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.
December: Middle Grade
ABOUT AKIM ALIU: DREAMER
This honest, engrossing graphic memoir tells the story of professional athlete and activist Akim Aliu’s incredible life as a hockey prodigy in Canada.
Akim Aliu — also known as “Dreamer” — is a Ukrainian-Nigerian-Canadian professional hockey player whose career took him all around the world and who experienced systemic racism at every turn. Dreamer tells Akim’s incredible story, from being the only Black child in his Ukrainian community, to his family struggling to make ends meet while living in Toronto, to confronting the racist violence he often experienced both on and off the ice. This is a gut-wrenching and riveting graphic novel memoir that reminds us to never stop dreaming, and is sure to inspire young readers everywhere.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Akim Aliu is the son of a Nigerian father and a Ukrainian mother. Born in Nigeria, he spent his youth there and in Ukraine before moving to Toronto. A hockey prodigy, Akim was drafted into the NHL at age 18, and played for the Calgary Flames. He experienced systemic racism, hazing, and abuse at every level of competitive hockey — from Pee Wee hockey to the NHL — but has never stopped dreaming of a world where every kid, regardless of background, can be accepted for who they are (and play hockey, of course).
In May 2020, Akim wrote an article for The Players’ Tribune, entitled “Hockey Is Not for Everyone,” where he identifies the racism and violence he endured as a Black athlete within the sport of hockey. He has since founded the Time to Dream Foundation and is the chairman and co-founder of the Hockey Diversity Alliance to continue his mission to eradicate racism and intolerance in youth sports.
Greg Anderson Elysée is a Brooklyn born. Haitian-American writer, educator, filmmaker, and model. He has been teaching various forms of filmmaking, including narrative and documentary, from elementary level to the elderly since 2012. A former journalist for theOuthousers.com, he also ran his own column, (Heard It Thru) The Griot Vine, where he showcased independent creators of color and LGBTQ creators. He also wrote for the independent pop culture news website Bleeding Cool.
Greg’s original comic series “Is’nana: The Were-Spider” is a five-time Glyph Award Winner. His other work includes “The Gentleman: Darkness of the Void” and “Marassa,” both published by Evoluzione Publishing, “OneNation: Stronghold” published by 133art Publishing, and work in the Lion Forge graphic novel collection “Puerto Rico Strong.” He lives in Brooklyn.
Karen De la Vega was born and raised in the northern mountainous city of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. After spending her childhood being grounded for drawing in class, she entered a bachelor’s degree in psychology to better understand her creative mind and human consciousness. Upon graduating in 2021, Karen decided to accept her madness and dedicate herself to illustration and comic art. She is always seeking to convey meaningful messages and aesthetics through her art, applying her knowledge in child and adolescent psychology to develop concepts that visually align with the exciting characters, environments, and stories of Middle Grade and Young Adult projects. Dreamer is her first published work.
December: Picture Book
ABOUT MIRA AND BAKU
With the help of a magical friend, a young girl searches for her missing father in this poignant story set during Japanese Canadian incarceration in World War II.
It’s a week until Mira’s birthday, and she’s getting worried. Where is Papa? He has never missed her birthday before. When Mira’s friend Baku, a creature from Japanese folklore, offers to help, they journey over farmlands and forests, mountains and river mouths, gathering clues to Papa’s whereabouts—clues that echo Mira’s memories and overheard conversations in the camp where she lives with Mama.
Lushly illustrated by up-and-coming illustrator Michelle Theodore, this tender, moving picture book by debut author Sara Truuvert explores the profound impacts of family separation and the different forms comfort can take for a child processing loss.
Further reading on Japanese Canadian and Japanese American internment and a note from the author add to readers’ understanding of this underrepresented period of history, making it an instant classic. For fans of Baseball Saved Us, Mira and Baku is an emotional exploration of the power of imagination and hope in difficult times.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Sara Truuvert is a Canadian author of Japanese-Estonian descent. She grew up in Toronto and now lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where she writes everything from short fiction to poetry to science articles. Mira and Baku is her first picture book.
