July 04, 2022

White Lies

Written by Sara de Waard
224 pp.
Ages 13+
May 2022

Birthdays should be joyful celebrations, especially for young people. I know that lots have elaborate events (perhaps sometimes too extravagant) but for some the mere recognition of the day as auspicious would be enough. Sadly, for 15-year-old Missy Bell, her last three birthdays have been tortuous and her sixteenth is almost upon her and she has no reason to expect any different. Ever since the death of her younger brother Jeremy when she turned 13, Missy's special day has been marked by her parents behaving badly through their grief and Missy dealing with the fallout on top of her own loss and guilt. In fact, most of the time, they don't even recognize her needs, with her father Tim, whom she refers to alternately as Trick or Treat, wallowing in alcohol and other illegal substances, and her mother Susanna now in prison and unable to see beyond herself.  

An untethered Missy has found refuge at the vintage toy store of Ren Lin, where she organizes and cleans voluntarily for multiple hours most days of the week. Even though Ren's perfect daughter Valkyrie doesn't trust Missy and is often rude to her, the store is a far better choice than going home to a house with little, if any, food, and a father often drunk or high on the couch hurling abuse at her. By keeping the routine of working at the store, seeing her psychiatrist Dr. Tandalay every Monday, visiting her mother the first Wednesday of the month, and going to school, Missy is keeping it together. For now. 

But two new people enter her life and offer her something she's rarely experienced. First, there's the new custodian, Miss Maalouf, who extends supportive kindnesses to Missy. And then there's classmate Luke Geurtin, who also visits a mother at the penitentiary. Missy and Luke form an unorthodox relationship that is both supportive and hostile, as the two damaged teens try to navigate feckless parents, poverty and abuse, and systems purported to offer support. Only time will tell whether they can feel beyond their traumas and circumstances.
Sara de Waard, an author and screenwriter of Métis descent, has delved into numerous issues in White Lies, giving us a tough story about childhoods, or at least teen years, saturated with misery and discouragement. It's about young people not living their best lives because those who should be there for them aren't and, in fact, work against them, mistreating them with neglect or emotional abuse, and sometimes even physical harm. Those who should love them, their parents, give them very little but strangers like Miss Maalouf, Ren and even Missy and Luke for the other step up, offering what they can. But Missy and Luke are working at a deficit, trying to survive and, knowing that their parents are the only ones they have, make do. And still they persevere.
The soft ceiling tiles soften the profanities of the inmates, but can't silence them. The four-letter words puff from the ladies' mouths like rings of fire, blazing through the massive concrete gathering space. But they fall on my deaf ears. I'm used to it. Nothing shocks me now. I may look like china in a bull's shop, but I'm a matador of life's crap.  (pg. 22)
Thankfully, without solving all of Missy and Luke's problems, Sara de Waard has given them hope, in each other and in others–though perhaps not their parents–that perhaps a little kindness will help lift them out of difficult circumstances or at least sideways so they can avoid harm.

July 01, 2022

Upcoming Releases for Summer and Fall 2022


If anything is an indication that things in publishing are returning somewhat to normal, it's the plethora of new titles coming out in the fall of 2022.  September is especially crazy with almost 50 picture books due for release that month! I know that some of these titles have been delayed because of supply chain issues and curtailed work production but it's looking like the last half of 2022 will be a blockbuster for publication of books for youth by Canadian creators. And that's a win-win for everyone, readers and creators alike. 
What am I most looking forward to reading?
    • Courtney Summers's I'm the Girl (YA) 
    • Kenneth Oppel's Ghostlight (MG)
    • Kevin Sylvester's Apartment 713 (MG)
    • Angela Ahn's Double O Stephen and the Ghostly Realm (MG)
    • Miriam Körner's Fox and Bear (picture book)
and waiting desperately for 
    • Lesley Livingstone's Queen Among the Dead (YA for 2023)
Fingers crossed that some of these books cross my desk! (Thankfully, I'm the Girl is already here!)
I hope you find something here that excites you for your TBR list.
Happy reading!

