Tundra Telegram: Books To Carry You Home

Welcome to another exciting edition of Tundra Telegram, a column in which we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

We’ve had fun talking popular music and baseball these past two weeks, but one issue that has been top of mind for so many readers is the terrible conflict that has raged for nearly two months in Ukraine. And – central to that – the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country for other temporary homes around the world. Just this past week, some of the first Ukrainian refugees began to arrive in Canada. Fleeing countries for reasons of political violence, war, or persecution is not always an easy subject matter to approach in children’s books or even YA, but we’ve got a few recommendations if you’d like to read stories that look at refugees’ perspectives.

PICTURE BOOKS

The two children in Kyo Maclear and Rashin Kheiriyeh’s Story Boat are fleeing a non-specific crisis in a non-specific land, but their story of leaving behind nearly everything for an uncertain future will ring true for many refugees – as will how the tiniest things (a cup, a lamp, a flower) can become beacons of hope. (And it was even given a shout-out from the UN Refugee Agency!)

Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egnéus is likewise subtle in its depiction of the refugee life. Lubna is a girl who live in the World of Tents, and her best friend is a pebble, who makes her feel better when she’s scared. But when a lost little boy arrives, Lubna realizes that he needs Pebble even more than she does.

Quebec’s own Elise Gravel gives kids the straight talk with her What Is a Refugee?, an accessible nonfiction picture book that introduces the term “refugee” to picture book readers: Who are refugees? Why are they called that word? Why do they need to leave their country? Answers to these questions and more are illustrated within.

Francesca Sanna’s The Journey is a picture book about many journeys (not just one). Sanna interviewed refugees from dozens of different countries who now found themselves in an Italian refugee center about their personal journeys. The resulting picture book is a collage of those personal stories and looks at the incredibly difficult decisions families make to leave their homes.

And in the Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley picture book, Teacup, a boy is forced to leave his home to find another. He brings with him only a teacup (what else?) full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off on a dangerous sea journey

MIDDLE GRADE

New York Times bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson teamed with former Somali refugee Omar Mohamed to tell When Stars Are Scattered, a National Book Award nominated comic-book memoir of Mohamed’s childhood, chronicling the day-to-day highs and lows of growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya with his younger brother Hassan.

Newbery honor book The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani takes readers back to India’s partition in 1947, and a half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old named Nisha, whose family decides they can no longer stay in the newly formed Pakistan. She and her family become refugees, travelling by train and foot toward what they hope will be a brighter future.

And Canadian author Eric Walters tells the story of Muchoki and his younger sister, Jata in Walking Home, who flee the political violence that kills their father, and soon find themselves in an overcrowded Kenyan refugee camp. Soon they set off on a treacherous journey in hopes of reaching their grandparents, hundreds of kilometers away.

YOUNG ADULT

Rachel DeWoskin’s Someday We Will Fly explores the journey of a fifteen-year-old Jewish refugee from Poland during World War II. Lillia, her sister, and father flee to Shanghai, one of the only places that would welcome Jewish refugees at that time.

Walk Toward the Rising Sun is the moving autobiography of Ger Duany, a young Sudanese boy who became a child soldier, then a refugee – one of the 20,000 “Lost boys of Sudan.” He eventually was resettled to the U.S. from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, reunited with his family with some help form the UNHCR, and later became a peace activist and Hollywood actor (check him in I Heart Huckabees!)

If you like your refugee narratives with a dash of sports drama, you’ll score with Warren St. John’s Outcasts United, the story of the Fugees – a real-life youth soccer team made up of refugees from around the world (now living in Georgia) and coached by a young Jordanian-American woman.

And Susan Kuklin’s We Are Here to Stay is an anthology of the real stories of nine undocumented young adults living in the U.S. They come from Colombia, Korea, Ghana, and more – many escaping poverty and fleeing violence. Real stories from real teenaged refugees living in America.

Women’s History Month 2022: Women in Art

March is Women’s History Month and there are so my incredible and inspiring books to read! We’ll be sharing a new themed list every week this month so make sure to keep an eye on our blog!

