January 30, 2023

Fox and Bear

Written and illustrated by Miriam Körner
Red Deer Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
January 2023
Though life for most animals revolves around the search for food and may seem mundane by human standards, Bear thinks life is pretty good. He loves picking berries while Fox hunts for eggs. And in between the search for food, Bear takes naps and enjoys the daily sunset while Fox searches for treasures and hides them. But then Fox has an idea. What if he could make their food forays more efficient?
From Fox and Bear by Miriam Körner
They start with cages to trap geese and keep them as egg-layers. They also gather more berries and seeds and plant them. Though their aim was to spend less time searching for food, all their chores require more effort, and Fox and Bear rarely have time for the pleasures of naps, treasure hunting and sunsets. So, Fox comes up with another idea.
This time, Fox draws up plans for a complex set of machines to gather eggs, feed the birds, water the plants, and pick the berries. Unfortunately, they have to dig up mountains and cut down trees for their contraption. And there were new jobs of gathering wood for the steam engines, filling the bird feeder and building more cages. As their work became more efficient, it became bigger and more involved and time-consuming. Eventually Bear realizes that their new efforts are greater than their past ones and their original daily tasks were the best of all.
From Fox and Bear by Miriam Körner
Fox and Bear could be an updated version of an Aesop's fable. Whether the message is about greed or ensuring that progress is actually an improvement, Fox and Bear remind us that bigger is not always best. A simple life of earnest food-searching and basic pleasures like napping and sunset-watching are not to be dismissed. Our world today is so focused on getting bigger and more that those who adhere to the principles of simple and meaningful are disregarded. It's reassuring to see that, although Bear goes along with Fox's plans, he eventually realizes what is best for him. What Fox decides is up to the reader as Miriam Körner leaves it open as to whether he too will return to his former life or stick with his new busy and overworked lifestyle. (This would be an interesting lesson for students to consider.)

Author-illustrator Miriam Körner lives in Northern Saskatchewan, and I suspect that the very landscape she sees outside her cabin's window is what has given her Fox and Bear's story. The destruction of forests for development must be seen in her northern community, whether for commercial farming, forestry, mining or settlements. Perhaps those behind all that economic planning should be reading Fox and Bear along with young readers.
From Fox and Bear by Miriam Körner
Behind her impactful story is Miriam Körner's artwork which is extraordinary. She has created dioramas from recycled paper and cardboard packaging painted with graphite pencils, soft pastels and acrylic paint. Through a limited palette of browns with red for fox and occasional hints of blue or black, Miriam Körner gives Fox and Bear an organic and very realistic feel to the natural world. Even when she introduces the machinery that Fox implements for efficiency, the cut of the paper and shape of her structures, though of the same colours, shouts of the manufactured and the synthetic. I'm a big fan of textures in picture book illustrations and, by photographing dioramas she has made of the paper and cardboard, Miriam Körner introduces even further textures with shadows and a three-dimensionality to the art. Miriam Körner's artwork presents a story of such quality that readers will be drawn in by the art but will stay for the fable that simple is sometimes actually best.

January 27, 2023

When Sally Met Harry

Written by Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
North Winds Press (Scholastic Canada)
32 pp.
Ages 2-8
January 2023

Whether you're an adult, a child or a dog, change can be difficult. Even when the status quo is challenging, it's familiar. But when the norm is wonderful, filled with love and attention, adoration and praise, change can be especially effortful, as Sally a goldendoodle learns.
I was a bundle of absolute puppy adorableness.
Sally can do no wrong. She sleeps on their bed, chases squirrels, plays and is cuddled. Even when she does do something inappropriate, like getting into their underwear, chewing it and getting sick, she is consoled with, "Poor baby." And then Sally learns that her people are having a baby. 
From When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan
Immediately after Harry arrives, Sally knows things are going to change. She lets herself out when her people are too engrossed with the noisy baby.  Sure, she gets a blanket and a new squeaky squirrel, but Harry gets a giant red bunny! And when Sally tries to show affection for Harry as she would her own pup, they yell at her to get away and she is told, "No." Now Sally has a dog walker, and she sleeps in a basket because Harry sleeps with them. 
From When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan
Though Sally tries to think of a way to make her people love her again, she really doesn't have to do anything special. Sally's specialness comes through with the simplest of acts and makes Harry realize that Sally is part of his loving family.
I look deep into Harry's eyes.
I let him know that I love him.
From When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan
Many will recognize the name of Paulette Bourgeois as the author of the Franklin the Turtle series but it's obvious she knows more than turtles. She knows babies and children and dogs. She knows the confusion of a new baby in a home with a pet who has been the only "child" and used to getting all the attention and love. But, Paulette Bourgeois, a grandmother herself, also probably knows about finding a way to make all feel appreciated and loved–which will be all the more important when Baby #2 comes along–while bringing seemingly unconnected family members to becoming part of the whole. Telling the story from Sally's perspective, feeling what she does, hearing from others, and seeing for herself, Paulette Bourgeois makes Sally the star of When Sally Met Harry and restores her place of importance when we all know that a helpless baby must become the center of his parents' attention, at least for a time. And then when that baby is a toddler and can be a little brother to big sister Sally, the family circle is complete again.

That sweetness of story and familial bonding comes through in Brooke Kerrigan's illustrations. Rendered in watercolour, pencil crayon and gouache on paper before digitally enhanced, the artwork screams cuteness. From the playful and loving Sally to the cherubic Harry–look at that round head!–and all the little details of toys, squirrels, cats, and other dogs, When Sally Met Harry depicts many a household in which a baby is introduced to a family pet. Still, with Paulette Bourgeois's words and Brooke Kerrigan's illustrations, When Sally Met Harry tells the story of a one-of-a-kind relationship that could earn a cinematic rendering of its own.

January 24, 2023

I Got You Babe: Guest interview with author Paul Coccia

I Got You Babe
Written by Paul Coccia
Orca Book Publishers
120 pp.
Ages 9-13
Release February 14, 2023


Yesterday CanLit for LittleCanadians reviewed Paul Coccia's upcoming novel, I Got You Babe. Today I present an interview conducted by student Hasini K. with author Paul Coccia. 13-year-old Hasini read I Got You Babe and prepared questions for author Paul Coccia to delve a little deeper into his new book. Paul Coccia, ever gracious, agreed to answer her questions and even visited with Hasini virtually to chat about the book. 

Here is their Q & A.
Author Paul Coccia

 • • • • • • •
Hasini:  In the novel, Mac and Amy propose to change the annual Fun Fair into a Pride Carnival theme. Their idea is welcomed and the committee supports the change.  What would you say to your LGBTQ+ readers if they find themselves in a less than supportive environment?

Paul Coccia:  My first concern would always be whether a reader is in harm’s way. I wouldn’t want to see someone in physical or emotional trouble due to advocating for something they believe in nor would I want them in an environment that is damaging to their well-being. That aside, I would advise trying to open a dialogue. Be forthcoming about how you see the issue and try to understand why someone may object. The opposition may be something practical like budget constraints as in I Got You Babe. If the environment or people can’t or won’t be supportive, then I would suggest finding spaces and people that can. Too often, we give too much time and space to negative people or situations and, if possible, actively choosing positive things and giving them time in your life is a healthy move.

Hasini:  I really appreciated Mac’s desire for scheduling and organizing all the tasks needed for the Pride Carnival Fun Fair.  Would you say that this represents you or how might you be different?

Paul Coccia:  I do enjoy planning and organization and am impressed by someone who can pull off a big event and make it seem effortless. Where I differ from Mac is, as a writer, sometimes it’s a lot more satisfying to plan something in my mind than it is to actually do the work to get it going in reality. When I’m writing (or reading for that matter), there are more possibilities. In my mind, I throw these really elaborate parties with the best food and all my friends get to come. I plan them, but I might need an Amy in my life to push me to get it done.

Hasini:  When brainstorming for the Fun Fair, Mac had a lot of great ideas for the Pride Carnival theme.  Naturally, he was disappointed when the committee told him too many were unrealistic and they didn’t have the budget for all of it.  What would you say to kids who have to deal with disappointment?

