Beary Good Books

September 9 is National Teddy Bear Day! So grab your fuzzy friend and curl up with these beary good books.

A Bear is a Bear (except when he’s not)
By Karl Newson
Illustrated by Anuska Allepuz
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Board Book
ISBN 9781536212020 | Nosy Crow
When Bear wakes up early from his hibernation, he can’t remember what he is! Is he a bird? Or a moose? Maybe a fox? Just when it seems like Bear won’t be able to figure it out, he finds his cave and decides another nap might help. Will Bear be able to remember what he is when he wakes up again in the spring?

A Polar Bear in the Snow
By Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Shawn Harris
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536203967 | Candlewick Press
Follow a magnificent polar bear through a fantastic world of snow and shockingly blue sea. Over the ice, through the water, past Arctic animals and even a human . . . where is he going? What does he want? Acclaimed author Mac Barnett’s narration deftly balances suspense and emotion, as well as poignant, subtle themes, compelling us to follow the bear with each page turn. Artist Shawn Harris’s striking torn-paper illustrations layer white-on-white hues, with bolts of blue and an interplay of shadow and light, for a gorgeous view of a stark yet beautiful landscape. Simple and thought-provoking, illuminating and intriguing, this engaging picture book will have readers pondering the answer to its final question long after the polar bear has continued on his way.

Bear Outside
By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jen Corace
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446131 | Neal Porter Books
In this imaginative picture book by Jane Yolen, acclaimed author of many distinguished children’s books including Owl Moon and How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, a girl explores the many ways she expresses herself by imagining that she wears a bear as her personal protective shell. They go everywhere and do everything together. The Bear is like a suit of armor and a partner all in one, protecting her from bullies and giving her strength to be bold when she needs it. In turn, she listens to and takes care of the Bear.

Bear Wants to Sing
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268036 | Tundra Books
A bear finds a ukulele in the woods. It makes a nice sound – PLINK! – and inspires him to write his own song. His friend Mouse would love to hear it. But Bear isn’t the only animal in the forest to find musical inspiration that day, and Snake, Crow and Tortoise keep taking his turn to perform. When they finally give him the opportunity and meet his song with less enthusiasm than he’d like, the discouraged bear shelves his music career forever . . . but the kindness, empathy and appreciation of his best friend will prove that his art deserves recognition and can even inspire others. This dryly humorous and sweetly profound collaboration between two critically acclaimed children’s book creators, a follow-up to the masterful King Mouse, has the makings of a modern classic.

Can Bears Ski?
By Raymond Antrobus
Illustrated by Polly Dunbar
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536212662 | Candlewick
Little Bear feels the world around him. He feels his bed rumble when Dad Bear wakes him up in the morning. He feels the floor shake when his teacher stomps to get his attention. But something else is missing, like when his friends tell jokes that he isn’t sure he understands, or when all around him Little Bear hears the question, “Can bears ski?” Then, one day, Dad Bear takes him to see an “aud-i-olo-gist,” and Little Bear learns that he has been experiencing deafness and will start wearing hearing aids. Soon he figures out what that puzzling refrain is: “Can you hear me?” Little Bear’s new world is LOUD and will take some getting used to, but with the love and support of Dad Bear, he will find his way. In this lyrical picture book, award-winning creators Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar draw on their own experiences to tell Bear’s story.

Find Fergus
By Mike Boldt
36 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984849021 | Doubleday BFYR
The hilarious illustrator of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog brings picture book fans a super-silly, interactive story that will have children giggling from start to finish. Follow huge, loveable Fergus and see all the many ways in which he is TERRIBLE at playing hide-and-seek, such as standing behind a VERY tiny tree (“Found you, Fergus! That was too easy!”) or trying to camouflage in a giant crowd of bunnies and squirrels (“Try bears, Fergus. Bears!”). But wait! The game isn’t over yet! The last two pages fold out into a giant panoramic look-and-find scene, where Fergus is well and truly hidden, and young readers can have fun looking for him and lots of other details in the the crowd. There are hours and hours of play value in this adorable book. Children will want to come back to it again and again.

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! 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 Great Bear: The Misewa Saga #2
By David A. Robertson
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266131 | Puffin Canada
Back at home after their first adventure in the Barren Grounds, Eli and Morgan each struggle with personal issues: Eli is being bullied at school, and tries to hide it from Morgan, while Morgan has to make an important decision about her birth mother. They turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. This time they travel back in time and meet a young fisher that might just be their lost friend. But they discover that the village is once again in peril, and they must dig deep within themselves to find the strength to protect their beloved friends. Can they carry this strength back home to face their own challenges?