Michelle Theodore is an illustrator born and raised under the prairie skies in Edmonton, Alberta. As a landlocked yonsei, she is oft en reminiscing about coastal summers with family, inspired by her times on beaches collecting sand dollars and eating homemade salmon jerky.
November: Young Adult
ABOUT WHEN IT ALL SYNCS UP
A Black teen dancer with dreams of landing a spot in a prestigious ballet company must learn to dance on her own terms in this explosive debut about the healing power of art and friendship, perfect for fans of Heartstopper and Tiny Pretty Things.
Ballet is Aisha’s life. But when discrimination at her elite academy pushes her to her breaking point, she decides to pivot. At her new public arts school, Aisha scores more dance opportunities than she’s ever had before. And it doesn’t hurt that she gets to take classes with her bestie . . . and with Ollie, an adorably shy musician who keeps throwing off her usually impeccable balance.
Yet even as Aisha navigates friendships, family conflict, and first love, questions about her dance career open up new and old wounds. Aisha must find strength in herself and place her trust in others to make her next move.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maya Ameyaw is a former bookseller and currently works as a community arts writing instructor. She has edited several mental health–themed anthologies for youth and adults, and her writing was included in the anthology Brilliance Is the Clothing I Wear (Dundurn Press). Maya also runs a YouTube series and blog where she interviews YA authors about their writing journeys. She lives in Toronto and can be found on Twitter @MayaAmeyaw.
November: Picture Book
ABOUT DIWALI IN MY NEW HOME
Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as she strings lights outside and creates rangoli art, Priya introduces the festival of lights to her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it’s still Diwali.
A heartwarming story of celebrating in a new place and sharing the Hindu festival of lights with those unfamiliar with the holiday.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Shachi Kaushik is a children’s media enthusiast, writer, and storyteller. Part of the Children’s Media Industry, she creates content for children that is entertaining, enlightening, and educational. Raised in India, Shachi currently lives in Vancouver with her husband.
Aishwarya Tandon is an illustrator and cartoonist. She holds a bachelor of science and an Honors degree in animation and multimedia from the Birla Institute of Technology. Aishwarya lives in India.
October: Middle Grade
ABOUT WHAT DOES HATE LOOK LIKE?
How do we face hate?
We use the word hate all the time—“I hate vegetables” or “I hated that movie!”—but what about the hate that actually hurts someone? There are words, symbols, ideas, beliefs, and actions that cause pain—to us, our friends, family, neighbours, and school mates.
What if you’ve caused that kind of pain yourself? Or what if you, or someone you know, has been the victim of hate so scary it made you want to cry?
Real kids from real classrooms share their stories here to help us to see the bias, prejudice, violence, discrimination, and exclusion around us—what hate looks like to them. Why? So we can stand against hate and never be the cause of it. And to show us how to cope and get support if we have been hurt.
By sharing our stories, we all become stronger. Our schools, neighbourhoods, and communities become safer and more kind, and hate doesn’t win.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Sameea Jimenez is an elementary educator in the Toronto District School Board. Her teaching is rooted in anti-oppression and anti-racism and is committed to challenging social norms and paradigms. Sameea specializes in social justice education and is an advocate for systemic change within educational institutions. She has created and facilitated professional development around anti-racism and anti-discrimination for educators.
Corinne Promislow is a principal in the Toronto District School Board with over 28 years of teaching and administrative experience. Corinne is dedicated to creating a positive culture against all forms of hate and inequity in her work with students and educators. She has developed resources, provided professional development, and chaired committees to foster inclusion and anti-discrimination. Corinne lives and works in Toronto and enjoys spending time with her little dog Bean.
Larry Swartz is currently a literacy and arts instructor at OISE, University of Toronto. For the past 40 years Larry has worked as a classroom teacher, consultant and workshop presenter. Committed to helping teachers choose and use quality children’s literature across the curriculum to deepen understanding of social justice diversity and equity.
October: Picture Book
ABOUT ASHA AND THE TOYMAKER
A heartwarming story about the value of art, set in the evocative Blue City of India.
