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Great Kids Books by Black Authors

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Celebrating some of the best of Canadian children's literature with these books by Black authors.
City Speaks In Drums

City Speaks In Drums

by Shauntay Grant
illustrated by Susan Tooke
edition:Hardcover
tagged :

Two boys from North End Halifax explore their neighbourhood and the city beyond, finding music everywhere. At the skate park, by the Public Gardens, down Spring Garden Road, and on the boardwalk, drums and saxophones and dancers and basketballs create the jumbled, joyful, pulsing rhythm of Halifax. Shauntay Grant's playful spoken word-style poem and Susan Tooke's vivid illustrations create a wildly energetic and appealing journey through the big, bright city.

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Malaika’s Costume

Malaika’s Costume

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

Disappointed and upset at her grandmother’s hand-me-down costume, Malaika leaves the house, running into Ms. Chin, the tailor, who offers Malaika a bag of scrap fabric. With her grandmother’s help, Malaika c …

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Greetings, Leroy

Greetings, Leroy

by Itah Sadu
illustrated by Alix Delinois
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

The first day at a new school is nerve-wracking enough, never mind when it’s in a new country! In this lively picture book from award-winning storyteller Itah Sadu, Roy realizes he may come to love his new home in Canada as much as he loves his old home in Jamaica.

Written as an email to a friend back home, this picture book tells the story of Roy, whose family has just moved to Canada from Jamaica. His new home is different from his old home – in Canada, even the sun feels cold! His nerves e …

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The Stone Thrower

The Stone Thrower

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

The African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.

Chuck Ealey grew up poor in a racially segregated community that was divided from the rest of town by a set of train tracks, but his mother assured him that he wouldn’t stay in Portsmouth forever. Education was …

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Boonoonoonous Hair

Boonoonoonous Hair

by Olive Senior
illustrated by Laura James
edition:Hardcover

In this beautifully illustrated picture book written by Commonwealth Prize—winning author Olive Senior and illustrated by the much—acclaimed artist of Anna Carries Water a little girl learns to love her difficult—to—manage curly hair.

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Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged!

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged!

edition:Paperback

Viola Desmond was one brave woman! Now come on here, listen in close and I’ll tell you why …

In Nova Scotia, in 1946, an usher in a movie theater told Viola Desmond to move from her main floor seat up to the balcony. She refused to budge. Viola knew she was being asked to move because she was black. In no time at all, the police arrived and took Viola to jail. The next day she was charged and fined, but she vowed to continue her struggle against such unfair rules.

Viola’s determination gave …

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Annaka

Annaka

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Annaka has always hated her first name. That's why, when her mother packed her up at age seven and moved from Yarmouth to Halifax, she decided she would go by Anna. Now Anna is back in Yarmouth after the death of her beloved Grampy, and sorting through memories from her younger self. She discovers a journal Grampy gifted her years ago; it is filled with snapshots of a happy childhood: sketches of Nan braiding Anna's hair on the porch, stories about road trips Anna and Grampy took in his antique …

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Excerpt

It felt like hours, but I honestly had no idea how much time passed. Clay noticed I was breathing at a normal pace again and he asked, "You ready to go back home?"

"Not really," I said. "Can't we just stay here?" I felt embarrassed that Clay had seen me like that. But I was really grateful he took me away from it all.

"You could, but your mom would probably freak out," Clay said with a half grin.

"She's always freaking out these days," I sighed. "We should go back, I guess."

Clay snapped his fingers and the darkness began to fade away. The stars fizzed out and once everything was said and done, it didn't look much different at all. The moon was resting above us, while stars were all around the sky.

"How long were we there?" I asked.

"A while, but don't worry. Are you okay?"

"I don't know," I admitted. I got to my feet and wiped the grass off my jeans. How could I be okay after that?

I turned around and saw my truck still parked in the same spot. We pulled out of the area and went back the highway towards Yarmouth. I didn't want the road to end. I wanted to keep driving. Driving felt like I was finally in control of something for once in my life. Nobody could take that away from me. Not a stupid city, not Mom, not a stupid attendance sheet. We eventually made it back to the city and once we got close to the path Clay said, "I'm around if you need me."

I looked to my right and he was gone.

I had a feeling Mom would be waiting for me, and sure enough, she was on the front porch in her housecoat.

"Anna!" she whispered-yelled. "Where were you?"

When I saw Mom, I didn't know how to react. I kept thinking about her being the young woman in the grey hoodie, hanging out in that trailer where that man lived. I knew I couldn't bring it up; it would only make things worse.

