The holidays are almost here and for a lot of us that means a very long shopping list. At the CCBC, we’re trying to make that a little easier. Our holidays gift guide features some of our favourite Canadian books for kids and teens. Looking for a specific gift for someone? Head over to Twitter and ask our #ShelfElf for a personalized recommendation. We’ll be responding to every single tweet until Christmas Eve with a recommendation of a Canadian book for even the pickiest of readers.
Ebb & Flow by Heather Smith (Kids Can Press, 2018) Ages 9-12
Last year, Jett and his mother had moved to a new town for a fresh start after his father went to jail. But Jett soon learned that fresh starts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. When he befriended a boy with a difficult home life, Jett found himself in a cycle of bad decisions that culminated in the betrayal of a friend – a shameful secret he still hasn’t forgiven himself for. Will a summer spent with his unconventional grandmother help Jett find his way to redemption?
They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books, 2018) Ages 4-7
Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know — she hasn’t seen one.
Call of the Wraith (The Blackthorn Key, Book 4) by Kevin Sands (Aladdin, 2018) Ages 10-14
Christopher Rowe has no idea who he is. After being shipwrecked in Devonshire, he wakes up alone, his memories gone. Villagers tell him he was possessed by an unseen evil, and only became conscious after being visited by the local witch. As Christopher tries to get his bearings, he realizes his current state may be far from coincidence. Dark events have been happening in this corner of Britain — village children are disappearing without a trace. There are whispers that the malevolent ghost of the White Lady has returned to steal the children away, one by one, and consume their souls…
When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James (Tundra Books, 2017) Ages 4-12
The beaver flood has finally frozen — perfect ice, without a bump or a ripple. The kids in town wait impatiently for the right moment. Finally, it arrives: the full moon. They huff and puff through logging trails, farms, back roads and tamarack swamps, the powdery snow soaking pant legs and boots, until they see it — their perfect ice, waiting. And the game is on.
5-Minute Basketball Stories by Sarah Howden, illustrated by Nick Craine (HarperCollins Publishers, 2018) Ages 4-8
Go courtside with the biggest stars and greatest games! 5-Minute Basketball Stories is an action-packed collection of 12 tales about today’s superstars, NBA legends, and the best basketball games of all time. From incredible game-winning dunks, to jaw-dropping world records, to edge-of-your-seat comebacks — each story is perfect for reading aloud in five minutes.
The Ice Chips and the Magical Rink (Ice Chips, Book 1) by Roy MacGregor and Kerry MacGregor, illustrated by Kim Smith (HarperCollins Publishers, 2018) Ages 8-10
Lucas Finnigan eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. With his friends Edge, Swift and Crunch, Lucas plays on his hometown’s rink, dreaming of the day when he knows he’ll make the NHL. But lately money has been tight at home, and, after a major growth spurt, Lucas is forced to wear hand-me-down gear that doesn’t quite fit right. Now he’s not sure he’ll ever make it to the Hall of Fame like his hockey heroes. And that’s not the only problem. With the community arena’s chiller on the fritz, and replacement parts too tough to come by, it looks like Lucas and his friends may be doomed to a season on a plastic rink — or worse, no hockey at all! But with a magical discovery, and some help from one of hockey’s greatest players (who was a kid once, too!), their final skate might turn into their first great adventure . . .
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo that Changed the World by James Gladstone, illustrated by Christy Lundy (Owlkids Books, 2018) Ages 4-8
1968 was a year of unrest: many nations were at war. People marched for peace, fairness and freedom. At the same time, the Apollo 8 crew was about to go farther into space than anyone had gone before — to the moon. As they surveyed the moon’s surface, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 looked up just when Earth was rising out of the darkness of space. They saw the whole planet — no countries, no borders. The photograph they took, Earthrise, had a profound effect when published widely back on Earth, galvanizing the environmental movement, changing the way people saw our single, fragile home planet, and sparking hope during a year of unrest.
Ara the Star Engineer by Komal Singh, illustrated by Ipek Konak (Page Two Books, 2018) Ages 6-8
This is a STEM book and more! An inspiring, inclusive, whimsical way to learn about computers and technology from real-life trailblazers. Ara is a young girl who loves BIG numbers. She wants to count all the stars in the sky… but how? This is an upbeat adventure of Ara and her sidekick droid, DeeDee (“Beep!”). They use smarts and grit to solve a BIG problem and discover an amazing algorithm! A quest that takes them through a whirlwind of intriguing locations at Innovation Plex — Data Centre, Ideas Lab, Coding Pods and X-Space. Along the way, they encounter real-life women tech trailblazers of diverse backgrounds, including a Tenacious Troubleshooter, an Intrepid Innovator, a Code Commander and a Prolific Problem Solver. They tinker-and-tailor, build-and-fail, launch-and-iterate, and in the end discover an amazing algorithm of success — coding, courage, creativity and collaboration.
Secret Coders: Potions & Parameters (Secret Coders, Book 5) by Gene Luen Yang; illustrated by Mike Holmes (First Second, 2018) Ages 8-12
Secret Coders: Potions & Parameters is the fifth volume in a wildly entertaining series that combines logic puzzles and basic coding instruction with a page-turning mystery plot! Dr. One-Zero won’t stop until the whole town — no, the whole world — embraces the “true happiness” found in his poisonous potion, Green Pop. And now that he has the Turtle of Light, he’s virtually unstoppable. There’s one weapon that can defeat him: another Turtle of Light. Unfortunately, they can only be found in another dimension! To open a portal to this new world, Hopper, Eni and Josh’s coding skills will be put to the test.
Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Werner Zimmermann (Scholastic Canada, 2018) Ages 0-3
Join Canada’s favourite porcupine for a hilarious Christmas Eve party! Loons in ice skates, caribou in pompom hoodies, singing otters, moose and others — all decorating, wrapping gifts and, of course, eating holiday goodies… while the beavers are busy building a secret surprise… what could it be? This title is also available in French as Falalalala… : Une chanson de Noël.
This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad (Tundra Books, 2018) Ages 0-2
Sadie has a big imagination. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairy tales. She whispers to her dresses and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere and always bring her home again. She likes to make things, but, more than anything, Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all.
Anne’s Colors by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books, 2018) Ages 0-3
A must-have board book for Anne of Green Gables fans, with charming, hand-embroidered illustrations. Iconic moments from the beloved L.M. Montgomery classic are celebrated in this adorable concept book. Artist Kelly Hill creates vignettes of the most recognizable scenes from Anne of Green Gables, including Anne and Diana’s first meeting, Gilbert pulling Anne’s hair, Anne’s puffed-sleeve dress and even Anne and Diana sharing raspberry cordial! Each scene has its own colour, with simple text and tactile, gorgeous works of art created from cut fabric and embroidery.
Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney (Puffin Canada, 2018) Ages 8-12
Clara can’t believe her no-nonsense grandmother has just up and moved to Florida, leaving Clara and her mother on their own for the first time. This means her mother can finally “follow her bliss,” which involves moving to a tiny apartment in Kensington Market, working at a herbal remedy shop and trying to develop her so-called mystical powers. Clara tries to make the best of a bad situation by joining the newspaper staff at her new middle school, where she can sharpen her investigative journalistic skills and tell the kind of hard-news stories her grandmother appreciated. But the editor relegates her to boring news stories and worse… the horoscopes. Worse yet, her horoscopes come true, and soon everyone at school is talking about Clara Voyant, the talented fortune-teller. Clara is horrified — horoscopes and clairvoyance aren’t real, she insists, just like her grandmother always told her. But when a mystery unfolds at school, she finds herself in a strange situation: having an opportunity to prove herself as an investigative journalist… with the help of her own mystical powers.
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books/Scholastic, 2018) Ages 4-8
In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multi-syllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower. From the creator of The Dot and Happy Dreamer comes a celebration of finding your own words — and the impact you can have when you share them with the world.
Inkling by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Sydney Smith (HarperCollins Publishers, 2018) Ages 8-12
The Rylance family is stuck. Dad’s got writer’s block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school — even though he can’t draw. Sarah’s still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom. So much more than they can say. Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together — and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (DCB, 2017) Ages 14 and up
In a future world ravaged by global warming, North American Indigenous people are hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which holds the cure for recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. Sixteen-year-old Frenchi and his companions survive by staying hidden… but one of them may hold the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.
Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018) Ages 14 and up
Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules — study hard in school, be respectful, and never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially living in her mother’s shadow. When Indy is sent to stay in Nassau, trouble follows her and she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if she’s found that place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof — it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (Salaam Reads, 2017) Ages 13 and up
There are three kinds of people in Arab Indian-American Janna Yusuf’s life: saints, misfits and monsters. Janna sees herself as a misfit, belonging neither to her father’s new family, nor with her closely connected mother and brother. Between a saint, who reveals himself to be a monster, and her crush, a non-Muslim boy, liking her back, Janna has a lot to deal with.
The Good Egg (Lumberjanes, Book 3) by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Brooklyn Allen (Amulet Books, 2018) Ages 8-12
Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin — Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley — love their summers at camp. Book three shines the spotlight on Ripley, the smallest, youngest, most animal-loving member of the cabin. When Ripley comes across an abandoned egg, she’s determined to take care of it until the parent comes back. Unfortunately, her plan is quickly foiled by egg poachers, who steal the egg for their own collection.
Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings (Ira Crumb, Book 2) by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Josh Holinaty (Owlkids Books, 2018) Ages 5-8
Ira and Malcolm are best friends: they always make each other laugh, always eat lunch together, and always play together. But one day, a disagreement about whether to play tag or hide-and-seek sees the suddenly über-popular Malcolm run off with a crowd of tag-loving kids — and Ira all alone. Ira’s tummy hurts, his chin is wibbling, and his eyes are leaking. What’s happening?! Any efforts to cheer him up fall flat. When Malcolm finally returns and asks what’s wrong, Ira tells him: “I had all these feelings… and I didn’t have you.”
Mucus Mayhem (The Almost Epic Squad, Book 1) by Kevin Sylvester, illustrated by Britt Wilson (Scholastic Canada, 2018) Ages 8-12
Jessica Flem has spent most of her life reacting allergically to everything — even when she’s acing her favourite video game. She’s used to a nose that never stops running, but is not at all prepared for the mysterious power that shows up around her 13th birthday — the ability to transform her mucus-filled tissues into slimy magical helpers! And just in time, too. It turns out there are forces both good and evil who have had their eyes on her and three other “special” kids since their exposure at birth to a mysterious element called reidium. Jess must draw on her full video game knowledge to face the evil Boss’s quest for world domination. The stakes mount higher and higher, but with her best friend Cliff at her side and her arsenal of mighty… um, tissues, Jess is determined to make Dimly, a safe place once again.