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Top Grade Fall 2015 Selections (K-8)
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Top Grade Fall 2015 Selections (K-8)

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New titles for children published in fall 2015.
10 Ships That Rocked the World

10 Ships That Rocked the World

by Gillian Richardson
illustrated by Kim Rosen
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged :

Come aboard for daring stories that shaped history in surprising ways.

Ships have sailed through human history for thousands of years. Sometimes, their dramatic voyages have even changed the course of the world. For centuries, ships have brought cultures together in peace or conflict, played a role in wars and revolutions, and transformed societies.

Climb on deck for 10 ocean adventures, starting with the groundbreaking exploits of Zheng He’s 15th-century treasure ships and navigating unknown wa …

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The New Land

The New Land

A First Year on the Prairie
edition:eBook

The New Land is the story of a 19th-century European immigrant family’s first year of homesteading on the prairie. Mother, Father, John and little Annie travel across the Atlantic by steamship and then the country by train and ox cart to the prairies where they build a sod house and prepare for their first winter. In the Spring, they plant their first fields and rejoice in the prairie flowers and the flight of geese and meadowlarks. Recommended reading ages 4 - 8

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Algonquin Spring

Algonquin Spring

An Algonquin Quest Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Years after a devastating battle, Mahingan and his tribe struggle to recover a lost loved one.

Six years earlier in the fourteenth century, Mahingan and his tribe fought the Battle of the Falls against the Haudenosaunee. There were many losses, and Mahingan thought he had lost his wife, Wàbananang (Morning Star). But after the battle, he learned she was still alive, taken captive by the Haudenosaunee. Now on a desperate quest to rescue her, Mahingan and his small family are wintering north …

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Excerpt

1
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Tall Man

“Shh, what is that?”

We stopped and listened to what sounded like a huge animal running through the underbrush, snapping small branches as it went. It was a bright and cold spring day, with large patches of snow that the sun had yet to reach in the depth of the woods. In the forest, sound seemed to travel in cascades when there was sharpness to the air, and whatever was running through the woods was blazing a trail of broken limbs, small trees, and making enough noise to announce its arrival akin to thunder and rain.

The community called me Tall Man. We identified ourselves as the Beothuk (the people). My name came naturally since I towered over my fellow tribesmen by a foot and a half. Standing over seven feet tall, I am an imposing figure, held in wonderment by all of the Beothuk.

Three companions and I had been hunting seals on the northwest part of our lands (present-day Newfoundland). The shore ice was starting to break up, but this did not hinder our ability to harpoon a couple of seals to take back to our winter village a day or so away.

The sounds were getting closer and we could make out the snorting of a caribou, plus what sounded like men yelling and dogs howling. Then, before we could react, the animal rushed out of a huge thicket in front of us, knocking over two of my travelling companions. Two arrows were sticking out of the animal’s front withers, blood and phlegm spurted from its mouth, and a pack of five or six what looked like wolves snapped at its legs, trying to hamstring it. As the animal neared me, I could see a look of total horror in its eyes. At that intense moment, a whish, whish sound passed my head. A spear embedded itself in the beast’s neck, and with one dying bellow he spurted blood and saliva onto my face, took a few more steps, and fell with a sudden rush of air gusting from his body. The smell was horrendous, a mixture of rotting vegetation and gases.

Then, sudden silence. I had dropped my harpoon to wipe the assortment of stomach contents from my face. My two hunting companions that the beast had run over were slowly getting up; one was bleeding profusely from a neck wound that had occurred when the caribou sharply grazed him with his horn. Our fourth hunter was standing with his harpoon cocked back in a threatening manner.

Then, to our astonishment, three men unlike any we had seen before emerged from the thicket. Men with coloured hair, clothes the vividness of ripened berries, and weapons that were strange to us. One was holding what looked like a stick, but it gleamed in the sun. Another had a shaft with a sharp-looking grey shale head on it, but it was not shale. There we stood in a standoff over a dead caribou, one of our warriors slowly dying from a neck wound, me weaponless, and another on his hands and knees.

