It’s Mother’s Day weekend and one of the best ways to spend it is by reading together.
Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 3 and under) is the first book by the extraordinary paper collage artist who has both written and illustrated this sweet gentle celebration of a baby’s world. Barron’s wonderfully engaging text has a rhythm that will delight little listeners as Barron playfully guides them through a baby’s day. Her bright, boisterous collage illustrations offer us a wonderful array of babies – human and animal – that is sure to make this board book a bedtime favourite.
West Coast Wild Babies by Deborah Hodge, illustrated by Karen Reczuch (Groundwood Books, 4-7) is an absolutely stunning companion to the pairs’ earlier work, West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet. As Hodge tells readers about gray wolf pups, cougar kittens, orca calves and bald eaglets and what their early lives are like, Reczuch’s watercolour illustrations give us a sense of what their world looks like //trim for space// whether we’re high in the trees or low on the forest floor, we not only have a unique glimpse of the natural wonders that abound on the Pacific West Coast but the warm relationships that animal babies share with their parents.
Keep Up, Katmai by Pili Palm-Leis. photographs by Barrett Hedges (North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 3-8) pairs the extraordinary work of award-winning National Geographic photographer Hedges with a charming story by Palm-Leis that takes us into the world of a mother grizzly and her four cubs. Palm-Leis’s story takes us right into the world of the grizzles as they take a walk in the woods and offers readers a wonderful sense of how they see the world.
The Eagle Mother by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Hudson), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Highwater Press, 9-12) is the third book in the Mothers of Xsan series, an incredible celebration of the deep connections that are essential to the relationships between mothers and their children in the animal world. But Hudson does more than focus on eagle mothers and their eaglets; he offers us a sense of the way those relationships have an impact on the whole natural world and, particularly, on the Gitxsan First Nations, the Indigenous peoples from unceded territories who live in the Northwest Interior of British Columbia. Donovan’s illustrations exquisitely enrich Hudson’s text, beautifully melding Indigenous art motifs into her images of the eagle families.
April 22 was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and what better way to think about the planet we all share then reading Our Environment: Everything You Want to Know by Jacques Pasquet, illustrated by Yves Dumont, translated by Shelley Tanaka (OwlKids, 9-12). Pasquet provides a book that’s accessible and chock-full of information that young readers might need (including an excellent glossary) in a first serious look at different aspects of the environment – water, air, soil, climate and energy. It also deftly answers some of the key questions that kids might have.
For younger readers, My Ocean is Blue by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, 3-7), a companion book to their earlier collaboration, My Forest is Green, strikes just the right note as Lebeuf and Barron share a day at the seaside through a poetic text that is beautifully mirrored by exquisite watercolour, pencil crayon and collage illustrations.
If you’re looking for a fantastic distraction during these days of isolation, try the latest book in the Mega Bat series by Anna Humphrey, illustrated by Kass Reichs, Megabat is a Fraidy Bat (Tundra Books, 7-10). In the latest wonderfully wacky and heartwarming, instalment, Megabat and his best human friend Daniel are off to sleepover camp. While Daniel isn’t really looking forward to it – sleeping in a cabin in the woods and using an outhouse, ugh! – Megabat can’t wait. But gradually the tables turn and as Daniel starts having a fantastic time at camp while Megabat, after befriending a new group of wild bat friends, finds himself frightened of ghosts in the woods. Young readers will be delighted by how Megabat resolves his dilemma in this sidesplitting adventure.
Yorick and Bones by by Jeremy Tankard and Hermione Tankard (HarperCollins, 8-12) is the first book in a new graphic novel series by Jeremy Tankard, the celebrated author/illustrator of the hilarious Grumpy Bird series, and his daughter, Hermione. What would happen if a witch inadvertently spilled a magic potion on the bones of Yorick, the court jester from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which were then dug up by a lively little dog? Nothing could be a better antidote to these anxious times than Tankard’s exuberant illustrations paired with a totally hilarious story of a skeleton and his boy. Added to the mix is that it’s in the jaunty rhythm of Elizabethan iambic pentameter.
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