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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Another novel set in Ukraine

The Watcher

Grimes, Nikki. The Watcher. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017.
Jordan is afraid of Tanya, the class bully. But she, too, is afraid. Can these two classmates become friends? Nikki Grimes has used the the words of Psalm 121 to write her own narrative poem, ending each line with a word from the psalm. Designed so those words are in boldface, the entire psalm can be read by simply reading the last word of each line. Powerfully illustrated by the award-winning Bryan Collier, this brilliant picture book is highly recommended for readers – and listeners – 6 years old and up.
P.S. Maybe you’d like to try writing your own “golden shovel” poem afterwards. All the directions are supplied at the end of the book.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore. (NIV) 

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Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

Blejwas, Emily. Like Nothing Amazing Every Happened. New York: Delacorte Press, 2020.
Twelve-year-old Justin lives with a mystery: how did his father – a military veteran – die? Was it an accident or suicide? Who will tell him the truth? This 210-page novel portrays the effects of post-traumatic-stress-disorder and the complexities of history in a small Minnesotan town in 1991. Highly recommended for readers 11 to 14 years old.

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