Tag Archives: picturebooks

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

In this column I feature books that I recommend. Books specifically suited to use as read-alouds or to support the curriculum. These books often reflect a global lifestyle. But books also need to be plain funny and entertaining, demonstrating the power of imagination and encouraging children to become readers. Today’s books are great examples of that. World Read Aloud Day is in February so celebrate by reading aloud to any grade level! Happy reading!

Cinderella With Dogs by Linda Bailey, with art by Freya Hartas is a frolicking romp through a dog park! Like fractured fairytales, this one shows us a Cinderella who loves dogs. When – unexpectedly – her fairy dog mother shows up instead of a god mother, Cinderella is thrilled. When she mentions a… ball, the dog is very excited. Together they chase squirrels and end up at the royal palace where people are shocked. But the prince is thrilled to find someone who loves dogs as much as he does. Not only is this a wonderful spin on a well known tale, it also shows readers how to use your imagination and create new stories. ISBN 978-1-9848-1382-4, Tundra Books/Penguin

Our Cat Cuddles by Gervase Phinn is a wonderful rhyming story that will be fun to share out loud with preschoolers to Grade One. It’s a perfect story to talk about predicating a plot. What do you think might happen? What kind of cat will this family end up with when they visit the animal shelter? Each family is looking for different qualities in a cat. Will they be able to agree on a kitten? With a surprise ending, this is a great story with good rhyme. Illustrations by Amanda Montgomery-Higham. ISBN 978-0859538640, Child’s Play

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy, with art by Eugene Yelchin is a brilliant story about a small but noisy village. Cars, dogs, children – everything makes noise. When Don Pepe runs for mayor, he promises quiet – nice and quiet. So everyone votes for him. At first it’s nice. But soon more and more laws come into effect. No more singing, no more whistling, no more talking. Some people move away but the village stays deadly quiet. Until, one day a loud rooster crows. He and the mayor have a stand off. But the rooster will not be quiet. Even behind bars, even when his family is taken away. The little rooster shows everyone that a song is stronger than the biggest bully and cannot be taken away. This book can be used with young children but is especially effective with high school students to discuss oppression, dictatorship and freedom of speech. ISBN 978-0-545-72288-9, Scholastic. 

Mixed Beasts by Wallace Edwards, with verses by Kenyon Cox, is a book of ‘Rare and Fantastic Creatures’ compiled by Professor Julius Duckworth O’Hare. This studious hare can be spotted throughout the large illustrations as he observes the creatures he studies. There is the Rhinocerostrich, the busy Bumblebeaver, the loud Kangarooster and, my favourite, Creampuffin among many other. Not only are the black and white drawings of each ‘beast’ almost believable, the full page colour illustrations are full of other, smaller creatures to spot. A back page is an index of animals like horsefly, fowl balls and fruit bats that are hilarious. What a fun activity to follow up reading and studying this book with inviting students of all ages to create their own ‘mixed beasts’. ISBN 978-1553-377-962, Kids Can Press

And if you got carried away by those fantastical beasts and want to meet more, there is Unnatural Selections, a collection of more beasts composed of two, three or even four different animal parts. In these pages you will meet, almost seemingly possible, animals like the Whalephant, a black and white cowaconda and a Shardunk (combination shark, duck and skunk!). This is a book to have endless fun, alone or with a group, to study the detailed illustrations, spot more beasts and then draw and write about your own creations. ISBN 978-1-4598-0555-2, Orca Book Publishers

Margriet Ruurs conducts author visits to international schools, writes books and believes in using your imagination.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

From elephants to sea turtles, from caterpillars to owls, here are some fabulous (new) books for children – and nature lovers of all ages – to learn more about the natural environment. I have included fictional and nonfiction texts, both picturebooks and novels.

The Smallest Owlet, written and illustrated by Georgia Graham, is my new favourite nonfiction picture book with gorgeous art. It is an intimate look at day by day life of a pair of Great Horned owls. As we follow the hatching of eggs and growing of young, we learn about diet, growth and dangers faced by these majestic birds. Did you know that Great Horned Owls do not have eye balls? Or that the ‘ears’ on their head are not ears but feather tufts? A fascinating look at all things owl that shows readers how impressive nature has designed the smallest details. A beautiful book for owl lovers of all ages.

