Last week, February 19th, was the inaugural celebration of I Read Canadian Day. At the library I was in it became I Read Canadian Week. I pulled bunches of titles by Canadian authors - novels and picture books - and set them out on the library tables. I gave students time to find and get acquainted with one book. Then we did an inside/outside circle activity. Partners had 30 seconds each to sell their books to one another before moving along. All the children from grades one to six enjoyed the activity and best of all, almost everyone checked out a Canadian book!
Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.
Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.
The Ranger by Nancy Vo 🍁
I was intrigued by the cover of this book. Then I fell in love with the first couple of pages. The first shows only a genderless silhouette and the words, "Once there was a ranger. The next page shows an image of a girl and the words, "Her name was Annie." Annie finds a fox who is in a bad way, rescues it, and in turn the two become friends. What we readers eventually come to understand is that friendship is not about keeping score, it's about supporting each other when we need help without any expectation of payment.
Sparse text accompanies Nancy Vo's glorious mixed media artwork.
This is my second time with this book. Honestly, it just gets better. This time round, because of the interspecies care, I'm aware of how Vo's interpretation of 'western' highlights a rich environmental theme.
Princess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl by Susin Nielsen & Olivia Chin Mueller (Illustrator) 🍁
Poor Princess Puffybottom is one pampered cat (with two mommies) until her subjects bring Darryl, a rambunctious puppy, home. No matter what she does, Princess can not get them to get rid of him. Luckily, Darryl adores Princess Puffybottom and he manages to prove his worth to her. They settle into an amicable relationship hoping there will be no more surprises. One is coming, but you will have to read the book to find out what it is.
Olivia Chin Mueller's art is charming. I love the expressions she shows in the animal faces. I love that the art reflects the perspective of the cat in showing mostly the bottom halves of people. The liner notes on the cover jacket by both the author and illustrator are as hilarious as the book.
The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson, Katherine Farris, & Gabrielle Grimard (Illustrations) 🍁
This a book that celebrates collective imagination. A young girl makes a new friend who takes her on adventures in ‘a magic boat.’ When her friend leaves, the boat remains an abandoned old weathered rowboat until she makes a new friend. Gabrielle Grimard’s art is absolutely gorgeous. Her scenery under the sea is especially lovely. My only complaint is that many of the pages have too much text in them.
Great Job, Mom! & Great Job, Dad! by Holman Wang 🍁
I like these two companion books even more than the Cosy Classic board book series created by Holeman and his brother Jack! Both of these books honour all the things parents do for their children and will be perfect for reading and gifting for Mothers and Fathers Days! I like that the mother's paid work is not stereotypical. I especially appreciate the information at the end of the book showing us how Holman Wang gets his felted creations into such realistic settings.
Hello, Crow by Candace Savage & Chelsea O'Byrne (Illustrator) 🍁
Franny sees the world differently from her father. He doesn’t appreciate that his observant daughter notices things he doesn’t. When she befriends a crow, he has to see it for himself before he believes it.
Here in Vancouver, we are all mourning Canuck the Crow, who befriended Shawn Bergman. Shawn shared Canucks exploits on a Facebook page. When Canuck disappeared last summer, we all grieved. This story was at the forefront of my consciousness as I read this, so I really loved the relationship between the Franny and her crow. It’s all believable because it happens. Some people are distressed by the father’s dismissal of Fanny, but that doesn’t really disturb me. It seems like he’s a single parent, and that’s a really tough job.
As much as I admire the illustrations, there isn’t quite that marriage between text and art that makes both of them become sublime.
The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust 🍁
Old people are pretty cool characters in Kari Rust's The House at the End of the Road. Some of us already know this, but you can't have too many reminders of how important relationships between the oldest and the youngest of us are. This book is a hybrid - a cross between a graphic novel and a picture book.
Just finished rereading this and enjoyed it as much the second time round. What I'm not so sure of is how well it will be received by readers. I'm going to have to test it out.
Fairy Science by Ashley Spires 🍁
Esther is an unusual fairy. She doesn't believe in magic. Esther believes in science. She prefers "facts, data, and hard evidence to wishing on stars." She has a scientific explanation for all the enchantments the other fairies experience. I love the page where Esther shows other fairies the periodic table explaining that it is a "list of all the elements that make up the universe!" The other fairies respond, "Not all of them. Where are dreams and wishes and sunshine?"
When a tree in the woods is dying, the fairies use their magic to try and help it. Meanwhile, Esther does some research, forms an hypothesis, does some experiment and comes to a conclusion. At the same time as she implements her solution, an older fairy performs some magic. When the tree recovers, it's questionable who made the difference. Still, through it all, Esther manages to inspire other fairies to be interested in science.
It's Ashly Spires so of course the artwork is stellar. Esther is just the cutest little purple haired imp!
If ever there was a book to include in a STEM collection, this is it. The back matter contains an illustrated guide to her sun-beam experiment.
The Not-So Great Outdoors by Madeline Kloepper 🍁
I loved the humour in this one. It is hilarious when the text deliberately contradicts the glorious scenery. The page where the girl complains that something smells like wet dog, is especially delightful. This simple story of a young girl not wanting to go camping with her family is charming, but’s it’s the art that’s truly stunning. Just wow!
Oh, What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa
I picked this up after reading It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear.
I still have to spend some time perusing this with my grandkids, but I adore all the illustrations and little bits of verse and rhyme.
Dasher by Matt Tavares
Beautiful illustrations are the jewel in this delightful story of how the reindeer came to pull Santa's sleigh. There is too much text on the page to hold the interest of my toddlers, but I am sure that primary aged students will be enthralled by it.
Radicalized by Cory Doctorow 🍁
This book is brilliant. Each novella is profound. I'm just having difficulty connecting it to why Canadians should read it because, other than a few mentions of events in Canada, it's primarily focused on the American experience. How is it supposed to be the one book that brings Canada into focus?
Some of these stories, especially Unauthorized Bread and Masque of the Red Death, can be a warning about what we want to avoid here in the future, but the other two, Radicalized and Model Minority really didn't work for me with regards to that goal. I don't want to think that what brings us into focus is based on what happens in America. Although, I conceed that perhaps Radicalized makes us focus on how thankful we should be that we have the medical system we have, even it it is flawed.
This is a book all Americans should read!
I look forward to seeing how Akil Augustine defends it on Canada Reads.
I'm listening to The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. I'm almost finished We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib. It is the last of the Canada Reads books and a digital fast read so I had to interrupt all my other reading for it! Both of those books are also on my MustReadIn2020 list! I'm also reading Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner.
I'm not sure what my next audiobook will be. I will continue reading from the boxes of books and try to get back to The Afterwards by A. F. Harrold.
PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS
#MustReadIn2020: 3/25 one in progress
#MustReadNFIn2020: 2/12 one in progress
25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 8/25
100 books by Canadian Authors: 27/100
Goodreads Reading Challenge: 77/333