CLWG: Children's Literature Web Guide

OLA Best Bets 1997

The Ontario Library Association Canadian Materials Committee consists of librarians from across Ontario. The titles included in this annual list of recommended new Canadian titles are selected based on their distinctiveness, quality and appeal to children.

Picture Books

*Bedard, Michael. The Divide. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Toronto: Tundra, 1997.

Willa feels isolated and homesick in her new prairie home on the Divide. Yet, as the seasons pass from spring to autumn, she finds beauty in the prairie landscape and the other settlers. Emily Arnold McCully's illustrations capture the spirit of this story based on the life of Willa Cather.

*Bogart, Jo Ellen. Jeremiah Learns To Read. Illustrated by Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson. Richmond Hill: North Winds Press, 1997.

Jeremiah is an old man who learns many things, but he does not know how to read. Feeling that there is something missing from his life, he joins the children at school and learns to read and write. A beautifully illustrated story about love and learning that will warm the most cynical heart.


*Edwards, Frank B. Downtown Lost And Found. Illustrated by John Bianchi. Kingston: Bungalo Books, 1997.

*______________. Peek-A-Boo At The Zoo. Illustrated by John Bianchi. Kingston: Bungalo Books, 1997.

*______________. The Zookeeper's Sleepers. Illustrated by John Bianchi. Kingston: Bungalo Books, 1997.

Simple vocabulary, repetition, funny stories and bright, zany illustrations make learning to read fun in this new series for beginning readers.

*Harris, Dorothy Joan. Cameron and Me. Illustrated by Marilyn Mets. Toronto: Stoddart Kids, 1997.

The arrival of a new baby changes everything. Even as Cameron grows, Zachary longs to be alone. With the arrival of another baby, there are more changes, including Zachary's feelings towards Cameron. Detailed watercolours bring the heartwarming text to life.

*Harty, Nancy. Hold On, McGinty! Illustrated by Don Kilby. Toronto: Doubleday, 1997.

Leaving behind his native Newfoundland, McGinty travels across Canada to fish in the Pacific Ocean. Although a long and lonely trek, he is accompanied by an old dear friend, his boat. Soft pastel illustrations reflect the character's feelings for his country.

*Lawson, Julie. Emma And The Silk Train. Illustrated by Paul Mombourquette. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1997.

As high speed silk trains roar past, Emma dreams of having silk of her own. Based on an actual incident in 1927, this well-written adventure is brought to life by lush illustrations.

*Nichol, Barbara. Dippers. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Toronto: Tundra Books, 1997.

Barbara Nichol weaves a magical tale about the dippers, dog-like creatures with leathery wings, who inhabit Toronto neighborhoods during a summer heatwave in 1912. Barry Moser's soft illustrations beautifully complement this imaginative story.

*Reid, Barbara. The Party. Illustrated by Barbara Reid. Richmond Hill: North Winds Press, 1997.

Barbara Reid's rhythmic text and bright Governor General Award winning plasticine illustrations bring all the fun and high spirits of a summer garden party to life.

*Waboose, Jan Bourdeau. Morning On The Lake. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1997.

Follow Noshen and his Grandfather on a canoe trip that not only reflects their special relationship, but also shows us the wonders of nature. The mood of the story is richly complemented by Karen Reczuch's illustrations.

*Wallace, Ian. A Winter's Tale. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1997.

When Abigail gets to go winter camping with her brother and father, she savours every moment. Wonderful illustrations and text convey the sense of joy in the book.


*Dale, Mitzi. What's Tuesday? Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997.

When Gramps dies, Steph's world turns upside down. The family sells all it has, the kids quit school and the parents leave their jobs. They buy backpacks, get passports and then they decide what they will do next. Dale's humorous novel explores what happens when the members of one family decide to throw convention to the wind and pursue their hearts' desires.

*Haworth-Attard, Barbara. Home Child. Montreal: Roussan, 1996.

In 1914, Sadie's world changes dramatically when her father brings home an English orphan to help on the farm. While most despise and resent him, Sadie becomes his friend. A poignant story that illustrates a darker chapter in Canadian history.

*Lawson, Julie. Goldstone.Toronto: Stoddart Kids, 1997

Karin's mama owns a goldstone pendant that allows her to see the future in her dreams. When mama is killed in an avalanche and Karin finds the pendant the following spring, she wears it to bed and begins to have disturbing dreams concerning an avalanche that threatens her father and his railway crew. Based on real events in the life of her grandfather, Lawson has woven a finely crafted and suspenseful tale.

*Little, Jean. The Belonging Place. Toronto: Viking, 1997.

All her life, Elspet Mary has known loss. First her mother died, then her father. Finally settled with her mother's brother and feeling at home, her sense of security is again threatened when her uncle proposes to uproot his family and move them all to Upper Canada. This is a moving tale of family and belonging.

