“…Written in light and lyrical free verse, Shari Green’s warm and wistful novel brings Bailey face to face with both hard and beautiful truths about growing up and growing into her own ability to shape the world.
…This is the first time I read a book in verse and I simply loved it. Although I no longer read middle grade fiction with my kids (they’re teens now) I will read a middle grade book from time to time if it catches my interest. This one did right from the start….
…I was impressed at how easily the author developed such unforgettable characters using free verse, all while building a great plot with excellent pacing.
I know I would have loved this book as a tween, and I highly recommend it. It’s delightful and poignant and one of my favorite books so far of 2017.”
“French Toast is a delicious treat of a picture book that lets you explore a sophisticated topic in a way that is helpful and positive, but not simplistic….
This is a slow unravelling of racism and bullying and how we see ourselves. A slow unravelling, as only the best picture books can do. French Toast is a meal you will want to go back to, and savour with your child, again and again. You will get something different from it each time you share it.
The illustrations, by François Thisdale, are warm and, while they seem perfectly normal on first glance, are surprisingly, deliciously, quirky (often, for instance, the sizes of things are just a bit — or sometimes a lot — out of scale). Stunning. And the text flows like warm maple syrup. French Toast will warm you up. (Okay, I’m done with the extended food metaphor — plus, now I’m hungry.)…
Disclaimer: I know Kari-Lynn personally. (But that’s definitely not why I wrote this, and I believe it didn’t affect my review. This is a truly stunning picture book that I highly recommend.)”
Elliot– a young rabbit with a tendency to cry, yell, and misbehave– moves between several homes in this story of adoption, foster care, and finding a “forever family.” Debut author Pearson never blames Elliot for his behavior (it’s unclear if he’s meant to have a developmental disorder), instead focusing on his parents’ inability to understand their son. After Elliot’s parents seek help, he is sent to live temporarily with an unfamiliar but loving family. Elliot later returns to his parents, but this proves short-lived; following a stint with a second foster family, Elliot is told that his parents could never take care of him, because they did not know how. A muted palette of gray, blue, and manila reflects the somber, uncertain mood, and Gauthier’s (“Magic Little Words”) naif-styled rabbits resemble cutout paper dolls dropped into the scenes, suggestive of the way Elliot is shuttled around. Elliot eventually finds a family that understands him, and while the book’s somewhat oblique language may require supplemental explanation from adult readers, Pearson’s refusal to sugarcoat his journey should resonate with children in similar situations.—Publishers Weekly
This winter, Teddy, the famous stuffed bear who travelled to the front lines of World War I and back again, received a new home in the Canadian War Museum’s newly renovated “Homefront” exhibit. Teddy’s World War I exploits are recorded in the picture book A Bear in War.
On Sunday, March 15th, a new book about Teddy’s World War II experience, Bear on the Homefront, will be launched at the Canadian War Museum. Children and their families can join co-author Stephanie Innes and illustrator Brian Deines for a book reading, art display, craft activity, and book signing. The event gets underway at 10:00 a.m.
In Bear on the Homefront, Teddy helps English guest children travel to host families on the Canadian home front during the Second World War. When two homesick children need a friend, Teddy bravely leaves his beloved Aileen to comfort them. But the war seems endless. Will Teddy and the children ever return to their homes again?
On November 15th, about fifty parents and children gathered at the North York Central Library to hear author Margriet Ruurs talk about the life and art of iconic Canadian painter Ted Harrison. After an engaging presentation, Margriet signed the library’s copies of the picture book biography she recently co-authored, A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison, and settled in to join the families in making art inspired by Harrison’s colourful style.
Click here to see our digital gallery of the beautiful Harrison-style drawings and colouring pages created at this event.
This event was made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.
Award-winning author Stephanie McLellan has drawn inspiration from her own three children and created Hoogie in the Middle, a sneak peek into the world surrounding Hoogie, the middle child. The author playfully uses rhythm, alliteration and similes to delineate Hoogie’s character and exhibit how the middle child feels: “Pumpkin is the big, big girl,” “Tweezle is the itty, bitty baby” and “[Hoogie] feels like the hole in the middle of a donut.”
Whatever Hoogie does is not right. When Tweezle squishes food, “Everyone laughs.” When Hoogie does it, she is told to “not be such a baby.” Similarly, she is “too small” to help dad. “Too big. Too small. No room for me at all,” sums up the pain she feels. In the end just like “the sun in the middle of the solar system,” Hoogie isn’t so invisible anymore. McLellan finishes her story with a deliciously sweet simile!
Continuing in this series, Tweezle into Everything follows in the footsteps of the typical baby of the household where Tweezle is the “last yummy cookie.” Charming similes and playful dialogue express Tweezle’s adorable character, constantly trying to prove he is big: “I not baby…I big boy!” He believes he is all grown up he messes his father’s tool shed, or enhances his older sister’s paintings. However, Tweezle is made to feel like the “…mud on the bottom…” of his sister’s shoes. Yet he refuses to give up: “I not bottom.” The book has an unpredictable and heart-warming ending, showing that what Tweezle unexpectedly does is indeed a “big deal.”
This loveable family comes alive with Dean Griffiths cuddly personified monsters. Vibrating hues painted in pencil crayons and watercolours evoke an expressionistic style with realistic elements. The clever use of negative space adds dimension and energy to the characters as well. Consistent rendering makes switching from each book in the series a seamless transition. The difference is the focus on the title characters, e.g. Hoogie holding a donut over one eye exaggerating the fact that she feels “like the hole in the middle of the donut” or Tweezle holding a large beach ball reinforcing his babyish stature.
Hoogie in the Middle and Tweezle into Everything explore the wonder of childhood and the average day-to-day dilemmas and real-life emotions of children with siblings. Wonderful books to read aloud that provide an opportunity for discussion among parents and children.—Lara Chauvin
“…I love Gunnery’s heartfelt characters. We join Emily at the beginning of the book frantically cutting out her now ex-boyfriend from all of their pictures making it easy to slip into her perspective. Emily For Real is a lighter read about the true meaning of family, issues of identity and genuine friendship.
Reading a story where the main girl and guy characters are just friends, and great friends at that, is refreshing, especially because the dynamic between Emily and Leo is real and relaxed. Gunnery allows them to just be with each other, but also to challenge each other when needed…”