January 28, 2016

Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni’s Ice Machine (Great Ideas Series)

Written by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
January 2016

It’s always a great day when another of Monica Kulling’s Great Ideas Series books comes out.  These illustrated biographies, enhanced with artwork by an assortment of talented Canadian illustrators, highlight key individuals whose innovations we have come to rely upon but about whose stories we often know so little.  There’s been George Eastman’s photography, Elijah McCoy’s invention for oiling train engines, Elisha Otis’ elevator, Margaret Knight’s paper bags, Lillian Gilbreth’s efficient kitchen, Marconi’s wireless and now an invention dearly loved by hockey fans the world over, the Zamboni invented by Frank Zamboni.

Opening with a poem called Bone Blades that emphasizes “a way to fly around, when ice is on the ground”, Monica Kulling takes young readers to the early 1940s when Frank Zamboni and his brother and cousin opened their Iceland Skating Rink.  Resurfacing the ice, while skaters waited, was a time-consuming endeavour of a tractor levelling out the pits and grooves, a crew shovelling away the shavings, washing the surface and then spraying with fresh water, and all before a gleaming finish was added by hot water.

Having learned to tinker with trucks and tractors on their Idaho farm and working at his brother’s auto repair shop in California, as well as studying at an electrical school in Chicago, Frank was a busy man, working with his brother Lawrence doing electrical work, drilling wells, installing pumps and then making ice for home ice-boxes.  It wasn’t a big jump to making ice rinks with the smoothest surfaces ever.

But it wasn’t until after the war that Frank was able to buy military parts that became the foundation for his ice-resurfacing machine and a version of his famous Zamboni machine was created.

Oh, how I wish that the Zamboni had been a Canadian invention.  It seems so quintessentially Canadian.  But Monica Kulling still makes the reader applaud for the innovation and brilliance of Frank Zamboni to find a ground-breaking solution to a common problem.  By sweeping in details about his early years and training, as well as family and engineering development, in addition to some Zippity Zamboni! fun facts appended to the story, Monica Kulling again demonstrates how extraordinary developments can arise from very ordinary circumstances.

Having Renné Benoit, whose artwork has graced award-winning picture books such as Lily and the Paper Man (2007), Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion (2009), and The Secret of the Village Fool (2012) as well as the recent A Year of Borrowed Men (2015), do the illustrations for Clean Sweep! seems intuitive, as she creates memorable work that feels like old photographs from a bygone era.  Her colours and lines are soft and sepia-like, both light and substantial, depicting people and places of a different time so naturally.

Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni’s Ice Machine is a fresh take on a historic innovation told simply but with sparkle by Monica Kulling and perfected by Renné Benoit’s art.

I encourage teachers to consider using this wonderful series for teaching biographies to young children.  Clean Sweep! and others in the series demonstrate an innovative way to share someone’s life story without the boring parts that are so often embedded in the teaching of biographical literature.

Here is a complete list of Great Ideas Series books, including upcoming releases:

  1. It’s a Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph (Tundra, 2009)
  2. All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine (Tundra, 2010)
  3. In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up (Tundra, 2011)
  4. Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top (Tundra, 2012)
  5. Making Contact! Marconi Goes Wireless (Tundra, 2013)
  6. Spic-and-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen (Tundra, 2014)
  7. Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni’s Ice Machine (Tundra, Jan/2016)
  8. To the Rescue! Garrett Morgan’s Underground (Tundra, Jan/2016)
  9. Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge (Tundra, Aug/2016)

January 27, 2016

Jockey Girl: Book launch (Toronto)

Shelley Peterson

youngCanLit author of 

Dancer (Porcupine's Quill, 1996)
Abby Malone (Porcupine's Quill, 1999)
Stagestruck (Dancing Cat Books, 2010)
Mystery at Saddle Creek (Dancing Cat Books, 2010)
Sundancer  (Dancing Cat Books, 2011)
Dark Days at Saddle Creek (Dancing Cat Books, 2012)

in conjunction with

St. Michael's Foundation
publisher Dundurn Press

for the launch of her newest book

Jockey Girl
Dundurn Press
320 pp.
Ages 10-16
Febryary 2016

on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

5:30-7:30 p.m.
Remarks at 6 p.m.


St. Michael's Hospital
Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
209 Victoria St.
(NE corner of Victoria and Shuter)
Toronto, ON

RSVP by February 1st to rsvp@dundurn.com

The book blurb from Dundurn Press describes Jockey Girl as follows:
A teen girl’s quest to find her mother leads her to the big city, and gives her the courage to fulfill her dream of becoming a jockey. 
Evangeline “Evie” Gibb lives a seemingly charmed life on a thoroughbred racehorse farm. But in reality, Evie feels alone in the world, cheered only by the affection of a racehorse named No Justice. 
She’s always been told that her mother, Angela Parson, is dead. Then, on her sixteenth birthday, a card arrives from her great aunt Mary with the suggestion that Angela might still be alive — and Evie’s life is turned upside down. In hopes of winning enough money to leave her hateful father and find her mother, Evie enters the Caledon Horse Race. But something she overhears her father say changes everything, and Evie steals the racehorse in the night and runs away. With a stray dog named Magpie at her side and help from Aunt Mary, Evie unearths long-hidden family secrets, finds unexpected love, and takes the racing world by storm.
(Retrieved from https://www.dundurn.com/books/Jockey-Girl on January 26, 2016.) 

Proceeds from book sales will benefit 
St. Michael's Inner City Health Program

Go out and support new youngCanLit and a great cause too!

