July 10, 2020

He Must Like You

Written by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Viking (Penguin Random House)
336 pp.
Ages 14+
July 2020
Reviewed from advance readers copy

Young girls are often told, or at least they once were, that if a boy teased you or went out of his way to annoy you or get your attention that “he must like you.” And even though  they may feel unsafe or targeted, they were instructed to just bear it and were essentially chastized for making a big deal of it. Everyone should know better today. But do we?

Libby lives with her parents in the small community of Pine Ridge and in January of her senior year, her parents inform her of her new reality. Seems that because her older brother Jack dropped out of pre-med and skipped off to Greece around the time her dad was fired from his real estate brokerage firm, her parents have decided that they’ve spoiled their kids and it’s time for Libby to become independent. Not only do they want her to get a job and look for an apartment–they have plans to redo her and Jack’s rooms for Airbnb rental–but her education fund is gone. Libby is flabbergasted but she has no choice but to find a way to make some money.

She is determined to get a job as a server so she can boost her savings with tips. Because of her dad’s reputation as a jerk who provokes local businesses–they later learn he’s moved on to trolling on social media–she gets a wait job at the Goat, a restaurant just out of town. The staff is friendly and she likes the work, and Kyle, the host, helps her out by sending the big spenders her way to increase her tips.

Though Libby is not currently seeing anyone, she’s struggling with feelings about relationships and interactions she’s had and is having with certain guys in her life. She had a weird relationship with her ex-boyfriend Boris that was based more on relenting to sex than consenting to it. Then there’s Kyle who flirts like crazy with her and with whom she has sex though doesn’t feel good about doing it. There’s also her good friend Noah who is in a long-distance relationship but to whom Libby is drawn romantically.  And then there’s Perry Ackerman, the town’s saviour and big-tipping Goat customer, who regularly harasses her with sexually explicit banter and handsiness.

The turning point for Libby is a school assembly about consent given by a public health nurse.
…Dahlia Brennan basically just reached into my brain, grabbed a bunch of my memories from where they were filed (mostly under “crappy sex” or “boy acts like jerk” or “Libby is an idiot”), threw them on the floor, and told me I have to refile them under “coercion,” “sexual assault,’ and “rape.” (pg. 66)
So not only is she dealing with a lousy family situation, Libby is recognizing that, beyond the overtly offensive Perry whose behaviour should never have been tolerated by so many,  her crappy feelings related to Boris and Kyle need to be resolved if she is to have a positive relationship with Noah (fingers crossed) and keep a job she needs.

He Must Like You is a big story. (Danielle Younge-Ullman knows how to do important stories for young adults. If you haven't read her Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined, which won the Forest of Reading's White Pine Award and was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award, put it on your to-be-read list.) He Must Like You is a story about sexual harassment, assault, consent, relationships and family. And Danielle Younge-Ullman ensures that it is all about Libby and what she is experiencing and what she needs. She gets to choose how she feels. She gets to decide what is acceptable for her in approaching the guys who have compromised her will and safety.  She gets to decide what she will and will not accept. In a time of #MeToo, Danielle Younge-Ullman educates young teens of all genders that consent is not just a yes or a no. It’s so much more. And Danielle Younge-Ullman does this with subtlety and sensitivity, common sense and even humour.

He might like her–and Noah does–but no person should feel unsafe or compromised or guilted by the another's interest or actions and He Must Like You and Danielle Younge-Ullman leave no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity about this while telling a great YA story that inspires hope for love and empowerment.

July 08, 2020

Until Niagara Falls

Written by Jennifer Maruno
168 pp.
Ages 8-12
February 2020

Living in Niagara Falls, nine-year-old Brenda and her classmates have been given an end-of-year project to research an extraordinary person who made the Falls famous. Brenda chooses the Great Blondin, an acrobat who walked a tightrope across the Niagara Gorge in the mid-1800s, seeing his feat as courageous as well as amazing. But courage is not limited to the exceptional. Sometimes it’s standing up in the everyday for what is right against those who would have you think otherwise.

It's 1960 and Brenda meets new student Maureen Sullivan when asked to accompany her home. Because Brenda sees her own life as rather lacklustre, an only child who works hard at school and lives with her father and Gran who is very steadfast in the right way to do just about everything, she is intrigued by Maureen whose life is both unconventional and unruly, even if she gives Brenda the chicken pox. Though she recognizes that Maureen’s family has less money than her own, living in a small shabby house filled with kids, Brenda is fascinated by the girl who peels gum off the pavement to eat, and dares Brenda to break rules and take on some risky challenges. Brenda decides “Maureen had to be the most amazing girl I had ever met” (pg. 15) and is delighted that she'll be part of her summer.

While Brenda is impressed with Maureen’s liveliness and her clever ideas, she does recognize that Maureen does a lot of scheming: finagling invitations for lunch; grabbing beer empties stored outside a restaurant to cash in for popsicles; pinching most of the ballots for a pickle slogan contest; blackmailing her eldest sister; and even getting new clothes from Gran for church.  But when it becomes evident that Maureen is a thief who finds a way to blame others for her misdeeds and that her friendship with Brenda is contingent about what Brenda can do for Maureen, Brenda has to show the courage of the Great Blondin and walk a shaky path between friendship and enmity.