Paul Coccia:  Disappointment, unfortunately, is something we all deal with. Authors and illustrators will tell you, we get these fantastic ideas, and sometimes they don’t end up turning into books. At least not easily. A lot of times, it is due to factors entirely out of our control. I started trying to get published at 17. It took me a couple of decades to get one of my great ideas turned into my first book. Being patient and waiting for a moment to arrive is incredibly frustrating and disheartening. Sharon Jennings’ Unravel is a great example of a book that took her over a decade to get published and it became a Governor General’s Award Finalist. So, don’t give up. Your best ideas will find their time and place if they’re important to you.

Hasini:  Mac and Amy have a very strong friendship.  How might this friendship inspire the readers of your book?  Also, do you have a friendship that inspired these characters?

Paul Coccia:  The backstory! Mac and Amy were inspired by my younger brother and his friend. They met before kindergarten and have remained close since. In eighth grade, they put on a Sonny and Cher routine for the school talent show where she was Sonny and he was Cher.

I hope one takeaway is that in a friendship, there can be room for two divas with lots of mutual respect. That can mean taking time to listen to someone and hear what they want and need not just try to pull them into orbit around you no matter how fabulous you are.

Hasini:  I noticed that pronouns weren’t used for Mac for the first 50 pages of the book.  Was there a specific reason you delayed using the pronoun ‘he’?

Paul Coccia:  I wish I had been clever enough to notice! I would have removed the rest of the masculine pronouns and left the decision on pronouns up to the reader. Readers are already active participants in books so I’d be happy to let them decide. Alas, I was not that smart. From a craft perspective, the story is told from the first-person point of view and Mac usually refers to himself as ‘I’ or ‘me’ while others call him by name or ‘you.

Hasini:  I love that the name Chandra was used in your book.  I am not used to seeing my culture represented in books.  Was there a reason for the name choices of your characters?  

Paul Coccia:  I, and so many authors and illustrators I know, intentionally try to be inclusive when we create stories. Part of that means finding ways and places for all sorts of characters to exist in the worlds we write. First and last names are an understated tool for any writer as they have the benefit of characterizing quickly and efficiently by hinting at cultural heritage. Amy’s and Mrs. Khatri’s surnames did this too. That aside, Chandra is a beautiful name. There is a goldmine of names that are not used enough that authors can look up. When I am trying to include a character that has a specific heritage or background, I look up the most popular baby names or surnames in the country the character’s family would have originated from for the year I imagine the character was born.

Hasini:  Mac is insistent on representing a strong woman in the Pride Carnival Talent Show.  Why did you choose for him to want this?  How might you have participated in the show if you were one of the characters?

Paul Coccia:  Personally, I was so lucky to grow up in a house with many strong women so I tend to bring that into my writing whenever I can. I also really, really love Cher. She is the Goddess of Pop!

The LGBTQ+ community, in particular gay men, has looked toward strong and often transgressive people, notably women, as icons. Often, these women are such strong allies to the Queer Community. When I think of Mac, he really does have a strong sense of who he is and that, like many icons, he’s ahead of his time. He would naturally identify with a larger-than-life celebrity like Cher who has remained relevant for decades throughout her career. 
As for a talent show routine, I lean more toward visual art or culinary arts. If I could bake on stage, I’d have a decent shot at winning something. I can’t sing or dance though, not that that stopped Mac.


Hasini:  It is mentioned briefly in the story that Mac deals with bullies in the school. What would you say to kids reading the book who are dealing with bullying?

Paul Coccia:  If you’re being bullied, seek help. This could mean finding an adult or authority figure to intervene or seeking professional help. This may be hard to do as I’ve found an element of shame and self-doubt accompanies being bullied. Finding a way to stop the bullying and healing from it is important.

If you are a bully, I would strongly suggest you reflect and consider if this is the person you want to be. Perhaps you didn’t intend what happened. Then you should apologize and make amends. If you did intend to hurt someone, I wonder if this is a moment to be proud of. We all make mistakes and our actions have the effect of bringing us closer to a version of ourselves we’re proud for the world to see or farther away.


Hasini:  In the book, Mac’s mom makes some creative meals like kimchi hot dogs.  I see on Twitter that you are quite the baker.  Did you have creative meals at home growing up that influenced you and your character, Mac?
Paul Coccia:  We are an adventurous family for eating and cooking. I think having parents and grandmothers from different backgrounds in the house helped, as well as growing up in an area of Toronto different from our backgrounds. My family loves trying different foods from around the globe, whether we cook it or it is takeout. Our most inventive and peculiar dishes always come out of repurposing leftovers.  Thanksgiving dinner does really well with a Tex-Mex influence. Spaghetti makes a non-traditional but surprisingly satisfying pad Thai. It’s fun and a challenge to see how we can switch up a dish and turn it into something new. Similarly, in my first novel, Cub, the main character is particularly interested in fusion when he cooks. Food culture is one more place to literally feed my curiosity.

 • • • • • • •
Many thanks to both Hasini K. and author Paul Coccia for this interview. Hasini asked wonderfully in-depth questions about the writing and story of I Got You Babe and Paul Coccia gave us great insight into his process and motivation.  I'm so pleased to share their interview with CanLit for LittleCanadians readers.

Graphic from Orca Book Publishers

January 23, 2023

I Got You Babe (Orca Currents)

Written by Paul Coccia
Orca Book Publishers
120 pp.
Ages 9-13
RL 2.1
February 2023
Twelve-year-old Mac Riley has lots of ideas. He has lots of big ideas. His ideas are so big that they are almost overwhelming. In fact, his ideas may be just a little too big especially if he can't see that they may be jeopardizing some of his relationships.
When Charles Middle School's parent association, headed by Mac's dad, meet to discuss their annual fundraising Fun Fair, students which include Mac and best friend Amy are invited to attend. Mac, with Amy's tech assistance, suggests that they redo their boring Fun Fair with a Pride-themed event that is fresh and inclusive. Mac, who loves a bit of flash, from his clothing to his attitude, suggests everything from a rainbow-striped bouncy castle, a dunk tank and multicoloured cotton candy, to fireworks and a talent show with the winner crowned "Sparkling Crown of the Carnival." Though the committee recognizes that it might be too expensive to have it all and that there might be some pushback, they decide to go ahead. 

But Mac goes a little overboard with his plans, convinced he has something to prove.
"I wasn’t sure they were going to go for the carnival idea. Now that they have, it’s like I’ve got something to prove. It has to be great. It has to make money. People have got to like it. It needs to be epic.” (pg. 19)
Though Amy reminds him that the carnival isn't about him, Mac just steamrolls ahead with his plans, including planning on him and Amy winning the lip sync contest by depicting Cher and Sonny respectively. Amy tries to tell him that she's apprehensive of dressing like Sonny while Mac gets to dress in drag, but he just demands they rehearse daily and that she tries harder. 

Mac might be following the "go big or go home" precept but he doesn't realize that he's acting like the carnival is all about him. He may want to emulate the strong woman that Cher is but, instead of focusing on her iconic nature, he's acting like a diva. Will the Pride Carnival be the inclusive success Mac envisions or is he putting his relationships in jeopardy, and about to suffer the same fate as the famous duo, just to prove something?

If you don't know Sonny and Cher's song "I Got You Babe," take a listen to any version, video or audio, of Sonny Bono's song. It's catchy and heartening and will remind you that support doesn't require anything but being there. The song may be about a romantic relationship, but Paul Coccia's story goes beyond that singular type of relationship. I Got You Babe tells us that whether it's a friendship or a parent-child relationship or even self-love, support with understanding for strengths and flaws helps us through. Mac is imperfect–aren't we all?–but he learns from his mistakes and he does so  because there are those that support him, like his friend Amy and his father and his mother. With that kind of support, anything is possible: growth, love, and even winning a talent show.  And Paul Coccia makes us realize that it's all possible. This hi-lo (high interest, low vocabulary) story may be written at an easier reading level for middle-grade readers but its story is accessible to everyone. Paul Coccia writes a story about kids that are thinking outside the box and wanting to do interesting things. But what they get, in addition to a great school fundraising event, is learning that others have their back and that's something we all need to know.

