October 30, 2023

Pigs Can't Fly

Written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards
North Winds Press (Scholastic Canada)
32 pp.
Ages 3-8
October 2023
Out of the creative heart and hands of Governor General Award-winning author-illustrator Wallace Edwards comes the message to look beyond the seemingly impossible and to imagine.
From Pigs Can't Fly, written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards
Many of us have heard the phrase "when pigs fly" and accept the logic of this statement. And the nature of adynatons like "when pigs fly" is the impossibility of them. But Wallace Edwards makes us see beyond the logical and real and imagine otherwise. In rhyming verse and brilliant artwork, Wallace Edwards asks us to consider the impossible as possible. From that flying pig to a turtle chewing gum and a chameleon that smiles, it may all be feasible. In fact, Wallace Edwards provides us with graphic evidence.
Fish never sing, I have been told,
They think it's too much trouble.
But this fish sings an old, sweet song,
Then saves it in a bubble.
From Pigs Can't Fly, written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards
Depicting some of his favourite characters–alligators, mice, pigs, rhinos, and elephants–Wallace Edwards offers hope for the impossible. And that hope, to think beyond what we've all been told, leads to his final proposition about love, contrary to the notion that nothing lasts forever.
From Pigs Can't Fly, written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards
I know that when we're told "when pigs fly" that it's often to indicate something will never happen. It's a statement that puts the kibosh on any expectation of something coming to pass. But Wallace Edwards restores that expectation of possibility, through his words and his art, and reminds us ultimately that love can endure all. (His dedication suggests that his does, giving him "the happily-ever-after part" of his life.) His words are clear and still playful, just like his sophisticated art. The worm in a pointe shoe dances for his party of a frog, mouse, miniature lion, robot, mallard, elephant with red-painted toenails, warblers (maybe?) and a glorious orchid. The frog plays his bagpipes wearing his blue-green tartan and sporran in the highlands. And the mouse juggles a candy cane, key, apple core and teacup for his fellow mice all from atop a playing card. Wallace Edwards always gives readers a feast for the eyes and a message from the heart. His theme here is to look beyond the seemingly impossible for it might just be plausible.

This is the third book in Wallace Edwards's series of books–the first books were Can You Imagine? and Do You Wonder?–that implore us to wonder and imagine. With  Pigs Can't Fly, he reminds us that no matter how often we may be told or hear that something cannot be done, whether it's to protect us or to stifle us, it's within us to try.

• • • • • • •

Pigs Can't Fly (2023)

October 26, 2023

2023 Governor General's Literary Awards: Finalists announced

Yesterday, the Canada Council for the Arts announced the finalists for the highly prestigious Governor General's Literary Awards.

The seven categories of books, both in French and English, for which awards are given are:
  • Fiction
  • Non-Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Young People's Literature (Text)
  • Young People's Literature (Illustration)
  • Drama
  • Translation

Congratulations to the finalists 
of all the awards.
I present here those finalists of
works for young people.

English-language: Young People's Literature (Text)

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow
Written by Zoulfa Katouh
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Written by Michelle Kadarusman
Pajama Press 

Fire on Headless Mountain
Written by Iain Lawrence
Margaret Ferguson Books, Penguin Random House Canada

The Probability of Everything
Written by Sarah Everett
Clarion Books

Weird Rules to Follow

Written by Kim Spencer
Orca Book Publishers

English-language: Young People's Literature (Illustration) 

Written and illustrated by Nancy Vo
Groundwood Books

Mr. S
Written and illustrated by Monica Arnaldo
Katherine Tegen Books (An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Still This Love Goes On

Written by Buffy Sainte-Marie
Illustrated by Julie Flett
Greystone Books

The Skull
Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press

When You Can Swim

Written and illustrated by Jack Wong
Orchard Books (Scholastic)

French-language: Young People's Literature (Text)

Écrit par Sylvie Drapeau
Dominique et compagnie / Les éditions Héritage

Le plancher de la lune

Écrit par Jean-Christophe Réhel
la courte échelle


Écrit par Lou Beauchesne
la courte échelle

Mélie quelque part au milieu

Écrit par Mylène Goupil
Éditions Québec Amérique

Zipolaris Tome 3 : La malédiction de Zangra

Écrit par J.L. Blanchard
Éditions Fides

French-language: Young People's Literature (Illustration)

Gervais et Conrad

Écrit et illustré par Iris Boudreau
Éditions Les 400 coups

Je tʼécris de mon lit

Écrit par Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve
Illustré par Agathe Bray-Bourret
Éditions Les 400 coups

Le Bourlingueur de Matungoua

Écrit par Boucar Diouf
Illustré par François Thisdale
Éditions La Presse

Le plus petit sauveur du monde

Écrit par Samuel Larochelle
Illustré par Eve Patenaude
Éditions XYZ

Parfois les lacs brûlent

Écrit et illustré par Geneviève Bigué
Front Froid

Winning titles will be announced
on November 8, 2023.