*Lottridge, Celia Barker. Wings To Fly. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997.

This sequel to Ticket To Curlew focuses on Josie, Sam Ferrier's eleven year old sister. This well crafted story deals with Josie's feelings of isolation and loneliness, growing up on the prairies in the early part of this century.

*Lunn, Janet. The Hollow Tree. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1997.

During the American Revolutionary war, Phoebe Olcott journeys through the wilderness to deliver a message to the British forces for her cousin, Gideon, who was hanged for being a British spy. A remarkable story about a courageous heroine and a group of loyalists, who are part of the emigration of United Empire Loyalists to Canada.

*Major, Kevin. The House Of Wooden Santas. Wood Carvings by Imelda George and Photography by Ned Pratt. Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1997.

Jesse's dreams of Christmas rely not only on his mother's ability to sell her wooden carvings to pay the rent, but on his ability to believe in the spirit of the season. Presented in a countdown to Christmas format, the exquisite wood carvings capture magic of the season.

*Oppel, Kenneth. Silverwing. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

Shade, a young silverwing bat is separated from his colony in this adventure. His arduous journey south is littered with a cast of colourful villains and heroes. An original and delightful fantasy which captivates the reader.

*Valgardson, W. D. Garbage Creek And Other Stories. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1997.

W. D. Valgardson's eight short stories about children from different backgrounds are humorous, moving and realistic. In each story the character draws from within to reach an understanding of his or her world.

*Wilson, John. Across Frozen Seas. Vancouver: Beach Holme Publishing, 1997.

David Young is having vivid dreams about the Franklin Expedition's journey to the Canadian Arctic. As the dreams progress and intensify, David becomes increasingly engaged in the fate of the H.M.S Erebus and H.M.S. Terror and their crews. A fast paced adventure about an intriguing episode in Canadian history.


* Bowers, Vivien. Crime Science. Illustrated by Martha Newbigging. Toronto: Owl Books, 1997.

Fascinating information on the use of science in criminal investigation; from fingerprints to DNA to Cybercops. Sidebar cases, illustrations and photographs complement the well-written text.

*Bouchard, David. The Great Race. Paintings by Zhong-Yang Huang. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1997.

When a grandmother tells a fable about a contest of animals and creatures, the Chinese Zodiac comes to life. The dramatic paintings by Zhong-Yang Huang give an exciting edge to the story.

*Bouchard, Dave. Prairie Born. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1997.

Dave Bouchard has once again truly captured the feeling of time and place in Prairie Born. The poetic, flowing text is beautifully complemented by wonderful paintings by Peter Shostak.

*Broda, Ron and Webb, Joanne. 3 - D Paper Crafts. Photography by Wally Randall. Richmond Hill: Scholastic Canada, 1997.

Create a flower bouquet, a space shuttle, a school of fish, a totem pole, a stegosaurus, a frog, a horse and a rattlesnake paper sculpture using this well designed book. Ron Broda's colourful paper sculptures and easy to follow instructions highlight this useful and fun guide.

*Fitch, Sheree. If You Could Wear My Sneakers. Toronto: Doubleday Canada Limited, 1997.

A collection of poetry that explores the rights of children. Sheree Fitch's fun, playful poetry and Darcia Labrosse's colourful, whimsical illustrations make this collection both enjoyable and educational.

*Gal, Laszlo and Raffaella. The Parrot. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1997.

To keep a merchant's beautiful daughter out of an evil old king's clutches, a young prince turns himself into a parrot and starts to tell a fabulous tale. This Italian folktale is beautifully retold and illustrated.

*Granfield, Linda. Circus. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1997.

Every child who has been to the circus will enjoy this informative look at the Big Top. Information on the origins of the circus and circus life are supplemented by historical and contemporary photographs.

*Mastin, Colleayn O. The Magic of Mythical Creatures. Illustrated by Jan Slovak. Kamloops, B.C.: Grasshopper Books, 1997.

Fantastic illustrations bring trolls, Qallupik and Kappa to life. Short, informative entries give further details about these and other creatures from around the world.

*Sadlier, Rosemary. Tubman: Harriet Tubman And The Underground Railroad. Toronto: Umbrella Press, 1997.

The extraordinary life of Harriet Tubman and her work on the Underground Railroad is illustrated with photographs, drawings and maps in this fascinating book. Further explanations and historical details are provided in sidebars.

*Swanson, Diane. Bug Bites: Insects Hunting Insects ... And More. Toronto: Whitecap Books, 1997.

Bugs, bugs and more bugs. Diane Swanson has created a book that is sure to entice more than just bug lovers. The photographs and illustrations from the Royal British Columbia Museum make this book a truly memorable bug book.

The Children's Literature Web Guide
Saturday, February 7, 1998