By Emmy Nordstrom Higdon
For the last month of 2023, we’ve decided to highlight books that explore mental health and illness. All of the books that we’ve decided to highlight are by Canadian authors who are from populations who have traditionally been underrepresented in traditional publishing. While the theme is more literal in some ways in these books, it’s also explored metaphorically, which we hope will be inclusive to lots of different readers with varying levels of experience with the struggles and delights of mental wellbeing. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 1.2 million Canadian children and youth are affected by mental illness, and that number rises to 7.5 million by age 25. For this reason alone, it’s so important to start thinking about mental health from a young age – and we hope these books will support that goal!
In this poem, children find creative ways to embrace the world around them.
In my skin, I move. I spin like crinkly leaves on a windy day. I dance to my very own rhythm.
In my skin, I hope. I dust myself off so I can take on tomorrow. I chase the rainbow that shines after the storm.
Told by many different children as they sing, rise, reach, move, learn, hope, laugh, rest, remember, and love, this gorgeous poem shows us that when you embrace the skin you’re in, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities.
A story of two kids trying to save the world they know and heal the families they have.
It’s the summer of 2003 and thirteen-year-old astronomer Noah Cooper has just moved to Queensport, a small town with a vast amateur sky full of stars. There he meets Tara Dhillon, a lonely girl and aspiring filmmaker. When the two team up to produce an astronomy movie and enter a film contest, they discover a secret plan to turn their rural hamlet into a huge subdivision.
Noah and Tara must use their unique skills to identify the culprits who plan on paving over the historic county — and try to save the infinite beauty of the stars. As if that’s not enough to have at stake, Noah needs to win the prize money to buy a new telescope for his unemployed father — an ex-astronomer who’s almost given up on the stars, as well as life on earth.
Touching on themes of activism, environmental anxiety and mental health, A Bucket of Stars will have readers cheering for Noah, a boy whose head is in the stars, and Tara, a girl who lives in a world of digital images — and their special bond that just might mend the world around them.
Perfect for fans of They Both Die at the End and You’ve Reached Sam, this gripping, atmospheric YA novel follows a teen with a mysterious condition that transports her to the past when she smells certain scents linked to specific memories.
Seventeen-year-old Aimee Roh has Sensory Time Warp Syndrome, a rare condition that causes her to time travel to a moment in her life when she smells something linked to that memory. Her dad is convinced she’ll simply grow out of it if she tries hard enough, but Aimee’s fear of vanishing at random has kept her from living a normal life.
When Aimee disappears for nine hours into a memory of her estranged mom—a moment Aimee has never remembered before—she becomes distraught. Not only was this her longest disappearance yet, but the memory doesn’t match up with the story of how her mom left—at least, not the version she’s always heard from her dad.
Desperate for answers, Aimee travels to Korea, where she unravels the mystery of her memories, the truth about her mother, and the reason she keeps returning to certain moments in her life. Along the way, she realizes she’ll need to reconcile her past in order to save her present.
From acclaimed author Sarah Suk comes an aching, powerful exploration of memory, grief, and the painful silences we must overcome to discover our truest selves.