December 2020


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
December Reading List: Our Favourites of 2020
Author Corner: David Alexander Robertson
Illustrator’s Studio: Byron Eggenschwiler
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

#IReadCanadian Now More Than Ever!

The second annual celebration of Canadian children’s literature is slated for February 17, 2021. The event will be a national celebration of Canadian books for young people, with the goal of elevating the genre, and celebrating their breadth and diversity. I Read Canadian Day will take place in homes, schools, libraries and bookstores all across the country.  Visit the official website to register today!

I Read Canadian Day is brought to you by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Canscaip, the Ontario Library Association, Forest of ReadingCanadian School Libraries, Eric Walters and Communication-Jeunesse. Thank you to our generous sponsors, A Different Drummer Books, Access Copyright, Orca Book Publishers and Telling Tales.

Support the Jean Little First Novel Award

The Jean Little First Novel Award is intended to recognize the achievements of first-time Canadian children’s novelists.

After the beloved Jean Little died in April 2020, Sarah Ellis, Kit Pearson and Maggie de Vries came up with the idea of establishing an award in Jean’s name. In Kit Pearson’s words, “We decided that the most appropriate honour would be a prize for a Canadian middle-grade novel by a first-time writer. Much of Jean’s writing was for the middle grades, and Jean was always an enthusiastic supporter of beginning writers. This award would honour her long and successful career and encourage the next generation of writers following in her footsteps.”

Please consider contributing to this exciting venture — no amount is too small! The CCBC is a registered charity and will issue charitable donation receipts.

Donate Today!

Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight/Tournée Lire à tout vent

We are excited to announce the touring creators for Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight. Forty-Five talented Canadian authors, illustrators and storytellers were selected to take part in this virtual tour and share a love of reading with young people in schools, libraries and homes all across Canada.

Established in 1977, this year’s national tour will take place from May 2-8, 2021. See the list of touring creators here.

This Year,  #GiveKidsBooks!

To celebrate the holidays, we’re holding a contest with the winner chosen January 4. Enter to win 30 amazing books, featuring the 2020 #CCBCBookAwards shortlisted titles! Don’t forget to head to for great recommendations from bestselling Canadian  authors and illustrators.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Annick Press to Publish First of Its Kind Trans Anthology for Young Readers

Annick Press is pleased to announce the future publication of a new anthology created by and for the trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer communities, slated for 2022. The book will be the first of its kind to provide #ownvoices representation all the way through its creation process, from the writers and illustrators to the editor, copyeditor, proofreader, and designer. Learn more here.

IBBY Canada announces Canadian nominees for Hans Christian Andersen Awards: author Angèle Delaunois and illustrator Sydney Smith

IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) is pleased to announce that author Angèle Delaunois and illustrator Sydney Smith are Canada’s nominees for the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Awards.  Learn more here.

Thank You for Donating to the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award on #GivingTuesday

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Amy Mathers Teen Book Award yesterday and to all those who got the word out and helped us reach our goal. In 24 hours, we raised over $3,000 for the award.

We will still be raising funds to support the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award for the remainder of 2020 and throughout 2021. Thanks to your generous support yesterday, we are now closer to our goal!

Still want to help? Tell everyone you know about the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and our ongoing campaign. Donations can be made here. Also, consider making a monthly donation to have the greatest impact.

Empowering Youth, One Generation at a Time: Free Resources 

The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP) is inspired by Rick’s belief in the power of youth and their ability to change the world. RHFSP raises awareness, challenges perceptions, and changes attitudes, through a variety of lessons and activities, empowering youth to take action on important issues.

RHFSP resources are designed for youth from K-12 and include age-appropriate lessons and interactive activities for every grade level. Free, bilingual, and connected to provincial curriculum, our resources are:

  • Ready-to-use
  • Deliverable online or in the classroom
  • Developed by educators, for educators
  • Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Learn more here.

Pre-order the Winter Edition of Canadian Children’s Book News Now!

