Tag Archives: picturebooks


GRANDPARENTS – they are full of stories, experiences and wisdom. What can grandparents share with their grandchildren and how can we learn from their stories? These (picture) books all share the love and memories children have of their elders and the stories they can tell. The past leads to the future…

Sometimes you come across a book so perfect that is forms a whole world on its own. Green Papayas by Nhung N. Tran-Davies, illustrated by Gillian Newland is such a book. The illustrations, alternating between light coloured pages and dark, subdued ones, the text and the design work together to tell a touching story. 

Three young children play in muddle puddles when their mother calls them to gather around Oma’s bed. She’s been in hospital and can’t remember their names. But the mother tells her mother’s story of caring for her children during difficult times. Oma grew food, fed and clothed them. She kept them safe during a war and eventually managed to get them to a new country where they could start over. While the moon watches over them, Oma passes away and the family gathers to remember and be grateful. ISBN 978-0889955608, Red Deer Press

Every Wrinkle Has A Story is told by Israeli author David Grossman, illustrated by Italian artist Ninamasina. Like many Groundwood books, this one is unique and touching.

Grandpa Amnon picks Yotam up from school and, on their way home, they often stop at a neighborhood cafe. There, tucked in a corner, Yotam asks about grandpa’s wrinkles. What caused them? How will a face know to make wrinkles? He discovers that wrinkles come in different shapes. Some were made by sad things, others by laughing about happy things. In the end, Yotam is inspired to draw grandpa’s wrinkles on paper. ISBN 978-1-77306-827-5, Groundwood Books

Molly Misses Nainai by Emman Chen, illustrated by Sean Huang, is the story of Molly whose grandmother has been with her always but who needs to now return to China because her visa has expired. Molly misses her so much that she packs her suitcase and follows the snowy road from her home in Canada. Molly’s mom fetches her and together they reminisce about grandmother. And when grandmother joins Molly on her ipad and sings her favourite lullaby, Molly knows that she will always be there. A touching story about grandparents far away, with beautiful, tender illustrations. A good picture book to share with students who can relate to this problem because their grandparents live in another country. ISBN 978-0889956889, Red Deer Press.

When I Visited Grandma by Saumiya Balasubramaniam, illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran, is the story of Maya who can’t believe she is finally visiting her grandma in India. Grandma is not impressed by Maya’s fashion of ripped pants and wants to fix them for her. Together they go to the market where Maya is overwhelmed by sights and sounds. And everyone want to visit her, bringing gifts of food. All those friendly neighbors are too much for Maya. When grandma lands in hospital, Maya wants to visit her but she can’t say goodbye before having to fly back home. Luckily, grandma soon calls her on her iPad and Maya is happy to know grandma will be fine. This picturebook paints a nice picture of two very different places and a common bond that overcomes the distance between them. ISBN 978-1-77306-833-6, Groundwood 

Grandpa’s Stars by Carolyn Huizinga Mills, illustrated by Samantha Lucy Haslam is a celebration of constellations.

A child from the city gets to stay with her grandpa in the country. But at grandpa’s house it is too dark to sleep as branches cast scary shadows. Until grandpa shows his grandchild the night sky, where millions of pin pricks of light dance and make amazing pictures – the ‘lights of your imagination’ grandpa says. And when grandpa has to go to hospital and the child is sad, they knows just what to do: recreate those lights and shapes on the bedroom ceiling!  ISBN 978-1554554638, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Kaiah’s Garden by Melanie Florence and Karlene Harvey.

Based on traditional beadwork, this is the story of Kaiah who has just moved to a new house in a new street in a new city. But all Kaiah wants is to be back at grandmother’s house. This new house smells different and she misses her grandmother. But the beadwork they had made together helps her to remember: the roses, the turtle, the sun of grandmother’s garden. And the traditional beadwork encourages her to create a beautiful new garden at her new house, that might not be so bad after all. ISBN 978-1443190251, North Winds Press

Margriet Ruurs is a writer of many books for children. She loves to learn about different countries and cultures through books. For school visits cantact her: www.margrietruurs.com


Sometimes a story can be more powerful than therapy. Picturebooks can help readers of all ages to realize they are not the only ones struggling with a problem or dealing with a difficult issue. Meeting a book character can shed new light on how to solve a problem. These books all are good examples of that.

