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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2020 Books for Young Readers Preview

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

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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), illustrated by Joy Ang. A child’s joy on a snowy day finally helps her mother feel at home in their new country in Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White (October), by Saumiya Balasubramaniam and Eva Campbell. In Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard Of (October), bestselling and award-winning Helaine Becker has crafted an engaging look at the life of Emmy Noether, a contemporary of Einstein's and one of the most influential, though little known, mathematicians of the 20th century. And Becker also releases Alice and Gert (August), based on the classic story of the ant and grasshopper, a modern fable with a heartwarming twist valuing diverse contributions, honoring friendship and the power of art.

In the style of “The House That Jack Built,” The Nut that Fell From the Tree (September), by Sangeeta Bhadra and France Cormier, is a cumulative, rhyming tale that follows an acorn on its arduous journey. Lana Button's latest book is Raj's Rule (for the Bathroom at School) (August), illustrated by Hatem Aly. In The Ice Shack (September), by Katia Canciani and Christian Quesnel, translated by Jocelyne Thomas, the most beautiful ice-fishing shack on the whole coast belongs to Alphonse, but he can’t seem to catch a thing—not even a sock or an old pair of underwear! And how many hugs is too many? Hug? (September), by Carolyn Chua, explores compassion and the importance of setting boundaries.

Novelist Ann Yu-Kyung Choi's picture book debut is Once Upon an Hour (October), illustrated by Soyeon Kim, a story about determination and teamwork that shows young readers the importance of helping others. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to families, as Kathryn Cole and Cornelia Li demonstrate in My Family! Your Family! (September). From award-winning poet Lynn Davies comes her first collection for children, So Imagine Me (July), and there's a twist: each of the poems in the book has a riddle, a secret. And in The Grumpy Pirate (June), by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig, illustrated by Ashlyn Anstee, Gus the Pirate is always grumpy, but can the wise Pirate Queen convince him to change his ways?

With gorgeous illustrations from Risa Hugo, Jaclyn Desforges’s first picture book Why Are You So Quiet? (September) champions introversion and the value of being a listener, a thinker, and an observer in our increasingly loud world. A Canadian teacher in Kenya distributes a gift of crayons to her new students and soon realizes that she is the one who has the most to learn in Broken Crayons (September), by Patsy Dingwell  and Marla Lesage, based on a true story. There's no neighbourhood like a Marianne Dubuc neighbourhood—this time in an apartment building in Your House, My House (October). And Annika Dunklee's William's Getaway (July), illustrated by Yong Ling Kang, celebrates the bond between brothers, the wonders of an imaginary adventure, and the value of an occasional compromise.

 Maurice and his Dictionary (October) is the story of one refugee family’s harrowing journey, based on author Cary Fagan’s own family history, illustrated by Enzo Lord Mariano. A boy's little sister doesn't like the way he improvises when he tells tales in This is the Path the Wolf Took (September), a funny and bighearted tale about what makes a story good, by Laura Farina and Elina Ellis. In a world built for Perfect Pets, Barnabus is a Failed Project, half mouse, half elephant, kept out of sight until his dreams of freedom lead him and his misfit friends on a perilous adventure in The Barnabus Project (September), by Terry Fan, Eric Fan, and Devin Fan. And Summer Feet (June), by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Carolyn Fisher, is a glorious celebration of childhood and summer fun—check out some spreads from the book here!

The latest from Marie-Louise Gay, The Three Brothers (September) is a story about brothers who set off in search of wild animals in a changing climate. It’s a Mitig! (October), by Bridget George, guides young readers through the forest while introducing them to Ojibwe words for nature. Perfect for fans of Narwhal and Jelly, Elise Gravel’s Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds (October) is the first in a new early graphic chapter book series about the friendship between Arlo, an arrogant crow, and a sarcastic little bird named Pips. And Gravel also releases The Wrench (October), billed as a delight to read while also conveying an important message about consumerism and excess.

A newcomer to Canada discovers the magic of playing outside on a snowy day in Snow Doves (September), by Nancy Hartry and Gabrielle Grimard. The perfect resource for budding bird-watchers, Nature All Around: Birds (September), by Pamela Hickman and Carolyn Gavin, encourages children to appreciate the wonderful world of birds all around them. In Raven, Rabbit, Deer, Governor General's Award-nominated author Sue Farrell Holler casts a spell of simple wonder as a small child earnestly sets out to take care of his grandfather for the day, with illustrations by Jennifer Faria. And return to the valleys of the River of Mists with award-winning author Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) in The Eagle Mother (June), illustrated by Natasha Donovan.

