Elise Gravel, a prolific, award-winning artist, has a gift for the next generation of illustrators. Monsters, Italian-speaking octopuses, and worm slippers all grace the pages of If Found… Please Return to Elise Gravel. Gravel’s creations jump off the page in this rendition of the black notebook she doodles in every night. The many different versions of her inventions show blossoming artists how exploring an idea can be fun and playful. Take the dozen or so different-coloured kiwi birds poking their beaks around a grid-lined page, or her so- called “floofs,” which are “like bunnies, but they wear boots,” who appear as a “happy floof,” a burping “floof that’s eaten too much” and a “floof on its way out” (literally walking off into the book’s spine).
If Found… Please Return to Elise Gravel
Drawn & Quarterly
Animals Do, Too!
How They Behave Just Like You
Illustrated by Marilyn Faucher
Kids Can Press
Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent
“Don’t you hate having to rely on other people?” asks ninth-grader Adina, as she muddles her way through preparation for Fashion Show tryouts in Raquel Rivera’s Show Mode. Part of the Orca Limelights series that highlights the performing arts, the book is inspired by the real-life annual fashion show at Montreal arts high school FACE. Adina has been waiting to become a senior to participate in the event, which involves choosing music, designing dance routines, and making costumes. Well-meaning, if marred by perfectionist tendencies that her friends call “going turbo,” Adina takes on the role of leader as she and her friends prepare to audition their act. Her group includes her crush, Seth, who seems like an ideal teenage boy (on top of being exceedingly diplomatic, he sews their outfits), Sandra, who is gifted with a powerful singing voice and personality, and dreamy flute-playing Willow, who doesn’t seem cut out for the rigour of Fashion Show.
Orca Book Publishers
Rivera succeeds in creating real tensions between the youngsters – readers will wonder throughout whether they’ll be able to pull it off – and their final act comes together with a surprising twist. Kudos to Rivera, whose dance routine details, in addition to the shimmery gold costumes, make the acts come alive: “Sandra, Seth and I take turns doing a signature disco move, then freeze in position … Seth slides, twists and moonwalks … I throw my head back and my arms out.”
Fifteen-year-old Declan, the main character of Karen Nesbitt’s first book Subject to Change, has a lot on his plate – he’s negotiating a difficult family situation while trying to graduate from high school (he would be the first O’Reilly to do so). Although he comes on strong, with plenty of swearing, twenty-one detentions to his name, and a nasty smoking habit, it’s also evident that he’s a good kid; he works at the local ice rink and he’s nice to his mom. This makes his persistent negative self-talk all the more striking and depressing.
Subject to Change
Orca Book Publishers
Nesbitt makes adept use of her experience working with teens. Declan’s convincing observations about the world around him are sharp, but he still comes off like a real teenage boy (cue the harmless and even charming comments about checking out girls and weed-smoking escapades). There are no easy solutions for Declan and his family. How do you reconcile with the seriously flawed people in your life? To even broach this possibility, Declan must examine some of his own attitudes, including his prejudice against gay people. With the right guidance and the support of his budding love interest, Declan and his family may just get a second chance. mRb