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Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2016 Children's Book Preview

Gorgeous picture books, middle -grade books to get kids hooked on reading, and hard-hitting YA titles.

Book Cover Sky Pig

Amazing books are arriving this spring for young readers of all ages (and the not-so-young readers, too). Gorgeous picture books, middle-grade books to get kids hooked on reading, and hard-hitting YA titles are collected here. It's going to be a marvellous season. 


Picture Books

Victoria Allenby and Tara Anderson follow up their award-winning Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That with the delightful rhyming romp, Rhino Rumpus (June). Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyok's illustrations bring creatures from her culture's myths to life in Those That Cause Fear (June), written by Neil Christopher. This spring brings two new books in the "Lucy Tries Sports" series, by Lisa Bowes and illustrated by James Hearne: Lucy Tries Short Track (January) and Lucy Tries Soccer (April). Willow’s Smile (March), by Lana Button and Tania Howells, is Willow's third adventure, and this time she's navigating the perils of picture day and achieving a perfect smile. Award winners Jan Coates and Suzanne Del Rizzo team up for Sky Pig (April), which is about two friends conspiring to make pigs fly, against all odds. And Geneviève Côte's third Mr. King book is Mr. King’s Machine (April), in which the foolhardy kitty's friends teach him another lesson about environmentalism. 

Book Cover Beach Baby

Another book by the amazing award-winner Marianne Dubuc! In The Animals’ Ark (April), she retells the Noah's Ark story from the animals' perspective. Beach Baby (April), by Laurie Elmquist, is a board book about a young child’s perfect day on the beach, gorgeously illustrated with Elly MacKay’s paper theatre illustrations. Inspired by the author’s interviews with refugee children from Sudan, Joseph’s Big Ride (April), by Terry Farish and illustrated by Ken Daley, tells the story of a young boy's determination to learn to ride a bicycle. Award-winner Maureen Fergus is back with A Dog Day for Susan (March), illustrated by Monica Arnaldo. And fans of Fergus’s Buddy and Earl books are enthusiastically awaiting the second in the series, Buddy and Earl Go Exploring (March), illustrated by Carey Sookocheff. 

Book Cover Malaika's Costume

Go Home Bay (April), written by Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Pascal Milelli, tells the story of Tom Thomson teaching a young girl how to paint during the summer of 1914. Noni Speaks Up (February), by Heather Hartt-Sussman, illustrated by Geneviève Côté, is the latest book about the introverted Noni who finds the courage to speak up for herself and for her friends. The manuscript for Malaika’s Costume (March), by Nadia L. Hohn, was winner of the Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award; beautifully illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, it’s the story of a young girl who overcomes disappointment to create an extraordinary costume for Carnival. 

Book Cover Spare Dog Parts

In Spare Dog Parts (January), by Alison Hughes and illustrated by Ashley Spires, a girl imagines an assortment of odd parts combined to make the perfect canine. If I Were a Zombie (April), by Kate Inglis (The Dread Crew), illustrated by Eric Orchard, has two children trying to outdo one another, imagining what they could do if only they were a zombie, a ninja, or a robot. Fans of Elly McKay’s Butterfly Park will be looking forward to her illustrations in Maya (April), by Mahak Jain, a beautiful story about strength and hope in the darkness. With Be a Pond Detective (April), Peggy Kochanoff follows up her award-nominated books in the same series. And Julie Kraulis’s armadillo’s latest stop is The Big Apple in An Armadillo in New York (April).

Book Cover The Not So Faraway Adventure

Picture book biographer Monica Kulling turns her attention to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Happy Birthday, Alice Babette (April), illustrated by Qin Leng, a joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration. Kulling also releases new books in the Great Ideas series, including Clean Sweep: Frank Zamboni’s Ice Machine (January). Skunk on a String (March), by Thao Lam, is a wordless picture book about a the day in the life of a skunk who cannot seem to become untethered from a balloon. And characters from the award-winning The Imaginary Garden return in The Not-So-Faraway Adventure (April), by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher, with Theo and her Papa embarking on an adventure right outside their door. 

Book Cover Mom Dad Our Books and Me

The joys and wonders of family literacy are celebrated in Mom, Dad, Our Books, and Me (April), by Danielle Marcotte and Josée Bisaillon. In Being Me (April), by Rosemary McCarney, illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart, the follow-up to Tilt Your Head, Rosie the Red, Rosie learns about how food banks benefit society and that nobody is too young to be part of positive change. 

