Love the one you’re with
This spring, Lorimer introduces its Real Love series, focused on realistic teen romances while also addressing body image, gender identity, and LGBTQ issues. Two titles, Love is Love by Mette Bach and Same Love by Tony Correia, arrive in February.
Books about the refugee experience, past and present, are already beginning to appear on shelves, with many more to follow. Second Story Press’s lead title, Where Will I Live?, is the latest effort by former PLAN Canada CEO Rosemary McCarney, who is now Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations. The photo-based picture book examines the plight of young refugees around the world.
Mary Beth Leatherdale covers the period between 1939 and the present in Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees (Annick Press), illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare.
The Land Beyond the Wall: An Immigration Story (Nimbus Publishing) by Veronika Martenova Charles is a fictionalization of a story close to the author’s heart.
Getting to know you
In Colette’s Lost Pet (Tundra Books)*, Isabelle Arsenault, three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration, tells the touching story of a little girl who moves to Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood and draws the local kids into her search for an increasingly fantastical imaginary lost pet bird. • When the eponymous brother and sister in Milo and Georgie (Owlkids Books) move to a new city, Milo is determined to stay in the house, while Georgie is keen to explore. When Georgie isn’t where she’s supposed to be one day, Milo is forced to venture out to find her in the latest from author Bree Galbraith, featuring illustrations by Josée Bisaillon.
Reaching new readers
Kids Can Press launches its KCP Loft imprint this spring with a trio of YA books by U.S. authors and one Canadian title. In Keeping the Beat by Jeff Norton (a Canadian expat now living in the U.K.) and Marie Powell, five teen girls are thrown together to form a band and appear on a reality TV show, but it’s up to drummer Lucy to keep the group from imploding.
Chapter & verse
East Coast poetess extraordinaire Sheree Fitch has two books out this spring. From Nimbus comes Whispers of Mermaids and Wonderful Things, a collection of Atlantic poetry for children co-edited by Fitch and Anne Hunt and illustrated by Lloyd Fitzgerald. Polly MacCauley’s Finest, Divinest, Wooliest Gift of All (Running the Goat Books and Broadsides) is a prose/poetry mashup about a mysterious old woman who has a way with wool. Darka Erdelji contributes illustrations. • More Atlantic poetry comes out in June from Cara Kansala and Max Dorey. All Around the Circle (Breakwater Books) celebrates the spirit of outport Newfoundland. • Things move inland and take a dramatic turn in Stay by Katherine Lawrence. The novel, pubbing with Coteau Books in May, focuses on 11-year-old Millie, who is forced to deal with some very tough family situations.
History tells us
In The Nor’Wester (Ronsdale Press) by David Starr, 15-year-old Duncan Scott flees his home in Scotland and ventures to Atlantic Canada, where he is enlisted to carry secrets across the continent for Simon Fraser, confronting danger, adventure, and possible death along the way. • From Red Deer Press comes Yipee’s Gold Mountain by Raquel Rivera, the story of Chinese railroad worker Yipee and indigenous ranch hand Na-Tio, who navigate friendship and harsh living in the American Southwest of the 1850s.
Lest we forget
♦ Innocent Heroes: Stories of Animals in the First World War, Sigmund Brouwer (Tundra)
♦ The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace, Linda Granfield; Brien Deines, ill. (Scholastic Canada)
It’s hard to live in my own head
Alice Kuipers returns this season with Me and Me (HCC), the harrowing story of a girl who must choose between saving the life of a little girl or the boy she likes, and the consequences of her decision.
In 10 Things I Can See From Here (Alfred A. Knopf BFYR) by Carrie Mac, Maeve suffers from severe anxiety, and a temporary move to her dad’s in Vancouver doesn’t help. But brief moments of calm come in the form of Salix, a local girl who isn’t afraid of anything, including falling for Maeve.
The 18-year-old narrator of E. Graziani’s Breaking Faith (Second Story) just wants to kick her heroin addiction and live a normal life. Help comes from the least expected source: the sister who pushed her away in the first place.
Born to reign
February sees the release of The Valiant (HCC). Lesley Livingston’s latest blend of history, romance, and fantasy tells of 17-year-old Celtic princess turned gladiator Fallon as she tries to survive in Julius Caesar’s Rome. • Debut author Elly Blake pits fire against ice in Frostblood (Little, Brown BFYR), in which Ruby must learn to control her talent with flame lest she destroy the ice-wielding prince who loves her. • Traitor to the Throne (Viking BFYR) continues the story of Amani al’Hiza as she comes to play a key role in the uprising against the Sultan of Maraji in Alwyn Hamilton’s sequel to her hit, Rebel of the Sands.
