October 2019


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
October Reading List: STEAM
Author Corner: Jess Keating 
YA Write with Amy Mathers
Illustrator’s Studio: Soyeon Kim
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

The Winners of the 2019 CCBC Book Awards Will Be Announced October 15!

The nominees for our eight awards were announced on September 5 and the winners will be announced on October 15 (English-language) and November 7 (French-language). Once again, we are working with CBC and Radio-Canada to hold the Fan Choice Award/Choix du public littérature jeunesse. Young readers are invited to choose their favourite book from the titles shortlisted for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. Find out more at the CBC/Radio-Canada websites; the voting period will run from September 5 to October 3 for the English contest and September 8 to October 6 for the French contest.

See all the nominees here! Congratulations to all nominees and thank you to our sponsors!

Would you like to fill your library for this year’s nominated titles? Enter to win here!

Monique Gray Smith at the Vancouver Launch of My Heart Fills With Happiness
Every Grade One in Canada to Receive a Copy of My Heart Fills With Happiness!

Every fall, we give every grade one student in Canada a free book to take home through the TD Grade One Giveaway Book Program. This year’s book is My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett, published by Orca Book Publishers in Victoria, BC. Over 550,000 copies will be given to students in French and English, with each copy including text in Plains Cree. For the first time, the Children’s Canadian Book Centre has partnered with the CNIB Foundation to undertake a pilot project that will distribute printbraille editions of the book to grade one students who are blind or partially sighted. Printbraille copies of the book will also be available at select CNIB Foundation centres and hubs throughout Canada.

We recently had a launch event at the Vancouver Public Library: thank you to everyone who came to celebrate the book, with special thanks to TD Bank Group, CNIB, Orca Book Publishers, Vancouver Public Library, Monique Gray Smith, Julie Flett, Elder Latash Maurice Nahanee and Britannia Elementary School.

 Download our free activities and printable here.

Are you an educator? We are conducting a survey about the use of Indigenous books in classrooms and libraries. We want to hear from you!

Monique Gray Smith, Cindy Blackstock awarded PMC Indigenous Literature Awards

Monique Gray Smith and Cindy Blackstock have been chosen as the winners of the PMC Indigenous Literature Awards and will each receive $3,000.

Their books, Tilly and the Crazy Eights and Spirit Bear: Fishing for Knowledge, Catching Dreams, were chosen by a jury of Indigenous librarians in Ontario as part of the 2019-2020 First Nations Communities READ program. Read more here.

The Lane Anderson Prize Shortlist Announced

The Lane Anderson Award shortlist has been unveiled, featuring six current topics in the science realm.

The award, which celebrates “the very best science writing in Canada today,” comes with a $10,000 prize for the winning books in each category.

The winner of the 2019 prize will be announced on October 28th in Toronto during a formal dinner.

See the full list of finalists here.

From Sketch to Story: Musings from my Drawing Table
Lecture in Toronto

Marie-Louise Gay, one of Canada’s foremost children’s book creators, speaks at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books’ 13th Sybille Pantazzi Memorial Lecture. From Rainy Day Magic and Any Questions? to Short Stories for Little Monsters and the best-loved Stella and Sam series, Marie-Louise Gay has won the hearts and minds of readers young and old, in Canada and beyond.

Free. Space is limited. No registration required.

Toronto Public Library – Lillian H. Smith Library, 239 College Street

For more information, please contact the Osborne Collection at 416-393-7753.

Learn more here.

Are You an Educator? Join Red Apple Reading Today!

Red Apple Reading is an online Facebook community for Canadian librarians and educators. We wanted to create a space for educators to connect through their love of books for children and teens. Request to join today!

Coming Soon: Canadian Kids Books Take Over YouTube!

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

Plans are underway for a YouTube channel to showcase videos and links to resources about Canadian books for children and youth. The platform will be promoted as a destination for young readers, librarians, teachers, parents, authors, illustrators, researchers and others who want to locate and learn more about great Canadian books for young people.

Currently, the CCBC is working to collect videos for the channel. Do you have ready-made videos that relate to Canadian children’s books? You can e-mail janis@bookcentre.ca with a title, video length and video description and she’ll include it in her database of prospective videos.

Learn more here.

Attend One of Our Seminars and Become the Next Kid Lit Star!

