In association with a research project being conducted by Ingrid Johnston and Joyce Bainbridge (UAlberta), Mary Clare Courtland (Lakehead U) Roberta Hammett and Anne Burke (Memorial), Lynne Wiltse (Thompson Rivers), and Teresa Strong-Wilson (McGill) 

Alphabetical Links to Authors' Last Names:  C  D  E  FG  H  JKL  M  NOP  QRS  T  UV  W  Y 

Downloadable versions:  Word Document    PDF

Ballantyne, E.  (2001). The Aboriginal Alphabet for Children.  Illustrated by J. M. Ross and N. Head.  Winnipeg:  Pemmican Publications.

This book uses the illustrations from an alphabet book from the 1930s called A Canadian Child's ABC. The contemporary text in verse accompanies the illustrations along with a simple quatrain for each letter of the alphabet. There is also a set of slightly longer free-form poems, one for each letter, at the end of the book. The black-and-white illustrations, by artist Thoreau MacDonald, are of Canadian scenes. Readers will encounter geographic, historical and cultural themes in the text that accompanies them. 


Bannatyne-Cugnet, J. (1992). A Prairie Alphabet. Illustrated by Yvette Moore. Toronto, ON: Tundra Books.

A Prairie Alphabet is a book that at first looks disarmingly simple, but it has many layers to explore. Prairie children will need no encouragement. They will find the cat at the door of the barn, the crow on the telephone pole and maybe even the garter snake hiding in the pebbles of a roadway. (Written by Tundra Books) 



Theme "Reflecting the Land" Resources:


Bannatyne-Cugnet, J. (2000). From Far and Wide: A Citizenship Scrapbook. Illustrated by S. N. Zhang.  Toronto, ON: Tundra Books.

 This story is about a little girl’s memories of becoming a Canadian citizen.  In her scrapbook, Xiao Ling captures moments of becoming a citizen of Canada.  From the recitation of the Oath of Canadian Citizenship to the singing of the national anthem and the welcoming party afterward with all of its tantalizing treats, the day is filled with memories for the new Canadians.  This story is a useful resource about the process of becoming a Canadian citizen. 

CSC Resource Info: 


Bear, G. (1991). Two Little Girls Lost in the Bush. Illustrated by J. Whitehead. Saskatoon: Fifth House.  

 This story provides readers with an opportunity to hear the voice of Nêhiyaw/Glecia Bear, who tells about an experience that happened to her many years ago when she was a little girl.  When she was eleven, and her sister was eight, she was given the responsibility of watching over a cow that was about to have a calf. When the cow wandered into the densely forested wilderness, the two children followed it. Alone, and without food or warm clothing, they tried to find their way back home. This story shows the self-reliance, strength and wisdom of a little girl who comforts her younger sister through their ordeal as they follow the owl, who eventually leads them back to safety. 


Bedard, M. (1999). Clay Ladies. Illustrated by L. Tait. Toronto, ON: Tundra Books.

 Bedard's story is about a small girl who finds a wounded bird.  She goes to the Church for help, a place full of wonders and where she knows she’ll find the Clay Ladies.  While nursing the wounded bird back to health, the Clay Ladies teach the little girl about the magic of the sculptors’ art.  Although the incident is imaginary, this story is based on the lives of artists Frances Loring and Florence Wyle, both of whom sculpted with clay.  Their works range from monumental figures to miniatures of animals and children, and are displayed in parks and public galleries, and in many private art collections all over the world. 


 Bouchard, D. (1993).  If You’re Not from the Prairie.  Illustrated by H. Ripplinger.  Vancouver: Raincoast Books & Summer Wild Productions.

 Those born and raised on the prairies are passionate about their bittersweet experiences with this diverse land.  If You're Not from the Prairie is a visual and poetic journey back to those times and the feelings they elicit. David Bouchard's text describes the power of the wind, the sweep of the sky, and adventures in the cold. Henry Ripplinger's images are snapshots from the past - playing hockey on the river, lying under the big sky in a field of swaying grass, wading in a spring pond.  


Brouillet, C.  (2001). Un Heros pour Hildegarde.  Quebec: Musee du Quebec. 

 On Hildegarde’s twelfth birthday, her cousin Julie decides to tell her all the secrets of their grandfather Emile’s adventurous life.  As a young apprentice in a printing shop in Quebec, Emile fell in love with Aurelie, the daughter of a rich client, who returned his love.  Their respective families would go on to break their bond as young Emile is forced to join a convent in France rather than be without his beloved Aurelie.  The Second World War erupts a short time later and Emile enlists in the Resistance and prepares to leave for Dieppe.  On the train trip, he embarks on a final adventure that finally brings him home, and seals his destiny. 

Description (in French): 

Brownridge, W. R. (1995).  The Moccasin Goalie.  Illustrated by P. Montpellier.  Victoria, BC: Orca Books. 

 Danny lives in a small prairie community where he spends the winters playing hockey with his three best friends; Anita, Petou and Marcel. Because of a crippled leg and foot, Danny cannot wear skates, but tends goal in his moccasins. When a "real" uniformed hockey team is established in the community, Danny and his friends are elated at the prospect of becoming members. Their happiness is short lived, however, as Coach Matteau selects only Marcel for the team. “Girls don’t play hockey, Petou is too small, and Danny can’t skate”, he says. When the Wolves' regular goalie gets hurt just before an important game, Danny is recruited and defends the goal well. The Wolves win the game and Danny agrees to become a permanent team member - but only with the provision that Anita and Petou can become Wolves too. 


Butler, G. (1998). The Hangashore. Illustrated by the author. Toronto: Tundra Books.  

