These books not only are appropriate to the season, they shine a light on different aspects of Spring.
A Flower Is A Friend by Frieda Wishinsky, art by Karen Patkau is a lovely celebration of flowers. Flowers help many friends, like bees and butterflies. They dance in the wind and can shelter insects. The lyrical text lends itself to be read aloud with young readers. The art invites the reader to study the images closely to discover more animals. The back pages give nonfiction details about each animal mentioned like bats and spiders. A perfect book for nature lovers. ISBN 978-1-77278-280-6, Pajama Press
Afikomen by Tziporah Cohen and Yaara Eshet tells the story of the origin of a Jewish tradition: the breaking of matzah at Passover. This wordless picture book shows a family celebrating together while the children sneak under the tablecloth. When they emerge they have time traveled to Egypt where they meet Moses in his wicker basket and help him to safety in the Pharaoh’s daughter’s arms. The back page gives details in this biblical tale. ISBN 978-1-77306-606-6, Groundwood Books
The Best Eid Ever by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobson. This picture book explains the biggest holiday in the Muslim year when Aneesa gets to wear new clothes, helps cook lamb stew and goes to the mosque. A lovely story to share for those kids who will recognize themselves and for those who will learn something new about a major traditional celebration. ISBN 978-1-59078-431-0, Boyds Mills Press
Ramadan, The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zehanat Khan. Many of us are familiar with Ramadan. But what does it mean, why do Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan and how is it celebrated in countries around the world? This beautiful nonfiction book answers those questions and much more. There are information boxes, recipes of traditional dishes, photos and lots of information to learn about Ramadan. ISBN 978-1-4598-1181-2, Orca Book Publishers
Passover, Festival of Freedom by Monique Polak. This nonfiction book explains the origins and traditions of Passover. Through text, facts, photos and personal accounts, the book shares stories and information from the Jewish community. Recipes for traditional Passover dishes are also included in this beautiful information book. Informative for those familiar with Passover and also for those who are not. ISBN 978-1-4598-0990-1, Orca Book Publishers
Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of many books for children. She is available for author presentations at International Schools: http://www.margrietruurs.com
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, 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 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
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
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 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.
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
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
Travel, memories, family visits, nature… These books are great for summer reading.
Mommy’s Hometown by Hope Lim, with illustrations by Jaime Kim, is a warm story about a little boy who loves listening to his mother’s stories of her childhood. He can just imagine the village where she grew up, the river where she splashed as a little girl. But when he and his mom finally visit her old hometown, they realize how it has changed. An old house is now surrounded by skyscrapers. No one splashes in the river anymore. The city even changes from day to night time. But, as he hears his grandmother calling, some things never change. A good story to discuss cultures, where you came from and how memories keep things unchanged while the world evolves. ISBN 978-1-5362-1332-4, Candlewick
Another, older, book that shows how things change over time is my all-time favorite by Jeannie Baker: Window is a wordless picturebook which focuses on one window and shows how the view changes over the years. As a baby grows older, birthday cards in the window sill give us clues about the years passing. The backyard changes from diapers on the line, to tricycles and eventually his first car. Trees are cut, new homes are built. The world changes through this window until the boy has grown up and his home is old. Then it’s time for a new home, a new life, and a new view from the different window. This book is perfect to discuss change, evolution, the environment, urban development and much more. ISBN 0-14-054830-0
A brand new wordless picturebook is A Day For Sandcastles, by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng. Perfect for international schools, this story can be told or imagined in any language as we follow a family for a day on the beach. They dip their toes into the water, shoe away sea gulls, eat sandy sandwiches and, of course, build sandcastles that get washed away in the upcoming tide. A book that makes you want to go to the beach! ISBN 978-1-5362-0842-9, Candlewick
