April 09, 2021

Kimmy & Mike

Written by Dave Paddon
Illustrated by Lily Snowden-Fine
Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides
978-1-927917398
32 pp.
Ages 5-9
March 2021 

I'm sure siblings Kimmy and Mike have had some pretty extraordinary adventures on the sea but even I find it hard to believe how a simple fishing outing could become a round-the-world trip of danger and folly. But that's a tall tale for you. See what you believe in this narrative poem and tall tale from Newfoundland and Labrador's Dave Paddon.
It has often been said, and I can't disagree,
That there's no one as tough as our folk of the sea.
But two of the toughest, if the rights was known,
Were Kimmy and Mike, who lived in Belloram.
So begins the tale of Kimmy and Mike who go fishing on order from Mom to "Get something for the pot!" Unfortunately, their best fishing spot lands them only a few sculpins and kelp so they scull around the Gulf and the Straits and elsewhere before deciding they need to cross the pond i.e., the Atlantic Ocean.
From Kimmy & Mike by Dave Paddon, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine
Not only do they cross the ocean, they pass through two hurricanes, declaring the 90-knot winds and 60-foot waves to be "a bit of a lop", and catch a small submarine and a squid with 60-foot arms and a 30-foot head. But, throwing both back, they head southward towards the Cape of Good Hope where they encounter a 100-mile iceberg which they cleave with an axe, before Kimmy fights off some pirates single-handedly.
From Kimmy & Mike by Dave Paddon, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine
Then there's the merman named Saul and a visit to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii before their mother finds them. Having taken out their father's old punt, she's been doing her own fishing and intends to continue on, sending the twins home.
She said, "Get on home out of it, through the Panama Canal,
And make your father his tea–you know he's not well.
I'm just going to dart 'round Cape Horn while it's light
And stop into Rio for bingo tonight."
From Kimmy & Mike by Dave Paddon, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine
The twins eventually make it back home, after a stop at the Galapagos and tunnelling beneath the Panama Canal, while their mother, having won a jackpot in Rio and salting and drying her plentiful catch, returns the next morning.

Readers will finish the rhyming story of Kimmy & Mike with a smile upon their faces, envisioning the twins' exploits and the extent of their travel. (This would be a fun geography lesson, especially when coupled with math to determine the probability of this all happening in one day.)  It could even become a ballad if set to music, with its rousing story, melodic nature of ups and downs, highs and lows, and big moments. Add a fiddle, an accordion and maybe an ugly stick and you got a kitchen party going. With this tall tale of fisherfolk, Dave Paddon takes us to Newfoundland and Labrador, to the people who have stories to tell, who use a language of their own (I had to look up several of the words like crousty, stage and sooky in the "Glossary" provided) and try to outdo each other with their tongue-in-cheek stories.

With Lily Snowden-Fine's gorgeous gouache artwork to complement Dave Paddon's story, though, Kimmy & Mike goes beyond just a folk tale. It may have the whimsy that is often associated with folk art but there is a refinement in Lily Snowden-Fine's lines and shapes that make each illustration a work of art, stark but refined, colourful and resonating with the spirit of the Newfoundland and Labrador. 

In the tradition of the recitations, which Dave Paddon discusses in his "Afterward," Kimmy and Mike's fishing adventure would win any kitchen storytelling contest, for its rhyme, plot and artwork. I only wonder what Kimmy and Mike, and their mother, will get up to next time because, you know, there will be another story to tell.

April 08, 2021

Double Book Launch: The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. & Like a Duck (Online)

Here's an event to celebrate!
 
It's a
 
 DOUBLE BOOK LAUNCH
 
for 
 
The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.
Written by Colleen Nelson
Dundurn
978-1-459747586 
256 pp.
Ages 12+
April 2021


and
 
 
Like a Duck
 Written by Deborah Kerbel
Scholastic Canada
978-1-443175760
240 pp.
Ages 8-12
March 2021

on
 
 Thursday, April 15, 2021

at

7 PM (CT) / 8 PM (EDT)

on
 
 Zoom
(use the QR code to register or the link here)

 
Join authors Colleen Nelson and Deborah Kerbel 
as they discuss and read from their new books.
And, there are promised surPRIZES.


