Exuberant life…

Cuevas, Michelle. Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.
Smoot’s tiresome life of being a shadow ends when he decides to leave his boy and strike out on his own. Running, dancing, singing, he embraces all the excitement of his new life. Other shadows watch him and bravely follow suit. What will happen? Smoot looks around and has an idea. Maybe all of them – all of the shadows – could go back where they came from and still live with excitement. Will it work? Can life hold joy even in ordinary circumstances? This marvellously designed picture book – illustrated by Canadian Sydney Smith – will appeal to readers of all ages of appreciate fables. 

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“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost

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Escaping…

Cole, Tom Clohosy. Wall. Somerville, Mass.: Templar Books, 2014.
In 1961, families found themselves suddenly separated by the Berlin Wall. East Berlin was under Communist rule and people were not permitted to cross the wall and join their relatives in the West.  In this evocatively illustrated picture book, a young boy is determined to find a way for his family to be reunited. Told from the first person point of view and based on true stories, Wall is recommended for readers 8 years old and up. (Artists interested in seeing how to depict night-time scenes may appreciate analyzing the illustrations which were created digitally but provide ideas for working with pastels.)

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Follow me…

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Trouble the Water. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

An old yellow dog brings Cassie and Wendell – a black girl and a white boy – together in racially segregated Kentucky in 1953. Buddy leads them to a ramshackle cabin in the woods where two invisible boys are waiting to cross the nearby river. Partly historical fiction, partly a ghost story, this memorable novel by a thought-provoking writer is highly recommended for readers 10 to 15 years old.

More stories of African Americans

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P.S. Do you know the story of how Jesus healed the sick man by the pool of Bethesda? The man who never got to the pool in time to be healed after an angel ‘troubled the water’? You might like to read about it in John 5 after you read Dowell’s story. Then you might like to think about the Pharisees in the Bible and the townspeople in the story. And think about that pool at the end of the novel. Might you be called to be an angel?

Who will speak up?

Kreller, Susan. You Can’t See Elephants. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015.
Two children are beaten by their parents and no one does anything about it. No one in the neighbourhood says a word. Except 13-year-old Mascha. Sent to live with her grandparents for the summer, she befriends Julia and Max. And courageously tries to rescue them.
This insightful award-winning novel – translated from the German by Elizabeth Gaffney – will appeal to thoughtful readers 11 years old and up. [Brothers and sisters; Child abuse; Germany; Grandparents; Parent and child]

More stories of individuality HERE.

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Remembering…

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Genevieve’s War. New York: Holiday House, 2017.
August of 1939. Summer is over. Time to leave France and go home to America. But thirteen-year-old Genevieve decides – at the last moment – to stay with her grandmother in the small Alsatian village rather than return to New York. Mere months later, Nazi soldiers arrive and life changes.
This story is among the best of Giff’s many novels. Who are your friends? Whom can you trust? For whom will you risk your life? All these questions are quietly and skillfully addressed in a compelling novel for readers 11 years old and up.

More stories of World War 2 HERE.

More stories set in France HERE.

More stories of love HERE.

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Pearl’s Dream

Parry, Rosanne. Written in Stone. New York: Random House, 2013.
A grandmother recalls her youth in the 1920s. Her tribe, the Makah on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, struggles to survive after Pearl’s father dies and outsiders threaten her people’s way of life. This engrossing 175-page story – told from the first person point of view – is accompanied by a map, a glossary, an extensive author’s note explaining historical details, and a list of resources. The relatively large font makes the book inviting for competent readers as young as 10 years old. The quality of the writing and depth of historical information make this a compelling novel for readers of any age. Highly recommended!

More stories of indigenous people HERE.

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Living Through War

McMullan, James. Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin, 2014.

Do you ever feel like you’re not quite good enough? That you can’t ever please your parents? That you don’t belong anywhere? Read this memoir about an artist who grew up moving from country to country – from China to Canada to India and finally to the U.S.A. – and who is now a highly acclaimed designer and illustrator. This 113-page autobiography with full-page illustrations is recommended for readers 10 years old and up.

More picture book memoirs HERE

More stories about moving HERE  

More stories about World War II HERE