Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2020 Books for Young Readers Preview

New books for young readers...and readers of all ages!


Picture Books

Told in rhyming verse, The Old Man and the Penguin (October), by Julie Abery and illustrated by Pierre Pratt, is the touching true story of an oil-soaked penguin, the man who rescues him and an unlikely friendship. Cakes, cookies or pie? A rivalry among local bakers is the basis for the deliciously sweet, off-the-wall picture book It Happened On Sweet Street (July), by Caroline Adderson, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. Bed has something to say. Bed knows you do not like bedtime. Bed gets it. But look ... YOU are not so great, either: Monica Arnaldo provides the other side of the story in Time for Bed's Story (September). And a young girl discovers nature’s surprising beauty in The Most Amazing Bird (November), from renowned Inuit storyteller Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, illustrated by Andrew Qappik.

Book Cover Princesses Vs Dinosaurs

Two popular storybook titans, princesses and dinosaurs, battle to determine who should star in Linda Bailey's new laugh-out-loud picture book, Princesses Versus Dinosaurs (September), …

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Launchpad: One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, by Anuradha Rao

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 One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, which Elizabeth May calls "a book to be celebrated and shared!”


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

One Earth is a nonfiction book with colour photos that tells the stories of 20 Black, Indigenous and people of colour who are environmental defenders.

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves nature and/or is looking for diverse role models. Perhaps doesn’t tend to see themselves reflected enough in popular media, and …

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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.


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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Most Anticipated: Our 2019 Books for Young Readers Spring Preview

Last but certainly not least in our 2019 Spring Preview is our Books for Young Readers list, featuring books that are sure to delight readers of all ages. 


Picture Books

A little girl growing up on the prairies stands at the window and waves to the train engineer going by in A Little House in a Big Place, by Alison Acheson, illustrated by Valériane LeBlond, a book that explores the magic of a connection made between strangers while also pondering the idea of growing up. Albert just wants to read his book in peace—why won't his friends give him some quiet? Isabelle Arsenault's latest is Albert's Quiet Quest (May), and it  explores the importance of finding alone time. Cale Atkinson's Where Oliver Fits (April) looks at the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn't always the best fit. Based on author Susan Avingaq’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu,The Pencil introduces young readers to the idea of using things wisely. Saumiya Balasubramaniam’s When I Found Grandma (March), illustrated by Qin Leng, is an insightful and endearing portrayal of a cross-cultural grandparent-grandchild relationship that is evolving and deeply loving. Summer North Coming-Winter North Coming (March), by Doris Bentley and Jessica Bromley …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Books for Young Readers Preview

And Books for Young Readers is the final instalment of our Fall Preview. Whew! It's all shaping up to be an amazing literary season. Happy reading, everybody. 


Picture Books 

The Imperfect Garden (September), by Melissa Assay and April dela Noche Milne, celebrates naturally grown food in all its imperfection. Cale Atkinson’s Sir Simon: Super Scarer (September) is a haunted house story with a twist—perfect for Halloween. Timed for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication, Linda Bailey tells the story of its author in Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein (August), illustrated by Julia Sarda. Sloth at the Zoom (August), by Helaine Becker and Orbie, is the story of a sloth trying to make friends in a fast-paced world. Award-winning author-illustrator Rebecca Bender pushes Giraffe and Bird to new heights of courage, ingenuity, and humour in Giraffe and Bird Together Again (November). And Florence and Leon (September), by Simon Boulerice and Delphie Cote-Lacroix, nominated for the 2016 Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration (French), now appears in English translation by Sophie B. Watson.  

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Lianne Oelke on Strong YA Narrators

Leanne Oelke, author of Nice Try, Jane Sinner, recommends amazing YA novels that are unabashedly Canadian. 


Like so many teens growing up in Canada, I was desperate to see myself in Young Adult fiction. Sure, I found plenty of novels about American teens, and while I could relate to those characters well enough, where were all the books about Canadians? We’re not quite exotic enough to be exciting, but with our toques, loonies, legal drinking ages, and all those pesky ‘u’s in words like colour, we’re just different enough to be confusing. As I continued to grow and read, I discovered that not only do Canadian books exist, they’re also pretty awesome. In the words of fellow author Anna Priemaza, “As a reader, discovering our beautiful country featured in a book is such a rare and magical moment of 'Oh, hi, it's us!' and it thrills me to now be able to create that moment for other Canadian readers.”

