ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CANADIAN MULTICULTURAL PICTURE BOOKS PUBLISHED SINCE
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
Alphabetical Links to Authors' Last Names: C D E FG H JKL M NOP QRS T UV W Y
Downloadable versions: Word Document PDF
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
Bannatyne-Cugnet, J. (1992).
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:
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.
Resource Info: http://www.curriculum.org/csc/resources/farandwide.shtml
(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.
(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
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.
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
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
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.
Brownridge, W. R. (1995). The Moccasin Goalie. Illustrated by
P. Montpellier. Victoria, BC:
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
Campbell, N. (2005). Shi-shi-etko. Illustrated by K. La
Fave. Toronto, ON:
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.
The Flying Canoe. Illustrated by S. Cohen;
Translated by S. Fischman. Toronto, Ontario: Taundra
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
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
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
Condon, P. (2000). Changes. Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont
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
Cummings, P. (2004). Out on the Ice in the Middle
of the Bay. Illustrated by A. Priestley.
Toronto, Ontario: Annick
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: http://www3.sympatico.ca/peter.cumming/i1.html
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.
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
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
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
Elwin, R. (1990). Asha’s
Mums. Illustrated by D. Lee. Toronto: Women’s
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.
(1996). Red Parka
Mary. Illustrated by R. Brynjolson.
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.
(1993). The Missing Sun. Illustrated
by R. Brynjolson. Winnipeg, MB:
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
(2001). No Two Snowflakes. Illustrated by J. Wilson.
Orca Book Publishers.
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.
(2000). Stella Reine des Neiges. Quebec:
Dominique et Compagnie.
“Is the snow cold?”
“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.
(in French): http://www.collectionscanada.ca/read-up-on-it/015020-025000-f.html#e
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
website, with teaching ideas: http://www.tilburyhouse.com/Children's%20Frames/child_gift_fr.html
Gilmore, R. (1999). A Screaming Kind of Day. Illustrated by G. Sauve. Markham, ON:
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.
Gorman, L. (2005). A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet.
Illustrated by M. Rose. Chelsea, Michigan: Sleeping Bear
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
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
Teacher’s guide: http://www.gale.com/pdf/TeachersGuides/OntarioGuide_gorman.pdf
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
E. (2005). Picturescape. Vancouver: Simply Read Books
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
Available online: http://www.picturescape.ca/
(2002). Courage to Fly.
Illustrated by Z. Huang. Red
Deer, AB: Red Deer
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.
Song. Illustrated by B. Deines. Toronto:
Song is set in northern
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
Study Guide: http://www.artsalive.ca/pdf/eth/activities/caribou_raven_guide.pdf
Book Profile: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/read-up-on-it/015020-062004-e.html
(2002). Dragonfly Kites. Illustrated by B. Deines. Toronto: HarperCollins
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: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/read-up-on-it/015020-062009-e.html
(2003). Fox on the Ice.
Illustrated by B. Deines. Toronto:
Fox on the
Ice is the third in
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
(2000). Into My Mother’s Arms. Illustrated by R. Ohi. Markham, ON:
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.
(1992). A Coyote
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.
M. (1993). Northern Lights: The Soccer
Trails. Illustrated by V. Krykorka. Toronto:
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
Littlechild, G. (1993). This Land is My Land. San
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.
My Kokum Called Today. Illustrated by G.
Miller. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications
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
Illustrated by A. Daniel, Illustr).
Red Deer: Red Deer Press.
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.
Red Deer, AB: Red
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: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/read-up-on-it/015020-6045-e.html
Simpson. (2004). Leon's Song. Illustrated by D.
Bonder. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry &
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's site: http://www.stephaniemclellan.com/LeonsSong.htm
Moak, A. (2002).
A Big City
ABC. Toronto: Tundra Books.
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).
(1996). Tiger’s New Cowboy
Boots. Illustrated by
G. Graham. Red Deer,
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,
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).
Away. Illustrated by
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.
