Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Go-For-Gold Gymnasts: Winning Team by Dominique Moceanu and Alicia Thompson

Britt loves gymnastics. She's already at the Junior Elite level, and her family has just moved to Houston and she has the chance to train at a big gym with a professional coach. She's nervous about training at a new place where she doesn't know anyone, and when the other girls are less than welcoming, she starts worrying about how she's going to fit in. It's going to take more than an amazing beam routine in order for Britt to feel like she's part of a winning team!

(Some very mild spoilers below)

I found this series after I re-read Go for the Gold by Elizabeth Levy. I was really excited by it; I can remember when Dominique Moceanu was part of the Magnificent 7 team at the 1996 Summer Olympics. While I'm no expert on elementary school-geared sports series, I can definitely see this appealing to young girls. Britt is a likeable character. She's young but not childish; her perspective is limited because her life experience is limited. She has to deal with things like problems with her parents and trying to make friends with people who are jealous of her. It does feel a bit cliched to have a story about gymnasts that includes a storyline about a girl with an eating disorder, but it did take an interesting turn (Britt does the right thing and people lash out at her). You don't need to have extensive gymnastics knowledge in order to read the book. There were a few terms that were lost on me, but there is a glossary at the back of the book to fill in some blanks. It looks like the other books in the series will have different points of view, with each girl taking a turn. If the Olympics gets you interested in American gymnastics, consider picking up this series.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Go for the Gold by Elizabeth Levy
Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu
The Go-For-Gold Gymnasts: Balancing Act by Dominique Moceanu and Alicia Thompson

Monday, July 30, 2012

Baxter the Tweeting Dog by Doreen Marts

Baxter is a very friendly dog who lives in the town of Wackaloon. He spends lots of time on Twoofer - it's a secret communication technology that only dogs know about. When his friend Lucy is missing, he's really worried about her. At first Baxter isn't sure what to do, but then he remembers about Twoofer! Before long dogs from all over town are looking for Lucy and sending updates on where she's been seen. Will Baxter be able to find her?

Books about technology - particularly books for kids - can be kind of hit or miss. It's tough to aim it for the right audience while still accurately using the technology; including technology also runs the risk of giving the book a short shelf life and making it seem dated in the near future. In this case, I don't think that the audience (young readers who are either reading on their own or about to start reading on their own) necessarily needs to have used Twitter in order to get the jokes. The "Twoofs" are really just a way to get Baxter running all over town. Animal lovers (and dog lovers in particular) will find lots of cute, cuddly canines in these pages (many of them looked like they'd stepped out of a TV cartoon about tech-savy dogs in a city). I also liked the endpapers of the book, featuring the different dogs along with their Twoofer handles. Will this be a book that stands the test of time? I can't say, but it definitely is a book that taps into the moment.

Check out Doreen Marts' website.

I received a review copy from Edelweiss courtesy of Blue Apple Books.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
A Day in the Office of Doctor Bugspit by Elise Gravel
Prickles vs. the Dust Bunny by Daniel Cleary
Doggie Dreams by Mike Herrod
It's a Book by Lane Smith

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Regretsy: Where DIY Meets WTF by April Winchell

Like most things I find on the Internet, I have no idea how I first found Regretsy. It was probably written up somewhere - a blog? Entertainment Weekly? - and I hopped over to check it out. I know that I was already familiar with Etsy and this new blog provided a window into the sort of thing that I had never seen. Photographs with random nudity, jewelry in the shape of penises and vaginas, things that say they're steampunk but they are so not steampunk... it seemed like there was no end to these incredible listings. Regretsy is also available in book form; classic items are accompanied by commentary by April Winchell.

I knew that I would love this book, but I was surprised by how much I loved it. It's more than just a collection of Regretsy's greatest hits and new entries. Each chapter has an essay that explores different aspects of the Etsy/Regretsy world. What kind of statements are vagina necklaces really making? How do you foster creativity? Does everything deserve an audience? At the end of the book there are listings of the sellers featured in the book, the bios of the sellers, and even a space for the sellers to comment on Regretsy, their inclusion, and criticism in general. These inclusions took the book from an extension of the website (which would have been enough to be a solid book) to something that explores art, commerce, creativity, and criticism, all through the lens of 21st century society. I highly recommend checking this book out.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates
Read My Lips by Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick
That is Priceless by Steve Yelcher
Passive Aggressive Notes by Kerry Miller

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie are best friends. Piggie can't wait to show Gerald her new trumpet! But when she starts playing, Gerald is speechless... and not in a good way. What is he going to say to her?

There are some very strong Elephant and Piggie books, and there are some that don't resonate with me as much. Listen to My Trumpet falls satisfyingly in the middle. I really like the books that explore the deep friendship between Piggie and Gerald. They don't always agree on things and sometimes they face difficult choices, but they care about each other and want to be good friends to each other. In this book, Gerald faces a tough decision: does he tell Piggie the truth and risk hurting her feelings, or does he lie to her and tell her how good she is? It might be a concept to explore with kids but in this book it comes across in a straightforward way. Elephant and Piggie fans have another book to enjoy and parents and caregivers looking for books about friendship and honesty have another book to explore.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems
Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

Friday, July 27, 2012

Go for the Gold by Elizabeth Levy

Heidi Ferguson was America's rising gymnast star...until anorexia sidelined her career and left many wondering if she'd ever compete again. Recovery was difficult but Heidi is finally back competing, and she's stronger than ever. She's America's best hope at an Olympic medal in gymnastics and a star at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. She knows what it will take to win and is ready to go for the gold, but injuries, pressure, and biased judges threaten to get in the way. Heidi is going to give it her all, but will it be enough?

