Showing posts with label freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freedom. Show all posts

March 12, 2019

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

Written by Beverley Brenna
Illustrated by Tara Anderson
Pajama Press
978-1-77278-069-7
128 pp.
Ages 7-10
February 2019

Finding one’s own purpose in life is not an easy task and one which many of us never find. Imagine being a hamster in a cage in a pet store and wondering about what life holds for you. Is it just anticipating fresh bedding? Is it waiting for extra peanuts? Is it to find a forever home? Is it to be free?  But with the hamster’s adoption by nine-year-old Jeannie, the hamster, first known as Harvey Owens and then Sapphire, looks for that meaning and finds it with the help of a rich collection of characters and a few nibbles on fingers.

Told in the alternating voices of Sapphire and Jeannie, Beverley Brenna begins Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life with a long-awaited trip to the pet store for Jeannie’s promised Christmas gift of a hamster.  Though the visit almost doesn’t happen as Jeannie’s mother deems her daughter’s behaviour at the mall as inappropriate, Jeannie picks out the white hamster with the navy blue eyes and purchases all the materials to make his home perfect. But the hamster, whom she originally names Harvey Owens after her father who has moved out of the house, is frightened by the new sounds, smells and temperatures and lashes out by biting, even more so after they are involved in a car accident. Jeannie, who is dealing with her own stresses that include not being heard, a father who seems to be off with a new life and a mother struggling with two young children and trying to deal with her own grief and anger about her marriage, recognizes that the little guy bites when scared or surprised, and helps educate all who come near him to be considerate. And since he is such a great comfort to all of them–Jeannie, her brother Alistair, her mom and others–once they learn how to be kind to him, he has much to offer them back. And it makes no difference when he is identified as a her.

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is far greater than a story about a girl getting a pet hamster. It’s about struggling to find your place. Jeannie is a pretty good caregiver for Sapphire but she’s trying to figure out why her father isn’t keeping in touch, whether her parents are “getting put back together” (pg. 40), why her little brother seems stressed, how to be a friend, why her Mom’s new friend Anna Conda seems reserved though really cool, and the questions that kids want answered but no one will respect them enough to tell them the truth. Meanwhile Sapphire is recognizing how nice her new home is, singing when pleased, and beginning to understand freedom, especially after a dangerous escape outdoors in frigid January.
It seems to me that Free is just a little bit too big to think about for very long. (pg. 67)
It’s perfect that Jeannie’s story and Sapphire’s come together to become something bigger and better. Just as the two are better for having each other in their lives, Beverley Brenna’s text is enhanced with the adorable illustrations by Tara Anderson which head each of the forty-two chapters. Her pencil sketches of Sapphire make up the majority of these illustrations and show the little hamster eating, playing, sleeping, hiding and just being all-around cute. I had some trepidation about an animal story, especially one which begins in a pet store, but Tara Anderson’s charming artwork reassured me that Sapphire’s story would turn out well.

A perfect early reader for kids who love animals, Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is actually more about giving significance to managing our own stories. It may require a nip or a bite or some yelling to be heard, or perhaps a snuggle or a quiet voice might be in order, but it's about finding the meaning of your own life, even if only for the time being.
From Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life by Beverley Brenna,               illustrated by Tara Anderson

August 08, 2018

The Fish and the Cat

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
Princeton Architectural Press
978-1-61689-505-1
92 pp.
Ages 3-7
April 2018

In a lovely floral-wallpapered room, a fish in a fish bowl is visited by a curious cat who proceeds, much to the fish's distress, to attempt to capture it.

From The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc
Amidst the swirling water produced by the cat's pawing, the fish is propelled into the air and flies out through the window. The cat gives chase as the fish, flying now, goes from rooftop through a house, among a forest of trees with red birds, in which the fish is camouflaged and into a starry sky.  Still, the cat pursues.
From The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc
Onto the moon, the cat touches down, temporarily losing sight of the fish but witnessing the grandeur of the night sky before catching a ride on a falling star to continue his pursuit.
From The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc
Through a dark cave and a town, the fish leads the cat to the sea where the fish promptly finds home and the cat, though willing to check out the water, gives up his quest and partakes in a glowing sunset.

