This posting highlights 15 picture book, diverse in theme and topics.

Most have been published in 2023


DEAR STREET by Lindsay Zier-Vogel; illus Caroline Bonne-Miller

Alice loves the street she lives on but not everyone in the neighbourhood is happy with the construction, the crowds, the falling leaves, and the snow piles. Although neighbours ‘grumble, grumble, grumble’. Alice choose to write secret “Dear Street…” love notes which she hides for others to find. This is a terrific picture book that celebrates community (and the passing seasons), and shines a bright light on gratitude. The story inspires a response activity where students can write their own letters, hide them and hide it for someone to find and help spread the love about the place where they live. 

THE ENDGAME: The Secret Force of 136 by Catherine Little; illus. Sean Huang

I was very pleased to receive an advanced reading copy of this fine example of Historical Fiction. The synopsis of this title reads as follows: Alex’s imagination takes him to medieval Chinese battlefields as he learns to play Xiangqi (Chinese chess) with his great-grandfather, Tai Gong. In the months that they spend over the chessboard, Alex comes to understand the important strategies that guided Tai Gong and his decisions as he navigated life as a Chinese Canadian in an anti-Asian era in Canada. In the process, Alex learns about the mysterious Force 136 and the sacrifices its members made to show their loyalty to a country that had utterly disregarded them.

While fictional, The Endgame  is based on the true story of a little-known group of Chinese men who fought for Canada during WW2 – a time when they weren’t even allowed to be citizens and the Chinese Exclusion Act, preventing people of Chinese ancestry to enter Canada, was still in effect. This title is  due to be released in the fall of 2023. Highly recommended. 

FINNA LIT by Sean Lewis

Dell wants to start his own business one day. The idea of being an entrepreneur excites him. But first, he must learn the basic rules of financial literacy. Using his day-to-day experiences with his family, he tries to explain to his friend Link what he knows about being financially literate. His journey takes him on a series of unique events. This publication helps teachers to unpack the topics of Financial Literacy (Finna Lit); budgeting and entrepreneurship. Hats off to Sean Lewis for this publication. (Sean was a candidate in my Children’s Literature course and this title is a good example of how good books can be used across the curriculum. 

JAO BY A THREAD by Roger Mello; translated by Daniel Hahn

A compact book by award-winning Brazilian illustrator Roger Mello with exquisite art work with finely detailed lace-like images  presented on full-page spreads a limited palette of black, white and red. The opening sentence reads:  “Before he falls asleep, the boy pulls up his blanket: “So it’s just me now,” the thinks, “Alone with myself?”   This is a story of a nighttime journey inspired by the thread of a blanket leading to  midnight kisses, a lullaby, a mountain range, a fishing net, a giant and dreams.  This is beautiful picture book creation, that inspires wondering – and repeated reading. 

IF YOU SEE A BLUEBIRD by Bahram Rahman, Gabrielle Grimard

Ali and his family are safe in their new home, but the young boy has strong wishes to go back to Afghanastan. Although his story has Ali recalling nightime flight, a crowded bus and a flight to immigration, Ali has fond memories of the home he once knew of.  When  Nana spot a bluebird, she suggests that Ali make a wish and though he wishes to return ‘home’ Ali realizes that a home is a place of where families live and love together. This is another great title from Pajama Press by award winning author of The Library Bus and A Sky-Blue Bench.  Inspiring!

MNOOMIN MAAN’GOWING: THE GIFT OF MNOOMIN by Brittany Luby;  illus. Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley; Translated by Mary Ann Corbiere.

In the notes written in the afterward we learn that many Anishinabeg agree that ‘wild rice’ is the accurate term for ‘mnoomin’  and that the Anishinabeg might translate the word as ‘spirit berry’. Mnoomin provides shelter to young creatures like fish and ducklings which in turn, feed other creatures like herons and humans.  The story is centred on a young girl’s imaginings that a animals and the environment all had a part to play in bringing the seed into being. The Gift of Mnoomin is presented as a dual language text (Anishinaabemowin and English) accompnaied by vivid images of animals (Pike, Muskrat, Eagle, and Moose as well as  Indigenous men and women. This title is another treasure from  the picture book creators of This is How I Know (Mil maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh).

THE MOON IS A BALL by Ed Franck; illus. The Tjong-Khing, translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

These nine stories of two  endearing characters, Panda & Squirrel provide young readers with insights into the joys of friendship. Panda & Squirrel stand on the shoulders of Arnold Lobel’s beloved Frog and Toad. What a great friendship those four would make! Each story in The Moon is a Ball is ideal for reading aloud inviting young readers to think about interdependence  (‘I’m never bored when I’m with you’), curiosity (‘I’d like to know where the sun goes to sleep’) play (‘We’ve been thinking together for ages. That’s a fun game, isn’t it?), adventure (‘You just put one paw in front of the other. Then you put the other paw in front of the first one, and so on.’), and loyalty (‘Will you come and sleep in my den, Squirrel. Nice and warm together).  High praise for this warm, witty, collection about the bonds of two friends who cant live without each other.