Asha’s papa makes and sells wooden toys to pay for her to go to school. But Papa struggles to find buyers. And this makes him worry. He worries Asha’s life will also be a struggle unless she focuses on her schoolwork, which he never had the chance to do. Can Asha’s art help Papa? Will he let her try?
Author and illustrator Sakshi Mangal drew inspiration from her childhood in India for this sweet picture book. It celebrates the life-changing power of art in the real world, and offers children an opportunity to explore the concept of color and the influence of the visual arts in their everyday lives. Asha’s touching generosity and resourcefulness also show how even a very young child can make a difference and provide a wonderful character education lesson on initiative. Mangal’s colorful art depicts the Indian city of Jodhpur, known as the Blue City for its many buildings painted a distinctive shade of blue.
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Sakshi Mangal is a Vancouver-based illustrator and writer. Having grown up in Mumbai, Sakshi’s work has been published and recognized in both the United Kingdom and North America. Sakshi finds immense joy in imagining the world through children’s eyes – where bears are getting ready for a tea party and squirrels are dancing to spring.
September: Young Adult
ABOUT THE SPACE BETWEEN HERE AND NOW
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes stories and admires mountains. She is the author of the young adult novels Made in Korea and The Space between Here & Now, as well as the co-writer of John Cho’s middle grade novel Troublemaker. You can visit Sarah online at sarahsuk.com.
September: Picture Books
ABOUT THE HOCKEY SKATES
It was almost the first day of winter, and PK still has no skates to wear.
This time, PK waited impatiently for one more week before his skates arrived in the mail.
With a knock, knock, knock on the door, the mailman delivered the skates in a box. PK couldn’t wait to open it . . .
Little PK Subban loves watching hockey on TV with his father, and he can’t wait to finally go out and skate—just like his hockey heroes! With his mother’s help, PK orders a pair of black, single-blade, size 7 skates. Now he just has to wait for them to come in the mail.
So he waits.
Every new delivery brings hilarity and dismay as PK receives skates in the wrong size, wrong colour, wrong style—even a box that is completely empty! All the while, winter approaches and poor PK is very eager to get out on the rink. Even as he wonders if he will everget to skate, his love of hockey pulls him to the sport in funny, imaginative ways.
Inspired by Karl Subban’s son, NHL star PK Subban, The Hockey Skates is a story about maintaining perseverance and optimism through a series of comical misfortunes—all of which are brought to life by Maggie Zeng’s charming illustrations.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Karl Subban has been a coach, a teacher, a principal and a parent for more than thirty years. Hailing from Jamaica, Subban didn’t play hockey until he moved to Canada as a child. He raised three NHL players, including the New Jersey Devils defenceman P.K. Subban—an Olympic gold medalist and one of the league’s brightest stars—and Malcolm Subban, a goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks. Karl Subban is the author of the instant national bestseller How We Did It: The Subban Plan for Success in Hockey, School and Life, a must-read account of one of the sport’s most fascinating families.
Maggie Zeng is a children’s book illustrator, concept artist and animator. Born in Montreal, she attends Concordia University and previously received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Applied Arts Technologies at Dawson College. She is the creator of the short animated film If You Find Yourself in a Pocket Dimension, which was screened in the Canadian Student Competition at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Her first book, This Is the Boat That Ben Built, was an OLA Best Bets selection.
August: Young Adult
ABOUT SOMETHING MORE
A contemporary teen romance novel featuring a Palestinian-Canadian girl trying to hide her autism diagnosis while navigating her first year of high school, for fans of Jenny Han and Samira Ahmed.
Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jackie Khalilieh is a Palestinian-Canadian writer with a love of nineties pop culture, Dad jokes, and warm and fuzzy romance. Like many autistic females, she received her diagnosis as an adult. She is passionate about positive representation within her writing. She currently resides just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband and two daughters, complaining nightly about having to cook dinner. Something More is her debut YA novel.
August: Picture Book
ABOUT THE CARE AND KEEPING OF GRANDMAS
When grandma moves in, a precocious child shares her tips for making her feel at home in this funny picture book, for fans of How to Babysit a Grandma.
It can be discombobulating for all involved when a grandma moves in permanently. Fortunately, our narrator has gone through it and has LOTS of tips on how to make your grandma feel at home.
