All posts by Margriet Ruurs

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

An Aboriginal Carol

An Aboriginal Carol by David Bouchard, with art by Moses Beaver and music by Susan Aglukark is a gorgeous, unusual picture book for all ages. This beautiful text is the story of the birth of Jesus as told for over 400 years by Canada’s aboriginal people.  Based on traditional First Nations knowledge and belief, this Christmas story is retold in both English and Inuktutut by a Métis poet and gorgeously illustrated by First Nation’s artist Moses Beaver. On the accompanying CD the poem is told and sung in Inuktitut by renowned singer Susan Aglukark. Moses Beaver’s art shows angels, a babe wrapped in deer skin and animals of all shapes and sizes rejoicing at the special birth. ISBN 978-0-88995-406-9, Red Deer Press

Here is the retelling, complete with art, on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_XTwr7qnl0

Hermit Hill

Hermit Hill by Mike and Nancy Deas is an exciting graphic adventure. Sleeves lives with his bossy sister in a small village on a small island. Mysterious beings – are they aliens? – appear in the forest. They are so friendly and so cute that Sleeves wants them to be his friends forever and locks them inside an old VW van deep in the woods. But as soon as the creatures are locked up, nature starts to deteriorate… black ooze appears swallowing mushrooms and trees… When Sleeves meets the mysterious hermit, she lets him on a secret that results in a wild ride to free the creatures. A page turning adventure told in speech bubbles and wonderful illustrations for young readers. ISBN 978-1-4598-3149-0, Orca Book Publishers

Urgent Message from a Hot Planet: Navigating the Climate Crisis

Urgent Message from a Hot Planet, Navigating the Climate Crisis by Ann Eriksson is just that: an urgent message about climate change. But besides bad news, this book also gives teens tools to help combat global warming. It gives voices to children around the world and highlights the changes they are making, suggesting things kids can do to turn it around.

Oculum Echo

Set in a dystopian future, Oculum Echo by Philippa Dowding takes the reader along on a quest in a world where children are emerging from their isolated dome-worlds on a quest to avoid war, and find refuge a world-away. The way Dowding draws us into the characters’ first phenomenological experience of the natural world is quite well done. The setting is vivid and the main characters are compelling and their drive towards their goals of protecting the children of their world from an impending war. The story, written from multiple perspectives is rich and descriptive language and multiple twists help to propel the plot forward without it becoming too predictable. This is a second book after the title Oculum. ISBN 978-1770866652, Cormorant Books (Reviewed by educator Seb Evans)

Margriet Ruurs is a writer of books for children. She conducts author presentations at International Schools.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

I am often asked about my favourite books of poetry. I love rhyming picture books. Sharing poetry aloud with young children is a powerful, important tool to help them develop their sense of language with repetition, rhyme and alliteration. But perhaps my favourite genre is free verse poetry: novels written in poetic format without using rhyme. Here are some of my all time favourites because of their use of language ánd because of their content.

Gifts

Gifts by Jo Ellen Bogart with plasticine art by Barbara Reid, is one of my very favourite picture books to share, especially at international schools. As grandma travels the world, she sends home gifts from different countries to her granddaughter. Beautiful poetic text celebrates special sights, sounds, foods and landmarks. Through the art, we see grandma growing older and when the granddaughter is an adult she, too, is traveling the world and sending home gifts to inspire the next generation.  ISBN 978-0-590-24935-5, Scholastic

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies, Voices From a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz won a Newbery Award. It’s an unusual book. Most of the voices in the book are written in beautiful, skilful rhyme. The book gives a plethora of information about the Middle Ages, including the Crusades, the life style, social standards, clothing, food, work and much more. But this book was also written to be performed as a stage play. Students can each ‘be’ a voice and share the history lessons they learned by performing this incredible play. Using this book will allow you to combine literacy with social studies, history, performing arts, and art to create backgrounds and costumes.  ISBN 978-0-7636-1578-9, Candlewick Press

Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate is the beautiful told story of Kek, who has never seen snow or America. But he arrives as a refugee from Africa and has to learn everything. The sparseness of free verse poetry lets this book use just the right words, giving the story amazing power. If you are talking about migration and refugees in class, be sure to include this title. ISBN 978-0-312-53563-6, Square Fish

Burying the Moon

Burying the Moon by Andrée Poulin, with gorgeous art by Sonali Zohra, is the touching tale of Latika in India. Having access to clean running water and a toilet is common for many but unfortunately not for all people. Latika is angry that her sister can no longer go to school because she turned twelve. She’s angry because her little cousin died from drinking dirty water, and she’s angry at the moon for exposing her when she has to deposit her waste in a field because there is no toilet building in her village. Latika overcomes her shyness to speak up after a kind engineer comes to her village. Through her courage the village will eventually build a toilet building. This simple but powerful free verse novel shed light on global issues and is an eye opener to living conditions in India. At the back of the book, websites are listed for organizations that help address the issues and to help kids take action. ISBN 978-1-77306-604-2, Groundwood Books

Pearl Verses the World

One of the most touching free verse books I know is Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy, with lovely illustrations by Heather Potter. Do poems have to rhyme to be poetry? Pearl’s teacher wants the class to write rhyming poetry. But Pearl does not have it in her. Her heart and mind are at home where her beloved grandmother is sick in bed and dying. Grandma always read her books and talked with her. Now, no one does. Pearl feels alone and refuses to write. This is a story about a child coping in the world, learning about sorrow and loss, about the importance of friendships and following your heart. A story that always brings tears to my eyes and that can serve as a powerful tool for kids in a similar situation. ISBN 978-1-921150-93-7, Walker Books

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children. Her favourite workshop at international schools is creating nonfiction poems with students. www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Nonfiction and Fiction: here are great new books for middle school readers. Both novels and information books are full of interesting stories and are all page turners!

The Late, Great Endlings: Stories of the Last Survivors

The Late, Great Endlings, Stories of the Last Survivors by Deborah Kerbel with art by Aimée van Drimmelen is an unusual nonfiction picturebook. Written in rhyme but complemented by information each animal featured in this book was the last survivor of a now-extinct species. From Lonesome George the last Pinta Island tortoise to Turgi the last Polynesian tree snail. And while a book about extinct animals is sad, it also offers information on how kids can make a difference. 978-1-4598-2766-0, Orca Book Publishers

How to Become an Accidental Entrepreneur

How to Become an Accidental Entrepreneur by Elizabeth Macleod and Frieda Wishinsky is a fun book full of interesting facts and information that enterprising kids will love. How do you start a business? Can you make a living by doing what you’re good at? How did Steven Spielberg become one of the world’s most renowned movie makers? How did Tom & Jerry’s idea to sell ice cream turn into a thriving business?  And did you know that the super soaker water gun was invented by a NASA engineer? From environmental issues to medicine and technology, many of the best entrepreneurs in their field share their stories, experiences and advise with young readers in this book.  ISBN 978-1-4598-2833-9, Orca Book Publishers

Superpower?: The Wearable-Tech Revolution

Superpower? The Wearable-Tech Revolution by Elaine Kachala takes a close look at artificial intelligence and wearable technology. Half a billion smart watches have been sold so far. By putting on devices we can test, and assist, brain power and even change our physical abilities. VR goggles add fun to video games. But how safe or invasive are these gadgets? Some can change lives – Jordan has only half an arm and uses a 3D-printed prosthetic arm. But should we have micro chips implanted? Is all technology safe and how should we use it? This nonfiction book is full of information that tech savvy kids will love to explore. ISBN 978-1-4598-2827-8, Orca Book Publishers

The Soggy, Foggy Campout #8 (Here's Hank)

Here’s Hank – The Soggy, Foggy Campout by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is an early-read novel with a twist. Not only is it a fun chapter book about getting inspired by nature to write poems, it is also a book set in dyslexie font. I had never heard of this but this particular font apparently helps kids with dyslexia to read the letters and not mix up the order. It’s an interesting concept with details about the font here: www.dyslexiefont.com ISBN 978-0-448-48660-4, Grosset & Dunlap

Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For by Mahtab Narsimhan, is a page turner for middle grade. The story perfectly illustrates the dangers of entering unknown online sites and befriending strangers. Eshana’s world changes when she goes in search of friends, only to realize she already had important friends around her. Besides being a good read, this hi-lo read is a good reminder to be aware of cyber safety.  ISBN 978-1459834002, Orca Books

Murder at the Hotel Hopeless

Murder At The Hotel Hopeless by John Lekich is another title in the Orca Soundings series: short novels with high-interest topics of 12 years and up. Using humour, wit and intrigue, Lekich spins a tale that involves a cursed diamond, an unlikely detective, even a hearse ready at the crime scene. ISBN 978-1-4598-3349-4, Orca Books

Weird Rules to Follow

Weird Rules to Follow by Kim Spencer is a fascinating read. This middle grade novel has a fictional main character. However, the short chapters – or vignettes as the author calls them – are a memoir of growing up in a northern Canadian community as a First Nations girl. Going to (a mostly white) elementary school with her best friend, the author touches on many details from the 1980’s. The story is a rare glimpse not only into a First Nations home but also an intimate look at a (pre) teenage girl regardless of race. Well written and interesting to readers of all ages, not just kids. ISBN 978-1-4598-3558-0, Orca Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian writer of 40 books who conducts author workshops at International Schools around the world. www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

A brand new picture book is always a joy to discover. Share these titles out loud with your class or use them to encourage readers to discover new favourites about interesting topics.

Sun in My Tummy, Laura Alary, illustrated by Andrea Blinick. This is a picture book that looks at the magic of an ordinary breakfast. Did you know that the sun made the seeds grow that become your oatmeal? That blueberries grew because of sunlight, which turned them into sweet berries? Follow the magic of sunshine through familiar food to marvel at a miracle we take for granted.  ISBN 978-1-77278-241-7, Pajama Press

The Sinking of Captain Otter by Troy Wilson, illustrated by Maira Chiodi is picture book about many things. It’s a story of an otter who wants to be captain of his own ship. But it’s also the story of persistence, of believing in yourself, a story about bullying and about making friends. Most of all it’s a lovely story to share in the classroom and to discuss all of these different layers. ISBN 978-1-77147-311-8, Owl Kids Books

Cocoa Magic by Sandra Bradley, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, is an old fashioned story of kindness and empathy. Daniel loves learning how to pour chocolate in his great-uncle’s chocolate shop. When a new girl comes to his class, in the old brick school building, he can see that she needs some cheering up. So the next morning he hides a beautiful chocolate in her desk. And, like magic, it makes her smiles. But more children need a special treat or encouragement so soon Daniel is hiding chocolates throughout the class. When it is Daniel’s turn to need some special care, he is surprised to find his kindness returned by many friends. A story about doing little things for others to build empathy and compassion, with the most delicious looking end pages I’ve ever seen! ISBN 978-1-77276-264-6, Pajama Press

Why Humans Build Up, The Rise of Towers, Temples and Skyscrapers. This book is written by Gregor Craigie and illustrated by Kathleen Fu, and it starts with a question most kids ask: ‘Why?’ Why did people start building higher and higher? The answers are interesting and sometimes surprising. Starting with the Tower of Babylon and going throughout history to the Burj Khalifa, the book takes a look at many diverse towers and highrises, including totem poles, temples and commercial buildings. Budding architects and any kid fascinated by towers, will enjoy the details. ISBN 978-1-4598-2188-0, Orca Books

Night Runners by Geraldo Valério is a surprising book. At first glance this wordless picture book looks like a Christmas story with its sparkly stars on the cover, and a leaping reindeer. Then it seems like a scary story when the rushing reindeer stumbles in the dark woods and is surrounded by wolves. But then the images surprise again by showing how kind and caring those scary wolves are! Once they have brought food and water to the injured reindeer, they all continue their pursuit of the sparkling star cicle in the sky and find more friends. Together they sing and dance and celebrate. Worldless picture books can lead to many oral stories and boost imagination. This one will do so on many different levels. ISBN 978-1-77306-569-4, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of 40 books for children. Her newest title is Where We Live, a nonfiction map book about children in their own unique neighborhoods around the globe.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Books are always better when they are shared. Whether it’s a parent reading a bedtime story like While You Sleep; a librarian laughing with the students about The Library Dragon or a classroom teacher reading The Coconut Crab aloud:

