All the Rage by Courtney Summers
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything – friends, family and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her past there. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time – and they certainly won’t now – but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.
1. Five drafts, entire new stories and re-writes. Your dedication to the All the Rage, and to the craft of writing, impresses me. What did the other drafts lack and what did you eventually find with the final version?
Thank you. I always knew All the Rage would be a story about rape culture, but I had to figure out what lens to explore it through. The earliest drafts were overly complicated. It wasn’t until I narrowed the focus completely on Romy, her trauma and how she was trying to reclaim her narrative, that it came together. I needed to get as close to the emotional core of the novel as possible.
2. When I started reading All the Rage I tweeted I was mad as I knew I would be (based on the back cover of the book) and you responded that is what you hoped would happen when people picked up the book. Why were you hoping for that response? What do you hope will happen with that anger?
All the Rage is an examination of rape culture, victim blaming and how society often fails victims and survivors of sexual violence. I hope people get angry when they read it because these are things they should be angry about. I hope that anger inspires them to advocate for victims and think more critically about the space around them and how it might contribute to rape culture. I hope that anger inspires them take part in the larger conversation about rape culture and sexual violence and I hope that anger inspires them to help keep that conversation going. Continuing to talk about these things is essential if we want to see anything change.
3. My anger was directed at the girls – and the secondary boys – in this book, perhaps because you didn’t focus on the actual rape, but rather than main character Romy Grey’s attempt at dealing with it. I understand not believing people, but to do what those girls, and boys, did…it makes me sick. My mouth dropped many times and my heart hurt. In this day and age, how does this still happen?
It happens because we live in a rape culture that often places blame on the victims of sexual violence instead of their abusers. An example of this is when a victim of sexual assault is asked what she was wearing or how much she had to drink when she was assaulted. We tell people, women especially, not to get raped, but we don’t teach people not to be rapists. This is just scratching the surface, but it all largely contributes to a culture that doesn’t want to believe or support women because it’s easier not to. I think it’s important to note that the girls in All the Rage – the ones who don’t believe Romy – are also victims of this culture and it was important for me to depict that. If a reader walks away from the book primarily angry at the girls in this story, it might be worth considering that response might also be a consequence of this culture.
4. I was poking through your website — http://summerscourtney.tumblr.com/ —and read that you like to write books about girls so girls have a voice. Based on the response you have from your readers, they agree, and thank you for giving them that voice. Growing up did you think you didn’t have a voice? Did you believe you had to be what society dictated or that you could choose your own path?
I write books about difficult subjects in hopes that the people going through them read them and feel less alone. If any of my readers have found their voice through my stories, that means the world to me. Growing up, I didn’t feel voiceless so much as I felt unsure of how to use the voice I had, which is eventually how I found writing. I think a lot of people feel pressure to follow an expected path. I was certainly not immune to that. But over time you learn that it’s better to pursue and work toward the things that make you happy and fulfilled and not the things that other people think should make you happy and fulfilled.
5. In one of your posts you mentioned how someone suggested books about rape have been written before so why bother. It seems to be a weird thing to say. You could say that about any book and any subject. I have a two shelves of fantasy books, yet I still read more. How do you think your books differ from other books out there? How do you keep thinking of new ideas?
I write for and about girls and it seems no matter what topic I explore, someone, somewhere, will always say they’ve had “enough” of it. They’ve had enough of stories about girls crumbling under pressure, mean girls, lost girls, depressed girls, girls who are coping with trauma. I believe this is the result of a world that conditions us to believe girls’ stories don’t matter or that they matter less. I don’t talk about how my books differ from other books about and for girls because it suggests I’m competing with them. I think of my books as joining a larger conversation with those other books and I’m proud they stand alongside them. As far as new ideas, every book has arrived to me differently. Sometimes I seek them out, sometimes they come to me.
6. I once read that the late Robert B. Parker wrote 10 pages every day. Do you have a way you write? What is your process?
My writing process changes from book to book, but I always make sure that I write something every day – whether or not that’s 10 words or 10 pages.
7. What is next for you? What is your dream project?
I have a short story in an anthology called Violent Ends. It’s edited by Shaun Hutchinson and releases in September. It centers on a school shooting. My dream project is always the one I’m currently working on.
8. With the launch of All the Rage, you also started a social media campaign called #ToTheGirls, where you invited people to send positive messages to girls. The response seems to have been fabulous. Congratulations. What were you hoping would happen when you started this campaign? Why is the message not getting out? What is the next step for the campaign?
Thank you! The response to #ToTheGirls was a dream come true. It trended worldwide on Twitter and the messages were inspiring and encouraging. So many girls and women felt empowered and supported and, in turn, they empowered and supported others by contributing to the hashtag, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen. I wanted girls to be reminded that they matter and to see that happening on such a larger scale was incredible. I think it’s proof that the message is getting out. I hope people will continue to live out the campaign in their daily lives. If they see an opportunity, professionally or personally, to let girls know they’re heard and that they matter, they should take it.
