Looking for a book by a Canadian author?
A few of my favourites…
YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
Acheson, Alison. Mud Girl. (realistic; Vancouver (B.C.); coming-of-age)
Banks, Lynne Reid. Broken Bridge. (realistic; Israel; Palestinians)
Bell, William. The Blue Helmet. (realistic; post-traumatic stress disorder; war)
Brooks, Martha. Bone Dance. (realistic; First Nations)
Brooks, Martha. True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. (realistic)
Butcher, Kristin. Chat Room. (realistic; quick read)
Carter, Anne Laurel. The Shepherd’s Granddaughter. (realistic; Israel; Palestinians)
Ellis, Deborah. Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees. (nonfiction)
The Heaven Shop. (realistic; AIDS)
Ellis, Deborah. Jackal in the Garden. (historical; artists; Afghanistan)
Ellis, Deborah. Looking for X. (realistic; Toronto (ON); homelessness)
Ellis, Deborah. Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories. (realistic short stories; drugs; teenagers; world issues)
Ellis, Deborah. No Safe Place. (realistic; refugees; Europe)
Ellis, Deborah. We Want You to Know: Kids Talk about Bullying (nonfiction)
Ellis, Deborah. True Blue. Toronto: Pajama Press, c2011.
Seventeen-year-old Jess’s best friend, Casey, has been arrested for the murder of an eight-year-old girl at a summer camp. Everyone is sure she is guilty. Slowly, slowly, readers discover that Jess knows more than is she is telling, even to herself. Written by a talented Canadian author and told from the first person point of view, this unusual novel requires courage to read. It will appeal to teenagers who have enjoyed Bystander by James Preller, Dovey Coe by Frances O’Roark Dowell, and Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy. [Friendship; Peer pressure; Conduct of life; Faith; Murder]
Friesen, Gayle. For Now. (realistic)
Friesen, Gayle. The Isabel Factor. (realistic; summer; camps)
Friesen, Gayle. Janey’s Girl. (realistic; fathers and daughters; B.C.)
Friesen, Gayle. Losing Forever. (realistic)
Heneghan, James. Bank Job (realistic; foster children; Vancouver (B.C.); humour; theft)
Holubitsky, Katherine. Alone at Ninety Foot. (realistic; bullying; Vancouver (B.C.); peer pressure)
Holubitsky, Katherine. Tweaked. (realistic; brothers; drug abuse; Vancouver (B.C.))
Horvath, Polly. The Corps of the Bare-boned Plane. (realistic; B.C.; orphans; cousins)
Hrdlitschka, Shelley. Sister Wife. (realistic; marriage; sex role)
Hughes, Monica. Blaine’s Way. (historical; war)
Hughes, Monica. Devil on My Back. (science fiction)
Hughes, Monica. The Tomorrow City. (science fiction)
Huser, Glen. Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen. (realistic, humorous)
Khan, Rukhasana. Wanting Mor. (realistic; orphanages; Afghanistan)
Lunn, Janet. Shadow in Hawthorn Bay. (historical; fantasy)
McClintock, Norah. Back. (realistic)
McClintock, Norah. Bang. (realistic; quick read)
McClintock, Norah. Marked. (realistic; quick read)
McClintock, Norah. Watch Me. (realistic; quick read)
MacIntyre, R.P. Apart. (realistic)
Martel, Suzanne. The King’s Daughter. (historical)
Matas, Carol. Jesper. (historical)
Matas, Carol. Lisa. (historical)
Matas, Carol. Daniel’s Story. (historical)
McKay, Sharon E. Charlie Wilcox. (historical)
Olsen, Sylvia. Yellow Line. (realistic; quick read)
Sherrard, Valerie. Chasing Shadows. Toronto: Dundurn Group, 2004.
Shelby, just turned sixteen, has a best friend. She has a boyfriend. And she has her first job: kitchen helper in a restaurant. Life should be exciting. Instead, it becomes frightening when a waitress disappears and no one, besides Shelby, is concerned. The plot line of this Canadian novel will appeal to middle school readers. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing is disappointing. Told from the first person point of view, it sounds much like people who go on and on about their lives until you wish they would be quiet and keep their thoughts to themselves. It sounds much like a plan for a novel, a chapter-by-chapter outline of a novel about a self-congratulatory teenager. Nevertheless, there will be readers who enjoy this mystery story. When they are finished, they might like to try one of the better written novels by Norah McClintock or Caroline B. Cooney. [Restaurants; Teenagers; Mystery and detective stories; Marijuana; Kidnapping]
Spafford-Fitz, Karen. Dog Walker. (realistic; quick read)
St. Pierre, Paul. Boss of the Namko Drive. (adventure; historical)
Stratton, Allan. Chanda’s Secrets and . (realistic; Africa; kidnapping; war; orphans)
Tullson, Diane. Riley Park. (realistic; quick read)
Walters, Eric. House Party. (realistic; quick read)
Walters, Eric. Juice. (realistic; quick read)
Walters, Eric. We All Fall Down. (realistic; historical; September 11)
Walters, Eric. Run. (realistic; historical)
Walters, Eric. Shattered. (realistic; post-traumatic stress disorder; Vancouver (B.C.); Rwanda)
Wynne-Jones. The Maestro. (realistic)
Wynne-Jones. Tim. The Starlight Claim. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2019.