In a story filled with humor, confusion and moments of sweetness, Jennifer Mook-Sang introduces us to a delightful family dynamic and a grandma who doesn’t really need the help settling in but appreciates it anyway. As Grandma goes about her days, her well-meaning granddaughter sees her caring for her plants, and makes sure that Grandma is getting the proper care too.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jennifer Mook-Sang was born in Guyana, South America, and moved to Canada at the age of fourteen, where she eventually got two degrees in psychology. Reading picture books to her two sons, Matt and Ben, inspired her to become a writer. When she isn’t writing, Jennifer likes to read recipe books and cook things like biryani, cassava pone and guacamole. She can also twist a mean balloon animal. Jennifer lives in Burlington, Ontario.
Yong Ling Kang is a freelance illustrator raised in Singapore and currently living in Toronto. She has worked in animation studios and a publishing company and has illustrated picture books including Rodney Was a Tortoise, Tanna’s Owl and This House Is Home.
July: Middle Grade
Four kids meet at an airport for one unforgettable night in this middle-grade novel by four bestselling and award-winning authors
When a thunderstorm grounds all flights following a huge Muslim convention, four unlikely kids are thrown together. Feek is stuck babysitting his younger sister, but he’d rather be writing a poem that’s good enough for his dad, a famous poet and rapper. Hanna is intent on finding a lost cat in the airport—and also on avoiding a conversation with her dad about him possibly remarrying. Sami is struggling with his anxiety and worried that he’ll miss the karate tournament that he’s trained so hard for. And Nora has to deal with the pressure of being the daughter of a prominent congresswoman, when all she really wants to do is make fun NokNok videos. These kids don’t seem to have much in common—yet.
Told in alternating points of view, Grounded tells the story of one unexpected night that will change these kids forever.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
S. K. Ali is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning Canadian author of several books, including the Morris Award finalist Saints and Misfits and Love from A to Z, both named as top ten YA titles of the year by various media including Entertainment Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Her newest novel, Misfit in Love, is on People magazine’s Best Books of Summer 2021 list. Her other books include the critically acclaimed middle-grade anthology Once Upon an Eid and the New York Times bestselling picture book The Proudest Blue.
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is a Philadelphia-based bestselling children’s book author. Her books, which center around Black and Muslim kids, have been recognized by many including TIME and NPR, and she is an Irma Black Award silver medalist. A former teacher and forever educator-at-heart, she is probably most proud that her picture book Your Name Is a Song was named the December 2021 NEA Read Across America book and that it is included in the curriculums of major school districts throughout the United States.
Huda Al-Marashi is the author of the bestselling memoir First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story. Her other writing has appeared in various anthologies and news outlets, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and al Jazeera. She is currently a fellow with the Highlights Foundation Muslim Storytellers Program, and Grounded is her first novel for young readers. She lives in San Diego, California, with her family.
Aisha Saeed is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of books for children. Her middle-grade novel Amal Unbound received multiple starred reviews and was a Global Read Aloud for 2018. Her picture book, Bilal Cooks Daal, received an APALA honor, and she was the co-editor of the critically acclaimed Once Upon an Eid. Aisha is also a founding member of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books™.
July: Chapter Book
ABOUT TWO GREEN BIRDS
A child in Brazil experiences the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and comes to understand his role within it.
Francisco’s grandmother has a surprise for him. In her backyard is a guava tree, and in the tree hangs a cage containing two magnificent green birds. They are parakeets, his grandmother says. Francisco has never seen birds so green, so beautiful. He imagines them sitting on his hand, or murmuring in his ear as he scratches the backs of their heads.
Every day Francisco walks to his grandmother’s house to help her care for the birds. But no matter what food they are offered, the birds will not eat or drink or speak. Perhaps their cage is too small, thinks Francisco. But moving the birds into a bigger cage only seems to frighten them.
