This year marks the 45th annual Canadian Children’s Book Week, the largest national celebration of Canadian children’s books and creators. Hundreds of virtual readings and events are happening across the country, including an online picturebook gallery where you can purchase original art from some of Canada’s most distinguished illustrators in support of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Here are ten fantastic new Canadian titles to check out this week (and every week!)
Three New Picture Books From Artists Featured in The Picturebook Gallery…
I’M NOT SYDNEY(Groundwood) is the latest from award-winning Marie-Louise Gay. This is an ode to the imagination and how kids play, as we see a cast of characters ‘become’ animals. Barbara Reid has one of Canada’s most distinctive artistic styles, working exclusively in plasticine. Her bright, detailed work pairs perfectly with Emil Sher’s spare, poetic text in I LOVE YOU MORE (Scholastic), a reassuring narrative for young children. THE GIRL WHO LOVED GIRAFFES (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) is a picture book biography of a Canadian I think everyone should know, Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. Dagg was one of the first people to study giraffes in their natural habitat and overcame incredible sexism and bias in her career to become the world’s first giraffologist. All three of these illustrators have original art available in The Picturebook Gallery, which you can check out here.
…Plus Two New Picture Books About Animal Conservation
In RUNS WITH THE STARS a young Ojibwe boy learns about the Ojibwe Horse, one of only 2 indigenous horse breeds in Canada, as he awaits the birth of a new foal. This book includes back matter about the history of this breed and how they came to be rescued. There is also a dual English/Anishinaabemowin language version available. Jean Little has made an indelible mark on Canadian children’s books before her passing in 2020. In her final book, A LONG WAY HOME (Scholastic), new friends Jane and Maya bond over a love of conservation and desire to help the Monarch butterfly, which leads Maya to share her own immigration story with Jane.
Emerging Readers Age 5-9
For kids who are learning to read, adaptations of familiar stories can help ease the transition. Mortimer is one of Robert Munsch’s most recognizable stories, and this MORTIMER Leveled Reader (Annick Press) includes reading tips, games and activities to do before and after reading. ALINA IN A PINCH (Second Story Press) is a chapter book about a girl who loves food and cooking, particularly her grandmother’s Afro-Indian recipes, but is struggling with her cultural identity at school. A gentle story about making new friends and learning to stand up for yourself (and others).
Tween Readers Age 10-14
FOREVER BIRCHWOOD (HarperCollins) takes place in Sudbury, Ontario, and follows Wolf as she learns more about her Indigenous roots and takes a stand to protect her favourite wooded area, in danger of being developed for real estate. This is award-winning author Danielle Daniel’s first foray into middle grade and she nails the ever-changing and complex dynamics between friends that is a staple of this genre. In ME THREE (Puffin Canada), sixth grader Rodney’s life has been upended when his famous, TV poker-playing father is accused of sexual harassment. Susan Juby approaches a charged, ripped-from the headlines premise with empathy, sensitivity and humour, demonstrating once again why she is one of Canada’s most relevant storytellers for middle grade readers.
After private photos meant only for her boyfriend are shared online, Dell retreats to her mother’s childhood home on a lake, where she discovers family secrets, a new crush, and fresh perspective. THE QUEEN OF JUNK ISLAND (Annick) is an honest and unflinching portrait of a teenager’s sexual identity (Dell is bisexual) and relationship to her own body. Oh, and did I mention there is a ghost?
Happy Canadian Children’s Book Week, everyone!