Picture Books
Akpa's Journey by Mia Pelletier, illus. by Kagan McLeod (Inhabit Media) 
Just Bea by Kari-Lynn Winters, illus. by Nahid Kazemi (Tradewinds)
The Lonely Little Lighthouse by Lana Shupe, illus. by Maria Lesage (Nimbus)
A Spoonful of Frogs by Casey Lyall, illus. by Vera Brosgol (Greenwillow Books)
The Terrible, Horrible, Smelly Beach by Jacqueline Halsey and Carrie Muller, illus. by Paul G. Hammond (Nimbus) >>> sequel to The Terrible, Horrible, Smelly Pirate
The Three Hunters by Raymond Gianfrancesco and Grade 4 Class of Leo Ussak School, illus. by Thamires Paredes (Inhabit Media)
The Ugly Place by Laura Deal, illus. by Emma Pedersen (Inhabit Media)  

Early Readers and Chapter Books
Autumn Bird and the Runaway by Melanie Florence and Richard Scrimger (Scholastic Canada)
Burt's Way Home by John Martz (Tundra) >>> graphic novel
Horror House by Jeff Szpirglas (Scholastic Canada) >>> Countdown to Danger Choose Your Own Ending
The Return of the Mummy by Dom Pelletier (Scholastic Canada) >>> The Lunch Club #5 graphic novel
The Science of Boys by Emily Seo, illus. by Gracey Zhang (Tradewind)


Picture Books
A Baby Whale Ventures North by Samantha Baker, illus. by Dawn Baker (Flanker Press)
Bear Has a Belly by Jane Whittingham (Pajama Press) >>> Big, Little Concepts 5
Blanket by Ruth Ohi (Groundwood)
Boobies by Nancy Vo (Groundwood)
Brady Brady and the Cranky Kicker by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada) >>> Brady Brady hockey picture books
Dinos Driving by Lynn Leitch, illus. by Scot Ritchie (Pajama Press)
Lola Flies Alone by Bill Richardson, illus. by Bill Pechet (Running the Goat)
Luna's Green Pet by Kirsten Pendreigh, illus. by Carmen Mok (Sleeping Bear Press)
My Name is Saajin Singh by Kuljinder Kaur Brar, illus. by Samrath Kaur (Annick)
Sharon, Lois and Bram's One Elephant Went Out to Play by Randi Hampson, illus. by Qin Leng (Tundra) 

Early Readers and Chapter Books
Berani by Michelle Kadarusman (Pajama Press) 
The Book of Elsie by Joanne Levy (Orca) >>> Orca Currents
Double O Stephen and the Ghostly Realm by Angela Ahn (Tundra)
Fire on Headless Mountain by Iain Lawrence (Margaret Ferguson Books)
Forever, Truffle by Fanny Britt, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood) >>> graphic novel
The Further Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels, illus. by Emma Block (Tundra) >>> collection of stories
Legends of Funland by Melanie Florence (Orca) >>> Orca Currents
Luna by Loraine Kemp (Crwth Press)
Operation: Classified! by Caroline Héroux (Forbidden Press) >>> Do Not Enter!
She Holds Up the Stars by Sandra Laronde (Annick)
The Stone Child by David A. Robertson (Puffin Canada) >>> The Misewa Saga, Book 3
The U-nique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael (Pajama Press) 
Welcome to the Big Kids World! by Caroline Héroux (Forbidden Press) >>> Do Not Enter!

Young Adult
Ahiahia the Orphan by Levi Illuitok, illus. by Nate Wells (Inhabit Media) >>> graphic novel
Blood Like Fate by Liselle Sambury (Margaret K. McElderry)>>> Blood Like Magic #2
Careful What You Wish For by Mahtab Narsimhan (Orca) >>> Orca Anchor
Final Cut by Marty Chan (Orca) >>> Orca Anchor
Counting Scars by Melinda Di Lorenzo (Orca) >>> Orca Soundings
Murder at the Hotel Hopeless by John Lekich (Orca) >>> Orca Soundings
Silencing Rebecca by Nikki Vogel (Thistledown) 
A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I. Lin (Feiwel & Friends) >>> sequel to A Magic Steeped in Poison of The Book of Tea duology

Good Morning, Sunshine: The Joey Moss Story by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illus. by Alice Carter (Sleeping Bear Press)
Kid Trailblazers: True Tales of Childhood from Changemakers and Leaders by Robin Stevenson, illus. by Allison Steinfeld (Quirk Books) >>>Kid Legends series