Robert Heidbreder celebrates the sky with poetry in Catch the Sky (September), illustrated by Emily Dove. A boy and then an entire community move beyond their fear of the “other” and respond with acceptance, and then they movingly take it a step further to make change in AAAlligator! (October), by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Andrea Steigmaier. One day, Jeremy wakes up at the vet’s with a giant cone around his head, and in a momentary existential crisis, resigns himself to his new role as clumsy, smelly Cone Cat in Cone Cat (August), by Sarah Howden, and Carmen Mok. Kate Inglis’s new picture book, A Great Big Night (September), illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, is a  wonderful testament to community-building, music-making, and friendship. And Nice Try, Charlie! (August) is a new picture book about friendship and community from Matt James, acclaimed author and illustrator of The Funeral.

In Slow Moe (October), with charming illustrations by Marianne Ferrer, award-winning author Deborah Kerbel has written a delightful story about love, support and the struggle for tolerance within the often tumultuous sibling relationship. She also releases Snow Days (November), capturing winter magic with nimble couplets celebrating every kind of winter pleasure, with illustrator Miki Sato’s fascinating textural collage art looking intimately touchable.  Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me Down Skates (September) is a beautifully illustrated true childhood story about hockey great Bobby Orr, written by Kara Koostra, illustrated by Jennifer Phelan. New from Thao Lam, award-winning author, comes The Paper Boat (September), a personal story inspired by Lam's family’s refugee journey. Winner of the 2019 Governor General’s Award for Youth Literature—French Language,  contemporary nautical fable How Jack Lost Time (October), by Stéphanie Lapointe, illustrated by Delphie Côté-Lacroix, and translated by Arielle Aaronson, journeys into the heart of the human spirit, and will move readers young and old.
When Maggie’s treasure collection grows too big to manage, she finds a creative solution in Maggie’s Treasure (August), by Jon-Erik Lappano, illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka. And Andrew Larsen's latest picture book is I Do Not Like Stories (September), illustrated by Carey Sookocheff, about a boy who is sure that he doesn't like stories—or does he?

In the remote, fly-in community of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, the last cargo flight of October brings some strange orange guests for the children. Seeing a pumpkin for the first time, the local kids eagerly carve and light their first jack-o-lantern in When Pumpkins Fly (September), by Margaret Lawrence and Amanda Sandland. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, picture book biography Terry Fox and Me (August), by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlovic, tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love. In Joanne Levy's Fish Out of Water (September), a 12-year-old boy wants to do the things he loves—learn to knit, take up dance—but keeps having these interests restricted from him. Once I Was a Bear (September), by Irene Luxbacher, illuminates the difficult transitions we all must face as we learn how to be at home in the world. In It's Time for Bed (June), by Ceporah Mearns and Jeremy Debicki, illustrated by Tim Mack, readers follow Siasi on a nighttime adventure as she comes up with excuse after excuse for why she’s not quite ready to go to bed. And part fable, part metaphor, Little Girl Gazelle (September), by Stéphane Martelly, illustrated by Albin Christen, translated by Katia Grubisic, is a beautiful picture book focused on discrimination and equality—and presenting parents' subtle efforts to ready their black gazelle child to grow up in "a world of lions."

Can you play ice hockey in Kenya? Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters explore the question in Hockey Night in Kenya (October), illustrated by Claudia Dávila. The Name I Call Myself (October), by Hasan Namir and Cathryn John, is a sweet and moving picture book depicting Ari's gender journey from childhood to adolescence in order to discover who they really are. And Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer, by Suzie Napayok-Short, illustrated by Tamara Campeau, teaches young readers how close humans are to our animal counterparts and that caring for the environment in which we live is one of our most important responsibilities

When you’re a quilt instead of a sheet, being a ghost is hard, as demonstrated in Riel Nason's The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt (September), illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler. Hearkening back to classics like The Amelia Bedelia collection, Colleen Nelson will make parents, children, and especially teachers laugh out loud in Teaching Mrs. Muddle (October), illustrated by Alice Carter. Sara O'Leary's Maud and Grand-Maud (August), illustrated by Kenard Pak, is a celebration of the unique bond between grandparents and grandchildren. O’Leary also releases Night Walk (September), illustrated by Ellie Arscott, in which a child explores her neighborhood on a late-night walk with her dad, finding delight and comfort. And richly illustrated by 14 artists will all-new original art, A World of Mindfulness, published by Pajama Press, reflects on the sensory ways children experience life, from the feeling of their muscles when they run…to the sound of a turning page…to the memory-laden taste of fresh-baked cookies.

