This selection of books, which we highlight on Remembrance Day, runs the gamut from fiction to non-fiction to poetry to books for kids. Together, they represent our duty to not just remember, but to consider the path ahead.
Tell, by Frances Itani
A 2014 Giller Prize contender, Tell concerns itself with a community struggling to emerge from the trauma of WWI. It follows Itani's beloved Deafening, a novel also set amid the horrors, and feats of love and survival, of WWI.
What We Talk About When We Talk About War, by Noah Richler
A fascinating exploration of the way rhetoric—in communications and media—shapes how Canadians think of themselves as a nation and informs Canada's engagement in peacekeeping, war, and on the international stage.
Braco, by LesleyAnne Warren
Lesleyanne Ryan’s debut novel takes place over the five days followin …
On Thursday, the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards will be presented in Toronto. We asked the nominees to tell us about the seeds of their stories, the places from which their inspiration grew. Here are some of their responses. Don't miss Part One from yesterday!
The Further Adventures of Jack Lime, by James Leck
Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award
"After I finished The Adventures of Jack Lime, I knew that Jack wasn’t finished solving cases in the fictional town of Iona, but I didn’t know what mysteries would be heading his way in the second book in the series, The Further Adventures of Jack Lime. So, I started the ball rolling by brainstorming a bunch of crimes that I’d like to see Jack solve. What came out of that brainstorming session was a mystery involving an art heist. I was living in Kuwait at the time, teaching high school at an international school, and the students were creating all this incredible art in their art class. I thought how horrible it would be if someone were to sneak into the art room and steal someone’s painting, especially if that happened at the end of the year just before their work was about to be displayed for everyone else to see. While I was putting the finishing touches on that story I visited Nice, in Fran …
Fear not! (Or at least, fear less.) Because here is your guide to a most Canadian bookish Halloween, serving to guide you through the spooky day ahead, and provide great suggestions for appropriate seasonal reading.
CanLit Zombie expert, Corey Redekop, can hook you up with a good read via The Canadian Weirdscape, made up of selections of the nation's most outlandish, strange, and mind-boggling fiction.
Check out The Fright List for some terrifying titles, including books by award-winning horror masters, Andrew Pyper, and Susie Maloney.
Are you in the unfortunate position of the monsters in your life being not-so fictional? To that end, you might appreciate our excerpt from Liisa Ladouceur's How to Kill a Vampire, part culture guide and all practical guide. Find out how useful your handy crucifix or holy water really will be once you're fa …
Canadian children's literature is avowedly world-class, and the selection this season is up to the usual standard. Our Fall Preview offers hours and hours of bedtime reading for lit-lovers of all ages. And don't miss the rest of our Fall Previews: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry.
With Good Morning, Canada (September), Andrea Lynn Beck follows up her celebrated Goodnight, Canada, as children across the country welcome a brand new day. You probably know and love Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman's A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, so get ready for their latest, Dashing Through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells (October), which begins with Sasquatch upsetting Santa's sleigh and everyone getting the wrong presents. Sangeeta Bhadra's debut is Sam's Pet Temper (September), an amusing story about a boy who eventually learns to control his troublesome "pet," illustrated by Marian Arbona. In Winter Moon Song (August), award-winning writer Martha Brooks tells her own version of the "Rabbit in the Moon" story, which is shared by many cultures, her tender tale complemented by Leticia Ruifernández's illustrations.
Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
Sky and earth, large scale to small, these books cover the gamut of wild summer fun.
The Kids Book of the Night Sky, by Ann Love and Jane Drake, is a DIY resource for getting to know the summer sky. This one’s packed with stories from around the world (not just Greek legends) explaining the origins of the Milky Way, the waxing/waning moons, and the zodiac. Activities such as using stars to tell time, constellation flash cards, and heavenly word games are accented with four seasonal star maps, a glossary, astronomical riddles, and an interview with a star revealing his life story, from gas cloud to white dwarf.
For more down-to-earth readers, there’s Canadian Wild Flowers and Emblems, by Colleayn O. Mastin. Each page contains a painting of a flower, illustrated by Jan Sovak, and a two-stanza poem outlining the origin of each flower’s name, its distinctive characteristics, and whether it’s edible or poisonous. All provincial flowers are noted, …
Each month, our resident Children's Librarian, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks.
The little boy in Red Parka Mary, by Peter Eyvindson, judges his neighbour, Mary, with her missing teeth and unkempt grey hair, dressed in floppy moccasins and thick wool socks, four sweaters darned at the elbow and a Montreal Canadiens hockey toque. "Even though he was only seven someone had told him to be frightened of her." A relationship begins when Mary offers him some chokecherries. She ends up teaching the boy how to snare and skin a rabbit, how to sew leather, and how to line his moccasins with fur. The boy presents her with a red parka which moves Mary to give him the "biggest and best thing in the whole wide world." (Grades K–4)
Kokom (grandmother figure) is also the guiding force in Allan Crow's The Crying Christmas Tree. Native traditions are woven into this simple tale set in Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay. Kokom brings home a tiny Christmas tree for her grandchildren and they toss it out, calling it scrawny. Elders loom large in all t …
As National Poetry Month begins to wind down, let's take a moment to highlight the poetry collections that tend to be read most voraciously, collections that are read and reread, whose poems are memorized and then recited through the decades. ("Suzy grew a moustache, a moustache, a moustache …"). Here is a list of Canadian poetry from Fitch to Fitch, and everything in-between is just as great. Some of the collections are classic and others brand new, but all are excellent introductions for young readers to the power of the poem.
