Youth Book Corner: A Love of Learning

As we near the end of our annual Youth Writing Contest (deadline May 29), we mark this occasion with recommendations from our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai that feature characters that share our love for writing, reading and learning.

Tallulah Plays the Tuba
Written by Tiffany Stone, illustrated by Sandy Nichols

The protagonist of this funny picture book is short but the musical instrument she hopes to play is really tall. Tallulah harbours a big dream of playing the tuba one day and in spite of several failed attempts, she doesn’t give up. Her failure only makes her resolve even stronger and forces Tallulah to devise creatives ways of achieving her dream. Featuring a diverse heroine and quirky illustrations, Tallulah Plays the Tuba is an allegorical tale about never giving up on one’s dream no matter what people say or the number of times you fail while attempting success. Grades K-2

Grandmother School
Written by Rina Singh, illustrated by Ellen Rooney

This charming picture book turns the focus on the older demographic of our society that rarely gets the chance to be in the spotlight. Women in many countries, even to this day, grow up without access to education. The aajis (grandmothers) featured in this book live in a rural village in India and have never learnt to read or write. But thanks to the Aajibaichi Shala (School for Grandmothers) and the encouragement and love of her granddaughter, the grandmother in this book gets to go to school for the first time. This moving story pulls at the heart strings, especially when you learn that it is based on a true story. Grades K-3

Explosion at the Poem Factory
Written by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann

Poetry lovers and students new to the art form will find Explosion at the Poem Factory extremely informative and also very funny. What happens when machines take over the world? Kilmer Watts finds out the hard way after his piano teacher loses his job to the automatic piano. So, Kilmer takes up a job at the poem factory, learning how to turn the meter knobs, empty the cliché bins and crank the simile levers. Although it is the machines that stamp out the poems, Kilmer loves this new literary form he has just learnt and so when the poem factory goes up in smokes one day, he decides that the machines might have given up on the poems, but he isn’t giving up on them. Rich illustrations and a plethora of interesting backmatter on poetry make this book both a fun and essential read. Grades 1-4

The Unteachables
Written by Gordon Korman

While the characters in the other books on this list share a love for learning, the colourful and incorrigible pupils in this book couldn’t care less about books or school, or education in general. Can you, then, really teach a class of “unteachables”? Award-winning author Gordon Korman sets this hilarious premise peopled with a ragtag group of misfits and their jaded teacher who is counting days until he can finally retire. But the best-laid plans of the students to not study and the teacher to not teach don’t go quite as anticipated, as both realize that sometimes you end up learning something when you most resist it. Grades 3-7


Leena Desai