Until Niagara Falls was recently included on the recommended summer reading list of the Forest Teen Committee, surprising as the book is clearly written for middle-graders. Still a good story is a good story and by capturing the essence of a different time but with circumstances familiar to many–making a new friend with someone very different than yourself–Jennifer Maruno has captured the attention of teen readers. There's humour–Maureen has a nickname for just about everyone–and hardships, compassion and meanness. There is a summer of swimming at the pool, going to the CNE and the library, hanging with friends, new and old, and pickles. (You'll have to read the book to understand that one.) Until Niagara Falls is a true coming of age story, with Brenda learning more about what her family means to her, that friends are those dearer than just temporary excitement, and that she can accommodate many in her big heart.

July 06, 2020

One Year at Ellsmere

Written and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second
176 pp.
Ages 10-14
July 2020
Reviewed from advance reader's edition

Thirteen-year-old Juniper is pleased for the opportunity to attend private school Ellsmere Academy for Girls, though being identified as its first scholarship student does pose some problems. Despite the fact that she tells her roommate Cassie that she's there to learn and not make friends, it soon becomes clear that the two will need to become allies to survive the year at Ellsmere.
It's like Downton Abbey meets Lord of the Flies, in plaid skirts and navy sweaters. (pg. 79)
From One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
From their first assembly, it's evident that Cassie wants to make friends, even with the arrogant and privileged Emily, who loves to call others hurtful names. But when Juniper stands up to Emily, asking her what made her so broken that she feels compelled to pick on others, she makes an enemy of a girl who can and does make life very difficult for the new Ellsmere student.
From One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
As Juniper works hard, determined to do well so that she can fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, Cassie completes her schoolwork with little enthusiasm. That is, until Juniper encourages Cassie to write a personal story for a competition and she wins. Emily is not pleased with anything that disrupts her status at the top and finds ways to bully the girls to re-establish her dominance.  When she threatens to destroy the only memento Juniper has of her late father, Juniper punches her in the nose and is put on probation. Worse yet, Emily plays herself as benevolent, asking that Juniper not be expelled, all with the intent to assert herself and crush Juniper further.
From One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
But after Cassie discovers Emily's plot to get Juniper expelled, a showdown in the forest between the three girls reveals a fantastic forest element that turns things around for Juniper and Cassie and puts Emily firmly where she belongs.

Though Faith Erin Hicks has been honoured with a White Pine nomination for her YA novel Comics Will Break Your Heart, it's her graphic novels for which she is best known. From Bigfoot Boy to Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Nameless City, Faith Erin Hicks tells stories of fantastic worlds of ancient civilizations, superheroes and fierce characters. Though One Year at Ellsmere may appear as realistic fiction based in a boarding school, rife with bullying, schoolwork and fitting in, Faith Erin Hicks slips in a little bit of the supernatural to keep things interesting and let us know that there's always something more than meets the eye.  

I'm so glad that Faith Erin Hicks has reimagined her earlier The War at Ellsmere (SLG Publishing, 2008) into One Year at Ellsmere, especially as all her characters seem more familiar now, like kids and adults you'd see in a school. There are the mean girls and the strict administrators, the friendly and the aloof, those who struggle and those who are high achievers. There are even hard-working parents supportive of their kids and those who overvalue their children. Faith Erin Hicks's illustrations embed readers in a boarding school atmosphere of austere dorm rooms, uniforms and conventional studies while showing them a world that is both familiar and foreign, where a mythical creature can come to the defense of a girl and where the bully doesn't win.

July 01, 2020

Upcoming releases for Summer and Fall 2020

Oh my! There are a lot of new books coming out. But are they really? The reason I'm asking is because sometimes a book gets scheduled and then isn't ready for publication. Or the publication date gets bumped up or deferred because of circumstances, and COVID19 could certainly be one of those circumstances. After all, not everything is working at speed or at all, some businesses have closed or are functioning at reduced staffs, or... it could be anything. I really hope that all these books get published in a timely manner for the authors, illustrators, and publishers who continue to give us great Canadian books. But, in case things do change, please know that some releases may not happen as scheduled.

Regardless, summer and fall of 2020 is looking like a great season for picture books, early readers, middle grade, YA and non-fiction for all ages. I'm sure you'll find something to read here. Enjoy!

