January 2020


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
January Reading List: Graphic Novels
Author Corner: Faith Erin Hicks
Illustrator’s Studio: Mike Deas
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

First-Ever National I Read Canadian Day to Take Place on February 19, 2020

A new nationwide initiative that celebrates the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature was recently announced. I Read Canadian Day, taking place for the first time ever on February 19, 2020, will empower families, schools, libraries, bookstores and organizations to host activities and events by reading Canadian books for just 15 minutes. We are working with OLA, CANSCAIP and Eric Walters to make this nationwide event possible.

Stay updated by following I Read Canadian on Twitter and Instagram!

Sign up for free today!

Get Excited for Bibliovideo!

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is taking Canadian children’s books to where youth already are: YouTube.

With funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Bibliovideo is the first step in a long-range digital strategy being developed by a consortium of organizations led by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre that includes the Association of Canadian Publishers/49thKids, Canadian School Libraries, CANSCAIP, Communication-Jeunesse and IBBY Canada.

Learn more here.

Support Canadian Children’s Book Week

We are raising money for Canadian Children’s Book Week 2020, a national tour of authors, illustrators and storytellers who travel across Canada giving readings in this annual celebration of books. The donated funds will go directly towards the Adopt-a-School program, which allows schools, libraries and community centres who cannot afford the price for a reading to participate. Every $250 raised will cover the cost for a reading, which can have a lifelong impact on young people.

Donate Today!

Canadian Children’s Book Week: Request for Expression of Interest

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is seeking sponsorship for one of our most important programs, Canadian Children’s Book Week. We are seeking organizations interested in sponsoring programs that help kids succeed in Canada.

Please download our Request for Expressions of Interest for more information.

Come Visit Us at OLA Super Conference and Reading for the Love of It

We are going to be at OLA Super Conference in Toronto! Come visit us at the Community Boulevard on Wednesday January 29th and come to booth 334 on January 30th and 31st.

We will also be at Reading for the Love of It on February 20th and 21st. You can find us at booth 321.

Stop by at both events for free stuff, chances to win and the chance to be in a video!

Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators

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January Reading List: Graphic Novels

Our reading list this month is all about graphic novels. These books can be read in the classroom, in libraries or at home.

Picture Books

In this visually engaging book, a duck and a mouse go on a wild adventure, Tim the cat golfs on a whale and paints, and a girl named Connie goes through her day in a mechanical house! Every page is an adventure to be pored over again and again in this whimsical collection of mostly wordless comics for the young reader.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Colette’s Lost Pet
(A Mile End Kids Story, Book 1)
Written and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Tundra Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-101-91759-6
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grade 2

Colette, a new Mile End resident, is bored and lonely. So when two kids show up outside her yard, Colette tells a fib: she’s lost her parakeet, and could someone please help her find it? Soon, every kid in the neighbourhood is helping search for her mythical bird. Do they really believe her? Or is it just more fun to pretend?

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend
Written by Naseem Hrab
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Owlkids Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77147-171-8
IL: Ages 5-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Meet Ira Crumb. He’s the new kid in town. Ira launches a campaign to befriend neighbourhood kids before the first day of school. But his best-laid plans fall flat, and just as Ira decides school will be HORRIBLE, he meets Malcolm, who was the new kid last year and totally gets it — and who, it turns out, will make a pretty good friend.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Poppy & Sam and the Mole Mystery
(Poppy & Sam, Book 2)
Written and illustrated by Cathon
Translated by Susan Ouriou
Owlkids Books, 2019
ISBN 978-1-77147-379-8
IL: Ages 4-9 RL: Grades 1-3

It’s a new day in the garden, and Poppy and Sam are paying a visit to their friend Snuggles Molesy. But Snuggles is in a pickle, looking for a lost pair of pretty pink glasses! Sleuths Poppy and Sam begin to investigate: all around the garden, along the shore of the creek, and even inside the pies Snuggles had been baking. Along the way, they ask the other critters they encounter.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Fluffy Strikes Back
(A P.U.R.S.T. Adventure, Book 1)
Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77138-127-7
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grade 3

Fluffy Vandermere, top cat at P.U.R.S.T. (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel), works tirelessly to protect the world from alien (a.k.a. bug) domination. Then Fluffy discovers P.U.R.S.T. headquarters itself is under alien attack! Warding off this invasion will require cunning, skill and ingenuity. But Fluffy’s been out of the field for some time now — is he up to the challenge? You bet he is!