The narrator of this story pays tribute to her mother who was a nanny. Mummy was also a , a baker, a maker, a teacher, and a cleaner, a sister and a friend to many. The young girl fondly remembers outings to the Caribbean greengrocer and her mother’s workplaces as well as the conversations. We learn that the book is Laura James’s homage to her childhood in Brooklyn and her admiration of her mummy’s busy busy life in the community -and especially the cherished time she spent with her daughters.  A wonderful  story of family.

ROBOT, UNICORN, QUEEN: Poems for you and me by Shannon Bramer; illus. Irene Luxbacher (poetry)

Poetry collections by Canadian poets have been hard to come by in recent years. Hooray for Groundwood Press for publishing Shannon Bramer’s, (author of Climbing Shadows) newest anthology with poems that are drawn from the imagination, playfulness and observations of childhood. Such topics as practicing piano, sandwiches, sprinklers, swimming, a robot and even lice (yes. a Lice Hotel on my head) will remind many readers of events from their own lives. Hats off to Irene Luxbacher’s colourful ‘poetic’ illustrations presented in magic realism style.

I’m sewing a speckled starling 

in a tree.   this is my new


SEE IT, DREAM IT, DO IT by Colleen Nelson & Kathie MacIsaac; illus. Scott Ritchie (nonfiction)

The authors provide information about how 25 people found their dream jobs. Each person is given a full-page spread, describing their job, outlining ‘spin-off’ jobs and pro tips.  Some examples include Jeannette Menzies (Ambassador of Canada to Iceland): Lenna Charlie (Heavy equipment technician; Tiago Catarino (youTube Content Creator and Yue Shi (Ballet dancer). Noteworthy is consideration given to people from diverse cultures and diverse genders do dreamsoning all sorts of jobs, helping readers to consider cool career paths and give some consideration of their own dream jobs. This is an informative and engaging nonfiction compilation.

THE SKULL by Jon Klassen (illustrated folktale)

Award-winning author Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat, The Rock from The Sky) presents his own version of a traditional folktale. Otilla is a runaway girl (we never really know this background story) and when she comes upon a house in the woods she meets up with a Skull and the two become friends. The Skull warns Otilla about a headless skeleton who is desperate to obtain the Skull.  This adventurous tale is blends humour, creepiness and friendship to provide an entertaining retelling (told in five  parts), accompanied by Klassen’s masterful, rather monochromatic visual interpretations of text. At 101 pages, this title is not presented in a traditional picture book format. Tbis is a terrific read aloud and as I read it, I thought of The Skull as a terrific resource for igniting lessons for a range of comprehension strategies. 

TWENTY QUESTIONS by Mac Barnett; illus. Christian Robinson

This title features 20 questions that inspire wonder and  speculation to find endless answers (e.g., What is this boy hiding behind his back?; What is on the other side of the door? What did the lion give the lamb for her birthday?Questions (some work better than others for me) are presented on full page spreads with vivid, playful artwork by award-winning illustrator, Christian Robinson. A great title to inspire curiosity – and discussion. 

ZANDER STAYS by Maureen Fergus; illus. Scott Ritchie

Zander is a goose who has decided that he isn’t going to fly south for the winter and with this decision he is forced to learn how to survive the harsh winter climate. Encounters with bears, squirrels and bats provide some suggestions but Zander will have to learn on his  teach him to survive the cold and the snow. 



Second Story Press publishes literature that is centred on issues of diversity, equity and social justice. Two recent picture book publications are wonderful examples of stories that celebrate multiculturalism and belonging.   

EVERYONE IS WELCOME by Phuong Truong; illus. Christine Wein (2023)

I strongly believe that children’s literature can offer students significant insights into hate and discrimination. Everyone is Welcome is a story of an 8 year old girl (almost 9) who learns stories about her mother who was taunted with anti-asian racial slurs (“Ching chong”) when she was younger and a friend of her grandmother’s, Mrs. Lee,  who was  under attack and pushed onto the road. The girl’s brother has joined the Asian Student Association designed to bring Asians together but also have a goal to help accompany other who feel cared to walk to school. Finally, one of the girl’s friends tells her that he is forbidden to play with her any more since everything that’s happened in the world is the fault of Asians. This is an honest and brave story of Anti-Asian racism. Kudos to author Phuong Truong for a rich story that is centred on community, compassion and caring. This is a absolutely a worthy contribution to titles that invite readers to think about inclusion, where everyone is welcome. Note: Christine Wei’s   colourful illustrations not only compliment the verbal text but present a window and mirror into Asian culture. 

 PHOENIX GETS GREATER by Marty Wilson-Trudeau with Phoenix Wilson; illus. Megan Kyak Monteith (2022)

Phoenix knows that he is different from other boys. He loves pretty fabrics, playing with dolls and dancing around the house – especially shawl dancing like a beautiful butterfly. Although he is taunted by others, his mother and brother are proud of him and give him love and support as Phoenix works towards acceptance of who he is as he learns about Two Spirit/ Niizh Manidoowag people in Anishinaabe culture.  The book is based on the childhood experiences that the author and her son experienced.  This is a very special picture book to bring understanding of Gender identity especially of Indigenous and/or queer youth. It is a very special picture book about acceptance and love.