The Only Lonely Fairy by Lana Button, with illustrations by Peggy Collins is the story of one little girl who is too busy feeling sorry for herself to notice new friends. Leah has beautiful fairy wings but, seemingly, no one wants to play with her. All the other children are busy playing with others but poor Leah is all alone and doesn’t like it. Until she finally notices another child who would like to try on her fairy wings. This one is soon followed by another and soon Leah is no longer alone. This is a picture book that can lead to discussing how to make new friends, how to pay attention to others and how to reach out. ISBN 978-1-77278-302-5, Pajama Press

The Reflection in Me, written by Marc Colagiovanni and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, is an affirmation – a discussion between a child and its mirror image. “You are just perfect in every way,” they tell each other. But sounding confident and looking lovely are just outward signs of being confident. The true magic of any person comes from within. This simple but caring picture book can lead to wonderful classroom discussions on being brave and having the courage to be yourself. And you’ll be just perfect. ISBN 978-1-338-81048-6, Scholastic

Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates, illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo is about pursuing your dreams, about being persistent when you try something new. Kids, and pigs, can be resourceful. Jack and his little pig friend Ollie try hard to achieve Ollie’s dream of flying. Jack helps his friends but mostly their inventions don’t work. Until Ollie has an idea that just might help pigs to fly. ISBN 978-1-927485-98-9, Pajama Press

More Than Words by Natalie Hyde and Valerie Sherrard, with illustrations by David Jardine, is a brand new release. This unique nonfiction book is all about communication. Written for young teens, the book examines how people communicate. Not only through language but through eye contact, gestures, facial expressions and body language. How and when do you use sarcasm? How important are expressions? Are you a good listener as well as a speaker? The book includes tips on connecting with others online and by phone. Are your words in a text message sending the right meaning? How important is proper grammar to make a first impression? This book will help those seeking to improve or practise good communication skills but will also come in handy for those who like to write. ISBN 978-1-77086-719-2, Cormorant Books, DCB Young Readers

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children and conducts author presentations to International Schools around the world. Book now for the 2024/25 school year: www.margrietruurs.com


Books are much like moccasins – they allow you to walk a mile in someone else’s footsteps; to experience life from someone else’s viewpoint. Books share stories from other cultures and countries. Here are some beautiful new titles to enrich any (classroom) library.

Waci! Dance! is an indigenous celebration of dance and life. Written by Sage Speidel and illustrated by Leah Dorion, the art dances off the pages in this picturebook as a small child is dressed and gets ready to join her elders in a festive dance to drums. The indigenous words are explained in a glossary in the back. This beautiful, happy story invites any reader to join in dancing and drumming to celebrate Mother Earth.

ISBN 978-0889957275, Red Deer Press

Look! Look! has been written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy. 

Water is one of earth’s most precious resources. In India people used to have wells and catchment systems. But often these ancient sources have became covered by soil while weeds grow and the land dries up. In this colourful picturebook, a child looks closely and notices a grey stone under the dirt. Working together with others, the people uncover steps leading to an ancient well. And when the rains come, the uncovered well once again fills up to provide precious water for the earth and the people. A nice reminder of the value of historic resources and the power of a child. ISBN 978-1773069326, Groundwood Books

We Belong Here, written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Ruth Ohi is set in the 1950’s. Even though many countries are a melting pot of different cultures, it can still be difficult to make a new country your home. Eve and Mark are each part of a family of newcomers to a new land. They often get teased or called names. Mark’s father even loses his job due to discrimination. But the children help their families to be stronger and better by working together. When Mark’s father uses his carpentry skills, the whole neighbourhood agrees that everything is better in the renovated delicatessen store.  ISBN 978-1-4431-9403-7, Scholastic

Taming Papa by Mylène Goupil is a tender, thought provoking novel for young readers. Mélie didn’t even know she had a father when her mother receives word that he is coming to join them in their country. Mélie wasn’t told about him because he was in prison in his home country, where everyone has to agree and say the same things or they get put in prison. Something her father couldn’t do. When he actually joins them, he doesn’t speak the same language. There are many barriers to overcome for shy, introvert Mélie. But with the help of a kind, former teacher and his new baby, and the help of a new, lost kitten, Mélie learns to understand her father in more ways than just with words. All the while she searches for, and finds the answer to her question ‘what is a real family?’ 

