September 2020


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
September Reading List: Living with Empathy
Author Corner: Lana Button
Illustrator’s Studio: Marianne Dubuc
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Introducing the 2020 CCBC Book Awards Shortlists!

Congratulations to all of the nominees for the 2020 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Book Awards. The nominated titles represent the exceptional quality of the work by Canadian authors and illustrators from across the country. Every single title nominated has made a valuable contribution to Canadian children’s literature in a year where an escape into a book has been a welcome refuge for many. Read the full list of nominees here.

Head Back to School With Bibliovideo!

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has taken Canadian children’s books to where youth already are: YouTube. Introducing Bibliovideo, our new YouTube channel all about Canadian books for young people.  Subscribe today and push the bell to receive updates on the newest videos!

With funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Bibliovideo is the first step in a long-range digital strategy being developed by a consortium of organizations led by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre that includes the Association of Canadian Publishers/49thKids, Canadian School Libraries, CANSCAIP, Communication-Jeunesse and IBBY Canada.


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

Learn more here.

Rosanna Deerchild to host new CBC Books podcast based on Indigenous graphic novel anthology This Place

A new 10-episode series will be hosted by Rosanna Deerchild and will air on CBC Radio One in 2021, based on the  graphic novel anthology published by Portage & Main Press.

“Indigenous people are this place and it is time we told our stories,” says Deerchild. “The voices of our people are reclaiming and recalling the history that we are. We as storytellers have a responsibility and a gift to tell these stories back into being. We are Kanata. In This Place, you will learn about amazing pieces of our shared history through interviews with Indigenous authors and illustrators.”

Learn more here.

IBBY International fundraiser: Limited edition scarves created by renowned children’s book illustrators

Ten of the world’s greatest children’s book illustrators have created limited-edition scarves in support of IBBY’s work around the world. These Hans Christian Andersen Award-winning illustrators have created original art for 10 beautiful silk scarves as a donation to IBBY and its work. The scarves have been produced in limited editions of 50 copies for each design. To learn more, and to see the scarves in detail, click here.


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.

Stories Connect Us! Telling Tales Virtual Festival

Telling Tales is excited to share with families an all-star line-up of virtual programming. Join your favourite authors, illustrators and storytellers that will share their stories and engage audiences from our own backyard to across the world. When stories connect us, there are no limits to where we can go! This year’s line-up features 13 themed episodes with quality children’s programming from award-winning Canadian authors, illustrators, storytellers and musicians who will engage and delight children from tots to teens. Hosting each episode is Hamilton-born and -raised, Josh Taylor, an award-winning Hip-Hop and Street Dance dancer, choreographer and storyteller.

Episodes premiere on Facebook, YouTube then will be available on demand from

Order the Fall Issue of  Canadian Children’s Book News Today!

The Fall issue of Canadian Children’s Book News pays tribute to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It includes a profile of Kathy Kacer, one of Canada’s most influential writers on the Holocaust and Jewish stories. Author Heather Camlot explores the emotional toll that writing and researching the Holocaust has on writers. There is also a thoughtful roundtable discussion with authors who have written about the Holocaust, as well as one special publisher who has made it her mission to showcase/elevate Jewish stories and voices. If you’re a teacher looking to introduce your students to the Holocaust, long-time educator Larry Swartz has written a piece about teaching the Holocaust using Canadian books. Our bookmark column features a selection of Holocaust-themed books for Kindergarten to Grade 12 which will enlighten young readers about a dark time in history. We also introduce you to Naseem Hrab, a writer with a gift for humour and emotions in our “Keep Your Eye On…” column.

Order yours today!


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

Not your average back-to-school children’s books (DateBook)

Terry Fox books set for release 40 years after Marathon of Hope (Running Magazine)

The impact of COVID-19 on reading (BookNet Canada)

15 diverse children’s and young adult books recommended by kids (Today)

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September Reading List: Living With Empathy

This month’s reading list is all about living with empathy, featuring Canadian books for young people of all ages.

Picture Books

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.



I Am Human: A Book of Empathy
Written by Susan Verde
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-419-73165-5
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades 2-3

From the bestselling team that created I Am Yoga, I Am Peace, I Am Love, and I Am One comes a hopeful celebration of the human family. I Am Human affirms that we can make good choices by acting with compassion and having empathy for others and ourselves. When we find common ground, we can feel connected to the great world around us and mindfully strive to be our best selves.





Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77306-138-2
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grade 3

Sometimes Mustafa has bad dreams and wakes up forgetting where he is. His mother takes him out to see the moon — the same moon as in their old country. Mustafa explores a local park and watches children play, but feels invisible. Until one day a girl beckons to him, and a door to understanding his new world opens. This title is also available in French under the same name.