It is essential now, more than ever, for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) to see themselves represented in the books they read. The Winter issue of Canadian Children’s Book News celebrates Black Canadian voices and showcases several talented authors and illustrators who are creating stories that provide this representation.

In this issue, author Nadia Hohn examines how the Canadian publishing industry has responded to #WeNeedDiverseVoices and #OwnVoices and why diversity is needed in children’s books. Ardo Omer sheds a light on the importance of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis explains what drives him to continue writing books about Black history and illustrator Eva Campbell shares her vibrant world of oil paint and pastel on canvas and the importance of having kids see themselves in her artwork. Four Black Canadian authors also share their road to publication. Our “Keep Your Eye On…” column introduces you to Andre Fenton, an author and spoken-word artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our Bookmark! column features 17 books written by Black Canadian authors, and as always, we have over 40 reviews of recently published books for you to enjoy.

Pre-order your copy today!

Purchase Our Greeting Cards and Support the CCBC!

With everyone across the country separated from their friends and families, we are all searching for ways to connect with one another. Support the CCBC and send your loved ones a greeting featuring art from past Canadian Children’s Book Week posters. Perfect for stocking stuffers, these greeting cards feature original art by illustrators Barbara Reid, Julie Flett, Ian Wallace, Wallace Edwards, Bill Slavin, Elly MacKay, Gabrielle Grimard and Eugenie Fernandes. All purchases from these packs of eight cards go towards programs like Canadian Children’s Book Week, the CCBC Book Awards and Bibliovideo. Visit our shop today!

Follow Bibliovideo on Social Media!

Bibliovideo, the YouTube channel all about Canadian books for young people, is now on social media! Follow on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the newest videos!

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 and parents.

Canadian illustrator Julie Flett’s books reveal the truth about modern Indigenous life (NBC)

26 Children’s Books to Nourish Growing Minds (EcoWatch)

LISTEN: Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and Christy Jordan-Fenton talk about the 10th anniversary of children’s book Fatty Legs (CBC)

The Next Chapter holiday children’s book panel: 12 great book recommendations for young readers (CBC)

Picture this: These beautiful books help children read the world (The Conversation)

Marvel’s newest collaboration features Indigenous voices writing Indigenous characters (CBC)

These Canadian Gift Boxes For Kids Celebrate Diversity (Huffington Post)

37 kids’ books to give to all the young readers in your life (The Globe and Mail)

Diversifying Your Classroom Book Collections? Avoid these pitfalls (KQED)

The Psychology of the Physical Bookstore Experience (Psychology Today)

This Christmas, consider looking beyond classic children’s books: your nostalgia could be stifling diversity on kids’ bookshelves (Broadview)

The best Canadian YA and middle-grade books of 2020 (CBC)

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December Reading List: Our Favourite Reads of 2020

This month’s reading list features some of the CCBC staff’s favourite books of 2020, featuring Canadian books for young people of all ages.

Picture Books

I Talk Like a River
Written by Jordan Scott
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Holiday House, 2020
ISBN 978-0-8234-4559-2
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1-3

When a boy who stutters feels isolated, alone, and incapable of communicating in the way he’d like, it takes a kindly father and a walk by the river to help him find his voice. Compassionate parents everywhere will instantly recognize a father”s ability to reconnect a child with the world around him.



The Lady with the Books: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman
Written by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Marie Lafrance
Kids Can Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5253-0154-4
Ages 4-7 RL: Grades PrK-2

Anneliese and Peter will never be the same after the war that took their father’s life. One day, while wandering the ruined streets of Munich, the children follow a line of people entering a building, thinking there may be free food inside. Instead, they are delighted to discover a great hall filled with children’s books — more books than Anneliese can count. Here, they meet the lady with the books, who encourages the children to read as much as they want. And she invites them to come back the next day. Eventually, she will have a greater impact on the children’s lives than they could ever have imagined.



