Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


Gallery: Mary Wallace and An Inuksuk Means Welcome

In this month's illustrator's gallery, we feature the work of Mary Wallace, who has spent over 20 years teaching art and has illustrated over a dozen books for children. Her latest book is An Inuksuk Means Welcome.

An inuksuk is a stone landmark that different peoples of the Arctic region build to leave a symbolic message. Inuksuit (the plural of inuksuk) can point the way, express joy, or simply say: welcome. A central image in Inuit culture, the inuksuk frames this picture book as an acrostic: readers will learn seven words from the Inuktitut language whose first letters together spell INUKSUK. Each word is presented in English and in Inuktitut characters, with phonetic pronunciation guides provided. 


Inuksuk by Mary Wallace


Inuksuk by Mary Wallace


Inuksuk by Mary Wallace


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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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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Art Books

Each month, our resident Children's Librarian, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks. 


Story and visual art are intertwined in the following titles. Whether fiction or non-fiction, each appeals to the young artist in different ways.

Mr Gauguin's Heart

The picture book Mr. Gauguin’s Heart, by Marie-Danielle Croteau, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, reveals a crucial moment in the life of a young Paul Gauguin. When his family moves, taking an ocean liner from Denmark to Peru, Paul is comforted by his imaginary dog. But on the journey, his father is “carried away,” his tearful mother explains. Paul pictures him floating away holding onto a balloon. The mother tries to explain further by showing him the setting sun, slipping into the ocean. But each day Paul waits with his imaginary pup at the ship’s bow for sunrise. He meets an artist who, when they reach Peru, teaches him to paint his father in a way that he’ll always be remembered.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, also illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, is told from the point of view of Virginia …

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The Story of Lucy, Canada's Last Northern Elephant

5 Elephants Cover

Elephants are truly remarkable, unmistakable animals. Their huge size, giant ears, amazing trunk and incredible intelligence make them unique in the natural world. They are highly active, complex, wide-ranging animals who play a key role in the ecosystems they inhabit. 

Continuing in our tour of all things wild this month, we're pleased to bring you an excerpt from the new book 5 Elephants by Rob Laidlaw, an award-winning children's writer, Chartered Biologist and founder of Zoocheck Canada, a wildlife protection organization. In 5 Elephants, Laidlaw shares the stories of five famous elephants, including Lucy, Canada's last northern elephant at Edmonton's Valley Zoo.

Lucy's story is a sombre one, but Laidlaw hopes that raising awareness of it will protect other elephants from meeting similar fates. 


Lucy was born in the tropical wilderness of Sri Lanka. At 39 years old, she isn’t considered elderly yet, but she is closing in on her early 40s, a time when many elephants in zoos die.

If Lucy were still part of a wild elephant family, she might already be a respected elder, helping to guide, teach and protect her younger family members. She would travel, forage, socialize and grow old with her family.

But Lucy is far from Sri Lanka. She lives alone at the Valley …

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2014 Kids' Books Preview

There are so many exciting books being published in the first half of 2014, and we've been rounding them up over the past few weeks. This week's picks are books for young readers, though their general appeal extends to readers of all ages, of course!


Picture Books

Book Cover If I Wrote a Book About You

How lucky we are that Caroline Adderson writes books for everyone! Her new collection of short stories will be available to adults soon; emerging and middle-grade readers can read her Jasper John Dooley series and many other award-winning books aimed at this age group; and now she's got a picture book, Norman, Speak! (April), illustrated by the equally talented Qin Leng.

Astounding ABC (January) is a neat alphabet book featuring items from Toronto's Aga Khan Museum's collections. Stephany Aulenback, who is known for her work in McSweeneys and other magazines, as well as for her popular blog, Crooked House, has written her first picture book, If I Wrote a Book About You (May), illustrated by Denise Holmes. 

Music is for Everyone (May) is the second book by singer-songwriter Jill Barber; it' …

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Canadian Kids' Bookstores Choose Their Top Books for Little Kids in 2013

We are delighted to present amazing gift ideas from four kids-focused bookstores: Ella Minnow (Toronto), Kaleidoscope Books (Ottawa), Woozles (Halifax), and Babar Books (Montreal) as well as from the kids' book staff at McNally Robinson (Winnipeg and Saskatoon). This post will focus on books for younger readers, divided into board books, picture books, and first chapter books. Later in the week we will post the stores' picks for older kids—middle-grade and YA.

We will introduce each category then provide a link to the full list.

Many thanks to the staff and owners of the participating bookstores; they happily made their selections, complete with annotations, at the height of their busiest season of the year. We appreciate it!


Board books: These are the sturdy little numbers our kids booksellers chose (the full list includes annotations and links to the books on our site):

Little You by Richard Van Camp (McNally Robinson and Woozles)

The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson illustrated by Julie Morstad (McNally R


In My Tree by Sara Gillingham and …

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Halloween Exclusive: An Interview with Scaredy Squirrel

Book Cover Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween

From costume ideas to trick-or-treating strategies, Scaredy Squirrel helps readers plan for the spookiest night of the year! Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween is the second in a series of nutty safety guides featuring everyone's favourite worrywart. And Scaredy was kind enough to take some time away from his preparations to answer our most burning questions (with a fire extinguisher on hand, of course) about his new book and about his plans for Halloween. 

49th Shelf: Scaredy Squirrel, you’re afraid all year long, but at Halloween the world gets scary on purpose. Is this holiday extra frightening for you, or is it pretty much business as usual? 

Scaredy Squirrel: I, Scaredy Squirrel, feel it’s necessary to be extra prepared during the extra-frightening Halloween season. It’s the time of year for lighting candelabras, carving pumpkins, and crossing the road; only a small sampling of the hair-raising activities involved in the spookiest time of year.