October 25, 2023

The 2023 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards: English-language winners announced

On Monday evening, a gala event was held to announce the winners of this year's English-language Canadian Children's Book Awards. From a fine list of nominees , the following winners were selected by juries of their peers from the kidCanLit world. (The French-language award will be announced on November 6, 2023.) (XXSee their website announcement here with pdf here.)

This year, the children's book awards include the following English-language awards:
  • TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($50,000), Sponsored by TD Bank Group;
  • Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000), Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie;
  • Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children's Non-Fiction ($10,000), Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation;
  • Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000), Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund;
  • Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000), Sponsored by Amy Mathers' Marathon of Books;
  • Jean Little First-Novel Award ($5,000);
  • Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000), Sponsored by Elly Barlin-Daniels;
• • • • • • •
Congratulations to all winners!

• • • • • • •

TD Canadian Children's 
Literature Award
Weird Rules to Follow
Written by Kim Spencer
Orca Book Publishers

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
Written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Simon & Schuster Canada

Norma Fleck Award For 
Canadian Children's Non-Fiction
The Witness Blanket: Truth, Art and Reconciliation
Written by Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson
Orca Book Publishers

Geoffrey Bilson Award for 
Historical Fiction for Young People

Weird Rules to Follow
Written by Kim Spencer
Orca Book Publishers

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award 
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow
Written by Zoulfa Katouh
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Jean Little First-Novel Award

Weird Rules to Follow
Written by Kim Spencer
Orca Book Publishers

Arlene Barlin Award 
for Science Fiction and Fantasy
Blood Scion
Written by Deborah Falaye


October 23, 2023

Endgame: The Secret Force 136

Written by Catherine Little
Illustrated by Sean Huang
Plumleaf Press
32 pp.
All ages
October 2023

This is a picture book. But Endgame: The Secret Force 136 is more than a picture book. It's a story within a story with another story. There's an intergenerational story which segues into a story from World War II that is framed by the playing of a game of Chinese chess that is depicted as an actual battle in illustrations. It may sound complicated and yet it all works.
From Endgame: The Secret Force 136, written by Catherine Little, illus. by Sean Huang
A child regularly visits his great-grandfather Tai Gong with his mother and is gifted with his elder's Chinese chess set on his tenth birthday. The boy enjoys learning the new game, called Xiangqi or elephant chess, with its two battling armies of generals, advisers, elephants, chariots, cannons, and soldiers, but he can never win over his Tai Gong.  Tai Gong advises him:
“You have to plan ahead, Alex,” Tai Gong replied. “As I have told you many times, slow down and plan your strategies. Focus on the big picture.”
From Endgame: The Secret Force 136, written by Catherine Little, illus. by Sean Huang
During one visit, Tai Gong shows Alex some faded photographs he keeps in his wallet. The photos show groups of men, some in uniforms, and Tai Gong says he needs to tell Alex about the stories of these photos. As he recalls discrimination he and other Chinese Canadians endured, many still felt the need to fight for their country during World War II. Though they were rejected initially, when the enemy occupied much of Southeast Asia, they were accepted into Secret Force 136 for special missions. And though he speaks of dangerous situations, Alex's tai gong is convinced it was all worth it because of the progress that happened upon their return. It was all about the endgame, something he hopes to impart to his great-grandson as they play Xiangqi.
From Endgame: The Secret Force 136, written by Catherine Little, illus. by Sean Huang

There is a history lesson in Endgame: The Secret Force 136, and Catherine Little provides extensive historical notes about the racial discrimination Chinese Canadians faced, about the Secret Force 136 including bios of several of the team's members, and about the impact of the Chinese Canadian war effort. While her focus may be on the history, as shared through a boy's interaction with his great-grandfather, she also embeds in the playing of the ancient game of Xiangqi which she also highlights in her appended notes. This could have been a very dry exposé of a WWII special operation but by tying the story of the strategies employed in a game of chess with the memories of an elderly Chinese Canadian, Catherine Little makes the story more personal. This is his story, and he speaks of it because he knows of it. And he learned valuable lessons for war but also for life but now he can share that strategizing so that his great-grandson may also benefit.

The realism of the child's interactions with his great-grandfather and his Tai Gong's experiences are depicted well in the lush paintings of Saskatchewan artist Sean Huang who takes readers from a contemporary setting to that of World War II and also to a time when warriors wore lamellar armour and carried spears. Because the story is one based in history, it's appropriate that Sean Huang maintains that realism so that a young reader might visualize their own interaction with a grandparent, or asking about the past, or looking to understand who is in photos. (The illustration of the Tai Gong's hands and the photographs is so lifelike that it will be immediately familiar and evocative of age and nostalgia.)

Players of chess and other games often speak of the endgame as the final stage and Alex learns about the perspective he must take to have a successful endgame. But his Tai Gong knows that there are many endgames in life, those final steps that can lead to success, to progress, and to resolution. His life has had many endgames and while they may or may not have always felt triumphant, they were surely noteworthy, if not for him then for others.

