Posts Tagged ‘Canadian author’

Meet Children’s Book Author Margriet Ruurs

Posted on May 8th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Margriet Ruurs Author Profile StorytimeStandouts.com
Margriet Ruurs lives on Salt Spring Island (in British Columbia) and is the author of 30 books for children. With a Master of Education degree from Simon Fraser University, she teaches writing workshops at elementary schools across North America. Recipient of the Presidential Award for Reading & Technology of the International Reading Association, she has conducted writing workshops in Lahore, Pakistan and author visits to International Schools around the world.




Margriet writes a regular column for Canadian Teacher Magazine, as well as freelance articles for Reading Today, the magazine of IRA.

She is a popular speaker at conferences, including many State Reading Conferences, National Service Learning Conference, East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools, IRA National and Regional Conferences, Vancouver International Writers’ Festival and others. She conducts school visits throughout the school year, sharing her love of reading and writing with thousands of students and teachers. “I love to use my imagination,” she says, “but also to research and write nonfiction books.”

Emmas Eggs written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Barbara Spurll Several of her books have won awards, including the Storytellers World Award Honor Title for Emma’s Eggs and short listings for the Mr. Christie Award of Excellence, the Shining Willow and the Chocolate Lily, Blue Spruce, Utah Information Book Award and National Crown Award. My Librarian is a Camel was awarded Teacher’s Choice Award and named IRA’s Notable Book for Global Awareness.My Librarian is a Camel Margriet Ruurs

Many of Margriet’s books reflect her interest in the natural environment: A Mountain Alphabet, When We Go Camping, Wild Babies, Logan’s Lake and In My Backyard. She also likes humour as shown in Virtual Maniac, Silly & Serious Poems for Kids and Ms. Bee’s Magical Bookcase.

Margriet currently runs Between The Covers, a booklovers’ B & B on Salt Spring Island where the rooms are full of books. She also initiated and manages Kidswwwrite Magazine, an online magazine in which she publishes stories and poems written by kids. The ezine is used by young authors all over the world. In June, Margriet will be receiving an Honorary Fellowship of Okanagan University College for her work on this popular website.

Author website
Author Facebook Page
Author Twitter Account: @margrietruurs

Amazing Animals written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by W. Allan HancockTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
Amazing Animals is a fun and interesting picture book for curious kids. It is full of mind blowing facts that made me say ‘wow’! I used all those wow factors to encourage kids to appreciate nature, and to conduct their own research into amazing animals. I love the art work done by Allan Hancock, whose paintings almost look like photos. I’m proud of the research I had to do to find so many interesting tidbits.

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do at Amazon.com

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?
I grew up in The Netherlands and immigrated to Canada as an adult, so I grew up on very different books. Many North American books don’t work in Europe when translated, and visa versa. I find it interesting how different books reflect different cultures. I grew up on the writing of Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt. Every child in Holland knew her name and her work. She wrote beautiful novels, but also hilarious picture books and engaging poetry. Her work was performed on radio and TV as musicals, movies, and TV shows. We sang her songs and quoted her stories. What intrigued me, even as a young child, was her power with words. I was enthralled with the fact that she could get us all to recite the same poems or sing the same words. I marveled at her play with language, puns, double meanings and the magic which she wove into her writing. She was so versatile. Roll into one our Canadian Robert Munsch, Pierre Berton and Leonard Cohen and you would get close to her skills. I loved her humor, her wicked way with words and her skills as a storyteller.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
I was so lucky in getting my first books published. The very first one was when I still lived in The Netherlands. I was working in a primate center, raising baby chimpanzees. Of course, their photos were adorable and the stories were interesting. I put them together and my very first book was accepted by the very first publisher to whom I showed it. Then I immigrated to Canada and had to learn speaking and writing in English. I lived in the Yukon when my own two children were growing up. I wrote a funny story for them about a purple cat called Fireweed. Again, the first Canadian publisher to whom I showed the story, decided to publish it. I had two books!

After that it got harder and I had my first rejections.

Now I have 30 books and realize that each one has to be able to stand on its own legs. Each one is still a challenge, none a given to be accepted. I am excited about my two upcoming books with Kids Can Press: one about Families Around the World, the next about Schooldays Around the World. Doing a lot of traveling, these global stories are close to my heart.

And I am especially excited about my new book with Pajama Press: A Brush Full of Colour will be the picture book biography of Canadian painter Ted Harrison. When we lived in the Yukon, Ted was a good friend and my children ‘painted’ with him. I am thrilled that I was able to write his interesting story. It promises to be a beautiful book.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I conduct many author visits to schools around the world. I enjoy sharing my books but also stories on how I get ideas and how kids can be inspired to write their own stories and poems. Often I see that this works as an eye opener for kids. They realize that they can write about simple things and their own experiences. It’s fun to see how they get ideas to create their own stories. I also love talking to parents, who often don’t realize the importance of modeling the joy of reading and reading aloud to children even if those are old enough to read by themselves. I am passionate about the importance f promoting reading and sharing books with children. But having shared my books for many years, with thousands of kids, my biggest thrill is reading books with my own 2 and 4 year old grandsons. They devour books and it was very cool to see them select my stories as some of their favorites! A whole new reason to keep writing!

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from? and what are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
I love being a storyteller on paper. I like to use my imagination to dream up stories, but I also love researching any topic in which I am interested. To tell you the truth, I think that I am still a kid at heart: curious and always saying ‘what if..’. I love the variety and being able to stay home to write. But I also love the days when I get to travel and talk to children in Ladysmith or Toronto or Shanghai.

At the same time, what I like most about being a writer is also what poses the biggest challenges: being able to afford being a writer because royalties don’t pay the bills. So I do lots of school visits and conference presentations in order to be able to stay home and write at other times. It is hard to be disciplined and to write all the time. I do a lot of rewriting and editing while I travel. And I have to make sure that I spend enough time at working on my writing when I really want to be outside, working in the garden or playing with my grandsons!

Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms Celebrates a Special Bond

Posted on May 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Never Let You Go by Patricia StormsNever Let You Go written and illustrated by Patricia Storms
Picture book celebrating love between an adult and a child published by Scholastic Canada





I’ll be honest, I completely underestimated Never Let You Go when I first viewed the cover art. I assumed (wrongly) that it would be a treacly story about a mother’s love for her child. When I took time to carefully read the story and appreciate the playful illustrations, I discovered that this is indeed a special picture book that will be treasured by children and their adult caregivers.