April 07, 2021

"How Do You Find Home?" Writing Contest

Orca Book Publishers
 
with author Jen Sookfong Lee
 
author of Finding Home: 
The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees
Written by Jen Sookfong Lee
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
Orca Book Publishers
978-1-459818996
120 pp.
Ages 9-12
March 2021
 
are holding a writing contest for young  writers
to address the question
 
How Do You Find Home?


Here's what young writers need to know:

What to write? 
Write about 500-700 words about what "home" means to you, where your family is from or where your home is today. It must be an original piece of work and "written solely by the entrant."

Who can submit?
Young people of ages 8-13 at the time of entry.
 
How to submit?
At the contest page of publisher Orca Book Publishers, complete the form and either cut-and-paste your writing here or attach as a MS Word file.

Prizes
Author Jen Sookfong Lee will select three winning entries. Each winner will receive an Orca Prize Pack (free books!) and a $200 gift certificate to the bookstore of their choice.

Dates
Deadline is May 16, 2021. Winners will be announced May 31, 2021.

Details
Everything you need to know about contest and the submission form can be found at https://www.orcabook.com/Finding-Home-Writing-Contest.aspx

Good luck to all young writers!

✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍

April 06, 2021

Road Allowance Era (A Girl Called Echo, Vol. 4)

Written by Katherena Vermette
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Colour by Donovan Yaciuk
HighWater Press
978-1-55379-930-6
48 pp.
Ages 10-14
April 2021
 
In the aftermath of the Northwest Resistance, the focus of the third book in Katherena Vermette's A Girl Called Echo graphic novel series, the accidental time traveller Echo returns to 1855 to join her ancestors and other Métis and witness the execution of Louis Riel and the sustained persecution and discrimination of her people.
From Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yaciuk
Though Louis Riel had advocated for the Métis' rights to land granted to them, most scrips entitling them to land in the Red River area have not been honoured. So Echo joins them in returning to Manitoba, hopeful that the agents now set up would ensure that land deeds would be issued to them.

From Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yaciuk
But the discrimination that they have faced all along continues, with their scrips only exchanged for a few dollars and provisions. So the Métis head to Ste. Madeleine where they hope they might rebuild their community.

Time slipping back to the present, Echo's teacher speaks of the unsettling of the Métis and their need to squat on unused Crown lands called road allowance land. Later, though they'd lived there for decades, they are often driven off with violence. Echo's anger at the injustice is palpable though her friend Micah sees the fortitude of their people who were able to withstand so much and still survive.

From Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yaciuk
Still she witnesses much destruction and sadness as the Métis are displaced and then refused the opportunity to buy the land on which they had built lives. 

We are the free people, mon amie. We built this place and we will always be here. No matter what they have done to us, we're still here. We know we will survive. (pg. 38)

From Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yaciuk
Her existence reminds them of that survival, with her ancestors pointing out that they are always within her as there is "blood memory, bone memory" (pg. 29) of their sorrows and their strengths. "Go home and be the future" (pg. 40) is what she is told.

The story of the Métis is heartbreaking, as Echo has learned from her time slips into the past. History class and homework rile her, as they should for anyone with a sense of justice. But Katherena Vermette doesn't just let Echo wallow in anger or distress. She helps her accept that anger as valid but see the strength of her people and the change that has happened for each generation. 
 
Scott B. Henderson's illustrations take us smoothly between past and present, clearly depicting a contemporary Echo and her immediate family and friends versus her ancestors in their settings of prairie scenes of wagons and tipis, and dismal government buildings like courts and land offices. There is an authenticity in his characters that acknowledge the hardships but allude to the joys and colour of Métis culture. Coloured by Donovan Yaciuk, there is a sense of brightness at the edges of the past and the present that lay bare much about what was and is.
From Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yaciuk
This is the way to learn history, from those who lived it and those who came from them. Though the horrors of the past might offer extraordinary teachable moments, they also point forward, to a future that offers more hope with each generation. The present may still be troubled with discrimination as land claims continue to be challenged but, as Scott B. Henderson's final illustrations shows us, Echo has her family, past and present, behind her.

