2019 FALL BOOK PICKS
CAREFULLY SELECTED AND REVIEWED
Boxitects is an amusing and imaginative story about the benefits of working together. Meg loves to build extraordinary things with boxes and soon learns that new maker; Simone is a brilliant boxitect builder, too. While they quickly critique each other’s creations at maker school, they eventually learn that it’s best to work as a team. The vibrant illustrations are filled with emotion and personality and eventually peak to a wonderful visual crescendo. The examples provided at the back of the book on how to build a tunnel and a castle are a great addition to inspire your little boxitect builder at home. This is a fresh spin on a favourite childhood activity with a convincing example of collaboration that builds on every page.
Harper Collins Canada
Aunt Pearl is a beautifully illustrated book written with sensitivity and heart. When Aunt Pearl moves in with six-year old Martha and her family, she brings her shopping cart filled with her belongings. Martha tries to understand Aunt Pearl and her unusual behaviour, like her need to collect garbage and keep discarded things. Martha learns to give old things a new chance, but her mother does not approve. Aunt Pearl is an important book which explores poverty, homelessness and mental health within one family. The exquisitely layered and textured illustrations help to render this tender story that needs telling.
Monica Kulling & Irene Luxbacher
Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel and Other Poems of Birds in Flight is an experience! The exceptional illustrations of birds flapping their wings, plunging to feed, and soaring high in the sky, make the reader feel like they are flying among them. Strong active verbs push the reader across the page, like wind. Each bird has a dedicated poem along with a short paragraph of the birds’ characteristics. A one-page glossary of words such as adaption, colony and murmuration, as well as further details on each bird’s habitat, makes this a helpful teaching tool. In addition, a single page of feathers matching each bird is a thoughtful supplement. This book is a superb introduction to poetry and birds in flight.
Susan Vande Griek & Mark Hoffman
Kids Can Press
My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother and Me is delightful rhyming book about two brothers and their mothers who spend the day at sea. While they find natural treasures along the way, they also cross paths with their various neighbours who teach them even more about their found items. At the end of the day, the boys are told they can keep one treasure, but decide to leave every single one on the beach. Instead, they choose to invite their neighbours over for dinner. The words sing on the page along with light filled watercolour illustrations, which perfectly compliment the story, as it imitates sea glass, water and air. This poetic book normalizes diverse and same-sex families, celebrates community, and reminds us how the people around us enriches the place we call home. A book to read and re-read with your loved ones.
Nathalie Meisner & Mathilde Cinc-Mars
Reading In My Anaana’s Amautik is equivalent to receiving a warm and cozy hug. The reader is transported inside the mother’s amautik, the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka, used to carry a baby. The illustrations beautifully compliment the words and further incite a calm and soothing response. This is a peaceful story that is a perfect read for any little one who is preparing for a short or long sleep.
Nadia Sammurtok & Lenny Lishchenko
When Molly Drew Dogs is a tender story about a girl who draws dogs to help alleviate her worries. Inspired by the Japanese folktale, The Boy Who Drew Cats, Kerbel succeeds in creating a touching tale about imagination and creativity, and how it can help us cope through uncomfortable moments and hardships. The dreamlike illustrations done in soft pencil marks beautifully interpret the words, and draws the reader deeper into Molly’s experience. This is a compelling book about anxiety and the ways we can cope, heal and ultimately persevere, through creating art.
Deborah Kerbel & Lis Xu
A Likkle Miss Lou is symphony of words and sound. Hohn has written a beautiful biography about Jamaican-Canadian poet Louise Bennet Coverley, and how she found her love of words and poetry, both in Jamaican English and patois. We follow Louise, along her day, on her walks and on the bus, where she hears stories and words that inspire her own poetry. The illustrations are bright and evoke energy and great joy. There’s a biography at the back of the book with Miss Lou, which presents her connection to Canada, where she lived for twenty years. This is a picture book that must be read aloud. It’s a wonderful tribute to a woman who found her voice and shared it with the world, and it reminds us that language should be celebrated and preserved.
Nadia L. Hohn & Eugenie Fernandes
MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS
The Ghost Collector is a unique ghost busting paranormal novel about family, loss and grief. Inspired by stories of the author’s own Cree great-grandmother, debut novelist Allison Mills has written a story about a matrilineal family, who catch ghosts in their hair and help them cross over. Shelly loves accompanying her grandmother on these missions but her mom does not approve. She would much prefer that Shelly spend her time being a kid, doing normal kid things. When Shelly’s mom unexpectedly dies, Shelly is consumed with finding her ghost. She begins to collect ghosts to help distract her from her sorrow, which eventually crowds her room with cranky spirits and even a ghost-cat and ghost-dog. Shelly ultimately learns that overcrowding her room with spirits cannot cure her grief and that chasing her mother’s ghost is not what her mother would have wanted. This is a great introduction to life’s more challenging experiences, which could lead to important discussion with your young reader.