The Fish and the Cat is Marianne Dubuc's most recent wordless picture book. Her intense message without words or with very little text has garnered her many awards for works such as In Front of My House (Kids Can Press, 2010), The Lion and the Bird (Enchanted Lion Books, 2014) and The Bus Ride (Kids Can Press, 2015) and she does the same in this book, a new edition of the previously published La mer (La Pastèque, 2007) and The Sea (Officina Libraria, 2012).
While I've given away more of the story than I intended, I've actually told very little, only the meaning I have taken from the story.  Because each reader will find a different story within, The Fish and the Cat is much more than I've described here. It's the wonder and the interpretation of the illustrations that makes wordless books so rich. With Marianne Dubuc illustrating the book, the expansiveness of the story is even greater. Using only black and white with red reserved for the fish and the birds among which it hides, there is an inherent simplicity that actually lends a boldness to the story.  It's saying, "This is it. Take what you will from it." Well, from it, I take a message of chasing a dream, whether to reach the sea or to capture a fish, and finding what you need, though not always what you desire.

February 14, 2018

Elijah of Buxton

Written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Press
9780439936477 
288 pp.
Ages 9-12
2007

Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is the first free child born in Buxton, Ontario, a town of slaves who have escaped from the United States.  His days are filled with fishing by throwing stones, going to school, staying away from snakes (of which he is deathly afraid) and continuing to run into the Preacher, a sweet-talking but manipulative man, who gets Elijah involved in more than one of his schemes. But when the Preacher steals all the hard-earned money that Mr. Leroy was saving to buy his wife and two children out of slavery, Elijah, a boy of innocence and a strong sense of fairness, finds himself heading across the border and into the world of slavers and those seeking freedom in Canada. His ma might call him "fra-gile" but Elijah proves that he is anything but.

Though Elijah of Buxton is a book of a harrowing journey into America by a black youth looking to right a wrong, it only becomes a perilous adventure in the last third of the book.  Christopher Paul Curtis takes time to set the stage for that venture, establishing his characters and cultural landscape through the complexity of voice and atmosphere.  Elijah's interactions with others in his community, both peers and those "growned-up," speak to the changing times, when racism could be overt or concealed and the divide between the United States and Canada was both conspicuous and subtle.

Elijah of Buxton begs to be read aloud to get the full nuance of language and tone that Christopher Paul Curtis instills in the narration and dialogue, just as he has in The Madman of Piney Woods and The Journey of Little Charlie.  The dialect can seem confusing at times but read aloud the text becomes rich and flavourful.

There are many difficult moments in Elijah of Buxton, times when my heart broke and I struggled to read on.  Not because the book wasn't an outstanding piece of literature but because of the injustices and horrors endured.   Mind you, even Christopher Paul Curtis's ending left me sobbing and still hopeful for a baby, for Elijah and for all. Christopher Paul Curtis had just set up the “most beautifullest, most perfectest” story he could.

••••••••••••••••••

Though I rarely review books not published in the past year, my recent review of The Journey of Little Charlie compelled me to review Christopher Paul Curtis's earlier books that reference the town of Buxton, The Madman of Piney Woods and now Elijah of Buxton.  These books are not a series, though Buxton is mentioned in each.  Please read them all.

February 13, 2018

The Madman of Piney Woods

Written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada
978-1-44313-912-9
363 pp.
Ages 8-12
2014

Though I don't often review books older than a year, I referred to this title several times in my review of The Journey of Little Charlie yesterday so that I thought it was incumbent upon me to share the importance of this volume now.  Fortunately, I must also address Christopher Paul Curtis' book  Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic, 2007) which first speaks to the historically important town of Buxton, originally a settlement of runaway slaves.

In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, a haven for slaves fleeing the American south.  In his story, Elijah of Buxton, Elijah uses his wits to find justice when money earmarked to buy a family's freedom is stolen.

In 1901, forty years after the story of Elijah of Buxton, the storylines of two unlikely friends, Benji and Red, converge in an unexpected manner to tell a new story for Buxton.  Benji Alston is a black boy living in Buxton whose shenanigans with his friends Spencer and  others become imagined newspaper stories.  Benji spends much of his time in the pine woods between Chatham and Buxton, and makes the acquaintance of a hermit-like man in the woods who, similar to Benji, is more comfortable in the woods than anywhere else.  Red is an Irish boy who lives with his father, a judge, and his highly prejudiced Grandmother O’Toole in Chatham.  Meanwhile Red and his friends talk of the Lion Man of the South Woods of whom they've learned they should avoid.

