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Kids’ gift guide: Books for your budding scientist, graphic novel fan, aspiring world-changer and more

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The perfect gift for every type of reader on your list, from the design aficionado to the history buff

For the budding naturalist and scientist

Akpa’s Journey
Hiders Seekers Finders Keepers
The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers
Iceberg: A Life in Seasons
Daphne’s Bees
It's my Body!

Akpa’s Journey by Mia Pelletier; illustrated by Kagan McLeod (Inhabit Media, 6-8)

Bird lovers will be thrilled as they follow the incredible 1,000-kilometre journey that the Arctic murre makes yearly from the icy waters of Nunavut.

Hiders Seekers Finders Keepers by Jessica Kulekjian; illustrated by Salini Perera (Kids Can Press, 4-8)

In this lyrical picture book, young readers discover how animals have an innate ability to know how to survive the challenges of winter.

The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers by Rachel Poliquin; illustrated by Clayton Hanmer (Greystone Kids, 7-11)

Poliquin examines the bits and pieces of our bodies that are no longer useful but remain as vestiges of our development as a species in this hilarious look at evolution.

Iceberg: A Life in Seasons by Claire Saxby; illustrated by Jess Racklyeft (Groundwood Books, 3-6)

Saxby gives young readers a look at how icebergs are affected by the seasons in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the world.

Daphne’s Bees by Catherine Dempsey; illustrated by Veselina Tomova (Running the Goat, 8-12)

Daphne knows how important bees are to the planet and is abuzz as her granny has promised to teach her how to be a beekeeper.

It’s My Body! by Elise Gravel (Scholastic Canada, 3-8)

Using her trademark graphic-novel approach, Gravel presents a hilarious and informative look at body positivity and how important it is to celebrate the different ways we look.

For the picture book lover

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Sing in the Spring!
If You Were a City
Pebbles to the Sea
Beautiful You, Beautiful Me
Revenge of the Raccoons

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen (Scholastic, 4-8)

Barnett and Klassen’s first book in a new Fairy Tales series gives this beloved classic a delightful twist.

Sing in the Spring! by Sheree Fitch; illustrated by Deb Plestid (Nimbus Publishing, 4-8)

Fitch uses wonderfully inventive wordplay to take readers through the seasons with illustrations by quilt artist Plestid.

If You Were a City by Kyo Maclear; illustrated by Sanna Francesca (Chronicle Books, 3-6)

Maclear imagines all the different types of cities children might find around the world in this delightfully playful book.

Pebbles to the Sea by Marie-Andrée Arsenault; illustrated by Dominque Leroux (Groundwood Books, 3-7)

Flo and Fée’s parents are getting divorced, but they know they’re still connected. This story is inspired by the landscape of the La Grave heritage site on Quebec’s Îles de la Madeleine.

Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tasha Spillett-Sumner; illustrated by Salini Perera (Owlkids, 3-7)

Spillett-Sumner uses her own experiences growing up as an Afro-Indigenous child in this gentle story about a mother helping her daughter to learn to celebrate her differences.

Revenge of the Raccoons by Vivek Shraya; illustrated by Juliana Neufeld (Owlkids, 4-8).

Tired of being called “trash pandas” by humans, raccoons take to the streets with wild abandon to reclaim a city they see as theirs.

For kids who are interested in Indigenous cultures

Muinji’j Asks Why
Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
The Gift of the Little People
The Three Hunters
Kā-āciwīkicik/The Move
Be a Good Ancestor

Muinji’j Asks Why by Breighlynn MacEachern (Muinji’j) and Shanika MacEachern; illustrated by Zeta Paul (Nimbus Publishing, 8+)

Coming home from school, Muinji’j tells Nana and Papa how she’s been upset by a classroom discussion about residential schools. They share the story of the Mi’kmaq and the Shubenacadie School in Nova Scotia in this powerful and poignant book based on Muinji’j’s own experiences

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults by Robin Wall Kimmerer, adapted by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt (Milkweed Books, 12+)

Smith Gray has exquisitely adapted Kimmerer’s powerful book about the relationships that we have with plants and what Indigenous knowledge can teach us about being stewards of the Earth.

The Gift of the Little People by William Dumas, illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson (HighWater Press, 9-12)

Dumas shares a traditional story of how Rocky Cree elder Kākakiw must get to the home of the Little People when members of his nation fall deathly ill after trading furs on the shores of Hudson Bay.

The Three Hunters by Raymond Gianfrancesco and the Grade 4 class of Leo Ussak School; illustrated by Thamires Paredes (Inhabit Media, 6-8)

Students from a Rankin Inlet school in Nunavut use the framework of The Three Little Pigs to tell a story about three brothers who must learn to work together to survive a terrible storm.

