Anywhere But Here
Tanya Lloyd Kyi
To Cole, the small Canadian town of Webster is essentially a prison, and he can’t wait until he can graduate and escape. He’s already detached from his father, who’s a mostly sedentary and self-pitying drunk since the death of Cole’s mother, and Cole further cuts ties by breaking up with his longtime girlfriend, Lauren. Hoping to go to film school in Vancouver, he begins work on a short sample documentary for admission, all about the ways that Webster traps and limits its residents. As major changes happen with Lauren (who’s pregnant), his father (who’s suddenly getting married), and even Cole’s new no-strings girlfriend Hannah (who turns out to be much smarter than she pretends), he begins to realize that Webster may be more of a part of his life than he realized. The conviction that all their obstacles are situational drives many a teen to distant college, and Kyi perceptively explores the ways that this conviction is and isn’t true. Cole’s gradual understanding that he’s projected onto the town his frustrations and his isolation following his mother’s death credibly accrues (“I thought there were plenty of people in Webster wishing they could escape. It turns out I might be the only one”), and the book is unusually clear-eyed in its depiction of both the negatives and the positives of a close-knit small town. While Cole’s relationships are dramatic, there’s an underlying nuance to the dynamics and a pleasing lack of villainy to the characters, so events are emotional rather than melodramatic. Readers on the verge of flying the coop will empathize with both Cole’s restlessness and his ambivalence. Review Code: R — Recommended. 2013, Simon, Grades 8-12, $16.99.
REVIEWER: Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).
Blink & Caution
Runaway Blink has been living on the streets for months when he stumbles onto the staged kidnapping of a wealthy businessman at the swanky hotel where he was stealing breakfast and finds himself in possession of the “victim’s” cell phone. Runaway Caution has been living with a controlling drug dealer and is now attempting to escape. Tim Wynne-Jones adroitly moves back and forth between two compelling individual stories, blending them into a single and mesmerizing whole as the two teens eventually meet on a train. Caution is trying to get away from Toronto, while Blink is on the trail of the businessman, persuaded by the man’s teenage daughter whom Blink called to provide assurance her father was okay to find out if he’s at the remote retreat owned by his company. Blink and Caution form an alliance and find themselves on the trail of a crime that didn’t happen but that masks a real crime involving corporate greed. As they journey together, trust, friendship and something more begin to form, enabling them to not only reveal dimensions of their personal histories but also to begin a journey of healing. Told in two distinct narrative styles (an insightful and darkly funny second-person voice for Blink, and a third-person voice for Caution), this tense, suspense-filled novel starts out gritty but ends with two teens who believed they had nowhere to turn finding the courage to confront their pasts. In doing so, they gain a sense of hope for their futures. CCBC Category: Fiction for Young Adults. 2011, Candlewick Press, Age 13 and older, $16.99.
REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2012).
Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917
Sally M. Walker
Two ships attempt to thread their way through the narrow neck of Canada’s Halifax Harbour one riding so high that its propeller isn’t fully submerged, the other loaded with munitions bound for the Great War in Europe. A third ship strays from its required lane; signals are confused, the munitions ship runs against the pier, and grinding metal touches off a series of fires and a massive explosion that levels blocks of buildings on both sides of the harbor the worst man-made explosion in history to that date, overshadowed since then only by the atomic bomb detonated on Hiroshima. Walker combines a clear overview of the shipping regulations and mishaps that led to the disaster with personal accounts of a handful of families whose members were going about their daily routines when the blast variously threw them to safety, buried them under rubble, or virtually erased them without a trace. Photographs and maps orient readers to the region of the explosion, and source notes and a bibliography will guide readers to further information. Titanic devotees, who are generally on the alert for a thrilling disaster tale, will be particularly interested in the connection with the more fabled disaster of 1912 the system of cataloging remains and personal effects that was devised in Halifax as Titanic bodies were recovered offshore after the wreck would be used to help identify the deceased once again just five years later. Can you think of a more compelling hook for a booktalk? Review Code: R — Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2011, Holt, Grades 5-8, $18.99.
REVIEWER: Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, December).