The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
Written by Rial Nason
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
Tundra Books, 2020
ISBN 978-0-73526-326-0
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades 1-2

Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can’t whirl or twirl at all, and when he flies, he gets very hot. He doesn’t know why he’s a quilt. His parents are both sheets, and so are all of his friends. (His great-grandmother was a lace curtain, but that doesn’t really help cheer him up.) He feels sad and left out when his friends are zooming around and he can’t keep up. But one Halloween, everything changes. The little ghost who was a quilt has an experience that no other ghost could have, an experience that only happens because he’s a quilt . . . and he realizes that it’s OK to be different.



The Paper Boat
Written and illustrated by Thao Lam
Owlkids Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-77147-363-7
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades  1-2

At her home in Vietnam, a girl rescues ants from the sugar water set out to trap them. Later, when the girl’s family flees war-torn Vietnam, ants lead them through the moonlit jungle to the boat that will take them to safety. Before boarding, the girl folds a paper boat from a bun wrapper and drops it into the water, and the ants climb on. Their perilous journey, besieged by punishing weather, predatory birds, and dehydration, before reaching a new beginning, mirrors the family’s own. Impressionistic collages and a moving, Own Voices narrative make this a one-of-a-kind tale of courage, resilience, and hope.



Time for Bed’s Story
Written and illustrated by Monica Arnaldo
Kids Can Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5253-0239-8
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades PreK-2

Bed is fed up. Bed’s patience is wearing thin. For years, Bed has put up with the kicking at night, the jumping during the day, not to mention the storing of all manner of stinky items. But enough is enough. Now it’s time to consider Bed’s feelings … This playful and highly original book offers a lighthearted way to approach discussions on communication, perspective and viewpoint. It can be used to promote critical thinking in young children and an understanding that there are at least two sides to every story. It also contains character education lessons on compassion, respect and empathy.



Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White
Written by Saumiya Balasubramaniam
Illustrated by Eva Campbell
Groundwood Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7730-6258-7
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades K-2

A little girl and her mother walk home from school on a snowy winter day. Ma misses the sun, warmth and colours of their faraway homeland, but her daughter sees magic in everything — the clouds in the winter sky, the “firework” display when she throws an armful of snow into the air, making snow angels, tasting snowflakes. And in the end, her joy is contagious. Home is where family is, after all.



Violet Shrink
Written by Chrstine Baldacchino
Illustrated by Carmen Mom
Groundwood Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7730-6205-1
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades PreK-2

Violet Shrink doesn’t like parties. Or bashes, or gatherings. Lots of people and lots of noise make Violet’s tummy ache and her hands sweat. She would much rather spend time on her own, watching the birds in her backyard, reading comics or listening to music through her purple headphones. The problem is that the whole Shrink family loves parties with loud music and games and dancing. At cousin Char’s birthday party, Violet hides under a table and imagines she is a shark gliding effortlessly through the water, looking for food. And at Auntie Marlene and Uncle Leli’s anniversary bash, Violet sits alone at the top of the stairs, imagining she is a slithering snake way up in the branches. When Violet learns that the Shrink family reunion is fast approaching, she finally musters up the courage to have a talk with her dad.



Weekend Dad
Written by Naseem Hrab
Illustrated by Frank Viva
Groundwood Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7730-6108-5
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades K-2

“This home is home because my dad is here, and it’s nothing like home because my mom isn’t here,” thinks the boy in this story when he enters his dad’s new apartment for the first time. His dad moved out on Monday and now it’s Friday night, the start of his weekend with his dad. The boy and his dad follow their normal weekend routine — they eat eggs for breakfast, play cards and spend time at the park. And then they do the same things on Sunday. It is hard to say goodbye at the end of the weekend, but Dad gives his son a letter to remind him that, even if they can’t always be together, the boy is loved.



