June 2019


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
June Reading List: Indigenous History Month
Author Corner: Monique Gray Smith
YA Write with Amy Mathers
Illustrator’s Studio: Natasha Donovan
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Attend the CCBC’s Annual General Meeting

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Annual General Meeting will be taking place on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm. CCBC members* and public are welcome to attend.

Come and Meet Our New Executive Director, Rose Vespa 
WHEN: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm
WHERE: Room 224, Northern District Library 40 Orchard View Blvd.
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1B9

Reserve your ticket here.

School Is Out for the Summer (And your books should be too)

Best-selling author Eric Walters wants to make sure that Canadian students have access to great books all summer. Together with CANSCAIP, the CCBC, Canadian School Libraries and the generous support of Orca Book Publishers, Eric is hoping to get 15 or 20 or even 25 schools to run a summer lending/reading program.

Learn more about this program here.

Great Canadian Giving Challenge- Help Us Win $10,000!

What is The Great Canadian Giving Challenge? It is a national public contest to benefit any registered Canadian charity. Every $1 donated to a registered charity in June via CanadaHelps.org or GivingChallenge.ca, automatically enters the charity to win an additional $10,000 donation. The grand prize draw is on Canada Day and one lucky charity will receive the grand prize of $10,000.


This year, during TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, we asked Canadians to Choose Canadian and read a favourite children’s book to celebrate Book Week. Thank you to everyone who took part, including Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who posed with a copy of Eric Walters’ Voyageur!

We hope that reading Canadian stays a priority for you all year: let us know your favourite books on social media by using the hashtag #ChooseCanadianBooks and tagging @kidsbookcentre!


Mark Your Calendar for Telling Tales

Telling Tales Festival is recognized as one of the key annual events in Canadian publishing, dedicated solely to children’s literature. The 11th annual Telling Tales Festival connects top Canadian artists with children and youth on September 15th, 21st, and 22nd, 2019.

Learn more here!


BC Book Prize Winners Announced

The West Coast Book Prize Society  announced the winners and finalists for the 2019 BC Book Prizes. Congratulations to the authors, illustrators, and publishers! The winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize is No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen and the winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize is Sparks by by Ian Boothby, illustrated by Nina Matsumoto.

Learn more here.

Sun Dog wins the 2019 IODE Ontario Jean Throop Book Award

Sun Dog by Deborah Kerbel and illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo has won the 2019 IODE Ontario Jean Throop Book Award. The award was presented at the 99th IODE Ontario Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 27th in Kingston, Ontario.

Read more here!

Visit the CCBC’s Social Justice and Diversity Book Bank

Be sure to visit our newest book bank, highlighting Canadian titles that focus on diversity, social justice and activism. We believe that there is a dire need for more diverse stories in Canadian children’s literature and our new book bank is a way for us to support these stories while providing a tool to help readers have quick and easy access to hundreds of titles.

This new book bank is perfect for teachers, librarians and parents to use in finding great Canadian content.

Visit the book bank here!

Summer Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News Available Now!

In the summer issue of Canadian Children’s Book News Kathy Stinson chats with Deborah Ellis about her writing career and her sense of hope and Marylynn Miller Oke has a conversation with Margie Wolfe and Pnina Bat Zvi about writing The Promise in honour of their mothers. Andrew Katz and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel tell us what is was like writing How to Catch a Bear who Loves to Read/Comment attraper un ours qui aime lire in two languages and we feature S.K. Ali in our ‘Keep Your Eye On’ column. We have also included a fabulous list of LGBTQ+ titles in our ‘Bookmark!’ column to honour PRIDE events over the summer as well as more than 40 reviews of recently published KID LIT.

2019 Forest of Reading® Winners Announced at Annual Festival of Trees Event

On May 14 and 15, thousands gathered at the Festival of Trees, an annual rock concert of reading, where winners of the 2019 Forest of Reading program are announced live. The event, which celebrates a love of reading for children of all ages, brings together thousands of young readers from across Ontario for workshops, entertainment, and meaningful experiences with our nation’s top Canadian fiction and non-fiction authors.

Learn more here!


Do you have questions about children’s publishing? Join Annick Press for a Twitter Q&A on August 29th, 1-2pm EST!

Tweet @annickpress and use the hashtag #askannick to get answers to your questions straight fromeditors at Annick Press, publisher of books such as The Paperbag Princess, #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women and The Man With the Violin.

Missed the May #AskAnnick? Catch up here.