January 26, 2016


by Martine Leavitt
Groundwood Books
180 pp.
Ages 12+
November 2015

Just because Calvin, the book, is being touted as YA doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be read by everyone and anyone who needs to have an understanding of mental health issues. Calvin, the main character, and his friend Susie both may be seventeen years of age and dealing with boy-girl relationship issues, but the book is far more than just realistic fiction for teens.  It’s akin to a Canadian YA version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, about a young man who goes on a pilgrimage to find meaning and meets an assortment of individuals and learns new truths that help him interpret his life.  This is a book for anyone mature enough to handle the truths within.

Calvin, the book, is a letter to Bill Watterson, the creator of the hugely popular comic Calvin and Hobbes.  Convinced he is connected to Bill Watterson because of his name, being born on the very day the last comic was published, and having a stuffed tiger named Hobbes and a friend named Susie, Calvin, the book’s protagonist, is sure that Bill Watterson is the man to help him out when he is diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Escaping with Susie’s help from the hospital, Calvin embarks on a treacherous winter pilgrimage across Lake Erie to Cleveland where he is somehow assured that Bill Watterson will provide him with a new and final comic that will display Calvin as a well-adjusted teen without an imaginary Hobbes.

Written both as dialogue between Calvin, Susie, Hobbes and an odd assortment of bit players and as text of Calvin’s thinking, Calvin takes the reader into the mind and experiences of a boy newly-diagnosed with schizophrenia who cannot deal with that reality.  Though she has not associated with him for the past year, Susie, a childhood friend, insists on accompanying Calvin.  So, after carefully outfitting themselves for an 87 km winter walk across a barren lake, Calvin and Susie set out from Point Pelee National Park.  Only Bill Watterson knows, apparently, because Calvin had written to the cartoonist, requesting he meet them on the other side of the lake.
The wind only whines and whistles and wails when it’s trying to get into the cracks of windows and doors.  It only thumps and bellows when it bumps up against trees and houses and cars.  But on a big flat empty lake, it’s just a force.  It’s a big soft hand that pushes and presses at you, silent, steady.  Soon you realize the wind isn’t flowing around you, over you, it’s flowing through you, penetrating the electromagnetic field that gives you the illusion of being a solid entity, whipping straight through you, spinning your atoms like tops and leaving them dizzy and frosty and deeply impressed. (pg. 65)
What seems to begin as a lark becomes a dark and dangerous survival test, with Calvin grappling with the imaginary Hobbes for possession of his mind and Susie revealing hidden truths to Calvin.  Just as Calvin has difficulty determining what is real–even Susie could be a figment of his imagination–so does the reader as the duo with Hobbes in tow encounter an ice fisherman, a poet, a parking lot, snow goons, and a monster, discussing brain activity, God, war and peace, school, and Bill Watterson’s motivations.  It all comes down to Susie helping  Calvin see that “I know about you but you don’t know about you” (pg. 132) and Calvin helping to keep Susie safe.

Reading about someone dealing with a mental illness is a very different beast than being inside them as they wrestle with their mental health issue.  And beast seems an appropriate term because Martine Leavitt takes the reader into the beast that is Calvin’s schizophrenia, as creative and quirky and potentially ferocious as Hobbes, Bill Watterson’s comic tiger.  With an issue as colossal as that immense Lake Erie, Martine Leavitt is able to take us into that part of Calvin that is both confused and distinct and searching for identity.  Scared of the monster he perceives himself to be and anticipating the judgements that will be aimed at him,
Hobbes: Since when did we care what people think?
Me: There’s more of them. The definition of sanity is a democratic thing.  They get to decide.
(pg. 21)
Calvin is running from his fears and towards his perceived salvation.  Salvation may or may not be waiting at the end of Calvin and Susie’s crossing but Martine Leavitt ensures a resolution.  It’s not all nice and neat but it is what it is: an ending and an beginning.

January 25, 2016

Frozen Tides: Falling Kingdoms, Book 4

by Morgan Rhodes
413 pp.
Ages 12+
December 2015

Forget everything you’ve read in Books 1 through 3 of Morgan RhodesFalling Kingdoms series (Falling Kingdoms, 2012; Rebel Spring, 2013; Gathering Darkness, 2014) because Frozen Tides demonstrates that not everything is as it appears.  From the frozen, seemingly desolate landscape of Limeros to the projected demure contenances of Lucia and Amara (hah!), Morgan Rhodes takes the reader into worlds that seem ever-changing in spirit, motive and magic.  (And if you haven’t been fortunate enough to read the first three books, stop reading this review posthaste, and read Books 1-3 promptly.  This is one series that demands to be read from the beginning and in order.  You have been advised.)

When last we visited the land of Mytica, Princess Cleo–and just about everyone else too–was attempting to locate and reawaken the four crystals of the Kindred: amber for fire magic; moonstone for air; aquamarine for water; and obsidian for earth.  But the four Kindred have been found and ended up in different hands: Amara, daughter of Emperor Cortas of the Kraeshian Empire, has the aquamarine; Jonas, Paelsian rebel, has the obsidian; Felix, former ally of Jonas but assassin for King Gaius, has the moonstone; and Lucia, the budding sorceress who was brought up as King Gaius’ daughter and Magnus’ sister, has the amber.  But the possession of the Kindred is as fluid as the plot of Frozen Tides.

Lucia, betrayed by Alexis who was manipulated by Watcher Melenia, has released the fire god, Kyan, from his prison in the amber, and the two are on a pilgrimage to learn more about Lucia’s true family and to find a portal into the Sanctuary so that Kyan might assassinate Timotheus, the remaining Watcher, for imprisoning him.