All the Rage
Editor’s Note: When I got a press release from Raincoast Books in advance of the release of this book, I knew I would get angry reading it and that is exactly what happened. I was angry at the boys, but even more angry at the girls in the story. It’s one thing not to believe someone, it’s another thing entirely to do what they did.
DK Books, http://www.dk.com/ca
This unique graphic guide is designed to help teens get on the right career path. Featuring practical and inspirational advice on more than 400 careers from microbiologist to makeup artists this motivational guide is like having a personal career advisor in the form of a book.
Editor’s Note: I LOVE this book. Yes, I used capital letters. What a fantastic book. Each double-page spread offers a job description, career paths, skill guide and at a glance box with your interested entry qualifications, lifestyle, location and realities. There is also a box of related careers. Never mind teens, this books is perfect for anyone looking for a career change or simply looking to see what is out there.
A Book Of Spirits And Thieves
Penguin Random House, penguinrandomhouse.ca
Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her father’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.
Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.
Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless, Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspeare Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty and himself. Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart.
Like it Never Happened
Penguin Random House, penguinrandomhouse.ca
When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy castmates and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca. Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.
Trina St. Jean
Orca Books, ww.orcabooks.com
Jessica’s life is one big question mark. She doesn’t remember a thing about the accident that put her in a coma. She doesn’t reconize her family and friends. Her moods range from sadness to full-on rage. Would she be better off running away and staring a new life? Or should she stay where she is and accept she may never remember her past.
Editor’s Note: What a fabulous book. A must-read for anyone who knows someone who has suffered a head injury. St. Jean did an amazing job of showing Jessica’s frustration. Can you image waking up and having no idea who that person is staring back at you? Wow.
Orca Book Publishers, http://www.orcabook.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=2141
Dekker isn’t happy he and his little sister, Riley, are stuck in Button Hill with their weird old great-aunt Primrose. When he discovers an old clock in the cellar, made entirely of bones and with a skull for a face, he doesn’t think much about it. But when Riley goes missing, a strange boy named Cobb appears in Button Hill. He tells Dekker that Button Hill sits on the border between Nightside and Dayside, and that Riley is in Nightside and may never return. In order to save her, Dekker must follow her into the darkness and sacrifice something he thought he couldn’t live without.
Editor’s Note: When I first started reading Button Hill, it reminded me of Nightmares by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. But as I read further, I realized while there is the same element of adventure and darkness, as well as a male character, that is where the similarities end. I will be reading my son this book when he is older. I put Button Hill on my list of books to get boys reading: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/5616023-7-books-to-get-boys-reading/
Delacorte Press, randomhouseteens.com
Indie has spent the last few weeks frantically searching for Paige. She’s tried every spell imaginable, but witchcraft has gotten her nowhere and she’s crazy with guilt, especially when she discovers Paige isn’t even on Earth. She’s trapped in Los Demonions, an alternative dimension of Los Angeles filled with evil creatures. No one who has gone there has ever come out. Indie is desperate to find a way in and she’ll worry about getting out later. But facing the dark word’s most dangerous witches and warlocks on her own means keeping her plan hush-hush from her boyfriend Bishop and forging alliances with some sketchy people. Sometimes a witch must keep secrets from the people she cares about. And sometimes she isn’t the only one with secrets.
Editor’s Note: I got several chapters into this book and wondered if it was a sequel. I kept reading and kept looking at the back of the book trying to understand what I missed. Finally I noticed, in giant letters, an important part – The sequel to Hexed. Yes, that makes sense. This book is not a standalone. I am missing too much to understand what is going on, but I do know a secret readers of Hexed don’t know, and likely want to know.
Elena Vanishing, A Memoir
Elena and Clare B. Dunkle
Chronicle Books. Kids & Teens, http://www.chroniclebooks
Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a war with anorexia. Told from Elena’s perspective over a five-year period and co-written by her mother, Elena’s memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease and a must-read for anyone whose life has been affected by an eating disorder.
Editor’s Note: I have read a lot of book about anorexia and eating disorders. Can you say you enjoyed a book about a woman whose eating disorder was caused by a tramatic time in her life? It was a good read and one I am happy to hear has a happy ending.
In Vanishing, you read about Elena and her struggles with the disease. In Hope and Other Luxuries, A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia, Elena’s mother, Clare Dunkle, writes her side of the story.
Dunkle seemed to have an ideal life – two beautiful, high-achieving teenage daughters, a loving husband and a satisfying and successful career as a children’s book novelist. But it’s when you let down your guard that the axe falls. Just after one daughter successfully conquered her depression, another daughter developed a life-threatening eating disorder. (Chronicle Books, $35).