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918562 | Tundra Books
Here is the life of iconic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who as a little girl in Rome, was told by her own mamma that she was brutta. Ugly. So she decided to seek out beauty around her, and found it everywhere. What is beauty? Elsa wondered. She looked everywhere for beauty until something inside of Elsa blossomed, and she became an artist with an incredible imagination. Defining beauty on her own creative terms, Schiaparelli worked hard to develop her designs, and eventually bloomed into an extraordinary talent who dreamed up the most wonderful dresses, hats, shoes and jewelry. Why not a shoe for a hat? Why not a dress with drawers? And she invented a color: shocking pink! Her adventurous mind was the key to her happiness and success – and is still seen today in her legacy of wild imagination. Daring and different, Elsa Schiaparelli used art to make fashion, and it was quite marvelous.

Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History
By Charlotte Nebres
Illustrated by Alea Marley
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593374900 | Random House BFYR
The only thing Charlotte loves as much as ballet is Christmas. So, when she gets the opportunity to play Marie in the New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker, she leaps at the chance. Dancing takes practice-hours of adjusting her arms and perfecting her jumps. With the help of her Trinidadian and Filipino families, encouragement from her sister, and a view of her mom and dad in the audience, Charlotte finds the strength to never give up. In this spectacular debut full of fluid, dynamic illustrations, Charlotte provides youngsters with a multicultural tale of family, dance, and holiday cheer.

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo Fujikawa learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting – for herself, her vision, her family and her readers – and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together.

Julia, Child
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735264014 | Tundra Books
Julia and Simca are two young friends who agree that you can never use too much butter – and that it is best to be a child forever. Sharing a love of cooking and having no wish to turn into big, busy people who worry too much and dawdle too little, they decide to create a feast for growing and staying young. A playful, scrumptious celebration of the joy of eating, the importance of never completely growing up and mastering the art of having a good time, Julia, Child is a fictional tale loosely inspired by the life and spirit of the very real Julia Child – a story that should be taken with a grain of salt and a generous pat of butter.

Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo
By Anthony Browne
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536209334 | Candlewick
Following a bout with polio at the age of six, Frida Kahlo’s life was marked by pain and loneliness. In real life she walked with a limp, but in her dreams she flew. One day her imagination took her on a journey to a girl in white who could dance without pain and hold her secrets, an indelible figure who would find her way into Frida’s art in years to come. Inspired by Frida Kahlo’s diary, Anthony Browne captures the essence of the artist’s early flights of fancy and depicts both Frida and her imaginary friend in vivid illustrations evoking Kahlo’s iconic style. A note at the end offers a brief biography of the artist who has intrigued art lovers the world over.

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Julia Sarda
56 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
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.

My Little Golden Book about Misty Copeland
By Sherri L. Smith
Illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
24 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593380673 | Golden Books
Help your little one dream big with a Little Golden Book biography all about Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theatre’s first Black principal dancer! The perfect introduction to nonfiction for preschoolers! This Little Golden Book introduces ballet prodigy Misty Copeland to the youngest readers. The first Black principal dancer in the history of the American Ballet Theatre – who didn’t start dancing until she was almost thirteen – continues to impress the world and pave the way for young Black girls to chase their dreams.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone
By Traci N. Todd
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524737283 | Putnam BFYR
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in small town North Carolina, Nina Simone was a musical child. She sang before she talked and learned to play piano at a very young age. With the support of her family and community, she received music lessons that introduced her to classical composers like Bach who remained with her and influenced her music throughout her life. She loved the way his music began softly and then tumbled to thunder, like her mother’s preaching, and in much the same way as her career. During her first performances under the name of Nina Simone her voice was rich and sweet but as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam, Nina’s voice soon became a thunderous roar as she raised her voice in powerful protest in the fight against racial inequality and discrimination.

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla
By Diana López
Illustrated by Teresa Martínez
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593110959 | Dial BFYR
An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music. From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication – learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family – sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Puffin Canada
In the city of Tainan, there lives a very special family – special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent – a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling. Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.

Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott
By Joyce Scott, Brie Spangler, and Melissa Sweet
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525648116 | Knopf BFYR
Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and Melissa Sweet and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.

When Emily Was Small
By Lauren Soloy
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266063 | Tundra Books
A joyful frolic through the garden helps a little girl feel powerful in this beautiful picture book that celebrates nature, inspired by the writings of revered artist Emily Carr. Emily feels small. Small when her mother tells her not to get her dress dirty, small when she’s told to sit up straight, small when she has to sit still in school. But when she’s in the garden, she becomes Small: a wild, fearless, curious and passionate soul, communing with nature and feeling one with herself. She knows there are secrets to be unlocked in nature, and she yearns to discover the mysteries before she has to go back to being small . . . for now.

For older kids:

Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration
By Leonard S. Marcus and Helen Oxenbury
256 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763692582 | Candlewick
Filled with insights that span Helen Oxenbury’s life – from her early childhood through a career in children’s books that started in the 1960s and is still going strong today – here is an exquisitely designed and thoroughly entertaining celebration of one of the finest illustrators of our time. Written by acclaimed author Leonard S. Marcus, Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration is a keepsake that is sure to engage and delight everyone from scholars to art aficionados, as well as the many fans who have grown up with Helen Oxenbury’s enchanting books.

House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery
By Liz Rosenberg
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9781536213140 | Candlewick
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, “I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them.” Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables. For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her “year of mad passion,” and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals. Through this revealing and deeply moving biography, kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never gave up “the substance of things hoped for” will be captivated anew by the words of this remarkable woman.

Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots: The Life of Louisa May Alcott
By Liz Rosenberg
Illustrated by Diana Sudyka
432 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763694357 | Candlewick
Moody and restless, teenage Louisa longed for freedom. Faced with the expectations of her loving but hapless family, the Alcotts, and of nineteenth-century New England society, Louisa struggled to find her place. On long meandering runs through the woods behind Orchard House, she thought about a future where she could write and think and dream. Undaunted by periods of abject poverty and enriched by friendships with some of the greatest minds of her time and place, she was determined to have this future, no matter the cost. Drawing on the surviving journals and letters of Louisa and her family and friends, author and poet Liz Rosenberg reunites Louisa May Alcott with her most ardent readers. In this warm and sometimes heartbreaking biography, Rosenberg delves deep into the oftentimes secretive life of a woman who was ahead of her time, imbued with social conscience, and always moving toward her future with a determination that would bring her fame, tragedy, and the realization of her biggest dreams.

Bringing Stories to Life with Storytime Trail

OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation (OWSH), a literacy and reading charity, is including On the Trapline as one of two Indigenous picture books featured in their “Good With Words” campaign, engaging Canadian youth in reconciliation. For the first 100 orders of On the Trapline book walk signs, a donation of $250 will be made by the Schad Foundation in the name of participating schools to the Land Needs Guardians program, up to a maximum donation of $25,000.

Participating schools will also be invited to an On the Trapline virtual event with David A. Robertson to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples’ Month this June. For more details on the event and to register, sign up here.

This initiative is part of the  Storytime Trails program, in which select Canadian books are printed as a series of signs and posted in participating school yards, encouraging classes to take “book walks” and for schools to incorporate Canadian books in their curriculum. OWSH has created custom lesson plans and, in some cases, author video content, for each featured title.

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination, and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

Other Tundra titles included in the general Storytime Trails program:

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262928 | Tundra Books
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.”

If I Had a Gryphon
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770498099 | Tundra Books
Sam just got a hamster for a pet. But the hamster is kind of boring . . . he just eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Sasquatches are messy, unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare the dogs at the dogpark, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet . . . or is he? If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations – and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them.

9781770493018-450My Name Is Blessing
By Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770493018 | Tundra Books
Based on the life of a real boy, this warm-hearted, beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Baraka, a young Kenyan boy with a physical disability. Baraka and eight cousins live with their grandmother. She gives them boundless love, but there is never enough money or food, and life is hard – love doesn’t feed hungry stomachs or clothe growing bodies, or school keen minds. Baraka is too young, and, with his disability, needs too much, and she is too old. A difficult choice must be made, and grandmother and grandchild set off on a journey to see if there is a place at the orphanage for Baraka. The story begins by looking at Baraka’s physical disability as a misfortune, but ends by looking beyond the disability, to his great heart and spirit, and the blessings he brings.