If I Had a Million Onions by Sheree Fitch is a word-bending, tongue-twisting, rollicking delight. Yayo's art is a perfect complement to Fitch's whimsy, and while these poems tend toward silly good fun ("Vaness Vanastra's/ A walking disastrah./ She fell in a bowlful/ Of noodles and pasta."), if you look, you will find their serious edge. Fitch is a poet as attuned to the world's shadows as she is to its light, and many of these poems are pleas for young readers not to forget what they know as they head into the sometimes far more childish world of adulthood. Fitch is a wise woman, dispensing sage advice like, "Sing a song of doodledang,/ Dance an hour away./ My excellent advice is this:/ Read a poem a day."
Each month, our resident Children's Librarian, Julie Booker, gives us a new view from the stacks. For February, she provides a great list for Black History Month.
A colleague recently asked for black history materials that didn't reference slavery. I was taken aback. Then I realized; each year I rotely pull books about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Viola Desmond, the Underground Railroad. The challenge this time was to create a list that veers away from slavery, and highlights Canadians.
Kids Can Press offers that with three books in a research-friendly format. Profile boxes, Did-You-Know's, bold headings, bullet points, timelines, manageably-sized paragraphs and illustrations are perfect for ages 10 and up.
The Kids Book of Black Canadian History, by Rosemary Sadlier, is a one-stop-shop, covering four major groups who helped form our country: Africans, Caribbeans & South Americans, Americans, and several-generation Canadians. Sadlier, of course, includes slavery, explaining Africville and Birchtown settlements, the Jamaican Maroons and the Exodusters. But she goes far beyond with military heroes, famous cowboys, journalists, pioneers, activists and inventors.
Every month, our resident children's librarian Julie Booker brings us great stories from the stacks.
What’s the big idea? One of the current trends in education is to identify the underlying theme or message, to make connections with other stories and the larger world. Shoes allow for big ideas, relatable to readers as young as age four.
Alma Fullerton and Karen Patkau's A Good Trade starts out simple. Kato, a young boy wakes on his mat in Uganda. He carries his gerry cans to the well for water, splashing his bare feet. Questions start to form in the reader’s mind. Why are the cattle-spotted fields guarded by soldiers? What is this "aid worker's truck" Kato peeks into? He spies a single white poppy and makes a trade for what he's seen: a pair of runners. The beautiful pictures and the one-sentence-per-page provide great starting points for discussing life in Uganda, world help organizations, and inequity in general.
Two Pairs of Shoes by Esther Sanderson is another simple tale that asks a big question. Maggie lives in two worlds—English and …
We all know kids love stories, but there’s something else they’re particular about, too: truth and correctness. Kids are naturally proud of the knowledge they’ve acquired and this can be especially true about nature and animal facts.
In this post, Lisa Dalrymple and Suzanne Del Rizzo, the author/illustrator duo behind Skink on the Brink—a story with about a little skink who loses his footing when his beautiful blue tail turns grey—take turns explaining how they approached the balance of fact and fiction for their book. Stewie the skink is both a lizard who runs though the forest making up rhymes (fiction) and a lizard living in an accurately depicted Carolinian forest—the preferred habitat of certain populations of Common Five-lined Skink.
I think kids—and grown-ups—love fictional stories, and they love learning facts and reading non-fiction books, too. (My six-year-old always makes sure we visit both the picture book story section and the non-fiction aisles during our weekly library visits.) When you want to curl up inside a story, you want to read a story–something where the characters, their dreams and their challenges, matter to you. Stewie’s story had to be about what happened to him, about his feelings and responses as he was changing, quite dramatically, into a full-grown skink.
This fall, Canadian authors and illustrators shine as bright as ever in this stellar lineup of new books for kids and young readers.
In Ella and the Balloons in the Sky by Danny Appleby and Lauren Pirie, gorgeous illustrations help tell a whimsical story of love and loss. Artist Rebecca Chaperon's Eerie Dearies is an Edward Gorey-esque alphabet book featuring 26 reasons for being absent from school. The award-winning Geneviève Côté follows up Mr King's Things (just nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award) with Mr King's Castle, another fun book with an environmental theme.
A new Sheree Fitch book is always an event, and this one is extra-special. Singily Skipping Along is described as "body movement multi-sensory inventive language poem," a book about bodies and the amazing ways they move, featuring hooked-rug illustrations by Deanne Fitzpatrick. Julie Flett's Wild Berries (also published in Cree as Pakwa Che Menisu) is a story about a boy picking berries with his grandmother, and it includes a recipe for blueberry p …
Marie-Louise Gay, the beloved author and illustrator of the Stella and Sam series, and her husband David Homel, Governor-General-Award-winning translator of over 30 books, have combined forces in the last little while to write and illustrate the Travels series based on their family's vacations—and "stay-cations." The result has been a family affair: their kids' voices have informed the series and also the real, often funny conversations they have about the books in it.
When our youngest son read Travels with My Family, the first of our Travels series, he couldn’t believe he’d survived his own childhood. “You guys did so many dangerous things with me!” he complained. “I should have called Youth Protection Services.” Then he made a play for a share of the royalties.
“No,” we told him. “Characters in books don’t get royalties. Only writers do. Write your own book.” Now we’re afraid he will!
Our oldest, meanwhile, showed up at our Montreal launch and happily co-signed copies of the book with us, adding “The Narrator” under his signature (more on that in a minute).
Nostalgia usually doesn’t lead to anything worthwhile, but our series of Travels books is the exception that makes the rule. We would sometimes linger at the table after din …