A huge stack of books is sitting on my living room floor. At least half of them are from Canadian publishers, authors, or illustrators. I bet you can guess what this post is going to focus on. So, here we go!
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on The Darkest Dark, by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by the Fan Brothers (Tundra Books). Hadfield wowed me from space with his photos and songs, and the Fan Brothers wowed me with their book The Night Gardener , so I was really looking forward to this one. I was not disappointed. It is the story of a boy who loves everything about the moon, but is afraid of the dark. His love for outer-space helps him overcome his fear, and gives hope to all young dreamers. Based on Hadfield’s own life, this story will be a hit in classrooms and storytimes. And the illustrations! Oh, those pictures will grab the reader and have them looking at every detail. It is a beauty, so don’t miss it. Smells nice, too.
From Canadian publisher Second Story Press and Plan International comes As A Boy. We know that around the world, boys are treated differently than girls. This book explores that, and gives boys solutions to helping create equality for any gender. Full of beautiful photographs, this is an interesting way to explore gender.
Two new books from Sara O’Leary is cause to celebrate. First off is You are Two, illustrated by Karen Klassen. The bright collage and paint pictures will appeal to the newly two-year olds at your toddler storytimes, and they will relate to the gentle text that we expect from O’Leary’s child-view books. I’m really excited about A Family is a Family is a Family, illustrated by Qin Leng. The title says it all– O’Leary explores so many types of families – this book is geared to be uber-inclusive. Leng’s cartoon drawings are just right for the book’s tone.
Go really local with Doretta Groenendyk’s new book, A Harbour Seal in Halifax, from Nimbus Publishing. Based on a true story about a lost seal pup, and filled with the cool blues and whites of a winter night, this book by Valley resident Groenendyk will be a fun one to share.
Staying with the night theme, pick up Turn on the Night by Geraldo Valerio (Groundwood Books). A wordless night-time romp bounds across the pages as a little girl’s imagination is brought to life with acrylic paint.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not the sportsy type. I will admit it here in public: I’ve never been to a hockey game (but I have watched curling, so that has to count for something, eh?) So it may surprise you to see me recommend The Hockey Song, a book based on the Stompin’ Tom Connors song, illustrated by Gary Clement (Greystone Books). Everyone is playing hockey in this book – boys, girls, moms, dads, all ages, all races. The illustrations made me look again and again.
Sweetest Kulu, written by Celina Kalluk and illustrated by Alexandra Neonakis (Inhabit Media) is not new — it was published in 2014. But is is new to us, and it is time we owned this lovely little ode to a newborn. Set in the Arctic, it is filled with animals and plants that bring the region right into the lap you are sharing with this book. The paintings are full of light and movement, and fit the words just right.
Staying with the First Nations theme, I have two longer books to recommend for teachers. First up is The Spirit of the Sea by Rebecca Hainnu, illustrated by Hwei Lim (Inhabit Media, 2014). This is an Inuktitut story of a proud girl who becomes a sea spirit. I would recommend it for older readers, maybe grades 3-5, as the story deals with deception, cowardice, and other issues that need maturity in order to appreciate. Full of lovely watercolour illustrations, and it even includes a helpful pronunciation guide.
And last, but not least, is Orca Chief by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd (Harbour Publishing, 2015). This British Columbia tale is illustrated with iconic paintings that evoke aboriginal art from the northwest. The story is one that teaches respect for nature and for our food sources. These two books would be perfect for a First Nations study.