One of the strangers pointed at the animal and said a word I could not understand: “rheindyri,” and then pointed at himself and said something else that gave me the impression he was saying the animal was his. Our companion with the harpoon was young and reckless, and I was concerned he was about to do something foolish that would result in sudden carnage. One of the yellow-haired men raised his weapon in anger, as if this unexpected meeting was wasting his time. Then he let out a bellow that caused my skin to rise.

At that precise moment, a harpoon sailed through the air and embedded itself in the man’s neck, causing a sudden end to his yell and blood that spurted onto our friend on the ground.

Retribution was like summer lightning. The man with the sharp-looking weapon that gleamed in the sun took our young companion’s throwing arm off with a mighty swing. I was just about to react when I heard an abrupt noise at my back, and a crushing blow to my head sent me into a world of darkness.

***

I do not know what woke me first, the bouncing that my body was enduring or the eye-burning stenches of urine, fish, and body odour of the men who were carrying me. My head was throbbing and I was trying to resist, without much luck, losing consciousness. After awhile I was able to stay fully conscious.

Now I was able to understand the predicament that had befallen me and my fellow warriors. They had tied me up like a gutted animal on a stick, with my arms and legs bound by vines, and I was carried hanging from a stout sapling by two very smelly and strange-looking men.

I was able to look around and see only one other of my fellow tribesmen in the same predicament as myself. He was the eldest of our hunting party, one of the two men who the wounded caribou knocked down. His name was Whale Bone, a great hunter, but at this moment the fear in his eyes showed a weakness I had never seen in him before. Two men were carrying the slaughtered caribou in the same tied-up position as us. By the looks of things, this was not going to turn out well for my companion and me.

My hands and ankles were starting to chafe and bleed from the vines that bound them. Tied above my head, the blood slowly dripped onto my skull and ran down my face, into my mouth. At least it was some liquid to moisten my lips, which were starting to dry out. My mouth was dry too, mostly because of the fear flowing through my body. I now had a sudden urge to defecate and I did not know if I could resist the cramping of my intestines. I could not stand the pain, and with a sudden rush, my bowels emptied and spilled onto the ground, immediately causing the man at the end the stick to step into the excrement and slip. My last memory of that moment was a sudden foreign curse and my head hitting the ground, causing me to black out again.

It only seemed like I was out for a few minutes. This time, instead of my captors’ smell awakening me, it was someone kicking me in the ribs, yelling “Skræling, Skræling,” that woke me. The sudden pain and loud yelling caused me to sit up with a cold chill running through my body. My wrists and ankles were still raw and bleeding from being carried. With all four of my appendages still fastened, I was totally incapacitated and defenseless.

I opened my eyes and looked at my tormentor. The sun was setting behind him and the evening rays fell upon him, lighting his hair like a bonfire. His locks were a bright red, with facial hair to match. It was the colour of the red ochre that our people customarily painted themselves with.

Who were these people with the colours of the sun in their hair? They had hair on their faces, which I had never seen before on any of my kind. Their weapons were different from any I had ever encountered, and they were very efficient killers, from what I had seen in the forest.

My assailant untied me and gave me another kick in my ribs, and I got the hint he wanted me up. Whale Bone was standing behind me, whimpering and gagging. The poor man was going to die of fright before these strangers could do anything to him. “Øysten,” said Visäte, “why did you bring these men to our village? Look at them, they paint themselves in taufr (red ochre). They look like fools. These red men are of no use to us. Kill them!”

“We need them, Visäte, as þræls (slaves) to take over the oars for the two men we have lost in this forsaken land, Æirik the Elder who died after we arrived and Frømund who these Red Skrælings stuck with a harpoon. We probably would have killed the two of them but Floki sneaked up behind the giant there and rattled him in the head. Bior cut the arm off the youngest one, who bled out and died along with another of the weaklings who been gored by the wounded rheindyri. The old one just curled up and started to puke his guts out. Not much sport in killing either of them in those circumstances.”

“Well, feed them then, Øysten. We need them healthy for where we are going. We leave tomorrow for the island in the mists that my brother Edvard told us about when he came this route. It is essential that we catch enough lax (salmon) and obtain some björn (bear) meat for our journey home, plus the blessing of Óðinn (Odin) for our crossing. The sooner we leave this land, the easier I will feel. There has to be more of these red warriors and we cannot afford to lose any more of our men for naught. This land has nothing to offer except death and harsh elements.”