Readers may assume that Never Let You Go is about a mother’s love for her child but one could argue that it could also be interpreted as a portrayal of a father’s love or a grandparent’s love. The beauty of the author’s words is that the affection shared by the adult penguin and the young penguin makes no reference to gender or relationship. The story will ‘work’ for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It will work for single parent families or families where the primary caregiver is not a parent.

Spread from Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms

Initially the adult penguin reassures the youngster, I will care for you, and treasure you always. And I will never let you go. But soon we discover, there will be times when the adult will give the child space to safely explore the world and gain independence. The adult won’t be there when nature calls or if the child is quietly working on a project. With humor, we discover that the adult prefers to grant space when the child has a tantrum and that the adult will visit with other adults while the boisterous young friends play together nearby.

Recommended for children aged three years and up, bright, bold illustrations and breezy, affirming text make this a great read aloud for small groups.

Never Let You Go at Amazon.ca

Kid Lit Blog Hop

In the Tree House a remarkable book by Andrew Larsen and Dušan Petričić

Posted on January 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts reviews Andrew Larsen's In the Tree HouseIn the Tree House written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Picture Book published by Kids Can Press



One of my favorite parenting memories involves snuggling with my sons and watching the Perseid Meteor Showers. When they were young, we scheduled an annual camping trip with friends so that we would be away from city lights and able to watch for shooting stars. I will never forget the experience of sitting beachside in a folding chair with one of my sons on my lap. We would wrap a blanket around us and wait. Most years there were eight of us searching for the dramatic streaks of light across the night sky. Each time a meteor appeared, there would be squeals of delight, “Oh, did you see THAT one?”

Andrew Larsen’s In the Tree House tells of a young boy who is feeling the changes that time brings. He and his family move into a new house and, instead of sharing with an older brother, he has his own room. He misses having his brother in his room and he has trouble falling asleep. He uses his wakefulness to plan treehouses. He’s excited when his brother starts drawing treehouses and he’s thrilled when his dad agrees to make his dream a reality. It is not long before Dad and sons are perched up high, gazing at the night sky.Storytime Standouts looks at In the Tree House

“Why arent there any stars?” I asked between gulps of lemonade.

“They’re up there,” Dad said. “We just can’t see them,”

He explained how the lights from the city make the sky too bright for us to see the stars shine.

They boys love spending their summer in the tree house. They play cards and read comics and watch their neighborhood.

The following year, circumstances have changed. The older brother has new friends and they keep him busy. The tree house that was once magical now seems empty until a chance power outage transforms the neighborhood. In the darkness, the older brother returns to the tree house and the boys’ special relationship is revealed once again – just as the utter darkness reveals a sparkling night sky.

In the Tree House is a shining tribute to the special relationship between siblings and the small, meaningful moments that make a world of difference.

Nominated for a (Ontario Library Association) 2014 Blue Spruce Forest of Reading Award

In the Tree House has also been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

In the Tree House at Amazon.com

In the Tree House at Amazon.ca

Andrew Larsen on Reading and Writing Picture Book Dads from 49th Shelf

How To by Julie Morstad Celebrates Play and Self Discovery

Posted on December 20th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

How To by Julie Morstad celebrates play and discover, a review by Storytime StandoutsHow To written and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Picture book published by Simply Read Books


“Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori

There are shelves filled with how to books at my local library. How to change the oil in a car, how to sew a quilt, how to apply make up… These are all jobs for adults. When writing and illustrating a how to book for children, what should be the topic? What is there that children ought to do?

Julie Morstad’s How To is a celebration of play and self discovery. When a child wants to go fast, he might choose a scooter or a pair of stilts. When another child decides to go slow she may quietly lie in a grassy spot and enjoy the flowers and butterflies.page from how to by Julie Morstad

Beautifully drawn illustrations celebrate a diverse group of children at play – flying kites, drawing with sidewalk chalk, hiding, riding a bicycle, drumming on pots and pans and contemplating a steep, high slide. Minimal text and mostly white pages ‘leave space’ for thinking, appreciating the illustrations and imagining ways to enjoy more play.

Winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

How To has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

How To at Amazon.com

How To at Amazon.ca


Willow Finds a Way, a picture book about dealing with a classroom bully

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Willow Finds a Way, an anti bullying picture bookWillow Finds a Way written by Lana Button and illustrated by Tania Howells
Anti-bullying Picture Book published by Kids Can Press


We originally met Willow in Willow’s Whispers. She is a soft spoken young girl and, in her first picture book, she finds a way to make herself heard.

In Willow Finds a Way she is facing a different challenge. Willow and her classmates are excited when Kristabelle invites them to her birthday party but the invitation has ‘strings attached.’

At snack time, Kristabelle waved the birthday list in the air and said, “If you want to stay on my birthday list, come sit at my table!”

Initially, complying with Kristabelle’s demands seems okay but before long Kristabelle is dictating outdoor play and who gets to stand at the front of the line. Eventually one of the party invitees dares to contradict Kristabelle. His name is crossed off the list of party guests. Willow thinks about standing up for her friend but she can’t quite bring herself to say the words. Before long she is worrying that her name will be crossed off the list too.

It is clear that Kristabelle’s threats and controlling behavior are a problem for Willow. She knows that Kristabells is treating her classmates badly. Eventually Willow finds a way to make her opinion known. She is no longer a bystander – she has taken a stand. When Willow’s classmates decide to take the same approach, Kristabelle rethinks her position.

Ms. Button’s depictions of Kristabelle, Willow and their classmates are pitch-perfect. We know children like these – those who make friendship conditional and who threaten exclusion (both forms of ‘relational bullying’) and those who know what is right but have difficulty speaking up. Simple, colorful illustrations are an excellent match for the text and feature a racially diverse classroom.

An excellent discussion-starter for preschool and kindergarten classrooms, highly recommended for children aged four and up.