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

back to top

Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators

Rose Vespa on the future direction of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (Quill and Quire)

How do you turn kids into bookworms? All 10 children’s laureates share their tips (The Guardian)

LISTEN: Sandra O’Brien on books for teenagers (CBC)

Children’s books: Isabelle Arsenault creates vivid scenes of a Mile End alley  (Montreal Gazette)

The Beginning of Children’s Book Publishing in Canada

The Future is Now and It’s Inclusive: Young People of Color in YA Books  (Book Riot)

Dolly Parton library opens in Pittsburgh providing free books to kids  (Trib Live)

LISTEN: Pembroke dad reads kids bedtime stories on Facebook Live (CBC)

Meet Our New Intern, Kirsti!

Read how these passionate and savvy educators support schools and students every day (Common Sense)

8 Brutal Truths of Raising a Book-Loving Kid (Read Brightly)

Reading Aloud to Middle School Students  (Edutopia)

Getting to Know Barbara Reid

This Indigenous educator launched her own publishing company to release her first book (CBC)

back to top

June Reading List: Indigenous History

Our reading list this month featues Indigenous books for young people. These books can be read in the classroom, in libraries or at home.

Picture Books

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock 
Written by Dallas Hunt
Illustrated by Amanda Strong
HighWater Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-55379-779-1
IL: Ages 3-8 RL: Grades 1-3

During an unfortunate mishap, young Awâsis loses Kôhkum’s freshly baked world-famous bannock. Not knowing what to do, Awâsis seeks out a variety of other-than-human relatives willing to help. What adventures are in store for Awâsis? The book includes a pronunciation guide and the recipe for Kôhkum’s world-famous bannock.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Bear for Breakfast/Makwa kidji kijebà wìsiniyàn
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Jay Odjick
Scholastic Canada , 2019
ISBN 978-1-4431-7511-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

It’s breakfast time and Donovan knows exactly what he wants this morning! Not eggs, not pancakes, not cereal. No, what he wants is BEAR, just like his grandfather used to eat for breakfast!  When Donovan finally meets a real, big and growling bear, he quickly learns that sometimes breakfast tastes best when it doesn’t have any teeth! Includes Algonquin text.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
Written by Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Tundra, 2018
ISBN 978-0-73526-292-8
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades K-3

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Nibi’s Water Song
Written by Sunshine Tenasco
Illustrated by Chief Lady Bird
North Winds Press/Scholastic, 2019
ISBN 978-1-44310-789-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3
forthcoming July 30, 2019

In Nibi’s Water Song, an Indigenous girl named Nibi is on the search for clean water to drink. Though she faces repeated obstacles, Nibi’s joyful energy and perseverance shines through. She becomes a catalyst for change and action as her community, and then in widening circles the country and government, rally to make clean drinking water available for everyone.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

The Pencil
Written by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Inhabit Media, 2019
ISBN 978–1-77227-216-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Susan and her sister, Rebecca, love watching their mother write letters to people in other camps. Their mother has one precious pencil, and she keeps it safe in her box for special things. One afternoon, Mom leaves the iglu to help a neighbour, and Susan, Rebecca, and their brother Peter are left with their father. They play all their regular games but are soon out of things to do—until Dad brings out the pencil! As Susan draws and draws, the pencil grows shorter and shorter. What will Mom think when she comes home?

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

When We Were Alone
Written by David Alexander Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
HighWater Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55379-673-2
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades 2-3

A young girl is curious about her grandmother’s long braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing. Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? Nókom (grandmother) explains about life in a residential school long ago, where everything was taken away. A story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, of empowerment and strength.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Junior & Intermediate

Fatty Legs
Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes
Annick Press, 2010
ISBN 978-1-55451-246-1
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. But in the face of cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

He Who Dreams
(Orca Limelights)
Written by Melanie Florence
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4598-1102-7
IL: Ages 11-14 RL: Grades 4-5

John stumbles into an Indigenous dance class and, after he attends his first powwow, he is hooked. But if he really wants to dance, he’ll have to stop hiding it from his friends, teammates and family. Now he must learn to balance his responsibilities, confront his fears and embrace both his Irish and Cree heritage.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Young Adult Fiction

Shane is reeling from his sister’s suicide, but he can’t turn to his friend David for comfort because they must hide their relationship from everyone on the rez. His mother’s grief and David’s refusal to move to the city threaten his dream of going away to university. But when another tragedy strikes, Shane and David have to make difficult choices about their future together.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

(The Reckoner, Book 1)
Written by David Alexander Robertson
HighWater Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55379-676-3
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

When 17-year-old Cole returns to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Surviving the City
Written by Tasha Spillett
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan
HighWater Press, 2019
ISBN 978-1-55379-756-2
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