A lot of my childhood books were random ones that, if I had to guess, were picked up from yard sales, book sales, etc, at least before I started defining my own reading preferences. This was a book that I know I had (and still have), but I didn't own or read the rest of The Gymnasts series (with the bizarre exception of Tumbling Ghosts - again, it had to have been a yard sale pick). I loved Go for the Gold as a girl an even had many of the most dramatic lines memorized (I can't tell you which ones, it would give away the plot). It has stood up surprisingly well. It's set during the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games, and even though that's now 20 years ago, not much stands out too much as being dated. Yes, technology has changed, but that's about it. There are things in there that make sense for a reader today: the realities of anorexia in sports like gymnastics, parental pressure, being friendly with competitors while still trying to beat them, carrying the weight of a nation's hopes, dealing with paparazzi and journalists and agents. Set before the Magnificent 7-era of the 1996 Olympics, it makes sense that an American winning the All-Around Gold in 1992 would have been a big deal. Heidi is a likeable character: a determined athlete struggling to balance the expectations and fears of her parents, coach, and friends with her own expectations and fears. This book is long out of print, but if you can find it (maybe at a yardsale? or in a library or a used book store) it would be a great read during the 2012 Olympics.

(Also, is it just me, or does the cover picture look a little bit like teenage Robin on How I Met Your Mother?)

Check out more information on Elizabeth Levy at her website.

Find out more information at Amazon.

Read it with:
The Gymnasts: The Beginners by Elizabeth Levy
Gold Medal Dreams: Chance of a Lifetime by Melissa Lowell
Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu
Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are You My Baby? by Kathleen Rizzi

Stories about animal babies and parents make for great books for children. In Are You My Baby?, big photographs of animals are paired with pages to flip and repeating questions to ask. This is the first time I think I've come across adult animals asking little ones if they are their babies; usually, it seems like the little baby animal is the one searching for a parent. There's something slightly unsettling about this approach, as if the parent doesn't know who their child is. I think, though, that you could avoid this by looking at it in a more playful way - like the parent is playing a trick on the baby animal by pretending to be confused. I think ultimately, however, this is an adult over-thinking it and that children will just respond to the animals. The flap element didn't work particularly well in the ebook format that I was reading; there was a pause and reveal but it didn't have the same punch when I clicked a button verses actually uncovering a flap. (Maybe if it was on a touch tablet and the page turned with touching it would seem better). I know, though, that it would be a lot of fun in the print version. Definitely check out this book for a fun animal-based story with lots of animal sounds, common words, and photographs of loving scenes of animal parents and children.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Star Bright Books.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Cradle Me! by Debby Slier
Hip, Hop by Catherine Hnatov
What's Up, Baby? by Kathleen Rizzi
Who Lives Here? by Kathleen Rizzi
My Face Book by Star Bright Books

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean

Genes. DNA. Heredity. These are all things that people hear about, but how many of us really understand them? How do genes work, and what's their relationship to DNA? How was everything discovered, and who was it discovered by? Names like Mendel and Darwin, Watson and Crick are familiar, but who were the other people who played a role in the discovery of DNA? How did genes play a role in creating a brilliantly flexible violinist and a bronze-hued president? From the first tentative steps toward exploring the human body to the mapping of the human genome, The Violinist's Thumb takes you on an incredible journey of scientific discovery.

I was so excited to read this book. I had intended to read Sam Kean's first book, The Disappearing Spoon, but I still haven't picked it up. I wanted to read this one before anything else got in the way. I really liked the way the book was written. It's not always an easy read, but it's an enjoyable read. Some of the science can be quite dense, but I think that's to be expected. I wouldn't say that after reading this book I have a complete understanding of genes and DNA; saying that would be a disservice to the scientists who spend their entire careers learning about genes. I do, though, have a big more of an understanding about the questions that surround this branch of science. My favourite chapter was the one that discussed the impulse to retroactively diagnose famous people like John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Charles Darwin with diseases and genetic disorders; of course, having said that that one was my favourite, I have to now think about what that means about me and my enjoyment of a celebrity-obsessed culture. If you're looking for a satisfying non-fiction read that will provide you with both information and a dry, sometimes pun-based sense of humour, definitely check out this book.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.

Check out Sam Kean's website.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel

Morgan is furious when someone set of fireworks in the middle of the pep rally that she planned and organized. It's going to ruin all of the work that she's put in as president of the student council. Her boyfriend is really supportive, but her best friend is distant and withdrawn, and there's a new guy - a strange guy - who is making her feel things that she's never felt before. Then, on the day before Thanksgiving, something terrible happens. A bomb goes off in the school. People are injured, some critically, and others are killed instantly. Morgan's life will never be the same.