Picture Books
Gary the Seagull  by Christian Johnston, illus. by Paul Hammond (Nimbus) 
It Happened on Sweet Street by Caroline Adderson, illus. by Stéphane Jorisch (Tundra) 
Summer Feet by Sheree Fitch, illus. by Carolyn Fisher (Nimbus)

Chapter Books
Hide and Seek (Upside-Down Magic #7) by Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle (Scholastic)
Nikki Tesla and the Traitors of the Lost Spark (Elements of Genius #3) by Jess Keating, illus. by Lissy Marlin (Scholastic)
One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)>>>graphic novel
Sent from Above by Adrienne Kress (Scholastic)>>>Bendy and the Ink Machine, Book 2
War Stories by Gordon Korman (Scholastic)

Young Adult
He Must Like You by Danielle Younge-Ullman (Penguin Teen) 
Salvation by Caryn Lix (Simon Pulse) >>>final book in the Sanctuary trilogy 

The Mosquito by Elise Gravel (Tundra)>>>newest in Disgusting Critters series
So Imagine Me: Nature Riddles in Poetry by Lynn Davies, illus. by Chrissie Park-MacNeil (Nimbus)

Picture Books
Alice and Gert: An Ant and Grasshopper Story by Helaine Becker, illus. by Dena Seiferling (Owlkids) 
Cone Cat by Sarah Howden, illus. by Carmen Mok (Owlkids) 
The Egg by Geraldo Valério (Owlkids) 
ekospi ka ki pekowak/When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, illus. by Julie Flett (HighWater Press)>>>Bilingual (Cree) edition 
Gurple and Preen: A Broken Crayon Cosmic Adventure by Linda Sue Park, illus. by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) 
I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree by Jean Pendziwol, illus. by Natalie Dion (Groundwood) 
Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project by Deborah L. Delaronde, illus. by Sheldon Dawson (Orca) 
Maggie’s Treasure by Jon-Erik Lappano, illus. by Kellen Hatanaka (Groundwood) 
Maud and Grand-Maud by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Kenard Pak (Tundra) 
Meg and Greg: Frank and the Skunk by Elspeth Rae, illus. by Rowena Rae (Orca)>>>Orca Two-Read 2 
Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson (Tundra) 
Nice Try, Charlie! by Matt James (Groundwood) 
Once Upon an Hour by Ann Yu-Kyung Choi, illus. by Soyeon Kim (Orca) 
Raj's Rule (For the Bathroom at School) by Lana Button, illus. by Hatem Aly (Owlkids)

Chapter Books
Canadian Sabotage (Countdown to Danger)
by Jeff Szpirglas (Scholastic Canada) 
Clan by Sigmund Brouwer (Tundra)
Clara Humble and the Kitten Caboodle by Anna Humphrey, illus. by Lisa Cinar (Owlkids) >>>Clara Humble 3
Double Dog Dare by Ian Boothby, illus. by Nina Matsumoto (Scholastic Graphix) >>>sequel to graphic novel Sparks!
Fish Out of Water by Joanne Levy (Orca)>>>Orca Currents 
Harvey Holds His Own by Colleen Nelson (Pajama Press)>>>sequel to Harvey Comes Home
Haunted Hospital by Marty Chan (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
Head to Head by Jennifer Manuel (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Jelly Roll by Mere Joyce (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen (Groundwood)
Open Ice by David Trifunov (Lorimer) >>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Pia's Plans by Alice Kuipers (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland by Charis Cotter (Nimbus) 
Volleyball Vibe by Karen Spafford-Fitz (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories

Young Adult
Confessions of a Teenage Drag King by Markus Harwood-Jones (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love 
Double or Nothing by Brooke Carter (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings 
Dreaming in Color by Melanie Florence (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings 
Facing the Sun by Janice Lynn Mather (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) 
Hey Jude by Star Spider (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings  
Love, IRL by Tracy Goldfarb (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love 
No Known Address by Steven Barwin (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Side Streets 
Stranded by Jocelyn Shipley (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings
Swift by R. J. Anderson (Enclave Escape)

If You Want to Visit a Sea Garden by Kay Wiseman, illus. by Roy Henry Vickers (Groundwood)
Lake: A See to Learn Book
by Kate Moss Gamblin, illus. by Karen Patkau (Groundwood) 
Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas (Scholastic Canada)>>>Scholastic Canada Biography 
Mega Rex: A Tyrannosaurus Named Scotty by W. Scott Persons IV (Harbour Publishing) 
More Scary True Stories (Haunted Canada #10) by Joel A. Sutherland (Scholastic Canada) 
Righting Canada's Wrongs: MS St. Louis and Canada's Anti-Semitic Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century by Rona Arato (Lorimer)>>>Righting Canada's Wrongs 
Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale, illus. by Milan Pavlovic (Tundra)