Editor’s Note: It’s an interesting perspective – Elena Vanashing was a book about Elena and her struggle with anorexia, and then Hope and Other Luxuries, A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia, offers a look at her mother’s side. I read Elena’s story first so I knew what is going on, but then I read Clare’s perspective, which is different from mine as I knew what made Elena change so dramatically and why she was acting the way she did. An interesting coupling.
William Campbell Powell
Tor Teen, http://www.tor-forge.com
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction.
Tania Deeley has always been told she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.
Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?
Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their 18th birthdays, teknoids must be returned to Oxted – never to be heard from again.
Editor’s Note: I have read several books about the future of the world and it’s not a very happy picture, particularly for women. This one is similar in feel. I like Tania and her family and I remember the “past” Tania refers to. It got a little boring three quarters of the way through, but I have learned to continue reading – the end is often worth the wait.
Off The Grid
Orca Books, http://www.orcabooks.com
Cody was born and raised off the grid, deep in the wilderness by idealist parents. When the family is forced to move to the city, Cody ends up alone and angry in a world he doesn’t understand. After he takes sides in a school fight, Cody finds himself in trouble with the police. A second clash puts Cody in more trouble with the cops, and he decides to run for it or risk being arrested. But Cody is torn between fleeing the city and staying with his allying father to face whatever comes his way.
Editor’s Note: How odd it must be for Cody to grow up away from cellphones and social media and being put in the middle of something he can’t possible understand. Culture shock. But his character is great, and I enjoyed reading about his choices and the people he befriends likely because he grew up in the middle of the wilderness.
Mad Miss Mimic
It’s London, 1872, where 17-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to upper upper-class society – again. She’s strikingly beautiful and going to be very rich, but Leo has a problem money can’t solve. A curious speech disorder causes her to stutter but also allows her to imitate other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back and watch as Leo unintentionally scares off one potential husband after another. London is also a city gripped by opium fever. Leo’s brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst and his new business partner Francis Thornfax are frontrunners in the race to patent an injectable formula of the drug. Friendly, forthright, and as a bonus devastatingly handsome, Thornfax seems immune to the gossip about Leo’s “madness.” But their courtship is endangered from the start. The mysterious Black Glove opium gang is setting off explosions across the city. The street urchins Dr. Dewhurst treats are dying of overdose. And then there is Tom Rampling, the working-class boy Leo can’t seem to get off her mind. As the violence closes in around her Leo must find the links between the Black Glove’s attacks, Tom’s criminal past, the doctor’s dangerous cure, and Thornfax’s political ambitions. But first she must find her voice.
Editor’s Note: The book hooked me in fairly quickly, and kept me up long past my bedtime. Great reading and great characters and what seems like a realistic look at both the lower and upper class of 1872.
Pajama Press, http://www.pajamapress.ca
The Booke of Prayre is tiny, beautiful and incredibly old. Jane Grey has no idea how it got mixed up with her library books. But when she reads a passage aloud, she finds herself face to face with the subject of her history paper, Lady Jane Grey, the teenaged girl who ruled Tudor England for nine days before being imprisoned and executed for treason. Through her new friend’s life in the Tower of London is hard, Jane finds herself slipping into the past more often to avoid her own troubles. How can two girls, bound together across centuries by name and a book, give each other the courage they need to fact two different fates?
Editor’s Note: What a great book. It reminded me, although completely different, of one of my favourite childhood books, The Haunting at Cliff House. I love time travel. I wonder if author Sue MacLeod had an amazing history teacher as our current-day Jane Grey.
Oak Island Revenge
Nimbus Publishing, http://www.nimbus.ca
Life as a 14 year old in Western Shore, N.S., is pretty simple in 1958. Jonah and his best friend, Beaz, go to school, ride their bikes and daydream about the treasure they will one day find on the forbidden Oak Island. But when the pair start to explore the island, they become involved in a frightening mystery, complicating their lives beyond recognition. Secrets pile up for Jonah, secrets the could be protecting a killer in his quiet community.
Editor’s Note: It is so nice to read books with male characters. Having a son, I am aware that most of what I read is female strong. This “coming-of-age novel with deadly stakes” will be kept until my six year old is a bit older. For me, I couldn’t get into it, although, in fairness, I am not the demographic, nor did I give it enough of a chance.
Ann M. Martin
Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.
Editor’s Note: I like Rose. I like her uncle, who is patient and kind and understands Rose. I am frustrated by her father, who should show more kindness and understanding. I kept thinking Rose ended up with the wrong father. I have never thought so much about homonyms. A great, quick read.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler Knud Pedersen and The Churchill Club
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, us.macmillan.com/fsg, Raincoast Books
At the outset of the Second World War, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, 15-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phillip Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes.
