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Whether your young readers are in the city or at the cottage, here are some great new books to enjoy before they head back to school


Farm Crimes: Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg

Sandra Dumais, (Owlkids Books, 6-9)

When Hen’s egg goes missing, the animals on the farm know exactly who to turn to – the world’s No. 1 (and only) goat detective, Billiam Van Hoof. Dumais’s hilarious graphic novel for younger readers is a delightfully silly mystery. Will the bumbling hero solve the crime, discovering who perpetrated this dastardly deed? Find out in the first book in a sensational new series.

It Happened on Sweet Street

Caroline Adderson, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch (Tundra Books, 4-8)

If you have a sweet tooth, this is the book for you. Monsieur Oliphant makes mouth-watering and magnificent cakes, but he’s not pleased when cookie concoctor Mademoiselle Fée moves in next door. What happens when this duelling duo find themselves challenged by the talents of pie-maker Madame Clotilde? Sweet Street is caught up in a “Great Sweet Street Bake Off” that ends deliciously. Adderson’s playful text is perfectly paired with Jorisch’s zany illustrations

The Nut that Fell from the Tree

Sangeeta Bhadra, illustrated by France Cormier (Kids Can Press, 3-7)

Inspired by the classic nursery rhyme, The House that Jack Built, Bhadra takes young readers on a madcap journey where they’ll discover what happens when an acorn falls from a tree (where Jill has her tree house) and how it affects the lives of a plethora of forest denizens. Bhadra’s lively cumulative text is beautifully matched by France’s delightful pencil illustrations.

Alice & Gert: An Ant and Grasshopper Story

Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dena Seiferling (Owlkids Books, 3-7)

Ever-industrious Alice spends the summer gathering food for the winter while her grasshopper friend and companion Gert sings songs, makes up rollicking stories and creates a dance that moves Alice to tears. But what happens when winter comes and Gert isn’t just cold but hungry as well? Alice offers to share her seeds and grain with her friend whose creative efforts lightened her workload. Seiferling’s lovely graphite illustrations are just perfect for this exquisitely tender story. It’s also a wonderful homage to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

So Imagine Me: Nature Riddles in Poetry

Lynn Davies, illustrated by Chrissie Park-MacNeil (Nimbus Publishing, 4-9)

This book is a wonderful challenge for young readers. Each of Davies’s lyrical nature poems poses a riddle that offers clues both in the poems themselves as well as in Park-MacNeil’s vibrant illustrations. What is particularly powerful is the way that Davies uses poetry to make readers think about the different ways we talk about the natural world. Some of the poems are definitely challenging, but this is a book the whole family can enjoy.

One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet

Anuradha Rao (Orca Book Publishers, 12+)

An outstanding collection of profiles of 20 Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who are involved in the fight to save our planet. Rao includes activists of all ages from around the globe including Canada, and her writing makes clear the passion of these extraordinary people and how truly global this movement is. Most of these environmental defenders were inspired to act as children, and Rao stresses it’s key to provide young people with the knowledge and power to take action. An excellent glossary and list of online resources will help young readers to explore these inspirational stories in more depth.

What Grew in Larry’s Garden

Laura Alary, illustrated by Kass Reich (Kids Can Press, 4-7)

Grace’s neighbour Larry has a wonderful garden and she spends the summer helping him look after the different vegetables he grows but when his next-door neighbour puts up a high fence, Larry’s tomato plants start to wilt. Luckily, Grace has an idea to save the day. Based on a true story, Alary perfectly captures Larry’s passion and Reich’s illustrations help this lovely picture book bloom.

Grandmother School

Rina Singh, illustrated by Ellen Rooney (Orca Book Publishers, 6-8)

Every day a little girl watches her Aaji putting on her bright pink sari before they walk to Grandmother School in the village where they live. Based on a true story, it’s a wonderful and poignant story about the need for literacy and how vital learning to read is. And Aaji doesn’t just learn to read and write – literacy empowers her. Not only can she sign her name when she goes to the bank but, more importantly, she dreams of the day when she can read to her grandchildren and share stories with them.

War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories

Tim Wynne-Jones (Groundwood Books, 9-12)

A delightful collection of stories from one of Canada’s best writers for children and teens. It’s full of Wynne-Jones’s wonderful sense of humour and ability to make characters come to life. The highlight was Ant and the Praying Mantis – who else but Tim Wynne-Jones could tell a story about bullying, unsympathetic school principals, friendships, Greta Thunberg and #FridaysForFuture, and make us laugh and cry and laugh again?

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