Then, on the sixth day, Francisco arrives at Grandma’s and hears a big commotion in the backyard. The guava tree is full of parakeets, just like the ones in the cage. All the parakeets are screaming. Inside the cage, the two birds hop and flap and seem to be calling to the parakeets outside. And that’s when Francisco knows what the green parakeets need to be happy — and what he and his grandmother have to do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Geraldo Valério was born in Brazil, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing, followed by a Master of Arts at New York University. His books, which frequently receive starred reviews, include Two Green Birds, My Book of Butterflies, At the Pond (Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award honor book), Blue Rider, Turn On the Night and Night Runners. His work has been published in Canada, the US, Brazil, Portugal, France, the UK and China. Geraldo lives in Toronto, Ontario.
June: Chapter Book
ABOUT SALMA MAKES A HOME
Charming, creative Salma takes on big feelings with even bigger ideas as she navigates life in a new country, Syrian identity, family changes and new friendships in this engaging and heartfelt early chapter book series.
After a year, eleven months, and six days apart, Salma’s dad is finally joining her family in their new home. Salma is so happy to see her baba–but she’s also worried. What if he misses Syria so much that he leaves them again? She throws herself into showing him around the city and helping him learn English, but as Baba shares memories of Damascus Salma starts to realize how much she misses Syria, too. Can Salma make space in her heart for two homes? And can Baba?
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Danny Ramadan is an award-winning Syrian-Canadian author, activist, and public speaker. His work as an activist has helped provide a safe passage to dozens of Syrian LGBTQ+ refugees to Canada. He is the author of two novels for adults, The Clothesline Swing and The Foghorn Echoes, and a forthcoming memoir, Crooked Teeth. Danny lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Anna Bron studied traditional animation at Sheridan College. She illustrated the award-winning picture book Salma the Syrian Chef and the middle-grade novel Harvey and the Extraordinary. She has animated, designed, and directed commercials and short films. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
June: Picture Book
ABOUT WHEN YOU CAN SWIM
A reverent celebration of learning to swim among a diverse cast of children and families who each experience the mysterious joys of water in nature.
In expansive vignettes, we meet sandpipers, peaceful lakes, the feeling of a small waterfall on one’s shoulders. Artist and author Jack Wong has delivered an empowering, poetic modern classic that fills readers with the wonder and confidence needed to overcome their fears of the water. When You Can Swim invites children into the warmth and wonder of the natural world and its watery splendors. At the same time, children will experience the joyousness that nature’s lessons teach us through its beauty.
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Jack Wong is based in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Jack creates stories indelibly marked by a first-generation Asian Canadian experience.
May: Middle Grade
ABOUT ALONE: THE JOURNEYS OF THREE YOUNG REFUGEES
Each year, more than 400 minors arrive alone in Canada requesting refugee status. They arrive without their parents, accompanied by no adult at all.
Alone relates the journey of three of them: Afshin, Alain and Patricia. Their story opens a window onto the many heartbreaks, difficult sacrifices and countless hardships that punctuate their obstacle-filled path. But Alone most especially tells of the courage and resilience that these young people demonstrated before being able to finally obtain a life where threats and danger are no longer a part of their everyday existence.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Paul Tom was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, the son of Cambodian parents. He currently lives in Montreal where he uses his talent and sensitivity for projects that give a voice to those people we don’t hear enough about. Whether working as a film editor, director or author, he tells stories in such a way as to shed light on the intimate, precious and fragile aspects of human beings. Alone is his first book.
Mélanie Baillairgé lives and works in Montreal. A multi-talented artistic and creative director, she likes to create images using bold colours and dramatic lines. Her illustrations, which have great evocative power, go straight to the heart.
Arielle Aaronson (Translator)
May: Picture Book
ABOUT THE INVITATION
Stacey May Fowles’ debut picture book is a whimsical, warmhearted story of how a super-special surprise can lead to anxiety — or invite imagination.
One beautiful fall day, Fern opens her mailbox and finds an envelope. After much worrying about what it could possibly contain, her friend Fawn encourages her to open it. Inside, she finds an invitation to a super-special surprise at the museum — but Fern doesn’t like surprises!
Luckily, Fawn offers to come with her to the party. What could possibly happen, he asks. Along the way, Fern voices her worries: What if they can’t make it in time? What if they don’t know anyone there?