• • • • • • •
Image from Orca Book Publishers
We're going to help get the hype going for this new novel that comes out February 14, 2023. Along with  this review, I'll be posting an interview with author Paul Coccia tomorrow with student Hasini. And here is the book trailer for I Got You Babe from Orca Book Publishers.

Uploaded by Orca Book Publishers on January 23, 2023 to YouTube.

January 19, 2023

The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor

Written and illustrated by Bushra Junaid
Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides
60 pp.
Ages 9-12

Who was the 19th c. sailor whose remains were discovered in Labrador in the 1980s? Where did he come from? How did he live? What was the story of his death?  Bushra Junaid examines these questions and tells us the sailor's possible stories in poetic rhyme of historical depth.

From The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor by Bushra Junaid
In verse, Bushra Junaid speaks of the bones found on the Strait of Belle Isle and exposed by erosion in 1987 near the village of L'Anse au Loup. The bones suggest a young man of short stature and missing a forearm, with kinky hair and strong teeth. Alongside the bones were some clothing, shoes, a knife and a pouch, several carved with the initials W-H. Though the story of WH is lost, Bushra Junaid insists on remembering this man, as a memorial for "all the Black fathers and brothers who plied these waters, For all the unnamed mothers and daughters bound to plantations" and for all they experienced before and after becoming seafarers.

She wonders at his origins and the memories he may have carried from his homeland whether perhaps West Africa, the Caribbean, the American south or even Nova Scotia. Was he taken by force or did he enlist to be a sailor? Did he fight battles, learn to read and write or acquire other skills? Was he treated fairly or discriminated against? And what of his family? With her questions, Bushra Junaid gives WH's life a legacy.
All these things we can't possibly know–
They have only made my curiosity grow
About all the possible lives you have lived.

I don't know from whence you came,
And I don't know your rightful name, but you

Respect is due. It's time that you
Were laid to rest anew.
From The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor by Bushra Junaid
Born to Jamaican and Nigerian parents, Bushra Junaid accepts a responsibility to tell the story of WH, in essence claiming his bones as family. And with the telling of these possible stories, Bushra Junaid ensures that WH is honoured and will never be forgotten to history.
Some may say I've got no skin in the game,
Yet if it's really all the same,
This child of the diaspora would like to claim
You as kin.
Bushra Junaid is the respected illustrator of Adwoa Badoa's Nana's Cold Days (Groundwood, 2002) but The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor is her debut picture book as author and illustrator, and I think she successfully tells a story with great heart and lyricism. WH's true history may never be known but he will not be dismissed, and her words make us think about what that history may be and what the artifacts may tell us and what they don't. (Appended to the story are photographs of these artifacts housed at The Rooms in St. John's NFLD as well as extensive background and historical notes and references.)
Though WH's story may be a simple one of birth, life and death, that story's context is complex. As such, the simplicity of Bushra Junaid's art of lines and shapes created from pen and ink and watercolours complement her words. There is far too much that could be part of WH's story, so by focusing on simple vignettes of villages or ships at sea, Bushra Junaid grounds the man in the tangible.
From The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor by Bushra Junaid
I know that teachers will undoubtedly be using The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor for teaching purposes, especially for history–a list of discussion questions as part of an appended teachers' guide will be ever so useful–but this picture book should be seen as an exemplar for empathy and compassion for times and people gone and unknown. History, legacies and ancestry cannot always be corroborated but by giving them attention, even through speculation, we honour them.

January 17, 2023

Crescent Moon Friends

Written by Wadia Samadi and Mo Duffy Cobb
Illustrated by Lisa Lypowy
Acorn Press
978 -1-773660967
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
Two girls. Two cultures. Two families. Two sets of traditions. One moon under which their differences are more similar than at first seen.
From Crescent Moon Friends by Wadia Samadi and Mo Duffy Cobb, illustrated by Lisa Lypowy
Aisha joins Amelia's class in Canada after leaving war-torn Afghanistan. When they become reading partners, they also become friends, sharing traditions of their cultures from games and food to celebrations and beliefs.

As they share, they also learn. Amelia's family follows Islamic traditions of peace and prayer while Amelia's teaches compassion and kindness. The two girls also have different dispositions, Aisha leaning to the maths and sciences and Amelia to the arts. One has the heart and mind of a scientist while the other one of a dreamer and a poet. And though they both love the moon, they see it differently.
From Crescent Moon Friends by Wadia Samadi and Mo Duffy Cobb, illustrated by Lisa Lypowy
It's relevant that the crescent moon, an important symbol of Islam, draws the attention of both girls. Still even in their different relationships with the celestial body, they appreciate how it is seen by the other. 

Afghanistan-born Wadia Samadi and P.E.I.'s Mo Duffy Cobb wanted to tell a story of two different girls who find commonalities in their differences. And young readers will learn how being different is okay but also will recognize that the differences aren't as contrary as some might expect. Amelia and Aisha are just to girls who have been brought up in different traditions and, with the sharing of those traditions, their friendship is strengthened.
From Crescent Moon Friends by Wadia Samadi and Mo Duffy Cobb, illustrated by Lisa Lypowy
Whether she's depicting Canada or Afghanistan in her illustrations, Edmonton's Lisa Lypowy uses watercolours to keep them bright and atmospheric. Even with her colours and shapes, Lisa Lypowy shows how similar the girls and their lives are while different in temperaments, landscapes and weather, clothing and customs. 

Wadia Samadi and Mo Duffy Cobb end their book with blurbs about Prince Edward Island and Kabul, Afghanistan. In one last manifestation, they compare and contrast the two locations and help young readers see, yet again, that separating ourselves along lines of differences hurts us but finding our connections makes us better.

January 12, 2023

Sprout Branches Out

Written and illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner
Roaring Brook Press
40 pp.
Ages 3-7
January 2023
While some young people are happy to stay close to home, there are others who are driven to see what's out there, to take on a challenge of finding their own way and maybe something different and better. This story is for all who wonder about unimaginable opportunities and take the chance to find out.
From Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner
Sprout lives on a porch with an assortment of other plants. But Sprout is not growing. She has only two leaves and she is convinced that if she were in the wild with bigger and wiser trees, real light and loads of water then she would flourish. One day, a flyer comes to the house promising a wonderful experience in nature and Sprout packs her bag and says, "Seed ya later!"
From Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner
Sprout is encouraged by what she sees in the woods: loads of trees, some so leafy they have beards; animals; bushes; and grass. Then night comes.
She wanted the woods to put leaves on her chest, not make her shake like one!
From Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner
 She heads out again, this time reaching an old growth forest where she is sure that with the knowledge of the tall and wise trees she will begin to grow. But their knowledge is far beyond her reach.
Let's dig in so you can hit a growth spurt. We'll start with math and square roots.
Again, Sprout moves on. This time she finds herself in a moist jungle, convinced the excess moisture will do the trick. But it, like the other places, is not what she expects or needs. Of course, this is when she realizes there is no place like home.

Kelowna's Jesssika von Innerebner has illustrated a number of picture books and chapter books, as well as written her own series, Kevin the Unicorn, but Sprout Branches Out is her first book for me to review on CanLit for LittleCanadians. If her wordplay and artwork in Sprout Branches Out is any indication of her talent, then I've been missing out. It's the playfulness of her art and her words that will tickle a young reader–and this old one–while telling a story about growing up and moving on but knowing that home can still be a pretty great place to be. Sprout's innocence is laced with hope for something better but her puns and those of her co-characters take the reader from the serious message to one of laughs. But, Jessika von Innerebner is first and foremost an artist and her illustrations reflect her expertise in bringing images to her message. They are lively and lighthearted and though she may stick primarily with a green palette–appropriate for a story characterized by plants and the wilds of the natural world–she gives us boldness and diversity of colour to show us the richness of Sprout's familiar and unfamiliar worlds.
We all know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side but sometimes you have to go take a look so that you can know how green your grass really is. For some, the journey will encourage us to seek out a new life but for others it will be a reminder that growth can happen at home too. (By the way, if your little one decides to start their own sprout, instructions are included.) For Sprout, she had to go out into the wild to come to the realization that home was a good place for her to grow. I guess branching out can sometimes lead to sticking to your roots.

