August 27, 2016

A Mortal Song: Book launch (Toronto)

Join 

Megan Crewe 

author of


and


for the release of her newest YA fantasy

A Mortal Song
by Megan Crewe
Another World Press
978-0995216907
316 pp.
Ages 12+
September 2016

on 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2-4 p.m.

at Bakka-Phoenix Books
84 Harbord Street
Toronto, ON


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The book is described by the author herself as follows:
Sora's life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie. 
Heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother's last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world's natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess. 
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she's ever known.
Retrieved from http://megancrewe.com/song/index.html on August 26, 2016.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Here's what you can look forward to at this book launch:
• Japanese snacks
• book swag
• reading and Q & A with Megan Crewe
and, of course,
• book sales and signing

Congrats to Megan Crewe on her newest YA fantasy!

August 26, 2016

Sammy and the Headless Horseman

by Rona Arato
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9781554552696
156 pp.
Ages 9-11
May/September 2016

Yes, I know summer is almost over but here's one last summer hurrah for readers to enjoy a 1920s Catskill Mountains resort and solve a mystery with 11-year-old Sammy Levin and his cohort of young sleuths.

Sammy has been invited by his Aunt Pearl to travel with her and his cousins, Joshua and Leah, to the Liebman’s summer resort to get him away from his gang in New York City and to give Sammy’s father some time with his new wife Martha.  But upon his arrival Sammy learns she has arranged for him to work at the resort while she and her family enjoy the benefits of being guests.  Although initially chagrined at this turn of events–as are his Uncle Milton and his father when they visit–Sammy realizes soon enough that he enjoys the work and palling around with other teens who work at the hotel, especially fourteen-year-olds Adam Van Dorn and the owner’s daughter Shayna Liebman, and even performing with the hotel’s entertainer, Moishe.
It was exhilirating and nerve-wracking, but Sammy never felt more like he belonged. (pg. 80)
But there seem to be ghostly forces at work creating havoc at the Liebman’s hotel and on the property of the nearby Hermit, a former slave, including broken dishware, a trampled vegetable garden, a ceiling light falling, and a fire at the Hermit’s chicken coop.  Mrs. Leibman is convinced it’s her dead grandmother expressing her annoyance at the hotel owner’s use of her recipes, but that doesn’t explain the headless horseman (“Some fool hidin’ his head in a black cape and ridin’ a horse”; pg. 44) whom the Hermit witnesses and who later makes appearances at the hotel.  Sammy, who recalls the terrorizing of his Polish village by soldiers, is determined to stop good people like the Hermit and the Liebmans from experiencing further distress and damage.  Together with Adam and Shayna and the annoying Joshua–who always makes sure to clarify to others that “I’m a guest” (pg. 43)–Sammy pursues the mystery of the headless horseman and does a little ghost-busting.

There’s a mystery to be solved and Rona Arato, award-winning writer of The Last Train (Owlkids, 2013), sets up all the clues for the kids to discover the solution and make things right.  Sammy and the Headless Horseman is a Jewish Hardy Boys for the middle-grade set.  But it’s the setting and atmosphere with which Rona Arato infuses her plot that makes the story all the better (and she provides historical notes and photographs to enhance her story).  Sammy and Headless Horseman takes you back to a time when a mountain resort and swimming in a pool and a lake and playing cards and hanging with your peers was summertime bliss.  But by saturating the story with the foods, vocabulary and culture of a Jewish community of the 1920s, many of whom recall their emigration from the old country to the States, Rona Arato has ensured that Sammy and the Headless Horseman is seasoned with a distinctive flavour and ambiance that leaves the reader and the characters feeling good.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you're in the Toronto area, don't miss the opportunity to get a signed copy from Rona Arato this Sunday, August 28, 2016 at Indigo Yorkdale.  Details here

August 25, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

by E. K. Johnston
Dutton Books for Young Readers
978-1-101994580
256 pp.
Ages 12-18
March 2016

