Celebrating Canadian Picture Books

Over 100 Canadian picture books have come across my desk in the past few months because of my involvement with two projects (juror: Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Prize; consultant: We Have Diverse Books catalogue for The Association of Canadian Picture Books).  Listed below, alphabetically by author, are ten picture books which certainly do Canada proud.

Stanley at School by Linda Bailey; illus. Bill Slavin

This is the sixth book in the Stanley Series. Young readers will likely delight in the adventures that Stanley has when visiting a neighbourhood school to find out what kids do each day.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel

In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. This book helps build connections when children are invited to name the animal that they identify with and explain how they are like this animal. A gem of a book promoting visual arts, drama and writing and inquiry.

The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson

Deep in the wild winter wood, we learn about the alliance between the wolf pack and the  ‘wolf- bird’ ravens who hunt and feast in an attempt to avoid starvation. Narrative, non-fiction and poetic text make this picture book a lovely tribute to the natural world, animal symbiosis, and survival.

InvisiBill by Maureen Fergus; illus Dusan Petricic

Bill thinks that he is invisible to his very busy family. Mother, Father, Brother, Sister hardly every notice the middle child in the family – until one day he does become invisible and finally gets ‘noticed’.  If I were ever to write a picture book, I would be thrilled to have Mr. Petricic be this award-winning illustrator.  Two other 2015 titles by the artist include My Family Tree and Me and Snap! written by Hazel Hutchins.

In a Cloud of Dust by Alma Fullerton; illus. Brian Denes

This book, narrated in simple poetic language, (most pages of verbal text are less than twenty words in length), is an ideal read-aloud to help students think about respect and teamwork. Fullerton tells the story of one determined girl who helps hear friends learn how to ride they bicycle they receive from a truck that pulled into their Tanzanian schoolyard. This book can lead to a study of Bicycle Libraries and perhaps lead young people to consider ways to support this humanitarian cause.

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson; illus. Sydney Smith

While on a walk with her distracted father, a little girl, dressed in a red cloak, collects wildflowers. Each flower becomes a gift to those she passes by. This powerful wordless picture book, winner of the Governor General’s Children’s Literature prize for best illustrated book,  is an ode to the beauty that surrounds us – and the importance of respecting and honouring that beauty and passing it on to others.

Butterfly Park by Elly Mackay

Remarkably rich illustrations are featured in this picture book which tells the story of a little girl who moves to a new town. When she opens the gates to the park and discovers that there are no butterflies, she is inspired to invite the town to help her retrieve the butterflies. A story about community, friendship and the beauty of nature.

Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland

Another amusing adventure , a bear, a moose and a beaver who love adventure. In this tale, the three friends set out on a mountain hike one day and once again their competitive nature comes forth as they walk on the side and then race to the mountain summit to make things more exciting.

Today is the Day be Eric Walters; illus. Eugenie Fernandes

Many children in Kenyan orphanages do not know the day when they were born and in this story a young girl named Mutana is excited to celebrate a day to enjoy and remember when the orphanige honours its newest arrivals by creating a birthday especially for them. This is the third book in a trilogy (My Name is Blessing and Hope Springs) where the author and illustrator based their stories on real chaildren in an orphanage in Kenya run by The Creation of Hope charity.

Bad Pirate by Kari-Lynn Winters; illus. Dean Griffiths

‘Shiver me timbers!’ This book not only has readers partake on  voyage with a saucy pirate named Barnacle Garrick and his crew of pirate-dogs/ dog-pirates, but through the eyes of the pirate’s daughter they can learn the importance of being true to yourself. Winters does a fine job of pirate talk which seems to jump off the page in bold speech bubbles.




The Children’s Book Bank is a registered charity that supports childhood literacy by providing FREE books and literacy support to children in low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto area. The Children’s Book Bank collects and distributes gently use children’s books and distributes them free of charge to children who might not otherwise have a chance to own their books. For more information about school excursions, donating books or ‘How You Can Help” check out the website:  childrensbookbank.com



A prize of $20 000 is awarded annually to the distinguished piece  of children’s literature in picture book format.  Nominations are often announced by The Canadian Children’s Book Centre by the end of June and the prize winner will be announced at the TD Book Award Gala in November.