When We Are Kind / Nihá’ádaahwiinít’íįgo
Written by Monique Gray Smith
Illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt
Translated by Mildred Walters
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-2522-2
IL: Ages 3-5 RL: Grades K-2

When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Celebrated author Monique Gray Smith has written many books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation and communicates an important message through carefully chosen words for readers of all ages. Beautifully illustrated by artist Nicole Neidhardt, this book encourages children to be kind to others and to themselves. Orca Book Publishers is proud to offer this picture book as a dual-language (English and Diné) edition.



The Word For Friend
Written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2020
ISBN 978-0-3743-1046-2
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades K-2

Kemala the pangolin is sure she’s going to make friends at her new school in her new country. After all, Kemala loves to talk. The kids at school like talking, too – but their words are all different. This country speaks a language Kemala doesn’t know. At first, no one understands Kemala either. This realization makes her curl into a little ball, like most pangolins do when they’re nervous. But a classmate helps draw her out with an art project that doubles as a vocabulary exchange. Soon, Kemala is learning the most universal language of all: friendship.


Junior & Intermediate Fiction

The Barren Grounds
(The Misewa Saga)
Written by David A. Robertson
Puffin Canada, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6610-0
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grades 4 and up

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.


Duck Days
(Slug Days)
Written by Sara Leach
Illustrated by Rebecca Bender
Pajama Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-77278-148-9
IL: Ages 7-10 RL: Grade 3

Irma is Lauren’s best friend. Irma knows all the strategies Lauren uses when her Autism Spectrum Disorder makes it hard to “go with the flow.” Lauren helps Irma learn English words and understand unfamiliar customs. So why does Irma suddenly want to introduce Lauren to her mountain-biking, litter-dropping neighbor Jonas? Why is Irma calling Jonas her friend? As if sharing Irma weren’t bad enough, Lauren also has an alarming new problem at school. Their teacher has announced a mountain biking day when the students will learn to ride their bikes on an obstacle course. But Lauren still uses training wheels. She just can’t face the teasing she will get when her classmates see them. She isn’t brave like Irma. She can’t go with the flow like Dad. How can she possibly face this challenge?



Jo: An Adaptation of Little Women (Sort Of)
Written and illustrated by Kathleen Gross
Quill Tree Books, 2020
ISBN 978-0-0628-7596-9
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-6

With the start of eighth grade, Jo March decides it’s time to get serious about her writing and joins the school newspaper. But even with her new friend Freddie cheering her on, becoming a hard-hitting journalist is a lot harder than Jo imagined. That’s not all that’s tough. Jo and her sisters—Meg, Beth, and Amy—are getting used to a new normal at home, with their dad deployed overseas and their mom, a nurse, working overtime. And while it helps to hang out with Laurie, the boy who just moved next door, things get complicated when he tells Jo he has feelings for her. Feelings that Jo doesn’t have for him…or for any boy. Feelings she’s never shared with anyone before. Feelings that Jo might have for Freddie



Music For Tigers
Written by Michelle Kadarusman
Pajama Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-77278-054-3
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-6

Shipped halfway around the world to spend the summer with her mom’s eccentric Australian relatives, middle schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is prepared to be resentful.  Not the least strange is her Uncle Ruff, with his unusual pet and veiled hints about something named Convict Rock. Finally, Louisa learns the truth: Convict Rock is a sanctuary established by her great-grandmother Eleanor—a sanctuary for Tasmanian tigers, Australia’s huge marsupials that were famously hunted into extinction almost a hundred years ago. Or so the world believes. Hidden in the rainforest at Convict Rock, one tiger remains. But now the sanctuary is threatened by a mining operation, and the last Tasmanian tiger must be lured deeper into the forest. The problem is, not since her great-grandmother has a member of the family been able to earn the shy tigers’ trust.



Once Upon An Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
Edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
Illustrated by Sara Alfageeh
Amulet Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4197-4083-1
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-6

Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.



