Category Archives: Girls Outdoors

Northwest Resistance [A Girl Called Echo Vol 3]

Written by: Katherena Vermette

Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson, color by Donovan Yaciuk 

For ages: 12 years and up

Language: English, minor French. 

Topics Covered: History, First Nations, Military Action, Growing Up, Family, Fantasy, Time Travel, Métis History.

Summary: 

This is the third installment about the time-traveling adventures of Echo Desjardins, a Métis teenager learning about her own history. Echo is transported to 1885 in the heart of the conflicts between the Canadian government and Métis and First Nations people.  This graphic novel builds on both the historical struggles of this time period as well as Echo’s own journey.  Although the collective identity of Métis people is different from both European and First Nations people, they are identified as Indigenous people under Canadian law.  There is a very helpful timeline of events in the back of these books, which help to place events that Echo witnesses in the greater timeline of this point in Canadian history.

This book, along with so many others that Highwater Press publishes, are fantastic.  The melding of history and fantasy that focus on Own Voices is something the publisher does beautifully.  The historical struggles of marginalized and oppressed peoples, like the Métis, are crucial to learn about and understand now.  This graphic novel series are quick reads and can be the catalyst for further learning and study (like they were for us)!  We love learning about Indigenous, First Nations, and Métis history, and if you do too then this is a series that can’t be missed!

This ARC was kindly sent to us by Highwater Press, but all opinions are our own.  However, the book is out now!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

IMG_0777.JPGKatherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her novel, The Break (House of Anansi) was bestseller in Canada and won multiple awards, including the 2017 Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Her second book of poetry, river woman (House of Anansi) and eighth children’s picture book, The Girl and The Wolf (Theytus) were both released last year. She is also the author of the picture book series, The Seven Teachings Stories (Highwater Press) and the graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo (Highwater Press). And, along with a whole team of talented filmmakers, she co-wrote and co-directed the short doc, this river (NFB) which won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Short.

Vermette lives with her family in a cranky old house within skipping distance of the temperamental Red River.

scott_henderson-e1551823014971Scott B. Henderson (he/him/his) is author/illustrator of the sci-fi/fantasy comic, The Chronicles of Era and has illustrated select titles in the Canadian Air Force’s For Valour series and Tales From Big Spirit series, the graphic novel series 7 Generations and A Girl Called Echo, select stories in This Place: 150 Years Retold, Fire Starters, an AIYLA Honour Book, and Eisner-award nominee, A Blanket of Butterflies. In 2016, he was the recipient of the C4 Central Canada Comic Con Storyteller Award.

donovan_400-e1551823557966Since 1998, Donovan Yaciuk has done colouring work on books published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse comics, and HighWater Press including A Girl Called Echo series and This Place: 150 Years Retold. Donovan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and began his career as a part of the legendary, now-defunct Digital Chameleon colouring studio. He lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada, with his wife and daughter.

Kaia and the Bees

Written by: Maribeth Boelts

Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Growth, Fear, Lying, Beekeeping, Environmental Conservation, Family, Education, Emotional Regulation.

Summary: 

Kaia’s family has a pretty unique hobby, especially for living in an apartment building.  Her dad keeps bees!  He is very passionate about beekeeping, and bee conservation, especially since honeybee numbers are dwindling globally.  Kaia knows it’s important, but unfortunately she has One Big Fear: bees! Kaia’s small interracial family has thousands of bees, and Kaia is quick to brag to her friends how she’s also a beekeeper like her dad.  They’re impressed…until a bee comes along and she panics.

This story is all about Kaia’s journey through fear, emotional regulation, and bravery.  Her dad doesn’t push her to be around the bees, but continually opens up opportunities for her to interact and help out with them.  I love how interwoven into this story of facing fears is a very real fear that many scientists have-that the bees will disappear and bring ecosystems to a screeching halt with the lack of pollination that bees provide.  This is an adorable story perfect for nature, environmentalism, or social-emotional units in a classroom, or at home!