Dinos Driving

Dinos Driving, written by Lynn Leitch with illustrations by Scot Ritchie, is a wild ride that will be especially exciting for little ones who like dinosaurs ánd cars. Each dino drives a special car – Iguanodon drives an electric one while diplodocus drives a bus. A fun book to share out loud. ISBN 978-1-77278-269-1, Pajama Press

While You Sleep

While You Sleep is a gentle bedtime story by Jennifer Maruno with glorious art by Miki Sato. Collage of fabrics, weavings, cotton balls, colourful paper and more create gorgeous images of a child being tucked in bed for the night while the world is being dusted and swept for a new day. Who gets to polish the sun and recharge rainbows? A reassuring story for little ones. ISBN 978-1-77278-267-7, Pajama Press

Return of the Library Dragon

I love Carmen Agra Deedy’s books, especially 14 Cows For America, a beautiful story about 9/11. Return of The Library Dragon, illustrated by Michael P. White, is a funny, perfect story for librarians and book-loving teachers to share. Fiery librarian Lotty Scales has earned her retirement after 557 years in the school. But when Mike Krochip shows up to replace all books with computers, she could just breathe fire. Aided by the students and a new, young librarian they fight to preserve books.  ISBN 978-1-56145-621-5, Peachtree

A Dragon Used to Live Here

And, speaking of dragons, A Dragon Used To Live Here by Annette LeBlanc Cate is a chapter book that can be read to elementary classes or enjoyed by young readers themselves. Thomas and Emily like to explore the castle grounds around their home. They thought they knew every inch until they come across Meg, a cranky scribe, who claims a dragon used to live in the castle. Adventures follow in which they, like they should in a good story, make discoveries and get into trouble. ISBN 978-1-5362-0451-3, Candlewick

The Coconut Crab

The Coconut Crab by Peter W. Fong is a 200 page middle grade novel, a fun and beautiful read. While the facts about the main characters – a coconut crab, a goat, a bird and a gecko – are based on nonfiction, the story is a well written fictional tale reminiscent of folk tales. Based on a tropical island, Coconut Crab faces dangers and makes new friends and learns about the natural world while exploring the world of man. The voice that tell this story, with faint echoes of The Life of Pi, is beautiful and made me see vivid images while, similar to those of Happy Feet in which quirky animals banter with each other. A fascinating read that may be labeled for kids but can be equally entertaining for adults who love a good tale. ISBN 978-1-9505845-7-4, Green Writers Press

Margriet Ruurs is the author of over 40 books for children. Her newest title is Where We Live, in which real children share stories about their unique neighborhoods around the globe.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Why do we call it ‘nonfiction’? ‘Information Books’ might be a more direct label. These titles are all full of information. Information books help kids to learn and recognize facts about the world – whatever the topic may be. And you’re never too young (or old) to learn. I learned much from these newly released books.

Bear Has a Belly by Jane Wittingham uses gorgeous photos to show how animals and children are similar. Rabbits have ears, and so does a child. This beautifully executed board book will make children familiar with wildlife, with names of body parts and also create a deeper awareness of our connectedness with nature.

ISBN 978-1-77278-268-4, Pajama Press

Let’s Add Up by Victoria Allenby, with art by Maggie Zeng, is a frolicking romp counting to 10. Instruments, dishes, costumes and friends – all add up to band, feasts and parties. Fun to count and read (and then have a party!) with a Kindergarten class.

