June 28, 2019

Triceratops Stomp

Written and illustrated by Karen Patkau
Pajama Press
978-1-77278-079-6
32 pp.
Ages 2-5
For release July 2019

For children with an enduring love of all things dinosaur and of evocative text of sound and action, Triceratops Stomp will inspire countless readings with nonstop interaction. It maybe not the quietest of bedtime reads but Triceratops Stomp is certainly a picture book destined to become an action adventure of a different class.
From Triceratops Stomp by Karen Patkau
A clutch of seven dinosaur eggs begins the story with "Tap-tap. Peck-peck. Crack. Crack. Crack." After the babies hatch, under the watchful eye of a parent, making their first vocalizations of "Chirp-chirp! Cheep-cheep! Peep-peep-peep!" they learn to feed in the greenery of lush ferns and horsetails and among other prehistoric creatures. But when a voluminous roar is accompanied by "Thud-thud. Thud-thud. STOMP. STOMP. STOMP." and a T-Rex appears, Triceratops mother is ready to defend her brood and chases their potential attacker away with her ferocity. Safely back home, they rest. "Snuggle-snuggle. Sigh-sigh. Snore. Snore. Snore."
From Triceratops Stomp by Karen Patkau
While Triceratops Stomp is a playful read that will teach sounds that accompany actions like breaking out of an egg, eating plants, and sleeping, it goes beyond that in both text and art. It portrays the natural history of Triceratops with respect to babies, feeding, defence and family, as well as physical features. In fact, though a fictionalized story, Triceratops Stomp is also information book by including a page about the other genera of dinosaurs depicted in the story such as Alamosaurus, Dromaeosaurus, Corythosaurus and Pterosaur, as well as an end paper that shows the relative sizes of a variety of dinosaurs against humans. Still Karen Patkau is first and foremost an artist and her stylings in Triceratops Stomp elevate it from information book to art. Created with digital media, Karen Patkau gives Triceratops babies cuteness and authenticity, and generates landscapes lush in greens and detailed animal morphologies sufficient to instruct but never straying from captivating and entertaining.
From Triceratops Stomp by Karen Patkau
Whether you choose Triceratops Stomp as a science teaching tool, as a story to enhance language with its onomatopoeic foundation or as a fun read to share with young dinosaur fans, you can be sure to hear "Read. Read. Read. Again. Again."

June 25, 2019

Small World

Written by Ishta Mercurio
Illustrated by Jen Corace
Abrams Books for Young Readers
978-1-4197-3407-6
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
July 2019

The world may seem like a big place, formidable at times, often too big to embrace, and sometimes unwelcoming but Ishta Mercurio's Small World shows young readers that the world you make from the people you let in and the places you go is the perfect size to fit your dreams in.
From Small World, illus. by Jen Corace, written by Ishta Mercurio
As a baby, Nanda's world was her mother's arms.
safe,
warm,
small.
From Small World, illus. by Jen Corace, written by Ishta Mercurio
As she grew, her circle grew wider to include her extended family who nurture her with food and play, until she can cultivate her own curiosity with school, playmates and dreams of space travel and engineering.
From Small World, illus. by Jen Corace, written by Ishta Mercurio
Leaving home for college, Nanda moves from locales of "sun-kissed maze of wheat" through "pinecone-prickled mountains and the microscopic elegance of fractals in the snow" to the big city where she helps develop a "human-powered helicopter lifting toward the sky" before becoming a pilot and finally an astronaut.
From Small World, illus. by Jen Corace, written by Ishta Mercurio
Though she's looking at the depth and breadth of the universe with its stars and planets and our world as just a small part of it all, Nanda can still see Earth as safe, warm and small, as "a circle called home.

Small World reminds us that life is a circle, carrying a child from the safety and smallness and warmth of our very first world in a mother's arms to a myriad of other worlds that overlap and permutate with time, place and content. There's a rhythm here that Ishta Mercurio embeds in her words, carrying Nanda from birth to extraordinary achievement, lifting her from needs for survival to dreams and realization. Moreover, Ishta Mercurio has made it all the more relevant with Nanda's diverse background and her aspirations in science and tech.

That circle of life and of worlds as round as that of our earth is perpetuated by Jen Corace's illustrations. From dinner plates and bubbles, trees and stars, Jen Corace's artwork, created with gouache, ink and pencil, is a study in shapes and angles and geometric form. The illustrations are saturated with patterns of lines and in fabrics, wallpaper, landscapes and structures like roller-coasters, creating a rich background for a girl who aspires and inspires.

A study in perspective and dreaming big, Small World takes Nanda, and readers along with her, on a journey where anything is possible when you create a world that right for you.

June 24, 2019

You Owe Me a Murder

Written by Eileen Cook
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
978-1-328-51902-3
359 pp.
Ages 13+
March 2019

Travel provides opportunities for new experiences, for meeting new people, and for personal growth.  But for seventeen-year-old Kim, her summer trip to London with Student Scholars for Change seems doomed from the beginning. Not only is she no longer in a relationship with Connor for whom she'd initially signed up for the trip, he is travelling with new girlfriend Miriam, and Kim has to watch it all from the sidelines of their small group of eight Vancouver high schoolers. But after meeting English girl Nicki, who challenges her to steal a bottle of duty-free vodka and lets her vent about Connor all the way to London, Kim is ready to find "a new me" (pg. 41), one that could be daring and isn't a quitter.
Being good at something doesn't mean that it isn't hard or scary–it just means that you keep moving forward when other people quit. (pg.25)
But in that vodka-infused venting session, Kim prepares a list titled "WHY I HATE CONNOR O'REILLY AND WHY HE DESERVES TO DIE" and Nicki suggests that she will kill Connor and Kim could kill Nicki's mom whose alcoholism is making her life miserable. Of course, Kim barely remembers their laughable discussion until Connor is killed in a Tube station and she gets a message that reads "You're welcome" along with the news story about his death.

Panicking, Kim doesn't know to whom she can turn. Worse still, the police begin investigating and Kim realizes her silence about her relationship with Connor is going to make her look suspicious. Worst of all, Nicki still has the incriminating document and is using it to blackmail Kim into murdering her mother.

So while sightseeing in London and relishing a budding romance, Kim tries to evade a drunken commitment to homicide, investigate the mysterious Nicki, and keep herself and others safe from a girl who purports to be owed a murder.

I would call You Owe Me a Murder a roller-coaster except that ride suggests highs and lows and twists and turns and this young adult novel has no lows. From start to finish, it's more like a high-wire act: tense, dangerous, and unrelenting. With Eileen Cook's exceptional plotting, You Owe Me a Murder becomes a magnificent melding of relationship angst with psychological thriller. It's a waiting game for the reader who is compelled to read through to learn whether Kim will go with through the murder pact or become victim to Nicki's vengeance. With characters like Kim and Nicki, and even secondary ones like Connor, Miriam and Alex, You Owe Me a Murder becomes a complex study in human behaviour as young people fall in and out of love or lust, seek revenge and fulfilment, and try to discover who they really are and what they are capable of being and doing.

Like Hitchcock's movie Strangers on a Train, Eileen Cook's You Owe Me a Murder demonstrates that meeting the right or wrong person can turn your life upside-down, and finding the way to right things may require courage and recognition that the truth hides in the details. (pg. 324)

June 21, 2019

In the Sky at Nighttime

Written by Laura Deal 
Illustrated by Tamara Campeau
Inhabit Media
978–1-77227-238-3
28 pp.
Ages 3-6
May 2019

While getting a child to sleep with familiar imagery is not unusual, it is when it embraces the northern environs of the Arctic and culture of its indigenous people.

In the Sky at Nighttime is a northern bedtime story. It's late and it's dark, and outside there is the crunch of winter snow and the cold crisp air. There are northern lights "painting bright colours across the endless sky" and a hunter on snowmobile returning home. Far above the snow-covered buildings and streets, a raven roosts, calling to others. But deep within a house illuminated in the darkness, there is an intimacy as a "mother's delicate song to her child rises like a gentle breeze."
From In the Sky at Nighttime, illus. by Tamara Campeau, text by Laura Deal
Nunavummiuq Laura Deal's text is very simple, usually with two lines per double-spread, often starting with "In the sky at nighttime." It takes us from outside in, leading from the expansive outdoors of both rural and urban landscapes, then drawn into the world of a mother and child. It sees the day ending and the outlook for a new day.
At peace for the day ahead
and the one we leave behind.
Quebec's Tamara Campeau brings the chill of the text to the book's landscapes through her snow-covered homes and streets, her people bundled in hooded parkas, and red-nosed and -cheeked children. The snow glistens as it provides still insulation but also as it sparkles with the stars and luminous northern lights in the darkened sky.
From In the Sky at Nighttime, illus. by Tamara Campeau, text by Laura Deal
I've just updated my Read a Book of Bedtime booklist to include Laura Deal and Tamara Campeau's splendid bedtime picture book In the Sky at Nighttime. Children in northern areas will be tickled with the book's familiarity and homeyness of people and place, while those in other climes will learn bedtime in the far north can be as warm and as cozy as a mother's embrace amidst shelter from the cold.