 This story is set in a tiny fishing village in Newfoundland.  World War two has just ended and an important magistrate has just arrived to represent the government.  The magistrate demands respect but does nothing to earn it from the residents of the village.  In this village there is no one more different from Magistrate Mercer than John Payne, the minister’s son.  John and the magistrate clash many times over the course of time, for John does not care for titles or hierarchy; John judges people by their actions.  Magistrate Mercer threatens to have John sent to an institution because John has Down’s syndrome.  John is made to feel somewhat of ‘a hangashore’, a term unique to Newfoundland, which means an unlucky person deserving pity or a worthless fellow who lacks the courage to fish. Readers learn about self-respect and acceptance through John’s story. 


Campbell, N. (2005). Shi-shi-etko. Illustrated by K. La Fave. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.

 This is a compelling story about a little girl named Shi-shi-etko.  As she counts down her last few days before leaving for residential school, she tries to memorize everything about her home. Shi-shi-etko does everything in her power to remember the little things that are familiar to her - from the sound of the wind whistling through the trees to the dancing sunlight and the tall grass. After a family party to say good-bye, her father takes her out on the lake in a canoe and implores her to remember the trees, the water, and the mountains. Her grandmother gives her a small bag made of deer hide in which to keep her memories. The vivid, digital illustrations rely on a red palette, evoking not only the land but also the sorrow of the situation and the hope upon which the story ultimately ends.  


Carrier, R. (2004). The Flying Canoe. Illustrated by S. Cohen; Translated by S. Fischman. Toronto, Ontario: Taundra Books. 

 On New Year’s Eve, 1847, eleven-year-old Baptiste finds himself far from his friends and family and his home in La Beauce. He has come to the woods of the Ottawa Valley to live and work among “the finest lumberjacks in Canada.” As the New Year approaches, Baptiste and the lumberjacks grow more and more homesick. Resolved to see their families again before the stroke of midnight, the crew board a magical canoe that lifts them into the air, across villages, and closer to home.  This retelling of the Quebecois folktale reunites Roch Carrier with illustrator Sheldon Cohen and translator Sheila Fischman. This English version of the French text entitled La Chasse-galerie is translated by Sheila Fischman. 

Cheng, A. (2000).  Grandfather Counts.  Illustrated by A. Zhang.  New York: Lee & Low Books.

 Helen anxiously awaits the arrival of Gong Gong, her grandfather from China, who is coming to live with her family.  She is full of excitement but she also worries about how she will communicate with her grandfather who does not speak English. At first, grandfather keeps to himself by reading the Chinese newspaper he brought with him.  One day, as Gong Gong and Helen sit outside watching the train cars go by, Gong Gong begins to count in Chinese.  He soon teaches Helen to count in Chinese too, and in turn, Helen teaches her grandfather to count in English.  This story of the intergenerational bond between a grandparent and grandchild suggests how language barriers might be overcome. 

Cooper, J.  (1993). Someone Smaller Than Me.  Illustrated by A. Padlo; translated by C. Lucassie. Iqaluit, Nunavut: Baffin Divisional Board of Education.  

Written in English by Jane Cooper and translated into Inuktitut by Charlie Lucassie, the book tells the story of Peter who wants to catch a lemming. But what does a lemming look like?   After asking many creatures, all too big, Peter finally finds someone smaller, someone just right – a lemming! Written to aid Inuit children’s learning of their native language, the book entertains southern Canadian children with its patterned prose and gentle illustrations of northern animals. 

Condon, P. (2000). Changes.  Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute.

 This story is about a young Métis child named Kona, who undergoes a personal journey by learning that the changing seasons closely interact with her emotions. She is guided along the way by the Gathering Spirit who teaches her about accepting change and celebrating the richness of life's emotions. 

Cummings, P. (2004). Out on the Ice in the Middle of the Bay. Illustrated by A. Priestley. Toronto, Ontario: Annick Press.


 This reissue celebrates the tenth anniversary of this picture book's first publication in 1993. The gentle, rhythmical text describes how a little girl named Leah wanders away from her home, and her napping father, towards an iceberg in the bay. At the same time, a polar bear cub named Baby Nanook saunters away from his sleeping mother towards the same iceberg. When the parents awake, both Leah's father and the mother polar bear search frantically for their offspring. The parents dramatically confront each other and just then Leah and Baby Nanook appear and are rescued. 



            Author’s webpage:


Davidge, B. (1993).  The Mummer’s Song. Illustrated by I. Wallace. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre.  

 Popular singer Bud Davidge wrote "The Mummer's Song" as a tribute to a centuries-old custom in danger of disappearing.  On a cold, clear Newfoundland night shortly after Christmas, several outlandishly costumed mummers appear and Granny's house suddenly erupts in a burst of joking and tomfoolery, raucous singing and exuberant dancing. Granny and her two young charges are instantly caught up in the merriment. When the evening's festivities come to a close, the mummers are bid a fond farewell until next year.  

Davis, A. (2003). Bagels from Benny. Illustrated by D. Petricic. Toronto: Kids Can Press.


 Benny's Grandpa has a reputation for making wonderful bagels that his customers say are "made with love." In response to their appreciation, a wise Grandpa explains to Benny that it is indeed God who must be thanked. At first, Benny is troubled by how he might thank God, but his strong desire to do so, coupled with an inspiration, leads him to the synagogue, a house of worship, where he leaves bagels for God inside the holy Ark.




Demers, D.  (2003).  L’Oiseau des Sables.  Illustrated by S. Poulin. St.Lambert, Quebec: Dominique et Compagnie.