Sixteen-year-old Nate sets out during the March spring break to spend a few days alone at his family’s remote cabin on Ghost Lake. His parents think he’s off to prove his survival skills, but he’s really going to look for his friend Dodge who disappeared the previous November. A surprise awaits: two escaped inmates are hiding out in his family’s cabin and a snowstorm is imminent. Will Nate be able to survive the storm? Will he be hide from the criminals? And why is his estranged grandfather involved? This long-awaited sequel to The Maestro is recommended for readers 13 years old and up. [Canada; Survival; Escaped prisoners]
NOVELS FOR GRADES 4 – 8
Austen, Catherine. Walking Backward. (realistic; grief)
Baker, Deidre. Becca at Sea. (realistic)
Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey. (animal)
Cullen, Sean. Hamish X and the Cheese Pirates. (fantasy; adventure)
Cullen, Sean. Hamish X and the Hollow Mountain. (fantasy; adventure)
Cullen, Sean. Hamish X Goes to Providence Rhode Island (fantasy; adventure)
Cumyn, Alan. The Secret Life of Owen Skye. (realistic; humorous)
Cumyn, Alan. Dear Sylvia. (realistic; humorous)
Cumyn, Alan. After Sylvia. (realistic; humorous)
Ellis, Deborah. The Breadwinner. (realistic; Afghanistan)
Ellis, Deborah. A Company of Fools. (historical)
Ellis, Deborah. Kids of Kabul: living bravely through a never-ending war. (nonfiction)
Ellis, Deborah. Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children. (nonfiction)
Ellis, Deborah. I am a Taxi and Sacred Leaf. (drug traffic; poverty; Bolivia)
Ellis, Sarah. The Baby Project. (realistic)
Ellis, Sarah. The Several Lives of Orphan Jack. (fantasy)
Foggo, Cheryl. One Thing That’s True. (realistic)
Grant, Vicki. Quid Pro Quo. (realistic; humorous)
Guest, Jacqueline. A Goal in Sight. (realistic; sports)
Guest, Jacqueline. Rink Rival. (realistic; sports)
Horvath, Polly. The Canning Season. (realistic)
Horvath, Polly. My One Hundred Adventures. (realistic)
Horvath, Polly. Northward to the Moon. (realistic)
Horvath, Polly. One Year in Coal Harbor. (realistic)
Horvath, Polly. The Vacation. (realistic)
Jocelyn, Marthe. Mable Riley. (historical)
Kerz, Anna. The Mealworm Diaries. (realistic)
Korman, Gordon. I Want to Go Home! (humorous)
Korman, Gordon. Schooled. (realistic)
Little, Jean. From Anna. (historical)
Little, Jean. Kate. (realistic)
Little, Jean. Willow and Twig.(realistic)
Lunn, Janet. The Root Cellar. (historical)
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. (historical)
Mowat, Claire. The French Isles. (realistic)
Mowat, Farley. The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be. (animal)
Mowat, Farley. Owls in the Family. (animal)
Pearson, Kit. Awake and Dreaming. (fantasy)
Pearson, Kit. The Daring Game. (realistic)
Pearson, Kit. The Sky is Falling. (historical)
Pearson, Kit. Looking at the Moon. (historical)
Pearson, Kit. The Lights Go on Again. (historical)
Pearson, Kit. Perfect Gentle Knight. (realistic)
Porter, Pamela. The Crazy Man. (realistic)
Smucker, Barbara. Days of Terror. (historical)
Smucker, Barbara. Underground to Canada. (historical)
Truss, Jan. Jasmin. (realistic)
Tilly, Meg. Porcupine. (realistic)
Uchida, Yoshiko. The Journey Home. (historical)
Wilson, Eric. Murder on the Canadian. (mystery)
Wilson, Eric. Vancouver Nightmare. (mystery)
Andrews, Jan. The Very Last First Time.