While these YA novels stretch from Vancouver’s Main Street to the small town of Palermo, Ontario, what brings them together are the unforgettable voices of each honest, unique, and unabashedly Canadian character.


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Books of the Year: For Young Readers

We turned to the experts to help come up with our books of the year for young readers, the experts including Dory Cerny (Books for Young People Editor, Quill and Quire), Helen Kubiw (CanLit for Little Canadians), Vikki VanSickle (Author and Marketing and Publicity Manager at Penguin Random House Canada), and Cameron Ray (Youth Services Librarian, Toronto Public Library). Their picks are divine. We hope you (and your young readers) love them. 


A Boy Named Queen, by Sara Cassidy (Middle Grade)

Evelyn is both aghast and fascinated when a new boy comes to grade five and tells everyone his name is Queen. Queen wears shiny gym shorts and wants to organize a chess/environment club. His father plays weird loud music and has tattoos.

How will the class react? How will Evelyn?

Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don’t seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn’s better judgment. She even finds Queen irritating at times. Why doesn’t he just shut up and stop attracting so much …

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The Chat With Governor General's Award Winner Martine Leavitt


As we wrap up our special coverage of the 2016 Governor General's Awards for Literature, we are pleased to be in conversation with noted young adult author Martine Leavitt. Martine is this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winner for Young People’s Literature (Text) for her book Calvin.

“In Martine Leavitt’s Calvin,” writes the jury, “A boy newly diagnosed with schizophrenia makes a pilgrimage across a frozen Lake Erie. Told in spare, beautiful prose, this transcendent exploration of reality and truth is funny, frightening and affirming. Calvin is an astonishing achievement.”

Martine Leavitt is the author of ten novels for young readers. My Book of Life by Angel, which received five starred reviews, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year. Other titles include Keturah and Lord Death, finalist for the National Book Award; Tom Finder, winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award; and Heck Superhero, finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Her novels have been published in Japan, Korea, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. Martine teaches creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.



How was Calvin born?

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2015 Books for Young People Preview

Book Cover The Princess and the Pony

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. 


Picture Books

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.

Lucy Tries L …

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Judy Blume's CanLit Read-Alikes

Book Cover In the Unlikely Event

There has been a pandemic of Judy Blume-mania in bookish circles this summer as she releases her first book for adults in over a decade, In the Unlikely Event. And we too have got it bad here at 49th Shelf, which is why we asked Suzanne Sutherland, one of Canlit's coolest, to give us a list of great Canadian Judy Blume companions. 


Book Cover Superfudge

1. Superfudge will always have a special place in my heart as the first Judy Blume book I ever read. Or, more accurately, the first Judy Blume book I ever had read to me (thanks, Mom!). The Fudge series follows the antics of the Hatcher family as they negotiate gentle family drama and shifting sibling dynamics.

Book Cover The Travelling Circus

Superfudge’s Canlit read-alike is The Traveling Circusby Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel:

Similarly to the Fudge series, the Travels with My Family series (of which The Traveling Circus is the la …

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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.


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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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Mystery Novels for Young Readers

Every month, our resident children's librarian, Julie Booker, brings us great stories from the stacks. May is Mystery Month at 49th Shelf, and Julie's picks are in the spirit. 


John Spray grew up on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. He became the President of the Mantis Investigation Agency and, in 2011, established the John Spray Mystery Award for novels for ages 8 to 16. (The award is administered by the Canadian Children's Book Centre). Four of the following five titles were winners or nominees, and the other is remarkable in its own right.

The Lynching of Louie Sam, by Elizabeth Stewart, is a compelling story, based on true events—the only recorded lynching in Canada. The book opens in 1884, in Washington Territory, with 15-year-old George Gillies finding the local store owner murdered. The facts point to Louie Sam, a native boy a year younger than George. Sam is arrested and taken to Canada for a hearing but a posse of men (disguised in their wives’ petticoats) ride to BC to snatch him. George’s father is among them and George follows on horseback to witness the hanging. Things get complicated when George discovers Louie Sam may be innocent. George wrestles with his conscience while watching the adults cover up for political reasons. The Gillies family is …

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