Feel Good Titles For January 2021

Hug? By Charlene Chua

“A cheerful, funny, and timely story that belongs in all collections.”

—School Library Journal


This humorous picture book explores compassion and the importance of setting boundaries.

With spare text and wonderfully expressive illustrations, Charlene Chua has created a playful, funny picture book with an original premise.

The story shows how important hugs can be to our happiness — even the most unlikely of creatures sometimes need one! — but that doesn’t mean they’re always welcome.

Each spread also shows a hint of the animal that will appear next, building anticipation for what’s to come. There are character education connections here to compassion, tolerance and empathy, and a terrific opportunity for discussions about boundaries. (Publisher)

Ages 3-7

About the Author

Charlene Chua grew up in Singapore and immigrated to Canada as an adult. She has illustrated almost twenty picture books, but Hug? is the first one she wrote herself. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with her husband and their two cats.


Follow Your Breath: A First Book of Mindfulness by Scot Ritchie


A must-have for social emotional learning. Ritchie provides an excellent overview of mindfulness for youngsters.

School Library Journal, starred review


Part of the popular Exploring Our Community series, here’s the perfect child-friendly introduction to mindfulness.

As with all the titles in the popular Exploring Our Community series, award-winning author Scot Ritchie tells an engaging story about five culturally diverse friends while also providing comprehensive factual information on each spread. Fun mindfulness activities follow the story. Studies have shown the many benefits of mindfulness for young children — from increased attention and self-control to decreased stress and disruptive behavior — and teachers are using it more and more in the classroom. By learning how to incorporate mindfulness into their lives, children gain lifelong coping skills they can use to stay physically and mentally healthy. All the facts in the book have been reviewed by a mindfulness expert. (Publisher)

Ages 4-7


About the Author

Scot Ritchie is an award-winning author-illustrator of over 50 books including Join the No-Plastic Challenge!, Follow That Map! and Look Where We Live!. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia



I Think, I Am! Teaching Kids the Power of Affirmations by Louise Hay and Kristina Tracy.

“Your thoughts create your life!” This is the message that Louise Hay has been teaching people throughout the world for more than 27 years. Now, children can learn and understand the powerful idea that they have control over their thoughts and words, and in turn, what happens in their life.

Within the pages of I Think, I Am! kids will find out the difference between negative thoughts and positive affirmations. Fun illustrations and simple text demonstrate how to make the change from negative thoughts and words to those that are positive. The happiness and confidence that come from this ability is something children will carry with them their entire lives! (Publisher)

Ages 4-8

Louise L. Hay, the author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life, is a metaphysical lecturer and teacher with more than 40 million books sold worldwide. For more than 25 years, she has helped people throughout the world discover and implement the full potential of their own creative powers for personal growth and self-healing.

Kristina Tracy is a children’s book author who lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and two children. She is happy to be able to help teach children about the amazing power they have within themselves and how to use it. When she is not writing or being a mom, she is gardening, horseback riding, and taking care of her dogs, chickens, horses, and cat.


Going up! By Sherry J Lee and Charlene Chua

Playfully combining the excitement and anticipation of a party with children’s universal love of riding in elevators, Sherry J. Lee’s picture book story is ultimately about community and a sense of belonging. With characters from many cultural backgrounds, it showcases the everyday diversity that many urban children experience. Charlene Chua’s illustrations provide loads of funny details and visual narratives that aren’t in the text, making for a multilayered reading experience. The book’s tall, narrow trim size adds to the effect of the rising elevator.  (Publisher)

Ages 3-7

About the Authors

Sherry J. Lee has worked in the book industry for many years, first as a bookseller and then in publishing. Sherry lives in Toronto with her husband. Going Up! is her debut picture book.

Charlene Chua grew up in Singapore and immigrated to Canada as an adult. She has illustrated almost twenty picture books, but Hug? is the first one she wrote herself. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with her husband and their two cats.


I Am One by Susan Verde and Peter H Reynolds


Discover the power of activism in this companion to New York Times bestsellers I Am Human and I Am Love!

One seed to start a garden, one note to start a melody, one brick to start breaking down walls: Every movement and moment of change starts with purpose, with intention, with one. With me. With you.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling team behind I Am Yoga, I Am PeaceI Am Human, and I Am Love comes a powerful call to action, encouraging each reader to raise their voice, extend a hand, and take that one first step to start something beautiful and move toward a better world.

