Great graphic novel recommendations 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 Lise Dumas, Ottawa Public Library.

May is the month of Free Comic Book Day, the Ottawa Comiccon and best of all the Main Branch of the Library’s first (mini) BiblioCon. Here are some of the recently published graphic novels available at the Ottawa Public Library recommended for 9-12 year olds (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!):

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The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.

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This second book in a planned trilogy, takes place in the Nameless City currently ruled by the Dao clan. The main characters are Kaidu, a young Dao soldier, more interested in books than battles, and Rat, a young orphan and native of the city. The city natives are considered less than human by the Dao conquerors. After Kaidu and Rat foil an assassination attempt on the Dao general at the end of the first book, the Dao general agrees to create a council of representatives from each of the diverse groups living in the city. In The Stone Heart, the reader learns more about the histories of the main characters, there is betrayal, and a war is imminent. This second book of the Stone Heart series sets up the groundwork for an exciting conclusion.

Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence

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Avani Patel is the new kid in school and all is not well. She does not fit in and to make matters worse, her father has signed her up for the local Flower Scout Troupe at which instead of adventure and excitement, all the  girls want to do is put on makeup, gossip and drool over boys. Fortunately for Avani, she is abducted by an enthusiastic blue alien named Mabel, who is working on her Star Scouts "collection badge”. Avani happily spends time in space with Mabel and her troupe. Avani faces many challenges during a week at Camp Andromeda and learns skills such as jet pack racing, teleporting and herding monsters, all while keeping her dad from discovering that she has left planet earth.

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

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11-year-old homeschooler Imogene (Impy) Vega is now set to embark on the great adventure of going to a middle school. She is excited to go but is unprepared for the trials and tribulations of cranky teachers, boys and frenemies, while still trying to understand her own identity. Imogene aspires to become a knight at the Renaissance Faire, where both her parents work. Fans of Raina Telgemeier will also enjoy this book.

If your family enjoys graphic novels and a celebration of all things comic and geek culture, come and join us May 5 and May 6 for free activities at BiblioCon located at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. No registration is required; come in a costume and join the fun!

Children's Books about Spring 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 Andrea Gowing, Centennial Branch, Ottawa Public Library.

Spring is here! Time to dust out the cobwebs, open the windows, and look at our fresh new world! 

Spring facts, baby birds, an April Fools’ mystery and a loveable little fox are sure to keep young readers entertained until they too can get out to play in the spring weather.

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!

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Spectacular Spring: All Kinds of Spring Facts and Fun / Bruce Goldstone

At the end of a long winter, spring brings a new beginning to the world.  Plants start to poke their new selves through the cold ground, and buds begin to pump out on trees.  Sleeping animals awaken again, all around are having babies.  How does spring feel?  What are the sounds of spring? What is the shape of spring?  All these questions are answered in this is a perfect, fact-filled book about spring for all ages.  The photography is spectacular, vivid, and engaging.  Includes a short section of spring crafts!

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Egg / Kevin Henkes

A pink egg, a yellow egg, a blue egg, and a green egg.  Pink egg hatches, yellow egg hatches, blue egg hatches.  What is happening to green egg?  Why is green egg not hatching?  Three little birds wait and wait, finally green egg hatches.  Who is their new friend?   This is a lovely, softly coloured graphic novel for preschoolers from long loved author Kevin Henkes.                  

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April Fools’ Fiasco / Ron Roy

The kids of Green Lawn are back in this A to Z Mysteries 9th Super Edition.  It is April 1st and Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose have been pranked by the local bookstore owner.  Is it a prank?  The bookstore has just been robbed!  Dink and friends are on the case in this mystery for ages 6 plus.  It is a great read a loud first chapter book.  

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Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms / Julia Rawlinson

Singing birds, chasing butterflies, smelling new flowers – Fletcher, the little red fox, loves everything about spring.   As he wanders through the newly green and lush meadow, he sees snow falling in the distance.  Oh no!  A spring snow!  Off he rushes to warn his friends, who all come to see.  It is not snow; it is flower blossoms falling from the tees, covering everything in white!  Children will love how Fletcher’s friends forgive his mistake, and all join in the fun of playing in the blossoms.  This is a lovely book to curl up with and share with a little one.

5 Halloween Books for Young Kids

Halloween doesn’t have to be frightening for young kids. When my daughter was young I remember how afraid she was of going into any store that had larger-than-life Halloween decorations. Luckily, at the age of nine, she now loves Halloween. We recently cleaned out her bookshelf and re-discovered some of her favourite Halloween reads that were a bedtime staple when she was in preschool and kindergarten. So, I thought I would share our love for these 5 Halloween books for young kids (you can click on the title of each book for more information):

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Clifford's Halloween

By Norman Bridwell

Clifford makes Halloween cute. He’s a classic beloved character and this story humorously shows how Clifford loves Halloween and reminds adults of how excited kids get when it comes to showing off their costumes to their friends.