Picture Books
Amō's Sapotawan by William Dumas, illus. by Rhian Brynjolson (HighWater Press) >>> The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak 2
Benny the Bananasaurus Rex by Sarabeth Holden, illus. by Emma Pedersen (Inhabit Media)
Brady Brady and the Special Goal by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada)>>> newest Brady Brady title
The Brass Charm by Monique Polak, illus. by Marie Lafrance (North Winds Press)
The Closet Ghosts by Uma Krishnaswami, illus. by Shiraaz Bhabra (Lee & Low)
Crazy for Hockey! by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Bruno St-Aubin (Scholastic Canada) >>> collection of five stories
Dancing with Our Ancestors by Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson, illus. by Janine Gibbons (HighWater Press) >>> Sk'ad'a Stories 4
Dear Black Child by Rahma Rodaah, illus. by Lydia Mba (HarperCollins)
Do You Wonder? by Wallace Edwards (North Winds Press)
Fiona the Fruit Bat by Dan Riskin, illus. by Rachel Qiuqi (Greystone)
Groundhog Night: Shubenacadie Sam's Shadow by Doretta Groenendyk (MacIntyre Purcell)
Hooray for Trucks! by Susan Hughes, illus. by Suharu Ogawa (Owlkids)
How to Party Like a Snail by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Kelly Collier (Owlkids) 
How to Teach Your Cat a Trick by Nicola Winstanley, illus. by Zoe Si (Tundra) >>> follow-up to How to Give Your Cat a Bath
I Can, Too! by Karen Autio, illus. by Laura Watson (Scholastic Canada) 
I Hear You, Ocean by Kallie George, illus. by Carmen Mok (Greystone) 
I Hope / nipakosêyimon by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard, trans. by Dolores Greyeyes Sand (Orca) >>> dual language English and Plains Cree; also available in English edition and French editions
If You Could Be Anything by Jennifer Britton, illus. by Briana Corr Scott (Nimbus)
It's My Body! by Elise Gravel (North Winds Press)
Jellies in the Belly: A sea turtle's Atlantic journey by Carol McDougall (Boulder Books)
Kindness is a Golden Heart by Jessica Kluthe, illus. by Charlene Chua (Orca)
Kumo by Kyo Maclear, illus. by Nathalie Dion (Tundra)
The Late, Great Endlings: Stories of the Last Survivors by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Aimée van Drimmelen (Orca) 
Leaves! by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (Scholastic Canada)
The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam (Owlkids)
Mi'kmaw Moons Through the Seasons by David F. Chapman and Cathy Jean LeBlanc, illus. by Loretta Gould (Formac) 
The Most Magnificent Idea by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press) >>> sequel to The Most Magnificent Thing 
Munsch More! A Robert Munsch Collection by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko, Alan Daniel, Lea Daniel and Eugenie Fernandes (Scholastic Canada) >>> six stories
My Self, Your Self by Esmé Shapiro (Tundra)
Night Lunch by Eric Fan, illus. by Dana Seiferling (Tundra)
Niitu and Chips by Babah Kalluk (Inhabit Media)
Nonna and the Girl Next Door by Gianna Patriarca, illus. by Ellie Arscott (Second Story Press)
Only the Trees Know by Jane Whittingham, illus. by Cinyee Chiu (Kids Can Press)
A Place for Pauline by Anouk Mahiout, illus. by Marjolaine Perreten (Groundwood)
Returning to the Yakoun River by Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson, illus. by Janine Gibbons (HighWater Press) >>> Sk'ad'a Stories 3
A Starlit Trip to the Library by Andrew Katz and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel, illus. by Joseph Sherman (CrackBoom! Books) >>> includes song by Splash'N Boots Taes Leavitt
Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie, illus. by Julie Flett (Greystone)
To Boston with Love: The Story of the Nova Scotia Christmas Tree by John DeMont, illus. by Belle DeMont (MacIntyre Purcell)
Truck! by Doretta Groenendyk (Acorn Press)
A Wee Boo by Jessica Boyd, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan (Orca)
Welcome, Dark by Charis St. Pierre, illus. by Rachel Wada (Orca)
When Spider Met Shrew by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Geneviève Côté (Groundwood)

Early Readers and Chapter Books
Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster (Central Avenue Publishing) >>> Book 9 in Amanda Travels series
Apartment 713 by Kevin Sylvester (HarperCollins Canada)
Asha and Baz Meet Mary Sherman Morgan by Caroline Fernandez,  illus. by Dharmali Patel (Common Deer Press) 
Best Wishes by Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic) >>> Book 1 in new series Best Wishes
The Case of the Rigged Race by Michael Hutchinson (Second Story Press) >>> A Mighty Muskrats Mystery 4
From Anne by Jean Little (Scholastic Canada) >>> 50th anniversary edition!
Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel (Tundra) 
Green Mountain Academy by Frances Greenslade (Tundra)
Hidden on the High Wire by Kathy Kacer (Second Story Press) >>> Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers
In the Game by Kevin Sylvester (Scholastic Canada)>>> Book 6 in Hockey Super Six series
Izzy's Tail of Trouble by Caroline Adderson, illus. by Kelly Collier (Kids Can Press) 
Lark Steals the Show by Natasha Deen (Orca) >>> Orca Echoes
Mortimer by Joan Marie Galat (DCB)
My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling (Groundwood) >>> 30th anniversary edition
Where the Crooked Lighthouse Shines by Joshua Goudie, illus. by Craig Goudie (Breakwater Books) >>> collection of narrative poems
Why Are You Still Here? by Lynda Partridge (Durvile) >>> A Lilian Mystery
Winterkill by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic)