This second volume in a fantastic teen trilogy from established paranormal fiction writer Armstrong begins with Maya and her friends stuck on a pilotless helicopter about to crash in the isolated mountains of Vancouver Island. Most survive the crash (including Maya’s dog), but their trek through the hills is reminiscent of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, with the added complication of armed enemies running the search parties. The first book in this trilogy ended with Maya and her friends kidnapped, on the pilotless helicopter. This one will not end the story, but at least no one is in immediate mortal danger as the book comes to a close, and the trek through the woods without any supplies is over. Armstrong’s strength has always been character development combined with paranormal world building, whether it is Maya and the mountain lion shape-shifters of this novel or the werewolves, witches, and demons of her Otherworld series. This volume is tied tangentially to the Otherworld and her previous YA trilogy, Darkest Powers. The cabals (paranormal mafias disguised as large corporations) are still the ultimate baddies. Their presence will pull her fans further into this newest novel, but new readers–and nonparanormal fans–will simply enjoy the survival tale of a group of teens running for their lives in the remote Canadian mountains. This is a highly entertaining novel that this reviewer stayed up into the wee hours to finish–many other readers will likely do the same. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal. 2012, HarperCollins, Ages 12 to 18, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Beth Karpas (VOYA, December).
Canada: The Culture
Bobbie Kalman’s 32-page country coverages are keys to any elementary-level library where reports are assigned for geography, and CANADA: THE PEOPLE and CANADA: THE CULTURE are no exception. Covering Canadian myths, legends, holidays, cultural makeup and more, these pair bright, contemporary photos with facts perfect for geography study and perfect for kids in grades 3-5. 2010, Crabtree Publishers, Ages 8-11, $26.60.
REVIEWER: Midwest Book Review (Children’s Bookwatch).
Canada Under Attack: Canadians at War
Canada Under Attack offers readers focused informative descriptions and exciting narratives of different important invasions of the territory now known as Canada over the last few centuries. Each chapter provides a self-contained account of a specific invasion that educators and students can use to focus learning. Many invasions are in terms of the French and English colonizers (e.g. the Battle of the Bays, Louisbourg, and the Battle of Quebec). Between these nations, the implied Canadians being “invaded” shifts based on the context of the situation to provide a balanced viewpoint. Furthermore, the author is generally careful to distinguish between the colonial parties and the Canadians themselves in many conflicts. Other chapters on the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Aroostook War, and, more recently, War Plan Red describe American invasions of Canada. Although explored in fewer chapters, invasions on Canada are also described in terms of invasions on First Nations peoples, as seen in the chapter on the Nootka Crisis. While perhaps proportionally insufficient, accounts of battles in various chapters often mention the role of First Nations groups in the conflict and great leaders such as Tecumseh. Chapters dealing with German spies, U-boats, and Japanese fire balloons are also included to expand the content to WWI and WWII and relate the theme to the present. In each chapter, the narrative of the invasion is strengthened by grayscale reproductions of archival documents such as photographs, maps, letters, diary excerpts, and artwork. Overall, this is an informative resource that may engage students and challenge the misconception that Canadian history is “boring.” (Canadians At War) Category: Non-Fiction Grades 7-12. Thematic Links: History; Early Canadian History; Seven Years War; Plains of Abraham; War of 1812; American Revolution; World War I; World War II; French and English Relations in Canada; Canada’s Relationship with the United States; Fenian Raids. Resource Links Rating: G (Good, great at times, generally useful!). 2010, Dundurn Press, Ages 11 to 18, $19.99.
REVIEWER: Beth Wilcox (Resource Links).
On a trip to Aklavik with her father, Margaret is mesmerized by the dark-cloaked nuns and the pale-skinned priests. She knows they hold the key to the greatest of the outsiders’ mysteries — reading. Even though her father warns her that her spirit will be worn down and made small, she begs to attend the school. At the hands of a cruel and heartless nun, Margaret suffers humiliation, but emerges with her spirit intact. Thematic Links: Inuit | Residential Schools | Biographies. Category: Biography, Memoir & Speaking Out. 2010, Annick Press, Ages 10-12, $21.95 and $12.95.
ISBN: 9781554512461, 9781554512478
The Flying Canoe: A Christmas Story
Illustrated by Daniel San Souci and Justin San Souci
This French-Canadian folktale begins in the Ontario woods on Christmas Eve. Six French fur traders, cold, hungry, and far from home, have nothing to celebrate. They are startled by the arrival of a stranger dressed from long ago. When he asks where they would like to be, they answer back home for a family Christmas in Montreal. The stranger asks for nothing, but warns that they must not speak a word on the way. Old Armand is suspicious, but the traders follow instructions. Magically their canoe rises in the air as they paddle to Montreal. Unfortunately, once there, Old Armand loses his temper and shouts; the stranger appears to send them back. But Armand sticks the canoe to the church spire, where it dumps the traders as it spins. The stranger is vanquished and all ends well. The San Soucis use “traditional and digital media” to produce naturalistic double pages depicting the season’s darkness along with mysterious illumination. The characters are statuesque amid the changing scenery of the dramatic situation. There is a glossary of included French terms along with notes on the background of the story. 2011, Holiday House, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95.