(Mild spoilers below)

There's a nice amount of tension in this book. The identity of the bombers is only revealed at the end, so the readers are kept in suspense and have to guess which - if any - of the main characters are involved. There's a lot of drama in a short amount of pages, and the bombing turns it into a true life-and-death situation. People are never the same as they were before, even if they were able to escape injury. The characters sometimes seem like stock characters, but they're given personality and quirks to save them from being caricatures. I particularly liked how the ending of the book was true to Morgan's identity as a strong woman and student; it could so easily have gone in a different way, but reinforced the idea of living a life that's full of possibilities. Fans of Lurlene McDaniel will find a lot of pages packed with emotion and a story that's speeds a long with a quick pace.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Random House Children's Books/Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
Heart to Heart by Lurlene McDaniel
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Dictionary of Dance by Liz Murphy

An arabesque is a ballet position where you stand on one straight leg and extend a leg backwards. Break dancing is really fast dancing that involved using your hands, head, and body on the floor. A choreographer creates the steps that other people dance. These are the ABCs of dance...and it doesn't stop there! A Dictionary of Dance celebrates dance and movement from A to Z!

Some alphabet books really are meant for children who are first learning their letters. A Dictionary of Dance, on the other hand, works best for children who are already familiar with the alphabet; letters can be learned from it, of course, but first and foremost it is a celebration of dance. From "arabesque" to "zones," these words and terms will educate and inspire young dancers. The format of bringing together different styles of dance emphasizes the similarities between different cultures. The artwork is soft and colourful and mimics fluid motion.This is a lovely book that could easily encourage the imaginations of children who dream about dancing - or spark an interest in those who have never thought about it. It would make a great gift for a dancer or a good title for a public library.

I received a review copy from Edelweiss courtesy of Blue Apple Books.

Read it with:
Broadway Barks by Bernadette Peters
Learn to Speak Dance by Ann-Marie Williams
Beautiful Ballerina by Marilyn Nelson

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Name is Olivia...and I Can't Do Anything About It by Jowi Schmitz

There are some big problems in Olivia's life. Her mother is dead. Her father isn't coping very well. They've moved away from her grandparents. They live on a boat behind her Dad's barbershop. It's a boat that's set up on land, not water. And...her name is Olivia. Life is not easy for Olivia, but she's determined to make things work.

There was something that stopped me from really getting into this book. I think it might have been the fact that it was a translation. I was very aware of barrier, invisible layers that kept me from connecting with Olivia and the other characters. The original language (Dutch) has a different pattern, phrases, and jokes than in English. While I didn't have strong feelings for the story, I could definitely appreciate it. Olivia is a smart, funny girl who is struggling with having to be a grown-up when she also wants to be the kid. She has to rely on herself, because relying on anyone else (including her father) would be too dangerous. This book just needs the right reader to make it truly come alive. I think with smart marketing (including the picture of a girl on the cover of the book, which immediately grounds it in reality) and handselling (in stores, libraries, and online) by people who really loved the book, it could definitely find an audience in North America.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Lemniscaat USA.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne M. LaFleur
Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson

For years, children have followed the adventures of Chester Raccoon. In The Kissing Hand, he was comforted by his mother as he made the big transition from staying at home to going to school. He's faced bullies and moving homes and lots of other things that children might face while growing up. In A Color Game for Chester Raccoon, he discovers all of the wonderful colors that exist around him. White birds, blue flowers, orange butterflies... there is a whole rainbow of colors to explore!

The board book format is great for introducing young readers to concepts like colours. Having a friendly face like Chester Raccoon lead the lesson adds in extra fun for children. The page layout in the epub file that I read didn't seem to be in the most logical order (there were page breaks where it made more sense to have a two-page spread), but I have heard that sometimes uploading them to places like NetGalley changes the layout, so I hope that it looks great in the print version. This would be a solid addition to library concept book or board book collections, or for the personal collections of fans of The Kissing Hand.

Learn more about Chester Raccoon (and Audrey Penn) at Audrey Penn's website

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Tanglewood Press.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
A Pocketful of Kisses by Audrey Penn
A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir by Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer

It's difficult to talk about teen pregnancy in a public way. Too often it takes either one of two routes: teen parents are either villainized, judged, and written off or glamourized and placed in situations that become so unlike the majority of teen parents. For her senior project, Gaby Rodriguez wanted to look beyond those portrayals to the real people that the pregnancy involves.Teen pregnancy was something that was very present in her life: her mother had been a teen mom, her brothers and sisters had faced teen pregnancy or young parenthood, and people always told her how she was destined to follow in their footsteps. For her project, Gaby decided to get pregnant - a fake pregnancy - and see how people reacted to her. Would they think that she was living down to expectations? Would the pregnancy nullify all of her good grades and her previous reputation? What would her friends say? What would people who didn't even know her say? Gaby wanted to compile their reactions and talk about the way that pregnant teens are treated. With only her mom, her boyfriend, and a few teachers in on the assignment, she had no idea what she was heading into.