Are you a prospective children’s book illustrator? Or a new or upcoming creator of books for kids and teens? This November we are holding two seminars in Toronto for you! Get Published: Illustrator’s Edition will take place on Saturday, November 16 at 9:30am and features Matt James (award-winning illustrator and author), Carey Sookocheff (author/illustrator), Paul Covello (illustrator and Art Director at Annick Press), Elizabeth Kribs (associate publisher at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers and Tundra Books) and John Martz (illustrator and Art Director at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers and Tundra Books). The Business of Writing: Selling Your Books, Selling Yourself will take place on Saturday, November 23 and will feature Naseem Hrab (author, Associate Publisher, Creative at Kids Can Press), Kevin Sylvester (author and illustrator), Helaine Becker (author) and Evan Munday (author, Publicity Manager at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers).

Learn more here and reserve your place today!

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

Visit the book bank here!

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

In our fall issue Monique Gray Smith shares where her inspiration for My Heart Fills With Happiness came from and discusses ways in which teachers have used it in the classroom. We chat with Richard Van Camp, one of Canada’s most dynamic storytellers and prolific writers, and introduce you to Jay Odjick in our ‘Keep Your Eye On…’ section. Also featured in this issue is the story of Inhabit Media, based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, they are the first Inuit-owned, independent publishing company in the Canadian Arctic. You’ll also find a wonderful selection of Indigenous titles in our ‘Bookmark!’ column and close to 40 reviews of the latest titles in Canadian literature.

Buy your copy today!

Attend the CanLit Fundraising Gala on October 15!

The Canadian KidLit Gala is the official *unofficial* after party for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards: a celebration of children’s literature creators from across Canada, a night all our own to live it up! We will be honouring the winners and nominees of the TD Awards and we will also be honouring ourselves — all the amazing writers and illustrators who create awesome stories for kids and teens.

The $45 ticket price includes free coat check, canapés and a drink ticket. Tickets go up to $55 at the door, so get yours in advance!

This is a volunteer-run event and net proceeds will be going to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in support of Canadian Children’s Book Week, an annual event that sends dozens of Canadian children’s authors to hundreds of Canadian communities to present to thousands of Canadian kids every year.

Buy your ticket today!

Announcing the 2019 GGBooks Finalists!

Pearlier this week the Canada Council for the Arts revealed the 2019 finalists for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards. See the complete list here.

We are celebrating all those nominated in the youth categories:   congratulations to all! The winners will be announced on October 29.

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

Get to Know Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett, creators of My Heart Fills With Happiness (CCBC)

Why Jillian Tamaki decided to write her first-ever picture book (CBC)

“Our Children Really Need More Books About Portraying Characters That Look Like Them” An interview with author Nadia Hohn (Jamaicans.com)

Half a Million Youngsters to Receive a Milestone Indigenous Book (The Tyee)

How sea glass inspired Heather Smith to write a timeless children’s story (CBC) 

Fairies Vs Unicorns with Ashley Spires and Cale Atkinson! (CCBC)

Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers: A lot rides on how parents present the activity to their kids (The Atlantic)

Question time With Alex A! (CCBC)

Why Pre-Readers Should Get to Enjoy Books Independently (And How to Help Them Learn to Do It)(Read Brightly)

Why your kid should read banned books (Washington Post)

It’s All a Mystery: Reading List (CCBC)

11 Library Card Perks You’ve Never Heard Of (ReadBrightly)

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STEAM Reading List: All About Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math

Our reading list this month features books about STEAM. These books can be read in the classroom, in libraries or at home.


Be a City Nature Detective: Solving the Mysteries of How Plants and Animals Survive in the Urban Jungle
Written and illustrated by Peggy Kochanoff
Nimbus Publishing, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77108-572-4
IL: Ages 4-9 RL: Grades 3-4

How do bedbugs get into your home? Why are some grey squirrels black? Does goldenrod cause hay fever? Naturalist Peggy Kochanoff answers these questions and more in this illustrated guide to solving nature mysteries in the city. From ever-present dandelions to waves of starlings and clever coyotes, readers will be amazed at what nature they can find in the city.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers



Come Back to Earth, Esther!
Written and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Nimbus Publishing, 2019
ISBN 978-1-77108-784-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

From award-winning illustrator Josée Bisaillon comes a full-hearted celebration of a fun-loving, space-obsessed girl who wishes, more than anything, to build her own spaceship, liftoff into the sky, and explore the galaxy. Featuring lively, accessible text and an exceptional protagonist with a supportive, diverse family, this STEM-friendly book is a celebration of imagination and making your own dreams come true.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Flow, Spin, Grow: Looking for Patterns in Nature
Written by Patchen Barss
Illustrated by Todd Stewart
Owlkids Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77147-287-6
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grade 3

Branching, spiralling, spinning — you can find patterns almost anywhere in nature. Branches of trees and rivers flow, storms and snail shells spiral, while electrons and galaxies swirl. This book is designed to inspire kids to observe, discover and explore hidden shapes in the world around them and understand that we are all connected to nature and its patterns.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

