Tag Archives: books for kids

MYRCA Madness

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March is a month which is special to many people for many reasons. For some, it’s because of St. Patrick’s Day, a time to celebrate their Irish heritage.  For others, it’s all about the basketball, and March Madness. Some years, Easter falls in March, which brings a bunch of reasons to celebrate. For the past 26 years, though, March is also the month when MYRCA voting starts.

And what is MYRCA? I’m so glad you asked. MYRCA or Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award was founded in 1990 as a way to celebrate the International Year of Literacy. Every year since then, the members of the MYRCA committee read and reflect on Canadian fiction that was  written for young people, in order to come up with the annual reading list. This list is available to everyone, and is a great way to promote reading and literacy.

Starting in March, any Manitoba student in grades 5 to 8 who has read at least 3 books on the list is eligible to  vote. These votes then determine which author will become the MYRCA winner for the year. The winning author gets the chance to come to Winnipeg to take part in the awards ceremony. Students from all across Manitoba take part, and it’s a momentous opportunity for students to meet the winning author in person, to ask questions and to present the prize. Past winners have included Kenneth Oppel, David Carroll, Susin Nielsen and Norah McClintock.

Check out this year’s list and you’ll be sure to find something for everyone, from laugh out loud hilarity to non stop hockey action and super scary science fiction.

 

Tank and Fizz: The Case of the Slime Stampede

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Oh no! The cleaning slimes at Gravelmuck Elementary School have escaped and are leaving destruction in their path! Principal Weaver is sure that Mr. Snag, the beloved school custodian, is to blame.  Tank and Fizz, a goblin detective and his troll friend Tank are equally sure that he is innocent and set out to prove it.  Don’t forget to read the pictures in this very funny and somewhat slimy mystery.

 

Last Shot

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Bryan ‘Rocket’ Rockwood has been drafted into the OHL for his skills, not his size. He’s the smallest player on the team, and his teammates and coaches don’t ever let him forget it. Rocket has the determination and the skills to make it in the NHL, but can he earn the respect of the coaches and the other players? Or should he give up his dreams for good?

 

 

The Scorpion Rules

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The world has changed. Cities have been destroyed and empires have crumbled. The planet is now ruled by a supercomputer who has dictated that all of the ruling families must provide a child to be held as a hostage until their 18th birthday to ensure that the world will remain at peace.  Going to war means the death of a hostage.  Duchess Greta thought she was prepared to die, until she meets Elián….

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! You can find these titles, along with all of the others on this year’s list, at any public library or on the Overdrive site. So don’t delay, start reading today! Voting will begin on March 20, 2017, and close at midnight Wednesday, April 12, 2017. All eligible students can vote at the Winnipeg public library of their choice.

Now, when I say MYRCA you say: “Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award!”

Lori

 

Classics for the Kiddos

I love picture books.  And the fact that I have two kids at home who I can read them with, makes it even better.  They love to cozy up with a good book at bedtime, and to be able to watch their faces light up while we read a story together, is the best feeling in the world.

As a mom, and a librarian (mombrarian?), it is my job to find books we can all enjoy, and on my latest story “shopping spree” at the library, I came across the beautiful books of Nikki McClure.  Nikki McClure is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and paper artist who has written and illustrated several acclaimed children’s books including To Market, To Market (2011), Mama, Is It Summer Yet? (2010) and illustrated the New York Times bestseller All in a Day, by Cynthia Rylant (2009).

market   mama   allinaday

McClure is known for her painstakingly intricate and beautiful paper cuts. Armed with an X-acto knife, she cuts out her images from a single sheet of paper and creates amazing and endearing pictures.  The result is a very retro feel, with a purity and simplicity that is extremely refreshing.

