Heather Hartt-Sussman’s Noni is back, in Noni Speaks Up, teaching us another life lesson about feeling afraid and doing it anyway. Perhaps you’ve met Noni before, in Noni is Nervous or Noni says No. In this installment, Noni’s conscience goes head to head with her desire to be part of the group.
Noni Speaks Up
Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Youngsters are masterful at creating fabulous new worlds from couch cushions, blocks, blankets, and chairs. Unfortunately, most of us get the creation-of-new-worlds-mastery nagged out of us by well-intentioned parents who are just trying to clear a path through the clutter so everyone can get to the bathroom.
Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Down Here, by Valerie Sherrard, is a sweet story that might manage to defuse a few of those heated time- to-clean-up encounters. A book with an important reminder that sometimes the most difficult problems can be solved by looking at things from a different perspective.
Oscar Lives Next Door is a story inspired by Oscar Peterson’s Montreal childhood and told by elementary school teacher, author, and playwright Bonnie Farmer. This picture book was years in the making, inspired by Farmer’s desire to write a book about growing up in her beloved Little Burgundy. That rich setting found its ideal protagonist when Farmer came up with the idea of telling a story from jazz master Oscar Peterson’s childhood. In her narrative, Farmer succeeds in telling a good tale filled with information about the social and cultural life in the Black community of Little Burgundy, including compelling details about Oscar Peterson’s past. The author has astutely chosen to chronicle a particularly dramatic episode in Peterson’s life – the period when he contracted TB and was ultimately forced to give up his beloved first instrument, the trumpet.
Oscar Lives Next Door
A Story Inspired by Oscar Peterson's Childhood
Illustrated by Marie Lafrance
Owl Kids Books
Remember that cliché about the book and its cover? Well That Squeak, by Carolyn Beck, proves that you can’t judge a book by its format either. This large picture book with glossy and gorgeous images by François Thisdale looks like it’s for kids. With only about a paragraph of text on each page, much of it dialogue, on first glance the book looks a lot like something you might read to a six- or seven-year-old, that it might be suitable for a child who can’t quite read but who can concentrate long enough to appreciate a well-told tale. But book judges beware! This book is meant for a YA audience and not elementary school kids.
Illustrated by François Thisdale
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Arsenal Pulp Press is rapidly building a comprehensive YA catalogue, including this new release, Faerie, a novel by Eisha Marjara. The novel is divided into nineteen chapters, each of which includes either one long piece of writing or a series of shorter pieces of varying lengths. Some sections read like diary entries while others are more finely crafted. The writing itself, the figurative language, the consistent narrative voice, and the descriptive passages are well done. The author is an award-winning film writer and director and there is ample evidence here of her ability and skill.
Arsenal Pulp Press
But despite the many accomplishments of the writer and her work, Faerie is not a book I would recommend for a YA audience. The book presents a ghastly picture – a very personal story – but it pushes us away instead of drawing us in. We know that girls and women are starving themselves to death, but Faerie doesn’t help us understand why, and at the end of the novel, where we search for resolution, there is only a tidy epilogue – two short paragraphs that inform the reader that Lila is now slender and happy, working as a photographer and using her art to keep her inner faerie alive. mRb
Lovely books indeed! One note, however. The characters in That Squeak are young boys but not young adults. The death of a young friend, sadly, is not an experience limited to young adults either. This book with its picture book format certainly works very well for a young adult audience but is also ideal for children even as young as 8 or 9 years old, if it is presented thoughtfully and with an opportunity for discussion. It would be a shame to limit this story to an older audience.