Magnus, having disobeyed his father and saved Cleo from death, demands she and her friend Nic go into exile while he returns to his birthplace of Limeros and attempts to find Lucia and ultimately to claim the throne for himself. Cleo, with whom Magnus had shown uncharacteristic intimacy in words and actions, refuses, accompanying him to Limeros with Nic in tow.  Nic, still reeling from the murder of Prince Ashur, takes every opportunity to badmouth Magnus to Cleo who continues to need to remind herself how much she should hate Magnus and consider him her enemy.

Meanwhile, Felix has convinced himself he is a reprehensible young man and returns to the employ of King Gaius, giving up the moonstone and accompanying the King to Kraeshia to stem the occupation of Mytica by the Emperor and instead enter into a partnership. There Felix becomes involved with Amara who has her own agenda.

And, if that isn’t plot enough for you, Jonas who almost died while retrieving a Kindred is now focused on assassinating King Gaius, with fellow rebel Lysandra, his secret love-interest, and witch Olivia accompanying him.

There is so much pain and calamity overriding a frisson of romance, as character after character strives to possess the Kindred and the magic within while attempting to stem the tide of emotions that struggle to engulf them.  Felix sees himself as a lost cause yet will take the trouble to save a kitten.  Cleo keeps reminding herself that Magnus is her enemy and has destroyed her family and Auranian life, but continues to be drawn to him and what he truly is, not as he believes he is i.e., the evil son of the King of Blood.  And Lucia, wielding so much pain and power, seems willing to take down everyone and everything in her wake, but is appalled by Kyan’s ravages of land and people.  The tides of emotions and actions swell and recede in all of Morgan Rhodes’ characters and their inability to see these changes make them all the more poignant.

"You are in so deep you don’t even know you’re drowning," (pg. 189) Lucia is told by Timotheus who recognizes the extent of her pain better than she does.
You are filled with so much anger and pain and grief.  Yet instead of letting those emotions run through you and make you stronger, you choose to unleash them on the rest of the world so that others might feel your pain as well. (pg. 187)
As paradoxical as frozen tides, as a phenomenon, may be, so too are Morgan Rhodes’ characters who are both fragile and powerful.  But it is this irreconciliability that propels the plot of Frozen Tides.  And though I may be able to share the details of the plot of Frozen Tides with you, I can't come close to sharing the depth of Morgan Rhodes' writing.  Morgan Rhodes doesn't just tell a story.  She immerses the reader in worlds so rich in passions–good and ugly–that you begin to wonder how valid your own emotions and allegiances can be.  How can you hope for happiness for Cleo and Magnus when Magnus is the son of the King of Blood and seems to be following in his father's evil tread? What of Jonas and Cleo?  Should I wish for that sweetness again? And is there more to Lysandra and Lucia than previously revealed?  I don’t doubt that Morgan Rhodes knows exactly where she is taking readers as she plans to unleash those frozen tides of emotions and conflicts and take us to new worlds in Book 5 of her Falling Kingdoms series, set for a 2016 release date. In the mean while, read Frozen Tides very slowly, relishing every detail and nuance of plot, setting and character that make Morgan Rhodes' writing so prodigious.

January 22, 2016

Write for a Better World: 2016 Writing Contest for Canadian students in Gr. 5-8

World Literacy Canada

presents its annual

for Canadian students in Grades 5-8

This year, the writing theme was created by  
Jonathan Auxier
(who will also be the final judge)

 author of the award-winning 
The Night Gardener
384 pp.
Ages 10+
Reviewed here

What to do:
• Using this story starter, tell what happens next in 400 words or less:
People often say that "every person is the hero of their own story." What they don't tell you is that sometimes you are the villain in someone else's story. This is the story of the day I learned that lesson the hard way.

• April 15, 2016

Full Details:
• Details of prizes and the entry form can be found at worldlit.ca/write2016

• World Literacy Canada has a teacher resource for the contest here

January 21, 2016

The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”

by JoEllen Bogart
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
March, 2016

At its foundation, The White Cat and the Monk has all the elements of a contemplative read: quiet, books, companionship, and a cat.  But, bigger picture, The White Cat and the Monk is an essay in study and reflection in one’s work and the importance of mindfulness.  JoEllen Bogart has taken the essence of Pangur Bán, a ninth century Old Irish poem, to its humble message and, with Sydney Smith’s austere but inspired illustrations, produced a masterpiece.

The story of Pangur Bán is a simple one.  A white cat treds a familiar path at night to the room of a monk who studies his manuscript, replendent in colour, while Pangur, the cat, waits and watches for a mouse.  Their tasks are intense and focused yet strangely companionably intimate and respectful.  Each appreciates the other’s need for quiet and concentration while providing an anchor for that isolation.

JoEllen Bogart has provided a lovely interpretation of the importance of work and the efficacy of mindfulness, and Sydney Smith has demonstrated again why he has won mutiple awards for his illustrations in Sidewalk Flowers.  In The White Cat and the Monk, Sydney Smith has emphasized the simplicity in the lives of the cat and the monk with the coarse lines and neutral palette of greys, taupes, beiges, golds and blacks, with colour only appearing in the nose of Pangur, the cheeks of the monk, the pages of the manuscript he reads and the few plants and flowers.  Yet the tones of the illustrations, like the text, are not sombre, just modest, as are the tasks upon which the two characters are concentrating.  The White Cat and the Monk is a brilliant reinforcement in words and art of the magnitude of focusing on just that moment and just that one task for life to be complete.  
From The White Cat and the Monk
 by JoEllen Bogart and Sydney Smith

January 07, 2016

TOTSAPALOOZA 8: Coming February 6, 2016 (Toronto)


Small Print Toronto's
festival of 
picture books, indie-bands and DIY crafts 
is coming!  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

1 - 4 p.m.


