July 30, 2018

The Funeral

Written and illustrated by Matt James
Groundwood Books
40 pp.
Ages 4-7
April 2018

Funerals always mean something different to those attending. There are those who are overwhelmed with grief and others who treat it as a social event. There are some for whom the funeral is just part of the cycle of life. But what does a funeral mean to children, particularly for the very young?

When Norma's mother's gets the phone call that her Uncle Frank has passed, she is saddened. Norma knows she should be too–in fact, she practises her sad face in the mirror– but attending a funeral for Norma means getting the day off school and seeing her favourite cousin Ray. 

Though Norma and Ray follow their parents' directives and participate in the process that is the funeral–the procession, the church service, a reception–they are young and find ways to focus on other things: the smell in a mother's purse, a giraffe stuffie, the dancing dust mots, the music and the other funeral attendees. They have questions but their natural inclinations are to participate in life. The two slip outside into the graveyard and natural world, feeling the freedom that comes from being able to move and observe and explore.
From The Funeral by Matt James
Though Norma recognizes that Uncle Frank died because he was really old, she still ponders what his death means to those around her. In the end, she recognizes that "I think Uncle Frank would have liked his funeral."

There are many books that help discuss end of life with children but never have I seen one that honours how children see death and the funeral process as aptly as Matt James's The Funeral. It is just one funeral and it's not every child's response to a funeral but it is very honest and real. Perhaps it's a book for parents to recognize that children may be part of the grieving process, without grieving as their elders might, and their ways are appropriate for them. I'm pleased that the parents and others don't chastize the children for being disrespectful for playing outdoors or being inattentive to all the rituals (though Norma does recognize "how looong they sat on those hard seats, with all that talk about God and souls, and not very much talk about Uncle Frank.")
From The Funeral by Matt James
The story in The Funeral is carried by Matt James's illustrations, the same acrylic-and-ink artwork that won him a Governor General's Literary Award for Northwest Passage (Groundwood, 2013). The art is raw, not necessarily neat and tidy, but, just like life, it is buoyant and energetic and hopeful even during times of great sadness.  With its colour, its lines and its words, The Funeral celebrates the spirit of those who lived and those who love life.

July 26, 2018

A Girl Like That

Written by Tanaz Bhathena
Farrar Straus Giroux
369 pp.
Ages 13-18
February 2018

Zarin Wadia, sixteen, is A Girl Like That. She's seen as provocative, rebellious, and clever but her story is one of tragedy from birth to her death.

Zarin's death, along with that of a young man, Porus Dumasia, in a car accident is not a surprise ending. It begins the book with Zarin's guardians, Masi (mother's sister) and Masa (maternal uncle), and Porus's mother wailing over the dead teens. How they got there which is essentially Zarin's back story is the story of A Girl Like That. Told in multiple voices of Zarin, Porus, a gossipy classmate Mishal, and a boy Farhan with whom Zarin becomes involved, Tanaz Bhathena's first young adult novel is a study in nature vs. nurture for a teen whose origins were considered shameful and whose upbringing was rife with physical and emotional abuse. 
Memories...can be like splinters, digging into you when you least expect them to, holding tight and sharp the way wood did when it slid under a fingernail. (pg. 27)
Zarin is never made to feel like she belongs. Not with her Masi and Masa who take her in after her unmarried mother's death or at Qala Academy, the school she attends after they move from India to Saudi Arabia. She is shamed at home by her abusive and mentally ill Masi–and infrequently defended by Masa–for her illegitimacy, her gangster father and issues related to her being a girl. At school, a place where rumours are currency, especially for Mishal the anonymous BlueNiqab blogger and gossip monger, Zarin's classmates look down their noses at her for her heritage and standoffish ways. Still, Zarin endures. She hides the abuses and thumbs her nose at those who shame her. She smokes and she goes riding in cars with boys, an offense according to Sharia law.

And then her childhood Parsi friend, Porus, moves to Jeddah with his mother after the death of his beloved father. Zarin and Porus resume their friendship though it is an unconventional one, with Porus completely smitten and Zarin dating other boys and not sure she is capable of loving anyone. When Zarin is the victim of an assault by Farhan, her world at home and school dissolves into a muddy mess of anger, gossip, shaming, and revenge, with Zarin's desperately searching for courage and safety, within and without.

A Girl Like That is garnering much attention because of Tanaz Bhathena's story about gender inequality and religion-based social restrictions in Saudi Arabia. By focusing on a world that is intimate to many but foreign to so many others, Tanaz Bhathena is both honouring those who live Zarin's life and educating those unfamiliar with the restrictions and distinctions of living with abuse, segregation, cultural discrimination, gender inequality and religious policing.  But beyond the cultural milieu, A Girl Like That is still a statement about the need for self-expression, to fight self and others, to become who you are. Zarin's story is still a tragedy for the abuses inflicted upon her by family, both young men and women, and her cultures but she finds a way to fly, even without wings.
Because a bird only learns to fly when its wings are broken. (pg. 318)

July 25, 2018

Everyday ABC

Written and illustrated by Paul Covello
30 pp.
Ages 0-4
May 2018

Alphabet books like most concept books tend to be rather simplistic, for two reasons. First, the patterns that the text will follow are predetermined. It's always going to be A through Z. Secondly, they are concept books, those which try to teach a new concept to the very young. They must be simple enough for children to grasp the concept through multiple readings. If there is any confusion or duality of message, the book is not serving its purpose. If the children are not familiar with the words that are selected for each letter, it does not serve its purpose.  Everyday ABC serves its purpose very well and with boldly colourful illustrations that will boost learning.
From Everyday ABC by Paul Covello

For each letter of the alphabet, artist Paul Covello, whose books Canada ABC, Canada 123 and Toronto ABC have already provided familiar Canadian perspectives to concept learning, shares commonplace examples for children.  The list includes: apple, ball, cat, dog, egg, flower, guitar, hat, ice cream, juice, kite, leaf, milk, nest, orange, paint, quilt, rainbow, shoe, tree, umbrella, vegetable, window, xylophone, yarn and zoo. Most children would already be familiar with these words, hearing them regularly in western households: "Put your shoe on" or "Eat your vegetable" or "Let's go to the zoo today." Now they can see the letters that starts these words, see how each word is spelled and learn the order of the letters in the alphabet.  Everyday ABC speaks to the child with things recognizable to them, not to impress the adult reader.

While the text fulfils its mandate of teaching the alphabet, Paul Covello's artwork is probably what children will most appreciate. The art is alive with colour and shape, drawing children to recognize and identify objects in the details and further the learning. E may be for egg, but a child will also learn where the egg comes from as well as the difference between a hen and chicks and a rooster, all in a sunny egg-yolk yellow landscape.
From Everyday ABC by Paul Covello

Moreover, every child, albeit in a western world, is represented here. There is diversity in where children live, what colour their skin is, what clothing they wear. There are boys and girls and children whose gender is irrelevant. There are indoor scenes and outdoor scenes, and scenes of activity and quiet times too.
From Everyday ABC by Paul Covello

While the focus of Everyday ABC differs from his earlier works, Paul Covello continues to recognize how to blend his artwork to help young children grasp new concepts and he does so with an earnest awareness of children's needs and likings that all will appreciate.

