The OLA Best Bets committee is comprised of librarians and library technicians who are OLA members, work in public libraries and are committed to children’s and young adult services and eager to evaluate and promote Canadian books. Members discuss and evaluate recent publications by Canadian authors and illustrators. The books evaluated are suitable for children and young adults from birth to nineteen years old. From these discussions, the Committee produces “Best Bets” lists, annual annotated lists of recommended titles.
Here are the Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers titles on the list:
By Rachelle Delaney
Hardcover | 224 Pages | Puffin Canada
A wannabe journalist and reluctant astrologer turns out to be clairvoyant in this charming middle-grade coming-of-age novel; for fans of Rebecca Stead’s novels.
Go Show the World
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Tundra Books
“We are a people who matter.” Inspired by President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington.
No Fixed Address
By Susin Nielsen
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Tundra Books
From beloved Governor General Literary Award-winning author Susin Nielsen comes a touching and funny middle-grade story about family, friendship and growing up when you’re one step away from homelessness.
Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Jacob Grant
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Tundra Books
From the author of the beloved This Is Sadie comes a delightful book of curious, little-known stories about animals – one for each letter of the alphabet!
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
By Jonathan Auxier
Hardcover | 368 Pages | Puffin Canada
A brand-new novel by one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heart-rending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.
The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray
By E. Latimer
Hardcover | 336 Pages | Tundra Books
Lemony Snicket meets Oscar Wilde meets Edgar Allan Poe in this exciting and scary middle-grade novel inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray – a family curse is unleashed!
The OLA also included some Honourable Mentions:
Blood Will Out
By Jo Treggiari
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Penguin Teen
ISBN 9780735262959 Silence of the Lambs for young adults — Blood Will Out is a gripping YA thriller readers won’t be able to put down.
The Game of Hope
By Sandra Gulland
Hardcover | 384 Pages | Penguin Teen
Inspired by Hortense’s real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn’t choose.
Congratulations to our authors and illustrators for recognized titles! And thank you to the OLA Best Bets committee for their hard work.
Beginning in 2006, USBBY has selected an honor list of international books for young people. The Outstanding International Books (OIB) committee is charged with selecting international books that are deemed most outstanding of those published during the calendar year. For the purposes of this honor list, the term “international book” is used to describe a book published or distributed in the United States that originated or was first published in a country other than the U.S.
Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!
From the Heart of Africa: A book of Wisdom
Collected by Eric Walters
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 6-9
ISBN 9781101918746 | Tundra Books
A collection of African wisdom gorgeously illustrated by artists from Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, the United States and more. Aphorisms are universal. They give guidance, context and instruction for life’s issues, and they help us understand each other and the world around us. We use them every day, yet never think about where they came from or why they exist. In this beautifully illustrated collection, Eric Walters brings us classic sayings from the places where this shared wisdom began. Ashanti, Sukuma, Akan and Kikuyu: all of these cultures use the portable and easily shared knowledge contained in aphorisms, and from these cultures and more this communal knowledge spread. This book is a celebration of art, of community and of our common history.
Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 5-9
ISBN 9780735262928 | Tundra Books
“We are a people who matter.” Inspired by President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington. Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: “We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.”
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN 9781770495593 | Tundra Books
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published — a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.
No Fixed Address
By Susin Nielsen
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Ages 10+
ISBN 9780735262751 | Tundra Books
From beloved Governor General Literary Award–winning author Susin Nielsen comes a touching and funny middle-grade story about family, friendship and growing up when you’re one step away from homelessness. Felix Knuttson, twelve, is an endearing kid with an incredible brain for trivia. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable; she can’t hold onto a job, or a home. When they lose their apartment in Vancouver, they move into a camper van, just for August, till Astrid finds a job. September comes, they’re still in the van; Felix must keep “home” a secret and give a fake address in order to enroll in school. Luckily, he finds true friends. As the weeks pass and life becomes grim, he struggles not to let anyone know how precarious his situation is. When he gets to compete on a national quiz show, Felix is determined to win — the cash prize will bring them a home. Their luck is about to change! But what happens is not at all what Felix expected.