After reading McClure’s books (and with a vintage vibe in my veins), I was inspired to check out some old classics that I remember loving as a child.  Classic books are timeless.  They’ve stood the test of time.  And it can be fun to revisit books that you, yourself, loved as a child.  Here are some of my favs, tried, tested and true:

capsCaps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
The story of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys who steal the peddler’s caps.

blueberriesBlueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Little Sal and Little Bear both lose their mothers while eating blueberries and almost end up with the other’s mother.

snowyThe Snowy Day by Ezra Keats
The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

ducklingsMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Mr. & Mrs. Mallard find the perfect spot to raise their young in Boston’s Public Garden.

mittenThe Mitten by Jan Brett
Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, and one by one, a number of woodland animals find the mitten and crawl inside to keep warm.

~ Lindsay

 

 

Helping Kids Affected by Incarceration

Children whose lives have been impacted by crime within their family may not know how to deal with the stress of the situation — and that’s why Winnipeg Public Library, in partnership with Canadian Families and Corrections Network, is hosting ‘Strengthening Families Affected by Incarceration Day’ at Millennium Library on October 22 from 2-4 p.m.

Meet Sesame Street friends and support families in our community who are affected by incarceration.  Play in Big Bird’s reading corner, read a book with Elmo, share a cookie with Cookie Monster, watch Sesame Street’s Little Children Big Challenges and learn about community resources.

There will also be a special presentation of Canadian Families and Corrections Network and Sesame Street resources to the Winnipeg Public Library and the community.

The event is free of charge, and open to all families.

Reading together as a family can also provide the opportunity to explore and discuss hardships that may arise for children.  Check out these titles as one way to support children who are dealing with these issues:

amberAmber Was brave, Essie Was Smart: The Story of Amber and Essie Told Here in Poems and Pictures by Vera B. Williams
Times are hard for Essie and Amber – their mother works long hours, leaving them with sitters or cousins or often on their own, and their father is in jail.  While the girls share their heartache, they also share their special talents-Essie teaches Amber to write her name in script, and Amber convinces the grocer to trust them with milk until payday. The good times are good, but the bad times are really hard. The shadow of their father’s mistake is always there.

rubyRuby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes has a real best friend for the first time ever, but agonizes over whether or not to tell her a secret she has never shared with anyone–that her mother has been in prison since Ruby was five–and over whether to express her anger to her mother.

secretSecret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado
Sean is Justin’s best friend – or at least Justin thought he was. But lately Sean has been acting differently. He’s been telling lies, getting into trouble at school, hanging out with a tougher crowd, even getting into fights. When Justin finally discovers that Sean’s been secretly going to visit his father in prison, and struggling with the stress of that, Justin wants to do something to help before his friend spirals further out of control.

everyoneEveryone Makes Mistakes: Living With My Daddy In Jail by Madison Strempek
10-year-old author Madison Strempek candidly depicts her life experience of living with a father in jail. Through her eyes, you will feel the heartbreak of that life-changing news, discover how she survives with her secret, and ultimately finds resolution and strength in the understanding that everyone makes mistakes.

nightThe Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail by Melissa Higgins
When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad. What do you do? No matter who your loved one is, this story can help you through the tough times.

— Lindsay

 

 

 

 

Pokémon Go at Winnipeg Public Library

Seemingly everyone is playing Pokémon Go… and if you (or your kids) aren’t already playing it, you’ve likely heard about it.

Pokémon Go is a kind of digital scavenger hunt.  Your prize?  Pokémon, or “pocket monsters.” What’s unique about it, is that it’s one of the first games on the market to use “augmented reality” — a blending of real life and the online world. The game makes it look like Pokémon appear in real life places by using the GPS and camera on your phone.

Pokémon Go is a social game that gets people active and visiting places in the community. Players can travel to PokéStops to get supplies, and they can travel to Gyms, where trainers battle for their teams and earn badges. More likely than not, when you’re out and about at public places (like Assiniboine Park, or The Forks, for instance), you’ll see likeminded people catching Pokémon together. Complete strangers, instantly friends.

Of course, there are safety concerns. People staring at their phones while walking around… people trespassing on private property… strangers looking to use the game for nefarious reasons. But with a little bit of rule setting, and perhaps a discussion about interacting with strangers, parents need not be afraid. Here are a couple of great articles if you need a bit more convincing:

This game is a cultural phenomenon. It has caught on like wildfire with kids and adults alike; and there is plenty of buzz about it on social media. Celebrities like Mario Lopez, Justin Bieber, and Ellen DeGeneres are self proclaimed addicts of the game. Even Hillary Clinton is chiming in on the craze (much to the delight of late night TV hosts).

