There’s no better way to spend a hot summer’s day than to get lost in a great book whether you’re kicking around in your own backyard, in a neighbourhood park, the beach or the cottage. Here, suggestions to please every young reader.
For the Graphic Novel Lover
The Good Fight, Ted Staunton, illustrated by Josh Rosen (Scholastic Canada, 9+) Staunton takes readers into one of the dark moments of Canadian history, the 1933 race riot in Toronto’s Christie Pits. Staunton not only transports kids into the world of the Ward, the hub of Toronto’s immigrant community in the Great Depression but, through the eyes of Sid and his friends, examines how racism and hate can tear cities apart.
The Monster Sisters: The Mystery of the Stone Octopus, Gareth Gaudin (Orca Books, 9-12) Gaudin continues the adventures of those intrepid comic-book loving sleuths Enid Jupiter and Lyra Gotham as they again do battle with the terrible monsters ravaging Victoria. Mysterious silver bricks seem to point to a solution but can the sisters find the answers in time? There’s much more to this adventure than meets the eye as Gaudin’s story takes some unexpected twists and turns.
Friends by Any Other Name, Jeremy Tankard and Hermione Tankard (Harper Collins, 8-12) In the second instalment of the Yorick and Bones series, the Tankard father-daughter team, continue Yorick’s search for new friends. But how does a skeleton find friends and can the characters from Hamlet and other Shakespearean plays help him? Readers will be delighted by the sprightly Elizabethan rhythm and the hilarious illustrations.
For the Kid Interested in First Nations
The Shaman’s Apprentice, Zacharius Kunuk, illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith (Inhabit Media, 9-12) The Inuk filmmaker’s book looks at young Supijaq, a shaman in training who follows her grandmother underground to heal a sick man. Is Supijaq brave enough to face this important test in her training and meet Kannaaluk, the One Below, who can tell them why the man’s sick? Kyak-Monteith’s illustrations beautifully capture the power and darkness of this folktale.
We Dream Medicine Dreams, Lisa Boivin (HighWater Press, 7-9) Trying to come to terms with her grandfather’s terminal illness, the unnamed narrator remembers the medicine dreams that she shared with him. Grandfather has helped her learn to make connections with her ancestors – Bear, Hawk, Caribou and Wolf – so that she can live a good life. Boivin’s thoughtful story is exquisitely complemented by stunning collage illustrations.
On the Trapline, David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett (Tundra, 6-8) Based on a trip to his own father’s trapline, Robertson tells a tender story about a young boy visiting the places where his moshom, his grandfather, and his family had lived before they left the land and discovering a new world through his grandfather’s eyes – the warmth of snuggling together in a tent in winter, the taste of freshly-picked Saskatoon berries.
Wild Waters: Inside A Voyageur’s World, Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden (Indigenous Education Press, 9-12) Based on the true story of his four-times great-grandfather, Tomma, a Haudenosaunee voyageur who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company and, in 1828, took part in a monumental journey from Montreal to Hudson Bay and to the Fraser River and the Pacific. Using the journal of Chief Factor Archibald McDonald, Loyie and writing partner Brissenden, powerfully describe the dangers, thrills and hard work of the voyageurs and bring their world to life.
For the Kid Looking For An Adventure
Her Epic Adventure: 25 Daring Women Who Inspire a Life Less Ordinary, Julia De Laurentiis Johnston, illustrated by Salini Perera (Kids Can Press, 8-12) From aviatrix Bessie Coleman, the first Black pilot, to Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest, and Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to conquer that peak, formidable women who never backed down from a challenge are the focus of this book.
How to Become an Accidental Activist, Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Jenn Playford (Orca Books, 9-12) A look at 100 amazing people who want to make the world a better place, from artists such as Ai Weiwei to singers like Tegan and Sara and Pete Seeger to young people such as Water Warrior Autumn Peltier, Chief Water Protector for the Anishinabek Nation. Young readers will discover how they can make a difference, too.
The Deepest Dig, Mark David Smith, illustrated by Lily Snowden-Fine (Owlkids, 3-7) Sometimes the grandest adventure is in your own backyard. After a rainstorm, Caden finds something in his backyard. It isn’t a rock but it’s as hard as stone and even though his parents don’t believe he’s found a buried treasure, Caden, with help from his next-door neighbour, Martha, perseveres and keeps digging. Inspired by the true story of the discovery of a woolly mammoth skeleton on a Michigan farm in 2015, Smith’s delightful story is brought to life by Snowden-Fine’s illustrations.