The Tundra Illustrator Gift Guide is back! Last year, we were inspired by Travis Jonker’s The Ultimate Children’s Literature Illustrator Gift Guide 2017 so we decided to make an updated version featuring Tundra’s illustrators from 2018! Once again, we have something for everyone from some of the best children’s book illustrators in the world – treat your family and friends (or yourself!) to a beautiful piece of art this holiday season.
Abigail Halpin is an illustrator living in southern Maine, a few miles from the sea. Her illustrations are a blend of traditional and digital media, mixing watercolor, ink, pencil and more. She has created illustrations and lettering for a range of clients including Galison/Mudpuppy, Simon & Schuster, Disney Publishing, Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Penguin Books. Inspired by vintage textiles, all things Slavic, mystery novels, the ocean and long-forgotten ephemera, Halpin also creates mixed media artwork that blends drawing and embroidery, portraiture and needlework.
Ashlyn Anstee grew up in a rainy city in Canada and then settled in a sunny city in the United States. She works as a story artist at JibJab/StoryBots, and in her spare time, makes tiny things out of paper. She writes, draws, illustrates, animates and is the creator of the books No, No, Gnome! and Are We There, Yeti? Ashlyn has never hogged a hedge, but she does live by herself in Los Angeles, California.
Ben Clanton is an author and illustrator whose picture books include Mo’s Mustache; Rot, the Cutest in the World!; Boo Who?; It Came in the Mail; Something Extraordinary; Rex Wrecks It! and Vote for Me! He lives with his family in Tacoma, Washington.
Benjamin Flouw graduated from a CG animation school in France and moved to London to create backgrounds for Cartoon Network’s show The Amazing World of Gumball. He is now based in Paris where he works as a freelance designer and illustrator for films and advertisements, with clients such as Variety, Martha Stewart Living and American Express. His influences run from mid-century illustrators like Miroslav Sasek and Mary Blair to 90’s low-poly video games. The Golden Glow is the first picture book he has both written and illustrated.
Elly MacKay is a paper artist and a children’s book author and illustrator. She wrote and illustrated the picture books If You Hold a Seed, Shadow Chasers and Butterfly Park, among others. She studied illustration and printmaking at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her distinctive pieces are made using paper and ink, and then are set into a miniature theatre and photographed, giving them their unique three-dimensional quality. Elly lives in Owen Sound, Ontario, with her husband and two children.
Emma Block is the author and illustrator of Tea and Cake and has illustrated several books for children. She has worked for clients including Blue Apple, Harper Collins, Orla Kiely, UNIQULO, Anthropologie, Time Out and Hallmark. She likes charity shops, tea and very sharp pencils. Her art is inspired by the people she meets in her everyday life, old photos, vintage clothes, travel, 1950s illustration and 1930s jazz.
Born and raised in Quebec, Geneviève Godbout studied traditional animation in Montreal and at the prestigious Gobelins school in Paris. She is the illustrator of a number of books for children, including The Pink Umbrella, When Santa Was a Baby, Kindergarten Luck(Chronicle) and Joseph Fipps (Enchanted Lion). Some of her clients include The Walt Disney Company, Chronicle, HMH, Flammarion, Bayard, Les éditions Milan and La Pastèque. She also works for clothing designers like Nadinoo and Mrs. Pomeranz, creating illustrations and prints for their collections.
Once upon a time, Gina Perry picked wild blueberries, floated on lakes in her inner tube and was always on the lookout for a real moose in the woods. Now she writes and illustrates books for young readers from her New Hampshire home, where she lives with THREE monsters: her husband and two kids. She is still on the lookout for moose.
Janet Hill’s work is both elegant and whimsical, often with an underlying narrative that instantly captures the imagination. Her painting style evokes a sense of nostalgia, mystery, humor and comfort. Her work is displayed in private collections throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Some of Janet’s corporate clients include Tiffany & Co., Hallmark UK and Harper Collins. Her work has also been featured in Uppercase Magazine, Matchbook Magazine, Design Sponge, This Is Glamorous, The Neo-Traditionalist and Oh Joy! Her first picture book was Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess, and she illustrated the cover of the middle-grade novel, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray. Janet lives in Stratford, Ontario, where she paints in a small in-house studio and lives with her husband, John, an independent bookseller, and their cat and dog.