July 24, 2018

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs

Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Valérie Boivin
Kids Can Press
36 pp.
Ages 6-9
April 2018

Jane Jacobs is an icon of urban activism both in her birth country of the United States and her adopted home of Canada. In both places, her support of cities as communities for the people pitted her against traditional urban planners and developers but won her the support of her neighbours near and far.

Susan Hughes, author of numerous fiction (e.g., What Happens Next, The Four Seasons of Patrick, Virginia) and non-fiction (e.g., Off to Class, Case Closed?, Coming to Canada) books for young readers, takes Jane's story from humble but passionate beginnings–an anecdote about Jane being sent home from school when she wouldn't promise to brush her teeth everyday and trying to incite her classmates to follow is especially telling–to a move to New York City where she saw her city through "eyes on the street" and recognizing life in the city as a "ballet of the sidewalk."
From Walking in the City with Jane by Susan Hughes, illus. by Valérie Boivin
She knew that animals, plants, river, sunshine and rain all worked together as part of a healthy ecosystem. "But a city is also an ecosystem," she realized. "It is made of different parts – sidewalks, parks, stores, neighborhoods, City Hall ... and people, of course. When they all work together, the city is healthy. (pg. 14)
After her marriage to architect Bob Jacobs, Jane continued to work as a journalist. She used her writing to criticize city planning that supported businesses and transportation and thought seldom of the people upon which communities were built. She initiated protests that stopped the razing of her own neighbourhood for construction of a highway. It took years of protests and activism, including an arrest for interrupting a city meeting, before Jane and her fellow activists were able to stop the development of the expressway and even save a local park from traffic.  Her family's move to Toronto did not suppress her love of cities or the need to advocate for neighbourhoods.
She inspired communities to take a stand for their neighborhoods. She also encouraged everyone living in cities to look around them while they walked and to listen, linger and think about what they saw. (pg. 34)
From Walking in the City with Jane by Susan Hughes, illus. by Valérie Boivin
By highlighting key events in Jane Jacobs's life–school, the move to New York City, marriage and family, the protests against Robert Moses's plans for development, the move to Canada and continued advocacy for cities for people–Susan Hughes distills Jane's story to one of action. Of course, there is much more to her long-life story (she was 89 when she passed) but these milestones shaped the trajectory of her influence about the way we think about cities.
Illustration by Valérie Boivin used in Walking in the City with Jane by Susan Hughes retrieved from https://valerieboivin.carbonmade.com/projects/6410126
Quebec artist Valérie Boivin, already well-known for illustrating French-language books including 752 lapins, Le livre où la poule meurt à la fin, as well as her own Un après-midi chez Jules, brings structure and dynamics to Jane Jacobs's story. Just like the cities Jane Jacobs supported with her action, Valérie Boivin blends work and play and landmarks with conventional buildings to create landscapes that are familiar and still noteworthy.

Walking in the City with Jane honours Jane Jacobs's urban activism and reminds us to be functional players on the stages of our cities, not merely bit players with walk-on roles, and the best way to do that is to open our eyes and engage.

July 23, 2018

PB's Comet

Written by Marnie Parsons
Illustrated by Veselina Tomova
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
March 2018

While stories that support children's interests in the sciences, tech, math and engineering are becoming more and more common, I don't think there is one out there anything like PB's Comet which promotes the idea of following one's STEM dreams, even if ridiculed or ignored by others, with sheep and and a goat and Newfoundland flair.

PB is a lamb of Toads Cove (the original name of Tors Cove, NFLD) who, with other sheep and a goat, is taken over to Fox Island for summer grazing. While the others bide their time, grazing and watching tourists and whales, PB is reading about astronomer Edmond Halley, studying star charts and staying up at night to ponder the night sky. Her focus is on calculating when the next comet might stream across the sky.  But the old goat "who was inclined to be grumpy and rather remote" (pg. 12) does not appreciate her efforts.
From PB's Comet by Marnie Parsons, illus. by Veselina Tomova
So he'd hide PB's spyglass and munch on her maps
and jumble her numbers while poor PB napped.
But no matter the ills of the old goat's devising,
PB maintained an extremely surprising
insistence that soon her comet would come,
and with every assurance that goat seemed more glum. (pg. 15)
But when that old goat glimpses the night sky, which he'd been missing because of heading to bed earlier than most, PB's pest becomes her protege, joining her to watch the night sky and learn.
From PB's Comet by Marnie Parsons, illus. by Veselina Tomova
Though a picture book which many people incorrectly assume to be only for the very young, PB's Comet is sophisticated in its text and artwork and probably better suited to early and middle grade students who will be able to delve deeper into the science and history of the story. (The endpapers have a colourful timeline of possible sightings of Halley's Comet from 3 c. BC through 1986.) Still, though Marnie Parson's appended notes tell the story of Edmond Halley's 1700 visit to Toads Cove as well as the practice of Tors Cove farmers to take their sheep over to Fox and Ship Islands for summer grazing, PB's Comet is a story even bigger than these elements.

Marnie Parson's rhyming text is rich in word choice and mood. In fact, the rhythms propel the reader through PB's story easily with the text's rhyming scheme (AABBCC) and Marnie Parson's choice of vocabulary. But the text is neither simplistic nor contrived. It has a depth of language that seems of another time and place and perhaps that is what it is supposed to convey. Veselina Tomova's artwork supports that spirit including such elements as a sextant and old-fashioned telescope in PB's scientific tools. Veselina Tomova's etchings also have a grittiness of a time and place less sterile than today, more earthy and humble, and totally appropriate for the story of PB's Comet.

PB's Comet has an important message about following your own path and passions, even those not supported by your community. The reader can feel PB's intention and passion for the stars and elements of the night sky, as well as the old goat's indignation, perhaps because it feels threatened, with a young sheep who doesn't follow the path of the others. Still, young readers will realize that the lamb can do astronomy, even if there are those who oppose her efforts and even sabotage them, and it's this message that should be heeded.

PB's Comet is funny, rhythmic and imaginative, but more than that, for lambs, girls and those pursuing their passions, PB's Comet has an important message about self-actualization that teachers and parents would do well to share.

July 19, 2018

The Whirlpool

Written by Laurel Croza
Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Groundwood Books
96 pp.
Ages 10-14
May 2018

Don't be deceived by the simple cover illustration and the less-than-100 page count. The Whirlpool, a collection of seven short stories from award-winning picture book author Laurel Croza, is not an early reader.  Its stories are sophisticated and aimed at upper middle grades, covering a wide variety of issues from emotional abuse and grief to destiny and bullying.

In It's a Step, the narrator Charity lives with her mother and abusive father.  As her dad rails against her mom taking a job at Tim's, both mother and daughter find the means to take a small step to a better life.  In Book of Dreams, Mike finds the support he doesn't get at home from his mom and her latest boyfriend at a restaurant where he gets respect, appreciation and a turkey dinner. While a very different story in terms of characters, OH! is also about finding home. The Oh! So Perfect Hair Dolly goes from factory to store shelf and dreams of being named by a child. The desolation of being passed over during Christmas shopping and then being relegated to the reduced price bin is reflective of any child who has felt unloved.  