Picture Books
The Barnabus Project by Terry Fan, Eric Fan and Devin Fan (Tundra)
Bobby Orr and the Hand-me-down Skates by Bobby Orr and Kara Kootstra, illus. by Jennifer Phelan (Tundra)
The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters and Nicole Wellwood, illus. by Carloe Liu (Nimbus)
Broken Crayons by Patsy Dingwell, illus. by Marla Lesage (Nimbus)
Give It! by Cinders McLeod (Penguin Random House)>>>newest Moneybunny Book
Hockey ABC by Julien Chung (Scholastic)
Hockey Night in the Wild by Nicholas Oldland (Kids Can Press) >>> another volume in Life in the Wild series
Hug? by Charlene Chua (Kids Can Press)
I Am Loved by Mary and Kevin Qamaniq-Mason, illus. by Hwei Lim  (Inhabit Media)
The Ice Shack by Katia Canciani, illus. by Christian Quesnel (Breakwater Books)
I Do Not Like Stories by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Carey Sookocheff (Owlkids)
If You Were Night by Muon Thi Van, illus. by Kelly Pousette (Kids Can Press)
Kits, Cubs and Calves: An Arctic Summer by Suzie Napayok-Short, illus. by Tamara Campeau (Inhabit Media)
The Last Loose Tooth by Tyler Clark Burke (Random House Books for Young Readers)
Lilliana and the Frogs by Scot Ritchie (Harbour Publishing)
The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (Tundra)
Little You / Gidagaashiinh by Richard Van Camp, illus. by Julie Flett (Orca)>>>English & Anishinaabemowin dual-language edition
Mom Marries Mum! by Ken Setterington, illus. by Alice Priestley (Second Story Press)
My Day with Gong Gong by Sennah Yee, illus. by Elaine Chen (Annick)
My Family, Your Family! by Kathryn Cole, illus. by Cornelia Li (Second Story Press)
My Heart Fills With Happiness / Nijiikendam by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Julie Flett (Orca)>>> English & Anishinaabemowin dual-language edition
Night Walk by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Ellie Arscott (Groundwood)
Not Me by Elise Gravel (North Winds Press)
The Nut That Fell from the Tree by Sangeeta Bhadra, illus. by France Cormier (Kids Can Press)
Nye, Sand and Stones by Bree Galbraith, illus. by Marion Arbona (Orca)>>>also French language Nye de l’île de Sable
The Old Woman by Joanne Schwartz, illus. by Nahid Kazemi (Groundwood)
Once I Was a Bear by Irene Luxbacher (Scholastic)

The One with the Scraggly Beard by Elizabeth Withey, illus. by Lynn Scurfield (Orca) >>>also French language L’Homme à la barbe hirsute
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood)
The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story by Thao Lam (Owlkids)
Perfect Pigeons by Katherine Battersby (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Please Don't Change My Diaper! by SaraBeth Holden, illus. by Emma Pedersen (Inhabit Media)
Princesses Versus Dinosaurs by Linda Bailey, illus. by Joy Ang (Tundra)
Shape Up, Construction Trucks! by Victoria Allenby (Pajama Press)
Slow Moe by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Marianne Ferrer (Orca)>>>also French langueage Lent Roland
Snow Doves by Nancy Hartry, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard (Second Story Press) 
Solid, Liquid, Gassy (A Fairy Science Story) by Ashley Spires (Tundra) 
Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas, illus. by Maya McKibbin (Annick) 
Teaching Mrs. Muddle by Colleen Nelson, illus. by Alice Carter (Pajama Press) 
Teamwork by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (North Winds Press) 
This Is the Path the Wolf Took by Laura Farina, illus. by Elina Ellis (Kids Can Press) 
The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay (Groundwood) 
Two Tough Trucks Get Lost! by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illus. by Hilary Leung (Scholastic) 
What If? by Doretta Groenendyk (Nimbus) 
When Pumpkins Fly by Margaret Lawrence, illus. by Amanda Sandland (Inhabit Media) 
When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Nicole Neidhardt (Orca)>>>also French (Nous sommes gentils) and English and Diné dual-language (When We Are Kind / Nihaa ádahwiinít’i?´´igo) editions 
Why Are You So Quiet? by Jaclyn Desforges, illus. by Risa Hugo (Annick) 
The Wrench by Elise Gravel (Orca) 
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Danielle Daniel (Orca)>>>also in French (Tu es là pour moi) and English & Anishnaabemowin (You Hold Me Up/Gimanaadenim) dual-language editions

Chapter Books
Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: Peril at Owl Park  by Marthe Jocelyn, illus. by Isabelle Follath (Tundra)>>>Book 2 in Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen series
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson (Puffin) >>>Book 1 in The Misewa Saga fantasy series
The Brushmaker's Daughter by Kathy Kacer (Second Story Press)>>>Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers
Bunbun & Bonbon: Fancy Friends by Jess Keating (Graphix) 
Ciel by Sophie Labelle, illus. by David Homel (Second Story Press)
The Desert Prince by Alisha Sevigny (Dundurn)>>>sequel to The Lost Scroll of the Physician
Farm Crimes: Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg by Sandra Dumais (Owlkids) 
Genie Meanie by Mahtab Narsimhan, illus. by Michelle Simpson (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes 
Hatch by Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins)>>>sequel to Bloom
Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom by Kara Kootstra, illus. by Kim Smith (Puffin Canada) 
Jurassic Peck (Kung Pow Chicken #5) by Cyndi Marko (Scholastic) 
Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink by Karen Autio, illus. by Emma Pedersen (Crwth Press) >>>sequel to Kah-Lan The Adventurous Sea Otter 
The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters (Orca) 
Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath (Puffin Canada) 
The Puck Drops Here (Hockey Super Six) by Kevin Sylvester (Scholastic Canada) 
Red Fox Road by Frances Greenslade (Puffin Canada) 
Shark Bait! by Jeff Szpirglas, illus. by Danielle Saint-Onge (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes 
The Stray and the Strangers by Steve Heighton, illus. by Melissa Iwai (Groundwood)