This book was generously sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maribeth-boelts-2020-honey-01Maribeth Boelts has been writing stories since kindergarten and began writing for kids over 25 years ago when her own children were young. Lots of picture books and three children/four grandchildren later, Maribeth enjoys not only the process of story writing but also meeting kids and adults who like to write. Maribeth and her family took on the challenge of beekeeping, and enjoyed this fascinating hobby for several years. The stings aren’t fun, but the work that honeybees do in pollinating is absolutely essential, and they were thrilled to play a tiny part in it. She also loved harvesting honey! Maribeth is so happy any time she can be in the woods, on a trail, on a river, or watching a sunrise or sunset. Nature has a way of changing us, healing us, and giving us all sorts of creative ideas!

authorspic_websizeAngela Dominguez was born in Mexico City and grew up in the great state of Texas. She now resides on the east coast with her boyfriend, Kyle, and petite dog, Petunia.

She is also the author and illustrator of several books for children and a two-time recipient of Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. Her debut middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something To Say, was a New York Public Library and a Chicago Public Library pick for Best Books for Kids in 2018, Sid Fleischman Award winner, and an ALA Notable. When Angela is not in her studio or visiting schools, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.

Small World

Written by: Ishta Mercurio

Illustrated by: Jen Corace

For ages: 3-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, STEM, Space, Growing Up.

Summary: 

This is a beautiful book about how a person’s world grows with experience.  When Nanda was born, her whole world was her mother’s arms.  As she grows up, her world becomes bigger, more magical, and more mathematical.  Corace’s illustrations grow to be more geometric as the book continues, culminating in Nanda’s ultimate trip to expand her world.

Nanda’s world grows as she goes to school, learns new things, and has new experiences.  The reader is able to harness Nanda’s sense of wonder about the world and apply it to their own, thinking about their place in our universe as well as the interests that make their own world grow larger.  The illustrations are beautiful and diverse, and it’s lovely to see an Indian girl be the star of the STEM-driven life she’s making for herself.  There is an author’s note in the back talking a bit about how Ishta became inspired to write the book, and the story behind choosing Nanda’s name!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Image result for Ishta Mercurio

Ishta Mercurio studied dance and theater at Simon’s Rock College of Bard. In between homeschooling her children, she teaches writers how to use theater techniques to improve public readings. She lives with her family in Ontario, Canada.

 

 

 

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Jen Corace is the illustrator of many books for children, including Little Pea. She has a BFA in illustration from Rhode Island School of Design, and she lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.

Lilah Tov Good Night

Written by: Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G)

Illustrated by: Noar Lee Naggan

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English and some Hebrew

Topics Covered: Refugee, Growing Up, Lullaby, Family, Nature, Love, Social-Emotional Learning, 

Summary: 

This is a very sweet book that delicately explains the refugee experience of a family in a lullaby style.  A young girl happily plays outside and then eats dinner with her family, a shiny menorah on their windowsill.  When night falls, the foursome set off walking into the forest.  The young girl says goodnight, “Lilah Tov” to the animals she sees on their walk, bundled up in the snowy weather.  She is shown happy and smiling for the entire book, optimistic and reverent of the natural world surrounding her.

While this is one refugee experience represented, it is not so detailed that it couldn’t be used to generally explain the big picture concept of the refugee experience to young readers.  The book itself is beautiful, and the main character is thrilled to wish all things, creatures and non, a good night.  The majority of the family’s travel takes place at night, including a long boat ride underneath a large starry sky.  This would be a great story for people looking to introduce these lived experiences to younger audiences, or before reading other books that have more violent aspects for fleeing. Four Feet, Two Sandals; My Name is Sangoel, and The Banana Leaf Ball are all books that would fall under this second category. All in all, we enjoyed this book very much and would be happy to have it on any bookshelf we encountered.

This book was generously sent by the author, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Ben7833-800-x-534It’s hard to say which has been more of a driving force for Ben Gundersheimer: music or storytelling. Throughout his career the two crafts have intertwined, propelling him as a performer and author. By age nine he was writing his own original songs, and as the son of children’s book author/illustrator Karen Gundersheimer, composing stories was a constant activity as well.

Ben went on to receive a scholarship from Berklee College of Music, travel the world as a singer/songwriter, and earn a Masters of Education. During his student teaching days he engaged his fourth graders through music, and it was this experience that transformed him into MISTER G, inspiring him to relaunch his career to focus on performing for children and families.

A decade later, the Latin GRAMMY Award-winning musician, activist, author and educator, is still fusing music and storytelling. The latest permutation of these two interwoven passions is as a picture book author, with two new books based on his original, multilingual songs. Señorita Mariposa chronicles the extraordinary migration of the monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico, while Lilah Tov Good Night is a lyrical lullaby celebrating the beauty of the natural world and the spirit of resilience in a refugee family.

