amazon.ca

Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books

Blog

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Integrity

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

*****

The following picture books about integrity feature characters with a strong moral code, those who find a way to stay true to themselves and the things they believe in.

The Stamp Collector, by Jennifer Lanthier, illustrated by Francois Thisdale, introduces the concept of freedom of speech and imprisoned writers around the world. Two points of view are eloquently portrayed in this story. A city boy finds a stamp, igniting a lifelong love of stamps. A country boy reads voraciously and ends up bursting with stories. The first boy loves stories, too, but he must take a job as a prison guard to make a living. The country boy writes stories that expose the harsh conditions of his people, landing him in prison. Letters of support come from around the world and the guard wrestles with his desire to share them with the writer. A heavy tale, with an afterword outlining the role of PEN International. Grade 2+

*

In A Handful of Seeds, by Monica Hughes, illustrate …

Continue reading »

Picture Books on Honesty

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

*****

These picture books about honesty run the gamut—from blatant lies to a mere fudging of the rules.

In My New Shirt, by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, David gets the same gift from his Bubbie every year—a stiff buttoned-up white collar shirt. Exactly what he doesn't want. So how does the gift end up flying out the window? And in the mouth of his dog Pupik, chased through the neighbourhood, collecting mud and borscht stains? David thinks he's ended the white shirt tradition until Bubbie performs a laundry miracle and scrubs it back to new. So how does it end up out the window a second time?

In another of Fagan's books, Ella May and the Wishing Stone, illustrated by Genevieve Cote, a deception is born of jealousy. Ella May has a wishing stone (one with a white stripe all the way round) and lords it over Manuel. Manuel designs a wishing stone machine to create his own stones, but all is revealed when the white lines (CHALK!) are washed cle …

Continue reading »

Notes from a Children's Librarian: On Fairness and Justice

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

*****

What's fair? Race, bullying and difficult choices are all addressed in these picture books about fairness for children from Kindergarten to Grade 3.

Readers as young as kindergarten can feel the injustice in Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! Jody Nyasha Warner's simple, powerful language and Richard Ruknicki's colourful pictures portray an ordinary woman doing a remarkable thing: fighting for what's right. In 1946, Viola's car broke down in Nova Scotia. While her car was getting fixed, she went to the movies, where she was asked to sit in the balcony with other black people. When Viola bravely refused, the manager called the police and she was taken to jail and fined for not paying the proper ticket price, even though she'd offered to do so in the theatre. There's a useful postscript which gives some background about Viola's life.

The concept of equity also comes up in the postscript of The Stone Thrower, by Jael Ealey Richardson, illustrated by Matt Ja …

Continue reading »

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Working Together

Book Cover Our Corner Grocery Store

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

*****

Where do we work as a team? Hockey comes to mind, as well as school plays, snow creations in the yard, and pirate crews. All of these are featured in these picture books for the K-3 audience.

And what about the running of a local shop? Our Corner Grocery Store, by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, is a sweet portrait of a day in the life of a neighbourhood store, the kind that slices meat one sandwich at a time. This first person narrative of a little girl helping her Nona and Nono captures the seamless teamwork required to run a business. Beingessner's lovely detailed pictures show life in the house above the shop as well as the surrounding neighbourhood.

The F Team, by Anne Laurel Carter, illustrated by Rose Cowles, features a hockey team that just can't seem to beat the A Team, who are all about winning. So they take a different tack—distracting the other side with figure skating moves, turning “failure” into “fearless.” …

Continue reading »

Everything I Know About Life I Learned from Picture Books

Every year on January 27, Canadians celebrate Family Literacy Day, an initiative to affirm the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. And while the benefits to children of exposure to books and literacy are well-documented, less sung is just how much wisdom an adult reader can garner from children's literature. These books are not just for the kids, and they've affirm to me some of the most important lessons I've learned in my life. We all get a lot out of returning to these stories again and again. 

*****

On diversity:  

 

We all count. 

From We All Count, by Julie Flett: We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers is the 2014 board book from Native Northwest featuring the artwork of Cree/Métis artist Julie Flett. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, this bilingual board book introduces Plains Cree (y-dialect) and Swampy Cree (n-dialect) written in Roman orthography. Artist and author has a simple graphic style using bold and clear text to introduce counting with appropriate cultural images from contemporary Cree society. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Cree and English using authentic Cree imagery.

**

Continue reading »

Books for the Holidays: For Kids

We've got books under the tree for all the types on your list this season. Here are some recommendations for young readers. 

*****

Book Cover Cure for Wereduck

For Odd Ducks

Cure for Wereduck, by Dave Atkinson

Kate is an odd duck-literally. When the full moon arrives, the rest of her family turns into wolves, but she is a happy wereduck. Relatively happy, that is. Her family has been uprooted from the wilds of New Brunswick to a placid farming community in Ontario, thanks to a fellow werewolf, Marcus, selling them out to sleazy tabloid journalist Dirk Bragg. When Kate discovers her great­-great-­grandmother's recipe "A Cure for Werewolf," she can't help but wonder—is it really possible? Could she one day resist the call of the moon? Could she be free from the constant threat of exposure? When Marcus's abandoned werewolf son, John, books a desperate train journey back to New Brunswick at the full moon, the ancient recipe and its arcane ingredients are put to the test. Will Dirk Bragg finally corner Kate and John in their were­forms and expose them to the world, or will Cure for Werewolf keep them safe?