This Place
Edited by the editors of HighWater Press
Highwater Press, 2019
ISBN 978-1-55379-758-6
IL: Ages 15 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Annick Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55451-957-6
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 8-9

What is it like to be an Indigenous woman or girl today? In this compelling collection of art, essays, poems and interviews, more than 50 contemporary artists come together to shatter stereotypes, reveal hurt from the past and celebrate hope for the future. This compilation showcases the strength, diversity and talent of Native American girls and women.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Carey Price: How a First Nations Kid Became a Superstar Goaltender
Written by Catherine Rondina
James Lorimer, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4594-1276-7
IL: Ages 8 and up RL: Grades 3-4

Twenty years ago, Carey Price was flying 319 kilometres across British Columbia in his father’s plane so he could play on the nearest organized hockey team. Today, he is one of the most recognizable figures in hockey! Throughout his incredible career, Carey has taken every opportunity to encourage all young people, especially those who share his Indigenous background, to follow their dreams.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Meet Tom Longboat
(Scholastic Canada Biography)
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Scholastic Canada, 2019
ISBN 978-1-4431-6391-0
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 1-3

On a cold and windy April day in 1907, Tom Longboat beat a crowd of top runners to win the famous Boston Marathon. His exhilarating, record-breaking performances earned him legions of fans in Canada and around the world. But there is more to his story than being a famous athlete. Tom volunteered and bravely served in WWI. He was dedicated to his family and community. Tom didn’t always win, but he always worked hard with his head held high. Tom did things the way he knew was right . . . and achieved success on his own terms.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation
Written by Monique Gray Smith
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4598-1583-4
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grades 5-6

The relationship between Indigenous people and Canada has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of survivors and learn from the allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

back to top


Author’s Corner: Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree and Scottish descent and is a proud Mom of fifteen year old twins. She is an award-winning, best-selling author and sought after consultant. Monique’s first published novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience won the 2014 Burt Award for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Literature.

Since then, Monique has had 5 books come out, including Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation. Speaking our Truth has won numerous awards, is a Canadian bestseller and a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

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

I’ve always enjoyed telling and listening to stories. As a child, I’d share something with my Dad and he’d often say to me, “Now did that really happen? Or is that just another one of your stories?” It wasn’t until I was 44, though, that I turned to writing down and capturing some of my lived experiences and the stories I was thinking about.

I am grateful to Diane Morris of Sono Nis Press who took a risk on me in 2013 and published my first novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience. Through that process, I had the privilege to work with editor extraordinaire, Barbara Pulling and learned a huge amount from her that continues to influence everything I create!

I am trained as a Psychiatric Nurse and one of the key things I learned both as a student and then as a nurse, was the importance of paying attention. This has been a huge gift for me in life and in my writing. Everything I’ve written has been inspired through this teaching of paying attention.

My writing process is quite subversive and I don’t have a daily discipline. Instead, I feel like my discipline is to the story. When an idea strikes or a story emerges, I do my best to clear my calendar and work on what is asking to be told. I know this may not be an ideal way to write, but at this time with my family and my work schedule, it is the best way for me to create.

What does Indigenous History Month mean to you as a person and as a creator?

For me, Indigenous History Month is every month. There is not a day or week or month that history does not influence me, my family and whatever I am working on at the time. However, with that said, Indigenous History Month is a time when there is a concentrated focus in schools, and somewhat in society, which can open doors for new awareness and learning.

A few years ago, I stopped referring to it as Indigenous History because for me that gives a sense that this history is only relevant to and/or only impacted Indigenous people. When the reality is, this is Canada’s history. It’s a history of legislative decisions and discrimination that has profoundly impacted Indigenous people. It’s a history and current day reality that also impacts the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living in this country we call Canada.

You have multiple picture books that now feature the text in Cree as well as in English. How did this come about?

One of my greatest joys came the day I saw both My Heart Fills with Happiness and You Hold Me Up in Cree. Tears slid down my cheeks and words don’t really do justice to how precious and important those books are to me and my family. Part of why I write is to make the invisible, visible. Having Cree on the pages for all children, their families and teachers to see is a significant step in this. I have to give credit to Orca Book Publishers and Richard Van Camp, they were the initial creators of our books being translated and to Mary Cardinal Collins for all her work in translating.

The resilience of Indigenous people is a recurring theme in your books. How does this resilience inspire you as a writer?

I write about resilience because I think it is important to read and be witness to the stories of challenge, pain and triumph. It is in the journey that teachings and life lessons are revealed that can help the reader sort through something that might be going on in their life or in the life of someone they love.