Rain Boy
Written and illustrated by Dylan Glynn
Chronicle Books, 2020
ISBN 978-1-452-17280-4
IL: Ages 3-5 RL: Grades  1-2

Wherever he goes, Rain Boy brings wet — which means he’s not very popular. Sun Kidd brings sunshine everywhere she goes, so everyone loves her. Only Sun Kidd sees what’s special about Rain Boy. But when she invites him to her birthday party, disaster strikes, and Rain Boy storms. Now the world is nothing but rain. Will the other kids ever love Rain Boy for being himself? And, more importantly, can Rain Boy learn to love his rain?




What Happens Next
Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Carey Sookocheff
Owlkids Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77147-165-7
IL: Ages 4 and up RL: Grades 2-3

Why I don’t want to go to school today: Bully B. What Bully B. does: Blocks my path, shoves me, calls me weirdo. What everyone else does: Nothing… Narrated in the voice of an outsider, this poignant book looks at the worlds of the bullied and the bully — and the ways in which the universe connects them. What is possible: Maybe anything…



You Hold Me Up/Ki Kîhcêyimin Mâna
Written by Monique Gray Smith
Illustrated by Danielle Daniel
Orca Book Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4598-2175-0
IL: Ages 3-5 RL: Grade 1

A story about love, respect and the cultivation of compassion. Author Monique Gray Smith wrote this book to encourage dialogue among young people, their educators and their care providers about reconciliation, and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. Originally published in 2017, this new edition includes the Cree translation.


Junior & Intermediate Fiction

The Cat at the Wall
Written by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-55498-491-6
IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grades 4-5

On Israel’s West Bank, a hungry stray cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers for surveillance. The house appears to be empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. Should she help him? After all, she’s just a cat. Or is she?


Harvey Comes Home
Written by Colleen Nelson
Illustrated by Tara Anderson
Pajama Press, 2019
ISBN 978-1-77278-097-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grade 5

A dog named Harvey gets lost. While his owner, Maggie, searches desperately for him, Harvey is taken in by 11-year-old Austin, a boy working off detention at a retirement home. Austin and the residents all fall in love with Harvey — even crotchety Mr. Pickering who begins reminiscing about his difficult life during the Depression. Their stories converge with love, forgiveness and hope.



Kasey & Ivy
Written by Alison Hughes
Orca Book Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4598-1574-2
IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grade 5

Through 26 letters to her friend Nina, 12-year-old Kasey chronicles her observations and impressions of her unexpected, month-long stay in a geriatric ward for the treatment of a rare but treatable bone disease. Hospital food, insomnia and the germy communal bath are enduring sources of dread, but some new friends make her life bearable.



Sara and the Search for Normal
Written by Wesley King
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5344-2113-4
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

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.


Young Adult Fiction

When 15-year-old Hallie is hit by an SUV, her life ends before it ever really began. At an otherworldly carnival, she meets the elderly driver, Susan, who claims a malfunctioning accelerator caused the accident. Both are returned to life — with one catch — they’ve swapped bodies. Two bodies, two souls switch places in search of justice — before time runs out.


Chicken Girl
Written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada, 2019
ISBN 978-0-14-319868-0
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-8

Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her.


En Français

Chaque matin, en se rendant à l’école, Luca et Juliette croisent l’homme sans chaussettes. Pauvrement vêtu, l’air un peu perdu, l’homme de la rue intrigue les enfants qui ne savent comment réagir face à lui. L’ignorer? Le saluer? De l’incompréhension à un début de dialogue, cette histoire interroge les lecteurs sur un sujet délicat : les sans-logis. En cherchant un moyen d’entrer en contact avec l’homme sans chaussettes, les enfants, même modestement, parviennent à le rattacher à cette communauté humaine dont il était exclu. Un prénom, un sourire, et l’inconnu sans chaussettes devient à nouveau quelqu’un.


Entre son amour secret pour le beau Thomas et l’amitié collante d’Émeline, Ève cherche une façon d’exister. Mais quand la maladie puis la mort font brusquement irruption dans la classe, c’est toute la vie qu’il faut réinventer.



This empowering title will help readers discover how to create positive changes in their communities. Accessible text and examples prompt children to learn what it means to be a citizen of a community and to explore ways to act for the common good. Ideas include creating artwork for a local retirement facility and donating old books to a library or reading program.