 A father tells his son about the wishes he was granted throughout his life by five sand birds that his own father gave to him one day when he was a boy. The subjects dealt with in this book are rarely encountered in children's literature: the power of the inner voice that guides the individual and the vital choices that shape each of our lives; the unconditional love that binds parent to child. The prominence given to the illustrations enhances the depth of these themes. Readers are propelled into the very heart of the artist's imagination: faced with a series of large depictions, they are encouraged to enter the narrative the way one enters a gallery or an exhibition room. The dense, dark tones selected by the illustrator help to evoke the bygone days presented in the story. 


Downie, M. A. (2005). A Pioneer ABC.  Illustrated by M. J. Gerber. Toronto: Tundra Books.  

  A is for Abigail and Anna, Zebediah’s two sisters. He is making the girls an alphabet book.  From B, which stands for bandalore, a forerunner of the yoyo, H for the hornbook that taught children to spell, and on through the pigeons that blackened the sky, to the uniform that Papa wore when he defended the king, right through to X for the eXhaustion of parents who are homesteading. This romp through the seasons on a pioneer farm is full of fascinating information. 


Elwin, R. (1990). Asha’s Mums. Illustrated by D. Lee. Toronto: Women’s Press. 

 The story of Asha and her two mums increases awareness of different kinds of families and different kinds of relationships. When Asha’s mums both sign a field trip permission slip for Asha, the teacher requests that the form be re-done "correctly." The teacher tells Asha she can't have two mums, and if the form is not filled out correctly, Asha cannot go on the trip. Eventually, the misunderstanding is resolved and both mums are allowed to sign the form. The story highlights the difficulties children of gay and lesbian families encounter when teachers are not aware of their family structure. The reality of exclusion and acceptance is also raised in the book as a discussion begins among the children about whether or not a child can have two mums. 

Eyvindson, P. (1996). Red Parka Mary. Illustrated by R. Brynjolson.  Winnipeg:  Pemmican Publications Inc. 

 The little boy in this heart warming Christmas story is afraid of his elderly female neighbour. When his mother reassures him that she is a friendly and kind person, he grows to appreciate and cherish their friendship. Red Parka Mary has much to teach him, and he has much to give to her. 


Eyvindson, P. (1993). The Missing Sun. Illustrated by R. Brynjolson. Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications.

 When Emily and her mother move to Inuvik, Emily has a hard time believing her mother's claim that the sun is going to disappear for many days. But her new friend Josie assures her that it is true. When they really do lose the sun, Emily has to wrestle with conflicting explanations. Her mother tells her that the earth is tilted, while Josie says Raven has stolen the sun. Emily's main concern is whether the sun ever shine again. 


Fitch, S. (2001). No Two Snowflakes. Illustrated by J. Wilson.  Victoria, BC:  Orca Book Publishers. 

 Lou and Araba are pen pals.   Lou is Canadian while Araba lives halfway around the world in Africa. In a letter to her friend, Lou shares her knowledge of snow with Araba, who has never felt it squeak beneath her feet or melt on her tongue. This book shares the beauty of snowflakes – no two snowflakes are alike, just as no two people are alike. 


Gay, M. (2000). Stella Reine des Neiges.  Quebec:  Dominique et Compagnie.

 “Is the snow cold?” asks Sacha.  “Is it hard?” he asks.  “It is as cold as a vanilla ice cream cone,” says Stella, “and as soft as a baby rabbit’s fur.”   It is Sacha’s first snowstorm and he is full of wonder.  He asks many questions of his big sister Stella, who seems to know all the answers.   The two children go exploring in the snow to discover all the tastes, sights and sounds of winter’s first snowfall. 

Description (in French): 

Gilmore, R.  (1998). A Gift for Gita.   Illustrated by A. Priestley.  Toronto:  Second Story Press. 

 This is the third and final book in the series featuring Gita, a young immigrant girl from India. During a visit from Gita’s beloved grandmother, Gita’s father announces that he has received a job offer back in India. What should the family do? Grandmother wants her family to go “home” but eventually, Gita’s family decides that, although they miss India, they belong in Canada now. A Gift for Gita is a story about Indian cultures and traditions, job relocation, immigration experiences, family heritage and the meaning of "home." 

Publisher’s website, with teaching ideas:'s%20Frames/child_gift_fr.html 

Gilmore, R.  (1999). A Screaming Kind of Day.  Illustrated by G. Sauve. Markham, ON:  Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 

 This story is about a young hearing-impaired girl named Scully.  Scully loves to play outside in the rain, away from her brother Leo and her busy mother as she loves the feeling of rain spattering gently on her face. After escaping briefly to the wet green trees outside, she is grounded and not allowed to leave the house for a day. As evening approaches, Scully and her mother are able to re-connect as they share a special moment together watching the stars. 


Teaching suggestions: 

Gorman, L. (2005). A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet. Illustrated by M. Rose. Chelsea, Michigan: Sleeping Bear Press.

 A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet introduces young readers to the beauty of the province. Written with knowledge by a life-long resident, this story describes Ontario's inhabitants, history, flora and fauna, movers and shakers. The book answers a variety of questions such as: Is the longest street in the world really in Ontario? And the world's longest skating rink? What is the Group of Seven? 


Teacher’s guide: 

Gregory, N.  (1995). How Smudge came. Illustrated by R. Lightburn. Red Deer, AB:  Red Deer College Press. 

 Cindy, who has Down's syndrome, lives in a group home and works as a cleaner in a hospice. One day she finds a puppy, which she hides in her room and takes to work with her.  However, Cindy’s ‘secret’ is discovered and Smudge, the puppy, is whisked away to the S.P.C.A. A happy resolution is celebrated against the darker backdrop of early death (the hospice residents) and lack of freedom that living with a mental impairment can entail. 


Gutierrez, E. (2005). Picturescape. Vancouver: Simply Read Books Inc. 