And people are going to great lengths in order to catch Pokémon! The dog needs walking? Let’s take the scenic route. We ran out of milk? Let me grab my rollerblades. A visit to Grandma’s house on the other side of the city? Sounds like a plan… as long as we can all go for a stroll in the neighborhood.

Some have even turned their rusty old bikes into Pokémon Go machines, while others have quit their jobs to become full time Pokémon hunters.

But why all the hype? I think a lot of it has to do with nostalgia. Pokémon was originally a video game released in 1995. Many of us played it on our game boys, watched Pokémon cartoons on Saturday mornings, and battled it out with Pokémon trading cards at recess. And over the years, the popularity of Pokémon seems to have stayed strong. Just a few months ago, my nephew was proudly showing off his Pokémon trading card collection. Pokémon Go is essentially a childhood dream, come to life.

And what’s really great, is that it’s getting people out of the house, exploring their own neighborhoods, and cities. It’s bringing a new sense of awareness to peoples’ surroundings, and for some people, it is the first time they are actually visiting a library in years — many of our branches are PokéStops, and Millennium Library is a gym. What a great opportunity to show off all of the amazing things libraries have to offer!

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So if you’re looking to catch a few Pokémon this summer, pop into the library — and while you’re there, sign the kids up for Summer Reading Club and check out a few books to take home with you! I have a feeling it won’t take much convincing. Especially with titles like these at your fingertips:

pokemon handbookPokémon: Ultimate Handbook
This deluxe handbook includes facts and figures for every Pokémon ever. That’s over 480 entries—packed with special tips and Pokédex info—right at your fingertips. It’s the ultimate guide for every Pokémon fan.

 

pokemonxyPokémon XY
Action packed manga!  As the new champion of the Pokémon Battle Junior Tournament in the Kalos region, X is hailed as a child prodigy. But when the media attention proves to be too much for him, he holes up in his room to hide from everyone – including his best friends.

pokemon academyPokémon Academy
A suspenseful chapter book for Pokémon enthusiasts!  Ash, Dawn, and Brock attend a week of training at the academy with their Pokémon, and Ash competes in a triathlon to test his skills against a scary, ghostly Pokémon.

 

runawayThe Runaway Pokémon
A book for the youngest Pokémon fans just beginning to read on their own.  The story of one of Ash’s most exciting adventures.

 

 

japanese animationJapanese Animation: From Painted Scrolls to Pokémon
A sweeping journey through the history of Japanese animation, tracing this cultural phenomenon from its origins in traditional art to the present day.

 

Don’t forget, Winnipeg Public Library also has video games, movies and music!

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What Pokémon have you caught at the library? Let us know on Twitter @wpglibrary!

Lindsay

Wild and Windy Reads for Spring

Welcome to April, friends! You’ve probably heard that “April showers bring May flowers,” and if you’re at all like me, you are looking forward to the warmer weather and flowers May promises. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy those April showers!

This time of year can be a lot of fun, especially if you have little ones at home who are just learning to understand the cycle of the seasons. Every rainy day offers a new chance to explore, whether the day’s adventure will be jumping in puddles, making mud pies, floating homemade boats across puddles, or going for a walk to see  how different the world looks when it isn’t covered in snow and ice.

Here are just a few rainy day books you can share with your kids when it’s time to come in and dry off:

Are you ready to play outside? By Mo Willems

Although Gerald the Elephant and Piggie have their big plans interrupted by a rainy day, they prove that a bit of rain can’t stop good friends from having fun!

 

The Rain Train by Elena De Roo

This is a lovely book to read on a rainy night before bed! Listen to the sound of the rain on the roof while you join a young boy as he rides the Rain Train “past city lights, over rivers, through tunnels, and straight on to morning,” safe and dry.

