CCBC November 2014 Newsletter: Graphic Novels


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
November Book List: Canadian Graphic Novels
Author’s Corner: Scott Chantler
TD Book Week 2015 & Writing Contest
Amy’s Marathon of Books: November Update
Illustrator’s Studio: Elly MacKay
Out: Fall 2014 issues of Book News and Best Books
Next Month…

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre

• The winners of the 2014 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards were announced at a gala event in Toronto on November 6. The $30,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award went to Kathy Stinson and Dušan Petričić for their picture book, The Man with the Violin. Five other awards were given out:

  • How To by Julie Morstad won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
  • The Last Train: A Holocaust Story by Rona Arato won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
  • Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction For Young People ($5,000)
  • Who I’m Not by Ted Staunton won the John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
  • Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow won the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)

Click here for more details.

• We also celebrated the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. Congratulations to Andrée Poulin, who won for her middle-grade novel, La plus grosse poutine du monde (Bayard Canada)! Click here for more details.

• We are still accepting applications for TD Book Week 2015 and the Book Week Writing Contest. Click here to read more.

• The Fall 2014 issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens is out now! Click here for more information.

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November Book List: Graphic Novels

by Emma Sakamoto

Graphic novels are a visual, accessible, fun, impactful medium for storytelling. What better way to read about the wide range of topics on this month’s list? The following books run the gamut from exciting adventure stories and funny animal tales to biographies and historical accounts.


A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse
(Easy-to-Read Comics, Level 1)
Written and illustrated by Frank Viva
Candlewick Press/TOON Books, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-935179-19-1
IL: Ages 4-6  RL: Grade 1
There’s so much to see at the bottom of the world! A young explorer and his best friend, Mouse, go on a sea journey to Antarctica. There they make friends with penguins and a whale and have all kinds of fun. And just like Mouse, young readers will want to go back and read it again. A first comic for those just learning to read.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Gubby Builds a Boat
Gubby Builds a Boat
Written by Gary Kent
Illustrated by Kim La Fave
Harbour Publishing, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55017-591-2
IL: Ages 6-10  RL: Grades 2-3
Gubby, a west coast fisherman, commissions a new boat from a Japanese-Canadian boat builder in historic Steveston. The story illustrates all the stages involved – from selecting plans to preparing the wood to laying the keel to the final finishing and launching. The story documents the rich traditions of the Nikkei fishing community, wood-boat building on the West Coast and commercial salmon fishing in the 1970s. This is the companion to Fishing with Gubby.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Hocus Pocus Takes the Train
Hocus Pocus Takes the Train
(Hocus Pocus, Book 2)
Written by Sylvie Desrosiers
Illustrated by Rémy Simard
Kids Can Press, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55453-956-7
IL: Ages 3-7  RL: Grade 1
A magician’s rabbit is up against a fast train and a meddlesome dog in his quest to reunite a stuffed toy with its toddling owner. Even the earliest readers will delight in this second wordless comic adventure featuring Hocus Pocus and Dog.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Odd Duck
Odd Duck
Written by Cecil Castellucci
Illustrated by Sara Varon
First Second, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59643-557-5
IL: Ages 6-8  RL: Grade 3
Theodora is a perfectly “normal” duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there’s nothing so odd about that. Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. As the two of them get to know each other, they learn to appreciate one another’s oddities and become very good friends.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Junior & Intermediate

Binky Under Pressure Binky Under Pressure
(A Binky Adventure, Book 3)
Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-767-9
IL: Ages 7-10  RL: Grades 2-3
With the arrival of Gracie, an adorable new kitty, in his space station, Binky’s life gets turned upside-down. When he discovers Gracie’s true identity, his space-cat skills are put to the ultimate test, and Binky’s not sure he’s doing so well. But when their space station is attacked by aliens, Binky and Gracie must work together to save the day.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Good-bye Marianne Good-bye Marianne
Written by Irene N. Watts
Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker
Tundra Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-88776-830-9
IL: Ages 9-13  RL: Grades 5-6
Berlin, Germany, 1936, one week after the Night of Broken Glass, is a cold place for 11-year-old Marianne Kohn to grow up. Her father has disappeared, and Marianne is expelled from school. As the Nazis tighten the noose around the Jews, her mother can no longer keep her daughter safe. Based on the 1998 novel of the same name.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Jane, the Fox & Me Jane, the Fox & Me
Written by Fanny Britt
Translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Groundwood Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55498-360-5
IL: Ages 10-14  RL: Grades 5-6
Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and on a trip to nature camp she makes a friend. This title is also available in French as Jane, le renard & moi.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Media Meltdown Media Meltdown
(Graphic Guide Adventure, Book 4)
Written by Liam O’Donnell
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Orca Book Publishers, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55469-065-7
IL: Ages 8-12  RL: Grade 3
When a greedy developer tries to force the sale of local farmland, Pema, Bounce and Jagroop decide to expose the crooked dealings through the media. When they discover the developer is a major advertiser and can kill the story, they learn that news and advertisements are not always truthful. How can they safely make their voices heard? Readers will also want to check out O’Donnell’s Max Finder Mysteries published by Owlkids Books.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Young Adult