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.com

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.ca

Read our review of Willow’s Whispers

Awards
2013 – Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
2012 – Publisher’s Weekly’s Selected Listing for Bullying Resources

The Night Before Christmas by Barbara Reid – Just Wow

Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

The Night Before Christmas by Barbara Reid, a review by Storytime StandoutsThe Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Barbara Reid
Traditional Christmas poem published by North Winds Press an imprint of Scholastic Canada


Accomplished award-winning author-illustrator Barbara Reid rethinks Clement Moore’s traditional poem, imagining a large family of mice bedding down on Christmas Eve. Home is a snow-caovered hollow log, filled with small treasures including coins, buttons, wooden blocks, nails, popsicle sticks and spools. Youngsters will be captivated by the family’s repurposed home furnishings and the busy family. Poor Mama and Papa Mouse must be exhausted. As some their many children cavort in bunk beds, one reads a book under the covers and another hopes for a glass of water before going to sleep.

We like Ms. Reid’s choice to leave the traditional poem untouched but to replace an oft-seen illustration of Santa smoking a pipe with one of him enjoying yummy candy-cane.

Barbara Reid’s inventive take on The Night Before Christmas is one that will captivate children aged three and up. It will be enjoyed in a group read aloud setting but will be most appreciated by those who have a chance to carefully examine the wonderful illustrations created using Plasticine.

The Night Before Christmas at Amazon.com

The Night Before Christmas at Amazon.ca

7 Winning Ice Hockey-Theme Picture Books with Free Printables

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares ice hockey-theme picture books for preschool and kindergarten

My youngest son has played hockey since he was five years old. For years, bedtime stories included books about playing hockey. Many of these stories include great messages about friendship, teamwork, bullying and working together toward a common goal.

Hockey Theme Picture Books including Clancy with the Puck
Clancy With the Puck written and illustrated by Chris Mizzoni
Hockey-theme picture book (adaptation of a traditional story) published by Raincoast Books

Just as Casey could hit a baseball, Clancy is a star when it comes to hockey. When Clancy Cooke joins the Hogtown Maple Buds, hopes are raised for a Stanley Cup win. Alas, in the final moments of a playoff game, when Clancy takes a penalty shot, “The puck deflected off the post, like a comet to the sky. The Buds had lost the Stanley Cup – and the fans went home to cry.” A sure winner, especially for hockey fans and those familiar with the classic story of Casey at the Bat.

Clancy with the Puck at Amazon.com

Clancy with the Puck at Amazon.ca


Hockey-Theme Picture Book The Hockey CardThe Hockey Card Written by Jack Siemiatycki & Avi Slodovnick and illustrated by Doris Barrette
Hockey-theme picture book published by Lobster Press

When Uncle Jack shares the story of the best hockey card he ever had, we take pleasure in a glimpse of the great Maurice Richard and a schoolyard duel against a tough hockey card shark. This is a book that made a lasting impression in our household – my youngest son is now a 13 year old bantam hockey player and just noticed me working on this post. He remarked, “Now that was a good book.”

The Hockey Card at Amazon.com

The Hockey Card at Amazon.ca


Hockey Picture Books including The Hockey TreeThe Hockey Tree written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines
Hockey-theme picture book published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

This is a favourite wintertime picture book that beautifully captures a Canadian winter day. Set in Saskatchewan, Owen and Holly are excited because Humboldt Lake has finally frozen over and it is a perfect morning for a spirited game of pond hockey. The two children are excited to drive to the lake with their dad and before long their skates are laced and the three are laughing and playing together. Unfortunately, just as the family starts to talk about taking a break and enjoying a mug of steaming hot chocolate, Holly smacks at the puck and it flies across the frozen lake and disappears into an ice fishing hole.

The children are terribly disappointed that they’ve lost their puck and assume that the game will have to end. Dad is not quite so willing to concede. He helps Owen and Holly to find a fallen poplar tree near the lake. Once a suitable tree is found, dad saws a piece from the trunk to create a wooden puck and the hockey game resumes.

Brian Deines’ luminous illustrations include icy cold winter scenes that are made warm by his depiction of the joy of playing a favourite sport with friends and family.

A lovely book to share with young children, this is one of my favourite wintertime picture books.

The Hockey Tree at Amazon.com

The Hockey Tree at Amazon.ca


Hockey-Theme Picture Books including The Moccasin GoalieThe Moccasin Goalie written and illustrated by William Roy Brownridge
Hockey-theme picture book published by Orca Book Publishers

Danny, Petou, Anita and Marcel live in a small, prairie town and they love to play hockey. They play road hockey when the weather is warm and ice hockey when the temperature cools and their outdoor rink is flooded. Everything changes when a new team is organized for their town. The four friends can’t wait to be part of the fun. They are devastated when only Marcel is selected to play for the Wolves. Anita is refused a spot because she is a girl, Petou is considered too small for the team and Danny is refused a place on the team because his disability means that he cannot wear skates.

All three children are terribly disappointed to be left out but, as the end of the hockey season approaches, the Wolves’ goalie is injured and the coach asks Danny to play.

The Moccasin Goalie is the first of a three book series. The Final Game is the second book. Victory at Paradise Hill is the third. Gorgeous illustrations – many using a pointillist technique – beautifully depict the joy of outdoor wintertime play. The story itself invites discussion of fairness, friendship and overcoming challenges.

Highly recommended for children five years and older.

The Moccasin Goalie at Amazon.com

The Moccasin Goalie at Amazon.ca


Hockey-Theme Picture Book  Over at the RinkOver at the Rink – A Hockey Counting Book written by Stella Parthenhiou Grasso and illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Hockey-theme picture book (adaptation of a familiar song) published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

Exuberant fun awaits in this hockey-theme adaption of Over in the Meadow. Young hockey fans will enjoy discovering all the elements of a great game – anthem singing, on ice- officials, a close score, players defending and scoring, earnest coaching, an enthusiastic mascot and excited fans. The wintry outdoor rink setting adds to the festive atmosphere.

Good fun for children four years and older.

Over at the Rink: A Hockey Counting Book at Amazon.ca


Splinters is a Hockey-Theme Picture Book Reviewed by Storytime StandoutsSplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Hockey-theme picture book published by Tundra Books

Cindy loves to play hockey but it is an expensive sport to play and her family is poor.   Showing great determination and resourcefulness, Cindy is excited to finally earn enough money to join a neighbourhood team.  Unfortunately, at the rink, Cindy encounters three nasty Blister Sisters who make playing hockey very unpleasant. 

