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Most Anticipated: Our 2022 Books for Young Readers Spring Preview

Our 2022 Spring Preview concludes with books for young readers, including picture books, middle grade and young adult titles, by authors including Andrew Larsen, Catherine Hernandez, Marie-Louise Gay, Lawrence Hill, Eric Walters, and more, plus many exciting debuts.

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Picture Books

Inspired by a true story, Journey of the Midnight Sun (March), by Shazia Afzal, illustrated by Aliya Ghare, reminds us that the collective dream of fostering a multicultural and tolerant Canada exists and that people of all backgrounds will come together to build bridges and overcome obstacles for the greater good of their neighbours. The cooking of a healthy breakfast moves from parent-child bonding to an eloquent conversation about energy, the growth of plants, and the miraculous ways the sun’s light nourishes us all in Sun in My Tummy (April), by Laura Alary and Andrea Blinick. Alary is also out with The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything (May), illustrated by Ellen Rooney, perfect for fans of STEM, an inspiring picture book biography telling the extraordinary story of pioneering astronomer Maria Mitchell.

For every child who longs to make the most amazing thing, Franz's Phantasmagorical Machine (May), by Beth Anderson, illustrated by Caroline Hamel, is a delightful picture book biography of a determined self-taught inventor who never stops following the call to imagine, discover, create. In When the Wind Came (June), a timely, poetic story of hope amid loss, with illustrations by Dorothy Leung, acclaimed writer and storyteller Jan Andrews reminds us how, even on the darkest days, light can always be found. The Fossil Whisperer: How Wendy Sloboda Discovered a Dinosaur (June), by award-winner Helaine Becker, illustrated by Sandra Dumais, is a captivating look at the life of a modern-day fossil hunter who makes the find of a lifetime.

Rebecca Bender, award-winning creator of the Giraffe and Bird books, introduces Dotty the dancing dachshund, celebrating the gifts of those who struggle to "sit" and "stay,” in Ballewiena (June). Do Trees Have Mothers? (March), by Charles Bongers, is a wonder-filled picture book inspired by the science of trees. And Wildflower (May), by Melanie Brown, illustrated by Sara Gillingham, shows the inner strength it can take to define ourselves on our own terms, and how supporting one another can help us grow.

Bedtime in Nunatsiavut (April), by Raeann Brown, is a sweet book for children depicting the transformative dreams envisioned by a young Inuk girl, with the help of her loving mother. There's a new kid in the kindergarten class, but she won't say a word! But...does it really matter? Lana Button's Tayra's Not Talking (June), illustrated by Christine Battuz, is a sweet story with a timely message: there are many ways to make—and be—a friend! And a girl and her beloved abuelita lean on each other as they contend with racism while running errands in the city in Abuelita and Me (April), by Leonarda Carranza, illustrated by Rafael Mayani.

Kunoichi Bunny (March), the wordless picture book in graphic novel format by award-winning author Sara Cassidy and illustrator Brayden Sato, will bring joy to every reader who believes in the magic of stuffed animals. Cassidy also releases Flock (April), illustrated by Geraldo Valério, a fantastical story in which a flock of feathery friends show up for a feast. A girl who doesn’t fit in befriends a blind horse who also struggles to find his place in the herd, helping readers celebrate the qualities that challenge us and make us different, in Midnight and the Moon (February), by Kelly Cooper, illustrated by Daniel Miyares.

Andrea Curtis imagines a city where we aren’t stuck in cars, where clean air makes it easier to breathe, and where transit is easy to access—and on time—in her latest ThinkCities book, City Streets Are For People (May). Henry marches to the beat of his own green thumb in It’s Me, Henry! (March), by Stéphanie Deslauriers, illustrated by Geneviève Després, translated by Charles Simard, a gentle picture book about a boy on the autism spectrum. And award-winning singer and songwriter Charlotte Diamond brings us her very first picture-book song collection, Charlotte Diamond’s Animal Friends (May), illustrated by Eunji Jung.

