Great Graphic Novels

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some great graphic novels books with us. This month’s post is by Lise Dumas, Supervising Librarian, Children's and Teen Services at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Ottawa Public Library (OPL) just celebrated its second annual BiblioCon on April 27, but not to worry if you missed it, it will reappear again next year, bigger and better. For all you graphic novel fans, May is the month of Free Comic Book Day and Ottawa Comiccon. Here are some of the wonderful graphic novels recommended for 9-13 year olds available at the OPL:

Newsprints by Ru Xu.

Newsprints by Ru Xu.

The story follows the adventures of Blue, an orphan girl who disguises herself as a newsboy so that she can work at the Bugle, the only paper in town that tells the truth about current issues. Blue makes some unusual friendships along the way in her effort to stop the senseless ongoing war.  The book features some cool robots and flying machines. The exciting conclusion of this series was recently published in 2019.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Thirteen-year-old Bina is looking at a boring summer ahead. Her best friend Austin is going to soccer camp, leaving Bina to find her own fun. Through trials and tribulations with her family and friends over the summer, Bina will find out a little more about who she is and what she wants in her life.

 

Be Prepared

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

This book had me hooked with its great cover art. You can just feel the anguish of a first day of camp. This is the story of 9 year old Vera who feels she is too poor, too Russian and too different to ever fit in with the other American kids. Her solution to making friends is to go to an all Russian kids’ camp. The images in black, white and olive green are wonderful and you will fall in love with this spunky heroine.

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

 

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):

5 Halloween Books for Young Kids.png

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.

todd parr

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.