Jay Fleck is a designer and illustrator based in Shorewood, IL. He is the illustrator of the picture books Double Take!, Black Belt Bunnyand Everything You. His artwork has been featured on products at the GAP, on Threadless and on the front page of Society6.com, as well as a number of other brick-and-mortar and internet stores. Tilly and Tank is the first picture book he has both written and illustrated.
Joe Morse is an artist living in Toronto, Ontario. Known for his portraits of celebrities and sports stars, his work has been commissioned by Universal Pictures, Nike, Major League Baseball, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times and The Guardian, and has won over 200 international awards. The picture books he has illustrated include Casey at the Bat, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration; Play Ball Jackie! and Hoop Genius. He is the Coordinator of the Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.
Júlia Sardà is an artist who has illustrated many books for children, including The Liszts by Kyo Maclear, and number of classics such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Her work has been published around the world in many languages. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.
Julianna Swaney is an illustrator, designer, and fine artist whose work is inspired by themes of imagination, whimsy, and melancholy. Her books include Mermaid School, I Will Always Be Your Bunny, and Dr. Jo. Julianna studied printmaking at Maine College of Art and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Julie Morstad is an author, illustrator, and artist living in Vancouver. Her books have all received great acclaim; most recently, How To was a 2013 Governor General’s Award finalist and received starred reviews in Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal.
Kass Reich works as an artist and educator and has spent the majority of the last decade travelling around the world. She earned a degree in Art Education from Concordia University and was an early childhood educator in Beijing, which inspired her to start making picture books for very young readers. She now lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.
Lucy Eldridge is a traditional artist who works primarily in watercolor and gouache to create beautiful, whimsical illustrations. She finds inspiration for her work from a variety of things, including pebbles found on the beach, biscuits, origami paper, dictionaries, maps, Chinese brush painting, clouds, trees, trinkets and cats. Lucy illustrated the middle-grade novel Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird. This is her first picture book. She is based in Brighton, UK.
After obtaining a diploma in animation film at Les Arts Décoratifs de Paris, Marion Arbona started working as an illustrator for children’s books. In addition to drawing, she is particularly interested in deep sea fishes, cats (even though she is allergic) and weird plants. She also likes reading and watching movies. Her favorite gouache color is light cadmium red. Marion has been awarded numerous illustration prizes in the USA and Canada, where she lived for 10 years. She has illustrated over thirty books for children. Her previous picture book, The Good Little Book, garnered wide critical acclaim and was selected as a finalist for the Governor General’s award in 2015. She lives in Paris, France.
Phoebe Wahl’s work focuses on themes of comfort, nostalgia and intimacy with nature. She grew up unschooled in Washington State, and credits her free spirited childhood in the Northwest for much of her inspiration and work ethic. She works in a variety of mediums, from watercolor and collage to fabric sculpture. Phoebe graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration, and her first book, Sonya’s Chickens, won her the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. Phoebe lives in Bellingham, Washington.
Shaun Tan has been illustrating young adult fiction and picture books for more than ten years. His brilliant wordless book, The Arrival, won The CBCA Picture Book of the Year, The NSW Premier’s Book of the Year, and the Community Relations Commission Award, and received a Special Mention at the 2007 Bologna Ragazzi Awards. He lives in Australia.
Teagan White is a freelance designer and illustrator from Chicago, now living and working in Minnesota, where she earned her BFA in Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Her work encompasses intricate drawings of flora and fauna, playful watercolors of anthropomorphic critters, illustrated typography, and everything in between. Teagan lives in the woods across the street from train tracks and a fox den, and spends her free time scolding neighborhood squirrels, exploring forests, rivers, lakes, and swamps, picking wildflowers, and collecting animal bones.
Zoe Si is a cartoonist, freelance illustrator and lawyer. She believes in the power of words, but also that wherever words fail, a mildly disparaging cartoon can usually succeed. Wolfie and Fly is Zoe’s first book for kids. She lives and works in beautiful British Columbia.
Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts honours the best books in Canadian literature with the Governor General’s Literary Awards. This year, we have two finalists in the Young People’s Literature categories, one in text and one in illustrated books. Congratulations to Wab Kinew, Joe Morse, and Jonathan Auxier!