REVIEWER: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature)
Though accustomed to her small town, Maya is now realizing that there are few ways to hide her secrets there: expert at keeping its own secrets, the place is determined to track those, like Maya, who turn out to be part of the reason this whole mysterious town exists. In Maya’s case, her birthmark and cloudy background point to her being a skin-walker, an ancient supernatural being that can turn into a mountain lion, heal through touch, and interact in significant ways with nature, and that scientists are now trying to secretly reactivate through genetic mutation. Maya, her hot new crush, and his mysterious sister (whose non-human tendencies demonstrate the ways in which the experiment is rapidly going awry) are all enmeshed in the plot, but Maya barely has time to sort through her own emotions about these relationships before her life is threatened. She must find a way to stay alive long enough to untangle all of the mysteries, dead ends, and family histories (Maya was adopted and is only beginning to learn about her biological ties) that suddenly make up her life. All of the teen protagonists are richly developed as they stumble through choices beyond their ages and grapple with identity both on a typical teen level and on a supernatural, scientifically altered level. The taut writing, careful backstory and exposition around the Native American stories out of which these skin-walkers emerged, and gripping cliffhanger combine to make this novel the first in a trilogy that readers will likely be anxious to finish. (Darkness Rising) Review Code: R — Recommended. 2011, Harper/HarperCollins, Grades 8-10, $17.99.
REVIEWER: April Spisak (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).
Ghosts of the Titanic
As a sailor aboard the Mackay-Bennett in 1912, seventeen-year-old Angus Seaton was asked to help haul in the victims of the Titanic, retrieving their corpses from the sea and cataloging their belongings for later identification. In a moment of exhaustion, Angus mistakenly pocketed the small purse of a dead girl, a mistake that eventually cost him his sanity as the girl’s ghost continually haunted him, crying for her dead child, until his death decades later. A century after the sinking of the unsinkable ship, twelve-year-old Kevin, a Titanic fanatic, learns that he and his family have mysteriously inherited Angus’s Halifax home. After finding the purse in the old house’s basement, Kevin begins seeing the ghost himself, and it is only after he is transported to the decks of the sinking Titanic that he discovers his family’s true lineage and can finally put the spirit to rest. The book shifts between the setting of Angus’s story and Kevin’s modern-day world, providing access points for both history buffs and readers who like their stories in the here and now. Kevin’s chapters have a snappy, brisk pace, and while the emphasis on dialogue precludes any deep detail of character or place, there’s something eminently appealing about Kevin’s class-clown persona and his impassioned interest in this one bit of history. Appropriately, Angus’s chapters carry more of the emotional weight, offering a compelling portrait of a weathered old man beaten down by grief and regret. Disaster fans will glom onto the historically accurate and vivid details of the victim-identification process, and readers of Sally M. Walker’s recent Blizzard of Glass (BCCB 12/11) will appreciate the mention of the other Halifax disaster both in the story and in the author’s note. Review Code: R — Recommended. 2012, Holiday House, Grades 5-8, $16.95.
REVIEWER: Kate Quealy-Gainer (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).
While astronauts orbit Earth in Skylab and ABBA tops record charts, Canadian teenager Ben Tomlin copes with diverse traumas coinciding with his thirteenth birthday in summer 1973. Ben’s entry into adolescence converges with disruptions and sacrifices for his parents’ careers as behavioral psychology researchers. He tolerates a move from Toronto to Victoria and immersion into an unfamiliar place where he endures antagonistic peers. Similarly, the chimpanzee, Zan (short for Tarzan), only days old, has been removed forcibly from his environment to reside with the Tomlins who teach him human vocabulary with sign language and instruct Ben to consider Zan a family member. Ben’s parents redesign their lives and a house to conduct Project Zan. Ben interacts with college students his parents hire to tend Zan, bonding with Peter, who becomes a figurative older brother. The pair discusses ethical issues associated with experimental animals. The theme of control is symbolized by a chair used to restrain Zan. Both Ben and Zan struggle with how captivity confines their instincts. As Zan matures, his moods and size endanger humans. Ben’s father reacts to failed grant applications and researchers’ rejection of his work by permitting Zan to be sold, dismissing Ben’s emotional attachment to the chimpanzee. Agonized Ben, fearing Zan will become vulnerable to biomedical experimentation, seeks solutions to protect him. Refusing to be intimidated and dominated, Ben assertively questions and disobeys rules others establish. Characterizations effectively show how civilization and wilderness paradoxically intersect. Readers will empathize with Ben’s heart-rending predicament. Compare the role of language in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s book Tarzan of the Apes (1914) and the film Planet of the Apes (1967). Read with Peter Dickinson’s provocative novel Eva (1989). 2010, Scholastic Press, Ages 12 up, $17.99.
Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer (Children’s Literature).
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
Anna Hibiscus doesn’t shy away from adventures and when she gets the chance to visit her Grandma in Canada, she jumps at the chance. Anna is excited and scared but eager to travel and spend Christmas in Canada. When she arrives, Anna finds that the journey was only the beginning of her adventure. Adapting to the cold of a Canadian winter, as well as unfamiliar foods and a dog in the house and the new traditions that Granny Canada wants to share with Anna makes each day an adventure. It’s never easy to visit a new country and Anna constantly feels the differences between staying in Canada and her safe, happy home in Africa. Anna’s life in Africa may seem odd to many young readers, but Anna’s adventure in Canada will help children realize that normal life for them can be just as odd for children from other countries. 2011, Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, Ages 5 to 10, $5.00.
REVIEWER: Danielle Williams (Children’s Literature).
The toddler set can now enjoy riddles about Canada .The riddles cover all facets of Canadian culture from sports to food favourites. First the riddle is presented and then the pictorial answer appears on the next page, nicely rendered in colour.All preschoolers enjoy riddles so children from 3-5 will still find the book entertaining. (Little Country Series) Category: Picture Books. Thematic Links: Riddles – Canada. Resource Links Rating: A (Average, all right, has its applications), Gr. Preschool. 2012, Sleeping Bear Press, Bdbk., Ages 2 to 4, $10.95.
REVIEWER: Isobel Lang (Resource Links).
Northward to the Moon
This poignant sequel to Horvath’s My One Hundred Adventures continues to trace the physical and emotional journeys of Jane’s unconventional family. The story begins in Saskatchewan, where Jane’s new stepfather, Ned, has taken a position as a French teacher. When he’s fired from his job (it turns out that he doesn’t know French), Jane, her parents, and her younger siblings head west to visit one of Ned’s friends, an elderly Native American woman. Then the family moves on to Vegas, trailing Ned’s estranged brother, who, for unknown reasons, has left them a bag of money. For a while, it’s fun for Jane, pretending they are outlaws on the run (“I imagine us all on horseback with masks, robbing trains and making our way to Mexico”), but when they settle in with Ned’s mother on her remote horse ranch, Jane begins to long for Massachusetts, her home before Ned entered the picture. A dynamic montage of dark and light moments, this novel shows rather than tells Jane’s changing moods, her ambivalent feelings about being uprooted, and her quiet observations of her unpredictable yet endearing family members. 2010, Schwartz and Wade/Random House, Ages 10-13, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).
Oscar Peterson: The Man and His Jazz
Oscar Peterson came from more than humble beginnings to rise to the heights of jazz stardom. Possessed of an innate talent, Peterson’s early life was built around learning and playing the piano, continuing to amaze his family and teachers at his talent throughout his young years. In 1949, Peterson joined the Jazz at the Philharmonic musicians which changed his life and brought Peterson to the forefront of the jazz genre. Peterson’s talent made him a popular musician, but he still faced discrimination because of his race. Although he was able to put most episodes of discrimination behind him, he still harbored resentment of some actions in his early life. Filled with images of Peterson throughout his life, along with members of his jazz trio throughout the years, Batten has presented an inclusive portrayal of Oscar Peterson’s professional life as a jazz pianist and includes his personal and public struggles and triumphs to add depth to the text. The text makes a more than adequate introduction to Peterson, but also provides a tantalizing glimpse into the history of jazz and especially Peterson’s place in jazz history. 2012, Tundra Books/Random House, Ages 15 up, $19.95.
REVIEWER: Danielle Williams (Children’s Literature).
