July 30, 2021

Sunny Days

Written by Deborah Kerbel
Illustrated by Miki Sato
Pajama Press
24 pp.
Ages 2-5
June 2021
On the heels of Snow Days (2020) and just before Windy Days (due out in October), Deborah Kerbel and Miki Sato take little ones out into the sunshine to enjoy the weather and to rhyme their way through with solar brilliance.
From Sunny Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Miki Sato
From rubbing sleep from one's eyes to reading outdoors and planting seeds in the spring, children are escorted by the sun. Then with summer comes outdoor play in flower meadows, in the water and on a beach, and while taking sanctuary under an umbrella.
Prickly sun, burning heat
Cool shade and an icy treat
From Sunny Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Miki Sato
As the sun gets lower in the sky, the crickets come out and the shadows grow long, and finally sleep comes for both child and our brightest star.
Evening sun, cricket song
Shadows stretching tall and long
From Sunny Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Miki Sato

The rhymes may seem simple but there is a richness in Deborah Kerbel's take on what children experience in the sun. What's most important is what they feel, what they see, what they notice, and how it affects them. After all, Sunny Days is a book for our youngest children, connecting with them and their realities. There are the sensations of the blazing sun freckling the skin and the drying of mud. There is sunshine everywhere and anywhere, including an urban setting, a backyard, a beach or a park and Sunny Days shines on the lives of children's routines, joys and play. 
From Sunny Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Miki Sato
I've always loved textured illustration and Miki Sato's paper collages are becoming a favourite, doing more than just following Deborah Kerbel's words. The artwork gives us crumbly soil in which seeds are dropped, cooling water lapping onto sandy shores, and angry clouds having left puddles for mud pies. The quality of Miki Sato's artwork infuses Sunny Days with more than just warmth and light; it also gives a sense of place and pursuit.

My recommendation for enjoying Sunny Days? Get yourself and your young charge on a blanket on the grass or the sand, or on a bench in a park or in yard. Let the child hold the book which is in Pajama Press's Toddler Tough hardcover format (padded cover, rounded corners and thick paper) and read it aloud, asking questions and even doing the fun and easy science experiments on the final page of the book. Then read it again on a rainy day to remember what sunny days are like.  I suspect your child will start learning the rhymes and reading along with you soon enough and you might even encourage a new curiosity with weather or the solar system. Who knows what Sunny Days may bring?

July 28, 2021

Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library

Written and illustrated by Brian McLachlan
128 pp.
Ages 8-12
June 2021

For those middle-graders who want an adventure that is uniquely their own, or for those who love RPGs and have been told to get off their tech, or for those who love a good story with amazing characters, humour, and fantasy worlds of surprising elements, Brian McLachlan's Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library ticks all the boxes.
From Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library by Brian McLachlan
To undertake their quest in the world of Chimeria, readers are invited to pick a team of three heroes from Javen the Elven Druid; Coran the Human Priest; Blade the Flowerkin Sneak; Zix the Dragonfolk Wizard; and Crax and Tonk the Dwarven Barbarian Brothers. Each has unique powers and optional backstories about family, fears and habits which will help the reader complete the quest.
From Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library by Brian McLachlan
And the quest? Queen Evergreen, who rules over Chimeria, with her friend and advisor Marisha and daughter Princess Violet, has been gifted with a poisonous book, imbued with bad magic. Instead of working towards keeping harmony with all the people of Chimeria as she has always done, she begins to see Marisha as tricking her into discriminating against the human-like Kith. She tries to fight it but she slips into a deep sleep. While her people look for the source of the book, the heroes of the story, i.e., whoever readers have chosen, are tasked with searching out the five ingredients needed to cure her of the book's poison. These include a star diamond, a blank lotus, a ghost cloud, a dragon lime and a skrim (a water creature).

Like the original pen-and-paper role-playing game of Dungeons and Dragons, it's advised that young readers keep track of their characters and their abilities as well as the items they acquire or lose, including different coloured pearls. 
From Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library by Brian McLachlan
As they enter realms that include caverns and a maze, a jungle, the mountains, the sky and a spheramid, your heroes meet centaurpedes, phantomcap mushrooms, rock blobs, dragonfolk bandits and more. There are opportunities to join forces with others like the Flowerkin Glowvin or the bard Harmony but it's all up to the reader how the quest will be completed.
From Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library by Brian McLachlan
The fun thing about Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library is that Brian McLachlan has set it up so that the quest is always completed and young players (readers?) don't have to worry that they will be killed off before achieving their mission. Even better, they can complete the mission repeatedly but with different combinations of heroes with different backstories while altering their selections along the way. There will always be laughs with riddles and jokes, a fart elemental or a ghost barf, and much play with words like the Widow the Wisp and the Hot Steppers.
But the artwork is what will draw young readers in. It's vibrant and imaginative, fantastic in its diversity of characters and elements, landscapes and stories. Brian McLachlan bases his characters in animals, plants, humans and otherwise. They use different pronouns, i.e., she/her, he/him and they/them, and are coloured everything from purple or brown to green and pink. These differences, in fact, are what the poisonous book wants to use to separate Chimeria, encouraging discrimination and strife between distinct creatures. Thankfully the Queen recognizes that the book was a mask "to hide the truth and frighten us with a false image" (pg. 102) and that "We might look different, but we share universal needs and feelings." (pg. 103)

He will get kids reading and imaginatively playing with Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library while paying homage to books and book people–there are books everywhere and librarians and readers galore–but Toronto cartoonist Brian McLachlan has made some powerful statements about diversity and inclusiveness and done so with colour and whimsy. This is certainly a quest worth undertaking.

July 26, 2021

This is a Dog Book!

Written by Judith Henderson
Illustrated by Julien Chung
Kids Can Press
40 pp.
Ages 4-7
June 2021

Gertrude Stein may have written that "A rose is a rose is a rose" but this bunny is working very hard to convince a community of dogs that he isn't. Isn't a bunny, that is.

From This is a Dog Book! from Judith Henderson, illus.by Julien Chung
From the outset, a red stripe-shirted rabbit is told by an enormous dog who spans most of a double-spread that he cannot be part of this book because it's a book about dogs and he is a bunny. And so, the bunny begins to try to convince an assortment of dogs that he is a dog. Though they enjoy the biscuits he brings, they decide to test his doggy-ness.

From This is a Dog Book! from Judith Henderson, illus.by Julien Chung

He is asked to prove he can run and catch a ball, wag his tail, and put on the puppy-dog eyes, performing admirably. And though he gets waylaid with thoughts of treats like lettuce, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, he's always ready to distract his investigators with biscuits.
Ummm...Do you mind if we come back to that question later?
In the meantime, may I interest you in a cookie?
From This is a Dog Book! from Judith Henderson, illus.by Julien Chung

Despite his reluctance to undertake in the important doo-doo test, the bunny passes, especially after answering one critical question about being a friend. 
Montrealer Judith Henderson, best known for her Big Words Small Stories series, uses dry humour to poke fun at a familiar need to fit in and be included. This bunny just wants to be part of the dog book and proving he's a dog is the only way. While the dogs may have him jumping through hoops–it's only a pun–to prove himself, This is a Dog Book! speaks to our common inclination to be part of a community and participate in that community with others. It also speaks to the efforts many will go to in order to become accepted and the anguish of not being so. This singularity of purpose focuses the story and the art.  So it's not surprising that Julien Chung, also from Montreal, keeps his illustrations, which were rendered digitally, very economical. Except for a few splashes of red, as in the bunny's shirt, a ball, and a biscuit box, the book essentially comprises of black-and-white illustrations of the dogs and a bunny. (Oh, there is one more animal that shows up, still black-and-white though.) Yet, Julien Chung allows us to see a rich and diverse community of dogs: large ones, fuzzy ones, and short-legged ones. Even with few lines, it's evident there's a poodle, a dachshund, and a Shar-Pei. So while the bunny fits in physically–he's just an animal with a small tail, large feet and long ears–he's still seen as a different species. That is, until he isn't. Judith Henderson and Julien Chung let us see that it's not our differences upon which we should focus, it's our similarities that will ultimately unite us.