ISBN  978-1554556144, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Coco and the Caterpillars by Geraldo Valério has wonderful paper collage images. My favourite character is Coco the chicken, who has a mind of her own. While a little boy studies books about plants, bugs and flowers, Coco is busy pulling tasty worms from the soil. While the boy discovers butterfly eggs underneath a leaf, Coco is chasing insects to eat. The boy can’t wait to see what kind of butterflies will come from the eggs and is careful not to show Coco. But when he goes to find her more chicken treats, Coco finds and devours most of the newly hatched caterpillars. And then she has a tummy ache. Luckily she did not eat all caterpillar and some turn into beautiful monarch butterflies. And while the boy studies their beautiful wings, Coco tries to catch them but they are too big for her now! 

If you have ever used The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle in your classroom, this will be a valuable addition to your lesson plan about gardens and insects.

ISBN 978-1-77306-798-8, Groundwood Books

Written by science writer Dr. Wayne Lynch, the book Bears, Bears, Bears for Kids is the ultimate guide to all things bear. Not only does it include information on polar bears, grizzlies and black bears, but also on sun bears, sloth bears and many more. The informative text is full of fascinating facts. The photos give an intimate look into the lives of bears, what they eat, how they survive, and much more. A must-have bear guide for every classroom.

ISBN 978-1554556137, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Little Bull, Growing Up in Africa’s Elephant Kingdom by Ellen Foley James is an older picturebook but so beautiful that I hope you can still find a (used) copy for your students. Through perfect text and photos, the author share the magic and the facts about a baby elephant, his environment, his family and his herd’s life. The book touches on lifespan and challenges faces by elephants, including drought, enemies and food. The photos are gorgeous and are a great reflection of the reality of Africa’s plains in the shadow of mount Kilimanjaro. Using a baby elephant makes the book very relatable for kids. 

ISBN 0-8069-2098-X, Sterling Publishing Co.

We The Sea Turtles by Michelle Kadarusman is a wonderful collections of short stories featuring turtles around the globe. Each chapter is placed in a different place: Australia, Florida, Indonesia and many more. Each story is a complete and interesting tale, always focusing on a turtle and its importance to man and nature. Stories deal with environmental issues, endangered species and global warming. This book is a must for any turtle lover and works for readers of all ages. Highly recommended for pleasure reading as well as adding value to curriculum content.

Use a world map to pinpoint the different locations, research the variety of turtles mentioned and discuss what you can do to help protect this amazing species.

ISBN 978-1772782851, Pajama Press

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of many books for children. She conducts author presentations and writing workshops at International Schools anywhere.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Everyone has different abilities. Some people speak many languages, some can make sushi while others can create paintings. And some people need devices to help them along – devices like a wheelchair or a hearing aid. Here are some picture books that will be wonderful additions to any school or classroom library, allowing discussion on physical challenges.

I Can, Too! by Karen Autio, illustrated by Laura Watson, is a story of friendship between two children with diverse abilities.

Piper and Kayla are on the move. While Piper pedals her tricycle with her feet, Kayla uses her hands to move forward. On the ice, Kayla loves her sled while Piper zooms along on skates. And both friends love the playground.

The inspiration for I Can, Too! comes from the author’s daughter, who was born with spina bifida. Karen always welcomed questions by children so the unknown could be named and understood and children could get to know her daughter. I Can, Too! shines a much-needed spotlight on kids who use special gear to navigate the world It is also an affirming story of inclusion. ISBN 978-1443190084, Scholastic

Fast Friends by Heather M. O’Connor, illustrated by Claudia Dávila, is the story of Tyson who is always fast! He speeds around the playground, runs around the classroom and always has to wait for others. His teacher is always telling Tyson to slow down. Until a new friend arrives. Suze is in a shiny red wheelchair and wears a helmet. While everyone is careful and slow with her, Tyson just knows she loves speed, just like him. And when he gets a chance, they race around the school yard together. Suze can’t talk but her laugh tells everyone how much she loves being fast, too. 978-1-4431-7040-6, Scholastic

And in Friends Find A Way! by the same author and illustrator team, the two friends and their class visit the zoo on a fieldtrip. While everyone wants to see the camels and the giraffes, Tyson and Suze are only interested in the cheetahs. And when the pair gets lost, Suze saves the day by having a map.

978-1-4431-9386-3, Scholastic

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children on Canada’s West Coast and visits international schools around the world.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Picturebooks are the perfect tool to learn and talk about different cultures, about emotions that you and others might feel, and to share experiences. Using picturebooks in the classroom can help create compassion and respect for different cultures. Here are some brand new releases that will add value to reading in the global classroom.

Zander Stays by Maureen Fergus, with illustrations by Scot Ritchie is the perfect book to read in the fall. Zander is a goose. And when his friends prepare to fly south for the winter, Zander decides to try something different. He stays. But when fall turns to winter he faces one hardship after another. Having to face frozen water and falling snow, he despairs about his decision until he finally meets the perfect friend. They end up having such a wonderful time together that, in spring, his returning flock decides to try something different as well. A fun story, complete with information on hibernation and adaption. ISBN 978-1-77278-296-7, Pajama Press

The Pet Store Window, Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Construction in a city can have far reaching effects. When a new office tower goes up, an old building get demolished. That building housed a pet store where Ana worked, caring for a dog, a hedgehog, a mouse. They had all been there for a long time. When the store closes, displacing them all, Ana does not know what to do with the animals which have not sold to new homes. But once a friend, always a friend and Ana cares for them. Together, they end up bringing joy to more people. Translated from Spanish. ISBN 978-1-77306-459-8, Groundwood Books

Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, is the story of Malaika who lives in Jamaica with her grandmother while her mother works in Canada to send money back home. Malaika misses her mom, especially at a time when she needs a carnival costume. There is no money to buy one and she refuses to wear grandmother’s old, musky costume. When a tailor gives her a bag of scrap material, Malaika and her grandmother make the most beautiful costume of all. And they send photos of Malaika as a proud peacock to her mother in Canada. Nadia L. Hohn is a Canadian author of Caribbean heritage. This picture book has a unique setting, mentioning foods and traditions that can be discussed and celebrated in the classroom. ISBN 978-1988325125, Groundwood Books

If You See a Bluebird, written by Bahram Rahman with art by Gabrielle Grimard, explores the concept of ‘home’. What is home? Is it the place you had to leave behind when war comes, like Ali from Afghanistan? During a day of picking berries, he feels homesick for Kabul as he remembers where he played. But his grandmother explains that home is where his family is safe and now lives together. Ali realizes that having his family, ánd berries, is what matters most. A good story to share and to discuss what makes you feel safe and at home. ISBN 978-1-77278-284-4, Pajama Press

Margriet Ruurs is a writer of many multicultural books for children including Where We Live. She conducts author visits in schools around the world and has openings for the 2024 school year.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Books in all shapes and sizes allows the reader a close look at animals in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes these books don’t need to be nonfiction. Fictional animal stories are as old as the ages. Animal stories can help people to take a closer look at our own thoughts and feelings.

I’ll Be a Chicken Too

I’ll Be A Chicken Too by Lana Vanderlee, illustrated by Mike Deas, is a delightful romp through a world of fantasy. This board book for the youngest readers as a lovely lyrical text with perfect rhyming, a great story to read out loud at bedtime. The humorous illustrations show a parent and children having fun as they pretend to be anything from elephants to skunks to otters. The story starts in bed with chickens and comes full circle after visiting many places and animals in between. ISBN 978-1-4598-3555-9, Orca Book Publishers

Serge, the Snail Without a Shell (pb)

Serge the Snail Without a Shell, Harriet Lye and Rosa Rankin, art by Andrea Blinick This, too, is a rhyming story to share aloud with young readers.