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Fake Blood
Written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4814-9557-8
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grades 5-6

AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He even has the same crush. But Nia Winters only has eyes for vampires. When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project, it’s AJ’s chance — he dresses like the vamp of her dreams. But he gets more of Nia’s attention than he wants when he learns she’s a slayer.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Super Agent Jon Le Bon! The Brain of the Apocalypse
(Super Agent Jon Le Bon, Book 1)
Written and illustrated by Alex A.
Adventure Press, 2015
ISBN 978-2-89751-166-1
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

Amidst a world filled with danger stands the Agency — an ultra-secret organization whose mission is to safeguard the World. It uses the most talented agents and cutting-edge technologies. However, a new recruit is about to join the Agency — and he will forever change the balance between good and evil. His name? Jon Le Bon! This title is also available in French as L’Agent Jean! Le cerveau de l’apocalypse.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Louis Undercover
Written by Fanny Britt
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Groundwood Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55498-859-4
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

Meet Louis, a young boy who shuttles between his alcoholic dad and his worried mom, and who, with the help of his best friend, tries to summon up the courage to speak to his true love, Billie. A beautifully illustrated, true-to-life portrayal of just how complex family relationships can be, seen through the eyes of a wise, sensitive boy who manages to find his own way forward. This title is also available in French as Louis parmi les spectres.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Olga: We’re Out Of Here!
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
HarperCollins Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-0-06-235129-6
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

Olga, the animal-loving girl scientist, returns in her second adventure! Olga is tired of annoying humans and wants to leave earth in search of Meh’s home planet. But her trip to outer space is postponed when Meh comes down with a case of the Pink-Pox. This title is also available in French as Olga : On déménage!

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Seeking Refuge
Written by Irene N. Watts
Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker
Tradewind Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-926890-02-9
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grade 4

In this graphic-novel adaptation of Watts’ novel Remember Me, 11-year-old Marianne, a Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi Germany, arrives in London on a Kindertransport. Marianne is lonely and longs for her real family. Her attempts to become an English girl are not enough for her foster mother. With the outbreak of World War II, Marianne is evacuated to Wales. She is shuffled from one unsuitable home to another, but Marianne’s courage and resilience are finally rewarded.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Young Adult Fiction

Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk is an adventurer for the 19th century. She has traveled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny instalment in her exciting life.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Groundwood Books, 2019
ISBN 978-0-0617-9702-6
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her. The day they got back together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny and SO CUTE… but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back. When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn’t thrilled with the advice she receives. But something’s got to give: Freddy’s heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Northwest Resistance 
(A Girl Called Echo, Book 3)
Written by Katherine Vermette
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Coloured by Donovan Yaciuk
HighWater Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5537-9831-6
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7
(forthcoming, February 28, 2020)

The third graphic novel in the A Girl Called Echo series, Northwest Resistance follows Echo Desjardins and her travels through time. Going back to 1884, Echo finds herself in the thick of a new Métis resistance led by leader Louis Riel, who has returned from exile to resist encroaching forces from the East and to ensure his people’s rights are honoured. For Echo, the experience is empowering, focusing her own identity and giving her the strength to confront the challenges in her life.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Pumpkin Heads
Written by Rainbow Rowell
Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second, 2019
ISBN 978-1-6267-2162-3
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different ― Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini
Written by Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery
Illustrated by Carlos Furuzono
Dynamite Entertainment, 2015
ISBN 978-1-60690-696-5
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

The world’s most famous detective meets the world’s most famous magician… Harry Houdini’s London tour is attacked by a mysterious figure that controls the powers of beyond. The goal? To destroy Houdini’s career. Houdini reluctantly teams with Sherlock Holmes, who is locked in his own fight. Can the two rise to overcome a seemingly impossible force?

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Jillian Tamaki paints a teenage world filled with ennui, uncertainty, humour and irreverence. She deftly plays superhero and high school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like. The SuperMutant Magic Academy may be a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a back seat to everyday teen concerns. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, the jokes are precise and devastating.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a modern feminist icon — a leader in the fight for equal treatment of girls and women in society and the workplace. She blazed trails to the peaks of the male-centric worlds of education and law, where women had rarely risen before. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said that true and lasting change in society and law is accomplished slowly, one step at a time. This is how she has evolved, too. Step by step, the shy little girl became a child who questioned unfairness, who became a student who persisted despite obstacles, who became an advocate who resisted injustice, who became a judge who revered the rule of law, who became… RBG.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

If I Go Missing
Written by Brianna Jonnie, with Nahanni Shingoose
Illustrated by Neal Shannacappo
James Lorimer, 2019
ISBN 978-1-4594-1451-8
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Combining graphic fiction and non-fiction, this young adult graphic novel serves as a window into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today. The text of the book is derived from excerpts of a letter written to the Winnipeg Chief of Police by 14-year-old Brianna Jonnie — a letter that went viral and was also the basis of a documentary film. In her letter, Jonnie calls out the authorities for neglecting to immediately investigate missing Indigenous people and urges them to “not treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be,” if she were to be reported missing.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Secret Path
Written by Gord Downie
Illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Simon & Schuster Canada, 2016
ISBN 978-1-5011-5594-9
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grade 7

Twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, died on October 22, 1966, trying to escape residential school and return to his family. Acknowledging a dark part of Canada’s history — the mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system — the story of Chanie Wenjack’s tragic death compels all Canadians to make peace with the truth of the past. Chanie’s story is Canada’s story.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired
Written by Lucile de Pesloüan
Illustrated by Geneviève Darling
Translated by Emma Rodgers and Myra Leibu
Second Story Press, 2019
ISBN 978-1-77260-096-4
IL: Ages 14-18 RL: Grades 7-8

Girls are sick and tired because sexism hurts everyone, every day — in ways both subtle and obvious, complex and simple. This feminist manifesto in graphic novel form denounces the discrimination against, and unfairness felt by, women from childhood to adulthood. It invites us all, regardless of gender, to question the sexism that surrounds us. This title is also available in French as Pourquoi les filles ont mal au ventre?

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

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Author’s Corner: Faith Erin Hicks

Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and artist. She worked in the animation industry for several years before transitioning into writing and drawing comics full time in 2008. She started making comics “for fun” and putting them on the web when she was in college. Her first published work was Zombies Calling (SLG Publishing) in 2007. Since then, she has published a number of other graphic novels, including The War at Ellsmere (SLG), Brain Camp, with Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan (First Second), Friends with Boys (First Second ), Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, with Prudence Shen (First Second), The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse Comics), The Last of Us: American Dreams, with Neil Druckmann (Dark Horse Comics), the Bigfoot Boy series, with J. Torres (Kids Can Press), and the middle-grade fantasy trilogy, The Nameless City (First Second). She won an Eisner Award in 2014 for The Adventures of Superhero Girl. In 2019 her debut young adult prose novel, Comics Will Break Your Heart, was published by Roaring Brook Press. 

Faith currently lives in Vancouver, BC with her partner, Tim, and their helpful cat.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author? What is your process like when writing and illustrating a graphic novel? 

I started my very first webcomic, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer inspired story called Demonology 101, way back in 1999. I finished it in 2004, and thought that would be the last time I drew comics. I’d gone to college for animation training, and planned to work in that industry. I never thought comics would be my career; I never thought I’d be good enough to make it. But in 2008 I lost my job in animation and figured I’d give comics a try until my savings ran out. That was 11 years and 14 published graphic novels ago, so I think I’m doing okay!

The first thing I do when I’m writing and drawing a graphic novel is to sit down and do a rough draft of the entire book, in thumbnail form. Thumbnails are basically blueprints for the finished comic book page; they are drawn very loosely, usually with stick figures and no backgrounds. And I write the dialogue for each page by hand next to the thumbnail. When I’m done this part of the process, I basically have a very rough, stick figure version of the final book. Then I type up a script based on that thumbnail version (no one sees it but me) and pass that off to my editor. She gives me notes and when we’re happy with the script, I start drawing. I draw my comic pages on a Wacom Cintiq, which is a giant computer monitor that you can draw on with a stylus. Then I print out those digitally drawn pages on to thick paper called Bristol, and clean up my artwork by tracing over it with a watercolour brush and ink. I often get asked why I don’t work entirely digitally, instead of half digital, half traditional, but I really enjoy inking my drawings by hand, so I don’t want to give up that part of the process.