Now, about the cow...

July 23, 2021

Poem in My Pocket

Written by Chris Tougas
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Kids Can Press
24 pp.
Ages 4-7
June 2021
Gone are the days when poetry was the amusement only of romantics and the learned. With poet laureates and spoken word artists becoming part of the vernacular, everyone should feel comfortable to carry poems in their pocket and be inspired to share them. But what if a poem escapes before you're ready?
From Poem in My Pocket by Chris Tougas, illus. by Josée Bisaillon
Before Chris Tougas's story really begins, readers will see a child composing text, their earlier efforts discarded on crumpled papers littered around them. As they walk away, the finished poem, folded in a back pocket, begins to edge its way out of the ripped bottom. Witnessed by their companion, a white chicken, the child soon realizes that the words and thoughts, emotions and rhymes have flung themselves out into the world, scattering across
landscapes of colourful homes and businesses, into the sky and across a wild setting of cacti and yucca. 
From Poem in My Pocket by Chris Tougas, illus. by Josée Bisaillon
With language as colourful as their surroundings, the child tries to retrieve the letters, some mixed up into nonsense words, others forming playful puns and most elusive to their efforts to retrieve them.
Scribbled thoughts were scattered–
there were letters here and there.
Mixed-up words were whipped about
and mingled in midair.

From Poem in My Pocket by Chris Tougas, illus. by Josée Bisaillon
When the child does finally gather some words up, they try to recreate the verse but are unable to do so before the words are sowed into the soil with rain to germinate into something even grander.
From Poem in My Pocket by Chris Tougas, illus. by Josée Bisaillon
The letters and words of this child's creative imaginings may have escaped into the world but Chris Tougas shows us that how fortunate that accident truly was. The child may be bereft initially at having lost the structure of their poem, but the search to retrieve the bits and pieces carries them to many locations where the words play and inform and enrich. With their exodus, they have fostered the beginnings of new poetry in the form of a poetree. 
Though illustrator Josée Bisaillon has given us a South American flavour to the story, as hinted with the llamas, vegetation and food, this could be the story of an aspiring poet anywhere. The vibrancy of her digitally-rendered artwork carries the reader through communities of busyness into the quiet of the wild, manifesting the very nature of poetry. It can be solemn or angry, bright or clouded. It can speak to and about people, animals, plants or intangibles like emotions. The words may be the basis for the poetry but the creator's originality to mix and manipulate, sculpt and express gives it its unique form. 
When National Poetry Month comes around next April, get your own poem into your pocket and share it with the world. It doesn't have to be your own, though that would be cool. It's the act of sharing that inspires.

July 20, 2021

Sully, Messed Up: Q & A with author Stephanie Simpson McLellan

Yesterday I reviewed Stephanie Simpson McLellan's new middle grade/young adult novel Sully, Messed Up from Red Deer Press. This story about bullying was so compelling that I asked author Stephanie Simpson McLellan if I could do a Q & A with her to learn a little bit more about Sully and his story. She graciously agreed.

Sully, Messed Up
Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Red Deer Press
312 pp.
Ages 11-15
April 2021

Today I present that interview with author Stephanie Simpson McLellan about Sully, Messed Up.

Author Stephanie Simpson McLellan

HK:  When Sully wakes up on the first day of Grade 9, his face is messed up, with his nose, ears, mouth, nose and eyes relocating themselves around his head. Throughout the story, his facial landscape changes, but no one, except the Purse Lady, can see it. What was the purpose of giving Sully this transforming face?
SSM:  When I wrote the first draft of this story many years ago, my own three children were journeying through the often confusing and anxious space called adolescence. I remember well navigating this time myself. Every emotion feels so big and significant, and certainly anxiety – Sully’s prevailing emotion - can feel very physical. Most of us can relate to feeling sometimes that whatever emotion we’re feeling must be obvious – as plain as the nose on our face. So, at the most basic level, Sully’s messed up face is a metaphor for what he’s feeling inside.

Over the last year as I worked with Peter Carver on the book, I started to think also that it was an especially apt metaphor given that, with the popularity of social media, little is private. Both the good and bad things that happen to you— and everything in between—are very public. It’s like one giant bulletin board where everything about you is posted for everyone to see. No hiding! We even post emojis to tell people how we’re feeling, which is like giving people permission to look into your heart. In this vein, the metaphor of Sully’s messed-up face plays with how public everything is these days by taking it out of the digital space and putting it back into the physical world. Sully’s misery feels very public to him—so real and uncomfortable that surely everyone must be able to see his fears and insecurities.

HK:  I loved Mr. C’s fence of figurines whose scenes predict or illustrate Sully’s life and those of others in it. The characters you chose to represent each of the story’s characters, like Charlie Brown for Sully, Sleeping Beauty for Blossom and Madonna for the Purse Lady, were brilliant.  Please tell us about the inspiration for this fence, and how you chose the figurines to symbolize the characters.
SSM:  True Street, where the fence is located, is loosely based on a real street in my town that comes off Newmarket’s Fairy Lake Park. While I’ve taken some creative liberties with the actual geography and look of the house that sits on this short street, the real house actually did have a snake-rail fence about a decade ago, to which plastic figurines were affixed and often rearranged. While I never knew (or even saw) the owner, those figurines on the fence intrigued me, and I wondered what motivated someone to do this.

The character of each plastic figurine took some time to sort out. The final cast of characters is probably version six, changing each time I rewrote another draft. I wanted it to be at least somewhat plausible that each figurine could exist, and that readers would know who they were, but also wanted each figurine to reflect and reveal the character it represented. It’s a pretty eclectic mix, but then life (and high school as a subset of life) is a little like that – throwing people together from all sorts of backgrounds.

HK:  As an educator, I was saddened by the ineffectiveness and ignorance of Sully’s teachers and even his principal with regards to his bullying and the hazing carried out in the school. Why do you think they were all so oblivious of these goings-on? Or were they?
SSM:  My own kids had some great and not so great teachers. That’s probably true for all of us. I think, truthfully, that the bully/victim dynamic is tough on everyone, and as much as a school can say they don’t tolerate bullies, there are many things that make this difficult to regulate. For one, much of what happens to Sully occurs off school grounds. Secondly, Sully himself hides what’s happening from the teachers and other adults, fearing reprisal from the bullies. My goal wasn’t to paint the school administration as ineffectual but perhaps instead to reflect that there are some kids who fall through the cracks for one reason or another. In my son’s case, I knew there were teachers and administrators who cared, but it didn’t change the outcome. Mr. Green and Ms. Winters are parodies of real teachers I’ve known. The wonderful Ms. Wippet embodies many of the incredible educators I’ve encountered, but even Ms. Wippet can help only so far as Sully permits her to. 

