Youth Book Corner: Canada Day

In the spirit of this past week’s Canada Day celebrations, here are a few books recommended by our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai that celebrate the vastness, history and diversity of this beautiful country.

I Am Canada
Written by Heather Patterson

Based on Heather Patterson’s free verse poem ‘I Am Canada,’ originally published in 1996, this picture book speaks to a new generation of children about what it’s like to be Canadian. Thirteen of the country’s top illustrators—among them Jon Klassen, Cale Atkinson, Ruth Ohi, Eva Campbell, and Jeremy Tankard—have contributed their illustrations to this book, picking a line or two from Patterson’s poem as inspiration. The result is a full colour, vibrant celebration of the country and the diverse inhabitants that call it home. Grades Preschool to 1

Carson Crosses Canada
Written by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Kass Reich

Three years after readers first met grandma Magruder and her dog Carson in hardcover, their story is now ready for new readers to discover in paperback. Annie Magruder and her dog, Carson, live in the scenic beach-side village of Tofino in British Columbia. One day when Annie gets a letter from her sister informing her that she’s sick, she decides to take a road trip to Newfoundland to cheer her up. Travelling in their rattlebang car with a cooler-full of baloney sandwiches, Annie and Carson go from province to province, sleeping in a tent in the Rockies, admiring the vast openness of the prairies in Saskatchewan, and relishing lobster roles in PEI. This charming picture book is equal parts cheerful and informative. Grades Preschool to 2

When We Were Alone
Written by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett

In David A. Robertson’s Governor General’s Literary Award-winning picture book, When We Were Alone, a young Indigenous girl notices that her grandmother speaks another language and wears long braided hair and colourful clothing. When she asks her grandmother about it, the grandmother recalls a time when she was forcibly made to go to a residential school where she was denied and deprived of all signs of her Indigenous heritage. For the grandmother, one way of overcoming the troubling memories of residential school is by celebrating Indigenous culture in every way possible. When We Were Alone might deal with a particularly dark chapter in Canadian history, but Robertson’s simple text and Julie Flett’s beautiful illustrations make this story accessible and therefore an essential educational tool to introduce young minds to the experiences of Indigenous people in Canada. Grades K-3

Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Two-time Governor General’s Literary Award winner Marie-Louise Gay’s picture book is a stunningly illustrated acknowledgment of the immigrant experience from the perspective a little boy. Mustafa and his family have fled their war-torn country and settled in Canada. For Mustafa, everything feels new and strange in this country and he wakes up in the middle of the night not knowing where he is. But he soon realizes that the same moon that shines over Canada shines over his country and the bugs and bees in the park look the same too. Then he makes a friend and starts his journey to becoming a part of this new world. As both the author and the illustrator, Gay knows when to crowd the page with details and when to hold back with sparseness in a way that makes us feel for and identify with little Mustafa and the millions of other refugees and immigrants that form an integral part of Canada today. Grades Preschool to 2

This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold is a graphic novel anthology that features an all-star cast of indigenous authors such as David A. Robertson, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and many more. With a foreword by noted Indigenous writer Alicia Elliott, This Place: 150 Years Retold retells the history of Canada from the perspective of the Indigenous peoples and includes stunning artwork and stories that feature everything, from mythology and time travel to psychic battles and wonderworks. Grades 9-12


Leena Desai