The Whirlpool is the story of fifteen-year-old Jasmine who is the brunt of swirling rumours at the whirlpool that is school about her having a baby. As she deals with the gossip and nastiness, Jasmine resolves to "look the whirlpool in the eye" (pg. 30) and reveal her story. A Beautiful Smile also looks at nastiness at school, this time with a young teen from the north standing up to a mean girl at her new Toronto school. Most satisfying is the public and clever way in which Nicola finds support and salvation.

Although all the stories have something important to impart, my two favourite stories are The Sunflower and Destiny. Though told from the perspective of a squirrel, The Sunflower is neither trite nor silly. It is an emotional story about loss and grief and making connections, and I defy anyone not to sob at its telling.  Destiny is a revealing story about following one's dreams, regardless of others' desires and opinions.  Johnny helped inspire his younger sister Dani to play hockey even when her father thought figure skating would be more appropriate. Dani persevered and changed her father's mind about her playing hockey. Now, with Johnny drafted to the OHL, she wants to help her brother accept his true destiny too.

Each story in Laurel Croza's collection is packed with emotional growth, from taking first steps to fulfilling one's destiny, or saving yourself, or accepting strengths and weaknesses as part of the whole package. The stories may be brief (each less than 20 pages) but they wallop you with the power of their storytelling, dialogue and message. My favourite, The Sunflower, does that all in five pages.

I shouldn't be surprised that Laurel Croza can weave such powerful tales. Her highly-acclaimed picture books, I Know Here and From There to Here, which were beautifully illustrated by Matt James, conveyed amazing stories in few words. But these stories are not picture book tales transformed into text. They are not for our youngest readers, though, because of the length of the books, parents and teachers might expect them to be so.  The stories in The Whirlpool collection deal with issues of abuse, gossip, abandonment, and death. While these are issues with which younger readers may be familiar, the older protagonists in Laurel Croza's stories suggest that older middle grade readers might understand the messages better.

I've always loved short story collections for the breadth of stories that can be told and the piecemeal manner in which the text can be read. They are potent teaching tools and convenient for reading in shorter time periods. With The Whirlpool, Laurel Croza has provided a worthwhile addition to the youngCanLit collection of short story anthologies as it enlightens, reassures and inspires.

July 17, 2018


Written by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Press
231 pp.
Ages 8-12
May 2018

There's an anonymity that comes with being the new kid at school that can be refreshing. But most times, and twelve-year-old Cooper Vega knows this well, you're just Whatshisface, the guy no one cares to know. You're not part of the established cohorts or activities and many kids are not going to bother trying to include you in their lives.  Cooper feels like his job is just "to get out of the way." (pg. 1) But, in his new home town of Stratford, where Somerset Wolfson, Shakespearean fanatic and one of the richest men in the U.S., lives, it's looks like it might not work as it always has.

Being in Grade 7, Cooper and his classmates will be responsible for performing the annual Shakespearean play.  This year's play will be Romeo and Juliet, an endeavour supported financially by Mr. Wolfson. As much as Cooper might enjoy playing Romeo–the role assigned to the obnoxious Brock Bumgartner–opposite the incredible Jolie, he is selected for Second Watchman, a perfect role for a Whatshisface.

But when his new cell phone, the GX-4000, starts acting up and connects with the ghost of a young printer's apprentice, Roderick Barnabas Northrop, from 1596 England, staying a Whatshisface becomes a little harder.  This is especially true when Roddy, in his efforts to help Cooper become less of a Whatshisface and win Jolie's attentions, learns that the play they are performing is one he had started writing prior to his death!

Gordon Korman is a writing hero to middle graders. He has the heart of a middle grader or at least he writes like one and that's why young readers LOVE his books. He writes funny stories with great plots, relatable characters and satisfying endings that resolve with honesty and realism. That's pretty amazing considering there's a ghost in a cell phone in Whatshisface. Still the characters, other than Roddy, are real kids who want to fit in or be popular or get the lead role or want to stay under the radar. Most are just trying to survive middle school. Readers will see themselves in Cooper, a boy who doesn't feel like he belongs but does feel like he's always messing up.  He's not a loser but he certainly feels like one at times, not unlike just about everyone in the world. And they'll cheer for him when Roddy whips out insult after insult, in true sixteen-century style, to come to Cooper's defence.
"...had my fat hound thy face, I should shave its hindquarters and train it to present itself rearward." (pg. 81)
 (This is paraphrased by Cooper as "...if my dog had your face, I'd shave its butt and teach it to walk backward."; pg. 81) What child would not laugh uproariously at that irreverence?

While many young readers will be grabbed by the familiar plot of trying to fit in, the subplot related to Shakespeare's alleged theft of manuscripts is a fascinating one. By incorporating that controversy (and there is a history of allegations that Shakespeare may have adapted, if not stolen, the works of others) with the quirky friendship between boy and ghost, finding one's place, whether in middle school or in history, takes on a whole new dimension.

July 13, 2018

Past Tense

Written by Star Spider
304 pp.
Ages 13+
April 2018 

When you're fifteen years old (Julie) and you think you're in love with your best friend (Lorelei) and dreaming of that first kiss while your mother (Olive) is acting weird, telling you her heart is gone, and your best friend's ex (Henry) whom you never liked is hanging around and Dad (Max) is always working and your baby brother is only six months old, everything is a worry.  Your world is beyond tense, it's almost unendurable.

This is Julie's present. Her friendship with Lorelei has always been solid, though probably more so because Julie usually accommodates her popular and assertive friend, more so now that she is crushing on her.  But Lorelei is keeping secrets and making choices that Julie is questioning, at least to herself, so Julie doesn't confide in her best friend when her mother starts acting really, really weird.  Julie has discovered her mom, a former firefighter, is barely eating, thinks she no longer has a heart, and driving out to the cemetery at night with the baby. Stranger yet, when Julie insists on going with her on these excursions, her mom wants her to play out a game called Rest in Peace where Julie eulogizes her mother.  Does she tell her father? No. He's too busy and just contends that her mom is tired.

And into the mix comes Henry, Lorelei's ex. At first, Julie is convinced Henry just wants to reconnect with Lorelei, but it soon becomes obvious to all that Henry likes Julie. Julie doesn't know what to think. Maybe she just likes girls. Maybe she likes both boys and girls. Still, Henry who has his own worries is the one person she can talk to about everything. But can she reveal everything to her new ally when Mom is trying out caskets and Lorelei may be hiding a secret about their teacher Mr. Gomez?

Though a writer of some acclaim, Past Tense is Star Spider's first novel, and it's a doozy. Having a young teen questioning her sexuality is not unusual, though the path Star Spider takes her on to help understanding it–watching others, listening to her heart, and pondering what her head is telling her–is fresh. But when mixed in with her mother's mental illness, later diagnosed as Cotard's delusion, and a family on the edge, along with friend who is both secretive and affectionate, Julie's story is far more angsty. Fortunately, by looking back through the past–each chapter begins with a memory of Julie and her mother–the reader will realize the past shapes our relationships and our future but does not determine it.  Julie's friendship with Lorelei does not have to remain as it was when they were younger, just as her relationship with Henry can be something different than it was when he dated Lorelei.  And her strong and capable mother is no less because of her illness or status as a stay-at-home parent.  Living in the past is futile. Moving forward is a necessity.