How To Become An Accidental Genius
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Jenn Playford
Orca Book Publishers, 2019
ISBN 978-1-45981-676-3
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-6

This book is full of inspiring tales of famous and lesser-known inventors who have changed the world, from George Washington Carver, Mary Anderson (inventor of the windshield wiper) and inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr to Frank Epperson (of Popsicle fame) and Mary Sherman Morgan (The Woman Who Saved the US Space Race). Readers will be amazed at the inventiveness of these geniuses. The book focuses on inventors from North America but includes stories from around the world.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Biometrics: Your Body and the Science of Security
Written by Maria Birmingham
Illustrated by Ian Turner
Owlkids Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77147-193-0
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grade 6

Welcome to the amazing world of biometrics, where many of the things that make you unique — your fingerprints, voice or eyes — can prove your identity! Biometrics can even identify people based on ear shape, scent and vein pattern! This fascinating book explores the science and its possibilities, as well as concerns about what this technology means for our privacy!

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Hubots: Real-World Robots Inspired by Humans

Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Alex Ries
Kids Can Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77138-785-9
IL: Ages 8-13 RL: Grades 4-5

No longer science fiction, hubots, or human-inspired robots, are expanding the boundaries of what robots can do. This book introduces young readers to 10 human-like robots, highlighting each one’s appearance, unique skills and purpose — from fighting fires on the high seas, to acting as set-up crew for space colonies, to providing companionship for the elderly.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Ara loves BIG numbers. She wants to count all the stars in the sky… but how? In this STEM adventure, Ara and her sidekick droid, DeeDee, use smarts and grit to solve a BIG problem and discover an amazing algorithm of success — coding, courage, creativity and collaboration!

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Engineered! Engineering Design at Work
Written by Shannon Hunt
Illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock
Kids Can Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77138-560-2
IL: Ages 9 and up RL: Grade 5

How do you land a rover on Mars, resolve a perpetual traffic jam or save a herd of caribou from potential extinction? Ask an engineer! Learn the key steps of an engineering design process, then see it come to life in nine stories of real-world engineering ingenuity! This introduction to the practical applications of engineering will inspire the natural engineer in every child.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


The Artist and Me
Written by Shane Peacock
Illustrated by Sophie Casson
Owlkids Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77147-138-1
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades 2-3

During his life, Vincent van Gogh was mocked for being different. Children and adults alike called him names and laughed at him. Nobody bought his art. But he kept painting. Inspired by these events, this is the fictional confession of one of van Gogh’s bullies — a boy who taunts van Gogh until the day he realizes there is more than one way to see the world.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

A Squiggly Story
Written by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Mike Lowry
Kids Can Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77138-741-5
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 2-3

A boy wants to write a story, just like his big sister. But, though he knows his letters, he doesn’t know many words. “Every story starts with a single word and every word starts with a single letter,” his sister says. So the boy tries. And to his delight, with just one letter and the power of his vivid imagination, an amazing story unfolds.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places
Written by Cora Lee and Gillian O’Reilly
Illustrated by Lil Crump
Annick Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55451-850-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Math shows up in the most unlikely places! When the schools in Jeremy’s town ban math, the kids cheer, all except Sam, who sets out to prove that math is important and fun. Running parallel to the fictional narrative are informative sidebars that discuss the weird, puzzling and amusing aspects of mathematics. Originally published in 2007, with illustrations by Virginia Gray.

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Math Hacks: Cool Tips + Less Stress = Better Marks!
Written by Vanessa Vakharia
Illustrated by Hyein Lee
Scholastic Canada, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4431-6316-3
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Are you frazzled by fractions? Mystified by multiplication? Is the thought of a math test scarier than an evil clown? This book can help by showing you the way, step-by-step, with addition, subtraction, positive and negative numbers, integers, fractions, multiplication, division and more!

Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


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Author’s Corner: Jess Keating

Jess Keating is an award-winning author, illustrator and zoologist. She has a Masters of Zoology, over a dozen children’s books to her name, including the award-winning Shark Lady, the hilarious World of Weird Animals series, the action-packed Elements of Genius middle grade series, and many more upcoming books. She is eternally curious about the world around her, and passionate about science, literacy and creativity. Visit @Jess_Keating on Twitter, @JessKeatingBooks on Instagram, or at her website, www.jesskeating.com, where she shares behind-the-scenes work, classroom and educator resources, and her daily writer’s notebook of creative curiosities.

