Here is a listing of 2019 CANADIAN publications that include picture book, novels for middle years and adult fiction.
TREES: by Pamela Hickman; illus. Carolyn Gavin (nonfiction)
A wonderful xample of nonfiction picture book, filled with facts with ‘just enough’ information about trees filling each page. The range of text features that includes, headings, diagrams, labels, captions, maps, glossary – and the abundance of appealing scientific and imaginative illustrations – make this a top-notch information book.
AFRICVILLE by Shauntay Grant; illus. Eva Campbell
Africville was a Black community in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a vibrant self-sustaining community that thrived without such services as running wter, sewers, police or ambulance service. A young girl revisits the community and the stories she heard from her family in free verse narrative. Winner of the Marilyn Baillie best picture book, 2019.,
WHEN MOLLY DREW DOGS by Deborah Kerbel; illus. Lis Xu
The Japanese folktale “The Boy Who Drew Cats” inspired this story, a young constantly doodles bringing the many dogs who move through her head to life through her dogs. A story of mental anxiety and finding comfort through art.
THE PLAYGROUNDS OF BABEL by JonArno Lawson; illus. Piet Grobler
Children gather around in a playground to listen to an old woman tell a story inspired by the Tower of Babel. One child translates for another who doesn’t understand the language. Told entirely through dialogue in speech balloons. Clever and imaginative both in text and art.
LIGHT A CANDLE by Godfrey Nkongolo and Erik Walters; illus. Eva Campbell
The Chagga people are the caretakers of Mount Kilimanjaro. In this story, in English and Swahdili, a young boy is determined to climb up the mountain without his father’s approval. The goal: to light a candle at the mountaintop to honour Julius Nyerer, the first leader of Tanzania hoping to unify the two territories of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
THE PHONE BOOTH IN MR. HIROTA’S GARDEN by Heather Smith: illus. Rachel Wada
Japanese villagers grieve over all that was lost by a tsunami. Mr. Hirota builds a phone booth giving the community to feel close to those they love. What a unique, heartwarming story (by a favourite Canadian author) about loss and recovery.
HAWKS KETTLE, PUFFINS WHEEL And other poems of birds in flight by Susan Vande Griek: illus. Mark Hoffman (poetry)
AN OWL AT SEA by Susan Vande Griek; illus. Ian Wallace (nonfiction/ free verse)
NOVELS: MIDDLE YEARS
THE COLLECTED WORDS OF GRETCHEN OYSTER by Cary Fagan
Hartley Staples is dealing with the trauma of having his older brother run away from home. The family attempts to move on but Hartley, burdened with anxiety, tries to cope with school assignments, an antagonistic sister, a best friend who rejects him and the stress of having to complete a final grade eight project. The sporadic appearance of artful postcards with wise messages keeps Hartley intrigued and provides a digression – and a support – for dealing with life’s problems. I really enjoyed this novel and applaud the insightful, humourous first-person voice Fagan has given to this middle years student.
BROKEN STRINGS By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
Two of Canada’s most celebrated authors for young people have collaborated to tell a thoughtful, informative and heartwarming story of Shirli Berman and Ben Morgan two junior high school students who have been selected to star in the school production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. The production tightens the relationship between the Jewish girl and the cutest, popular boy in the school (non-Jewish). The event also proves to be of significance by deepening the bond between Shirli and her Zayde. She enjoys visiting her grandfather often and knows that there is a story about his past that is being kept secret. As the play goes into rehearsal, and the novel unfolds Shirley and readers discover the hidden story of being a survivor of the Holocaust. This is a fine example of middle years novel about the Jewish culture, the power of music and the need to have family stories revealed so that the stories can be cherished and passed on. Five stars.
THE STARLIGHT CLAIM by Tim Wynne-Jones
Noah missing his friend who died in an accident and hopes to find some answers, heads up to a camp in Northern Ontario. Alone. A storm is a-comin’. Noah encounters convicts who escaped from jail. And a masked man who seems to know a lot about Noah. A gun. A skidoo chase. No cell phone. An exciting adventure and survival story from Canadian storymaster Tim Wynne-Jones.
IMMIGRANT CITY by David Bezmozgis (short stories)
The thing about a short stories collection is that you can read the stories chronologically and you can even choose to skip over one’s you don’t like. These stories are linked by immigrant memories and experiences layered with humour (some) and kvetching (some)The thing about short story collections is that you might tend to like some (“Little Rooster”) better than others (“How It Used to Be”). Giller prize nominee.
THE INNOCENTS by Michael Crummey
What a staggering writer. I think I learned a new word (or two or three) on every single page. A rather haunting tale of two orphans who thrive and survive live in an isolated cove in northern Newfoundland. Fighting to survive through meagre catches, wild storms and illness, Ada and Evered are symbiotic siblings, independent and fiercly loyal – even when vistors, nature and their own natures test their loyalties. Giller prize nominee.
AKIN by Emma Donoghue
Ever since reading Room, I have become a Donoghue fan and am eager to discover her new publications. This story about a retired professor and his relationship with his great nephew intrigued me. (I am a semi-retired professor; I have 4 great nephews). Circumstances (the 11-year-old grandnephew, without any parents or guardians is forced upon Noah who is about to embark on trip to Nice France. Noah hopes to reconnect with a place that was once his home before being shipped off to America as a child to escape the Nazis. Armed with a series of photographs taken by his mother, Noah and Michael hope to identify the places and people depicted in these snapshots. I enjoyed the story of the relationship between these two characters, 79 year old Noah who is out of his depth as a guardian, and Michael, a wise and wise-cracking kid who frustrates and educates Noah. I loved reading about Nice, but in truth i wasn’t caught up in the mystery of the family’s past that involved (perhaps) spying, surviving the Nazis and affairs. A good, but not a great, read for Larry.
CANADIAN CHILDREN’S BOOK CENTRE AWARDS, October 15, 2019
Seven awards in total were given out:
- Ebb & Flow by Heather Smith, won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($50,000)
- Africville by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Eva Campbell, won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
- Turtle Pond by James Gladstone, illustrated by Karen Reczuch, won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
- The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis, won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
- Sadie by Courtney Summers, won the John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
- The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker, won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
- They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki won the CBC Fan Choice Award ($5,000)