Includes a guided mediation and self-reflection activity. (Publisher)

Ages 4-8

Susan Verde is the author of the New York Times bestselling picture books I Am Human and I Am Love, as well as I Am YogaI Am Peace, I Am OneThe MuseumYou and MeMy Kicks, and Rock ’n’ Roll Soul. In addition to writing books, she is a certified yoga and mindfulness instructor for kids of all ages. She lives in East Hampton, New York, with her three children, a cat, a dog, and a tarantula.
Peter H. Reynolds is the renowned illustrator behind the bestselling Judy Moody, Stink, and I Am series, as well as many other award-winning picture books, including The Dot and Ish. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts.




New Canadian Picture Books based on real life people and events

Meet Terry Fox: Scholastic Canada Biography by Elizabeth Macleod, Illustrated by Mike Deas



Just in time to mark the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, we have two stories about the life of Terry Fox!

The first, is from the award-winning Scholastic Canada Biography series that highlights the lives of remarkable Canadians, whose achievements and legacies have inspired and changed the lives of those that followed them.

In Meet Terry Fox, the legendary story of how Terry Fox came to run the Marathon of Hope is chronicled: —his love of sports as a child and teenager; his devastating bone cancer diagnosis; the hospital stay that inspired him to do something to raise awareness about this disease; the poignant moment he dipped his artificial leg in the waters of St. John’s, Newfoundland; and the heartbreaking moment he ended his run. This was also the moment his truly inspiring legacy began.

Written by award-winning author Elizabeth MacLeod, this portrait of Terry Fox couples simple yet compelling writing with full-colour, comic-flavoured illustrations by Mike Deas that help bring this unforgettable story to life!

Aimed at Ages 6-10.

ELIZABETH MACLEOD is the author of many notable Canadian non-fiction titles including Bunnycheval de guerreCanada en vedette (co-authored with Frieda Wishinsky), as well as many critically acclaimed biographies. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.



Terry Fox and Me, by Mary Beth Leatherdale, Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic



The second Terry Fox picture book just released, is from Mary Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlovic.

Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope.

Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

Suitable for ages 4-10


MARY BETH LEATHERDALE writes, edits and consults on books, magazines and digital resources for children and youth. She is the editor of Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees, a Quill & Quire Book of the Year, a Booklist Editor’s Choice, and a Silver Birch Award, Honor Book among other honors. Recently, Mary Beth co-edited #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, an anthology that showcases the strength, diversity, and talent of Indigenous girls and women across North America. Among other honours, it received the American Indian Library Associations’ Youth Literature Award, was honoured as an Amelia Bloomer Project List Top Ten title, named a Book of the Year by Quill & Quire, an Excellence in Non-fiction for Young People Finalist, YALSA and a Indigenous Literature Finalist, First Nations Communities READ.

The Great Grizzlies Go Home by Judy Hilgemann


Two curious young grizzly bears go on A very long swim, far from their usual home in the Great Bear Rainforest. They crunch tart red cranberries in the bog then dig for crabs on the beach. They wander through backyards and feast on plums. Then they sniff something even more delicious—mmm, barbecued salmon. But a village full of people is no place for grizzly bears, no matter how sweet the plums or how tasty that salmon smells. Time for a helicopter ride home!

The Great Grizzlies Go Home tells the story of the bears’ adventurous journey, ending in their safe relocation back to the mainland. Featuring detailed watercolour paintings, engaging text and a concluding section with bear safety tips, the book will capture the imagination of readers young and old.

Suitable for ages Ages PreK – Grade1

JUDY HILGEMANN has been creating art since childhood. She has illustrated many books, including B is for BasketballMagical Beings of Haida Gwaii, The True Story of Sheba & Rex and Children of the Sea. She is a member of the Island Illustrators Society and Federation of Canadian Artists. She lives in Queen Charlotte on Haida Gwaii, BC.



Ocean Speaks by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Katie Hickey


Meet Marie Tharp (1920-2006), the first person to map the Earth’s underwater mountain ridge, in this inspiring picture book biography from the author of Shark Lady.

From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrier: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.

Ocean Speaks is suitable for ages 5-10.

JESS KEATING is a zoologist-turned-author who writes with the sort of wisdom you can only get from multiple crocodile bites and skunk sprays. Jess has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of eight, she even started a library in her room (mainly so she could charge her brother late fees). She is the author of Shark LadyPink is for BlobfishWhat Makes a Monster? and Cute as an Axolotl. She lives with her husband in Ontario, Canada, where she is hard at work on her next book.



When Emily Was Small, by Lauren Soloy


A joyful frolic through the garden helps a little girl feel powerful in this beautiful picture book that celebrates nature, inspired by the writings of revered artist Emily Carr.

Emily feels small. Small when her mother tells her not to get her dress dirty, small when she’s told to sit up straight, small when she has to sit still in school.

