Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picture book Top 10 on the 10th - The World needs more Canada

It’s August 10th today and that means I’m participating in the Picture Book Top 10 for 10th Event once again. This is an annual event co-hosted by Cathy Mere of Reflect & Refine and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning celebrating the top-picks, can’t-live-without picture books of blogging teachers, librarians, and other keeners who appreciate children’s literature. I’ve participated in a few of these events and always make a point of stopping by even when I don’t post a list of my own. I never come away disappointed, only with many, many recommendations of titles, new and old. Please stop by and take a gander at this diverse list. 

"The World Needs More Canada"

I decided to answer this call with my list today and focus on the Canadian authors and illustrators whose books continually appear in my workshops for student-teachers. These books often speak to something specifically ‘Canadian’ but for the most part I select them because they tell good stories or the illustrations are stunning, clever, beautiful or all three. In making my list there were a few who got cut only because we are limited to selecting ONLY TEN! Rest assured I've many more favourites that could have easily made the list.

So in no particular order, first up is Marie-Louise Gay

I've been a long time fan of this author-illustrator and am particularly partial to her series about Stella and her brother Sam. Stella is an older sister who is more than willing to answer and reassure Sam about the things he wonders and worries about. I love the whimsical illustrations and the affectionate relationship that comes across between these two characters. I would also recommend her book Any Questions? which addresses the many questions children often ask authors about writing books. 

Second is Tomson Highway.

I love the trilogy he wrote about a Cree family living in Northern Manitoba. The series includes Caribou Song (2001, 2013), Dragonfly Kites (2002, 2016) and Fox On the Ice (2003, 2010). Each book lets the reader look into a very different way of life that engenders a love of the land and family. The focus on a First Nations family 'shows' us how they lived without having to 'tell' us. These are bilingual books written in Cree and English.

Third is Ted Harrison.

Ted Harrison's art is very well known and easily identifiable.  He has illustrated two Robert W. Service poems about the far north, The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee which are popular in schools. I often bring out Harrison's O Canada, an illustrated version of the national anthem. Each spread of pages captures evocative and iconic images of each province and territory; open spaces in the prairie provinces, the mountains in Alberta, the vast depths of ocean waters for the coastal provinces are just a few examples.

Fourth on my list is Melanie Watt.

Another author-illustrator, she is well known for a series of books featuring the most anxious, paranoid, safety-obsessed rodent you'd ever hoped to meet -- Scaredy Squirrel. I'm a wee bit more partial to Chester, a cat with authorial aspirations who will do anything to hijack Melanie's latest book. It's fun and cheeky besides having some classroom potential, as well.

My fifth author to note is Richard Van Camp.

I love this author for his storytelling ability, hands-down. Whether you are reading his books or listening to him as a presenter you will be easily caught up in the characters and places he's introducing us to. Two of his picture books for older readers that I often showcase for student-teachers are What's the Most Beautiful Thing About Horses? and A Man Called Raven. Van Camp is very much into incorporating traditional Native perspectives and values into his stories. He's is a Tłı̨chǫ writer from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.

Sixth up is Frank Viva.

I love his retro-style illustrations and the concepts behind Along a Long Road and A Long Way Away. Lots of playful language and interplay between words and images. Whereas Young Frank, Architect plays with the idea of differences in perspective. This one is a good one for units about building things in elementary science and STEM classrooms.

Number seven on my list is Roy Henry Vickers

This Northwest Coast artist illustrates traditional stories like Raven Brings the Light and Cloudwalker that relates how the three largest salmon-bearing rivers in British Columbia came to be. The artwork is simply stunning with vibrant colourwork incorporating Northwest Coast iconography.

The eighth Canadian author I'd recommend is Rukhsana Khan.

 I first read The Roses in My Carpets back in the late 90s. Her story of refugees living in a camp and yearning for a better life resonants even more strongly for me now than it did back then. Others of her books that I promote in workshops with students are books that feature everyday concerns for children such as learning tolerance and sharing with a younger sibling (Big Red Lollipop) and overcoming fears (The Ruler of the Courtyard).

Ninth on my list is Rob Gonsalves.

He's best known for his Imagine a... series of books that play with our visual perspective of common and uncommon scenes. My favorite is his first book, Imagine a Night. The cover gives you a sense of what this might look like. Until you look closely at the picture you see the reflection of coniferous trees backlit by the moon. But the reflected trees turn out to be a woman carrying a lantern coming from the water instead. The pictures can be surprising, amusing and eerie. Others in the series include Imagine a Day, Imagine a Place and most recently, Imagine a World.

And, the tenth Canadian author I urge you to check out is Paul Yee.

Many of his books appear in my workshops because his strong storytelling shows us life in Canada as a Chinese immigrant. Many of his stories are historical and are great to tie-in with the social studies curriculum in Grade 5. The Ghost Train and Roses Sing on New Snow are two that I use frequently.

So, how about it?  Have I given you a few new Canadian authors to check out? Or maybe I just reminded you of some books that you might just have to revisit. New or old these authors and illustrators are well worth becoming acquainted with.

PS. I know this 'looks' like more than 10 but count'em.  There's really only 10 authors. Just don't count the number of actual books, okay?  


Stacey Shubitz said...

Some of my favorite authors are Canadian. (I adore getting review copies from KidsCan and Tundra Books since they're often not things I'd readily find here in the States.) Thanks for introducing me to several new authors in your PB10for10 post!

Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks for mentioning KidsCan and Tundra Books. They're worth mentioning which I didn't do. Glad you found a few new names. Tammy

Unknown said...

Many of these I had not heard of. Thanks for sharing!
Lynne Marie -

Linda B said...

I know some because there are several other bloggers I read from Canada, but really appreciate your focus on the authors, too. Thanks, some beautiful books here. I love the Imagine A Night. . . series.

Adrienne Gear said...

What a great theme for 10 for 10! I love that you have featured Canadian authors and I will definitely be sharing this post on my FB page! I am always trying to promote our amazing Canadian authors and illustrators so very happy to see this! Thank you!

Jana The Teacher said...

It's so much fun to have an entire list of books that are new to me! That's the main reason I love to read everyone's lists. I'm definitely adding these titles to my To Read list. I know my students and I will have fun checking these out. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Ann Reilly said...

What's the Most Beautiful Thing About Horses? is one of my favorite books. I have used in several different units of study. A great list. Thanks.

Kendra said...

Big Red Lollipop is one of my favorites. I'm so happy to have stopped by here, I learned so much about Canadian authors, and found some new titles for my kids. Thank you for that.

Katie TheLogonauts said...

Great list! (Even with the book count cheating - ha!) Love Rukhsana Khan, but there are also a lot of new-to-me books to check out. Thanks!

Unknown said...

This is awesome! Thank you for all these great titles!

Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) said...

The world always needs more Canada!

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