I love this sweetly strange book about being different, being a loner and loving a 55-year-old oak. Bertolt by Jacques Goldstein (translated from the French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick)ea0ab6317e62eda078f1323992db91b5-w204@1x is lovely and though the storyline meanders a bit, I love the paths it took me down, the little bits of nature and the feeling of being in a tree during a storm. I know, I know–that’s dangerous! you say. I, for one, have always wanted to clutch the top branches of an oak while it sways under heavy winds, and when I saw this spread in Bertolt, I felt the exhilaration as if I did it myself. When Bertolt dies, the boy is unsure because “with a tree, it’s hard to tell. A tree just stands there like a huge, boney creature that’s sleeping or playing a trick on us.” Rather than being sad, the story is thoughtful and the ending warm and fitting.

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Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen has a cover like an oversized board book and paper pages like a picture book. As you can see by the cover, there are no words, not even the title. Klassen’s distinctive style is apparent, and you can always look on the spine for the title, publisher, author, etc. It’s a book made for little thinkers because it 9780763696030.jpgposes questions.

Everything in Triangle’s life is triangular and everything in Square’s life is square. To get to each other’s house, they need to go past a bunch of other shapes, some of which have no name. And Triangle plays a sneaky trick on Square and Square retaliates. That’s the book. And it’s great.


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Loving Vs. Virginia

Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Shadra Strickland is a large, beautifully made historical LovingVsVirginacover-300x413novel-in-verse. Well-researched (there are lists of the author’s interviews and sources in the back) and fascinating, the Lovings is a story of love between a black woman and a white man in Virginia, when interracial marriage was illegal there.

Though Mildred and Richard’s family and friends accepted their relationship, the sheriff goes out of his way to find them and arrest them. Jail, moving to another state, sneaking home for Easter–the Lovings had to endure much. They wanted to live a peaceful life in the county they grew up in, and they finally get to, after the Supreme Court ruled in their favour on June 12, 1967.

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The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

There aren’t many picture books with unreliable narrators. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by 51vt7S7BnRL.jpgJulia Sarcone-Roach is one that works extremely well and that even young children will understand and enjoy. Not only is the narrator unreliable, but she us unseen until the last few pages. Until that point, the story is an unexpected adventure of how the bear made his way out of his den, through the city and to the park bench to get the little girl’s sandwich. Delightful.

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The Bear and the Piano


The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield has so much to like about it, I’m going to ramble. In the beginning, the bear sees a piano in the forest. He fiddles with it and over time, his skill at playing piano grows (it’s not magical talent) until a crowd of bears is drawn to listen. He goes to the city and becomes famous, and though the city is everything he’d hoped it would be (and there’s a beautiful nighttime spread to show this loveliness and yearning together) he misses his friends from the forest. When he gets to the clearing where his piano used to be, it’s gone, and at first he thinks his friends were angry or forgot him, the ending is warm and perfect.


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Before Morning

9780547979175.jpgLuscious verse invokes a snow day while illustrations show a pilot going to work in the wee hours, the snow clogging her commute and the flights at the airport are all cancelled. She flags down a snowplow driver, who brings her home where her husband and child are waking up. The final pages show them enjoying the snow day together.

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes is a treat to savour again and again.

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Real Cowboys

Real cowboys are quiet, gentle and safe. They listen and are patient. This beautiful picture medium-2.jpgbook by Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean shows cowboys who do the long slow work of herding cattle, and the skills they need for that, which aren’t all showmanship and galloping excitement. No, cowboys spend long hours in the saddle, taking care of the cattle, the earth, each other.

“Real cowboys are as many different colors as the earth. Real cowboys are girls, too.”

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How to Swallow a Pig


How to Swallow a Pig: Step by Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is an animal guide in a spot-on deadpan tone that gives tons of information while managing to be a page-turner. Unexpected animals, such as the western grebe and the reticulated python do amazing things in their daily lives, and now with this handy manual, we humans can too.

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ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky

ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee is a fascinating look at 9781101995815.jpegfound letters from an aerial view. Find one letter per page (though sometimes there are bonuses) and in the bottom right corner, the geographical coordinates and a dot on a US map mark the spots these letters are found. I suppose you could hop in your helicopter and search them out, however, this book is just as much fun on land, and it serves for a template to play your own ABC game on your next flight.

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A Bear’s Year


The gentle rhyming text of A Bear’s Year takes us from slumbering winter to newborn spring, summer foraging and autumn’s den. I love a book that takes us through all of the seasons in a year, and this one’s beautiful illustrations do each season justice.

Written by Kathy Duval and illustrated by Gerry Turley.

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