Children of immigrant families who struggle with similar problems, will love this gentle, beautifully written novel. ISBN 978-1-77306-723-0, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children in Canada and visits international schools around the world. Book now for the 2024/25 school year: www.margrietruurs.com


Walking… it might be as beneficial as reading! So here are some wonderful reads about walking: walking people, walking animals, even walking trees. They include brand-new as well as long-loved titles. There are other wonderful books about the importance of walking, some of which I reviewed for this TIE column before, including A Long Walk for Water by Linda Sue Parks and Walking Home by Eric Walters.

Follow up reading one of these books by going for a classroom walk!

The Cat Who Walked The Camino, written and illustrated by Kate Spencer is a wonderful story for anyone who has walked, or hopes to walk, the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It’s a great book to help children understand the history and significance of this popular long distance trail but also a fun story based on a true event. A hiker sets off for Santiago and encounters a kitten who ends up traveling the length of the world’s most famous hiking trail with her. Told in the voice of the kitten, we meet a variety of people walking the trail. We also learn about of the most interesting points along the trail: the church of Santo Domingo and its chicken legend, the Cruz de Hierro where pilgrims leave a stone behind, and of course the Cathedral at the end of the walk. With lovely illustrations as well as a map of the entire trail, this is a perfect story to share with children, whether you plan this epic hike or not.

ISBN 97982-1811-9119. Order from Amazon, wholesale from Ingram Spark, or inquire through the author via Facebook Message: https://www.facebook.com/kate.spencer.1293

Walking Trees by Marie-Louise Gay was inspired by a true event in The Netherlands were an art project used movable trees to bring green space to different parts of a city. When it’s Lily’s birthday she asks for a small tree to put on her balcony. Then she decides to take it for a walk around the neighborhood, with the potted tree in her wagon. Soon, people love the shade her tree brings. They talk about global warming and how much we need trees and shade and green. Soon, others follow her example and create green spaces all over the city.

Not only is this a fun story to share and to find information online about the original project (called Bosk) but also to follow it up by planting school trees, in the ground or in movable pots.

ISBN 978-1-77306-976-0, Groundwood Books

The Armadillo from Amarillo by Lynne Cherry is the intricately illustrated story of an armadillo who sets off on foot to explore the state of Texas. Along the way he learns many things and makes new friends. He sees cities and deserts and forests. He meets many different kinds of animals and, thanks to a Golden Eagle, even sees the earth from a different perspective. And all along, he mails postcards back to his armadillo friend in the zoo. The rich illustrations are full of facts and information. A great book to share and to follow up by sending postcards around the country or around the world.

ISBN 0-15-200359-2, Harcourt Brace

The Boy Who Walked Backward by Ben Sures, illustrated by Nicole Marie Burton, is a beautifully told, yet heartbreaking, story of residential school. Leo and his family live in the traditional Ojibway manner. Their language, food and way of life are steeped in tradition. But one day a truck comes to collect the children who now have to leave their families to go to school. No longer are they allowed to speak their own language. They even have to cut their hair. When Christmas finally comes, the children are able to see their families and to spend time in their own homes again. And when the holidays are over, Leo invents a clever way to avoid going back to school. Using skills he has long learned, he uses his beloved forest to hide and wait until the truck has left.

ISBN 978-1-927849-49-1, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre.

The Camino Club by Kevin Craig. I read this teen novel as an e-book. It is a very realistic account of a group of juvenile delinquents – reminiscent of Ben Mikaelson’s Spirit Bear but for older students –  whose punishment for a variety of crimes, is to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain with counsellors. Since the real experience is transforming, the fictional teens, too, are transformed by confronting each other, by confessing sins, by meeting new people and by the very act of walking a long distance trail. The teens’ foul language may be realistic in this setting but it almost turned me off of reading on. I’m glad I did, though, as the story gets gripping and you do want to know what happens to each teen in the end.  

ISBN 978-1945053979, Duet Books

Walking For Water, How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Nicole Miles is a wonderful story inspired by true events in Malawi. Victor and Linesi are twins. They love going to school but at some point Lenesi is the one who can’t go anymore because she has to fetch water for the family. In school, the new teacher tells the children about gender equality. Soon Victor sees the unfairness of this and has a plan: he and his sister take turns going to class and fetching water. The changes have a ripple effect so that, soon, equality becomes not just something that is only talked about but practised as well.  ISBN 978-1-5253-0249-7, Kids Can Press

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books. She has walked part of the Camino de Santiago and will travel anywhere in the world for author presentations at International Schools. www.margrietruurs.com


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.



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.



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.



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.



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 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


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