Young Adult
Barry Squires, Full Tilt by Heather T. Smith (Penguin Teen Canada)  
The Call of the Rift: Veil by Jae Waller (ECW Press)
Drone Chase by Pam Withers (Dundurn)
God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya, illus. by Juliana Neufeld (Arsenal Pulp Press)>>>10th anniversary edition
The Greats by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood)
Heart Sister by Michael F. Stewart (Orca) 
Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos (Kids Can Press) 
The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen (Second Story Press) 

50 Space Missions that Changed the World by John A. Read (Formac)
Catch the Sky: Playful Poems on the Air We Share by Robert Heidbreder, illus. by Emily Dove (Greystone)
CRISPR: A Powerful Way to Change DNA by Yolanda Ridge, illus. by Alex Boersma (Annick)
If a Tree Falls: The Global Impact of Deforestation by Nikki Tate (Orca)>>>Orca Footprints
Inconvenient Skin/nayêhtâwan wasakay by Shane L. Koyczan (Orca)>>>IndigLits, dual language (English & Cree)
In the Dark: The Science of What Happens at Night by Lisa Deresti Betik, illus. by Josh Holinaty (Kids Can Press)
Islamophobia: Deal with it in the name of peace by Safia Saleh, illus. by Hana Shafi (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Deal With It series
The International Day of the Girl: Celebrating Girls Around the World by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Rona Ambrose, illus. by Simone Shin (Kids Can Press)
Nature All Around: Birds by Pamela Hickman, illus. by Carolyn Gavin (Kids Can Press)
Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive by Etta Kaner, illus. by Ashley Barron (Owlkids)
This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illus. by Drew Shannon (Kids Can Press)

Picture Books
AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson, illus. by Andrea Stegmaier (Kids Can Press)
The Bad Chair by Dasha Tolstikova (Groundwood)
The Case of the Buzzing Honey Makers by Eric Hogan, illus. by Tara Hungerford (Firefly Books)>>>A Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery
The Case of the Singing Ocean by Eric Hogan, illus. by Tara Hungerford (Firefly Books)>>>A Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery
Doggone Magic! (Go Away, Unicorn #2) by Emily Mullock (Scholastic)
A Family for Faru by Anitha Rao-Robinson, illus. by Karen Patkau (Pajama Press) 
Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Mark Fearing (Knopf Books for Young Readers) 
Happy Little Dreamer by Peter H. Reyonolds (Cartwheel Books) 
The Lady with the Books: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman
by Kathy Stinson, illus. by Marie Lafrance (Kids Can Press) 
The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard (Pajama Press) 
The Name I Call Myself by Hasan Namir, illus. by Cathryn John (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Painted Fences by Sara Cassidy, illus. by Sydney Barnes (Heritage House) 
Snow Song by Katie Riley, illus. by Dawn Lo (Kids Can Press) 
Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White by Samiya Balasubramaniam, illus. by Eva Campbell (Groundwood) 
What Do You See? by Sarah N. Harvey, illus. by Jane Heinrichs (Orca) 
Why Can't We Be Bestie-corns? by Jessika Von Innerebner (North Winds Press) 
A World of Mindfulness from the Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press (Pajama Press) 
Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc (Kids Can Press)

Chapter Books
The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp by Jonathan Auxier, illus. by Olga Demidova (Puffin Canada)>>>first book in The Fabled Stables series 
The Hermit by Jan Coates (Nimbus) 
How Jack Lost Time by Stéphanie Lapointe, illus. by Delphie Côté-Lacroix, trans. by Arielle Aaronson (Greystone) 
It Came from the Basement (The Lunch Club) by Dom Pelletier (Scholastic Canada)>>>graphic novel 
Izzy in the Doghouse by Caroline Adderson, illus. by Kelly Collier (Kids Can Press) 
Journal of a Travelling Girl by Nadine Neema (Heritage House) 
Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-el, illus. by Kelly Pousette (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)>>>sequel to The Very, Very Far North 
Maurice and His Dictionary: A True Story by Cary Fagan, illus. by Enzo Lord Mariano (Owlkids)>>>graphic novel 
Pasture Bedtime by Sigmund Brouwer, illus. by Sabrina Gendron (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes 
Planet Hockey: First Star of the Game by J. Torres and Tim Levins (Scholastic Canada)>>>graphic novel 
Poppy and Sam and the Search for Sleep by Cathon, trans. by Susan Ouriou (Owlkids) >>>third book in the Poppy and Sam picture book/graphic novel series  
Trapped in Hitler's Web by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic)  
Yara's Spring by Jamal Saeed and Sharon E. McKay (Annick) 

Young Adult
Breakdown by David A. Robertson, illus. by Scott B. Henderson (HighWater Press) >>>first book in new graphic novel series, The Reckoner Rises, based on the series The Reckoner
The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly by Sybil Lamb (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Nothing But Life by Brent van Staalduinen (Dundurn) 
Shadow Mission by Shamim Sarif (HarperTeen)>>>sequel to The Athena Protocol 
Spell Starter by Elsie Chapman (Scholastic) >>>sequel to Caster 
Surviving the City: From the Roots Up by Tasha Spillett-Sumner, illus. by Natasha Donovan (HighWater Press)>>>sequel to Surviving the City graphic novel 
You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock (HarperTeen)