And, talking about the beach, West Coast Wild at Low Tide, Deborah Hodge, art by Karen Reczuch shows us the beauty and the wildlife of the seaside. This book celebrates life in the intertidal zones on Canada’s Pacific west coast. After explaining tides, Deborah Hodge zooms in on various species that call this place home and that kids might observe, including anemone, hermit crabs and sea urchins. Reading books like this will help educate kids, and adults alike, about the importance of creatures along the shores. ISBN 978-1-77306-413-0, Groundwood Books
Seaside Treasures by Sarah Grindler has the subtitle ‘A Guidebook for Little Beachcombers’. With its smaller format, this is the perfect book to take along on a trip to the beach. Not only does the gorgeous art show sea life, like starfish and crab shells. It also shows all of the other treasures you can find on the beach: polished sea glass, glass floats from Japan, bits of rope from sailing vessels, even arrowheads and shards of pottery. The book also shows some things that don’t belong on the beach: straws, bottle caps and more, and encourages readers to help keep beaches clean. ISBN 978-1-77108-746-9, Nimbus Publishing
Tug, A Log Boom’s Journey by Scot Ritchie is a fun journey what follows logs from the ocean to the saw mill upriver. If you have ever spotted a boom of logs drifting or being towed, this is an interesting look at the how and why of felled logs. In a conclusion at the end, the author explains how First Nations used to look after the forest and how people now rely on logging for houses and other day uses. ISBN 978-1-77306-177-1. Groundwood Books
Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian writer of over 40 books for children. Her book WHERE WE LIVE will appear with Kids Can Press in 2022 and highlights maps of special places where children around the world live. Book now for author workshops at international schools: www.margrietruurs.com
Here are some wonderful new releases that all feature animals. Some focus on movement, others on the animals’ special features. Some are fiction, most are nonfiction. But all of them are great to share with students and young readers!
Looking for a fun book to share with preschool or kindergarten? Animals Move by Jane Whittingham is a picture book with padded cover and thick pages, for little ones. And kids won’t even realize they are learning while having fun. The book introduces names of baby animals and adults. Did you know that a baby porcupine is called a porcupette? Text and photos show animals jumping, wriggling and pouncing while a child makes all the same moves. Fun to read, then jump up and go through all the activities together. ISBN 978-1-77278-238-7, Pajama Press
Room For More, Michelle Kadarusman, illustrated by Maggie ZengTwo wombats dig a burrow in the Australia’s bush. Soon wallabees, koalas and many others stampede by in search of shelter from wildfires. Then den gets very crowded but there’s always room for more. And the kindness of the wombats is repaid by their friends when the rains come down and threaten their burrow. A picturebook that works on many levels: Australian wildlife, natural disasters, friendship and more. With nonfiction information on back pages. ISBN 978-1-77278-252-3, Pajama Press
A unique picture book about animals is Time To Shine, Celebrating the World’s Iridescent Animals, by Karen Jameson with art by Dave Murray. This book features on animal – an insect, a snake, a bird, etc. – on each page with short, rhyming text. The iridescence and its cause or effect is then explained in a small text box. This way the book can work for young readers as well as for slightly older budding scientists. ISBN 978-1-77306-462-8, Groundwood Books
In Finding Moose, by Sue Farrell Holler and Jennifer Faria, a child and her grandfather set off for a quiet walk in the woods, hoping to spot a moose. They don’t see moose but they do see small critters, birds, moose droppings and more. All along grandfather shares their native names in Ojibwemowin, language. A gentle story about bonding in nature. ISBN 978-1-77278-244-8 Pajama Press
Beastly Puzzles by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler is my new favourite picturebook about animals. With incredible fold-out pages, the book is a guessing game into the amazing weirdness of nature. Each page asks questions to get kids thinking: what animal could you build with three billiard balls, dinosaur feet, some feather dusters and a vacuum hose? An ostrich, of course! Great art by Byron Eggenschwiller makes the impossible seem possible as each spread unfolds. A book that will be loved by young naturalists as well as by budding inventors and will lead to hours of read-aloud fun while learning impressive animal facts. ISBN 978-1-77138-913-6, Kids Can Press
Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of many books for children. To book her for author presentations at your school, visit: www.margrietruurs.com
Nonfiction picture books can be a great teaching tool when talking about the environment. These new titles can be used with students of all ages to discuss science as well as art and writing.
