Snow Day

by Werner Zi
32 pages,
ISBN: 0590124854

We Share Everything

by Robert Munsch
32 pages,
ISBN: 0590514504

Mr. Dickens Hits Town

by Jan Mark
64 pages,
ISBN: 0887764681

The Great Poochini

by Gary Clement
32 pages,
ISBN: 0888993315

The Low Life: Five Great Tales From Up And Down The River

by Brian Doyle
240 pages,
ISBN: 0888993838

Woodland Nutcracker

by Avril Tyrrell
32 pages,
ISBN: 1552631249

The Spirit Of Canada: Canada’S Story In Legends

by Barbara Hehner
320 pages,
ISBN: 1894121147

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Children’S Books
by Jeffrey Canton

There’s no better way to celebrate the spirit of the Christmas season than to give a child a book. There are plenty to choose from this winter. Here are some of my favourites. Young readers won’t even have to leave the house to enjoy a day of wintertime fun in Werner Zimmermann’s exuberant new picture book, Snow Day. When snow blankets the city and school is cancelled, it’s a Snow Day—time to go outside and play. Readers will join the fun as they follow these two little boys make snow angels, build snow forts... And when the day is done and their fingers and toes are frozen, there’s a cup of hot chocolate waiting and the hope that tomorrow will be a Snow Day, too! Zimmermann’s lively illustrations capture the tingling blues and whites of a snowy day and the excitement of a playful romp through a wintry world. Ice and snow are also part of the world into which Avril and Frances Tyrrell take young readers in a charming reworking of the Nutcracker ballet, Woodland Nutcracker. Anything can happen on Christmas Eve, and at the stroke of midnight, little Clara Bear’s wooden Nutcracker Bear doll magically turns into a real Bear Prince. He’s prepared to battle the army of field mice who have raided Clara’s home, looking for Christmas goodies. But Clara insists there’s plenty to eat and declares a truce. In recognition of her Christmas Peace, the Nutcracker Prince takes her to the starry court of Ursa Major, Queen of the Bears, where she is honoured by performances of dancing bears from around the globe. Frances Tyrrell’s breathtaking illustrations will delight young readers. Those familiar with her last book, A Woodland Christmas, will find the same careful attention to fine detail as well as her sense of humour and fun. Whether you’re a fan of the ballet or not, this is a book full of magic! After journeying to the stars with Avril and Frances Tyrell, why not take a trip back in time with Jan Mark’s wonderful new book, Mr. Dickens Hits Town. Mark whisks readers back to 1842 when the great English novelist, Charles Dickens, visited Montreal on the final leg of his North American tour. What was that visit like? What if Dickens had agreed to join a local theatrical company to present a play? And what if Mr. Dickens wasn’t just a great writer but a great actor, director, stage manager, carpenter, and painter who thoroughly annoys all and sundry? Through the eyes of a young fan, readers are treated to a delightful first-hand account that is one part historical fact and two parts historical fiction. Regolo Ricci’s handsome and richly detailed full-colour illustrations bring Jan Mark’s boisterous tale to life. By day, he’s just a pooch called Jack; by night, he’s one of the finest canine lyric tenors ever to have graced the stage. He’s the incomparable Signor Poochini and he’s preparing to play the lead role in Dog Giovanni at the Muttropolitan Opera House. But what happens when the great one is locked in? Will he have to miss the premiere? Is there any way out? Young readers will quite literally howl as they follow Gary Clement into this great shaggy dog story. Check out the marvellous posters that Clement has created for the book’s endpapers, the gallery of opera greats on the living room mantel, and the wacky illustrations that fill the pages of this dog-gone book. Young readers might not get all the opera jokes and puns with which Clement peppers the story, but there’s a lot more than opera to The Great Poochini, which won the Governor General’s Award for illustration. It’s also a thrilling adventure story that will delight readers of all ages. And talking about things going to the dogs... It’s the first day of school and Amanda and Jeremiah are starting kindergarten. What happens when Jeremiah wants the book that Amanda has? He screams! What happens when Amanda wants Jeremiah’s building blocks? She kicks! But this is kindergarten, says the teacher, and in kindergarten we share everything. Amanda and Jeremiah aren’t sure at first, but when they decide to share their clothes, the fun is just beginning. Munsch’s We Share Everything is sure to bring big, sloppy grins to the faces of kindergarten kids and older readers alike in this rib-tickling story where kids prove just how much smarter they are than adults. Michael Martchenko’s zany illustrations add to the fun of Munsch’s latest storytelling adventure. Brian Doyle is the first Canadian children’s writer to receive an Honourable Mention for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award by the International Board for Books for Young People. Since the publication of his first book, Hey, Dad!, in 1988, Doyle has delighted young adult readers from coast-to-coast and has picked up a handful of awards along the way. The Low Life: Five Great Tales from Up and Down the River brings together five of Doyle’s most memorable works: Angel Square, Up to Low, Easy Avenue, Covered Bridge, and Uncle Ronald. Doyle has a wonderfully distinctive style and voice. He’s a fabulous kitchen-table storyteller, exploring the lives of his characters with a dash of Dylan Thomas, a sprinkle of Shakespeare, and a touch of blarney as he walks us along that very fine line between comedy and tragedy. His books trigger great belly laughs and it’s sometimes hard to keep from crying as you find yourself swept into the fictional worlds he creates. But behind the laughter is a humane and sensitively expressed desire to understand what it means to be a child in the contemporary world. These five books make a very special gift indeed. Barbara Hehner’s The Spirit of Canada is a remarkable treasury of poems, songs, and stories that chronicle our nation’s life and times. It’s a companion piece to the award-winning The Story of Canada by Janet Lunn and Christopher Moore, which Hehner also edited. In The Spirit of Canada, Hehner mixes passages from the journals and writings of historical figures, including Jean de Brebeuf, Susanna Moodie, Samuel Hearne, Catherine Parr Traill, William Lyon Mackenzie, and Louis Riel, with both traditional folk songs like “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”, “Brave Wolfe”, and “Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor”, and original songs by Gordon Lightfoot, Stan Rogers, and Ian Tyson. Young readers will find poetry by writers including Dennis Lee, Margaret Atwood, E.J. Pratt, and E. Pauline Johnson, and fiction by writers as diverse as C.J. Taylor, Paul Yee, Roch Carrier, and Ainslie Manson. Hehner’s goal was to include as wide a range of voices as possible, and the selection here is wonderful. Hehner contributes an introduction to the eight thematic sections as well as notes on individual pieces to give readers a sense of context. Most remarkable are the more than 150 full-colour illustrations by fifteen Canadian children’s book illustrators, including Harvey Chan, Alan Daniel, Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson, Zhong-Yang Huang, Don Kilby, Luc Melanson, Paul Mombourquette, Tim Shortt, Bill Slavin, and Janet Wilson. The Spirit of Canada is a great tribute to who we are as Canadians, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.

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