Sara and the Search for Normal
Written by Wesley King
Paula Wiseman Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5344-2113-4
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-7

Sara wants one thing: to be normal. What she has instead are multiple diagnoses from Dr. Ring. Sara’s constant battle with False Alarm—what she calls panic attacks—and other episodes cause her to isolate herself. She rarely speaks, especially not at school, and so she doesn’t have any friends. But when she starts group therapy she meets someone new. Talkative and outgoing Erin doesn’t believe in “normal,” and Sara finds herself in unfamiliar territory: at the movies, at a birthday party, and with someone to tell about her crush—in short, with a friend. But there’s more to Erin than her cheerful exterior, and Sara begins to wonder if helping Erin will mean sacrificing their friendship.


Young Adult Fiction

It’s 1995. When the Full Tilt Dancers give an inspiring performance at the opening of the new bingo hall, twelve-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. Led by Father O’Flaherty, the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers are the most sought-after act in St. John’s, Newfoundland (closely followed by popular bagpiper, Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Having watched Riverdance twice, Barry figures he’ll nail the audition. And good thing too — it’d be nice to be known for something other than the port wine stain on his cheek. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is jeopardized by his parents’ refusal to take his dreams seriously. Thankfully, Barry has the support of a lively cast of characters: his ever-present grandmother, Nanny Squires; his adorable baby brother, Gord; an old British rocker named Uneven Steven; a group of geriatrics from the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home; and Saibal, a friend with whom Barry gets up to no good.


Eve is the rock in her family of seven, the one they always depend on. But when her dad is diagnosed with cancer, she wants nothing more than to trade her worries for some red lipstick and a carefree night. Faith is the dancer all the boys want, but she only has eyes for the one she can’t have. Only thing is, all the flirting in the world can’t distract her from her broken home life…or the secrets that she hides. KeeKee is the poet who won’t follow the rules, not even to please her estranged father. But after a horrible betrayal, she’ll have to choose between being right and losing everyone she loves. Nia is the prisoner longing to escape her overprotective mother. A summer art program might be her ticket to freedom, yet it comes with a terrible price—and the risk may not be worth the reward. Ready or not, it’s time for these four friends to face the sun.



Fight Like a Girl
Written by Sheena Kamal
Penguin Teen, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6555-4
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9 and up

Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to the Toronto east-end townhouse that Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat. Her father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.



He Must Like You
Written by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Penguin Teen, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6569-1
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9 and up

Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life–and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.



Hunted by the Sky
(The Wrath of Ambar)
Written by Tanaz Bhathena
Penguin Teen, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6702-2
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-12

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl—Gul—in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance—and discovers a magic he never expected to find.



The Silence of Bones
Written by June Hur
Feiwel & Friends, 2020
ISBN 978-1-2502-2955-7
IL: Ages 13-18 RL: Grades 9-12

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman. As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder. But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.



Canadian Women: Now + Then
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod
Illustrated by Maïa Faddoul
Kids Can Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5253-0061-5
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-7

Canadian women have long been trailblazers, creating art, making discoveries and setting records — and often battling incredible odds and discrimination in the process. Here, award-winning children’s writer Elizabeth MacLeod presents biographies of more than one hundred of these remarkable women, from the famous, such as Margaret Atwood, to the lesser known, such as multi-award-winning mathematician Karen Yeats. There are stories of activists and architects, engineers and explorers, poets and politicians and so many more.


Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret
Written by Jess Keating
Illustrated by Katie Hickey
Tundra Books, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6508-0
IL: Ages 4-18 RL: Grades 4-5

From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrior: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.



One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet
Written by Anuradha Rao
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-1886-6
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grade 7-12

One Earth profiles Black, Indigenous and People of Color who live and work as environmental defenders. Through their individual stories, the book shows that the intersection of environment and ethnicity is an asset to achieving environmental goals. The twenty short biographies introduce readers to diverse activists from all around the world, who are of many ages and ethnicities. From saving ancient trees on the West Coast of Canada, to protecting the Irrawaddy dolphins of India, to uncovering racial inequalities in the food system in the United States, these environmental heroes are celebrated by author and biologist Anuradha Rao, who outlines how they went from being kids who cared about the environment to community leaders in their field. One Earth is full of environmental role models waiting to be found.