The book is divided into three parts: before, during, and after the 'pregnancy.' I had expected most of the story to focus on pretending to be pregnant, so I was surprised when so much time was spent talking about her family and detailing her relationship with her brothers and sisters. This backstory, however, was crucial to understanding how passionate Gaby was about this project. She didn't just see teen pregnancy in the abstract; she saw it as part of her life. Equally interesting was the media reaction to the story. Almost overnight Gaby was courted by major television networks wanting to tell her story. Many people would think that it would be cool to have The Today Show or Good Morning America wanting to interview you, but when Gaby describes the way that the media hounded her and, for lack of a better word, stalked her, it's not the glamorous story that you might have had in mind. I did wonder how much of this was an attempt at shaping a story - in order to make it clear that she didn't want fame or a book deal or a Lifetime movie, does she go overboard in describing how she tried to hide from the media? Possibly. But I truly do believe that the project came from a very real place, a place that was determined to make a difference and change how people think about teen pregnancy. I do think that the book would have benefited from pictures, especially ones that show what Gaby looked like during her experiment, but the words can stand on their own. At just over two-hundred pages, it's not a long book, but it does tell an incredible story.

Gaby's story is also a Lifetime movie.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Not Afraid of Life by Bristol Palin
Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton
Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Floors by Patrick Carman

Leo's day starts out like a pretty ordinary day. Well, that is, an ordinary day in the Whippet Hotel. Owned by Merganzer Whippet, a billionare inventor with a love for ducks, the Whippet is home to wild rooms like the Pinball Room or the Cake Room, has live ducks living in a pond on the roof, and has talking robots living within a special robot room. While dealing with the ducks, Leo discovers a mysterious purple package; it has his name on it. Inside are clues to a mysterious quest that Leo must finish in two days. But the clues are not straightforward... will Leo be able to figure it out? He'll need a little luck, a little help, and it never hurts to bring a duck.

This book won me over. I found the beginning to be a bit slow; there was lots of wacky details, but I had a hard time putting the pieces together. I read fifty pages, though, and something kept me going for the next fifty. Then I set the book down and did something else, and in the mean time I realized that I was wondering about Leo and the Whippet and the whole adventure. The book had crept into my brain! The book has its own internal logic that I still couldn't quite follow, which kept me from puzzling out too much of the story. I liked the blossoming friendship between Leo and Remi (and the moments of frustration that Leo felt rang completely true), the relationship that Leo and his Dad have, and the competence that Leo displays throughout the book. There's a pretty hiss-worthy villian in Ms. Sparks (although I tired of her pretty quickly, the book needs someone like her posing a threat to the boys) and a magically mysterious semi-presence through the specter of Merganzer Whippet. This is a good book to hand fans of other puzzling books (The Westing Game comes to mind).  Looking at the cover of the first book (and the cover of the second book, due out this September), it seems like this is going to be a series of at least three books. Bring it on!

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Floors #2: 3 Below by Patrick Carman
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cover Kids: Ashley's Big Mistake by Suzanne Weyn

Ashley Taylor is in demand as a model. She's been on magazine covers, done tons of high-level photo shoots, and has been working steadily since she was a baby. Now she has a chance to add a new item to her resume: actress. Ashley's landed a role on a TV movie. This is her chance to be like her big actor brother, her talk show host mom, and her producer father. Even better, her modeling friends are all joining her in California to do a beachwear shoot. Modeling comes so easily to Ashley, but acting is harder than it looks: she can't remember her lines, she doesn't know how to bring emotion to her line readings, and she doesn't get along with the movie's big star. This could be Ashley's breakout move - or her biggest mistake.

As I mentioned in my post on Chloe Mania, Ashley's Big Mistake was a book I read when I was younger (most likely from a book order at school, since it is a Troll book) and mostly forgot about until I found Chloe Mania in a used book store. There are some things that I remember very clearly from this book, like Ashely seeing her face on the cover of a magazine after a heated lunch at a hotel or Chloe dripping over sandcastles on the beach while she films a walk-on part on a TV show. I had forgotten the main plot of the book, though. Ashley's crisis of identity is interesting even as it is unlikely - that is, the plot of transitioning from cover girl model to a TV movie of the week star is not something that will happen to a lot of people. But underneath that are very real and common emotions. How can you shine in a family of stars? What happens when your dreams are different from those of your parents? How much of your life is defined by who your parents are? Should you do what you love or what makes you famous or rich? And, ultimately, how do you make yourself happy?

Find it at Amazon.

Read it with:
Stacey's Mistake by Ann M. Martin
Chloe Mania by Suzanne Weyn
Tracey's Tough Choice by Suzanne Weyn
Nicole's Chance by Suzanne Weyn

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

The Pigeon has wanted a lot of things: a hot dog, a puppy, to drive the bus. And each time, he's heard a lot of "No!"s. Now he finds out that The Duckling gets a cookie. What? How did he get a cookie? The Pigeon would love a cookie! How can he get a cookie, too?