Cancer is a C Word (October), by Sunita Pal, illustrated by Cody Andreasen is an informative picture book for children that answers some tough questions, while conveying an overall comforting and positive message. Jean E. Pendziwol’s new picture book, I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree (August), illustrated by Nathalie Dion, is a lyrical meditation on nature and hope. Shea Proulx’s ABC Monstrosity (September) is both hideous and hilarious, with creepy creations sure to delight children and adults alike. And written by foster parents Kevin and Mary Qamaniq-Mason as a gift for Inuit children in care, I Am Loved (October) is lovingly imbued with cultural familiarities that will resonate with children who are navigating the unknown.

Bahram Rahman, who grew up in Afghanistan during years of civil war and the restrictive Taliban regime, wrote The Library Bus (October) to tell new generations about the struggles of women who, like his own sister, were forbidden to learn, his story brought to life by award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard. Snow Song (October), by A.K. Riley, illustrated by Dawn Lo, is a story told in rhythmic free verse about a young girl exploring the world on a wintry, snow-filled day. Scot Ritchie’s new book is Lilliana and the Frogs (October), a free-spirited picture book with a message about the importance of wild spaces. He also releases Follow Your Breath (October), a child-friendly introduction to mindfulness. And The Old Woman (September) is a beautiful portrait of an old woman who lives contentedly with her dog, from award-winning author Joanne Schwartz and illustrator Nahid Kazemi.

Ken Setterington’s Mom Marries Mom! (September), illustrated by Alice Priestly, is a celebration of love and family. Based on a true story, 111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl (October), by Rina Singh, illustrated by Marianne Ferrer, celebrates environmental sustainability, community activism and ecofeminism.

When We Are Kind (October), by celebrated author Monique Grey Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt, celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Inspired by true events, The Lady With the Books (October), by Kathy Stinson and Marie Lafrance, is a fictionalized retelling of how one woman brought a world of books to children in Germany after World War II, and changed their lives forever.

A young Anishnabe boy shares stories of "Ojibwe pterodactyls"—thunderbirds!— in Keeshig and the Ojibwe Pterodactyls (June), by Keeshig Spade and Celeste Pedri-Spade, illustrated by Robert Spade. Ashley Spires' next Fairy Science book is Solid, Liquid, Gassy (September), in which Esther the Fairy explores the magic of the water cycle. Our Little Kitchen (September) is a picture book about a lively evening in a community kitchen from Governor General’s Award-winning author and illustrator Jillian Tamaki. And a dreamlike picture book If You Were Night (September), by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Kelly Pousette, asks the question: if you were night, what would you do?

What does it mean to be Mi’kmaq? And if Swift Fox can’t find the answer, will she ever feel like part of her family? Based on Rebecca Thomas's own experience, with striking illustrations by Maya McKibbin, Swift Fox All Along (September) is a poignant story about identity and belonging. The Egg (August), by Geraldo Valério, is an imaginative and unusual story about a bird and a child, and how they become a family. A celebration of diversity and deliciousness, Teatime Around the World (October), by Denyse Waissbluth, illustrated by Chelsea O'Byrne, reveals all the wonderful ways we can enjoy a cup of tea—or two! Based on the true story of Evan Leversage and featuring an afterword by his mother, Nicole Wellwood, The Boy who Moved Christmas (September), by Eric Walters, is a loving tribute and a touching reminder of the power of the Christmas spirit.

Discover the wonder of ancient sea gardens on the Northwest coast in If You Want to Visit a Sea Garden (August), by Kay Weisman, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers. Dog Vs. Ultra Dog (July), by Troy Wilson and Clayton Hammer, is a great pick for reluctant readers, dog lovers, and superhero fans alike. The One With the Scraggly Beard (October), by Elizabeth Withey, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield, is defined by a simple narrative in which a child’s curiosity and perceptiveness act as catalysts for understanding fear, suffering and resilience while exploring themes of homelessness, belonging and compassion.

Middle Grade

Caroline Adderson launches a new early chapter book series with Izzy in the Doghouse (October). The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp (October) is the first book in a magical chapter-book adventure series by Jonathan Auxier, the Governor General Award-winning author of Sweep.  The second Camp Average book, Double Foul (July), by Craig Battle, is a fast-paced and funny addition to this all-star series. Discover all that's still going on in the world after dark, with In the Dark (September), by Lisa Deresti Betik, illustrated by Josh Holinaty, a fact-packed introduction to the science of night. And in Cabin Girl (September), by Kristin Butcher, 16-year-old Bailey struggles with her first job at a fly-in fishing camp, and has a run-in with a local ghost.