Blades, Ann. Mary of Mile 18.
Bouchard, David. Buddha in the Garden.
Bouchard, David. The Colours of British Columbia.
Bouchard, David. The Dragon New Year.
Bouchard, David. The Elders are Watching.
Bouchard, David. If You’re Not from the Prairie.
Bouchard, David. That’s Hockey.
Bourgois, Paulette. Franklin in the Dark.
Flett, Julie. Birdsong. Vancouver, BC: Greystone Kids/Greystone Books, 2019.
A young Cree girl moves to a new home in the countryside where she makes a new friend, an elderly woman who shares her love of art. Passing through the seasons of the year, this wistful picture book is filled with quiet love. It can take its place along with Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney as a story for readers who appreciate the power of creativity. [Art; Friendship; Moving, Household; Seasons]
Khalsa, Dayal Kaur. I Want a Dog.
Khalsa Dayal Kaur. Tales of a Gambling Grandma.
Kraulis, Julie. An Armadillo in Paris. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2014.
“Arlo feels it. The twitch in his left claw. The twitch that only stops when adventure begins…” So starts this story of Arlo’s trip to Paris using the journal left to him by his grandfather Augustin. Arlo whizzes around the Arc de Triomphe, eats croissants in a cafe, visits the Louvre, watches boats pass underneath the bridges along the Seine, visits the Luxembourg Gardens, and gazes in wonder at the Eiffel Tower. The book’s illustrations – in oils and graphite – bring whimsical delight to a picture book recommended for children ready for an adventure of their own even if it is only in their imagination.
Kraulis, Julie. A Pattern for Pepper. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.
Pepper is getting a new dress to wear to her grandmother’s birthday celebration. What pattern should she choose for the fabric? Herringbone? Seersucker, tartan, or houndstooth? Ikat, argyle, pinstripe, or dotted swiss? Toile? Paisley? The history of each textile becomes part of the story in this delightfully elegant picture book for readers 5 years old and up.
Lightburn, Sandra. Driftwood Cove.
Little, Jean. Harry’s Hiccups. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 2018.
Harry has the hiccups. What can he do to get rid them? Swallow sugar? Breathe into a paper bag? Hold his breath? The quietly amusing picture book – illustrated by Joe Weissmann – will appeal to readers 5 to 8 years of age.
(Note: The writing doesn’t flow flawlessly – there are too many details that would have been better told by the illustrations and too many slightly awkward sentences. Nevertheless, readers who fondly remember reading ‘From Anna’ and other novels by Jean Little will appreciate the gentle tone of this story. And parents looking for a book about hiccups will enjoy sharing this picture book with their children.)
McFarlane, Sheryl. Jessie’s Island.
McFarlane, Sheryl. A Pod of Orcas: A Seaside Counting Book.
McFarlane, Sheryl. Waiting for the Whales.
Munsch, Robert. Just One Goal!
Munsch, Robert. A Promise is a Promise.
Munsch, Robert. We Share Everything.
Patterson, Heather. I Am Canada: A Celebration.Toronto: North Winds Press, 2017.
What does it mean to be a Canadian? This book joyously answers the question in simple language suitable for young children. The illustrations take the book to a whole new level: Marie-Louise Gay, Jon Klassen, Barbara Reid and other Canadian artists depict Canada, each in their own unique style. A wonderful book for art students and a great book as a read-aloud for children up to 8 years of age.
Reid, Barbara. The Party.
Rogers, Stan (as seen by Matt James). Northwest Passage. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2013.
Roberts, Gregory G. S is for Spirit Bear.
Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk with Tuan Ho. Adrift At Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival. Toronto: Pajama Press, 2016.
In 1981, six-year-old Tuan escaped with his mother and two of his sisters. In the middle of the night, they got on a boat which took them far out to sea where they were rescued by sailors on an American aircraft carrier. Illustrated by award-winning Brian Deines, this powerful picture book tells the true story of one child’s journey as a refugee from Vietnam to Canada. Accompanied by historical and biographical information, as well as numerous photographs, this informative and inspiring story is recommended for readers 8 years old and up.
Spalding, Andrea. Solomon’s Tree.
Stinson, Kathy. Red is Best.
Thornhill, Jan. The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2018.
For over 100 years, little brown house sparrows have been at home here in British Columbia. They enjoy living near people, near a steady supply of food. So it is not surprising that over 10,000 years ago, when people started settling down and growing grain in the Middle East, sparrows started settling down, too, making their homes inside human dwellings. As human settlements spread, the house sparrow travelled along until now it can be found almost all around the world.