One Well, written by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Rosemary Woods. This impressive nonfiction picture book about the environment should be in every classroom, in every child’s hands. Water, the book explains, is one of the most important, and precious, commodities on earth. As in the book in the same series, If The World Were A Village by David Smith, this book says ‘if all water on earth’ was one well, this is how much we have and this is what we need to use it for. It explains in admirable child-friendly terms how water allows life on our planet. Did you know that you drink the equivalent of a backyard pool full in your life time? And that one cloud can weigh more than a blue whale? The book can be an eye opener to any water user and encourages much needed, water-friendly habits. ISBN 978-1-55337-954-6 Kids Can Press
A Tree is a Home by Pamela Hickman, with art by Zafouko Yamamoto is an in-depth look at the shelter offered by one tree. Like the house next to it, it offers a home throughout the seasons. The text and close-up art take us from the roots, where a chipmunk lives, to the highest branches and show us each animal throughout a year. A good a book to pair with Jeannie Baker’s Window – a look through the window of one house over many years. ISBN 978-1-5253-0236-7, Kids Can Press
My Book of Butterflies, by Geraldo Valério is a large picturebook that can be a child’s first guide book. In A Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle eluded to the life cycle of butterflies in a fictional manner. This information book picks up the theme by showing fabulously painted butterflies and elaborating on their life cycle. From tiny yellow eggs to a wide variety of weird looking caterpillars to brilliant butterflies from a round the world, this book will encourage children to take a closer look at these amazing insects. Geraldo Valério also created My Book of Birds. ISBN 978-1-77306-335-5, Groundwood Books
This is The Boat That Ben Built by Jen Lynn Bailey, with illustrations by Maggie Zeng, is a very Canadian story of a northern river ecosystem. Beaver, bear, loon, goose – all gather momentum as Ben floats down the river and spots more wildlife. The text uses repetition as ‘moose strolls by bear taking a swim by the goose that glides by the loon that floats by the beaver in the river that carries the boat that Ben built’. Fun to read over and over with young students and create your own story based on animals your students may spot in their own surroundings. Nonfiction information on each animal is supplied in back pages. ISBN 978-1-77278-242-4, Pajama Press.
Before We Stood Tall by Jessica Kulekjian, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper, is written in the voice of the trees themselves. From the time they are seeds floating on a breeze, they dream of standing tall in a kingdom of trees. But trees can’t do it alone – they need the soil, the insects, the wind and much more to allow them to grow tall and become a forest. A lovely story to look at the interconnectedness of nature. ISBN 978-1-5253-0324-1, Kids Can Press
Orca Rescue! The True Story of an Orphaned Orca Named Springer, written by Donna Sandstrom, illustrated by Sarah Burwash. This is a great book for all ages: the true story of an orca spotted close to Seattle, WA where no other pods where around. Through a set of circumstances, the author become involved in this young orphan’s life by helping to figure out why she was there and where her family was. The story tells in fascinating detail how marine biologists work, how pods are tracks, and how scientists are able to find out information. With 144 pages this book is divided into chapters and lends itself as a great read for all ages. ISBN 978-1-5253-0117-9, Kids Can Press
No More Plastic by Alma Fullerton is the touching story of a young girl who witnesses a dead whale on the beach near her home. The whale died from eating so much plastic that he starved. It opens Isley’s eyes to a gigantic problem. She tries to convince others to no longer use plastic bags, containers or water bottles. But they soon forget. Isley doesn’t forget the whale and the impact plastic has on the ocean. She gathers so much plastic that she can build a sculpture the size of a whale. Thén her village realized the size of the problem. Together they work towards a solution: passing laws that ban plastics and making a difference. This is a story that can inspire readers to take action, no matter how small. It shows that we can all make a difference. ISBN 978-1-77278-113-7, Pajama Press
Margriet Ruurs has written many books about nature, including Wild Babies, Amazing Animals and The Boy Who Painted Nature, the story of wildlife painter Robert Bateman.
