November 16, 2018

The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem

Written by Kevin Sylvester
Illustrated by Britt Wilson
Scholastic Canada
187 pp.
Ages 8-13
September 2018 

In a hospital nursery in Dimly, Manitoba thirteen years earlier, a storm overloads the emergency lighting system and four babies are showered with the glowing dust from the reidium bulbs (the once famous Dimly Bulbs).  Four babies, four characters, four books.  This is Baby Flem's story. 

Baby Flem is actually Jessica Flem, an extraordinary gamer of Gang of Greats who is bizarrely afflicted with allergies. The thirteen-year-old, whose nose had been affected in the accident, must use copious tissues as well as her puffer, to relieve her congestion. Turning 13, Jessica is prepared for her annual checkup and bizarre questioning by Dr. Fassbinder, now of the Insitut de l'ennui, and another superfluous visit from her "babysitter" Garvia Greep who gifts her with a diary in which to chronicle her "changes."
Her voice sounded sickly sweet like a snake trying to do a Taylor Swift imitation. (pg. 25)
Dr. Fassbinder's questions about magic and flying and other weird stuff may seem outrageous but not as crazy as the small green gummy-like man who appears amidst her used tissues to sweep them up. Dr. Fassbinder doesn't seem too flummoxed by the green janitor who grows as Jess uses more tissues but disappears when finished, though her only friend, Cliff Snuffington, is fascinated by her "snot golem." (Of course, he's the guy who collects her used tissues, calling them "ori-gummy creations" and gathers them in plastic sandwich bags for his collection.)

Then the really weird stuff starts happening. You're probably wondering how things could get any weirder.  Well, Jess's notes begin disappearing from her diary; she discovers a dossier about her situation; her parents disappear; an old blimp manned by Garvia Greep starts pursuing them; a talking lab mouse named Algernon comes to their aid; and Jess tries to control her mucus-transforming power. And all the while she is participating in a Game of Greats tournament, aiming to reach Grand Master.

Transforming mucus into creatures to do your bidding, whether cleaning or fighting bad guys, may not exactly be a superpower all would aspire to have but it's completely appropriate for a young teen of the The Almost Epic Squad. (We'll have to wait for Books 2, 3, and 4 by Ted Staunton, Lesley Livingston and Richard Scrimger, to learn about the almost epic superpowers of the remaining thirteen-year-olds. See below for details.) Mucus Mayhem is an elevated Captain Underpants for the middle grade set. The humour is slightly gross but always clever, with a splash of the supernatural and filled with the action of chases, mad science and nefarious plots. The irreverence of Kevin Sylvester's premise will freak out and amuse readers to no end. And his punning and crackerjack writing will have everyone giggling with its tongue-in-cheek sauciness.
My head was swimming. But then my nose completely jammed and I began my tissue tango–nose, tissue, garbage basket. Or, more accurately, floor. Nose. Tissue. Floor. Repeat. Cha-cha-cha. (pg. 25)
Illustrator and cartoonist Britt Wilson's black-and-white cartoons pepper the story and will grab a few more readers who love artwork to help move the story, though Mucus Mayhem is already a zippy read of laughs and ickiness.
From The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem by Kevin Sylvester, illus. by Britt Wilson
Fortunately, with additional titles in the series slotted for January (What Blows Up by Ted Staunton), May (Super Sketchy by Lesley Livingston) and September (Irresistible by Richard Scrimger) of 2019, it looks like The Almost Epic Squad will be tickling funny bones for a while.
Covers of The Almost Epic Squad books (covers not finalized for Super Sketchy and Irresistible)

November 14, 2018

Giraffe and Bird Together Again

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Bender
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
November 2018

Friends don't always see eye to eye, or nose to beak. But, sometimes it's because of these  differences that the friendship is made even more special. Little ones who know Rebecca Bender's other books in this collection, namely Giraffe and Bird (DCB, 2010), Don't Laugh at Giraffe (Pajama Press, 2012) and Giraffe Meets Bird (Pajama Press, 2015), already understand the basis for this extraordinary friendship. And, even with a plot that has Bird missing, you know Rebecca Bender won't disappoint her readers. She helps the two find their way back to each other.

From Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender
Bird loves adventures, Giraffe does not. But when Bird is absent for awhile, Giraffe begins to worry that something has happened to Bird and decides to follow the feathers. Even when he gets tangled in vines when searching through a dark forest, Giraffe is compelled to go on. Even when Giraffe goes up a craggy mountain upon which he tumbles backwards and needs the help of a couple of mountain goats, he is determined to find his friend. From his high vantage point, Giraffe glimpses a shiny sign and "a small and beaky someone next to it." Finding Bird stunned from a collision with the sign, both are happy to be reunited. Unfortunately, Giraffe fails to notice the quicksand nearby. Now it's Bird turn to help out. By distracting his friend and enlisting the help of others, Giraffe makes it home safely.

Everyone loves Giraffe and Bird. The two animals are so different yet so understanding and accepting of those differences. Giraffe stretches beyond his comfort zone to help his little friend, and Bird recognizes when Giraffe may be in need of help. Even in the end, the two find a compromise to help them continue to be friends and honour those differences. 

Bird will wander a little less...
if Giraffe will explore a little more.
From Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender
One of the best elements of Giraffe and Bird Together Again is the artwork. Rebecca Bender's use of colour to place the reader in the forest, on the mountain and looking out over the plain is extraordinary. It's warm and rich in tone and evocative of a setting many of us in Canada will never experience. But, of course, it's her characters that draw the reader back every time. Generally using only body language and eyes, Rebecca Bender lets the reader see what Giraffe and Bird are thinking and feeling. Frustration, joy, distress and relief are all there in those few elements. It's impossible not to fall in love with Giraffe and Bird. Moreover with details like Bird hiding under a traditional Canadian work sock or Giraffe in knee pads and helmet or the weird assortment of detritus lodged in the quicksand, kids will seek and find and laugh.
From Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender
Rebecca Bender's Giraffe and Bird was recently honoured as the selection for the 2018 TD Grade 1 Book Giveaway. That means every child in Grade 1 in Canada should have received their own copy of that special first book (unless their school board sadly opted out of the program). The enduring affection between these two unlikely friends continues to endear them to young children, perhaps seeing something of themselves in Giraffe or Bird. Whether sensitive to teasing, or homebody or adventurer, there is something of everyone in these two characters, and we're so glad that Giraffe and Bird are together again.
From Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender

November 12, 2018

Tout le monde à bord!

Written by Rhéa Dufresne
Illustrated by Marion Arbona
Monsieur Ed
32 pp.
Ages 4+
April 2018

Prepare for an explosion for the senses amidst the busyness of the animals as they leave the city for vacations. Tout le monde à bord! has all the hallmarks for a holiday read for little ones with the bustling activity of locating creatures and solving shadow mysteries to keep them engrossed for the duration of travel.

A wild assortment of animals, including a zebra, penguin, giraffe, fish, and aardvark, gloriously rich in colour and shape, gather at the train station to board the train. It's mayhem as they search for their companions and squeeze aboard ready to set out.
From Tout le monde à bord! by Rhéa Dufresne, illus. by Marion Arbona
Parents will recognize the cries of the animals as they wonder if they've forgotten anything, as they urge others to hurry, as they complain that it's going to be crowded, and then the need to wait for that ever late traveller.

Even as the train winds and weaves its way through forests and hills to the sandy desert into the snowy mountains, jungle, sea and marsh, different shadows of creatures appear.  Young ones might think they can identify each animal behind the clouds of dust or hot chocolate steam or whale blowhole stream, but they'll probably be wrong every time. (The shadow creatures in the illustration below certainly look like birds with webbed feet and beaks, but don't be fooled.)
From Tout le monde à bord! by Rhéa Dufresne, illus. by Marion Arbona
And as they travel, the hilarity of their dialogue and outbursts reveal family squabbles, worries, joys, and more. From the penguin chastizing her mate-Je t'avais dit qu'on aurait mieux faut d'aller chez ma mère au Pôle Nord ("I told you it would be better to go to my mother's at the North Pole")–to the vendor selling plankton ice cream at the sea, Tout le monde à bord! is rich in dialogue and commentary. And with Marion Arbona's wonderfully stylized creatures and the assortment of travel spots, Tout le monde à bord is a trip for the visual senses and geographical sensibilities.