Kā-āciwīkicik/The Move by Doris George and Don Philpot; illustrated by Alyssa Koski (Heritage House, 4-8)

In this Cree and English picture book, an old couple moves to a new house in a community that seems completely lifeless. They then turn to traditional wisdom, and, slowly, their environment transforms.

Be A Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince; illustrated by Carla Joseph (Orca Book Publishers, 3-5)

Indigenous knowledge informs this powerful picture book about the need to find connections with the planet in order to better care for it.

For the aspiring world-changer

Abuelita and Me
Journey of the Midnight Sun
Killer Underwear Invasion!
Last Week
The Line in the Sand
More than Money

Abuelita and Me by Leonarda Carranza; illustrated by Rafael Mayani (Annick Press, 4-7)

Running errands with her abuelita is such fun for this young narrator until she and her grandmother are victims of racism. Finding the courage to face injustice is never easy, as this poignant picture book shows.

Journey of the Midnight Sun by Shazia Afzal; illustrated by Aliya Ghare (Orca Book Publishers, 3-7)

A great story about community-building and tolerance that looks at how the Midnight Sun Mosque was built in Inuvik in the Canadian Arctic in 2010.

Killer Underwear Invasion! by Elise Gravel (Chronicle Books, 8-12)

Gravel provides kids with an excellent introduction on how to become more media literate.

Last Week by Bill Richardson; illustrated by Emilie Leduc (Groundwood Books, 9-12)

This stunning verse novel explores how a grandchild tries to find the best way to say goodbye to a grandmother who has chosen a medically assisted death.

The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam (Owlkids, 4-8)

A powerful, wordless picture book that explores how important conflict resolution and communication skills are in kids’ lives.

More Than Money by Hadley Dyer and Mitchell Bernard; illustrated by Paul Gill (Annick Press, 12+)

An outstanding introduction to how class and inequality affect everyone.

For the future headline-maker

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes
As Glenn As Can Be
Granny's Kitchen
Bibi's got Game
Star: The Bird Who Inspired Mozart
Still This Love Goes On

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes by Mahak Jain; illustrated by Anu Chouhan (Annick Press, 4-7)

Paro starts ballet thinking that she can be as graceful and elegant as her mother, who dances Bharatanatyam, but she feels clumsy until she discovers that the two dance forms aren’t really that different.

As Glenn As Can Be by Sarah Ellis; illustrated by Nancy Vo (Groundwood Books, 3-7)

This exquisite picture book biography chronicles the life of pianist Glenn Gould and how important it was for him to always be completely himself.

Granny’s Kitchen by Sade Smith; illustrated by Ken Daley (Feiwel and Friends, 3-7)

Shelly-Ann can’t seem to make anything taste as good as Granny’s Jamaican cooking. But when Granny’s too tired to cook, Shelly-Ann tries to make a perfect meal for her.

Bibi’s Got Game by Bianca Andreescu with Mary Beth Leatherdale; illustrated by Chelsea O’Byrne (Penguin Random House, 4-8)

Bianca shares the story of how she became a tennis champ, and how meditation helped her face her challenges and fears.

Star: The Bird Who Inspired Mozart by Mireille Messier; illustrated by Matte Stephens (Tundra Books, 4-9)

Eighteenth-century Vienna comes to life in this fascinating picture book about Mozart and his pet starling.

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie; illustrated by Julie Flett (Greystone Kids, 3-7)

Flett brings this classic song by Buffy Sainte-Marie to life in a stunning picture book that celebrates the ties that bind us to the people and places that are important to our lives.

For the graphic novel fan

Rabbit Chase
Swim Team
Giju's Gift
Burt’s Way Home
Putuguq and Kublu and the Attack of the Amautalik!

Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée; illustrated by KC Oster (Annick Press, 9-12)

Alice in Wonderland meets Anishinaabe culture in this inventive graphic novel full of mischief, malarkey and madcap adventures. Non-binary Aimée finds themselves fighting a land-grabbing Queen from taking the land of the Paayehnsag, water spirits known to protect the land.

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas (HarperCollins, 9-12)

Bree needs to fit into her new school, but it isn’t easy since her only choice of electives is swim team, and she’s terrified of water. When an elderly neighbour offers to help her, Bree not only discovers a passion for the water, but for competition, too.

Giju’s Gift by Brandon Mitchell; illustrated by Veronika Barinova (HighWater Press, 6-8)

The first in a new series drawing upon traditional Indigenous stories has Mali meet Puug, one of the Little People, the original guardians of Turtle Island, who has Mali’s hair clip, a gift from her grandmother, which she thought she’d lost. Mali wants it back, but that means helping Puug fight a giant.