From illustrator Noar Lee Naggan’s website: “Hi! I’m an illustrator living in New York, chiefly interested in children’s books. I also have a great passion to tell stories, and do it through my illustrations. I aspire to one day write my own books and illustrate them.

I was born in Israel and graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. I previously worked mostly in animation and graphic design with major companies in Israel, but several years ago I found my calling in illustration and I never looked back.”

Enough! 20 Protestors Who Changed America

Written by: Emily Easton

Illustrated by: Ziyue Chen

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: American History, Activism, Historical Figures, Courage, Segregation, Enslavement, Sports, Environmentalism. 

Summary: 

This book opens with an Author’s Note talking about her inspiration to write the book.  Emily’s young cousins had been in a school shooting a few weeks before the devastating event in Parkland, Florida.  Her family was physically fine, and they were empowered to do more.  One of them, Ryan (not the Parkland survivor Ryan, who wrote the Forward), helped to organize the March For Our Lives and their older brother took some time from college to help organize further events and demonstrations.  Emily Easton decided to write a book that described the actions of 20 Americans and their protests to create ripples of change.  In the back, there is also more historical information and dates related to each of the protestors.

The book itself is very easy to read, each page having a single line devoted to the protestor.  They are fairly well-known historical figures like Samuel Adams and Susan B. Anthony that children will eventually learn about in school, but probably won’t learn about their activist side.  I can describe the book as very entry-level, with the first half of it featuring well-known heavy hitters like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges.  Rachel Carson is mentioned, which I loved, I don’t think she gets enough attention.  I was also pleased to see Gilbert Baker, creator of the first Pride flag, and Colin Kaepernick as well.

We personally would have left off Samuel Adams (dressing up like Mohawk people before throwing out crates of tea is not so much a protest in our eyes, and more like a scapegoating) but seeing as how children in the majority of public schools will be learning about these figures, they should learn about this activist history at the same time.  However, I do like that this story can be an easy access point into learning whole histories about these American figures and how they fought back against injustice.  Social movements and activism is an important aspect of American history, and students should feel empowered to stand up for marginalized populations and learn about how they can become involved in social justice causes that they care about.  This is a valuable book, because it is a perfect entry point for someone just beginning their journey into the world of social justice and activism.

This book was sent to us by our friends at Random House Children’s Books, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

emily-eastonEmily Easton was the Publishing Director of the Walker Books for Young Readers imprint at Bloomsbury Publishing, until the imprint closed.  Now, she is the Vice President of Crown Books for Young Readers! Emily has diverse editorial taste, editing everything from board books to teen books, from fiction to nonfiction.  She has published numerous bestsellers and award winners, including the Caldecott Honor Book Gone Wild by David McLimans, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans in World War II by Martin W. Sandler, the Pura Belpre Illustration Award-winner Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez, and the New York Times bestselling “Perfect Chemistry” trilogy by Simone Elkeles.

81Ya0axP-fL._US230_From illustrator Ziyue Chen’s website: “Hi! My name is Ziyue, pronounced as Zzz yuair or you can call me Angeline. I’m a Singapore based Illustrator and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. I love drawing and visualizing stories through illustrations. I work on mostly Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print.

My life goal has been to have an emotional connection with those who view my work. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, sketching, swimming and spending time with my loved ones. Mixed nuts, goji berries and avocado milkshake are my favourite snack. Yum.”

Tanna’s Owl

Written by: Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Illustrated by: Yong Ling Kang

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English, some Inuktitut (pronunciation guide in back as well)

Topics Covered: First Nations, Residential Schools, Own Voices, Responsibility, Pets, Growing Up, Indigenous Voices. 

Summary: 

This is a lovely book based on author Rachel’s own life experience raising an owl.  Tanna, or main character, receives an owlet from her father one day with instructions to care for it and make sure it has everything it needs.  Tanna jumps at the chance initially, but becomes a bit worn down when Ukpik the owl requires more and more attention without any affection given in return.  It is a wild animal, after all.

