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Joy and diversity: Q&Q’s summer reading guide for young people

The covers of Pride Puppy!, The Doll, Lala’s Words, and Amazing Black Atlantic CanadiansMalaika’s Surprise
Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher, ill.
Groundwood Books, Ages 3–7

It’s been four years since this author and illustrator team collaborated on Malaika’s Costume, the first in the highly praised series. In this third instalment, there’s a new addition coming to this blended family, and Malaika processes the prospect of a baby sibling. Written in English and Caribbean patois, this picture book celebrates the expansion of a family we’ve grown to love.

The Doll
Nhung N. Tran-Davies and Ravy Puth, ill.
Second Story Press, Ages 5–9

To the growing number of children’s books about refugees comes this one – written by Tran-Davies and inspired by the author’s own experience – about a simple act of kindness. The gift of a doll makes a little girl from Vietnam feel welcome in her new home. Puth’s illustrations perfectly capture the emotional impact of the unexpected gift.

Pride Puppy!
Robin Stevenson and Julie McLaughlin, ill.
Orca Book Publishers, Ages 3–5

This delightful rhyming alphabet book from kidlit veteran Stevenson follows a young nonbinary child and their family (with puppy in tow!) as they celebrate Pride Day. Providing the wonderfully vibrant illustrations for this ode to diversity in the queer community is award-winning illustrator McLaughlin.

Lala’s Words
Gracey Zhang
Orchard Books/Scholastic Canada, Ages 4–8

In her debut picture book as author and illustrator, Zhang creates a black-and-grey city, with Lala’s yellow dress as the only splash of colour. That is, until the weeds, which our protagonist tends to, grow into one giant green plant overnight. This story showcases the power of kind words and being loved.

On the Trapline
David A. Robertson and Julie Flett, ill.
Tundra Books/PRHC, Ages 4–8

Robertson and Flett – the Governor General’s Literary Award–winning duo behind When We Were Alone – come together for their second picture book collaboration, which follows a young boy and his Swampy Cree Moshom as they visit the places of Moshom’s childhood. Themes of memory and familial connection are eloquently captured in both text and illustrations.

Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Achievement
Lindsay Ruck and James Bentley, ill.
Nimbus Publishing, Ages 8–12

This full-colour, juvenile nonfiction book is the latest from Ruck and chronicles the amazing accomplishments of Black people from Atlantic Canada. Among the icons of Black excellence celebrated are the athletes, artists, and heroes past and present who stood up against racism and helped their communities.

Made in Korea
Sarah Suk
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 12+

Valerie, the protagonist of Suk’s new young adult novel, runs a successful K-beauty business at school that comes under threat when new student Wes Jung starts a competing enterprise. In this romantic comedy, sparks fly and familial relationships are mended as two entrepreneurial teens work to achieve their dreams.