January 09, 2023

Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi

Written by Jan L. Coates
Illustrated by François Thisdale
Red Deer Press
32 pp.
Ages 6-9
Though a fictionalized account of the relationship between historical persons Anna Maria dal Violin (also known as Anna Maria della Pietà) and composer Antonio Vivaldi, Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi is a telling story of a child's musicality and a mentorship that galvanized it.
From Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi by Jan L. Coates, illus. by François Thisdale
An orphan at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, Anna Maria is guided by the school's music director, Maestro Vivaldi. While other girls laugh at her ways, the child finds family and friendship, as well as her voice, in her violin through the music she sees as colours and textures. As a synesthete –"Music paints beautiful colours for me, and shapes"–Anna Maria is encouraged by Vivaldi who calls it a rare gift. Though she is only eight, he places her in the exclusive orphan choir called the Figlie del Coro. Ignoring the disapproval of the older musicians, she thrives, following his instructions–"Let your bow dance delicately, like a bee sipping nectar"–and pours herself into her music.
From Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi by Jan L. Coates, illus. by François Thisdale
When the Maestro takes her to see Marco Ricci's landscape paintings, to witness the inspiration for his latest poems which would become his Four Seasons, he decides Anna Maria will be the soloist for the concertos. And when she ultimately performs the masterpiece, her music paints each season as an image rife with colours and textures and heart. She is no longer alone; she has a famiglia musicale.
From Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi by Jan L. Coates, illus. by François Thisdale
Historical fiction does not often take a picture book format though it is an inspired configuration for blending the real with the fabricated. We know that Nova Scotian author Jan L. Coates builds her story on the real Vivaldi and Anna Maria but embeds it in speculation of the child's synesthesia–seeing colours and shapes with the music–and Vivaldi's mentorship of her. By allowing Anna Maria's music to grow and her gift to be nurtured, Vivaldi elevates his music along with the child. Anna Maria dal Violin may be known in musical circles, but Jan L. Coates introduces her here as a child with challenges. By focusing on her humble beginnings as an orphan without family, Jan L. Coates inspires young readers to find their passion, ignore the detractors and focus on that which brings joy and accomplishment. Anna Maria had to find her family in her music and she does so successfully, with Vivaldi's help.

I have always said that there is an ethereal quality to François Thisdale's illustrations. He blends acrylic painting and drawing with photography and digitally creates sublime artwork that may be grounded in reality, here in an 18th century Venice, but it has a heavenly nature with its filmy backgrounds. There may be a very real basilica and a charming tuxedo cat ever present, but Anna Maria's music takes her life into the celestial. Her feet may be planted on a patterned floor or rug but, when she sees the music which François Thisdale helps us see, she and her story are elevated to greater heights.

Anna Maria dal Violin may or may not have had synesthesia but her musicality which was nurtured by her relationship with Maestro Antonio Vivaldi is not in question. The two musicians may have been inspired in different ways but, in Jan L. Coates and François Thisdale's story, they will forever be linked as protégée and master, or rather Maestro, and their story will remain as colourful and textured as the music Anna Maria voiced.

January 04, 2023

The Tray of Togetherness

Written and illustrated by Flo Leung
Owlkids Books
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
November 2022 

While one part of the world has just celebrated the shift of the year from 2022 to 2023, another community will be preparing for the Lunar New Year on January 22. Across Asia and Asian diaspora globally, preparations are being made to ensure an advantageous Chinese New Year. There will be cleaning of households, purchasing of new clothes and fireworks, decorating with red lanterns and more, and, finally, the preparing of food for a multi-generational family dinner. And part of that meal will  be a tray of togetherness, a platter of sweets that carries tradition, good wishes and hospitality. 

From The Tray of Togetherness by  Flo Leung
With the arrival of her grandmother, a child knows it's time to start getting ready for the new year's party to celebrate the "new moon that begins each brand-new year." But first, they must head out to the shops to buy all the goodies to fill their tray of eight sections, a lucky number that "means our happiness will grow and grow." Each purchase is selected with care and meaning. From the candied winter melon for good health, candies for a sweet life and the pistachios for happiness, delectables are procured so that they might be shared along with good wishes.

From The Tray of Togetherness by  Flo Leung
Then the child and her family share those treats and accompanying good wishes with others, including at a red-festooned New Year party that brings family together both in person and virtually to celebrate.

Whether you are a young reader whose family will be celebrating the Lunar New Year or a teacher or parent who wants to use this new year as a teachable moment about heritage and diversity of celebrations, The Tray of Togetherness will foster a fellowship of understanding and appreciation. This may be Toronto illustrator Flo Leung's first picture book, but she knows food, she knows art, and she knows her family's traditions. Together she has created an explosion of brightness and comfort in her words and her illustrations and informs about traditions for the Lunar New Year. There is a warmth in her colours, with red, orange and gold emphasized throughout, and an invitation to share in the family's festivities and good fortune. Flo Leung, who specializes in food and culinary illustration, knows how to create enticing food images, whether in the form of a market stall, a tray of sweets or a bowl of fruit. But it's her people who welcome us into their world to bask in their conviviality and intimacy of familial celebration.
From The Tray of Togetherness by Flo Leung
Whether your family is celebrating the Lunar New Year with family and your own tray of togetherness or with a reading of The Tray of Togetherness, I wish you happiness and bounty for the new year.

January 01, 2023

Upcoming Releases for Winter and Spring 2023

Each year this list gets longer and it takes me more time to prepare this listing of upcoming books by Canadian authors and illustrators. This is a great sign of a healthy Canadian publishing industry so I'm not complaining. You, however, might do so when you see how extensive your To Be Read list will become when you've checked out all the new picture books, early readers, middle grade, young adult and non-fiction books coming out in the first half of 2023. And there's loads more coming in the latter half of 2023 too. (Thankfully, many of our friends and family already know that books are a go-to gift for us, right?)

I can't possibly list all the ones I'm looking forward to reading though I've already read a few and loved them, including Queen of the Dead by Lesley Livingston, I've Got You Babe by Paul Coccia, and Otis and Peanut by Naseem Hrab and Kelly Collier. What other books are on my radar for 2023? How about:
  • Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow
  • A Green Velvet Secret by Vicki Grant
  • The Umbrella House by Colleen Nelson
  • Gnome is Where Your Heart Is by Casey Lyall
  • Green Papayas by Nhung Tran Davies, illus. by Gillian Newland
  • My Baba's Garden by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith
  • and.....too many to list!
I hope you get some ideas about where to spend your book dollars or what request at your local library. Everything helps to keep publishing in Canada and of books by Canadian creators alive and well.

Picture Books 
Anzu the Great Listener by Benson Shum (Roaring Brook Press)
Black Girl, Black Girl by Angela Bowden, illus. by Letitia Fraser (Nimbus)
Bless Ye the Lord: Praise Song of the Three Holy Children by Frances Tyrrell (Wisdom Tales)
Brady Brady and the Super Skater by Mary Shaw, illus. by Chuck Temple (Scholastic Canada) >>> Brady Brady series
If You Met the Easter Bunny by Holly Hatam (Random House Books for Young Readers)
The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S. K. Ali, illus. by Hatem Aly (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner (Roaring Brook Press)
When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan (North Winds Press)
Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
Awesome Orange Birthday by Mitali Banerjee Ruths, illus. by Aaliya Jaleel (Scholastic) >>> The Party Diaries #1
Bat Poop Sparkles by Paula Johanson (Doublejoy Books)
The Enchanted Bridge by Zetta Elliott, illus. by Cherise Harris (Random House Books for Young Readers) >>> Dragons in a Bag 4
Hockey Super Six: Over Time by Kevin Sylvester (Scholastic Canada) 
Night Owl by Emily Jenkins, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic) >>> Upside Down Magic #8
The Pancake Problem by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Alexandra Bye (Tundra) >>> Weenie Featuring Frank and Beans 2
Pluto Rocket: New in Town by Paul Gilligan (Tundra) >>> new graphic novel series Pluto Rocket
The Raven's Revenge by Kevin Sands (Aladdin) >>> The Blackthorn Key 6
Return to Atlantis by Kate O'Hearn (Simon & Schuster) >>> Atlantis 2