July 11, 2018

Eden Mills Writers' Festival 2018: September 9, 2018

This year the Eden Mills Writers' Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary of bringing writers and readers together. We always have an incredible line-up of authors of books but I like to let readers at CanLit for LittleCanadians know about those writers of books for young people.  Do check out the full line-up as well as the other special events, workshops, contests, and details about tickets and getting here at the EMWF website at https://edenmillswritersfestival.ca/2018-festival/.

For now, mark September 9, 2018 for your chance to hear these outstanding authors of youngCanLit at this year's Eden Mills Writers' Festival.

Sigmund Brouwer

Lana Button

Dennis Lee 

Casey Lyall

Sylvia McNicoll 

Also, appearing in Children's venue will be storyteller Brad Woods

Because it's a special anniversary for the Eden Mills Writers' Festival, we'll be doing something a little different in the Young Adult Authors' venue this year.  Instead of just having readings by the authors, we'll be holding two panels, each with three authors. In each panel, the authors will read from their most recent books, discuss their writing and answer questions including those vetted from the audience.

Speculative Fiction: Young Adult Novels of the Fantastic

Natasha Deen

Lesley Livingston

Kari Maaren

Historical Fiction: Writing about the Past for the Contemporary

Karen Bass

Gillian Chan

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

See you at the Festival!

July 10, 2018

The Muskox and the Caribou

Written by Nadia Mike
Illustrated by Tamara Campeau
Inhabit Media
36 pp.
Ages 5-7
February 2018

While The Muskox and the Caribou is obviously a story rooted in the Arctic where both species co-exist, children everywhere will appreciate the story of Baby Muskox and Baby Caribou and Mother Caribou who loved them both.

The story begins with the birth of Baby Caribou who is born to a loving Mother Caribou and learns to walk and gallop with the herd. One day, Mother Caribou spots Baby Muskox wandering helplessly alone and lost and leads him along with her own offspring back to the herd. Baby Muskox knows he is different. He has long and dark shaggy hair and his legs are short and stocky, very different from the caribou. Sadly, Baby Caribou and his friends don't seem to like Baby Muskox very much and tease him about his differences.  It is only with Mother Caribou that Baby Muskox feels love and comfort.
From The Muskox and the Caribou by Nadia Mike, illus. by Tamara Campeau
Months pass and the young animals grow. Even when the young are prodded by Mother Caribou to go out and explore independently, Baby Muskox returns to the safety and love of his adopted mother. Finally, when fully grown, Mother Caribou takes Baby Muskox on a long walk to see animals such as himself. For the first time, the muskox understands why he never fit in and, though he is sad to learn he isn't a caribou at all, he is excited to get to know others who are just like him.
But most of all, he was grateful for Mother Caribou because she had always shown him love. (pg. 26)
From The Muskox and the Caribou by Nadia Mike, illus. by Tamara Campeau
All children will feel different from others at one point or another.  It may be the way they look or what they can do or can't do or the way they feel.  Some may not feel like they belong in the family to which they were born or with whom they live.  But if The Muskox and the Caribou teaches anything it is that love can make things tolerable and allow growth. Baby Muskox may never have realized he was a muskox but he knew he wasn't like the caribou and that caused him much sadness. Only Mother Caribou made things right. Unfortunately Baby Caribou who'd always known that he belonged could have been a better sibling to Baby Muskox but he did not see the impact of his actions on the young muskox.

Nadia Mike's humble story of a baby muskox taken in by a mother caribou and loved and sheltered along with her own young provides may teachable moments about love and differences and empathy.  Children who live in the Arctic will more likely recognize the two animals and how different they are, but all children will accept that the muskox and the caribou could be any individuals who are different and can still coexist. With love, all is possible.

Northern Quebec illustrator Tamara Campeau provides a natural landscape for The Muskox and the Caribou, emphasizing the rugged terrain and tundra vegetation as the backdrop for the story.  While the animals as babies are softened and simplified, they are true and realistic, and Tamara Campeau makes The Muskox and the Caribou as much a teaching book about the Arctic as she does enhancing Nadia Mike's story with art.

Though all children will delight in a story about baby animals, The Muskox and the Caribou should be read to send a message that we all belong somewhere and, until that somewhere is found, love can help brook time and place.

July 09, 2018

All That Was

Written by Karen Rivers
Farrar Straus Giroux
384 pp.
Ages 12-18
January 2018

Seventeen-year-olds Piper and Sloane are friends. On the surface, they are very similar, or at least make themselves appear similar in hair style and colour and clothing, and spend all their time together or they did until the No-Boyfriend Rule is broken.  But Piper and Sloane's friendship is one of contradictions: love and hate, appreciation and disrespect, and camaraderie and rivalry. With that kind of a basis for a friendship, what happens when one of the friends is gone?

Though Sloane Whittaker thinks of herself as common compared to the more exotic Piper Sullivan, Piper is actually more like the flirty alpha in their friendship. If she wants something, she goes after it and is oblivious to the nuances in their friendship that might indicate Sloane may think differently.  So when they attend an art show that includes the work of Soup Sanchez, a boy Sloane has liked since fourth grade, Piper teases her shamelessly until Sloane denies liking him. The next day Piper reveals she and Soup connected after the show and are now going out. Now Sloane must endure Piper's personal divulgences about their kisses and sex while secretly yearning for the boy she has always liked and coincidentally seems to like her. But it's hard to say "No" to Piper. So when Piper decides that Sloane must experience sex, and she sets her up with a boy, James Robert Wilson, Sloane goes along.

But trouble is brewing as Soup and Sloane are regularly thrown together and Piper, oblivious until one fateful night, continues to direct their lives and her story to her best advantage.  That all changes when Piper dies.

All That Was is told in the voices of Sloane and Soup in terms of "Before" and "Now" relative to Piper's death. Most of the story is the "Before" in which we learn about the basis for Sloane and Piper's friendship; their revealing discussions which are both friendly and hostile; Sloane's aspirations to be a documentary filmmaker; and Soup and Piper's relationship. The "Now" brings to light the police investigation and arrest of a murderer, the guilt Sloane and Soup harbour, and the necessity of perspective and forgiveness, even of oneself.

Although many would consider Piper and Sloane frenemies and their friendship essentially doomed, I think it goes far deeper than that. The two girls sincerely love one another as friends but there is an inherent meanness to their interactions.  Theirs is a dance of sarcasm and one-upmanship, trying to be individuals but scared to be separated.  It's a very real relationship though not one to which anyone would aspire. Although I like some aspects of Sloane, probably identifying her as the underdog of the two, neither Piper nor Sloane are very likable. Karen Rivers made them very real–I suspect most teens know a Piper and a Sloane at their high schools–and their connectedness authentic though strained. Whether there is a message here about forgiveness or getting past tragedy, I don't know.  I do know that Karen Rivers makes it clear that not all friendships are rainbows and unicorns, just as she did in her earlier book Finding Ruby Starling (2014).  Some relationships are darker and deeper like crows and tumultuous waters, but they still build our life experiences, good or bad. Sloane and Soup, and yes, even Piper, can take from this chapter and move forward. Sometimes it is what it is. And All That Was just was.