Fawn playfully follows his friend’s way of thinking, while gently suggesting twists to her story and a fun new cast of characters — the chipmunk who could show them a shortcut, the grumpy bear who could clear their path, the brave dentist who might treat the bear’s toothache — until at last they arrive, and Fern is able to enjoy the wonderful surprise happening around her.
Marie Lafrance’s delightfully dreamy illustrations bring the imagined world of Fern and Fawn to life in this super-special story about catastrophic thinking.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Stacey May Fowles is a multiple award-winning journalist, essayist and author of four books, including the national bestseller, Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game that Saved Me. She is the co-editor, with Jen Sookfong Lee, of the anthology Good Mom on Paper: Writers on Creativity and Motherhood. A former columnist at the Globe and Mail, Stacey currently writes the Book Therapy column for Open Book Ontario. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and daughter.
Marie Lafrance has illustrated for magazines, newspapers, billboards and boxes of jelly powder, but now she prefers to use her warm and engaging artwork to bring picture books to life. Her books include The Lady with the Books by Kathy Stinson, Gemma and the Giant Girl by Sara O’Leary and The Brass Charm by Monique Polak. Her art has been included in the New York Society of Illustrators Original Art Exhibition, and she has won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award. Marie lives in Montreal, Quebec.
April: Young Adult
ABOUT BABY DRAG QUEEN
Transgender teen Ichiro enters a drag contest in hopes of earning enough money to live off the grid.
Ichiro is a transgender youth in his final year of high school. He has a job as a dishwasher to earn money to help support his single mother. But it’s not enough. Ichiro dreams of buying a camper van for the two of them so they can escape and live off the grid and not have to worry about money anymore. A budding drag queen, he takes a second job performing drag at a local club and learns of an upcoming contest where the prize money would be enough to pay for a camper van. But nobody knows he does drag. So when some of his friends find out what he’s really doing in the evenings, Ichiro is worried about what they will think of him. Will they still accept him?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.A. Tanaka is a trans masculine multiracial writer of Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Scottish descent. A graduate of The Writer’s Studio program at Simon Fraser University, they have a BFA in intermedia from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design and, in 2017, were awarded a fully funded literary residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. C.A. is the executive director for the Storytelling with Drag Queens Foundation, a local non-profit organization with a mandate to promote diversity and inclusion in literacy for children, teens and adults. They live in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the unceded ancestral homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
April: Picture Book
ABOUT THE SONG THAT CALLED THEM HOME
From the award-winning author of On the Trapline comes a cinematic fantasy-adventure story inspired by Indigenous legends.
One summer day, Lauren and her little brother, James, go on a trip to the land with their Moshom (grandfather). After they’ve arrived, the children decide to fish for dinner while Moshom naps. They are in their canoe in the middle of the lake when the water around them begins to swirl and crash. They are thrown overboard and when Lauren surfaces she sees her brother being pulled away by the Memekwesewak — creatures who live in and around water and like to interfere with humans. Lauren must follow the Memekwesewak through a portal and along a watery path to find and bring back James. But when she finally comes upon her brother, she too feels the lure of the Memekwesewak’s song. Something even stronger must pull them back home.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers, including Governor General’s Literary Award winners On the Trapline and When We Were Alone. The Barren Grounds, the first book in the middle-grade Misewa Saga series, was shortlisted for many awards, including the Govenor General’s Award, the TD Award for Children’s Literature, and the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award. It received a starred review from Kirkus and was a Kirkus, NPR, and Quill & Quire best middle-grade book of 2020, as well as a USBBY and Texas Lone Star selection. The Great Bear, the second book in the series, was also shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award. A sought-after speaker and educator, and winner of the Writers’ Union of Canada’s Freedom to Read Award, Dave is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.
Maya McKibbin is a Two-Spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme and Irish filmmaker, illustrator and storyteller. Using their education in computer graphics and interactive media, Maya’s work is rooted in the natural world and our relations to it. Maya’s previous picture book, Swift Fox All Along written by Rebecca Thomas, was nominated for numerous awards including a Governor General’s Literary Award.