It's not unusual for me to add graphic elements to my image of a book cover to enhance it and perhaps provide the reader with a little hint about the book. I could not do that disservice to Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston as the book's emotional story deserves to have its superb cover unadorned by my trivial efforts.  Exit, Pursued by a Bear needs to be left with a starkness that attests to the nature of the story within because
Everything about this is unfair. (pg. 131)
Teen Hermione Winters is off to cheerleading Camp Manitouwabing with best friend and co-captain Polly, boyfriend Leo and the rest of the Fighting Golden Bears, Palermo Heights high school’s squad, along with their coach, Alexandra Caledon.  As she will be entering her senior year after camp, Hermione whose positive attitude is as bright as her future intends to make this, her last cheer camp, the best for all involved. At the first bonfire, when squad captains share what their teams need to overcome, Hermione talks of two curses the school has: that each graduating class, since the death of Clara Abbey in 2006, will lose one person to a drunk driver, and that every year one girl at school gets pregnant.
“…I do think it’s life’s way of reminding us that nothing should be taken for granted, that things might take a turn in ways that aren’t fair or don’t make sense.” (pg. 23)
It’s an amazing camp of hard work, meeting new people and fun, though Leo is in a perpetual cranky mood for the lack of time he gets with Hermione.  Then, at a dance, Hermione is drugged and raped and left in the lake.  Awakening in the hospital, she has to be told what has happened to her because she has no memory of the attack.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is Hermione’s journey of emotions and waiting and introspection and compassion.  Hermione may be a flyer on the cheerleading team but she is fully grounded in herself and her caring of others and what she believes.  As much as she is convinced that she is a changed person when she returns from camp, she truly isn’t.  The rape, and subsequent pregnancy and abortion, and search for the rapist do not change the force that makes Hermione a leader and a flyer.  Even through her sessions with the indomitable Dr. Hutt, Hermione does not come across as traumatized or broken.
That’s the first time I’ve thought of myself as broken.  Polly won’t let me, I don’t think, but everyone else seems to expect it.  And maybe I am.  Maybe this would be easier if I acted like I am broken.  Then they’ll be able to fix me.  You can’t fix something that doesn’t know it’s broken. (pg. 81)
She is hardly self-absorbed–though she should be allowed to be–often worrying about how her trauma is affecting her best friend, her teammates, her parents, her psychiatrist, even the OPP officer that is handling the criminal investigation.

Take a deep breath before you read E. K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  It’s strenuously moving, both dispiriting and uplifting, as Hermione and her team of family, friends and strangers as well as the reader are taken from the trauma of a rape through the healing process, including an unlikely return to the scene of the crime, before tumbling to a finish that is fair and astonishing.

August 23, 2016

Sammy and the Headless Horseman: Book signing (Toronto)

Join award-winning youngCanLit author 
of numerous fiction and non-fiction 
including

The Last Train


On a Canadian Day

and

Courage and Compassion: Ten Canadians Who Made a Difference


Rona Arato


for the release and signing of her newest book


Sammy and the Headless Horseman
by Rona Arato
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9781554552696
156 pp.
Ages 9-11
May/September 2016

on


Sunday, August 28th, 2016

 2 p m.

 Indigo Yorkdale
Toronto, ON

This middle-grade mystery of historical fiction is described on the publisher's website at http://www.fitzhenry.ca/Detail/1554552699 as follows:

Thanks to his Aunt Pearl, eleven-year-old Sammy is stuck in the Catskill Mountains for the summer with his awful cousin Joshua. While he doesn't relish the idea of getting to know his new stepmom, at least he'd have his gang to hang out with in New York if he got to stay there instead. But when Sammy realizes he was brought on to be hired help at the hotel, he makes the most of it and enjoys bunking with his teenage co-worker, Adam.

Trouble seems to follow Sammy as he becomes entangled in a series of mysterious occurrences, including a terrifying headless horseman who seems to be haunting the reclusive "Hermit" at the top of the neighbouring hill. Sammy and his new friends form a team called "The Ichabods" to crack the mystery.

Set in the early 1920s, after WWI. 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

I'll be reviewing Sammy and the Headless Horseman later this week but I thought I give readers in the Toronto area an early heads up (!) about this author event.  I'm sure that it's a book that you won't want to miss.  

August 22, 2016

The Darkest Magic: A Book of Spirits and Thieves, Book 2

by Morgan Rhodes
Razorbill
978-1-59514-761-5
426 pp.
Ages 12+
June 2016


When Morgan Rhodes began this series as a spin-off of her Falling Kingdoms fantasy, I had no idea that it would be even more complicated that that award-winning series. (Read the first four books in that series – Falling Kingdoms, A Rebel Spring, Gathering Darkness, and  Frozen Tides  – and experience the fullness of the high fantasy of Mytica and beyond.) In the first book in this new series, A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Razorbill, 2015), Morgan Rhodes took readers beyond that Falling Kingdoms world and juxtaposed it with our modern one, by creating a complicated story that fused the very best elements of fantasy and parallel worlds.  Well, hold on to your hats (or your cloak's hood) because The Darkest Magic takes the reader into darker worlds in which secrets revealed just beget more secrets and everyone is chasing after something or someone.