HK:  Outside of bullies Tank, Ox and Dodger, so many characters could have altered the course of Sully’s story in Sully, Messed Up if they had spoken, listened or acted. Sully needed to speak up sooner, teachers and administrators needed to listen and open their eyes, and Sully’s classmates could’ve stepped up rather than act as silent bystanders or reinforcers who perpetuated the bullying with name-calling and laughter.  Which character or characters, outside of the trio of bullies, do you think was most important in that they could have changed everything for Sully by acting differently?
SSM:  Sully himself, as he came to realize, was the key to changing everything. Blossom and Morsixx tried very hard to help Sully but I believe that no matter how much we are loved and cared for by others, we are each ultimately responsible for ourselves. We make our own choices. It is up to us to advocate for ourselves. When I reflect back on some of my other books (such as Hoogie in the Middle and The Christmas Wind) I realize the thread of this is in much of what I write.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I’m not saying bullies can’t gain power over others (history gives us enough of those examples), but I believe that on a personal level, you can shrink a bully’s power by refusing to consent to the opinion they have of you. Decide that their opinion is not valid and then live that. Making a decision like this changes the way you think, feel and act. It changes the choices you make.

At one point in the book, I quote Barack Obama’s eloquent line: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” I think all the people in the world could have come to Sully’s aid, but it was only when he was ready that he became able to change is outcome.

HK:  Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott” figures prominently in Sully, Messed Up, both as part of an English assignment but also as reflective of Blossom’s story. Why use this classic ballad to mirror one character’s story?
SSM:  My undergrad major was English Lit (with a minor in Economics) and I loved nineteenth century literature. “The Lady of Shalott” poem and the beautiful rendering of it by John William Waterhouse, always stayed with me. When I first conceived the character of Blossom (at a Motocross park in Chatsworth, Ontario where my son was riding), it was with the image of “The Lady of Shalott” in my head: someone ethereal and mysterious; strong and individual, but also someone under the control of something bigger than her and, thus, ultimately fragile.

HK:   Though readers cannot help but feel bad for Sully as a victim of bullying, he is not always a likeable character. He’s so wrapped up in his own issues, monumental as they are, that he can’t see how rude he can be to others like Winston and Blossom and Morsixx. Why make Sully worthy of both our sympathy and occasionally our scorn?
SSM:  Not all of us are born leaders and heroes, and certainly Sully isn’t either of those for much of the book. But I think most of us have, or have had, a little bit of this in us. A preoccupation with our own story, unable to see outside our own heads. I wanted to make Sully real, someone deeply flawed who would really have to work at creating the best version of himself. Throughout much of the book, he giftwraps himself as the victim Tank is seeking. He does understand this on some level but hasn’t grown enough to alter it. I do love books where the protagonist is a hero waiting to happen, someone who already has the right ingredients for greatness, but I wanted to pay homage to someone who might never have completely realized his own potential without first being dragged kicking and screaming to this point. I think there are real Sully’s in every school. Kids who are under the radar, who don’t believe in themselves, who are fearful and anxious. I wanted to volley the idea that even these “through the cracks” kids have the potential to pull themselves in a different, and perhaps better, direction.

HK:  If there was one message you would like readers to take from Sully, Messed Up, what would it be?
SSM:  I would like readers to reflect on the idea that we are each captain of our own ship. That change starts with us and if we’re not happy with our current reality, it’s up to us to make different choices – including asking for, or accepting, help from others.

• • • • • • •

Sincere thanks to Stephanie Simpson McLellan for agreeing to be interviewed and providing such thoughtful and honest answers to my questions. 
Learning even more about Sully, I encourage all educators and school administrators and parents to read Sully, Messed Up to help the young people in their lives.
• • • • • • •

Though Sully, Messed Up is Stephanie Simpson McLellan's first novel for young people, she has an impressive collection of children's picture books. Do check out these titles too.

Leon's Song (2004)
The Chicken Cat (2000)

July 19, 2021

Sully, Messed Up

Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Red Deer Press
312 pp.
Ages 11-15
April 2021

Who is Sullivan Brewster? He's Sullivan to his mom, Rooster to his little sister Eva, and Van to his stepdad Bill. He's Sully to his friend Morty, who has changed his own moniker to Morsixx since reinventing himself over the summer before their first year in high school. And to those who don't know him or want to target him, he becomes Bella, Sally and a host of horrible nicknames. Is it any wonder that thirteen-year-old Sully doesn't know who he is or what he should be doing or who his friends are? He truly is messed up, and that doesn't even count the messing up he's getting from a trio of bullies named Tank, Ox and Dodger.
Sully's story seems to start on that first day of Grade 9 when he wakes up with his facial elements relocated around his head.
His nose, pink and dripping, hunkered sideways on his left temple. One of his ears–it was hard to tell which one from the unfamiliar angle–bulged where his nose should have been. The other protruded, antenna-like, right above his lips, which quivered, post-scream, in the middle of his forehead. (pg. 9)
But no one seems to notice. Still, Sully uses his long hair to hide his potential disfigurement. This instead grabs the attention of Tank, the overlord at Wild Forest Secondary, and his sidekicks Dodger and Ox. Worried that he will now become the victim of the Gr. 9 hazing called the Naked Niner, whereby a selected student is unclothed and photographed and publicly humiliated, Sully tries to stay out of Tank's field of view. Unfortunately, everything he does seems to garner him more unwanted attention. 
First, he believes his friend and locker partner Morty/Morsixx is drawing too much attention with his new emo boy look and attitude so Sully starts avoiding him by carrying his backpack everywhere, hiding out in the parking lot at lunch and abstaining from taking the bus. Even though Morsixx and Blossom, a new girl who adorns her face and arms with ink of vines and flowers, try to support him, Sully continues to reject their efforts. Then he's given the topic of menstruation for his Sex Education class and Dodger pranks him with countless tampons, earning him the displeasure of the principal and a host of new nicknames.
When he begins to walk to and from school, past a purple house on True Street, with its fence adored with an unusual assortment of figurines in ever-changing scenes, Sully becomes acquainted with the Purse Lady who gets his attention when she asks him, "What happened to your face?" (pg. 80) But who is she and why does Mr. C, the strange man in the purple house, seem to know her and Sully and maybe even what is happening in his life, all represented in the figurines of Charlie Brown, the Knight, Sleeping Beauty, Darth Vader and more?
School can be a place of refuge for some but for others, especially those who become marked as victims, it can be brutal. And for Grade 9 students, it can be especially challenging. With an implicit hierarchy of power and confusion about the supports which they may or may not have, those preyed upon by bullies may become even more isolated. This is Sully who confuses his friends with contributing to his victimization and who doesn't want to worry his family. He is awkward in discussions with his teachers and his principal and then makes further choices that complicate things for himself. But, while Sully has been victimized, Stephanie Simpson McLellan tries not to play up the young teen as a victim. He is instead confused or rather messed up. He's got all the basics–friends, family, the will– to make things right but, like his face, things just haven't fallen into place correctly. Fortunately, when he can see beyond his personal disasters and into those of others, Sully learns to stand up for himself and help himself adapt. This is an important message for young people and, amidst all Sully's struggles, it's one that Stephanie Simpson McLellan emphasizes. With some insight and a little help from others, Sully is finally able to put to rights his situation and find himself.

• • • • • • • • •

Tomorrow I interview author Stephanie Simpson McLellan about Sully, Messed Up. For middle-graders and early young adults and their parents and their teachers, this Q & A will speak to all of you.