July 07, 2018

Sterling, Best Fork Dog Ever: Book launch (Salt Spring Island, BC)

Join author-illustrator

Aidan Cassie 

for the launch of her first picture book

Sterling, Best Fork Dog Ever

 Written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
Farrar Straus Giroux
40 pp.
Ages 3-6
July 2018 


Saturday, July 28, 2018

1-2 p.m.


Salt Spring Island Public Library
129 McPhillips Ave.
Salt Spring Island

There will be:
• an author reading
• a book giveaway
• crafts for children
• Sterling bookmarks and stickers
• cupcakes!

If you're fortunate enough to live in the vicinity of Salt Spring Island, 
do take in this book launch.  

Sterling, Best Fork Dog Ever
is a special picture book that is sure to be enjoyed by children, parents and teachers.


July 06, 2018

Meet Viola Desmond (Scholastic Canada Biography)

Written by Elizabeth MacLeod
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Scholastic Canada
32 pp.
Ages 6-9
August 2018

The story of Viola Desmond is now part of the history books. You know that's got to be true when the Google Doodle for today, July 6, is honouring and celebrating her birth in 1914.  Many internet searches today will begin with a quick look at the ten panels that chronicle her life in that Doodle but young readers can learn about her life in greater depth in Meet Viola Desmond, one of the first in the new Scholastic Canada Biography series.

Though Elizabeth MacLeod touches on Viola Desmond's beginnings as part of a large family and the determination she had ("when Viola made up her mind to do something, she did it"; pg. 2), motivating her to open her own hair salon for black women who weren't allowed in those used by white women, developing her own hair creams and face powders, and starting a beauty school, the story centres around the injustice perpetrated against her as a black woman.
From Meet Viola Desmond by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas
The story is sadly familiar. While travelling on business, Viola Desmond's car runs into mechanical problems and she is waylaid in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.  To bide the time, she goes to the movie theatre. But, unlike theatres in Halifax where black people could sit wherever they liked, this theatre gives Viola Desmond a ticket for the balcony. When Viola Desmond insists on sitting on the main floor, willing to pay the additional cost, the management calls the police who forcibly drag her out to jail. In court the next day, she is found guilty and fined, and though "No one said anything about the colour of Viola's skin...everyone knew that's what this case was really about." (pg. 19)
From Meet Viola Desmond by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas
In the aftermath, Viola Desmond reconsidered her desire to just put the incident behind her, and with the support of many people, including the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, Viola Desmond went to court to fight for her rights.  But the judges refuse to hear her case, citing her delay in bringing it to court.  Still, this event advanced the cause for ensuring the rights for black persons and ultimately for justice for Viola Desmond.
From Meet Viola Desmond by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas
Because here is so much more to this remarkable woman's story, Elizabeth MacLeod, a highly effective writer of non-fiction of history, goes on to elaborate on Viola Desmond's story beyond the unfairness of both court cases. We learn of her sister Wanda's efforts to bring attention to Viola's story through speaking engagements, of the province's apology to Viola and all black people in Nova Scotia about the unfair treatment they endured, of the pardon bestowed on Viola Desmond long after her death, and of the new ten-dollar bill that features her image.  Viola Desmond's story and her achievements in illuminating the injustices that black Canadians experienced is one for the history books and one relevant for teaching about social justice, empowerment, determination and so much more.

The story is told well but told better with Mike Deas's illustrations. The ink and watercolour artwork may give the impression of a comic book with characters speaking via speech bubbles, but there is nothing silly or simple about Mike Deas's art. The settings give the flavour of the 1940s and other times, and the people, from their clothing and hairstyles, shapes and colour, are realistic and varied. Illustrating Viola Desmond's story this way will draw readers in and hold their attention while telling an important story that shouldn't have happened in the first place but which hopefully helped promote justice for all.

July 05, 2018

Sterling, Best Fork Dog Ever

Written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
Farrar Straus Giroux
40 pp.
Ages 3-6
July 2018

If ever there was a picture book that promoted the idea that you can be anything you want to be but being yourself is probably best, it's Sterling, Best Fork Dog Ever

Sterling is a silver dachshund who lives in a box outside of the Butlery Cutlery Company which purports to be "Now Shipping to All the Best Homes." Home sounds like a nice promise to Sterling whose box was  "... like a house. But not much like a home. No home had wanted to keep Sterling, not for long." So Sterling slips into the factory and into a box of forks ready for shipping.
From Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie
Determined that "This time will be different, he thought. I'll be different", Sterling makes sure that he is the best fork he can be. He stays as straight and as quiet and as silver as the other forks so that he can stay with the Gilbert family who see that he is different but quiet, small and "the most adorable thing ever!" But when the young girl wants to take him for  a walk or get him to sleep on her bed, Sterling remains fork-like. Then, when he's worried the family might not need him to be a fork, he reinvents himself as a whisk, a rolling pin, and more. It's not until he realizes the little girl is unhappy, and he finally sees all her puppy posters on the wall, that Sterling recognizes that "she just wanted him to be himself."
From Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie
This picture book is darling! The angst of poor Sterling trying to be whatever is needed so that he could have a forever home is both heart-breaking and humourous.  He really thinks he can be a fork, a golf club and a paper towel holder. He's always been under the impression that being himself, a dog, just wasn't good enough. Shame on those who ever made him feel less for being himself.  And kudos to the little girl who saw him as "the huggable, snuggable, perfectly lovable dog" that he was.  To all the Sterlings and dogs and children and people who think they're not enough just being whom they are, you're wrong.  You are enough and you're perfect as you are.
From Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie
Aidan Cassie is a new name in the youngCanLit world for me. Though this is her first published picture book, she was trained as an illustrator and animator and has been creating stories for many years, including the hand-drawn short film Sitting Next to Bernie (which also has an adorable puppy). If Sterling, Best Fork Dog Ever is any indication of the storytelling and artwork that Aidan Cassie can conceive, then I anticipate much positivity and more teachable moments in her future books.

July 03, 2018

My Deal with the Universe

Written by Deborah Kerbel
Scholastic Canada
240 pp.
Ages 8-12
June 2018

The uplifting cover of My Deal with the Universe hides the anxieties with which twelve-year-old Daisy is overwhelmed but thankfully it does tip us off to a resolution that is lightness and sparkle.

School is ending for the year and, though Daisy enjoys days with her best friend Willow playing at their Junglecamp, scheduled days of activities, too soon Willow would be off to summer camp for seven weeks. Sadly, there are no other friends, as Daisy, often called "Weed" lives in a house overgrown with vines and a yard dense with vegetation–called the Jungle–which is a source of ridicule and even contempt by schoolmates and neighbours. Mr. and Mrs. Pitt, next door, are especially horrid, always filing complaints against Daisy's parents and spraying Daisy with water "accidentally." Though the Jungle may be a source of embarrassment, Daisy loves her home, especially the quiet and darkness that comes with vine-covered walls and windows.