ISBN 978-1-77278-248-6, Pajama Press

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It by Colleen Nelson and Kathie MacIsaac is an inspiring, in-depth look at how specific people came to their profession. What does it take to become a stunt person? Can you go to school to become a journalist? What do zookeepers exactly do and can you actually be a professional video game player? This book features 25 individuals with a wide variety of interesting jobs and what it takes to get there. Complete with variations and examples. A great resource for ‘career day’.

ISBN 978-1-77278-228-8, Pajama Press

One of my favourite new titles is African Icons by Tracey Baptiste. This fascinating chapter book looks a bit text-bookish but is a great read for all ages. Following ten important, but little known, people who shaped history, this book demonstrates how the history we were taught was focused on Europeans. These ten important figures hail from Africa and shaped, not only black history, but world history. Rather than focusing on slavery as black history, Baptiste takes us along for a journey long before that, to early history starting in the thirty-first century BCE in Egypt. Powerfully written, this book should be in every school as it lends more appreciation and balance to our understanding of how human history was shaped. I couldn’t put it down. 

ISBN 978-1-77306-870-1, Groundwood Books

A small but powerful book that will appeal to highschool students is The Prisoner and The Writer, by Heather Camlot. Using the dual story of Captain Dreyfuss of the France Army, in 1895, wrongfully accused as treason; and that of world renowned author Emile Zola, Camlot demonstrates the importance of speaking up to tell the truth. Relating the case of Dreyfuss being shipped to a remote island under false pretences, because he was Jewish, Camlot asks the reader, ‘how do you know what the truth is?’ She touches on the importance of checking sources and learning about all sides of a story. Zola risked everything to speak up for a stranger, once he knew the case was rigged. What would you do if you knew of an injustice? This story works on many different levels and can be an important tool in discussions with older students. The artwork by Sophie Casson adds to the power of the text.

ISBN 978-1-77306-632-5, Groundwood Books

And here’s a small but also powerful book for environmentalists of all ages. Severn Speaks Out is the speech that Severn Suzuki gave in 1992 at the Earth Summit. Her powerful words are even more important today because we need all the help we can get to change our ways and save our planet. Severn’s words can encourage others to take action and urge governments and corporations to change their ways. 

ISBN  978-1773068879 , Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She conducts author visits to International Schools. Her newest book will be released this Fall and it called WHERE WE LIVE, Kids Can Press. www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

I don’t usually devote an entire column to one author, but the release of One More Mountain by Deborah Ellis prompts me to celebrate a special writer of books for young people. Books about war torn countries are not easy reading. And they certainly are difficult to write. But these books can serve as a window on the world for people in other countries. They can also serve as an anchor for those who might have lived through circumstances similar to the characters in the book, especially if the book is as well researched and powerfully written as books by Deborah Ellis. 

Most of you will be familiar with her older titles: The Breadwinner is the story of 11 year old Parvana and her family’s circumstances living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. This first book in the series was turned into an animated movie.

Parvana’s Journey is the touching story of how Parvana needs to find her family while war rages across the country. The children she meets during her quest are all realistic and share the images so many of us only see on the news. 

In Mud City, Parvana’s friend Shauzia ends up in a refugee camp in Pakistan, dreaming of escaping to France. She does manage to leave the camp but only to face a harsh life as a street kid.

The fourth book in the series is My Name Is Parvana. It was named as an IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People) Outstanding International book. Parvana is held as a suspected terrorist by American troops in Afghanistan. Parvana is now fifteen and reminisces about the past years when her family ran a school for girls despite threats from the Taliban.

And for those who have devoured this powerful series of books, there is good news. A brand new title is being released this Fall: One More Mountain is the fifth in the series and focuses on 15 year old Damsa who ends up living in the children’s home established by Parvana’s friend Shauzia. These strong women protect and inspire a new generation of Afghan women. I read this new book shortly after reading Kahled Hussaini’s book And The Mountains Echoes, and found it every bit as riveting.  ISBN 978-1-77306-886, Groundwood Books

All royalties from all books are generously being donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. Deborah Ellis’ website offers teaching guides for these books, as well as many of her other, equally powerful books, including Off To War and Children of War: www.deborahellis.com

For more details on the books or to order, go to: houseofanansi.com and type ‘Deborah Ellis’ into the search window.