Orcas of the Salish Sea
Written by Mark Leiren-Young
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-2505-5
IL: Ages 7-10 RL: Grades 2-5

Meet Onyx and the orcas of J pod, the world’s most famous whales. Illustrated with stunning photos, this picture book introduces young readers to the orcas humans first fell in love with. The members of J pod live in the Salish Sea, off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Moby Doll was the first orca ever displayed in captivity, Granny was the oldest orca known to humanity, and Scarlet was the orca humans fought to save.



Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance
Written by Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-1234-5
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grade 4-7

Powwow is a celebration of Indigenous song and dance. Journey through the history of powwow culture in North America, from its origins to the thriving powwow culture of today. As a lifelong competitive powwow dancer, Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane is a guide to the protocols, regalia, songs, dances and even food you can find at powwows from coast to coast, as well as the important role they play in Indigenous culture and reconciliation.



Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular 
Written by Kira Vermond
Illustrated by Clayton Hanmer
Owlkids Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7714-7325-5
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-7

Fads and trends: How do they start? Why do they spread? And how deep can their impact be? Although trends might seem trivial, if you dig deeper, you’ll find that our desire to chase the next big thing can have an even bigger impact than expected. In four short chapters, the book explores what a fad is, how the latest crazes catch on, and what makes us jump on the bandwagon. Finally, it looks at the fascinating and even frightening effects of fads both modern and historic. Who knew the beaver pelt craze in 17th century Europe would change ecosystems, start wars, and disrupt life as people knew it?


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Author’s Corner: David A. Roberston

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. A sought-after speaker and educator, David is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg. His latest books are a middle-grade fantasy novel, The Barren Grounds (Tundra Books), and the memoir, Black Water (Harper Collins Canada).

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

I’ve been writing since I was a young boy. I wrote a poetry book in grade 3, and it made me want to be a writer. Since that day, I haven’t stopped writing. Writing professionally started about twelve years ago for me, when I wrote the four-part graphic novel series 7 Generations for Highwater Press. Including that series, which was later published as an omnibus, I’ve written about twenty-six books.

Art from the 7 Generations series, by Scott B. Henderson

The Barren Grounds is the first in a series that brings the reader into a fantasy world that is rooted in Indigenous culture. What inspired you to tell this story?

A lot of things inspired me. There were many things I wanted to say, and I wanted to say them to kids. I’ve mostly written for kids, because I see the future in them, and it’s our job to provide them with literature that helps them understand the world we live in, but also to envision the world we want to live in. I wanted kids to learn about the foster care system in a way that was age appropriate, how the system removes children from their families, communities, culture, language, and the impact this has. I wanted to reframe classical literature through an Indigenous lens. I saw parallels between a traditional Cree story of the sky, and the Chronicles of Narnia. Both of these things inspired me, but I thought it was interesting to take a series that was influenced by Christianity, and use Indigenous influences instead. And finally, I wanted to talk about the environment, and land protection. That’s a pretty clear message in this book. What it’s really saying is that the land doesn’t need us, but we need the land, and we are taking too much from it right now. It only has so much to give.

When We Were Alone is one of our favourite picture books and has just been rereleased in Swampy Cree, with the original English. How did this new edition come about and what does having the Swampy Cree text mean to you personally?

It means a lot to me. My dad’s first language was Swampy Cree. So was my grandmother’s. Having this book in Swampy Cree honours their heritage, and mine. It also serves as a way to pursue language revitalization. Hopefully, a Cree kid reading this book sees their language, and it makes them want to learn. That’s how we create really meaningful healing and change.

Your Reckoners series is being continued as the graphic novel series The Reckoner Rises. Where did the idea to continue the trilogy in graphic novel form come from?