Editor’s Note: I wonder if JK Rowling’s Dumbledore Army (Harry Potter) was based on the Churchill Club, which is what I thought the moment I started this book. People’s bravery and desire to do what is right impresses me. I often wonder if I would have the same courage. It was an interesting read, but more of a memoir over a story. Lots of pictures and drawings by Pedersen.
The Night Thief
Orca Book Publishers, http://www.orcabook.com
Simple country handyman Cedric O’Toole relies on his organic vegetable garden to supplement his meager income, so he’s upset when vegetables begin disappearing. After several futile attempts to protect the garden, he stakes it out one night with his shotgun and spots a shadowy figure running into the woods. Cedric follows and finds a young boy living rough on his land. The boy has never been taught to read or write, and no one has reported him missing. No stranger to childhood neglect himself, Cedric takes the boy under his wing and tries to find answers. Who is the mystery boy, and why is he hiding in the woods?
Editor’s Note: I quite liked this book. I think Cedric O’Toole is a great character. I look forward to reading more about Cedric.
The World Without Us
Orca Books, http://www.orcabooks.com
ages 12 plus
What do you do when someone you care about wants you to follow them to a really dark place? Do you pull away? Do you help them plan the trip? When Mel meets Jeremy, she thinks she finally found someone who understands her, someone who will listen to her, someone who cares. But Jeremy has secrets that torment him and Mel isn’t sure she can save him from his demons. All she knows is that she has to save herself.
Editor’s Note: I couldn’t finish this book. I understand I am not the demographic, but I couldn’t understand either characters nor the choices they made. Not even at my darkest, could I make that decision.
The View From a Kite
Vagrant Press, http://www.nimbus.ca/Vagrant-Press-C1022.aspx
A teenager in the 1970s, Gwen is stuck in a tuberculosis sanatorium with only her journal and the occasional illicit cigarette to keep her sane. Not that life outside would be much better. Gwen is haunted by the dark and violent turn her life took just before she got sick. Her family has been shattered and Gwen is fighting hard not to be shattered, too.
Editor’s Note: I tried, but I couldn’t get into this book. I did have to keep looking at the back to figure out what year we were in; thank goodness the medical profession is different now than it was then. I have a weak stomach so I had to skip many parts of the book. While the back cover said I was going to love Gwen, I didn’t get far enough into it to really care about her.
Preparing for summer
Small Adventure Journal, A little Field Guide for Big Discoveries in Nature
Chronicle Books, http://www.chroniclebooks
Discover the great outdoors, one small excursion at a time. Grab this guide, step outside and let the adventures begin.
Editor’s Note: I love journals. I have been writing in them since I was a child. This one is more field guide then day-to-day life story. There is lots of information packed into the journal with spots to write down tree type and location (with pictures of various tress to help), a place to texture rub, information on animal tracks, morse code and poisonous mushrooms. There are craft ideas from pressed flowers to sling shots. If you are lost in the woods, you will want this journal.
End of school (End of school – school stuff, preparing for summer, activities, school themes)
A Week in the Life of Me
Save a small slice of now. Savour a big way forever. What are you? doing/thinking/wearing/dreaming/tasting/texting/obsessing over later? Capture this moment in time with a one-of-a-kind, seven-day journal. Includes a pocket for tucking away the mementos of today.
Chronicle Books, http://www.chroniclebooks
Editor’s Note: I love journals. I love surveys that tell people all about you. This is the best of both worlds. Surveys, journals, information. Super fun. I can’t wait to fill it out.
F in Exams
Chronicle Books, http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/f-in-exams.html
F stands for “funny” in this perfect gift for students or anyone who has ever had to struggle through a test and needs a good laugh. Celebrating the creative side of failure in a way we can all relate to, F in Exams gathers the most hilarious and inventive test answers provided by students who, faced with a question they have no hope of getting right, decide to have a little fun instead.
Editor’s Note: I always find people really clever. I was never a student who could make up clever answers. I would either know it or wouldn’t, but wouldn’t try to be funny. But some of these answers are pretty fantastic. “How was the Black Death dealt with?” By dying, usually; “Explain the dangers of life as a cowboy in the American Midwest.” High risk of being shot by Clint Eastwood. Even modern stuff is in there – “Who were the mountain Men and why were they important?” Characters in Game of Thrones, very violent. “What didn’t Roman children enjoy about education?” The same things I don’t like, such as exams, such as this one. “Explain how a media star can promote themselves using the internet?” Putting a naked selfie on Instagram is a good way. “What are the vital ingredients for a successful action film?” 1. Car chases 2. Explosions 3. Bruce Willis. “What information should be on a CV?” Mostly lies, but only if you’re sure they won’t be found out. Ha, ha.