In Mytica, Maddox has learned that he is the son of the mortal Barnabas and the immortal Eva, though he’d always been raised to believe Damaris, who is revealed to be Barnabas’s sister, was his mother. After Goran, the henchman of the goddess Valoria, murders Damaris, they are more determined to seek out Valoria’s scribe to learn of her weaknesses.  Unfortunately, Maddox and company arrive just as the scribe, Alsander Verus, is executed by Valoria for treason. Unthwarted, the trio rescue his head which Maddox brings back to life, getting the torso-less scribe to help them by agreeing to reunite his head with his body. Together, Maddox, Barnabas, the witch Liana and Al head (no pun intended) first to central Mytica to seek help from Princess Cassia who lost her inherited throne to the murderous Valoria and then to southern Mytica where Valoria’s sister and nemesis, the immortal goddess Cleiona, regins.

Meanwhile, in modern-day Toronto, Becca Hatcher, who still dreams of her time with Maddox in Mytica, and older sister Crys are hiding out with their mother Julia Hatcher, aunt Jackie Kendall and professor Dr. Uriah Vega at the Yorkville penthouse of Angus Balthazar, magic expert and friend of their aunt Jackie’s.  The group is working to try to decipher the Codex, the book that Valoria calls the Book of the Immortals, in an attempt to foil Markus King’s evil machinations to restore his full magic and ensure his immortality as a death god.  Wait, it gets more complicated.  They realize that Becca, who learns soon enough that she is actually the daughter of Jackie and Markus, is inexplicably linked to the book, painfully wounded when Jackie tries to destroy it. Worse yet, Markus, who ensures obedience from members of the secret Hawkspear Society, is once again exerting control over Crys’s mom as well as upping his influence over rich bad boy Farrell Grayson–weirdly romantically involved with Crys–and putting Crys in more danger.

I haven’t even mentioned the surprising arrival of Damen Winter whose evil intents surpass Markus’s and whose appearance has mortals and immortals clamouring to action in both Toronto and Mytica.

Keeping track of Morgan Rhodes’s characters in Mytica, in Crys’s and Farrell’s worlds, as well as their storylines, is a daunting feat but readers worthy of the challenge will be justly rewarded. As Farrell’s dead brother, Connor, suggests to him, "The higher the price, the better the reward." (pg. 278) So it is with keeping the multitude of plots, relationships and secrets clearly separated whilst they start converging.  The Darkest Magic is a skein of magical plots that occasionally get knotted together but will ultimately be unravelled in true Morgan Rhodes’s fashion.  There is insight and humour,
     Farrell’s not a killer, she reminded herself over and over, like some sort of twisted mantra.  “He’s an asshole, a misogynist, and a spoiled brat,” she allowed out loud, “but he’s not a killer.”
     “Aw, come on.”  The front door clicked shut behind her.  “You shouldn’t give me so many compliments,” Farrell said. “They’re going to go to my head.”
(pg. 331)
and lessons to learn about family and trust and obedience.
You are the master of your destiny.  No one else. (pg. 61)
The Darkest Magic is a full package, a very full package, and one that Morgan Rhodes delivers with poise and skillfulness and imagination. And there’s still Book 3 to come. Perfect.

August 19, 2016

Photography in youngCanLit: A booklist for World Photography Day (August 19)


While numerous books, especially those of non-fiction, feature photographs,  there are many in which characters are engaged in photography or in which photographs move the plot forward.  Here, I've selected a list of picture books, fiction, young adult and non-fiction books in which photography or an image viewer (in the case of Super Duper Monster Viewer), and that includes still photography, digital and video, are key.  Each of these youngCanLit titles deserves to be recognized in this booklist in celebration of World Photography Day, August 19.

PICTURE BOOKS

Finders Keepers for Franklin
by Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrated by Brenda Clark
Kids Can Press
29 pp.
Ages 3-7
1997

Super-Duper Monster Viewer
by Kevin Sylvester
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2016

Willow’s Smile
by Lana Button
Illustrated by Tania Howells
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
2016







FICTION and YOUNG ADULT

Barry, Boyhound
Andy Spearman
Knopf
230 pp.
Ages 9-12
2005

The Book of Spirits and Thieves
by Morgan Rhodes
Razorbill
358 pp.
Ages 12+
2015

The Darkest Magic (The Book of Spirits and Thieves, Book 2)
by Morgan Rhodes
Razorbill
448 pp.
Ages 12+
2016

Dying to Go Viral
by Sylvia McNicoll
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
251 pp.
Ages 12+
2013



Finding Grace
by Becky Citra
Second Story Press
195 pp.
Ages 9-12
2014

Ghosts of the Pacific
by Philip Roy
Ronsdale Press
251 pp.
Ages 11-14
2011

Grind
by Eric Walters
Orca Book Publishers
100 pp.
Ages 13-15
2004


The Journal
by Lois Donovan
Ronsdale Press
204 pp.
Ages 10+
2015

Jump Cut
by Ted Staunton
Orca Book Publishers
220 pp.
Ages 9-12
2012


Leftovers
by Heather Waldorf
Orca Book Publishers
198 pp.
Ages 12-16
2009

Lights, Camera, Disaster! (Macdonald Hall #6)
by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada
232 pp.
Ages 8-12
2004