Young Adult
Be With Me by Jessica Cunsolo (Wattpad)
The Everlasting Road by Wab Kinew (Tundra )>>> sequel to Walking In Two Worlds
Queen Among the Dead by Lesley Livingston (Zando Young Readers) >>> reviewed here
Then Everything Happens at Once by M-E Girard (HarperTeen)
Who Owns the Clouds? by Mario Brassard, illus. by Gérard DuBois (Tundra)

Little Black Lives Matter by Khodi Dill, illus. by Chelsea Charles (Triangle Square)


Picture Books
A is for Anne by Mo Duffy Cobb, illus. by Ellie Arscott (Pownal Street Press)
Cinderella--with Dogs! by Linda Bailey, illus. by Freya Hartas (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Dear Polar Bears by Gabrielle Prendergast, illus. by Marcus Cutler (Orca)
The Ewe Who Knew Who Knit You by Cara Kansala (Breakwater Books)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Little Krishna by Mahendra Singh (Feral House)
The Girl Who Hated Books by Manjusha Pawagi, illus. by Leanne Franson (Second Story Press) >>> 25th anniversary edition
No, No Baby! by Anne Hunter (Tundra)
Sally's Big Day by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Dawn Lo (Orca)
The Sniger and the Floose by Ashley Fayth, illus. byKatie Brosnan (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
Up Home by Shauntay Grant, illus. by Susan Tooke (Nimbus) >>> 15th anniversary edition

Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
Bigfoot Crossing by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (Orca) >>> Orca Currents
The Big Sting by Rachelle Delaney (Tundra)
Boldly Go by Eric Walters (Orca)>>> Book 2 in Teen Astronauts series
Dear Elsa by Marco Fraticelli (Red Deer Press)
Elliot Jelly-Legs and the Bobblehead Miracle by Yolanda Ridge, illus. by Sydney Barnes (Orca)
The Grace of Wild Things by Heather Fawcett (HarperCollins Canada) 
I Got You Babe by Paul Coccia (Orca) >>>Orca Currents
Izzy at the End of the World by K. A. Reynolds (HarperCollins Canada)
Like a Hurricane by Jonathan Bécotte, trans. by Jonathan Kaplansky  (Orca)
Meg and Greg: Scarlet and the Ring by Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae, illus. by Elisa Gutiérrez (Orca) >>> Orca Two Read 4, phonics stories specially designed to help children with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties
P. S. Tell No One by Vikki VanSickle (Scholastic Canada)
Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow (Scholastic Canada)
Skull Cat and the Curious Castle by Norman Shurtliff (Top Shelf Productions) >>> graphic novel in new series Skull Cat
Sonic The Hedgehog, Vol. 13: Battle for the Empire by Ian Flynn, illus. by Adam Bryce Thomas (IDW Publishing)
Spooky Sleuths: Don't Go Near the Water! by Natasha Deen, illus. by Lissy Marlin (Random House Books for Young Readers) >>> Spooky Sleuths series #3
The Superteacher Project by Gordon Korman (Scholastic Canada)

Young Adult
Countdown by M.J. McIsaac (Orca) >>> Orca Anchor
Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury (Margarent K. McElderry) 
Shanti Fights for Her Rights by Marcia E. Barss (OC Publishing)
Star Eaters by Brooke Carter (Orca) >>> Orca Anchor

100 Things You Don't Know About Atlantic Canada (For Kids) by Sal Sawler (Nimbus)
Akim Aliu: Dreamer (Original Graphic Memoir) by Akim Aliu and Greg Anderson Elysée, illus. by  (Graphix)
Grizzly Bears: Guardians of the Wilderness by Frances Backhouse (Orca) >>> Orca Wild 10 
How to High Tea with a Hyena (and Not Get Eaten) by Rachel Poliquin, illus. by Kathryn Durst (Tundra) >>> Polite Predators Book 2
I Remember...:Muslim Loyalty and Sacrifice in WW1 by Maidah Ahmad, illus. by Kristina Swarner (Kube Publishing)


Picture Books
Afikomen by Tziporah Cohen, illus. by Yaara Eshet (Groundwood)
Art and Joy: Best Friends Forever by Danielle Krysa (Prestel Junior)
The Bee Without Wings by Amberlea Williams (Princeton Architectural Press)
Biindigen! Amik Says Welcome by Nancy Cooper, illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Owlkids)
City Beet by Tziporah Cohen, illus. byUdayana Lugo (Sleeping Bear Press)
Dounia and the Magic Seeds by Marya Zarif (Owlkids)
Feelings with Tuktu and Friends by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Education) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English Edition
Grandpa's Stars by Carolyn Huizinga Mills, illus. by Samantha Lucy Haslem (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Harold the Iceberg Melts Down by Lisa Wyzlic, illus. by Rebecca Syracuse (Feiwel and Friends)
Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story by Nikki Tate, illus. by Katie Kath (Holiday House)
How to Be Human: A Bear’s Guide by Sophia Kolinas, illus. by Aparna Varma (Owlkids)
Meet Frank by Mavis Lui (Tilbury House)
My Baba's Garden by Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books) 
Play with Jay!: Fun and Games for Little Readers by Pascale Bonenfant (Orca)
Rainy Days by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Miki Sato (Pajama Press)
The Remembering Stone by Carey Sookocheff (Groundwood)
Smile So Big by Sunshine Quem Tenasco, illus. by Chief Lady Bird (North Winds Press)
Sometimes I Feel Like a River by Danielle Daniel, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Groundwood)
Sophia's Secrets by George M. Johnson, illus. by Sara Casilda (Clavis)
A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054 by James Gladstone, illus. by Yaara Eshet (Owlkids)
Storyteller Skye: Teachings from My Ojibway Grandfather by Lindsay Christina King, illus. by Carolyn Frank (Medicine Wheel)
Waking Ben Doldrums by Heather Smith, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (Orca)
What to Bring by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illus. by Ellen Rooney (Owlkids)
When Sunlight Tiptoes by Gillian Sze, illus. by Soyeon Kim (Orca)
When Things Aren’t Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books)
When You Were New by Jennifer Harris, illus. by Lenny Wen (HarperCollins)

Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
The Boy Who Woke the Sun by A. T. Woodley, illus. by Mike Deas (Red Deer Press)
A Green Velvet Secret by Vicki Grant (Tundra)
No Place Like Home by Linh Nguyen (HarperCollins)
The Rainbow, the Midwife, and the Birds: 4 Dene Tales by Raymond Yakeleya, illus. by Samantha Gibbon, Rich Théroux and Antoine Mountain (UpRoute) >>> Spirit of Nature series
Rescue by Marie Etchell (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
The Scroll of Chaos by Elsie Chapman (Scholastic)

Young Adult
Bliss Adair and the First Rule of Knitting by Jean Mills (Red Deer Press)
The Last Saxon King by Andrew Varga (Imbrifex Books) >>> A Jump in Time series, Book 1
Take Off! by Lea Beddia (Rebel Mountain Press)