I turned and looked at Whale Bone and said, “My friend, did you understand what these men were saying?” “No, Tall Man, it was all just noise that I could not recognize,” he replied.

“Strange, I could understand every word they said!” I replied.

Whale Bone looked at me oddly and his face twisted. “Tall Man, something out of the ordinary is happening; the Great Spirit may be preparing you for a journey. I hope he has plans for me also.”

They gave us a strange vessel that was as hard as a rock. In it were a broth and chunks of caribou and our seal meat. We had not eaten in nearly a day. Whale Bone and I dipped our hands into the broth to grab the chunks of meat and just as quickly pulled them out. The broth was very hot and my fingers were throbbing. Whale Bone had popped a chunk of meat into his mouth and immediately spat it back out; he was gasping and spitting the hot residue out of his mouth.

Visäte turned to Øysten and said, “They don’t even know enough to let the food cool down. How do you expect them to handle an oar? Kill them now and get it over with!”

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Li Jun and the Iron Road

Li Jun and the Iron Road

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens (Spring 2016) — Commended

From the award-winning movie comes a story of courage and forbidden love.

It’s 1882 in southern China. Li Jun, a feisty homeless girl disguised as a boy called Little Tiger, works in a fireworks factory and yearns to sail across the ocean to the mysterious Gold Mountain in faraway British Columbia to find her long-lost father and fulfill her promise to her dying mother.
She joins thousands of Chinese men blasting a path f …