The Stone Rainbow is a deeply heartening story about first love, coming out and accepting who you are, even in the face of great fear. When the new kid Benjamin arrives, Jack starts to feel things he’s never allowed himself to feel before. Their new friendship forces him to question and address the countless things he usually stuffs away. While he already came out to his mom, she’s not ready to fully accept it yet, and Jack’s afraid she never will. This is a story of friendship and community, family and unconditional love. It will pull at your heartstrings and make you cheer out loud. All of the characters are very well developed and so genuine, you will believe in the people and the small fictional town of Thompson Mills. This is a must-read for everyone across the board: teachers, parents and teens. The Stone Rainbow will give you hope.
Second Story Press
When You Ask Me Where I’m Going is a powerful new collection of poetry, prose and illustrations that cuts through your heart and doesn’t let go. Kaur’s exquisite poetry is raw and vulnerable, with the truth carved out on every single page. The author shines a necessary light on the reality of so many women struggling to be seen and heard, yet it also inspires and emboldens us all, to use our own voice. When You Ask Me Where I’m Going is the very reason why we need books—Reading this book will make us better humans.
Harper Collins Canada
The Athena Protocol is a fast-paced thriller about duty to the team and justice in a world of revenge. Formed by three socially conscious women, Athena is a team of elite, highly skilled female operatives hand-picked from around the globe who come together to fight injustices against women and girls. When Jessie Archer takes a mission in West Africa into her own hands and kills, instead of captures, the target, her rash actions lead to her dismissal from Athena. Desperate to make amends, Jessie goes rogue and follows the team to Belgrade where she investigates the disappearance of dozens of women on her own. While forming a relationship with the daughter of a villainous perpetrator, Jessie puts herself and her team in danger. With clean prose and unexpected twists, The Athena Protocol explores corruption and human trafficking, but is ultimately about the human imperative to protect women, the reconciliation of family, and the possibility of personal redemption.
Harper Collins Canada
Break in Case of Emergency is a profoundly affecting book, which dives into the darkness, and brings you back into the light, while making you laugh out loud along the way. Toby Goodman lost her mother to suicide five years before and she is struggling to find any hope for her own future. While she’s been living with her caring grandparents on their farm, a visit from her estranged father; a gay, world-famous female impersonator, only further alienates her, and pushes her to finally end her pain. While Toby’s measured plan does not succeed, she must try and find a way to move forward and consider a future, maybe even for the first time.
This book is expertly written with a cast of characters that hook your heart, and dialogue which slices through with its honesty. It’s a story about loss and forgiveness, redemption and hope, and most of all, it’s about resilience and the immense fortitude to persevere.
Harper Collins Canada
The Grizzly Mother is seamless merging of science and culture with the Gitxsan Nation, along with many links to the Social Studies and Science curriculum. We journey across the Northwestern landscape with a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs—from hibernation to learning how to survive on their own. The stunning illustrations have a very limited colour palette, which helps to magnify the glossary of important vocabulary along the pages, and which deepens the reader’s understanding of the ecosystem. This book is an important addition to classrooms and libraries or your own non-fiction collection.
Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) & Natasha Donovan
The Plastic Problem is a wake-up call about the enormity of plastic pollution with plenty of ways to make changes, both big and small. While we could easily feel overwhelmed by the seriousness and magnitude of the harmful effects of plastic on the planet, this book breaks it down and makes it accessible with sharply informative chapters and many illustrations. How Plastics Are Made, Microplastics, Deadly Debris, Plastic Through the Food Chains, are just some of the chapters that stand out in this highly informative book. Readers may be shocked to learn that plastic is floating inside each one of us right now, but this book also presents the many steps we can take to help make a difference. The Plastic Problem is greatly recommended. Every school library should have this book.
The Girl Who Rode a Shark & other Stories of Daring Women is an inspiring and informative collection of biographies from around the world. From artists, to pioneers, scientists, activists, athletes and seekers, this book is a must have for all kids to discover real examples of courage and perseverance. Each biography is a great introduction into their daring lives. The bright and vivid illustrations are beautifully rendered with each personal story. Standouts include these amazing people: Shannen Koostachin, who fought for safe schools and equal rights for Indigenous children, Arunima Sinha, who incredibly, succeeded in climbing Mount Everest with one leg; and Ada Blackjack, an Inuit castaway who survived alone on an Arctic Island for two years, before she was found. These extraordinary women will surely inspire the next generation of young readers, or readers of any age to be more brave and take action.
Ailsa Ross & Amy Blackwell
Under Pressure- The Science of Stress is an informative and engaging read about anxiety and the history of stress research. It’s chockfull of information, historical beliefs and concrete examples about the effects of stress on our bodies and our minds. Told through stories, bite sized-facts and sidebars, this book will equip readers with useful details to recognize the different types of stress as well as ways to help reduce it. The colourful and stylized illustrations expertly convey the material and also add humour throughout. This is an essential book for every school library. It will help embolden middle graders to learn the facts, and the necessary tools to help manage their own stress, through mindfulness techniques and so much more.
Tanya Lloyd Kyi & Marie-Ève Tremblay
Kids Can Press
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