Munsch, R. (2001). Up, Up, Down. Illustrated by
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
Murray, B. (2004). Thomas and the Metis Sash. Illustrated
by S. Dawson. Translated by R. Flamand. Pemmican
Publications Inc: Winnipeg,
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: http://umanitoba.ca/cm/vol11/no18/thomasandthemetissash.html
Nanji, S. (2000). Treasure for Lunch. Illustrated by
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
(1994). The Always Prayer
Shawl. Illustrated by T. Lewin. Honesdale,
PA: Boyds Mill Press,
Caroline House; distributed by St. Martin’s
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.
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 http://www.gdins.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=95&osCsid=35f80f420d99ad39874400985f538623
Girl Who Hated Books. Second Story
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
Pelletier, Darrell W. (1992). The Big Storm. The Gabriel Dumont Institute:
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 http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/curr_inst/iru/bibs/elhealth/t-db.html#34
Pelletier, Darrell W. (1992). Alfred’s Summer. The Gabriel Dumont
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 http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/curr_inst/iru/bibs/elhealth/t-da.html#12
(2004). Dawn Watch. Illustrated by
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.
(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
Perron, J., Sylliboy, H., Mitcham, A.,
N. (2002). A Little Boy Catches a Whale. Bouton d’or Acadie: Moncton,
adaptation in French, English, and Mi’kmaq of a Mi’kmaq fable published by Silas T. Rand in
Quinlan, P. (1994). Tiger Flowers.
J. Wilson, Illustr). Toronto: Lester
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.
Mountain Alphabet. Illustrated by A. Kiss.
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.
(1990). Two Pairs of
Shoes. Illustrated by D. Beyer, Illustr). Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications
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.
(2004). Les Trouvailles d’Adami.
Illustrated by Franson, L. Quebec:
Les éditions soleil
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
K. (2004). Mom and Mum are Getting
Married. Illustrated by A.
Priestley. Toronto: Second Story Press.
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.
(2006). P is for Puffin: A Newfoundland and Labrador
Alphabet. Illustrated by Odell
MI: Sleeping Bear
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.
(with link to a teaching guide): http://www.gale.com/servlet/ItemDetailServlet?region=9&imprint=785&titleCode=SBCNA1&cf=p&type=4&id=226536
M.F. (1996). Silver
Threads. Illustrated by M. Martchenko. Toronto: Penguin
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
(1999). Me and Mr.
Illustrated by J.
Wilson. Victoria, BC:
Orca Book Publishers.
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.
(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
Steffen, C. (2003). A New Home for Malik.
Illustrated by J.
Stopper. Calgary: Calgary Immigrant Woman’s
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
M. (2001). The Chinese
Violin. Illustrated by J.
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
M. (1995). The Tiny Kite of Eddie Wing. Illustrated by A. Van Mil.
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
(scroll down): http://www.execulink.com/~maxitrot/crafts.htm
Teaching Ideas: http://www.execulink.com/~maxitrot/kite.pdf
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
(1999). Flags. Illustrated by P.
Morin. Toronto: Stoddart
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
(scroll down): http://www.execulink.com/~maxitrot/crafts.htm
(2003). Suki’s Kimono. Illustrated by
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.
(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
Van Camp, R. (1998). What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know about
Horses? Illustrated by G. Littlechild. San
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: http://web.uvic.ca/torch/torch1997f/vox.htm
Van Camp, R. (1997). A Man Called Raven. Illustrated by G. Littlechild.
Children’s Book Press.
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.
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.
B. (2000). Sky
Sisters. Illustrated by B. Deines, Illustr). Toronto:
Kids Can Press.
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
Wallace, I. (2000). Duncan's way. Illustrated by I. Wallace.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books
/Douglas & McIntyre.
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
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
Ye, T. (1999). Share the Sky. Illustrated by S. Langlois. Toronto: Annick
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
Yee, P. (1996). Ghost Train. Illustrated by H. Chan. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre / Groundwood.
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
(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.
(great photos): http://www.paulyee.ca/index.swf
Some of the
summaries are from:
PIKA: Canadian Children's Literature
CM: review of
Roberta F. Hammett