COVID chaos captured in inspiring stories


One of the first books to reflect the current era of the pandemic from a young person’s perspective, Vancouver author Caroline Adderson Sunny Days Inside and other stories (Groundwood, 176 pages, $ 17, hardcover) does a great job of capturing the tremendous upheaval in children’s lives and the resilience with which they have faced challenges. This series of eight linked stories will not only affect you but inspire you.

All the characters in these stories live in a building opposite a large city hospital. A young boy solves his family’s money problems by renting out his dog to neighbors who want to go out. Girl learns American Sign Language (ASL) so she can talk to a new tenant her age.

But the stories don’t minimize the problems. A father becomes severely depressed and a mother needs cancer treatment. Young people face these tragedies by working together.

Highly recommended for 8-12 readers.

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For fantasy lovers, Orillia author Sarah Raughley’s The bones of ruin (McElderry Books, 496 pages, $ 24, hardcover) ticks all the boxes: It’s set in another 19th century, its characters possess miraculous abilities, and events border on the unbelievable.

Raughley said she wrote about “weird little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one.” This book follows his desires because, among their abilities, his characters cannot die, can bend time, can ignite, and can disappear.

Iris, an African tightrope walker from Coolie’s Circus, leaves the circus with her partner, Jinn, to join a murderous society of individuals who seek to organize a tournament of monsters. Haunted by dreams of a previous life, Iris searches for answers to her past and her parentage.

The bones of ruin is the first book in a new Raughley trilogy; it follows on from an earlier trilogy, The Effigies Series, and several other fantasy books. Raughley is an advocate for black writers and has written an open letter to publishers complaining that books with black characters are too often written by white authors. Intended for 8-12 year olds.

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For those who enjoyed A boy is not a bird, Montreal writer Edeet Ravel wrote a sequel, A boy is not a ghost (Groundwood, 248 pages, $ 17, hardcover).

Based on the true story of a boy exiled to Siberia with his mother during World War II, the book tells how Natt survives the journey to Novosibirsk in a smelly, crowded cattle wagon to face greater challenges when his mother is arrested for stealing potatoes and sent to jail.

Nat discovers that the best way to survive is to disappear. If you change your name, house, or appearance, the authorities may think that you are a ghost. Ravel is best known for her novel for young adults Tenuous. Nine years and over.

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Children often complain “If only I could be like …” Seasoned author-illustrator Mies van Hout explores this desire in her picture book If only… (Pajama Press, 32 pages, $ 23, hardcover).

Van Hout presents us with a series of brilliantly painted insects, each of which wants the qualities of the next. The spider wishes he was a ladybug, “Then everyone would think I’m adorable,” but the ladybug wants to be an ant, “Then I’d be strong and tough.” When the last insect, a dragonfly, wishes to be a child, the young reader realizes that it has many more abilities than most of the insects mentioned.

A talented artist as well as author, Van Hout not only uses collage to make his images, but here gives instructions on how to build such attractive offerings. For the first book lovers.

Helen Norrie is a writer from Winnipeg who enjoys reading children’s books.

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