Winter Books for Readers of All Ages from the OPL!

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their new books for children with us. This month’s post is by Andrea Gowing from the Centennial branch of the Ottawa Public Library.


Winter:  A Bright Baby touch and feel book.

This board book has lovely textured pages full of fun pictures of winter’s magic.  We find a plump happy snowman, a sparkling snowflake, a winter forest and more!  A lovely first winter concept book for little hands.

Hello Winter!  By Shelley Rotner.  A lovely introduction to our coldest season using vibrant photography that speaks of the joys of winter. Children dressed in bright, warm winter clothing show us how to have fun in the snow.  Aspects of the natural world in winter are explored including how animals cope in the cold.  Short sentences and simple text make this a perfect read aloud for children ages 4+.

Mice Skating By Annie Silvestro.  Lucy is not like other field mice!  She does not want to stay all burrowed down in winter.  She loves wearing her “fluffy wool hat with the pink pom-pom on top,” and the feel of the snow crunching under her paws.  She cannot convince her friends to come outside with her, so she goes alone and discovers the thrill of skating.  Eventually Lucy outfits her friends with warm hats and skates, and they too, discover the joys of winter outside.  This is such a sweet book with perfect mousie illustrations.  Curl up with your little mouse and enjoy.  Adults will groan at the ‘cheesy’ puns! 

Winterhouse By Ben Guterson.   The first book in a trilogy for Middle-grade readers, this story is set in a hotel full of secrets!  Eleven year old Elizabeth is shipped off to Winterhouse hotel "…in the middle of nowhere during Christmas with no money and hardly any clothes," by her not so loving aunt and uncle.   Lucy’s new friend, 11-year-old Freddy, who loves puzzles and anagrams as much as she does, helps her solve a long-standing mystery.  A great story for mystery lovers.

The Boy Who Went Magic by A.P. Winter.  While not exactly a winter-themed book, this one is written by A.P. Winter!   Magic has been banned, but is it really gone?  Bert and Finn set out on an adventure to find it.  Airships, fights, adventure, gadgets, and of course magic. This is a fast moving magical tale best described as steampunk meets Harry Potter.  A fast paced, ‘can’t put it down’ adventure that will appeal to Harry Potter and Artimus Fowl fans!

Family Fun at Room Escape Ottawa

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Two years ago,  I didn’t understand all the buzz about escape rooms.  The concept of locking yourself up in a room and having to escape within a certain time seemed crazy to me.

My perspective totally changed when we recently tried an escape room in Kingston, Ontario. Our family had a great time searching for clues and working together. It left us wanting to find an escape room closer to home in Ottawa.

We checked online and found one close to our house that looked like fun,  Room Escape Ottawa. There were five different rooms to choose from with three being listed as youth-friendly. Despite our son, David’s, protests to try the scariest room, we all settled on Boom Room. The description listed the room as being a rigged enemy bunker that was timed to explode with only sixty minutes to escape. Our house has a similar feel in the morning to get everyone up and out the door on time so I thought our chances were good.

We arrived at Room Escape on Bank Street and found out it was in the same facility and business as Archery Games Ottawa. I wondered if perhaps we did not finish the room on time, we might have to do archery games without a bow and arrow!

We were greeted by our escape room host who went over some of the procedures and gave us the scenario. We entered the room and quickly got to work. The room was dimly lit except for a red emergency light giving the space the feel of a World War II bunker. It was authentically decorated with camouflage and other military paraphernalia.

Room Escape Ottawa

We were also provided with a walkie-talkie where we could request assistance. Clues were provided either via a television or our host would come in to assist. I thought this was a great feature especially for those with younger kids as it could be frustrating to be stuck on one puzzle for too long.   

I do not want to give away too much of the escape room in case you try it, but let’s just say there were many different elements including cracking codes, interpreting a board game and diffusing bombs. Ultimately, we did not make it all the way out of the room but got very close.

This experience is a great way to teach problem-solving skills, working together and generally just having a great time.   

Room Escape Ottawa has two other rooms which are suggested for the younger set. Stranded explores being stuck on an alien planet while another De-Composed is listed as being Canada’s first multiplayer virtual reality escape room.

We will certainly be back to Room Escape Ottawa whether to try out another escape room or archery games.  I still don’t think anyone from their staff could escape our house as quickly as we do on a Monday morning!    

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.

A day trip to Prehistoric World

KITC would like to welcome Naomi Bianca to the blog. Naomi Bianca is the proud mom of Jax who is 3 1/2 and his little brother Hudson who is 17 months. The below post was originally posted on Naomi's blog. Check it out here. 


Just a 90 minute drive from Ottawa, Prehistoric World is a little gem in the country located near Morrisburg, Ontario. A magical land of full size dinosaur replicas throughout a beautiful 1 km wooded nature walk. A true site to be seen, these huge dinosaur replicas are all handmade by the owners who live right on site. Originally built as a hobby, it was turned into a tourist attraction for thousands of visitors to enjoy every year. We couldn’t wait to see it!

Jax and Hudson were super excited to see all the dinosaurs and when we got there, they literally couldn’t contain their excitement as they ran with their friends from dinosaur to dinosaur. Each and every one had a sign to explain what species it was and give more information.

Hudson was too funny, pointing and roaring throughout the trails.  Check out the video on my instagram (@naomibianca613).

It was another beautiful summer day, and we were all sweating as we ran around exploring the site. No problem if you miss anything because you can walk the path as many times as you like! The kids (and parents) were all so excited, it’s almost like Jurassic Park! Once you complete the nature walk, there is a good-sized sand pit where you can dig for fossils… how perfect for the kids to explore… and we spent a good hour there playing and digging around.

Prehistoric World Ontario

On our way out we spoke to one of the owners and the kids were fascinated when they found out that he was the man that actually built all those replicas with his own hands. You just had to have seen their faces! I HIGHLY recommend visiting this little attraction. We will probably go back once more this summer but it’s for sure a once a year thing at the very least.

They are open from late May to Labour Day in September, from 10 am to 4 pm and accept last visitors at 3:15 pm. Very important to note is that they only accept cash. The entrance fee is $10 for adults and $4 for children, free for kids 4 and under. It’s kind of nice that they are old school, hence cash and no website. But if you want to learn more, here is a link to their online brochure:

http://www.westislandkids.com/pdf/Prehistoric-World-Brochure.pdf

Handy tips: Bring bug spray since you’re walking through a wooded area and there are most definitely mosquitoes. If you happen to forget, no problem, they have some to purchase. There is also no food to purchase on site but lots of picnic tables for you to bring your own lunches. About 5 minutes down the road, there is an ice cream stand that sells food.

Have you guys ever heard of Prehistoric World? Funny to note, I went when I was a kid and not since, but so fun to live it all over again with my kids! Any questions about anything let me know. Also, anything you want me to cover or visit, let me know! We’re always on the hunt for our next adventure!