"I was...at Tia's place."

"No you weren't," she cut in. "I called and you weren't there." She crossed her arms. "Not only that," she continued, "but I got a call from Ms. Anderson today. Why weren't you in class? Apparently this wasn't the first time, either."

"I—I...."

"Nothing to say for yourself? C'mon Anna. You're better than that. You're better than this."

How dare she say that? After I seen what I had seen, those words coming out of her mouth were like some sick joke. Her validation wasn't a hill I wanted to die on. She was the one who took me away from everything in my hometown and expected me to come back and pretend everything was normal. But this wasn't normal. Grampy dying without us here, and Mom expecting me to finish off grade eleven in the school he taught at wasn't normal. Abruptly moving back to my hometown with no timeline of our stay wasn't normal. Never mentioning my father and pretending he didn't exist wasn't normal.

There was nothing normal about any of this.

"Your grandfather worked so hard for everything he accomplished here," Mom was saying now. "He worked so hard for me, he worked so hard for you. I don't want you to go down this road. I don't want you to let him down."

That's when I lost it.

"Hold up!" I yelled. "Me letting him down?! You're the one who never visited in years. You never even saw him before he died!" I couldn't contain myself. "Then you have the nerve to hold me to some higher expectation after ripping me away from my hometown. Bringing me along to Halifax so you could study. I was fine here, Mom! I would have been fine, but no. You just had to take me along so you could say you did all by yourself while having a daughter!" I knew that last part wasn't fair, but I was done being nice. "You didn't even take into consideration my feelings when we left Yarmouth. You just left, and I never had a say!"

I didn't know where this furious energy was coming from, but I wasn't backing down.

"I'm not just some plot device in your story, Mom. I'm my own person. Now we're suddenly back here, and we're supposed to act like everything is normal? Are we supposed to act like Grampy being gone is normal? Am I just supposed to tighten my bootstraps and move on? Don't you think it hurts being in the school where he taught? Don't you think it hurts having Nan treat me like a stranger? Is that supposed to be normal? And do you think that we're supposed to pretend my dad doesn't still live in this town? Or do you just edit him out of the equation because it's easier for you, rather than having a conversation with your daughter?"

I could see the emotions shift on Mom's face. From angry to frustrated to disappointed to just...lost. I had never seen her like that before. I didn't know what else to say. I don't think there was anything else I could say after that. Who did she think she was? How was she acting any different now than Nan did when she broke curfew in the memory?

"Annaka, that's not a line you cross." Mom crossed her arms walking towards me.

"No. I'm just supposed to pretend the line isn't even there, right? I'm just supposed to accept things the way they are." I threw my hands up in exasperation. "We've been here for weeks, and you haven't even toyed with the idea of me meeting my dad."

That caused her to pause.

"Some people are better left in the past," Mom said quietly.

"And some people resent the ones who keep secrets," I shot back. "Where is he? Where is he, huh?"

Mom shook her head. "I'm not having this conversation with you."

"You never do."

"You're right, I never do," Mom agreed as she walked up the stairs. "You do what you want, it's your life after all. If you wanna be a high school dropout, if you want to fail and tarnish the good name of Rudy Brooks, then you do you."

"Oh, that's new," I spat. "You're making it about someone else for once."

That's when she looked back at me and I saw she was actually a little choked up. It was then I knew how hard my words had hit because she didn't reply, she just continued up the stairs.

Everything was silent. I stood there feeling a mixture of things, regret, anger, but mostly sadness. I didn't want that to go down the way it did, but it did. After a few minutes I walked upstairs to my room and lay in bed. I was trying to remember when things were easier. Before death, before grief, and before loss. Those were the ingredients that scrambled my whole world.

I lay in bed thinking. I couldn't believe I had seen my dad. That had to be him, right? His name was Blake Morrison. Could he still be in town? Could he be gone? Of course Mom wouldn't talk about it. I rolled over to look outside through a gap in the curtains; there were a lot of stars in the sky tonight. I decided I wanted a better view, so I grabbed my comforter and went outside. I climbed up to the treehouse, placing my head in my hands wishing I knew what I was looking for.

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Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic Gold)

Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic Gold)

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Master storyteller Christopher Paul Curtis's Newbery Honor novel, featuring his trademark humor and unique narrative voice, is now part of the Scholastic Gold line!

 

Elijah of Buxton, recipient of the Newbery Honor and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. This edition includes exclusive bonus content!Eleven-year-old Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near the American border. Elijah's t …

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