November 28, 2019

The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventuring Cat: Guest blog review

Today's review has been submitted by Grade 6 student Bronte L.

Written by Caroline Adderson
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Groundwood Books
128 pp.
Ages 8-11
April 2019

In The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventuring Cat by Caroline Adderson, Pudding Tat is a blind cat who explores 1900s North America, travelling from Wellington County to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Atlantic City, the Titanic and the Western Front of World War I, with the help of a needy flea.

When Pudding Tat was a little kitten, living in a barn with his family, he decides he would explore the four corners of the world like his ancestors. Pudding Tat may have been blind but his hearing was exceptional. His family couldn’t hear the drunken conversations of the fleas, but he could. Before Pudding Tat leaves the barn to explore the four corners of the world, a flea decides to jump into his ear. This flea was different from the other crazy drunken fleas in that he had taste, though he was bossy, rude, and constantly complaining.  Yet Pudding Tat never gets rid of him because the flea provides him sight, and it’s nice to have some company while exploring the world. As Pudding Tat travels from location to location, he encounters lots of kind owners who care for him while he gives them joy.

The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventure Cat is great for grades 5 to 8. It’s full of adventure and fun as well as including “mostly true” accounts of famous North American events. The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventuring Cat has 179 pages, making a great light read, with each chapter a new adventure for Pudding Tat and the flea.

I love the concept of the book and the idea that the same visually-impaired cat was a part of all these events and changed peoples' lives. I also found the way Pudding Tat was able to find his way around using his other senses and the flea was very creative. The descriptions were great while not being wordy and I was able to visualize what was going on clearly. I also loved how Caroline Adderson added songs into her writing. I would give Caroline Adderson’s The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventuring Cat  9 out of 10.

~written by Bronte L.

November 27, 2019

Summer North Coming

Written by Dorothy Bentley
Illustrated by Jessica Bartram
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 5-9
November 2019

Though a picture book titled Summer North Coming may seem incongruous for release in November, Dorothy Bentley and Jessica Bartram's book is actually very suitable for this time of year, and just about any, as it examines in verse and art the changing of seasons and activity in the north.

Divided into two parts, Summer North Coming and Winter North Coming, Alberta author Dorothy Bentley takes the reader across muskeg and forests, shores and skies, and inside to experience all with two children.
From Summer North Coming by Dorothy Bentley, illus. by Jessica Bartram
From her first quintain which accompanies the two children paddling through the open water of marshland, Dorothy Bentley immerses us in Alberta's far north.
Fragrant muskeg rose,
tickle my nose
sun climb,
warm shine
summer north coming
Soon the children are picking raspberries in their birch bark baskets, ready for jam-making and spreading on bannock. Then they're swimming in a river and running through rain puddles and dreaming of flight on bats and birds. With the leaves falling and "summer north fading," preparations for winter begin. The family puts on their beaded mukluks and go fishing, and later enjoy a hearty meal.
From Summer North Coming by Dorothy Bentley, illus. by Jessica Bartram
In the later half of the book, winter has set in and the children play in the snow, relish a dog sled run, watch ravens at play, and enjoy some winter camping. Indoors everyone partakes in venison stew and some family games before a final spread which foretells the end of the cold season.
Hills icy sliding,
crash mud landing
sun roams, 
earth moans
winter north melting
Dorothy Bentley makes the seasonal activities of a northern family with some Indigenous roots into a sensory experience. From the berry-stained hands to thunder loud calling and daytime smiles yawning, Summer North Coming is an evocative rendering in words and art of life in northern Canada. Ottawa artist Jessica Bromley Bartram provides the visual for Dorothy Bentley's expressive free verse, giving the illustrations a folksy feel of family who enjoy the outdoors and live with the seasons. The art, which appears to be a blend of watercolour, gouache and pencil crayon, is surprisingly detailed–the trees in the forest are easily identifiable–yet organic in its rounded edges and softness of energy.

