Archive for November 22nd, 2007

Happy Canadian Children’s Book Week – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Now maybe you don’t buy a present to mark every national day or week in honour of this or that and maybe you’re not even Canadian but I really hope that you will go out and pick up a Canadian book for a child in your life in honour of Canadian Children’s Book Week. There are so many great books out there and, being the helpful (and bossy) sort, I thought I’d provide a few recommendations:

1. Stella, Princess of the Sky by Marie-Louise Guay, or any other of the Stella and Sam series that tells the stories of an confident, all-knowing or at least always-answering, big sister, and her somewhat cautious younger brother. They’re spunky, these two and the illustrations are lovely and perfect for times when your eyes need beauty and tranquility.

2. Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko is a popular story in our house right now since Reid has to choose how her hair will be done each day. I’d recommend most Robert Munsch books though sometimes they feature “strong” language, like “stupid”. I even like Love You Forever though I cry every time I read it. Ken would disagree. He calls it “Stalk You Forever” and refuses outright to read it to Reid.

3. Read Me a Book by Barbara Reid is a lovely book for new parents and small children. Most any book by Barbara Reid features bright plasticine images and a strong story but I have to warn you against Two by Two. I found it to be a dark retelling of the Noah’s Ark story that disturbed my 3 year old. I know the Bible story is about a world full of wickedness but I expected a lighter telling of the story from Barbara Reid.

4. Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bougeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark is the Franklin story that I was able to choose among the many that we enjoy reading at our house. I picked it because it tells the story of Franklin trying to choose what gift to give to a toy drive and it seems appropriate at this time of year. Any Franklin story by Paulette Bourgeois is worth reading although I must warn you that Franklin can be a bit whiny or troublesome in some of the stories, like all kids can be. The stories based on television episodes, and written by other authors, are sometimes weaker due to their origins.

5. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler, a book for kids a bit older than 3 but I’m looking forward to re-reading it with Reid in a few months. I might try it right away but we’re still getting past the Hallowe’en inspired fears that Reid developed.

6. Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee and illustrated by Frank Newfeld is probably the only book of Canadian poetry poetry that I could name but it is a good one for all of my unfamiliarity with poetry.

7. In Flander’s Fields: The story of the poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, a book that tells the story of the Dr John McCrae and the First World War as well as providing an illustrated version of the famous poem. The oil paintings that accompany the poem can be dark. Be ready to have an important discussion of the unglamorous side of war. It’s a good antidote to the fast-paced, shiny equipment in video games.

8. Red is Best by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis is a book that we have in it’s miniature size for travelling and we have read it many, many, many times and I still love it. Reid prefers yellow with the same passion that Kelly has for red. I’m sure that they would agree that a particular colour of barrette can really make your hair happy.

9. Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman. This book tells two wonderful stories, first the story of the boy’s relationship with his grandfather and the grandfather’s ability to see the usefulness of increasingly smaller amounts of fabric and then in the further ingenuity of the mice whose under-the-floorboards story is told at the bottom of the page. It has an environmental theme of reusing materials which may make it trendy this year but the beautiful illustrations and the wonderful story will keep it on the top of the “read to me” pile. We have also enjoyed Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman, a book with an entirely different tone and tempo.

10. Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane and illustrated by Ron Lightburn. I chose this book for its beautiful illustrations but was immediately drawn into the story as well. The cycle of life, the love of and for grandparents and nature are all described.

11. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, a book I haven’t read since grade 4 or 5 but I figure if I read it aloud, Reid would be ready for it in grade 2. That’s 4 years from now but as fast as the first 3 years have passed, it won’t be long before I’m opening the cover.

12. The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service and illustrate by Ted Harrison, another book we’ll have to wait a bit to read but it will be a fun one and provide an opportunity to discuss Canada’s north and the role it plays in our national identity, though not in those words, of course.

13. The Hockey Sweater by Rock Carrier and illustrated by Sheldon Cohen, a quintessentially Canadian story if ever there was one. It explores our passion – hockey, of course – the challenges of living in a bilingual country and the way that we celebrate winter.

And visit other Thursday Thirteen participants for a smorgasboard of ideas.

What books would you add to this list?