Rhéa Dufresne and Marion Arbona are both stars in the Quebec children's literature world. Having collaborated on award-winning titles like Arachnéa (Éditions de l'Isatis, 2012) and La nuit (Éditions de l'Isatis, 2015), as well as on books separately, they are well-known amongst French-language youngCanLit creators and to young readers. But, even though Tout le monde à bord! is a French-language picture book, the simplicity of the story and the bounty of its illustrations make it accessible to both French speakers andthose learning the language. (Teachers, it would also be a superb book for developing visual literacy and using the artwork to help translate the text.)

Whether a holiday in the summer or a winter vacation, take a trip with this motley crew of animals on their vacances. There's lots to experience throughout their journey and your reading of Tout le monde à bord!

November 08, 2018

Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America's Children

Written by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Julianna Swaney
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
October 2018

Sara Josephine Baker (1873-1945) had always been an unconventional person. She didn't hold by conventions that only boys played ball and climbed trees and became doctors. Fortunately, the Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary had been established in 1868 and accepted her as a student of medicine. But, after setting up a practice with a fellow female physician, Florence Laighton, in 1898 and providing excellent care to her patients, Dr. Jo realized she did not have enough patients to stay in business and instead she became a health inspector for the city of New York.

Working in the neighbourhood of Hell's Kitchen, Dr. Jo was saddened to see so many immigrant families living in harsh conditions and subject to terrible illnesses and health issues, especially the children. She helped establish courses for midwives, nurse visits for new mothers, milk stations, and antiseptic beeswax containers for silver nitrate drops used on newborns. She even designed infant wear that was less restrictive and could regulate temperature–preventing heatstroke from typical swaddling–in babies. Her efforts on behalf of the children helped reduce New York City's infant mortality rate to levels not seen in other major American cities.
From Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America's Children by Monica Kulling, illus. by Julianna Swaney
Monica Kulling always tells a good story in her illustrated biographies. (Check out all the books in her Great Ideas series including Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine and Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge) She knows the right balance of information and text to educate and enlighten. Although she provides a brief page "More about Dr. Jo" with a few more details, Monica Kulling never makes the information read like an encyclopedic notation about the doctor's accomplishments. Instead, it focuses on Dr. Jo's motivations and achievements in terms of service to others, specifically children. Young readers will know about pediatricians, hopefully through their own health care, but will be surprised to learn that Dr. Jo was the first. Moreover, they will learn about a time and place when health was not a given, and the most vulnerable, children such as themselves, needed someone to advocate for them and care enough to help. Personally I appreciated hearing about a woman who broke down barriers in the medical field while managing to do extraordinary things.
From Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America's Children by Monica Kulling, illus. by Julianna Swaney
Monica Kulling's stories come to life with exceptional illustrators like American artist Julianna Swaney who balance the real with the fictionalized. Images depicting the conditions of Hell's Kitchen would have been tragic yet Julianna Swaney shows the reality with a subtle touch of colour and shape. It is honest without being scary, and bright without being saccharine.

Learning about great people through illustrated biographies is always a winner for children. There's history being told but at a level relevant to them. I'm especially delighted that Monica Kulling has shared one about a female physician who never let societal conventions hold her back and was able to achieve much good by not doing so. It's an important lesson for all of us.

A free educator's guide for Dr. Jo is available from Tundra Books at

November 06, 2018

How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read: Book launch (Toronto)

Join author Andrew Katz 

for the Toronto launch of his picture book

How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read
Written by Andrew Katz and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel 
Illustrated by Joseph Sherman
CrackBoom! Books 
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
November 2018


Sunday, November 11, 2018

2 p.m.