Revival Nightclub
783 College Street

(get your tickets early as this event is often sold out)
Children (0-2 years of age)      Free
Children (older than 2)           $15
Adults                                      $20

Here's what adults and young people can enjoy:

Authors presenting picture books:

Neil Pasricha
author of The Book of Awesome presents his new kids' book
Awesome is Everywhere

Cybèle Young
Governor General's Award winner  presents her newest children's book
Some Things I’ve Lost
Groundwood Books

Lindsay Mattick
shares part of her family history in her book
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Kevin Sylvester
author of the Neil Flambé series shares (including providing books for sale!) of April release 
Super Duper Monster Viewer 
Groundwood Books

Arts & Crafts presented by magician craftician Kalpna Patel (December 2015's Ms. Chatelaine!)

Music & Dance
• Indie roots-rock trio Bellwoods Trinity
• DJ Matt Blackett (publisher, creative director and one of the founders of Spacing magazine)
• Audience choreography led by Anne Marie Williams of Movement Lab

A Photo Booth fun for the whole family

Handmade snacks for sale from Wanda's Pie in the Sky pop-up bakery

January 05, 2016

The Lake in the Clouds (The Shards of Excalibur, Book 3)

by Edward Willett
Coteau Books
224 pp.
Ages 12+

Two shards of Excalibur found, three to go.  Sort of.  Ariane has the first shard from the Northwest Territories (Song of the Sword, Coteau, 2014) and then, following the song she hears, discovers the second shard at a cave in France (Twist of the Blade, Coteau, 2014).  But bringing the two shards together produces a less harmonious song and more a discordant shrieking, except when Wally Knight brings the two together.  Yep, awkward Wally Knight has some serious King Arthur heir mojo going.  And that explains why Merlin, also known as computer software CEO Rex Major, has "encouraged" Wally to work with him, including stealing the second shard back for Major, rather than letting the seemingly out-of-control Ariane, the heir to the Lady of the Lake, keep it.  So instead of working with Ariane to recover the remaining shards of Excalibur, Arthur's magically-imbued sword, Wally is living with Rex Major at his condo in Toronto while Ariane seethes with anger and resentment for Wally's betrayal and watches over her Aunt Phyllis safely ensconced at their remote Saskatchewan cabin.

But, while Rex Major promises to never lie to Wally as Ariane has, he's taking off for Saskatchewan to use his Voice of Command on Aunt Phyllis and keep her hostage, threatening to kill her, unless Ariane finds him the third shard.  Ariane has no choice but to help Major, sending them to New Zealand in search of the next shard of the sword.  Wally, on the other hand, becomes tired of being restricted and guarded by Major's men, and hacks into Major's computer system, learning almost too late of the man's dishonesty, including Major’s tracking of Ariane's mother whom they all assumed dead.  With some clever manipulations of bank accounts, email and communication with Major's henchmen, Wally is able to escape and rescue Aunt Phyllis, and consequently learn that he has some fantastic powers of his own.

Much deception on everyone's part gets Ariane with Rex Major to Lake Putahi– Lake in the Clouds in Maori–and Wally there on his own, where everything does a flip, again.  Let’s just say that no one seems to leave with the one with whom they came. And, there may be three shards that have been discovered but the shards continue to change hands: sometimes stolen, sometimes surrendered, sometimes gifted.  Excalibur is getting closer to being reconstructed, and the characters’ roles are being redefined.

By continuing to develop his characters so that they never remain good or evil or secondary, Edward Willett has ensured that the plot doesn’t stagnate in a seemingly simple plot of finding the shards of Excalibur and having its power unleashed.  With Ariane and Wally both being affected by the shards and learning of new abilities, as well as other characters being drawn into the story in different ways, The Lake in the Clouds becomes a fuller story.  The plot itself continues to evolve and the adventure is grand, as travel by plane, bus, boat, limo, cloud (yep, that's Ariane) and water (her again) takes the characters from across Canada (Toronto, Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Emma Lake and Vancouver) and to Hawaii and New Zealand.  The journeys are part of the quest but hold on because your travelling companions are switching places and your next seat mates may be a surprise in Cave Beneath the Sea (Book 4, out November 2015) and Door into Faerie (Book 5, May 2016).

January 04, 2016

Twist of the Blade (The Shards of Excalibur, Book 2)

by Edward Willett
Coteau Books
217 pp.
Ages 12+

Teen protagonists Ariane Forsythe, heir to the Lady of the Lake, and Wally Knight may have outwitted Rex Major of Excalibur Computer Systems, a.k.a. Merlin, and rescued the first of five shards of the sword Excalibur in Song of the Sword (Coteau, 2014), the first book in The Shards of Excalibur series by Edward Willett, but there are still four more shards to be recovered.  That is, if the two are to trust the Lady of the Lake who has instructed them to do so to prevent Merlin from gaining control of the Faerie world.  But trust is a monumental issue in Twist of the Blade, and  Ariane and Wally begin to wonder who they should trust, who they can trust and if they can even trust each other.  

You see, both Ariane and Wally seem to be changing.  Ariane has started to feel the brutal power that the shards harness, violently defending herself against Wally’s sister Felicia and her "coven", landing Felicia in hospital.  On the other hand, Wally has become quite skilled at fencing and Rex Major is starting to believe the teen is heir to King Arthur of Excalibur fame.  Not surprising that, after being hospitalized because of a terrible fall and receiving no visitors (since his parents are separating and oblivious, Felicia is herself injured, and Ariane is recovering from her attack) except for Rex Major, Wally begins to wonder who's on his side and even how scrupulous Ariane is.  Regardless, the two set off for France to locate the second shard, Ariane travelling via the moisture in clouds and Wally flying there, while Ariane’s Aunt Phyllis hides herself off in her cabin in rural Saskatchewan.  