Kill Shakespeare, Volume 1 Kill Shakespeare, Volume 1: A Sea of Troubles
(Kill Shakespeare, Volume 1)
Written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col
Illustrated by Andry Belanger
IDW Publishing, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60010-781-8
IL: Ages 15 and up  RL: Grades 9-11
This is an action-adventure tale that pits all of the Bard’s greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady MacBeth, Iago) on a quest to either save, or kill, a mysterious wizard by the name of William Shakespeare.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Written by Prudence Shen
Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59643-659-6
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grade 4
Nate and Charlie have an unlikely friendship. Charlie is the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. When Nate declares war on the cheerleaders, they retaliate by making Charlie their figurehead in the ugliest class-election campaign the school has ever seen. What’s at stake? Funding that will either cover new cheerleading uniforms or a robotics competition – but not BOTH!
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
This One Summer This One Summer
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Groundwood Books, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55498-152-6
IL: Ages 13 and up  RL: Grades 5-6
Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have stayed at Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this summer is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. The creators of Skim have brought us a stunning and authentic story of friendship, illuminated by subtly heart-breaking moments and pure summer joy.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
War Brothers: The Graphic Novel War Brothers: The Graphic Novel
Written by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel Lafrance
Illustrated by Daniel Lafrance
Annick Press, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55451-489-2
IL: Ages 14 and up  RL: Grades 9-10
Jacob and his friends are swapping stories in the school dormitory when they are attacked and abducted by rebel soldiers. Beaten, starved and forced to become child soldiers, the boys begin a long march through the African bush. Losing all hope of rescue, they make a desperate decision that will lead to freedom or death.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Canada at War: A Graphic History of World War Two Canada at War: A Graphic History of World War Two
Written by Paul Keery
Illustrated by Michael Watt
Douglas & McIntyre, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55365-596-1
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 6-7
Documenting the growth of Canada’s army, navy and air force during World War II, this book depicts the triumphs and tragedies, from the losses at Dieppe and Hong Kong to the victories of D-Day, Juno Beach and the liberation of Europe. Young adult and adult readers will discover the true stories behind some of Canada’s most defining military moments.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Do You Know Spiders? Do You Know Spiders?
(Do You Know?)
Written by Alain M. Bergeron, Michel Quintin and Sampar
Illustrated by Sampar
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55455-302-0
IL: Ages 8-11  RL: Grades 3-4
Did you know that spiders have eight eyes? Or that some tarantulas can live for 20 years? Filled with fascinating facts about spiders and hilarious cartoons, this book will not only educate but also entertain. Perfect for animal lovers and reluctant readers alike. This title is also available in French as Savais-tu? Les Araignées.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Draw Out the Story: Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics Draw Out the Story: Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics
Written and illustrated by Brian McLachlan
Owlkids Books Inc., 2013
ISBN: 978-1-926973-83-8
IL: Ages 10-14  RL: Grade 5
According to cartoonist and author Brian McLachlan, there are just 10 things kids need to know to get started creating great comics. Each chapter in the book hones in on one of those secrets. Budding artists will learn how to make text and illustrations work together, how to give characters personality, and much more. Each chapter finishes with a “Your Turn” section that suggests ways for readers to apply what they’ve learned.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Lone Hawk: The Story of Air Ace Billy Bishop Lone Hawk: The Story of Air Ace Billy Bishop
Written and illustrated by John Lang
Puffin Canada, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-14-317466-0
IL: Ages 10 and up  RL: Grade 4
Nearly flunking out of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Billy Bishop signed up for duty when the First World War broke out. He proved himself to be a fighter pilot with an incredible instinct for aerial combat. He racked up 72 officially confirmed victories and was awarded every major medal, including the Victoria Cross. He was considered a valuable symbol of the war effort.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Emma Sakamoto works in Canadian publishing and has a particular love for children’s books.

