Almost Time

Schmidt, Gary D. Almost Time. Boston : Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.
A lovely picture book about a little boy waiting for the weather to get cold enough to tap the maple trees for syrup. Full-page illustrations by the award winning illustrator G. Brian Karas accompany a simple story told by an award-winning author and his late wife, Elizabeth Stickney. Highly recommended for readers 5 to 8 years old who have experienced the frustrations of waiting. 

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Stand Like a Cedar

Campbell, Nicola I. Stand Like a Cedar. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Highwater Press, 2021.
Spring. Summer, Autumn. Winter. Walking through the woods, children learn about nature and all it has to teach us. Written in English, Nłe7kepmxcín, and Halq’emeylem – and accompanied by a glossary and pronunciation guide – this quietly respectful and life-affirming picture book will provoke reflection and encourage gratitude. Highly recommended for readers 7 years old and up. (P.S.: All stories by Nicola Campbell are worth reading. All gently encourage empathy and celebrate nature.)

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Addy’s Cup of Sugar

Muth, Jon J. Addy’s Cup of Sugar: Based on a Buddhist Story of Healing. New York: Scholastic Press, 2020.
How do we carry on after a loved one has died? That is the question in another picture book about grief. Similar to The Boy and the Gorilla, this story depicts a helper. Stillwater, a giant panda who has appeared in previous books by Jon Muth, teaches Addy how to recover from grief after her beloved kitten is hit by a car. She is sent to borrow a cup of sugar from someone who has never experienced loss. By the end of the day, she realizes that everyone has suffered the desolation of losing loved ones. She is not alone in her pain. And she still has a heart full of loving memories. This story, with its full-page watercolour and pencil illustrations, will appeal to readers of all ages and all faiths. Highly recommended. 

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The Librarian’s Stories

Falcone, Lucy. The Librarian’s Stories. Brooklyn, New York: POW!, 2020.
The National Library of Sarajevo was bombed in 1992 during the Bosnian War. Steven Galloway wrote about this tragedy in The Cellist of Sarajevo, a novel for adults. And now Lucy Falcone, a former children’s television writer, has written a picture book inspired by that novel. Every day, a librarian sits on a bench outside the burned-out library and reads a book aloud to give people hope and courage. Illustrated by Anna Wilson, this story about the power of stories is recommended for readers 7 to 11 years old. 

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The Boy and the Gorilla

Kramer, Jackie. Azúa. The Boy and the Gorilla. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2020.
A young boy, missing his mother, converses with an imaginary gorilla. Where do loved ones go when they die? How do we remember those no longer with us? How do we learn to go on with life? Softly illustrated by Cindy Derby, this short gentle story will prompt reader’s own conversations about death and grief. Recommended for children 5 to 8 years old.
P.S. Always take the time to look at a picture book by Candlewick Press.

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Good Enough to Eat

Cole, Brock. Good Enough to Eat. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.
A tall tale, a folktale, a cautionary tale… When an ogre threatens a town, the people offer him a young girl. Scraps-and-Smells is poor and homeless, the perfect person to give away, they think. But she outwits them all. A marvellous story reminiscent of The Little Red Hen but far more joyful, this picture book is recommended for readers 7 years old and up who like to see people get their comeuppance. 
P.S. Anything written and illustrated by Brock Cole is worth reading. Look for his books! 

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Digging for Words

Kunkel, Angela Burke. Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutíerrez and the Library He Built. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020.
A night-time garbage collector, Señor José collects books from the trash of wealthy homes. Then, every Saturday, he opens the doors and welcomes eager children into his neighbourhood library. Set in  Bogotá, Columbia and based on a true story, this inspiring picture book – illustrated by Paola Escobar and accompanied by a detailed author’s note – will appeal to readers 7 to 12 years old who already know the joys of using imagination to enter new worlds. 

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