But it soon becomes evident that Ariane and Wally are making poor choices, doubting each other’s intents and sincerity.  Locating the second shard in a newly-discovered cave outside of Lyon, France is just the beginning of a conflict that has the two teens working at cross-purposes to the task set out for them by the Lady of the Lake in Song of the Sword.

While Edward Willett continues to weave the Arthurian legend into a Saskatchewan setting, he builds on the Merlin, Arthur and Lady of the Lake story by creating a magical sword that craves to be reconstructed and wielded as a weapon.  But Excalibur is more than a sword.  It is an instrument that exerts rage and strength and, as Ariane notes, attitude.
"...the shard was a piece of a weapon–its attitude was brutal and direct." (pg. 113)
Edward Willett capably brandishes the trust issues of teens, especially those related to their families, as the means to progress the story.  But it’s these same issues with which Merlin and Arthur had to deal.  However, without their anger and self-doubt, Ariane and Wally could not learn to believe in others and themselves as worthy of the challenge to bring together the shards of the legendary sword of King Arthur and complete the story of The Shards of Excalibur.


Watch this space for my next post, a review of Lake in the Clouds, the next book in The Shards of Excalibur series.

January 03, 2016

Cherry Blossom Baseball: Book launch (Burlington, ON)

Join #youngCanLit author

Jennifer Maruno

whose books include

Kid Soldier
208 pp.
Ages 13-15

166 pp.
Ages 8-12


When Cherry Blossoms Fell & Cherry Blossom Winter
Dundurn         Dundurn
978-1-89491-783-4             978-1-45970-211-0
144 pp.     176 pp.
Ages 10-13
2009     2012

for the launch of her newest middle-grade historical fiction 
third book in her Cherry Blossom series

Cherry Blossom Baseball
by Jennifer Maruno
256 pp.
Ages 10-13
December 2015


Sunday, January 10, 2016 
1:30 p.m.

at the

 Burlington Central Library
2331 New St.
Burlington, ON
L7R 1J4

The book blurb from Dundurn reads as:
Michiko Minigawa’s life is nothing but a bad game of baseball. The Canadian government swung the bat once, knocking her family away from a Vancouver home base to an old farmhouse in the Kootenay Mountains. But when they move into town, the government swings the bat again, announcing that all Japanese must now move east of the Rockies or else go to Japan. 
Now in Ontario, Michiko once again has to adjust to a whole new kind of life. She is the only Japanese student in her school, and making friends is harder than it was before. When Michiko surprises an older student with her baseball skills and he encourages her to try out for the local team, she gives it a shot. But everyone thinks this new baseball star is a boy. Michiko has to make a decision: quit playing ball (and being harassed), or pitch like she’s never pitched before.
(Retrieved from https://www.dundurn.com/books/Cherry-Blossom-Baseball on January 3, 2016.) 

Books will be available for purchase from A Different Drummer Books.  It's a great way to complete or start your Cherry Blossom collection!

January 02, 2016

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: Book launch (Toronto)

Join fantasy author
Lena Coakley

author of 

Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
400 pp.
Ages 12+

for the  launch of her newest book

Worlds of Ink and Shadow
HarperCollins Canada
352 pp.
Ages 12+
January 2016


Saturday, January 23, 2016 

2:00-4:00 pm


Ben McNally Books
366 Bay St.
Toronto, Ontario

In addition to a short reading, 
there will be tea and scones
(as appropriate for a book about the Brontes).

For a little teaser, check out Lena Coakley's promotional video for the book
Uploaded by Lena Coakley on July 27, 2015 to YouTube.

Or read the blurb for Worlds of Ink and Shadow from HarperCollins Canada's website:
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to descend into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters-the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna-refuse to let them go. 
Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ own juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.

January 01, 2016

New youngCanLit releases for Winter and Spring 2016

Time to herald the upcoming releases for the new year of 2016.  A new crop of youngCanLit by both debut and seasoned authors and illustrators and translators.  Pick up some fresh writing and revisit favourite series with these picture books, graphic novels, early readers, middle-grade fiction, young adult and non-fiction titles for the winter and spring of 2016.  It's sure to be a great year of youngCanLit!

(nota bene
While I attempted to get images of all book covers, not all were available or discoverable.  Also, I have prepared these lists from perusing many catalogues, checking out publishers' and authors' and illustrators' websites and even examining bookstore sites. Any omissions and mistakes are my own.)

Picture Books
Copycat by Stephanie Sim (Simply Read Books)
Looking for Lord Ganesh by Mahtab Narsimhan, illus. by Sonja Wimmer (Lantana Publishing)
Lucy Tries Short Track by Lisa Bowes, illus. by James Hearne (Orca Book Publishers)
Most Valuable Player by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Bruno St-Aubin (Scholastic Canada)
Over-Scheduled Andrew by Ashley Spires (Tundra)
Splash by Kallie George, illus. by Geneviève Côté (Simply Read Books)
Spare Dog Parts by Alison Hughes, illus. by Ashley Spires (Orca Book Publishers)
Violet and Victor Write the Most Fabulous Fairy Tale by Alice Kuipers, illus. by Bethanie Deeney Murguia (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)>>>sequel to Violet and Victor Write the Best Ever Bookworm Book

The Case of the Girl in Grey by Jordan Stratford, illus. by Kelly Murphy (Knopf Books for Young Readers)>>>The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 2
How to Get Awesome by Nancy Wilcox Richards (Scholastic Canada)