For the Science and Nature Loving Kid
Why Does My Shadow Follow Me? More Science Questions from Real Kids, Kira Vermond, illustrated by Suharu Ogawa (Annick Press, 7-11) Here are answers to some of the fantastic questions kids ask the scientists at the Ontario Science Centre. Ever wondered if there’s WiFi in space or whether birds really are related to dinosaurs or why we have butts? You can find out answers to these ponderings and dozens more about the human body, animals, technology, the Earth and outer space.
Grasshopper, Tatiana Ukhova (Greystone Kids, 4-7) A wonderful, wordless picture book that asks young readers to take a closer look at the world around them. Spending an afternoon in her garden, a young girl watches all of the activity that goes on around her – she watches the ants scurrying around her feet, follows a furry caterpillar that’s having lunch in a pea-pod and catches a grasshopper who has lost one of its legs. Ukhova’s illustrations take readers on a fascinating journey and show us how important it is to pay attention to what’s around us.
Do You Know Where the Animals Live? Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Kids, 8-10) German author Wollheben has been fascinated by nature since he was a boy and here he turns his keen eye to some incredible creatures to share his knowledge about what it’s like to be an animal. Readers will find out whether animals dream or behave the way people do (did you know fish fart to communicate!?).
City of Water (ThinkCities series), Andrea Curtis, illustrated by Katy Dockrill (Groundwood Books, 8-12) A look at how important it is to think about how we use water. Curtis gives readers a tour of how cities have created water systems going back to the Indus Valley in 2500 and ancient Rome and explores why it’s important not to overuse water, as well as discusses the need for clean water and how water systems are affected by climate change. This second book in the ThinkCities series, with lively illustrations by Katy Dockrill, is a fantastic way to examine the urban landscape and how it affects the environment.
For the Picture Book Lovers
The Land Puffin, Lori Doody (Nimbus Books, 3-7) This is the story of Pete the Parrot, who, tired of living in a city and being a parrot, decides that he’d like to move to the coast and become a puffin. Unfortunately, puffin life doesn’t really agree with him – he doesn’t like fish or swimming, sitting on rocks all day or sleeping outside at night. What’s a parrot with the blood of pirates to do? Doody’s delightful illustrations are as much fun as this wonderfully wacky story.
Sonata for Fish and Boy, Milan Pavlović (Groundwood Books, 3-7) An imaginative wordless picture book that takes readers on a journey of discovery when a fish, hearing the lovely strains of a young boy playing his violin on a bench by the water, jumps out and magical things happen. Fish and boy whirl through the sky where the echoes of the boy’s playing delight people, birds and even the stars until they discover a group of animal musicians playing in a little house in the forest. Fish and boy seem to disappear as readers return to the bench where the violin remains and is taken up by an older man – what might happen next?
Out Into the Big Wide Lake, Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (Tundra, 4-8). Kate’s heading off to spend some time at the lake with her grandparents and she’s nervous because she’s never been away from home. But soon she’s helping grandfather deliver groceries and gets to know everyone on the big wide lake. She even learns to pilot the boat all by herself. Kate’s fearless, feisty, creative and caring and, like Harbridge’s own sister Linda, has Down syndrome. But when grandfather suddenly becomes ill, it’s up to Kate to save the day and, with the help of her grandparents’ dog, Parbuckle, Kate takes over delivering groceries with some surprising results.
Moon Pops, Heena Baek, illustrated by Jieun Kiaer (OwlKids, 3-7) A perfect book for hot sticky summer nights when it’s almost impossible to sleep, so hot that even the moon begins to melt! Seeing what’s happening, Granny grabs a bucket to catch the falling moon drops but what’s she going to do with them? She has a brilliant idea and decides to make moon pops. And when the air conditioning goes on the fritz, these cold and frosty treats save the day. But it’s not just her neighbours who are affected by the heat wave and you’ll need to read Baek’s wonderful twist on one of the most famous Korean folktales to find out what happens next. Take a close look at Kiaer’s fantastic illustrations, too – they’re an inventive combination of collage and 3-D dioramas.
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