I don’t usually colour my own comics, so if the graphic novel I’m making will be in colour, I send the colourist that I’m working with digital copies of the pages I’ve drawn, and they work their magic.

It’s a lot of work, making a graphic novel! It usually takes me a year to write and draw a 200 page comic.

What artists and storytellers have influenced you as a creator?

I love Jeff Smith, who made the incredible fantasy comic Bone, Hiromu Arakawa, creator of Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon, and Naoki Urasawa, creator of many series, my favourites being Pluto and 20th Century Boys.

What was it like working with author Rainbow Rowell?

Rainbow is incredibly smart and funny and when I read what she writes, I see these smart, funny characters coming to life. It was so cool to be able to take her words and put my drawings to them, I feel very fortunate for the opportunity.

From Pumpkin Heads, by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

How does illustrating your own characters compare with illustrating characters we all know and love, like Buffy and Aang?

It’s always fun to play in someone else’s sandbox, to take the world they’ve set up and add a little bit of myself to it. It’s also fun because they’ve done all the hard work of creating this world, and I just get to dive in and mess around with it. I’m very fond of Avatar: The Last Airbender in particular. I started watching the show when season 3 was airing over a decade ago, and was blown away by the sophistication and heart of the show. It feels amazing to contribute my own stories to that world. But I also love making up my own characters and worlds, and while that can be harder and more time-consuming, I find it very rewarding. It’s like taking an image you see in your head and pasting it onto the page in front of you. It can be very intimate, because you’re sharing this hidden part of yourself with the reader, but there’s no greater feeling when a comic you made resonates with a reader.

From Avatar: The Last Airbender Imbalance: Part 2 by Faith Erin Hicks (Author), Bryan Konietzko (Author), Michael Dante DiMartino (Author) and Peter Wartman (Illustrator)

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I’m working on two new things, one is a licensed project (so, not my characters and world) and the other is all me, writing and drawing. Unfortunately neither has been announced yet, so I can’t talk about them. I also have a new graphic novel coming out in July from First Second. It’s called One Year at Ellsmere and is about a scholarship student’s experiences at a posh boarding school. It’s pretty much the kind of graphic novel I desperately wanted to read when I was 10 years old. I hope readers out there like it!

Find out more about Faith at www.faitherinhicks.com

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Listen to Our Two Podcasts!

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Illustrator’s Studio: Mike Deas

Mike’s love for illustrative storytelling comes from an early love of reading and drawing while growing up on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

Capilano College’s Commercial Animation Program in Vancouver helped Mike fine-tune his drawing skills and imagination. Work as a concept artist, texture artist and art lead in the video game industry took Mike to England and California.

Mike lives with his family on sunny Salt Spring Island.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

I grew up on Salt Spring Island which has a strong arts community and spent a lot of my time drawing and reading comics. Knowing I enjoyed drawing and cartoons, Capilano College’s Commercial Animation Program (North Vancouver) seemed like an obvious choice. After graduation I found myself in the Video Game industry for a number of years. Looking for a change of scenery, I put together and passed around an illustration portfolio. Orca Book Publishers were looking for an illustrator on the Graphic Guide Adventure Series and I am very grateful they took a chance with me.

Where did your inspiration for ​Shadow Island​ (Sueño Bay Adventures) come from?

Nancy and I wanted to create an adventure story that felt like the ones we remember enjoying over the years whether it was The Famous Five, The Goonies or any of the Miyazaki films. We tried to use our knowledge of the west coast to create a believable, while mysterious and magical world for the characters to explore.

What artists and illustrators have influenced you as a creator?

Like many of my generation, Bill Watterson’s ​Calvin and Hobbes ​has been a huge influence over the years. Others include; the many artists of Mad magazine, Hergé’s ​Tintin​ and ​René Goscinny​​, and ​Albert Uderzo’s ​Asterix and Obelix​ series. I have also learned so much from my co-workers throughout the time I was working in video games.

We love the Scholastic Canada Biography books! Is there anyone else from Canadian history that you’re itching to draw?

There are so many I would love to do! For me living in BC and being able to relate to the locations, Emily Carr’s world would be a great one to draw, not to mention her rich and interesting life. The series has been a fantastic opportunity for me to really dig into and learn about the lives of these Canadian heroes. All the subjects of the books have been so fascinating to research and draw.

What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?