Even though Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus was probably the first Mo Willems book that I read, it's the series that I've read the least. I have so much affection for Elephant and Piggie, I love the Cat the Cat books, and I really enjoy the stand-alone books like Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator! or Leonard the Terrible Monster. I wasn't long into reading The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?, though, before the pacing of the Pigeon books came back to me. I love the pages that are broken down into four squares, each showcasing the Pigeon in different faces of indignation. In the same way that Big Bird was meant to be a stand-in for a small child, the Pigeon reacts in ways that a preschooler might - pleading, whining, yelling, getting angry. I find the dynamic between the Duckling and the Pigeon to be an interesting one: they fall somewhere between friends (from the point of view of the Duckling) and rivals (from the point of view of the Pigeon). Reading this book with a child will be an opportunity to talk about great things like why does the Duckling get a cookie, how do you ask nicely for things, does the Pigeon ask nicely, and do you think the Duckling is telling the truth at the end of the book.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
The Pigeon Wants a Hot Dog by Mo Willems
Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

Monday, July 16, 2012

Women, Popular Culture, and the Eighteenth Century edited by Tiffany Potter

The eighteenth century is quite present in the twenty-first century. It's found in the Jane Austen novels read by bookclubs and the movies that are made from those novels. It's in our ideas of performers and performance, writing and writers, and romance. It's in the way we think about the past and how the past informs the present. Women, Popular Culture, and the Eighteenth Century brings together the work of scholars from Canada, the United States, and around the world who explore the construction of culture and pop culture over the last four hundred years and what it means for women and society today.

When I saw the title of this book in NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. I love reading about popular culture and I have spent a lot of time thinking about women and femininity, so this seemed like a perfect fit. I was extremely pleased to find that the book not only covers culture in the eighteenth century but also how it exists and interacts in today's world. Recent film adaptations of Jane Austen novels, novels set in the seventeen hundreds, and mash-ups (like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) are all explored. There were also several areas that I had not read about before, including the role that women played in the development of the cookbook industry, stage performances and how they mirrored and directed ideas of womanhood, and the phenomenon of riddles and quizzing. The book has an academic tone and approach. It's been a few years now since I did a lot of academic reading for school, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this book. If you have an interest in any one of the three areas mentioned in the title make sure to check this book out; if you have an interest in more than one of the areas, this is the book for you.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of University of Toronto Press.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
Love in Excess by Eliza Haywood
Artistic Impressions by Mary Louise Adams
According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Discovery Channel's Top 10 Deadliest Sharks by Joe Brusha

The Discovery Channel has practically made an industry out of sharks through Shark Week, a week of shark-centric programming that has millions of fans looking forward to it each year. But how much do people really know about sharks? What different types of sharks are there, and how deadly are each type? How can you stay safe in the water? Check out this book for cool facts, amazing stories, and safety tips on how to avoid being part of a deadly shark attack.

Like many shark-related things, this book tries to have it both ways: using the sensationalized image that sharks have to appeal to readers who like danger and action, while using the text to
impart the importance of respect for sharks and downplaying their public persona as bloodthirsty killers. Different sections talk about how man's encroachment on the shallow coastal waters that sharks inhabit have meant that more people are going into areas where sharks live or how people engage in risky behaviour that makes them more attractive to sharks. Facts are presented in lists, pull-out bubbles, and through comic book style text boxes; there's a lot of information packed into a fairly small book.  The comic book/graphic novel style of the book makes this a great crossover style of books, appealing both to readers of fiction and non-fiction. Libraries looking to increase the amount of high interest material in their non-fiction collection (particularly high interest materials with eye-catching covers) should definitely look at adding this book to their collections.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Zenescope.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Face to Face with Sharks by David Doubilet
Sharks: Facts at Your Fingertips from DK Pocket Genius
Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters by Jeff Czekaj
Discovery Channel's Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Predators by Joe Brusha
Animal Planet: World's Most Dangerous Animals by Darren Vincenzo

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Elefante by Vanita Oelschlager illustrated by Kristin Blackwood

Everyone knows that elephants never forget, right? Someone forgot to tell Elefante - he forgets everything! Sometimes that's a bad thing, like when he forgets to eat lunch (and gets hungry later) or forgets to clean up his toys (and his sister trips and falls down). But sometimes it's not so bad, like when he forgets that he's scared of scared of mouse (and makes a new friend) or forgets that he's shy (and gets to be the star of the show!). Knowing what to remember and what to forget is part of growing up, and Elefante is learning how fun life can be when you forget your fears and try new things.

I was drawn to this board book because of bright orange elephant on the front. It's certainly eye-catching, and I can see how kids would be drawn to it, too. The story almost seems like it's aimed at older kids (with the multiple ideas of forgetting), but even if they can't follow the subtleties of the story the illustrations will keep kids interested in the book. On the back cover there's a note that all of the artwork in the book was created out of recycled and repurposed material, including a bubble wrap, a sponge, and a band-aid. This had me immediately flipping over and reading through the book again. In addition to starting a conversation with kids about forgetting, it could easily also spark the creativity of artistic types who are eager to create pictures out of things you have around the house.

See more at  Vanita Oelschlager's website.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of VanitaBooks.

Find it at Amazon.