July 16, 2021

Harley the Hero

Written and illustrated by Peggy Collins
Pajama Press
Ages 4-7
32 pp.
June 2021
Most children are drawn to dogs. They want to pat them and hug them, call their names and get close. But service dogs must be treated differently so that they may help their human friends. Harley is one such service dog so he's a hero everyday for his person. But when there's a fire in the school where his person works, Harley proves he's able to share his strength with others when needed.
From Harley the Hero by Peggy Collins
Harley comes to school every day with Ms. Prichard "to help her feel safe so she can be the best teacher she can be." Harley is tethered to Ms. Prichard and the kids know that he is working, even when sleeping, and, though they've been cautioned to not distract him, he can't help but be tempted by feet which he loves to lick. Young Jackson enjoys getting a foot-lick from Harley but his best friend Amelia, a child with sensory processing issues, does not. Amelia, often seen wearing red noise-cancelling headphones, is very sensitive to noises and smells and touch, and Jackson helps protect her. In fact, he generously offers his feet for lick tickles so that Amelia, who wears two pairs of socks and red rubber boots in the classroom, can avoid them.
From Harley the Hero by Peggy Collins
Though they can't show Harley the love they might a non-service dog, Ms. Prichard has set up an Animail box where the kids can send him letters and gifts. (Surprisingly, vegetables often find their way to his Animail box!)

When a fire breaks out in the school, the class knows how to exit safely, but Amelia is thrown off by the sounds and the smells. Alerted by the panicked Jackson, Harley barks and pulls at his leash, discovering the girl cowering beneath the teacher's desk. By licking her boots, the big dog startles her into coming out and joining him and Ms. Prichard to crawl out of the school to safety.

From Harley the Hero by Peggy Collins
Needless to say, Harley is cheered as a hero and offered some well-deserved, though unusual, treats.

As mentioned in Peggy Collins's "Author's Note" and in a brief note from the teacher upon whom the story of Harley is based, Harley the Hero is a very real story. Because of that, Peggy Collins uses it to educate as well as entertain. The issues of individuals with invisible disabilities like PTSD and sensory processing disorder are addressed as are how to deal with service dogs. Not only does Harley the Hero teach about the diversity of disabilities and how some may be imperceptible, until they're not, as well as teaching about fire safety, it also enlightens students about the protocols for service animals in schools, especially as they become more common. But, beyond addressing these important issues, this picture book is simply an engaging story about an amazing dog who does a job and is loved by all. That's it. Peggy Collins highlights this with her cheerful digital illustrations rich in primary colours and diverse characters. Even when scenes are disturbed by the harshness of noise and smoke and fire, the brightness of the golden Harley and the colourfully-clothed Amelia and Ms. Prichard encourage and lift. 

Though school is still a number of weeks away, it will never to be too soon to prepare students and help develop their awareness of those with invisible disabilities, how to engage with service animals and what to do in the event of a fire. With Harley the Hero to assist, teaching and learning just became a whole lot more fun.

From Harley the Hero by Peggy Collins

July 14, 2021

T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes

Written by Anna Lazowski
Illustrated by Steph Laberis
Doubleday Books for Young Readers
40 pp.
Ages 3-6
June 2021

Let's have some alphabet fun because it's something we can all do with T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes from Winnipeg's Anna Lazowski.
From T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes by Anna Lazowski, illus. by Steph Laberis
For little ones who lament all the things they can't do, Anna Lazowski reassures them that they are keeping good company with so many members of the animal kingdom.
But you’re not alone!
My dear friend, it is true:
Some things are hard—for animals too!
A hopscotching horse or kung fu kangaroo?

From T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes by Anna Lazowski, illus. by Steph Laberis
Then from alligators who can't pick apples and cheetahs who can't chew gum to zebras who can't go zip-lining, young readers are introduced to a variety of animals and words in this alphabet concept book. Totally not-boring, Anna Lazowski provides the laughs of animals attempting everything from gymnastics to opening umbrellas, making waffles or staying quiet in the library. There's a quetzal and a xenops (I know you wondered about the "Q" and "X" animals) and an urchin, vampire bat and yak. There's the raccoon, horse and seahorse. From across the globe and across phyla, the animals in T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes amuse with their inabilities. 
From T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes by Anna Lazowski, illus. by Steph Laberis
But, lest young readers focus on the hilarity of what these creatures can't do, Anna Lazowski encourages with the fun of trying and even provides an insightful summary of the extraordinary abilities of these same animals in an appendix she introduces with "And look at all the amazing things animals CAN do!"
From T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes by Anna Lazowski, illus. by Steph Laberis
The digitally-rendered illustrations by Steph Laberis, who is sadly not Canadian, could wallow in the despair of what these animals cannot do. They don't. Their cartoon nature brings an effervescence of colour and line, making trying look like fun. There's no shaming here for animals who can't do stuff.

I know teachers will love using T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes to teach the alphabet to young children but it would also be a great picture book for extending literacy into concepts like math words or geography by having older children replicate the book's style. After all, the humour of T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes may come from what animals can't do but its message is still about trying and learning to see what is possible.

July 12, 2021

Percy's Museum

Written by Sara O'Leary
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
April 2021

Percy loved living in his busy urban neighbourhood in which friends and activity were plentiful. But a move to the country, where houses are separated and playmates undiscovered, Percy isn't sure what to make of his new home.
From Percy's Museum by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Carmen Mok
But discovery reveals the unexpected. There's a special "Percy-sized house" at the edge of the yard and a plethora of natural wonders. There are "bees kissing flowers, ants on parade, and birds putting on air shows." There are wild strawberries to taste, and trees to sit upon, and everywhere there is change.

From Percy's Museum by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Carmen Mok

Taking in all these wonders, he collects and documents them, putting them on display in his small pink house. Even though he realizes that he isn't lonely because there is always something to see and do in his new place, it might be nice to share. So, with some balloons and drinks and a sign pointing out "Percy's Museum," Percy is delighted to discover that sometimes friends find you.

From Percy's Museum by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Carmen Mok

Change is hard for many of us and more so for some than others. It's evident from Carmen Mok's first illustration of a forlorn Percy sitting alone on a bench in an expansive yard that his new situation is uncomfortable. But this child opens his eyes and heart and begins to explore his new surroundings. He sees things he'd never imagined, from fish in a creek and baby birds in a tree to a patch of edible wild strawberries. He immerses himself in the nature of his new home and uncovers new wonders, or at least new to him and, through Sara O'Leary's words, we go with him.  She takes us into Percy's heart and lets us see with his eyes. She's very good at doing this, giving readers the perspective of young children, for example imagining their parents as children (When I Was Young, 2011) and seeing their familiar neighbourhood in the unfamiliarity of night (Night Walk, 2020). There's a innocence and sweetness to Percy's perception of his new world and his openness to new experiences. He's never critical or complaining. He doesn't whine that his new home isn't as good as his old. He simply knows it's different, and different doesn't mean bad or wrong. And don't Carmen Mok's gouache and coloured pencil illustrations mirror that freshness of outlook? 

Percy's Museum is a reflection of this little boy's heart: it's cheerful, bright and full of wonders, and an invitation is sure to enrich, in more ways than one.

July 08, 2021

Hidden Treasure

Written and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Running Press Kids
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
June 2021
There's magic here. It's the magic of Elly MacKay's artwork but it's also in a child's wonder of discovery, finding treasure which most would overlook and appreciating a day of togetherness. It's in a lazy summer day on a beach and we're invited to watch.
From Hidden Treasure by Elly MacKay
A child and her Papa stroll down to the bay with their dog, past stores that claim to sell treasures, though she knows better.  She knows what true treasures are, and it's not the stuff sold in stores or the kind lauded by pirates in movies.

From Hidden Treasure by Elly MacKay
She finds treasure in the beach stones that are different with each visit. This day she picks up one that looks like a whale tooth, a perfect match for the whale she envisions in the clouds.