Are We Having Fun Yet?: The Human Quest for a Good Time by Maria Birmingham, illus. byKaty Dockrill (Orca)
Do Fire Ants Fight Fires? How Animals Work in the Wild by Etta Kaner, illus. by Jenna Piechota (Owlkids)
Exploring the Sky by Day: The Equinox Guide to Weather and the Atmosphere by  Terence Dickinson, illus. by John Bianchi (Firefly Books)
Garden Wonders: A Guidebook for Little Green Thumbs by Sarah Grindler (Nimbus) >>> Little Explorers
Get Out and Vote! How You Can Shape the Future by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Emily Chu (Orca)
I Love My City by France Desmarais and Richard Adam, illus. by Yves Dumont (Pajama Press)
IsThisAnOlogy? by Amanda Dorothy Jean Bulman and Ruth Lawrence, illus. by Leon Chung (Breakwater Books)
A Newfoundland Alphabet by Dawn Baker (Pennywell Books) >>> 25th anniversary edition
No Horses in the House!: The Audacious Life of Artist Rosa Bonheur by Mireille Messier, illus. by Anna Bron (Orca)
Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Inuit Relocations: Resilience and Reconciliation by Frank James Tester and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski (Lorimer)
Righting Canada's Wrongs: The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children by Andrew Bomberry and Teresa Edwards (Lorimer)
Saving the Night: How Light Pollution Is Harming Life on Earth by Stephen Aitken (Orca)
The Sound of a Rainbow by Sharon Frayne (Latitude 46)
A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis by Kathy Stinson, illus. by Lauren Soloy (Greystone Kids)
What Do We Know About the Roswell Incident? by Ben Hubbard, illus. by Andrew Thomson (Penguin Workshop) >>> What Do We Know About? series
What Does Hate Look Like? by Sameea Jimenez and Corinne Promislow with Larry Schwartz (Second Story Press)


Picture Books
At the Supermarket by Caroline Fernandez, illus. by Shannon O'Toole (Common Deer Press) >>> The Adventures of Grandmasaurus 3
The Care and Keeping of Grandmas by Jennifer Mook-Sang, illus. by Yong Ling Kang (Tundra)
Gilly's Monster Trap by Cyndi Marko (Paula Wiseman Books)
The Girl Who Loved the Birds by Joseph Dandurand, illus. by Elinor Atkins (Nightwood Editions)
Green Papayas by Nhung Tran Davies, illus. by Gillian Newland (Red Deer Press)
Happy Birthday to Me by Thao Lam (Groundwood)
Here Babies, There Babies On the Farm by Nancy Cohen, illus. by Lori Joy Smith (Nimbus) >>>Here Babies, There Babies series
I Am Not a Ghost: The Canadian Pacific Railway by David Bouchard with Zhong-Yang Huang, illus. by Sean Huang (Plumleaf Press)
The Invitation by Stacey May Fowles, illus. by Marie Lafrance (Groundwood)
I, Sea: A Tale Told in Homonyms by Suzanne Sutherland, illus. by Ashley Barron (Owlkids)
The Island by Lori Doody (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
It's Time for Berries! by Ceporah Mearns, illus. by Jeremy Debicki (Inhabit Media)
The Last Two Crayons by Leah Freeman-Haskin, illus. by Shantala Robinson (Groundwood)
Lucy Tries Baseball by Lisa Bowes, illus. by  James Hearne (Orca) >>> Lucy Tries Sports 6
Margot and the Moon Landing by A.C. Fitzpatrick, illus. by Erika Medina (Annick)
Oops! by Julie Massy, illus. by Pascale Bonenfant (Orca)
Princess Pru and the Ogre on the Hill by Maureen Fergus, illus. by Danesh Mohiuddin (Owlkids) 
Round and Round the Garden: Nursery Rhymes and Songs by Olivia Skelhorne-Gross (Plumleaf Press) >>> illustrations are hand-embroidered
Sandy Toes: A Summer Adventure by Shauntay Grant, illus. by Candice Bradley (Abrams Appleseed) >>> A Let's Play Outside Book
The Secret Pocket by Peggy Janicki, illus. by Carrielynn Victor (Orca) 
Serge, the Snail Without a Shell by Harriet Alida Lye and Rosa Rankin-Gee, illus. by Andrea Blinick (Nimbus)
The Song That Called Them Home by David A. Robertson, illus. by Maya McKibbin (Tundra) 
Travel Guide for Monsters Part Deux: A Canadian Adventure by Lori Degman and Jocelyn Watkinson, illus. by Marcus Cutler (Sleeping Bear Press)
Welcome, Rain! by Sheryl McFarlane, illus. by Christine Wei (Greystone Kids)
When Stars Arise by E.G. Alaraj, illus. by Martyna Czub (Orca)
The Woman and Her Bear Cub, retold by Jaypeetee Arnakak, illus. by Dayna B. Griffiths (Inhabit Media)

Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
An Artificial Test by David Cole, illus. by Shannon O'Toole (Common Deer Press) >>> The Math Kids 8
Asha and Baz Meet Hedy Lamarr by Caroline Fernandez, illus. by Dharmali Patel (Common Deer Press) >>> Asha and Baz series
Bee and Flea and the Puddle Problem by Anna Humphrey, illus. by Mike Deas (Owlkids) >>> Bee and Flea 2
Below the Surface by Allison Finley (Orca) >>> Orca Currents
Big Winner by Sylvia Taekema (Orca ) >>> Orca Currents
Captain Skidmark Dances with Destiny by Jennifer A. Irwin (Charlesbridge)
The Grave Thief by Dee Hahn (Tundra)
Jacob's Dilemma by Daphne Greer (Nimbus)
Jude Saves the World by Ronnie Riley (Scholastic)
Marshmallow Martians: Show and Smell by Deanna Kent, illus. by Neil Hooson (Random House)
Mission to Mars by Eric Walters (Orca) >>> Teen Astronauts 3
The Mystery of the Painted Fan by Linda Trinh, illus. by Clayton Nguyen (Annick) >>> The Nguyen Kids 3
The Not-So-Perfect Plan by Christina Matula (Inkyard Press) >>> sequel to The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei
Otis & Peanut by Naseem Hrab, illus. by Kelly Collier (Owlkids) >>> new early reader graphic novel series
The Sister Switch by Sarah Mlynowski and Debbie Rigaud, illus. by Mazine Vee (Scholastic) >>> Best Wishes #2
Sixties Girl by MaryLou Driedger (Wandering Fox)
Starry Henna Night by Mitali Banerjee Ruths, illus. by Aaliya Jaleel (Scholastic) >>> The Party Diaries 2
Swept Away: Ruth Mornay and the Unwanted Clues by Natalie Hyde (DCB)
The Weird Sisters: A Robin, a Ribbon, and a Lawn Mower by Mark David Smith, illus. by Kari Rust (Owlkids) >>> The Weird Sisters Detective Agency 2
Who Will Win? by Arihhonni David (Holiday House) >>> I Like to Read book

Young Adult
Ahiahia the Orphan by Levi Illuitok, illus. by Nate Wells (Inhabit Media)
As I Enfold You in Petals by Richard Van Camp, illus. Scott B. Henderson, Donovan Yaciuk and Nickolej Villiger (HighWater Press) >>>> The Spirit of Denendeh 2
Baby Drag Queen by C. A. Tanaka (Orca) >>> Orca Soundings
Buffalo Flats by Martine Leavitt (Groundwood)
Cleaning Up by Leanne Lieberman (Groundwood)
Danger and Other Unknown Risks by Ryan North and  Erica Henderson, illus. by Erica Henderson (Penguin) >>> graphic novel
Funeral Songs for Dying Girls by Cherie Dimaline (Tundra) 
The Hoop and the Harm by Jawara Pedican (Lorimer)
No Limit on Love by Alison Lister (Lorimer)
Secret Me by Angel Jendrick (Lorimer)
Shades of Black by Carlos Anthony (Lorimer)
Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong (Tundra)
The Song of Wrath by Sarah Raughley (Margaret K. McElderry) >>> Bones of Ruin Trilogy, Book 2
Standing on Neptune by Valerie Sherrard (DCB) >>> novel in verse
The Stars of Mount Quixx by S. M. Beiko (ECW Press) >>> The Brindlewatch Quintet, Book One
Stuck with You by Nathan Burgoine (Lorimer)
That Vancouver Summer by Tony Correia (Lorimer)
Visions of the Crow by Wanda John-Kehewin, illus. by nicole marie burton (HighWater Press) >>> graphic novel series Dreams, Book 1
Wingman by Jean Mills (Orca) >>> Orca Soundings