Young Adult
Behind the Label: Gloria and Willa by Lorna Schultz Nicholson (Red Deer Press) >>> newest title in One-2-One series
A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp, illus. by Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk (HighWater Press) >>> 2nd edition of first book in The Spirit of Denendeh graphic novel series
Daughters of the Dawn by Sarena and Sasha Nanua (HarperTeen) >>> Ria & Rani Book 2
Escape from the Wildfire by Dorothy Bentley (Lorimer)
Faded Glimpses of Time by Nyah Nichol (Common Deer Press) >>> The Tempus Trilogy Book 2
I'm the Girl by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)
Jordan and Max, Field Trip! by Suzanne Sutherland, illus. by Michelle Simpson (Orca) >>> Orca Echoes
Made 4 You by Eric Walters (DCB)
Meet Me in Mumbai by Sabina Khan (PUSH)
Not Talking About You by Kevin Heron Jones (Lorimer)
Running Through It by Lorie Scarfarotti (Red Deer Press) 
Union by Sara Cassidy (Orca)

Amazing Hockey Trivia for Kids by Eric Zweig (Scholastic Canada)
Carey Price by Lorna Schultz Nicholson (Scholastic Canada) >>> Amazing Stories
Child of Morning Star: Embers of an Ancient Dawn by Antoine Mountain (Durvile)
How to Become an Accidental Entrepreneur by Elizabeth Macleod and Frieda Wishinsky, illus. by Jenn Playford (Orca) >>> Accidental series 3
How to Feed Backyard Birds: A Step-By-Step Guide for Kids by Chris Earley (Firefly Books)
Listen Up! Exploring the World of Natural Sound by Stephen Aitken (Orca) >>> Orca Footprints 24
Meet J. Armand Bombardier by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas (Scholastic Canada) >>> Scholastic Canada Biography
The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers: A Tour of Your Useless Parts, Flaws, and Other Weird Bits by Rachel Poliquin, illus. by Clayton Hanmer (Greystone) 
One Tiny Bubble: The Story of Our Last Universal Common Ancestor by Karen Krossing, illus. by Dawn Lo (Owkids)
Poopy Science: Getting to the Bottom of What Comes Out Your Bottom by Edward Kay, illus. by Mike Shiell (Kids Can Press) >>> Gross Science series
The Raven Mother by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), illus. by Natasha Donovan (HighWater Press) >>>Mothers of Xsan 6
Righting Canada's Wrongs: The LGBT Purge and the Fight for Equal Rights in Canada by Ken Setterington (Lorimer)
Rock? Plant? Animal? by Etta Kaner, illus. by Brittany Lane (Owlkids) 
Secret Schools: True Stories of the Determination to Learn by Heather Camlot, illus. by Erin Taniguchi (Owlkids)
Severn Speaks Out by Severn Cullis-Suzuki, illus. by Ana Suárez (Groundwood) >>> Speak Out 1
Ta-Da! A Story of Egg Donation by Ella Kay, Illus. by Farida Zaman (Second Story Press)
Whales to the Rescue: How Whales Help Engineer the Planet by Adrienne Mason, illus. by Kim Smith (Kids Can Press)
Why Humans Build Up: The Rise of Towers, Temples and Scrapers by Gregor Craigie, illus. by Kathleen Fu (Orca)
A Wonderful Bigness by Diana Daly, illus. by Bruce Alcock (Running the Goat)


