Songs to Lift Us

In these unsettling times, it’s nice to turn to music to help lift our spirits. Check out these five picture books inspired by some of our favourite uplifting songs!

Coat of Many Colors
By Dolly Parton
Illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451532374 | Grosset & Dunlap
Country music legend Dolly Parton’s rural upbringing in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee provides the backdrop for this special picture book. Using lyrics from her classic song “Coat of Many Colors,” the book tells the story of a young girl in need of a warm winter coat. When her mother sews her a coat made of rags, the girl is mocked by classmates for being poor. But Parton’s trademark positivity carries through to the end as the girl realizes that her coat was made with love “in every stitch.” Beautiful illustrations pair with Parton’s poetic lyrics in this heartfelt picture book sure to speak to all young readers.

Happy!
By Pharrell Williams
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399176432 | Putnam BFYR
Nominated for an Academy Award in 2014, “Happy” hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and has topped the charts in more than seventy-five countries worldwide. Now Pharrell Williams brings his beloved song to the youngest of readers in photographs of children across cultures celebrating what it means to be happy. All the exuberance of the song pulses from these vibrant photographs of excited, happy kids. This is a picture book full of memorable, precious childhood moments that will move readers in the same way they were moved by the song. “Happy” has had the world dancing ever since it first hit the airwaves, and now the irresistibly cheerful tune will come to life on the page with Pharrell Williams’s very first picture book! A keepsake and true classic in the making.

Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264069 | Tundra Books
What does “skinnamarink” mean? You may not find its definition in a dictionary, but the meaning is clear to the generations of children who sang along: friendship, happiness, sharing, community and, ultimately, love. This song has been sung in weddings and in classrooms. It can be fun and silly – especially with the accompanying actions! And it has a way of bringing people together. Through Qin Leng’s wonderfully imaginative illustrations, this delightful picture book tells the story of a community coming together. Young and old, from little mice to a big elephant, people and animals gather into a spontaneous parade as they follow the sound of music.

Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song
Lyrics by Joe Raposo
Illustrated by Various
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848185 | Random House BFYR
To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Sesame Street, beloved picture-book artists have each created an artwork interpreting a different line from “Sunny Day,” the iconic Sesame Street theme song. The range of their pieces demonstrates that Sesame Street can truly be found anywhere. The award-winning and bestselling roster of illustrators includes Christian Robinson, Tom Lichtenheld, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Leo Espinosa, and Dan Santat, among others. The result is a stunning tribute to Sesame Street and to the generations of children who have loved the show. Anyone who opens this beautiful book will be inspired to imagine their own perfect sunny day. For half a century, Sesame Street has helped kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder through its messages about inclusiveness, kindness, and, of course, literacy and numeracy.

When I Get Older: The Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag”
By K’NAAN and Sol Guy
Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770493025 | Tundra Books
In his first book for children, Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, and songwriter K’NAAN tells his own story. Born in Somalia, he grew up in Mogadishu. When the Somali Civil War began in 1991, K’NAAN was just thirteen. His mother made the difficult decision to move her family so that they could grow up in safety. First in New York and then in Toronto, K’NAAN faced many challenges. Like so many other immigrants, he had to make a place for himself in a world of alien customs, clothes, and language. His road was a hard one: he lost many friends to violence. But K’NAAN’s love of music, and his enormous talent, became a way for him to connect with his past, with his classmates, and eventually, to millions of people around the world. Not only does K’NAAN tell a story that will inspire and encourage young readers, but he provides a brief history of the Somalian conflict. The lyrics of “Wavin’ Flag” are also included.

Dolly’s Imagination Library 2020

In 2006, Dolly Parton expanded her Imagination Library program to include Canada. The Imagination Library is a free book gifting program devoted to inspiring a love of reading in children. Children enrolled in the program receive an age appropriate book in the mail every month free of charge and new titles are added every year. We’d like to congratulate the newest authors to be included in the Imagination Library!

Albert’s Quiet Quest
By Isabelle Arsenault
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101917626 | Tundra Books
There are so many distractions in Albert’s Mile End neighborhood, what’s a book-loving introvert to do? Desperate for a quiet place to read, Albert storms out to the alley behind his house where his friends and neighbors often meet to play. Lucky him — not only is no one around today, but he finds an old painting of a beach scene that someone’s left for the trash. The painting sparks Albert’s imagination, spurring him on a zen-like quest for a quiet reading break on a sunset beach, a moment to unplug and find peace. And he almost does too, except for those meddling Mile End kids . . . who just want to have some fun, as LOUDLY as possible. Will Albert ever find a moment of quiet to enjoy his book? Or could his friends be looking for a book break of their own?

Count On Me
By Miguel Tanco
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265752 | Tundra Books
Everyone has a passion. For some, it’s music. For others, it’s art. For our heroine, it’s math. When she looks around the world, she sees math in all the beautiful things: the concentric circles a stone makes in a lake, the curve of a slide, the geometric shapes in the playground. Others don’t understand her passion, but she doesn’t mind. There are infinite ways to see the world. And through math is one of them.