Read it with:
A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager
Pomelo Begins to Grow by Ramona Badescu
The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Clair

Annie Nutter's life is nothing special. In fact, sometimes it sucks. She and her best friend are teased and tormented by the popular kids in school, her family struggles to pay the bills, and there's no indication of a boyfriend on the horizon. Then one day she learns that her mom could have married another man - a man who's now rich, successful, and one of America's top bachelors. A crazy accident involving one of her father's inventions sends Annie tumbling into a parallel universe - only there she's not Annie. She's Ayla Monroe, daughter of her mom and her mom's old boyfriend...except now they're married, she's popular, and the whole family is wealthy. It's everything Annie's ever dreamed of, but as she discovers the darker side of her life, she realizes that you have to be careful what you wish for.

This premise is the stuff that great stories are made of. The chance to see what your life would be like if you took another path is something I'd bet a lot of people had wished was possible at one point or another. What makes this a little extra twisty is that the alternate universe doesn't exist because of anything that Annie did - it has to do with who her mother married before Annie was even born. There are so many things, big and little, that go into making a person who they are. If you start changing things, how long until you are no longer you? It's a fascinating question. This book also raises the idea of how hard it can be to change yourself if you don't like who you are. When Annie starts putting more of Annie into Ayla, there are reactions from her boyfriend, her family, and her friends. It can be very difficult to change the status quo. This is a good book to read out on a beach somewhere this summer. And even though I saw the end coming, I will admit that until everything was revealed, I was holding my breath (and then found it really romantically satisfying). Roxanne St. Claire definitely knows how to write an ending.

See more about Roxanne St. Claire at her website.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Random House.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

Winston Breen loves puzzles. Word puzzles, number puzzles, treasure hunts, basically any kind of puzzle. If he doesn't have a puzzle handy, he'll just make one up - that's just how much he loves puzzles. For his younger sister's birthday he gives her a box that has a false bottom. Only he didn't know it had a false bottom, or else he would have discovered the four mysterious strips of wood. While he's puzzling over what these strips mean, some strange things start to happen: the local librarian flips out at him, he's approached by two different men who want to get his strips, and he discovers that the strips might be clues to finding a long-lost hidden treasure. Winston can't resist the puzzling nature of this quest - but in looking for the treasure, is he putting his life in danger?

Anyone who likes puzzles should definitely read this book. If that's not clear from the cover of the book, then it should be clear from the above recap, where I used variations of the word "puzzles" more than half a dozen times. In addition to the main puzzles that make up the story, there are mini-puzzles for the readers to solve (and the answers are in the back of the book). (There are also some really nice touches, like Winston living on Raskin Street.) The story is much more balanced than I was anticipating; Winston is lauded for his ability to solve puzzles, but there are other people in the story who can gently remind him that puzzles aren't everything. The story also (possible spoiler) turned a bit darker than I thought it would. There's some drama over Winston's fingerprints that includes a lot of suspense, and the ending brings the threat of life or death violence much closer than I thought. I don't think there's anything that would stop someone from reading it, but it does amp up the action to the book. I was surprised by the twists and turns precisely because I wasn't expecting twists and turns (there's probably a good lesson in there about puzzles and assumptions). I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series and solving some more puzzles.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
The Potato Chip Puzzles by Eric Berlin
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Floors by Patrick Carman

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tiny & Hercules by Amy Schwartz

Not many people would expect an elephant and a mouse to be friends; then again, not many people know Tiny and Hercules! Tiny (an elephant) and Hercules (a mouse) are best friends, and they love doing things together. From ice skating to knitting to selling lemonade, every day is an adventure for Tiny & Hercules!

I love books about friends. I didn't grow up with Frog and Toad, and I only discovered - really discovered - George and Martha a few years ago, but I really respond to books about two friends who really love and care about each other. Tiny and Hercules aren't perfect; they don't do everything right. But underneath everything is a very true friendship. The illustrations are in a style that I like to think of as 'deceptively simple'; they allow the character of the animals to shine through without overwhelming the text. The book is divided into five short stories or chapters, very much in the style of George and Martha; it's great for kids who can read on their own as well as kids who like being read to. I discovered this book while working on a booklist about elephants, and I'm glad that I came across it. It's a few years old now, but definitely check this one out if you haven't read it.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Willie & Uncle Bill by Amy Schwartz
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
George and Martha by James Marshall
Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming

A young man takes a strange journey one dark evening. After giving a ride to a young woman, he discovers that the woman has been dead for many years. He finds himself in the cemetery where she's buried - a special cemetery for young people. As the ghosts of the dead souls gather around him, it becomes clear that they want to share their stories. These are the stories of how they went from people to ghosts; these are the stories of the day that they died.

I'm just blown away by Candace Fleming's versatility as a writer. She's written so many wonderful books for children, both younger readers and older readers. On the Day I Died is a great pick for readers who like a spooky atmosphere and mystery without it being too scary or full of gore. The stories of how each of these people died are inventive and creative. I preferred the ones that were more plausible in a real-life context (if a book about ghosts hanging out in a graveyard telling their stories can ever really be in a real-life context) than the ones that veered more into the supernatural, but there's a good balance for many different readers. Fleming's ability to write for different characters is on full display here, as different ghosts take on the language of their times (spanning well over a century). There are new interpretations of spooky standards (the person who gives a ride to someone who turns out to be a ghost, the Monkey's paw) along with lots of new twists and turns.  I've been hearing this book in some of the early Newbery discussions, so pick it up and check it out for yourself - if you dare.