Dipping into the water, she discovers more treasure including shells, a speckled rock, a bubble wand, a rusty key and a marble, all which she lays out on the dock for her dog to see. Some she will return to the water to revisit another day and some treasures she will admire from afar, like the cocoon on the swamp milkweed.
From Hidden Treasure by Elly MacKay
Deciding what she will choose to add to her treasure box–“ones I can borrow, keep for a while”–is an important part of the process and one she shares with her Papa.
When I’m here, I feel like a queen.
So I think I know what treasure means.
And she knows that treasure goes beyond the things she picks up or sees on their outing.

From her debut picture book, If You Hold a Seed, Elly MacKay has been wowing young readers and their teachers, school and home, with her expressive illustrations. Because she blends drawings with ink and cut paper into scenes which she photographs–her Twitter handle is appropriately @theatercloudsElly MacKay melds layer upon layer of colour and texture and shape into an evocative landscapes of life and setting. The water produced from iridescent wrapping paper shimmers with movement and warmth and the beach radiates summer heat and softness with natural quiet. There's connection between people and with place but there is solitude as well. This is treasure in itself, as the child recognizes. 
I suspect that there will be, as there always have been, children collecting hidden treasures from walks in forests, along beaches and in urban settings on this very day. They will see the extraordinary in the ordinary. With Hidden Treasure and her ethereal artwork of theatre, Elly MacKay has reminded us all of the magic that comes from the ordinary and to see the treasure that is too often missed.

July 06, 2021

This is What I've Been Told / Mii Yi Gaa-Bi-Wiindmaagooyaan

Written and illustrated by Juliana Armstrong
Medicine Wheel Education
40 pp.
All ages
May 2021

Juliana Armstrong, a member of Nipissing First Nation and a teacher of Anishnaabemowin Language and Culture, brings her heritage, both in her message and her art, to young readers in This is What I've Been Told / Mii Yi Gaa-Bi-Wiindmaagooyaan.

From This is What I've Been Told / Mii Yi Gaa-Bi-Wiindmaagooyaan by Juliana Armstrong

Reflecting the Woodland Art style in line and colour and symbolism, Juliana Armstrong's picture book takes young readers on a journey of learning by sharing with them the lessons she was taught.  
From This is What I've Been Told / Mii Yi Gaa-Bi-Wiindmaagooyaan by Juliana Armstrong
They will learn Anishnaabemowin words for Grandmother and Grandfather, and nouns like clan, drum, strawberry, and medicine and fire. Several double-spreads relate to the good-hearted way and how to tell someone to stop talking, and words for living a good life and giving knowledge. Finally, Juliana Armstrong discusses identify and heart. These are some of the words Juliana Armstrong learned and now shares.

Throughout my life, I will follow in the footsteps of my Gookmis, learning the ways of our people. I will pick the same berries she picked. I will gather the same medicines and flowers she gathered. Speak the same language she spoke to me, and I will carry the Seven Grandfather Teachings she taught me.

Juliana Armstrong's words are filled with family and tradition and they take us into her culture and her heritage. There is a solemnity of purpose that takes this learning from the entertainment of much education today to one of reverence. Her respect for those who have taught her and passed along life lessons is tangible. Whether in the emotional content of her words or the glorious lines and shapes of her illustrations, Juliana Armstrong celebrates that knowledge.
From This is What I've Been Told / Mii Yi Gaa-Bi-Wiindmaagooyaan by Juliana Armstrong
For learners of Anishnaabemowin or those who understand that awareness of Indigenous cultures and language is imperative to becoming a truly inclusive and diverse world, This is What I've Been Told / Mii Yi Gaa-Bi-Wiindmaagooyaan is a gentle introduction that welcomes and guides.

July 01, 2021

Upcoming releases for Summer and Fall 2021

Another July 1st has arrived, heralding a new season of book releases. Hundreds of titles of youngCanLit are set to release in the last half of 2021 and I defy anyone not to find at least a dozen books they'll want to read. Whether you're a fan of picture books or graphic novels, young adult or non-fiction, early readers or middle grade, fantasy or historical fiction, mystery or romance, Indigenous or LGBTQ+ stories, there is something wonderful to be found here. I know I have my favourites. I'm especially looking forward to:
  • a middle grade graphic novel from Dave Whamond called Muddle School (from Kids Can Press);
  • a new Sean Cassidy picture book, this time with Catherine Austen (When the Squirrels Stole My Sister from Fitzhenry & Whiteside);
  • a new Colleen Nelson book, always a treat (The Undercover Book List from Pajama Press);
  • the picture book Can You Imagine? from Wallace Edwards (North Winds Press) which is sure to have phenomenal art; 
  • another Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen from Marthe Jocelyn (The Dead Man in the Garden from Tundra Book) since I love a good mystery;
  • a Marrow Thieves novel from Cherie Dimaline (Hunting By Stars from Penguin Teen);
  • a new series from Eric Walters called Teen Astronauts (Houston, Is There a Problem? from Orca); and
  • more titles than I dare to name. (My TBR piles have long evolved from shelves to cases and now a room!)

As always, if I've missed a title (and I often miss titles, especially those from publishers outside of Canada), please let me know. I'm happy to add it.

Happy Reading!



Picture Books
A Calf for Olive by Cheryl Dawn Buchan (Chocolate River Publishing)
Choose Kindness by Ruth Ohi (North Winds Press) 
Disaster at the Highland Games by Riel Nason, illus. by Nathasha Pilotte (Chocolate River Publishing)
Finn's First Song (A Whaley Big Adventure) by Gerry Daly (Boulder Books)
Harley the Hero by Peggy Collins (Pajama Press)
Lala's Words by Gracey Zhang (Orchard Books)
A Monster in My Kitchen by Marie-France Comeau, illus. by Isabelle Léger, trans. by Joan Jory (Bouton D'or Acadie)
Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) 
A Very Silly (wet and woolly) Beach Rock Band by Susan Taylor, illus. by Ashley Quirke (Boulder Books)
Sweetgrass by Theresa Meuse, illus. by Arthur Stevens (Nimbus)>>> Indigenous Knowledge series 
Early Readers and Middle Grade Fiction
Anne's School Days by Kallie George, illus. by Abigail Halpin (Tundra)>>>An Anne Chapter Book 3
The Curse of the Scarewolf (The Lunch Club #2) by Dom Pelletier (Scholastic Canada)
Linked by Gordon Korman (Scholastic)
Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse by Stephanie Cooke, illus. by Mari Costa (ETCH/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)>>> graphic novel

Young Adult
Evolution by Teri Terry (Charlesbridge Children's Books)
I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Yoshi Yoshitani (DC Comics) >>>graphic novel
The Peculiar Language of Llamas by Carol Anne Shaw >>>first book in The Garcia Island Chronicles
Shoot Out by Maureen Ulrich (Wood Dragon Books) >>> fourth book in Jessie Mac Hockey series
The Silver Blonde by Elizabeth Ross (Delacorte Press)
Tainted Amber by Gabriele Goldstone (Ronsdale)
Wings of Shadow by Nicki Pau Presto (Margaret K. McElderry)>>>Crown of Feathers Book 3

Birding for Kids: A Guide to Finding, Identifying, and Photographing Birds in Your Area by Damon Calderwood and Donald E. Waite (Heritage House)
Race with Me by Andre De Grasse and Robert Budd, illus. by Joseph Osei Bonsu (Scholastic Canada) 