March: Chapter Book
ABOUT THE PARTY DIARIES: AWESOME ORANGE BIRTHDAY
In this full-color early chapter book series, Priya starts a party-planning business to help save the planet — one party at a time!
Pick a book. Grow a Reader!
This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line, Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!
Priya is excited to plan her aunty’s birthday party. She will donate the money she makes to help the cutest endangered animal on the planet, the quokka! But the party is this Saturday! With so many items on her to-do list, can she get it all done in time? Priya sends out handmade invitations, makes DIY decorations, and sets an orange-only snacks menu — including pumpkin samosas! Will Priya’s very first party be a success?
With speech bubbles, easy-to-read text, and vibrant artwork on every page, this series is perfect for newly independent readers!
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Mitali Banerjee Ruths grew up in Houston, Texas and dreamed of becoming an astronaut someday. She has worked as a babysitter, an ice cream seller, and a medical doctor. She is the author of the picture book Archie Celebrates Diwali, and the Scholastic Branches early chapter book series, The Party Diaries. Mitali lives in Canada with her husband, three kids, and their dog, Tux.
Aaliya Jaleel is a freelance illustrator, designer and visual development artist based in Texas.
March: Picture Book
ABOUT BIINDIGEN! AMIK SAYS WELCOME
Busy beavers have a family reunion in this story that celebrates Indigenous perspectives
It’s a special day for Amik the beaver and her little sister, Nishiime. Their cousins are coming to visit! Amik is excited, but Nishiime feels nervous about meeting new people, and when the cousins finally arrive, Nishiime disappears.
Lively, immersive illustrations show Amik and her cousins as they search the woods for Nishiime. Each creature they encounter, introduced to readers using their Anishinaabe names, reveals how beavers help the forest community. A fish thanks them for digging canals in the mud that they swim through. A deer thanks the beavers for cutting down trees so they can reach the tastiest leaves. None of the creatures have seen Nishiime, but keen-eyed kids will have spotted her hiding in the background throughout the story.
Eventually, Nishiime returns to the group, having overcome her shyness by learning an important lesson: despite being from different places, the beavers are all united by the ways they support the forest ecosystem. With the perfect blend of fact and fun, this salute to the industrious beaver is also an energetic celebration of Indigenous perspectives, languages, and diversity.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Nancy Cooper is from the Chippewas of Rama First Nation in southern Ontario. She grew up all over northern Ontario, and her favorite place to be is out in the forest seeing and learning new things. Nancy lives in Toronto now and loves to spend time with her twin sons, her wife, and their poodle Joy.
Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is an Ojibwe woodland artist from Barrie, Ontario. He is a member of Wasauksing First Nation, and currently lives in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh peoples. When he’s not illustrating picture books, he is operating a screen-print shop and raising his baby daughter.
February: Young Adult
ABOUT DELICIOUS MONSTERS
The Haunting of Hill House meets Sadie in this evocative and mind-bending psychological thriller following two teen girls navigating the treacherous past of a mysterious mansion ten years apart.
Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…
A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?
As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liselle Sambury is the Trinidadian Canadian author of the Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist Blood Like Magic and its sequel, Blood Like Fate. Her work spans multiple genres, from fantasy to sci-fi, horror, and more. In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to demystifying the sometimes complicated business of being an author.
February: Picture Book
ABOUT GRANNY’S KITCHEN
Accompanied by Ken Daley’s vibrant, sun-soaked artwork, Sadé Smith’s debut picture book Granny’s Kitchen is the perfect readaloud for budding chefs everywhere.
Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny on the beautiful island of Jamaica. When Shelly-Ann becomes hungry, she asks her Granny for something to eat. Granny tells her “Gyal, you betta can cook!” and teaches Shelly-Ann how to get in touch with her Jamaican roots through the process of cooking.
As Shelly-Ann tries each recipe, everything goes wrong. But when Granny is too tired to cook one morning, Shelly-Ann will have to find the courage to try one more time and prepare the perfect Jamaican breakfast.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Sadé Smith is a Canadian children’s book author of Jamaican descent. Her books often involve food with colorful illustrations to capture the vibrancy and beauty of the Caribbean islands. In addition to writing, Sadé is also a design technologist who loves the beach and enjoys fruits. She is very passionate about literature and she writes books of representation for young readers. She is the author of Granny’s Kitchen and Julie and the Mango Tree.