Picture Books
Abalone Woman by Teoni Spathelfer, illus. by Natassia Davies (Heritage House)
Anna Maria and Maestro Vivaldi by Jan L. Coates, illus. by François Thisdale (Red Deer Press)
Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock by Linda Bailey, illus. by Isabelle Follath (Tundra) >>> another Who Wrote Classics book
Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tanya Spillett-Sumner, illus. by Salini Perera (Owlkids)
The Bird Feeder by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Dorothy Leung (Kids Can Press)
Boney by Cary Fagan, illus. by Dasha Tolstikova (Groundwood)
The Digger Dance by Judy Ann Sadler, illus. by Yong Ling Kang (Owlkids)
Fox and Bear by Miriam Körner (Red Deer Press)
Grandpa's Stars by Carolyn Huizinga Mills, illus. by Samantha Lucy Haslem (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
kā-āciwīkicik / The Move by Doris George and Don K. Philpot, illus. by Alyssa Koski (Heritage House)
Little Pea by Davide Cali, illus. by Sébastien Mourrain (Milky Way) 
The Many Hats of Louie the Rat by Sakshi Mangal (Owlkids)
My Ittu by Laura Deal, illus. by Thamires Paredes (Inhabit Media) 
My Promise by Dr. Jillian Roberts, illus. by Slavka Kolesar (Orca)
Night Runners by Geraldo Valério (Groundwood)
Oolichan Moon by Samantha Beynon, illus. by Lucy Trimble (Harbour Publishing) 
Pebbles to the Sea by Marie-Andrée Arsenault, illus. by Dominique Leroux, trans. by Shelley Tanaka (Groundwood)
Phoenix Gets Greater by Marty Wilson-Trudeau with Phoenix Wilson, illus. by Megan Kyak-Monteith (Second Story Press)
Revenge of the Raccoons by Vivek Shraya, illus. by Juliana Neufeld (Owlkids)
Santa ABC by George Brewster (HarperCollins)
Scaredy Squirrel Visits the Doctor by Melanie Watt (Tundra)
Smash by Addam Schafer, illus. by Noel Tuazon (Red Deer Press) 
Star: The Bird Who Inspired Mozart by Mireille Messier, illus. by Matte Stephens (Tundra)
That's My Sweater! by Jessika Von Innerebner (North Winds Press)
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Orchard Books)
Together We Drum, Our Hearts Beat As One by Willie Poll, illus. by Chief Lady Bird (Arsenal Pulp Press)
The Tray of Togetherness by Flo Leung (Owlkids)
Two Crows by Susan Vande Griek, illus. by Emma FitzGerald (Nimbus)
To My Panik: To My Daughter by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. by Pelin Turgut (Inhabit Media)
The Underpants by Tammi Sauer, illus. by Joren Cull (Scholastic)
We Are Many by Dave Cameron, illus. by Suharu Ogawa (Kids Can Press)

Early Readers and Chapter Books
AWOL by Marla Lesage (Orca) >>> graphic novel
Babble! And How Punctuation Saved It by Caroline Adderson, illus. by Roman Muradov (Tundra)
The Basketball Game by Hart Snider, illus. by Sean Covernton (Firefly Books) >>> graphic novel adaptation of NFB short of same name 
Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer and the Christmas Dinner Rescue by Bruce Nunn, illus. by Brenda Jones (Nimbus) >>> Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer 3
Fly by Alison Hughes (Kids Can Press) 
Honey and Me by Meira Drazin (Scholastic)
How to Be a Goldfish by Jane Baird Warren (Scholastic Canada)
Knight of the Rails by Christine Welldon (Red Deer Press)
Oculum Echo by Philippa Dowdings (DCB) >>> sequel to Oculum
One More Mountain by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood) >>> a Breadwinner book
The Power of the Pearl Earrings by Linda Trinh, illus. by Clayton Nguyen (Annick) >>> Book 2 in new early reader series The Nguyen Kids
The Prisoner and the Writer by Heather Camlot, illus. by Sophie Casson (Groundwood)
The Rabbit's Gift by Jessica Vitalis (Greenwillow Books)
The Secret of the Jade Bangle by Linda Trinh, illus. by Clayton Nguyen (Annick) >>> Book 1 in new early reader series The Nguyen Kids
Seekers of the Fox by Kevin Sands (Tundra) >>> Thieves of Shadow 2
Simon and Chester: Super Sleepover! by Cale Atkinson (Tundra) >>> Simon and Chester #2
The Sorcerer's Revenge by Kristin Butcher (Crwth Press) >>> The Seer Trilogy 2
A Spartan at Sea by James McCann (Crwth Press) >>> sequel to The Three Spartans
This Game of War by Ed Butts (Ronsdale)
Weird Rules to Follow by Kim Spencer (Orca)
The Wolf Suit by Sid Sharp (Annick) >>> graphic novel

Young Adult
The Book of Us by Shane Peacock (DCB)
Heartbreak Homes by Jo Treggiari (Nimbus)
A House Unsettled by Trynne Delaney (Annick) 
In the Key of Dale by Benjamin Lefevre (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Magenta by E. Graziani (Fire & Ice YA Books)
Suck It In and Smile by Laurence Beaudoin-Masse, trans. by Shelley Tanaka (Groundwood)

