Let’s Get Going!

Start Travelling!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Wheels on the Tuk Tuk

Sengal, Kabir & Surishtha Sengal. The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2015.

Written to the rhythm of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’, this cheerful picture book will appeal to young children and nostalgic middle school readers.  

Click HERE for more picture books and novels set in India and Pakistan. 

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness


de Paola, Tomie. Jack. New York:  Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.

On the way to request a house from the king, Jack meets many animals. A brightly illustrated journey story for readers – and listeners – of all ages.

Click HERE for more picture books with a repetitive pattern. 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Skies Like These

Hilmo, Tess. Skies Like These. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.

“While visiting her eccentric aunt who lives in Wyoming, twelve-year-old Jade befriends a boy who believes his is a descendant of Butch Cassidy.” – CIP. This lively story, with the rhythm of a rollicking square dance, is highly recommended for readers who love language and laughter.

Click HERE for more novels about moving.

“To travel is to live.”  – Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

Diamond Boy

Williams, Michael. Diamond Boy. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2014.

“When Patson’s family moved to the Marange region of Zimbabwe he begins working in the mines, searching for blood diamonds, until government soldiers arrive and Patson is forced to journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister and a better life.” – CIP.  For competent readers 12-years-old and up.

Click HERE for more novels set in countries all around the world. 

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”  – Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

A Heart Filled with Happiness

My Heart Fills with Happiness

Gray Smith, Monique. My Heart Fills with Happiness. Victoria, B.C.: Orca, 2016.

A charming boardbook portraying indigenous children telling of small everyday activities that bring joy to life. Illustrated by Julie Flett.

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What a Wonderful World!

Weiss, George. What a Wonderful World. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1995.

Illustrated by Ashley Bryan, a vivid pictures accompany the words from the famous song.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Bible, Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

What a Wonderful World

Weiss, George. What a Wonderful World. New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

Another picture book version illustrated by Tim Hopgood.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus


Carlstrom, Nancy White. Glory. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2001.

Stunning illustrations by Debra Reid Jenkins accompany Carlstrom’s version of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem Pied Beauty.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell

“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” – Carlos Santana

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Bryan, Ashley. All Things Bright and Beautiful. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.

Brightly coloured full-page pictures accompany the words of the classic hymn by Cecil F. Alexander.

“Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Andersen

Thank You and Good Night

McDonnell, Patrick. Thank You and Good Night. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2015.

Three friends enjoy a sleep over party and end the evening by listing everything for which they are thankful. A gentle picture book to share with three to seven-year-olds.

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.” – Oscar Wilde


The Stars Will Still Shine

Rylant, Cynthia. The Stars Will Still Shine. New York : HarperCollins, 2005.

A comforting picture book to read before bedtime. 

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Bible, Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

A Mysterious Adventure: Word to Caesar

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius

Word to Caesar

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marucus Aurelius

          Throughout the novel Word to Caesar by Geoffrey Trease (Hillside Education, 2005) the main character, Paul, changes in many ways. He becomes a young man who is independent, selfless, and caring.

            Paul started out as a reckless, self centred, and miserable adolescent who complained about his father who “granted no favours, least of all to him” (2) and of his home, “a godforsaken spot” (2) where it was “nearly always raining” (2). As well, he was the reason his home, Hardknot, was demolished. He was ignorant enough to divulge the important information of Hardknot – “what life was like in the fort, how many soldiers had to stay up at night as sentries, what the different trumpet calls meant” (4) – to Barbara, a Caledonian spy.

            After the attack, Paul escaped and during this time met a poet by the name of Lucius Fabius Severus, who became a good friend of his. Once he had learned that Severus had been wrongly banished from his home near Rome, Paul proposed to help him and was embarked on a quest to free his friend from the unfortunate mistake. Paul risked his life on this expedition. The man behind Severus’ exile, Calvus, pursued Paul, stole the letters – which were a crucial part of Paul’s journey – and tried to bribe him to switch sides, but Paul defeated his “ignoble temptation” (116) and thought of “something more he could do” (170) to help his friend, showing how deeply he cared about Severus. Paul also prevented an “immense, black-maned lion” (143) “from mauling the spread eagle man beneath his nose” (147) – his friend, Manlius. These occurrences marked the very beginning of the change in Paul’s character.