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Author Corner: Scott Chantler

by Kate Abrams

Scott Chantler

Scott Chantler is a Canadian writer and illustrator. Born in Deep River, Ontario, Scott and his family now live in Waterloo. His first solo graphic novel, Northwest Passage, was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award. He has since written and illustrated a number of graphic novels for kids and teens, including the wildly popular Three Thieves series.

Scott Chantler Tell us a little bit about your process. Do you write and draw at the same time?

I write a script first, which goes through a couple of drafts. When I (and my editor, naturally) think the story is working well in that form, I start to interpret it visually by roughing out the art. But the important thing about comics is that the art IS the text, in a very real sense. So I’m not married to the script. In the same way actors and directors will improvise on a movie set, I think of the art as simply another draft of the story, one more opportunity to tweak and refine things.

With a work like Two Generals, how do you incorporate what must be a vast amount of research into a work with comparatively few words?

A visual medium like comics gives you the ability to suggest things in a subtle way. It’s not necessary to have two characters engage in exposition-laden conversation, or beat readers over the head with excessive narrative captions. If it’s at all possible to show the information rather than tell it, you do so. It’s one of the things I like best about comics. You can tell the reader a lot about the world by just putting them there.

What’s the most difficult part of of telling a story from a primarily visual medium? What’s the most rewarding part?

In a practical sense, the hardest part is simply putting in the hours necessary to do all that drawing. I think most people would be surprised how time-consuming making comics is. Even doing it badly requires a huge commitment of time. But it’s a medium that allows creators a huge amount of control, so as long as you know what to do with it, it can be very satisfying.

Do you have any advice for budding cartoonists and their teachers?

A lot of aspiring cartoonists are focused too much on drawing and not enough on storytelling. Drawing skills are important, but not as important as the ability to communicate ideas clearly on the page. There are great cartoonists whose drawings are fairly crude but their choices of WHAT to draw are so well thought-out that it doesn’t matter. So keep drawing, but also make sure to study film, art history, animation, acting, iconography, creative writing…anything that will help develop those storytelling muscles.

Scott Chantler How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

There are so many ways to approach comics. More than there are with prose. Lots of high schools are teaching Two Generals now, for instance, and they teach it in English, History, and Art, each coming from their own direction. A History class might use it as an introduction to the Second World War or to family history. In English it might be more about memoir and personal narrative. An Art class might talk about visual rhythm or colour symbolism. Or some combination thereof. I heard about one school where the History class and the Art class switched places for three periods while they were discussing the book. I think an imaginative teacher could do just about anything with it.

My kids’ books don’t have such obvious educational potential because they’re fantasy fiction rather than historical biography. But they’d still be a great way to introduce literary concepts such as genre, mythology, heroes and anti-heroes, and so on, as well as simple visual literacy. I put every bit as much craft into my work for children as I do into my work for adults/teens. Maybe more.

Which of your books would you suggest for readers just getting into graphic novels?

It might sound self-serving, but any of them, really. Two Generals has been the first graphic novel for a lot of people. It seems to be a book a lot of people give as a gift. To a father who likes history, a brother in the army, etc. But all of my work is intentionally geared to a broad audience. I’m not just interested in reaching comics readers, I want anyone of any age to be able to pick up my books and find them accessible and welcoming. So pick one and just jump in.

Kate Abrams is a freelance dramaturge and editor based in Toronto.
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TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2015

Apply today!

We are currently accepting applications for TD Book Week 2015! The next TD Canadian Children’s Book Week touring program will run from Saturday, May 2 to Saturday, May 9, 2015. Schools, libraries, bookstores and community centres can apply to host an author, illustrator or storyteller. The deadline for applications is December 31, 2014. Visit for more information.

Do you love to write? Are you in Grade 4 to 12? If so, enter the Book Week 2015 Writing Contest!