 Triggered by his imagination, a young boy's visit to the art gallery sends him on a journey across the country through some of Canada's greatest twentieth century paintings.   Beginning with the work of Emily Carr, the boy travels from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland in this beautiful wordless book. Appealing to children of all ages, the book contains endnotes about each of the paintings featured in 'Picturescape' and information about the artist. 

Available online: 


Harrison, T. (2002). Courage to Fly. Illustrated by Z. Huang. Red Deer, AB: Red Deer Press. 

Meg moves from her Caribbean home to a new city where nothing seems familiar. She prefers to stay in her room rather than play outside with friends.  One day, walking home from school, Meg finds and rescues a sick swallow. Although the swallow quickly recovers, it remains silent and still in the box Meg has provided. An elderly Chinese man, who has become Meg's friend, advises her to release the swallow. Meg and Jenny, who is also becoming her friend, release the swallow.  This allows both Meg and the bird to find the freedom they need.  

Highway, T. (2001). Caribou Song.  Illustrated by B. Deines.   Toronto:  HarperCollins Publishers. 

 Caribou Song is set in northern Manitoba and shares the story of the land, peoples and customs in both English and Cree. Through the long winter, two brothers, Joe and Cody, dance and play the kitoochigan and, in the spring, become part of a family adventure following the ateek (caribou) with a sled pulled by huskies. This is the first book in a trilogy entitled, “Songs of the North Wind”. 

Study Guide: 

Book Profile: 

Highway, T. (2002). Dragonfly Kites. Illustrated by B. Deines. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers. 

 Joe and Cody, the two young brothers first introduced in Caribou Song, stay in a tent near a different lake each summer. Summer means a chance to explore the world and make friends with an array of creatures.  They catch dragonflies, gently tie a length of thread around the middle of each dragonfly before letting it go, and then chase after their dragonfly kites through trees and meadows and down to the beach before watching them disappear into the night sky.  

Book Profile: 

Highway, T. (2003). Fox on the Ice. Illustrated by B. Deines.  Toronto:  HarperCollins Publishers.

 Fox on the Ice is the third in Tomson Highway’s “Songs of the North Wind” picture-book series.  In this story, a fox distracts the family dog team from a winter ice-fishing expedition, and it is left to Ootsie, the pet black dog to save the day and the fishing net. Ootsie is part of the family unit, and family togetherness is a theme stressed directly and indirectly in this story. 


Jennings, S. (2000). Into My Mother’s Arms. Illustrated by R. Ohi. Markham, ON:  Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 

 Into My Mother’s Arms tells the story of a special relationship between a mother and her daughter. Told from a little girl’s point of view, a mother and daughter share their day-to-day experiences which feature breakfast together, grocery shopping, some time in the park en route home, and ends with bath time and bedtime.  

Publisher’s Profile: 

King, T. (1992). A Coyote Columbus Story.  Illustrated by W.K. Monkman. Toronto:  A Groundwood Book, Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.  

 In this parodic retelling of Columbus's "discovery" of America, King overturns numerous stereotypes around colonization. King tells the story from an Aboriginal perspective, and cleverly interweaves figures from popular culture with the figure of Coyote, the trickster, to elucidate new truths about history and about the ongoing forces of colonialism in North America. The bright neon illustrations add to the humour and the resonance of the written text.  

Kusugak, M.  (1993). Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails.  Illustrated by V. Krykorka.  Toronto:  Annick Press.  

 Soccer is a traditional game of the Inuit. It is their belief that the northern lights are the souls of the dead, running all over the sky chasing a walrus head they use for a soccer ball. This picture book tells the story of a little girl growing up in the Arctic. Kataujaq learns about her arctic home from her mother, traveling with her across the sea ice, picking flowers during the summer, and gathering berries in the autumn. When tuberculosis strikes Kataujaq’s mother, she is flown to a hospital in the south. Kataujaq never sees her mother again, and is deeply saddened by her loss. However, when grandmother tells Kataujaq the story of the Northern Lights, Kataujaq is comforted and comes to accept her mother’s death. 


Littlechild, G. (1993). This Land is My Land.  San Francisco:   Children’s Book Press. 

 This land is my land is an autobiographical account of the struggles George Littlechild’s family endured through many generations. The author offers stories of delight, humour and healing as he tells of his family, his childhood, and his work as an artist. The book heightens awareness of the history and experiences of Aboriginal people in Canada. 


Loewen, I. (1993).  My Kokum Called Today.  Illustrated by G. Miller.   Winnipeg:  Pemmican Publications Inc. 

When her kokum (grandmother) phones from the reserve, a young Aboriginal girl living in the city knows she can expect a special experience. This time it’s a dance on the Reserve. She learns that women, especially grandmothers, are the ties that hold together the many Aboriginal families dispersed in rural and urban communities.  


Major, K. (2000).  Eh? To Zed.  Illustrated by A. Daniel, Illustr).  Red Deer: Red Deer Press. 

From Arctic, Bonhomme and Imax to Kayak, Ogopogo and zed, this book takes both children and adults on an alphabetic, fun-filled tour of Canada. Set in tightly linked rhyming verse, the words for this unique book resonate with classic and contemporary images from every province and territory in the country. Included are place names from Cavendish to Yarmouth and icons that evoke Canada’s regions, cultures, discoveries and heritage. Accompanying the text are the visual images from the colorful palette of illustrator Alan Daniel, who provides a mixture of folk art paintings, toys and models that leap from the page with energy.  


McGugan, J.   (1994). Josepha: A Prairie Boy’s Story.  Illustrated by M. Kimber.  Red Deer, AB: Red Deer College Press. 