I’m a firm believer in picturebooks as being everybody-books. In fact, some picturebooks are not for little readers but lend themselves perfectly for older students, especially to illustrate classroom discussions or for new language learners. Here are some picturebooks as well as novels for older students.
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, written by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Júlia Sarda. This is an incredibly beautifully written story of how Mary Shelley – in the early 1800’s – came up with the idea for her book Frankenstein. A daydreamer, some friends, a creepy castle and a thunder storm all contributed to what would become one of the most famous horror stories of all ages. A fascinating story for readers who like to write and daydream… ISBN 978-1-77049-559-3, Tundra Books
Oliver Jeffers is a sort-of Irish illustrator. He also spent time in Australia and currently lives in the US. But most of all he a book creator in the broadest sense of the word. He creates amazing art, writes the text and introduces readers of all ages not just to amazing books, but to important topics. The environment, kindness, creativity – are all addressed in his books. They have been translated into over forty-five languages, and sold over 12 million copies worldwide. Many of his books are great for younger readers, but some specifically lend themselves for an older audience that will appreciate subtleties in the art. His art is delicious… In The Incredible Book Eating Boy (ISBN 978-0-00-718) he used lined paper, pages from a dictionary, old ledgers, the cover of book, and everything book related. It’s a wild fantasy about a boy who, literally, devours books. But it is also the serious story of how important reading is to get smarter. Obviously the book eating boy got his hands on the book because there’s a big bite missing of the back cover… Some of Jeffers’ books were written by someone else. Like The Crayons books, all written by Drew Daywalt. The fonts, the design, the drawings in these books all dance of the pages in delight.
The Worst Band in the Universe by Australian author/illustrator Graeme Base at first comes across as a hilarious, cosmic tale of aliens on a far away planet where music has been banned. The story is written in impressive rhyming verses. But upon reading it more closely, it become clear to the older reader, that this is not just a romp through outer space. It is also a serious tale about the silliness of banning anything, including books on earth. The large format picture book comes complete with CD and ‘forbidden music’. ISBN 978-0670865659, Viking
The same talented book creator produces the well known older picture book called The Sign of the Seahorse. I love these books because their rhythmic texts make for enriching classroom read-alouds. But besides entertaining with their detailed illustrations, this book also has a much deeper meaning. It’s a who-done-it in the deep sea where species are threatened and disappearing. Who could be causing such chaos in the ocean? ISBN 978-0613087551, Turtle Back Books
The London Jungle Book by Bhajju Shyam is the incredible story of an Indian artist who had never left his home village until he was commissioned to come to London to create his art. The book is his personal interpretation of how he sees the modern world and relates it back to the siritual tales of his childhood. A fascinating book to study with highschool students. ISBN 978-8192317120, Tara Books
Are you familiar with books by Peter Sis? His text and art are great to discuss with older students, i.e. in the book The Wall: Growing Up Behind The Iron Curtain. As a child growing up in a communist country seemed normal, but as he got older Peter Sis had questions. Cracks appeared in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ‘n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. But it didn’t last long before a Soviet-led invasion brought an end to it all. Important picture books to share in highschool. ISBN 978-0374347017, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
New Year by Mei Zihan, illustrated by Qin Leng. In this story about Lunar New Year, a grandfather reminisces about his daughter who lives far away in a different country. Is she honoring the old traditions or living a whole new life? More in the voice of an older parent than in that of a child, this is a story about seeking independence and missing family. ISBN 978-1-77164-731-1, Greystone Kids