Queen Books
914 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON 

There will be:
 • a reading of the book by Andrew Katz 
(with music provided by singer-songwriter Peter Katz) 
• book signing by author Andrew Katz and
illustrator Joseph Sherman

The event is detailed as follows:
Queen Books invites you to join a spunky girl, her forest animal friends, and a book-loving bear for a reading by Montreal author Andrew Katz of his new picture book How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read (ages 4-7), co-written with Juliana Léveillé-Trudel. Special musical guest, JUNO-nominated and Canadian Screen Award-nominated singer-songwriter Peter Katz, will be lending his guitar to the storytelling, and Gemini Award-winning illustrator Joseph Sherman will be there as well for a book-signing following the reading.

Bear- and book-lovers of all ages are welcome!

Details here.

November 01, 2018

Out of the Blue

Written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards
Scholastic Canada
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
August 2018

The message of Wallace Edwards's newest picture book, a story deceptively simple but unusually rich in context and imagery, is all about differences and finding commonalities to evoke compassion. Out of the Blue may be aimed at ages 3 to 7 but it's a directive that should be picked up by all of society.

Ernest is a rhino (Wallace Edwards does illustrate great rhinos, as well as elephants, zebras, lions, cats, mice, etc.) who gets his kite stuck in a tree.  While he contemplates a solution to his problem, he gets a fleeting glimpse of an aerial object (really it's a UFO) and hears a loud noise in the sky. Worrying that someone might need his help, Ernest embarks on a trek, with the help of a large egret, across the plain and then alone up a treacherous mountain. When he discovers the space ship and bumps into a green amorphous alien, both he and the creature are terrified of the monster each sees in the other.
From Out of the Blue by Wallace Edwards
When they both venture out to eye the other, they attempt to communicate. But, as with all whose languages are different, Ernest and the creature endeavour to find commonalities, whether in the shape or colour or emotion of their communiques.
From Out of the Blue by Wallace Edwards
Displaying their dialogue bubbles as puzzle pieces that struggle to find the means to fit, Ernest and the creature finally discover that they may each be familiar with different things but they both love. And what the alien needs help with is his transport which has lodged in the ground. Ernest is happy to help his new friend who, in turn, offers his support, courtesy of some extraordinarily malleable appendages, before waving goodbye.
And there were no more monsters, only friends.
Because Out of the Blue is about communication and perception, Wallace Edwards was astute to have little text in the story.  The reader is given the opportunity to interpret the story and the dialogue between the two creatures, familiar and not, while still recognizing their fears, troubles, and helpfulness. Moreover, extra activities from Scholastic include What Would You Say? and Take Turns Telling the Story offering children the opportunity to create their own discussions between Ernest and the alien.
Scholastic Canada's extra activities for Out of the Blue by Wallace Edwards
Wallace Edwards's stories always have a surreal quality to them, particularly in the art that brings the familiar, like rhinos and trees and mountains, into the realm of the fantastic. Yet Ernest, who is very earnest in his endeavours to help and communicate with the other-worldly creature, is very real and down-to-earth in his efforts and his feelings. Fortunately, he sees beyond the monster he assumes the unfamiliar being is and instead finds a friend. 

Out of the Blue shares a positive message that fits into our troubled times of suspiciousness and antagonism. Too many see the differences as strife when it would seem that we're more alike than we often know. Thank you Wallace Edwards for reminding us of this.

October 30, 2018

2018 TD Canadian Children's Book Awards: Winners

Last night, the TD Canadian Children's Book Awards (English-language) were handed out in Toronto. (The French-language awards, Le Prix TD de littérature pour l'enfance et la jeunesse canadienne and Prix Harry Black de l'album jeunesse, will be awarded on November 19 in Montreal.) In addition to these awards, the selection of the TD Grade One Book Giveaway was announced.

