Happy Canada Day to all of you Canadians out there!
I’m so proud to count myself among your number, and, right now, for two special reasons:
a) Do you know how many Canadians needed to donate to my very USA-specific fundraiser? None. They could have looked the other way and said “not my problem.” But did they? No! And that’s one of the things that makes me so proud to be Canadian– we don’t look the other way. We participate, not nosily, but consciously and conscientiously. Thank you, Canadians, for donating to RAICES today and every day.
b) BOOKS! Do you know how many fabulous books are coming out in Canada these days? As the Changeling would say, “A thousand million hundred TRILLION!” A lot. I’ll tell you about three. (OK, sort of four.)
I already told you about Albert’s Quiet Quest, but it’s Canadian and worth a reminder today!
Now, this next one is a wistful book: Paws and Edward by Espen Dekko and Mari Kanstad Johnsen.
Paws and Edward is about the sweet, large, lumbering Paws who used to chase rabbits and go for long walks and now needs rest. A lot of rest. Ultimately, he falls asleep one last time, but Edward goes on to dream of Paws’s younger days when he used to chase rabbits with vim and delight. It made me cry right there in the book shop, I admit, but that was OK, because when they showed me the ARC they warned me it would. I’m going to argue a bit with the suggested age range here (ages 4-7) and say it would work for slightly older kids, too, because the text is nuanced and any kid going through the life and death of a senior pet will need that nuance for comfort. This is not a “Rainbow Bridge” style comfort talking about where your pet goes after death, by the way. This is straightforward: Paws was here, and now is dying. Edward is sad, but is comforted by dreams of Paws’s youth. There is no false comfort, at all. It is heartbreakingly sad, but comfort and healing comes in the form of reality and memories, and in letting your kid know they’re not alone. I highly recommend it for any kid going through deep personal loss.
OK, so maybe my theme for Canada Day is sad Canadian books? Because Ojiichan’s Gift (also from KCP!) by Chieri Uegaki and Genevieve Simms, is also rather sad.
When Mayumi is little, her grandfather, Ojiichan, makes her a garden, and every year she visits him and they tend the garden together. Raking the gravel is her favourite part. Then, one year, he’s grown too old to stay in his home and has to move– leaving her garden behind. But Mayumi, slowly working through her grief, finds a way to preserve her garden and their joint connection. Like Paws and Edward, this is recommended for ages 3-7 but I think will work at an older age, too. It’s not in the least sentimental– it’s a straightforward story of grief, love, loss, and connection. I loved it, and I think you will, too.
That’s been a lot of heavy stuff, but Canadian kids’ lit is often very fun, light, and funny– just check out the adorable Mole Sisters books by Roslyn Schwartz! They’re all great, but check out The Mole Sisters and the Piece of Moss.
In this delightful story, the mole sisters, who normally live underground, decide to show a piece of moss a good time. They take it up, to the top of the world, roll down with it, look at the stars (“They’re so pretty… just like us.”), and finally take the moss home with them to snuggle into at night. Joyful, fun, and unsentimental, the mole sisters have fun wherever they are and whatever havoc they might be wreaking!
Dear readers, I hope I’ve shown that there is quite a range of Canadian lit for kids– and I’ll continue to highlight whatever comes out whenever I can! I’m proud to be Canadian, today and every day, and proud to share our glorious words and images with the rest of the world– so go to your local book shop today and ask for the finest in Can lit!