At her very first practice, she met the Blister Sisters. They could tell she was one good hockey player, and they were jealous.

They insulted her old equipment… Then they made her look bad on the ice… They could do this because their mom was the coach

Thank goodness Cindy has a fairy goaltender watching out for her. The fairy’s magic provides Cindy with a dazzling new uniform, gleaming skates and a Zamboni – to transport her to the all-star team tryouts. Cindy rushes to the rink and does not disappoint – she is a star.

Knowing that the magic spell will end once the final buzzer has sounded, Cindy rushes away from the rink, leaving a shiny skate behind.

Coach Prince is determined to match the shiny skate to the player who wore it during the tryouts.

Coach Prince went from locker room to locker room, trying the skate on every girl she could find. Finally she arrived at Cindy’s rink ensuring a happy ending for Cindy and her new team.

Splinters will have greatest appeal for children who are familiar with Cinderella. We love the idea of taking a familiar story, like Cinderella and retelling it with new characters and a contemporary setting. In a primary classroom, we suggest using Splinters as a jumping off point, inspiring young writers to imagine other situations for Cinderella to encounter.

Splinters at Amazon.com

Splinters at Amazon.ca


Hockey-Theme Picture Book Z is For ZamboniZ is for Zamboni – A Hockey Alphabet Written by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose
Hockey-theme alphabet book published by Sleeping Bear Press

If hockey plays a part in your household, this enticing hockey alphabet book will appeal to the entire family. Young children will enjoy the simple rhymes while older children and adults will appreciate the more detailed information bordering the charming illustrations.

Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet at Amazon.com

Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet at Amazon.ca


Free Hockey-Theme Printables for Kids

Free Printable Ice Hockey-Theme Writing Paper

image of PDF icon  Hockey Theme Writing Paper for Kids

Hockey-theme interlined writing paper for penmanship practice and story writing.

image of PDF icon  Ice Hockey Picture Dictionary

Free printable ice hockey theme picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one. Also great for English Language Learners.


Picture Books About Divali Including Lights for Gita

Posted on October 31st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Lights for Gita, a picture book about Divali and adjusting to life as a new immigrant.Lights for Gita written by Rachna Gilmore and illustrated by Alice Priestley
Picture book about Divali and a child’s experience as a new immigrant published by Second Story Press



When Gita arrives home from school, she is excited to celebrate Divali. She fondly remembers how Divali was celebrated in New Delhi. She recalls large family celebrations that included glowing diyas, delicious sweets (perras and jallebies) and brilliant fireworks.

Gita has invited five friends from her class to celebrate Divali with her family but a sudden ice storm means that most of her friends are not able to come. Gita and her mother light the diyas just before the electricity in the apartment fails. Darkness envelopes the street and the apartment building except for the shining diyas. When Gita sees one of her friends arriving at the apartment building, she rushes outside to meet her. She is overjoyed to step outside into an icy wonderland.

Lights for Gita provides an explanation of many of the traditions associated with Divali. As well, it is a thoughtful look at the adjustments faced by new immigrants when living in a new country.

Rachna Gilmore’s Teacher’s Guide for Lights for Gita

Lights for Gita at Amazon.com

Lights for Gita at Amazon.ca

Note – in Lights for Gita, the author refers to ‘Divali.’ The Festival of Lights is also called ‘Diwali.’


For additional information about Diwali…

Celebrations in my World Diwali picture book about DiwaliCelebrations in My World – Diwali written by Kate Torpie
Children’s book about Diwali published by Crabtree Publishing Company

Generously illustrated with photographs, Celebrations in my World – Diwali explores the Hindu holiday, also known as the ‘festival of lights.’ Photographs and text explain Diwali decorations (including rangoli), dancing (Garba), desserts (includes a recipe for Chocolate Barfi), symbols and clothing (dhoti kurta, henna tattoos). One two-page spread provides information about Hinduism and another explains Rama’s victory. Celebrations in my World – Diwali includes a table of contents and a glossary.

Diwali (Celebrations in My World) at Amazon.com

Diwali (Celebrations in My World) at Amazon.ca

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Diwali for Kids on Pinterest.


14 Outstanding Picture Books that Celebrate Grandparents and Kids

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends picture books about grandparents and family diversity

Families come in all shapes and sizes and are more diverse than ever before. Taking a look at a variety of picture books that celebrate grandparents, we discover stories that depict wonderful relationships between grandchildren and their elders. We also find picture books that provide insight into mixed race families, second marriages, coping with aging and inter-generational conflict.



An Alien in my House is a picture book about the relationship between a boy and his grandfatherAn Alien in My House written by Shenaaz G. Nanji and ilustrated by Chum McLeod
Picture book about a boy and his grandfather as they adjust to living in the same house published by Second Story Press

When his grandfather moves into Ben’s house, it is as though an alien has invaded. Grandfather’s body comes apart like Lego; he wears a hearing aid and dentures. Conversely, Grandfather is appalled that Ben has hidden springs in his feet and his room is filled with stinky socks. Fortunately, the two gain admiration for each other and become best buddies. Humorous and lively while conveying a message of acceptance and respect.

An Alien In My House at Amazon.com

An Alien In My House at Amazon.ca


Bagels from Benny is a picture book about intergenerational relationships and learningBagels from Benny written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic
Picture book about a boy learning from his grandfather published by Kids Can Press

Benny delights in helping at grandfather’s busy bakery. When grandfather encourages Benny to thank God for the mouth-watering treats, Benny decides to leave a big bag of warm, delicious bagels in the synagogue each Friday. Much to Benny’s dismay, it is not God who is eating the bagels, but a poor unemployed man. Benny is heartbroken until he understands that his gift to the poor man is also a ‘thank you’ to God. Bagels from Benny shares an excellent message about social responsibility. It is both gentle and heartwarming.

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.com

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.ca


Emma's Story a picture book about families and international adoptionEmma’s Story written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Picture book about families and international adoption published by Tundra Books

Emma and her brother are baking cookies at Grandma’s house. They use cookie cutters to make a sweet cookie family and then decorate the tasty treats with candies and dried fruit. When Grandma lifts the cookie tray out of the oven, she admires the cookie family but Emma is surprised to see the cookie that Sam has decorated.

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said. Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

This is a story that Emma has heard before. In fact, she helps Grandma to tell the story properly. It seems that Mommy, Daddy, Sam and their dog Marley were very happy but they longed for a baby girl. They waited and waited for a little girl to arrive. Finally, they heard about a baby girl in China who needed a family.

Emma’s Story tells of the family’s excited preparations folowed by Mommy and Daddy’s long trip to meet Emma. We witness the new family’s first night and day together and their trip home to Canada. A large crowd meets the threesome at the airport and joyfully celebrate’s Emma’s arrival.

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words, It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

While perhaps not meant for every bookshelf, Emma’s Story offers a very reassuring message and one that bears repeating. Just as Emma likes to hear her story and be comforted by it, children who share the international adoption experience will be similarly reassured by this book.

Emma’s Story at Amazon.com

Emma’s Story at Amazon.ca


Grand includes photos of children with grandparentsGrand written by Marla Stewart Konrad
Picture book featuring photos of children and their grandparents from around the world published by Tundra Books

The World Vision Early Readers series features minimal text and striking photographs from Romania, Uganda, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam. Grand depicts children and their grandparents enjoying quiet moments together, working in gardens, doing chores, playing games. The message is clear: the special inter-generational bond is universal.

Grand at Amazon.com

Grand at Amazon.ca


Grandad's Prayers of the Earth celebrates grandparents and family diversity
Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth – written by Douglas Wood, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Picture book that highlights the relationship between a boy and his grandfather published by Candlewick Press

This lovely, award-winning book is a tribute to the natural world, the special relationship between a boy and his grandfather and the comfort of prayer.

While on a forest walk together, a young boy asks his grandfather about prayer. His grandfather pauses and then encourages the boy to look at the natural beauty around him and observe carefully, “These are all ways to pray, ” said Grandad, “but there are more…The tall grass prays as it waves its arms beneath the sky,and flowers pray as they breathe their sweetness into the air.”

A moving tribute to the love between a child and his grandparent, Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. Best suited to children five and up.

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.com

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.ca


Here Comes Hortense is a picture book about blended families and grandparentsHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books

When a six year old boy, his grandmother and her new husband go on vacation to a theme park, all is well until Hortense arrives. Hortense is Bob’s granddaughter and she is suddenly a threat. Nana shares her hotel room with Hortense, she sings “Lavender’s Blue” to her and she sits next to her for all the scary rides. To add insult to injury, Hortense even devises a special name for Nana!

Nana’s grandson is despondent. He can’t believe that Hortense has taken his special place with his grandmother.

It is not until Nana and Gramps take a ride in the Tunnel of Love that the two children are able to gain perspective and learn to like each other.

Note: Here Comes Hortense! is a follow up to Heather Hartt-Sussman and Georgia Graham’s picture book titled Nana’s Getting Married

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca


The Imaginary Garden celebrates grandparentsThe Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Picture book about a girl and her relationship with her grandfather published by Kids Can Press

Theo is blessed to have a very special relationship with her grandfather, Poppa. When Poppa moves into an apartment, they decide to create an imaginary garden on his balcony. The first Saturday of spring is marked by the arrival of a giant, blank canvas. Before long, Poppa and Theo have created a long stone wall and beautiful blue sky. Soon they have added beautiful spring flowers to their masterpiece. When Poppa leaves for a holiday, Theo worries about tending their special garden by herself. With gentleness and love, Poppa assures her that she will know what will nurture their imaginary garden. This lovely picture book would be a great gift for a special Grandpa.

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.com

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.ca


The Little Word Catcher celebrates grandparents and family diversityThe Little Word Catcher Written by Danielle Simard, illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Picture book about a young girl and her relationship with her grandmother published by Second Story Press

Originally published in French, The Little Word Catcher won a Governor General’s Award for Illustration. It was written with Alzheimer patients and their families in mind but also illustrates the impact of aphasia (an acquired communication disorder that is often due to stroke). Elise’s grandmother is losing her words. When in conversation, she has difficulty coming up with the right word to use. The affliction is terribly difficult for her young granddaughter to understand. Eventually, Elise takes comfort in the thought that perhaps Grandma has given her the words to use. A lovely story about the special relationship between a grandparent and a child, The Little Word Catcher will have special poignancy for families dealing with aging and loss.

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.com

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.ca


My Two Grannies story about two very different grandmothersMy Two Grannies written by Floelle Benjamin and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
Picture book about diversity within families published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Alvina’s two grandmas come from very different backgrounds. Her Granny Vero was born in Trinidad whereas Granny Rose was born in England. The grandmas both live nearby now and Alvina loves to spend time with each of them, listening to stories. She learns that Granny Vero loved swimming in the warm waters of the Caribbean while Granny Rose visited the beach near Blackpool but avoided the cold water. When Alvina’s parents take a trip to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, Alvina works out a creative way for the three of them to enjoy time together and learn more about each grandma’s cultural traditions.

My Two Grannies at Amazon.com

My Two Grannies at Amazon.ca


Old Dog is a picture book about a fun Grandpa Old Dog written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross
Picture book about a grandpa who has some fun tricks up his sleeve published by Andersen Press

When the young pups are told that they will be visiting Grandpa, they whine, “He’s so boring. All he ever does is talk about the olden days.” “And he has dog breath,” they whimpered. “And he keeps scratching himself.” Mom insists and, before long, they arrive at Rose Kennel for a visit. After a chance remark by one of the pups, Grandpa disappears into the house. His grandkids are convinced that he’s gone for a nap. Moments later, Grandpa re-emerges in a clown costume. He’s more than ready for his detractors, ““Stand back!” he said. “Watch this, you young whippersnappers. You might learn something.”

Clever wordplay and delicious illustrations make Old Dog a delight for readers aged four and up.

Old Dog at Amazon.com

Old Dog at Amazon.ca


Oma's Quilt celebrates grandparents, ageing and lossOma’s Quilt written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Picture book about loss and problem solving published by Kids Can Press

It is time for Emily’s grandmother to move into a retirement home. This will be a difficult transition for Oma, Emily and Emily’s mom. Many happy memories are left behind as Oma’s possessions are boxed up and she moves away. As Emily and her mom sort through Oma’s belongings, Emily comes up with a wonderful idea. She and her mom will create a quilt stitched from the fabrics of Oma’s life. Highly recommended for children and their parents. This gentle picture book deals with a difficult life transition beautifully.

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.com

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.ca


Silas' Seven Grandparents picture book that depicts family diversitySilas’ Seven Grandparents written by Anita Horrocks and illustrated by Helen Flook
Picture book about family diversity published by Orca Book Publishers

Silas loves his seven grandparents and their enthusiasm for his activities and interests. Silas enjoys going on fun outings with his grandparents and appreciates their gifts. When his mom and dad go away on a business trip, Silas is invited to stay with his grandparents. His mom wants him to choose where to stay but it is not an easy decision. Lying awake on a moonlit night, Silas reaches a decision: he invites each of his grandparents to come and stay with him. Acrylic ink illustrations nicely match this happy story of life with seven grandparents.

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.com

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.ca


You Can't Rush a Cat is a story about a young girl and her grandfatherYou Can’t Rush a Cat written by Karleen Bradford and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
Picture book about a girl and her grandfather assisting a stray cat published by Orca Book Publishers

Jessica and her grandfather have a special project during her visit; they hope to tame a stray cat. Jessica is patient and respectful of the cat and assures her grandfather that, ‘You can’t rush a cat.’ Early one morning, Jessica sits quietly on the kitchen floor and waits for the little cat to approach her. By day’s end, her plan succeeds and Grandfather has a new furry friend.

You Can’t Rush A Cat at Amazon.com

You Can’t Rush a Cat at Amazon.ca


38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents includes fun ways for children to connect with grandparents38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents written by Dette Hunter and illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge
Published by Annick Press

Sarah, Violet and Joe spend a busy weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. Together they enjoy many fun activities – everything from playing traditional card games to cooking Belly Button Soup. Written as a storybook, 38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents includes child-friendly recipes as well as step-by step instructions for crafts and games.

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.com

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.ca



Discover Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Picture Books

Posted on September 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Discover Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Picture Books including Thanking the MoonThanking the Moon – Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival published by Albert A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Beautiful, detailed illustrations highlight Thanking the Moon. We join a family of five as they enjoy a nighttime picnic and honor the moon. While the youngest girl plays, the older daughters help to set up a moon-honoring table, pretty lanterns and an enticing spread of traditional food: hot tea, moon cakes, steamed cakes, grapes and pomelo.Thanking the Moon a Mid-Autmn Moon Festival Picture Book

Extensive afternotes explain the significance of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and the traditions associated with it. Young readers will certainly want to enjoy the story a second time, once they understand the significance of the fruit, the tea cups and the delicious moon cakes.

Well suited to children aged three and up.

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at Amazon.com

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at Amazon.ca


A lovely complement to Thanking the Moon…

Discover Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Picture Books including MooncakesMooncakes written by Loretta Seto and illustrated by Renne Benoit
Picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival published by Orca Book Publishers

Narrated by a young girl, Mooncakes echos Thanking the Moon. We observe a family’s preparations for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – the excitement about staying up late, anticipation of special treats to eat, glowing paper lanterns and a beautiful full moon.

Once the family is comfortably settled in a moonlit chair, we hear three stories. The stories are about Chang-E, the woman who lives on the moon in the Jade Palace, Wu-Gang, a woodcutter and Jade Rabbit who also reside on the moon.

The watercolour illustrations nicely portray the special celebration, bathing the landscape in silvery moonlight. When the traditional tales are shared, the colours are more vivid.

Afternotes are less detailed than those in Thanking the Moon but they do include a reminder, ‘Even relatives who are unable to be with their families can look up at the dark sky and know that their loved ones are watching the same moon.

Best suited to children aged four and up.

Mooncakes at Amazon.com

Mooncakes at Amazon.ca

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.


Take a Look at Bully 101 – Asking Some Tough Questions

Posted on July 11th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at Bully 101 - Asking Some Tough QuestionsBully 101 written and illustrated by Doretta Groenendyk
Anti bullying picture book published by Acorn Press


Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children.

Want to ensure you get your way?
Just mess up another kid’s day.
Push them and shove them and give them a scare.
Our bullies love fear and thrive on a dare.

Students who attend a class called Bully 101 learn that the best solution to feeling poorly about themselves is to make another child feel terrible. Bullies steal notebooks on the school bus, damage clothing, ostracize good students, spread rumors and make jokes. Sometimes they even resort to physical violence. For those who feel badly about their ‘course selection,’ there is an alternative class: Kindness 202.

Suited to primary and middle grade students, Bully 101 includes rich language: demoralize, humiliate, thrive and striking collage illustrations that will appeal to older readers.

Best at identifying bullying behaviors, Bully 101 implies that Kindness 202 is a happier, more inclusive choice. It does not problem-solve suggestions for victims or bystanders. Essentially the story suggests that choosing kindness will have a happier outcome for all – including those who are currently making poor choices.

Bully 101 takes a simplistic approach to the terrible problem of bullying that will not be appropriate in every circumstance but there are good reasons to use it as a discussion-starter in a primary or middle grade classroom. As well, Ms. Groenendyk’s fascinating illustrations could be used as a jumping off point for exploring this timely theme with young artists.

Bully 101 at Amazon.com

Bully 101 at Amazon.ca


Emma’s Story – a picture book about families, international adoption

Posted on April 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts reviews Emma's Story - a picture book about families, international adoptionEmma’s Story written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Picture book about families and international adoption published by Tundra Books

Emma and her brother are baking cookies at Grandma’s house. They use cookie cutters to make a sweet cookie family and then decorate the tasty treats with candies and dried fruit. When Grandma lifts the cookie tray out of the oven, she admires the cookie family but Emma is surprised to see the cookie that Sam has decorated.

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said.

Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

This is a story that Emma has heard before. In fact, she helps Grandma to tell the story properly. It seems that Mommy, Daddy, Sam and their dog Marley were very happy but they longed for a baby girl. They waited and waited for a little girl to arrive. Finally, they heard about a baby girl in China who needed a family.