This story, narrated by a young boy, tells of the difficulties encountered by his friend, Josepha, an immigrant from Eastern Europe in 1900. Josepha is adjusting to a new home and a new language. Because he doesn’t speak English, Josepha is seated with the very young children in school. He is initially embarrassed and wants to sit with the boys of his own age. Eventually Josepha makes some precious friends among the primary grade children, and when he has to leave school to work on the farm, the children are sad to see him go. What a wonderful friend he has been! Without a common language between them, how will the narrator ever say good-bye? What gift can he give Josepha to show how special their friendship has been? 

Author Profile: 

McLellan, S. Simpson. (2004). Leon's Song. Illustrated by D. Bonder. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 

 Leon is an old and rather homely frog. Other frogs in the pond are more handsome and can swim faster and leap higher, and Leon is all right with that. But when Leon hears the frog Romeo sing, his heart aches - for Romeo is the greatest singer on the pond. When Romeo opens his mouth, all the pond dwellers are spellbound. Leon's humble croak cannot compare, and while he is inspired by Romeo's beautiful voice, he dreams of making such a difference himself. Leon isn't going to have wait very long. Something is about to happen that will threaten the pond dwellers and their way of life forever. And to protect them all, Leon will find a talent than no one knew he possessed. (Written by the author.) 

Author's site: 


Moak, A. (2002). A Big City ABC.  Toronto:  Tundra Books. 

 Toronto, Canada’s largest city and one of the great cities of the world, means different things to different people. For some, it is the business centre of the country, with its soaring office towers and banks. For others, it is the arts capital, with its galleries, theatres, radio and television studios. However, in this book, the author sees Toronto through children’s eyes. He presents the places he feels make Toronto a wonderful city for children. (Originally published in 1984). 


Morck, I. (1996). Tiger’s New Cowboy Boots.  Illustrated by G. Graham.   Red Deer, AB:  Red Deer College Press. 

Each summer, Tyler (nicknamed Tiger) takes the long bus ride to his Uncle Roy’s ranch to participate in the cattle drive. This summer, instead of wearing runners, Tyler has new cowboy boots. He is disappointed when the other riders do not notice them. After a day of riding a horse in dusty conditions, crawling after an orphan calf in the bush, and sloshing through water and mud to move the cattle across a river, Tyler’s cowboy boots are noticed by his friend Jessica.  “Hey Tiger”, she says admiringly, “your boots are just like mine.” Tyler knows he is now a real cowboy. 

Munsch, R. & Ascar, S. (1995).  From Far Away.  Illustrated by M. Martchenko.  Toronto: Annick Press.

 Author Robert Munch writes the story of Saoussan who came to North America from Beirut when she was five years old.  As co-author, Saoussan tells her story; one that grew out of a series of letters she wrote to Munsch.  As she struggles to fit in to her strange new surroundings, Saoussan captures the emotions and frustrations of being a newcomer to Canada.  


Author’s Website: 

Munsch, R. (2001). Up, Up, Down.   Illustrated by M. Martchenko.  Markham, ON:  Scholastic. 

Anna loves to climb, while her mother and father prefer her to come down!   Although Anna is told by her parents not to climb, she continues to climb anything in and outside the house with unexpected results for the family. The book introduces elements of magic realism into a familiar family story. 

Teaching Guide/Review: 

Author’s website; 

Murray, B. (2004).  Thomas and the Metis Sash. Illustrated by S. Dawson. Translated by R. Flamand. Pemmican Publications Inc: Winnipeg, MB. 

 Li Saennchur Fleshii di Michif or Thomas and the Metis Sash is the third collaboration among this trio of author, illustrator and translator. In each book, Thomas is introduced to another aspect of his Metis cultural heritage. In this book, Thomas and his classmates finger weave a two colour belt in art class. When Thomas takes his blue and white belt home to show his parents, his mother says it reminds her of her Metis sash which she takes out to show Thomas. She briefly explains the sash's uses before going on to describe the significance of its pattern and colours. Thomas then asks to take the sash to school where he shares the sash and his mother's explanation with his classmates and art teacher. 

Quoted from the review: 

Nanji, S. (2000). Treasure for Lunch.   Illustrated by Y. Cathcart.  Toronto: Second Story Press. 

Where does Shaira mysteriously disappear to during lunch hour?  Although Shaira is thrilled when her grandmother comes to stay with her while her parents are away, her Grandmother packs her tasty goodies for her school lunch that she is ashamed to eat in front of her friends.  She manages to find interesting ways to bury the bhajias and the kebabs from her lunch as it is wintertime and there are many good hiding places in the snow.  Shaira’s secret is safe until the snow begins to melt and her buried treasure is exposed!  Will her friends find out where she has been going each lunch hour?  This story reassures those children whose family favourites go beyond peanut butter and jelly as Nanji addresses cultural embarrassment and celebration. 


Oberman, S. (1994). The Always Prayer Shawl. Illustrated by T. Lewin. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press, Caroline House; distributed by St. Martin’s Press.

 This is a story about the importance of tradition and the certainty of change. Adam is a young Jewish boy growing up in Russia in the early 1900s. When the revolution forces his parents to seek a better life in North America, Adam must leave his grandfather, whose name is also Adam, and all that is familiar and dear to him. The prayer shawl his grandfather gives him takes on tremendous significance and, as Adam grows up, marries and becomes a grandfather himself, the prayer shawl remains a constant in his life. Events come full circle many years later when Adam's grandson assures him that their "always prayer shawl" and their name "Adam" will continue through the next generations. 


Patton, A. & Burton, W. (2007). Fiddle Dancer. Illustrated by Sherry Farrell Racette. Michif translation by N. Fleury. The Gabriel Dumont Institute: Saskatoon, SK. 