            By the end of Word to Caesar, Paul is a mature young man who dreams of travelling around Europe and “deciding himself how best the northern frontier could be held against the barbarians who had wiped out his Legion” (257). (by Megan in grade eight)  

Read more about this novel HERE.

Find more stories set in ancient times HERE.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius 


Jacques Cartier

       Cartier by Lackey

          It was December 1491 when a boy was born in the seaport town of Saint-Malo, France. Little did his parents know he would one day become a famous captain who would explore the New World and establish the first French settlements in Canada. His name was Jacques Cartier.

            From a young age, Cartier adored sailing and would often accompany his father – a sailor – on his voyages. Through this and his navigational studies, he soon became an experienced and eminent captain. He was eventually recommended to King Francois I as the captain of La Grande Herminie, and was sent on three voyages to the New World.

           Cartier’s goal on his first expedition in 1534 was to find the Northwest Passage to Asia. After a relatively short journey of twenty days, they reached the shore of Canada. They explored the islands of Newfoundland, Magdalen and Prince Edward, as well as Quebec and the Gaspe Peninsula. During this time, Cartier and his crew encountered the Iroquois, with whom they traded native furs and European tools, marking the first trade between Europe and Canada. Another significant discovery Cartier made was of the Gulf of St. Lawrence River, which he accurately charted. On the way home, Cartier and his men kidnapped two natives, whom they taught to become interpreters.

            One year later Cartier was sent on another journey to ‘Kanata’ the name which the natives had given their land, meaning ‘village.’ The trip was fifty long days of horrific storms and scurvy, which they spread to the Iroquoians once they reached shore, killing fifty locals. The French requested the Iroquoians cure them of the dreadful disease. The medicine, a brew made of the bark and needles of the white cedar tree, healed Cartier’s men as well as the natives. Little was discovered on this voyage, other than a remedy for scurvy. In 1536, when the Frenchmen were ready to return to their homeland, they forcibly kidnapped the Iroquoian Chief Donnacona, his two sons, and three other aboriginal people, outraging those left on shore.

            It was not until 1541 when Cartier was assigned to his third – and final – mission. This time with five ships and 1500 men, who would settle in the New World in the modern cities of Quebec and Montreal. During their five years in France, all but one of the aboriginal people died of foreign illnesses. When the other aboriginals learned this, they were furious – so furious that they murdered thirty-five Frenchmen. This caused Cartier and his men to abandon the natives’ home of Stadacona and build a new settlement elsewhere, in Charlesbourg-Royal. Two years later, Charlesbourg-Royal was abandoned because of a series of attacks made by the Iroquoians.

            After this unfortunate incident, Cartier abandoned his life as a sea captain and instead turned to a life of business, in which he became very successful. He died years later in his birthplace of Saint-Malo at the age of 66. Jacques Cartier had an immense influence on France as well as Canada, creating the first French settlement, which would later spread throughout what is now Quebec. (by Megan and Jasmine in grade eight)

  •  Cranny, Michael. Pathways: Civilizations Through Time. Toronto: Prentice Hall, 1947.
  • Lackey, Jennifer. Jacques Cartier. St. Catherine’s: Crabtree Publishing, 2007.
  • Trottier, Maxine. Canadian Explorers. Toronto: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2005.

Explore with Jacques Cartier

“…this beginning motion, this first time when a sail truly filled and the boat took life and knifed across the lake under perfect control, this was so beautiful it stopped my breath…” – Gary Paulsen

Cartier by Trottier

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” – James Cook

Cartier and the Exploration of Canada

Christopher Columbus

         Columbus by Demi

Who was Christopher Columbus?

Who Was Christopher Columbus.

“Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.” – Columbus

Columbus Young Explorer

“For this purpose I determined to keep an account of the voyage, and to write down punctually every thing we performed or saw from day to day, as will hereafter appear.” – Columbus

You Wouldn't Want to Sail Columbus

“Sailed this day nineteen leagues, and determined to count less than the true number, that the crew might not be dismayed if the voyage should prove long.” – Columbus

Columbus Sailing to the New World

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Columbus

Columbus by Lacey

“But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.” – Columbus

Columbus by Wade

“Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered.  I myself would say that it had merely been detected.” – Oscar Wilde


Courage in ‘The Outsiders’

“It’s our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

– Tecumseh

The Outsiders

I think that Johnny and Pony Boy are heroes, but I also believe that they are not heroes.  I believe that Pony Boy and Johnny did not know whether the fire was caused by them or not.  I understand that the fire that was caused was an accident, but I also believe that causing a fire would come from inappropriate actions.  Johnny told Pony to not drop any burning butts of cigarettes on the ground or that place would “erupt in flames”.  Pony did not listen and made that mistake, but Johnny did not make that mistake.  Johnny was acting and thinking like an adult, and thinking of the dangers that could come out of an accident like the fire in the church.  The fire would not have been so serious if there had not been children inside!  Pony and Johnny took refuge in an abandoned church.  They could not have possibly known that little children would come along for a picnic.  This is what makes Johnny and Pony into boys who were not heroes.  But nobody knows that they are staying in that church.  Nobody knows that they had started that fire.  Nobody would have known that it was their fault that the fire started, so technically nobody would have known that Pony and Johnny started a fire that killed a few kids.  They could have just walked away after hearing the screams of those children.  They did not.  They risked their lives to save those little children.  At that moment, at that time, nobody was looking at their backgrounds, nobody was looking at murderers.  They were looking at two brave souls who risked their lives to save little children, and they did.  They made up for a mistake that they did not have to make up for.  So I think that they are heroes to everyone one else; amazing, brave little kids.  But to themselves, they are just the same people who only started and stopped their own problem.  (Gideon in grade eight)

Read more about S.E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders HERE.

The Outsiders

“He did what heroes do after their work is accomplished; he died.”

– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Find more stories of courage HERE.

Country Gardens

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Alary, Laura. What Grew in Larry’s Garden. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2020.
Gardens bring friendship and understanding. They build goodwill in a world often filled with fear and loneliness. This quietly gentle picture book illustrated by Kass Reich is based on the true story of a Toronto schoolteacher who showed his students how to grow tomato plants and share them with others. “We can figure this out,” he says over and over again to his young neighbour Grace when problems arise. Highly recommended for gardeners of all ages.

The Secret Garden

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden. New York : Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1987, c1911.

“A ten-year-old orphan comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors where she discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.” – FVRL. A classic novel for readers 8 to 12-years old.

Jackal in the Garden

Ellis, Deborah. Jackal in the Garden: An Encounter with Bizhad. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2006.

“Born deformed, Anibus is considered cursed and is left in the desert to die, but after being rescued and raised in secret, she leads a nomadic life, finding acceptance with a colony of artists which includes Kamal al-Din Bihzad, the most famous master of Persian painting.” – CIP. An intriguing novel for avid readers 12-years-old and up. 

Rabbit Hill

Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill. New York: Puffin Books, 2007, c1944.

“New folks are coming to live in the Big House. The animals of Rabbit Hill wonder if they will plant a garden and thus be good providers.” – WAFMS. This Newbery Honor Book is highly recommended for lovers of Charlotte’s Web

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. London: F. Warne, c1987, 1902.

“Though forbidden to do so, Peter creeps into Mr. McGregor’s garden, is chased and nearly caught several times, finally finds his way out again, and is put to bed and dosed with tea.” – WAFMS.  This all-time classic is for readers – and listeners – of all ages. 

Grandpa Green

Smith, Lane. Grandpa Green. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2011.

“A child explores the ordinary life of his extraordinary great-grandfather, as expressed in his topiary garden.” – WAFMS. The winner of multiple awards, this 2012 Caldecott Honor Book is an amusing yet thoughtful story for readers of all ages. 

‘Country Gardens’, a cheerful English folk tune arranged by Percy Grainger:

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”

–  L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams