July 17, 2019

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden

Written by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Anne Villeneuve
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
May 2019

There will be many kids whose summer vacation will include hanging out with relatives, away from home. But if that away-from-home holiday is also based in the wide-openness of unstructured time without benefit of anchors such as immediate family and friends, it may seem insurmountable or boring. Still, sometimes it's necessary to take a chance on beginning something new for growth to happen.
From Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Anne Villeneuve
Vincent has been sent to stay with his Aunt Mimi for the summer while his mother recuperates from an operation. A box of dirt balls from a secret admirer–"Are you sure this secret person even likes you?" I say. "They gave you a box of dirt!"–adds to the grayness of Vincent's new surroundings until he makes the acquaintance of Toma. As an icebreaker, Vincent brings down some of the dirt balls and suggests they throw them over the tall brick wall into the empty lot. An elderly man whom Toma calls Mr. Grumpypants  is watchful of their distraction.
From Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Anne Villeneuve
What begins as a tiresome holiday becomes a summer with a new friend, playing ball, reading comics, visiting the ice cream truck and more when Mr. Grumpypants points out to the boys, balcony to balcony, that the empty lot is starting to green. In fact, Mr. Grumpypants whose name is Marco is a kindly gardener who helps the boys water the garden through the fence and teaches them about the flowers that had been sheltered in the dirt balls.

But when Vincent's mother feels well enough to have him home, he's saddened to leave everyone and the garden behind. Thankfully there's much to occupy a child before their next summer holiday and it will be a wonderful surprise when Vincent and Toma are reunited again and extend their gardening into something even more special.
From Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Anne Villeneuve
Like his earlier picture book, See You Next Year (Owlkids, 2015), Andrew Larsen gets into the head of children on summer holidays. In Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden, Andrew Larsen emphasizes the turnaround from the gloomy unknown of new place to a brightness that comes from belonging. That goes for both Vincent and the apparently worthless dirt balls. It is the unknown that makes for the dullness. But, with time and a little nurturing, the new friendship and the piles of dirt blossom into something invaluable.

Though I know that Anne Villeneuve, author-illustrator of Loula is Leaving for Africa (Kids Can Press, 2013) and other books, typically uses ink and watercolour, it seems highly appropriate to use those two media in a picture book in which colourful blooms sprout from soil balls. By emphasizing the black ink in her opening illustrations with only celadon and rose to relieve the gloom, Anne Villeneuve hints at the coming of verdant green and colourful florals. Moreover, with her wonderful assortment of people and animals, from a toddler with his mother to other children, middle-aged persons and the elderly Marco, Anne Villeneuve brings life to a community in which children and flowers can grow.

Many may dismiss unstructured summers in urban settings as flat and uninspired for children but Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden makes it clear that sometimes the incredible can sprout from very little.

July 16, 2019

Dancing with Daisy

Written by Jan L. Coates
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides
44 pp.
Ages 4-8
June 2019

Dancing with Daisy is a grandfather's story told to a grandchild intrigued by an album of old photos and memories. It's also a a fisherman's story so you know it might be a bit of a tall tale.
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
"Back in '62 it was, a frosty fall day." So begins this fisherman's tale of the onslaught of Hurricane Daisy as she "came roaring up the coast. She whirled and spun and whipped the waves into such a frenzy, they started leaping straight up onto the deck."
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
In true tall tale fashion, the grandfather exaggerates Daisy's impact as she  throws him onto an island and tugs and grabs at him to draw him into a dance. His wrinkles are the result of Daisy trying to bribe him with dollars that sliced into his skin and created scars. His arthritic hands came from clutching the branches of the tree and his blue veins resulted from her freezing cold breath. His raspy voice came from barking communications with a seal washed up on shore and he lost his hair when Daisy grabbed at his hair, playing "He loves me, he loves me not."
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
He returned to shore first on a handcrafted raft and then upon his own home's red roof, walking seven back-breaking miles before losing his teeth that ended up as icebergs. Daisy only abandoned her quest to dance with the man after "Nana went out and gave her a good talking to."
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
The grandfather undoubtedly remembers every detail of his harrowing assault on his fishing boat while besieged by Hurricane Daisy which tracked through the Maritimes in early October of 1962. It took six lives in Canada and smashed fishing boats, piers, and buildings with its rainfall and high winds. But the grandfather of Jan L. Coates's story protects his grandchild from the devastating truths of Daisy's impact and instead makes it into a tall tale that explains his aging, its own overwhelming trial, even ending with a good laugh.

Josée Bisaillon's art is a wonderful accompaniment to Jan L. Coates's story, taking readers to the Atlantic coast of colourful buildings, cold grey waters and tumultuous weather through her illustrations of watercolours, pastels, pencil and cut paper. Presenting the wind is a formidable task but Josée Bisaillon conveys movement and power in the water and the sky without restraint. It may be scary and mighty but it's still playful in its dance, and with the affectionate closeness of grandparent and child, Dancing with Daisy becomes more intergenerational tale, even if a little tall, than recall of a disaster.


Running the Goat Books & Broadsides shares a video of Jan L. Coates discussing her story and background for Dancing with Daisy on YouTube.

Uploaded to YouTube by Running the Goat on June 27, 2019.