 

Windblown by Édouard Manceau

When pieces of paper get caught in a gust of wind, the chicken, fish, bird, snail and frog are all sure that the paper belongs to them. Each one uses the pieces to create a new animal, but who do the pieces of paper actually belong to?

This is a fun book encourage creativity, and you could find yourself piecing together all kinds of fantastical things with scrap pieces of paper after you read it!

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

This cute story just goes to show that size doesn’t matter. Cloudette is a little cloud, and even though she wants to, she can’t join the big clouds when they do helpful things like water the big gardens on the earth below. However, when a storm blows her to a new area, Cloudette’s determination helps her figure out a way she can help. The illustrations are an excellent supplement to the text.

The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm by Paul Bright

When the rainy, story nights get a little scary, this is a great book to pull out to reassure everyone that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark, especially when you’re all snuggled up in a comfy, cozy bed!

Baby Bear, Little Bear, and Young Bear all crawl into bed with their parents when the wind and the thunder get to be too scary.  Although Daddy Bear insists that there is “no such thing as monsters,” when the lights suddenly go out and there’s a noise at the door, he isn’t quite so sure.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

Little Cloud likes to do his own thing, transforming into all kinds of different shapes as he floats through the sky. Sometimes, though, Little Cloud and his friends all play together, they become one great big cloud, and the rain begins to fall.

 

Float by Daniel Miyares

In this wordless picture book, a small boy in a bright raincoat makes the most of a rainy day, playing with a boat made of newspaper. However, when the boat gets away from him, the hunt is on, and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch

No one makes you appreciate the fun of getting dirty the way Robert Munsch does! When Jule Ann becomes the victim of an over-excited Mud Puddle, she has to think of a way to outsmart it. Enter two bars of smelly yellow soap. This is a great one to read aloud with funny sound effects and voices, just like Munsch himself would do!

Delighting My Inner Child (Literally and Figuratively)

 

GivingHatPicture books are a recent small obsession of mine. It happened quite innocently, either while re-reading an old favourite by Shel Silverstein called The Giving Tree and beginning to cry unashamedly in the middle of an aisle, or when my husband happened to show me the delightful dark wit of Jon Klassen’s I want my hat back.

Somehow though, I have found myself standing in the children’s picture book aisle over and over again, laughing and sighing and loving the treasures that it contains. I have this tiny suspicion that I became pregnant with my first child just so I could have legitimate reason to continually flip through the pages of these wonderful works. My gut tells me the colourful, funny, and charming tales I find in a picture book are not just for the wee child learning about the world around them, but also for the overgrown adult who has possibly forgotten the wonder or simple, yet sometimes deep ideas these books show us.  I will be having a bouncing baby boy in March of this year and I cannot wait to bombard him with the brilliant and beautiful books I have come to adore.

I would say there are three kinds of picture books that tickle my fancy and beg to be shared and read.

1. Books that make you chuckle, or snicker, or snort out loud. (Yes, snort is an awkward word and snorting in public itself is awkward. But isn’t life like that sometimes?)  I have found some pretty witty tales both dark and light in the pages of a children’s book, but I am not a laugh snob, and I will also giggle at a good toot joke too.

hat2Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat could very well turn any adult into a picture book lover. These books are visually stunning and have great humorous twists. The way Mr. Klassen can convey an entire story in the sly glances of his animals is astounding. I like to assume everyone has read these books by now, but if for some reason you haven’t-go!

TTootoot by Leslie Patricelli is one
I can imagine reading to any kid and have
both of us giggling in unison. Who  doesn’t  titter at tooting in a tub?

tableAnd look at the great imagery in the book The Table Sets Itself  by Ben Clanton, and just imagine the hilarious horror of the cup. Ha!

 

GoodAnother chuckle worthy mention is That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems, which plays across the pages like a classic silent film. The desperate antics of the baby chicks as the story progresses will have you quite worried about the fate of the goose family, but have no fear this is one tale that turns out deliciously funny.