I’ve always wanted to continue The Reckoner story in graphic novels. The YA trilogy was meant to be a backstory, the emergence of a Cree superhero. How he came to be a superhero. And then, now a fully realized superhero, where does that journey bring him? There are questions that remain unanswered, intentionally, in The Reckoner Trilogy, that I wanted to dive into. What I found is that Cole’s struggles aren’t over—the events of The Reckoner Trilogy have really had a negative impact on his mental health. I also found that Eva’s emergence as a superhero in her own right was an important aspect of the Reckoner world that I wanted to investigate. In many ways, she’s the star of Breakdown, volume 1 of the new series, which I hope to be an ongoing series.

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

I have a lot on the horizon. Next year, I have three books coming out: a new picture book where I’ve reunited with Julie Flett, called On The Trapline. The second book in The Misewa Saga. The second volume of The Reckoner Rises. Then, in 2022, I have another picture book coming out that I can’t talk about yet, the finale of The Misewa Saga, and the finale of The Reckoner Rises trilogy. I’ll also, I believe, have a literary fiction novel coming out. So, I’m busy.

Find out more about David on Twitter. David is also on Bibliovideo! Watch him read from The Barren Grounds and speak about teaching When We Were Alone.

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Watch Your Favourite Book On Bibliovideo

Subscribe to Bibliovideo today to watch videos made specifically for booklovers! Don’t forget to push the bell to receive updates when new videos are uploaded.

Featured Video

This holiday season, we’re choosing to #GiveKidsBooks! Every day until December 24th, Canadian authors and illustrators are recommending their favourite books to give this holiday season. Check Bibliovideo every day at noon ET for a new video!  Don’t forget to like and subscribe.

Playlists to Binge Watch 

For Educators / Pour les éducateurs

I Read Canadian / Je lis un livre canadien

Telling Tales: Celebrating Stories

Illustrator Demonstrations / Démonstrations des illustrateurs

TD Summer Reading Club / Club de lecture d’été TD

Stay Home, Read Together / Lisons ensemble à la maison

Author Interviews / Entretiens avec des écrivains

Book Readings / Séances de lecture


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


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Illustrator’s Studio: Byron Eggenschwiler

Byron Eggenschwiler is an illustrator living in Calgary, Alberta. He is the illustrator of Operatic, by Kyo Maclear, The Little Ghost Who Was A Quilt by Riel Nason and Beastly Puzzles by Rachel Poliquin. Byron has also done illustrations for the New York TimesThe New Yorker, Wall Street JournalGQ and others. He shares a home with his wife and two soft cats.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

From a very early age I have always enjoyed drawing and I used to love playing around making my own comics and characters. But my professional career started after I attended an art and design school in Calgary and began sending out promotional postcards to magazines and newspapers. At first I was getting some smaller editorial work but over time built a client base and got bigger jobs. Eventually I was able to quit my day job and put all my energy into illustrating. My first big book break was when Sheila Barry from Groundwood Books contacted me asking if I would be interested in illustrating a 150 page graphic novel. It was a little terrifying how large of a project it would be and something I never would have sought out on my own. Despite my reservations I was really excited for the opportunity and knew I had to take it on. I have now worked on a few picture books and look forward to whatever the next project is.

We loved The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt! This is a Halloween book that could definitely be used all year round. What inspired the palette and the contrasting colours in this book?

I experimented quite a bit with the colors to find the right feel and was inspired by the muted tones of older photographs. I was aiming for the feel of a classic ghost story, as if the book could have been made anywhere from 100 years ago or just yesterday. The muted tones I ended up using gave it an extra little bit of spookiness that I think played really well with the little blue ghosty and allowed his colourful quilt to really pop out in the scenery.

Storyboards from From The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
From The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt

One of our favourite books last year was Operatic. How was the creation process for a graphic novel like that different from creating a picture book?