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh, illus. by Marianne Ferrer (Kids Can Press)>>>new Citizen Kid books 
The Cheerleading Book: The Young Athlete's Guide by Ali Moffatt  and Alana Potter (Firefly Books) 
Do Lizards Eat Ice Cream? How Animals Beat the Heat by Etta Kaner, illus. by Jenna Piechota (Owlkids) 
Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard Of by Helaine Becker, illus. by Kari Rust (Kids Can Press) 
Follow Your Breath: A First Book of Mindfulness by Scot Ritchie (Kids Can Press) 
Hockey Superstars 2020-2021 by Paul Romanuk (Scholastic Canada) 
Mi'kmaw Daily Drum: Mi'kmaw Culture for Every Day of the Week by Alan Syliboy (Nimbus) 
Mitch Marner (Amazing Hockey Stories) by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illus. by D. A. Bishop (Scholastic Canada) 
How I Survived: Four Nights on the Ice by Serapio Ittusardjuat, illus. by Matthew K. Hoddy (Inhabit Media)
The Old Man and the Penguin: A True Story of True Friendship by Julie Abery, illus. by Pierre Pratt (Kids Can Press) 
Return from Extinction: The Triumph of the Elephant Seals by Linda L. Richards (Orca)>>>Orca Wild 
Teatime Around the World by Denyse Waissbluth, illus. by Chelsea O’Byrne (Greystone)

Picture Books
Find Fergus by Mike Boldt (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)
The Most Amazing Bird by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, illus. by Andrew Qappik (Annick Press)
Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler, illus. by Jennifer Faria Lipke (Pajama Press)
Snow Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus by Miki Sato (Pajama Press)
Time for Bed's Story by Monica Arnaldo (Kids Can Press)

Chapter Books
Duck Days by Sara Leach, illus. by Rebecca Bender (Pajama Press)>>>Book 3 in Slug Days series
On Thin Ice (Hockey Super Six) by Kevin Sylvester (Scholastic Canada)

Young Adult
Finding Avalon by Pamela MacDonald with Valerie Sherrard (Nimbus) 
Four Faces of the Moon by Amanda Strong (Annick)
Nomad by R. J. Anderson (Enclave Escape)

(Surprisingly, nothing that I discovered is scheduled for release in December.  Please let me know if there is something of which I am unaware.)

• • • • • • •

Though there are undoubtedly titles that I have missed for 2020 and some that may be delayed until 2021 (always happens), there are some titles already slotted for 2021 that I'm sure you'll need to note:
Picture Books
Carmen and the House That Gaudí Built by Susan Hughes, illus. by Marianne Ferrer (Owlkids)
Imagine That by Wallace Edwards (North Winds Press)
Mr. Beagle Goes to Rabbittown by Lori Doody (Running the Goat Books & Broadsides)
The Wall and the Wind by Veselina Tomova (Running the Goat Books & Broadsides)

Chapter Books
Blackthorn Key, Book 5 by Kevin Sands (Aladdin)
The Fabulous Zed Watson by Kevin Sylvester and Basil Sylvester (HarperCollins Canada)
Hockey Night in Kenya by Eric Walters and Danson Mutinda, illus. by Claudia Dávila (Orca)>>>Orca Echoes

Young Adult
The Project by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)
Torch by R. J. Anderson (Escape Enclave)>>>final book in trilogy that started with Swift and Nomad

That's No Dino!: Or Is It? What Makes a Dinosaur a Dinosaur by Helaine Becker, illus. by Marie-Ève Tremblay (Kids Can Press)
 • • • • • • •

As always, please contact me about books that I have omitted from this listing.  Some catalogues were not available at the time of posting and I'm sure I've missed some. I'm happy to add books by Canadian authors and illustrators of books for younger readers to make this listing of upcoming releases for the summer and fall of 2020 more complete.

June 29, 2020

The Keeper of Wild Words: Guest review

Today's review was written by teacher Elizabeth Cook.

Written by Brooke Smith
Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
Chronicle Books
64 pp.
Ages 5-8
March 2020

In Brooke Smith’s The Keeper of Wild Words, young Brook looks forward to spending the last day of summer vacation with her grandmother, whom she calls Mimi.  Secretly, Brook is worried that she won’t have anything good to share on the first day of school about her summer.  Even as Brook goes to confide in Mimi, her grandmother asks Brook to help save some of her favourite words from disappearing.
From The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith, illus. by Madeline Kloepper
Words disappear if we don’t share them when we talk.  If we don’t write them in our stories.  If we don’t read them in our books.  If we don’t use words, they can be forgotten.  And if they’re forgotten...they disappear.
Armed with a list of disappearing words, they set out to find each one. It isn’t long before they spot their first wild word, a wren sitting in a tree outside Mimi’s house.  Brook and Mimi spend the day exploring nature to find all of the wild words to ensure they don’t disappear forever. As they find each wild word, they also take the time to explore. Noting the smells of the flowers, the sounds at the pond, and the taste of freshly-picked mint leaves, Brook and Mimi have a truly magical day as they become Keepers of the Wild Words.
From The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith, illus. by Madeline Kloepper
At the end of this book, American author Brooke Smith explains her inspiration for this book, which originated with a news article that angered her.  The article listed words that would no longer be in the Oxford Junior Dictionary and included over a hundred words related to nature and the wild.  Even more upsetting to her was the fact that words such as “chatroom”, “database”, and “MP3 player” were being introduced. With an emphasis on technology leaving the wild world behind, it is understandable why such a book is needed for our young readers. Enhanced by Canadian Madeline Kloepper's stunning artwork, created in mixed media and Photoshop, the message about the importance of the natural world is threaded throughout.