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children and conducts author visits to international school. Read her travel & book blog here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

It’s always exciting to read newly released books. We’re comfortable with classics and stories we know well. But discovering a brand new title can be like meeting a new friend. Here are some recently released books for all ages that just might become old friends.

Rainy Days by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Miki Sato is a rhyming, rhythmic romp through puddles. Fun to chant out loud, for a movement activity and for a look at how the world changes with rain. With cheerful, colourful art this board book follows Windy and Snowy Days in a series for the very youngest readers. ISBN 978-1-77278-246-2, Pajama Press

Iceberg, A Life in Seasons is a beautiful picture book, poetically written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft, both from Australia. The book follows one iceberg, calved from a glacier, in Antarctica. This continent may seem empty and devoid of life but the book urges us to look closer. Penguins, krill, birds, seals and many other creatures live here. Through the southern summer, we follow the iceberg and learn more about Antarctica’s unique environment. ISBN 978-1-77306-585-4, Groundwood Books

Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender is a funny picture book to share with those kids who can’t sit still and who want others to discover their hidden talents! Dotty (a wiener dog) just doesn’t believe in sit, stay and roll over. Her specialities are a pas de chat and a pirouette. She gets special help from a friend in the park to help her prepare for a performance at the Golden Bow Talent Show! ISBN 978-1-77278-137-3, Pajama Press

Another, yet very different, picture book about ballet is John’s Turn by Mac Barnett, with lovely illustrations by Kate Berube, the school assembles once a week to share news and showcase students’ talents. Everyone knows it’s John’s turn and they understand he is nervous. But soon he changes into his outfit and special shoes. Once the curtain lifts and the music starts, John shows what he is good at. At first the kids giggle or fidget but soon the entire audience is captivated by John’s performance and he gets a well deserved applause. A lovely story to share and to encourage children to be brave enough to showcase their own talents, no matter what they entail. ISBN 978-1536-20-3950, Penguin Random House

And finally a novel for young readers. Mortimer: Rat Race to Space by Joan Marie Galat will appeal to kids who like reading chapter books ánd who enjoy space exploration. Based on the science of astronauts and space travel, this story is perfect for kids who loved The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney. Mortimer is a lab rat and selected to travel on the next shuttle. He is bound and determined to prove that rats are more suited to space travel, and colonization of planets, than humans are. With the help of his new friend Boris, a Russian cosmo-rat, Mortimer proves to be a useful addition to the crew. With realistic descriptions of how astronauts eat, work and operate in space, this is both a fun and an informative story, especially for those following the current Artemis launch. ISBN 978-1-77086-653-9, Cormorant Books

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of over 40 books for children including My Librarian is a Camel, How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World. Margriet is currently accepting bookings for author visits to international schools.

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Books to welcome a new school year

Here is a selection of my favourite books about school. Hook students with humour and fascinating information about schools around the world. Some of these titles are brand new, others have proven books that they remain interesting, no matter how often you read them.

This Is A School by John Schu and Veronica Miller Jamison shows that a school isn’t just a building; it is the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions, for sharing, helping, and a place for community. A school can be a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room at the same time.  ISBN 978-1536204582, Candlewick

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is a hilarious story for all ages. The main character does not want to go to school where she will know no one, where no one may like her… We see her getting dressed, having breakfast, being rushed into the car… But not until the very end do we actually see the whole person who turns out to be… the teacher! A great story to talk about the anxiety of starting a new school year. ISBN 978-1580890618, Charlesbridge

Hooray For Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky, is a frolicking romp through accreditation and of a school meeting expectations and standards. The principal is so worried that the school may be closed “that his eye brows may fall off…” But the librarian knows better… “We’ve taught them that white and red make pink, but more importantly, we’ve taught them how to think!” A perfect story for principals to share at elementary school.