Check out Candace Fleming's website.

I received an advance review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Random House Children's Books/Schwartz and Wade.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman

Years ago, Calista Wood's sister disappeared in the woods behind a private school; Cally never saw her again. Now Cally is a teenager and attending that same private school. None of the other students know of her connection to the disappearance. Another student disappeared recently - that's why Cally could start in the middle of a semester. Some say that she ran away while others think that she was murdered. As Cally digs deeper into the mystery she uncovers more about her own story, but getting closer to the truth could put herself in danger.

I have a particular fondness for books set at private boarding schools, because there's something that happens when you take the parents out of a story. There are some parents/adults in this book, but they're all at the edges of the action. The book succeeds in creating a creepy atmosphere where people are not to be trusted and anything seems possible. I had trouble figuring out where the story was going to go because I had no idea what was even possible. Is something supernatural happening in the woods? Or is it much more terrestrial? Is Cally in danger, and is there anyone who can trust? It worked in different ways: Cally is an outsider to the school community (and the woods), but she's also an outsider to the kind of rich, fast-lane life that the other students live. This creepy, spooky, mystery is a great pick for a summer read (particularly if you want to read it in the daylight).

Check out McCormick Templeman's website.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Random House Children's Books.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Fall by Colin McAdam

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Mystery of the Messed-Up Wedding by Elspeth Campbell Murphy illustrated by Chris Wold Dyrud

Sarah-Jane, Timothy and Titus are cousins who also like to solve mysteries. That's why they formed the Three Cousins Detective Club! They're visiting their grandparents and there's going to be a wedding a their Grandpa's church (he's a Pastor). Sarah-Jane is excited, because she thinks weddings are wonderful; Timothy and Titus think that weddings are weird. Before the wedding, the groom shows up to say that the wedding ring is missing! The three cousins are on the case! But instead of finding the ring, they discover that the bridge/groom topper has been inverted into the cake, and someone is popping the balloons on the wedding car. Someone is out to stop the wedding, but can the T.C.D.C. stop that person before it's too late?

Caution: spoilers below!

When I was younger, I read one of the books in this series (mysteries based on the Ten Commandments); I think it might have been The Mystery of the Laughing Cat.  Later, when I realized what the word meant, I wondered how a children's book would cover the topic of "You shall not commit adultery." The answer is: vaguely.  Before heading to the wedding, the family discusses their favourite Bible verses (including the Ten Commandments). Titus asks what adultery is, and Grandpa answers: "That commandment is a special law for husbands and wives, Titus. When two people get married they make an important promise to God and to each other. They promise they will love each other - and only each other - in a special way. That's why people wear wedding rings The rings show that the people have made a promise. Adultery is when the promise is broken." The ring is used in this book as a promise between the bride and the groom. When the ring went missing I had hoped (foolishly) that the real thief was someone the groom was having an affair with, but of course it wasn't. This book does a great job at balancing a grown-up topic in a children's book. The mystery is a bit flimsier, mainly because aside from the cousins, their grandparents and the groom there's really only one other character who's even introduced. But, at only 40 pages, what more could really be done in this book? The series is long out of print but if you're curious about it you might be able to find it at a library or bookstore.

Check out Elspeth Campbell Murphy's website. 

Find it at Amazon

Read it with:
The Mystery of the Laughing Cat by Elspeth Campbell Murphy
The Mystery of the Gravestone Riddle by Elspeth Campbell Murphy
The Mystery of the Carousel Horse by Elspeth Campbell Murphy

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates

If you're a fan of the Cake Wrecks blog, you know exactly what kind of wrecktacular stuff you're going to be finding in this book. Misspelled words, literal directions, icing that looks like poo, cupcake cakes, naked babies, random Darth Vaders... there's no end to what people will put on a cake. I like reading Cake Wrecks because there's that whole "Wait...what...no!...what?" aspect where I can't believe that this actually happens to people. Some of those baby shower cakes will haunt me in my dreams. Maybe I'm just blessed (cursed?) with a local supermarket bakery section who stay away from wrecks, but I've never seen anything remotely close to this in person. But I do believe that other people have, because here is the photographic evidence. The book doesn't have the depth of the blog - that's one area where hyperlinks have the advantage over paper - but it does organize the wrecks into sections and succeeds in really building up a "bam-bam-bam" pace of revealing the wrecks. The book also has a bit of "behind the scenes" information on what Jen Yates has learned since launching the blog, including why she now doesn't spend a lot of time writing on posts that are likely to be controversial. I definitely recommend checking out the blog, and if you find that it's your sense of humour, consider diving into the Cake Wrecks book.

Cake Wrecks is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets "Festive" by Jen Yates
That is Priceless by Steve Melcher
Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

Friday, July 6, 2012

Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense by Corinne Mucha

Annie is ready for high school...maybe. Her older brother has warned her that whatever she does in her freshman year will set the tone for the rest of her life. Annie promptly freaks out and starts wondering who she is and who she wants to be. Her friend Richie is still there for her, but her friend Beth has practically become a new person. Then she meets Katrina and they bond over field hockey (and Annie can't help but notice Katrina's hot older brother). Maybe freshman year won't be so hard after all...as long as Annie can keep it together.