Lost and Found Pet Posters From Around the World
One of the first impulses of an owner who has lost a pet is to canvas the neighbourhood with quickly made posters. And even if we haven’t seen the missing pets in question, many of us stop to read these notices. For more than a decade, illustrator Ian Phillips collected lost and found pet posters from around the world. In Lost, Phillips choose those most notable for their cleverness, humour, sorrow and sheer outlandishness.
Editor’s Note: While sad (who wants their pet to be missing?) there are some great posters in here from owners who miss their friends. Probably the most heartbreaking was the person searching for his pair of cats the sitter lost. I liked that updates where included with some of them and some owners took the time to plaster, “Cat found. Thank you for your help” on the poster. My favourite might by Johnny, who ran away when no one was home because he was having his male parts surgery the next day. Ha, ha.
The 175 Best Game Games: A Handbook for Leaders
Firefly Books, http://www.fireflybooks.com/index.php/catalogue/adult-books/crafts-hobbies/product/10083-the-175-best-camp-games-a-handbook-for-leaders&search=175%20best%20cam
Camp games are meant to be fun. Here are the very best camp-tested games for boys and girls aged four to 16, with easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations. The book includes indoor and outdoor games for both small and large groups, with some old favourites and lots of new, soon-to-be favourites.
Editor’s Note: There are so many different games in here. I am in charge of finding games for my family reunion and I will be trying water battleship as well as other games that require little to no special equipment.
Look Where We Live!
Kids Can Press, http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/look-where-we-live
In this engaging non-fiction picture book, five young friends – Nick, Yulee, Pedro, Sally and Martin – spend the day traveling around their neighborhood and participating in activities designed to raise money for their local library. Along the way, they learn about the people and places that make up their community and what it means to be a part of one. A map opens the story, with each of the places the children will be visiting labeled, including the gas station, retirement home, school, police station, soccer field, community garden and, of course, the library. Then each of the following spreads features a different location, detailed in a bright, busy illustration. Illustration captions expand the locations’ connections to the concept of community. For example, when they stop at a yard sale, the caption reads, “Donating means you give something to help a good cause. You can donate money, things or your time.” In some cases, readers are asked to find things or people within the illustrations, which adds an interactive experience.
Editor’s Note: It is a neat concept, but one that feels more like a lesson than a story.
The Bus Ride
Kids Can Press, http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/bus-ride
“This is the first time I’m taking the bus by myself. Mom packed me a snack — and had me bring my sweater in case I get cold.” But Mom likely didn’t imagine the adventure her little girl would have as she rides to her grandmother’s house in this sweet picture book. While the bus is taking her down the streets, through a forest and into a pitch-black tunnel, the little girl encounters an assortment of animal characters who enliven her journey.
Editor’s Note: There is more to look at then there is to read in this book. My six year old and I particularly liked when things got mixed up and we found a soother in the mouth of the daddy wolf for example. We read this story often.
The Red Bicycle
Kids Can Press, http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/red-bicycle
In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy. The boy, Leo, treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name – Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red, and this is where the bicycle’s story takes a turn from the everyday, because Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family’s sorghum field and to the market. Then, over time, it finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who has a new purpose for the bicycle – renamed Le Grand Rouge – delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital.
Editor’s Note: What a lovely book. It was interesting to read how a bike makes such a difference in people’s lives.
Trash Talk, Moving Toward a Zero-Waste World
Orca Book Publishers, http://www.orcabooks.com
Humans have always generated garbage, whether it’s a chewed-on bone or a broken cellphone. Our landfills are overflowing, but with some creative thinking, stuff we once threw away can become a collection of valuable resources just waiting to be harvested. Trash Talk digs deep into the history of garbage, from Minoan trash pits to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and uncovers some of the many innovative ways people all over the world are dealing with waste.
Editor’s Note: What a great book with ideas to transform trash into something new. A great idea starter for school-age children, who are currently learning about this in school.
Other young adult books
A Day With You In Paradise
Nimbus Publishing, http://www.nimbus.ca/Day-With-You-In-Paradise-A-P5017.aspx
This beautiful picture book depicts a family’s fun-filled day at a Prince Edward Island beach. Racing past dunes, building sand castles, and singing songs by a bonfire at night, the family revels in the peaceful beauty of an Island beach. Lennie Gallant’s lyrical description of a P.E.I. summer day is matched perfectly with Patsy MacKinnon’s sun-soaked illustrations. A Day with You in Paradise is based on Lennie’s song of the same name from the Juno-nominated album When We Get There.