July 15, 2019

Beastly Puzzles: A Brain-Boggling Animal Guessing Game

Written by Rachel Poliquin
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 7-10
May 2019

Every book can be considered interactive, being an interplay of communication between reader and text and illustrations, but some, like Beastly Puzzles, demand more of the reader. In fact, there's no skimming over words or art in Beastly Puzzles because every little bit of each double-spread with fold-out requires attention to detail and problem-solving skills extraordinaire to answer the question What animal could you make with...?
From Beastly Puzzles: A Brain-Boggling Animal Guessing Game, text by Rachel Poliquin, art by Byron Eggenschwiler
The first animal puzzle provides seven clues in a billiard room of purple shades and tints. The clues are: dinosaur feet, black toenails, three billiard balls, a hose, the speed of a greyhound, several feather dusters and a lion-killing kick. They are a perplexing assortment of clues so Rachel Poliquin provides more details in a "Here's a hint" that is actually more than just one. I won't reveal what feathered animal is showcased beneath the foldout but information about it's morphology, behaviour and more are explained in terms of those seven clues. Thirteen animals which include mammals, birds, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, reptiles and insects are featured throughout the book, extending around the world. 
From Beastly Puzzles: A Brain-Boggling Animal Guessing Game, text by Rachel Poliquin, art by Byron Eggenschwiler
The clues are tough and Rachel Poliquin is accurate in calling them "brain-boggling." I could not guess a single animal but, rather than being frustrated, I was fascinated by learning interesting facts about over a dozen animals and seeing the connections between the clues provided and the characteristics depicted. Kids who love learning about animals will appreciate this unique presentation but puzzle-lovers will similarly be entranced by the marvelous riddles embedded in Byron Eggenschwiler's monochromatic illustrations of rooms, inside and out, of a large house.  Only the clues and the hidden animals are enriched with colour to highlight their importance so little ones won't have to search for the clues, only interpret them, and that is hard enough.

Whether you're travelling for the summer and want to occupy a little one, or have an animal lover who would revel in the unique learning that Beastly Puzzles presents, this picture book will be a hit of information–there is a lesson in natural history and a glossary–and entertainment.

July 12, 2019

The Almost Epic Squad: Super Sketchy

Written by Lesley Livingston
Illustrated by Britt Wilson
Scholastic Canada
181 pp.
Ages 8-13
July 2019

In this newest installment of The Almost Epic Squad, a series of multi-authored middle-grade novels that blend humour, mystery and fantasy, Lesley Livingston introduces Daisy Kildare, one of the four babies exposed to reidium at the Dimly, Manitoba hospital. Like her cohorts Jessica Flem and Gary Lundborg from Kevin Sylvester's Mucus Mayhem (2018) and Ted Staunton's What Blows Up (2019) respectively, Daisy is reaching puberty and unknowingly coming into her almost-epic superpowers. If only she knew how to control hers and stay safe from those who want to take advantage of them. 

Daisy has always tried to figure what she's good at and now that she has to choose a May long-weekend activity camp, she's decided that art will be her destiny. Her efforts are generally not very good until she grabs one of the old promotional pencils from the Dimly Bulb Company. Immediately she feels a tingle and a zap and her below-par art becomes extraordinary and is touted by Mrs. Winklehorn, the art teacher, as "an abstract-Impressionist-absurdist gem." (pg. 22) Kip Winklehorn, a parkour disaster, makes Daisy's acquaintance at camp and tells her that he's always heard that Dimly is well-known for its light bulbs, graphite and Splotnik, a liquor that originated in the Balkan country of Pianvia, and how all were revered by artists. Daisy could certainly use some help as her first drawing assignment at camp is a bust until she feels that familiar tingle and jolt and becomes the pineapple she is drawing.
From The Almost Epic Squad: Super Sketchy by Lesley Livingston, illus. by Britt Wilson
Fortunately, Kip, a kind-hearted boy–he has a three-legged, one-eyed rescue marmot named Percy–comes to her rescue.
...Daisy had somehow managed to turn herself into a tropical fruit. And Kip wasn't about to just leave her there to ripen. (pg. 58)
He discovers that if he erases Daisy's drawing, she will turn back to her human self. It would seem that Daisy's destiny was not art but rather transmogrification.
From The Almost Epic Squad: Super Sketchy by Lesley Livingston, illus. by Britt Wilson
Meanwhile, in a subterranean hideout in the Okanagan valley, Dr. Gavin Bafflegab is working in his Cryptolair to prove the existence of cryptids, creatures of folklore and legend.  He is working for the Boss, the elusive costume-wearing evil queenpin who has been tracking the four Dimly kids, and intends to raise an army of cryptids to secure control over the world. When his research associate a.k.a. lab rat Gerald recognizes Daisy from his time with Dr. Fassbinder, the doctor who'd been testing the Dimly babies from the time of their ir-redium-ation, he and Dr. Bafflegab kidnap Percy to entice Daisy to use her power for them.

In a silly amalgam of characters, plot and action, Lesley Livingston makes Super Sketchy into a caper of kids trying to figure out their skills, including superpowers, amidst the nefarious plans of evil researchers and masterminds and rats and a boisterous assortment of creatures such as Bigfoot, a yeti, Ogopogo, gremlins and goblins.
"...you never want to make a gremlin mad. But you NEVER want to make a goblin mad. Gremlins will just pinch you while you sleep. Goblins will delete your bank account." (pg. 152)
Kids will laugh themselves silly while understanding the need to find something that they're good at. They'll clap for a marmot's rescue, question a rat's motives, and they'll cheer for Bigfoot and his friends. And still Lesley Livingston will leave them wanting to know more about the Boss, a bizarre invitation to a potluck picnic and just what Bernard Cheeper, Department C Projects Coordination, wants from the Almost Epic Squad. With the final volume in The Almost Epic Squad series, Irresistible from Richard Scrimger, due out in October, it won't be long to wait.


For readers who will want to read the whole series, here is a list of all titles in The Almost Epic Squad:

Mucus Mayhem by Kevin Sylvester (Sept., 2018) Reviewed here
What Blows Up by Ted Staunton (Jan., 2019) Reviewed here
Super Sketchy by Lesley Livingston (July, 2019)
Irresistible by Richard Scrimger (Oct., 2019)

July 10, 2019

Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf

Written by Troy Wilson
Illustrated by Ilaria Campana
Running Press Kids
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
July 2019

Readers know that you can find all the answers you need in books and Little Red Reading Hood, who loves red and reading, proves that books are also the means for surviving life and making friends.
From Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf by Troy Wilson, illus. by Ilaria Campana
When little Red learns that her grandmother, who'd sewn her a special hood embellished with letters and books, is ill, the child makes a special treat for her and heads off to deliver it. Along the way she meets a wolf and, following the directions in books, she maintains eye contact and backs away slowly before distracting it with hand movements and throwing rocks. Though he'd tried to tell her he just wanted...something, he slinks off dejected. But at her grandmother's house, she finds the wolf already there and in disguise, lounging in bed. Red's books had already taught her "what to do if you encounter a wolf dressed as a grandparent" and she proceeds to point out his large features. The wolf goes along with her until he becomes frustrated and lunges for her basket as she runs out.
From Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf by Troy Wilson, illus. by Ilaria Campana
The smell that had so entranced him? The smell of a new book. He begs her to read to him. But Red is perplexed. None of her books had told her "What to do if a wolf sniffs the book you made for Grandma, asks you to read it, and doesn't once try to eat you." When he finally helps Grandma from the armoire and Red is preparing to read to both of them, the woodsman arrives with his axe held high. After Grandma shelters the cowering wolf and Red explains, the group settle at Grandma's bed to share the book Red had brought.

In this twisted fairy tale, Troy Wilson extols the wisdom to be found in books while also recognizing that we often judge–wolves, people, books–on their outward appearances. Sure the wolf looks large and menacing but he is but a lover of books–don't we all love that new book smell?!–and of having someone read to him.  Fortunately, little Red reads the situation well before the wolf is hurt and in turn learns a lesson about not jumping to judgements.
From Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf by Troy Wilson, illus. by Ilaria Campana
I love a good fractured fairy tale, one that takes a popular fairy tale and turns it on its head. Victoria's Troy Wilson takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood and reshapes it to emphasize the importance of reading and a love of books with a caveat that "you can't judge a book by its cover." He plays up the fun and leaves the darkness of the original tale behind. Similarly, the artwork by Italy's Ilaria Campana attends to some of the original story with the dark woods through which Red travels, the size of the wolf and more while lightening it with the dramatic expressions and uniquely shaped bodies of her characters, the homey indoor settings, and even a ubiquitous little robin.

Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf removes the darkness that is prevalent in so many cautionary tales of yore and heralds fierce women, compassionate understanding and caution to stereotyping. Books can teach everything and anything, can't they?

July 08, 2019

No Help Wanted!

Written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
North Winds Press (Scholastic Canada)
32 pp.
Ages 3-8
July 2019

Posy would be considered a keener, though in the adult world we might think of her as a bit of a control freak. She insists on taking control of any situation regardless of the efforts others make to share and support. So when Posy is tasked with the classroom job of taking care of their fish Bluey, Posy is all in. She feeds him, reads to him, sings to him and presents him with popsicle-puppet performances. (There are free downloadable pdfs of the jellyfish and fish shapes used, as well as a mask.) But when others offer to join in with their own puppets or play vet, Posy's signs of "Private" and "Keep Out!" make it clear that she is all Bluey needs.
From No Help Wanted! by Ruth Ohi
But, when Bluey starts to look unwell, regardless of Posy's extraordinary efforts, including a full-scale–love the pun!–fish-themed musical, Posy hides his fish bowl behind books, thinking that everyone would blame her.  It's not until she see Bluey resting at the bottom of the bowl that Posy recognizes the need to ask for help. With kindness, the kids ask "What can we do?" and "How can we help?" and come to Posy and Bluey's rescue.
From No Help Wanted! by Ruth Ohi
While Ruth Ohi's artwork was first introduced to youngCanLit readers via the text of others, I'm so glad that she has been writing her own picture books for many years now. From her Chicken, Pig, Cow series, or Fox and Squirrel books, or her many stand-alone picture books, Ruth Ohi always blends important messages about teamwork, compassion, and friendship with text and illustrations that are designed for young, young readers. These stories could be the basis of any character education program. Moreover by ensuring that there is no hyperbole or exhaustive language that reaches beyond the reading abilities and comprehension of her readers. Ruth Ohi sees and tells the story from the perspective children need in order to appreciate the message. As adults, we recognize Posy's enthusiasm for Bluey as somewhat high-handed but young children will just see it as bossy. What they will also see is that bossy kids need to learn how to work with others and that a little help is always welcome and not always a condemnation of efforts made.
From No Help Wanted! by Ruth Ohi (Image retrieved from http://www.ruthohi.com/books-recent#/no-help-wanted/)
Though her text is faultless, precise and communicative, it's still Ruth Ohi's illustrations that will draw children into the story. They will see themselves among the many children of different skin tones and hair types, of different abilities and personalities. One boy is in a wheelchair, a girl wears glasses, and some are shyer relative to Posy's exuberance. In fact, the class itself could be any class from kindergarten with its role-play props, or a Grade 1 or 2 class with numerous books and kids who can read and write. Moreover, by choosing a palette of pencil crayons and watercolours that are light and soft, Ruth Ohi makes sure that the message is swimming in subtlety and far more peaceful than one emboldened in colour and text.

There are many ways to send a message to children and No Help Wanted! finds an affable way in words and art to demonstrate that everyone at one time or another needs a little help and it's okay to ask.
From No Help Wanted! by Ruth Ohi

July 04, 2019

Little Juniper Makes It Big

Written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
Farrar Straus Giroux
40 pp.
Ages 4-8
July 2019

Juniper is a little raccoon and she's tired of being so little. She sees the disadvantages of being small in a world made by adults for adults. Everything seems to be too high for her to reach, whether it be the sink, the door knob or an elusive jar of cookies. Even when she puts her engineering skills to work, with springboards and stilts, hoppers and heighteners, and cranes and catapults and balloons, "Juniper's efforts fell short.
From Little Juniper Makes It Big by Aidan Cassie
At school, Juniper realizes that she is actually of average size and even far larger than new student Clove whose size does not hinder her efforts at all. When Clove invites Juniper to her home, the raccoon anticipates lessons in "un-smallness" but she is pleasantly surprised to learn that, at "Clove's home, Juniper was adult-size."
From Little Juniper Makes It Big by Aidan Cassie
Still, it's that grass-is-always-greener scenario because Juniper soon recognizes that she can't enjoy fun activities like swinging, playing dress-up, bouncing on the bed and even playing hide-and-seek when she's far larger than Clove. Nevertheless, Juniper's sleepover at Clove's helps her recognize how her own home was "very, nearly, almost perfect!"
From Little Juniper Makes It Big by Aidan Cassie
Children are always in such a hurry to get bigger, older, taller and have more responsibilities, and the storytelling in Little Juniper Makes It Big suggests, without admonishing, that it's perfectly normal to see another world as more desirable. However, Juniper finally gets the message with the help of the even smaller Clove, whose optimism and determination abound, that her world is perfect for her right now.

Aidan Cassie, whose first picture book, Sterling, Best Dog Ever (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018) won the 2019 Joan Betty Stuchner–Oy Vey!–Funniest Children's Book Award in the picture book/board book category, again blends the humour of childhood innocence and the determination to be more, or at least our very best. Juniper sees her world as limiting because of her size but, with a change in perspective, courtesy of a tiny squirrel with a voluminous personality and oodles of spirit, Juniper is able to appreciate her home and life in new ways. That's a very positive message, heightened with the humour and charm of Aidan Cassie's illustrations. I was won over by her artwork in Sterling, Best Dog Ever and Little Juniper Makes It Big introduces us to a new gang of cartoon animals in engrossing settings. (Check out the cottage-like setting of the bathroom below.) Her characters have joy and frustration amidst the normalcy of family, home, and school and even little humans will be able to identify with them.  By creating empathy for cute animals who are experiencing what our own children may also be encountering, Aidan Cassie has found a way to teach, delight, reassure and entertain our youngest who just want to make it big too.

From Little Juniper Makes It Big by Aidan Cassie

July 02, 2019

The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun

Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Claudia Dávila
Scholastic Canada
175 pp.
Ages 6-13
May 2019

Canada Day has come and gone so summer holidays for kids are truly here in Canada.  While some kids may be off to organized camps and activities, there are many who will be filling their days with caregivers, some at cottages and at travel, and everyone wondering how they will occupy their days.  Helaine Becker's The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun will have you covered for the whole summer.

The book is divided into four main sections: Get Out There!, Make a Splash!, Time to Play! and Around the Campfire.  Get Out There! is all about kids getting outside to discover nature or travel to new locations. It includes everything from creating a kids-only clubhouse and developing secret languages and handshakes and codes to outdoor games like Capture the Flag and Amoeba Tag. There are activities to observe insects, press flowers, hike –I loved the Colour Swatch Scavenger Hunt–and make face-paint. And, of course, there are travel activities for car rides.
From The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun by Helaine Becker, illus. by Claudia Dávila
Make a Splash! includes water sports such as canoeing and fishing, and water-based games such as Sharks and Minnows. There are also water-based activities like making your own bubble solution and blowers, and water balloons. For anyone wary about water-based activities for kids, Helaine Becker rounds things out with a detailed discussion about water safety.
From The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun by Helaine Becker, illus. by Claudia Dávila
Time to Play! covers all manner of games from card games to pen and paper games, and activities such as weaving bracelets, writing a newsletter, taking photos, performing improv or a theatrical play, and studying weather.

Finally, Around the Campfire gets into how campfires are built safely and effectively, how to tell stories, sing songs, make s'mores, roast marshmallows and appreciate the moon and stars above.
From The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun by Helaine Becker, illus. by Claudia Dávila
As a compendium of activities and summertime fun, The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun is complete and comprehensive. There is something for all the kids, from those who want to play alone and read how to do things for themselves, to those who crave full group games and fun with others. There are activities for families and for kids alone. There are those that require nothing but imagination or observational skills and those with recipes to construct a rain stick or bake a chocolate mug cake. With Claudia Dávila's illustrations to enhance delivery of Helaine Becker's messages and directions, The Canadian Kids' Guide to Outdoor Fun provides all children with a slew of distractions to try, helping to entertain them the whole summer, regardless of weather, interests, companions and resources.

July 01, 2019

Upcoming releases for Summer and Autumn 2019

If it's Canada Day and we're celebrating all things Canadian, then let us celebrate the bounty of upcoming titles of youngCanLit set for release this summer and fall. I don't think there's ever been a listing of more titles in all the years I have been preparing this post. There are 59 picture books alone coming out in the month of September! (Any omissions or errors such as in category placement are solely my own. Please let me know of any that can be amended or added as appropriate. )

Some of the titles I'm most looking forward to are:
• Colleen Nelson's two new titles, Harvey Comes Home (Pajama Press) and Spin (Dundurn);
• Richard Scrimger's Irresistible in The Almost Epic Squad series (Scholastic Canada);
Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriquez (Pajama Press) because it's illustrated by the incomparable François Thisdale;
Birdsong by Julie Flett (Greystone Kids);
• new book from Tim Wynne-Jones The Starlight Claim (Candlewick);
• Sydney Smith's picture book Small in the City (Groundwood);
and...and...and... there are just too many to list!

So, if it's time to hunker down with some great summer reading or to start planning for your autumnal TBR piles, then this collection of upcoming releases by Canadian authors and/or illustrators should help you find your next great #youngCanLit read.


Picture Books and Board Books
Little Juniper Makes It Big by Aidan Cassie (Farrar Straus Giroux)
Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf by Troy Wilson, illus. by Ilaria Campana (Running Press Kids)
Nibi's Water Song by Sunshine Tenasco, illus. by Chief Lady Bird (North Winds Press)
No Help Wanted by Ruth Ohi (North Winds Press)
Paint the Town Pink by Lori Doody (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
Small World by Ishta Mercurio, illus. by Jen Corace (Abrams) Reviewed here
Triceratops Stomp by Karen Patkau (Pajama Press) Reviewed here

Early Readers and Middle Grade Novels
Dusty Dreams and Troubled Waters: A Story of HMCS Sackville by Brian Bowman, illus. by Richard Rudnicki (Nimbus)
Elements of Genius #1: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating (Scholastic)>>>first book in a new middle-grade series
Phantom of Fire: A Dylan Maples Adventure by Shane Peacock (Nimbus)

Young Adult
Just My Luck by Jennifer Honeybourn (SwoonReads)

How? The Most Awesome Question and Answer Book about Nature, Animals, People, Places–and You! by Catherine Ripley, illus. by Scot Ritchie (Owlkids)


Picture Books and Board Books
Alis the Aviator by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, illus. by Kalpna Patel (Tundra) >>>alphabet book
The Art Room by Susan Vande Griek, illus. by Pascal Milelli (Groundwood)>>re-issue of the 2002 award-winning book
Aunt Pearl by Monica Kulling, illus. by Irene Luxbacher (Groundwood)
If Pluto was a Pea by Gabrielle Prendergast, illus. by Rebecca Gerlings (Margaret K. McElderry Books
The Haircut by Theo Heras, illus. by Renné Benoit (Pajama Press)
Lili Macaroni by Nicole Testa, illus. by Annie Boulanger (Pajama Press)
Owen at the Park by Scot Richie (Groundwood)
The Playgrounds of Babel by JonArno Lawson, illus. by Piet Grobler (Groundwood)
Poppy and Sam and the Mole Mystery by Cathon, trans. by Susan Ouriou (Owlkids) >>>Book 2 in Poppy and Sam picture book-graphic novel hybrid series
The Promise Basket by Bill Richardson, illus. by Slavka Kolesar (Groundwood)
The Ranger by Nancy Vo (Groundwood>>>sequel to The Outlaw
Weekend Dad by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Frank Viva (Groundwood)

Early Readers and Middle Grade Novels
Boil Line by M.J. McIsaac (Orca)>>>Orca Sports
Camping Crazies by L. M. Nicodemo, illus. by Graham Ross (Formac)>>>The Secret Games of Maximus Todd series 
Clear Skies by Jessica Scott Kerrin (Groundwood)
Double Trouble by Joanne Levy (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 
Dressed to Play by Jennifer Manuel (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories  
The Grizzly Mother by Brett D. Huson, illus. by Natasha Donovan (HighWater Press)>>>follow up to The Sockeye Mother
Iggy's World by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
Just Three by Lorna Schultz Nicholson (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 
Kick Start by Michele Martin Bossley (Orca)>>>Orca Sports
Kung Fu Master by Marty Chan (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 
The Lookout Tree: A Family's Escape from the Acadian Deportation by Diane Carmel Leger (Nimbus)
Pickles vs. The Zombies by Angela Misri (DCB)
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong, illus. by Xavière Daumarie (Tundra) >>>follow-up book expected 2020
Run and Gun by Eric Howling (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Scallywag on the Salish Sea by Sara Cassidy, illus. by Mike Deas (Heritage House)
School Bus Squirmies by L. M. Nicodemo, illus. by Graham Ross (Formac)>>>The Secret Games of Maximus Todd series 
Stormy Passage by Kate Merlin (Nimbus)
Taking the Lead by Karen Spafford-Fitz (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Who is Tanksy? by Bev Katz (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 

Young Adult
The Brilliant Dark by S. M. Beiko (ECW Press)>>>The Realms of Ancient, Book 3 
Crime Club by Melodie Campbell (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings
Demon: The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock (Tundra)>>> final book in the series
Girls Like Me by Kristin Butcher (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings
Powwow Summer by Nahanni Shingoose (Lorimer) 
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, illus. by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)
Spin by Colleen Nelson (Dundurn)
Spin Out by Steven Sandor (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer SideStreets 
Street Shadows by Claire Gilchrist (Dundurn)
Things that Fall by Mere Joyce (DCB)
Watch Out by Alison Hughes (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings
We Three by Markus Harwood-Jones (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love 

Acting Wild: How We Behave Like Birds, Bugs, and Beasts by Maria Birmingham, illus. by Dave Whamond (Owlkids) 
A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice by Nadia L. Hohn, illus. by Eugenie Fernandes (Owlkids)


Picture Books and Board Books
Alfie, No! by Frieda Wishinsky, illus. by Emma Pedersen (North Winds Press) 
Alma and the Beast by Esme Shapiro (Tundra) 
And Then The Seed Grew by Marianne Dubuc (Kids Can Press)
Arthur Garber the Harbor Barber by Joe Frank (Firefly Books) 
The Bear's Medicine/Sus Yoo by Clayton Gauthier, trans. by Danny Alexis and Theresa Austin (Orca)>>>dual language, English and Dakelh
Birdsong by Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)
Blueberry Patch/Mayabeekamneeboon by Jennifer Leason, trans. by Norman Chartrand (Orca)>>>dual language, English and Anishinaabemowin
Brady Brady and the B Team by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada)
Brady Brady and the MVP by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada)
Brady Brady: Teammate Turnaround by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada)  
The Brave Princess and Me by Kathy Kacer, illus. by Juliana Kolesova (Second Story Press)
Canadian Animals in Colour by Geraldo Valério (Owlkids)>>> Canadian Concepts Book 3
The Case of the Story Rock by Erin Hogan (Firefly Books)>>>The Gumbook Kids series
The Case of the Vanishing Caterpillar by Erin Hogan (Firefly Books)>>>The Gumboot Kids series
Classic Munsch Moods by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (Annick)
Come Back to Earth, Esther! by Josée Bisaillon (Nimbus)
The Couch Potato by Kerry Lynn Sparrow, illus. by Yinfan Huang (Kids Can Press)
Dear Mr. President by Sophie Siers, illus. by Anne Villeneuve (Owlkids)
Elf in the House by Ammi-Joan Pacquette, illus. by Adam Record (Candlewick)
Encounter by Brittany Luby, illus. by Michaela Goade (Tundra)
Fairy Science by Ashley Spires (Tundra)
Go Away, Unicorn by Emily Mullock (Scholastic)
Goodnight, World by Andrea Lynn Beck (North Winds Press)
Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel: And Other Poems of Birds in Flight by Susan Vande Griek, illus. by Mark Hoffman (Kids Can Press) 
Hello, Crow! by Candace Savage, illus. by Chelsea O'Byrne (Greystone Kids)
Hide-and-Seek: A First Book of Position Words by R. D. Ornot, illus. by Sakshi Mangal (Kids Can Press)
The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust (Owlkids)
In My Anaana's Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. by Lenny Lishchenko (Inhabit Media)
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear. illus. by Julie Morstad (Tundra)
kimotinâniwiw itwêwina (Stolen Words) by Melanie Florence, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard, trans. by Dolores Sand and Gayle Weenie (Second Story Press)>>>translation to Plains Cree
King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illus. by Dena Seiferling (Tundra)
Lucy Tries Basketball by Lisa Bowes, illus. by James Hearne (Orca)>>>newest title in The Lucy Tries Sports series; French edition Lucy joue au basketball also available, trans. by Rachel Martinez
The Moon is a Silver Pond by Sara Cassidy, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Orca)>>>board book
My Bright Friend by Simon Boulerice, illus. by Marilyn Faucher (Orca)
My Winter City by James Gladstone, illus. by Gary Clement (Groundwood)
One Wild Christmas by Nicholas Oldland (Kids Can Press)>>> new book in Life in the Wild collection
Our Big Little Place by James A. Conan, illus. by Nicolle Lalonde (Annick) 
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden by Heather Smith, illus. by Rachel Wada (Orca)
Ping by Ani Castillo (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali. illus. by Hatem Aly (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round by Rosanna Battigelli, illus. by Tara Anderson (Pajama Press)
Rocky Waters by Anne Laurel Carter, illus. by Marianne Dumas (Groundwood)
Ruby's Hope: A Story of How the Famous "Migrant Mother" Photograph Became the Face of the Great Depression by Monica Kulling, illus. by Sarah Dvojack (Page Street Publishing)
Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War by Mireille Messier, illus.  by Kass Reich (Tundra)
Sharon, Lois and Bram's Skinnamarink by Sharon Hampson, Lois Lillienstein and Bram Morrison, illus. by Qin Leng (Tundra)
Shubh Diwali! by Chitra Soundar, illus. by Charlene Chua (Alberta Whitman & Co.)
Sleep Tight, Little Knight by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Genevieve Despres (Scholastic Canada)
Small in the City by Sydney Smith (Groundwood)
Spurs, A Wolf's Story by Eliza Robertson, illus. by Nora Aoyogi (Greystone Kids)
Summer Days Fall Days by Kate Colley, illus. by Dale Nigel Goble (Orca)>>>two books in one in a flippable board book format
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Moose by Chrissy Bozik, illus. by Scot Ritchie (Scholastic Canada)
This is the Rink Where Jack Plays by Stella Partheniou Grasso, illus. by Chris Jones (Scholastic Canada)
Treasure by Mireille Messier, illus. by Irene Luxbacher (Orca)>>> also available in French edition Trésor, trans. by Mireille Messier
Two Tough Trucks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez, illus. by Hilary Leung (Orchard Books)
Unicorns 101 by Cale Atkinson (Tundra)
What Cats Think by Mies van Hout, text by John Spray (Pajama Press)
When Heaven Smiled on Our World by Tamara Thiebaux (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
When Molly Drew Dogs by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Lis Xu (Owlkids) 
When Pumpkins Fly by Margaret Lawrence (Inhabit Media)
Winter Days Spring Days by Kate Colley, illus. by Dale Nigel Goble (Orca)>>>two books in one in a flippable board book format
You're in Good Paws by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Kathryn Durst (Tundra)