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

While I’ve always loved writing and making art, I didn’t originally set out to be an author — I actually studied zoology and philosophy in university, and became a zoologist first! But, as I was learning more, I realized that I’d make a much bigger impact on the world if I was able to share my ideas with more people. I love learning about all sorts of topics, but I never really feel like my job is done if I’m not taking information, stories, or artwork and putting it out there for others. Being an author and illustrator is perfect for me, as it lets me explore everything I love, and share it with others!

My writing process varies depending on the type of book I’m writing, but one thing that always remains the same is that I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down absolutely everything that sparks my interest or curiosity, without judging how weird or obscure it may be. You just can’t remember everything, so making sure to jot it down somewhere is half the battle for me. From there, I let my intuition take over as I start to research or develop ideas, and soon, the ideas that demand to be turned into books rise to the top. I’m usually working on a handful of books at a time, and the variety keeps me happy!

Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray features young, gender bent versions of famous scientists such Nikki Tesla and Charlotte Darwin, and you have also written a biography of Eugenie Clark. Are there any other female scientists you would love to write about?

The world is so full of amazing women, I’d love to see books about all of them! I was eager to write about another ocean-centric woman of science after Shark Lady, and I’ll soon be able to share my next title called Ocean Speaks, all about Marie Tharp. She was an oceanographic cartographer who helped mapped the ocean floor. I’m also currently working on a third biography about yet another ocean loving scientist — but I’ll have to wait until everything’s official to share more about that one!

How does your passion for science influence the stories you write? 

Science and nature are the lenses through which I’ve always seen the world, so most of my books share the sense of wonder and curiosity that I have about everything around me. To me, fiction and non-fiction aren’t that different: they both ask and answer questions about life and experience. They just do the asking and answering in different ways! Above all, I hope that by sharing my passion for everything I love helps kids feel free to explore what they love too.

What can educators and parents do to help an encourage a child’s interest in STEM?

My best advice here is to let their kids’ passions, interests and curiosities lead the way! Make all sorts of books and media available, and don’t judge the things that they value. Often, I think we adults can get a little ahead of ourselves, urging kids to walk down a particular path. To me, one of the joys of being a curious person is getting to delve into every area that sparks an interest — allowing kids to do the same will help foster their natural curiosity and creativity. When in doubt, find the science behind what they already love! Whether it’s soccer, animals, video games, or baking— there’s science behind everything and all we need to do is take their cue!

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

I have so many upcoming projects I’m excited about! Next year in particular will be a very busy year. I’ve got the second Elements of Genius middle-grade novel coming out in February (called The Fellowship of the Bling!), an exciting and hilarious new picture book series starting up called Eat Your Rocks, Croc!,and my next non-fiction biography, Ocean Speaks around summer. I’ve also got a third (still secret!) graphic novel project that’s a total first for me. I’m so thrilled to have such a variety of books for readers to dig into!  

Thank you so much for having me!

Find out more about Jess at jesskeating.com

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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.

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Illustrator’s Studio: Soyeon Kim

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator currently living in Burlington, Ontario. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts and Bachelor of Education from York University. She has participated in artist residencies at The Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Spark Box Studios (Picton, Ontario).

As a children’s picture book illustrator, she has published: You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas, Is This Panama? Sukaq and the Raven, and You Are Never Alone. She participated in TD Book Week 2018, visiting schools and libraries in Northern British Columbia. In 2017, she was invited to the Adelaide Writers’ Week (Australia) for the Kids’ Weekend, where she collaborated with kids and families to create a collaborative mural based on You Are Stardust. She is also a recipient of Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award.

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

Since I was little, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was always drawing, painting and/or making something from anything that I can get my hands on. With the dream of becoming an artist, I moved to Canada when I was 13.

It was during my fourth year of university that I created a series of dioramas with a character called Jane. The Jane series (images below) were the first dioramas that I made, which I was showcasing at Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. During the exhibition, Mary Beth Leatherdale, who was the editorial director of Owlkids at the time, saw my work and asked me if I would be interested in illustrating a children’s picture book called You Are Stardust. That is how I started as an illustrator!


You Are Never Alone is a beautiful book that teaches us about the world around us. What was it like capturing the vast natural world through your paper art?

Capturing the natural world of You Are Never Alone through my paper art really encouraged me to observe nature more closely. Sometimes we take for granted our beautiful world that surrounds us. From rough tree bark, sticky mud, spiral water to fluffy clouds, all natural elements are full of inspiring shapes, textures and colours.

It was such a fun journey to explore and play with different types of papers and paints to recreate the natural world for You Are Never Alone.

Tell us about your illustration style and technique and how it developed over time.

