FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month - The FOLD

FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month

Monthly Highlights

Each month, FOLD Kids highlights one picture book and one middle grade or young adult title by a marginalized Canadian author. You can find past years’ Book-of-the-Month picks at the bottom of this page.

FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month logo

May: Middle Grade

ABOUT SWIM TEAM

Book cover of Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas featuring a Black little girl in swim wear and the FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month badge“A splashy, contemporary middle grade graphic novel from bestselling comics creator Johnnie Christmas!

Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.

With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.

Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap—for good?”

ABOUT THE CREATOR

Johnnie Christmas is a #1 New York Times Best Selling graphic novelist based in Vancouver, BC. He’s the writer of the Image Comics sci-fi series TARTARUS and CREMA, a haunted romance published by Comixology. His book FIREBUG, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and it earned him a Joe Shuster Outstanding Cartoonist nomination. He’s perhaps best known for co-creating the series ANGEL CATBIRD with celebrated writer Margaret Atwood and adapting William Gibson’s lost screenplay for ALIEN 3 into a critically acclaimed graphic novel of the same name. His credits also include co-creating the pre-apocalyptic thriller SHELTERED. He’s currently hard at work on three new middle-grade graphic novels for the HarperAlley imprint of HarperCollins. 

May: Picture Book

ABOUT TANNA’S LEMMING

Book cover of Tanna's Lemming by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, Tamara Campeau featuring a little Inuk girl in nature looking at a lemming and the FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month badge“Stories have hearts, just like people. And the heart of this story is true, even if the things said or done have been switched around a bit.

In this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Tanna’s Owl, Tanna finds a small, grey lemming, far too cute to turn over to the scientist who has sent the children out to gather lemmings for his research. Instead, Tanna deems Fluffi to be a family member and attempts to raise the lemming in her home. But when the lemming strays from its cozy bed behind the stove and into Tanna’s mother’s things, Tanna is forced to consider whether she has really done what is best for Fluffi. Is it possible to treat something poorly by trying to treat it well?”

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Of Inuit-Cree ancestry, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley was born in a tent on northernmost Baffin Island. She learned Inuit survival lore from her father, surviving residential school and attending university. In 2012, she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for numerous cultural writings. Of Scottish-Mohawk ancestry, Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley was born in southern Ontario, learning woodcraft and stories from his father. Training as an artist, then writer, Sean’s sci-fi work won 2nd place at the California-based Writers of the Future contest, published by Galaxy Press. Rachel and Sean have worked for decades as Arctic researchers and consultants. In writing together, they have published 10 successful books and many shorter works, celebrating the history and uniqueness of Arctic shamanism, cosmology, and cosmogony. Their novel, Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic, was a Governor General Awards Finalist and First Prize Burt Award winner.

Tamara Campeau works digitally to bring stories to life through her painterly illustrations. Her work has a strong sense of lighting and vibrant colour palettes, along with dynamic compositions. She loves creating endearing characters with a strong sense of personality and emotions. Her work is inspired by wildlife, children, and the environments they reside in. She uses this inspiration to add a layer of realism to her illustrations.

April: Middle Grade

ABOUT LIVING WITH VIOLA

Graphic of the book cover of Living with Viola by Rosena Fung as well as the FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month badgeHonest and funny, this award-winning graphic novel from a debut creator is a refreshingly real exploration of mental health, cultural differences, and the trials of middle school.

Livy is already having trouble fitting in as the new girl at school—and then there’s Viola. Viola is Livy’s anxiety brought to life, a shadowy twin that only Livy can see or hear. Livy tries to push back against Viola’s relentless judgement, but nothing seems to work until she strikes up new friendships at school. Livy hopes that Viola’s days are numbered. But when tensions arise both at home and at school, Viola rears her head stronger than ever. Only when Livy learns how to ask for help and face her anxiety does she finally figure out living with Viola.

Rosena Fung draws on her own early experiences with anxiety and the pressures of growing up as the child of Chinese immigrant parents to craft a charming, deeply personal story that combines the poignancy of Raina Telgemeier’s Guts with the wacky humor of Lumberjanes. Exuberant, colorful art brings Livy’s rich imaginative world—filled with everything from sentient dumplings to flying unicorns—to life on the page.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rosena Fung is an illustrator and comic artist from Toronto, Ontario. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, giant murals, and on TV. Her favorite things are reading, cats, and eating snacks.