Written and illustrated in the tradition of the Kwantlen people, Joseph Dandurand's second book, A Magical Sturgeon (April), illustrated by Elinor Atkins, is an endearing tale of two sisters and their connection with nature. In The Gift of the Little People (February), an illustrated short story for all ages, celebrated Rocky Cree storyteller William Dumas shares a teaching about the power of community in the face of adversity, with pictures by Rhian Brynjolson. And As Glenn as Can Be (April), by Sarah Ellis, illustrated by Nancy Vo, is a warm and witty portrait of child prodigy and world-famous classical musician Glenn Gould.

Maureen Fergus’s Petal the Angry Cow (January) is a barnyard tale about big-hearted cow with an even bigger temper. Sing in the Spring! (March) is a playful, poetic picture book celebrating the coming of spring from the legendary Sheree Fitch, featuring luminous original artwork by internationally renowned quilt artist Deb Plestid. Rodney Was a Tortoise (February), by Nan Forler, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang, is a comforting and gently humorous picture book about bereavement and the strength of friendship, showing how a child overcomes the sadness of her beloved pet’s death.

From Matthew Forsythe, creator of the acclaimed and beloved Pokko and the Drum comes Mina (February), an emotionally resonant picture book about trust, worry, and loyalty between a father and daughter. Former Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis’s latest biographical picture book, One Summer in Whitney Pier (June), is a nostalgic tale set in the diverse Cape Breton community. In And J.J. Slept (May), a sweet tale of family life from Loretta Garbutt, illustrated by Erika Rodriguez Medina, a boisterous adoptive family welcomes their new baby boy—who turns out to have a unique requirement for sleeping!

With its sun-dappled watercolours, depiction of time spent outdoors with friends, and quiet, wistful ending, I’m Not Sydney (March), by Marie-Louise Gay, perfectly illustrates the slow-moving magic of a childhood summer. Written in Cree and English, ka-aciwikicik / The Move (May), by Doris George and Don K. Philpot, illustrated by Alyssa Koski, depicts the transformation of a barren landscape into a rich natural world where an elderly couple can spend their remaining days. And readers of all ages (but especially the little ones) will understand how the tiny monster feels in Elise Gravel’s I’m the Boss (March), translated by Charles Simard.

Championing young people for weathering the storms of their many emotions and trying their best, Catherine Hernandez’s Where Do Your Feelings Live? (May) is a gentle celebration of all the tricky feelings that make us who we are, with illustrations by Myriam Chery. Explore the wild shoreline of the majestic Pacific west coast and discover the spectacular array of colourful creatures living in rhythm with the tides in West Coast Wild at Low Tide (March), by Deborah Hodge and Karen Reczuch.

In Finding Moose (April), Governor General’s Award-nominated author Sue Farrell Holler gives us a glimpse into the wondrous world of nature through the eyes of a curious child, with illustrations by Jennifer Faria. A girl explores her love of dancing and her cultural identity in Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes (March), by Mahak Jain, illustrated by Anu Chouhan, with echoes of the real-life collaboration between Bharatanatyam icon Rukmini Devi Arundale and ballerina Anna Pavlova. And let yourself be dazzled by creatures around the world in Time to Shine (May), a nonfiction picture book about iridescence by Karen Jameson and Dave Murray.

Book Cover Room for More

 A Home For Us (April), by Sharon Jennings, illustrated by Eva Campbell, is the fictionalized story of "Yula," a character inspired by a real girl that the author met in her visits to the Hope Development Centre in Kenya. Two wombats, two wallabies, a koala, and a tiger snake humorously squeeze into one burrow—and reveal important truths about environmental disasters, climate change, and the importance of welcoming refugees—in a picture book by award-winner Michelle Kadarusman, Room for More (May), illustrated by Maggie Zeng. And in Rainy Days (April), Deborah Kerbel once again captures the magic of early childhood awe and wonder with rhyming couplets that celebrate every kind of rainy-day activity, enhanced by illustrator Miki Sato’s unique tactile collage art.