But Daisy's greatest concern is for her twin, Jack, who'd been diagnosed with cancer just before they turned eight. At the time, she'd made a deal with the universe: her life for Jack's. Coincidentally, as Jack went through treatment and started getting better, Daisy stopped growing. Apparently her deal worked. But now her parents are taking Jack, who is in remission, for doctors' appointments and tests, and Daisy comes up with a new plan to save him.

Then the Pitts' great niece and nephew, Violet and Zack, come to stay and befriend Daisy and Jack. This new friendship could change everything but would it help or hurt?

As in her most recent middle-grade novel Feathered (Kids Can Press, 2016), Deborah Kerbel makes us realize that young people, when faced with difficulties, find the means to mitigate those concerns through action. They may do so by unconventional means but making deals with the universe is probably less offbeat for children and those who are desperate than some medical treatments purported to benefit those who are ill. It would seem that Daisy is far more normal than she suspects: she's embarrassed by her parents but loves them; she's angry when she feels ignored by her friend; she doesn't want her twin to die; and she wants to be liked. But Deborah Kerbel makes it clear that normal is different for everyone and it can change with circumstances and these are lessons that Daisy ultimately learns. But she learns more than that. Daisy also accepts that some answers to life's problems can be a lot closer than anticipated and even a child can help make things right.
And how sometimes life's not all that different from a crossword puzzle.  How there's usually a solution lurking behind the blank spaces. You just have to keep trying different things to find that one that fits. (pg. 231)

July 01, 2018

Upcoming releases for summer and fall of 2018

The late summer and fall of 2018 are going to be banner times of year for the publication of new youngCanLit.  There are over 200 books listed below (!!) and you know that I've probably missed a few dozen and will be amending this list for a few weeks as new titles are brought to my attention.  FYI: I'm happy to correct my omissions.

Some of the titles I'm most looking forward to reading include:
  • The Eleventh Hour by Jacques Goldstyn (Owlkids), a picture book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice
  • Rosie's Glasses by Dave Whamond (Kids Can Press)>>>from the art genius who brought us My Think-A-Ma-Jink and Oddrey
  • The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem,  a new series from Kevin Sylvester (yeah!) 
  • Billy Stuart and the Zintrepids, the English translation of the wildly popular French graphic novels by Alain M. Bergeron and illustrated by Sampar (from Orca)
  • Birdman, a picture book by Troon Harrison and illustrated by François Thisdale, about abolitionist and ornithologist Alexander Milton Ross (Red Deer Press);
  • North to Benjamin by Alan Cumyn, because it always seems to be too long between books; and, I almost forgot,
  • Julia Unbound by Catherine Egan, the conclusion to her amazing Witch's Child trilogy.
I hope you find at least a few great books here to which you can look forward to reading this fall.

Bone Beds of the Badlands by Shane Peacock (Nimbus)>>>Dylan Maples Mystery series re-release
Heartwood Hotel #4: Home Again by Kallie George, illus. by Stephanie Graegin (Disney Hyperion)
The Land of Yesterday by K. A. Reynolds (HarperCollins)
The Secret of the Silver Mines by Shane Peacock (Nimbus)>>>Dylan Maples Mystery series re-release

Meet Chris Hadfield by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas (Scholastic)
Meet Viola Desmond by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas (Scholastic)

Picture Book and Board Books
At the Pond by Werner Zimmerman (North Winds Press) 
Brady Brady and the Great Rink by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada) 
Brady Brady and the Runaway Goalie by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada) 
Buddy and Earl Meet the Neighbors by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Carey Sookocheff (Groundwood)>>>newest story Buddy and Earl series
The Bunny Band by Bill Richardson, illus. by Roxanna Bikadoroff (Groundwood)
Counting in Mi'kmaw / Mawkiljemk Mi'kmawiktut by Loretta Gould (Nimbus)
Deep Underwater by Irene Luxbacher (Groundwood)
Diwali Lights by Rina Singh (Orca) 
Fox and Squirrel Help Out by Ruth Ohi (North Winds Press) >>> another wonderful Fox and Squirrel book
I'm Glad You're Happy by Nahid Kazemi (Groundwood)
Moving Day! by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (Scholastic Canada)
Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay (Groundwood)
Out of the Blue by Wallace Edwards (North Winds Press)
Pinny in Fall by Joanne Schwartx, illus. by Isabelle Malenfant (Groundwood)>>>follow up to Pinny in Summer
Poppy and Sam and the Leaf Thief by Cathon (Owlkids)  
Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker, illus. by Orbia (Owlkids)  
Splish, Splash, Foxes Dash! by Geraldo Valerio (Owlkids)

Almost Invisible by Maureen Garvie (Groundwood)
Called Up by Steven Sandor (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Elephant Secret by Eric Walters (Puffin Canada)
Empty Net by David Starr (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories 
Food Fight by Deborah Sherman (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)  
Inkling by Kenneth Oppel, illus. by Sydney Smith (HarperCollins)
In the Buff by Vicki Grant (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 
Lucky Break by Brooke Carter (Orca)>>>Orca Sports 
The Mask by Eric Howling (Orca)>>>Orca Sports
Megabat by Anna Humphrey, illus. by Kass Reich (Tundra)
Night of the Living Dolls by Joel A. Sutherland (Scholastic Canada)>>>newest horror in the Haunted series
Princess Pistachio Treasury by Marie-Louise Gay (Pajama Press)>>>collection of the three Princess Pistachio early readers
Offbeat by Megan Clendenan (Orca)>>>Orca Limelights
Raw Talent by Jocelyn Shipley (Orca)>>>Orca Limelights 
Running Behind by Sylvia Taekema (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
Tough Call by Kelsey Blair (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories  
Unity Club by Karen Spafford-Fitz (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 
Wildfire by Deb Loughead (Orca)>>>Orca Currents

Young Adult
Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari (Penguin Teen)
Bonjour Girl by Isabelle Laflèche (Dundurn)
Charming by Mette Bach (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love
Cinders by Mette Bach (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love
Cold Grab by Steven Barwin (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sidestreets  
Hide and Shriek by Alison Hughes (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings 
Julia Unbound by Catherine Egan (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers) >>>  the conclusion to the Witch's Child trilogy that began with Julia Vanishes and was followed by Julia Defiant
Mayan Murder by Martha Brack Martin (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings 
Push Back by Karen Spafford-Fitz (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sidestreets
Stowaway by Pam Withers (Dundurn)
The Thing You're Good At by Lesley Choyce (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings 

Breaking Through: Heroes in Canadian Women's Sport by Sue Irwin (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Recordbooks 
Hayler Wickenheiser by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illus. by D.A. Bishop (Scholastic Canada) >>>Amazing Athletes collection
My River: Cleaning Up the LaHave River by Stella Bowles with Anne Laurel Carter (Lorimer)
Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, illus. by Julie Sarda (Tundra)
A Whale's World by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read (Orca)

