Most Anticipated: Spring 2014 Kids' Books Preview

There are so many exciting books being published in the first half of 2014, and we've been rounding them up over the past few weeks. This week's picks are books for young readers, though their general appeal extends to readers of all ages, of course!

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Picture Books

Book Cover If I Wrote a Book About You

How lucky we are that Caroline Adderson writes books for everyone! Her new collection of short stories will be available to adults soon; emerging and middle-grade readers can read her Jasper John Dooley series and many other award-winning books aimed at this age group; and now she's got a picture book, Norman, Speak! (April), illustrated by the equally talented Qin Leng.

Astounding ABC (January) is a neat alphabet book featuring items from Toronto's Aga Khan Museum's collections. Stephany Aulenback, who is known for her work in McSweeneys and other magazines, as well as for her popular blog, Crooked House, has written her first picture book, If I Wrote a Book About You (May), illustrated by Denise Holmes. 

Music is for Everyone (May) is the second book by singer-songwriter Jill Barber; it's illustrated by the prolific Sydney Smith and introduces young readers to the joy of making music in all its various styles and forms. Geneviève Côté won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for Without You, and her new book, Starring Me and You (March), continues the story of Piggy and Bunny's complicated friendship. Another Marilyn Baillie Award-winning book, I Know Here, is followed up in From There to Here (May) by Laurel Croza and Matt James. In it the little girl from I Know Here settles into her new home in Toronto.

Locavore Sarah Elton brings her foodie message to the younger set in Starting From Scratch (March), illustrated by Jeff Kulak. 

Book Cover I Wish I Could Draw

Art imitates art? Cary Fagan's new picture book, I Wish I Could Draw (May), is designed to look like a notebook and is about a character called—wait for it—Cary Fagan, who feels he has no artistic talent but manages to create an "exuberantly illustrated" book anyway. Celebrated novelist Frances Itani has written Best Friend Trouble (April), illustrated by Genevieve Després, about two friends' attempts to get along. Not My Girl (January), by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Gabrielle Gimard, is the sequel to When I Was Eight; in it a young girl returns home to the Arctic after being away at residential school. 

Book Cover Tweedles Go Electric

Monica Kulling has two new books out. First is The Tweedles Go Electric (March), illustrated by Marie Lafrance, about an eccentric family at the turn of the century—the last century, that is—who decide that the electric car is the way of the future. And When Emily Carr Met Woo (April), illustrated by Dean Griffiths, is the story of painter Carr's relationship with her famous pet monkey. The Highest Number in the World, written by Roy MacGregor and illustrated by Genevieve Després, is described as "a riff on The Hockey Sweater for girls" and explores the storied history of the number 9 in hockey. 

Every Day Is Malala Day (April), by Rosemary McCarney, is a letter to Malala Yousafzai, affirming sisterhood with the girls of the world. May will see the release of poet George Murray's first picture book, Wow Wow and Haw Haw, illustrated by Michael Pittman; it's loosely based on the Celtic legend "How the Fox Lost His Fleas." Debbie Ohi and Michael Ian Black follow up their exuberant book, I'm Bored!, with Naked (April), the story of a boy who prefers to go around au naturel. Ruth Ohi's new one, Shh! My Brother's Napping (April), is narrated by a sibling who likes to bang on pots. 

There's a new Vole Brothers book! The latest in Roslyn Schwartz's series is Splat: Starring the Vole Brothers (March). In The Goodnight Book (May), illustrator Lori-Joy Smith takes readers on a bedtime trip around the world of imagination. Ashley Spires, of Binky and Larf fame, has a new book, The Most Magnificent Thing (April), about a little girl with a whole lot of ambition. And there are two new Cozy Classics out by Jack and Holman Wang. This time it's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, rendered in adorable felted figures and just 12 words.

Middle-Grade and YA

The Night Gardener

Acclaimed author Jonathan Auxler follows Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes with The Night Gardener (May), "a Victorian mystery in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe." Gottika (April), by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Alexander Griggs-Burr, is a graphic novel that reimagines a powerful Jewish legend as a futuristic fantasy with a universal message. In Face-off (February), by Michael Betcherman, a goalie at an international hockey tournament finds himself faced with his double playing on the opposing team and is drawn into a dark history of civil war and broken families.

In Rocket Man (April), Jan L. Coates has a young boy fighting the usual battles while his father suffers with cancer. Jennifer Dance's Red Wolf (February) is a novel about the impact of the Indian Act of 1876 and the residential schools system upon a boy and an orphaned timber wolf. Maggie de Vries' Rabbit Ears (March) is the story of a young girl drawn into sex work on the streets of Vancouver's Downtown East Side. It's rooted in the story of her sister that she told in her memoir, Missing Sarah

Book Cover Outside In

Rachelle Delaney's The Circus Dogs of Prague (April) features the mystery-solving pups from The Metro Dogs of Moscow. In The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden (January), award-winner Philippa Dowding tells the story of a girl who wakes up one morning able to fly. Another award-winner, Anne Dublin, begins a new series with Stealing Time (May), about an antique pocket-watch that delivers time-travelling adventures. Award-winner Deborah Ellis's latest, Moon at Nine (April), is a novel about two teenage girls' illegal romance in 1980s' Iran. 

With Outside In (May), Sarah Ellis tells the story of a girl who encounters a family of eccentrics who salvage the things they need from what others throw away, an experience that casts her own life in a new perspective. In The Show to End all Shows (February), Cary Fagan takes readers on the road with the travelling Melville's Medicine Show and all the children who have been kidnapped to be a part of it. 

Book Cover Flight of the Griffons

Jacqueline Guest's The Comic Book Wars (May) is about a boy who relies on comic book heroes to keep his soldier brothers safe during World War Two. Katie Inglis is back with Flight of the Griffons (April), illustrated by Sydney Smith—the sequel to The Dread Crew: Pirates of the BackwoodsViminy Crowe's Comic Book (May) is a graphic novel by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger, illustrated by Claudia Dávila, about two unlikely companions who get lost in a steampunk comic book. Jocelyn's other new book is What We Hide (April), a collection of short stories from the different perspectives of students at an English boarding school. Deborah Kerbel's previous novel was nominated for Governor General's Award, and her latest, Bye, Bye, Evil Eye (April), is the story of a girl who must distinguish between bad luck and a curse after an eventful holiday in Greece.

Book Cover The Boundless

Award-winning fantasy author Eileen Kernaghan publishes Sophie in Shadow (March), which is about a clairvoyant teen orphan in 1914 India who is trapped in a place where the past, present, and future co-exist. In Karen Krossing's Bog (March), a cave troll embarks on a quest when his father is turned into stone. In Now and for Never (May), Lesley Livingston completes her Once Every Never trilogy. The Boundless (April), by Kenneth Oppel, is the story of one boy's exciting experiences aboard the maiden voyage of the world's most glamorous locomotive. Gail Sidonie Sobat and Spyder Yardley-Jones have collaborated on Jamie's Got a Gun (June), a graphic novel about an aspiring artist whose complicated life is changed by a handgun he finds in a dumpster.

Blue Gold (January), by Elizabeth Stewart, is about three teenage girls growing up on different continents whose lives are linked by connections to the mineral coltan, used in making cellphones and computers. From Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, the creators of Skim, comes This One Summer (May), about a summer that changes two friends' lives forever. Multiple award-winner Robert Paul Weston has a new novel called Blues for Zoey (January). And Raging Star (April) is the third book in Moira Young's acclaimed Dustlands series. 

*See our Most Anticipated Spring Fiction and Non-Fiction lists as well!

January 20, 2014
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