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Taking risks as a boy, she thinks, would be easier than as a girl. For now, she is not a risk-taker. Then, twelve-year-old Jolene discovers her grandfather knows a way to travel back in time. Her father is trying to create a museum of disasters, and a trip to the Alberta town of Frank on the eve of the Frank Slide proves an opportunity for adventure. In a strange sequence of events and complex pattern of character behaviours, Joelene shows readers she is a risk-taker after all. Readers will also enjoy other engaging titles by Beveridge.
This collection of poems, now in its third edition, contains poems by several Canadian authors. The poems offer a wide representation of Canada, its people, and places. Simple black and white sketches accompany most poems. Author notes include brief biographies of poets.
Margaret’s determination to learn how to read matters more to her than anything else. It's the reason she endures the unkind nun’s treatment of her in this northern residential school. What bothers Margaret more is being taunted by the other students. But when Raven, the unkind nun, forces her to wear bright red stockings, while all the other little girls wear grey, she objects. Luckily for her, another kinder nun who she refers to as Swan, stands up for her. Margaret is then able to confront the Raven and in her own way, teach the nun a lesson in human dignity. The text is enriched by Margaret’s personal photos and informational footnotes. The final chapter provides an historical account of residential schools, giving readers the context many will need to truly appreciate Margaret’s plight. Readers wanting to know more about Margaret’s school experience and her return to her northern home on Banks Island will enjoy A Stranger at Home by the same author team.
Gubby is a salmon fisherman who lives in a small village on the west coast of British Columbia with his family and trusty cat, Puss. His boat, the Flounder, takes Gubby and Puss up the coast through Georgia Strait, through Queen Charlotte Straight, past Port Hardy, and out onto the open ocean. They are heading to Quatsino Sound for great fishing, expecting to catch Coho and spring salmon. Wild storms and fog don’t make the journey easy, and readers will be fascinated by the pod of orcas and sleeping shark they encounter. Kent and LaFave (illustrator) tell an adventure story, but at the same time present a vision of coastal life unfamiliar to many young Canadian readers. The graphic novel format and elements of humour will hold particular appeal for some readers (graphic text, 48 p)..
Shawn Mahoney and Tony Steeves, both ten, and Shawn's younger brother, Craig, eight, are trapped on an ice floe and speeding down Chocolate River. They are quickly spotted by a passerby, who calls 911 and sets the police and fire departments in motion. What ensues is a complicated and dangerous rescue mission. The water is moving fast, and it will be terribly difficult to intercept the boys at the right point on the river. If they float all the way out to sea, they could be lost forever (Novel, 112 p.) .
Fiction. Young Adult Novel. What happens when a fearless young explorer teams up with a junkyard genius and builds a submarine? Going to sea with an unusual crew, a strangely intelligent seagull with attitude and a dog that nobody wanted, Alfred unwittingly becomes the "Submarine Outlaw" and discovers that the sea is a busy place. Escaping from the coastguard when he is mistaken for a Russian spy sub, rescuing a family on a sailboat in a storm, and running from thieves who are after the gold coins he has raised from the floor of the Louisburg harbor, Alfred learns that a modern explorer must keep his wits about him as he sails on the high seas, or beneath them. First prize winner in the Atlantic Writers Competition (novel, 254 pages).
A game of pond hockey is interrupted when the puck goes missing down an ice-fishing hole. Will this be the end of this particular game of Canada’s national sport? Owen and Holly’s father, who has been playing with them, has a solution. The rest of the game can be played with a prairie hockey puck. Many young readers, boys and girls alike, will easily identify with this story of a rural approach to hockey (picture book, 28 p).
An important piece of Canada’s longstanding story of immigration is brought to life through this illustrated text. Pier 21, sometimes referred to as “gateway to freedom”, accepted over one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. For families seeking safety and new beginnings, Pier 21 in Halifax was their port of entry. Readers are introduced to Mariette, a young Jewish orphan, and Jamie, both of whom were sent to Canada as children. Others introduced include Luigi and his family, who are seeking employment after the war, and Maryke and her family, who are seeking land to farm. Pier 21 offers an excellent introduction to the concept of Canada as a multicultural nation with a history of immigration (illustrated non-fiction, 82 p.).
(Novel in verse, 272 p.) Short sequences of free verse relay a refugee’s initial experiences in a new land. Kek is from Sudan, separated from his mother and burdened with memories of seeing his father and brother killed. The focus of his verse is on his new experiences in America, and readers view North American culture through his eyes. His diverse fifth-grade ESL classroom brings him friends and acceptance, though he also learns about the sting of racism. Central to the rapidly-moving narrative is his new job, looking after a cow, which connects him to his father’s role as a herdsman in Sudan. Even students who resist novels in verse may quickly be drawn into the brisk narrative, a welcome and memorable taste of both the immigrant and refugee experience.
This moving historical fiction tale is set in Buxton, a small Ontario community that began as a settlement of freed and escaped slaves during the dark days of slavery in the United States. Elijah (portrayed at age 11) was the first child born in the new settlement. The residents work hard, value respect and manners, and look to the future with hope even as they live with the daily reality that slavery still exists just across the border. Elijah encounters those evils first-hand when he makes the dangerous journey to Detroit to help a friend’s family. The discovery of re-captured slaves in a barn is wrenching, and his horror at their condition quickly spurs him to help. Readers may find the vernacular challenging at first, but the historical setting and its connection to Canada is vivid. Despite the gravity of the subject and the unsettling reminders of the violence and deplorable conditions endured by slaves, Elijah is a bright, likeable character and his daily life in Buxton shines with the light of family, community, and freedom.
The letters of two pen pals tell the story of very different lives in this warm, thought-provoking novel. Meena, a recent immigrant from India, writes from New York City. River is from rural Kentucky. The pre-teens share details of their daily lives as well as family struggles such as unemployment, loss of a grandparent, and experiences of prejudice. Their voices are honest and even humourous, despite the gravity of some of the issues. The common ground they find despite their different backgrounds will resonate with readers.
The energy and style of this distinctly American art form are conveyed through bold, stylized illustrations and a series of short poems. The history of Jazz and its major contributors are the focus of the book, but the rhythmic language and art are an effective tribute to its unique sound. Written by the father-son team who wrote Looking Like Me, this selection may hold special appeal to fans of the illustrator’s distinct art and those interested in music.
Appealing characters and a rural Georgia setting sparkle in this realistic adventure. Owen, a likeable troublemaker, draws readers in with details about the beautiful bullfrog he has just captured. His attention soon shifts to a mysterious object that has fallen off a train. It turns out to be a two-person submarine, and Owen and his friends scheme to take it for a spin. Nosey neighbor, Viola complicates their plan to keep the submarine hidden, and they reluctantly include her in their plans. The resulting escapades are full of humour, action, and the sometimes-complicated path to friendship.
A small town in North Carolina comes alive in this rich blend of realistic fiction and mystery. As a baby, Mo LoBeau was rescued from the stream after she was washed into town by a hurricane. This spunky character is completely at home in the colourful café owned by her rescuer, but she regularly attempts to find her mother by launching notes in bottles. She is also preoccupied by her guardian’s amnesia, wondering who he was before he lost his memory. To this already intriguing mix is added a murder investigation, when an unlikeable café customer turns up dead. Numerous plot twists will propel readers forward, and the hilarious Mo LoBeau will be a perfect companion. The arrival of a hurricane also strengthens the regional flavour. Despite being a light-hearted, fun story, the author manages to weave in serious issues. References to abusive situations, alcoholism and underage drinking add realistic depth to the portrayal of minor characters, without changing the overall light tone of the novel. Avid readers who enjoy realistic fiction will be most interested in this story.
Further Reading: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands
A Movie in My Pillow / Una Pelicula en Mi Almohada by Jorge Argueta; Elizabeth Gomez (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2001-01-24
(Poetry, 32 pages) Half a million Salvadorians, including poet Jose Argueta, fled to the United States during their country’s violent civil war in the 1980’s. A Movie in My Pillow is a collection of poems featuring a young Salvadorian boy in San Francisco as he describes his new city life. His experiences are peppered with recollections of El Salvador and the spare verse varies in tone. Light-hearted experiences of childhood sing from the page, but sadness colours thoughts of family left behind. The bold illustrations with their often humourous, literal interpretations will keep readers turning the pages. The poetry itself is highly accessible, and a perfect choice for encouraging students to explore this genre on their own. Note that this title is also available for projection through the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL).
Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango; Fabricio VandenBroeck (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2011-07-01
Young Marisol narrates a series of poems about the people who come to her father’s shop. Each is looking for a particular kind of Latin music, and shares special memories about the samba, bossa nova, tango, and other dances. Illustrations accompany the simple verse, and the effect is a glowing celebration of family, community, history, and music. Readers will gain a greater appreciation for the diversity of Latin America and the rich tradition of Latin American music.
La Llorona - The Weeping Woman by Joe Hayes; Vicki Trego Hill (Illustrator); Mona Pennypacker (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2004-09-01
This haunting ghost story is a well-known Mexican tale, and any student with Mexican heritage will likely know it. A beautiful villager plots to marry a wealthy Ranchero, but after some time her shallowness becomes apparent and he speaks about casting her aside. In a fit of anger she throws her children into the river, then realizes she can’t save them. She is found dead from her grief the following morning, and is said to still haunt the river, taking any children who happen to come too close. The dark illustrations will captivate students, and the creepy tale will stay with them.
(Narrative non-fiction, 48 p.) In 2000, twenty members of a Los Angeles youth theatre group were invited to Cuba to participate in a drama project with a Cuban group. The youth spent several weeks together, exploring the mountains, seaside and countryside of the island country. At the end of their visit, they presented a play. Angie was one of the American visitors, and sections of the text include her narrative. She describes the daily life of her Cuban hosts, adventures in and around the city, and her growing friendship with a Cuban girl. The photographs of children interacting and collaborating shine, and the text is highly readable.
(Novel, 240 p.) Naomi is part Mexican, and lives with her grandmother in California. When her unreliable, alcoholic mother arrives to visit, it soon becomes clear that she intends to take Naomi to live with her. So begins a whirlwind trip to stop the attempt by finding Naomi’s father, from whom her mother divorced. Naomi, her grandmother, and several others travel to the Oaxaca province of Mexico, where they search for and eventually find Naomi’s father. Naomi’s voice is clear and honest, and the search for her father also becomes a search for her own identity and greater understanding of her Mexican heritage. The scenery, people and traditions of Oaxaca are woven into the narrative, making this novel a rich reading experience for older readers.
A descriptive visit to the rainforest by a mother and her son becomes a lesson in conservation. She explains that the rainforest became a designated protected area after the fundraising and advocacy efforts of a Swedish second grade class, of which she was a member. Lush paintings are accompanied by engaging side panels that share detailed information about specific rainforest plants and animals. An afterword provides details about Costa Rica’s Children’s Eternal Rainforest and the Swedish class that began an international movement to protect it. Students interested in science will be especially drawn to this title.