I started creating diorama art right after my family immigrated to Canada. We had a lot of cardboard boxes in our house. Each box held our belongings, packed with memories that we brought from Korea. As we started to unpack, I thought why not use them to create art? After all, the purpose of a box is to collect and/or present something to someone/somewhere.

No matter the size, a box could hold my feelings and thoughts. With its windows cut out and available for viewers to observe, it allowed me to tell a story. Inside a box, I was free to create a world of my own.

Working with dioramas, I learned and developed many different skills and techniques. It allowed me to explore and play with various mediums and papers. You will notice how I develop over time from You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas and You Are Never Alone. 

Woodworking is one of the first skills that I have learned, since I wanted to build a diorama frame that was stronger than a cardboard box. To be honest, it was a little intimidating to be surrounded by big machines in the beginning, but I am so happy that I have learned to use them to customize my own diorama frames.

There are endless possibilities with diorama art for not just creating the pieces inside, but also during the photoshoot too! Playing with lights and shadow, depth of field (what will be focused and/or blurred), it really sometimes feels like making a movie!

Who inspired you the most as an artist?

As an artist, I have to say that my drawing professor from York University, Hugh LeRoy, inspired me the most. Hugh really supported me to create what I love. In fact, it was his class where I started creating my diorama art. He knew what I wanted to create and he encouraged me to really own it as my style.

Hayao Miyazaki is also another artist whom I admire and inspired me as an artist. He is the animation director of Studio Ghibli films, which are my all time childhood favourites. His stories and imaginative creatures inspired by nature are really beautifully and artistically done, which is also the world that I want to create in my diorama art.

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

I just finished working on a new book called A Last Goodbye with Elin Kelsey. This book is about how we say our goodbyes to loved ones and exploring how animals mourn. It will be very different than the trilogy of You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas and You Are Never Alone. It really does take a special place in my heart, and I hope it will be the same for everyone. Please look out for A Last Goodbye in Spring 2020.

Currently, I am working on a new book with Orca Book Publishers called Once Upon an Hour. Written by Ann Choi, it is based on a Korean folktale about the animals and mountain that used the sun and moon to tell time. As a Korean-Canadian, I was very excited for this opportunity as I remember hearing the story from my grandparents. I can’t wait to share it with you in Fall 2020!

Find out more about Soyeon and her work at www.kimsoyeonart.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: 
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way, written by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad (Tundra Books, 2019) Ages 5-9

This book brings together three women I admire deeply and whose work I cherish!  And it is utterly magnificent!  In spare, precise and exquisite prose, Kyo Maclear tells the story of Gyo Fujikawa: her childhood in Japan, life in America, her journey as an artist.  But it also simply yet compassionately relates poignant details about her life: how she often felt invisible; her heartbreak when her family were forced to relocate to an internment camp during the war; her quiet conviction that she could make a difference in the world with her art.  And so she did.  Similarly, Julie Morstad’s art perfectly captures her story, seamlessly blending fine-lined, sketchy black-and-white drawings with pages of beautifully-saturated, delicately-coloured illustrations.  This book is a true gift in every way! —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.

The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden by Heather Smith, illustrated by Rachel Wada (Orca Book Publishers) Ages 6-8

When a tsunami strikes, a community is changed forever: “Everyone lost someone the day the big wave came.” In grief-stricken silence, a young boy watches his neighbour build a mysterious telephone booth high on a hill.  Makio takes a curious closer look and finds a disconnected phone where “words are carried through the wind.”  This touching public installation gives villagers a cathartic way to talk to their lost loved ones. Heather Smith’s spare, moving text cuts to the heart and is pure poetry.  Debut illustrator Rachel Wada uses a combination of traditional Japanese art techniques, like calligraphy and woodblock printing, in her atmospheric and emotionally resonant illustrations.  Inspired by a true story,The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden is a beautifully crafted, affecting picture book about pain and healing.

Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

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

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Staff Picks

King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling (Tundra Books, 2019), Ages 3-7

It takes a special kind of book to bring about the kind of nostalgia that usually only comes from a childhood favourite. King Mouse is a dreamy picture book that brings together Cary Fagan, an established children’s book writer, and new illustrator Dena Seiferling.  The book captures you right away with the gold embellishments in the design, a small detail that shows that Tundra sees this book as something special, just like I do. There is definitely a classic feel to this story, which follows a cast of woodland animals when a mouse finds a golden crown and declares himself king. The soft illustrations invoke a beautiful fantasy forest land which the text compliments perfectly. — Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Next Month

Look for our November newsletter early next month, which will be all about Fantasy and Science Fiction!

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