Emma’s Story tells of the family’s excited preparations folowed by Mommy and Daddy’s long trip to meet Emma. We witness the new family’s first night and day together and their trip home to Canada. A large crowd meets the threesome at the airport and joyfully celebrate’s Emma’s arrival.

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words,

It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

While perhaps not meant for every bookshelf, Emma’s Story offers a very reassuring message and one that bears repeating. Just as Emma likes to hear her story and be comforted by it, children who share the international adoption experience will be similarly reassured by this book.

Detailed illustrations enhance Emma’s Story, especially when showing facial expressions.

Emma’s Story at Amazon.com

Emma’s Story at Amazon.ca


The Pirates of Captain McKee in a rollicking adventure story

Posted on October 11th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at The Pirates of Captain McKee, a favourite picture book written by Julie Lawson  and illustrated by Werner Zimmerman.The Pirates of Captain McKee! written by Julie Lawson and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann
Picture book published by Scholastic Canada



Originally published as Whatever You Do, Don’t Go Near that Canoe, The Pirates of Captain McKee is a rollicking adventure story that will have broad appeal to young children, especially those who love pirates.

A nominee for The 1996 Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literacy Award for illustration, The Pirates of Captain McKee tells the story of two children, a brother and sister, who are warned not to go near a canoe. The warning, given by Captain Kelsey McKee, is accompanied by a wink so the children are undeterred. They don lifejackets and climb into the canoe. Before long they find themselves well away from the dock.

Through fast-running currents, through slow-rolling tides,
Far into the fading light,
Through sun flecks and sunset, through dusk’s purple haze,
The canoe sped into the night.

Although returning to the safety of home seems a great idea, the children are not in control. The magical canoe is deciding their course. Just before dawn, the canoe and the children approach a pirate ship at anchor and many, many intimidating pirates onshore. The pirates recognize the canoe and decide to teach the children a lesson. Frightened about their predicament, the children fear the worst until they notice a “marvellous smell… There’s marshmallows roasting round here!”

Gorgeous illustrations and delightful rhyming text make this a wonderful read aloud for children aged four and up.

To extend the read aloud experience –

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate

Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate Map

Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

The Pirates of Captain McKee at Amazon.com

The Pirates of Captain McKee at Amazon.ca


Art’s Supplies is a clever picturebook created by Chris Tougas

Posted on August 4th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storyime Standouts looks at a clever picturebook created by Chris TougasArt’s Supplies written and illustrated by Chris Tougas
Picture book about artist supplies published by Orca Book Publishers





Clever, funny and inspiring, Art’s Supplies is exactly the sort of picture book I delight in. Budding artists will love this picture book

Trouble is just around the corner when Art’s paper invites everyone for a party at her “pad.” It doesn’t take long for the pencils to arrive. They are soon joined by crayons, markers, pastels, ink and many more colourful and creative guests.

“Next the crayons rolled in with some fun ideas.
Those guys sure know how to think outside the box.
The markers all agreed that they FELT great.
Then the pastels arrived. They blended in smoothly.”

With lots of bold visual appeal, enough puns to make you grown aloud and clever wordplay, the story and illustrations will be enjoyed by children, especially those who love to make art, aged 4 and up.

Art’s Supplies was honored with the following picture book awards –
2010 Chocolate Lily nominee
2009 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books
2008 Resource Links “The Year’s Best”

Art’s Supplies at Amazon.com

Art’s Supplies at Amazon.ca

School District 71 Lesson using Art’s Supplies – Writing Trait: organization

Show and Tell: Visual Literacy In Picture Books also reference’s this book.


Getting Ready to Read Plus – Community Centre Program Day Two

Posted on July 10th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Today was our second session of Getting Ready to Read Plus. Today’s theme was “Boats Afloat” and the letter of the day was “B.” The children were able to come up with all sorts of words that begin with the /b/ sound – bumblebee, bear, brown, blue, black, boat, boy, baby and more.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Rowboat

Boating theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Letter B - pictures and words

Our story today was The Deep Cold River Story, written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor. This is a very good read aloud for four and five year olds. I like using it with the “boats afloat” theme because there are several rowboats in the illustrations.

The Deep Cold River story was part of our community centre literacy program todayThe Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor

Imagine a deep, cold river running through a small town. One day, for no apparent reason, the river overflows its banks and floods the entire community. Many possible solutions to the unrelenting flooding are proposed but it takes a little girl to solve the problem and save the town. The Deep Cold River Story features a positive message about bedtime stories and offers a great opportunity for children to propose their own creative solutions to the problem.

A charming story featuring a young heroine and appealing illustrations, The Deep Cold River Story is 28 pages and will be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 6.

The Deep Cold River Story at Amazon.com

The Deep Cold River Story at Amazon.ca

I hate when things are over…summer reading beckons

Posted on June 28th, 2012 by Jody

Storytime Standouts’ guest contributor reflects on the school year and looks forward to summer reading



Summer reading beckons for our guest contributorOne of my favourite lines from the song Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something is “And I hate when things are over/ when so much is left undone”. At the moment, it sums up how I feel about the end of the school year. Though I look forward to the summer, the break, the rest, and the, hopefully, nice weather, I know I’ll spend time thinking of all the things I didn’t manage to do this year.

Rather than think about all of the things I could have done better or more of, I thought I’d recount some of my favorite books from this year and share my summer “to read” list. The books I like most from this year are the ones that excited the kids. So while they may not have been MY favorite books, the following is a list of books that engaged my students, hooked my reluctant readers, and caused many classroom discussions.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Lemondade War is on a summer reading listLemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Warriors by Erin Hunter (actually a pseudonym for a number of contributing authors)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein

Wayside Stories from Wayside School by Louis SacharSideways Stories from Wayside School is on a summer reading list

Holes by Louis Sachar

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The Fire Ascending by Chris D’Lacey

There were others. Many, many others. My students from this year loved to read. They read a variety of genres and authors and tried books their friends loved or that I suggested. They were open to new books and different types of writing, such as Poetry.