Serge the Slug want to fit in at school where the snails tease him for not having a shell. He finds many wonderful shells on the beach but none of them seem quite right. Once Serge realizes that he is perfect the way he is, is accepts being a slug and finds joy in having the whole world as his home. A fun story with an underlying message about being who you are. ISBN 978-1-77471-150-7, Nimbus Publishing

Grasshopper

Grasshopper by Titiana Ukhova is a quiet story about backyard nature. A girl spends a lazy afternoon in her wonderful, green garden. She notices how ants eat her apple core. She observes beetles and all sorts of insects around her on the flowers and in the grass. When she catches a grasshopper, there are different consequences. She keeps him in a jar but soon learns that all animals, even insects, should go free. A lovely, wordless picturebook about nature.

ISBN 978-1-77164-692-5, Greystone Kids

The Animals Come Out, by Susan Vande Griek, with art by Josée Bisaillon, was inbspired by the Covid pandemic. When people stayed indoors, they noticed animals who now ventured into the quiet cities. ‘Out from the woods trail the timid deer.’ The ducks come out of the ponds and the parks, while rabbits and coyotes explore the urban streets. A lovely look at animals with whom we share this earth, all venturing among houses and roads and observed by people from their windows. ISBN 978-1-77306-675-2, Groundwood Books

Calabash Cat and his amazing journey, James Rumford.

A bilingual story in English and Persian, this story is based in Chad, Central Africa. The amazing illustrations are based on traditional wood-burning designs by the Kotoko peope of Chad. Reminiscent of traditional legends, Calabash Cat is curious to see where the world ends. So he set off on a journey. When the road stops at the beginning of the desert, he figures this is the end of the world. But Camel corrects him and shows him more of the world. Each time the environment changes, he learns from different animals that there is more to the world than he ever imagined. He sees grasslands and jungle, even oceans and sky, and learns along the way that there is no end to the world and its wonders.  ISBN 978-0618224234, HMH Books for Young Readers

Two Green Birds

Two Green Birds by Geraldo Valério is a chapter book that will appeal to young wildlife lovers. Francisco’s grandmother was given two wild parakeets. They sit in a cage hanging in her guava tree. They are the most beautiful birds he has ever seen. But no matter how well they care for them, how hard they try different foods, the two birds only shiver together on their perch and will not eat. When a wild flock of parakeets visits the garden and talks to them, Francisco and his grandmother know what to do. Perhaps wild birds were never meant to live in a cage. A gentle story about the need for freedom. ISBN 978-1-77306-795-7, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author whose books about animals include Emma’s Eggs and Amazing Animals. www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Newly released alphabet books and a novel to curl up with this summer – life is good with books.

The Imaginary Alphabet

It’s been a long time since I saw a newly published alphabet book. Imaginary Alphabet by Sylvie Daigneault brings back memories of Wallace Edwards’ Alphabeasts. From a clumsy camel to velvety vampire bats and many in between, the book is full of fanciful animals in tutus and twirling on ice. The large picture book is beautifully executed with heavy pages and gorgeous art. Playful words invite readers to find more objects starting with each letter of the alphabet in the luscious illustrations. A list in the back helps to identify over 300 items. A fun new alphabet book for readers of all ages. ISBN 978-1-77278-299-8, Pajama Press

A is for Aboriginal

A is For Aboriginal by Joseph Maclean and Brendan Heard is a unique book. With a portion of the proceeds going to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, this book is a celebration of all things aboriginal. From American Indians to West Coast First nations, the book is chockfull of information about many tribes, their art, customs and traditions. Haida totems, pueblos in New Mexico, Tuareg in the Sahara, Yanomami people in the Amazon are all represented in this book. Beautiful illustrations and informative text make this a a treasure trove of information on all things aboriginal. ISBN 978-0991-858-927, www.aisforaboriginal.com

The Umbrella House

The Umbrella House by Colleen Nelson is a wonderful new novel for middle graders to sink their teeth into. I really enjoyed reading this engaging story. This is the realistic story of Roxi and Scout who live in a New York apartment building called a ‘squat’. Through the story, you get to know the lovely, diverse mix of eclectic residents. Roxi and Scout combine their talents to fight to preserve their building from being sold to a real estate developer. They even battle City Council and help bring awareness of the need to preserve buildings and art. Umbrella House is based on a real place in New York. An enjoyable read that is well written. ISBN 978-1772782790, Pajama Press

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author. She conducts school workshops and talks at international schools. www.margrietruurs.com

From Far Away…

Or perhaps from not so far away… These books showcase stories from a variety of cultures and countries that all show how similar we really are. Whether you need courage in Pakistan or a friend in Afghanistan, we all share similar feelings and needs. Through books, we can learn from each other.