Young writers from across Canada, in grades 4 to 12, are invited to submit their stories and/or poems (fiction or non-fiction) to the Book Week 2015 Writing Contest for Kids & Teens. Judging is done by noted writers from across Canada and one winner from each grade will receive a $250 gift certificate for the bookstore of his or her choice. Two honourable mentions from each grade category will also receive $50 gift certificates. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2015.

Click here for contest details!

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Amy’s Marathon of Books: November Update

by Amy Mathers

Hello Canadian Teen Book Lovers!

Since my last newsletter update so much has happened! The Canadian Children’s Literature Awards Gala was on November 6th and featured a very exciting announcement by Canadian Children’s Book Centre President Daryl Novak. Starting in 2015, the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award will become part of the CCBC award line up!

I am awed and incredibly honoured the award has been named after me, and happy so many people have responded to my Marathon of Books. At the Gala I got the chance to talk about my reading journey so far, and to share my ongoing enthusiasm for our Canadian teen authors.

Last weekend was the first Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair. I hung out at the CCBC booth but I also met one of my favourite Canadian authors, Kit Pearson! She signed my favourite book by her, Looking at the Moon, and immediately put on the Marathon of Books button I gave her because she had read about it in the Canadian Children’s Book News. I also attended the hilarious presentation about the Seven Sequels by Orca Books, and got to talk to many authors I have read and look forward to reading in the future.

But the best part of the book fair was the panel I got to be on. Kevin Sylvester was the moderator and the panel itself consisted of Hadley Dyer (editor and publisher), authors Teresa Toten & Sylvia McNicoll and myself. For an hour we talked about YA fiction, what a YA book looks like, the problems of censorship and the distinctiveness of Canadian teen fiction. It was enlightening for me, and I loved learning about the book industry from different perspectives. The discussion was recorded and will be put up on the CCBC website if you’d like to see it.

As for my reading, I have reached British Columbia, my last province! I have less than forty-five books to go, and I can hardly believe it! I’ve been reading a lot of good books, but my recommendations this month feature a story about the Inuvialuit dealing with climate change in the Northwest Territories, a tale about a girl trying to find out what became of her father by taking a journey through the tundra of the Yukon, and a historical fiction piece about a young man who signs up to serve in World War II before he’s eighteen to get away from home. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

On Thin Ice by Jamie Bastedo Juggling Fire by Joanne Bell B for Buster by Iain Lawrence

Amy Mathers is reading and reviewing one Canadian YA book a day for a year to raise money for a new teen book award. Visit her website at

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Illustrator’s Studio: Elly MacKay

by Stephanie Dror

Elly MacKay is a children’s book illustrator, with a twist. Elly creates what she calls paper theatre: using paper, pen and an open-sided theatre that her husband made her she takes photos and manipulates light and shadow. While creating dynamic paper art has been a part of Elly’s life since her teen years, when she experimented with dioramas and tunnel books, it was in 2008 with the birth of her first daughter that she returned to the world of children’s literature with her picture book If You Hold a Seed, a simple story told through magical imagery. More recently, Elly has re-illustrated the Anne of Green Gables series, and, since it’s L.M. Montgomery’s birthday on November 30, we thought we’d connect with Elly over her own story, how she came to the children’s literature world, and re-illustrating a beloved classic.

1. Tell us a little about your story and about how you came to be an illustrator of children’s books.

Both of my parents are artists and both write. We lived way out in the country so you needed to find ways to entertain yourself. I was always drawing or exploring outside. I knew I wanted to make things too for a living. My parents have a good life as makers… so I went to art school in Halifax. It wasn’t ’til I had my daughter though that I dove into illustration. I gave up my job at a gallery and we moved so that our daughter would be raised near family. I had all sorts of creative energy after she was born so I decided I would create my own job. I’m sure some of our friends were a bit worried when I told them that I was going to make little worlds out of paper for a living. Fortunately some people bought them – to begin with, it was those worried friends but soon after, people found them on Etsy and the year after, I found an agent and publisher. It was a dream come true.

 Elly MacKay bird Elly MacKay f1


2. You have a very unique illustration style that you call “paper theater,” can you explain and talk about this way of storytelling and how it came about?