ISBN 9780679890089, Random House

1,2, 3 Off to School by Marianne Dubuc is the kind of picture book I would have savoured as a child. There’s lots of fun text, but it’s the images that you can study forever. Each double spread shows a school in a fairy tale setting: there’s Cattail Academy where frogs paint and sing. The sloths attend Sleepytime School and squirrels learn all they need to know at Lookout Heights. Throughout the pages, little Pom discovers how much fun kindergarten will be. She can’t wait to attend her own school. ISBN 978-1-5253-0656-3, Kids Can Press

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco is perhaps her best known book. This autobiographical story shows how the now prolific author struggled with reading as a child. Despite being surrounded by books she could not master the skill of reading until a patient, understanding teacher changed her life.  ISBN 0-399-23166-8, Philomel

By the same author, Patricia Lincoln, is Mr. Lincoln’s Way – the story of an bully in Grade 5 and his principal. Despite personal lashings out, Mr. Lincoln finds a way to break through Eugene’s shield of anger by tapping into the boy’s one keen interest. Through books, patience and caring the two forge a bond that helps Eugene find his way. ISBN 0-439-43011-9, Puffin

Off To Class by Susan Hughes is a nonfiction book about the wide variety of ways in which children around the world get an education. From schools in refugee camps to finding text books in trash, this book shows the resilience of children and educators in many different countries.  ISBN 978-1-926818-86-3, Owlkids

Gift Days by Kari-Lynn Winters, is a picture book for ages 8 up. This is the touching story of Nassali who longs to learn to read and write like her brother, Baaba. But since her mother’s death, Nassali is responsible for looking after her younger siblings and running the household. There is no time for books and learning. But one day she wakes up to discover that her chores have already been done. It is her first gift day. From that day on, once a week, Baaba gives Nassali the gift of time so that she can pursue her dream of an education, just as her mother would have wanted. The book itself is also raising money for the charity. Through the organization I am a Girl, which focuses on education and women’s rights, money has been raised to send girls to school in Uganda for a full year.   ISBN-13 9781554551927, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Margriet Ruurs wrote more than 40 books for children. My School in the Rainforest was one of the most fun books she ever wrote because it showcases unusual schools around the world. There’s a school in the rainforest of Guatemala, but also one on a missionary ship, the highest school in the world (in the Himalayas) and a school on the edge of the Sahara. ISBN 978-1-59078-601-7

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Summer Reading for Educators/Booklovers

If you still have some time off, this summer, before starting school again, you might want to treat yourself to curling up with a good book. I recently discovered what has become my all-time favourite series of amazing books: The Seven Sisters.

I don’t know why it took me so long to discover because they are not new titles and have, so far, sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The author, Lucinda Riley, is British and the books in the series are available in many different languages, published in many different countries.

Lucinda Riley did something extraordinary with these stories. Not only are they very well written, she combined myth, fiction and nonfiction in a seamless way. The Seven Sisters are based on the constellation of the same name. There is an element of Greek mythology in each story. The girls’ names are scrambled from the stars and there’s an air of mystery about them and their father. Each girl was adopted at a very young age and the sisters grew up, on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, in a sheltered environment full of love and support.

The first book starts with the death of their beloved father. As the sisters gather back home, they are each given a set of coordinates and a letter with information on where they came from. Subsequently, each book follows the life, and the search for their roots, of one sister. Each book takes place in a different location on earth – taking the reader to Australia, Europe, South America… But most astonishingly, each book features a real historic person whose nonfiction facts are woven into the fictional story. I loved learning about, sometimes well known, historical figures through these books: artists, writers, musicians, important aboriginal artists…

There are many details on the books and the author here: https://lucindariley.co.uk/seven-sisters-series/ Her website offers some videos, some free chapters and info on audio books. The books are aimed at adults but will also make great reading for YA/high school students.

Unfortunately, Lucinda Riley passed away before finishing the entire series but her son has all of her instructions and is completing the last book, to be released in 2023. I treat these books as a precious box of chocolates – savouring each one slowly and spreading them out so they will last longer.

Happy summer reading!

Margriet Ruurs is a ferocious reader as well as a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She conducts writing workshops in international schools: www.margrietruurs.com