Early Readers and Middle Grade Novels
The Big Shrink by Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins and Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic) >>>Upside Down Magic Book 6
A Boy is Not a Bird by Edeet Ravel (Groundwood)
The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan (Tundra)
Finding Cooper by Stacey Matson (Scholastic Canada)
The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills (Annick)
The Ghost of Mill House by Margriet Ruurs, illus. by Claudia Dávila (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes
Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson, illus. by Tara Anderson (Pajama Press)
Helen's Birds by Sara Cassidy, illus. by Sophie Casson (Groundwood)>>>graphic novel
Just a Kid by Rie Charles (Red Deer Press)
Lumberjanes: Ghost Cabin by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Brooklyn Allen (Amulet)>>>Lumberjanes Book 4
The Monster Sisters and the Mystery of the Unlocked Cave by Gareth Gaudin (Orca)>>>graphic novel
Nevers by Sara Cassidy (Orca)
Olga Out of Control by Elise Gravel (HarperCollins)>>>Olga series, Book 3
Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet by Philippa Dowding (Dundurn) >>>newest title in Weird Stories Gone Wrong series (Book 6)
Ruckus by Laurie-Elmquist, illus. by David Perkins (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes
Runaway by Cordell Barker (Firefly Books)
Tales from Beyond the Brain by Jeff Szpirglas, illus. by Steven P. Hughes (Orca)
The Taste of the Rain by Monique Polak (Orca)
The Wereduck Code by Dave Atkinson (Nimbus)>>>Book 3 in the Wereduck series

Young Adult
Amber Fang: Betrayal by Arthur Slade (Orca)>>>Book 2 in series
Amber Fang: Revenge by Arthur Slade (Orca)>>>Book 3 in series
Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis (HarperCollins)
Broken Strings by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer (Puffin Canada)
The Call of the Rift: Veil by Jae Waller (ECW Press)>>>Book 2
Caster by Elsie Chapman (Scholastic) 
The Grey Sisters by Jo Treggiari (Penguin Teen) 
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Steve Pugh (DC Ink) 
Just Lucky by Melanie Florence (Second Story Press) 
The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick)
The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw (Second Story Press)
Summerwood by E. L. Chen (ChiZine)
Winterwood by E. L. Chen (ChiZine)
The World on Either Side by Diane Terrana (Orca)

Amazing Hockey Stories: P.K. Subban by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illus. by D A Bishop (Scholastic Canada) 
Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die: The Complexities of Assisted Dying by Nikki Tate, illus. by Belle Wuthrich (Orca)>>>Orca Issues
Gaawin Niin Ndoo-Gindaaswisii (I Am Not a Number) by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illus. by Gillian Newland, trans. by Muriel Sawyer and Geraldine McLeod (Second Story Press)>>> translation to Nishnaabemwin (Ojibwe), Nbisiing dialect
The Girl Who Rode a Shark: True Stories of Daring Women by Ailsa Ross, illus. by Amy Blackwell (Pajama Press)
Gone is Gone: Wildlife Under Threat by Isabelle Groc (Orca)>>>Orca Wild
Haunted Canada: The Second Terrifying Collection by Joel A. Sutherland (Scholastic Canada)
If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie with Nahanni Shingoose, illus. by Neal Shannacappo (Lorimer)>>>non-fiction graphic novel on the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous people
Join the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste by Scot Ritchie (Kids Can Press)>>>Exploring Our Community series
Magical Beings of Haida Gwai by Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson, illus. by Alyssa Koski and Judy Hilgemann (Heritage House)
My Story Starts Here: Voices of Young Offenders by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood)
Nature All Around: Bugs by Pamela Hickman, illus. by Carolyn Gavin (Kids Can Press)
Nibi Emosaawdang (The Water Walker) by Joanne Robertson, trans. by Shirley Williams and Isadore Toulouse (Second Story Press)>>>translation into Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Orcas Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales by Mark Leiren-Young (Orca)>>>Orca Wild
Our Future: How Kids are Taking Action by Janet Wilson (Second Story Press) >>> newest title in Kid Activist series
A Song for China: How My Father Wrote Yellow River Cantata by Ange Zhang (Groundwood)
Under Our Clothes: Our First Talk about Our Bodies by Dr. Jillian Roberts, illus. by Jane Heinrichs (Orca)>>>newest book in The World Around Us series
Under Pressure: The Science of Stress by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illus. by Marie-Ève Tremblay (Kids Can Press)
What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger (Annick)
Why Don't Cars Run on Apple Juice? Real Science Questions from Real Kids by Kira Vermond, illus. by Suharu Ogawa (Annick)
Wildlife in the City by Diane Swanson, illus. by Douglas Penhale (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
You Got This!: 100 Tips for Being Your Stress-Free Best by Helaine Becker (Scholastic Canada)


Picture Books and Board Books
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illus. by Charlene Chua (Aladdin)
The Case of the Growing Bird Feeder by Erin Hogan (Firefly Books)>>>The Gumboot Kids series
The Case of the Wooden Timekeeper by Erin Hogan (Firefly Books)>>>The Gumboot Kids series
Finding Lucy by Eugenie Fernandes (Pajama Press)
Ho'onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, illus. by Mika Song (Tundra)
It's Not All Rainbows by Jessika Von Innerebner (North Winds Press)
A Journey to the Mother of the Sea Retold by Mâliâraq Vebæk, illus. by Aka Høegh (Inhabit Media)
Light a Candle/Tumaini pasipo na Tumaini by Godfrey Nkongolo and Eric Walters, illus. by Eva Campbell (Orca)>>>dual language, English and Swahili
May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp (Orca)
Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act by Nicola Winstanley, illus. by Marianne Ferrer (Annick)
My Friend by Elisa Amado, illus. by Alfonso Ruano (Groundwood)
My Hair is Beautiful by Shauntay Grant (Nimbus)
My Head in the Clouds by Danielle Chaperon, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Orca)
One is a Lot (Except When It's Not) by Muon Thi Van, illus. by Pierre Pratt (Kids Can Press)
Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe (Simon & Schuster)
Potato on a Bike by Elise Gravel (Orca)
Sid the Kid and the Dryer by Lesley Choyce, illus. by Brenda Jones (Nimbus)
Sloth to the Rescue by Leanne Shirtliffe, illus. by Rob McClurkan (Running Press Kids)
Smell the Daisies by Judith Henderson, illus. by T. L. McBeth (Kids Can Press)>>> third book in Big Words Small Stories series
Sounds Like Christmas by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (North Winds Press)
Tallulah Plays the Tuba by Tiffany Stone, illus. by Sandy Nichols (Annick)
Tummy Time Friends by Shanda LaRamee-Jones and Carol McDougall (Nimbus)
The Trouble with Time Travel by Stephen W. Martin, illus. by Cornelia Li (Owlkids)
Yoga Baby by Amy Hovey (Orca)
Where are You Now? by Tyler Clark Burke (Owlkids)

