White Ravens 2022

The White Ravens is an annual catalogue featuring new and notable titles of children’s and young adult literature from around the world. The language specialists of the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich, Germany, select the books in the course of the previous year from the incoming donations to acclaim the most noteworthy and remarkable ones. Seven Canadian titles, four in English and three in French, were honoured this year.

English Canada

Sunny Days Inside and Other Stories
Written by Caroline Adderson
Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-77306-572-4

Covid-19 | Lockdown | Imagination | Short story

COVID-19 has severely affected the lives of millions of people around the world. In this empathetic montage of interconnected short stories, renowned author Caroline Adderson stars several children living in the same large inner city building. When the “grown-up virus” starts, all the families are forced to shelter inside their apartments. Yet instead of succumbing to their boredom and fear, the kids deal with the restrictions in witty and creative ways: Mimi and Danila decorate the living room, put on their “resort wear,” and have a pretend holiday at an imaginary Mexican beach resort; twins Ivan and Alek start a research project about cavemen, which includes creating a cave language that increasingly shapes this chapter’s narrative. The stories—some outright funny, some quiet, some sad but permeated by the kids’ zest for life—shed light on the protagonists’ lives during the pandemic and their ingenious ways of dealing with this frightening situation and of supporting their families and each other. (Age: 8+)

Spíləxm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence
Written by Nicola I. Campbell
Highwater Press, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-55379-935-1

British Columbia | First Nations | Childhood memories | Storytelling | Tradition | Trauma | Healing

“Spíləxm” (pronounced ShpEE-luh-khm) is a word from the Nłeʔkepmxcín language that translates as “remembered stories,” “moccasin telegraph,” or “news.” In this young-adult memoir, acclaimed author Nicola I. Campbell, a Nłeʔkepmx, Syilx, and Métis woman from British Columbia, has crafted stories in prose and free-verse from her childhood in the 1970s to the present day. As the subtitle reveals, the stories touch upon difficult and traumatizing topics, including discrimination, Indian residential schools, colonialism, and grief. Divided into ten larger sections with headings such as “Prairie Letters,” “Métis,” “Nłeʔkepmxcín Lullaby” or “Sorrow,” the book talks about everyday life as well as difficult moments, e.g. the day the author’s father passed away: […] “Daddy brought the children to shore / but he did not bring himself. / the river would not set him free. […].” This collection provides heart-wrenching insights into the author’s journey towards healing and strength. (Age: 13+)

We All Play—Kimêtawânaw
Written and illustrated by Julie Flett
Greystone Kids, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-77164-607-9

Animals | Playing | Nature | Picture book | Bilingual book

“We All Play—Kimêtawânaw” offers an engaging romp for very young readers, providing a window into the lives of animals and children at play. The playful illustrations, rendered in rich watercolours on white backgrounds, show expressive action and represent a diverse array of movements, concepts, and feelings: bears who “wiggle and wobble” and bats that “rustle and roost.” After each sequence of action verbs and animal images, Julie Flett’s sparsely worded text introduces readers to the phrase: ” Kimêtawânaw Mina”—”We play too.” Children will want to chime in with the rhythmic and repetitive text that also invites movement. This bilingual book, written in English and Cree, includes a Cree pronunciation guide in the back of the book. (Age: 4+)

The Sour Cherry Tree
Written by Naseem Hrab
Illustrated by Nahid Kazemi
Owlkids Books, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Death | Grandfather | Remembering | Picture book

“The Sour Cherry Tree” is told from the perspective of a little girl visiting her grandfather’s home after his death and mirrors the author’s own experiences growing up in a bilingual, bicultural family. The child recounts the special times she has shared with her grandfather…playing hide-n-seek, trying on her grandfather’s slippers, sharing his favourite tea, and eating fig cookies (even though she didn’t really like them). Nahid Kazemi’s impressionistic style gives the drawing a dreamlike quality. The images also serve as a study in culture. A samovar stands majestically on the dining table—an object not seen in the homes of most children. Love, memory, and loss are central themes in the story. We see the wonderful connection grandparents have with their grandchildren illustrated adeptly in Kazemi’s artwork. Despite not being able to speak Farsi, the young girl shared a unique bond with her grandfather that will be understood by readers from all cultures. (Age: 4+)

French Canada

Nin auass—Moi l’enfant: Poèmes de la jeunesse innue
Edited by Joséphine Bacon and Laure Morali
Illustrated by Lydia Mestokosho-Paradis
Mémoire d’encrier, 2021
ISBN: 978-2-89712-691-9

Canada | Innu people | Poetry | Young author | First Nations | Bilingual book

Joséphine Bacon, grande dame of first-nation literature in Quebec, writes both in her native tongue, Innu-aimun, and in French. For over 40 years she has been working to strengthen her people’s awareness of their culture— especially among children and young people, but also among adults—by showing them in a playful manner how to express themselves through language. For this anthology, Bacon and her co-editor, Laure Morali, travelled through Innu territory for four years, meeting with hundreds of school classes and holding poetry workshops for more than 1000 children and teenagers. In cooperation with Institut Tshakapesh, a cultural education institute in Quebec, the engaged publishing house Mémoire d’encrier has documented the resulting poems in this beautifully designed book. The young poets describe their desires, their daily lives, their village communities, and their special relationship with nature. In many poems it is possible to detect their obvious pleasure at finding their own voice. (Age: 8+)

Wapke: Nouvelles
Edited by Michel Jean
Stanké, 2021
ISBN: 978-2-7604-1279-8

Canada | First Nations | Future | Science Fiction | Short story | Anthology

“Wapke” means “tomorrow” in the Atikamekw language and is the title of this unusual anthology of 14 stories about the future. Edited by Michel Jean, a well-known Innu writer and journalist, it is the first collection of texts by First-Nation writers living in Quebec. By projecting themselves into the future, they give expression to their hopes and fears about what lays ahead. Some are utopian, some dystopian, and others fantasy, but all deal with the consequences of environmental destruction, colonialism, paternalism, climate change, and pandemics, while also addressing racism, social divisiveness, or the decline of democracy. In many cases the Indigenous teenagers or young adults in these stories must try to re-invent their lives in the aftermath of an ecological and/or political catastrophe. Often, they are aided by their knowledge of the myths and values of their ancestors, thus helping them to survive and follow a new course. Contributors include renowned, experienced writers, as well as younger, lesser-known authors. (Age: 14+)

Monstres sacrés: Voyage au cœur des volcans
Written by Julie Roberge
Illustrated by Aless MC
La Pastèque, 2021
ISBN: 978-2-89777-107-2

Volcano | Geology | History | Mythology | Non-fiction

A volcanic eruption is an impressive natural spectacle. When one of the over 1500 active volcanoes of our world erupts, it becomes evident once again how little research has been devoted to the great forces residing deep under the Earth’s surface. Each one unique, their unpredictability and powers of destruction have grave consequences for the country and the continent they are in, and sometimes even—thanks to their effects on global climate—for the entire world. With the support of illustrator Aless MC, Quebec volcanologist Julie Roberge, who conducts her research in Mexico, presents some of the secrets associated with these “fire mountains.” She not only presents the most dangerous and well-known volcanoes, but also details of numerous unexplored volcanoes, such as those in Antarctica, on the ocean floor, and in the outer reaches of our solar system. Awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2022, this outstanding non-fiction book combines scientific knowledge with examples from history and mythology. (Age: 10+)

For a complete list of all White Raven 2022 winners, visit www.ijb.de/spezialbibliothek/white-ravens-2022.