I am really excited about all the projects I am currently working on. I am in the middle of inking and colouring of the second book in the Sueño Bay Adventures series, ​Otter Lagoon, ​which has a sea monster in it (always fun to draw)​.​ We are currently on the sixth book in the Scholastic Canada Biography series which features Terry Fox. There is so much to read about his life and influence. We are just putting the finishing touches together on ​Huddle Up, Cuddle Up ​a classic bedtime children’s book format with an American Football theme by Bethany Hegedus being published by Viking Press (August 2020).

Find out more about Mike at deasillustration.com

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Booksellers’ Picks

Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:
Fern and Horn by Marie-Louise Gay (Groundwood Books, 2019) Ages  4-8

Fern is a little girl who loves to draw and whose “imagination is as big as the earth, as big as the sky, as big as the universe.”  Horn is her brother who borrows her crayons and scissors to design enormous elephants and polar bears that gobble up everything in their path.  Fern uses cleverness, creativity and cookies(!) to offset the obstacles that her brother raises.  This book is a whimsical celebration of the imagination which features Marie-Louise Gay’s magnificent, mixed-media illustrations.  The loose-lined, sketch-y images are filled with colour and energy, and they unerringly capture the playful tone of this delightful sibling exchange. —Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 1533 Birmingham St., Halifax, NS B3J 2J1 www.woozles.com

If your independent bookstore would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.

Librarians’ Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.

Treasure by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher (Orca Book Publishers) Ages 3-5

Sometimes you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it.  In this inviting picture book by Mireille Messier, two siblings play in a meadow and search for treasure.  Told through pitch-perfect dialogue, the children deliberate on the elusiveness of their quest.  A feather, an acorn, and a milkweed pod catch the little boy’s eye, but big sis wants to keep looking,  because the “best treasures are always hidden.”  There are lots of discoveries to make in Irene Luxbacher’s gorgeous watercolour and collage illustrations.  The curious kids are rewarded by finding a natural treasure so awe-inspiring that it won’t fit inside a pocket, but can only be experienced.   Treasure  poetically captures the thrill of the hunt.

—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis (HarperCollins Publishers, 2019) Ages 14+

Toby has had trouble letting people in since her mom committed suicide. She has pushed away her best friend and boyfriend to cope. When Toby’s absent and estranged father enters her life, she is not prepared for the challenges he brings. Her father has achieved fame as a Drag Queen but is not be prepared to fill the role of “parent”. The characters in this book are multifaceted, complex and believable. This family-centric LGBTQ+ book will guide you through Toby’s world as she attempts to make sense of her new reality.

—Meghan Tinmouth, Collections Librarian–Youth, Hamilton Central Library

If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.

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Staff Picks

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, illustrated by Mika Song (Tundra Books, 2019) Ages 4-8

This true story is full of heart and brings us into the world of Hawaii through the eyes of a child who doesn’t identify as either wahine (girl) or kane (boy). Ho’onani is happy to be in the middle and wants to lead an all boy traditional hula chant, even though she’s a girl. As Ho’onani defies expectations by not only being part of the hula chant but by becoming the leader, she finds her true place not as simply a wahine or a kane but as a true hula warrior.

Well written and with beautiful watercolour illustrations, this story is not only a glimpse into Hawaiian culture but also an important story for gender non-conforming and non-binary children. You can watch a short documentary about Ho’onani’s story called A Place in the Middle by filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson here.

Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator

The Proudest Blue, written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly (Little Brown Books) Ages 4-7

It’s the first day of school for Faziah and Asiya, but this particular one is extra special because it will also be Asiya’s first day of wearing a hijab. Made up of a beautiful blue that’s reminiscent of the ocean waving to the sky, Faziah couldn’t be more proud of her sister. Unfortunately, not everyone understands Asiya’s hijab, and when faced with mean and hurtful comments, Faziah must find the strength in herself to overcome the prejudice of others.

Told with beautifully drawn illustrations, The Proudest Blue is an empowering read about the bond of family, love and faith. Faith has the power to change how people treat others, but Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali show young readers that it’s actually the parts that make people appear “different” that are worth celebrating. The strong and supportive bond between the two sisters will touch the hearts of readers young and old, reminding them to take pride in who they are and to wear their proudest colour!

— Paola Gonzalez, CCBC Magazine & Marketing Intern

Next Month

Look for our February newsletter next month, which will be all about Black History Month!

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