jeffrey Alford has been completely immersed in this unique culinary tradition for the last four years while living in this region with his partner Pea, a talented forager, gardener and cook. With stories of village and family life surrounding each dish, Alford provides insight into the ecological and cultural traditions out of which the cuisine of the region has developed. He also describes how the food is meant to be eaten: as an elaborate dish in a wedding ceremony, a well-deserved break from the rice harvest, or just a comforting snack at the end of a hard day.

We're pleased to feature an excerpt from Chicken in the Mango Tree as the next stop on our Writing the World tour. 


Rainy Season

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Pamela Mordecai: Novels of the Caribbean

Book Cover Red Jacket

The award-winning Pamela Mordecai's new novel is Red Jacket, which is about a girl growing up on the Caribbean island of St. Chris who never feels like she really belongs. Although her large, extended family is black, she is a redibo. Her skin is copper-coloured, her hair is red, and her eyes are grey. A neighbour taunts her, calling her “a little red jacket,” but the reason for the insult is never explained. Only much later does Grace learn the story of her birth mother and decipher the mystery surrounding her true identity. 

In keeping with our theme of "Writing the World" this month, Mordecai shares with us this fantastic list of novels of the Caribbean. 


I had three criteria for this list of nine books: that the writers be Canadian-Caribbean women; that the setting be entirely or in large part, the Caribbean; and that the books be published in (roughly) the last 15 years. That I claim most of these women as friends is a huge privilege. Give thanks.

At the Full and Change of the Moon, by Dionne Brand

As my daughter says, this is an amazing bo …

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Rosalind Chan: Around the World in Cake

Of all the international themes that we're considering this month, it all keeps coming back to food. Cookbooks and food books are fascinating ways to learn about other culture, and our own local food movement has only awakened interest in how food culture works in other places. However, world-renowned cake decorator Rosalind Chan's new book is a spin on global food quite like no other. 

Creative Cakes features 14 cakes inspired by by the symbols and flowers of places Chan has visited on her travels, with recipes that teach some of the most sought-after skills in cake making, plus how-to photos, templates, full-page images, and a variety of cake and confectionery recipes.

The wonders of the world have never been so sweet. 




Russian Faberge Beauty


Russia’s national flower is the chamomile. Looking very much like a daisy, the chamomile symbolizes energy. Russia is known for its famous jewelled eggs, made by the House of Faberge from 1885 to 1917 for the Russian imperial family.



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10 Books With Global Themes to Read This Spring

This month we're writing the world at 49th Shelf, talking books with international themes and settings, about global issues, and travel. From our amazing list of Most Anticipated Books for Spring 2015, we've culled a few that fall under this umbrella that the globally minded among you should seek out to read. 


Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village, by Jeffrey Alford

About the book: In the small village of Kravan in rural Thailand, the food is like no other in the world. The diet is finely attuned to the land, taking advantage of what is local and plentiful. Made primarily of fresh, foraged vegetables infused with the dominant Khmer flavours of bird chilies, garlic, shallots, and fish sauce, the cuisine is completely distinct from the dishes typically associated with Thailand.

Chicken in the Mango Tree follows the cycle of a year in Kravan, and the recipes associated with each season—steamed tilapia during the rainy season, mushroom soup, called tom yam het, during the cold season, rice noodles with seafood during the hot months and spicy green papaya salad as comfort food all year round. With helpful substitutes for the more exotic ingredients and cooking methods, Alford's recipes and stories blend together to bring a taste of this …

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Intrepid Travellers: Canadian Women in the World

This month at 49thShelf, we're Writing the World, exploring travel guides and memoirs, and books with global issues and international themes. And this week in particular, in the run-up to International Women's Day, we're celebrating women's stories, beginning with this cross-genre list—memoir, fiction, and poetry—of Canadian women's travel tales.


Book Cover Outside of Ordinary

Outside of Ordinary: Women's Travel Stories, edited by Lynn Cecil and Catherine Bancroft

Thirty-two Canadian women writers—including Alison Pick, Sharon Butala, and Lorna Crozier—tell their travel stories in this anthology of stories in which lives are challenged spiritually, physically, emotionally, and otherwise, as well as deeply enriched. Elaine K. Miller cycles across the Southern United States, Janet Greidanus climbs to Everest Base Camp, and Jane Eaton Hamilton, on vacation in Mexico with her partner, contemplates whether to join the fight for same-sex marriage in Canada. For it seems that travel doesn't just change one's view of the world, but it changes also how one sees one's own self, and also notions of home. 


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