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Hello! I have a small request, or more I'm fishing for opinions. I have a project this semester to create an annotated bibliography of children's materials for reference in libraries and there is a requirement for Canadian content of at least 10 selections. I'd like to dig up more than that though. ;) so I'm hoping for some input.
I've read a fair amount of kid lit this year but not a lot that's specifically Canadian. Does anyone have recommendations or memories of good books, any genre, or even songs and poetry by Canadians that stands out? I see the Farley Mowat thread down there and might take a look, but I'm not all that experienced with his stuff. It seems I've read one a very long time ago based on a reading memory of two boys and a caribou hunt.
I'm hoping to find material that covers a good span of time, since books change over time and I feel there is a need to recover older material that just doesn't have the visibility it used to. I was shocked when I went to go pick up a copy of Big Red and learned the local regional library didn't have a copy in any branch.
Right now, my list has only two items: Darkest Dark (read for early reviews and now have a nephew with a new interested in being an astronaut), and The Skeleton Tree. It's a more mature book, but I enjoyed reading it. A varied age range is good, too.
I'd really like to find a Canadian children's poet to add. I have a personal fondness for poetry and read piles of it as a kid.
My own reading list includes;
P.K. Page: The Sky Tree: A Trilogy of Fables, hardcover, 83 pages
I already had two or three poetry books by her, before finding this children's book. It is beautifully illustrated, also be a Canadian lady from BC I think, I will look that up. It is a simple 'quest' story about overcoming obstacles in order for the poor young man to win the lady's hand, but it is interesting and not traumatizing. =) Shifting alliances teach the value to treating others as you want to be treated, keeping your heart steady when surrounded by impossible or bleak outcomes, courage and fortitude, that kind of thing. It's a family favourite. From what I remember, Page was born in England but moved to Canada and lived her life here, with a few visits to South America for her art.
Eric Walters: War of the Eagles, paperback, 1998, ? pages (I will have to find it)
My sons loved this one. A relationship between two young men of different backgrounds uniting for a common goal. Mentions the war as a threat to their peace but also the reason they've met at all. Not a children's book, but YA.
Roy MacGregor: The Secret of the Deep Woods, Screech Owls Series #17, paperback, 2003, 128 pages
Riveting from what I remember. I didn't read it with my boys (it was given to us in some used books) but if we still have it, that means they liked it. Might involve an old hockey legend about a missing player after the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup?
Gayle Friesen: Men of Stone, hardcover, ? pages
Again, plot is vague in my memory, but we still have it. YA.
Farley Mowat: (these are paperbacks we still have on our shelf)
Lost in the Barrens, The Curse of the Viking Grave, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, Owls in the Family (last two very funny)
Robert N. Munsch: (some paperbacks, some hardcovers, on our shelf)
Munschworks 1, Munschworks 2, Munschworks 3, Munschworks 4, Zoom!, Pajama Day, So Much Snow
Will skulk around to see what others I can find with Canadian content/authors. Good luck!
… now for a mug of dark roast ...
Dennis Lee: Alligator Pie, paperback, 1974, 68 pages
Fun, colourful, and weird enough to be memorable! Definitely qualifies for Kids Poetry.
Lucy Maud Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, paperback
We have the box set of three, as we do for E.B.White (Charlotte's Web, etc.)
More Munsch: Aaron's Hair, Murmel Murmel Murmel, Smelly Socks, The Paperbag Princess, Thomas' Snowsuit, Love You Forever (lots of people don't like this last one, so use with caution)
>3 frahealee: Co-incidentally Frahe, your reviews are still on the top of at least two of those Mowat books. I'm going to have to read Curse of the Viking Grave now, and see how much I recover from Lost in the Barrens, since a few details from Barrens have stayed with me.
I can't believe I forgot about Robert Munsch entirely. Love you Forever seems to be a staple everywhere. I remember not liking it a heck of a lot as a kid but I think that's because it was a more loving book rather than funny, and the illustrations weren't as amusing. I could put all of them on but I think I'll pick The Paperbag Princess. Early feminism! ;). Thomas' Snowsuit is pretty darn cute as well. Silly adults!
I've also decided to further diversify my list and see if I can get a decent mix of author backgrounds.
>5 WeeTurtle: Oh dear God! When I first input info manually about the books in my home library (before adding other books I've read but don't own), I had no idea that what I wrote in my own entry would be viewed by anyone else. I got flagged so many times, because some of my summaries or recollections were meant as mind prompts and might be barely one sentence in length! With over one hundred entered off the top of my head, I was not about to go back and redo them all. Funny, forgot all about them.
My daughter likes Zoom! because of the wheelchair, and Aaron's Hair because her name is Erin. =)
Dennis Lee had many other poetry books for kids, but we don't own any of them. I see several just from a quick Bing search...
I've decided to check out Sweetest Kulu from the library because of the Inuit aspect, and for the poetry reading I'm planning so far. Along with this list, I have to actually hold a storytime with a bunch of kids. I have loads of material from my Early Reviewers and recent volunteer stuff, and the stockpile of songs from summer camp that are still in my head, but I'm not great with actual kids. What do I do?
Zoom to me is always going to be a cat. I didn't know about the Munsch book, or that there were so may books called "Zoom."
I have another day before passing by the library so I'll put some others on my list (had no idea Atwood wrote any kids books) and see what I can get.
>8 WeeTurtle: Treat kids like people. Also bear in mind that you are trying to be contagious. You have the book bug, and this is your chance to infect a few young people. You need books you like and make it clear that you are excited about sharing these great books with them. (If you read frequently to the same kids you can get away with some books you don't really care about if you think they will like them, but not the first few times.)
It also helps to listen to a few good audio books of children's books. Just to get some idea of how to use your voice. Or even just to lose inhibitions about it.
Are you aware of the CBC list of 100 Young Adult Books that Make You Proud to be Canadian? You may be looking for specifically books for younger children but this is a good place to start:
I would also recommend a book I received from the LT Early Readers program a few months ago. Go Show the World by Wab Kinew is a rap song Wab wrote for his kids about indigenous heros. It is definitely meant for younger children and for a read out loud story. And if you can handle the rap cadence even better.
You should check out Book Crush by Pearl. She recommends books for all ages and includes Canadian stuff. There is also the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up list (if you want an excel copy of the list, pm me - I have lists of all shapes and sizes!).
>13 Yells: that might be a good idea!
I could be more academic about this, but I've decided that word of mouth is good for unearthing the books that critic lists miss, and scoping out the library. My local library has the Canadian books neatly marked with a maple leaf, which makes then easy to spot. ;)
I've got a few coming in look at: Fatty Legs, and a couple others. I currently have Alligator Pie, which is probably the most ridiculous poetry I've seen, but it makes a good tool for learning how to pronounce (and remember) Canadian cities and people ("In the Gatineaus / I'll eat your toes" etc.) Mabel Murple is super cute though I'm not sure I could deal with that much purple after multiple readings.
This morning, I noticed Jillian Jiggs on the CanLit150 list made for Canada Day 2017. We don't own those books, but I have heard of them. They seem to be popular.
Some recent discoveries I've made:
The Mushroom Fan Club - I like this book. It's an introduction to a topic that tends to get ignored I think, because who cares about mushrooms? The author talks about mushroom hunting as treasure hunts and describes a few mushrooms and basic ways of identifying them (and also a rule of "DO NOT EAT THEM!") just in case. ;). Gravel has a fair few books about less pretty things, like bugs and insects. A few have made it into Early Reviewers here, apparently. Gravel publishes her stuff in French as well.
The Cremation of Sam McGee I didn't know this book existed. I've only seen the animated short with the Ted Harrison paintings but alas, stupid shipping is making the dvd awkward to get. The book makes a good substitute, I guess.
Sweetest Kulu is beautiful and everyone needs to get it! It also comes in French and Inuktitut and maybe other languages.
I think I'm covered for picture books. Need a couple things to round out "traditional children's literature" which I think covers material like fairy tales, folk lore, instructional or moral stories, etc. I'm stumbling a little with the informative books. Anything factual counts, but so far I've only got the picture book biography of Mary Shelley and something from WHO HQ, which I haven't decided yet. Looking at a National Geographic book on sea animals. I think I'd like to see stuff that's more encyclopedic for kids. Not totally sure. I'd like to hit a range of topics and diverse authors in most sections as well.
EDIT: There's something up with my hold on Fatty Legs. I'm going to ask at the library what the deal is with it, since there are supposed to be 10 copies available. I'll give the shelves another sweep when I pick up more holds tomorrow. I checked out someone's book list on the Vancouver Public Library site and it has several children's books that deal with things like sexuality, gender identity, death, and so forth.
Read Fatty Legs today. I liked it more than I thought I would given the topic of residential schools. I guess I was expecting it to be nastier. It's hard for the protagonist, but at least she walks out with what she was after, so it's not all bad.
Onto Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts which I've heard resembles The Boxcar Children which I used to read, but hardly remember besides the name.
I'm looking around in fantasy some more, because I'd like to find something that's away from the usual heavy hitters (Tolkien, Le Guin, Lewis, etc.) and, especially, Canadian.
Almost finished my bibliography but I still have the impression that I haven't read enough books! I'm also lacking a Canadian contribution to the sci/fantasy section but I'm not sure what to so with. I've picked up a pile more since I started my practicum at the local public library branches. I've got a Canadian book in all the other categories: picture book, traditional literature, realistic literature, informative books, poetry, and non-print media, but the fantasy/sci fi end still eludes me.
EDIT: I guess I'll add, I'm trying to go for variety and diversity. I've already picked Coraline, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Magician's Nephew, and Confessions of an Imaginary Friend. I'm hoping to find something different from those, and perhaps something away from the white European set protagonist set.
Have you tried Kenneth Oppel? He’s got some fantasy, some steampunk, from children’s to YA. Very prolific.
I forgot about him. I only really know of Silverwing and from the film rather than the book. I did pick up The Nest though, but because I spotted Jon Klassen involved. He's got some interesting stuff. Does he have items geared towards the under 12 set or is that mostly Silverwing? What I've looked at it marked at YA.
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