White Ravens 2013

The White Ravens is an annual catalogue featuring 250 new and notable titles of children’s and young adult literature from over 50 countries. 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. Ten Canadian-published titles, six in English and four in French, were honoured this year. In addition, a Canadian illustrator who published with a non-Canadian publishing house was also honoured.

English Canada

The Gargoyle at the GatesThe Gargoyle at the Gates
(Lost Gargoyle, Book 3)
Written by Philippa Dowding
Dundurn Press, 2012
ISBN 978-1-4597-0394-0
Loneliness – Friendship – Kidnapping – Rescue
As the youngest, Christopher is used to being dragged around by his “many-assorted-brothers-and-slightly-older-sister,” but after the family moves to Toronto, he feels lonely despite his siblings. One evening, he explores the strange park near their new house and comes across two gargoyles, Gargoth and Ambergine. The four-hundred-year-old creatures are alive and mischievous but friendly; and when a sinister man called the “Collector” kidnaps Ambergine, Christopher and his new friend Katherine set out to rescue her. The Gargoyle at the Gates is an entertaining read about friendship with amiable human and gargoyle protagonists. As the third volume of the popular Lost Gargoyle series, it is sure to entice readers into seeking out the gargoyles’ other adventures. (Age: 10+)

Night Sky Wheel RideNight Sky Wheel Ride
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Yayo
Tradewind Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-896580-67-8
Funfair – Big wheel – Courage
Renowned Canadian poet Sheree Fitch’s latest book describes two siblings’ exciting visit to the funfair at night. In rhythmic verses with evocative words and a refrain-like exclamation, the story follows the little boy and girl, who have obviously been waiting for years to ride the big wheel (“Are we big enough this year, Mama?”). Naturally, they are now extremely eager to finally give it a go. Their joyous ride is visually transposed into several vibrant double-spread pictures by award-winning illustrator Yayo. Bursting with colourful, imaginative details – such as mermaids spinning around the wheel in small bathtubs – the illustrations depict the siblings’ excitement and ebullience as they climb into a cart and fly through the night. (Age: 4+)

A Good TradeA Good Trade
Written by Alma Fullerton
Illustrated by Karen Patkau
Pajama Press, 2012
ISBN 978-0-9869495-9-3
                                    Uganda – Civil War – Country life – Humanitarian Aid
Kato lives in a small village in Uganda. He wakes early because his daily chores include trekking to the well outside the village and fetching the water his family will need during the day in his two large jerry cans. On his way back, he spots an aid-worker’s lorry that carries wonderful gifts. Kato would love to offer the aid-worker something in return – and in the family garden, he finds just the right thing: a beautiful white poppy. In this deceptively simple and positive story of a little boy’s daily life in an African village, readers will discover subtle hints and overt refer-ences to the effects of civil war both in the quiet text and the brightly coloured digital illustrations. Thus the book will serve as a wonderful incentive to discuss this serious topic with younger and older children alike. (Age: 6+)

My Book of Life by AngelMy Book of Life by Angel
Written by Martine Leavitt
Groundwood Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55498-117-5
City – Child prostitution – Drugs – Addiction – Escape – Murder
Angel’s downfall begins when her mother dies. Unable to cope with the emptiness at home, the sixteen-year-old starts hanging out in the mall and stealing bits like lipstick and shoes. Then she meets Call, a “businessman”, who buys her food, makes her compliments, and introduces her to drugs. Still, it is only when her father throws her out and she moves in with Call, that she realises what his “business” actually is: young prostitutes. At first, Angel is too scared to resist, but suddenly girls disappear mysteriously – the rumour is they are murdered. In a lyrical yet urgent tone, this haunting, journal-like verse novel describes Angel’s increasingly desperate struggle to protect a new eleven-year-old friend and save herself from the vicious circle of drugs, violence, and prostitution. (Age: 14+)

Virginia WolfVirginia Wolf
Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Kids Can Press, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55453-649-8
Siblings – Depression – Painting – Imagination
“One day my sister Virginia woke up feeling wolfish.” No matter what Vanessa does to try and cheer her up, nothing helps. The wolf-girl groans and moans and growls, and the whole house is drawn into her dark mood. But then Vanessa has an idea: She grabs her paintbox and brushes and paints colourful flowers, trees, birds – thus slowly creating a huge imaginary garden-like refuge, which the sisters call Bloomsberry. Inspired by the relationship between famous British author Virginia Woolf and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, this moving story depicts a girl suffering from depression and a devoted and loving sister trying her best to help. The hand-lettered text in varying sizes and the arresting mixed-media illustrations reflect the protagonists’ moods and perfectly complement the text. (Age: 6+)

The Lynching of Louie SamThe Lynching of Louie Sam
Written by Elizabeth Stewart
Annick Press, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55451-438-0
Washington Territory/1884 – Settler – Murder – Scapegoat – First Nations
This compelling teenage novel deals with prejudice and racism against indigenous people in America and Canada in the late nineteenth century. Set in the Washington territory close to the Canadian border in 1884, the book is based on a true story: When a white shopkeeper in a small settlement is found murdered, teenage boy Louie Sam, member of the Stó:lo First Nation, is proclaimed guilty by the villagers and later snatched from custody and hanged by a lynch mob of about a hundred angry white people. Award-winning screenwriter Elizabeth Stewart creates a fictionalised account of the events, told from fifteen-year-old George’s point of view. Although initially convinced of Louie Sam’s guilt, the white village boy slowly begins to realise that the boy might have been only a scapegoat. Unfortunately his attempts at finding out the truth are met with a wall of resistance from the majority of his white neighbours, making it impossible to convict the true murderer. (Age: 14+)