The two boys become friends after meeting at a speech competition.  When Red suspects that the Madman, whom he knows to be a friend of Benji’s, has been shot, the two become forever entwined with the mysterious man of the woods whose story began in Elijah of Buxton.

Told in alternating chapters in the voices of the two boys, The Madman of Piney Woods becomes an adventure story with a haunting mystery based in the past.  The horrors that a Black Canadian soldier endured because of the American Civil War or that an Irish immigrant escaping the devastation of the Potato Famine suffered before a tortuous journey on a coffin ship are as real as the memories of enslavement of many Buxton inhabitants.  Benji and Red may never have endured these horrors but these very different and yet surprisingly ordinary boys are defined by their friends and family. Still Christopher Paul Curtis contrives an authentic story by which the two come together to work together and make things right that have been wrong for too long. As I wrote yesterday in my review of The Journey of Little Charlie, from the ordinary comes the extraordinary.

History may take place in the past but The Madman of Piney Woods reminds us that the past engraves the present and the future for the survivors of war, slavery and all manner of disaster as well as for those who love them.

February 12, 2018

The Journey of Little Charlie

Written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada
978-1-4431-4263-2
234 pp.
Ages 8-13
February 2018

Little Charlie Bobo, the son of a white sharecropper on the South Carolina plantation of Mr. Tanner, can hardly be called little for his size. At twelve, he is 6'4".  So, when Little Charlie's father is killed and cap'n Duke, the abusive overseer on the plantation, claims that he'd paid him fifty dollars upfront to help him retrieve money stolen from Mr. Tanner, Little Charlie has no recourse but to accompany the man.

Heading to Detroit, Little Charlie knows enough to listen and not say much to the brutal and racist cap'n Duke.
You can learn from anybody.  Even dimwits can teach you if you listen careful and pick at the kernels of corn from the horse crap they's dishing out. (pg. 71)
He quickly learns that the "thieves" they are searching out are slaves Lou and Cleytus and their young son Sylvester who'd escaped from the Tanner plantation ten years earlier.  With some assistance from the equally reprehensible Sheriff Turner and his associate Keegan, cap'n Duke captures the parents who have made a good life for themselves and their family and  now go by Eloise and Chester Desmarest.  But cap'n Duke is determined to get all the family, including the two-year-old twin daughters and son Sylvanus, a student at a school in Saint Catharines, Canada.  Though warned about going into Canada to retrieve escaped slaves, cap'n Duke with Little Charlie in tow get themselves cleaned up and travel by ferry and train to deceive Sylvanus into returning to the United States with them.

The Journey of Little Charlie may begin as a debt the young man is trapped into repaying but it becomes a journey of learning beyond any his poor existence at home had provided him.  Though his parents imparted some wisdom to him about survival and living a life of subservience, Little Charlie has had few opportunities–he cannot read–and never expected much from his life. Accompanying the vile cap'n Duke, Little Charlie is able to see for himself how the world outside of Possum Moan, South Carolina works, including entering Canada, a country which had abolished slavery decades earlier. For the first time, he could see, not just learn second-hand, what life was like for others, including the poor, the rich, "colored folk" and everyone.  The Journey of Little Charlie is a coming-of-age story of historically immense proportions; it is Little Charlie's journey outside of what he has always known and been taught. And he heeds the words of the old railway man, Ol'Jerry, they meet outside of "Dee-troit."
"I 'membered thinking at the time 'tis too bad this can't be a reg'lar part of living, where we all gets a chance to walk away from whatever train wreck we's made of our lives and run off to start up building something new." (pg. 79)
Just as he did in The Madman of Piney Woods (Scholastic, 2014), Christopher Paul Curtis brings together very different voices on a similar journey, though their intentions and perspectives vary greatly.  In The Madman of Piney Woods, he gives voice to a boy living in the shadow of his grandmother's harrowing immigration from Ireland and a distinct one to another whose family and friends live with the legacy of slavery.  They, like Little Charlie and cap'n Duke, live ordinary lives for the times.  But from the ordinary comes the extraordinary.  It is the righting of wrongs and redemption that carries the story forward, delivering history from the every day and teaching compassion from cruelty.
They never once looked back.                                                    If I was them, I wouldn't-a neither. (pg. 232)

May 11, 2017

A Cage Went in Search of a Bird

Written by Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Banafsheh Erfanian
Groundwood Books
978-1-55498-861-7
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
May 2017

Based on Franz Kafka’s aphorism identical to the title, Cary Fagan tells the story of a long-forgotten bird cage in an attic, hopeful of a bird to reside in it once again.  So determined is the cage for a bird that it throws itself out the window of the attic and rolls out into the big world outside in search of a new bird.

