July 03, 2015

Grant and Tillie Go Walking

by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books
978-1-55498-446-6
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
August, 2015

Although I’m feverishly trying to catch up on overdue book reviews since health issues have me backlogged, I dreamed over and over again about the book Grant and Tillie Go Walking last night and felt compelled to review it today.  

A farm boy in Iowa, Grant was a part of the rural landscape, though he dreamed of adventure and excitement beyond the farm or so he tells his cow Tillie, his faithful companion and great giver of milk.  So off he goes to Paris, hopeful of becoming a true artist.  But, try as he might look like an artist in his beret and goatee, his artwork is missing something.  Just as Tillie is missing Grant, Grant is missing home,  “the place he loved and the people he knew best.” (pg. 31).  And returning home, a place he’d thought he hadn’t belonged, brought the inspiration for one of his most famous paintings, that of his sister Nan and the family dentist as a stern farming couple.
While the Grant of the title is modern artist Grant Wood (1891-1942), the story Monica Kulling has created about the American is a fictionalized account of how he became an artist and the artist of the iconic painting American Gothic (1930).  It’s about trying to belong and be who you think you are and of coming home.  Whether illustrator Sydney Smith feels any connection with Grant Wood’s modernist ways, I don’t know.  But I do know that both artists’ work demonstrates the heart of his community at its core.  Sydney Smith might live in Toronto and not in rural Iowa (see his sketches at http://sydneydraws.tumblr.com) but his subtle, speckled illustrations in Grant and Tillie Go Walking radiate the down-to-earth art of Grant Wood without mimicking it.  Grant and Tillie Go Walking is an exemplary story of how an artist came to be an artist appreciatively told through the words and pictures of two artists in their own right.

July 01, 2015

CBC Books shares 100 Young Adult books that make Canadians proud!


To help celebrate Canada Day, CBC Books has annually compiled lists of books that make us proud to be Canadian.  This year, that list honours young adult books.  It's an astounding list of classics and contemporary gems that brings attention to phenomenal youngCanLit.  There are award winners of the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children and the Young Adult Book of the Year; from the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading; and from the Canadian Children's Book Centre and TD Literature Awards.  And there are those which were published before any children's book awards were even established but would have won hands down, having wormed their way into our Canadian lit hearts.

I'm pleased to share their list, with cover art, here and have included links to reviews for those few I've shared with you here on CanLit for LittleCanadians.  So here is CBC Books list of. . .

100 Young Adult Books 
That Make You Proud to be Canadian

40 Things I Want to Tell You 
by Alice Kuipers
Review

A Spy in the House 
by Y.S. Lee 

A Thousand Shades of Blue 
by Robin Stevenson

Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me
by Julie Johnston 

Airborn 
by Kenneth Oppel

Alice, I Think 
by Susan Juby 

Anne of Green Gables 
by L M. Montgomery

Arctic Thunder 
by Robert Feagan

Ashes, Ashes 
by Jo Treggiari
Review 

At Risk 
by Jacqueline Guest 

Audacious 
by Gabrielle Prendergrast

Awake and Dreaming 
by Kit Pearson 

Bad Boy 
by Diana Wieler

Baygirl 
by Heather T. Smith

Between Sisters 
by Adwoa Badoe

Chanda's Secrets 
by Allan Stratton

Chasing Freedom 
by Gloria Ann Wesley

Child of Dandelions 
by Shenaaz Nanji 

Darkest Light 
by Hiromi Goto
Review

Demon Gate 
by Marty Chan 

Dust 
by Arthur Slade

Elijah of Buxton 
by Christopher Paul Curtis 

Escape to Gold Mountain 
by David H.T. Wong

Eye of the Crow 
by Shane Peacock

Fishtailing 
by Wendy Phillips

From Anna 
by Jean Little

Gemini Summer 
by Iain Lawrence

God Loves Hair 
by Vivek Shraya 

Good for Nothing 
by Michel Noel

Graffiti Knight 
by Karen Bass 
Greener Grass 
by Caroline Pignat

Hana's Suitcase 
by Karen Levine
10th anniversary post

Hangman in the Mirror 
by Kate Cayley

Harriet's Daughter 
by Marlene NourbeSe Philip

Held 
by Edeet Ravel

Him Standing 
by Richard Wagamese

Hold Fast 
by Kevin Major

Hunger Journeys 
by Maggie DeVries 

I Am Algonquin 
by Rick Revell

In Search of April Raintree 
by Beatrice Culleton Mosionier

Innercity Girl Like Me
by Sabrina Bernardo

Little Brother 
by Cory Doctorow 

Lost in the Barrens 
by Farley Mowat

Money Boy 
by Paul Yee 

Murder on the Canadian
by Eric Wilson

My Book of Life by Angel 
by Martine Leavitt 
Night Runner 
by Max Turner

Nix Minus One 
by Jill MacLean 

Nobody Cries at Bingo 
by Dawn Dumont

Not Suitable for Family Viewing 
by Vicki Grant 

Obasan 
by Joy Kogawa

Odd Man Out 
by Sarah Ellis 

One in Every Crowd 
by Ivan E. Coyote

Pirate's Passage 
by William Gilkerson

Plain Kate 
by Erin Bow

Prairie Ostrich 
by Tamai Kobayashi

Run 
by Eric Walters

Shadow in Hawthorn Bay 
by Janet Lunn 

Shadows Cast by Stars 
by Catherine Knutsson

Shine, Coconut Moon 
by Neesha Meminger 

Skim 
by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki

Skraelings 
by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Slash 
by Jeannette Armstrong

Stitches 
by Glen Huser

Stones for My Father 
by Trilby Kent

Sugar Falls 
by David Alexander Robertson

Susceptible 
by Geneviève Castrée

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea 
by Shyam Selvadurai 

The Breadwinner 
by Deborah Ellis

The Crazy Man 
by Pamela Porter 

The Dream Carvers 
by Joan Clark

The Girls They Left Behind 
by Bernice Thurman Hunter

The Gravesavers 
by Sheree Fitch

The Keeper of the Isis Light
by Monica Hughes

The Landing
by John Ibbitson

The Lynching of Louie Sam
by Elizabeth Stewart

The Maestro
by Tim Wynne-Jones

The Night Wanderer
by Drew Hayden Taylor

The Painted Boy
by Charles de Lint

The Prince of Neither Here Nor There
by Seán Cullen

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
by Susin Nielsen
Review

The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley
by Jan Andrews
The Summoning
by Kelley Armstrong

The Tiffin
by Mahtab Narsimhan
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Review

The Wondrous Woo
by Carrianne K.Y. Leung

This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall
by Gordon Korman

Throwaway Daughter
by Ting-Xing Te with William Bell

Thunder Over Kandahar
by Sharon C. McKay

Tilt
by Alan Cumyn

To Dance at the Palais Royale
by Janet McNaughton

True Confessions of a Heartless Girl
by Martha Brooks

Underground to Canada
by Barbara Smucker

Wanting Mor
by Rukhsana Khan

What World Is Left
by Monique Polak

When Everything Feels like the Movies
by Raziel Reid

Who Has Seen the Wind
by W. O. Mitchell

Wild Orchid
by Beverley Brenna

Will's Garden
by Lee Maracle

Wondrous Strange
by Lesley Livingston










n.b. I have to admit that I have only read 47 of the 100 listed here.  I've still got lots of good reading ahead.  

Happy Canada Day!