Faced with moving away from his beloved river in the country, Martin discovers it is possible to make a meaningful connection to nature in the city, too, and find ways to accept changes beyond his control, in Martin and the River (March), by Jon-Eric Lappano, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. Andrew Larsen follows up his celebrated A Squiggly Story with Another Squiggly Story (May), illustrated by Mike Lowery, in which a boy meets a blank page while exploring the writing process, celebrating self-expression, self-discovery and letting your imagination roam. And Nature Is An Artist (May), by Jennifer Lavallee, illustrated by Natalia Columbo, is a perfect picture book for inspiring art activities in the classroom or at home, while fostering an appreciation for nature.

Take a charming, child-friendly tour around an ideal sustainable city in Our Green City (May), with a uniquely positive environmental message, from award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi, and illustrations by Colleen Larmour. In the Clouds (April) is a luminous journey into the sky for daydreamers and cloud enthusiasts big and small, from renowned paper-diorama artist Elly MacKay. And in Who’s Looking? (April), by Carol Matas, illustrated by Cornelia Li, a young girl and her baby sister's outdoor adventure (hiking through the forest, picnicking in the grass and swimming in the ocean) is overseen by the local fauna.

Mayhem abounds in Pugs Cause Traffic Jams (May), by Jennifer McGrath, illustrated by Kathryn Durst, a romp of a story about a girl's search for her missing dog—and about the dog who's just chasing a wild adventure! Sweetgrass (May), by Theresa Meuse, illustrated by Jessica Jerome, is a modern story of traditional Indigenous knowledge that follows a young boy and his Auntie as they gather and braid sweetgrass, one of the four sacred medicines. Prepare to be shocked and weirded out by the hilarious and totally true picture book introduction to some of nature’s strangest plants, Flowers Are Pretty ... Weird! (April), by Rosemary Mosco, illustrated by Jacob Souva.

Olivia Wrapped in Vines (February), by Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve, illustrated by Sandra Dumais, translated by Charles Simard, is the perfect introduction to the idea of anxiety and those big feelings that seem impossible to manage. Sangeet loves music and composing it too in Sangeet and the Missing Beat (March), by Kiranjot Kaur. And Runs with the Stars (May), by Heather M. O'Connor and Darcy Whitecrow, illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko, is a moving picture book about the Ojibwe Horse, the only Indigenous-bred horse in Canada. 5 Butterflies (February), by Carol Pasternak, helps young naturalists discover butterfly conservation and protection. 

When a child is asked to “Please, be quiet!” they sit silent … and their imagination sweeps them away on a breathtaking journey in When I Listen to Silence (April), by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Carmen Mok. Like Cats and Dogs (May), by Mélanie Perreault, illustrated by Marion Arbona, with English translation by Chantal Bilodeau, tells the story of a child moving between divorced parents who can’t get along. Rooted in Indigenous teachings, Be a Good Ancestor (May), by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince, illustrated by Carla Joseph, encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviours.

Award-winning author and illustrator Scot Ritchie takes a lively look at the journey of a West Coast tugboat towing a log boom, as seen through the eyes of a young boy, in Tug: A Log Boom's Journey (March). From celebrated Cree author and singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie comes Tâpwê and the Magic Hat (June), a story inspired by oral history and traditions. And for kids who love to sing and dance, I’s the By (May), illustrated by Lauren Soloy, is a vibrant tribute to a classic folk song that celebrates community, music, and place.

Celebrated author Joanne Schwartz’s latest is After It Rains (April), illustrated by Angela Doak, a bright, collage-style board book about all of the wonderful things you can do after a rainfall. Mermaid Lullaby (April) is a gentle board book for bedtime featuring mer-moms and mer-babies, from Brianna Corr Scott, creator of The Book of Selkie and Wildflower. The Lonely Little Lighthouse (July), by Lane Shupe, illustrated by Marla Lesage, is a heartfelt picture book about a neglected lighthouse and the small coastal community that comes together to make her light shine again.

A little girl grieves the loss of her mother but she can’t grieve alone in Sitting Shiva (May), by Erin Silver, illustrated by Michelle Theodore. Chickadee: Criminal Mastermind (June), the debut by Monica Silvie, illustrated by Elina Ellis, is the story of a flying masked bandit (code name: Chickadee) who discovers he isn't quite who he thinks he is in a fresh and delightful tale about discovering one's true nature. And a frightening dream inspires Little Wolf to preserve her Indigenous culture and to teach her daughters and their classmates to be proud of their heritage in Teoni Spathelfer’s Abalone Woman (April), illustrated by Natassia Davies.

