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Kidlit spring preview 2019: Middle-grade fiction, young-adult fiction, and non-fiction

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION


Stand on the Sky
Erin Bow
Scholastic Canada, Feb.

Critically acclaimed author Erin Bow (Plain Kate) sets her latest novel among the Kazakh nomads, who practice the 4,000-year-old tradition of training eagles to hunt. While only men can train and fly the birds of prey, Aisulu feels it’s her duty to do so, considering her older brother is hurt and their nomadic life is threatened.

 

The Magpie’s Library
Kate Blair
Dancing Cat Books/Cormorant Books, May

Sci-fi veteran Kate Blair (Transferral) veers into paranormal fiction with this adventure set in a magical reading room. A magpie invites young Silva – who is grappling with her grandfather’s dementia – to a wondrous world filled with spirits and books. But the bird’s ulterior motive may in fact be sinister.

 


Girl of the Southern Sea
Michelle Kadarusman
Pajama Press, May

In her latest novel, Australian-Indonesian- Canadian author Michelle Kadarusman (The Theory of Hummingbirds) tells the story of Nia, a young girl steeped in Javanese mythology. While living in the slums of Jakarta, Nia fights for her right to an education, with the goal of becoming a writer – even if her pursuit may alienate her from her family.

 

 

Mya’s Strategy to Save the World
Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Puffin Canada, April

In this Dork Diaries for young activists, 12-year-old Mya is out to win a Nobel Prize – but first she needs a smartphone. After all, being socially conscious shouldn’t mean having to eschew the latest technology and fashionable phone cases.

 

Camp Average
Craig Battle
Owlkids Books, April

In this new middle-grade series from former Owl magazine editor Craig Battle, the k ids of Camp Avalon are comfortable with their “average” reputation when it comes to sports. And they’re none too happy when a new camp director expects them to be more competitive – and do a ridiculous number of push-ups.

 

City on Strike
Harriet Zaidman
Red Deer Press, March

Winnipeg author Harriet Zaidman (Benny’s Dream Horse) commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike with a book about a fictional family who are affected by the chaos of the time.


Operatic
Kyo Maclear and Byron Eggenschwiler, ill.
Groundwood Books, April

Operatic is an intriguing and atmospheric graphic novel – and an ode to Maria Callas – from Toronto author Kyo Maclear and Calgary illustrator Byron Eggenschwiler.


MORE MIDDLE GRADE

  • The Math Kids: A Sequence of Events, David Cole and Shannon O’Toole, ill. (Common Deer Press, May)
  • Papergirl, Melinda McCracken and Penelope Jackson (Fernwood Publishing, April)
  • The Absence of Sparrows, Kurt Kirchmeier (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/ Hachette Book Group Canada, May)
  • The Case of Windy Lake, Michael Hutchinson (Second Story Press, March)
  • Be My Love, Kit Pearson (HarperTrophy Canada, Feb.)
  • Cedar Dance, Monica Nawrocki (Yellow Dog/Great Plains Publications, May)
  • The Playmaker, Alex O’Brien (Lorimer, Feb.)

YOUNG ADULT


In the Key of Nira Ghani
Natasha Deen
Running Press Kids/Hachette Book Group Canada, April

Nira Ghani wants to be a jazz trumpeter, but her Guyanese immigrant parents are set on scientist or doctor in the latest novel from award-winning Edmonton author Natasha Deen. Nira’s only constant – as she struggles to navigate family, school, and romance – is her horn George.

 

Love from A to Z
S.K. Ali
Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, May

Toronto teacher and William C. Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali follows up her breakout debut, Saints and Misfits, with a love story set on a spring break trip to Qatar. In this mix of The Sun Is Also a Star and Eleanor & Park, Muslim teen Zayneb is suspended from her high school and sent to her aunt’s in Qatar. There she tries out a nicer version of herself and meets Adam, who’s working hard to keep a secret.

 

Before the Broken Star
Emily R. King
Skyscape/Thomas Allen & Son, June

Emily R. King has written a complex and timely quest fantasy, in which the main character, Everley, is out to seek revenge on the man who assassinated her family. Complicating things is her unpredictable clockwork heart.

 

 

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Ben Philippe
Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, Jan.

Author Ben Philippe was born in Haiti, raised in Montreal, and is now a New York City–based screenwriter. He makes his YA debut with an #OwnVoices fish-out-of-water story in which Norris Kaplan, a snarky Black French Canadian, makes a difficult transition to a new high school in Austin, Texas.

 

Baggage
Wendy Phillips
Coteau Books, May

The preoccupations of Canadian teens are juxtaposed with the lives of refugees in Baggage, a multi-voice and multiple point-of-view narrative from Wendy Phillips – whose 2010 YA novel-in-verse, Fishtailing, won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children.


MORE YA

  • On the Edge, Lesley Strutt (Inanna Publications, June)
  • The Gamer’s Guide to Getting the Girl, Kristine Scarrow (Dundurn, June)
  • The Changeling of Fenlen Forest, Katherine Magyarody (Yellow Dog/Great Plains Publications, April)
  • The Sound of Drowning, Katherine Fleet (Page Street Publishing/Canadian Manda Group, March)

NON-FICTION

  • The spring slate of non-fiction books covers everything from wildlife rescues to a history of abortion rights. In The Grizzlies of Grouse Mountain (Heritage House, April), Shelley Hrdlitschka and Rae Schidlo – with illustrator Linda Sharp – tell the story of two orphaned grizzly bears, Coola and Grinder, who have flourished in a B.C. wildlife refuge.
  • Be prepared to fall for a very special facilitator dog in A Friend Like Iggy (Second Story Press, April), written by Kathryn Cole with photos by Ian Richards – and in collaboration with BOOST Child & Youth Advocacy Centre. Iggy helps abused children navigate difficult situations, including police interviews and court testimonies.
  • Always Smile: Carley Allison’s Secrets for Laughing, Loving and Living (KCP Loft, May) is Alice Kuipers’s biography of the eponymous 17-year-old singer/songwriter/figure skater who was bound for stardom before being diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer.
  • Magazine writer Jennifer Croll’s Bad Boys of Fashion: Style Rebels and Renegades Through the Ages (Annick Press, April) – illustrated by Aneta Pacholska – dives into the sartorial choices of Louis XIV, Malcolm X, Kurt Cobain, and more.
  • Students are empowered to resolve conflict in their lives in the engagingly informative Freedom of Expression: Deal with it before you are censored (Lorimer, Feb.), by Danielle S. McLaughlin and Paris Alleyne, ill.
  • Perception: A Photo Series (HighWater Press, May) is designed to challenge the culture of apathy and wilful ignorance about Indigenous issues, by way of a photo series by Winnipeg-based artist KC Adams.
  • Former social worker Robin Stevenson details the history of abortion and the ongoing stigma in My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights (Orca Book Publishers, May).

 

FINE PRINT: Q&Q’s Spring Preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2019. All information (titles, publication dates) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at press time. Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.