That’s Not Fair! Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms 

Written by Danielle S. McLaughlin
Illustrated by Dharmali Patel
Kids Can Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77138-208-3
IL: Ages 7-11 RL: Grades 3-4

Six stories starring Mayor Moe and the councillors of the City provide an accessible exploration of the rights and freedoms of citizens in a democracy. In each story, the councillors are presented with a problem. They address the problem with a new law, only to discover later there were unintended consequences. Each story concludes with a discussion of the rights and freedoms featured in the story, and questions to ponder.


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Author’s Corner: Lana Button

Children’s Author Lana Button grew up in the tiny border town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick. She has a background in acting and is an Early Childhood Educator. Today Lana writes for young children and reads books out loud to crowds of children whenever she gets the chance. Lana’s picture books have been shortlisted for awards including the Blue Spruce, the Shining Willow, the Jean Throop IODE Award and the Rainforest of Reading, and have been recognized as a Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Book and the IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities. She has written several picture books including the Willow series, My Teacher’s Not Here!, What if Bunny’s Not a Bully and Raj’s Rule (For The Bathroom at School). Lana specializes in school, library and festival presentations as well as virtual presentations. Her literary presentations about perseverance, empathy and anti-bullying have inspired children across Canada. Lana and her husband have three grown daughters and live in Burlington, Ontario.

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

I grew up in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, a small border town on the edge of Maine, with my mum and dad and older brother, Dana. As a child, I hadn’t yet dreamed of being a writer and I was pretty sure I was going to grow up to be a movie star. I created and acted out characters often. I’ve also always had a love for working with young children. As a teenager I loved to babysit, and I worked in our local day care centre. After high school I studied acting at Concordia University in Montreal and then spent a few years as an actress working a bit in TV, film and theatre (and working a lot as a waitress).

But the unpredictable life of acting didn’t really fit my personality and I missed opportunities to work with young children, so I went back to school to study early childhood education. It was there that I fell in love with great picture books, and the dream to write books that could inspire and entertain young children was born. Creating picture book characters and stories for children combines both of my passions.

I spent years learning how to write by attending classes and workshops and reading everything I could find on the topic. I worked in childcare and preschool during the day and wrote in the evenings and on weekends (whenever my three young daughters slept). I received years of rejections that started to become more encouraging. And then finally my first acceptance came from Ladybug Magazine for Young Children for a story I wrote called “Bailey Became a Bullfrog”. I also had success in freelance writing for magazines such as Today’s Parent and Parents Canada on different child development topics. During those years many stories I worked on fell to the wayside. But one story, about a quiet little girl who found a way to make herself heard, just wouldn’t let me give up on it, despite being rejected by every publisher (some even more than once.) The story was a finalist in the Writing for Children Competition that was, at the time, run by the Writer’s Union of Canada, and is now run by the CANSCAIP organization. After that, Yvette Ghione at Kids Can Press showed some interest in the story and that eventually became my first book, Willow’s Whispers.

Your books always seem to perfectly capture the mind of a child. How do you approach writing from this perspective?

I feel like I have always had a keen sense of being able to communicate with young children. I joke, when I approach schools to do presentations that I ‘speak kindergarten.’ I have a great deal of respect for the fact that young children have a limited vocabulary and a limited attention span, but they have a lot to say. I consider it my job as both an early childhood educator and as a children’s author to communicate with children with an understanding and respect for who they are, in terms of their unique personality, and in terms of their culture and their family experience. I strive, with every story, to inspire young children and make them feel heard.

Your book What if Bunny’s Not a Bully is a different take on the traditional “bully” story and is the perfect example of a picture book that teaches empathy. What inspired you to write this story?

Young children can be very literal in their thinking. And social conflicts can be difficult to maneuver.  Children may not initially read a conflict correctly, as it can be challenging to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. But it is my experience that when young children have the opportunity to understand how their peer is feeling, their own feelings run deep and they often show care and consideration. I wanted to write a story that made children stop and question what was happening on the page. I’m hoping that the young listener comes to the realization that Bunny is not a bully, well before the characters understand this. The resolution is one that the children hopefully see as fair, and the right thing to do. And then it is my hope that when they face future conflicts, this story might ring in their ear a bit as a reminder that people make mistakes and are sometimes looking for a chance to say sorry and try again.

How can teachers, librarians and parents use your books to engage with children?

This story is intended to be a conversation starter. I would love for children to have the opportunity to share their thoughts on whether Bunny is a bully. I hope that, in times of social conflict, this book can be pulled out to encourage thoughts of empathy and understanding. I hope that on special ‘anti-bullying days’ this story finds a place in the conversation. And I also hope that it is used as a tool for encouraging children to speak up, in times when they see someone being mistreated, and in times when they, themselves, need to acknowledge they’ve made a mistake and would like to try again.