The Global Ocean (May), by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Natasha Donovan, explores the urgent issues threatening the world's ocean systems—and what we can do to help. “If I were the sun, I would sing a gentle morning song to wake my slumbering friends.” So begins Sun Wishes (May), a fresh and colourful collaboration between author Patricia Storms and illustrator Milan Pavlović, the creative team behind the bedtime story Moon Wishes. I Am Everything In Between (March), by Sydney Sunderland, highlights kids who may not fit into stereotypical gender ideals, and celebrates how they do identify by sending positive messages about gender identity.

Tsimshian storyteller and artist Roy Henry Vickers shares an adventure from his childhood in the Indigenous village of Kitkatla, on BC’s north coast in Ben the Sea Lion (March). What if Goldilocks was held accountable for her actions? In The Three Bears and Goldilocks (April), Bee Waeland reimagines the story of a self-involved little girl who commits a crime and is arrested for breaking and entering. And author and meteorologist, Johanna Wagstaffe brings her experience covering wildfires to young readers and reminds us that fire is an important part of the natural cycle of our forests in Little Pine Cone (May).

Wild About Camping (June), by Jane Whittingham, illustrated by Bryana Chapeski, is a bold and joyful picture book about the joys of camping, following a brother and sister on their first camp-out, and the wild animals they encounter. Written and illustrated by award-winning author Russ Willms, Quiet, Please (April) is sure to become a favourite of any young bibliophile who enjoys a good book and a peaceful place to read it. And Up and Adam (May), by Debbie Zapata, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang, is a winning, uplifting story about a boy with Down syndrome who helps his
neighbours in the aftermath of a storm in a way only he can.

Early Reader/gMiddle Grade

Book Cover Belly of the Beast

A ghost and a kid team up to solve mysteries and kick butt in Super Detectives: Simon and Chester Book 1 (February), by Cale Atkinson, a hilarious new graphic novel series for fans of Bad Guys and Dog Man. Belly of the Beast (April) is the third book in Jonathan Auxier’s chapter-book adventure series featuring magical animals, perfect for fans of Princess Black. And Trapped in Terror Bay: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Franklin Expedition (May), by Sigmund Brouwer, an enthralling and up close tale of the ill-fated Franklin expedition, reveals bone-chilling details of what really happened in Terror Bay. 

In Willpower (February), by Marty Chan, Jennifer Mah has a big secret: she can move objects with her mind. When an FBI Special Agent is kidnapped while investigating the plane crash of an eccentric billionaire inventor, the Math Kids spring into action in The Triangle Secret (April) by David Cole and Shannon O'Toole—and if they can figure out the Great Triangle mentioned in the inventor’s will, they might just uncover who’s behind the crash and kidnapping, if they don’t get caught themselves! Science and magic collide in Anita Daher’s Peanut Butter And Chaos: The Mythic Adventures of Samuel Templeton (April) a middle grade fantasy adventure grounded in science.

Danielle Daniel’s middle-grade debut is Forever Birchwood (January), a story about friends determined to save the environment, one tree at a time. The summer is for sleuthing, and Lark and Connor have been served a double helping in Lark Has the Shivers (March), by Natasha Deen. Fashion Forward: Striving for Sustainable Style (March), by Raina Delisle, goes behind the glitz and glamour to explore the social and environmental issues within the fashion industry. And in Step (March), by Deborah Ellis, a powerful collection of short stories, children around the world turn eleven and take a step into their futures, and each one is changed in ways both big and small.