October 21, 2023

2023 Le Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse: Finalists announced

On September 12, the finalists for the  English-language awards of the Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) were announced, and on October 18, the CCBC and Communication-Jeunesse (CJ) announced the finalists for the 2023 Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse.  The winning French-language title, which will be announced on November 6, 2023, will receive $50,000.

Dans les souliers d’Amédée
Écrit par Véronique Lambert
Illustré par Éléna Comte
Éditions Fonfon

Gloria sort du moule
Écrit par Guylaine Guay
Illustré par Bach
Éditions de la Bagnole

Mélie quelque part au milieu

Écrit par Mylène Goupil
Éditions Québec Amérique


Écrit par Paul Tom
Illustré par Mélanie Baillairgé
Éditions la courte échelle

Toucher les étoiles

Écrit par Frédérick Wolfe
Leméac Éditeur


Félicitations et Bonne chance à tous!

October 18, 2023

2024 Forest of Reading® nominees: Le Prix Peuplier, Le Prix Mélèze, Le Prix Tamarac

This is the final listing of nominees for the 2024 Forest of Reading® book award programs of the Ontario Library Association.

Listed below are the nominees for the French-language reading programs:
  • Le Prix Peuplier: French-language picture books, less text, simpler subject matters, perfect for read-alouds
  • Le Prix Mélèze: shorter French-language chapter books with maximum 100 pages or more mature picture books, larger text with pictures, simpler vocabulary and verb tenses
  • Le Prix Tamarac:  French-language chapter books from 100 to 250 pages, smaller text with little or no illustrations, more complicated verb tenses and vocabulary
Links for the other six reading programs follow.


Amadou et le 15 aout
Écrit par Samira Farhoud
Illustré par Jean-Luc Trudel
Bouton d’or Acadie

C'est mon corps!
Écrit et illustré par Élise Gravel

Congé pour papa
Écrit par Nicole Poirier
Illustré par Isabelle Léger
Bouton d’or Acadie

Dans les souliers d’Amédée
Écrit par Véronique Lambert
Illustré par Éléna Comte

Les gros problème de Noah
Écrit par Antony Antoniou
Illustré par Baptiste Amsallem

Une histoire s’il te plaît!!!
Écrit par Anne Renaud
Illustré par Sophie Pa
La courte échelle

L'oiseau rouge
Écrit et illustré par Élodie Duhameau
Les 400 coups

On se tait s’il vous plaît!

Écrit par Andrée Poulin
Illustré par Audrey Malo
Québec Amérique

Papa est une princesse
Écrit par Dana Blue
Illustré par Catherine Petit

Pas de chevaux dans la maison!
Écrit par Mireille Messier
Illustré par Anna Bron



À quoi servent les moustiques?

Écrite par Pierre- Alexandre Bonin
Illustré par Lucille Danis Drouot

Alerte: culottes meurtrières! Fausses nouvelles, désinformation et théories du complot
Écrit et illustré par Élise Gravel

La chambre numéro 7
Écrit par Martine Latulippe
Illustré par Isabelle Malenfant
La courte échelle

Le Clan 1: QG pour quartier général
Écrit par Marc Beaudet
Illustré par Marc Beaudet
Édito jeunesse

Je ne m’appelle pas Coco!
Écrit par Pierrette Dubé
Illustré par Lucile Danis Drouot

Je t’écris de mon lit
Écrit par Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve
Illustré par Agathe Bray-Bourret
Les 400 coups

Kellan et les papillons du cœur
Écrit par Dïana Bélice
Illustré par Audrey Jadaud
Dominique et compagnie

Mina et sa bête
Écrit par Caroline Merola
Illustré par Caroline Merola
La courte échelle

Morane adoooore parler!
Écrit par Émilie Ouellette
Illustré par Lidia-Ntombo Lulendo
Québec Amérique

Orbie, dessine-moi un billibouton
Écrit par Frédérick Wolfe
Illustré par Orbie


L'antre des rebelles
Écrit par Caroline Auger
Illustré par Gabrielle Morrisseau

As-tu peur du loup?
Écrit par Véronique Drouin
Illustré par Lucille Danis Drouot

La balance du vide
Écrit par Julien Leclerc
Héritage jeunesse

La fin du monde est pour demain
Écrit par André Marois

Gloire 01: Le hip-hop dans le sang
Écrit par Isabelle Roy

Le jeu qui voulait ma peau
Écrit par Magali Laurent

Mathéo à contre-courant
Écrit par Pierre-Alexandre Bonin

Opération mange-gardiens: Non au gaspillage alimentaire!
Écrit par Joan Sénéchal
Illustré par Yves Dumont

Parfois mon cœur reste accroché au trapèze
Écrit par Geneviève Dufour

Zipolaris 1: La nuit des morloups
Écrit par J.L. Blanchard


Nominees for the other programs can be linked to from below: