OPL Staff Picks - Favourite Children's Picture Books 2018

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their new books for children with us. This month’s post is by Xiao Feng Xing, Librarian, Youth Collections at the Ottawa Public Library.

This selection is from her reading and reviews of new picture books published in 2018. We hope you will enjoy reading them!

They Say Blue, by Jillian Tamaki

They Say Blue was written and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki who is best known for her graphic novel This One Summer. This is her first picture book, but she’s already received two important awards – the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and a Governor General’s Award, as well as numerous starred reviews. The two illustrations below are examples of her powerful and creative style. This book about a young girl who contemplates colours in the world is a true gem.

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Hello Lighthouse, by Sophie Blackall

Ms. Blackall is the winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal for illustrating Finding Winnie. The illustrations in this book are outstanding. One of them shows a realistic cutaway interior of a lighthouse, letting us see what it would be like to live inside a lighthouse.

In just 32 pages, the book highlights important moments of the life of a lighthouse keeper in a remote location. “On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse. It is built to last forever. Sending its light out to sea, guiding the ships on their way. From dusk to dawn, the lighthouse beams.”

This is a saga to celebrate the lighthouse keeper’s selfless devotion to saving lives and protecting ships at sea. It’s a sad story too since we learn that his job is eventually replaced by a machine.

The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld

When the amazing blocks that Taylor had just built up were smashed down by a flock of birds, he was very sad. The animals came over to him one by one, each thinking that they knew how to help, but none of their suggestions impressed Taylor. And so they all left. Then a rabbit came by and sat quietly beside Taylor; he didn’t try to fix the problem or offer solutions – just listened. After sharing his feelings with the rabbit, Taylor was happy again. It’s such a simple and cute story but it teaches kids, and maybe even some adults, a big life lesson. 

Night Job, by Karen Hesse

This story about a father and son bonding is very touching. A boy helps his dad who has a job on the night shift as a school custodian. Even though life can be difficult, as long as he can be with his dad, the boy feels happy.

They eat dinner together while at work, and after they come home, “I climb up beside dad and soon we are drifting away together…” Life is hard but it is sweet to stay together with dad.

The powerful illustrations will help kids build up empathy and understanding for a life situation that shows that not every family has a worry-free life.

The Rough Patch, by Brian Lies

Evan, the farmer’s fox and his pet dog loved to do things together. What they loved the most was working in Evan’s magnificent garden. But one day Evan’s dog died. Evan was heartbroken and stopped caring about the garden because he no longer had any desire to look after anything.

In time his garden turned wild. One morning, Evan spotted a pumpkin vine sneaking under the fence. So he let it be. Eventually, he brought his giant pumpkin to the fair. It felt good to be out again, even if it wasn’t quite the same as before. He won third prize in the pumpkin competition and claimed his prize. From inside the box, he heard a scrabbling sound…. The last illustration in the book shows Evan driving home with a small dog.

The lovely illustrations and the touching story will show kids how to overcome a rough patch, that very sad feeling that comes when they lose a pet or a loved one, and that life continues.

The Day War Came, by Nicola Davies

This is one of the most powerful books that I have read dealing with children refugees.

A young girl’s peaceful, normal life is turned upside down when war comes to her town. She becomes a refugee and is forced to roam all by herself. She finds a school and attempts to enter the classroom but a teacher won’t let her in. “There’s no room for you, you see. There is no chair for you to sit on”. Then comes a happy and touching moment when a young boy and his classmates all bring their chairs for the young girl. The last illustration shows the kids hand-in-hand walking together on a road lined with chairs.

This book will open a window for kids learning about the plight of children refugees and teach them empathy and kindness.

THANK YOU, OMU! by Oge Mora

This is a heart-warming story about kindness and sharing. It’s a perfect match for the holiday season.

“Omu” is the lgbo term for “queen”. Omu has cooked a delicious stew. The smell brings all the people one-by-one to knock on her door. Omu offers each of them a portion of her meal and pretty soon the pot is empty. As she’s sitting at the table with her empty pot, she hears someone knock at the door. All the people who received food from her are now coming back, one by one, bringing food to her. Omu’s heart is full of happiness and love.

Africville, by Shauntay Grant

I’m so glad to see this wonderful book about Africville as there aren’t enough books about the Canadian black community.

This book uses a girl’s imagination to replay the happy life the black community enjoyed in their old home of Africville.

The author provides a note at the end of the book that details the sad and dark history of Africville and the tragic injustice and racial discrimination that took place.

That’s Not Hockey, by Andrée Poulin

It’s only common sense to wear a helmet and a face mask when playing hockey. But did you know that not that many years ago, hockey players and even goalies, didn’t wear any facial protection when they played?  This book is a true story about the goalie Jacques Plante and how he grew up as a kid from a poor family to become one of the greatest goalies of all time and play for the Montreal Canadians. He changed the history of hockey with his courage and determination to be the first to wear a mask while playing the game.

Henry and the Yeti, by Russell Ayto

A little boy makes up his mind to find Yeti. Everyone laughs at him and his school principal tells him to remember to bring evidence if he does find Yeti.

The little boy overcomes a lot of difficulties to find Yeti, and he takes pictures too. But when he comes back to school to let everyone know what he found, he can’t show them his evidence because he lost his camera. Everyone laughs at him again, and nobody except his own father believes him. You can imagine the surprise then when Yeti comes to visit the little boy’s school. This is a heartwarming and witty story about believing in yourself.

Grace for Gus, by Harry Bliss

This is a near wordless graphic novel-style picture book.

It’s a hero story about a little girl named Grace who sneaks from her bedroom to go to the subway station to play the violin, draw caricatures in the park, and finally to perform acrobatics in the subway car. She raises a lot of money and the next day secretly puts it all in the jar for the classroom pet hamster fund.

If you want to read more wonderful picture books, please click here.

Library Recommended Kids’ Books For Remembrance Day

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their new fall books for children with us. This month’s post is by Kristina Roudiy, Children's Program & Public Service Assistant at the Alta Vista branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Remembrance Day is an important event for Canadians of all ages. It is also an ideal opportunity to have thoughtful discussions with kids, not only about the sacrifices made by others, but also about conflict, war and peace. To help get the discussion started, take a look at the following books that can be found at the Ottawa Public Library. Simply click on the book title for more information about each book.

Picture book: Proud as a peacock, brave as a lion

For ages 5+. In this picture book, a young boy asks his grandfather questions when he sees him getting ready for Remembrance Day. The grandfather explains why he fought in World War II, using animal idioms to describe how he felt or acted. A lovely story to read with younger children.

Non-fiction picture book: A bear in war

For ages 6-8. Aileen, 10 years old, sent her teddy bear to her father, who was serving as a medic in Belgium during World War I. Teddy followed the father everywhere, and was with him also when he died on the battleground.

In the sequel to that book, Bear on the homefront, Aileen is now a nurse serving on the homefront during World War II, and this time Teddy keeps company to some British children sent away from the war zone and travelling by train to their host families.

These are based on true stories, and you can see that toy bear at the War Museum in Ottawa!

Non-fiction picture book: Rags, hero dog of World War I

For ages 6-9. This book will appeal to dog lovers as well as elementary school students interested in the history of World War I. It tells the story of Rags, a dog who was found in the streets of Paris by an American soldier, and who ended up following him into the trenches and serving as a messenger. 

Non fiction book: Dazzle ships : World War I and the art of confusion

For ages 7-11. During World War I, British warships were routinely targeted by the Germans, which threatened to cause starvation in the UK. An artist called Norman Wilkinson came up with the brilliant idea of painting the ships with wild designs and uneven patterns, thus confusing the periscopes and the most experienced sailors. The illustrations soften the wartime theme, while the text provides historical facts and emphasizes the role that artists & women played in the war.

Special picture book: The eleventh hour / Jules et Jim

For ages 7-10. This is the story of Jules and Jim, childhood friends who end up serving together in World War I. Cartoonist Goldstyn uses gentle comics to tell the moving story of the very last Canadian soldier to die in World War I, at 10:58 am on November 11th. This book also covers the theme of friendship, being different, and going at a different pace than other children. This is a new book that is available in both English and French (so a great read for French immersion families!)

Novel : Winnie's great war

For ages 8-12. A follow-up to award-winner picture book Finding Winnie. Did you know that Winnie the Pooh was originally Winnipeg, a Canadian bear adopted by Captain Colebourn and the unofficial mascot of the infantry brigade? The bear then travelled overseas, all the way to the London Zoo, where he met Christopher Robin Milne. This story will appeal to animal lovers as well as those interested in good historical descriptions.

Graphic novel : Where beagles dare

Did you know that the comic strip Peanuts has been one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium, and that it has been translated into 21 different languages in 75 countries?

In this book, Snoopy is recruited for a World War I top-secret mission while on holiday in France.  

Silver Birch Award : The Vimy Oaks : a journey of peace

For ages 7-12. This is the story of Lieutenant Leslie H.Miller, a Canadian soldier, who picked up a handful of acorns and mailed them home. Over the following one hundred years, those acorns became majestic oaks on the Miller’s family farm in Ontario. In April 2017, seedlings from these oaks were repatriated to Vimy Ridge - as a living legacy of hope, remembrance and renewal.   

Non fiction book: Spies of World War I; an interactive history adventure

For ages 9-12. This is a “choose your own adventure” book, which uses real facts from World War I espionage. It offers 43 choices and 21 different endings! Contains interesting black & white photos.

Thriller novel: The Button War: a Tale of the Great War

For ages 10-14. This story takes place in a Polish village during World War I. One night, the Germans drop a bomb on the local school, making it real that war has come to the village. Jurek, a 12-year old boy, dares his friends to steal the shiniest and most intricately designed military button, to become “king”. The game turns deadly… Told from another boy’s perspective, the novel captures the way that war can forever alter a child’s sense of morality and security in the world.

New Books at the Ottawa Public Library

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their new fall books for children with us. This month’s post is by Ann-Marie Miller, Supervising Librarian, Children’s Dept., Ruth E. Dickinson Library.

A Home in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

A Home in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

This is a new release from the much-loved author of Goodnight Moon and many more well-known picture books.  The text begins and ends with a memorable rhyme and the story takes us through a day in the cozy barn while the winter wind rattles outside.  Pinkney’s illustrations here are scrumptious, as always.

Take Your Turn and Time to Share by Nancy Parent; illustrated by Luigi Aimé

In large format suitable for the 3-5 year old crowd, the classic stories by Rev. Awdry are adapted in a new series: Thomas & Friends Really Useful Stories.  The stories focus on those gentle life lessons which all children must learn. 

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How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? By Jane Yolen

How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? By Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mark Teague

This is the new entry in the entertaining How Do Dinosaurs… series.  With big, bold, mischievous dinosaurs romping through every page and rhyming text  printed  in big well-spaced fonts, this one is sure to engage.  The end pieces provide tips for parents on teaching the alphabet and encouraging reading. 

The Bunny Band

The Bunny Band by Bill Richardson; illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff

A bunny caught looting badger’s garden promises to help the garden grow if he is released.  The bunny returns nightly after that with his bunny band to serenade the garden.  Magically, the harvest is grand and all share in the abundance.  A wonderful fable, well-told in rhyming text 

Where is robin

Where is Robin? by Maggie Testa; illustrated by Patrick Spaziante

This is an early reader that is sure to appeal to even the most reluctant beginner.  The story of Robin’s disappearance is told in only 100 words making it an excellent choice for starting your child’s lifelong reading adventures. 


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Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth by Mo Willems

The creator of Elephant & Piggie, now gives us Unlimited Squirrels.  In I Lost My Tooth! , Zoom Squirrel has lost a front tooth! The Squirrels leap into action when they discover the missing tooth is a baby tooth! The book features a funny, furry adventure, bonus jokes, quirky quizzes and nutty facts. Great for the grade 1 crowd.

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Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi; illustrated by Hatem Aly

This is the first in a series of early readers featuring Yasmin Ahmad. Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers. 

Bear country: Bearly a Misadventure by Doreen Cronin

Bear country: Bearly a Misadventure by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

The chicken squad is hungry but the caretaker who feeds them is missing and there is a bear in the neighbourhood.  Doreen Cronin provides another amusing adventure for second graders.  The large fonts and many illustrations make this an easily accessible first novel. 

Magic School bus rides Again: Sink or Swim by Judy Katschke

Magic School bus rides Again: Sink or Swim by Judy Katschke

The Magic School Bus Rides Again with new chapter books for the grade 2-3 crowd to explore.  Here science facts are wrapped up in just the right amount of adventure to keep those new readers engaged.  In Sink or Swim Ms. Frizzle takes the bus under the sea and the class is sent off in their own mini-subs to explore. Will there be sharks? 

Babymouse Tales from the Locker: Lights, Camera, Middle School!

Babymouse Tales from the Locker: Lights, Camera, Middle School! By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Babymouse is back in a new series, Tales from the Locker.   The new series is in the very popular illustrated novel format.  This gives you a chance to transition your graphic novel reader to a more text-rich format while still providing plenty of visual appeal.   In this first story, Babymouse joins the middle school film club with hopes of directing a masterpiece.

Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World
by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone; illustrated by Nicholas Iluzada

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Jack and the Geniuses is a new series from Bill Nye, yes - the Science Guy.  In At the Bottom of the World, Jack and the geniuses, who are two foster children living with Jack’s family, take off to Antarctica with their neighbour, Dr. Hank, for a science competition.  When an old colleague of Dr. Hank’s goes missing on the ice, the intrigue and adventure begins.  Bill Nye makes sure that all scientific facts are accurate and there is more information about the Antarctic at the end of the book.

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Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

This is the story of an ink blot that leaps off the page. The Rylance family is stuck. Dad's got writer's block. Ethan is troubled by a school project and Sarah pines for a puppy. One night the ink from Mr. Rylance’s drawings runs together--and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything. Kenneth Oppel is the much acclaimed author of Firewing, Sunwing and Silverwing as well as many other prizewinning novels.  Suitable for grade 4 or 5 students.

Chase: Get Ready to Run and Escape: Don’t Stop Running  by Linwood Barclay

Once your child has read Chase, they will be asking for Escape just to find out what happens to Chipper and Jeff.  Chipper is a dog that has been implanted with a computer and Jeff is the orphan son of the scientists working on the project.  Both are being chased by The Institute for the secrets they know.  Jeff and Chipper both know they will never be safe if they are captured.  Linwood Barclay is a well-known author of adult adventure.  Suitable for grade 6 to 8 students.

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Back to School: French immersion reading recommendations

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite French immersion books for children with us. This month’s post is by Catherine Malboeuf Children Librarian, at the Ottawa Public Library.

Back to School: French immersion reading recommendations

September is back to school month, and for many kids across Ottawa this means the start or continuation of French immersion classes. To help ease everyone ease in, here are some great French books that would make a good read for immersion students of all ages. 

Histoires de lire, Éditions FonFon

This attractive collection is geared toward kids just learning to read and will also be perfect for early immersion students. Written by veterans’ children authors from Quebec, each book contains about 140 words, short sentences and a repetitive narrative. The stories are funny and well written, and complemented by Jimmy Beaulieu’s mischievous illustrations.  

J’aime lire (periodical)
Mes premiers j’aime lire (periodical)

The magazine « J’aime lire », geared toward children 7-10 years old has been around since 1977. Each issue of the magazine contains a short novel divided in chapters, with  comics,, games, and more. For younger kids, “Mes premiers j’aime lire” offers “a novel to read like a big kid”, plus  games, comics and a code to download an audio version of the story as a read-along.

Mini-Syros Soon

This collection from French editor Syros offers an introduction to science fiction for kids ages 8 and up. Although they are not necessarily geared toward immersion students, these short novels (around 100 pages, in a small format) offer interesting stories from some well-liked French science fiction and fantasy writers and  can be used well into into high school. 