Out into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
It’s Kate’s first time visiting her grandparents on her own at their lakeside home. She’s nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. And she makes best friends with her grandparents’ dog, Parbuckle. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself! When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it’s up to Kate – but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author’s sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart and feisty character who will capture your heart in this gorgeous and moving story about facing fears and gaining independence.

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Puffin Canada
In the city of Tainan, there lives a very special family – special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent – a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling. Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.

The FogThe Fog
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Kenard Pak
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770494923 | Tundra Books
Warble is a small yellow warbler who lives on the beautiful island of Icyland, where he pursues his hobby of human watching. But on a warm day, a deep fog rolls in and obscures his view. The rest of the birds don’t seem to notice the fog or the other changes Warble observes on the island. The more the fog is ignored, the more it spreads. When a Red-hooded Spectacled Female (Juvenile) appears, Warble discovers that he’s not the only one who notices the fog. Will they be able to find others who can see it too? And is the fog here to stay? Kyo Maclear’s witty story, brought to life with the delicate, misty artwork of Kenard Pak, is a poignant yet humorous reminder of the importance of environmental awareness.

Where Oliver FitsWhere Oliver Fits
By Cale Atkinson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919071 | Tundra Books
Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs. Where Oliver Fits is a sweet and funny story that explores all the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn’t always the best fit . . . .

CTV Your Morning Kids’ Book Segment on Light Reads

Our Marketing and Publicity Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning this past Monday to talk about some of her top light reads. Check out our titles from her recommendations below and don’t forget to watch her segment for the full list (skip ahead to 1:54:00)!

AGES 4-8

Crocodile Hungry
By Eija Sumner
Illustrated by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267879 | Tundra Books
Crocodile hungry.
What can crocodile eat?
Canned ham? Too hard to open.
Beef jerky? Gets stuck in teeth.
Eggs? Bite shell, get toothache.
Crocodile must find food. But where?
Though Crocodile is surrounded by food, he doesn’t know it. He’s used to food coming in packages and boxes and in handy tins. Will the hungry crocodile figure it out? Readers big and little will laugh out loud at the simple but hysterical text and illustrations by debut author Eija Sumner and cartoonist (and now resident crocodile expert) John Martz.

Petal the Angry Cow
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Olga Demidova
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264687 | Tundra Books
Petal is everything you could want in a cow. She is kind, thoughtful, a great baker and a wonderful artist. She also has a temper. A very big, out-of-control temper. And it doesn’t help that her barnyard pals like to push her buttons . . . On the day the farmer announces a fabulous trip to a water park, the horse steps on Petal’s foot and she has her biggest tantrum yet. The farmer tells Petal if she doesn’t get her temper under control, she won’t be able to go to the water park! What else can she do but stomp away in a huff? Petal meets a swan who shows her a thing or two about behaving. And not in the way you’d expect . . . This laugh-out-loud story will tickle even the surliest reader, and Petal’s outsized tantrums will feel very familiar to parents and kids alike. But like Petal, this story also has a heart of gold and a core of pure warmth.

The Big Bath House
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Gracey Zhang
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593181959 | Random House Studio
In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl – along with her aunties and grandmother – at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it’s time, and they ease their bodies – their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies – into the bath. Ahhhhhh! With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear’s loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together.

AGES 6-9

The Witch’s Apprentice
By Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Cherise Harris
272 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593427705 | Random House BFYR
Ever since the baby dragons were returned to the magical realm, things have been off. The New York summer has been unusually cold. A strange sleeping sickness is spreading across the city. And Jaxon’s friends Kenny and Kavita have begun to change, becoming more like the fairy and dragon they once cared for. On top of all that, Jax is hiding a secret – Vik entrusted him with a phoenix egg! Jax wants to help his friends and learn how to hatch the phoenix, but so far his lessons as a witch’s apprentice haven’t seemed very useful. Where can he find the strength – and the magic – he needs?