All of Me Is Nature: Exploring My Five Senses Outside by Ashley Renee Jefferson, illus. by Kristiana Vellucci (Little Feminist Press)
Arborama: The Marvelous World of Trees by Lisa Voisard, trans. by Jeffrey K. Butt (Helvetiq)
Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science Is Making Us Super by Heather Camlot, illus. by Victor Wong (Owlkids)
Biphobia: Deal With It and be more than a bystander by Gordon Nore (Lorimer)
Good Food, Bad Waste: Let's Eat for the Planet by Erin Silver, illus. by Suharu Ogawa (Orca) >>> Orca Think
Hooray for DNA!: How a Bear and a Bug Are a Lot Like Us by Pauline Thompson, illus. by Greg Pizzoli (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
You are a Star, Jane Goodall by Dean Robbins, illus. by Hatem Aly (Scholastic)
Maud Lewis Colours by Shanda LaRamee-Jones, illus. by Carol McDougall (Nimbus)
The Science and Superpowers of Seaweed: A Guide for Kids by Amanda Swinimer (Harbour Publishing)
Super Small: Miniature Marvels of the Natural World by Tiffany Stone, illus. by Ashley Spires (Greystone Kids)
Walking Together by Elder Dr. Albert D. Marshall and Louise Zimanyi, illus. by Emily Kewageshig (Annick)
Wings, Waves & Webs: Patterns in Nature by Robin Mitchell Cranfield (Greystone Kids)


Picture Books
Âmî Osâwâpikones / Dear Dandelion by SJ Okemow (Annick)
Awake, Asleep by Kyle Lukoff, illus. by Nadia Alam (Orchard Books)
Dark Cloud by Anna Lazowski, illus. by Penny Neville-Lee (Kids Can Press)
Dear Street by Lindsay Zier-Vogel, illus. by Caroline Bonne-Müller (Kids Can Press)
Flip Flop Flapjack!: Wildhorse Jack and the First Stampede Breakfast by Brenda Joyce Leahy, illus. by Melissa Bruglemans-LaBelle (Red Barn Books)
A Flower is a Friend by Frieda Wishinsky, illus. by Karen Patkau (Pajama Press)
Forever Our Home / kâkikê kîkinaw by Tonya Simpson, illus. by Carla Joseph (Orca) >>> dual language in English and Plains Cree
Gretel and Hansel by Bee Waeland (Orca)
Heart Berry Bling by Jenny Kay Dupuis, illus. by Eva Campbell (HighWater Press)
I Am BIG! by Itah Sadu, illus. by Marley Berot (Second Story Press)
I Built a Cabin by Sara Jewell, illus. by Charlotte Manning (Running the Goat)
I’ll Be a Chicken Too by Lana Vanderlee, illus. by Mike Deas (Orca)
I Want to Build a Seahouse by Whitney Moran, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Nimbus)
Jungle Cat by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Udayana Lugo (Orca)
The Little Folk by Levi Illuitok, illus. by Steve James (Inhabit Media)
Malaika, Carnival Queen by Nadia L. Hohn, illus. by Irene Luxbacher (Groundwood)
Minnow: The girl who became part fish by Willie Poll, illus. by Bailey Macabre (Medicine Wheel)
The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Seen by Nadia Devi Umadat, illus. by Christine Wei (Second Story Press)
The Never-Ending Sweater by Erin Welch, illus. by Dorothy Leung (Orca)
Paradise for Cats: A Return to the Rainbow Bridge by Adrian Raeside (Harbour Publishing)
Percy's Perfect Friend by Lana Button, illus. by Peggy Collins (Pajama Press)
Phoenix ani’ Gichichi-i’/Phoenix Gets Greater by Marty Wilson-Trudeau, illus. byMegan Kyak-Monteith (Second Story Press) >>> dual-language edition in English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Riparia's River by Michael Caduto, illus. by Olga Pastuchiv (Tilbury House)
Salma Makes a Home by Danny Ramadan, illus. by Anna Bron (Annick)
The Shape of You by Muon Thi Van, illus. by Miki Sato (Kids Can Press)
The Smallest Owlet by Georgia Graham (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
The Stars by Jacques Goldstyn (Greystone Kids)
Two Green Birds by Geraldo Valério (Groundwood)
Ukaliq Learns to Play Inuktitut Baseball by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. by Ali Hinch (Inhabit Media) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English Edition
Vee in Between by Valerie Kaiyang Wood, illus. by Angela Poon (Second Story Press)
We Belong to the Drum / mistikwaskihk kitipêyimikonaw by Sandra Lamouche, illus. by Axby Whitecalf (Orca) >>> dual language in English and Plains Cree
What Will I Discover? by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illus. by Rachel Qiuqi (Greystone Kids)
When You Can Swim by Jack Wong (Orchard Books)
Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
Bernice and the Georgian Bay Gold by Jessica Outram (Second Story Press)
Binky the Space Cat: The Top Secret Collection by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press) >>> boxed set of all five Binky books
Gnome is Where Your Heart Is by Casey Lyall (Greenwillow Books)
The Journal of Anxious Izzy Parker by Alma Fullerton (Second Story Press)
Poppa and His Drum by Judith M. Doucette, illus. by Rebecca Reid (Pennywell Books)
Squire & Knight by Scott Chantler (First Second) >>> graphic novel
Secrets of Jarrow by Bill Slavin (Renegade Arts Entertainment) >>> Mordecai Crow Trilogy graphic novel series, Book 1
Tegan and Sara: Junior High by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin, illus. by Tillie Walden (Farrar Straus & Giroux) >>> graphic novel
ThunderBoom by Jack Briglio, illus. by Claudia Dávila (Kids Can Press) >>> graphic novel
The Unlovable Alina Butt by Ambreen Butt-Hussain (Orca)
Up for Grabs by Michelle Mulder (DCB)

Young Adult
The Call of the Rift: Wake by Jae Waller (ECW Press) >>> Call of the Rift Book 4
The Great Outer Dark by David Neil Lee (Poplar Press) >>> The Midnight Games 3
The Melancholy of Summer by Louisa Onomé (HarperCollins)
A Mist of Memories by Kate Blair (DCB)
Of Light and Shadow by Tanaz Bhathena (Penguin Teen)
The Rez Doctor by Gitz Crazyboy, illus. by Veronika Barinova (HighWater Press) >>>graphic novel
Alone: The Journeys of Three Young Refugees by Paul Tom, illus. by Mélanie Baillairgé (Groundwood)
Bears, Bears, Bears by Wayne Lynch (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
The Best Way to Get Your Way by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illus. by Chanelle Nibbelink (Kids Can Press)
Big Bangs and Black Holes: A Graphic Novel Guide to the Universe by Jeremie Francfort, illus. by HERJI (Helvetiq)
Breaking News: Why Media Matters by Raina Delisle, illus. by Julie McLaughlin (Orca) >>> Orca Think
Cities: How Humans Live Together by Megan Clendenan, illus. by Suharu Ogawa (Orca) >>> Orca Timeline
City of Neighbors by Andrea Curtis, illus. by Katy Dockrill (Groundwood) >>> ThinkCities 4
Evolution Under Pressure: How We Change Nature and How Nature Changes Us by Yolanda Ridge, illus. by Dane Thibeault (Annick)
Indigenous Ingenuity: A celebration of traditional North American knowledge by Deidre Havrelock and Edward Kay (Christy Ottaviano Books/Little, Brown)
A Kid’s Guide to Plants of the Pacific Northwest with Cool Facts, Activities and Recipes by Philippa Joly (Harbour Publishing)
Kimiko Murakami: A Japanese-Canadian Pioneer by Haley Healey, illus. by Kimiko Fraser (Heritage House)
Lilian Bland: An Amazing Aviatrix by Haley Healey, illus. by Kimiko Fraser (Heritage House)
Meet Buffy Sainte-Marie by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas (Scholastic Canada) >>> Scholastic Canada Biography
Mountain of Fire: Into the Heart of Volcanoes by Julie Roberge, illus. by Aless MC (Orca)
Nothing Could Stop Her: The Courageous Life of Ruth Gruber by Rona Arato, illus. Isabel Muñoz (Kar-Ben)
Polar: Wildlife at the Ends of the Earth by L. E. Carmichael, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (Kids Can Press)
She's a Mensch! Ten Amazing Jewish Women by Anne Dublin (Second Story Press)
Space on Earth: How Thinking Like an Astronaut Can Help Save the Planet by Dave Williams with Linda Pruessen, illus. by Sho Uehara (Annick)
Too Much Trash: How Litter is Hurting Animals by Joan Marie Galat (Orca) >>> Orca Footprints
The Van Buren Sisters vs. the Pants Police by J. F. Fox, illus. by Anne Kwan (Kids Can Press)
World Shakers: Inspiring Women Activists by Helen Wolfe (Second Story Press)

