I remember getting Anne of Green Gables in my stocking one year. I am going to say I was about 12. I also remember being pulled into Anne’s world instantly, and reading it under the glow of the Christmas tree. Everyone should get a book for Christmas, and here are some that might make a perfect gift.


101 Things For Kids To Do on A Rainy Day

101 Things For Kids To Do on A Rainy Day by Dawn Issacc follows 101 Things for Kids To Do Outside. While it’s raining more than I want it to be in December (shouldn’t it be snowing?), the book is perfect for rainy days, too-cold days and any day you want to stay inside and use your creativity. There are a lot of fun ideas in this book – mostly new, but some I have seen before. My seven year old and I created a 3D hand, although the book’s version worked so much better than mine. As a tip, you need to spread your fingers apart when tracing your hand. We are also growing a scrap garden. The green onions work the best and grow the fastest. The celery started to grow fairly quickly – you could see green within the stem – but the top kind of went slimy so I threw it out. I am looking forward to watching water walk.

101 Things For Kids To Do on A Rainy Day

Firefly Books



A Number of Things, Stories of Canada Told through Fifty Objects

2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canada and our own Jane Urquhart celebrates the milestone by offering 50 objects that tells “us who we are in a way never before done.”

Most of the objects chosen were not ones I would have thought of, particularly the stories that were weaved around it – the Sampler, Staffordshire Dogs and Rope, among others. Each object told a story of why it plays an important part in Canada’s history. It’s an interesting book to celebrate a great country.

A Number of Things, Stories of Canada Told through Fifty Objects

Jane Urquhart

HarperCollins Canada



DK Smithsonian Animal!

Part of the series that includes Knowledge, Dinosaur! and Space!, Animals! is a a beautiful, think book with tons of information about a variety of animals and other disgusting creatures such as invertebrates and spiders (thanks DK for the giant pictures of honeybees and the sea lamprey. The computer-generated pictures are fabulous – great texture and detail including how scary a hyena is up close or fighting male mountain gorillas. In addition to the various bits of information about each animal, including details about how each part of the helps it, there is a variety of fast facts and trivia along the top of the page, which I found vary interesting. For example, “when the first stuffed platypus was seen in Europe in the 1700s, people thought it so strange it must be a hoax, stitched together from bits of different animals” or “A piranha can smell a drop of blood in 422 pints (200 litres of water.” Good to know.

DK Smithsonian Animal!

DK Books



DK Animals of the World Coloring Book with Photographic Reference

I confess. I find adult colouring books, for the most part, very stressful. The spots are so tiny and there is so much going on that I find what should be a relaxing activity not that relaxing.

This colouring book is much the same, perhaps worse, as the animals featured in the are book such as the wart-headed bug and the panther chameleon are super detailed and quite colourful naturally.

What the book has going for it, as far as I am concerned, is that there are photographic references at the beginning of the book so you are able to cut out the picture of the Indian peafowl or the emperor dragonfly, for example, and stick it on the the left-hand side of the page, left empty for you. I also like you are given some information about the creature you are colouring including the fact the Eurasian eagle-owl is one of the largest species of owls, hunting animals as large as a deer.

DK Animals of the World Coloring Book with Photographic Reference

DK Books



Canada Year By Year

Canada celebrates its official 150th birthday in 2017, and this book from Kids Can Press is a perfect way to remember the greatness of our country. Canada is considered the second largest country, holding 10 per cent of the entire world’s forest (let’s keep it that way, Canada), with some of our parks larger then some countries and more lakes then in the rest of the world combined (let’s keep them clean). Amazing. The year by year begins with the military expanding in 1868 to our country’s birthday in 2017, with the creation of Superman in 1932. Creator Joe Shuster, 17, based Metropolis on Toronto and the newspaper where Clark Kent works at is based on the Toronto Daily Star, which Shuster delivered as a child. There is a section titled return to war featuring the Battle of Dieppe and the D-Day and Normandy Invasion. In addition to the main dates there is other information sch as women at war and Japanese-Canadian Internment. There are mini profiles including that of Carrie Best, who published a newspaper especially for black people in Nova Scotia. Best used the paper to publicize the discrimination of Viola Desmond, who, in 1946 was charged after sitting in theatre seats reserved for white people. She was black. Shamefully, Nova Scotia finally outlawed racial segregation in 1954. 1954! I had no idea.

Canada Year By Year

Elizabeth MacLeod

Kids Can Press



DK Chocolate, Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic Become a Bean-to-Bar Expert

Despite knowing farmers shuffle cocoa beans with their feet to ensure even drying, I still love chocolate. In fact there is nothing in this book that makes me think, that I am never going to eat it again. Actually, just the opposite occurs when you read this book – you want to go out and buy chocolate and eat more of it while reading the book that is all about chocolate. I particularly like the section about tasting chocolate (I have changed my mind. Professional chocolate taster Jennifer Earle may have the best job in the world) with all your senses including hearing (did you know a good-quality chocolate should snap when you break it). I also liked the fact that people who are serious about chocolate should purchase a wine fridge to keep it at its ideal temperature. Snort. Who would keep chocolate long enough that a fridge is needed?

DK Chocolate, Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic Become a Bean-to-Bar Expert

Dom Ramsey

DK Books



This is a book only DK could create. There is so much information within the pages of this book. I love the large map featured on each double page spread and the visual tour, which shows you a number of points within the map and gives you more information about them. One of my favourite map, Cairo, 1521-1526, is under the chapter titled Ideal Cities. In the visual key is the pyramids. “The mapmaker cheated a little here; although the three Pyramids of Giza do lie in the southwest of Cairo as drawn, in reality they were far out in the dessert. Piri brought them loser to the Nile in order to include them on this made.” Too funny. Quebec City makes an appearance in this book, and the information is very interesting. Hotel-Dieu was first opened as a hospital in 1644 and ran until 1962. Wow.