Lucky Jonah
by Richard Scrimger
HarperCollinsCanada
223 pp.
Ages 12-14
2016

Mission Mumbai: A  Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets
by Mahtab Narsimhan
Scholastic Press
272 pp.
Ages 9-12
2016

My Life Before Me
by Norah McClintock
Orca Book Publishers
248 pp.
Ages 12+
2015

Nine Doors
by Vicki Grant
Orca Book Publishers
96 pp.
Ages 11-14
2009


Northern Exposures
by Eric Walters
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
208 pp.
Ages 8-12
2008

Picture This
by Norah McClintock
Orca Book Publishers
128 pp.
Ages 12+
2009

RanVan: Magic Nation
by Diana Wieler
Groundwood Books
229 pp.
Ages 13+
1997

The Rule of Thirds (A Pippa Greene Novel)
by Chantel Guertin
ECW Press
192 pp.
Ages 13+
2013

Depth of Field (A Pippa Green Novel)
by Chantel Guertin
ECW Press
208 pp.
Ages 13+
2014

Leading Lines (A Pippa Greene Novel)
by Chantel Guertin
ECW Press
216 pp.
Ages 13+
2015

Scarlet Thunder
by Sigmund Brouwer
Orca Book Publishers
172 pp.
Ages 12-14
2008

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius
by Stacey Matson
llustrated by Simon Kwan
Scholastic Canada
255 pp.
Ages 10-13
2015

Shooter
by Caroline Pignat
Razorbill Canada
320 pp.
Ages 12+
2016

Thirty-six Exposures
by Kevin Major
Delacorte
154 pp.
Ages 15+
1984


Young Man With Camera
by Emil Sher
Pictures by David Wyman
Scholastic Canada
218 pp.
Ages 13+
2015






NON-FICTION

Beyond Bullets : A Photo Journal of Afghanistan
by Rafal Gerszak  with Dawn Hunter
Annick
128 pp.
Ages 12-15
2011

Canada from Above: A Photo Journey
by Heather Patterson
Scholastic
30 pp.
Ages 9-12
2010

Fantastic Female Filmmakers 
by Suzanne Simoni
Second Story Press
122 pp.
Ages 9-13
2008

It's a Snap!: George Eastman's First Photo
by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 6-10
2009

Learn to Speak Film: A Guide to Creating, Promoting & Screening Your Movies
by Michael Glassbourg
Illustrated by Jeff Kulak
Owlkids
96 pp.
Ages 10-13
2013

Photographing Greatness: The Story of Karsh
by Lian Godall
Napoleon
96 pp.
Ages 11-14
2008







Readers of CanLit for LittleCanadians, please let me know of any titles I should add to this list. Thanks.

Ready, set, say Canadian cheddar!


August 17, 2016

All the World a Poem

by Gilles Tibo
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier
Translated by Erin Woods
Pajama Press
978-1-77278-009-3
32 pp.
Ages 5+
August 2016

The title All the World a Poem, taken from a poem "The Great Voice" by American professor of horticulture Liberty Hyde Bailey, launches an ardent tribute to both poetry and the natural world by award-winning author Gilles Tibo and rising star Manon Gauthier whose artwork recently  enriched the text of Elliot (Julie Pearson, Pajama Press, March 2016).

All the World a Poem is a lyrical odyssey examining the richness of poems in shape and content, place and time, purpose and destination. According to Gilles Tibo’s dreamy text, poetry can be anything and everything, filled with grace and love, both reverent and impassioning.
A poem has fallen from the sky,
slipping from a cloud.
A second has sprouted from the earth
like a rainbow flower.
A third floated in from the sea,
bobbing at the end of the big pier.
I gather up the three poems
and hold them to my heart.
Then I continue my journey
toward the endless country
of verses yet to come.
(pg. 14)
From All the World a Poem
by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Manon Gauthier
The translation from Gilles Tibo’s French Poésies pour la vie (Isatis, 2015) is beautifully rendered by Pajama Press’ own Erin Woods, who also capably gave English voice to Elliot (Pajama Press, 2016).  The text is sublime, a celebration of sounds and rhythms and expressive verse.  And Manon Gauthier again creates her distinctive illustrations of paper collage art that gives texture and whimsy a totally unique look.  The luxuriance of the words and the art is almost overwhelming in its intimate beauty.

All the World a Poem has the lightness and spiritual delicacy that suggests it could take flight. Fortunately, readers will discover that All the World a Poem has effortlessly become tethered by heart strings to our glorious world.
From All the World a Poem 
by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Manon Gauthier