Congratulations to all on these awards and recognitions!


TD Grade One Book Giveaway
Giraffe and Bird
Written and illustrated by Rebecca Bender
Pajama Press

Fan Choice Contest Winner

Picture the Sky
Written and illustrated by Barbara Reid
North Winds Press (Scholastic Canada)

TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

Town is By the Sea
Written by Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award 

When the Moon Comes
Written by Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Matt James
Tundra Books

Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children's Non-Fiction

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Annick Press

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 

The Assassin’s Curse 
(The Blackthorn Key, Book 3)
Written by Kevin Sands

John Spray Mystery Award

The Hanging Girl
Written by Eileen Cook
Houghlin Mifflin Harcourt

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

The Marrow Thieves
Written by Cherie Dimaline


October 29, 2018

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes

Written by Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Tundra Books
40 pp.
Ages 5-9
September 2018

Although there are far too many Indigenous heroes to include in an illustrated collective biography and book of inspiration, Wab Kinew manages to honour thirteen figures from history including athletes, physicians, authors, military and leaders who marked history with their efforts.  These are their stories, told in emotional free verse by Wab Kinew and illustrated by Joe Morse with power and strength. But beyond these stories, Wab Kinew urges all readers to be inspired to learn and be more.
From Go Show the World by Wab Kinew, illus. by Joe Morse
Wab Kinew begins with a verse about the beginnings.
There's a power in these lands,
one that's been here many years,
strong enough to make you stand
and forget all of your fears.
It started in the past with a blast of light and thunder;
ancient ones looked up and beheld the sky with wonder.
From Tecumseh, Sacagawea and Net-No-Kwa to contemporary heroes such as Carey Price, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier and Dr. Evan Adams, Wab Kinew recognizes the achievements of those who showed the world that they were and are persons who matter. They led explorers, they faced discrimination, and they achieved beyond the limitations put on them. Knowing their stories, upon which Wab Kinew elaborates in a "Biographies" appendix, is but the first step of recognition which heralds appreciation, emulation and achievement.
We are people who matter.
Yes, it's true.
Now let's show the world what people who matter can do. 
From Go Show the World by Wab Kinew, illus. by Joe Morse
Joe Morse may be more familiar as an artist to his commercial clients but his striking illustrations, which I first noticed in his Visions in Poetry edition of Casey at the Bat, bombard the reader with powerful images. While I'm captured by his backgrounds of forest, sky and water, it is the hero of the double-spread who is always showcased. They are detailed in dress and expression and on a landscape reflective of their story. Most remarkable and unmistakable is the countenance of their expressions. It says that they do matter and are determined to Go Show the World, elevating Wab Kinew's message while illuminating it.
From Go Show the World by Wab Kinew, illus. by Joe Morse

For teachers, a discussion guide is available at the publisher's website at

October 25, 2018

Canada Animals

Written and illustrated by Paul Covello
HarperCollins Canada
30 pp.
Ages 0-5
September 2018

I don't review a lot of concept books because too many are mediocre. So many people think that doing a book based on the alphabet or numbers 1 through 10 or colours would be an easy write. It's not. The premise is firmly established but putting a book together to be meaningful while different and original is very difficult.  Fortunately, author-illustrator Paul Covello excels at concept books. Having already reviewed Canada 123 (2017) and Everyday ABC (2018), I know that he goes far beyond just teaching the concept of numbers or letters or, here, animals. He lodges that concept in a rich landscape that teaches and provides context beyond the foundation.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello
Canada Animals introduces little ones to 43 animals found in Canada.  Some are common to many regions, like the deer, moose and robin, but others have more limited distributions like the beluga whale, muskox and spirit bear. Still Paul Covello includes a variety of animals from across the country, from west coast to east coast and far north waters and land. There are mammals like the pine marten, bison and porcupine; amphibians like the wood frog;  birds including the chickadee and puffin; fish like salmon; and the lobster as crustacean. Young children will recognize some and learn about new ones, and learn they will because Paul Covello embeds the natural history of the animals in his illustrations. For example, the illustration with the snowy owl shows the landscape of its Arctic habitat, that its nest is on the ground and that the juveniles have black feathers.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello
Similarly, the page about the bighorn sheep shows the physical differences between the male and female, the light-coloured young, a pair of rams fighting and their mountainous and rocky habitat.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello
There is much to learn about habitat, feeding, young and behaviour of many of the animals included in Paul Covello's Canada Animals, but it's most important to note that he's honouring those found here in Canada. In his realistic yet stylized artwork with its bold colours and crisp lines, Paul Covello makes Canada Animals an animal guide for our youngest set who will love getting to know the animals around them and search out others if and when fortunate to travel our country.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello

October 24, 2018

Monsters: The Reckoner, Book Two

Written by David A. Robertson
HighWater Press
246 pp.
Ages 14+
October 2018

Trust comes from truth. (pg. 199)

In Strangers, the first book in David A. Robertson's The Reckoner series, Cole Harper returned to the Cree community of Wounded Sky, a reserve constantly in recovery from tragedy. At that time, he'd been lured back by Coyote a.k.a. Choch with whom Cole had made a deal when the supernatural being helped save Cole's two friends, Eva and Brady, from a school fire ten years earlier that killed so many others. Though treated as a pariah, Cole helped stop a murder spree and provided a cure, with his unique blood, for a flu affecting the community. Now, in Monsters, that trickster Choch expects Cole to stick around and try to expose the truths about the mysterious experimentation that had taken place at the research facility and help heal a community.

Cole's first step is to recover the files he'd discovered in Strangers that revealed how he and others had been test subjects at the former Mihko Laboratories research facility. However, with Mihko returning to the community and quarantining all those who had been cured but now were looking worse, and Victor, a local resident, and Jayney, a spirit girl, talking about a monster or bogeyman or perhaps even Upayokwitigo, Cole's task becomes more complicated. Who is this creature? Why are the "flu" patients looking sick again? Why are guards posted at the clinic and the research facility? With the residents of Wounded Sky vacillating between acclaiming Cole as a hero and a criminal, Cole is finding it hard to learn anything. And did I mention how flummoxed he is about his feelings, particularly for best friend Eva, who has a boyfriend, and for another girl, Pam? Cole's probably feeling like it sucks to be him. No wonder his anxiety is out of control and he's struggling between choosing to take meds and trying to cope without. But can he quash that debilitating anxiety sufficiently to save himself and Wounded Sky from monsters of so many manifestations?
"...if there's somethin' that evil, there's gotta be somethin' that good." (pg. 236)
There is a lot of evil hanging around Wounded Sky and, at this time of year, many will think those monsters will all be vicious creatures that inspire fear. But, though there are a lot of monsters in Monsters, not all are physical beings. Some are inner demons, like Cole's overwhelming anxiety founded in his past but pervading his present and undoubtedly ready to affect his future. But they are also the community's fears that it will be unable to recover from its tragedies and that it's in danger of losing its identity. Those are monsters like no other. Fortunately, there is still much goodness and strength in Cole and the community, and readers will be hopeful that there are some happy endings for both.

David A. Robertson continues the thriller he began in Strangers by setting up new mysteries built on those established in Book One. However, although Monsters may answer a few questions, David A. Robertson leaves the reader still wondering about that research facility and what they did to Wounded Sky's inhabitants, past and present, and hoping that Cole will not lose himself in his struggle to find the answers.

Still, without spoiling the ending, readers need to be prepared for David A. Robertson's plot twist. A monster may be revealed, seemingly tying up a plot line, but Monsters closes out with a shock and a gasp that will have readers waiting for Book Three in the series, Ghosts, to learn how Cole, the Reckoner, is able to make peace for himself and Wounded Sky.  Spring 2019 can't come soon enough.

Just a quick note that



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

7 p.m.