June 20, 2019

How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read: Story Walk (Westmount, QC)


Join authors

 Andrew Katz and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel 

on a

 Westmount Library 2019 Summer Story Walk® 

featuring their picture book

How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to Read
(Comme attraper une ours qui aime lire)
Written by Andrew Katz and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel 
Illustrated by Joseph Sherman
CrackBoom! Books 
978-2924786475
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2018

on Friday, June 21, 2019

Starting at 6 p.m.

Westmount Park

Registration is required
so call 514.989.5229

#WPLStorywalk.

 📚🐻 📚🐻 📚🐻 📚🐻 📚🐻

Details can be found at Westmount Library page or the detailed poster below.

June 19, 2019

Innocent Heroes: Stories of Animals in the First World War: Guest blog post

Today's review has been submitted by Grade 5 student Bronte L.

Written by Sigmund Brouwer
Tundra
 978-1-101-91846-3
208 pp.
Ages 9-12
2017

Innocent Heroes by Sigmund Brouwer follows fictional Canadian animal war heroes to see how they contributed in World War I. Every short story is followed by the historical record behind it, and how that animal helped in the war.

There are many animal heroes in Innocent Heroes including Little Abigail, the pigeon, who was trained to carry messages to headquarters. She travelled long distances while the war continued on around her. Tomato the Airedale Terrier was also trained to deliver messages between trenches. When a surprise gas attack comes from the enemy, it's up to Tomato to try to warn the soldiers. Mercy dogs relayed messages in their own way. Biscotte, for example, was one of the many French mercy dogs who went out into enemy trenches to find injured soldiers. If a soldier was found alive, the dog would rip a piece of their uniform, deliver it back to his fellow soldiers and a rescue planned.

Some animals helped eased the hardships endured by the soldiers. Cats like Boomer made the Canadian trenches less horrible places for the soldiers by hunting rats. Living in the trenches was dirty, tiring, and not at all like home. The rats made it even worse, biting soldiers while they were trying to get some sleep before the busy day ahead. This is where Boomer the cat was helpful. Boomer would come out at night to hunt for rats, bringing them to Boomer’s owner and the lucky soldiers who would roast and eat them.  Mascots also played an important role. There were hundreds of trenches so the mascots helped to identify them. One such mascot, Leo the lion cub helped comfort soldiers and occasionally even make them laugh.

Other animals were used as work animals. Coal Dust was a horse and the trusty partner of Lance who lead other men on horses on scouting missions into areas full of dangerous craters made by shells. But when the shelling started up again and all the other horses and men scattered, it was up to Coal Dust to come to Lance's rescue. Mules know when danger is coming and think before they act, so mules were very useful in the war. Such was the work of Charlie the mule who sensed danger while walking with soldiers.  Louise the horse was one of the hundreds of horses that carried shells over to cannons to be fired at the enemy. Horses would haul load after load, four shells each, much too heavy for a soldier to carry.

I enjoyed this book because normally when we think of war, we think of human soldiers fighting for peace with guns and cannons. We think of the peace they brought us. But we generally forget the animal heroes that helped win victory. So now, after reading this book when I think of war I remember more than the human soldiers. I also will remember the carrier pigeons and the mercy dogs and the many animals. Without them, I don’t know if we would have been able to win the war.

I would recommend this book to ages 10  and up. Also I'd recommend it to readers interested in history, the war, animal lovers, and everyone else. The fictional but imaginative story line gives you an idea of what each animal would do.  Because it is enjoyable to read, and a great balance of fiction and nonfiction, I would give this book a 10 out of 10. I encourage everyone to read Innocent Heroes!

Written by Bronte L., 11

June 18, 2019

A youngCanLit booklist for World Refugee Day: June 20


People fleeing their home countries to find shelter from both man-created and natural calamities is not new. From Jews fleeing Spain in the 1400s to avoid conversion to Christianity to Syrian refugees displaced because of a war which started in 2011, the plight of refugees is historical and contemporary. Though a day designated for refugees was only designated in 2000, the United Nations created the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in 1950 and its purview continues to expand in scope. I hope this subset of youngCanLit titles will help young readers appreciate the scope of experiences by those displaced by conflict, persecution and natural disaster in seeking new homes across borders.