2. Books that leave me in awe, either with their beauty or their message. The art found in picture books can be incomparable. I already mentioned Jon Klassen’s beautiful pages (of which I bought an original print!) But take a gander at some of the wondrous artwork of these authors:

NoahThis book was one of my favourite discoveries this year.
Noah by Mark Ludy is a wordless retelling of the story of Noah’s ark and has some of the most captivating  images of the Noah’s ark tale that I have ever seen. The lighting of the scenes and the emotions on the faces of the characters are truly phenomenal.

 

Moose1As well, Oliver Jeffers stories are always unique and engaging (check out his crayon books), and the artwork in most is worthy of hanging on your wall. This Moose Belongs To Me is pleasingly surprising and will have you reading it over and over again.

 

Sidewalk

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith is a dramatically drawn and a carefully thought out and tender story. Like Noah, it is a wordless picture book, with the story of a compassionate girl and her distracted father brought to life through the art on the pages.

 
BugIn the unusually thick picture book Bug in a Vacuum, Mélanie Watt transforms a regular household into a fantastical world seen through the eyes of a helpless, loveable fly, in an effort to teach us the 5 stages of grief and loss known as the Kübler-Ross model. I love how the author cleverly introduces the different stages by labelling random domestic items, like Bargaining on a box of detergent and Acceptance on a box of tissue.

3. Stories that create the sniffles. (Whom am I kidding; sometimes it’s pure bawling!)

Now I know being pregnant could cause one to be more emotional than normal, but I was always the kind of girl to tear up during a sad movie or even a well-shot commercial. (This is embarrassingly true – thanks Tim Hortons!) But sometimes there’s nothing like a small children’s picture book to make you stop and really consider the important parts of life. Not the busyness of everyday concerns and responsibilities that seem to take up so much of our time, but truly valuable things like the compassion and kindness of others, and appreciating those we love.

I already mentioned crying in the book aisle over Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, but I’ll mention it again. The story of unending generosity and love from the tree to the boy throughout his life always brings that burning lump to my throat, and tears to my eyes. There’s a truth in this story that still resonates 50 years later.

WishThis is the first story I envisioned reading to my future chubby-cheeked baby. I cannot stress how much I love I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenfield.  It is a sweet poem about all the perfect little things you could hope for someone. With lines like “I wish you more snowflakes than tongue” and an ending that is so heart-achingly touching, this is a story you will want to read to a little one in your life – and also hopefully to have someone read to you.

After mentioning one of these remarkable children’s books in conversation, I often find myself stopping to correct my own usage of the term. “Sorry, not children’s books, but picture books,” I’ll say, for these gorgeous collections of breathtaking artistry paired with minimalistic stories that strive to tell the grandest of tales should really be enjoyed by everyone.

Here are a few more gems:

Hug

Mo

Hug Machine
by Scott Campbell

Mo’s Mustache
by Ben Clanton

 

What are some of your favourite picture books?

Karen

 

Canadian Stories Week in Manitoba

Believe it or not, Manitoba has a great literary tradition. Did you know that we launched the first Canadian Reader’s Choice Award for kids? Waaaayyyy back in 1990, it was the International Year of Literacy and Winnipeg Public Library along with several other organizations thought it would be a great idea to try to encourage children in grades 5 through 8 to read Canadian books and vote for their favorite. Why tweens? Because that is the time when children transition to reading independently. Just like learning to ride a bike, you need to travel on familiar territory and keep practising until you get the hang of it. Reading can be challenging for kids and with that thought in mind, MYRCA was created to make reading fun.

After all, voting for a favorite book is fun! Every May, readers are presented with a long list of 18 Canadian titles. Throughout the year, kids can read their way through the 2016 nominees. As long as tweens read 3 books, they are eligible to vote in March. No fees required. http://www.myrca.ca/voting-procedures/

This year, MYRCA wanted to have a huge 25th anniversary bash. “Let’s bring in 3 authors instead of just one,” they said. “Let’s have book tours,” they said. “Let’s have readings in the Winnipeg Public Library,” they said. “Let’s have a Speed-Date-with-an-Author dinner,” they said. “Let’s ask SAGE to have a Canadian Stories Theme,” they said. “Let’s get Ace Burpee,” I said.