Oceanarium, written by Loveday Trinick, illustrated by Teagan White (the ‘curators’) showcases the world’s oceans as if it were a museum, an aquarium full of interesting creatures. And it is. Presented as galleries with exhibits, the book walks you through the entire museum – from zooplanton to marine mammals, from antropods to crustaceans, and everything in between. From the polar regions, the Galapagos, the open ocean and the mangroves – this large book is a visual treat as a coffee table art book as well as a detailed source of information for oceanographers of all ages. A valuable and enriching addition to any classroom or library, this book is part of the Welcome to the Museum series by Candlewick Press. ISBN 978-1-5362-2381-1, Candlewick Press
The Librarian of Basra, by Jeanette Winter, is the beautiful, true story of Alia, a courageous librarian in Iraq. When war comes, she realizes the importance of bringing the precious books, books in many languages – to safety. She enlists her neighbors into helping. Together they pack and move most of the books. A fire destroys the building but Alia is happy in the knowledge that they have safeguarded an irreplaceable treasure. ISBN 0-15-205445-6, Harcourt
Step by Deborah Ellis is a collection of short stories – all of them focusing on 11 year olds from around the world in vastly different settings. Len helps as server in a soup kitchen where, to his shock, the school bully shows up. Lazlo lives in Hungary and is hopefully that his father will take him on a special outing for his 11th birthday. He is shocked when things turn out much different. Dom meets Gregoire from Madagascar and learns what it’s it like to be hungry. All of the stories in this collection by the skilled storyteller who wrote The Breadwinner, are jolting eye openers, sometimes a bit shocking. The book is labeled as being for readers ages 9-12. However, I would suggest it’s for students 12 and over. Not stories to comfort but stories that create awareness of how different our lives can be. The author is donating all royalties to UNHCR to aid refugees. ISBN 978-1773068152, Groundwood Books
Future History 2050 by Thomas Harding. This is perhaps the most thought provoking novel I’ve read in a long time. Although it may be controversial in a school library, this small novel is perhaps the best way to bring awareness to readers to climate change and the type of future we currently face. Written in the year 2050, Billy interviews his Gran to learn more about her life and about life before he was born. He records her stories and is amazed that people knew about climate change and still did not take more drastic action to prevent it. He learns about life when there was still democracy and how politics changed. Billy finds a way to send the diaries back to the year 2020. A stark and interesting wake-up call before it is too late to change our future. ISBN 978-1773068039, Groundwood Books
As an adult I love reading teen and YA novels. There’s nothing better than curling up with Because of Winn-Dixie or The Library of Ever. But which new novels are coming out now? And what are they about? Here are some reviews to help educators put books in the hands of readers.Happy Reading!
Making Seakerby Karen Autio. It took me a while to figure out the meaning of the title but it is about the making of a small floating boat with GPS, called Seaker. Jamie has just moved to a new city and school. She is worried about making friends since she is not into sports. Jamie is a science nerd. She soon discovers that her new home town is also the home town of Paddle to the Sea, the wonderful classic written by Holling Clandy Holling. That story forms the bases of Jamie’s quest to retrace the journey, with her toy boat, from town to the sea through the Great Lakes using tracking equipment. ISBN 978-1989-724095, Crwth Press
A very good website gives details on the making of the book, the equipment used for the boat as well as links to science sites: http://www.seaker.ca/
This book is great to couple with The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner which is based on a boy who loves geo-caching.