April: Picture Book

ABOUT ABUELITA AND ME

“In this touching, empowering picture book debut, a girl and her beloved abuelita lean on each other as they contend with racism while running errands in the city.

Spending time at home with Abuelita means pancakes, puddle-jumping, and nail-painting. But venturing out into the city is not always as fun. On the bus and at the grocery store, people are impatient and suspicious—sometimes they even yell. Sad, angry, and scared, the story’s young narrator decides not to leave home again . . . until a moment of empowerment helps her see the strength she and Abuelita share when they face the world together. Warm, expressive illustrations by Rafael Mayani highlight the tenderness in Abuelita and the narrator’s relationship.”

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Leonarda Carranza was born in San Salvador and currently lives in Brampton, Canada, part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Justice Education from the University of Toronto. She is the winner of Briarpatch Magazine’s Writing in the Margins contest and Room’s 2018 short forms contest.

Rafael Mayani is a Mexican artist based in Vancouver, Canada. He draws inspiration from the vibrant colours and shapes of Mexico and the natural beauty of Canadian landscapes.

FOLD Kids' Book-of-the-Month picks for March

March: Young Adult

Book cover of The Red Palace by June HurABOUT THE RED PALACE

“To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood. . .

Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval.

But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.

In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

June Hur was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She began writing her debut novel after obsessing over books about Joseon Korea. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop. June is the bestselling author of The Silence of Bones, The Forest of Stolen Girls, and The Red Palace, and currently lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

March: Picture Book

Book cover of Journey of the Midnight Sun by Shazia Afzal and Aliya Ghare ABOUT JOURNEY OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN

“This is the true story of the journey of the Midnight Sun Mosque.

In 2010 a Winnipeg-based charity raised funds to build and ship a mosque to Inuvik, one of the most northern towns in Canada’s Arctic. A small but growing Muslim community there had been using a cramped trailer for their services, but there just wasn’t enough space. The mosque travelled over 4,000 kilometers on a journey fraught with poor weather, incomplete bridges, narrow roads, low traffic wires and a deadline to get on the last barge heading up the Mackenzie River before the first winter freeze. But it made it just in time and is now one of the most northern mosques in the world.

This beautiful picture book reminds us that the collective dream of fostering a multicultural and tolerant Canada exists and that people of all backgrounds will come together to build bridges and overcome obstacles for the greater good of their neighbors.”

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Shazia Afzal has been a teacher and storyteller for over twenty years. Having immigrated to Canada in 2002, Shazia sought to live near her community mosque with every move. Because of her firsthand understanding of the challenges Muslim families face in new communities, the incredible story behind the construction and transportation of the Midnight Sun Mosque resonated with Shazia. She felt compelled to share the story with children who may not have heard of its epic adventure and to remind young readers that it is a blessing to live in a country where people are free to practice their faith. Shazia lives in Mississauga, Ontario.

Aliya Ghare graduated from OCAD University, where she majored in illustration and minored in English, with the hope of combining the two disciplines to write and illustrate children’s picture books and graphic novels. She enjoys creating visually rich and poetic imagery, and exploring social and political issues, as well as human interest subjects, in her work. In addition to illustrating picture books, her illustrative works range from editorial to advertising, surface design and more. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration and Adobe, and has been awarded by and published in the Applied Arts and 3×3 magazines. Aliya lives in Toronto.

FOLD Kids' Book-of-the-Month picks for February

February: Young Adult

ABOUT THE CHANDLER LEGACIES

“Beth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of tension with her roommate, Sarah.

But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.

Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.

Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.

And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.

At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?”

Abdi Nazemian is the author of Like a Love Story, a Stonewall Honor Book, and The Authentics. His novel The Walk-In Closet won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction. His screenwriting credits include the films The Artist’s Wife, The Quiet,and Menendez: Blood Brothers and the television series The Village and Almost Family. He has been an executive producer and associate producer on numerous films, including Call Me by Your Name, Little Woods, and The House of Tomorrow. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband, their two children, and their dog, Disco. Find him online at www.abdaddy.com.