The Spooky Old Tree

By Stan And Jan Berenstain

What’s Halloween without the Berenstain Bears? This book is about exploring a spooky old tree and is short enough to read out loud without losing your voice, and it's fun to do it in a creepy, scary voice – and for your kids to participate too.

Slinky Malinky

By Lynley Dodd

This book isn’t really a Halloween book, but it’s about a sneaky black cat and is a fun read. My daughter received this book years ago from a friend and refuses to part with it. The story is told in fun rhyme. It’s a simple adventure that captivates young minds – especially at Halloween when black cats may otherwise seem scary.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

By Steven Kroll

This book is a classic story about two mice caring for a pumpkin, each without the other's knowledge. The pumpkin ends up growing phenomenally large because of the extra care it receives. It’s a sweet story about how taking care for something can really make a difference – perfect for children who prefer stories that don’t have any ghosts or goblins in them.

Bone Soup

By Cambria Evans

This story may seem scary, but it’s more cute than scary.  It’s a Halloween take on Stone Soup. A cute little skeleton with a very big appetite manages to get all sorts of ghastly ingredients from the ghouls to make a magic "bone soup". His ingredients will have kids laughing and saying “ewwwww!” So, if you have young kids that like to be grossed out – this book is perfect for them.

Do your kids have a favourite Halloween Book? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

Be Who You Are with Todd Parr

If you're not familiar with children's book author and illustrator, Todd Parr then this post will introduce you to a colourful way to educate and entertain young children who love books. Todd has written and published over 30 colourful children's books that teach children about kindness, acceptance and feeling good about themselves.

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I first discovered Todd's books when a friend gave my daughter The Daddy Book as a third birthday gift. Like his other books, this story is told through simple yet colourful illustrations and easy to read and understand sentences. In The Daddy Book he tells the story of different dads, including how some "daddies work at home" and "some daddies work far away." 

All of Todd's books celebrate what makes someone special, whether that person be a parent, a family or a child - including the reader themselves! The books also encourage early literacy, multiculturalism, promote character growth and strengthen friendships and relationships. Every book is cheerful and leaves the reader feeling good about themselves - and who doesn't love that? 

Although my daughter reads chapter books on her own now, she still loves Todd Parr's books and we plan on passing on our love of his books to other young children in our family. It was with this in mind that I was excited to hear Todd will be publishing a new children's book in October called, Be Who You Are.

Be old. Be young.
Speak your language. Be proud of where you’re from.

Just BE WHO YOU ARE!

I reached out to Todd and asked him a few questions about where he gets his inspiration from and what his new book is all about. Here is what he had to say:

Q. What is your inspiration for writing so many books about situations and lives that impact so many children? 

A. A lot of this stems from my childhood. I struggled with so many issues I write about. I was always trying to be like everyone else instead of just being who I was. I think the more you can help build children’s confidence and teach them about kindness, difference, and being different will make them better human beings. 

Q. Your messages for kids are so powerful! My daughter and I own several of your books, including The Family Book, The Daddy Book, The Mommy Book and It’s Okay to be Different - and just when I think you have run out of ideas you come out with another topical book! What is the inspiration behind your newest book, Be Who You Are

A. Thank you. This is something that took me years to learn when I was growing up. Finally, I realized that I needed to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be myself. Things got a lot easier after that. 

Todd Parr - Be who you are

Q. I love your use of humour and your colourful art style to get your message across - where does it come from? 

A. My dad, he was always doing stuff to make me laugh. I rely on humour as well as my simple art style to better help me deliver the messages I write about given that some are hard for younger children to understand. And the word underwear makes every kid laugh. 

Q. What is one of your favourite books from those you have written so far? 

A. "The Goodbye Book." It took me so long to come up with a way to help deal with loss. This book is so simple and matter of fact. I’ve seen how it’s helped kids deal with “goodbye” but also every year old adults. 

Q. Growing up, did you find it hard to be who you are? 

A. Yes, I did not fit in. I was not interested in most things that the rest of the kids were. I grew up in a very small town which did not make things any easier. 

Q. Who was your favourite children’s author growing up? 

A. Dr. Suess.

Q. Any chance of coming to Canada (Ottawa in particular) to speak to a few local schools who I know would love to hear you?

A. I love Canada! I’ve been to several cities there. In November I will be speaking at a teachers conference in Edmonton. Hopefully, I can make it to Ottawa one day soon. 

Special thanks to Todd for answering my questions!

I'd love to know if any of our readers are Todd Parr fans and if so, what's your favourite Todd Parr book? You can add Be Who You Are to your book shelves on October 26th.