Early Readers and Middle Grade Novels
Ahmek by Patrick Watson (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) >>>20th anniversary edition
The Almost Epic Squad: Irresistible by Richard Scrimger, illus. by Britt Wilson (Scholastic Canada)
Billy Stuart and the Sea of a Thousand Dangers by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar, trans. by Sophie B. Watson (Orca)
The Clothesline by Orbie, trans. by Karen Li (Owlkids)
Cougar Frenzy by Pamela McDowell, illus. by Kasia Charko (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes
The Girl and the Cat by Beverley Brenna, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan (Red Deer Press) 
Peggy by Roy and Slavia Miki, illus. by Mike Deas (Tradewind)
Rising Star by Sylv Chiang, illus. by Connie Choi (Annick)>>>Cross Ups series Book 3
Shadow Island by Mike Deas and Nancy Deas, illus. by Mike Deas (Orca)>>>new graphic novel series Sueño Bay Adventures
The Three Spartans by James McCann (Crwth Press)

Young Adult
The Blue Road: A Fable of Migration by Wayde Compton, illus. by April dela Noche Milne (Arsenal Pulp Press) 
The Justice Project by Michael Betcherman (Orca)
Larkin on the Shore by Jean Mills (Red Deer Press)
Secrets in the Shadows by Heige S. Boehm (Ronsdale)

5 Bears by Rob Laidlaw (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Amazing Atlantic Canadian Kids: Awesome Stories of Bravery and Adventure by John Boileau, illus. by James Bentley (Nimbus)
Be a Weather Detective: Solving the Mysteries of Cycles, Seasons, and Elements by Peggy Kochanoff (Nimbus)
The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson's Famous Frozen Treat by Anne Renaud, illus. by Milan Pavlovic (Kids Can Press) 
Can You Hear the Trees Talking? by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Kids)
Cells: An Owner's Handbook by Carolyn Fisher (Simon & Schuster)
Game On in Ancient Greece by Linda Bailey, illus. by Bill Slavin (Kids Can Press)>>>Good Times Travel Agency
Highrise: The Towers in the World and the World in the Towers by Katerina Cizek (Firefly Books)
The Hubble Space Telescope: Our Eye on the Universe by Terence Dickinson (Firefly Books)
I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe, illus. by Pauline Young (Nimbus)>>>picture book based on poem of same title
I'm Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas, illus. by Pauline Young (Nimbus)>>>response poem to I Lost My Talk
Keep Up, Katmai! by Pili Palm-Leis, photos by Barrett Hedges (Scholastic Canada)  
Maison Rouge by Leolina Leila Juma (Tradewind)
Megabugs and Other Prehistoric Critters That Roamed the Planet by Helaine Becker, illus. by John Bindon (Kids Can Press)
More Hockey Trivia for Kids by Eric Zweig (Scholastic Canada)
No Girls Allowed: Inspired by the True Story of a Girl Who Fought for her Right to Play by Natalie Corbett Sampson (Nimbus)
Ours to Share: Co-Existing in a Crowded World by Kari Jones (Orca)>>>Orca Footprints 
The Plastic Problem by Rachel Salt (Firefly Books)
A Pocket of Time: The Poetic Childhood of Elizabeth Bishop by Elizabeth Bishop and Rita Wilson, illus. by Emma FitzGerald (Nimbus)


Picture Books and Board Books
Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriquez by Christiane Duchesne, illus. by François Thisdale (Pajama Press)
Nutcracker Night by Mireille Messier, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard (Pajama Press)
TJ's New Friend by Aviaq Johnson, illus. by Charlene Chua (Nunavummi Reading Series)
The Walrus and the Caribou by Maika Harper, illus. by Marcus Cutler (Inhabit Media)

Young Adult
Bonjour Shanghai by Isabelle Laflèche (Dundurn)>>>Bonjour Girl Book 2 
Cold Falling White by G. S. Prendergast (Simon & Schuster)>>>sequel to Zero Repeat Forever
Last Words by Leanne Baugh (Red Deer Press)
Northwest Rebellion by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yasiuk (HighWater Press)>>>third volume in A Girl Called Echo graphic novel series
Safe Harbour by Christina Kilbourne (Dundurn)

Niam! Cooking with Kids by Kerry McCluskey (Inhabit Media)>>>inspired by the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club


Young Adult 
The Resistance by Warren Kinsella (Dundurn)>>>The X Gang series, Book 3


... and some titles coming in 2020

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins) >>> first book in a new trilogy
Earth Defenders: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97 by Jamie Bastedo (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Goldibooks and the Wee Bear by Troy Wilson, illus. by Edwardian Taylor (Running Press Kids)
Meet Me Halfway by Tom Ryan (Running Press)
Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott (Jump at the Sun)
Tanna's Owl by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, illus. by Yong Ling Kang (Inhabit Media)
This is Ruby by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Lea Marley (Tundra)