Picture Books
Ary's Trees by Deborah Kerbel, illus. by Sophia Choi (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Emi and Mini by Hanako Masutani, illus. by Stéphane Jorisch (Tradewind Books)
Granny Left Me a Rocket Ship by Heather Smith, illus. by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press)
Gunner's Big Day by Trevor Taylor, illus. by Marcus Cutler (Inhabit Education) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English
I Am a Meadow Mermaid by Kallie George, illus. by Elly MacKay (Tundra)
My Afternoon Guest by Aaron Zevy, illus. by Jeric Tan (Tumbleweed Press)
My Pet Hawk by Etua Snowball, illus. by Erin Hunting (Inhabit Education)
Nova Scotia 1-2-3 by Yolanda Poplawska (Nimbus)
The Only Astronaut by Mahak Jain, illus. by Andrea Stegmaier (Kids Can Press)
The Rock Box by Don McKay, illus. by Sally McKay (Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
Spencer the Siksik Cleans Up by Shawna Thomson, illus. by Nadia Sammurtok (Inhabit Education)
This Is Not My Story by Ryan Uytdewilligen, illus. by David Huyck (Kids Can Press)
What If I'm Not a Cat? by Kari-Lynn Winters, illus. by Kelly Collier (Kids Can Press)

Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
Burt the Beetle Lives Here! by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press) >>> Burt the Beetle 2
The Girl Who Swam with Sea Monsters by Shawna Thomson, illus. by Tamara Campeau (Inhabit Education)
Good as Gold by Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic) >>> Whatever After 14
Haunted Canada 12: More Frightening True Tales by Joel A. Sutherland (Scholastic Canada)
The Hidden World of Gnomes by Lauren Soloy (Tundra) 
Lore Isle by Jiin Kim (Nimbus)
Mahahaa by Neil Christopher, ed. by Jeela Palluq-Cloutier, illus. by Babah Kalluk (Inhabit Media)
Niitu and Chips: Childhood Moments byBabah Kalluk (Inhabit Media) >>> graphic novel
The Umbrella House by Colleen Nelson (Pajama Press)
Wednesday Wilson Connects the Dots by Bree Galbraith, illus. by Morgan Goble (Kids Can Press) >>> Wednesday Wilson 3

Young Adult
Alice of the Rocks by E. Graziani (Fire & Ice Young Adult Books) >>> Book 1 in The Alice Series
Cardboard City by Katarina Jovanovic (Tradewind Books)
Legends and Liars by Morgan Rhodes (Razorbill) >>> Book 2 in Echoes and Empires duology
Something More by Jackie Khalilieh (Tundra)
When It All Syncs Up by Maya Ameyaw (Annick)
Drawn to Change the World: 16 Youth Climate Activists, 16 Artists by Emma Reynolds, illus. by Emma Reynolds, Ann Maulina, Natasha Donovan, Teo DuVall, Devon Holzwarth, Erin Hunting, Margarita Kukhtina, Victoria Maderna & Federico Piatti, Shivana Sookdeo, Anoosha Syed, Jade Zhang, Derick Brooks, Gloria Félix, Natasha Nayo, Bill Masuku, Gloria Carolina Félix Orozco (HarperCollins)>>> graphic novel collection
Killing the Wittigo: Indigenous Culture-Based Approaches to Waking Up, Taking Action, and Doing the Work of Healing bySuzan ne Methot (ECW Press) 
Managing Your Emojis: 100 Devotions for Navigating Your Feelings by Caroline Pignat (HarperCollins) 
My First East Coast Bird Book by Jeffrey C. Domm (Formac)


Picture Books
Abolition is Love by Ware Syrus Marcus, illus. by Alannah Fricker (Seven Stories Press) 
Aldo Renaldo and the Renegade Alphabet by George M. Johnson, illus. by Dawn Burn (Prende Publishing)
Angus Is Here by Hadley Dyer, illus. by Paul Covello (Annick)
Beatrice and Barb by Kate Jenks Landry, illus. by Vivian Mineker (Kids Can Press)
Because I Already Loved You by Andrée-Anne Cyr, illus. by Bérengère Delaporte (Groundwood)
Chompy Has a Friend for Lunch by Mark Satterthwaite and Pedro Eboli (Scholastic Canada)
Garden of Lost Socks by Esi Eduygan, illus. by Amelie Dubois (HarperCollins)
Hopscotch by Marie Louise Gay (Groundwood) 
Julie and the Mango Tree by Sadé Smith, illus. by by Sayada Ramdial (Chronicle)
The Life and Art of Ningiukulu Teevee by Napatsi Folger (Inhabit Media )
The Little Green Envelope by Gillian Sze, illus. by Claudine Crangle (Groundwood)
Maybe a Whale by Kirsten Pendreigh, illus. by Crystal Smith (Groundwood)
My Ittu: The Biggest, Best Grandpa by Laura Deal, illus. by Thamires Paredes (Inhabit Media)
The Not-So-Scary Monster by Valérie Fontaine, illus. by Fanny Berthiaume (Scholastic Canada)
The Only Way to Make Bread by Cristina Quintero illus. by Sarah Gonzales (Tundra)
Sharon, Lois and Bram's Peanut Butter and Jelly by Sharon Hampson, Lois Lillienstein, Bram Morrison and Randi Hampson (Tundra)
The Story of the Fox and the Wolf by Jaypeetee Arnakak, illus. by Nuria Muro Gio (Inhabit Media) >>> bilingual Inuktitut and English
Super Family! by Cale Atkinson (Tundra) >>> Simon and Chester 3
We Love You as Much as a Fox Loves Its Tail by Masiana Kelly, illus. by Tamara Campeau (Inhabit Media) 
When the Ocean Came to Town by Sal Sawler, illus. by Emma Fitzgerald (Nimbus)
When Rubin Plays by Gracey Zhang (Orchard Books) 
Zig Zag Zeffy by Barb Miller (OC Publishing)
Early Readers & Middle Grade Fiction
Abby in Neverland by Sarah Mlynowski (Scholastic) >>> Whatever After Special Edition 3
Megabat Megastar by Anna Humphrey, illus by Kris Easler (Tundra) >>> Megabat 5
Mixed Up by Gordon Korman (Scholastic)
At the Speed of Gus by Richard Scrimger (Scholastic Canada)
The Hippie Pirates by Lana Shupe, illus. by Caroline Clarke (Nimbus) 
Monster vs. Boy by Karen Krossing (Charlesbridge)
The Star Woman by David A. Robertson (Tundra) >>> The Misewa Saga 4
The Swamp Thingy by Dom Pelletier (Scholastic Canada) >>> The Lunch Club 6
Tunnel of Terror by Jeff Szpirglas (Scholastic Canada) >>> Countdown to Danger
The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
Ullak and the Creatures of the Sea by Suzie Napayok-Short, illus. by Sho Uehara (Inhabit Education)

Young Adult
Focus, Click, Wind by Amanda West Lewis (Groundwood)
Heavenly Tyrant by Xiran Jay Zhao (Tundra) >>> Iron Widow
A Pretty Plausible Premise by Karen Rivers (Algonquin Books for Young Readers)
What a Desi Girl Wants by Sabina Khan (Scholastic) 
Nutshimit by Melissa Mollen Dupuis, illus. by Elise Gravel (North Winds Press)
So Long, Stress! by Helaine Becker, illus. by Joanna Sevilla (Scholastic)
The Life and Art of Ningiukulu Teevee by Napatsi Folger (Inhabit Education)
At almost 300 books releasing between January and July, 
young readers and those who select books for them 
are sure to find something to grab their reading attention.