AGES 9-12

Sneaks
By Catherine Egan
336 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593306406 | Knopf BFYR
When Ben Harp sees his teacher’s watch crawling across the hallway, he thinks he must be dreaming. But no, he’s just seen his first Sneak – an interdimensional mischief-maker that can borrow the form of any ordinary object.  He figured this school year would be bad – his best friend moved away, the class bully is circling, and he’s stuck doing a group project with two similarly friendless girls, Charlotte and Akemi. Still, he wasn’t expecting aliens!  And he certainly wasn’t expecting that the woman he and Charlotte and Akemi are assigned to interview for their “living local history” project would be a Sneak expert. Or that she’d foist an old book on them to keep safe . . . and then disappear. Now Ben, Charlotte, and Akemi are trying to understand a book that seems to contain a coded map while being pursued by violent clothes hangers, fire-spitting squirrels, and more. The Sneaks want that book! And they want something else, too: to pull a vastly more dangerous creature into the world with them. Can three misfit kids decode the book in time to stop an alien takeover? And if they do, will they get extra credit on their group project?

AGES 14+

Echoes & Empires
By Morgan Rhodes
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593351659 | Razorbill
Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic – one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock – she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust. Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept. But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows to Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted – beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself. In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.

Reading List about Inclusive Families

Today is Family Day in many provinces across Canada! We love celebrating all types of families and familial relationships, here are some of our favorite books – and if you want more recommendations, check out this list!

Better Together!
By Amy Robach and Andrew Schue
Illustrated by Lenny Wen
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593205693 | Flamingo Books
From Good Morning America anchor Amy Robach and her husband, actor Andrew Shue comes a sweet tale about finding common ground and accepting and appreciating each others’ differences. When a big thunderstorm shakes their woodland home, the Squirrelly family must flee their nest for a hollow in an oak tree. To their surprise, the McMunk family had the exact same idea. This family of squirrels and a family of chipmunks must find ways to live together – which isn’t always easy since they come from different backgrounds. But after some important lessons in compromise, the Squirrellys and the McMunks realize that life is better together as the McSquirrelies.

Fatima’s Great Outdoors
By Ambreen Tariq
Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
40 Pages | Ages 4-8| Hardcover
ISBN 9781984816955 | Kokila
Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima’s heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories – and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like. Ambreen Tariq’s picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.

Great Too
By Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky
Illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265615 | Puffin Canada
This follow-up to the bestselling picture book, Great, focuses on building confidence and learning how to focus on the game, featuring hockey great Wayne Gretzky and his dad, Coach Wally. Taylor and Wayne, The Great One, have been working with Coach Wally on their Perfect Play: Taylor fakes a shot and Wayne gets open – pass; shoot; GOAL! And now that their team is going to the biggest tournament in the country, they’ll have a chance to show it off. But as the tournament goes on, Taylor is distracted by the loud cheering crowd, and his confidence starts to fade. Lucky for him, Coach Wally is in his corner, reminding Taylor that it’s okay to be nervous but the most important thing is to remember that he is part of a team, working together with his teammates. As Coach Wally says, if you have a good time, work hard and do your best, “that is all that matters.”

J.D. and the Family Business
By J. Dillard
Illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts
160 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593111550 | Kokila
J.D. is a barber battle champion. He’s graduated from home haircuts to having a regular chair at the neighborhood shop, Hart and Son, and he’s making enough money to keep his candy jar stocked and his comic book collection growing. And yet, J.D. knows it’s time for his next challenge. He doesn’t just want to be the best barber in Meridian, Mississippi – he wants to be the best barber in the state . . . and maybe the country! When his older sister, Vanessa, starts to gain a following online for her hair tutorials, the kids decide that to truly level up, they must join forces. How do two siblings with big personalities, big ambitions, and competitive spirits work together (or not) to take over the hair world?

Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens
By Elizabeth Lilly
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443253 | Neal Porter Books
First my family drives through the mountains to stop at Mamaw and Papaw’s house in rural West Virginia. We share blueberry jam and toast for breakfast the next morning, then munch cookies and cut bananas to make banana pudding with Mamaw. After the last bite of pudding, we get ready for the next part of the journey, down to Florida to visit Abuela and Abuelo for crispy tostones, fresh squeezed juice, and arepas with queso blanco. This celebration of family and our diverse, delicious traditions is sure to leave readers hungry for more! Elizabeth Lilly’s tale of a joyous road trip, drawn from her own experience, is illustrated with quirky charm that captures all the warmth and love of her family’s two distinct cultures.

My Love for You is Always
By Gillian Sze
Illustrated by Michelle Lee
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203071 | Philomel Books
What is love? a child wonders. What does it feel like, smell like, taste like? How does it move? How long does it last? And as she prepares a traditional Chinese meal for her family, the child’s mother replies: her love for him is rosy as wolfberries, warm like tea, sweeter than the red dates she puts in his soup. It shines through the water like its own brilliant sun. It goes round and round with no beginning and no end. Because a mother’s love for a child is always there, warm and soft, broad and tender. In this tender story that pairs beautifully poetic words with brilliantly stunning art, a mother’s love comes alive on the page and wraps readers in its warm embrace.

Operation Sisterhood
By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379899 | Crown BFYR
Bo and her mom always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend Bill, his daughter Sunday, the twins, Lili and Lee, the twins’ parents . . . along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. All in one brownstone! With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t so sure there is room for her.  Set against the bursting energy of a New York City summer, award-winning author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a joyful novel about a new family that hits all the right notes!

Over the Shop
By JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201475 | Candlewick
A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space – until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.

The Big Bath House
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Gracey Zhang
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593181959 | Random House Studio
In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl – along with her aunties and grandmother – at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it’s time, and they ease their bodies – their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies – into the bath. Ahhhhhh! With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear’s loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together.

The Treasure Box
By Dave Keane
Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984813183 | Putnam BFYR
Searching for treasures with her grandpa is this young girl’s favorite thing to do. Every week they examine the items in her secret box and go on walks to find more – a broken robin’s egg, rusty spring, even a snakeskin that makes Grandpa squirm and make funny faces. But then Grandpa is too sick to come. She leaves him a few treasures in the hospital, but when he dies, she can’t bring herself to even open the treasure box. When Grammy brings her some treasures Grandpa wanted her to have, they open the box together and continue the tradition, showing that memories of time together are the greatest treasures of all. This poignant, gorgeously-illustrated story celebrates the special bonds kids have with grandparents, even after they are gone.

The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken
By Jennifer Frank
Illustrated by David Ezra Stein
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593124789 | Anne Schwartz Books
Emma is excited for her worm family to have their portrait taken. But when she sees her other friends’ portraits, she gets discouraged. “We had the most beautiful smiles,” Ellie the Chipmunk squeals. Abigail the Cat meows, “I looked gorgeous with my big poufy hair.” The worm family doesn’t have teeth . . . how will they show their beautiful smiles? They don’t have hair either . . . how can it look big and poufy?! So Emma gathers wigs, giant fake teeth, and colorful clothing for her parents and sisters. But it’s only after taking off their costumes that the worm family is able to wriggle and squiggle and squeeze into a delightful pose that only a worm family can make. And Emma? She thinks it’s perfectly perfect.

We  Adopted a Baby Lamb
By Lori Joy Smith
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266537 | Tundra Books
Ila is excited about her family’s move to the country – mostly because it means she can have more pets! But no one expected their next addition to be a lamb. When Albert first comes home, he sleeps a lot, he eats a lot . . . and he pees on the floor a lot. Ila and her sister and parents quickly learn how to care for a baby sheep – they must feed him and protect him. It’s not easy because Albert gets into everything! He eats the tulips from the flower bed, chews on car bumpers, chases the dog (and hides from the cats). Ila and her family does everything to make Albert happy and healthy, but she can’t help feeling like her little lamb might be missing something from his life. Maybe he needs a friend? But Ila soon realizes that she doesn’t need to look for a friend for Albert – he already has his flock.