A School for Unusual Girls
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies — plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
Orca Book Publishers, http://www.orcabooks.com
Sixteen-year-old Raphaelle says the wrong thing, antagonizes the wrong people and has the wrong attitude. She can’t do anything right except draw, but she draws the wrong pictures. When her father moves the family to a small prairie city, Raphaelle wants to make a new start. Reborn as “Ella,” she tries to fit in at her new school. She’s drawn to Samir, a Muslim boy in her art class, and expresses her confused feelings in explicit art. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella’s art to a younger friend, the fallout spreads throughout Ella’s life, threatening to destroy her already fragile family. Told entirely in verse, Audacious is a brave, funny and hard-hitting portrait of a girl who embodies the word audacity.
Black Dove, White Raven
Penguin Random House, http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/236477/black-dove-white-raven#9780385681872
Elizabeth E. Wein
Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird brought down the plane their mothers were piloting. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother’s wishes, among his own people in Ethiopia. Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their love for their country and each other be their downfall or their salvation?
Butterflies Don’t Lie
Nimbus Publishing, http://www.nimbus.ca/Butterflies-Dont-Lie-P6858.aspx
Sixteen-year-old magazine quiz junkie Kelsey Sinclair wants to make this summer unforgettable by (hopefully) seducing her secret crush, Blaine Mulder. Armed with romance advice articles, Kelsey tackles true love with scientific precision, including getting a job at the seaside restaurant that overlooks the yacht club where Blaine teaches sailing.
However, visions of rendezvous on the beach are clouded when the new kitchen guy’s laid back attitude and smouldering stare quickly get under her skin. With his renegade demeanor and unpredictable stunts, Luke is the opposite to Blaine’s golden boy reputation. Determined to follow through with her original goal, Kelsey ignores her growing attraction to Luke, certain he’s not the guy for her. But when she finally manages to get Blaine’s attention, Kelsey worries the magazines are all wrong, and that sometimes the best matches are the ones you least expect.
Finn Fancy Necromancy
Twenty-five years ago, Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy and at the age of 15, exiled to the other Realms. As soon as he gets back, things start going wrong and he finds himself once more accused of a crime he isn’t guilty of. Now he has three days to rove he’s mostly innocent to the Arcane Enforcers and he’s got his family, another former exile and his zany neighbour to back him up.
Sourcebooks, http://www.sourcebooks.com/, Raincoast Books
Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked, exactly but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself). Until she gets caught. Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?
From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess
Feiwel and Friends, us.macmillan.com/publishers/feiwel-and-friends
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is a completely average 12 year old. The only things about her that aren’t average are her name (too long and princess themed), her ability to draw animals (useful for her future career as a wildlife illustrator) and the fact she is a half-orphan who has never met her father and is forced to live with her aunt and uncle (who treat her almost like their own kids, so she doesn’t want to complain). Then one completely average day, everything goes wrong: the most popular girl in school, Annabelle Jenkins, threatens to beat her up, the principal gives her a demerit, and she’s knocked down at the bus stop, until a limo containing Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia pulls up to invite her to New York to finally meet her father, who promptly invites her to come live with him, Mia, Grandmère and her two fabulous poodles. Maybe Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison isn’t so average after all.
Gone Too Far
Sourcebooks, http://www.sourcebooks.com/Raincoast Books
Piper Woods can’t wait to graduate. To leave high school and all the annoying cliques behind. But when she finds a mysterious notebook filled with the sins of her fellow students, Piper’s suddenly drowning in their secrets. And she’s not the only one watching. An anonymous text invites Piper to choose: the cheater, the bully, the shoplifter. The popular kids with their dirty little secrets. And with one text, Piper can make them pay.
Nimbus Publishing, http://www.nimbus.ca/Jacobs-Landing-P6979.aspx
Coping with the recent death of his father, 12-year-old Jacob Mosher is sent to spend the summer with his aging, estranged (and strange!) grandparents in rural Newport Landing, Nova Scotia. Reluctantly, he trades the security of his foster mum in “Upper Canada” for a blind grandfather, Frank, who dresses like a sea captain and conducts flag-raising ceremonies, and a quirky grandmother, Pearl, who sometimes forgets her dentures and has Jacob running in circles. Jacob has two short months to figure out how to deal with his ailing grandfather, the surging Avon River tides, and the family secret that’s haunting his newfound grandparents. He didn’t expect so much danger and mystery to be lurking in tiny Newport Landing.
Jennifer Arthur and All the Gone
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AbbottPress
Picking up where her first book in the Chrystellean Trilogy, A White Hole in Space, left off, Jennifer Arthur and All the Gone begins when Jennifer “Jenny” Arthur and her marmalade cat, Atta Girl, find themselves sucked into an alternate dimension through a white hole in space, without a way to get back home. While in the colorless White World, Jenny and her colourful cat reunite with their intergalactic friends to solve the planet-wide crisis of disappearing children. Salerno’s masterfully created world reaches out to readers with a subtle invitation for them to color their own worlds with creatively positive thought patterns. Aiming to alleviate the alarming rate among young people toward destructive relationships and even near-epidemic suicides, she said she hopes to counteract the overwhelmingly dystopian trend in much of today’s literature.