The Breadwinner is on a summer reading listTomorrow I will say goodbye to this group and in September, I will have a new class. I look forward to the reading adventures they will take me on and the books they will introduce me to. Of course, I have a few of my own that I plan on introducing them to as well. Some I have read already, such as Riding Freedom, but others, I will read over the summer. My “to read” list for this summer includes:

My life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

Slob by Ellen Potter

United We Stand by Eric Walters

Middle School, the Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson

The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (I’ve read this one but am looking forward to reading it to my nine-year-old this summer).

I could go on…and on…and on because there are so many different books I’d like to read before the summer ends. However, in addition to Children and Young Adult fiction, I plan on reading a number of other books as well. So here’s to a summer of reading, re-reading, and relaxing.

Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Posted on April 18th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book about family life, emotions and social situations, Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-SussmanHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books



When a six year old boy, his grandmother and her new husband go on vacation to a theme park, all is well until Hortense arrives. Hortense is Bob’s granddaughter and she is suddenly a threat. Nana shares her hotel room with Hortense, she sings “Lavender’s Blue” to her and she sits next to her for all the scary rides. To add insult to injury, Hortense even devises a special name for Nana!

Nana’s grandson is despondent. He can’t believe that Hortense has taken his special place with his grandmother.

It is not until Nana and Gramps take a ride in the Tunnel of Love that the two children are able to gain perspective and learn to like each other.

Note: Here Comes Hortense! is a follow up to Heather Hartt-Sussman and Georgia Graham’s picture book titled Nana’s Getting Married

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca



Seal Song by Andrea Spalding and Pascal Milelli ‘Enchants’

Posted on March 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at Seal Song, a picture book by Andrea Spalding and Pascal MilelliSeal Song written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Pascal Milelli
Picture book published by Orca Book Publishers



You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, recycling, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.


In folklore, selkies are mythological creatures that can change shape. Selkies live in the ocean as seals and on land as humans.

Each morning Finn helps his father fish but he is secretly anxious for the opportunity to slip away from the wharf and the cannery. He wants to swim with the seals.
“Sing to me.” said Finn. “Sing the seal song that brings good fortune.”
The seal blew a fish breath and disappeared below the waves.
But, despite Finn’s pleas, he does not hear the seals sing.

One afternoon, while enjoying his usual swim with seals, Finn notices a commotion in the waves, his favourite seal has been caught in an old fishing net. Finn dives into the ocean, rescues the seal, feeds it and nurses it back to health. He has made a new friend. Finally, his wish is granted; he hears the seals sing.

Father is not happy with Finn and does not believe that a seal song will bring good fortune. He is suspicious when a mysterious child appears near the wharf. The other fishermen warn, “That child will never let salt water touch her skin. If it does, she must return to the sea.”

Sheila becomes a good friend to Finn but she does not swim in the ocean with him nor does she allow salt water to touch her skin. Meanwhile, the salmon fishing is good, Finn and his father are especially lucky and the old fishermen attribute their good fortune to Finn’s new friend.

Richly illustrated with beautiful, evocative oil paintings, Seal Song is a thought provoking look at what it means to be a friend.

For older children, Seal Song could lead to an exploration of folklore, shapeshifting, friendship, sacrifice, social responsibility and/or salmon fishing.

Seal Song at Amazon.com

Seal Song at Amazon.ca

Updated June 19, 2012 — Seal Song has been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award



Eddie Longpants – Anti Bullying Picturebook

Posted on February 25th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at anti-bullying picture book about teasing, coping with bullies, celebrating differences and self-acceptance

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Eddie Longpants by Mireille Levert.Eddie Longpants written by Mireille Levert
Anti bullying picture book published by House of Anansi Press Inc. | Groundwood Books



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Eddie is much, much taller than his classmates and his teacher. He is far too big for his school. At recess time, he endures endless name-calling and teasing. He deals with the abuse by isolating himself, he stands near a tall tree and is visited by happy, chirping birds.

When Eddie’s mom arrives for a visit with the teacher, Miss Snowpear promptly climbs onto the roof.

Miss Snowpea and Mrs. Longpants talk. They look each other straight in the eye. They say nice things. They smile big smiles. They shake hands.”

The two adults model good behavior despite their differences in stature.

At recess time the following day, the teasing resumes but this time Pete makes comments about Eddie’s mom and this time Miss Snowpea overhears the insults,

She feels anger rising inside her, It makes her insides growl and her toes curl up. All this because Eddie is big!

Pete knows that he is in trouble. He wants to escape so he climbs up, up, up into a very tall tree. Suddenly, he realizes what he has done and he is frightened. He needs help to get back down from the tree.

Eddie Longpants is an anti bullying picture book that is best suited to children four and up. It delivers a lovely message about acceptance and is sure to prompt a discussion about teasing and ways to deal with it.

Ms. Levert’s illustrations are warm and engaging. She makes great use of each two-page spread to show us just how tall Eddie, his mom and his dad are.

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.com

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.ca

Walrus’s Gift – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book with an important anti bullying message…

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Walrus's Gift by H.E. StewartWalrus’s Gift written and illustrated by H.E. Stewart
Antibullying picture book published by Tudor House



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

When a young walrus notices a sad child sitting and looking out at the ocean, the walrus wonders why the boy is unhappy. He turns, first to his mother and then to his grandfather, for help. His grandfather gives the little walrus an important and unusual present… The gift allows the curious walrus to discover why the human boy is alone and unhappy.

The young walrus discovers that the boy is not like his peers; his hair is different and he is not interested in their games. The boy is being teased and bullied by the children around him. Armed with information about the problem facing the boy, Grandfather Walrus calls many sea creatures together, seeking their assistance and suggestions. Before long, a plan is made and the young walrus steps forward to help the boy. Over time, the young walrus suggests four possible ways the young boy could deal with bullying.

The Walrus’s Gift anti bullying suggestions match those recommended by the WITS program: Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help.

It is important to note that the young walrus’s actions to help the boy are not only successful, they are celebrated by the sea creatures. This exploration of what it means to notice a problem with another person, be concerned and to take action should encourage young readers to consider how, in a similar situation, they might help child in difficulty.

Gentle, soothing illustrations match the thoughtful, caring tone of Walrus’s Gift.

Best suited to children aged five and up, additional content outlines ways Walrus’s Gift is a story that echos the animal characters and wisdom typical of native legends.

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.com

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.ca

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