Though the cage is visited by many a bird–crow, blue jay, hummingbird, sun conure, hoopoe, owl–they all profess valid reasons for why they will not venture inside.  After all, they are wild birds, used to the freedom to fly where they will for food or perch, one with young in a tree nest, one far too big to spread its wings within.  It’s not until the cage is visited by a canary that its quest comes to an end.
Illustration by Banafsheh Erfanian 
for A Cage Went in Search of a Bird
A Cage Went in Search of a Bird has the feel of one of Aesop’s fables in that birds and objects such as the birdcage, a suitcase and a guitar speak.  Whether Cary Fagan intended to teach a lesson as fables do only he can tell us but there are important messages within regardless.  Though A Cage Went in Search of a Bird has at its basis the premise that there is someone for everyone, it also speaks to freedom and wild animals versus pets and perspective.  It is evident that no matter how lovely Banafsheh Erfanian’s acrylic and pastel illustrations are of the ornate bird cage, it’s not enough to get any bird to jump inside.  And her artwork is outstanding, as daring in her colours and shapes as the cage is in its search.  Reds, oranges and turquoises give A Cage Went in Search of a Bird an exotic feel, though the collection of bird species suggests a global tale by including temperate birds of North America, a South American parrot and the Afro-Eurasian hoopoe.  The lavishness of Banafsheh Erfanian’s illustrations embodies the importance of Cary Fagan's words.  Though it might not follow the paradoxical meaning of Kafka's aphorism, A Cage Went in Search of a Bird's message that even that which is most beautiful can be lonely and that quests to alleviate that loneliness can be daunting but worthwhile is just as relevant.
Illustration by Banafsheh Erfanian 
for A Cage Went in Search of a Bird

July 15, 2016

Feathered

by Deborah Kerbel
Kids Can Press
978-1-77138-341-7
144 pp.
Ages 9-13
April 2016

Hope can take many forms and be elicited in a myriad of ways.  For Finch Bennett, an eleven-year-old girl in the summer of 1980–a time of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, the hostage crisis in Iran, and the Rubik’s Cube-she needs to find some hope, somewhere, anywhere.  Her father died of cancer less than a year ago, her grieving mother is despondent and oblivious to Finch and her older brother Harrison who is also seemingly indifferent to the young girl, allowing his friend Matt to relentlessly torment her.  For Finch, hope might be found in the tiny scar on her neck from which a single white feather had been removed at age 3.  With that scar, Finch reassures herself that a better life, perhaps one of feathers and flight, might emerge.
That night, I dream about my feathers.  They’ve grown in all white and fluffy and smooth.  And I’m happpy because it means I’m finally able to fly away. I spread my feathered arms and fly up, up, up to where I think I’ll find heaven…where I know I’ll find Daddy.” (pg. 49)
With the arrival of their new neighbours, Finch sees another opportunity for hope, especially with making a new friend of eleven-year-old Pinky Nanda.  This would  be particularly important once dreaded school starts.  School is where Finch is called slow and lazy. It’s where she has major difficulties with writing. And it’s where she sees her former best friend, Karen, has blossomed into a young woman and hangs out with similarly pubescent girls.  But Pinky and her younger sister Padma are staunchly protected by their parents, who argue about how Punjabi Hindus are treated in Canada and do not permit the girls to interact with others.
It’s at that moment when I see myself right there in her face.  I see a girl who’s trapped in a mess of grown-up problems.  A girl who’s struggling just to figure it all out.” (pg. 94)
Strangely Finch’s only friend becomes an anonymous writer with whom she communicates on a bathroom stall door. That is, until Finch finds the courage to untether herself and communicate her feelings, good and bad, with those impacting her life.