Learning the Ropes
Orca Book Publishers, http://www.orcabooks.com
Mandy dreams of a career in the circus, working as an aerialist who specializes in rope climbing. When she is accepted into the prestigious Montreal Circus College summer program, she feels that she is finally on her way to fulfilling her dreams. At circus camp she is befriended, and challenged, by young circus performers from around the world. Circus camp turns out to be a magical combination of work and play, but when a veteran aerialist is killed in a fall, Mandy must confront the reality of circus life.
Lola Carlyel’s 12-Step Romance
Entangled Teen, Entangled Publishing, http://www.entangledpublis
Lola Carlyle is lonely and in for a boring summer. So when her best friend, Sydney calls to rave about her stay at a posh Malibu rehab and reveals that the love of Lola’s Life is being admitted she knows what she has to do. Never mind her worst addiction is decaf cappuccino; Lola is going to rehab. Lola arrives at sunrise Rehab intent on finding Wade only do discover she’s actually expected to be an addict. And get treatment. Oh and Sydney, she is gone? In a place full of fragile people, Lola is in trouble. But like it or not, she will be rehabilitated. And along the way, she might just find herself and love if she can open her heart long enough to let it happen.
Say You Will
Penguin Random House, http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/249688/say-you-will#9780385684798
Sam is not exactly what you’d call a regular guy: while his IQ is stratospheric, his social skills don’t quite rank as high, and his dating history: well, there’s no history to speak of … yet. But Sam has set out to finally fit in. He’s resolved to get some answers wrong in class; to stop getting perfect marks on his assignments; to get to know some people other than Ian and Brooke, his two closest (OK, only) friends and find himself a prom date. And the prom is on everyone’s mind: Sam’s school has become swept up by proposals, in other words, very elaborate, very public scenes in which someone is asked to the prom. Sam thinks he might have found the inspiration he needs to ask the girl dreams out for a perfect night at the prom, as well as the unforgettable way to do it.
The Boy From Cherny Yar
Richard Anastasius Dickson
Tate Publishing and Enterprises, http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore
Bred on the rolling hills of the steppes of Southern Russia, Tambor, a young Tatar lord, has his mind on one thing — to avenge his grandfather’s death after having failed to destroy the city of Cherny Yar. However, Nissim, a Greek slave brought from the Turkish Empire, exposes Tambor to a much wider world. He gives him a deeper insight into his own destiny. Together, these two warriors battle both the world without and the world within.
The Kiss of Deception, The Remnant Chronicles
Mary E. Pearson
She flies on her wedding day. She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection. She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her father. She is Princess Lia, 17. First daughter of the House of Morrighan. The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions, Lia can’t abide. Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets, secrets that may unravel her world.
The Novice Summoner: Book 1
Feiwel and Friends, us.macmillan.com/publishers/feiwel-and-friends, Raincoast Books
Fletcher is working as a blacksmith’s apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning. Along with nobles and commoners, Fletcher endures grueling lessons that will prepare him to serve as a Battlemage in the Empire’s war against the savage Orcs. But sinister forces infect new friendships and rivalries grow. With no one but Ignatius by his side, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of the Empire is in his hands.
The Secret of the Golden Flower, A Nicki Haddon Mystery
Second Story Press, http://secondstorypress.ca/books/326-the-secret-of-the-golden-flow
Teenage spy and kung fu expert Nicki Haddon is back! Immediately upon her arrival in London to train as a spy, sixteen-year-old Nicki Haddon is assigned to help the British Secret Service infiltrate a drug cartel that is smuggling large amounts of heroin into the country. Placing herself in the midst of a tough East End street gang, she uncovers a plot to create a super-potent opiate and also discovers a royal connection – one that goes all the way back to Queen Victoria. Her kung fu skills are severely tested in this action-packed thriller, as the teen spy-in-training tries to unravel not only “the secret of the golden flower,” but the ongoing mystery of her own past.
The second Nicki Haddon Mystery, the follow-up to The Scratch on the Ming Vase.
The Singer and His Songs
http://www.amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and iUniverse
The Singer and His Songs tells the tale of Chris Wild, a musician who abandons his music career in Australia to move to the United States – only to see his worlds collide when his songs hit it big in both countries.
Rivers crafts a story that travels around the world as Chris deals with his ascending fame and tries to reconcile his new flame with his original muse. The novel highlights the power of music – particularly the spellbinding quality of a true entertainer on stage, in front of a rapt audience.