Fiddle Dancer tells the tale of a young Métis boy, Nolin, and his growing awareness of his Métis heritage and identity while his “Mooshoom", or grandfather, teaches him to dance. Authors Wilfred Burton and Anne Patton weave a childhood story rich in Métis culture and language. This story captures the importance of Elders as role models, a child's apprehension at learning new things, and the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. (Adapted from the description at ) 

Pawagi, M. (1998). The Girl Who Hated Books. Second Story Press.

 Meena's parents love books, but Meena hates them. That's especially bad because there are books all over the house--in drawers, on the sofa, but mostly stacked to the ceiling. When Meena's cat leaps up on top of one of the tallest towers, Meena tries to rescue him. Instead, she knocks the books over. Down they crash, and out of the pages fly Humpty Dumpty, Ali Baba, Peter Rabbit, and other literary characters, who convince Meena about the power of books.  


Film site (view clips): 

Pelletier, Darrell W. (1992). The Big Storm. The Gabriel Dumont Institute: Regina, SK. 

 Set in Winnipeg in the 1930s, this is the story of a young girl who is so excited about eating latkes at her friend’s house that she forgets about her beloved cat who is waiting for her outside during a snow storm. By the time she remembers, the cat requires special care. Maryann Kovalski’s soft violet snow scenes and warmly coloured domestic scenes effectively communicate this highly emotional experience. 

Information copied from  

Pelletier, Darrell W. (1992). Alfred’s Summer. The Gabriel Dumont Institute: Regina, SK. 

 Alfred enjoys a summer visit with Moshom and Kokom at their house near the woods. He goes for long bike rides, sleeps in a tent, and sits around a campfire roasting marshmallows and listening to Moshom’s interesting stories about his youth. The simple crayon illustrations by Darrell Pelletier are appealing to young children. 

Information copied from 

Pendziwol, J. (2004). Dawn Watch. Illustrated by N. Debon. Toronto: Groundwood Books.

 During a night-time sail across Lake Superior, a girl wakes up to take watch with her father. The air is crisp and cold and Dad points out the Big Dipper and Little Bear and muses that the North Star has guided sailors for thousands of years. When he slips down to the cabin to fetch hot chocolate, the girl is left alone, and she imagines pirate ships, sea monsters, and rocky islands in the black waves. The images disappear when she blinks, but she does see the red and green lights of a passing ship. Her father returns and together they watch the sun rise and finally see land in the distance, a "black line between sky and sea." The lyrical, first person narrative quietly captures the wonder of the universe during a late-night journey. There is a sense of adventure when the child is alone on deck.  


Pendziwol, J. (2005). The Red Sash. Illustrated by N. Debon. Toronto: Groundwood Books.

 This story is full of details about Canada at the time of the Canadian fur trade. Set in the early years of the 19th century, the story unfolds through the eyes of a young Métis boy.  He lives with his family just outside Fort William, which was the major trading post linking the fur trade of northern and central Canada to the North West Company's main headquarters in Montreal. Voyageurs, easily identified by the red sash they wore, were the men who worked in the fur trade, traveling along the trade routes by canoe. The boy longs to be a voyageur like his father and describes his family's life and the role that Fort William played in the opening of the Canadian interior.  The boy helps rescue a white gentleman trader whose canoe is destroyed in a storm on the lake.  The clear, mixed-media illustrations capture the people and the place, contrasting the harsh storm in the wilderness with the final rendezvous at the fort, where the voyageurs (including the boy's father), the traders, and the local community dance and celebrate together. 


Perron, J., Sylliboy, H., Mitcham, A., Mitcham, N. (2002).  A Little Boy Catches a Whale.  Bouton d’or Acadie: Moncton, NB.


An adaptation in French, English, and Mi’kmaq of a Mi’kmaq fable published by Silas T. Rand in 1894.


Quinlan, P. (1994). Tiger Flowers. Illustrated by J. Wilson, Illustr). Toronto: Lester Pub.

 Tiger Flowers tells the story of a boy called Joel and his uncle Michael. Joel's uncle dies of AIDS and Joel has to deal with his grief. Joel remembers all the things that he and his uncle did together. He remembers when his uncle was sick and the things that his uncle could no longer do. Joel talks to his mother about how he feels: "like I'm in a cold, lonely place inside me." His mother reassures him that she also feels that way and that "It hurts a lot right now. After a while it will hurt less." This makes Joel feel a lot better and he goes to sit in the tree-house that he and his uncle had made. After a while he climbs down and picks a tiger lily (Michael's favourite flower) to give to his sister Tara, who is also grieving for her uncle. 


Ruurs, M. (2000). A Mountain Alphabet.  Illustrated by A. Kiss. Toronto: Tundra Books.

  One of many alphabet books set in Western Canada, this book contains hidden animals, plants and a letter of the alphabet in each painting. Readers familiar with the Rocky Mountains will recognize some of the views Kiss has captured. Notes at the end of the book make for an informative as well as an aesthetic reading experience. Grizzly bears, loons, mountains goats, moose and people populate this alphabet book.  

Publisher’s guide: 

Sanderson, E. (1990). Two Pairs of Shoes. Illustrated by D. Beyer, Illustr). Winnipeg:  Pemmican Publications Inc. 

A young girl named Maggie receives a pair of dress shoes from mother for her birthday. They were shoes that she had wanted for a long time. She goes to show them to her grandmother, who is blind. Maggie’s grandmother compliments her on her new shoes and tells her to open a special box. In the box is a pair of beautiful beaded hand-made moccasins. Maggie is told that she now has two pairs of shoes and that she must learn when and how to wear each pair. 