Book Cover My Heart Fills With Happiness

Notions of democracy and rights and freedoms are explored in That’s Not Fair: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms (March), by Danielle S. McLaughlin and Dharmali Patel. You Are One (March) is the first of a three-part series celebrating little ones and their milestones, by Sara O’Leary (This is Sadie) and Karen Klassen. My Heart Fills With Happiness (February), by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett, is a book that was written to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families and to encourage young children to reflect on what brings them joy. Pride: Celebrating Diversity and and Community (April), by Robin Stevenson, is the story of how Pride celebrations came to be and what they mean. And The Artist and Me (April) is the first picture book by the creator of the Boy Sherlock Holmes series, Shane Peacock, and illustrated by Sophie Casson, about Vincent Van Gogh and various ways of looking at the world.

Book Cover Elliot

Elliot (March), by Julie Pearson and Manon Gauthier, is the touching and meaningful story of a small boy's journey through foster care and to his eventual forever family. Jael Ealey Richardson tells the story of her father, African American football player Chuck Ealey, in picture book form with The Stone Thrower (May), illustrated by Matt James. Based on a traditional Inuit story, The Caterpillar Woman (June), by Nadia Sammurtok and illustrated by Carolyn Gan, tells the tale of a young woman left alone on the tundra after she is turned into a caterpillar. A fabulous cross-generational friendship is celebrated in Harry and Walter (March), by Kathy Stinson and Qin Leng. Pinny in Summer (May), by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, follows a young girl through the many pleasures of a summer day. And Ashley Spires’ latest picture book is Over-Scheduled Andrew (January), whose protagonist faces a problem many kids grapple with today.

Book Cover If I had a Gryphon

If I Had a Gryphon (February), by CanLit kidlit favourite Vikki VanSickle, illustrated by Cale Atkinson, is a picture book treatise on why it might be best to keep your pet aspirations humble. Peace Dancer (May), by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd, is the fourth and final instalment of the award-winning and bestselling Northwest Coast Legends series. A Change of Heart (May), by Alice Walsh and illustrated by Erin Bennett Banks, tells the story of Lanier Phillips, Newfoundland shipwreck survivor turned civil rights activist. Frank and Laverne (April), by Dave Whamond and Jennifer Stokes, is a story from two pets and two perspectives that can be read front to back or back to front. And Good Pirate (April), by Kari Lynn Winters and illustrated by Dean Griffiths, follows up Bad Pirate, the book's unlikely buccaneer once again overturning notions of what pirates are all about.  

Early Chapter Books and Middle Grade

Book Cover The Dark Island

It all goes wrong after Jasper John drowns a library book in the bathtub in Jasper John Dooley, Public Library Enemy #1 (April), by Caroline Adderson. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (February), by Helaine Becker, is the sequel to Dirk Daring, Secret Agent, and now Darren Derkowitz has to defend his fellow students at Preston Middle School from a game of thugs. Last Chance Island (February), by award-winner Norma Charles, connects the stories of Nigerian children escaping their village when it is destroyed by rebels with a Canadian girl who's been sent to a remote island in Ireland after her father's death. The sixth instalment in Scott Chantler's "Three Thieves" graphic novel series is The Dark Island (April).

Book Cover Tagged Out

Everyday Hero (March), by Kathleen Cherry, is about a student with Asperger’s who struggles with friendships as she settles into a new school. Duke’s Den (March), new novel by acclaimed writer Becky Citra, is about a young girl finding a new sense of purpose after her parents’ separation. On a Slippery Slope (April) is Melody Fitzpatrick's second Hannah Smart book; this time Hannah tells a teeny fib that snowballs out of control. What happens when the best player on your baseball team turns out to be gay, and the rival team decides to ambush you? Joyce Grant writes about whether or not Nash chooses to stand up for his friend in Tagged Out (February). The latest from Deborah Kerbel, whose Under the Moon was a finalist for a Governor General's Award in 2012, is Feathered (March), about a young girl who learns that flying away from her troubles isn't always the answer.


New titles in the "Orca Limelights" series about performing arts includes Stepping Out (February), by Laura Langston, about a girl trying to make it in stand-up. The Skeleton Tree (January), by award-winner Iain Lawrence, tells the story of two boys surviving alone in the wilderness after a shipwreck off the Alaskan coast. Kiviuq and the Mermaids (June), by Neil McDermott and illustrated by Toma Feizo Gas, brings young readers tales of one of the greatest and most important characters in Inuit mythology. Tank and Fizz: The Case of the Battling Bots (February), by Liam O’Donnell and Mike Deas, is the second book in this monster sleuth series. Prisoner of Warren (April), by acclaimed author Andreas Oertel, is about a young boy in wartime Fredericton during WW2 whose father decides to hire a German POW to help out on their farm. And there is plenty of buzz already for Pax (January), a tale of love and loyalty between a boy and his fox set during wartime, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Sara Pennypacker.