But when she’s in the garden, she becomes Small: a wild, fearless, curious and passionate soul, communing with nature and feeling one with herself. She knows there are secrets to be unlocked in nature, and she yearns to discover the mysteries before she has to go back to being small . . . for now.

When Emily Was Small is at once a celebration of freedom, a playful romp through the garden and a contemplation of the mysteries of nature.

When Emily Was Small is suitable for Ages 4 – 8

LAUREN SOLOY has lived on both coasts of Canada, always within reach of the sea. She has a Visual Arts BFA with Honours from the University of Victoria, and a certificate of Fine Furniture from Camosun College. Along the way, she has learned to make a Queen Anne Highboy, a pottery mug, a hand knit pair of socks, a headstand and a mess. She lives in a 140-year-old house in the wilds of Nova Scotia with her librarian husband, two curious children, an ever-expanding collection of books, two hives of bees and one cat.



Bobby Orr and the Hand Me Down Skates, By Bobby Orr, Karen Kootstra and Jennifer Phelan



Even hockey legends start with hand-me-downs. A beautifully illustrated true childhood story about hockey great Bobby Orr.

Bobby eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. So when his birthday is coming up, he only wants one thing: new skates. He’s seen the exact pair he wants in the shop window: sparkling blades, shiny leather, clean new laces tied in perfect bows. But when Bobby opens his gift, he’s dismayed to find hand-me-down skates: scuffed leather, nicked blades, floppy laces.

Once Bobby breaks them in, though, he and the hand-me-down skates become inseparable, and he can’t imagine life without them . . . until the brand-new skates come into his life. How can he leave his hand-me-down skates behind?

Log Driver’s Waltz illustrator Jennifer Phelan brings this classic story to life with timeless, gorgeous art, and Kara Kootsra’s words evoke the joy and dedication that Bobby Orr brought to his favorite sport. A perfect gift for readers and fans big and small, this book is destined to be a classic that is reached for time and time again.

Booby Orr and the Hand Me Down Skates is aimed at ages 4-8


KARA KOOTSTRA is a writer and classically trained singer and pianist. Her first book, The Boy in Number Four, was also about hockey legend Bobby Orr, and her second book, Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom, is a middle grade reader also about hockey. Residing in her home town of Windsor, Ontario, Kara enjoys spending time with her husband Kyle and two children, Nate and Claire.

BOBBY ORR, born in Parry Sound, Ontario, in 1948, played for the Boston Bruins from 1966 through 1976, and helped lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship in 1970 and 1972, and to the finals in 1974. He also played two years for the Chicago Blackhawks. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest hockey players–maybe the greatest hockey player–of all time. After his retirement in 1978, Orr was active with business and charitable works, and in 1996, Orr entered the player agent business, and today is president of the Orr Hockey Group agency. He has been awarded the Order of Canada and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The Bobby Orr Hall of Fame is in Parry Sound, Ontario.

JENNIFER PHELAN is fulfilling her childhood dream of drawing pictures all day with the publication of her books, Hey, Boy and The Log Driver’s Waltz. Other childhood dreams include becoming Leonardo da Vinci, an archaeologist, and a dancer. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her artist husband, Gleb.

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Hip Hop as Literacy

Johanna Marion explains how her love and passion for music and rhyming, became a useful tool in the classroom,  igniting the fire for learning and creating memories from everyday lessons.

CanLit Community | By Johanna Marion

Johanna performing at a local event on the Sunshine Coast, BC.


The Hip-Hop as Literacy Project took roots in my mind in the year 2000.  At the time, I was in my final year of Teacher Training at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia.  I was experimenting with techniques to assist with memorization, and had taken to re-writing my information from class into rhyming couplets.

For some reason, once I’d organized information this way, my retention of knowledge began to improve.  It’s no wonder, really!  I was raised on nursery rhymes, Dr. Seuss stories, and rhyming songs by Children’s  Performers like Raffi, Fred Penner, Charlotte Diamond, and Sharon, Lois and Braham.  It was easy for me to relate to rhyming lyrics, and it was then that I decided to try this concept out in a classroom.  I delivered an entire Math Lesson in rhyme in front of a Grade 5/6 class as part of my final practicum, and they LOVED it.

I was raised on nursery rhymes, Dr. Seuss stories, and rhyming songs by Children’s  Performers like Raffi, Fred Penner, Charlotte Diamond, and Sharon, Lois and Braham. 


Years later, in 2018, I was finally able to use some of my ideas about Hip-Hop lyrics with a group of students that I saw on a weekly basis. At West Sechelt Elementary in Sechelt, B.C., I introduced the concept of “Rap as Poetry” with Grades 5-7, and I started to see something incredible happen. Not only were students of this age writing amazing poetry, the boys in the class (traditionally a harder group to reach when teaching poetry) began to really produce poems! We wrote while listening to beats, did poetry performances, made our own (positive) rap videos using Green Screen technology, and began to look at literary devices as ways to increase our power as songwriters.