A group of friends go ghost-hunting in Marty Chan's Haunted Hospital (September). With the help of her Catholic friend, an eleven-year-old Jewish girl creates a provocative local tourist attraction to save her family’s failing motel in No Vacancy (August), by Tziporah Cohen. With a cast of lovable characters,  goofy mystery Farm Crimes: Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg (September), by Sandra Dumais, is a great introduction to graphic novels. Anne's Kindred Spirits (September) is the sweet and funny second book in a new early-reader series by Kallie George, starring the spirited and outspoken Anne Shirley as she makes friends and settles into life at Green Gables—with a few hijinks along the way,

 A 13-year-old girl on a family vacation becomes stranded alone in the wilderness when the family’s GPS leads them astray in Red Fox Road (September), by Frances Greenslade, a compelling survival story. Based on a true story, a stray dog befriends an orphan boy in a refugee camp on a Greek island in early chapter book The Stray and the Strangers (September), written by Steven Heighton, illustrated by Melissa Iwai. From Newbery Honor—and National Book Award—winning author Polly Horvath comes Pine Island Home (September), a story of four sisters searching for home.

International Day of the Girl: Celebrating Girls Around the World (September), by Jessica Dee Humphreys, illustrated by Simone Shin, encourages children to recognize their own potential to make change, providing both a perfect lesson in social justice and a celebration of girl power. Marthe Jocelyn is back with another amazing Aggie Morton mystery (inspired by Agatha Christie!), Peril at Owl Park (September). In Mere Joyce's Jelly Roll (September), Jenny has to risk standing up to a bully to save a group project from failing. And a WWII upstander saves Lillian and her blind father from capture by the Nazis in The Brushmaker’s Daughter (September), by Kathy Kacer.

Learning how to be fancy and eating donuts for lunch are two of the many adventures in young graphic novel Bunbun and Bonbon: Fancy Friends (September), by acclaimed author and illustrator Jess Keating. Keating also releases Nikki Tesla and the Traitors of the Lost Spark (July), Ocean's 11 meets Spy School and the latest in an illustrated adventure series featuring the world's greatest tween geniuses. For kids who love The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Dork Diaries comes Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom (September), by Kara Koostra, illustrated by Kim Smith, a hilarious new entry into funny middle-grade novels. Gordon Korman's War Stories (July) is the story of telling truth from lies—and finding out what being a hero really means. Pia battles perfectionism in Pia's Plans (September), by Alice Kuipers. A young boy learns to embrace the reality of who he is in graphic novel A Slug Story (September), Mandi Kujawa & Hana Kujawa, illustrated by Claude St. Aubin.

This is Your Brain on Stereotypes (September), by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Drew Shannon, provides an essential overview of the science behind stereotypes: from why our brains form them to how recognizing them can help us be less biased. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make their mark in Ciel (September), by Sophie Labelle, translated by David Homel. From author Sara Leach and illustrator Rebecca Bender comes Duck Days (November), an honest and warmhearted successor to the critically acclaimed Slug Days and Penguin Days and an accessible chapter book for any young reader with mountains of their own to climb. And the second book in Kenneth Oppal’s Bloom trilogy is Hatch (September).

Dr. W. Scott Persons engages dinosaur-obsessed kids with facts based on the latest discoveries that are challenging current ideas about the world’s most famous dinosaur species—including what it would feel like to pet a T. rex—in Mega Rex (August). Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in The Barren Grounds (September), an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson. Less than 100 years ago, the northern elephant seal was thought to be extinct. Today more than 250,000 elephant seals swim in the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Mexico. In Return from Extinction: The Triumph of the Elephant Seal (October), Linda L. Richards tells the story of their dramatic recovery.

Journeyman (October) is a first-person biography of Ojibwe right-winger Jamie Leach, son of the legendary NHL superstar Reggie Leach, written by Anna Rosner, in close consultation with Leach and his mother. Crafted through the focused lens of Jamal Saeed’s own experiences in Syria and brought to life with acclaimed author Sharon E. McKay, Yara’s Spring (October) is a story of coming of age against all odds and the many kinds of love that bloom even in the face of war. Return to ancient Egypt with The Desert Prince (September), by Alisha Sevigny, the action-packed second novel of the Secrets of the Sands series, in which Sesha and her friends flee palace dangers only to enter the treacherous desert on a quest for Princess Merat.