Baby Alligator by Aubrey Lang, photos by Wayne Lynch (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) 
Beware the Burmese Pythons and Other Invasive Animal Species by Etta Kaner, illus. by Phil Nicolls (Kids Can Press)
Big Sharks, Small World by Mark Leiren-Young (Orca)
Canada Wild: Animals Found Nowhere Else on Earth by Maria Birmingham, illlus. by Alex MacAskill (Nimbus)
Her Courage Rises: 50 Trailblazing Women of British Columbia and Yukon by Haley Healey, illus. by Kimiko Fraser (Heritage House)
Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Unsung Women of the Holocaust by Sarah Silberstein Swartz (Second Story Press)
If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs by Colleen Nelson and Kathie MacIsaac (Pajama Press)
The Late Great Endlings: Stories of the Last Survivors by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Aimée van Drimmelen (Orca)
Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night by Julie Kuo (Greystone)
More Than Money: How Economic Inequality Affects Everything by Hadley Dyer and Mitchell Bernard, illus. by Paul Gill (Annick) 
Sharks Forever: The Mystery and History of the Planet's Perfect Predator by Mark Leiren-Young (Orca) >>> Orca Wild 9
Superpower? The Wearable-Tech Revolution by Elaine Kachala, illus. by Belle Wuthrich (Orca) >>> Orca Think 7
The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Celebration of Nature by Briana Corr Scott (Nimbus)
Where We Live: Mapping Neighborhoods of Kids Around the Globe by Margriet Ruurs, illus. by Wenjia Tang (Kids Can Press)


Picture Books
Cocoa Magic by Sandra Bradley, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard (Pajama Press) 
Let's Add Up! by Victoria Allenby, illus. by Maggie Zeng (Pajama Press)
While You Sleep by Jennifer Maruno, illus. by Miki Sato (Pajama Press)

Early Readers and Chapter Books
Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse by Marthe Jocelyn (Tundra) >>> Book 4 in Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen series
Simon and Chester: Super Family by Cale Atkinson (Tundra) >>> Simon and Chester #3
This is It, Lark Harnish by Laura Best (Nimbus)
Weenie With Frank and Beans: Mad about Meatloaf by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Alexandra Bye (Tundra) >>> new early reader graphic novel series

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, adapted by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Nicole Neidhardt (Zest Books/Lerner)
The Possible Lives of W. H., Sailor by Bushra Junaid (Running the Goat)
Searching Beyond the Stars: Seven Women in Science Take On Space's Biggest Questions by Nicole Mortillaro, illus. by Amanda Key (Annick)

*Really? No titles set for December release?




Picture Books
Amik's Big Day by Nancy Cooper, illus. by Joshua Pawis Steckley (Owlkids)
Kiri's Tear by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Sophia Choi (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Early Readers and Chapter Books
Boldly Go by Eric Walters (Orca) >>> 2nd in Teen Astronauts series
Young Adult
Queen Among the Dead by Lesley Livingston (Zando Young Readers) 
Then Everything Happens at Once by M-E Girard (HarperTeen)
When You Were New by Jennifer Harris (HarperCollins)
The Girl Who Built an Ocean by Jess Keating, illus. by Michelle Mee Nutter (Knopf)


June 28, 2022

Pugs Cause Traffic Jams

Written by Jennifer McGrath
Illustrated by Kathryn Durst
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
May 2022
When Kirby, her pug, goes missing, this child searches all over town, inquiring of others with their own dogs, as to any sightings. There's Mrs. Gossman with her golden retriever and Mr. McCraig the crossing guard with his helpful border collie. Then there's Casey with his ball-playing lab and Jo and Jan with their Doberman. There are countless dogs and their people all over town and, while she politely asks for help finding her chubby pug with his macaroni-shaped tail, Kirby is out on the road causing mayhem for drivers and then the police and the community as a whole.
From Pugs Cause Traffic James by Jennifer McGrath, illus. by Kathryn Durst
There are poodles and chihuahuas, huskies and terriers, German shepherds, afghans and basenjis. But no Kirby, the pug, who has left the comforts of his home to follow a butterfly.
From Pugs Cause Traffic James by Jennifer McGrath, illus. by Kathryn Durst
And, oh, the chaos while Kirby plays with the butterfly, oblivious to everyone around him trying to avoid him and instead having collisions and dropping their loads and getting snarled in traffic. But, it's with that attention–in fact, Kirby becomes a bit of a celebrity–that the child is able to finally be reunited with her beloved pooch.
From Pugs Cause Traffic James by Jennifer McGrath, illus. by Kathryn Durst
My, my, my! Kirby may be unaware of the pandemonium and subsequent distinction given to him–there is a sign "Pug 4 Prez" and pugarazzi wanting his pawtograph–but he has always been a star to his girl. His household toys, treats, food and sleeping accommodations suggest a well-loved dog, not unlike the plethora of other breeds that ride in cars with their people, play and work and offer companionship. So, while New Brunswick author Jennifer McGrath introduces young readers to many, many dog breeds and their characteristics, she puts her tongue firmly in cheek, makes a few puns, and lets us join Kirby on his adventure, ultimately a safe one, to be the playful rover of Pugs Cause Traffic Jams. Moreover, Jennifer McGrath shows us the absurdity of those who declare celebrity for trifling matters, with photographers, police, podcasters, news people and fans pursuing the latest trend without question. It's only the children who notice Kirby for the lost dog that he is.