Queen of Hearts
Marie-Claire lives with her family on the Manitoba prairie during World War II. After Marie-Claire and her younger siblings are diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are sent to a nearby sanatorium, where Marie-Claire meets Signy, another teen in the ward. Signy, already a long-time resident, is happy to know another girl her age and welcomes Marie-Clarie enthusiastically. She treats Marie-Claire like a best friend from the start, including sharing gifts sent by her wealthy, seldom-seen parents. Marie-Claire senses Signy’s neediness and often resents it, even as she struggles with her own loneliness and fear. Through weeks and months in which endless bed rest is only disrupted by painful setbacks, moments of despair, and occasional happy surprises, Marie-Claire’s condition gradually so, so slowly improves, while Signy’s does not. When Marie-Claire is able to leave the ward and move into one of the cottages on the grounds, she feels guilty. Yet it’s easy to not visit Signy, until it’s almost too late, and then it’s suddenly hard to stay away. It’s a revelation for Marie-Claire when both girls finally move beyond pretense, prickliness, and fear and discover fertile ground where a real friendship takes root. Martha Brooks explores a developing, at times uncertain friendship with insight and honesty that will resonate with many teens in a novel that also offers an illuminating look at the devastation of tuberculosis, which still exists in many places today. CCBC Category: Fiction for Young Adults. 2011, Farrar Straus Giroux, Age 13 and older, $17.99.
REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices).
Writers of historical fiction are always challenged to balance historical accuracy with the creation of a good story. This book does well in both areas. Using the history of the town of Outlook, Saskatchewan as her model, Dueck weaves the fictional lives of Erik, his sister, mother and step-father throughout her descriptions of the long wagon ride that took them to Canada, the common language obstacles faced by immigrants, the creation of a sod house that gave them an earthen home, and the everyday tasks of the early settlers. The timeless human dramas of family stresses, future uncertainties, and robust adventure make the story interesting and relevant. Ten year old Erik and his family arrive in their fictional town of Green Valley in the first wave of the growing population so they are on the scene when lots are sold, new homes and business are built, and the railroad arrives. While he and his step-father work hard for meager wages, they also strive to establish a farm and Erik proves that he has the skills and spirit to contribute significantly to the family’s success. In addition, the discovery of an older brother already settled with Erik’s uncle provides fodder for intrigue and potential conflict. Erik is surprised by the pride he feels when his step-father and mother recognizes his hard work–even crediting him with being a key to their success in their new Canadian home. The story follows a background mystery of sorts by introducing elements in the story that seem unclear and unrelated but the pieces are tied together when a horse race ends with a winner in the circle and the discovery of a horse stealing, ring of thieves. The backdrop of historic context, the risk and adventure of western settlement, the family conflict, drama and resolution all make for a good story that will entertain young readers and may even inspire them to explore the history of western expansion in the US and Canada further. 2011, Coteau Books for Kids, Ages 9 to 12, $8.95.
REVIEWER: Cindy K. Schofield (Children’s Literature).
Rex Zero: The Great Pretender
In his third adventure, twelve-year-old Rex and his friends are excited about moving up to the middle school in the fall. Then Rex learns that his family is moving again, for the eighth time. The new house is just across town, but he will have to change schools. So he and his friends devise a secret plan. Rex will let his parents think he changed schools, but he will secretly attend the other one with his friends. While the plan works for awhile, the truth is soon discovered. In the meantime, both Rex and his sister Annie must deal with bullies who make their lives miserable. Rex follows Annie’s example to punish a bully only to discover that revenge is not always the answer. Although the novel is set in the 1960s, young readers will easily identify with Rex and his friends. Quite humorous in places, this short novel deals honestly with issues confronting young people. 2010, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 9 to 12, $16.99.
REVIEWER: Shirley Nelson (Children’s Literature).
A Stranger at Home: A True Story
A sequel to the memoir Fatty Legs, A Stranger at Home details Margaret’s return to her Inuit family after being at residential school for two years. With endless chores and poor meals, the brothers and nuns had turned Olemaun, a plump, round-faced girl, into Margaret, a gaunt creature who had forgotten her mother tongue and was disgusted by her previously favourite foods. Margaret suffers the status of being an outsider; because of her lack of language, elders find her rude and younger children laugh at her. Books and dogs console her. Just when she’s finding happiness again, her father tells her she needs to go back to the residential school in order to take care of her younger sisters there. The level of detail makes this a very rich story. For example, the first time Margaret mentions her kamik, there is a footnote to inform readers that “Kamik are a type of soft boot worn by the Inuit. They are also called mukluks.” In the margin is a colour photograph of kamik. Some of the margin-notes are small photographs accompanied by page numbers directing the reader to larger, annotated photographs at the back of the book. An especially poignant subplot involves a man whose hair “sprang from his head in tight, kinky spirals like a strange dark moss.” Margaret’s mother refers to him as Du-bil-ak – the devil. His outsider status is far greater than Margaret’s, and she feels compassion for him and even tries to share her beloved Gulliver’s Travels with him. This memoir, detailing a woeful piece of Canadian history and demonstrating Margaret’s strength of character, compassion, courage and her willingness to sacrifice herself for her family’s sake, gives the reader a lot to ponder. Highly Recommended. Rating: *** ½/4. Grades 3-8. 2011, Annick Press, Ages 8 to 13, $12.95 (pbk.) and $21.95 (hc.).
REVIEWER: Shelbey Krahn (CM Magazine).
ISBN: 9781554513611 (pbk.); 9781554513628 (hc.)
C. K. Kelly Martin
It is 1985, and Freya and her family have just moved to Canada following her diplomat father’s death in Australia. Settling into life in a new high school, Freya finds herself curiously unsure about her life in Australia, as if her memories are not real. Then she becomes obsessed with Garren, a boy she sees on the street, convinced that they have met before. When she contacts Garren, he denies knowing her, but recognizes a picture of her grandfather as his own grandfather. Furthermore, his recently deceased father was also a diplomat. With this knowledge, Garren and Freya confront the grandfather, who tells them he can’t disclose any information. Suddenly armed men show up and the two teens are forced to run for their lives. Desperate to understand, Freya goes to a hypnotherapist, who helps her to remember that she and Garren lived in the future, when climate change created mass extinctions, and cities were abandoned. Bioterrorism was a constant threat, and in fact it was a sudden epidemic that caused Freya’s and Garren’s families to be transported back in time for safety, their memories erased for obvious reasons. Knowing that if they are caught, their memories will be erased again, Freya and Garren are determined to find a safe place to start new lives, and vow to work to counteract climate change before the future they escaped happens again. A prologue gives just enough foreknowledge to tantalize readers, and the surprise ending ties everything together satisfyingly. Teen readers will find much to discuss in this thought-provoking story. 2012, Random House,Ages 14 up, $16.99.
REVIEWER: Magi Evans (Children’s Literature).
When I Get Older: The Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag”
Illustrated by Randy Gutierrez
The inspiration for songwriter/poet/singer K’Naan’s hit “Wavin’ Flag” starts with his grandfather, and continues with his experience as a Somali refugee. “Until I was thirteen years old, I lived in Mogadishu, a city that was like a sparkling jewel.” K’Naan’s grandfather was a well-known Somali poet. When war broke out, he wrote a short poem for frightened K’Naan: “When I get older, I will be stronger. / They’ll call me freedom, just like a waving flag.” “Poems will be your courage,” said his grandfather when K’Naan’s mother finally got papers so the family could leave their country. His grandfather stayed behind. In Canada, K’Nann wore sandals in the snow, “but by the time the snow melted, my English was better.” Music was something that helped him connect with other kids, both refugees and Canadians. “Singing made me feel as if anything were possible.” The story’s honest, engaging first-person voice is authentic and childlike. The art is a wonderful combination of realism and abstraction, as poignant faces sit atop bodies and against backdrops full of energy and movement. End matter provides additional information about Somalia and K’Naan, as well as the complete original lyrics to his song. CCBC Category: Picture Books for School-Age Children. 2012, Tundra Books, Ages 7-10, $17.95.
REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices,).
Wow, Canada! Exploring This Land From Coast to Coast to Coast
Illustrated by Dan Hobbs and Dianne Eastman
Join 12-year-old Guy, his sister Rachel and his parents as they travel from coast to coast discovering Canada. Inside readers will find weird bits of trivia, postcards and emails from Guy and Rachel to their friends, panoramic maps, campfire chats, humorous sidebars, cartoon strips and facts about Canada. This 10th anniversary edition was originally published in 1999 by Owl Books and in 2007 by Maple Tree Press (Our Choice 2000 Starred Selection). Thematic Links: Canadian History | Canadian Geography | Canadian Trivia | Maps. Category: History, Geography & Culture. 2010, Maple Tree Press, Ages 8-12., $24.95 and $19.95.
REVIEWER: BBKT (Best Books for Kids & Teens).
ISBN: 9781897066942, 9781897066959