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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Canadian Creatures

How do animals grow and change? Books that dovetail nicely with the Grade 2 Science “Life Systems” unit, as well as the Grade 1 “Needs and Characteristics of Living Things” and Grade 4 “Habitats and Communities” units.

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Book Cover Who's Looking

Author Carol Matas tells us the idea behind Who’s Looking? How Animals See the World, illustrated by Cornelia Li, began with a question on a walk: “How do the ants see us?” This led to the discovery that ants have blurry vision but are highly adept at detecting motion. This book helps readers develop empathy for living things by showing different points of view—that of a baby, a goat, a fish. Did you know mice are colourblind and dragonflies view the world in slow motion? Some creatures, like robins, can see colours that humans can’t. Others, like whales, can only see black and white. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover Canada Wild

Canada Wild: Animals Found Nowhere Else on Earth, by Maria Birmingham, with art by Alex Macaskill, provides information about creatures native to Canada. Out of the 50 000 animal species in our country, 308 are endemic to Canada—which means that Canada is the only place on earth where these animals are found. Endemic creatures showcased here include the whooping crane, Newfoundland pine marten and collared lemming. Each animal’s habitat, diet and status (stable/threatened/endangered, etc.) are given along with a "Fact File" and “How’s it Doing?” section. There are some suggestions for young environmentally-conscious kids at the back.  (Grades 3-4)


Book Cover Cooking With Bear

As a tie-in to the life sciences unit, what about creating some nature-inspired cuisine with Cooking with Bear, by Deborah Hodge, illustrated by Lisa Cinar? This vegetarian cookbook, housed in a story, begins with Bear waking up from winter hunger, determined to cook for each of his forest friends. There are nut burgers for Squirrel, granola with berries for Chickadee and a spring greens salad for Deer. Kids will see the connection between food habits and forest offerings with 15 kid-friendly recipes to be done with an adult. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover West Coast Wild

British Columbia's rich wildlife is great for student research projects about Canadian animals. West Coast Wild, A Nature Alphabet, by Deborah Hodge, illustrated by Karen Reczuch, provides a menu to choose from. Each page is devoted to an aspect of the unique ecosystem of the Pacific West Coast. Beginning with the "A" of "Ancient forests" and ending with "Z" of the "intertidal Zone", a variety of creatures are presented, such as dungeness crabs, a newborn deer, orcas, and sandpipers. Other titles in this series include: West Coast Wild Babies and West Coast Wild at Low Tide. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover A Bear's Life

Also set on the west coast, A Bear’s Life, by Ian McAllister, satisfies a young reader’s curiosity about bears, alongside Nicholas Read’s photos highlighting living and eating habits. As one of several titles in the Great Bear Rainforest Series, it shows that the forest is habitat to thousands of these mammals, including grizzlies and black bears, as well as being the only home to spirit bears. Did you know every tenth black bear is born white? Other titles in the series: The Seal Garden, A Whale’s World and Wolf Island. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover Canadian Animals in Colpur

Canadian Animals in Colour, by Geraldo Valerio, is a board book which provides an alphabet of animals endemic to Canada for Kindergarten to Grade 1. Alliterations abound: “Frogs feasting on flies” and “Splish, Splash, Foxes Dash!” Canadian animals are sorted by colour for young readers; white includes “Mountain Goat warm in a woolly coat.” There’s a simple glossary at the back with facts. Other books about animals by Valerio include Canadian Animals ABC and Canadian Animals 123.


On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.

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