Deborah Kerbel may have written Feathered as a middle-grade novel but Feathered is much more sophisticated than much pedestrian MG storytelling. The writing is brilliant, demonstrating  much depth of spirit and story, taking Finch and the reader beyond the obvious and into the realm of optimism and possibilities, where even a little girl can see that she has it in her to soar above the commonplace and anticipate greatness of action and virtue.  Just like Terry Fox, Finch learns to recognize that the will to try is within her and she may or may not succeed, but there’s always the promise that comes with dreaming.

February 03, 2016

Black History Month: An updated youngCanLit book list


Two years ago I prepared my first book list of 54 youngCanLit titles for Black History Month.  I have updated that list periodically when important titles were brought to my attention or were newly published, like Caroline Pignat’s Governor-General award-winning book, The Gospel Truth.  But, it gets to the point when that list becomes a bit ragged and the formatting starts to go wonky and I thought it best to update it and reorganize it completely.  I hope that, in this more complete list of 76 titles, enhanced with the addition of titles brought to my attention by readers, everyone will find something that helps them grasp the importance of Black History Month to all Canadians.




Dear Baobab
by Cheryl Foggo
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Second Story Press
24 pp.
Ages 5-8
2011
Immigration to Canada


From Lands of the Night
by Tololwa M. Mollel
Illustrated by Darrell McCalla
Red Deer Press
32 pp.
Ages 7+
January, 2014
East African traditional stories, celebration


Malaika’s Costume
by Nadia L. Hohn
Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
2016
Carnival, immigration to Canada


Mayann's Train Ride
by The Honourable Mayann Francis
Illustrated by Tamara Thiébaux Heikalo
Nimbus Publishing
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
2015
Biography

Music From the Sky
by Denise Gillard
Illustrated by Stephen Taylor
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
2011
African-Canadian intergenerational relationship

Nana's Cold Days
by Adwoa Badoe
Illustrated by Bushra Junaid
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
2002
Visit to Canada from Africa
The Orphan Boy
by Tololwa M. Mollel
Illustrated by Paul Morin
Oxford University Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-9
1990
Masai folklore




A Pot of Wisdom: Ananse Stories
by Adwoa Badoe
Illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité
Groundwood
62 pp.
Ages 7-10
2001
African folklore 

Up Home
by Shauntay Grant
Illustrated by Susan Tooke
Nimbus
32 pp.
Ages 7-11
2011
North Preston’s black community

Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged!
by Jody Nyasha Warner
Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki
Groundwood
32 pp.
Ages 7-10
2010
Biography, civil rights







Black and White
by Eric Walters
Puffin
232 pp.
Ages 10-13
2009
Racism, friendship

Crossing to Freedom
by Virginia Frances Schwartz
Scholastic Canada
231 pp.
Ages 10+
2010
Slavery, freedom

Dark of the Moon
by Barbara Haworth-Attard
Roussan Publishers
136 pp.
Ages 9-12
1995
Underground Railroad

A Desperate Road to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson (Dear Canada)
by Karleen Bradford
Scholastic Canada
240 pp.
Ages 9-13
2009
Slavery, Underground Railroad

Elijah of Buxton
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada
288 pp.
Ages 9+
2007
Freedom, slavery, Ontario

The Freedom of Jenny
by Julie Burtinshaw
Raincoast Books
182 pp.
Ages 7-10
2005
Underground Railroad, British Columbia

Grease Town
by Ann Towell
Tundra
192 pp.
Ages 10-13
2010
Racism, Ontario
The Heaven Shop
by Deborah Ellis
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
192 pp.
Ages 10-14
2004
Malawi, HIV/AIDS

Hurry, Freedom (A Canadian Flyer Adventure)
by Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Maple Tree Press
81 pp.
Ages 6-9
2008
Underground Railroad

I Came as a Stranger: The Underground Railroad
by Bryan Prince
Tundra Books
160 pp.
Ages 11-14
2004
Underground Railroad, slavery

If I Just Had Two Wings
by Virginia Frances Schwartz
Stoddart Kids
221 pp.
Ages 11+
2001
Underground Railroad, slavery

Last Days in Africville
by Dorothy Perkyns
Sandcastle Books/Beach Holme
110 pp.
Ages 8-12
2003
Africville, Nova Scotia, racism

The Madman of Piney Woods
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic
384 pp.
Ages 9+
2014
Sequel to "Elijah of Buxton"

Morning Star
by Judith Plaxton
Second Story Press
277 pp.
Ages 11-14
2011
Underground Railroad