Summer may have passed for now and winter is here and not, but Summer North Coming will take young readers through all the seasons as they advance and retreat in the subarctic environment of northern Canada.
From Summer North Coming by Dorothy Bentley, illus. by Jessica Bartram

November 25, 2019

Brady Brady: Teammate Turnaround

Written by Mary Shaw
Illustrated by Chuck Temple
Scholastic Canada
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
September 2019

Brady is called Brady, Brady because he needs to be called multiple times to get his attention. That is, except for hockey. The anticipation of his team, the Icehogs, starting their season has the boy and his buddy Chester excited and practising enthusiastically. But after tryouts for the season, Chester is placed on another team and is ready to give up on hockey. Can Brady help his friend see that playing the game is the fun part and that they'll always be best buddies?
From Brady Brady: Teammate Turnaround by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple
After Chester learns that he has been placed on another team, he dumps all his goalie equipment at the front of the arena with a note, "Free equipment. No longer needed." While the two wait in Chester's dad's car, Brady reminds him that "We're gonna win the Stanley Cup together one day" and "We can still play hockey together. On my backyard rink, in my basement, on my driveway." But when the boys rush back into the arena to retrieve Chester's equipment, it's already gone. 
From Brady Brady: Teammate Turnaround by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple
So begins a search for the missing goalie pads, stick and bag. They enlist the help of a group of kids hanging out in the lobby to search the change rooms, the washroom, the concession stand and finally the lost and found room. High up on a shelf, the equipment sits. But reaching it becomes a problem for the children. Together, working as team, they construct a human pyramid to retrieve Chester's equipment, before he realizes that these kids are the Rink Rattlers, the team to which he has been assigned.
From Brady Brady: Teammate Turnaround by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple
Chuck Temple's diverse kids with the quirky smiles and palpable enthusiasm for hockey are the right composite of cartoon and lifelikeness, quirky and real to keep the story fun, funny and truthful. So many kids love playing sports but dread playing with kids they don't know. We all love the familiar to some degree, especially in new situations. By making Chester's story about finding friends to help him out, before even heading onto the ice, Mary Shaw upholds the quote (attribution vague) that "There are no strangers, just friends you haven't yet met." It's no surprise that Chester feels comfortable playing with the Rink Rattlers now that he knows who they are and that his friendship with Brady is not at stake. 

Ultimately, Chester "knew it didn't matter what uniform he was wearing as long as he was playing the sport he loved." With their overwhelming enthusiasm for hockey, these kids would make any team, whether Icehogs or Rattlers or something else, remarkable because they knew how to work together to accomplish something great.


A number of Brady Brady stories have been published, including 3 collections and several French-language versions. Check them out at Scholastic Canada or at the Brady Brady website.

November 21, 2019

One Wild Christmas

Written and illustrated by Nicholas Oldland
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
September 2019 

Nicholas Oldland's animal friends from his Life in the Wild series of picture books are back and this time the trio of friends are anticipating their favourite time of year and preparing for the finest celebration.
From One Wild Christmas by Nicholas Oldland
A beaver, a moose and a bear have their traditions which many children will recognize. There's the cooking of the food–check out the moose's apron that reads "I ❤️ X-Moose"– hanging the stockings, putting up lights, wrapping presents and getting a Christmas tree. Finding the right tree is not easy but they finally locate a beautiful pine. However, "the bear loved all living things, especially trees" and he was not going to let the beaver chop it down. When it becomes evident that moose and beaver are determined to have that perfect tree–there is quite a tussle!– the bear finds a solution, as suggested by a little cardinal, that allows the trio to celebrate the holiday without harming a living tree.
From One Wild Christmas by Nicholas Oldland
At this time of year, many families fortunate enough to have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with a tree must be considering their options. The choices would seem to be endless: fake or real, spruce or fir or pine, green or silver, cut or potted. Even within families, the discussions, nay arguments, can seem endless. Fortunately Nicholas Oldland's characters who are a family of their own find a way to enjoy a beautiful tree by taking their celebration to the wild, hence One Wild Christmas
From One Wild Christmas by Nicholas Oldland
The message about conservation and the natural world is charming, as are Nicholas Oldland's characters and whimsical settings. (Readers may recognize the artwork from the Hatley and Little Blue House apparel companies which are run by Nicholas Oldland and his brothers.) Simple in line and shape and even colour, his artwork, rendered in Photoshop, is uncluttered but natural and inviting while rustic, not unlike the pine the trio of friends discover. In the basic outdoorsy colours of brown, black and green with blue for the sky, Nicholas Oldland's setting reminds us that we are outside in the wild. Still, the only bird and a sled and Christmas accessories bring in the bright reds and colour to offset the organic world and bring a celebration of friendship, family and environment to life.