Young Adult
The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim: The Undead by Shane Peacock (Tundra)
The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence (Tundra)
Under the Dusty Moon by  Suzanne Sutherland (Dundurn)
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (HarperCollins)

5 Giraffes by Anne Innis Dagg and Rob Laidlaw (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni’s Ice Machine by Monica Kulling, illus. by Renne Benoit (Tundra)
To the Rescue! Garrett Morgan Underground by Monica Kulling and David Parkins, illus. by David Parkins (Tundra)

Picture Books
Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals, illus. by Patrice Barton (Random House Books for Young Readers)
Duck, Duck, Dinosaur by Kallie George, illus. by Oriol Vidal (HarperCollins) >>>new series 
If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Van Sickle, illus. by Cale Atkingson (Tundra)
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Julie Flett (Orca Book Publishers)>>> board book
Noni Speaks Up by Heather Hartt-Sussman, illus. by Genevieve Cote (Tundra)
No, No, Gnome! by Ashlyn Anstee (Simon & Shuster)
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan, illus. by Eric Fan (Simon & Shuster)
Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by Jon Klassen (Balzer & Bray) 
The Yoga Game in the Garden by Kathy Beliveau, illus. by Denise Holmes (Simply Read Books)
Where Are You Little Red Ball? by Patricia Côté, illus. by Yayo (Tradewind Books)

The Case of the Battling Bots by Liam O’Donnell, illus. by Mike Deas (Orca Book Publishers)>>> second book in the Tank & Fizz series
Criminal Destiny by Gordon Korman (HarperTeen) >>> sequel to Masterminds
Jockey Girl by Shelley Peterson (Dundurn)
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Helaine Becker (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Dirk Daring, Secret Agent Book 2
Neil Flambé and the Duel in the Desert by Kevin Sylvester (Simon & Shuster)>>>newest Neil Flambé book
On a Slippery Slope by  Melody Fitzpatrick (Dundurn)>>>Hannah Smart title
The Whalemaster by Michael Moniz (Simply Read Books)

Young Adult
Frame and The McGuire by Joanna Weston (Tradewind)
Movers by Meaghan McIsaac (Tundra)
The Shadow’s Curse by Amy McCullough (Flux)>>>the sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow
Spirit Level by Sarah N. Harvey (Orca Book Publishers) 
Stepping Out by Laura Langston (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Limelights
Will to Survive by Eric Walters (Razorbill)>>>Book 3 in The Rule of Three series

Dark Matters: Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution by Joan Marie Galat (Red Deer Press)
Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet by Nikki Tate (Orca Book Publishers)
Eat This! A Kids’ Guide to Fast Food Advertising by Andrea Curtis (Red Deer Press)
Passover: Festival of Freedom by Monique Polak (Orca Book Publishers)
Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating (Knopf Books for Young Readers)>>>The World of Weird Animals series

Picture Books
Blanche Hates the Night by Sibylle Delacroix (Owlkids)
Buddy and Earl Go Exploring by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Carey Sookocheff (Groundwood Books)
Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault (Penguin Random House)
A Dog Day for Susan by Maureen Fergus and Monica Arnaldo (Owlkids)
Elliot by Julie Pearson, illus. by Manon Gauthier, translated by Erin Woods (Pajama Press)
Fatima & the Clementine Thieves by Mireille Messier, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard (Red Deer Press)>>>translation of French-language Fatima et les voleurs de clémentines
Gabby Wonder Girl by Joyce Grant, illus. by Jan Dolby (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Going for a Sea Bath by Andrée Poulin, illus. by Anne-Claire Delisle (Pajama Press)
Hamsters on the Go! by Kass Reich (Orca Book Publishers)>>>newest title in Hamsters books that have included Hamsters Holding Hands and Up Hamster, Down Hamster
Harry and Walter by Kathy Stinson, illus. by Qin Leng (Annick)
I Want a Monster by Elise Gravel (Katherine Teegen Books)
Malaika’s Costume by Nadia L. Hohn, illus. by Irene Luxbacher (Groundwood Books)
The Riddlemaster by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illus. by Stephanie Jorisch (Tradewind Books)
Skunk on a String by Thao Lam (Owlkids)
Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano, illus. by Kellen Hatanaka (Groundwood Books)
The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem Pangur Bán by Jo Ellen Bogart, illus. by Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books)
You Are One by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Karen Klassen (Owlkids)

The Biggest Poutine in the World by Andrée Poulin (Annick)
Breaking Big by Penny Draper (Orca Book Publishers>>>Orca Limelights
Dragons vs. Drones by Wesley King (Razorbill)
Duke’s Den by Becky Citra (Orca Book Publishers)
Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry (Orca Book Publishers)
Flickers by Arthur Slade (HarperCollins)
Forensics Squad by Monique Polak (Orca Book Publishers)
Heart of a Champion by Ellen Schwartz (Tundra)
Houdini's Escape by Susan Hughes (Scholastic Canada)>>>new title in The Puppy Collection
The Inn Between by Marina Cohen (Roaring Brook Press)
Justine McKeen, Bottle Throttle by Sigmund Brouwer, illus. by Dave Whamond (Orca Book Publishers)
Lightning Lou by Lori Weber (Dancing Cat Books)
Lost by John Wilson (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Currents
Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets by Mahtab Narsimhan (Scholastic Canada)
On Cue by Cristy Watson (Orca Book Publishers)>>Orca Currents