Ken Daley is the prize-winning illustrator of Granny’s Kitchen by Sadé Smith, Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish—an Ontario Library Association Best Bet—and Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour. Ken was born in Canada to parents who emigrated from Dominica. His art and illustrations are inspired by his African-Caribbean roots and has exhibited his work in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. His artwork can be found in numerous private and public collections.
January: Young Adult
ABOUT HOW TO BE THE BEST THIRD WHEEL
It’s the last year of highschool, and everything has changed . . .
After a summer spent in the Philippines with her family, Lara Dela Cruz is eager to start her senior year and, most importantly, reunite with her three besties, Carol, Jasmine, and Kiera. Of course summer is the season of change, and Lara knew she’d have to get caught up on the major updates, hot gossip, and other shenanigans she may have missed. But what she did not expect was to show up on the first day of school to all three of her friends now in relationships.
The mushy public displays of affection and lunches spent gushing about their new “boyfries” has Lara quickly realizing her last year of high school is nothing like she imagined.
Since she’s been back, Lara’s long time frenemy, James, has become impossibly annoying. Sure, they are now both third wheels, but why is he asking her to tutor him in classes? And why, after they start spending more time together, does she begin to notice how cute he looks when he smiles . . . uh oh.
Fighting for the attention of her best friends, catching some pretty new and confusing feelings for James, and wading through the pressures post-high-school plans all have Lara reeling. And to make matters worse, Lara’s beautiful and untrustworthy cousin conveniently appears and wiggles her way right between her and James’ budding relationship. Feeling like a third wheel in more ways than one, Lara must learn to accept that change is inevitable, love is complicated, and being the odd one out is sometimes where inner power is found.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Loridee De Villa is the author of the Watty Award-winning How to Be the Best Third Wheel, her debut novel that has accumulated 1.6 million reads on Wattpad. She also wrote The Infinite Worlds of Ella Jane, which won the Shaw Rocket Fund Contest in 2020 and is being turned into a theatrical podcast by the film company Shaftesbury. When she’s not typing up a new chapter, Loridee spends her days drawing, sewing, and watching cartoons, all while balancing courses at the University of Toronto. Loridee currently resides in Ontario, Canada and is pursuing a career in health sciences.
January: Picture Book
ABOUT BEAUTIFUL YOU, BEAUTIFUL ME
A child who looks different from her mother finds beauty and belonging in this new book from the creator of the New York Times bestseller I Sang You Down from the Stars
Izzy’s favorite place to be is in Mama’s arms–skin to skin, safe and warm. One night, cuddled up on Mama’s lap, Izzy notices something she’s never noticed before: her skin is the color of chocolate, but Mama’s skin is the color of sand.
When Izzy realizes she’s different from Mama in other ways, too, she feels sad and confused. She wants to be beautiful like Mama! But Mama addresses Izzy’s disappointment with a gentle, loving refrain: You’re part of me, and I’m part of you. I’m beautiful like me, and you’re beautiful like you. Finding lessons from nature and repeating her affirming message, Mama encourages Izzy to see her own unique beauty.
This story about a multiracial child navigating identity and belonging draws from author Tasha Spillett-Sumner’s own experience growing up as an Afro-Indigenous girl. Lyrical text and warm, lively illustrations show Izzy’s journey as she learns to celebrate the differences that make her uniquely beautiful, and the connection to her mother that transcends physical traits.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tasha Spillett-Sumner is an Inninewak (Cree) and Trinidadian award-winning poet and author who is also working on her doctoral degree in Indigenous land–based education. She makes her home in Treaty 1 territory, Manitoba, where she raises her daughter, Isabella, with her husband. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling picture book I Sang You Down from the Stars and the award-winning Surviving the City graphic novel series.
Salini Perera has been making art for as long as she can remember — and making art for picture books is a lifelong dream come true. She was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and their three cats, Victoria, Albert, and Alice.