Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books

On Our Radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet and elsewhere. 


Crow, by Amy Spurway

Profiled by Erin Pottie at the Cape Breton Post 

“I freaked out because all of a sudden my own mortality just kind of clubbed me over the head and I thought I might not live forever,” [Spurway] said.

“I have to figure out a way to make peace with that and deal with that. And I knew I had to do it in writing. And I knew fiction was how I had to do it.”

(Read the whole thing here.) 


Through, Not Around: Stories of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss, edited by Allison McDonald Ace; Ariel Ng Bourbonnais & Caroline Starr

Essay "Why I Don't Call My Child a Miracle," by Teri Vlassopoulos, excerpted at Catapult

It’s difficult deciding where to begin and then draw the line with fertility treatments. At the beginning, you tell yourself, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. You imagine your life without a baby and all the traveling you and your husband will do together, how many books you’ll write. But as roadblocks litter your path, you hedge your initial position: If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, sure, but why not try this first before giving up? And . . . this. And this, too.

You get accustomed to treatments, acclimatize yourself step by step. You grapple with questions of how comfortable you are with what you’re getting yourself into. While you wouldn’t balk at medical interventions to save a life, it’s another thing to rely on them to create a new one.

(Read the whole thing here.


Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy, by Paul Vermeersch

Reviewed by Brent Raycroft at ARC Poetry

The self defence tips in Self Defence for the Brave and Happy range from the obviously absurd to the useful―from “if you drown, report it” to “Tell yourself that you are beautiful.” But for the most part they are fiercely double-edged, like the book as a whole: “Keep your hands in the air or go for the eyes, depending.”

(Read the whole thing here.)


The Centre of the Universe, by Ria Voros (Young Adult)

Reviewed by Lola at Hit or Miss Books 

Nothing is as it seems. So the main focus of this book is the disappearance and the investigation that follows, but Grace does not neglect her best friend Iris, who is dealing with something on her own, and new friend Mylo, whose father vanished a while ago.

I loved the ways in which the other incorporated scientific facts into the storyline, Grace being an aspiring astrophysicist. I’ve never liked sciences, because I find it hard to connect to hard facts—it either exists or it doesn’t, it’s either like this or it isn’t—that leave little to personal interpretation, but I quite enjoyed Grace’s facts. I had no idea some planets could have two or more suns, that’s crazy!

(Read the whole thing here.)


Operatic, by Kyo Maclear and Byron Eggenschwiler (Middle Grade)

Reviewed by Tony Hong at BookDragon

Eggenschwiler’s art, not unlike the story, is wonderfully unpredictable: sometimes the action remains well-ordered in tightly organized panels, other times, the illustrations cascade off the page, especially when emotions can’t—and shouldn’t—be contained. He shows Charlie being literally swept up by Callas’s voice, as the swirling, flowery flow of her music lifts Charlie above and away from her classroom desk and chair. As Charlie attempts nonchalantly to downplay the overwhelming throes of her first crush, Eggenschwiler adds a riotous explosion of magical textures and shapes bursting from behind Charlie’s sneaker in the wake of the would-be lovers’ stroll à deux. Combining enchanting art, mellifluous music, and just the right words, Maclear and Eggenschwiler provide a marvelous composition guaranteed to resonate.

(Read the whole thing here.)


Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature, by Margriet Ruurs, Illustrated by Robert Bateman

Reviewed by Linda Ludke at Quill and Quire

Bateman’s conservationist philosophy comes across clearly: “Robert brought animals to life for those who would never get to see them.” His advice to his own grandchildren is offered as a rallying cry for us all: “Pay attention to details of nature.”

March 28, 2019

Books mentioned in this post



by Amy Spurway
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback Audiobook Audiobook
tagged: literary, humorous, 21st century

Winner, IPPY Award for Best First Book - Fiction and Margaret and John Savage First Book Award for Fiction
Runner-up, Leacock Medal for Humour
Shortlisted, Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award and Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction
Long-Shortlisted, 2020 Relit Award (Novel Category)

When Stacey Fortune is diagnosed with three highly unpredi …


Through, Not Around

Stories of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss

edited by Allison McDonald Ace; Caroline Starr & Ariel Ng Bourbonnais
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: infertility, death, grief, bereavement, pregnancy & childbirth

Everything doesn't (always) happen for a reason.

Infertility and pregnancy loss can be devastating, yet both are often private sorrows for the one in six people who cope with the experience. This collection offers personal stories about what it's like to go through the emotional and physical facets of infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss: th …


Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy


by Paul Vermeersch
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: canadian


It is the Third Millennium. The 20th century is a memory. Humans no longer walk on the moon. Passenger planes no longer fly at supersonic speeds. Disinformation overwhelms the legitimate news. The signs of our civilization’s demise are all around us, but hope is not lost. In these poems, you will find a map through our dystopia and protection fr …


Center of the Universe, The

by Ria Voros
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 14 to 18
  • Grade: 9 to 12
tagged: thrillers & suspense, mysteries & detective stories, science & technology

Grace Carter's mother --- the celebrity news anchor GG Carter --- is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace --- an aspiring astrophysicist --- is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits. Then one day GG is just ... gone. Cameras descend on …



by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
edition: eBook
also available: Hardcover
  • age: 10 to 14
  • Grade: 5 to 9
tagged: bullying, emotions & feelings, music

A story of friendship, first crushes, opera and the high drama of middle school told by award-winning Kyo Maclear in her debut graphic novel.

Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. But it’s hard for Charlie to concen …


Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature

by Margriet Ruurs, by (artist) Robert Bateman
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook Audiobook
  • age: 6 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
tagged: art

Celebrated artist Robert Bateman is renowned internationally for bringing the natural  world to life on the canvas. A naturalist and painter from his youth, Robert has for decades used his recognition to shed light on environmental issues and advocate for animal welfare.
Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature is the story of how a young chil …

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