I am in awe of the power of the human spirit and our ability to be resilient. It is this awe that inspires all my writing and was especially emergent in my last novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights. In this story we witness the remarkable resilience, strength and humor of eight elders who Tilly accompanies on a road trip from Vancouver to Albuquerque, NM for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

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

As I write this, I am currently on Faculty at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in a new program called, Writing and Animating our Stories. I am privileged to be working with Julie Flett and Amanda Strong and we have an incredibly talented cohort of Indigenous creators!

In Fall 2020, I have a new children’s picture book coming out, When We Are Kind. It’s illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt and published by Orca Book Publishers. The book is a gentle reminder for children about what it feels like when we are kind to ourselves, our family, elders, pets and the earth as well as what it feels like when we are on the receiving end of kindness.

2021 will see the release of another children’s picture book called, I Hope. This little book shares a few of my hopes for children, including such messages as:

I hope that you and those you love have healthy food, clean water and a safe place to sleep.
I hope that when sad tears leave your eyes, there is someone there to catch them.
I hope you are a caretaker of Mother Earth.

Find out more about Monique on her website at moniquegraysmith.com

back to top

YA Write with Amy Mathers

In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise funds to create the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.

back to top

Illustrator’s Studio: Natasha Donovan

Natasha is a self-taught illustrator from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with a focus on comics and children’s illustration. Her work has appeared in The Other Side Anthology (2016), edited by Melanie Gillman and Kori Handwerker, and This Place Anthology (2018), published by Portage & Main. She illustrated the award-winning children’s book The Sockeye Mother (written by Brett Huson) and the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett). She has a degree in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia, and has worked in academic and magazine publishing. She currently lives in Bellingham, Washington. Natasha is a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.

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

I’ve always loved drawing and storytelling, but my journey to illustrating professionally has been a roundabout one. I did a degree in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and started submitting to comics anthologies while working in academic publishing at the University of Victoria. I eventually got connected with HighWater Press after Brett Huson saw my work and asked to collaborate on The Sockeye Mother, and I’ve been learning on the go ever since.

You worked on This Place: 150 Years Retold. What was it like working on a project of this caliber?

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with such an impressive collection of creators – it was very intimidating at first, but there was a sense of shared wonder between all of us as we came together and each did our part to help shape a different perspective on this country’s history.

What does Indigenous History Month mean to you as a person and as a creator?

Personally, as an illustrator and as a Métis woman, I feel that Indigenous History Month calls us to tell – and listen to – the untold stories that are the foundation of this place we call home.

How does working on a project like The Sockeye Mother differ from working on a graphic novel like Surviving the City?

Working on The Sockeye Mother allowed for a lot more time to indulge my inclination toward painstaking detail, trying to encapsulate each paragraph in a single image. Working on Surviving the City forced me to change the way I envisioned and carried out my work; each page contained so much of the narrative, so it was necessary to try to see the bigger picture and emphasize movement, both through space and through time. In practice, the graphic novel was much more time-consuming and difficult, and it frequently brought about a nasty combination of hand cramps and imposter syndrome…but of course, as things tend to do, it eventually came together. When it finally did, it was immensely satisfying to have finished such an intense process.

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

I’m just getting started on the next book in the Mothers of Xsan series with Brett Huson, and I have a couple of other projects beginning as well – a potential second graphic novel with HighWater Press, and a set of book covers. Eventually I hope to expand into editorial illustration; I’m also toying with the idea of writing my own graphic novel. All in good time…more items for the never-ending Freelancer’s To-Do List.

Find out more about Natasha and her work at natashadonovan.com

back to top

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: To See the Stars written by Jan Andrews, illustrated by Tara Tidwell (Running the Goat, 2019) Ages 13-17

When Edie Murphy leaves her home and family in rural Newfoundland to work in the big city, she is shocked by how different life is there.  She starts out in St. John’s but ultimately ends up living with a family in New York City’s Lower East Side and working at the Global Shirtwaist Factory.  While she soon makes friends there, she struggles to accept the brutal working conditions and the harsh treatment the workers receive.  Edie readily joins thousands of other women who go on strike.  But then she witnesses the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.  Will she ever come to terms with this devastating experience?  In Jan Andrews final book, she creates a thoughtful and compelling period piece that paints a vivid picture of both time and place.  With characters that are likeable and realistically depicted, she explores a number of important topics.  A beautiful book! —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.