As a teacher, I find myself thinking of ways to integrate picture books into my curriculum instruction whenever I can.  The Keeper of Wild Words would be great for a variety of lessons and age levels.  First, it could be used as inspiration for a dictionary hunt.  Moreover, it would be great to take a class walk into your neighbourhood to see how many wild words could be found, which is a great tie-in for science lessons of habitats and biodiversity.
From The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith, illus. by Madeline Kloepper
I also loved how the artwork emphasized the natural elements. From the petals on the poppies to the starlings in the sky, Madeline Kloepper's illustrations could definitely inspire some fabulous art lessons for all ages. 

Brook loved her day in nature and was excited to share her stories on the first day of school. We should all be inspired to venture outside to accept our own roles as Keepers of Wild Words and use our creativity to put something inspirational back into the world, as did Brooke Smith, thereby teaching our students how to counteract negativity with something positive.

Which wild words will you find today?

~ Elizabeth Cook is a teacher in the Halton District School Board. She is an avid reader and fan of Canadian literature.

June 25, 2020

Howdy, I'm John Ware

Written by Ayesha Clough
Illustrated by Hugh Rookwood
Howdy Books (Red Barn Books)
48 pp.
Ages 6-11
January 2020

John Ware, born into slavery around 1850, was a man of strong character and fortitude, who parlayed hard work and his skills as a cowboy into a life of accomplishment in present-day Alberta.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
Though accounts of John Ware's early life are spotty, it is known that, after the abolition of slavery, he was hired on as a ranch hand, earning a reputation as a hard worker. Working as a cowboy on cattle drives, John Ware helped move cattle from the southern US to the north. It was one drive in 1882 that brought cattle from Idaho to the foothills near Calgary and landed John Ware north of the border and into the country that would become his home.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
Regardless of his accomplishments as a cowboy, John Ware still suffered the discrimination of a black man in the predominantly white world of ranching. Nevertheless, his skills and good nature would ultimately win over those who'd seen only his skin colour, recognizing him as an outstanding man of integrity and determination.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
There are stories of extraordinary courage and strength and the legends about John Ware covered everything from wrestling steers, lifting a cow, walking on the backs of bulls and be able to ride anything. In addition to John Ware's accomplishments as a cowboy, he became a rancher, starting with a small herd, marrying, and growing his family and his ranch into a fine life. Upon his death, his funeral was "the largest that young city (Calgary) had ever seen" with ranchers calling him the finest gentleman, a good soul and an incredible horseman.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
Ayesha Clough tells John Ware's story as he might recount it, sharing how others saw him or what they knew of him while expressing his own surprise, pleasure and sadness with life's milestones. His attitude to the animals is especially poignant.
     I connected with animals. Like me, they had to work for a master. But there was no need for fear and violence.
     I cared about them, showed them love and respect. They, in turn, gave their best for me. (pg. 23)
Appended with photos, a timeline and notes for educators, Ayesha Clough helps ensure that John Ware's story is remembered. Though his accomplishments have been recognized with a number of place names like Mount Ware and John Ware Ridge as well as several buildings, this picture book will serve to introduce him to young children.  He achieved so much as a cowboy and, with decency and hard work, created a life of goodness for himself and his family and, with comic book artist Hugh Rookwood's illustrations to focus on the occasions of the cowboy's life, both challenging and impressive, John Ware's story becomes accessible to all young readers. 

It is fitting that two Albertans, Ayesha Clough and Hugh Rookwood, should honour another Albertan, John Ware, a cowboy who dealt with racial discrimination and achieved respect and admiration from all, by telling his story in Howdy, I'm John Ware. It's a story I hope all will read.



I have a free copy of Howdy, I'm John Ware for giveaway from publisher Red Barn Books. 
For your chance at this giveaway,
just leave a comment below about why you'd like a copy of the book.
I'll do a random draw at 6 p.m. EST on June 29, 2020.

Good luck, readers! 


June 23, 2020

An Owl at Sea: Guest review

Today's review was written by teacher Elizabeth Cook.

Written by Susan Vande Griek
Illustrated by Ian Wallace
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 6-10
May 2019

This beautiful picture book was written by Susan Vande Griek after she read a news article about a Short-eared Owl that somehow flew to an oil rig many kilometres out in the ocean off Scotland.  An Owl At Sea starts with an owl resting on a fence post in a field looking to see if it can find a mouse to eat.
From An Owl at Sea by Susan Vande Griek, illus. by Ian Wallace
It doesn’t explain why or how the owl got so far from this field when we see it navigating the sky above the ocean next.  However, the story of its journey to that oil rig, and then home, is captivating to read.

