Theme Guide: New Beginnings

Here are books about starting over, whether that means in a new school, a new town or even a new country.

Picture Books

Arto’s Big Move
Written and illustrated by Monica Arnaldo
Owlkids Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-77147-066-7
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 2-3

Arto has lived his whole life in the cold North. When his family prepares to spend a year in the South, Arto is not happy. He wears his woolly clothes in the desert, pretending he never left the North. But when Arto makes a new friend, he slowly sheds his layers and discovers that it’s not so bad to adapt to your surroundings.

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From Far Away
Written by Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar
Illustrated by Rebecca Green
Annick Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55451-939-2
IL: Ages 3-9 RL: Grade 2

Written as a collaboration between a young girl and best-selling author Robert Munsch, this book is based on the real-life experience of Saoussan Askar, who emigrated with her family from war-torn Lebanon when she was just seven. This updated edition, with revised text, including a new note from Saoussan and new illustrations, is more relevant today than ever.

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My Beautiful Birds
Written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
Pajama Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77278-010-9
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 2-3

Fleeing from a home destroyed in the Syrian Civil War, Sami is consumed with worry about his pet pigeons left behind. Even in the relative safety of a refugee camp, the boy struggles to adjust, shattered by thoughts of what he has lost. One day, when new birds fly into the camp, Sami, at last, begins the long road to healing.

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Wallpaper
Written and illustrated by Thao Lam
Owlkids Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-7714-7283-8
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: n/a

New from the creator of Skunk on a String comes Wallpaper, a wordless picture book in Thao Lam’s signature paper collage style. It tells the story of a young girl whose family moves into a new house. Outside, she can hear other kids playing, but she’s too shy to say hello. So she picks at the old wallpaper in her room ― revealing an entryway to a fantastic imaginary adventure world behind the walls.

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Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Anne Arrives
Written by Kallie George
Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Tundra Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-7704-9930-0
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert need help on their farm, so they’ve adopted what they hope will be a sturdy, helpful boy. Instead, Matthew finds Anne awaiting him at the train station — imaginative, brash, redheaded Anne-with-an-e. With her place at the Cuthberts’ at risk — particularly if nosy neighbour Mrs. Lynde has anything to say about it — Anne will have to learn patience, understanding and what it takes to make Green Gables her true home.

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Cammie Takes Flight
Written by Laura Best
Nimbus Publishing, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77108-467-3
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grade 5

In this sequel to Flying with a Broken Wing, Cammie navigates life at her new school, armed with her estranged mother’s address. She enlists a new friend’s help in tracking down her mother. Will Cammie learn why she was abandoned and be able to start her new life? Or will she find more secrets? Can she ever put the past behind her?

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Ebb & Flow
Written by Heather Smith
Kids Can Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77138-838-2
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

Last year, Jett and his mother had moved to a new town for a fresh start after his father went to jail. But Jett soon learned that fresh starts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. When he befriended a boy with a difficult home life, Jett found himself in a cycle of bad decisions that culminated in the betrayal of a friend — a shameful secret he still hasn’t forgiven himself for. Will a summer spent with his unconventional grandmother help Jett find his way to redemption?

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Restart
Written by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-338-05377-7
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 4-5

After falling off a roof, Chase wakes up with no memory of his life. At school, he’s shocked to discover what kind of person he was. Determined to reinvent himself, Chase learns redemption doesn’t come easily. Soon it becomes not only a question of who Chase is — but of who he was… and who he’s going to be.

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Young Adult Fiction

Maeve struggles with severe anxiety, and it’s not something she can just talk herself out of. Now she is moving to Vancouver to live with her dad. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her pregnant stepmom’s home-birth plans and a new relationship with Salix, a carefree local girl, can Maeve navigate through all the potential catastrophes to be there for the people she loves?

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The Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada, 2017
ISBN 978-0-14-319865-9
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

It’s Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a shuttered, lonely life with her negligent mother, who is a hoarder. One day, Bun’s mother tells her to leave, so she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother’s house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family — a family of friends who care.

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Escape From Syria
Written by Samya Kullab
Illustrated by Jackie Roche
Colour by Mike Freiheit
Firefly Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77085-982-1
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

From Samya Kullab, a Canadian reporter based in the Middle East, comes this harrowing and timely tale of courage and determination. Amina narrates her family’s odyssey after their home in Aleppo is destroyed. They must endure refugee camps, risk ocean crossings and escape the terror of jihadist militias in order to reach safety in Canada. A gripping portrait of an ongoing worldwide crisis.

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Once, in a Town Called Moth
Written by Trilby Kent
Tundra Books, 2018 ©2016
ISBN 978-0-7352-6306-2
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

Ana is not your typical teenager. She grew up in a tiny Mennonite colony in Bolivia, from which her mother fled when Ana was a young girl. Now Ana and her father have also fled, and Ana doesn’t know why. She only knows that something was amiss in their tight-knit community. Arriving in Toronto, Ana has to fend for herself in this alien environment, completely isolated in a big city with no help and no idea where to even begin. And all the while, she searches for the mother who left so long ago, and tries to understand her father — also a stranger in a strange land, with secrets of his own.

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