This year, I had the privilege of being hired as a Part Time Music Teacher at a school in my neighbourhood in Roberts Creek, British Columbia. The principal was open to trying some new ideas for performances and learning instruments, so we started off our year by learning a music production program called GarageBand.  We began making soundtracks for plays, recorded podcasts and instruments, and started with some basic beat production.  I am hoping that sometime in the near future, students will be a part of co-writing a whole album of Hip-Hop Music for Children with me, and will learn about the recording and production process that an artist goes through.

Johanna in the classroom

It is my belief that analyzing and creating Hip-Hop Music with children in the classroom is a way to stay current as an educator, and a way to use language to convey ideas that allows expression of one’s self.  Not only does it give a unique view of studying literary devices and storytelling structures, it gives an opportunity for students to participate in a culture outside their own that they might not have normally been exposed to. The success with this program so far is all due to the interest and engagement of my students, and I believe that our education system is ready for innovative teaching techniques. Hip-Hop can help with literacy, and rap CAN be poetry!

Johanna Marion, B.Ed.

Intermediate Music Teacher, Roberts Creek Elementary




5 Must Read YA Titles This Fall

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga, Book 1 by David Robertson



Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

Technically a middle grade novel, the Barren Grounds will interest older students who are already fans of the genre,  or of David Robertson.

Aimed at Ages 10-14.

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.


One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet by Anuradha Rao


One Earth profiles Black, Indigenous and People of Color who live and work as environmental defenders. Through their individual stories, the book shows that the intersection of environment and ethnicity is an asset to achieving environmental goals. The twenty short biographies introduce readers to diverse activists from all around the world, who are of many ages and ethnicities. From saving ancient trees on the West Coast of Canada, to protecting the Irrawaddy dolphins of India, to uncovering racial inequalities in the food system in the United States, these environmental heroes are celebrated by author and biologist Anuradha Rao, who outlines how they went from being kids who cared about the environment to community leaders in their field. One Earth is full of environmental role models waiting to be found.

One Earth is suitable for ages Ages 13 – 18

ANURADHA RAO is a conservation biologist, writer and facilitator born and raised in the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Mississauga Nations and currently based in unceded Coast Salish territories.



Crossing the Farak River, Michelle Aung Thin


Fourteen-year-old Hasina is forced to flee everything she knows in this gripping account of the crisis in Myanmar.

For Hasina and her younger brother Araf, the constant threat of Sit Tat, the Myanmar Army, is a way of life in Rakhine province—just uttering the name is enough to send chills down their spines. As Rohingyas, they know that when they hear the wop wop wop of their helicopters there is one thing to do—run, and don’t stop. So when soldiers invade their village one night, and Hasina awakes to her aunt’s fearful voice, followed by smoke, and then a scream, run is what they do.

Crossing the Farak River is for ages 12 and up.

MICHELLE AUNG THIN was born in Burma, now Myanmar, in 1962, the year of the military coup, and left with her parents when she was an infant. She grew up in Canada, and now calls Australia home, where she teaches at RMIT University in Melbourne.



You Don’t Have to Die in the End, by Anita Daher


Tough themes are explored with skill in this coming of age story from Anita Daher.

Eugenia Grimm is a tough girl living in a tough town at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She drinks and fights and pushes against expectations. She is also hurting. After her father died by suicide on her eight birthday her older brothers drifted away and her mother up and left when she turned 14.

Eugenia has not made the best choices. After a last-straw violent incident and faced with the possibility of incarceration, she is sentenced to time at an Intensive Support and Supervision Program located at a remote mountain ranch. There, she begins to make connections, explore difficult truths, and might even turn things around-until a series of events pull her into a dark spiral she may not have the strength to resist.

You Don’t Have to Die in the End is for ages 14-18.


ANITA DAHER has been entrenched in the book publishing industry since 1995 writing middle grade and teen novels, including Wonder Horse, Two Foot Punch and Racing for Diamonds. In 2007 she received the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Author. Her most recent novel, Forgetting How to Breathe, was shortlisted for the 2019 IODE Violet Downey Award.


A Song Below Water: A Novel By Bethany C. Morrow



Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water is the story for today’s readers — a captivating modern fantasy about black mermaids, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.

In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers.

Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment.

Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all.

Song Below Water is suitable for ages 13 – 18


Bethany C. Morrow is the author of the adult novel Mem (Unnamed Press) and the editor of the young adult anthology Take the Mic (Arthur A. Levine Books). A Song Below Water is her debut standalone young adult novel.