EncounterEncounter
By Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Michaela Goade
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265813 | Tundra Books
Based on an actual journal entry by French explorer Jacques Cartier from his first expedition to North America in July 1534, this story imagines the first encounter between a European sailor and a Stadaconan fisher. As the two navigate their differences (language, dress, food) with curiosity, the natural world around them notes their similarities. The seagull observes their like shadows, the mosquito notes their equally appealing blood, the mouse enjoys the crumbs both people leave behind. Debut author Brittany Luby’s background in social justice and history brings a breathtaking depth of insight and understanding to this story and Michaela Goade’s expressive art brings equal life to the creatures and landscapes. An author’s note outlines the historical context as well as situates the story in the present day.

Fairy ScienceFairy Science
By Ashley Spires
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264250 | Tundra Books
Esther the fairy doesn’t believe in magic. But fairies are all about magic, despite Esther’s best efforts to reveal the science of their world. No matter how she and her bird, Albert, explain that rainbows are refracted light rather than a path to gold, or that mist is water evaporating rather than an evil omen, or the importance of the scientific method, her fairymates would rather just do magic. So when the other fairies’ solution to helping a dying tree is to do a mystical moonlight dance, Esther decides to take it upon herself to resuscitate the tree . . . with the scientific method, some hypothesizing, a few experiments and the heady conclusion that trees need sunlight to live! But while Esther manages to save the tree, she can’t quite change the minds of her misguided fairymates . . . or can she?

King Mouse
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264045 | Tundra Books
A sweet, thoughtful tale of friendship, sharing and play, King Mouse begins when a mouse comes upon a tiny crown in the grass. The mouse puts the crown on his head, and when a bear subsequently comes upon him and asks if he’s king, the mouse responds “Yes.” This diminutive monarch settles into his new role very comfortably . . . until a snake comes upon a crown and claims she is queen. The mouse is not amused, especially when one by one the other animals find crowns and claim they are kings too. But when the bear can’t find a crown, King Mouse make a most surprising decision.

Teddy Bear of the Year
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263925 | Tundra Books
Ollie is a regular bear with a regular job. He listens to his girl’s stories about her days, he snuggles her to sleep and he is there waiting when she gets home from school. Just your typical teddy bear stuff. So when he is whisked away to the annual teddy bears’ picnic, he feels insignificant compared to the other bears who do daring and daunting things: sleepovers, hospital stays–even a night in the lost and found! After small talk with a regional stuffing manager, a department of cuddling official and a stitchery inspector; a stop at the snack table; and even some team building activities, it’s time for the teddy bear service awards . . . and Ollie feels even more small and unimportant. But he soon learns that it’s not just the big things that matter, it’s the little things too.

The Not-So Great Outdoors
By Madeline Kloepper
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264175 | Tundra Books
What’s so great about the “great outdoors”? A grumpy urban kid begrudgingly accompanies her family on a summer camping trip, missing all the sublime sights right under her nose as she longs for the lights and stimulation of the city. But as she explores forests, lakes and mountains, and encounters bears, beavers and caribou, she slowly comes to realize that the simpler things are just as sparkly, that the sky is its own majestic light show, and the symphony is all around.  The Not-So Great Outdoors is a humorous and richly imagined reminder of the beauty and magic that can be found away from the city and our screens.

Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264069 | Tundra Books
What does “skinnamarink” mean? You may not find its definition in a dictionary, but the meaning is clear to the generations of children who sang along: friendship, happiness, sharing, community and, ultimately, love. This song has been sung in weddings and in classrooms. It can be fun and silly – especially with the accompanying actions! And it has a way of bringing people together. Through Qin Leng’s wonderfully imaginative illustrations, this delightful picture book tells the story of a community coming together. Young and old, from little mice to a big elephant, people and animals gather into a spontaneous parade as they follow the sound of music.

Where’s Baby?
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264984 | Tundra Books
In this clever introduction to prepositions, a near-sighted Papa is looking for his baby. Is Baby up in the tree? Is Baby under the log? Is Baby around the corner? Where could Baby be? Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

You’re In Good Paws
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Kathryn Durst
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264663 | Tundra Books
Slightly distracted parents accidentally take their son, Leo, to the animal hospital to get his tonsils out. Luckily, taking care of a human doesn’t ruffle any feathers among the hospital staff. The chicken at the admissions desk is welcoming, the bear orderly is friendly and wise Dr. Stan inspires tremendous confidence despite being a mouse. Is the plastic cone really necessary, though? In this sweet and hilarious story, a child discovers that a trip to the hospital can be a positive experience–even when the hospital isn’t quite up to code . . .

CBC Books: The Best Canadian Picture Books of 2019

Back in December, CBC released their list of best Canadian picture books of 2019 and we’re thrilled to see some of our titles were included! Congratulations to our creators!

Albert’s Quiet Quest
By Isabelle Arsenault
ISBN 9781101917626 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
Albert just wants to read his book in peace . . . why won’t his friends give him some quiet? A delightful picture book about finding alone time from an internationally acclaimed illustrator.

Alis the AviatorAlis the Aviator
By Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail
Illustrated by Kalpna Patel
ISBN 9781101919057 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Come along on an aviation journey with Alis! This spunky female guide will take you through an ABC of planes featuring gorgeous cut-paper art.

Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
ISBN 9780735264069 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Based on the classic folk song made famous by a beloved trio of children’s entertainers, this picture book is best sung aloud! “Skinnamarink” is a timeless anthem of love and inclusion.