49th Shelf: You mention in Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween that every kind of candy comes with its own pros and cons (for example, chocolate is delicious, but it tends to melt in the paw). Are you ever tempted to just stay home on Halloween? Is the candy worth the worry?

SS: It’s always tempting to st …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian 940s: History in Graphic Form

Our children's librarian columnist Julie Booker brings us the latest in book banter.

One of the most powerful tools a librarian has in her arsenal is book banter, particularly with Junior kids. To be able to recommend and discuss the latest Kevin Sylvester or Gordon Korman is what places him/her in the hub of the community. But gone are the days of the shush-ing librarian, nose stuck in a book behind the circulation counter, reading for countless hours. One short-cut solution for the librarian who wishes to remain in the know: graphic novels. I devoured the following three in one night and learned a bit of history in the process.

Book Cover Two Generals

The opening pages of Scott Chantler’s beautifully designed World War II novel Two Generals feel like the establishing shots of an epic movie, the kind that tell you you’re in the hands of an expert filmmaker. And, like a great director, Chantler brilliantly plays with the element of time, using foreshadowing as well as temporal jump cuts at the end which reveal the author’s reason for writing the book. The novel’s colour palette is black, white and army green, uncharacteristically depicting much of the waiting that happens in war. Blood red is used strategically to denote death creeping in. Two Generals has rounded corners and a bu …

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Andrea Curtis on the International Lunch Box and Learning to Write for Kids

Book Cover What's for Lunch?

It was a day like any other day in a kitchen like any other. Groggy and overwhelmed, coffee and time-deprived, my husband and I were rushing around, squeezing between fridge and sink, trying desperately to find something healthy and palatable to send for lunch in our two young boys’ school bags. The whole process was tinged with a niggling dread and a hint of irritation, knowing that the lunch we were packing would likely be returned partly eaten at the end of the day—slimy cucumbers and cold tomato pasta that would make my stomach churn.

There has to be a better way, we told each other—though we’d hashed out the possibilities many times before. But even in the depths of school lunch despair, I had to wonder, if middle class people like us were struggling to get their kids a nutritious and tasty meal that they will actually eat, what about people here at home or the rest of the world whose challenges are so much more extreme? How do people living in poverty in Canada or India, Kenya, Afghanistan or Brazil manage to keep their kids healthy and fed?

What's for Lunch Japan

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For Young Readers: Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2012

Toads on Toast is the latest picture book by the award-winning Linda Bailey (her many works including the Stanley books and Goodnight Sweet Pig), illustrated by Colin Jack. Genevieve Cote, whose honours include the 2007 Governor General's Award for illustration, releases Mr. King's Things, the story of a materialistic cat who has to change his ways. Andrea Curtis's What's For Lunch?, with photographs by Yvonne Duivenvoorden, is a non-fiction book about school lunches around the world. The Shade and the Sorceress launches "The Last Days of Tian Di", a trilogy by Catherine Egan, about a young girl who discovers she's connected to a line of great sorceresses, but is incapable of magic herself. My Name is Parvanna is the sequel to Deborah Ellis's The Breadwinner.

Mr Zinger’s Hat is a new picture book by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, about a boy who learns to build a story. Sheree Fitch's marvelous collection of nonsense poems Toes in My Nose has been reissued, reimagined with new illustrations by Sydney Smith. Marie-Louise Gay's Stella stor …

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What I Read on my Summer Vacation: Guest Post by Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen (in a hat!)

As a stay at home dad, it’s never easy to carve out time to write. Summer presents a whole new set of challenges. This past summer I was able to do some writing in the very early morning, before the rest of the house was awake. On the whole, however, my kids’ summer vacation meant that I had to take a vacation from writing. So, instead, I read. What a treat! I so seldom get a chance to read. And with the beginning of the new school year I resolve to read even more. Meanwhile, here are some of my recently read favourites:

Chapter Books

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan:

Quirky and delightful, Cary Fagan’s Banjo of Destiny tells the story Jeremiah Birnbaum. Jeremiah is the unconventional child of wealthy parents who appears to have it all. In fact, it all counts for nothing. The greatest thing he has is his passion to learn to play the banjo. Overcoming numerous hurdles, to say nothing of his foolish parents, Jeremiah follows his heart and discovers that he is capable of creating much more than just good music.

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Newfangled Styles for Newfangled Lives: Guest Post by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Tanya Lloyd Kyi lives in Vancouver with her husband and children. Her most recent book, 50 Underwear Questions (Fall 2011), takes an amusing look at the role underwear has played through the ages. The Blue Jean Book (2005) is the story of denim’s rise from its origins with hardscrabble miners and cowboys to its popularity among laborers, rebels, and the incurably hip. An updated version, including comic-style illustrations, has been published in 2011 under the name The Lowdown on Denim.

I’m a pop culture idiot. When my husband quotes old TV shows, I stare at him blankly. When my friends play “name that tune,” I lose every time. My knowledge of brand names is pitiful and fashion labels are a lost cause.

It’s not my fault (or so I tell myself). We didn’t have cable until halfway through elementary school. Our truck had an eight-track player. There wasn’t a mall or movie theatre within an hour’s drive. When my cousin visited from Vancouver and brought a Weird Al Yankovic cassette, it was like she’d arrived from another planet. (A cool planet.)

I’m not exaggerating. My town was so remote, we were wearing 1980s hairstyles well into the 90s. I’d prove it, but my grad photos spontaneously combusted, due to excess Ice Mist.

So, when my publisher sugg …

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