The graphic novel was definitely a lot more drawing! With a graphic novel, you have to think of each page in terms of a moment unfolding and figure out how a character will move along through the story. In a way it felt more like being a director, figuring out the timing and character development, and you can force the reader to slow down and draw out a moment because you have a lot more pages to work with. With a children’s book you are able to capture a lot more of the story in a single image and I spend more focus creating that perfect moment that will play off the text and add its own layer to the story.

From Operatic
From Beastly Puzzles

As an artist, where do you get your inspiration from? Who or what has influenced your art style?

I tend to find inspiration by accident, when I am watching tv or reading a book sometimes a simple object or environment will give me an idea. It really isn’t one thing I can put my finger on but a combination of everything. I have found inspiration lately while looking at limited color screen printing techniques and old paintings. Most of the time I have to sit down by myself and let my mind wonder for a while before an idea will take shape and get me excited to work on it. I usually have a sketchbook around me, even on the nightstand just in case a dream or thought comes to me. I try to jot down any idea, big or small, that creeps into my mind throughout the day in hopes of collecting something that will lead to the seed of a bigger idea later. And the story always helps with inspiration and ideas, it’s great to have a jumping off point from a writer.

Byron’s workspace and co-worker

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

Next year, I have a book with Groundwood Books written by Jon-Eric Lappano titled Song of the Snow which I think will be out later in 2021. It is about a girl named Freya who wishes the snow would return to her village. She finds a magic song that may be able to call it back home, but she will need help. I am also currently putting the final touches on a book titled The Strangest Thing in The Sea: And Other Curious Creatures of the Deep written by Rachel Poliquin which will be out next year as well. This will be our second animal fold out book together and this time it explores the fantastical world of sea creatures.

Find out more about Byron at

Experts’ Picks

Booksellers’ Picks

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

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: 
Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath (Puffin Canada, 2020), Ages 9-12

Four recently-orphaned sisters travel halfway around the world to go live with their great-aunt Martha.  When they arrive at their new home in a small BC town, they discover that great-aunt Martha has died but has left all her worldly goods to them.  So they decide to hide the fact that they are living on their own and try to look after themselves.   Their plan turns out to be surprisingly successful.  But how long can four young girls manage on their own?  Or how long do they want to carry on that way?  Horvath’s latest middle grade offering is filled with humour and heart.  The characters are a sheer delight and their story is laugh out loud funny while also being tender and heartwarming.  This is Polly Horvath at her very best.

Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

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

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.


Barry Squires, Full Tilt by Heather Smith (Penguin Teen, 2020), Ages 12-18

Barry Squires is a Newfoundland teen with as many hopes and dreams as the number of heel clicks per second in a Riverdance show. He has no doubt that he’s destined to join the Full Tilt Dancers lineup, the second-most popular entertainment attraction in his city (after the bagpiper Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag).  Barry’s close-knit family, his geriatric pals at One Step Closer to God Nursing Home, and his best buddy Saibal, stand beside him on his rocky and difficult coming-of-age journey. The zingy narration is by turns funny and heartrending.  Barry Squires is a marvellous and memorable show stopper of a novel.  Encore, please.


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

Staff of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre recommend their favourite books for kids and teens.

The Name I Call Myself,
 written by Hasan Namir, illustrated by Cathryn John (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020) Ages 5-9

“When I think of the name Edward, I think of old kings who snore a lot. It is the name my parents gave me. But I call myself something else.”

Following Ari from childhood through adolescence, The Name I Call Myself is a moving and poignantly written picture book exploring gender identity. Ari’s family and everyone they know thinks that they’re a boy. Sometimes Ari wants to be a girl and growing up they struggle with their changing body, their father’s expectations and judgement from classmates. When they are 18, Ari bravely  tells their parents their real name and that they are neither a boy or a girl.

With creative and thought provoking illustrations that delve into Ari’s deepest feelings and insecurities, this is a story that will appeal to children like Ari and open up empathy and conversation for children (and even adult readers) who don’t quite understand what Ari is going through.

Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator


Next Month

Look for our January newsletter in 2021!

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