Read about all the books in the Life in the Wild series at Kids Can Press here.
Life in the Wild series by Nicholas Oldland

November 20, 2019

King of the Mole People (Book 1)

Written and illustrated by Paul Gilligan
Henry Holt & Co.
272 pp.
Ages 8-12
August 2019

...I was never aiming for popular. All I wanted was to somehow claw my way up the ladder to a comfortable middle rung. (pg. 116)

Doug accepts that he's weird but he hates it, especially when bullies like Ed and Ted and popular girl Becky and her Binkettes call him so. But what makes him weird?  He lives in Dreadsville Manor adjacent to a graveyard. His father's prime cooking ingredient is eels. And he's been crowned King of the Mole People after King Zog (there are actually 16 O's in his name) disappears. It's no wonder he craves normalcy. So he makes a plan to participate in school activities, crush on a girl, get a friend, learn to tell jokes and even just eat regular sandwiches for lunch. Unfortunately his good efforts continue to be thwarted.
From King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan
His friend Simon is becoming less friendly. His efforts at school participation at the rocket club, the school play and at soccer club are epic fails. And he keeps getting summoned to the underworld of the Mole People–crowns etched in the dirt or with mud–where the Royal Advisor, Croogoolooth, both manipulates and disrespects Doug. Fortunately his Royal Guard, a trio of Mole People, support his efforts and continue with the last king's positive attitude about the Up-worlders.
From King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan
But things above ground and below are getting more weird. Kids are disappearing into holes, at least temporarily, and Doug is welcomed into groups that had rejected him earlier. Below ground, the Mole People have been helping themselves to Up-stuff and clogging their world below with everything from bicycles to fencing, stage lights and water jugs. Keeping his two worlds separate becomes harder and harder, especially with classmate Magda spying on him and with the Underworld in danger of attack by Mega-worms. Worse still, Doug is compelled to help those who trusted him, even if he has to negotiate with the Slug People, the Mushroom Folk, and the Stone Goons to achieve cooperation.
From King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan
With the right blend of humour, irreverence and weird fantasy, Paul Gilligan will get middle-graders rolling on the floor with belly laughs for his story and his illustrations. His characters are goofy, their circumstances bizarre and his plot lines both ludicrous and entertaining. It's impossible not to laugh at a dad who makes eel pudding or a society where O's in your name denote status or where a king's throne is a painfully pointy rock. Yet in all this absurdity there is an ordinary that most children will understand. Most children just want to fit in. So with a message of self-acceptance, whether it be for a human or a Mole Person, King of the Mole People speaks to many children who will understand when Doug is eventually pleased to return to his "regular level of unpopularity" and accept his differences as normal.

November 15, 2019

The Clothesline

Written and illustrated by Orbie
Translated by Karen Li
Owlkids Books
64 pp.
Ages 5-8
October 2019

From The Clothesline by Orbie
Reggie is five and lives in an apartment above a corner store. When he gets his allowance for doing chores, he races down the outside stairs heading to the store, always yanking on a knot that hangs from the adjacent clothesline.  The sound it makes–ftoiiing–is something he enjoys.

From The Clothesline by Orbie
But one day, coins in hand destined for a candy purchase, Reggie races down faster than ever, yanks at that knot but loses his footing and, grabbing at the knot, is propelled halfway across the clothesline. And there he hangs.
My name is Reggie.
I'm five years old.
And I'm stuck in the
middle of a clothesline.
From The Clothesline by Orbie
He knows this is a dilemma. He cannot use his right hand since it grasps his coins. His left hand is hurting and he knows he cannot hold his weight indefinitely. He's scared that he will fall. So Reggie hangs from the clothesline, looking down, up, across and wonders what to do. Of course he shouts for help but his mother does not hear. He tries to move himself along so he might climb down the pole but to no avail. So he waits. Only the cat comes, though it's focused on washing itself.

In the end, Reggie gets down by accident, and with a few scrapes and tears, and learns to avoid getting himself in trouble again while still enjoying the "ftoiiing" he'd always loved.

Originally published in French as La corde à ligne by Quebec illustrator Orbie, The Clothesline translates easily into English. The story is universal after all in that all children "try" things that look like fun but may get them into a spot of trouble. And though he tries to find a solution to his dilemma, thinking through the possibilities and the consequences, thereby giving children an opportunity to see how problem-solving can happen, Reggie must finally accept his fate. Thankfully he is not badly injured and Orbie's lightness of illustration with pen and ink and watercolour conveys that same impression. Ultimately Reggie finds a way to learn and compromise his need for daring with safety, all courtesy of an old-fashioned clothesline.

November 13, 2019

What Cats Think

Art by Mies van Hout
Text by John Spray
Pajama Press
44 pp.
Ages 6-10
October 2019

Dutch illustrator Mies van Hout has created a series of cat drawings to which author John Spray has matched what a cat might be thinking or feeling or doing or wishing. Each cat may be unique in its colour–rarely the grey, black, orange, brown and white cats of our world– but their expressions and their motives will be very familiar to cat-lovers while letting us into their minds and hearts to learn What Cats Think.
From What Cats Think, art by Mies van Hout, text by John Spray
In brilliant colours of lime green and red, turquoise and purple, Mies van Hout's art, created with acrylics, oil and gouache, startle and comfort the reader with an array of cats. They are skinny and scared, obese and wise, and playful and sneaky. They are no one's cat and they are everyone's cat. 

For each one, John Spray imagines what the cat feels and is experiencing (e.g., vexed, teased, worried, spooked, angry, flustered, panic, joy), what it needs to do (e.g., charm, capture, pout, dream, wash), how it acts (e.g., curious, sneaky) and who they are (e.g., grandmother, princess, clever Tom). It is in the creation of scenarios that John Spray illustrates with words what Mies van Hout's cats say in her art.
I saw him getting out the cage.
Now it's off to the kitty vet.
Needles and that thermometerOUCH!
There'd better be treats later!
From What Cats Think, art by Mies van Hout, text by John Spray
The original Dutch book, Dag Poes!, had a handful of Dutch writers provide poetry about cats to accompany Mies van Hout's illustrations. John Spray's text, however, is personal and a true reflection of the thoughts of each cat as it ponders its circumstances. As a cat person, I appreciate every sentiment expressed. We probably already knew that they hate seeing the cat carrier, don't think they were wrong to sneak on the kitchen counter for a bit of turkey, or delight in a catnip toy, though I'm sad to think that my kitty chirps at birds because it's feeling teased and feels threatened by the neighbour's dogs.
Two big dogs just moved next door!
Slobbery, slathering kitty-eaters!
Maybe I'll hide behind the furnace.
My man says they're only poodles.
From What Cats Think, art by Mies van Hout, text by John Spray
Every cat-lover and -parent knows that cats have a lot going on in their minds and hearts. We may only hear a handful of vocalizations–and most of us can recognize their basics of demands for food, expressions of annoyance, yearnings to play, cravings for solitude–but there is so much more than to understand. With What Cats Think, Mies van Hout and John Spray have given us the context for cats' looks and sounds that will remind us of the depth of feline reasoning and expression. It's not surprising to many that cats have been celebrated and worshipped throughout history and it's best we not forget this.
Grandmother from What Cats Think, art by Mies van Hout, text by John Spray

Get this in your calendar as

 John Spray and his publisher Pajama Press 

are launching 

What Cats Think


Saturday, December 7, 2019

6 - 8 p.m.


Queen Books
914 Queen St. E.
Toronto, ON

Though there will be hors d'oeuvres and drinks, I think the best reason to show up and purchase an autographed copy is that the author's royalties are being donated to Toronto Cat Rescue.

November 11, 2019


Written and illustrated by Kim Smith
HarperCollins Canada
40 pp.
Ages 4-7
September 2019

Whether cats or kids, boxes are a source of endless fascination and play.  Now, with the proliferation of makerspaces in libraries and play-based learning in kindergarten, building with materials such as boxes is all the rage, as it is for Meg, an architect whose medium is boxes.
From Boxitects by Kim Smith
Meg's mother, supportive of her child's creative endeavours, sends her to Maker School where there are "blanketeers, spaghetti-tects, tin-foilers, and egg-cartoneers" but, as a boxitect, Meg is a unique. There she learns about making structures useful, strong and beautiful.
From Boxitects by Kim Smith
Then a new kid arrives and she is an amazing boxitect too. But Simone does not hold back her advice to Meg, directing her how to improve her structures. So Meg reciprocates. The two little makers are obviously more interested in showing who is the better boxitect than working together, and this poses a problem when the annual Maker Match is announced and the children must work in teams. Unfortunately Meg wants to build a tree house and Simone is determined to construct a ship so the two children begin to create their own structures, each continuing to amend their own to be taller and more impressive. It's not until a catastrophe befalls the structure that Meg and Simone learn some valuable lessons about working with others to create.
From Boxitects by Kim Smith
Kim Smith, who illustrated the Ice Chips series by Roy MacGregor and Kerry MacGregor (HarperCollins Canada), adds the whimsy to her art through her use of colour and shape. There is no mistaking the boldness of Meg and Simone's creative work in the Calgary artist's illustrations produced digitally with Photoshop. Through edges straight, scalloped and round, doorways and flags of various shapes, and bright tints and patterns, Meg and Simone's maker structures reach the stars, fly off the pages, and spill out of the makerspace. They show the impact of exploration and imagination and encourage thinking outside the box. With her own originality of thought and art, Kim Smith demonstrates to little ones that looking at problem-solving from a different perspective or discovering new ways of expression is a win-win for makers big and small.
From Boxitects by Kim Smith

November 08, 2019

The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids: Essential Skills and Recipes Every Young Chef Should Know

Written by Pierre A. Lamielle
170 pp.
Ages 8-13
September 2019

As a teacher-librarian, I loved purchasing cookbooks for the school library. Kids love looking at photos of great food, dreaming about sweet desserts and baked goods, and emboldening them to try their hand at some kitchen magic. With Chef Pierre A. Lamielle's newest cookbook, this one for children specifically, they'll get a good start on developing their culinary skills and creating some tasty treats.

More than a recipe book, The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids covers important lessons, all told via quirky illustrations and a group of distinct characters called the Munchy Munchy Bunch which includes Sal, Pepper, Ragu, Ziti, Sage, Rose, and Bean. The first lessons focus on avoiding dangers that involve sharp objects, fire and hot items or sources of germs. From learning how to slice, hinge and saw with a knife, to dealing with burns and fires and avoiding Salmonella, Cyclospora and E. coli, Pierre A. Lamielle's "Safety Pages" are an excellent beginning to this cookbook.
From The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids by Pierre A. Lamielle
While introducing the Munchy Munchy Bunch, Pierre A. Lamielle also presents the basic tastes of salty, bitter, sour, sweet and umami, and makes a case for ketchup–with recipe included–being a balance of all five tastes. (Who knew?)

From The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids by Pierre A. Lamielle
The remaining sections–Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Sweets–focus on basic recipes but always offer up more. From cooking eggs six ways to making jam for breakfast, or preparing soup, salad, or sandwiches for lunch, and serving up schnitzel, butter chicken or pizza with homemade dough, each meal becomes an exploration of ingredients, techniques, history, and culture. The photographs, most of which are double-spreads that extend across the hardy hidden wire o binding (making scanning of the images near impossible for me), are appealing and never unsophisticated. The recipes are for restaurant quality food from the pumpkin pie soup to the soy delicious lettuce wraps, veggie chili with mini cornbread muffins and browneapolitan dessert. For vegetarian to meat-eaters, and those who prefer savoury to sweet or vice versa, everyone's tastes are covered within the recipes of The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids,
From The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids by Pierre A. Lamielle
Calgary's Chef Pierre A. Lamielle, who has appeared on Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada, has his spoon in a lot of creative bowls from cooking and writing, to illustrating and teaching, all related to art and food. By mixing both here in The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids, Pierre A. Lamielle has found a way to teach and entertain young readers with the promise of developing their culinary skills, of feeding themselves and others, and of making tasty food a source of sustenance and joy.