Jan Thornhill, acclaimed Canadian author and illustrator, tells the story of this lowly bird in a fascinating and exquisite picture book accompanied by a world map, a life cycle chart, a glossary, a list of wild animals that live near people, and a list of related websites. Too detailed to be a read-aloud but highly recommended for curious readers – 11 years old and up – as a book to not only borrow but buy!
Toye, William. How Summer Came to Canada.
Ulmer, Mike. The Gift of the Inuksuk. Vickers, Roy Henry. Raven Brings the Light.
Ward, David. The Hockey Tree.
Waterton, Betty. A Salmon for Simon.
Zeman, Ludmila. The First Red Maple Leaf.
Click HERE for books about Canadians.
Death Benefits by Sarah N. Harvey (Orca Book Publishers, 2010) tells a story that shows the true meaning of family. Set in Victoria, B.C., the novel describes the experiences of a young teenager named Royce who can’t “find himself.”
This story had me up all night. It entertained me with its suspense and blew me away. It informed me about how hard a kid’s life can be if he doesn’t really have any family except for his mom. The story also affected my emotions; I felt really happy for Royce as I read the part where his Mom told him that he had a grandpa. Most importantly, this story changed how I see the world: Royce’s grandpa was always cranky and rude but inside that cranky old man was a story that no one knew. When Royce found out about his family’s past, he was stunned.
If you like books with suspense, then you are definitely going to enjoy this book. (Simran in grade eight)
I am a Taxi, by Deborah Ellis (Toronto- Groundwood Books, 2006), is a story about a young twelve-year-old boy, named Diego, who goes through a difficult and hard journey. He lives in a small jail cell with his mom and his little sister, Corina. He earns money for his family by being the taxi. In another words, he runs errands in the town for the prisoners. However, the errands don’t provide the family with enough money. Just when Diego is having a hard time, his friend, Mando, talks him into going to Bolivia to earn money by selling drugs. So, they go to Bolivia with three other boys, all glue sniffers. Their jobs in Bolivia are to stamp on the coca to make it into cocaine. The boys are drugged so that they will not get exhausted so easily. Two weeks passed, and there are no signs of payments, Mando is in danger. Diego has to escape! If you want to know what happens next and what other journeys he goes through, read the whole series by this great Canadian author!
This story made me see life differently. It taught me so much about how people will do anything to become wealthy and how you can’t always get what you want. I also learned that there are people out there who go through hard times. (Da Eun in grade eight)
I recently read a great book called Dear Canada: If I Die Before I Wake, The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor by Jean Little. The main character, Fiona, lives in the time of World War I and faces a dilemma: Move in with her Grandparents or live in her home where she is at risk of catching the Spanish Flu. There are all sorts of complications. Her twin sister and her have never been apart before, her sister catches the Spanish Flu, her mother is dead. At the end, Fiona moves in with her Grandparents and looks after her sister. I can tell you that this novel was one of the most saddening and motivating novels I have read in a long time. Looking for a heart-wrenching book? Then this is definitely the right book for you! (Melissa in grade eight)
Strawberry Moon by Becky Citra (Orca, 2005) portrays many challenges that affect the main character. Ellie lives on a farm with her father and her brother Max. Everything is going fine, they are happy, until one day when Ellie’s grueling grandmother arrives from England and everything becomes a lot harder. Grandmother is so picky. It is very difficult to please her. It is hard to even be around her. Another challenge, especially difficult for Ellie, is that her grandmother wants to take her back to England and train her to become a poised and proper women. Ellie feels horrid and extremely nervous. Poor Ellie! She soon faces another challenge when she must hide a baby fox from her papa or he’ll drown it. Everything is going smoothly until her grandmother finds out she is hiding the fox. And then the most tough and terrible challenge for the whole family strikes: Ellie’s grandmother has a stroke right before she is supposed to be going home. Will she be going home? Will Ellie be going home with her? What will happen to the baby fox? So many questions . . . You’ll have to read the book to find the answers. (Andriana in grade eight)
Janey’s Girl, by Gayle Friesen (Kids can Press Ltd. 1998), is a book about a young teenager named Clarissa, preferably Claire, who has been raised by her single mom, Jane, with no information about her father. And she hasn’t been interested in finding out about him until she and her mom go up to the place where her mother was raised, Smallwood, for a nice summer vacation with Jane’s mother, Claire’s grandmother. Claire soon realizes that everyone in town knows more about her life then she does. They know about her father, about the entire other half of her life story, something that she doesn’t know anything about. While writing a postcard to her friend one day, Claire runs into a little boy. Little does she know that the father of this boy is also her father and that she might be just the one who is able to save his life. During her stay in Smallwood, Claire also discovers that her mother was not always so uptight and stubborn and that there is more to her mom’s story than she had been told.
This book is full of romance, mystery and integrity. Claire never stops doing what she believes in, and though she makes many mistakes in the process, she gets it right in the end. The author really catches your attention and doesn’t let go all the way to the last page, and then you wish the story hadn’t ended. I love this book and believe that many after me will enjoy it too. (Katrina in grade eight)
In the book Dancing Through The Snow by Jean Little (Scholastic 2008), a little girl named Min has been posted from one foster parent to another. One day, Enid Bangs returns poor little Min to the adoption center. Luckily for Min, a doctor adopts her and treats her very well. Christmas is coming , and Min has never really had a Christmas before, but the doctor showers her with presents and Min has the very best Christmas ever! (Paisley in grade 6)
Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson (Penguin, 1996) is an imaginative story about a young girl named Theo who has an extremely hard life. She and her drug-addicted, abusive mother, Rae, are living in poverty in Vancouver when Theo’s rough life is suddenly interrupted by Rae’s boyfriend, who asks her to move in with him. There’s only one slight problem. He doesn’t want Theo. The poor girl has to move to Victoria to live with her aunt, someone she has not visited for years. During the ferry journey, something odd happens when Rae steps outside to smoke a cigarette: Theo dreams of being in the middle of a perfect family. When she awakens, she meets her dream family! They are called the Kaldors and they adopt her! She spends a few wondrous months in their home in Victoria until something odd happens again. She slowly fades away until she wakes up back on the ferry with Rae. The two arrive in Victoria, and Theo has to move in with her overprotective aunt. After a while, Theo goes on a daring quest to find the Kaldor’s house. She is ecstatic when the youngest family member opens the door, but she is stunned to discover that no one in the family recognizes her. Not only that, but they’re not perfect anymore. Will Theo ever have a normal life with her dream family? Read this marvelous book to find out! I really enjoyed this novel. I could feel Theo’s joy and her sadness. I could also feel what it must be like to be poor. Before reading Awake and Dreaming, I thought poverty was only in places like Africa or Afghanistan. Now I know that in my own community there are children, just like me, going to bed hungry every night. Kit Pearson has written many books. I recommend The Daring Game, A Handful of Time, and A Perfect Gentle Knight. All of these stories contain important messages which I hope every reader will appreciate. (Nada in grade 7)
Caged Eagles by Eric Walters, you might think is about birds and I couldn’t blame you, but it’s actually about the way Japanese people were treated during World War II, specifically in British Columbia. It all begins in just outside of Prince Rupert in a Japanese fishing community where one day everyone has to pack their belongings and head out via their boats. They are towed by Navy Vessels to Vancouver where they end up staying at Hastings Park.
Caged Eagles was a very in-depth novel: you felt as though you were the main character and had all his thoughts and dilemmas. I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about the hardships of the Japanese, how they were thought to be spies simply because of their racial background.
Caged Eagles is a good book with adventure, history, action and bluntly told facts. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about World War II history or the effects of prejudice. (Brenden in grade 7)
I absolutely agree with Jean Little who wrote the poem called Clothes. She said that old clothes are like old friends, because they make you feel relaxed and really comfortable.’’ Old clothes go where I go, doing whatever I feel like doing. Jean also said that new clothes are brighter, smoother and shinier, and so they make you feel more self-conscious and careful about what you do. For instance, she says,” I don’t climb over barbed-wire fences.”
I also agree with Little’s idea about old friends, because I feel like I have known my old friends for a long time, and they feel as if they’re my sisters. With new friends, I feel shy, and I am more careful of what I do and say. Jean Little and I really have something in common: the sentiment in the clothes poem! (Kristine in gr. 7)
My favourite book is Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood, 2002). It is about surviving in Afghanistan’s desert and despite the gloom, it is a heart-warming book with exciting twists. (Halle in gr. 7)
What if your family, house, and life were blown away in a powerful explosion? This is the problem faced by Charlotte Blackburn in No Safe Harbour by Julie Lawson. I recommend this book for anyone from grades four to eight. I’ve read it over, and over, and over again. (Susie in gr. 6)
I just read Alone at Ninety Foot by Katherine Holubitsky. It is amazingly written. It has a good story to it. And the description in it is really detailed. (Erin)