Sauriol, L. (2004). Les Trouvailles d’Adami. Illustrated by Franson, L. Quebec:  Les éditions soleil de minuit.

 A little Inuit boy moves south to the city with his mother, and compares what he sees out of his window with his memories of the north – until he is drawn out of his basement hide-away to make friends with his next-door neighbour. 

Description (in French): 

Setterington, K.  (2004). Mom and Mum are Getting Married.  Illustrated by A. Priestley.  Toronto: Second Story Press.  

 The up-coming wedding of Rosie's two mothers, Mum and Mom, is seen through the eyes of an excited eight-year-old. Perhaps she can get to be a bridesmaid or at the very least flower girl. Disappointed when these two suggestions are nixed, Rosie comes up with a brilliant idea. She and Jack, Mum's little boy, can be ring-bearers and scatter some petals at the same time. Trying to practice holding rings and scattering flowers with a preschooler who is more interested in picking the scab from his knee is discouraging, but nevertheless, when the wedding day rolls around, Rosie is ready to take on her role. All goes famously, with rings and kisses exchanged, petals scattered, applause from all the guests and celebratory bubbles floating around the happy couple. 


Skirving, J. (2006). P is for Puffin: A Newfoundland and Labrador Alphabet.  Illustrated by Odell Archibald. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press. 

 This Newfoundland and Labrador picture book focuses on the history, peoples, traditions and landscapes of the province, depicted in verse, illustration and informational text. This alphabetic tour highlights the natural beauty of different parts of the province and many of its unique cultural aspects. 


Publisher's site (with link to a teaching guide): 

Skrypuch, M.F. (1996). Silver Threads.  Illustrated by M. Martchenko. Toronto:  Penguin Books Canada. 

 Based on historical events, this book tells the story of Anna and Ivan who escape poverty and hardship in Ukraine to move to the Canadian frontier. Tragedy strikes when Ivan is imprisoned as an ‘enemy alien’ when World War I breaks out. Anna finds herself alone as she struggles to keep their property and valuables. However, hope comes from an unexpected source. 


Publisher’s site: 

Spalding, A. (1999). Me and Mr. Mah.  Illustrated by J. Wilson.   Victoria, BC:  Orca Book Publishers. 

 Ian’s parents separate and Ian moves with his mother from the prairie wheat farm to the city. Ian is lonely and peeks through the fence to find out who lives next door. He sees Mr. Mah tending his vegetable garden and a friendship grows between this lonely little boy and a lonely old man. Ian has a shoebox of objects from the farm to keep him company, and he soon discovers that Mr. Mah keeps his own box of memories of his past in China. Each helps the other in a time of need by sharing their secret feelings of displacement.  


Spalding, A. (2001). It’s Raining, It’s Pouring.  Illustrated by L.E. Watts.  Victoria, BC:  Orca Book Publishers.  

Little Girl watches the rain and thunder through her window. Little Girl is determined to stop the rain so she can play. Appealing to the readers’ imagination, It’s Raining, It’s pouring! takes the reader on a journey with Little Girl up into the clouds to help Old Man get out of bed so that he can go back to taking care of the weather. 


Steffen, C. (2003). A New Home for Malik.  Illustrated by J. Stopper.  Calgary:  Calgary Immigrant Woman’s Association.

 The book tells the story of a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Calgary from Sudan. Everything is new and so different for him. Readers follow Malik as he meets new friends, learns a new language and experiences Canada’s four seasons for the first time.  

Thien, M.  (2001). The Chinese Violin.  Illustrated by J. Chang. Vancouver:  Whitecap Books.

 A story about what it is like to emigrate from a faraway place, a young girl and her father leave everything familiar behind when they move to Canada from China. The only piece of home they bring with them is a Chinese violin. As they face the huge challenges of starting new lives in a new place, the music of the violin connects them to the life they left behind - and guides the girl to a musical future. 


Trottier, M.  (1995). The Tiny Kite of Eddie Wing.  Illustrated by A. Van Mil. Toronto:  Stoddart Kids.

 From the moment he gets up until the moment he goes to sleep, Eddie thinks of nothing but kites and kite flying.  Because his family is too poor to buy him a kite, Eddie has to make do with his imagination and his dreams.  His resourcefulness and determination inspire the other children to cheer for the invisible kite, which he flies over the hill tops.   Eventually, Eddie's love of kites inspires Old Chan, who organizes the annual Festival of Kites, to realize his own neglected dream of becoming a poet.  Old Chan, in turn, helps to make Eddie's dream come true. 

Publisher’s Info (scroll down): 

Teaching Ideas: 

Trottier, M.  (1997). Heartsong = Ceòl cridhe.  Illustrated by P. MacAulay-Mackinnon.  Sydney, N.S.: University College of Cape Breton Press.

 Told in English and Gaelic, this is the story of a fiddle passed down through four generations. From father to son, who built the fiddle together, from that son to his daughter, from that daughter to her daughter, and from her daughter to a new toddler in the family--and all the events it attended throughout those years. 


Trottier, M. (1999). Flags.  Illustrated by P. Morin. Toronto: Stoddart Kids.

 Flags is a story of innocence and friendship between Mary, a child visiting her grandmother for the summer, and Mr Hiroshi, a Japanese man living next door. When Mr Hiroshi is taken away from his home because of the war, Mary keeps her promise to look after his garden until he returns. The story springs from a complicated world event, and is told from a child’s point of view. 

Publisher’s Info (scroll down): 


Uegaki, C. (2003). Suki’s Kimono. Illustrated by S. Jorisch. Toronto: Kids Can Press.

