Best Books for Kids & Teens 2014 is a magazine published by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a not-for-profit organization established in 1976 to promote “the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers”. The books included here have been published in 2013. The magazine has an impressive list of professionals from across the country who contribute their time and expertise to choosing books from a variety of target reader areas which include teachers of various grade levels. The cover boasts “190 new books for preschool, elementary & high school” in addition to teacher resources in a range of media. A few of the books are new editions of previously published books and are so designated according to the legend under the magazine’s guide on the index page. Books of especially high quality are indicated by a red star in the corner of the book and the title of the brief review is also in red.
I was delighted to see some favourite authors with new books out such as Eric Walters, Jean Little, Kit Pearson, Roy MacGregor and Deborah Ellis. There is a new interpretation of some of Rudyard Kipling‘s Just So Stories (vol.1) by illustrator Ian Wallace. (I believe vol. 2 is available now as well.) Also, under Picture Books is an edition of The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Barbara Reid who creates amazing creatures and scenes using plasticine. In addition to a reissue of Eric Walters’ Run, a story of inspiration drawn from Canadian hero Terry Fox, Walters’ has published a picture book for young children called My Name Is Blessing which is based on the true story of a young Kenyan boy named Baraka whose life is full of challenges.
Two books in Junior & Intermediate Fiction stood out for me. One is called Amelia and Me by Heather Stemp; it is the story of 12-year-old would-be pilot Ginny Ross in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland whose dream is to be pilot like her hero Amelia Earhart. This resonates with me because I, too, am an admirer of Ms. Earhart. This is a story about courage, overcoming obstacles, and making your dreams come true. The second is called Escape from Berlin by Irene N. Watts which contains 3 novels: Good-bye Marianne, Remember Me, and Finding Sophie. These stories focus on children in WW II who were transported out of Europe to safety and are being published to commemorate the 75th anniversary of what became known as the Kindertransport. Two girls meet on the train and bond together to face an uncertain future.
Two non-fiction books that appeal to me are in the Biography & Speaking Out section. Pay It Forward Kids: Small Acts, Big Change, tells the stories of “14 ordinary kids from across North America who have done extraordinary things, all on their own initiative”. These promise to be inspirational stories that will speak directly to kids and show them that they are not powerless in this all-too-adult world. Author: Nancy Runstedler. The other one is by an author whose books I have read before and shared with my grade 5 and 6 classes over the last decade, Deborah Ellis. This new book, Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids, is the product of 2 years of travel across North America and interviews with native children aged 9 to 18. The stories range from the heart-breaking to the hopeful and focus on how they see the world and how they are affected by their ethnicity. Ms. Ellis, too, pays it forward; All royalties from the sale of this book will go to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which does incredible work to support Native youth in foster care.
Whether you have children or work with children, this is a worthwhile magazine to pick up to help you choose books that will enhance character and literacy. * * * *