10 Classic Kids Books for Summer Reading

My daughter is now reading on her own, but before she insisted on reading herself to sleep we would read chapter books together, many of which I read as a child. I find the school year a busy time for kids to read books outside of those needed for school. Summer is the perfect time to break out classic books and share them with a new generation of young minds.

You don't have to break the bank purchasing these books either! The Ottawa Public Library is a great resource and even if a book is not available at your local branch, you can request it and have it transferred to your branch (which usually only takes a couple of days if the book is already available).

Besides the traditional 19th century classics such as Little Women, Black Beauty and The Swiss Family Robinson there are many contemporary children’s books that have also made the classics list, including:

1) Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

Ramona and Beezus

Can you believe Beverly Cleary turned 100 years old this year? Her Ramona books, however are as timeless as ever. Ramona and Beezus is the first in the series of Ramona books and starts when Ramona is only 4 years old. Ramona is a great reminder of how important it is for kids to have the run of their neighbourhoods and also get into a little mischief sometimes. Ramona is a perfect book to start reading with emerging readers or as a first chapter book for more independent readers.

2) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

With the release of the movie version of The BFG this summer, why not introduce your kids to Roald Dahl’s other classics including Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the first novel read by my daughter’s second grade class and she couldn’t put it down (and I often had to remove it from her bed at night). It was THE book that made my daughter love reading.

3) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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What’s not to love in this beautiful story of true friendship between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte A. Cavatica, his spider saviour. Although the ending may draw tears, the power of friendship plays an important part in this book and is a story any child will carry with them for a long time to come.

4) Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter

 My daughter and I started reading this one together when she was five – she was instantly engrossed in the magic and possibility of Harry Potter. She immediately cheered for the underdog (in this case, Harry) and loved seeing him so confident doing what he does best – magic! She hasn’t read the others yet, but we have them in the house and she says when she’s ready for more “magic” she knows where to find them. I like the Harry Potter books because they are enjoyable for readers of all ages and because it’s fun to use the word “muggles” and have your children know what you are referring to.

5) Holes by Louis Sachar

 A great book about building self-confidence told through a mysterious and engaging story of Stanley who is sent to Camp Green Lake where he and the other campers are forced to dig holes every day. Holes is a fun book for kids heading to camp (even though Stanley’s is a juvenile detention camp, but don’t worry he didn’t commit a crime). I read this book in university for a children’s literature course and finished it in one sitting – not because of its length so much as the interesting story.

6) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables

 An undeniable Canadian classic, Anne of Green Gables is a lighthearted read at any age; not to mention it’s the perfect accompaniment if you are planning a family vacation to Prince Edward Island this summer. Anne is an outgoing girl who is sure to win the hearts of anyone who reads her triumphant story of convincing her adoptive parents that they need her and how she makes everyone fall in love with her partly due to all of the humorous situations she finds herself in.

7) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

If you have a strong reader in the house then The Secret Garden may be of interest. It’s about young Mary Lennox who’s lonely beginning make her appear rude, but thanks to a good-natured maid, Mary discovers a secret walled garden and unlocks all its mysteries. This story teaches the value of friendship and the healing power of being surrounded by nature and living things. It’s a beautifully told story that will have children looking for secret gardens of their own!

8) Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

This book was my absolute favourite growing up! Pollyanna is an optimistic young orphan who lives with her wealthy but strict Aunt Polly. Pollyanna finds the positive in everything – including being locked up in an attic and even after an accident causes her to lose the use of both of her legs. Although it sounds a bit dark, the story of Pollyanna teaches children to look for the good in any situation and cannot help but make you feel happy, even at the end of a hard day.

9) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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For many kids The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is their introduction to the fantasy novel. It’s the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series and is sure to hold the attention of even the most reluctant of readers. Four children discover the magic land of Narnia through a wardrobe in an old country house. Once there they discover talking animals, a witch and a seemingly permanent winter world... what ensues is an adventure sure to lastingly stick in the minds of anyone who reads it.

10) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Remember the first time you travelled down the Yellow Brick Road? Why not share the girl with ruby red shoes, her little dog, and her magical friends with a new generation of inquisitive readers?  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is full of timeless humour, wisdom and, of course, mystery and adventure!

Bonus: 

11) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

 Although Lemony Snicket is a pen name, this harried writer tells the story of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire who lost their parents in a fire. Through a series of 13 books, Lemony shares how, following the fire, the children are placed with a murderous relative who is trying to steal their inheritance and the adventures that soon develop because of it. Throughout it all, Snicket tries to dissuade the reader from continuing… but of course he fails because the story is too engaging to not continue reading!

Do you have a classic children’s book we should know about? Share it in the comments!

YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD LOVES TO READ WHEN... :)

YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD LOVES TO READ WHEN... :)