One morning Rafe wakes up to discover his bedroom is floating in a vast sea of water in Water, Water (March), by Cary Fagan, an unforgettable middle-grade novel with elements of James and the Giant Peach meets Waterworld and The Road. Everyone's favourite young entrepreneur, Wednesday Wilson, is only trying to help her brother when her latest business idea strikes in Wednesday Wilson Fixes All Your Problems (June), by Bree Galbraith. And Anne's Tragical Tea Party (March), by Kallie George, is the fourth book in an early chapter book series inspired by Anne of Green Gables, starring the spirited Anne Shirley as she hosts her very first tea party with her kindred spirit, Diana, to disastrous results.

For today's tech-savvy kids, Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts (June), by Joyce Grant, illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte, is the go-to resource for navigating what they read on the internet. A twelve-year-old grave thief gets caught up in a royal heist in The Grave Thief (March), by Dee Hahn, a compelling fantasy in the vein of Kelley Armstrong’s A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying. And Tess sets out a sea-faring adventure to stop a war in In the Serpent's Wake (February), the latest fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hartman.

Laurence Hill is back with a book for middle-grade readers—Beatrice and Croc Harry (January), an adventurous tale that shows a brave and resilient Black girl’s search for identity and healing. Allegations against his father turn eleven-year-old Rodney’s life upside down in Me Three (March), a powerful and surprisingly funny novel about new beginnings, new friendships and a fresh new look at the way things really are, by critically acclaimed author Susan Juby. And fifteen-year-old Fawad has big dreams about being the world’s first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA in Wrong Side of the Court (March), by H.N. Khan, a first-generation Pakistani coming-of-age story for fans of David Yoon and Ben Philippe.

Gordon Korman’s latest is The Fort (June) the story of a middle-school "band of brothers"—five friends who need to stick together after they set up a hideout in an abandoned bomb shelter and discover that the only way to be true friends is to reveal their secrets and help each other out. Anishinaabe culture and storytelling meet Alice in Wonderland in Rabbit Chase (April), by Elizabeth LaPensée,by K.C. Oster, translated by Aarin Dokum, a coming-of-age graphic novel exploring Indigenous and gender issues through a fresh yet familiar looking glass. And the online world has real dangers but, in Better Connected (May), Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Julia Kyi, with illustrations by Vivian Rosas, show how girls around the world are using social media to create positive change and practice good digital citizenship.

A dog returns from the afterlife with the mission of saving his owner’s life in What the Dog Knows (May), the latest from Sylvia McNicoll. Zombies beware: Emmy is back and fiercer than ever in ValHamster (May), a thrilling new adventure set in Angela Misri’s award-winning Tails from the Apocalypse universe. And a Mi’kmaw girl battles an ancient giant and forms an unexpected friendship in Giju’s Gifts (February), by Brandon Mitchell, illustrated by Veronika Barinova and Britt Wilson, the first volume of a series of graphic novels inspired by traditional stories.

The latest title in Sarah Mlynowksi’s Whatever After series of fractured fairy tales is Just Dance (April), based on the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. When her grandmother visits, Alina is inspired to help her cook the delicious Afro-Indian meals she’s always loved, but a cruel note from a mysterious lunchtime bully leaves a bitter taste that even Nani’s excellent cooking can’t erase in early reader Alina in a Pinch (May), by Shenaaz Nanji. Salman loves Hindi movies and wants to produce a short Bollywood film for his school project in Project Bollywood (April), by Mahtab Narsimhan. And Colleen Nelson’s award-winning Harvey series has a new installment with Harvey Takes the Lead (May), a story of acceptance, understanding, and the loving comfort of everyone’s favourite Westie.

The Overwood (February) is the third book in Gabrielle Prendergast’s Faerie Woods series, with Blue Jasper having learned to respect the magic of the Faerie Woods, but now his foster sister has accidentally expelled the evil Faerie queen Olea from Faerieland! A child cherishes every second of their grandmother's last week of life in Last Week (April), by Bill Richardson, illustrated by Emilie Leduc, a sensitive portrayal of medical assistance in dying (MAiD). And science nerd, Emma Sakamoto puts her skills to good use by putting together a manual for the girls at Riverside High in The Science of Boys (April), by Emily Seo.