Young Adult
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson (Dundurn)
The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers (Dancing Cat Books) 
The Hill by Karen Bass (Pajama Press)
Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn (Simon & Shuster)
Last Chance Island by Norma Charles (Ronsdale)
No Matter How Improbable by Angela Misri (Fierce Ink Press)>>>new A Portia Adams Adventure
Rodent by Lisa J. Lawrence (Orca Book Publishers)
Taking a Chance on Love by Mary Razzell (Ronsdale)
Under Threat by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Soundings

Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas That Transformed Sports by Simon Shapiro (Annick)
My House Is Alive!: The Weird and Wonderful Sounds Your House Makes by Scot Ritchie (Owlkids)
Orangutan Orphanage (Wildlife Rescue) by Suzi Eszterhas (Owlkids)
Vanished: True Tales of Mysterious Disappearances by Elizabeth Macleod (Annick)
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illus. by Julie Morstad (Roaring Brook Press)

Picture Books
The Animals' Ark by Marianne Dubuc (Kids Can Press)
An Armadillo in New York by Julie Kraulis (Tundra)
The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, illus. by Sophie Casson (Owlkids)
Beach Baby by Laurie Elmquist, illus. by Elly MacKay (Orca Book Publishers)>>>board book
Being Me by Rosemary McCarney, illus. by Yvonne Cathcart (Second Story Press)>>>second book in Rosie the Red series
Fishing with Grandma by Susan Avingag, illus. by Maren Vsetula (Inhabit Media)
Frank and Laverne by Dave Whamond and Jennifer Stokes, illus. by Dave Whamond (Owlkids)
Go Home Bay by Susan Vande Griek, illus.by Pascal Milelli (Groundwood Books)
Good Pirate by Kari-Lynn Winters, illus. by Dean Griffiths (Pajama Press)
Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling, illus. by Qin Leng (Groundwood Books)
If I Were a Zombie by Kate Inglis, illus. by Eric Orchard (Nimbus)
Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish, illus. by Ken Daley  (Annick)
Lucy Tries Soccer by Lisa Bowes, illus.by James Hearne (Orca Book Publishers)
Manners Are Not for Monkeys by Heather Tekavec, illus. by David Huyck (Kids Can Press)
Maya by Mahak Jain, illus. by Elly MacKay (Owlkids)
Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill (Tundra)
Mom, Dad, Our Books, and Me by Danielle Marcotte, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Owlkids)
Mr. King's Machine by Geneviève Côté (Kids Can Press)
Nannie and Mémère by Diane Carmel Leger (Nimbus)
The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Irene Luxbacher (Kids Can Press)
Scribble by Ruth Ohi (Scholastic Canada)
Sign Up Here:A story about Friendship by Kathryn Cole, illus. by Qin Leng (Second Story Press)>>>new books in the I’m A Great Little Kid Series
Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates, illus. by Suzanne Rizzo (Pajama Press)
The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (Kids Can Press)
Super-Duper Monster Viewer by Kevin Sylvester (Groundwood Books)
A Tattle-Tell Tale:A story about getting help by Kathryn Cole, illus. by Qin Leng (Second Story Press)>>>new books in the I’m A Great Little Kid Series
That Uh-oh-Felling:A story about touch by Kathryn Cole, illus. by Qin Leng (Second Story Press)>>>new books in the I’m A Great Little Kid Series
Toshi's Little Treasures by Nadine Robert, illus. by Aki  (Kids Can Press)
Willow's Smile by Lana Button, illus. by Tania Howells (Kids Can Press)

Bittersweet by Winnie Mack (Scholastic Canada)
Camp Disaster by Frieda Wishinsky (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Currents 
Centerville by Jeff Rud (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Sports
Chasing the Phantom Ship by Deborah Toogood (Nimbus)
The Dark Island by Scott Chantler (Kids Can Press)>>>new title in graphic series Three Thieves
Feathered by Deborah Kerbel (Kids Can Press)
Fluffy Strikes Back (A P.U.R.S.T. Adventure) by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press)>>>first book in new spin-off series from Binky the Space Cat
The Ghastly McNastys: Fright in the Night by Lyn Gardner, illus. by Ros Asquith (Kids Can Press)
Kabungo by Rolli, illus. by Milan Pavlovic (Groundwood Books)
Leggings Revolt by Monique Polak (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Currents
Prisoner of Warren by Andreas Oertel (Nimbus)
Salamander Rescue by Pamela McDowell, illus.by Kasia Charko (Orca Book Publishers)
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin) >>>a sequel to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes 
Survival: Hurricane! by Frieda Wishinsky (Scholastic Canada)>>>Survival series
Tagged Out by Joyce Grant (Lorimer)
Upstaged by Patricia McCowan (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Limelights

Young Adult
After Dark by James Leck (Kids Can Press)
Away Running by Luc Bouchard and Daid Wright (Orca Book Publishers)
Cutter Boy by Cristy Watson (Lorimer)
Defender by Graham McNamee (Wendy Lamb Books)
Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell by Liane Shaw (Second Story Press)
Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw (Tundra)
Killer Drop by Mette Bach (Lorimer)
The Missing by Melanie Florence (Lorimer)
OCDaniel by Wesley King (Simon & Shuster)
Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (Roaring Brook Press)
Saving Stevie: A Novel by Eve Richardson (Red Deer Press)
Scam by Lesley Choyce (Orca Book Publishers)>>>Orca Soundings
Stepping into Traffic by K. J. Rankin (Thistledown Press)
Trap Jam by Steven Barwin (Lorimer)
Trial by Fire by Norah McClintock (Orca Book Publishers)>>A Riley Donovan Mystery
The Turing Machinists by M. E. Reid (Dancing Cat Books)