November 07, 2019

2019 CCBC Canadian Children's Book Awards: French-language Winners announced

Tonight, the winners of French-language Canadian Children's Book Centre Book Awards were announced at a gala in Montreal at L’Astral.  (The English-language awards were presented on October 15 in Toronto and are posted here.)

Le Prix TD de littérature pour l'enfance et la jeunesse canadienne: Winner
Anatole qui ne séchait jamais
Written by Stéphanie Boulay
Illustrated by Agathe Bray-Bourret
Éditions Fonfon
80 pp.
Ages 10+

Le Choix du Public Littérature Jeunesse: Winner
Anatole qui ne séchait jamais
Written by Stéphanie Boulay
Illustrated by Agathe Bray-Bourret
Éditions Fonfon
80 pp.
Ages 10+

Prix Harry Black de l'album jeunesse: Winner

Mémé à la plage
Written by Rhéa Dufresne
Illustrated by Aurélie Grand
Éditions Les 400 coups
32 pp.
Ages 5+

Toutes nos félicitations!

November 06, 2019

Larkin on the Shore

Written by Jean Mills
Red Deer Press
310 pp.
Ages 13+
October 2019
"...her words have stayed with me, just like Jonah's. Words do that. Words spoken and words in books. Words you write. They start to breathe and live and just take over. And right now, I've been taken over by the words of other people–people talking–and I can't find myself or my own words." (pg. 221)
After she is traumatized by something that happened with a boy, Jonah, and ejected from a moving car, sixteen-year-old Larkin Day is sent from her home in Toronto to stay with her grandmother Granne in Tuttle Harbour, Nova Scotia for the summer.  Larkin had managed to finish her Grade 10 exams but the gossip and social media about what happened have left her feeling isolated and unsafe and contemplating the relief of suicide. Her dad decides his mother, a retired principal, would be the best bet for his daughter while he heads to Vancouver to deal with Larkin's mom, a woman addicted to painkillers and bouncing between the unsafe streets and rehab. 

But for Larkin, Granne and Tuttle Harbour are unfamiliar and she must learn to assess every person she meets for sincerity and safety. That includes neighbour Will Greenfield who is helping his dad Billy renovate an old house for Granne into the Tuttle Harbour Café and Reading Room. As Larkin helps Granne with the book donations for the reading room, she deals with her anxiety which tempers her interactions with others, even with nice-guy Will. But when Will takes her to a local campfire with his peers, Larkin meets the gregarious Casey Henwood, his girlfriend Beth and others, and overdoes the drink when " tastes so good and goes down easily." (pg. 70). Could she be putting herself in harm's way?

When a fire destroys the back of the café, Casey and Beth and others are quick to point fingers at Will's dad, a recovering alcoholic, who'd apparently once burned down a shed he was building at the Henwood's farm. Hearing the gossip about Billy as well as about Will from Beth, and reflecting on the talk that went on about her after she was injured, Larkin is perplexed about whom to believe or to trust. What's worse is the news coming from her dad about her mother's health situation.  Walking out into the water until the darkness envelopes her or trying to swim out to Prince Edward Island, knowing she'd never make it, continue to overshadow her regular visits to the shore until she starts to live beyond others' words.