Yes, over here in the MYRCA committee, we dream big.

But we also work hard. Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg Children’s Literature Roundtable (WCLR)   and Manitoba School Library Association (MSLA)  partnered with the MYRCA committee to plan a week’s worth of events for all levels of interest. We decided to bring in our winner, David Carroll, and both honour book winners, Kelley Armstrong and Tom Earle. Winnipeg Public Library hosted all three at the Millennium Library and 3 more in the branches; Carol Matas,  Larry Verstraete and Jennifer Dance. Rural school visits were organized for our local authors. The WCLR’s Authors at the Round Table Dinner gave authors and fans of all ages, a chance to mingle together. MSLA hosted all the authors for teachers on their professional development day, SAGE. And MYRCA hosted the most ambitious Award Ceremony in its history. We even got Ace Burpee!

Hard to believe it’s all over. After over a year of planning, countless meetings, thousands of emails, fundraising and worrying… you wonder, was it worth it?

Happy authors

You would have to ask the kids whose bright, shining, happy faces were beaming wildly with joy at meeting the authors whose books they loved. You would have to ask the teachers who rely on the MYRCA list every year to find great Canadian books for their classes. You would have to ask the authors who are ridiculously proud to be chosen by their readers for this award. You only need to search #MYRCA25 or #Cdnstoriesweek on Twitter to see for yourselves.

This year’s MYRCA winner was David Carroll for the novel Ultra.

In it, Quinn is running the longest race of his young life and he faces many obstacles. But, like his author, Quinn is determined to stay positive. Never give up! Always believe that you can do better!  Don’t let those little voices in your head bring you down! David’s inspiring and uplifting message was appreciated by everyone he met, including Ace Burpee. Ace’s reaction upon finding out that David can repeat sentences backwards, was to test it out. True Story! Clearly pleased that David had such an awesome hidden talent, Ace’s reaction was: “I have to hang out with writers more often.”

Happy David and Ace

Yes, you do Ace. And to all those kids who asked “how can I become a writer?” I think David Carroll’s answer was perfect: “have interesting friends.” Here at WPL, we have really interesting, supportive, fearless friends. Friends who dedicate their volunteer time to working for a common goal: literacy! When partnerships work out as well as they did last week, Manitoba wins!  And we can all be immensely proud of that.

-Colette
MYRCA Chair

Children’s Books on Human Rights

humanrightsLast week, Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The committee said Yousafzai and Satyarthi are being honoured for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education”.

Millions of children around the world have no access to education, work long hours under hazardous conditions, or are forced to serve as soldiers in armed conflict. Young and immature, they are often easily exploited, and it is activists like Malala and Kailash that ensure those children have a voice.

Educating children about social justice and human rights allows them to understand the importance of treating people equitably and the responsibilities we all have to protect the rights of others.  By recognizing their own rights, children become aware of how they should be treated by others and how to stand up for these rights.

Books can be a great way to start the conversation about human rights, and Winnipeg Public Library has lots of resources that can be used by children, parents, caregivers, and educators.  You can find a booklist on our website entitled Children’s Books on Human Rights that provides a sampling of some of the amazing children’s books on human rights that you can find at the Library.  But for now, here are some of the highlights:

kidsIF KIDS RAN THE WORLD
By Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon

This picture book is a tribute to peace and a celebration of diverse cultures. Forgiveness and generosity are portrayed as essential, and the authors show children creating a more generous and peaceful world.

