The Big Sting

Delaney, Rachelle. The Big Sting. Toronto: Tundra, 2023.
Leo and his family are spending a week on a small island off the coast of British Columbia. Leo enjoys virtual adventures on his computer at home in Toronto, but now he is in the middle of a real-life mystery: his recently deceased grandmother’s beehives have been stolen and his grandfather is determined to find them. Meanwhile, his parents have taken themselves off to a luxury resort. How will Leo cope with his grumpy grandfather and impetuous younger sister? The hopefulness of Patricia MacLachlan’s stories and the zany humour of Polly Horvath’s stories combine in this life-affirming novel highly recommended for readers 8 to 11 years old.

A novel by Patricia MacLachlan

Novels by Polly Horvath

Stories about grandparents

Stories by Canadian writers

Stories set in Canada

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Bees, Bees, Bees

Raczka, Bob. Beware! Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2019.
This charming picture book – about a little bear frolicking with a bee in a grassy meadow – contains words made using only five letters: b, e, w, a, and r.  Delightful as a read-aloud, it is recommended for young children starting to sound out words for themselves. 

Caprioli, Claire. A Swarm of Bees. New York: Children’s Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2023.
This small book is perfect for young readers starting to do research projects. There is a page of contents, several short chapters, a glossary and an index, all in only 32 pages. The large font, short sentences, and colourful photographs combine to create an appealing nonfiction book highly recommended for readers 6 to 10 years old. 


Holasová, Aneta Františka.  Bruno: the Beekeeper. Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2021.
This detailed picture book – first published in the Czech Republic in 2013 – is full of information for readers who want to learn about beekeeping. It contains anatomical drawings, illustrated timelines, and lovely illustrations of plants and animals. There are details about caring for bees and harvesting honey. There is even a recipe for gingerbread cookies made with honey. The confusing part is that this is all told as an anthropomorphized story of two bears. There is far too much information in much too small a font for this to be a read-aloud book. Meanwhile older readers – using the book for research – will not care about Bruno and his grandmother. As a result, while I can recommend this book for people 11 years old and up who want to expand their general knowledge, be forewarned: ignore the story line.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree

Rosie, Tanya. Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2022.
Early on a summer morning, a little girl sets out with her mother to pick berries. They fill their buckets with mulberries, share a picnic lunch, and come home to make a delicious pie. This cheerful rhyming picture book, set in the English countryside, is recommended for children 5 to 9 years old.

A picture book about a blackberry dessert

More rhyming picture books

Another picture book illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You are a Story

Raczka, Bob. You are a Story. New York: Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, 2023.
You are a person. A friend. An animal. A body of water. A space traveller. A miracle… This inspiring picture book – illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell – encourages readers to see themselves as a project under construction. How will they participate in the life of our incredible universe? Highly recommended for children five to eleven years old. Ideal as a read-aloud as every page is the start of a conversation about what it means to be a human being.

Ten reasons to read picture books

More stories about individuality

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Story is to Share

Higgins, Carter. A Story Is to Share: How Ruth Krauss Found Another Way to Tell a Tale. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2022.
How do you tell a story with a violin? How do you tell a story with paint? How do you tell a story with words when your ideas scatter all over and tumble away? Ruth Krauss, award-winning author of more than forty children’s books includingThe Carrot Seed, grew up to find a way. This playful picture book, whimsically illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault and accompanied by two pages of background information, is cheerfully recommended for readers 6 to 10 years old. It’s also recommended for writers who are curious about how small changes can affect the tone of a story: Nowhere in this book is Ruth’s name mentioned; not once; instead, the author always refers to her to as ‘the girl’ or ‘she’. How does that affect a reader’s connection to the story?

More biographies of writers

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


dePaola, Tomie. Quiet. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018.
“Hurry up! Be quick!” Sometimes it seems every day is filled with “Can’t you go faster?” What about being quiet and still? What about observing? What about taking time to sit and think? In this peaceful picture book, a grandfather takes two grandchildren on a walk and shows them how nature is sometimes busy and sometimes still. The simple calm green text and soft pastel-coloured illustrations combine to create a timeless reminder for all ages.

More stories of nature for Earth Day on April 22nd

More stories about grandparents

Tomie dePaola wrote and illustrated more than 200 picture books during his lifetime and won multiple awards including the Caldecott Medal and John Newbery Medal. He was born in Connecticut in September of 1934 and died in New Hampshire in March of 2020. You might like to borrow his books from your local library or buy them from your favourite bookstore. All are worth reading over and over again.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mr. McCloskey’s Marvelous Mallards

Smith, Emma Bland. Mr. McCloskey’s Marvelous Mallards: The Making of Make Way for Ducklings.  New York: Calkins Creek, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers, 2022.
How do you  become a great writer? How do you become a great artist? By practising, of course. Practising and practising. Over and over and over. When Robert McCloskey, the famed author and illustrator, decided to create a picture book about a family of ducks, he started drawing sketches. But they weren’t very good. He did some research on ducks and tried again, but his sketches still weren’t very good. So he went out and bought a box of ducklings and took them home to live in his studio. You’d think living with ducklings, messy squawking ducklings, would help him know how to create great illustrations. But it wasn’t enough. So he went out and brought home a box of adult ducks. After Mr. McCloskey had practised and practised some more and the ducks really needed to get back outside where they belonged, he was finally satisfied with his pictures. It had taken him six years of researching and writing and drawing to finish his story. But it was worth it. In 1942, Make Way for Ducklings won the Caldecott Award for the most distinguished American children’s picture book! This biography by Smith, illustrated with gouache and coloured pencil drawings by Becca Stadtlander and appended by extensive background information, is highly recommended for students 6 to 10 years old and for anyone of any age who needs encouragement to not give up. Keep practising!

More picture book biographies about artists

More Caldecott winners

Print Friendly, PDF & Email