Jean Mills, who wrote the Red Maple-nominated Skating Over Thin Ice (Red Deer Press, 2018), knows how to tell a story about dealing with expectations from family, school and self. She gets what it's like to trust and not trust your own feelings and to be confused about how those you care about conduct themselves around you. From an addicted mother to an unfamiliar grandmother and peers that are both charming and deceptive, Larkin must look at every interaction as a potential disaster and possibly harmful. Sadly this is probably not unusual for teens who are trying to understand a world in which they are expected and allowed to take on greater responsibilities but may be unsure whether they have the strength or understanding to meet them. For Larkin, it may not always be evident which is the safe world or the dangerous one, not unlike a shore that borders land and water, but she is developing the courage to choose her heading and a solid intuition about good people that will guide her.

November 05, 2019

I Read Canadian Day: Feb. 19, 2020

Author Eric Walters
wanted to:
  • unite young readers across Canada for a day of reading Canadian books;
  • raise awareness of Canadian books; and
  • celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature.
(And you know that's what CanLit for LittleCanadians is all about too!)

 Using the Ontario Library Association’s I Read Canadian fund and initiative as its foundation, I Read Canadian Day was created with input from countless individuals involved with books including authors, publishers, teachers and library organizations. 

With the support from the 
Ontario Library Association,
the Canadian Children’s Book Centre 

was declared for  

February 19, 2020

We challenge everyone from west to east, and far north to south,
 to Read Canadian (that includes reading to children)
for 15 minutes 
and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media.

(There are no fees, accounts, passwords or subscriptions necessary.
We just want to log how many young people will be reading Canadian on February 19, 2020.)

Teaching and supplementary materials are available at the website with more being developed to really make this a special day for all.
has lots more details and ideas.)

I'll be reading Canadian on February 19, 2020.  

Join me for the first #IREADCANADIAN DAY !

November 01, 2019

Finding Lucy

Written and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
October 2019

Lucy is a joyful artist. She paints with bold colours and emotion and a brush full of voice that brings her and her cat great joy. But when others begin to opine about her work and advise her about her painting, that comfort turns to turmoil as she attempts to heed their unsolicited advice.
From Finding Lucy by Eugenie Fernandes
In her raggedy and patched pants, bright yellow tee and paint-splattered apron, with ginger pigtails bursting from the top of her head, Lucy is happy. She paints from her heart. But, then a rabbit reporter tells her that her artwork looks like jellybean soup. An elephant tells her it isn't loud enough. A crocodile tells her it isn't scrumptious enough.
From Finding Lucy by Eugenie Fernandes
When Lucy starts painting for herself again, "the painting was like a dream." But then she starts listening again to those who call her work out as not brave enough (that from a chicken) or not pink enough (that from a mother pig) or in need of more green (a frog shared that with her).
From Finding Lucy by Eugenie Fernandes
By now, Lucy was beginning to see that everybody had something to say.
It would seem that a variety of animals–giraffe, leopard, ostrich, fox and others–all confound her and her creativity. Only the cat reminds her to paint what once brought her joy.
She painted the flutter of birds and the whimsy of the wind.
Ultimately Lucy rediscovers her true art and accepts it as an expression of self, not the means for the approval of others.
From Finding Lucy by Eugenie Fernandes
And ever after, after that,
the cat purred,
and Lucy painted with grit
and determination

And the courage of spring
and the color of laughter.
I don't know if Lucy is supposed to honour a famous artist or a piece of abstract expressionist art but I don't think it matters. Eugenie Fernandes has given us a story in words and pictures that supports that idea that creativity is an expression of self and needs to be embraced rather than questioned, especially when every armchair critic feels the need to voice their personal preferences and expects the artist to accommodate those. From colour to feeling, shape and voice, creativity comes from within and Lucy knew and knows this. Sadly she is distracted by those with loud and overbearing opinions and buckles under their varied and judgemental assertions.

I hope Eugenie Fernandes, whose art work has won her a variety of awards and accolades, has always felt supported in her artistic endeavours whether she chooses to use acrylic paint on canvas as she does here in Finding Lucy or other media. If Finding Lucy demonstrates anything it's that those who observe art derive their perceptions from their perspective and attitudes and Lucy can't possibly give every viewer what they need to see the art's beauty. I'm glad that she finally trusts herself, and her very wise cat, that what she brings to her art is everything it needs to be to bring her joy.
From Finding Lucy by Eugenie Fernandes