IT’S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENTdifferent
By Todd Parr

With simple text and playful illustrations, this picture book celebrates diversity and focuses on acceptance and individuality.

piecesPIECES OF THE PAST: THE HOLOCAUST DIARY OF ROSE RABINOWITZ, WINNIPEG, MANITOBA 1948
By Carol Matas

As Rose begins her diary, she is in her third home since coming to Winnipeg.  Traumatized by her experiences in the Holocaust, she struggles to connect with others, and above all, to trust again.

fattyFATTY LEGS: A TRUE STORY
By Christy Jordan-Fenton

The moving memoir of eight year old Margaret, an Inuit girl who refuses to be intimidated by a cruel nun at a residential school.  Margaret emerges with her spirit intact.

elephantsWHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT: THE LIVES OF CHILDREN IN CONFLICT IN AFGHANISTAN, BOSNIA, SRI LANKA, SUDAN, AND UGANDA
By Eric Walters and Adrian Bradbury

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. This ancient proverb means that when the large fight, it is the small who suffer most. Here are five very different and personal stories of children caught in a conflict.

classOFF TO CLASS: INCREDIBLE AND UNUSUAL SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD
By Susan Hughes

Travel to India, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Russia, China, Uganda, and a dozen other countries to visit incredible schools and meet the students who attend them.

Lindsay

Make May a Myrca Month

If you have a tween reader and are looking for new books to quench their thirst, here are some recommendations taken from the new 2015 MYRCA shortlist.

pugglyofspudFor fans of Dr Seuss: In an updated version of the Emperor’s New Clothes, Robert Paul Weston has given us a masterful example of literary prowess perfect for reading aloud to a classroom of tweens. Written entirely in verse, Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff is a cautionary tale about vanity, perfect for the Lady Gaga generation. Princess Francesca wants nothing more than to than curl up on a pillow, in her pajamas and read books all day long. But the Kingdom of Spiff is ruled by fashion and everyone is expected to dress up for the ball. When Prince Puggly is invited to the extravaganza, will he become a social pariah because of his unfashionable attire?

For dog lovers: Reminiscent of 101 Dalmatians, The Metro Dogs of Moscow by Rachelle Delaney follows the adventures of JR, a Jack Russell terrier whose human is a Canadian ambassador stationed in Moscow. Their cleaning lady has a habit of leaving the living room window open and JR takes full advantage of his newfound freedom. In his daily escapades, he meets snobby embassy dogs who actually like being on leash and scruffy stray dogs living underground in the Moscow subway. When JR discovers that his new friends are being dognapped, he decides he must solve the mystery any way he can!

For fans of the Warriors series: In The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, author Charles DeLint has teamed up with illustrator Charles Vess to create a coming of age tale about the power of choice. Lillian lives with her aunt in a little cabin on the edge of a wood teaming with mystical creatures. One day, as she is searching for fairies, she gets bitten by a venomous snake and slowly begins to die. Even though it is forbidden, the wild cats decide to use their magic to save Lillian’s life. When she wakes, Lillian is happy to be alive, but is devastated to learn she has been transformed into a kitten. Her only hope rests with the Old Possum-Witch who may have magic powerful enough to transform her back into a girl.

For fans of Percy Jackson: If your tweens have watched the movie Thor once too many times, try Loki’s Wolves, a new series written by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. It is the first in a series that uses Norse mythology as inspiration. Set in North Dakota, 13 year old Matt knows that he is the descendant of Thor and isn’t surprised when the town names him as champion. Now he must team up with friends Fen and Laurie to try and prevent the end of the world, Ragnarok. Will they find Thor’s hammer and shield before they are hunted down by Loki’s wolves? Curious tweens can check out the website devoted to the series: http://www.blackwellpages.com/

urgle_cover_largeFor fans of The Hobbit: If your teens have read the Hunger Games series and aren’t yet sick of apocalyptic fiction, Urgle by Meaghan McIsaac is a very original take on the Lord of the Flies. A society of boys is living on the edge of the volcanic Ikkuma pit. When a baby is abandoned, one boy must accept responsibility for him and raise him until he is independent enough to raise a baby of his own. Urgle is known as Useless for his inability to properly raise his younger brother Cubby. Not only is Urgle small and unable to hunt like the others, Cubby is sensitive and gets picked on for being a “mother-seeker”. When a strange man appears, hunted and wounded, the Ikkuma boys are amazed; no man has ever returned to the pit! Curious, Urgle notices things about the man that worry him, but when Cubby is attacked and dragged off by wild goblins, Urgle must learn to trust the stranger so that he may find Cubby before it’s too late.