Picture Books
Catalina by Lori Doody (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
The Deepest Dig by Mark David Smith, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine (Owlkids Books)
Five Busy Beavers by Stella Partheniou Grasso, illus. by Christine Battuz (Scholastic Canada)
Hold That Thought! by Bree Galbraith, illus. by Lynn Scurfield (Owlkids)
The House Next Door by Claudine Crangle (Groundwood) 
I'm Sorry by Michael Ian Black, illus. by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
A Kid is a Kid is a Kid by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Qin Leng (Groundwood) 
Listen Up! Train Song by Victoria Allenby (Pajama Press)>>> part of  Big Little Concepts series
Mika and the Dragonfly by Ellen DeLange, by Martina Schachenhuber (Clavis)
Mr. Beagle and the Georgestown Mystery by Lori Doody (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
One, Two, Grandma Loves You by Shelly Becker, illus. by Dan Yaccarino (Abrams) 
When the Squirrels Stole My Sister by Catherine Austen, illus. by Sean Cassidy (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) 
White Raven by Teoni Spathelfer, illus. by Natassia Davies (Heritage House)
Early Readers and Middle Grade Fiction
Alien Road by M. J. McIsaac (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
Bank Shot by Valerie Pankratz Froese (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Bug Girl: Fury on the Dance Floor by Benjamin Harper and Sarah Hines Stephens (Square Fish)
The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter (Tundra)
Escape to Witch City by E. Latimer (Tundra)
Half-Court Trap by Kevin heronJones (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories 
Hoopers by Johnny Boateng (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Kylie the Magnificent by Marty Chan (Orca)>>>Orca Currents
Making Seaker by Karen Autio (Crwth Press)
Meg and Greg: The Bake Sale by Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae, illus. by Elisa Gutiérrez (Orca)>>> Orca Two Read
Over the Top by Alison Hughes (Running Press)
Paddle Battle by Eric Howling (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Sports Stories
Screamers by Joel A. Sutherland (Scholastic Canada)
Sunny Days Inside and Other Stories by Caroline Adderson (Groundwood)
The Wherewood by Gabrielle Prendergast (Orca)>> Orca Currents sequel to The Crosswood

Young Adult 
Blood Donor by Karen Bass (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings
Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas (Penguin Teen)
The Degrees of Barley Lick by Susan Flanagan (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
I Dare You by Jeff Ross (Orca)>>>Orca Soundings
In a Heartbeat by Markus Harwood-Jones (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love series
Jamilah at the End of the World by Mary-Lou Zeitoun (Lorimer) 
Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam (Orca)>>> Orca Soundings
Sisters of the Wolf by Patricia Miller-Schroeder (Dundurn)
Walk This Way by Tony Correia (Lorimer)>>>Lorimer Real Love series
The Wild Ones by Nafiza Asad (Margaret K. McElderry) 

Africville: An African Nova Scotian Community Is Demolished — and Fights Back by Gloria Ann Wesley (Lorimer)>>>Righting Canada's Wrongs series
Amazing Athletes: An All-Star Look at Canada's Paralympians by Marie-Claude Ouellet, trans. by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott (Owlkids)
Do Frogs Drink Hot Chocolate? How Animals Keep Warm by Etta Kaner, illus. by John Martz (Owlkids)
Fred & Marjorie: A Doctor, a Dog, and the Discovery of Insulin by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Angela Poon (Owlkids Books)>>>graphic novel 
Govern Like a Girl: The Women Who Became Canada’s First Ministers by Kate Graham (Second Story Press)
Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words ed. by Dr. Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry (Orca)
My Book of Butterflies by Geraldo Valério (Groundwood)
White Privilege: Deal With It In All Fairness by Catherine Inglis (Lorimer)>>>Deal With It series



Picture Books
Amik by Sharon King (Kegedonce Press)
Bailey the Bat and the Tangled Moose by Grant Lawrence, illus. by Noémie Gionet Landry (Orca)
Bear Wants to Sing by Cary Fagan, illus. by Dena Seiferling (Tundra)
Brady Brady and the Big Mistake by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada)>>>Brady Brady series 
Buffalo Wild by Deidre Havrelock, illus. by Azby Whitecalf (Annick) 
Busy Busy Birds by Geraldo Valério (Groundwood)
Can You Imagine? by Wallace Edwards (North Winds Press)
The Cow Said Boo! by Lana Button, illus. by Alice Carter (Pajama Press) 
Curiosity Killed the Cat!: Franz Schubert, illus. by Marie Lafrance (The Secret Mountain)
>>> with CD; Little Stories of Great Composers series
Grandfather Bowhead, Tell Me a Story by Aviaq Johnston, illus. by Tamara Campeau (Inhabit Media) 
Hurry Up, Umingmak! by Rachel Rupke, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Education) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English edition
I Can Fix It! by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko (Scholastic Canada)
I Hear You, Forest by Kallie George, illus. by Carmen Mok (Greystone)>>> Sounds of Nature series
I See! I, Pi, Ti, Ki by Christine Kudluk, illus. by Julia Galotta (Inhabit Education) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English edition
It Fell from the Sky by The Fan Brothers (Simon & Schuster)
Jigging for Halibut With Tsinii by Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson, illus. by Janine Gibbons (HighWater Press)
Jordan and Max, Showtime by Suzanne Sutherland, illus. by Michelle Simpson (Orca) >>> Orca Echoes
Learning My Rights with Mousewoman by Morgan Asoyuk (Native Northwest) 
Learning to Carve Argillite by Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson, illus. by Janine Gibbons (HighWater Press)
Lena and Ruby by Kevin Qamaniq-Mason and Mary Qamaniq-Mason, illus. by Marcus Cutler (Inhabit Eduation)
Lost Things by Carey Sookocheff (Kids Can Press)
My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf, illus. by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press)
My Dog Banana by Roxane Brouillard, illus. by Giulia Sagramola (Greystone)
My Love for You is Always by Gillian Sze, illus. by Michelle Lee (Philomel Books)
My Mad Hair Day by Nathalie Dion (Groundwood)
Nuptse and Lhotse Go to the Prairies by Jocey Asnong (Rocky Mountain Books)
Oliver Bounces Back! by Alison Hughes, illus. by Charlene Chua (North Winds Press)
One Summer in Whitney Pier by Mayaan Francis, illus. by Letitia Fraser (Nimbus)
On the Line by Kari-Lynn Winters, illus. by Scot Ritchie (Pajama Press) 
Ruff Day by Sigmund Brouwer, illus. by Sabrina Gendron (Orca)>>> Orca Echoes
Song for the Snow by Jon-Erik Lappano, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (Groundwood)
Thanks a Lot by Raffi, illus. by Jaime Kim (Knopf Books for Young Readers)>>>Raffi Songs to Read
Time is a Flower by Julie Morstad (Tundra)
What Did You See? by Sarah N. Harvey, illus. by Jane Heinrichs (Orca)