Let’s be friends
From shapes playing pranks on each other in Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Triangle (Candlewick Press) to the “ultimate break-up letter” from one friend to another in Jennifer Lanthier and illustrator Patricia Storms’s By the Time You Read This (Clockwise Press), the various guises and incarnations of friendship are explored in titles for young readers:
- Adele’s Garden, Linda Amyot; Norman Cornett, trans. (Coteau)
- Bertolt, Jacques Goldstyn (Enchanted Lion Books)
- Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel, Charise Mericle Harper; Ashley Spires, ill. (HMH BFYR)
- Sea Monkey and Bob, Aaron Reynolds; Debbie Ridpath Ohi, ill. (Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Babies, babies, everywhere
Books with weest of the wee at their centre:
- Up! How Families Around the World Carry their Little Ones, Susan Hughes; Ashley Barron, ill. (Owlkids)
- Waiting for Sophie, Sarah Ellis; Carmen Mok, ill. (Pajama Press)
Alberta author Karen Bass might be in line for a third Geoffrey Bilson Award for historical fiction with her new novel, Two Times a Traitor (Pajama), in which 12-year-old Laz Berenger takes a wrong turn in the Halifax Citadel and finds himself transported back to 1745 Louisbourg. ♦ Another landmark features in Judith Silverthorne’s Ghosts in the Garden (Coteau), which sees classmates J.J. and Sam travelling back and forth through time via Saskatchewan’s Government House.
Well, that’s creepy
As a child, Toronto writer Marina Cohen’s favourite author was Edgar Allan Poe, so expect her new novel, The Doll’s Eye (Roaring Brook Press) – in which a young girl discovers a mysterious dollhouse – to be suitably haunting. ♦ Librarian and author Joel A. Sutherland’s Haunted Canada series is super-popular with the kids, so they’ll no doubt love his first novel, Summer’s End (Scholastic Canada), about a group of teens who discover an abandoned Muskoka sanatorium that holds more than old dust within its spooky walls.
♦ Birding for Kids: A Guide to Finding, Identifying and Photographing Birds in Your Area, Damon Calderwood and Donald E. Waite (Heritage House)
♦ Animals Illustrated: Walrus, Herve Paniaq; Ben Shannon, ill. (Inhabit Media)
♦ The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park, Celia Godkin (Pajama)
In may, Q&Q contributor and L.M. Montgomery expert Melanie J. Fishbane will publish her first YA novel, Maud (Penguin Teen Canada), which fictionalizes the teen years of the Anne of Green Gables author.
You can always count on Monica Kulling for top-notch picture books that get kids thinking. Her latest, Mary Anning’s Curiosity (Groundwood Books), tells of the famed fossilist’s first discovery at the age of 12. Melissa Castrillón provides illuminating illustrations.
Figuring it out
Celebrated author Susan Juby, winner of multiple awards for both her adult titles and kidlit, returns to Green Pastures School of Art and Applied Design for her new novel, The Fashion Committee (Penguin Teen Canada). This time, the focus shifts to Charlie, who desperately wants to win the fashion scholarship on offer, and John, a metal artist who eyes the scholarship as a means of getting into the elite school. Expect hilarity to ensue. • Toronto teacher S.K. Ali comes from a long line of influential Muslim scholars, and writes about culture and life as a Muslim parent for the Toronto Star. June sees the release of her first YA novel, Saints, Misfits, Monsters and Mayhem (Salaam Reads), in which Janna Yusuf, an Arab-Indian-American hijabi-wearing teenager, tries to find the balance between cultural tradition and her attraction to a cute non-Muslim boy named Jeremy.
Not really about sports
Nicole Markotic’s novel, Rough Patch (Arsenal Pulp Press), is about Keira, a figure skater who thinks she might like kissing boys – or girls. Or both? Confusion and fear reign, except on the ice. Then a girl named Jayne changes everything. • Longtime journalist and debut author Heather Camlot’s middle-grade novel The Boys of Summer (Red Deer Press) is set against the backdrop of 1946 Montreal, where 12-year-old Joey finds hope for his eventual escape from the poor Plateau neighbourhood when Jackie Robinson joins the Montreal Royals baseball team. • When Archie comes back from summer vacation and discovers he’s the only kid in Grade 6 who hasn’t grown much, he decides to bulk up with exercise and a high-protein diet to become a Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star. The humorous title by Lorna Schultz Nicholson pubs with Lorimer in January. • Also from Lorimer, Dirk McLean’s Team Fugee tells of two soccer-loving groups of kids – one composed of Nigerian immigrants, the other Syrian – who must learn to work together in order to get their Toronto school a soccer program that all kids can take part in.
Small people, big fears
Perennial favourite Ashley Spires returns with a new title about a gutsy girl who’s still not sure about climbing that tree. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do publishes with Kids Can in May. • Inuit elder Donald Uluadluak shares a story from his own childhood in The People of the Sea (Inhabit). The book, illustrated by Mike Mots, tells of the terror young Donald and his friends experienced after meeting a mermaid. Donald’s grandmother steps in to educate the boys about what they’ve just seen.