• • • • • • •
The whole series A Girl Called Echo offers unique opportunities to teach and learn about Métis history. I encourage teachers to examine the whole series.
Pemmican Wars (2017)
Northwest Resistance (2020)
Road Allowance Era (2021)

April 02, 2021

A youngCanLit booklist for National Poetry Month



April is National Poetry Month in Canada and has been since 1999.  Promoted by the League of Canadian Poets, this month celebrates poetry in all its forms. You will note that Canada has many children's poets but our all-stars are definitely Sheree Fitch, Robert Heidbreder, Dennis Lee, Loris Lesynski and Robert Priest who have multiple volumes of poems ranging from the silly and fun to the profound and emotional. Though there are many books in which the story is told in verse, including novels in verse and many picture books told in rhyme, I've chosen to focus on books that are collections of poems. This explains why many books that are one long poem, such as Robert Service's The Cremation of Sam McGee, have not been included here. Still, this book list of over 50 titles celebrates rhyme, verse, metre and more completely. Enjoy these collections this month and always!
 

Alligator Pie and other poems
(A Dennis Lee Treasury)
Written by Dennis Lee
Illustrations by Frank Newfeld, Juan Wijngaard, David McPhail
HarperCollins Canada
183 pp. 
Ages 2-10
2020
 
This is a collection of three books: Alligator Pie, Jelly Belly, and The Ice Cream Store

Auntie's Knitting a Baby
Written by Lois Simmie 
Illustrated by Anne Simmie
Orchard Books
70 pp.
Ages 8-10
1988

Cabbagehead
Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 7-11
2003

Canadian Poems for Canadian Kids
Edited by Jen Hamilton
Illustrated by Merrill Fearon
Subway Books
64 pp.
Ages 9-12
2005
 

Carry On
Poetry by Young Immigrants
Compiled and illustrated by Rogé
Owlkids Books
36 pp.
All ages
2021

Catch the Sky: Playful Poems on the Air We Share
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Emily Dove
Greystone Kids
40 pp.
Ages 3-8
2020

Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children
Written by Shannon Bramer
Illustrated by Cindy Derby
Groundwood Books
44 pp.
Ages 4-9
2019

Crazy about Basketball!
Written by Loris Lesynski
Illustrated by Gerry Rasmussen
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
2013

Crazy about Hockey!
 
Written by Loris Lesynski
Illustrated by Gerry Rasmussen
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
2015
Crazy about Soccer!
Written by Loris Lesynski
Illustrated by Gerry Rasmussen
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages
2012

Daysongs and Nightsongs
Written by Robert Priest
Illustrated by Keith Lee
Groundwood Books
31 pp.
Ages 2-5
1993

Dirty Dog Boogie
Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2002

Don't Eat Spiders
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Karen Patkau
Oxford University Press
48 pp.
Ages 4-7
1985


Earth Magic
Written by Dionne Brand
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 8-13
2006
 
The Eco-diary of Kiran Singer
Written by Sue Ann Alderson
Tradewind Books
65 pp.
Ages 8-12
2007

Eenie Meenie Manitoba : Playful Poems from Coast to Coast
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
1996

Garbage Delight

Written by Dennis Lee
Illustrated by Frank Newfeld
HarperCollins Canada
64 pp.
Ages 0-7
2012
 
Haiti My Country
Written by Haitian schoolchildren
Compiled and illustrated by Rogé
Fifth House
44 pp.
Ages 7-11
2014

Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel And Other Poems of Birds in Flight
Written by Susan Vande Griek
Illustrated by Mark Hoffmann
Kids Can Press
36 pp.
Ages 8-12
2019

The Hobo’s Crowbar
Written by JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Alex Dempster
The Porcupine's Quill
96 pp.
All ages
2016
 
Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On
Written by Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming
Illustrated by Peggy Collins
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
2015 
 
Hungry for Science: Poems to Crunch On
Written by Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming
Illustrated by Peggy Collins
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 6-9
2018 
 
I Am Small
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Kim LaFave
Doubleday Canada
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
1997

I did it because...: How a Poem Happens
Written by Loris Lesynski
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Annick Press
64 pp. 
Ages 8-12
2006

I Hate Dinosaurs and Other Poems
Edited by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by David Shaw
Houghton Mifflin
39 pp.
Ages 4-8
1992

If I Had a Million Onions
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Yayo
Tradewind Books
64 pp.
Ages 9-12
2005

If You Could Wear My Sneakers
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Darcia Labrosse
Nimbus Publishing
36 pp.
Ages 4-8
2017

Images of Nature: Canadian Poets and the Group of Seven
Selected by David Booth
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
All ages
1995
 
Lasso the Wind: Aurélia’s Verses and Other Poems 
Written by George Elliott Clarke
Illustrated by Susan Tooke 
Nimbus Publishing
64 pp.
Ages 9-13
2013

Mama Likes to Mambo
Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by John Beder
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
28 pp.
Ages 4-8
2001 

Mingan My Village
Written by Innu schoolchildren
Compiled and illustrated by Rogé
Fifth House Publishers
42 pp.
Ages 7-11
2014

Noisy Poems for a Busy Day
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Lori Joy Smith
Kids Can Press
40 pp.
Ages 4-8
2012

Nothing Beats a Pizza
Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 8-12
2003
 
Other Goose: Recycled Rhymes for Our Fragile Times

Written by Barbara Wyn Klunder
Groundwood Books
48 pp.
Ages 8-11
2007

Our Corner Store
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Chelsea O’Byrne
Groundwood Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-11
2020

Poetree
Written by Caroline Pignat
Illustrated by François Thisdale
Red Deer Press
32 pp.
All ages
2018

Python Play and Other Recipes for Fun
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Karen Patkau
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
48 pp.
Ages 5-8
1999

Recess in the Dark: The Poems from the Far North
Written by Kalli Dakos
Illustrated by Erin Mercer
Canada Educational Publishing
45 pp.
Ages 5-10
2019

Rosa Rose
Written by Robert Priest
Illustrated by Joan Krypsman
Wolsak & Wynn
56 pp.
Ages 7-10
2013

Round Slice of Moon and Other Poem for Canadian Kids
Selected by Fran Newman
Scholastic
163 pp.
Ages 8-12
1980

The Secret Invasion of Bananas
Written by Robert Priest
Illustrated by Tineke Visser
Ekstasis Editions
144 pp.
Ages 6-12
2001


See Saw Saskatchewan: More Playful Poems from Coast to Coast
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
2003

Shake-Awakes
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Marc Mongeau
Tradewind Books
40 pp.
Ages 4-7
2012

Shoe Shakes
Written by Loris Lesynski
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2007
 
So Imagine Me: Nature Riddles in Poetry
Written by Lynn Davies
Illustrated by Chrissie Park-MacNeil
Nimbus Publishing
32 pp.
All ages
2020
 
Think Again
Written by JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Kids Can Press
64 pp.
Ages 10+
2010

'Til All the Stars Have Fallen
Edited by David Booth
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Kids Can Press
96 pp.
All ages
1989

Toes in My Nose and Other Poems
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Nimbus Publishing
48 pp.
Ages 4-8
2016

What Cats Think
Written by John Spray
Illustrated by Mies van Hout
Pajama Press
44 pp.
Ages 6-9
2019
 
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons
Written by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Roaring Brook Press
56 pp.
All ages
2016

The Wolf is Back
Written by Robert Priest
Illustrated by Joan Krygsman
Wolsak & Wynn
96 pp.
Ages 7-9
2017

The Worm Song and Other Tasty Tunes
Collected by Janet Wilson
Illustrated by Cory Wilson
Scholastic Canada
104 pp.
Ages 7-12
1993

Zig-Zag: Zoems for Zindergarten

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2005