The Truth Commission
Penguin Random House, penguinrandomhouse.ca
Open Secrets are the heart of gossip, the obvious things that on one is brave or tactless enough to ask. Except for Normanyd Pale and her friends Dusck and Neil. They are juniors at a high school for artists and they have no fear when it comes to asking their classmates for the truth behind the gossip. They are the Truth Commission. But when one of their truth targets tells Normandy, “If you want to know the truth, you might want to look a little closer to home,” she realizes there are some truths she might not want to uncover.
The Truth about Us
Sourcebooks, http://www.sourcebooks.com/Raincoast Books
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She’s made mistakes, betrayed her best friend and now she’s paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is. She pretends it’s all fine. That her “perfect” family is fine. But it’s not. And no one notices the lie until she meets Flynn. He’s the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens. The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. But Flynn is the definition of “the wrong side of the tracks.” When Jess’s parents look at him they only see the differences, not how much they need each other. They don’t get that the person who shouldn’t fit in your world might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.
Square Fish, us.macmillan.com/publishers/square-fish-books
When his mother decides on a whim to be a missionary in Africa and drags his unwilling father with her, Henry is left in the care of his aunts Magnolia and Pigg. Henry’s sure they dislike him and he’s trying to keep his distance, but that becomes more difficult when Mag decides they should take a destination-less road trip. Mag, convalescing from an illness that makes her look like death, is downright crabby. Pigg, tense from driving, is becoming more assertive and less willing to submit to Mag’s whims. And while they poke each other – literally – Henry is finding it hard to keep his resolution. They visit various places before they finally receive word that Henry’s parents are coming back and will meet them in Tulsa to finish the trip with Mag and Henry. But his parents are bickering and Henry is in despair – until he surrenders to the road and decides to let whatever happens happen, but to be there in it all.
We Are All Made of Molecules
Penguin Random House, http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/240465/we-are-all-made-molecules#9781770497818
Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but “ungifted” socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed “It” girl of Grade 9, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. “The Brady Bunch” it isn’t. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 per cent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 per cent horrified. She already has to hide the truth behind her parents’ divorce; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they, like the rest of us, are all made of molecules. Written in alternating voices, Susin Nielsen deftly explores family tragedy and family ties; sibling rivalry and union; and adolescent confusion and revelation.
Feiwel and Friends, us.macmillan.com/publishers/feiwel-and-friends
After losing both her parents before age 17, aspiring designer Caitlin Holte feels like her whole world has been turned upside down, and that was before the terrifying encounter with a supernatural force. Then, she learns that her hot bad-boy neighbor, Adrian, who might have just saved her life, is actually a half-demon vampire. Suddenly Caitlin is stuck with a vampire bodyguard who feels that the best way to protect her is to become her pretend boyfriend. Trouble is, Caitlin is starting to fall in love for real, while Adrian can never love a human. Caitlin trusts Adrian to keep her safe from his demon father, but will he be able to protect her heart?
Other end of school books
Pinkalicious loves the beach, especially when she finds a miniature mermaid named Aqua tucked inside a shell! Pinkalicious and her brother, Peter, promise to help Aqua the merminnie find her way home, after they show her all of the pinkamazing things to do at the seashore. From building sand castles to surfing in the ocean, the trio has a ton of fun, but at the end of the day they realize home is not always what you think it is.
Be a Beach Detective
Nimbus Publishing, http://www.nimbus.ca/Be-a-Beach-Detective-P6988.aspx
Can anything eat prickly sea urchins? Can dead jellyfish still sting you? Why does water squirt up when you walk along the beach? Biologist and artist Peggy Kochanoff answers these questions and more in this illustrated guide to solving beach mysteries. From the puzzling tidal life of barnacles to the stunning variety of seaweeds, Kochanoff dives deep into our coastal habitats and comes up with an entertaining and enlightening look at life by the ocean. Full of fascinating facts and surprising solutions, Be a Beach Detective is the perfect book for curious beachcombers of any age.
Chu’s Day At The Beach
Chu and his family are going to the beach! Chu is excited. He will get to play in the sand and wade in the water. But what will happen if Chu sneezes at the beach? And what will happen if he doesn’t?
In The Waves
Join Lennon and Maisy Stella, stars of the hit show Nashville, in their first-ever picture book sing-along adventure. It’s the perfect day for fun in the sun as the girls prepare to set off for a sandy paradise. With boogie boards in tow and homemade lemonade in hand, they are off to splash the day away. Grab your ol’ flip-flops and your sunblock, too, and sing along with Lennon and Maisy in their debut original picture book and song.
This Is Sadie
Penguin Random House, http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/225646/sadie#9781770495326
Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but that always bring her home again. She likes to make things — boats out of boxes and castles out of cushions. But more than anything Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all. For Sadie, the world is so full of wonderful possibilities … This is Sadie, and this is her story.
This column was originally published on insidetoronto.com