We were drawn into this story, with its unique and truthful outlook.  This book acknowledges that Tanna doesn’t always feel like raising Ukpik is rewarding, and that is refreshing.  At the end of the summer, Tanna must return to school (leaving Ukpik behind), which upon reading the Author’s Note the reader learns that she is educated at a Residential School.  When she returns the next summer, Ukpik has learned to fly and isn’t there anymore.  Tanna has a lot of respect for the owl, and is glad that she helped it thrive despite not always being excited to wake up early to catch lemmings for it to eat, or clean up all the poop.

I really loved how Inuit cultural values were woven into this story, and coupled with own voices lived experiences from Rachel’s childhood.  This story emphasizes the value of hard work and appreciation for nature, it’s a fantastic real aloud for young people who might be expressing interest for a pet as well!

This book was sent to us by Inhabit Media, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Qitsualik-TinsleyOf Inuit-Cree ancestry, RACHEL QITSUALIK-TINSLEY was born in a tent on northernmost Baffin Island. She learned Inuit survival lore from her father, surviving residential school and attending university. In 2012, she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for numerous cultural writings. Of Scottish-Mohawk ancestry, SEAN QITSUALIK-TINSLEY was born in southern Ontario, learning woodcraft and stories from his father. Training as an artist, then writer, Sean’s sci-fi work won 2nd place at the California-based Writers of the Future contest, published by Galaxy Press. Rachel and Sean have worked for decades as Arctic researchers and consultants. In writing together, they have published 10 successful books and many shorter works, celebrating the history and uniqueness of Arctic shamanism, cosmology, and cosmogony. Their novel, Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic, was a Governor General Awards Finalist and First Prize Burt Award winner.

 

Yong Ling Kang is a full-time freelance illustrator. Having worked in animation studios and a publishing company for some years, she’s now living and working from home based in Toronto.  Raised in tropical Singapore, she find comfort in playing water sports, taking walks in green spaces, and savouring spicy food. A glass of milo peng / teh-c siu-dai anytime!

 

Treasure

Written by: Mireille Messier

Illustrated by: Irene Luxbacher

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Imagination, Siblings, Growing Up, Nature, Natural World, Appreciation, Lived Experiences.

Summary: 

This book is adorable! The tale starts with two siblings taking a walk through the woods near their home, looking for a treasure.  There are few words in the book, but they are all the conversation between the two.  Something helpful about the book is that one sibling’s words are bolded and one is not, making it easy to keep track of who is speaking.  The younger of the two find all sorts of natural objects like feathers, acorns, and milkweed pods, but is told that isn’t the treasure.  Eventually, the pair come upon what they are looking for but it won’t fit in their pockets!

The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous!  With so few words, the illustrations do much of the storytelling and Luxbacher has created a magical wonderland of small details for the reader to discover while flipping through the pages.  The woodland scenes are filled with tiny critters and splendid floral illustrations, making every design element a joy to discover.  We love the message of treasure being intangible, and the excitement of the journey is part of the beauty itself.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

mireille_messierMireille Messier is a Montreal-born, Ottawa-raised and now Toronto-based children’s writer with a background in broadcasting and theater. Before becoming an author, Mireille worked as a television and radio host, a director, a researcher, a book reviewer and a voice actress. Sometimes, she still does those things, too. One of her first “literary” jobs was writing jokes for the bottom of pudding lids!

Since the launch of her first book in 2003, Mireille has published over twenty books. When she’s not at her computer writing, she thinks up new stories while she walks, drives or sails her big old boat.

Mireille loves doing author visits. On average, she meets about three thousand kids a year … give or take a thousand. Some of the funniest questions she has been asked by students are: “Do you dream in French?” (Yes!), “How many minutes does it take you to write a book?” (About a million!) and “Are any of the characters in your books real?” (Yes, they are often different versions of me and the people I know).

Mireille lives in Toronto with her husband, two wonderful teenage daughters and two extremely fluffy cats.

irene_luxbacherIrene Luxbacher graduated from Queen’s University in 1992 with a degree in Art History before studying at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since returning to Toronto in 1994, Irene has exhibited her work while teaching art at the Avenue Road Arts School and consulting at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through the Arts Program. In 2002 and 2003, Irene curated several well-received children’s art exhibits at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and BCE Place on behalf of Arts for Children of Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness of the value of art education. Irene is the author and illustrator of The Jumbo Book of Art, which won the 2003 National Parenting Publication Award, and The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art. Her latest project for Kids Can Press is the Starting Art series, which includes the titles 123 I Can Paint! and 123 I Can Draw!