Yes, as I mentioned, my Mom was an author. She wrote books on how to make Pop-Ups. I was fascinated with pop-ups and all sorts of other Victorian paper toys like zoetropes and flexograms. So when I was a teen my mother took me on a train trip to meet members of the Movable Book Society. They introduced me to tunnel books and paper theater. I loved it. I would set up dioramas with cams, levers and little motors, I made tunnel books and paper theaters with magnetic movement. I tried to convince my teachers that I could complete their assignments by making these! What I am doing now is really the same sort of thing. I realized that I could photograph these scenes to create illustrations. So to explain how I do it: I draw, ink and cut out all of the pieces for an illustration from Yupo paper. Then, I set up everything with wires inside a miniature theater. I light the scene from the back or sides to create the atmosphere. Then once I have everything in place, I take the photographs. The photographs are the finished work. It takes lots of playing to get the shot I am looking for and often I get interesting surprises.

3. How did you wind up working on the illustrations of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series? What was the most enjoyable thing about illustrating L.M. Montgomery’s classics?

Elly MacKay hatgirlI had just sent a manuscript to Tundra (Penguin Random House) so they had me on their radar. Kelly Hill, a designer there, tried this image in a mock up for Anne of Green Gables when they were searching for an illustrator and they felt it had something of the spirit of Anne.

The 12 year old in me was over the moon to work on the Anne and the Emily series. It wasn’t until I revisited the books that I realized how many little things from the books have shaped the way I see things. Since I was a kid, I have been calling a farm road, Cathedral Road, which I must have taken from the Anne books. Just like Anne, I had imagined I would get married there. My husband and I couldn’t actually block a road for our wedding so we went there to collect wild flowers for my bouquet on our wedding day. I found so many instances of this. It was a good reminder of the power stories have on our lives.

The most enjoyable thing about illustrating this series was the collaboration with Kelly. She had wonderful suggestions that brought in Anne’s playful spirit, like showing some mud on Anne’s skirt, or having her fight her umbrella. I love the opportunity to collaborate and I so rarely get to do it.

Elly MacKay anne  Elly MacKay anne2


4. How do you imagine that your unique paper theater might be both enjoyable and useful in the classroom? Do you have any fun suggestions for teachers or parents?

You can find some ideas on my website Kids love making miniature worlds. A simple way of making one is to get glass or plastic jars and use the lids as the base. Cover the lid with plasticine. That will allow you to stick layers of paper upright (houses, trees and other characters). Remind the kids to colour both sides of whatever they choose to make. Once it is done, twist the jar back on. They look magical. I will try to post a picture of this activity on my site soon.

5. What projects are you working on now? Anything you are particularly excited about?

Right now I am finishing up a book I wrote called Butterfly Park. It will be out in Spring 2015. I have a little town set up in my studio right now. It is pretty funny. My little girl, Lily has been making her own little houses too. Here we are.

I am also working on a book for OWLkids. The story is called Maya. When I read the story I could imagine every scene so vividly… a brave girl, animals, shadows and music. It was written by Mahak Jain.

And that manuscript I sent to Tundra before I worked on the Anne and Emily books… they liked it. Yay! So we will be doing a picture book together too.

Elly MacKay f2  Elly MacKay green


Images courtesy of Elly MacKay.

Stephanie Dror has a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature. She is the Membership Secretary for IBBY Canada, a founder and blogger at The Book Wars and a book reviewer for CM: Canadian Review of Materials and The Ottawa Review of Books.

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Out Now: Fall 2014 issues of Book News and Best Books

Dynamic writing duos, Black Canadian stories and more in the Fall 2014 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News:

  • How does a successful author partnership work? Four dynamic writing duos explain.
  • Teacher and writer Nadia L. Hohn looks at the Black Canadian experience and asks: “Who will write our stories?”
  • With 25 books in five years, artist Qin Leng is a very busy illustrator.
  • Plus Book Week updates, a Halloween reading list, early chapter books for the classroom, reviews of the latest books and much more.

Fall 2014 issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens

The Fall 2014 edition of Best Books for Kids & Teens, the CCBC’s semi-annual selection guide, is out now. All of the titles in Best Books for Kids & Teens have been handpicked by expert committees of educators, booksellers and school and public librarians from across Canada. The reviewed materials include picture books, junior/intermediate fiction, graphic novels, and powerful teen fiction, in addition to a wide array of non-fiction, magazines and audio/video resources.

Book News and Best Books can be purchased at select bookstores or in our online shop.

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Next Month…

Our December newsletter will be all about Canadian winters! Do you have any feedback or suggestions for future newsletters? Email us your ideas!

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