PICTURE BOOKS

The Banana-Leaf Ball
Written by Katie Smith Milway
Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 8-12
2017
Reviewed here

From Far Away
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Annick Press
24 pp.
Ages 4-7
1995

From Far Away (new edition)
Written by Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar
Illustrated by Rebecca Green
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2017

Mustafa
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books
40 pp.
Ages 4-8
2018

My Beautiful Birds
Written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 6-10
2017
Reviewed here

Out of the Blue
Written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards
Scholastic Canada
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
2018
Reviewed here

The Roses in My Carpets
Written by Rukhsana Khan
Illustrated by Ronald Himler
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
2004

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey
Written by Margriet Ruurs
Artwork by Nizar Ali Badr
Orca Book Publishers
28 pp.
All ages
2016
Reviewed here


Story Boat
Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
Tundra
40 pp.
Ages 3-7
For release February 2020

The Walking Stick
Written by Maxine Trottier
Illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
22 pp.
Ages 6-9
1998





NOVELS AND SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

Blue Gold
Written by Elizabeth Stewart
Annick Press
304 pp.
Ages 13+
2014

A Cage Without Bars
Written by Anne Dublin
Second Story Press
160 pp.
Ages 10-14
2018
Reviewed here

Dance of the Banished
Written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Pajama Press
288 pp.
Ages 12+
2014
Reviewed here
The Garden
Written by Meghan Ferrari
Red Deer Press
109 pp.
Ages 12+
2018
Reviewed here

A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk
Written by Jan L. Cotes
Red Deer Press
274 pp.
Ages 12+
2010

Manuelito: A graphic novel
Written by Elisa Amado
Illustrated by Abraham Urias
Annick Press
91 pp.
Ages 13-17
2019

Masters of Silence
Written by Kathy Kacer
Annick Press
265 pp.
Ages 9-12
2019

Mud City
Written by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books
168 pp.
Ages 8-14
2003

Pieces of the Past : The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948 (Dear Canada)
Written by Carol Matas
Scholastic Canada
168 pp.
Ages 9-12
2013

Refuge Cove
Written by Lesley Choyce
Orca Book Publishers
128 pp.
Ages 12+
2002

Room for One More
by Monique Polak
Kar-Ben
232 pp.
Ages 12+
October 2019

Seeking Refuge
Written by Irene Watts
Illustrated by Kathryn Shoemaker
Tradewind Books
136 pp.
Ages 8-14
2016

Shanghai Escape
Written by Kathy Kacer
Second Story Press
240 pp.
Ages 9-12
2013

Walking Home
Written by Eric Walters
Doubleday Canada
304 pp.
Ages 9-13
2014

The Whirlwind
Written by Carol Matas
Orca Book Publishers
244 pp.
Ages 12+
2007







NON-FICTION

Children of War: Voices of Iraqi refugees
Written by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood
128 pp.
Ages 8-14
2009


Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival
Written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Pajama Press
40 pp.
Ages 6+
2016
Reviewed here

The Bite of the Mango
Written by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McLelland
Annick Press
216 pp.
Ages 13+
2008

A Cave in the Clouds: A Young Woman's Escape from ISIS
Written by Badeeah Hassan Ahmed with Susan Elizabeth McClelland
Annick Press
232 pp.
Ages 16+
2019

Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport
Written by Deborah Hodge
Tundra
64 pp.
Ages 8-4
2012

The Ship to Nowhere: On Board the Exodus
Written by Rona Arato
Second Story Press
176 pp.
Ages 9-14
2016

Stay Silent: A Refugee's Escape from Colombia
Written by Natalie Hyde
Clockwise Press
144 pp.
Ages 10-15
2016

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees
Written by Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare
Annick Press
64 pp.
Ages 10-14
2017

To Hope and Back: The Journey of the St. Louis
Written by Kathy Kacer
Second Story Press
204 pp.
Ages 11-14
2011

Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with her Family
Written by Van Ho with Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Pajama Press
152 pp.
Ages 8-12
2018
Reviewed here

What is a Refugee?
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
Schartz & Wade
32 pp.
Ages 8-10
September 2019

Where Will I Live?
Written by Rosemary McCarney
Second Story Press
24 pp.
Ages 5-9
2017
Reviewed here