Be a Pond Detective: Solving the Mysteries of Lakes, Swamps, and Pools by Peggy Kochanoff (Nimbus)>>>follow-up to Be a Wilderness Detective and Be a Beach Detective
Champion for Health: How Clara Hughes fought depression to win Olympic gold by  Richard Brignall (Lorimer)
Cyrus Eaton: Champion for Peace by Richard Rudnicki (Nimbus)
Do You Know Owls? by Michel Quintin, Alain M. Bergeron and Sampar, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)>>>newest title in the fun graphic non-fiction series Do You Know?
Extreme Extreme Battlefields: When War Meets the Forces of Nature by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illus. by Drew Shannon (Annick Press)
Half-Truths and Brazen Lies: An Honest Look at Lying by Kira Vermond and Clayton Hanmer (Owlkids)
Outdoor Math: Fun Activities for Every Season by Emma AdBåge (Kids Can Press)
Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers)
Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush by Carol Shields and Patrick Crowe, illus. by Selena Goulding, adapted by Willow Dawson (Second Story Press)>>>graphic novel of the last unpublished work from Carol Shields
That's Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms by Danielle S. McLaughlin and Dharmali Patel (Kids Can Press)>>>new title in CitizenKid series
Top Secret: Uncover Your Inner Spy by Helaine Becker (Scholastic Canada)
Water Wow! A Visual Exploration by Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer, illus. by Belle Wuthrich (Annick)
What Happens When a Loved One Dies? Our First Talk about Death by Dr. Jillian Roberts, illus. by Cindy Revell (Orca Book Publishers)>>part of the Just Enough: Difficult Topics Made Easy series
Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo by Helaine Becker, illus. by Kathy Boake (Owlkids)

Picture Books
Leah's Mustache Party by Nadia Mike and Charlene Chua (Inhabit Media)
Pinny in Summer by Joanne Schwartz, illus. by Isabelle Malenfant (Groundwood Books)
Sea Change by Frank Viva (Tundra)
Sea Glass Summer by Heidi Jardine Stoddart (Nimbus)
The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson, illus. by Matt James (Groundwood Books)
Who Broke the Teapot?! by Bill Slavin (Tundra)

Bailey by Susan Hughes (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)>>>Puppy Pals series
Convictions by Judith Silverthorne (Coteau Books)
Door into Faerie by Edward Willett (Coteau Books)>>>The Shards of Excalibur Book 5 
Genie in a Bottle by Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic)>>>Whatever After #9
Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding (Tundra)
The Painted Wall and Other Strange Tales by Michael Bedard (Tundra)
Slacker by Gordon Korman (Scholastic Canada)

Young Adult
Beware that Girl by Teresa Toten (Delacorte)
Flannery by Lisa Moore (Groundwood Books)
Gatekeeper by Natasha Deen (Great Plains Teen Fiction)
In The Swish by Dawn Green (Red Deer Press)
Lucky Jonah by Richard Scrimger (HarperTrophy)
Shooter by Caroline Pignat (Tundra)
A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell (Groundwood Books)
Threshold by Amanda West Lewis (Red Deer Press)

Change of Heart by Alice Walsh, illus. by Erin Bennett Banks (Nimbus)>>>picture book about the true story of Lanier Phillips
Do You Know Piranhas? by Michel Quintin, Alain M. Bergeron and Sampar, illus. by Sampar  (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

Picture Books
The Caterpillar Woman by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. by Carolyn Gan (Inhabit Media)
Kiviuq and the Mermaids by Noel McDermott, illus. by Toma Feizo Gas (Inhabit Media)
Rhino Rumpus by Victoria Allenby, illus. by Tara Anderson (Pajama Press)
Those that Cause Fear by Neil Christopher, illus. by Germaine Arnaktauyok (Inhabit Media)

Nutmeg All Alone by Susan Hughes (Scholastic Canada)>>>The Puppy Collection #8
Sticks & Stones by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins (Scholastic Canada)>>>sequel to Upside Down Magic

Young Adult
Before We Go Extinct by Karen Rivers (Farrah Strauss & Giroux)
The Darkest Magic by Morgan Rhodes (Razorbill)>>>sequel to A Book of Spirits and Thieves
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Animals Illustrated: Narwhal by Solomon Awa, illus. by Hwei Lim (Inhabit Media)
Animals Illustrated: Polar Bear by William Flaherty, illus. by Danny Christopher (Inhabit Media)
Everyone Can be a Changemaker: The Anoshka Project by Christine Welldon (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

Picture Books
Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White (Tundra)
Ooko by Esme Shapiro (Tundra)
You Belong Here by M.H. Clark, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault (Compendium)

Carter and the Curious Maze by Philippa Dowding (Dundurn)>>>Weird Stories Gone Wrong series which includes Jakes and the Giant Hand and Myles and the Monster Outside
A Day of Signs and Wonders by Kit Pearson (HarperTrophy)
Makoons by Louise Erdrich (HarperTrophy)
Riley by Susan Hughes (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)>>>Puppy Pals series

Young Adult
Detached by Christina Kilbourne (Dundurn)
Nowhere Wild by Joe Beernink (HarperTrophy)
Unity by Jason Chabot (HarperTrophy)>>>Broken Sky Chronicles #3

Don't Stress: How to Handle Life's Little Problems by Helaine Becker (Scholastic)
Next Round: A Young Athlete's Journey to Gold by John Spray (Pajama Press)
Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge by Monica Kulling, illus. by Bill Slavin (Tundra)>>>newest title in Great Idea Series

As always, if you know of any other titles that should be included for January through June, please let me know.  I'm happy to amend my lists and make them more complete.