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Excerpt

Chapter One

The rooster in the Ho household’s courtyard crowed loudly to greet the dawn and the caged birds in the kitchen answered with sweet, high melodies. Li Jun stretched and yawned, warmed by the first rays of sun streaming through the tiny window in her servant’s quarters. Such a glorious day, she thought. Then she remembered — in moments she’d be summoned by First Wife screeching like a cat in a sack about to be drowned. For the past three long years, Li Jun had wakened to the same opera. And there it was again: “Lazy girl! Come here! My chamber pot is full and the stink is making me green.” “Coming, Mistress. I will bring your breakfast,” she would always answer. Li Jun splashed water on her face, quickly twisted her waist-length hair into two braids that she coiled around her ears, pulled on her trousers and jacket. Darn! There was a stain on her sleeve. She spat on her finger and dabbed at the stain but it didn’t change — still dark and greasy. Muttering to herself, she ran from her room on the far side of the courtyard to the main house. Until she arrived in Hong Kong as a twelve-year-old country girl to work as a mui jai, a “little sister,” she’d never seen such wealth, never imagined room upon room filled with carved wooden furniture, floors polished to a sheen, thick carpets everywhere, and gas lamps glowing in the dining room at night. But that was three years ago and back then she also never imagined that she would be the one on her hands and knees polishing those floors and washing the fine china until the skin on her hands was raw. The worst of her jobs? Reaching under the Ho family beds every morning to remove their chamber pots and empty them onto the garden vegetables. She plugged her nose and chewed on a piece of mint from the garden to keep from gagging, then washed the pots until they gleamed. Cook was busy in the kitchen when Li Jun came to fetch First Wife’s breakfast. On the tray was a bowl of steaming congee, plump with fish and pickled vegetables, plus a pot of jasmine tea. Li Jun was tempted to dip her finger into the porridge for just a taste — it looked so appetizing and her stomach ached with hunger. But later she would eat her breakfast of cold rice and maybe, if Cook was in a good mood, he’d throw in a mouthful of wilted greens. First Wife squawked from her bedroom even more loudly. Cook winced and motioned Li Jun to head upstairs. “How do you stand it, day after day?” she asked him. He hesitated. “She wasn’t always this bad. In fact, she was happy until she found she couldn’t have children. Mr. Ho wanted a son, so he found Second Wife. Now First Wife is miserable with everyone.” Second wife was big in the belly soon after coming to the house and gave birth to a son. First Wife wanted to send her away and raise the boy as her own but Mr. Ho had his own reasons for keeping Second Wife around. She was not much older than Li Jun, dainty and very pretty, and she warmed his bed most nights. Li Jun had scant sympathy for the tyrant upstairs. Still, she thought it was sad that First Wife had no children and her husband had brought a woman half her age with twice her beauty into her house. She knew that her father, far away in Gold Mountain, was faithful to her mother. They had been strangers on their wedding night, as in all arranged marriages, but love had blossomed and Li Jun remembered how tender they were with one another. In all her time as a servant girl, not a day passed that Li Jun didn’t long to be back with her family in her cottage by the river in Ping Wei. It had been a simple life full of joy and abundance. Her father, Li Man, taught at the village school; her mother, Shuqin, farmed the fields and tended to the house and garden. Li Jun was a carefree child then, but now it all seemed like a dream, a lifetime ago. Terrible things happened all over Guangdong. Li Man led the local farmers in their revolt against the brutal and greedy Manchu warlords, but lost the battle and his teaching job. Then, in revenge, their village was burned to the ground. He moved his family downriver, along with the other villagers, but their crops failed and they faced starvation. Li Man decided the only way to avoid disaster was to go off to “Gold Mountain” in America. There he would search for gold — they said it was lying in the ditches. There he would make his fortune and keep his family alive. He would send money every month, and when he was rich he would come back to them. At first his letters arrived full of love and longing, with enough money to support the two of them. Then, mysteriously, the letters stopped and there was nothing they could … Enough! Li Jun chided herself. Stop daydreaming and get to work. She was at First Wife’s door now. She knocked gently on it and carefully balanced the tray as she entered. But a gust of wind slammed the door shut behind her with a resounding THUD. First Wife, startled by the noise, jumped up in her bed, pulled back her quilt, and lifted a thick, dimpled leg over the side, balancing precariously on one elbow and groaning with the effort of sitting up. “Wait! I’ll help you,” cried Li Jun, setting the tray down on the ornate dresser. But no — she was too late. First Wife kicked over her chamber pot and the fetid contents pooled in a disgusting mess by the bed. “You stupid girl! This is your fault for slamming that door. And what’s this? There’s a spot on your sleeve. Such a dirty mui jai! Your mother would be ashamed.” You know nothing of my family! Li Jun wanted to shout. How dare you degrade me? My father was a teacher, a brave man with a fire in his soul to do what was right! My mother was proud of me. Didn’t I give up everything — the chance for school, for a husband — to come here to work for you, you fat cow? But instead she clamped her lips together, took a deep breath, and bowed to her mistress. More than anything, Li Jun knew she must be obedient. She’d heard what happened to uppity servants. Long ago when a cook’s helper spoke back to First Wife, his back was caned to a bloody pulp. As she wiped up the spill and scrubbed the floor, she had only one thought: the old cow was right when she said her chamber pot made her feel green. Her shit did stink more than most. More than ever, Li Jun wished she was at home. She would never forget the day her world changed forever. It was her twelfth birthday and her mother had scrounged enough to buy the rarest of treats — a bean cake. Li Jun took a bite and swooned with the pleasure at the first taste of the sweet paste. There had been no sweets for a long time. Not since a year before, at Chinese New Year, when they received a letter from her father, along with most of his wages from the past months. He wrote that the gold rush in America was over, so he was travelling north to British Columbia, the new Gold Mountain, to find work. There was still gold in those rivers and a railroad was being built right across Canada from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. It was a long letter, full of excitement. Canada was a new Dominion, no longer under direct rule of Britain. Many people in British Columbia wanted to join the United States but the first prime minister of Canada promised them an iron road, a railroad that would link the vast nation from sea to sea. It was a big country, Li Man wrote, even bigger than the ocean he had crossed from China to the new world! The railway lines in the east were nearly finished but building the western track through the forests and mountains of British Columbia was so dangerous that it was way behind schedule. Li Man wrote that a powerful contractor was hiring Chinese workers to clear the land, blast tunnels through rock, and lay the track in the Rocky Mountains. He was excited by his prospects and promised his wife and daughter that once he was settled up in Canada, he would send lots of money back to them. That was his last letter. Li Jun and her mother read it over every day, as they waited for more news and the promised money. But they never came. Li Jun offered a bite of her bean cake to Shuqin, who shook her head no and smiled as her daughter devoured the birthday gift. But Li Jun was worried. Her mother’s eyes were dark as stone, and underneath purple half moons had settled into deep hollows. She took her hand. “Have you had bad news from Father?” Shuqin ignored the question. “Is the cake good?” she asked. Li Jun was not a child; she knew her mother was hiding something dreadful. “He’s dead, isn’t he?” Her mother sighed and looked away as if gathering her strength to answer. “Li Jun, I don’t know. He hasn’t sent money in more than a year. He doesn’t write. There must be some explanation. Your father is a good man. He’s brave too. He would never abandon us. But look at you — you’re little more than skin stretched over bones. We’re starving. The roof is broken, and when the rains come it will fall in and we have no money to fix it.” Li Jun had an idea. “I’ll quit school and sell our vegetables in the market.” “Sweet girl, we don’t have enough vegetables to feed ourselves, never mind sell to others. Besides, it’s too dangerous here now. Every day I hear of another girl kidnapped and sold as a slave … or worse.” Li Jun pretended she didn’t know what worse meant, but she did. Everyone in the village talked. Girls were stolen, then beaten and forced into brothels to please men with their bodies. They were never seen again. Li Jun felt her stomach churn as her mother continued. “The head of our clan has made me an offer we cannot refuse. You will become a mui jai in Hong Kong for Mr. Ho. He is a rich man who needs help with his son and his two wives.” “A little sister?” said Li Jun. She understood exactly what that meant. She would be loaned to the Ho family as a servant. Her mother would get money, enough to survive, in exchange for her servitude. She forced back her tears and stifled the urge to scream: “NO!” She had no choice but to accept her mother’s decision. It was her duty. “It won’t be for long, Li Jun,” said her mother gently. “Once your father returns, he will pay back the debt to Mr. Ho, we will be a family again, and we will find you a good husband.” The next day, as she embraced her mother and said goodbye, Li Jun made herself a promise. She would not be a servant forever. She would find another way to support the two of them. She was like her father — brave. And there was a fire burning in her soul, too. WHOMP! A fan hit her on the head. She put up both hands to protect herself from First Wife’s anger. “Pay attention, stupid girl! Take away my tray and lay out my clothes. I am meeting with my mah-jong group this afternoon and I plan to look particularly fetching as I take all the winnings.” Li Jun snapped back to the present. To make First Wife look “fetching” would take much more than the fanciest silk dress. It would take a miracle.

