Lizzy and the Clouds

Fan Brothers. Lizzy and the Cloud. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022.

Another wonderfully imaginative picture book by Terry and Eric Fan. Lizzy spends a Saturday at the park, where she purchases a cloud. Not a fancy cloud – not a rabbit or a fish or a parrot – but an ordinary cloud that comes with a list of six instructions, and the first is “Name your cloud.” Lizzy carefully cares for Milo, who grows and grows until it is time to follow the last instruction: “Never confine a cloud to a small space.”
Younger readers will enjoy the whimsical creativity and laugh. Older readers can read this story as a metaphor for life. Highly recommended for all ages! 

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Martin and the River

Lappano, Jon-Erik. Martin and the River. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2022.
Lying in the tall grass, watching herons and ospreys. Building forts in the fields by the river. Country life is the only life for Martin. Until his mother gets a new job in the city. How will he survive among so many people? While there are many enjoyable activities – riding on the subway, watching street performers, visiting museums – the city doesn’t feel like home. At least, not until his parents take him to a park and show him a stream where frogs jump and dragonflies hover. Maybe, Martin’s heart will feel at home after all? A wonderful picture book – delicately illustrated by Josée Bisaillon – recommended for anyone who loves nature and longs for a rural life.

P.S. If you’re a middle school teacher, you might like to use this book to teach elements of good writing and skills of good readers. If you’re a student, you might like to use this story for a book report. An outline for you.

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Starboy

Gigot, Jami. Starboy: Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David Bowie. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2021.
A young boy, misunderstood and lonely, learns to listen to the music in his mind and dance with exuberant joy. A thought-provoking picture book that will encourage self-expression in readers six to eleven years old. Includes an afterword with facts about the life of David Bowie.

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Seasons Before the War

Morgan, Bernice. Seasons Before the War. Tors Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador: Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides Inc., 2018.
A wonderful memoir – partly fictionalized – about life in Newfoundland when it was still an independent country. Set in St. John’s just before the outbreak of World War II, the author recalls a childhood filled with everyday adventures. Accompanied by full-page illustrations that wonderfully match the nostalgic style of the story, this picture book is most highly recommended for both children and adults.

P.S. This is a wonderful book for learning how to incorporate sensory details in writing.

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The War Below

Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk. The War Below. New York : Scholastic Press, [2020].
Luka – having escaped from a  Nazi labour camp and on the run – desperately wants to return to his home in Kyiv, Ukraine. Hiding in a forest, he meets Martina, also on the run from Soviet and Nazi soldiers. Based on actual events, this fast-moving 240-page novel – originally published as Underground Soldier in 2014 – tells the story of how two young people become involved with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army fighting for Ukraine’s independence in 1943. Readers 11-years-old and up who are interested in learning more about Ukraine and its history will be amazed at all the details in this novel by an acclaimed Ukrainian Canadian writer.

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