Mix it up this March Break at 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 Alta Vista Branch.

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

Picture book: Mixed: a Colorful Story by Aree Chung
https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1103586026

For ages 4-6. Once upon a time, there were three primary colors all living in the same town: Red, Yellow and Blue. One day, a Red announced that they were the best, thus starting a colour war. Soon, each colour was living separately from the others. Until the day that a Yellow and a Blue met, fell in love and decided to mix. How will the rest of the inhabitants react...? This book is fun visually, but most importantly, it will enable families (and classrooms!) to talk about topics such as segregation, community, inclusion, diversity and embracing each other's differences.

Picture book: The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1126730026

For ages 4-8. This is the story of a young knight who strongly believes that where he lives is the best and the safest, thanks to a wall built to protect from “the other side”. While the knight tells us all about the dangers lurking on the other side (tigers? a mean ogre!), we spot dangers right behind him (crocodiles? a flood!) on the supposedly “safe side.” Meanwhile, the so-called ogre turns out to be really kind and helpful... A good reminder that, instead of building walls, we should be tearing them down, so that we can better understand and value what is “on the other side.”

Picture book: The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1079068026

For ages 4-8. This picture book mixes old & new in a fun, smart way. It takes a classic story (The little red hen) and changes elements in that story, so that it has a modern twist. The protagonist is a girl called Ruby, and the other characters are her three younger brothers. One day, Ruby decides to build a fort - something she's never done before. Her brothers aren't very keen on helping her and keep saying she won't know what to do. But when the fort is completed and Ruby can now play in it, they are suddenly much more interested! A story with STEAM elements that remind children  they can do whatever they set their minds to..

Non-fiction book: Masterpiece mix by Roxie Munro

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1049833026

For ages 4-7. This is the story of an artist (possibly representing the author herself) who is gathering her painting supplies and wondering what to paint next. She visits the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and admires the works of famous painters such as Van Gogh, Leyster, Vermeer, Cézanne, etc.,then she starts painting. When children reach the end of the book, they get to see the artist's final result: a cityscape which incorporates all 37 masterpieces previously looked at. Sport scenes, landscapes, portraits and more...mix it up! Younger children will enjoy learning about painting & drawing, while older children will enjoy learning some cool new fun facts (ex: did you know that Monet painted the same pond more than 250 times?)

Non-fiction book?: P is for Pterodactyl: The WORST Alphabet Book Ever. All the letters that misbehave and make words nearly impossible to pronounce by Raj Haldar

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1145582026

For ages 7-10. During March Break week, families will also be able to mix-up (and remix!) alphabet letters, words, song lyrics, and more! In this fun book about the English language, we learn all about those words which are pronounced differently than they are spelled. Words with silent letters (ex: knight), homophones and tongue twisters...accompanied by lively illustrations.

Non-fiction book: Wet cement: a mix of concrete poems by Bob Raczka

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/961992026

For ages 8-12. Concrete poetry is fun in the way that it uses the arrangement of the words on the page to convey the meaning of the poem, thus mixing the words within the illustrations. In this collection of 21 concrete poems, children will be alternately amused or perplexed by the visuals and will be challenged in decoding them! It will inspire them to create their own poems.

Graphic novel: The city on the other side by Mairgrhead Scott

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1114919026

For ages 8-12. In this fantasy graphic novel, we meet Isabel, a young Latinx girl in early 20th Century San Francisco, who until now has lived in a sheltered, high-society environment. Her life completely changes on the day that she walks through an invisible barrier and somehow steps into a magical & dangerous city, right in the middle of a fairy civil war. Can she trust her two newly-met companions, a mushroom-headed fairy and a Filipino boy who can travel between the two worlds? Can they help her deliver a mysterious necklace passed on by a fatally injured messenger? A fast-paced adventure which kids will enjoy reading.

Chapter book: Blended by Sharon M. Draper

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1126612026

For ages 10-13. This is the story of Isabella, who is 11 years old and biracial,her mother is white and her father is black. People around her sometimes describe her as “exotic,” but she doesn't think of herself that way. Isabella is also from a blended family; divorced parents, two extra stepparents, and an older stepbrother Darren. One day, Isabella is on her way to a piano recital when she and Darren are stopped by the police and a misunderstanding occurs... A book about the search for one's identity, and about the unique struggles still faced by young people of colour.

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

 

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!

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.

They say blue_1.jpg
They say blue_2.jpg

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.

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.