Anne by Kathleen Gros (HarperCollins, 9-12)

In this (sort of) modern adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s classic, Anne finds herself challenged by her feelings for her best friend Diana Barry – is it just a crush, or something more?

Burt’s Way Home by John Martz (Tundra Books, 6-9)

Is Burt really a visitor from another planet who can’t fit in to how things are done on Earth, or is he a foster child struggling to adjust to a new home? His foster mother, Lydia, struggles to be the bridge between Burt’s two worlds.

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Putuguq and Kublu and the Attack of the Amautalik! by Roselynn Akulukjuk and Danny Christopher; illustrated by Astrid Arijanto (Inhabit Media, 6-8)

The latest in a series that neatly mixes Inuit mythology and the lives of contemporary kids focuses on an amautalik, a child-stealing ogress, who’s outsmarted by an orphan.

Pink, Blue, and You! by Elise Gravel with Mykaell Blais (Random House, 4-8)

Gender stereotypes can be dangerous as Gravel and Blais explore in this engaging look at gender, roles and stereotyping.

For the adventure-seeker

Weird Rules to Follow
Alina in a Pinch
These Are Not the Words
The Witch’s Apprentice
Asha and Baz Meet Mary Sherman Morgan

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel (Puffin Canada, 10+)

Are there really ghosts haunting the lighthouse at Gibraltar Point on Ward’s Island in Toronto? Join Rebecca and Gabe for a spine-tingling adventure that pits these teens against a malicious ghost who plans to take over Toronto.

Weird Rules to Follow by Kim Spencer (Orca Book Publishing, 9-12)

Class and culture are at the heart of this powerful novel about Mia, who’s Indigenous, and Lara, who’s not, growing up in Prince Rupert in 1980s and how the tweens’ friendship is challenged by stereotypes and intolerance

Alina in a Pinch by Shenaaz Nanji (Second Story Press, 6-9)

Alina is being bullied by a mysterious note-leaver at school, who has Alina doubting herself and her culture.

These Are Not the Words by Amanda West Lewis (Groundwood Books, 9-12)

Missy’s life in New York in the sixties seems pretty idyllic, but she’s also coping with her dad’s alcohol and drug addiction, which threatens to unbalance her life. Based on Lewis’s own life story.

The Witch’s Apprentice by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Cherise Harris (Random House, 8-12).

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In the third book in Elliott’s delightful Dragons in a Bag series, Jaxon is beginning to doubt whether he’s cut out to be a witch.

Asha and Baz Meet Mary Sherman Morgan by Caroline Fernandez; illustrated by Dharmali Patel (Common Deer Press, 6-9)

A class project turns into a time-travelling adventure when Asha finds a magic wand that lets them travel back in time and meet Mary Sherman Morgan, the first American woman rocket scientist.

The Oracle of Avaris by Alisha Sevigny (Dundurn Press, 9-12)

The conclusion to Sevigny’s wonderful Secrets of the Sands mystery series whisks readers back to Ancient Egypt where friends Sesha, Paser and Reb must find a missing oracle in order to prevent the Pharoah from declaring war on Thebes.

For the tiny history buff

The Possible Lives of W.H., Sailor
One Summer in Whitney Pier
Howdy, I’m Flores LaDue
Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies
Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock
Seen and Unseen

The Possible Lives of W.H., Sailor by Bushra Junaid (Running the Goat, 8-12)

Using artifacts discovered in the late 1980s in Newfoundland, Junaid creates a powerful account of the possible lives that a 19th century Black sailor might have lived.

One Summer in Whitney Pier by Mayann Francis; illustrated by Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo (Nimbus, 4-9)

Nova Scotia’s first Black Lieutenant-Governor shares childhood memories of growing up in this diverse Cape Breton community.

Howdy, I’m Flores LaDue by Ayesha Clough; illustrated by Hugh Rookwood (Red Barn Books, 3-7)

Clough tells the story of Flores LaDue, rider, roper and Rodeo Queen of the Calgary Stampede.

Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies by Sarah Silberstein Swartz (Second Story Press, 9-12)

Silberstein Swartz shares the stories of nine unsung heroes of the Holocaust.

Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Isabelle Follath (Tundra Books, 7-10)

The incredible life and times of the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the subject of this fascinating picture-book biography.

Seen and Unseen by Elizabeth Partridge; illustrated by Lauren Tamaki (Chronicle Books, 10-14)

Partridge uses the lens of photographers Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake and Ansel Adams to tell the story of the internment of the Japanese during the Second World War.

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