Book cover The Biggest Poutine in the World

Detectives-in-the-making will love Forensics Squad Unleashed (March), by Monique Polak, about a young girl whose skills from a summer forensics camp become useful when it’s time for her to solve a real-life mystery. The Biggest Poutine in the World (March), by Andrée Poulin, was winner of the French language 2014 TD Canadian Children’s literature Award. Heart of a Champion (March), by Ellen Schwartz, is about a young boy obsessed with baseball whose life in Vancouver's Japanese community changes drastically when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in 1941. 

Book Cover Shadow Wrack

Ashley Spires spins off her smash hit "Binky" series with Fluffy Strikes Back (March). Chasing the Phantom Ship (May), by Deborah Toogood, is a story of friends determined to solve the mystery of the ghostly burning schooner in the Northumberland Strait. In Camp Disaster (April), by Frieda Wishinsky, a summer camper has to stand up to the mean girl in her cabin who has rendered their counsellor powerless. Adventure, suspense, funny dialogue and, best of all, zombie-vampires abound in After Dark (March), by James Leck. And Shadow Wrack (January), by Kim Thompson, is the second novel in the Eldritch Manor series, in which poor Willa learns that defeating the fires of darkness is not necessarily the end of the story. 

Young Adult

Book Cover Sophie Quire

A sequel to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard (April), is the latest by Jonathan Auxier, who won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for The Night Gardener in November. The Hill (March), by award-winner Karen Bass brings the Cree Wîhtiko legend to life. In Gate Keeper (May), by Natasha Deen, Maggie has another murder to solve when the hot guy at school ends up tossed off a cliff. A young woman battles anorexia in Small Displays of Chaos (April), by Breanna Fischer. And Spirit Level (February), by Sarah N. Harvey, is about a young woman who was a donor-conceived child and sets out to meet her half-siblings to learn that family is more complicated than she’d imagined.

Book Cover Flannery

Rodent (March), by Lisa Lawrence, is about a girl who gets tired of all the drama in her troubled life, and discovers an interest instead (and a talent for) drama on the page. Fifteen Lanes (April), by acclaimed SJ Laidlaw, explores the experiences of two young girls with a story set in Mumbai’s red light district. Trial By Fire: A Riley Donovan Mystery (April) is the latest by the award-winning Norah McClintock. Anyone who's read Lisa Moore's novel Alligator will be unsurprised by her foray into the YA genre with Flannery (May) since she has a clear affinity for teen characters. In Finding Hope (March), by award-winner Colleen Nelson, Hope is looking for a fresh start at boarding school, but an online romance and the reappearance of her drug addicted brother threaten to derail her plans. 

Book Cover Taking a Chance on Love

The second book in Clockwise Press's "One-2-One" series is Born With (March), by Lorna Schultz Nicholson. A girl on her way to becoming a champion horse racer is derailed by discovering of troubling family secrets in Jockey Girl (April), by Shelley Peterson. Stepping Into Traffic (April), by K.J. Rankin, tells the story of a boy with a troubled history who finally lands in the care of a decent foster parent, but is still drawn to a world of gangs and drug dealers. A story of love in an enchanted time and place, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia during World War Two, Taking a Chance on Love (February) is the eleventh novel by Mary Razzell, whose work has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award and others.


Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell (April), by Liane Shaw, is about a boy with Asperger’s whose grasp of his world is shaken when his friend goes missing. Carol Shields's version of Susanna Moodie's story gets graphic novel treatment with Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In the Bush (April), by Shields and Patrick Crowe, illustrated by Selena Goulding, and adapted by Willow Dawson. Historical novel Convictions (April), by Judith Silverthorne, takes aboard a convict ship of women en-route to Australia. Under Threat (March), by Robin Stevenson, is about Franny, whose life gets complicated when her abortion-provider parents start receiving death threats—perhaps from someone closer than they think. Under the Dusty Moon (January) is the latest from the amazing Suzanne Sutherland, about a sixteen-year-old girl emerging from her rock and roll star mom's shadow. Saving Montgomery Sole (April) is a new novel by superstar Mariko Tamaki. And Will to Survive (February), by Eric Walters, is the conclusion to his "Rule of 3" trilogy. 

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