French Canada

Renaud le petit renard Renaud le petit renard
Written by Véronique Boisjoly
Illustrated by Katty Maurey
La Pastèque, 2012
ISBN 978-2-923841-21-2
Father – Son – Laundrette – Prank
Renaud the little fox loves Saturdays, because on that day he doesn’t have to share his dad with his little sister Lola. Instead, he accompanies his father to Monsieur Li’s laundrette. The shared washing day has its little rituals: Renaud draws and invents games, while Papa Fox fills the laundry drums and then, while the laundry tumbles wildly in the machines, they make themselves comfortable on a bench and eat some ice cream. Things would be so quiet and peaceful were it not for the presence of Li’s granddaughter Lily, thwarting with her pranks Renaud’s dream of an idyllic Saturday with his father. Véronique Boisjoly gives a tongue-in-cheek account of Renaud’s laundry odyssey, which Katty Maurey illustrated with much love for detail. (Age: 5+)

Quand j’étais chienQuand j’étais chienWritten by Louise Bombardier
Illustrated by Katty Maurey
La Courte Échelle, 2011
ISBN 978-2-89651-813-5
Death – Grief – Disability – Abandonment – Siblings
Antoine is twenty-five years old according to his passport, but his emotional and cognitive capacities are that of a five-year-old. After his mother’s death, for three years he is left helpless in the hands of his younger brother Jacques, who mistreats him and lets Antoine become visibly neglected. When Jacques does not return from a night of binge drinking, Antoine is left alone with his dog Delphine, his last point of contact. Louise Bombardier’s arresting text, aided by Katty Maurey’s sensitive illustrations, sustains the difficult balance between Antoine’s dreamy grasp of the world and the forceful blows of fate from which he only barely escapes, in a near somnambulistic manner. (Age: 12+) (Prix du Gouverneur Général; 2011)

La saison des pluies La saison des pluies
Written by Mario Brassard
Illustrated by Suana Verelst
Soulières éd., 2011
ISBN 978-2-89607-127-2
Death – Father – Loss – Mourning
Seven-year-old Junior loses his father to a car accident. The boy and his mother endure an unpredictable emotional rollercoaster together, and the boy must face the difficult task of learning to live with his loss. In this artfully concise text, Mario Brassard sensitively portrays Junior’s personal journey through the grief of the first months. Recounting very authentic episodes, the author gives clear shape to the experiences of the child, alongside his emotional chaos of anger, fear, guilt, disappointment, rage, hopelessness, and denial. The delicate pencil drawings of Suana Verelst illustrate Junior’s path through grief and give little hints as to the ways in which his life is imperceptibly changing. (Age: 8+) (Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse; 2012

Mingan, mon village: Poèmes d’écoliers innusMingan, mon village: Poèmes d’écoliers innus
Written by various authors
Translated by Joséphine Bacon
Illustrated by Rogé
Éd. de la Bagnole, 2012
ISBN 978-2-923342-76-4
                            Mingan Indian Reservation – Innu – First Nations – Poetry
Together with the French poet Laure Morali and the Innu poet Rita Mestokosho, the illustrator Rogé held a writing workshop on the Mingan Reservation, which is located in the nearly inaccessible northern region of Québec. Many Innu children of the Teueikan School there took part in the workshop. Out of it came poetic prose texts and short poems that stand up forcefully and hopefully to the contemporary worries of Innu society. Rogé presents fifteen of the selected poems from this writing workshop in French translation and includes portraits of the young poets. Unfortunately, the original Innu texts do not appear alongside the French, but only at the very end of the book after the poets Morali and Mestokosho have been intro-duced. (Age: 8+)

USA

Extra YarnExtra Yarn
Written by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen (Canadian)
Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, 2012
ISBN 978-0-06-195338-5
                                    Magic – Happiness – Greed – Punishment
Life in Annabel’s small town is cold and colourless: People wear dark, dull clothes, houses and streets are covered in snow and soot. So when the young girl finds a wooden box filled with never-ending multicoloured yarn, she starts knitting colourful sweaters for everyone and everything in her town (including a letter box and a bird’s house) until a greedy aristocrat turns up to grab the magical box for himself. Mac Barnett’s sparse text tells a simple but touching tale about the positive power of small deeds. Jon Klassen’s ink and gouache illustrations are at first dominated by black and white. Step by step, however, Annabel’s fabulous knitwear adds sparkling stitches to the pictures as well as to the lives of the townspeople; and it puts a happy smile on their faces. (Age: 4+) (Caldecott Honour Book; 2013)

For a complete list of all White Raven 2013 winners, go to www.ijb.de/files/whiteravens/wr13/Einleitung13.htm.