The Year We Learned to Fly

Woodson, Jacqueline. The Year We Learned to Fly. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022.
What do you do in spring when it’s raining outside and you have to stay inside? What do you do in summer when you have to do chores and can’t stop quarrelling with your brother? What do you in autumn when it’s dark outside and you’re stuck inside? What do you do in winter when you move somewhere new and you don’t know anyone at all? Well, use your imagination, of course! Remember the strong people who came before you. Lift up your arms, close your eyes, and let your mind fly! This joyous and inspiring picture book – illustrated by Rafael López – is highly recommended for readers of all ages.

P.S. Any book published by Nancy Paulsen Books is worth picking up. Sometimes you might not be ready for a particular story, but the quality of the writing will always be superb.

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A Day with Yayah

Campbell, Nicola I. A Day with Yayah. Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2017.
Nikki and her loving grandmother set out to spend the day gathering plants out on the land. Jamesie, Lenny, Grand-auntie Susan and Grand-uncle Chester join them as they search for wild rhubarb and potatoes, wild celery and sunflowers, and golden brown lightning mushrooms. Giving thanks to the Creator for the gift of food, they collect their discoveries and settle down for a picnic of salmon sandwiches and hot sweet tea. Set in the Nicola Valley of British Columbia, this heart-warming story illustrated by Julie Flett is made more powerful by the inclusion of words from the Nłeʔkepmxcin language. A glossary at the end provides both definitions and a pronunciation guide, and an afterward provides information about this Interior Salishan group of indigenous people. Most highly recommended for readers of all ages.

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Too Young to Escape

Imagine being left behind when your parents move to another country. That is what happened to young Van. She was left behind when her parents and older siblings fled from the communist rulers in Vietnam. Happily, Van was eventually able to rejoin her family in Canada. 

The large print and widely spaced lines make this 142-page book – illustrated with photographs – easy to read, but the story itself is not so easy to read.  Recommended for brave readers with compassionate hearts.

Ho, Van and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to Be Reunited with Her Family. Toronto: Pajama Press, 2018.

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Longing for freedom…

Stratton, Allan. The Way Back Home. Toronto: Scholastic Canada, 2017.
Zoe does not want her grandmother to be moved into a care home. But Alzheimer’s disease is making it increasingly unsafe for her grandmother to live on her own. What can Zoe’s parents do to cope with the situation? What can Zoe do to help?
She decides to take her grandmother on a road trip to Toronto to find a long-lost uncle. But more surprises and more difficulties are in store than she anticipated. Now how will Zoe cope?
A modern tale of family relationships and gender identity. While the frequent colloquialisms will make this book sound dated within a few years, it is a quickly paced story that will appeal to many readers 13 to 17 years old.

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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.

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