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Loyalist to a Fault

Loyalist to a Fault

The Dead Kid Detective Agency #3
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

October Schwartz and her five deadest friends are back — this time solving an American Revolution-era crime while dealing with the shenanigans of a present-day ghost pirate

When October Schwartz raises her five dead friends to investigate the cause of Cyril Cooper’s drowning death way back in 1783, she expects a dull research-based journey into the lives of Canada’s earliest British settlers, the United Empire Loyalists. You’d think our favourite teen detective would have the hang of this …

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Buddy and Earl

Buddy and Earl

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback
tagged : friendship, dogs, pets

Buddy does not know what is in the box that Meredith carries into the living room. But when the small, prickly creature says he is a pirate — and that Buddy is a pirate too — the two mismatched friends are off on a grand adventure.

In this first book in the Buddy and Earl series, a dog who likes to play by the rules meets a hedgehog who knows no limits. Their friendship is tender and loyal, and their adventures are funny and imaginative. Maureen Fergus’s text is witty and understated, and C …

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Child Soldier

Child Soldier

When Boys and Girls Are Used in War
edition:Hardcover

Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his school-yard soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Against the odds, Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world, and this book is part of that effort. To …

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Where Do Babies Come From?

Where Do Babies Come From?

Our First Talk About Birth
by Jillian Roberts
illustrated by Cindy Revell
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

An engaging introduction for very young children to the basic facts of life in a way that is gentle, age-appropriate and accessible. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts created the Just Enough series to help parents and caregivers approach difficult subjects with little ones. These primers offer a gentle and accessible starting point for conversations about important topics.

Research shows that children are learning about sex at an increasingly young age and often from undesirable sources. …

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