While there's a lot of accuracy in Toronto artist Kathryn Durst's illustrations, easily distinguishing the various dog breeds with their colourings, temperaments and morphologies, she keeps the artwork playful and energized, suitable for a story of an AWOL dog who unknowingly creates havoc. As bold as Kirby's spirit for adventure are Kathryn Durst's art created in pencil and pencil crayon with digital graphic apps Procreate and Photoshop. The illustrations are striking in their colour and shape, offering semi-realism with cartoon sass.

For young readers and especially those who are dog-lovers, Pugs Cause Traffic Jams will make them think twice about dropping their guard around their audacious pets, especially those special pugs, but also recognize that celebrating their pets' uniqueness doesn't require the spotlight of social media. Just being their canine selves should be enough to afford love and attention.

June 26, 2022

2022 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards: Winners announced

On June 22, 2022, the Ontario Arts Council announced the winners of the 2022 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards as selected by two juries of young readers at North York’s Faywood Arts-Based Curriculum School.

A jury of four students in grade 4 selected the recipient of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 8 students selected the winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.

Congratulations to both winners and to the juries for their auspicious selections!

Winner of the
 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz 
Children’s Picture Book Award
Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know
Written by Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Anishinaabemowin translation by Alvin Ted Corbiere and Alan Corbiere
Groundwood Press
44 pp.
All ages
 • • • • • • •
Winner of the
 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz 
Young Adult / Middle Reader Award

Written by Philippa Dowding
200 pp.
Ages 9-12

June 23, 2022

Annie's Cat is Sad

Written by Heather Smith
Illustrated by Karen Obuhanych
Feiwel and Friends
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
June 2022
When Annie comes home from school and her cat Delilah does not rush to see her or even want to hang out with her, Annie is convinced that Delilah is sad. But what to do when your cat is sad?
From Annie's Cat is Sad by Heather Smith, illus. by Karen Obuhanych
Though Annie is delighted to see Delilah, having missed her while at school, she needs to seek out her cat. But Delilah seems to want to be alone, hiding beneath the sofa. Annie understands and tries to do whatever she can to draw Delilah out and make her happy.
From Annie's Cat is Sad by Heather Smith, illus. by Karen Obuhanych
She warms some milk, tops it with whipping cream, makes a joke–it's a cattuccino–and offers a hug. Then Annie turns on the TV and invites Delilah to join her in some yoga, making up her own colourful poses.
From Annie's Cat is Sad by Heather Smith, illus. by Karen Obuhanych
But as she tries to engage Delilah, it's obvious that it's Annie who has had a bad day, and it may be Delilah who will help the orange-haired child deal with her sadness when the other strategies don't work.

No one likes to see someone they care for in distress, whether from fear or sadness or trauma. While a young reader will undoubtedly understand a beloved pet who is not acting like itself and be concerned, they will also empathize with coming home from a bad day at school and looking to their furry friend for solace. As a parent and a kind person, Heather Smith understands this and makes sure that children will accept that bad days happen and there are different ways to cope. Sometimes those strategies work and sometimes they don't. But the best thing to do is try to find what works for you. It may just be a cuddle with a cat who understands better than you that sadness has taken hold. 

It's a very light touch that Heather Smith has taken with Annie's Cat is Sad. She can do angsty and heavy (The Agony of Bun O'Keefe and Chicken Girl are but two young adult examples) but Heather Smith excels at the subtle, allowing young people to take from the text the meaning that they need to read. (Her award-winning The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden is another prime example.) That's especially poignant when her readers need to read between the lines and with cues from Hawaii's Karen Obuhanych's illustrations. Take the understated line, "I just want you to know. It's okay to cry." with an illustration of a tear dropping from Annie's eye as a large-eyed Delilah watches. We as readers may be watching Delilah for most of the story, wondering what it would take to make her less sad, and charmed by Karen Obuhanych's grey tabby with the pink nose and green eyes. But, Annie with her voluminous ginger hair is really the star and young readers will want to go back over the story is find the clues that it was really Annie who was dealing with the bad day.

Whether feline or human, child or adult, we have bad days. And, as Annie ostensibly strives to help Delilah through hers, she provides examples for all to distract themselves from their temporary troubles, and assure them that support can be found, especially when you share your burdens.

June 21, 2022

Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine

Written and illustrated by Jo Rioux
First Second
128 pp.
Ages 8-12
June 2022
Discovered as a foundling by some merchants in a travelling camp, Suri is both sheltered, by most of the merchants, and vilified, by the leader Leon. Like other kids in the camp, she tries to earn her keep, and telling stories is one of her occupations, though her aspiration is to be a monster tamer. In their valley of Galatea, protected by the mountain range called the Giant's Belt through which monsters occasionally enter via a gap named the Monster's Cradle, there are those who capture monsters for bounty. In fact, there is currently a monster being held captive, ready for sale to the Prince, in the wagon of a strange little man who clangs when he walks. (It is said he has a cold, dead heart that clangs in his chest.) But while telling her story to her paying customers, Suri takes them to the wagon to show them she isn't afraid of the monster. She not only approaches the creature who is only visible by its glowing eyes but she communicates with it and learns that, like her, it's lonely. That connection will serve her well.
From Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux
After her encounter with the monster, she purchases a dragon’s tooth which she is assured will awaken great power within her. Still, while evading Leon, she meets a boy with a package of fish doughnuts and a pile of pillows he sells. When she starts telling him that she is a monster tamer and can recognize a caitsith–even when in human form they have a tail–the boy races away from her, leaving behind several items including a ball of golden twine which she uses to secure her dragon’s tooth as a necklace.
From Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux
Later Suri is pursued by the boy and his friends for the return of his property. Convinced they want her dragon’s tooth, she takes shelter in the monster’s wagon before escaping with the creature’s help and beginning a new adventure away from the camp and heading into the land of the monsters to do a good deed and hopefully stay ahead of some nasty beasts, both human and monster, and become the monster tamer she aspires to be. 
This is Jo Rioux's first graphic novel as author and illustrator, having previously provided the compelling artwork for picture books like The Legend of Lightning and Thunder and graphic novels like The Daughters of Ys and A Sam and Friends Mystery series. Some may recognize the title, Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine as a previous publication (Kids Can Press, 2012) but this edition has been reimagined and completely redrawn by Jo Rioux, making it fresh and new and ready to complete Suri's adventures in the remaining books of this trilogy. 
Middle-grade graphic novels are always a hit and especially when they include fantasy elements like jackalopes, leshii and basilisks, mythological creatures from across cultures. Then add a young protagonist who must deal with being abandoned and trying to find her place in the world and working towards a goal that others think impossible for a girl, and you've got a full story of empowerment, fantasy, and action. With Book 2, The Mole King's Lair, in the works, young readers should know soon enough how successful Suri is in her quests.
From Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux

June 18, 2022


Written by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
176 pp.
Ages 14-18
RL 2.7
February 2022
When September started, seventeen-year-old Nova's senior year was looking pretty good. She was excelling at her school work and already had early acceptance to U of T for science, as a precursor to med school. She was part of their high school's power couple, having dated star swimmer Leo for the past 5 months. She had a regular gig tutoring students and she was on the swim team too. But Denial begins the following May with Nova covered in blood and worried about what she'd done. Evidently, life wasn't as perfect as Nova had thought.

Though he's not pressuring her to have sex, Leo makes it clear that's what he's interested in. Fortunately, Nova wants her first time to be perfect and to ensure she gets on the pill first, having heeded her mother's own experiences with a teen pregnancy that resulted in Nova's half-brother Brad, currently living in Thailand after dropping out of university. But, while she's anxious and excited at the prospect of losing her virginity to the guy she loves, Nova is also considering it in the context of quitting the swim team–she's probably the weakest on it–and of leaving Leo exposed to the machinations of the star female swimmer, Jada, who seems to be trying to drive a wedge between Nova and Leo.

But that perfect senior year with the love of her life slowly seems to become something else. Battling tension within the family, between her parents who've had to restructure their lives after Dad lost his job and between her parents and Brad after he ditched university, and with her jealousy of Jada and Leo's increasing unavailability as he tries out for the national team, Nova is finding it hard to cope. And, with Lorna Schultz Nicholson peppering the chapters that document the school year with the glimpses into the May fiasco that may result in a death, Denial becomes a heavy but relatable story of first loves and school stresses with a touch of family drama.

Being in denial is an easy attitude. It's sticking with the status quo, the familiar, even if the familiar is unhealthy, suspicious, or jeopardous. And there's a lot of denial in Denial. (Duh.) But, as easy as denial can be, it is also a powerful force. It makes you see things you don't and ignore things that are evident to everyone. So when you're a teen and don't have decades of life experience to inform you, denial is really easy and Lorna Schultz Nicholson gets that. While she is well-known for her stories rich in sports (e.g., rowing in When You Least Expect It and hockey in Taking the Ice), it's her finesse in addressing issues important to teens that has always impressed me. Whether it's trauma or disabilities, peer pressure or teen sex, Lorna Schultz Nicholson knows how to write about the angst of being a teen and balancing friends, family, school and love. She allows teens to be human and make mistakes, even huge mistakes based in denial, but also to recover from them and move forward. And when you're a teen and everything is monumental and seems life-ending, Lorna Schultz Nicholson gives you hope that life-changing is the norm and can be transformative rather than ruinous.