DK Smithsonian Great City Maps, A historic journey through maps, plans and paintings

DK Books



DK Marvel, Absolutely Everything You Need to Know…

I read a lot of comic books growing up. Once I moved past Disney, Richie Rich, Archie, Garfield and Heathcliff, I moved on to my brother’s comic book collection, read in secret as I was forbidden to touch them. My favourite was always Marvel, in particular the X-Men and any spinoff series. The Hulk fronts this book, which is filled with tiny bits of information, lots of graphics and more information then even the most loyal Marvel fan likely knows.

DK Books Marvel, Absolutely Everything You Need to Know…

DK Books



DK Lego Star Wars Build Your Own Adventure

This cool set comes with a book that sets you on your adventure as Evalon, one of the Rebel Alliance’s latest recruits. He has completed training, and is ready to start his adventure as a Rebel pilot. The book helps you put together the Y-Wing plan – and Evalon himself (which I always think is really funny. Does Lego think we need help building their men?) – and the rest is up to you. While the book offers ideas on how to create your own adventure, including models of some of the things you can build, it doesn’t offer building instructions as “you may not have exactly the same bricks in your LEGO collection.” Each double page spread offers you large project, such as mission control and the Rebel Hanger, without instructions. However, are instructions on how to build the Admiral’s Chair in Mission Control. My main complaint about this book is that while there is enough LEGO provided to build Evalon and his ship, there are no extra unique parts most people wouldn’t have in their collection. DK couldn’t possibly include all the pieces to make the suggested buildings, but I think there should be some extra fun parts such as the engines, control panels or weapons. An extra creature, such as an Ewok, would be pretty fabulous, too.

DK Lego Star Wars Build Your Own Adventure

DK Books




What another neat book. It’s different from what I usually pick up, and as such it did take me a while to look through it. I am glad I did. It’s colourful and chunky. Each city has blocks of colourful picture about a well-known part of that location with an identification label. In Vatican City, there is a picture of St. Peter’s Basilica (labeled) and the Pope (labeled. Ha, ha) while in Amsterdam there is patat oorlog, which explains you are eating fries with mayonnaise, onions and peanut sauce. Each page tells you the country the city is located in, the language spoke and how many people live within its boundaries.


Kids Can Press



Ocean Animals from Head to Tail

We have animals for the older set (DK Animals!), and animals for children. This picture book starts with a picture of part of an animal and a phrase, for example, “What ocean animal has a mouth like this?” and when you turn the page you learn all about the blue whale. The illustrations are paper craft, and they are pretty cool right down to the details.

Ocean Animals from Head to Tail

Stacey Roderick

Kids Can Press



The Case of Beasts, Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

What a super cool book. Claiming to be from Abscurus Books, located in Diagon Alley in London, England, this beautiful keepsake has everything you want to know about the making of the movie, the movie itself and the characters you get to meet. I was impressed about the smallest of details that were created just for this movies such as magazines and billboards advertising products, as well as the big details like buildings, storefronts and dressing all the extra’s in period costumes. I also find the costume creating fascinating, and this book gave me lots of information to read through and pictures to look at. The book offers lots of information about specific details of the screenplay) such as an introduction to the characters often with pull-out features such as Tina’s Identification Card, Senator’ Shaw’s election pamphlet and top secret folders with information.

The Case of Beasts, Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Mark Salisbury, designed by Mina Lima

Warner Brothers, distributed by HarperCollins Canada



The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, Rediscovered and fully illustrated for the first time

I have always wanted to like Beatrix Potter’s books. I feel like as a classic it should be read and enjoyed. I could never do it though. It might have been, as a kid, there was way too much writing for too little pictures, or maybe I just thought it was boring. Either way, I couldn’t get into the books as a child and as an adult, I feel the same way. I was excited to see the book. The illustrations are different. Not my usual style, but they seem to work. I still can’t read it, although I am sure Beatrix Potter fans will love it.

The tale of Kitty-in-Boots, Rediscovered and fully illustrated for the first time

Beatrix Potter

Penguin Random House


Other books


Metis Beach, #MetisBeach

Claudine Bourbonnais




PlaceMakers, A Brief History of Real Estate Development

Herb Auerbach with Ira Nadel

Figure I Publishing, Raincoast Books



The Bill The Cat Story, A Bloom County Epic for ages 4 to 33 and 36 to 89

Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group



200 Years at St. John’s York Mills, the Oldest Church in Toronto

Scott Kennedy



Books that are always fabulous – and should always be given as gifts 

I am one of those people who can read books again. I am also one of those people who simply loves owning books, and if it made me happy the first time I read it, I will keep because just looking at it makes me happy. I have a lot of books.

As such, I thought I would compile a list of books that should be given as gifts, and have been given as gifts, at any time.

Symptom of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell by Liane Shaw

The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Harry Potter from No. 1 to The Cursed Child by JK Rowling

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen

Lucky Jonas by Richard Scrimger

I loved vampire books before vampire books became popular with the Twilight series. I always recommend Of Saints and Shadows and its sequel by Christopher Golden, Tanya Huff ‘s series with Henry and A Terrible Beauty by Nancy Baker.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

End of the Line by Sharon E. McKay

Soldier Doll by Jennifer Gold

DK Write Your Own Book

DK Human Body

Jasper John Dooley by Caroline Adderson

The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer

Note: Book publishers and distributors send me books, but the opinions are my own.