Ang Mahiyaing Manok by Rebecca T. Anonuevo and Ruben de Jesus, is a lovely illustrated picture book told in two languages: Filipino (Tagalog) and English.

Onyok is a young rooster who just can’t crow like the others. They are experienced and know just what to do. The old roosters crow day and night. But no matter how hard Onyok tried, he can’t do it and gives up, feeling quite worthless.

His mother and the old roosters support him. They show him just what to do and encourage him to keep trying. And when Onyok finally manages his crow, he vouches to help other young roosters when he grows older. ISBN 971-508-074-X, Adarna House

Crescent Moon Friends

Crescent Moon Friends by Wadia Samadi, Mo Duffy Cobb and art by Lisa Lypowy is a gentle story about Aisha who has to leave her home in Afghanistan, and Amelia who likes to look at the moon. When Aisha joins her class, Amelia becomes her friend. They discover how much they share in values and interests. The girls as well as their families learn much from each other and are enriched by their new friendships. ISBN 978-177-3660967, Acorn Press

Silent Music, A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford is a skillfully produced picture book for all ages. Ali lives in Baghdad. He loves playing soccer on the dusty streets. But most of all he loves practising calligraphy, just like the legendary calligrapher Yakut. When bombs fall on Ali’s city he, too, fills his mind with peace by practising the flowing words. A beautiful story of peace amid a city in turmoil. ISBN 978-1-59643-276-5, Roaring Brook Press

YouTube Read Aloud:

Malala Speaks Out is the acceptance speech given by Malala Yousafzai upon receiving the Nobel Peace Price. This book should be read by any student and educator. “Instead of painting our hands with hanna flowers,” Malala says, “my friends and I used to paint them with mathematical equations.” When ‘education went from being a right to being a crime’, Malala decided to speak out. Her strong voice recounts situations for more than 60 million girls across the world. This powerful speech can inspire many and help them to realize the importance of education. Commentary in the back of the book, by Clara Fons Duocastella help to put events into context. ISBN 978-1- 77306-916-6, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of many multi-cultural books for children. She is currently taking bookings at International Schools for the 2023-24 school year.

www.margrietruurs.com

Books Change Everything

Books have changed the world. They can also change a person. Books allow you to live inside someone else’s head and see the world from a different perspective. Books help us to recognize ourselves but also show us what could be. Here are several picturebooks that can help readers to expand their world.

From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World

From The Good Mountain, How Gutenberg Changed the World by James Rumford

We often take them for granted, but books have changed the world – perhaps even more than computers have. When Johannes Gutenberg (‘Good mountain’) invented the printing press in 1450, it was the first time that people could mass produce words: stories, announcement, scripture. How was printing invented? How were books first made? It took the making of paper, the producing of ink, the crafting of metal letters, the invention of a machine – and it revolutionized the world. In this beautiful book, for all ages, James Rumford shows us what it took and how it worked.  ISBN 978-1-59643-542-1, Roaring Brook Press

Hike

Hike by Pete Oswald is a wordless picture book that celebrates the magic of a hike in the mountains. It is early in the morning when dad wakes his child. They dress and pack and drive off to the distant hills. Armed with a map and daypacks, the two spend the day walking higher, spotting birds, being watched by bunnies and deer. They notice tracks and feathers. 