A search for answers from a mysterious Oracle has Sesha and her friends navigating intrigue and danger in The Oracle of Avaris (January), the conclusion to Alisha Sevigny’s Secrets of the Sands series. A Bend in the Breeze (April), award-winning author Valerie Sherrard’s 30th novel, is a tale about the importance of love and compassion. Making his author-illustrator debut, Mike Shiell elevates the everyday to hilarious drama in Linty: A Pocketful of Adventure (May), an offbeat graphic novel for early readers. And Erin Silver takes on vehicle emissions as one of the leading causes of pollution in North America in Rush Hour (May).

The latest early chapter book from Eric Walters is Bear in the Family (April), the story of a bear cub found by a family after the forest surrounding their home was destroyed by a wildfire. Thirteen-year-old basketball star Jordan Ryker feels like his life is falling apart in middle grade title On the Line (March), by Eric Walters and Paul Coccia. And New York City in the 1960s is the humming backdrop These Are Not the Words (April), by Amanda West Lewis, a poignant, gritty story about a girl who sees her parents as flawed human beings for the first time, and finds the courage to make a fresh start.

First a Canadian Rockies avalanche kills their parents. Then Children’s Services threatens to separate them. That’s when the three Gunnarsson kids decide to run away into the mountains and fend for themselves until the oldest turns eighteen and becomes their legal guardian, in Pam Withers’ latest Mountain Runaways (January). And in Sky Wolf’s Call (April), award-winning author team Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger reveal how Indigenous knowledge comes from centuries of practices, experiences, and ideas gathered by people who have a long history with the natural world.

Young Adult

Book Cover I Can't Do What

Did you know that you can't keep a goldfish in a round goldfish bowl in Rome? That you can't take a selfie while running with the bulls in Pamplona? Heather Camlot’s I Can’t Do What? (March) is a look at some of the more curious rules and laws that have been created around the world and perhaps the start of a young reader's passion for governance and social justice. Will’s dad was a retired cop who'd been working as a night security guard at the sulfur mill, and now, in Sulfur Heart (April), by Brooke Carter, in order to determine if his death was a tragic accident or something more sinister, Will must return to the place he swore he'd never set foot in again.

Boys and Girls Screaming (April), by Kern Carter, tells the story of a generation of teens finding the support they need to process their trauma in their own ways. One night, Mason convinces Tyler to help him steal a car and they are soon having the adventure of a lifetime—and then Tyler starts to realize how dangerous and damaging his friendship with Mason is in Lesley Choyce’s Face the Music (February). Once Rachel shines a light into the her family’s dark corners, nothing will ever be the same again in Rachel Bird (May), by Becky Citra.

Lost in the mountains in Natasha Deen’s Depth of Field (February), Josh stumbles onto something he was never meant to see, and suddenly, a group of men are chasing him through the wilderness. “You'll find yourself smiling, laughing, crying and then cheering for Missy in this well-crafted, touching story,” Eric Walters writes of Sarah de Waard’s YA debut, White Lies (May). And from debut author Alexandra Mae Jones comes The Queen of Junk Island (May), a compelling, nuanced exploration of bi identity and body image with a ghostly backdrop.

Rook and Gage live worlds apart—but somehow they must find a way to help one another survive in The Limitless Sky (May), by Christina Kilbourne. In Wish Upon a Satellite (May), a new book for teens, Sophie Labelle’s beloved characters first introduced in Ciel and Ciel in All Directions are leaving childhood behind and grappling with new questions of identity, loyalty, and how to negotiate dating and relationships in the age of social media. From Kate O’Hearn, the author of the Pegasus series, comes Escape From Atlantis (December), a spellbinding first book in a new fantasy series following two cousins whose summer vacation gets swept away by a storm that lands them on the lost island of Atlantis.

Netflix’s Never Have I Ever meets Crazy Rich Asians with a Nigerian twist in Twice as Perfect (June), by Louisa Onomé, a novel about being caught in between worlds. The next book in David A. Robertson’s The Reckoner Rises series is Version Control (April), illustrated by Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk. And in Nazi Germany, shown by Lori Weber in The Ribbon Leaf (March), friendship between an Aryan German girl and a Jewish German girl is strictly verboten, and an act of kindness might mean death.

March 17, 2022
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