I am always drawn into books written in verse.  For me, it makes the story all the more magical.  An Owl At Sea by Susan Vande Griek is written in verse and I was instantly struck by the power of a simple description of the owl written in verse. 
Chunky legs,
tired wings
talons searching
for something to hold.
These words helped me feel the exhaustion of the owl, desperate for a place to rest after finding itself so far from its field back home. Susan Vande Griek weaves words so beautifully that the scene unfolds before your own eyes.

From An Owl at Sea by Susan Vande Griek, illus. by Ian Wallace
The words alone create wonderful images for the reader; however, that shouldn’t take away from the stunning artwork by Ian Wallace. His watercolour artwork brings the scene alive. I especially loved his images of the owl on its harrowing journey above the crashing waves and in the misty weather. It is almost as if you can feel the salty spray on your face as you cross your fingers tight, hoping for a safe landing for the owl.

From An Owl at Sea by Susan Vande Griek, illus. by Ian Wallace
An Owl At Sea is a great story to read about the determination of animals.  In the classroom, it would be an interesting book to read in combination with a non-fiction book on owls to compare how extraordinary a feat this journey was for the Short-eared Owl.  It could inspire more research on astounding animal accomplishments and their stories.  This book also illustrated the kindness of the humans that all helped this feathered creature return to its grassy field.  Perhaps, it will inspire children to find ways to help out animals in their own community.

~ Elizabeth Cook is a teacher in the Halton District School Board. She is an avid reader and fan of Canadian literature.

June 19, 2020

2020 Forest of Reading® winners announced

Everything has been a little different this year. Readers would normally be reading and voting in their schools for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading's readers' choice award programs but this pandemic has certainly changed the way things are normally done. Rather than announcing the awards at the annual Festival of Trees, this year's award ceremonies were held online, hosted by CBC Books on Curio.ca, an educational streaming platform (normally subscription based). Fortunately, these ceremonies were posted for all to see. It was a wonderful way to experience the authors and illustrators up close and hear their words and witness the awarding of the readers' choice favourites.

Here are this year's winners for each reading program as announced at the Forest of Reading Festival Award Ceremonies streamed on Curio CBC. The ceremonies for the English-language books were held on June 16, 2020 and can be viewed at https://curio.ca/en/collection/forest-of-reading-2020-2822/ while the ceremonies for the French-language awards were held on June 18, 2020 and shown at https://curio.ca/fr/collection/la-foret-de-la-lecture-2020-2823/.


That’s Not Hockey
Written by Andrée Poulin
Illustrated by Félix Girard
Annick Press

Honour Books:
The Reptile Club
Written by Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Elina Ellis
Kids Can Press

Sloth at the Zoom
Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Orbie
Kids Can Press

Written by Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
Tundra Books

Honour Books:
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Henry Holt & Company

The Mushroom Fan Club
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
Drawn & Quarterly

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane
Written by Julia Nobel

Honour Books:
Written by Kenneth Oppel
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
HarperCollins Canada

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Written by Jonathan Auxier
Puffin Canada

Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family
Written by Van Ho and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Pajama Press

Honour Books:
The Superpower Field Guide to Beavers
Written by Rachel Poliquin
Illustrated by Nicholas John Frith
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Killer Style: How Fashion Has Injured, Maimed, and Murdered Through History
Written by Allison Matthews-David and Serah-Marie McMahon
Illustrated by Gillian Wilson
Owlkids Books

No Fixed Address
Written by Susin Nielsen
Tundra Books

Honour Books:
In the Key of Nira Ghani
Written by Natasha Deen
Running Kids Press

The Unteachables
Written by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada

Written by Courtney Summers
Wednesday Books

Honour Books:
All Our Broken Pieces
Written by L. D. Crichton

Crown of Feathers
Written by Nicki Pau Preto
Simon & Schuster

La corde à linge
Written and illustrated by Orbie
Less 400 coups  

Honour Books/Livres distingués:
Tellement sauvage!
Written by Mireille Messier
Illustrated by France Cormier
Éditions D’eux

Ils ne veulent pas jouer avec moi!!!
Written by Andrée Poulin
Illustrated by Lucile Danis Drouot
Dominique et compagnie

Aventurosaure 01: Le réveil de Rex
Written and illustrated by Julien Paré-Sorel
Presses Aventure 

Honour Books/Livres distingués:
L’étrange fille au chat
Written by Rémy Simard
Illustrated by Julie Rocheleau
La courte échelle

Written and illustrated by Jean Lacombe
Soulières éditeur 

Vingt-cinq moins un
Written by Geneviève Piché   
Éditions Québec Amérique 

Honour Books/Livres distingués:
Jules et Jim, frères d’armes
Written and illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn
Bayard Canada Livres

Les timbrés 01: Le navet spatial
Written and illustrated by Dom Pelletier
Éditions Scholastic

The full press release is available at the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading® website.


Congratulations to everyone!