 On her first day of first grade, Suki chooses to wear her beloved Japanese kimono to school, despite the objections of her older sisters and the initial laughter of other children on the playground. Fortunately for Suki, for whom the kimono brings back fond memories of her grandmother's visit over the summer, her day ends in triumph, with her teacher and classmates won over by her impromptu dance performance. Overall, this is an appealing story of courage and independence. 

Teaching Ideas:

 Ulmer, M. (2001).  M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet.  Illustrated by M. Rose. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.

 From British Columbia to Newfoundland, this Canadian alphabet book shares some of Canada’s symbols, history, people and culture. In rhymes and informative text, author Mike Ulmer describes details of Canada’s past and present. Melanie Rose’s illustrations present many of Canada’s well-known scenes, from the Northern Lights, to Mounties and the cities of Toronto, Victoria, and Quebec.  


 Van Camp, R.  (1998). What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know about Horses?  Illustrated by G. Littlechild.  San Francisco:   Children’s Book Press.

 In Fort Smith on a day so cold the ravens refuse to fly, Van Camp cannot go outside. Instead, he asks his family and friends “What’s the most beautiful thing you know about horses?” The people of the Dogrib Nation in the Northwest Territories have little experience with horses. The many answers Van Camp receives (including one from the book’s illustrator) form the basis for this text that reveals secrets about horses and about the people in Van Camp’s life.  

Author Info: 

Van Camp, R.  (1997). A Man Called Raven. Illustrated by G. Littlechild. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.

 This contemporary story, set in the Northwest Territories, blends the past and the present to tell of Chris and Toby’s learning from a strange raven man. Drawn from the animal legends and folklore heard by the author, who grew up as part of the Dogrib Nation, the story emphasises the importance of having respect for nature. 


Publisher’s site: 

Waboose, J. B.  (1997). Morning on the Lake. Illustrated by K. Reczuch. Toronto, Ontario: Kids Can Press. 

 In Morning on the Lake, a series of three linked stories, an Ojibway grandfather, Mishomis, and his young grandson, Noshen, set out in a birch bark canoe one misty morning. Together in the early morning stillness, they watch a pair of loons and are rewarded by seeing the male loon perform his territorial dance. In the second story, "Noon", the boy and his grandfather climb a rocky cliff and are visited by an eagle whose presence, Mishomis explains, "... is a sign of honour and wisdom. As the Great Eagle is a proud protector of our people, I am a proud Mishomis of my Noshen." The final story, entitled "Night", takes place deep in the woods where the boy and his grandfather venture so that Noshen may see the night animals. Here the pair encounter a pack of timber wolves, but Mishomis' wisdom and courage are transmitted to Noshen, and he is able to overcome his fear and stand his ground in the yellow-eyed gaze of the leader. 


Waboose, J. B. (2000). Sky Sisters.  Illustrated by B. Deines, Illustr). Toronto:  Kids Can Press.

 Sky Sisters is a story about two young Ojibway sisters, Nishiime and Nimise, who set out across the frozen north country to Coyote Hill, where the Sky Spirits dance. They suck glistening icicles while walking, they meet a rabbit and a white-tailed deer, they hear coyote's call, and howl in return, they spin together atop a hill until they fall down dizzy in the snow, and finally the Spirits come. The story honours the mystery in the sky that is the Aurora Borealis and tells of the bond between sisters, generations, humans and nature. 


Wallace, I. (2000). Duncan's way. Illustrated by I. Wallace. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books /Douglas & McIntyre.

 For seven generations Duncan's family has fished off the coast of Newfoundland. Now, the fish are gone and with them, the old way of life. Duncan notices that his father is spending the days staring out to sea, watching television and baking bread and pies. Many families have left town in search of work elsewhere. Even Duncan's mother is beginning to suggest that they, too, join the exodus to the mainland. One day Duncan goes to visit his teacher, whose model train set sits on a Newfoundland-shaped board. As Duncan watches the miniature engines whizzing around the board, he is struck with a very original idea - a way to combine his father's newfound baking skills with his experience as a ship's skipper. (Written by the publisher) 


Author/Artist's site: 

Ye, T.  (1999). Share the Sky. Illustrated by S. Langlois. Toronto: Annick Press.

 Fei-Fei lives in China with her Grandpa, who makes the kites she loves to fly through the sky with her elder cousin. A letter from North America tells Fei-Fei it is time for her to re-join her parents. Share the sky is a story of the courage it takes to face a strange new life, of the tolerance and understanding one needs to deal with different ways and customs, and of the love of family. 


Yee, P. (1996). Ghost Train. Illustrated by H. Chan. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre / Groundwood.

 Ghost Train draws on a poignant Chinese ghost story tradition to recount hard historical facts about the dangers of building Canada’s railways. Harvey Chan's brooding illustrations perfectly complement Yee's multi-layered text. It's a winning combination that earned both the 1996 Governor General's Award for children's literature and the 1997 Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award. 


Yee, Paul (2002).  The Jade Necklace. Illustrated by G. Lin. New York: Crocodile Books.

 This story about Chinese immigrants to Canada opens in their homeland, as Yenyee's fisherman father gives her a jade pendant carved like a fish. When a typhoon blows up while he's out at sea, she throws the necklace into the water to bargain for his life. Still, he drowns, leaving her family penniless. Reluctantly, the girl accepts a job as caregiver to May-jen, the village merchant's daughter, and accompanies them to the New World, where both girls are terribly homesick. When May-jen nearly drowns in the ocean and Yenyee rescues her, miraculously finding the lost jade pendant, it marks a turning point in the older girl's acceptance of their new home.  

Author’s site (great photos): 


Some of the summaries are from:

PIKA: Canadian Children's Literature Database

CM: review of materials

April 2008

Roberta F. Hammett