At the end of the day, they plant a seedling to make sure there will always be trees and a forest for hiking. A lovely touch at the end of the book, is when the two are ready for bed after a tiring day, we spot a photo of the dad when he was a boy and hiked with his dad. Without words, this picturebook says much about the importance of nature, of being outdoors and of sharing special family moments that will make lasting memories. ISBN 978-1-5362-0157-4, Candlewick Press

I Love My City

I Love My City by France Desmarais, Richard Adams and Yves Dumont

From the forest we go to the city. When did people start living in cities? Around the world, development of cities has been similar. Today, billions live in cities. Some cities are planned, others sprout up as needed. What kind of buildings and public services do cities need, including clean water and safety measures. How can we make cities sustainable, recycle and supply green spaces? This book answers all of these questions and many more. A fun and interesting resource for budding engineers and users of cities anywhere. ISBN 978-1-77278-273-8, Pajama Press

We Are Lions!

We Are Lions! by Jens Mattson and Jenny Lucander is the touching story of two brothers. They roar! They claw! They pounce! They love to play and use their imagination. They can be roaring lions and fierce stalkers of wildebeest. But when one brother is ill and doesn’t feel like playing, the other is lost without his playmate. No matter how much he growls and pounces, his brother is too sick. He needs to go to the hospital and sleeps in a bed, like a cage in a zoo. How can a fierce lion remain still in bed for so long? 

All that helps, in the end, is a quite cuddle together – lion to lion, even when one has lost its fur. Soon they hope to go hunting again. A lovely story to help anyone who’s had to cope with serious illness.  ISBN 978-1-77306-701-8, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of many books for children, including Where We Live, a book of maps of neighborhoods around the globe. She conducts author visits to International Schools and is booking now for 2024. www.margrietruurs.com

Stories and Information in Picturebooks

I’m a firm believer in using picture books with readers of all ages. Picture books can seem simple and be aimed at young readers, but many stories are perfect for older learners as well. Picture books allow you to share interesting stories on many topics, they can be used to discuss the format of imparting information and they can serve as a sample for older students’ own writing while learning about beginning, middle, end and voice.

Here are some wonderful picture books that work on many levels for students of all ages. If your school library does not have these titles, you can always try finding them on www.betterworldbooks.com which has new as well as used books. Not only do they ship free of charge anywhere in the world but they also donate to literacy.

Rain School by James Rumford

School. What if you get to school on your first day of the school year, and there is no school? What if you have to first build your school from scratch if you want to learn something?

James Rumford paints a beautiful picture of children going to school in the African country of Chad. The children help to build a school from mud bricks and thatched roof. They may not have many resources but they soak up the knowledge shared by the teacher. This story can be an eye opener for many students. ISBN 978-0-547-24307-8, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Percy’s Perfect Friend by Lana Button, with illustrations by Peggy Collins, is aimed at kindergarten students who can have trouble making new friends when entering a new classroom. Percy does not know anyone but a stuffed animal soon helps him to make friends and play with them. A gentle story to share with new, hesitant students. The book also offers information on social interaction for parents or educators. ISBN 978-1-77278-281-3

Malaysian Children’s Favourite Stories by Kay Lyons and Martin Loh, is collection of folk tales from the rich treasure trove of legends and historical stories in the lush Southeast Asian country of Malaysia. This book is a collection of tales about brash animals, brave villagers and of course handsome princes and beautiful princesses, all set in strange and exotic locations. The stories are widely retold and much beloved by children and adults throughout Malaysia to this day. Lyons and Loh have retold these stories for the first time for an international audience. The beautifully illustrated tales will give children insights into the traditional culture and rich natural environment of Malaysia and be a fun starting point for writing their own legends. ISBN 978-0804835909, Tuttle Publishing

Where We Live, Mapping Neighborhoods Around the Globe is a book that I wrote after visiting many international schools around the world. Each double spread is a map of a child’s neighborhood in vastly different locations: one child lives on a houseboat in Amsterdam, another one walks to school in her village in . There’s a small school in Antarctica which Bruno attends. And .. lives on an atoll in the South Pacific. The book shows a few words in each language and can be used to discuss both cultures and map components. 

By Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Wenjia Tang ISBN 978-1525301377, Kids Can Press

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author who conducts presentations at International Schools anywhere: 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