Moses, Me, and Murder: A Barkerville Mystery
by Ann Walsh
Dundurn
112 pp.
Ages 10-14
2013
Based on a Gold Rush murder

My Name is Henry Bibb: A Story of Slavery and Freedom
by Afua Cooper
Kid Can Press
160 pp.
Ages 10-14
2009
Historical fiction, slavery, abolitionism

My Name is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom
by Afua Cooper
Kid Can Press
152 pp.
Ages 11+
2009
Biography, slavery, poetry

Rachel: Certificate of Freedom (Our Canadian Girl)
by Lynne Kositsky
Penguin Canada
112 pp.
Ages 8-12
2003
Slavery, racism, freedom, Nova Scotia  

Rachel: An Elephant Tree Christmas (Our Canadian Girl)
by Lynne Kositsky
Penguin Canada
84 pp.
Ages 9-11
2004
Racism, Nova Scotia

Rachel: The Maybe House (Our Canadian Girl)
by Lynne Kositsky
Penguin Canada
83 pp.
Ages 9-11
2002
Loyalists, slavery, racism, Nova Scotia

Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining (Our Canadian Girl)
by Lynne Kositsky
Penguin Books
64 pp.
Ages 8-11
2001
Slavery, freedom

Seas of South Africa (Submarine Outlaw series)
by Philip Roy
Ronsdale Press
200 pp.
Ages 10+
2013
Racism, violence, South Africa, apartheid

Send One Angel Down
by Virginia Frances Schwartz
Holiday House
163 pp.
Ages 12-14
2000
Slavery, racism

Stones
by William Bell
Doubleday Canada
210 pp.
Ages 10+
2001
Racism, intolerance

Underground to Canada
by Barbara Smucker
Puffin Canada
144pp.
Ages 9-12
2003
Slavery, Underground Railroad, freedom







Between Sisters
by Adwoa Badoe
Groundwood
205 pp.
Ages 13+
2010
Ghana

A Big Dose of Lucky
by Marthe Jocelyn
Orca Book Publisher
249 pp.
Ages 12+
2015
Heritage

Cape Town
by Brenda Hammond
Great Plains Teen Fiction
326 pp.
Ages 14+
2012
Apartheid, South Africa


Chasing Freedom
by Gloria Ann Wesley
Fernwood Publishing
240 pp.
Ages 13+
2011
Black Loyalists coming to Nova Scotia

Chanda’s Secrets
by Allan Stratton
Annick
193 pp.
Ages 12-15
2004
HIV/AIDS

Chanda’s War
by Allan Stratton
HarperCollins
382 pp.
Ages 13-17
2008
Civil war, child soldiers

The Gospel Truth
by Caroline Pignat
Red Deer Press
328 pp.
Ages 12+
2014
Slavery, freedom

The House of Good Spirits
by Donn Kushner
Lester & Orpen Dennys
214 pp.
Ages 12-15
1990
Racism, slavery, African folktales

If This is Freedom
by Gloria Ann Wesley
Fernwood Publishing
272 pp.
Ages 13+
2013
Black loyalist settlers in Nova Scotia

My Life Before Me
by Norah McClintock
Orca Book Publishers
248 pp.
Ages 12+
2015
Civil rights, racism

Rush Home Road
by Lori Lansens
Back Bay Books
387 pp.
Ages  16+
2011
Town founded by fugitive slaves

Zack
by William Bell
Doubleday Canada
165 pp.
Ages 12-16
1998
Slavery, racism, Richard Pierpoint








Africans Thought of It: Amazing Innovations
by Bathseba Opini and Richard B. Lee
Annick Press
48 pp.
Ages 8-12
2011
Inventions


All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine (Great Ideas Series)
by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
2010
Biography

Big League Dreams: Baseball Hall of Fame's First African Canadian, Fergie Jenkins
by Richard Bridnall
Lorimer
152 pp.
Ages 11-13
2010
Biography, Fergie Jenkins

The Bite of the Mango
by Mariatu Kumara with Susan McClelland
Annick Press
216 pp.
Ages 14+
2008
Sierra Leone, civil war

Children of Africville
by Christine Welldon
Nimbus
81 pp.
Ages 8-12
2009
Africville, racism, community

Five Thousand Years of Slavery
by Marjorie Gann and Janet Willen
Tundra
168 pp.
Ages 11-16
2011
Slavery