The book especially supports the kindergarten curriculum frames of Belonging and Contributing and Self-Regulation and Well-Being. Having the children reflect on topics of inclusion, empathy and understanding in this story and in their own experiences are topics that can enhance a kindergarten program.

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

I am actually currently working on a third book in this series, called Tayra’s Not Talking. In this story, a new student has joined Kitty’s class, but she’s not saying a word. Can the characters be friends with someone who won’t talk back? Does she even want to be their friend? The ever-empathetic Kitty shows them all that there are lots of ways to communicate and make friends.

I have a brand-new story just out, called Raj’s Rule (For the Bathroom at School) (OwlKids Books, 2020) illustrated by Hatem Aly, which is a funny book about resiliency and finding ways around uncomfortable situations. And this spring I have a story called Tough Like Mum (Tundra Books, 2021) illustrated by Carmen Mok, about a little girl who has to go to school without her field trip money.

Find out more about Lana at

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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

Playlists to Binge Watch 

For Educators / Pour les éducateurs

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: Marianne Dubuc

In 2006, Marianne wrote and illustrated her first book, La mer. A wordless, two-colour picture book, this story marks the beginning of a wonderful adventure. Her second book, In Front of My House, was published in 15 countries, and gave her an international career. Her books are now translated into more than 30 languages and published in over 25 countries. She has received honours for her work, including the prestigious 2015 Governor General’s General Literary Award for the illustrations in her book The Lion and the Bird, and the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award and Prix TD for her book Le chemin de la montagne. She lives in Montreal with her husband and their two children, and hopes to continue writing stories for a very long time.

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

I have always loved to draw; as a child, it was my favourite activity. I never thought I would REALLY be an author when I grew up. I did go to school in arts programs, and graphic design in university. That is where I met my husband Mathieu who always encouraged me to keep on trying. I have been lucky enough that it all started a bit on its own. I took part in an illustration contest and on the jury was a publisher who offered me my first book contract. I made La Mer (The Cat and the Fish) and never stopped ever since.

We love Little Cheetah’s Shadow, which is a simple and creative story about empathy. What inspired you to write Little Cheetah’s Shadow

My books are often about the relationship between two characters, and about friendship. It is very important to me to take the time to think about how our acts can impact other’s lives.

Also, a long time ago I had the idea of a story about a character who would lose its shadow. I didn’t find the right way to tell the story, but I kept it in my folders for a future book. I had also been wanting to make a book with a cheetah as a character because cheetahs are super fast, and they are fun to draw with those nice spots. So I mixed those two ideas and that is how Little Cheetah’s Shadow came to be.

You are a renowned and award-winning author and illustrator who won all three of the CCBC’s French-language awards in 2018. Who has inspired you as an artist and storyteller?

I have always been fascinated with images and drawings. Growing up I read the Père Castor books, with illustrations by artists such as Gerda Muller. Later I have read and loved many École des loisirs books. Our children make me discover books I would never have picked up on my own. At first, I did not like the illustration style or the type of story, only to realize in the end that they are amazing books. They broaden my appreciation of children’s stories and illustrations. Although I have loved authors and illustrators over the years, I am not one to look up to people so much. I find inspiration within myself, my emotions, and in the nature that surrounds me.

Art from Up on the Mountain Path

How can teachers, librarians and parents use your books to engage with children?

I like to leave my books open, not explaining everything and leaving a lot of space for the reader to have fun and interact with the book. My books being are very different from one another — Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds is full of details, while The Lion and the Bird is very silent and more poetic). How one would use them depends on the inspiration each person finds in the book. In Little Cheetah’s Shadow I did keep it a bit more conventional, and I guess reading the book and then discussing the feelings that both characters experience is a good way to start. Making a game with shadows in teams of two might also be a fun way to think of others while having fun. I did hide a little detail in the book that can be fun to try to find (hint: it is in the first and second to last page of the book, when Little Cheetah is in his house). Let me know if you find it!

Art from The Lion and The Bird

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

I just finished a book that should be out in the Fall in French (Canada), and in 2021 in English. It is the story of Bear, who has a nice house and a happy life… until the Great Upheaval happens. His life’s not the same anymore. He then hears a whisper in the trees telling him it is time to move on. It is a book about life’s unexpected trials, and how sometimes we need to let go and have a little faith it will bring us where we need to be.

Find out more about Marianne at

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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:

Maud and Grand-Maud by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Kenard Pak (Tundra  Books, 2020) Ages  3-7

Sara O’Leary’s latest picture book offering is a gentle, loving and heartwarming depiction of the very special relationship between a little girl and her beloved grandmother.  Young Maud treasures the weekends that she gets to spend at Grand-Maud’s house where they eat breakfast for dinner, wear matching nightgowns and sleep in twin beds next to each other.  Best of all is the old wooden chest under Maud’s bed that always contains treasures: some that come from the store and some that are homemade, and even some that once belonged to Grand-Maud herself.  Maud loves learning about Grand-Maud’s life when she was “just Maud” and imagining what her own life will one day be like.  In prose that is spare and precise and evocative, O’Leary creates a poignant portrait of an intergenerational friendship that is mutually enriching.  Kenard Pak’s softly-coloured illustrations in subdued tones, beautifully capture the quiet details that make this story special.  A tender celebration of their relationship, Maud and Grand-Maud will touch the hearts of readers of all ages.

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.

Violet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Carmen Mok (Groundwood Books, 2020) Ages 3-7

Violet is a young girl who prefers solitary pursuits like drawing her own comics and listening to music through her purple headphones. Large social gatherings are physicaly exhausting for Violet, and make her palms sweat, ears burn and stomach churn.  It’s not that she’s shy or that she doesn’t like chocolate cake or playing games — she simply “doesn’t like them all at the same time.”  When Violet openly and honestly states her feelings, her father listens and together they come up with a compromise that respects and values her individuality.  It can be difficult to be an introvert in an extroverted world, and this outstanding picture book will open the door to conversation and understanding.

Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

Blackwells and the Briny Deep by Philippa Dowding (Dundurn Press, 2018) Ages 9-12

The Blackwell siblings, William the eldest and Emma and Jonah the twins, get to go sailing alone together, across the bay to where their dad is waiting. It should be an easy trip, but things start going wrong from the start, when Emma loses her favourite shell, thanks to Jonah. Then the Blackwells start to see things. First it’s a mysterious hand reaching out of the water, then a phantom ship, and finally a giant and mysterious storm. But that’s only the beginning of an adventure full of creatures both terrifying and wonderful. A not-too-scary adventure book, perfect for reading aloud in a family setting.

—Polly Ross-Tyrell, Children’s Librarian, Aurora Public Library

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

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Staff Picks

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

I Do Not Like Stories,
 written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff (Owlkids Books, 2020) Ages 4-8

Following the day in the life of a boy and his cat, I Do Not Like Stories is a sweet story about a child who doesn’t like stories about anything: space, fish, planes, trains… As he goes through his regular day, the cat goes through theirs, with the two meeting at the end when the child realizes that maybe there is one thing he would like a story to be about: cats!

Children will love watching the cat’s day unfold along with the child’s and Carey Sookocheff’s adorable illustrations pair perfectly with Andrew Larsen’s creatively simplistic story.

Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena (Penguin Teen Canada) Ages 12+

This story is a thrilling adventure that quickly draws us in and keeps us guessing at every page. The world building of the kingdom of Ambar, inspired by Indian and Persian mythology, flows naturally throughout the novel so that we gradually learn about the history of the Great War, the caste struggles between magus and non-magus (magic vs non-magic), and the different gods and goddesses. The narration alternates between Gul, a strong-willed teen set on avenging her parents’ death and whom we suspect might be the prophesized Star Warrior destined to kill the king, and Cavas, a non-magus stable boy at the palace whose destiny seems inexplicably intertwined with Gul’s. Both of these characters are wonderfully flawed and relatable. There are some brilliantly executed plot twists; seriously, this book is far from being predictable, and the adventure component will attract readers not usually drawn to fantasy. A must-read for fans of YA!

— Amanda Halfpenny, CCBC Events and Program Coordinator

Hug?, written and illustrated by Charlene Chua (Kids Can Press) Ages 4-8

Hugs make everyone feel better. But what about too many hugs? In this sweet and humorous picture book, we meet a young girl and her cat. When her cat is not feeling well, she gives it a hug. What happens? They both feel better. Then along comes a procession of animals all asking for hugs. What’s a girl to do?

As the girl goes on to hug a variety of different animals, including a duck, a skunk, a bear, and even a tiger, we see that with each hug she becomes a little bit more disheveled. The parade of hugs goes on until the little girl can’t take it anymore and declares “STOP!”. It is clear that while trying to be nice and comfort everyone, she has, in turn, depleted herself of comfort and happiness.

With all that is going on in the world today, self-care is more important than ever before. This simple picture book is the perfect way to explain to children the notion of “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” While it is important to extend comfort and empathy to our friends and loved ones, we must also attend to our own happiness at the same time.

— Shannon Barnes, Editor, Canadian Children’s Book News

Next Month

Look for our October newsletter next month, which will be all about fall and new beginnings!

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