February: Picture Book

ABOUT IDIA OF THE BENIN KINGDOM 

Idia of the Benin Kingdom is an empowering children’s picture book that takes readers on a beautifully illustrated journey to the 1500s in ancient Africa. Readers are captivated as they watch Idia transform herself from the young and curious daughter of a village warrior to becoming the Queen of the Kingdom of Benin.

Idia was a queen who helped rule the ancient kingdom of Benin with her wisdom, charisma, and prowess. Much has been written about her bravery, and artifacts in her image are treasured in museums all over the world.

This book imagines what her childhood may have been like, and shares the story of this well-loved and successful African queen in a way that is relatable to young readers.”

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Ekiuwa Aire is an award-winning author born and raised in Benin City, Edo, Nigeria. She is passionate about sharing positive stories on African history with children. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Ontario, Canada. Visit www.our-ancestories.com for ideas on how to introduce African history to kids, free printables, comprehensive lesson plans and to book Ekiuwa to speak at your event or school. You can also follow her on Instagram (@our_ancestories) and Facebook (@our.ancestoriess).

Alina Shabelnyk is a professional children’s books illustrator.

FOLD Kids' Book-of-the-Month picks for January

January: Middle Grade

Book cover of Beatrice and Croc Harry by Lawrence Hill with the FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month logoABOUT BEATRICE AND CROC HARRY

“Beatrice, a young girl of uncertain age, wakes up all alone in a tree house in the forest. How did she arrive in this cozy dwelling, stocked carefully with bookshelves and oatmeal accoutrements? And who has been leaving a trail of clues, composed in delicate purple handwriting?

So begins the adventure of a brave and resilient Black girl’s search for identity and healing in bestselling author Lawrence Hill’s middle-grade debut. Though Beatrice cannot recall how or why she arrived in the magical forest of Argilia—where every conceivable fish, bird, mammal and reptile coexist, and any creature with a beating heart can communicate with any other—something within tells her that beyond this forest is a family that is waiting anxiously for her return.

Just outside her tree-house door lives Beatrice’s most unlikely ally, the enormous and mercurial King Crocodile Croc Harry, who just may have a secret of his own. As they form an unusual truce and work toward their common goal, Beatrice and Croc Harry will learn more about their forest home than they ever could have imagined. And what they learn about themselves may destroy Beatrice’s chances of returning home forever.”

ABOUT THE CREATOR

Lawrence Hill is the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of The Book of Negroes, which was made into a six-part TV mini-series, and The Illegal, which won CBC’s Canada Reads and was a #1 national bestseller. His previous novelsSome Great Thing and Any Known Blood also became national bestsellers. Hill’s non-fiction work includes Blood: The Stuff of Life, the subject of his 2013 Massey Lectures, and Black Berry, Sweet Juice, a memoir about growing up black and white in Canada. Lawrence Hill has volunteered with Crossroads International, the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, Book Clubs for Inmates and the Ontario Black History Society. A professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph, Lawrence Hill lives with his family in Hamilton, Ontario, and Woody Point, Newfoundland. 

January: Picture Book

Book cover of Anzu the Great Kaiju by Benson Shum with the FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month logoABOUT ANZU THE GREAT KAIJU

“An adorable picture book about a tiny monster with a big heart trying to follow in his family’s footsteps.

All great Kaiju are born with a super power to strike fear in the heart of the city.
But Anzu is different.
Instead of mayhem, he likes May flowers.
Instead of striking fear, he prefers to be sincere.
Can Anzu find a way to make his family proud and stay true to his kind self?

From Disney animator and illustrator Benson Shum comes an adorable and heartwarming picture book about making your own way and the unexpected power of gentleness—perfect for fans of Ferdinand the Bull.”

ABOUT THE CREATOR

Benson Shum is a children’s book author and illustrator who has illustrated a number of picture books like Adam Lehrhaupt’s Sloth Went and Jennifer Sattler’s Go to Sheep. Benson is also an animator at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he was a part of such films as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Frozen II, and Raya and the Last Dragon. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Benson now lives in sunny southern California.

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