Harriet Tubman: Freedom Seeker, Freedom Leader (A Quest Biography)
by Rosemary Sadlier
Dundurn
190 pp.
2012
Biography, Harriet Tubman

How the Blacks Created Canada
by Fil Fraser
Dragon Hill
255 pp.
Ages 16+
2009
Achievement, Canada, settlement

Jailed for Being Black: The Story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (Real Justice)
by Bill Swan
Lorimer
144 pp.
Ages 13-17
2014
Biography, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, injustice, racism

Jarome Iginla: How the NHL’s first black captain gives back
by Nicole Mortillaro
Lorimer
112 pp.
Ages 11-14
2010
Biography

The Kids Book of Black Canadian History
by Rosemary Sadlier
Illustrated by Wang Qijun
Kids Can Press
56 pp.
Ages 9-12
2003
Canada, history

Nelson Mandela: Champion of Freedom (Remarkable People series)
by Simon Rose
Weigl Publishers
24 pp.
Ages 8-12
2010
Nelson Mandela, South Africa

On an American Day: Story Voyages Through History, 1759-1899
by Rona Arato
Illustrated by Ben Shannon
Owlkids Books
96 pp.
Ages 9-13
2011

On a Canadian Day: Nine Story Voyages Through History
by Rona Arato
Illustrated by Peter Ferguson
Maple Tree Press/Owlkids Books
96 pp.
Ages 9-13
2009
Underground Railroad

Out of Slavery: The Journey to Amazing Grace
by Linda Granfield
Illustrated by Janet Wilson
Tundra Books
40 pp.
Ages 9+
2009
Slavery, John Newton

People Who Said No: Courage Against Oppression
by Laura Scandiffio
Annick Press
168 pp.
Ages 9-14
2012
Civil rights, Rosa Parks, NAACP, apartheid, South Africa

Season of Rage: Hugh Burnett and the Struggle for Civil Rights
by John Cooper
Tundra Books
71 pp.
Ages 10-15
2005
Racism, civil rights, Ontario

Singing Towards the Future: The Story of Portia White (Stories of Canada)
by Lian Goodall
Illustrated by Liz Milkau
Napoleon Publishing
63 pp.
Ages 9-11
2004
Biography, Portia White

Stay Strong: A Musician's Journey from Congo (Arrivals)
by Natalie Hyde
Clockwise Press
160 pp.
Ages 12-16
2015
Biography

Talking about Freedom: Celebrating Emancipation Day in Canada
by Natasha L. Henry
Dundurn
174 pp.
Ages 12+
2012
Slavery, emancipation

To Stand and Fight Together: Richard Pierpoint and the Coloured Corps of Upper Canada
by Steve Pitt
Dundurn
144 pp.
Ages 10+
2008
War of 1812, Richard Pierpoint, soldiers, Canada

To the Rescue! Garrett Morgan Underground
by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by David Parkins
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
2016
Biography

Trials and Triumphs: The Story of African-Canadians
by Lawrence Hill
Umbrella Press
64 pp.
Ages 11+
1993
Settlement, slavery, racism, achievements

The Underground Railroad: The Long Journey to Freedom in Canada (Amazing Stories)
by L. D. Cross
James Lorimer
144 pp.
Ages 12+
2010
Slavery, Underground Railroad, freedom

When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin’ Flag
by K’NAAN with Sol Guy
Illustrated by Rudy Guttierez
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 7-12
2012
Biography

Willie O'Ree: The Story of the First Black Player in the NHL (Recordbooks)
by Nicole Mortillaro
James Lorimer
140 pp.
Ages 11-13
2012
Biography, hockey, Willie O'Ree

Working for Freedom: The Story of Josiah Henson
by Rona Arato
Napoleon
78 pp.
Ages 10-13
2009
Biography, Josiah Henson, slavery, Underground Railroad







In the Freedom of Dreams: The Story of Nelson Mandela
by Michael A. Miller
Playwrights Canada Press
67 pp.
Ages 14+
2003
Biography, Nelson Mandela









Loyalties: A Trip Down Slavery Lane
Directed by Lesley Ann Patten
Produced by Kent Martin and Lesley Ann Patten
National Film Board of Canada
57 min., 3 sec.
Ages 11+
1999
Heritage, slavery, South Carolina, Halifax