Picture Books and Board Books
Africville by Shauntay Grant, illus. by Eva Campbell (Groundwood)
Angus All Aglow by Heather Smith, illus. by Alice Carter (Orca)
The Animals of Chinese New Year by Jen Sookfong Lee, trans. by Kileasa Wong (Orca) 
Anna at the Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, illus. by Lil Crump (Annick) 
Brady Brady and the Great Exchange by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada) 
Brady Brady and the Puck on the Pond by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada) 
Canada Animals by Paul Covello (HarperCollins)>>>board book  
Classic Munsch ABC by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (Annick) 
The Cold Little Voice by Alison Hughes, illus. by Jan Dolby (Clockwise Press) 
Florence & Leon by Simon Boulerice, illus. by Delphie Côté-Lacroix (Orca) 
A Good Day for Ducks by Jane Whittingham, illus. by Noel Tuazon (Pajama Press) 
Goodnight, Anne by Kallie George, illus. by Genevieve Godbout (Tundra)>>>inspired by Anne of Green Gables 
Grandmother's Visit by Betty Quan, illus. by Carmen Mok (Groundwood) 
The Imperfect Garden by Melissa Assaly, illus. by April dela Noche Milne (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) 
Island in the Salish Sea by Sheryl McFarlane, illus. by Leslie Redhead (Orca) 
It's Time for Bed by Ceporah Mearns and Jeremy Debicki, illus. by Tim Mack (Inhabit Media) 
Kiss by Kiss/ Ocêtôwina by Richard Van Camp, trans. by Mary Collins (Orca)>>> a counting book in Plains Cree and English 
The Log Driver's Waltz by Wade Hemsworth, illus. by Jennifer Phelan (Simon & Schuster) 
Lucy Tries Hockey by Lisa Bowes, illus. by James Hearne (Orca)>>>part of Lucy Tries Sports series 
Mamaqtuq! by The Jerry Cans, illus. by Eric Kim (Inhabit Media)>>>based on a song by The Jerry Cans 
One House by Sarah MacNeill (Orca) 
On My Swim by Kari-Lynn Winters, illus. by Christina Leist (Tradewind)>>>newest title in series that includes On My Walk and On My Skis 
The Reptile Club by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Elina Ellis (Kids Can Press) 
Rosie's Glasses by Dave Whamond (Kids Can Press) 
Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo by David Myles, illus. by Murray Bain (Nimbus) 
Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson (Tundra) 
Team Steve by Kelly Collier (Kids Can Press)>>>A Horse Named Steve is back 
Threads by Torill Kove (Firefly)>>>based on the NFB short 
A West Coast Summer by Caroline Woodward, illus. by Carol Evans (Harbour Publishing) 
Whose Bum? by Chris Tougas (Orca) 
The Wild Beast by Eric Walters, illus. by Sue Todd (Orca)>>>African creation story of the wildebeest 
The Zombie Prince by Matt Beam, illus. by Luc Melanson (Groundwood)

The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem by Kevin Sylvester, illus. by Britt Wilson (Scholastic Canada) >>>new series!!!
Anne Arrives by Kallie George, illus. by Abigail Halpin (Tundra)
Anyone's Game by Sylv Chiang (Annick)>>>Cross Ups, Book 2
Billy Stuart and the Zintrepids by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Orca)>>>first of the English language translations of the award-winning French graphic novels
Blackwells and the Briny Deep by Philippa Dowding (Dundurn)>>> newest book in Weird Stories Gone Wrong series
Bright Shining Moment by Deb Loughead (Second Story Press)
Bus to the Badlands by Margriet Ruurs, illus. by Claudia Davila (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes
A Cage Without Bars by Anne Dublin (Second Story Press)
Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands (Aladdin)>>> fourth book in the Blackthorn Key series
Clara Humble and the Kitten Caboodle by Anna Humphrey, illus. by Lisa Cinar (Owlkids) >>>sequel to Clara Humble and the Not-So-Super Powers and Clara Humble Quiz Whiz
The Divided Earth by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)>>>conclusion to The Nameless City graphic novel trilogy
Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis (Groundwood)
A Grain of Rice by Nhung Tran-Davies (Tradewind)
The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter (Tundra)
Ice Chips and the Haunted Hurricane by Roy MacGregor and Kerry MacGregor (HarperCollins)>>>Book 2
The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue (HarperCollins)
Miles to Go by Beryl Young (Heritage House)
The Missing Donut by Judith Henderson, illus. by T.L. McBeth (Kids Can Press)>>> new series Big Words Small Stories
My Life as a Diamond by Jenny Manzer (Orca) 
The Mystery of Croaker's Island by Linda DeMeulemeester (Heritage House)
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (Tundra)
Planet Grief by Monique Polak (Orca)
Red River Resistance by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott Henderson (HighWater Press)>>>A Girl Called Echo Vol. 2, sequel to Pemmican Wars
Sabotage Stage Left by Casey Lyall (Sterling Children's Books)>>>Book 3 in Howard Wallace P.I. series 
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin Canada)
Tree Musketeers by Norma Charles (Ronsdale)
TV Six by Jeff Zentner (Tundra)
Very Rich by Polly Horvath (Puffin Canada) 
Weather or Not by Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle (Scholastic)>>>Upside Down Magic #5

Young Adult
The Band of Merry Kids by David Skuy (DCB) 
Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll (Dundurn)
Children of the Bloodlands by S. M. Beiko (ECW Press)>>>Book 2 in The Realms of Ancient series, sequel to Scion of the Fox
Confessions of a Teenage Leper by Ashley Little (Penguin Teen Canada)
Deep Girls by Lori Weber (DCB)
Finding Grace by Daphne Greer (Nimbus)
The Garden by Meghan Ferrari (Red Deer Press)
The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker (Annick)
How Far We Go and How Fast by Nora Decter (Orca)
Infinite Blue by Darren Groth and Simon Groth (Orca)
Kate's Ring by Donna Grassby (Red Deer Press)
Kens by Raziel Reid (Penguin Teen Canada)
Sadie by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)
The Story of My Face by Leanne Baugh (Second Story Press)
Strangers by Meaghan McIsaac (Andersen Press) >>>follow up to Movers
The Third Act by John Wilson (Orca)

50 Things to See with a Telescope by John A. Read (Lorimer)
Africville: An African Nova Scotian community is demolished — and fights back by Gloria Ann Wesley (Lorimer)>>>Righting Canada's Wrongs series
After Life: Ways We Think About Death by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox (Orca) 
All About Anne Created by Anne Frank House, illus. by Huck Scarry (Second Story Press)
Black Women Who Dared by Naomi M. Moyer (Second Story Press)
Can Your Conversations Change the World? by Erinne Paisley (Orca) 
City Bugs by Antonia Banyard (Annick)>>>board book in new series Critters 
City Critters by Antonia Banyard (Annick)>>> Book 2 in new board book series Critters
Do Frogs Drink Hot Chocolate?: How Animals Keep Warm by Etta Kaner, illus. by John Martz (Owlkids) 
Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab Knew, illus. by Joe Morse (Tundra)
Hungry for Science: Poems to Crunch On by Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming, illus. by Peggy Collins (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) >>> from same collaborators who brought us Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On
My First Book of Canadian Birds by Andrea Miller, illus. by Angela Doak (Nimbus)
On the News: Our First Talk about Tragedy by Dr. Jillian Roberts, illus. by Jane Heinrichs (Orca)>>>part of The World Around Us series
Out of the Ice: How Climatic Change is Revealing the Past by Claire Eamer, illus. by Drew Shannon (Kids Can Press)
That's Not Hockey! by Andrée Poulin, illus. by Félix Girard (Annick)>>>picture book about legendary goalie Jacques Plante
The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan by Anne Renaud, illus. by Marie Lafrance (Kids Can Press) 

Picture Books and Board Books
Ara the Star Engineer by Komal Singh, illus. by Ipek Konak (Page Two) 
Auntie Luce's Talking Painting by Francie Latour, illus. by Ken Daley (Groundwood) 
Birdman by Troon Harrison, illus. by François Thisdale (Red Deer Press) 
Bitter and Sweet by Sandra V. Feder, illus. by Kyrsten Brooker (Groundwood) 
The Eleventh Hour by Jacques Goldstyn (Owlkids) 
The Gathering by Theresa Meuse, illus. by Arthur Stevens (Nimbus) 
A Giant Man from a Tiny Town: A Story of Angus MacAskill by Tom Ryan, illus. by Christopher Hoyt (Nimbus) 
Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender (Pajama Press)>>>yeah! another Giraffe and Bird book 
Hotel Fantastic by Thomas Gibault (Kids Can Press)
How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read by Andrew Katz and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel, illus. by Joseph Sherman (Crackboom Books)
I am Small by Qin Leng (Kids Can Press) 
Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Josh Holinaty (Owlkids) 
The Moon Watched It All by Shelley Leedahl, illus. by Aino Anto (Red Deer Press) 
The Night the Forest Came to Town illus. by Annie Wilkinson (Orca) 
The Sinking of Captain Otter by Troy Wilson, illus. by Maira Chiodi (Owlkids) 
Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Sparrow, illus. by Guillaume Perreault (Kids Can Press) 
Small Things Make Me Happy by Doretta Groenendyk (Acorn Press) 
Una Huna: What is This? by Susan Aglukark, illus. by Danny Christopher and Amanda Sandland (Inhabit Media) 
Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung (Cartwheel Books) 
A World of Kindness from the Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press (Pajama Press)>>> art from Rebecca Bender, Suzanne Del Rizzo, Brian Deines, Wallace Edwards Kin La Fave, Dean Griffiths, Manon Gauthier, François Thisdale and Tara Anderson

The Case of the Berry Burglars by Liam O'Donnell, illus. byAurelie Grant (Owlkids)>>>West End Detectives Book 3 
Connect the Scott by Evan Munday (ECW Press)>>>fourth book in The Dead Kid Detective Agency series
Follow the Goose Butt to Nova Scotia by Odette Barr, Colleen Landry and Beth Weatherbee, illus. by Odette Barr (Nimbus) >>> sequel to Follow the Goose Butt
The Fox Wife by Beatrice Deer, illus. by DJ Herron (Inhabit Media)>>>graphic novel based on author's song Fox
The Great Googlini by Sara Cassidy, illus. by Charlene Chua (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes 
Isobel's Stanley Cup by Kristin Butcher (Crwth Press)  
Lark Takes a Bow by Natasha Deen, illus. by Marcus Cutler (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes  
Rescue in the Rockies by Rita Feutl (Coteau) 
The Ruined City: The Golden Mask by John Wilson (Orca)   
Seeing Red by Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic)>>>Whatever After series, Book 12 
Swallow's Dance by Wendy Orr (Pajama Press) 
Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley  (HarperCollins)

Young Adult
Lost Boy by Shelley Hrdlitschka (Orca)>>>companion book to Sister Wife
Monsters by David A. Robertson (HighWater Press)>>>second book in The Reckoner series that began with Strangers
Murder at the St. Alice by Becky Citra (Coteau)
Rank 6: Firestorm by Barry McDivitt (Thistledown)
Under the Floorboard by Wendy Ranby (Nimbus)  
Worthy of Love by Andre Fenton (Lorimer)
You Are the Every Thing by Karen Rivers (Algonquin)

Animals Illustrated: Arctic Fox by William Flaherty, illus. by Sean Bigham (Inhabit Media)
The Birdman: A Journey with the Underground Railroad's Most Daring Abolitionist by Troon Harrison (Red Deer Press)
Birds from Head to Tail by Stacey Roderick, illus. by Kwanchai Mariya (Kids Can Press)
Christmas: From Solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton (Orca>>>Orca Origins
Destination: Space by Dave Williams (Annick)>>>Dr. Dave - Astronaut series
Dive In!: Exploring Our Connection with The Ocean by Ann Eriksson (Orca)>>>Orca Footprints 
Do You Know Owls? by Alain M. Bergeron, Michel Quintin and Sampar, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)>>>newest titles in Do You Know...? graphic non-fiction series
Do You Know Piranhas? by Alain M. Bergeron, Michel Quintin and Sampar, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)>>>newest titles in Do You Know...? graphic non-fiction series
Dr. Jo: How Sarah Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America's Children by Monica Kulling, illus. by Julianna Swaney (Tundra)
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World by James Gladstone, illus. by Christy Lundy (Owlkids)
Flow, Spin, Grow: Looking for Patterns in Nature by Patchen Barss, illus. by Todd Stewart (Owlkids)
Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon by Karen Autio, illus. by Loraine Kemp (Crwth Press)
Hubots: Real-World Robots Inspired by Humans by Helaine Becker, illus. by Alex Ries (Kids Can Press)
Too Young to Escape by Van Ho and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Pajama Press)
Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature by Etta Kaner, illus. by Carl Wiens (Kids Can Press) 

Picture Books and Board Books
Kiviuq and the Bee Woman by Noel McDermott, illus. by Toma Feizo Gas (Inhabit Media)
Our New Kittens by Theo Heras, illus. by Alice Carter (Pajama Press)
Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Jacob Grant (Tundra)
Simonie and the Dance Contest by Gail Matthews, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Media)

Flooded Earth by Mardi McConnochie (Pajama Press)
North to Benjamin by Alan Cumyn (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
Penguin Days by Sara Leach, illus. by Rebecca Bender (Pajama Press)>>>sequel to Slug Days
Putuguq and Kublu and the Qalupalik by Roselynn Akulukjuk and Danny Christopher, illus. by Astrid Arijanto (Inhabit Media)>>> sequel to easy graphic novel Putuguq and Kublu

Young Adult
Going Viral by Amy Alward (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)>>>final book in the Potion Diaries series
Legacy of Light by Sarah Raughley (Simon Pulse)>>>final book in the Effigies trilogy

Of course there will be hundreds more books coming out in 2019 but here's a handful to start anticipating:

The Afterward by E. K. Johnston (Dutton Books for Young Readers)

The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena (Penguin Random House Canada)

A Box of Bones by Marina Cohen (Roaring Brook Press)

Moon Wishes by Patricia Storms and Guy Storms, illus. by Milan Pavlovic (Groundwood)

Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating (Scholastic)>>>first book in a new middle-grade series called Genius Academy

Princess Puffybottom ... and Darryl by Susin Nielsen, illus. by Olivia Chin Mueller (Tundra)

What are You Doing, Benny? by Cary Fagan, illus. by Kady MacDonald Denton (Tundra)

Who is Tanksy? by Bev Katz (Orca)