Albert’s Quiet Quest, written and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Tundra Books, 2019) Ages 4-8

All Albert wants is a peaceful place to read.  Stomping out of his noisy house, he heads to a back alley refuge, pulls up a chair, and enjoys the blissful silence.  A painting set out for the trash piques his interest, and he daydreams his way into a private beach oasis. To Albert’s chagrin, neighbourhood pals soon intrude on his quietude with their own raucous pursuits. When Albert reaches the end of his patience, the close-knit Mile End gang find a way to reconcile their differences. Much of the story is exquisitely told through Isabelle Arsenault’s finely nuanced ink-and-watercolour illustrations. The unbeatable beauty of shared quiet moments together with friends comes through loud and clear in this lovely picture book. — Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock, written by Dallas Hunt and illustrated by Amanda Strong
(Highwater Press, 2018) Ages 4-8

Awâsis and the World Famous Bannock is a debut title from Dallas Hunt. Hunt’s book tells the story of Awâsis, who loses her Kôhkum’s world famous bannock. It is now up to her, and some animal friends, to gather the ingredients and bake a replacement. The story features words in Cree, with translations and a pronunciation guide for each of the new words at the end of the book. The book also includes the recipe for the titular World’s Best Bannock to try at home. The illustrations are colourful. This take on “Little Red Riding Hood” will leave any young reader yearning to try baking bannock themselves. —Meghan, Collections Librarian–Youth, Hamilton Central Library

Sadie, written by Courtney Summers (Wenesday Books/Raincoast Books) Ages 13-18

Sadie is a compelling mystery told partially through a true-crime podcast. This innovative style makes it perfect for an audiobook and indeed it won the 2019 Odyssey Award and 2019 Audie Award for Young Adult Audiobook. The mystery behind the podcast is the disappearance and murder of Sadie’s younger sister and then the disappearance of Sadie herself. While the podcast tries to follow in Sadie’s footsteps to find her, interviewing people allowing the way, through Sadie’s point of view we get what really happened. We learn about Sadie’s addict mother, her abusive stepfather and the steps she’s willing to take for revenge for her sister’s murder. The book is a compelling, often sad, look at the things we do for family and it will stay with you long after you’ve finished the story. —Kat Drennan-Scace, Manager, Red Hill Branch, Hamilton Public Library

Spindle, written by E.K. Johnston (Dysney-Hyperion 2016) Ages 12 and up

Once upon a time, a demon was defeated and imprisoned. Ever since, it has schemed to take back the kingdom it once ruled, and now, with the birth of Princess Rose, it is time. Little Rose has two choices: resist the demon, and watch her people be punished, or let the demon take her over and rule the kingdom. Neither seems good, so she doesn’t decide; she stays alone in a tower and does nothing. Then a boy named Yashaa climbs her tower and Little Rose seizes her chance to escape, and everything changes. A strange and beautiful retelling of Sleeping Beauty. —Polly Ross-Tyrell, Children’s Librarian, Aurora Public Library

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

back to top

Staff Picks

Orange for the Sunsets by Tina Athaide (Katherine Tegen Books, 2019), Ages 8-12

Asha doesn’t listen when everyone tells her that her and Yesofu are too different from one another to be best friends. After all, they both were born in Uganda. But all anyone else can see is that he is African and she is Indian. When President Amin orders all Indians to leave Uganda in 90 days, Asha and Yesofu find themselves on different sides of a conflict that’s much bigger than they are. While Asha is afraid to leave the life she’s always known, Yesofu is intrigued by President Amin’s promise of a better life. But the darker side of that promise comes to light when soldiers fill the streets and just being seen with each other is enough to put both Asha and Yesofu in harms way.

The enduring friendship between two children is the heart of this novel, which shines light on a historical event that I haven’t seen represented in a children’s book before. Framed around the 90 countdown given to non-Africans to leave Uganda in 1972, the novel succeeds at mounting tension as the story gets closer to the 90th day. — Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing and Website Coordinator

A Plan for Pops by Heather Smith, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan (Orca Book Publishers, 2019) Ages 4-10

A Plan for Pops is another exceptional title by Canadian author, Heather Smith. This is the heartwarming story of the everlasting bond shared between Lou, Grandad and Pops. Lou loves spending time with Grandad and Pops, he is always learning from their eclectic interests, styles and crafts. There never seems to be a bad day when Grandad, Pops and Lou are together, until one day, the trio are faced with a new challenge. Will their shared love be strong enough to conqueror it?

This story comes to life through the thoughtful and delicate illustrations by Brooke Kerrigan. A Plan for Pops serves as a special reminder of the unconditional love shared between a child and a grandparent. — Kirsti Granholm, CCBC Marketing Intern


See you in September!

Look for us in September, when we’ll be back with more book recommendations, news, interviews and more!

back to top