Early Readers and Middle Grade Fiction
Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children by Wendy Proverbs (Heritage House)
Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden by Marthe Jocelyn, illus. by Isabelle Follath (Tundra)>>>Book 3 in Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen series
Better Place by Duane Murray, illus. by Shawn Daley (IDW Publishing) >>>graphic novel
Borders by Thomas King, illus. by Natasha Donovan (HarperCollins) >>>graphic novel
A Boy is Not a Ghost by Edeet Ravel (Groundwood) 
Captain Bun & Super Bonbon (Bunbun & Bonbon #3) by Jess Keating (Scholastic Graphix) >>>graphic novel
Children of the Fox by Kevin Sands (Puffin Canada)>>>first book in new series Thieves of Shadow
Ciel In All Directions by Sophie Labelle, trans. by Andrea Zanin (Second Story Press) >>> graphic novel Ciel 2
Cranky Chicken by Katherine Battersby (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Dear Peter, Dear Ulla by Barbara Nickel (Thistledown Press)
Farm Crimes! The MOO-sterious Disappearance of Cow by Sandra Dumais (Owlkids) >>>Book 2 in Farm Crimes graphic novel series
Game On! by Gordon Korman (Scholastic Canada)
The Great Bear (The Misewa Saga #2) by David A. Robertson (Puffin Canada)
Guardians of Porthaven by Shane Arbuthnott (Orca)
Hat Tricked by Kevin Sylvester (Scholastic Canada)>>>Hockey Super Six
Houston, Is There a Problem? by Eric Walters (Orca)>>>First book in new series Teen Astronauts
Lost Shadow by Claire Gilchrist (Dundurn)
Meranda and the Legend of the Lake by Meagan Mahoney (Owlkids)
Muddle School by Dave Whamond (Kids Can Press) >>>graphic novel
Mystic of the Midway by A. A. Blair (Histria Kids)
A Sure Cure for Witchcraft by Laura Best (Nimbus)
Taking the Ice by Lorna Schultz Nicholson (Scholastic Canada)
A Terrible Tide by Suzanne Meade (Second Story Press)
Traitors Among Us by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic Canada)>>>follow-up to Don't Tell the Nazis and Trapped in Hitler's Web
Valley of the Rats by Mahtab Narsimhan (DCB) 
The Wolf's Curse by Jessica Vitalis (Greenwillow/HarperCollins)

Young Adult 
The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Coffee Shop Between Verses by Éric Desmarais (Renaissance Press)
I'm Good and Other Lies by Bev Katz Rosenbaum (DCB) 
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (Penguin Teen) 
The Last Beautiful Girl by Nina Laurin (Sourcebooks Fire)
Names in a Jar by Jennifer Gold (Second Story Press)
Our Rock and Our Salvation by Hugh MacDonald (Acorn)
Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew (Penguin Teen Canada)

Alex Ovechkin by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illus. by D. A. Bishop (Scholastic Canada)>>>Amazing Hockey Stories
All About Belugas by Jordan Hoffman (Inhabit Education)
Caring for Critters: One Year at a Wildlife Rescue Centre by Nicholas Read (Heritage House)
Conservation Canines: How Dogs Work for the Environment by Isabelle Groc (Orca)>>> Orca Wild
Hungry for the Arts: Poems to Chomp On by Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming, illus. by Peggy Collins (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
It Takes Guts: How Your Body Turns Food Into Fuel by Dr. Jennifer Gardy, illus. by Belle Wuthrich (Greystone)
Lights Day and Night: The Science of How Light Works
by Susan Hughes, illus. by Ellen Rooney (Kids Can Press)
Math Hacks 2: Do Better + Stress Less by Vanessa Vakharia, illus. by Hyein Lee (Scholastic Canada)
Meet David Suzuki by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas (Scholastic Canada) >>> Scholastic Canada Biography
The Science of Song: How and Why We Make Music by Alan Cross, Emme Cross and Nicole Mortillaro, illus. by Carl Wiens (Kids Can Press) 
Set Your Alarm, Sloth!: More Advice for Troubled Animals from Dr. Glider by Jess Keating, illus. by Pete Oswald (Orchard Books)
Small but Mighty: Why Earth's Tiny Creatures Matter by Kendra Brown, illus. by Catarina Oliveira (Owlkids)
Snoozefest: The Surprising Science of Sleep by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illus. by Valéry Goulet  (Kids Can Press)
A Tree is a Home by Pamela Hickman, illus.by Zafouko Yamamoto (Kids Can Press) 
Unstoppable: Women With Disabilities by Helen Wolfe, illus. by Karen Patkau (Second Story Press) 
Upstream, Downstream: Exploring Watershed Connections by Rowena Rae (Orca)>>>Orca Footprints
When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings by Kathy Beliveau, illus. by Julie McLaughlin, photos by Jesse Holland (Orca)
Wolverine by Allan Niptanatiak (Inhabit Media)>>>Animals Illustrated series 


Picture Books
Anthony and the Gargoyle by Jo-Ellen Bogart, illus. by Maja Kastelic (Groundwood)
The Bee by Becky Han, illus. by Tindur Peturs (Inhabit Media)
Brady Brady and the Santa Search by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada)>>> Brady Brady series
A Brilliant Plan: Joseph Haydn, illus. by Marie Lafrance (The Secret Mountain)>>>with CD; Little Stories of Great Composers series
The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher by Eric Hogan and Tara Hungerford (Firefly Books)>>>A Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery
The Case of the Shrinking Friend by Eric Hogan and Tara Hungerford (Firefly Books)>>>A Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery
Chaiwala! by Priti Birla Maheshwari, illus. by Ashley Barron  (Owlkids)
Dee and the Apostrofee by Judith Henderson, illus. by Ohara Hale (Kids Can Press) 
Everybody by Elise Gravel (North Winds Press)
For Laika: The Dog Who Learned the Names of the Stars by Kai Cheng Thom, illus. by Kai Yung Ching (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Gemma and the Giant Girl by Sara O'Leary, illus. by Marie Lafrance (Tundra) 
Great Too by Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky, illus. by Kevin Sylvester (Puffin Canada)
Halloween Mouse by Philip Roy, illus. by Lisa Ferguson (Ronsdale)>>> new title in the Happy the Pocket Mouse series
Hello, Dark by Wai Mei Wong, illus. by Tamara Campeau (Pajama Press)
James' Reading Rescue by Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky, illus. by Sara Casilda (Clavis)
Lentil Soup by Carole Tremblay, illus. by  Maurèen Poignonec, trans. by Charles Simard (Orca)
Little Moar and the Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk, illus. by Jazmine Gubbe (Inhabit Media)
Little Narwhal, Not Alone by Tiffany Stone, illus. by Ashlyn Anstee (Greystone)
Meeka Loves Nature: Plants by Danny Christopher, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Education)>>> bilingual Inuktitut and English edition
Merry Christmas, Anne by Kallie George, illus. by Genevieve Godbout (Tundra) 
The Midnight Club by Shane Goth, illus. by Yong Ling Kang (Owlkids)
My Words Flew Away Like Words by Debora Pearson, illus. by Shrija Jain (Kids Can Press)
A New Home for Fox by Ellen DeLange, illus. by Agi Ofner (Clavis)
The Night Before Playoffs by Stella Partheniou Grasso, illus. by Paula J. Becker (Scholastic Canada)
Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books)
Petal the Angry Cow by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Olga Demidova (Tundra)
The Rocking Horse by Sheryl McFarlane, illus. by François Thisdale (Pajama Press)
She Stitched the Stars: A Story of Ellen Harding Baker's Solar System Quilt by Jennifer Harris, illus. by Louise Pigott (Albert Whitman & Co.)
Sometimes I Feel Shy by Aviaq Johnston, illus. by Amiel Sandland (Inhabit Education) 
Sour Cakes by Karen Crossing, illus. by Anna Kwan (Owlkids)
The Sour Cherry Tree by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Nahid Kazemi (Owlkids) 
Swish Slosh by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Jacqui Lee (Orca)
The Thing Lenny Loves Most about Baseball by Andrea Larsen, illus. by Milan Pavlovic (Kids Can Press)
Thunder of Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos and Shezza Ansloos, illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Annick)
Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest by Uma Krishnaswami, illus. by Christopher Corr (Groundwood)
Uliaq's Amazing Animals: Muskox by Danny Christopher, illus. by Amiel Sandland (Inhabit Education)
A Very Silly Alphabet by Jeannie Hillman, illus. by Sarah Shortcliffe (Nimbus)
Welcome to the Cypher by Khodi Dill, illus. by Awuradwoa Afful (Annick) 
We Wish You a Merry Christmas: A Canadian Carol by Helaine Becker, illus. by Werner Zimmerman (Scholastic Canada)
Windy Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Miki Sato (Pajama Press)>>>follow up to Snow Days
Woodland Tales: The Five Wishes by Priya Chaudhary, illus. by Cindy Lin (Bookland Press)
Early Readers and Middle Grade Fiction
Burying the Moon by Andrée Poulin, illus. by Sonali Zohra (Groundwood)>>>novel in verse
Evie and the Truth about Witches by John Martz (Tundra)
Living with Viola by Rosena Fung (Annick) >>>graphic novel
Mad About Meatloaf (Weenie Featuring Frank and Beans #1) by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Alexandra Bye (Tundra) 
The Mutant Mouse from Outer Space (The Lunch Club #3) by Dom Pelletier (Scholastic Canada)>>>graphic novel
Sorry for Your Loss by Joanne Levy (Orca)
Stealing Home by J. Torres, illus. by David Namisato (Kids Can Press)>>>graphic novel
A Struggle for Hope by Carol Matas (Scholastic Canada)
The Undercover Book List by Colleen Nelson (Pajama Press)
The Wolf Mother by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), illus. by Natasha Donovan (HighWater Press)>>> Mothers of Xsan series, Book 5 

