Youth Book Corner: I Read Canadian

Wednesday, February 17 was recognized as ‘I Read Canadian’ Day: a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people. Our Outreach Coordinator, Leena Desai, recommends some wonderful titles to observe ‘I Read Canadian’ any day.

I Am Loved
Written by Mary and Kevin Qamaniq-Mason, illustrated by Hwei Lim

I am Loved is the story of an Inuit boy in foster care. His is the story of many Inuit foster children going through the same experience. The story is told from the perspective of Pakak, who lives in a foster home. While he plays and mingles with his foster siblings during the day, at night he feels a profound sense of loss and sadness. That’s when he remembers the words his grandmother told him, that no matter how far he is from his family, he will always be loved. Authors Mary and Kevin Qamaniq-Mason are foster parents themselves and intimately know the pain and struggle children go through when put in foster care. Their book is dedicated to Inuit children in care and includes gentle language and beautiful illustrations that can help parents and educators introduce the subject of fostering and adopting to young children. Grades K-2

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Written by Jonathan Auxier

Sweep is the kind of book you wish they had made a Mary Poppins spin-off of. Predating the nanny and her chimney-sweep friend Bert, Sweep is set in Victorian London when chimney sweeps would employ orphans to clean flues and protect homes from fire. Nan Sparrow is one such child and although her job is extremely hard and dangerous, her diminutive size, wit and will make her the best climber there is. But during one of her cleaning jobs, Nan gets stuck in a deadly fire and fears the worst. Miraculously, she doesn’t die. Her rescuer is no ordinary human, but rather a golem made of ash and coal; in short, a real monster. Sweep tells the moving story of Nan and her monster who form an inexplicable bond and come to each other’s rescue more than once. Grades 3-7

Written by Gordon Korman

Beloved children’s book author Gordon Korman’s latest is every tech geek’s ultimate nightmare: a digital detox. The poor soul who has to suffer this fate is Jett Baranov, a poor little rich boy from Silicon Valley, the heir to a tech empire. Jett has endless money to spend and sometimes he spends it so recklessly that he attracts the attention of the US Air Force. This snafu culminates in Jett sent packing in the middle of nowhere to a wellness and meditation centre which does not allow the use of any gadgets. Jett tries his best to get kicked out but eventually settles into a reluctant routine which includes caring for a pet lizard and hanging out with a couple of fellow inmates. When Jett sniffs something fishy with the management of the wellness centre, though, he decides to investigate. Written in Korman’s typical humour, Unplugged is an immensely entertaining read that responds to the question you never knew you wanted an answer for: what’s the worst that can happen if you mix spoiled brats without their phones with isolation and crocodiles. Grades 4-7

Written by Tanya Boteju

Author Tanya Boteju’s sophomore novel after Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is another exploration of identity and love. Her heroine is the troubled and grief-stricken Daya Wijesinghe. Daya survived an accident that her parents didn’t and ever since then, she has been haunted by grief. Rather than dealing with her pain, Daya falls headlong into activities that are sure to give her a lot of bruises and injuries. One such activity is roller derby, in which Daya enters by chance. The sport keeps her busy, distracted, and in pain, but it also involves a level of human interaction Daya is not sure she likes and an inevitable confrontation with her grief that takes her by surprise. Bruised immerses readers into the exciting and intense world of roller derby in quite the same way that Kings did with drag shows. The reader, like Daya, starts as a rookie getting introduced to this world for the first time and ends with having a great appreciation for the value of female friendships and gut-wrenching hard work. Grades 8-12


Leena Desai