Sea to sea
A slew of books celebrating our home and native land are due for release in the coming months, thanks in part to Canada’s sesquicentennial. Owlkids Books’s lead title is My Canada: An Illustrated Atlas by Katherine Dearlove, illustrated by Lori Joy Smith. Billed by the publisher as “the essential kids’ map book of Canada,” the tome features colourful double-page spreads for each province, indicating capitals, landmarks, and native animals and plants.
More books to teach kids about their country:
♦ Carson Crosses Canada, Linda Bailey; Kass Reich, ill. (Tundra)
♦ Rocky Mountain 123s, Jocey Asnong (Rocky Mountain Books)
♦ Town Is by the Sea, Joanne Schwartz; Sydney Smith, ill. (Groundwood)
♦ Explore the Wild Coast with Sam and Crystal, Gloria Snively; Karen Gillmore, ill. (Heritage House Publishing)
The heroine of Kristine Scarrow’s novel, If This Is Home (Dundurn), sets out to track down her estranged father after her mother is diagnosed with cancer.
In Saying Good-bye to London (Second Story) author Julie Burtinshaw explores the months in 16-year-old Sawyer and 15-year-old Francis’s life after the pair discovers Sawyer is pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption.
Keira hopes that exposing her autistic brother, Levi, to the wider world will help him overcome his depression in Maybe in Paris (Sky Pony Press) by Rebecca Christiansen.
The traditions of Inuit naming and custom adoption are explored in How Nivi Got Her Names (Inhabit) by Laura Deal, who adopted her own child through the tradition. Charlene Chua provides delightful illustrations to match the text, which also comes in an Inuktitut edition.
Nicola I. Campbell gives readers a story about an extended family’s outing in the forests of B.C. in Mushroom Picking with Yayah (Tradewind Books). Cree-Métis artist Julie Flett, winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, contributes the stunning visuals.
Inspiring a love of language
- Short Stories for Little Monsters, Marie-Louise Gay (Groundwood)
- An African Alphabet, Eric Walters; Sue Todd, ill. (Orca Book Publishers)
- You Can Read, Helaine Becker; Mark Hoffmann, ill. (Orca)
Danger! Action! Adventure!
From Great Plains Teen Fiction comes Tyler Enfield’s Hannah with the Magic Eye, in which Hannah and Samir are up against a secret society called the Cancellari in a race to find the famed treasure of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. • Dominion (Orca) is the first instalment in a new series from Guelph, Ontario, author Shane Arbuthnott. The steampunk-style adventure introduces young heroine Molly Stout, who sails through the clouds catching spirits with her family. • Author and actor Adrienne Kress showcases her exuberant wit in the first instalment of a new series. In The Explorers: The Door in the Alley (Delacorte BFYR), Sebastian is an unassuming kid who gets more than he bargained for after wandering down the wrong alley. • Another Sebastian features in Rachelle Delaney’s The Bonaventure Adventures (Puffin Canada), which sees the apparently talentless child of a long line of circus performers trying to discover his skill at a Montreal circus academy.
- Top Dogs: Canines that Made History, Elizabeth MacLeod (Annick)
- Smiley: The Blind Therapy Dog, Joanne George (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
- Hey, Boy, Benjamin Strouse; Jennifer Phelan, ill. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Mysteries and intrigues
The award for the season’s best title goes to It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! (Sky Pony) by Wendy McLeod MacKnight. Eleven-year-old Tracy and her best-friend Ralph grudgingly let Tracy’s younger brother Lester (a.k.a. Pig Face) help them figure out who left an envelope full of cash in the dugout of the local baseball field. ♦ The younger half of a father-son rent-a-relative pair gets more than he bargained for when the duo takes on two new clients. Vicki Grant’s latest is Short for Chameleon (HCC). ♦ After the bomb squad blows up a backpack and a car crashes into his school, dogwalker Stephen Nobel finds himself dragged into figuring out what the heck is going on in Sylvia McNicoll’s Best Mistake Mystery (Dundurn). ♦ There are bound to be as many laughs as plot twists in Ted Staunton’s Bounced. The hero of the book, publishing with Scholastic Canada in January, just wants to be a detective, and soon gets his chance.
Foodies in the making
- Eat Up! An Infographic Exploration of Food, Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer; Belle Wuthrich, ill. (Annick)
- Let’s Eat! Sustainable Food for a Hungry Planet, Kimberley Veness (Orca)
- Meatless? A Fresh Look at What You Eat, Sarah Elton; Julie McLaughlin, ill. (Owlkids)
- The Gold Leaf, Kirsten Hall; Matthew Forsythe, ill. (Enchanted Lion)
- Cozy Classics: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Jack Wang and Holman Wang (Chronicle Books)
- Pikiq, Yayo (Tradewind)
- Moose’s Roof, Jennifer Maruno; Laurel Keating, ill. (Tuckamore Books)
*Correction, Jan. 31, 2017: The print version of this feature incorrectly referred to the title as Collette’s Pet.