In If A Tree Falls: The Global Impact of Deforestation (October), Nikki Tate gives an accessible and balanced look at forest practices throughout history, the growth of industry and the fight for preservation. Eric Walters provides a very contemporary COVID-19 novel with Don't Stand So Close To Me (September). He also releases The King of Jam Sandwiches (September), about 13-year-old Robbie who has to fend for himself and is terrified of being placed in foster care. And Wilf's decision to escape from summer camp goes awry and then dangerously in Pam Withers' Camp Wild (September).

YA

Essie, a promising pre-med student, struggles with a gambling problem in Brooke Carter's Double or Nothing (September). The Sting meets Fight Club in Spell Starter (October), a magical, action-packed sequel to Caster by Elsie Chapman.With the unexpected help of a giant prehistoric sloth, ghostly grandfathers return to help a suicidal teenager in Deborah Ellis’s The Greats (September). From Andre Fenton, the celebrated spoken-word poet and author of Worthy of Love comes Annaka (June), a novel about family, identity, and reclaiming the past.

The night before the big art show at school, Jen’s beading art project is defaced and she has to find a way not to let the haters win in award-winner Melanie Florence's Dreaming in Colour (September). How I Survived: Four Nights on the Ice (October), by Serapio Ittusardjuat, is a harrowing first-person account of four nights spent on the open sea ice—with few supplies and no water—and shows young readers the determination and strength necessary to survive in the harsh Arctic climate. And a desperate Valedictorian-wannabe agrees to produce her school’s disaster-prone production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and her second big mistake is accidentally saying yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte, the star of the play, in The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life (September), by Dani Jansen.

Enter a wicked cool fantasy world of witches and their assassins, where a group of renegades battle to capture the heart of the coven in The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass (September), by Adan Jerreat-Poole. The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly (October), by Sybil Lamb, is a visionary young-adult illustrated novel about Eggs, a homeless girl who knows how to fly. In Finding Avalon (September), by Pamela MacDonald and Valerie Sherrard, Avalon Monday doesn't mind telling schoolmates that her mother ran off to California to live with a guy she met on the internet, because it's way less embarrassing than the truth, which is that her mom is in prison for trying to stab Avalon's fourth grade teacher.

Colleen Nelson and Nancy Chappell-Pollack, who wrote Pulsepoint, follow up with Underland (October). The second book in Shelley Peterson’s Jockey Girl series is The Jagged Circle (October), a spine-tingling adventure with as many twists and turns as a steeplechase course. Two teens fight for their lives after an alien invasion in Cold Falling White (November), G.S. Prendergast’s follow-up to Zero Repeat Forever. We can change the world with genetic modification—but should we? Yolanda Ridge tackles this topic in a friendly and accessible tone in CRISPR (September), illustarted by Alex Boersma.

Award-winner David A. Robertson launches a new graphic novel series with Breakdown (October), illustrated by Scott Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk. After the death of his girlfriend by overdose, Kipp is on the streets, overwhelmed by his grief, and when a friendly woman he meets at a shelter offers him a place to live, his lucky break might actually be a nightmare in Jocelyn Shipley's Stranded (September). Derry Girls meets Billy Elliot with an East coast twist in award-winner Heather Smith's latest, Barry Squires, Full Tilt (September). And Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch explores the bonds of friendship and family against the perilous backdrop of war in Trapped in Hitler's Web (October).

Kirkus Revews calls Star Spider's Hey Jude (September) "an emotionally layered book with accurate insight into mental illness, ideal for reluctant readers." In Michael Stewart's Heart Sister (September), a young man tracks down the people who'd received his dead twin sister's organs—and ends up getting more than he bargained for. Adapted from the acclaimed stop-motion animated film of the same name, written and directed by Amanda Strong, Four Faces of the Moon (November) brings the oral and written history of the Michif, Cree, Nakoda and Anishinaabe Peoples and their cultural link to the buffalo alive on the page with a deeply resonant and beautifully rendered graphic novel.

When a video of his very intoxicated friend goes viral, Mike has to figure out a way to be there for her in Viral (September), by Alex Van Tol. He Must Like You (July), by Danielle Younge-Ullman is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people. And Marcus Youssef’s new play is The In-Between (October), a realistic, relatable exploration of the complex social circumstances students must navigate in contemporary schools.

August 20, 2020
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