McNally Robinson
Grant Park in the Atrium
Winnipeg, MB


will be hosted by
Katherena Vermette

A portion of book sales from that night will be donated to
Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba

October 23, 2018

A World of Kindness

from the Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press
(including Ann Featherstone, Brian Deines, Tara Anderson, Wallace Edwards, François Thisdale, Kim La Fave,      Manon Gauthier, Dean Griffiths, Suzanna Del Rizzo and Rebecca Bender)
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
October 2018 

Whether a child dealing with a mean classmate, nastiness on social media, or world leaders striking out at others, it's evident that our world needs more kindness. But being kind is not always inherent; sometimes, often, it needs to be taught or even inspired. As Aesop affirmed, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is every wasted." Let us be kind.

In fourteen double-spreads of text and image, the editors and illustrators of Pajama Press spark discussions about how kindness can manifest and how we should examine our own actions for kindness. Starting with "Are you kind?", the book asks questions while suggesting ways of being kind. From "Do you wait your turn?" and "Will you help someone younger...or older?" to "Are you gentle with animals big...and small?" young readers are asked to look within for evidence of their own kindness.
From A World of Kindness, illustration by Kim La Fave

From A World of Kindness, illustration by Tara Anderson
Children see how to be kind while being asked about being kind. Ideas about saying "Please" and "Thank you" and "I'm sorry" are demonstrated as important, as are sharing, helping, being supportive and compassionate. A World of Kindness covers the simplest acts of thoughtfulness and yet makes the significant and critical point that "a little kindness grows into a world of kindness."
From A World of Kindness, illustration by Manon Gauthier
The text of A World of Kindness is endearing and straightforward, and will work well with young preschoolers and children in primary grades. But it's the illustrations, some from already published works and some original art, that will carry the message. Children will see kindness in the hugs, the sharing, and the love that seasons these pages. (There are different heart shapes throughout the book, reminding us what is at the heart of kindness.) The illustrations, like Suzanne Del Rizzo's amazing polymer clay book cover art, depict all children and are aimed at children's experiences with animals, peers, siblings, elders, and parents, and include those during all seasons in Canada and in other global locales including Sri Lanka (Kim La Fave's art from When the Rain Comes), Tanzania (Brian Deines's illustration from In a Cloud of Dust), and Jordan (Suzanne Del Rizzo's art from her My Beautiful Birds). A World of Kindness shows kindness in its own inclusivity.

A World of Kindness will undoubtedly be used as a tool for teaching and instilling kindness, especially as Pajama Press has provided a downloadable poster ( and teaching guide ( on its website. Moreover, with all royalties going to Think Kindness, a project that aspires to inspire kindness in schools and other communities, purchasing A World of Kindness is a win-win for all.  But, at its heart, A World of Kindness is a compendium of beautiful messages in words and art to help make our world, starting with our youngest readers, a place of graciousness and goodwill.  With such benevolence, this picture book will triumph with purpose.

October 19, 2018

Ottawa Public Library presents Teen Author Fest 2018 (Ottawa, ON)


 Saturday, October 27, 2018

12-5 p.m.

the Ottawa Public Library 


Teen Author Fest 2018

a free event with 11 French- and English-language 
writers of stories for young adults

Lucile de Pesloüan 
Pourquoi les filles ont mal au ventre?

Émilie Rivard
1re avenue

Sophie Labell

Hadley Dyer
Here So Far Away

Susan Glickman
The Discovery of Flight

Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday’s Not Coming

E.K. Johnston
That Inevitable Victorian Thing

Sarah Raughley
Siege of Shadows

Justin Joschko
Yellow Locust

Star Spider
Past Tense
Danielle Younge-Ullman
Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined

There will be workshops,
panel discussions, 
author signings, 
a meet-and-greet, 
book sales (through Octopus Books).


All events will take place at

Ottawa Public Library Sunnyside branch 
1049 Bank Street


across the street at 
Southminster United Church 
15 Aylmer Avenue


This is a free event!

Details about the schedule and authors and their books are available on the Teen Author Fest pages at (English) or at (French)