*

For the Dino Freak

Continue reading »

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 …

Continue reading »

Notes From a Children's Librarian: On Empathy

Book Cover Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge

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

**

“No matter what you see or hear/ One thing is always true: Each one without a house and home/ Was once a child like you.” This is the line that jumps out in Tim Huff's book, The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge. This simple, rhyming picture book was written as a response to the author's own young children asking about homeless people. For Grade 1 and up, it humanizes those in sleeping bags on a sewer grates, and each page has accompanying thought-provoking discussion questions.

*

Book Cover We Want You to Know

Deborah Ellis's non-fiction collection of interviews from around the globe, We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying, similarly demands empathy from the reader. I was disheartened to read kids recount their suffering (often for years) at the hands of bullies and how sometimes teachers hadn't done enough. Then, in the final chapter, one of the bullies, Len, age 15, says, “If I’d known what they were inside, what they did when they weren’t at school, what they we …

Continue reading »

CCBC Awards: Seeds of a Story (Part Two)

Book Cover Mad Miss Mimic

The shortlisted books for this year's Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators across the country. Go here for a complete list of nominees. Winners will be announced at a gala in Toronto on November 17th. And in the meantime, we're featuring the second half of our "Seeds of a Story" feature, in which writers and illustrations share the inspiration for their celebrated works.

 Don't miss the first half of the story, which appeared last week. 

****

Mad Miss Mimic, by Sarah Henstra

Nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 

Mad Miss Mimic began with a visit to Kew Gardens in London, UK, while I was on a research trip for my academic job. I sat on a bench watching a glossy black chicken run around on the lawn, and I started to dream up a story about an upper-class girl in the nineteenth century visiting the gardens with a relative. Who might this girl be? What might be troubling her (because, of course, something had to be troubling her, or there wouldn’t be a story)? Everything I noticed on that trip seemed to bring me back to this girl’s tale, feeding it and giving it substance: the wrought-iron daisies adorning the train station; the handsome old homes in Blooms …

Continue reading »

CCBC Awards: Seeds of a Story

Book Cover Delusion Road

The shortlisted books for this year's Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators across the country. Go here for a complete list of nominees. Winners will be announced at a gala in Toronto on November 17th. And in the meantime, we're featuring the first half of our "Seeds of a Story" feature, in which writers and illustrations share the inspiration for their celebrated works.

Don't miss "Seeds of a Story Part Two" as well.

*****

Delusion Road, by Don Aker

Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award

Delusion Road took me more than four years to write, but it’s been percolating in the back of my mind for more than four decades. When I was growing up, my parents never moved from the community where we lived, so I was fortunate to graduate with friends I’d known for many years. In fact, I attended a rural high school where everyone knew everyone else, so strangers in our midst were readily apparent. I recall sitting in an assembly during the first day of my senior year and seeing someone I didn’t recognize sitting alone a couple of rows ahead of me. Even all these years later, I vividly remember thinking how horrible it must have felt for that person to be “the new kid” who had to leave all of his …

Continue reading »

Illustrator Gallery: Geraldo Valério and Canadian Wildlife on the Loose

In his latest title, prolific author/illustrator Geraldo Valério (a Canadian via Brazil!) brings to life images of Canadian wild animals in a beautiful ABC book. The pictures in Moose, Goose, Animals on the Loose! are created with scissors and paper in amazing collage. We're pleased to feature a selection of spreads from the book. 

****

Geraldo Valério Moose Goose Loose Illustration

**

Geraldo Valério Moose Goose Loose Illustration

**

Geraldo Valério Moose Goose Loose Illustration

**

Geraldo Valério Moose Goose Loose Illustration

**

Geraldo Valério Moose Goose Loose Illustration

**

Continue reading »

Stepping Stones: A Transnational Literary Journey

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey, by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr, is one of the most remarkable picture books you will ever encounter, not just in the goodness of the book itself, but in the incredible transnational story of its creation. To make the story even more amazing, the author and publisher are donating a portion of the book's revenue to organizations supporting refugee-based causes, which is part of the reason that I went out and ordered three more copies of Stepping Stones as soon as I read it.

It's nice to be reminded that books can change the world. 

In this post, Margriet Ruurs tells the story of how Stepping Stones came to be.

*****

Image from Stepping Stones

As a children’s book writer I am always on the look-out for unusual, attractive art—even though authors usually have nothing to do with the illustrations of their books. But when I spotted an amazing picture on Facebook by an artist from Syria, I knew that I really wanted this art in a book of mine.

The picture I’d spotted showed a mother tenderly holding her baby. Behind her, a father str …

Continue reading »