Oser lire : Scène de crime/cœur de perdrix/5 cadavres

A new collection from publisher Bayard Canada, « Oser lire » offers two versions of the same story in one book. The first is short, light on description, and goes straight  to the heart of the plot, but leaves much unsaid. The second is longer, offering more detail to understand the intricacies of the story. This collection is geared toward reluctant teen readers, with the intent that the shorter version of the story will make them curious enough to read the longer one. They can also be quite useful for older immersion students, including teens and adults.

Summer Vacation Reads from the Ottawa Public Library

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite books for children with us. This month’s post is by Kristina Roudiy, Children’s Program Assistant at the Ottawa Public Library.

Clicking on the title will hyperlink you to the OPL Catalogue page where you can see if the book is available at your local branch, or you can put it on hold and then pick it up at your home branch when it is ready for you!

Picture book : And then Then comes Comes Summer / Tom Brenner 

For the whole family. This picture book, with colourful acrylic paint illustrations and great vocabulary, is a celebration of the Summer summer season and of all its outdoor fun : biking, trips to the lake, ice cream treats, games of hide-and-seek, lemonade stand, bugs, fireworks, and more!

 

Picture book : How to code a sandcastle / Josh Funk

For ages 4-6. Pearl is spending her Summer summer at the beach. Her attempts to build a sandcastle have, so far, been unsuccessful, so she decides to involve her robot Pascal, giving him step-by-step instructions. Unfortunately, the incoming tide gets in the way of their perfect castle... but all the better chance for the pair to repeat the sequences and to end up building a whole kingdom instead! A smart introduction to coding and programming basics, through a funny story.

Chapter book : Amelia Bedelia Makes a Splash / Herman Parish

For ages 6-9. In this 11th book in the series, Amelia finds herself attending an all-girls camp that her mother also used to go to. Even though the camp is old-fashioned and can't compete with the computer camp that her cousin Jason is attending on the other side of the lake, Amelia is determined to have a good time. She will take on the challenge of swimming in freezing water and learn survival skills! Amelia Bedelia's adventures will surely appeal to fans of "Judy Moody" and "Ivy & Bean.".

 

Graphic novel : Mighty Jack / Ben Hatke

For ages 9-12. This is volume 1... theThe sequel is called "Mighty Jack and the Goblin King." In this modern-day reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk,", Jack is the oldest child of a divorced single mom doing her best to keep the family fed. Contrary to most children, Jack does not look forward to Summer summertime, because that's when he has to look after his autistic sister, Maddy, while their mother juggles two jobs. Maddy never speaks...that is, until the day they visit a flea market and she insists on buying some mysterious seeds. What starts as a normal garden behind the house quickly grows into a wild, magical jungle with biting pumpkins and... a dragon! Soon, Jack has to involve their home-schooled neighbour Lilly, whose sword-wielding hobby might come in handy.

Chapter book : Dingus / Andrew Larson

For middle-grade readers. Soon-to-be-6th-grader Henry lives with his stay-at-home father and his toddler brother Sam. When school ends, Henry's best friend Max goes away to chess camp, while Henry stays home for a "staycation.". Henry thinks his Summer summer vacation will be quite boring, until he finds out that he gets to dog-sit his grandfather's dog daily. But will Henry manage not to make a fool (or dingus) of himself? A believable story about growing up and becoming responsible... a fun Summer summer read.

Graphic novel : The Time Museum / Matthew Loux

For ages 10-13. In this graphic novel packed with time-travel adventures and goofiness, we meet Delia Bean, a girl who loves science and history. When Uncle Lyndon invites Delia's family over for a Summer summer visit, she discovers that he's actually a curator at the Earth Time Museum and that she could apply for a prestigious Summer job there if she wins the internship competition. Little does she know that she will get to meet to young people from all of human history, including a girl from 23rd-century Japan and a boy from the Roman era, and will have to defend the Time Museum itself!