White Ravens 2014

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

Nix Minus OneMix Minus One
Written by Jill MacLean
Pajama Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-927485-24-8
Siblings | Death | Grief | Self-confidence | Verse novel
ill Maclean is a versatile and prolific author of books for adults. Lately, she has added four books for a younger audience to her output. Her latest work is a moving, pain-filled verse novel starring fifteen-year-old Nixon Humboldt. Nix is a quiet, introvert young man who prefers reading and woodwork to interacting with people. He generally avoids trouble but thus also avoids fi ghting for what he believes in; until one day, when he falls in love with a mangy dog and decides to stand up to her abusive owner to save her life. Gradually, he opens up a little and finds new friends, but then his beloved older sister Roxy is killed in an accident and his parents are devastated and overwhelmed with grief. Peopled with believable characters and told in an authentic voice, the novel makes readers witness Nix’s struggle with his conflicting emotions and his (unfounded) guilt about his sister’s death. (Age: 14+)

Native AmericansNative Americans: A Visual Exploration
Written by S.N. Paleja
Illustrated by Dafne Sagastume
Annick Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-55451-485-4
Native Americans | Non-Fiction
As Canadian playwright Kevin Loring, a member of the Nlaka’Pamux First Nation, states in his introduction: “Native American people are as different as the land they come from.” That is why a non-fiction book about “all” Native Americans is bound to contain a number of generalisations. It can at best serve as a first introduction to the topic, inspiring young readers to dive deeper into the matter by doing their own extensive research. Nevertheless as a “snapshot”, as Loring calls it, this book is a success. It is divided into six diff erent sections that strive to answer questions about different Native Americans’ origins, their society, food (e.g. the bison as a »walking department store«), culture, contact with other people, and modern day developments. Instead of photographs, it uses colourful infographics, maps, charts, and statistics that offer a certain degree of abstraction and provide visually attractive insights into their lives from prehistoric times to the present. (Age: 10+)

The Man with the ViolinThe Man with the Violin
Written by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Dušan Petricic
Annick Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-55451-565-3
Music | Attention | Imagination | Mother / Son
In 2007, famous American violinist Joshua Bell took part in an experiment: Dressed like an ordinary street musician, he played at a busy subway station in Washington D.C., but sadly enough, hardly anyone stopped to listen for more than a minute – except children. When award-winning author Kathy Stinson learned of this experiment, she was inspired to create the story of a little boy who is so entranced when he hears »The Man with the Violin« play, that he keeps pestering his inattentive mother all day, until she finally halts and takes note of the wonderful music. Stinson’s musical text is touching and thought-provoking in itself, yet the way that renowned illustrator Dušan Petricic transforms it into pictures is ingenious. In his illustrations, the world is shown in black and white with scratchy black zigzags representing the noise and hectic of city life. Music penetrates this monochrome universe as fluid, energetic full-colour streams, sweeping the enchanted child listener off his feet. (Age: 4+)

Razia's Ray of HopeRazia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream for an Education
Written by Elizabeth Suneby
Illustrated by Suana Verelst
Kid Can Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-5545-816-4
Afghanistan | Girl | Education | School
Razia’s Ray of Hope is both the title of this moving picture book and the name of a foundation started by Afghan-American Razia Jan in 2007 to improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan through education. In American writer Elizabeth Suneby’s fictionalised story of the Zabuli Education Center for Girls near Kabul, a young girl called Razia dreams of becoming a teacher and thus is ecstatic when she learns that a girls’ school is being built in her village. Although her grandfather and mother are on her side, it takes a lot of persuading until her father and older brother Aziz finally allow her to attend school. Suana Verelst’s eclectic digital collages created from photographs, traditional fabric, and pencil illustrations, among other things, off er glimpses of village life in Afghanistan and of an intelligent girl determined to get an education. An appendix at the back provides a glossary of Dari words and some background information about the power of education. (Age: 5+)

French Canada

Jeanne Moreau a le sourire à l’envers Jeanne Moreau a le sourire à l’envers
Written by Simon Boulerice
Éditions Leméac, 2013
ISBN 978-2-7609-4217-2
Love | Pen Pals | Brothers | Anorexia | Coming-of-Age Novel
Leon, shy, 15 years old and a bit of an oddball, has stumbled upon a pen pal. With her loveable eccentricity and passion for making up stories, Leonie seems to be his opposite. Her visit with Leon’s very normal family becomes an event. Wild Leonie both unsettles and fascinates Leon, and they briefly become entangled in a love triangle a la »Jules et Jim« with Leon’s friend Carl. Leonie also has an unerring sense for family secrets and taboos. She tells Leon in no uncertain terms that his older brother Antoine, a dutiful and timid film student, is anorexic and that Leon must step in to help him. In this praiseworthy coming-of-age novel, young author and playwright Simon Boulerice shows a young man excitedly discovering who he himself might be, with some help from old »off line« forms of social interaction such as letter-writing. (Age: 15+)

Marie ChapdelaineMaria Chapdelaine
Written by Louis Hémon
Adapted by Jennifer Tremblay
Illustrated by Francesc Rovira
Éditions de la Bagnole, 2013
ISBN 978-2-923342-93-1
Quebec / 19th century | Settler | Wife | Marriage | Historical Fiction
This critical adaptation makes the great classic of French Canadian literature about the fate of a young nineteenth-century woman in the remote region of Peribonka accessible for today’s young readers. Maria, the beautiful and energetic daughter of a settler family, must choose between three suitors for marriage. Her secret favourite, Francois, tragically dies in a snow storm. Out of a mixture of duty and resignation, Maria chooses a life of austerity as a settler’s wife. Jennifer Tremblay presents a condensed version of Louis Hemon’s masterpiece, which for a long time was misclassified narrowly as “rural literature”. Tremblay’s adaptation, co-published by de la Bagnole and Soulieres presses, brings out the original’s essence: its poetry, its local colour and its social critique, as well as the documentarian and allegorical elements. (Age: 10+)

Gustave Gustave
Written by Rému Simard
Illustrated by Pierre Pratt
Éditions de la Pastèque, 2013
ISBN 978-2-923841-27-4
Stuffed Animal | Loss | Loneliness | Imaginary world
Where is Gustave, the little mouse’s playmate who is always up for pulling pranks? It was Gustave’s quick action that helped his friend escape the cat and so perhaps saved his life. How will the little mouse tell his mother of the loss? At the end of a long day, haggard and utterly unsettled, the little mouse ventures home. His mother comforts him and hands him a new stuff ed animal. This makes it clear that Gustave was (only) a stuffed animal. Illustrator Pierre Pratt takes the questions, fears, and also the make-believe of the (mouse)child seriously. Dark, expressionistic pictures capture the experiences of loneliness, desperation, isolation, anxiety, and hopelessness. Pratt’s illustrations imbue Rémy Simard’s text on the experience of an early loss with a special dramatic energy. (Age: 3+)

For a complete list of all White Raven 2014 winners, go to www.ijb.de/spezialbibliothek/white-ravens-2014/.