The Invisible BearThe Invisible Bear
By Cecile Metzger
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266872 | Tundra Books
A bear sits in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place. He feels invisible; no one comes to see him, and he spends his days alone. Then someone moves in next door. Madame Odette is sound and sunshine, and at first, the bear isn’t sure about this colorful new neighbor. But through an act of kindness, the bear and the Madame Odette meet, and as time goes by, they become friends. And in the end, they are both forever changed by the gifts they bring each other. The first book from author-illustrator Cécile Metzger, The Invisible Bear is a powerful and beautiful meditation on the beauty of friendship and how two people can save each other just by being themselves.

Those Are Not My Underpants!
By Melissa Martin
Illustrated by Troy Cummings
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984831897 | Random House BFYR
One morning, Bear Cub wakes up and finds underwear hanging on a tree limb. Who could they belong to? Ever inquisitive, he sets out on a quest through the forest to find the tighty whities’ rightful owner. Could the underpants belong to Squirrel? Moose? Snake, maybe? Salmon?! Each animal denies that the bloomers belong to them, but readers will surely be giggling every step on the way . . . especially when they find out who the underpants actually belong to. Award-winning illustrator Troy Cummings delivers his signature warmth and humor to what could have been a very embarassing tail, er, I mean TALE, by author and child therapist Melissa Martin.

Trouble
By Katherine Battersby
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593114049 | Viking BFYR
When a very large bear moves in next door, Squirrel is sure he can only be trouble for her and her beloved pet mouse, Chamomile. He has terrible teeth, and knife like claws, and huge, horrifying hungers . . . at least that’s how Squirrel sees him. But where Squirrel sees trouble, Chamomile sees a new neighbor just trying to be friendly. Who is right . . . and who is really causing trouble? Here is a charming story with an important and age-appropriate message about making assumptions.

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

Monday, June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021 in Canada. Here’s a list of books to celebrate Indigenous culture from some amazing creators.

Alis the AviatorAlis the Aviator
By Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail
Illustrated by Kalpna Patel
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919057 | 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. An A to Z of planes past and present, this book has stunning cut-paper art and a cute-as-a-button guide named Alis. Named for Dr. Alis Kennedy, likely one of the first Indigenous women to obtain a commercial pilot licence in Canada, Alis will take you on an aviation tour from the Avro Arrow to the Zeppelin and everything in between. Meticulously researched and uniquely crafted, this is a one-of-a-kind book that will delight aviation fans big and little.

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.

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.”

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.

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

The Great Bear: The Misewa Saga #2
By David A. Robertson
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266131 | Puffin Canada
Release date: September 28, 2021
Back at home after their first adventure in the Barren Grounds, Eli and Morgan each struggle with personal issues: Eli is being bullied at school, and tries to hide it from Morgan, while Morgan has to make an important decision about her birth mother. They turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. This time they travel back in time and meet a young fisher that might just be their lost friend. But they discover that the village is once again in peril, and they must dig deep within themselves to find the strength to protect their beloved friends. Can they carry this strength back home to face their own challenges?

Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she’s a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma. But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.

2021 Freedom to Read Award

Every year, the Writers’ Union of Canada presents the Freedom to Read Award in recognition of work that is passionately supportive of the freedom to read. We would like to congratulate the 2021 recipient, David A. Robertson, on this wonderful award!

“I am moved today to nominate [David A. Robertson] because I think he is an excellent role model for freedom of expression for all of us. Robertson writes for audiences of all ages. He delves into his own life, his own truths, and with rigour, gentleness, and bravery, he creates literature to show what he’s discovering.” – David’s nominator

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

Keep an eye out for two more books from David this year!

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
Release Date: May 4, 2021
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.

The Great Bear: The Misewa Saga #2
By David A. Robertson
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266131 | Puffin Canada
Release date: September 28, 2021
Back at home after their first adventure in the Barren Grounds, Eli and Morgan each struggle with personal issues: Eli is being bullied at school, and tries to hide it from Morgan, while Morgan has to make an important decision about her birth mother. They turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. This time they travel back in time and meet a young fisher that might just be their lost friend. But they discover that the village is once again in peril, and they must dig deep within themselves to find the strength to protect their beloved friends. Can they carry this strength back home to face their own challenges?