Warned: The Astrologer’s Prophecy by Mahtab Narsimhan is an exciting adventure set in India. Avi pleaded with his parents to let him stay with a friend but they insisted on him staying with his grandfather in Delhi while they work as doctors in Rajasthan. Now he is stuck in a crumbling mansion, no wifi, and with an old man whom he barely knows and a mysterious, scary caretaker. Who locked him into the attic? Can he trust the girl he meets from a different caste? The exotic location shines through in the sounds, scents and sights of India while the deliciously scary story takes you right into the midst of the chaos. Well written and highly recommended. ISBN Ebook: 978-1-7778318-0-6
Runner: Harry Jerome, World’s Fastest Man by Norma Charles is the fascinating true story of a boy who grew up in Manitoba, Canada. As a young boy Harry started running and never stopped. He trained at the University of Oregon and competed in three Olympic Games while setting an incredible seven world records. This novel explores who he was and what makes an athlete overcome obstacles, including prejudice for a boy with African-Canadian heritage. A great read for wanna-be Olympians. ISBN 978-0-889955-5-30, Red Deer Press
The Other Side by Heather Camlot is a page turner murder mystery. As twelve year old Liam visits his grandfather’s cottage by the lake, he discovers a body. Who was she? How did she get there and what happened? Intertwined with Liam’s relationship with his elderly grandfather who is dying in hospital and who spent his earlier life as a German soldier in World War II, the story is laced with intrigue about the murder as well as details on soccer’s World Cup. ISBN 978-08899-5614-8, Red Deer Press
Margriet Ruurs writes fiction and nonfiction. She conducts author workshops at schools around the world. www.margrietruurs.com
Toward the end of the year we all look for books to share, read and give. Some of these titles are brand new, others are older. Some deal with holidays, others with winter. Happy reading!
Ramadan, The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zahanat Khan is a beautifully illustrated photo essay, a nonfiction picture book chockfull of information on the what, why, how and where of Ramadan. The book covers global traditions and includes personal stories, even recipes. ISBN 978-1-4598-1181-2, Orca Book Publishers
In the same Origins series as above, Christmas From Solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton is a joyful celebration of Christmas traditions around the world. This, too, includes personal stories and recipes as well as a glossary and additional resources. ISBN 978-1-4598-1355-7, Orca Book Publishers
Based on a real street in Toronto, Canada where many immigrant families settled, Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo is a beautiful story of people coming from different cultures. They share their food and their stories. But newly arrived Sami is not talking much. Until a bird needs his special attention and brings back memories and stories from home. Illustrated in clay and mixed media, the glorious art is a joy to explore. The book works on many different levels and even offers instructions on how to make your own winter bird treats. ISBN 978-1-77278-219-6, Pajama Press
Tiny Reindeer by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros is the wonderful tale of a reindeer so tiny that he is of no use to Santa or the other reindeer. He just gets into trouble. Until he learns of one little girl’s wish for the perfect tiny reindeer. Sneaking away in Santa’s sleigh Tiny Reindeer embarks on a big adventure and finds a loving home. ISBN 978-0-7352-7118-0, Tundra Books
The Christmas Pig is J.K. Rowling’s newest book. Reminiscent of classics like The Phantom Toll Booth and The Polar Express, this thick novel can be read aloud to all ages but, like Harry Potter, has its dark sides. Black & white art by Jim Field illustrates each chapter. Piggy is Jack’s favourite stuffed animal because he has always whispered all of his secrets to it. But when his new stepsister, teenager Holly, tosses Jack’s trusted pig out of the car window, Jack falls asleep full of anger and tears. The adventures that follow feature toys and objects coming to life, whisking Jack away to the Land of Lost Things. Told in typical J.K. Rowling style, everything that happens seems quite plausible – objects, and feelings too, are sorted into ‘much loved’ or ‘barely missed’ things. If no human cared about them at all, these Things eventually will be eaten by the terrible, scary, voracious Loser. But if there is a glimmer of hope, they might rise again to live on earth among their beloved humans. Jack’s adventures, as well as the writing style, are brilliant. Towards the middle the story turns dark and quite scary in places but it has the feel of old fairytales that taught morals. ISBN 978-1-338-79023-8, Scholastic. To read a more in-depth review of this book, click here: https://www.margrietruurs.com/jk-rowlings-new-book-the-christmas-pig/
Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She shares her love of books and travel here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com
Sharing stories, expertise, and experiences from international educators around the world