Young Adult 
The Delusionist by Don Calame (Candlewick)
Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline (Penguin Teen)>>>A Marrow Thieves novel
Lessons in Fusion by Primrose Madayag Knazan (Yellow Dog)
Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch (Inkyard Press)
The Story of My Life Ongoing by CS Cobb by Candas Dorsey (Inanna)
Under the Iron Bridge by Kathy Kacer (Second Story Press)
Urchin by Kate Story (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)

Amazing Atlantic Canadian Women: Fascinating Stories of Excellence and Determination by Stephanie Domet and Penelope Jackson, illus. by James Bentley (Nimbus)
Be a Camouflage Detective: Looking for Critters That are Hidden, Concealed, or Covered by Peggy Kochanoff (Nimbus)
Canada Year by Year (Revised Edition) by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Sydney Smith (Kids Can Press)
Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy) by Edward Kay, illus. by Mike Shiell (Kids Can Press)
Hockey Superstars 2021-2022 by Paul Romanuk (Scholastic Canada)
The LGBT Purge and the Fight for Equal Rights in Canada by Ken Setterington (Lorimer)>>>Righting Canada's Wrongs series
My Art, My World by Rita Winkler, with Mark Winkler and Helen Winkler (Second Story Press) 
Shelter: Homelessness in Our Community by Lois Peterson, illus. by Taryn Gee (Orca)>>> Orca Think
The Strangest Thing in the Sea and Other Curious Creatures of the Deep by Rachel Poliquin, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (Kids Can Press) 
What Animals Want: The Five Freedoms in Action by Jacqueline Pearce, illus. by Julie McLaughlin (Orca)>>>Orca Think


Picture Books
Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo (Pajama Press)
The Dancing Trees by Masiana Kelly, illus. by Michelle Simpson (Inhabit Media)
Erik the Elk: The Big Hockey Game by Chloé Baillargeon (Scholastic Canada)
Guess Who: With Tuktu and Friends by Nadia Sammurtok and Rachel Rupke, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Education) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English edition
Little Blue House Beside the Sea by Jo-Ellen Bogart, illus. by Carme Lesmniscates (Tilbury House)
Mia and the Monsters Search for Colours by Neil Christopher, illus. by Sigmundur Thorgeirsson (Inhabit Education)>>> bilingual Inuktitut and English edition
New Year by Mei Zihan, illus. by Qin Leng (Greystone)
Peekaboo! Nanuq and Nuka Look for Shapes by Rachel Rupke, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Education) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English edition
The Seagull and the Barnacle by Judd Palmer, illus. by Nina Palmer (Bayeaux Arts) 
A Sky-Blue Bench by Bahram Rahman, illus. by Peggy Collins (Pajama Press)
Slowpoke the Bell Island Mine Horse by Heather Smith, illus. by Genevieve Simms (Nimbus)
Spencer the Siksik: Respecting Others by Shawna Thompson and Nadia Sammurtok, illus. byValentina Jaskina  (Inhabit Education)
We Are All Ears: Niccolo Paganini, illus. by Marie Lafrance (The Secret Mountain) >>> with CD; Little Stories of Great Composers series

Early Readers and Middle Grade Fiction
Harvey and the Extraordinary by Eliza Martin, illus. by Anna Bron (Annick)
The Knotted Rope by Jean Rae Baxter (Ronsdale)
Robert Moves to the City by Caley Clements and Jessie Hale, illus. by Jesus Lopez (Inhabit Education) 
Spell Sweeper by Lee Edward Födi (HarperCollins)

Young Adult 
Double Negative by Susan Marshall (Evernight Teen)
The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass by Anna Priemaza (Amulet)
The Legend by Jean Mills (Red Deer Press)
Queen's Hope (Star Wars) by E. K. Johnston (Disney Lucasfilm Press) >>> sequel to Queen's Shadow
Second Chances by Harriet Zaidman (Red Deer Press)
A Soft Place to Fall by Tanya Christenson (Red Deer Press)
When You Least Expect It by Lorna Schultz Nicholson (Red Deer Press)

Big as a Giant Snail by Jess Keating, illus. by David DeGrand (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats: Urban Ecology, Community Science, and How We Share Our Cities by Cylita Guy (Annick)
Junior Field Guide: Insects of Nunavut by Jordan Hoffman, illus. by Athena Gubbe (Inhabit Education)

Picture Books
The Little Knight Who Saved the Day by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Geneviève Després (Scholastic Canada)>>>Little Knight series
Lissy's Diary by Ellen DeLange, illus. by Ilaria Zanellato (Clavis)
Love You My Heart by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books)

The Enchanted People by Jennifer Pool (Guernica Editions)
Young Adult 
 The Lost Ones: An AFK Novel by Adrienne Kress (Scholastic) >>> Bendy #2

Picture Books
Martin and the River by Jon-Erik Lappano, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Groundwood)
Giju's Gift by Brandon Mitchell, illus. by Veronika Barinova and Britt Wilson (HighWater Press)
Hat Cat by Troy Wilson, illus. by Eve Coy (Candlewick) 
How to Party Like a Snail by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Kelly Collier (Owlkids)
Early Readers and Middle Grade Fiction
The Gift of the Little People: A Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak Story by William Dumas, illus. by Rhian Brynjolson (HighWater Press)
Project Bollywood by Mahtab Narsimhan (Orca) 
Sloth Sleuth by Cyndi Marko (HMH)
The Gift of the Little People: A Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak Story by William Dumas, illus. by Rhian Brynjolson (HighWater Press)

Young Adult
Made 4 You by Eric Walters (DCB)
Power Forward by Eric Walters and Paul Coccia (Orca)
The Red Palace by June Hur (Feiwel and Friends) 
The Summer Between Us by Andre Fenton (Lorimer) 
Then Everything Happens at Once by M-E Girard (HarperTeen) 
Version Control by David A. Robertson, illus. by Scott B. Henderson, color by Donovan Yaciuk (HighWater Press) >>> The Reckoner Rises 2

The Girl Who Built an Ocean by Jess Keating, illus. by Michelle Mee Nutter (Knopf)
Same Here! The Differences We Share by Susan Hughes (Owlkids Books) 

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Any errors (and there will be some), including in release dates, are my own. Feel free to share corrections that I need to make. I'm always pleased to make this post as accurate and complete as possible.