For fans of The Fault in our Stars: Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is one of those books whose subject matter may seem uninteresting but whose characters are so realistic that you want to reach out and hug them. 14-year-old Adam is trapped in many ways. Not only does he suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), his younger step-brother, Sweetie is exhibiting the same symptoms and his mother has been receiving threatening letters which she refuses to discuss. Adam finds solace in room 13B where he goes to weekly support group meetings. There he meets Robyn and falls instantly in love with her. Will Adam find the courage to face the truth about himself, his family and the girl he loves? Keep a box of tissues handy, you might need them!

MYRCA is the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award which aims to pair readers with great Canadian fiction. Any child, resident of Manitoba may vote for their favorite book as long as they have read 5 from the pre-selected Shortlist of nominees. For more information go to www.myrca.ca, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @MyrcAward.

Some titles are not yet available, please check back soon to get your copy or download them through OverDrive.

Happy reading!

-Colette

Magically Interactive

BusyBeesThe very first book that my son ever stopped to listen to was a book called Buzz Buzz Busy Bees by Dawn Bentley. It’s a touch-and-feel book that has nine fuzzy bees in it, all of them worn down to lint by now from his loving caress. Those bees were so captivating to him, and it was nice to know that he was drawn into the story because of them (even if his main goal was to eat them, at first).

From there, he fell in love with Bizzy Bear who appears in a bizzybearseries of books written by Benji Davies. The Bizzy Bear books are chalk full of moving parts from busy cars circling a roundabout, to sailboats rocking at sea.  Joy Gosney’s Busy books were equally enchanting, with their spinning washing machines and scooping diggers.

These books had the power to stop my little road-runner in his tracks, and even though pulleys and pop-ups have been around for ages, these types of books continue to fly off the shelves.  Kids love to read books in a hands-on way, and that is something that will never change — particularly in a world that is obsessed with touch-screens and tablets.

It’s true, the world of picture book apps and ebooks is growing wildly.  But amidst all the digital buzz (and perhaps because of it), many authors have started playing with physical books in a different way, adding a new twist to the interactive story format.

This exciting pocket of books engages kids in a way that allows them to make a difference in the story by asking them to do things like tap the page, press a picture, shake the book, move their hands, or blow a kiss in order to move the story along.  It’s absolutely magical, and kids cannot resist getting involved.

tapOne such book is Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson.  The story begins, “There is magic in this bare brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page and see.” With that, children set off on a journey to move the tree through the seasons, giving it leaves, flower buds, petals, apples and then having the leaves change colors and fall off.  Kids truly become magicians while reading this book, simply by tapping, clapping, wiggling, jiggling….and turning the page.

Herve Tullet’s Press Here takes a similar perspective on getting kids involved inpress the story.  This marvelous book starts with one yellow dot and gets children to add more dots, change the colors and make them move around. With the right imagination, children will believe that they are making magic on the page.

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas starts off with a ladybug shouting to the reader “Hey, you! Yes, I’m talking to you! Stand up!” Turn the page and the ladybug says: “No, I changed my mind…sit down!” And so it goes. Throughout the book, the ladybug invites kids to play a game of let’s pretend: “Pretend you have a tiny bug on your nose.  Wiggle it off!” “Whoops!  The tiny tickly bug flew into your mouth?  Blow it out!”  But then when the pretend bug becomes a giant frog, the ladybug asks the reader to make a scary face to save her. A laugh-out-loud fun time for young kids! Thomas’ Is Everyone Ready for Fun? brings just as many giggles.

scary          fun

openOn the very first page of Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley, the reader is thrown into the classic tale of The Ugly Little Duckling….until the duckling notices something odd. There is a crocodile tail on the page. The duckling then leaves the story to find out why there is a crocodile on the page, and readers are asked to help out by rocking the book back and forth to make the crocodile go to sleep, and shaking the book to try to make him fall out.

These magically interactive books engage kids in a way that brings excitement and wonder to storytelling, and I just know that as my little toddler grows older, these types of books will continue to make him smile, and hopefully inspire a life-long love of reading.

– Lindsay