I loved this book. It picks up on the smaller moments that make high school such a strange place: icebreaker assignments, spirit week, cafeteria conversations.  The small moments - looks, expressions, realizations - are able to be explored because Corinne Mucha can do so much in the details. There's a definite tone of humour running throughout the book, particularly when you consider that it was written by someone who survived high school, but I didn't feel like it made fun of the experience. It's so easy to look back at high school and think, "Wow, that was lame" or "I thought that was a big deal, but it really wasn't, and I'm so much wiser now." This book doesn't do that. The drama is given its dramatic due while things in a way that completely gets it.I think that actual freshman would respond to it, but there's also a nostalgia factor at play that makes me remember what those days were really like, so older readers of graphic novels will enjoy it, too. Definitely keep your eye out for this book.

Check out Corinne Mucha's website for more of her work.

This book was published by Zest Books

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
My Every Single Thought by Corinne Mucha
Jinx by J. Torres
Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Phantom of the Post Office by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

The authors of the "43 Old Cemetery Road" series are used to getting fan mail, but lately they've been receiving some other kinds of letters through the mail. They're not sure what to make of the vaguely threatening letters. Meanwhile, the post office is scheduled to close and all future letters and deliveries will be made through the brand-new VEXT-mail system. Then Seymour comes down with a mysterious flu and is hospitalized along with another child, a hopelessly cellphone-obsessed child. With nothing but time on their hands, they begin to sort out the connection between the letters and the post office...but will they be able to do anything before it's too late?

I've really enjoyed the books in this series, but this book and I sort of got off on the wrong foot. I think I've spent too much time lately, personally and professionally, reading about the technology wars, particularly eBook vs. print. If I had to declare myself, I am not an "either/or" person but a "both/and." I read paper books; I read eBooks. I think I read more now that I can read print books, eBooks, on my computer, and on my cell phone. From my vantage point in the middle, I think that either extreme seems a bit ridiculous. It's not too far from this 'debate' to the questions of technology that permeate The Phantom of the Post Office. There was far too much of the "no technology is the smarter choice" in the early parts for my liking, but once I got partway through the book it coalesced a bit better for me. The book built to a conclusion that I saw coming but I very much enjoyed the ride. Seymour remains a great fictional character: a thoughtful, sensitive, creative boy who loves reading and writing and uses his wits to solve problems. The letters, newspapers, and other notes that make up the book are still fun to look through, and I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to read book number five in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise
Til Death Do Us Bark by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise
Over My Dead Body by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #14: BSC in the USA by Ann M. Martin

Dawn Schafer spent the summer in Stoneybrook, Connecticut with her Mom and her step-father, her brother, step-sister and all of her friends in the Baby-Sitters Club. But now her father has a surprise: he's taking her and her brother back to California in an RV! Not to be outdone, Kristy Thomas' step-father, local millionaire Watson Brewer, also decides to RV across the country with his family; in a show of one-upsmanship, Mr. Schafer invites the rest of the BSC to come along. The cross-country trip is on! With one RV headed north and one taking a southern route, this is one tour of America unlike any others.

This is one of the later books in the BSC series, and one that I'm pretty sure that I didn't read when it first came out. But what book would be better for July 4th than a road trip exploration of America through the eyes of the BSC? There was something that seemed more... mature about this book; the themes seem to be a bit weightier. Less random baby-sitting, for one thing (the sitting that does get done is only a little bit of looking after Kristy's younger siblings). And yeah, Stacey and Claudia have the lamest fight ever. And Dawn is just kind of there, bitching about meat and junk food. But there's more than that. Jessi deals with discovering the plantation where her ancestors worked as slaves; Mary Anne feels uncomfortable around Dawn's father and tries to deal with the awkward semi-relationship that you would have with your step-sister's father. Kristy is forced to deal with her dad, the man who abandoned his family and has been a pretty terrible dad ever since; Abby confronts the memories of her late father and the vacations that they never took. But don't worry - there's lots of classic BSC stuff in here, too. Mallory dorks out about horses, Stacey falls in LUV, Kristy is obsessed with baseball. If you have fond memories of the Baby-Sitters Club, this is definitely worth a read because of the ways that it balances the heavier stuff with the lighter, more snark-worthy stuff (and the just downright unbelievable).

Find it at Amazon.

Read it with:
Aloha, Baby-Sitters by Ann M. Martin
Baby-Sitters on Board by Ann M. Martin
Baby-Sitters' European Vacation by Ann M. Martin

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time by Mignon Fogarty

Writing can be hard. Not only do you have to take an empty page and fill it with words, you also have to be careful to avoid misspellings, grammar errors, and using the wrong word. Where can you go to find out the answers to all of your grammar questions? The Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, has been solving people's tough questions for years, and in 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time she takes on some tough words that you might have spent some time scratching your head over in the past - but scratch no more, because help is on the way!

I find word usage really interesting; I like learning about how words have changed over time and what the origins of certain words are. It seems like a lot of the confusion over words or tenses comes from a tension between British usage and American usage; Canadian usage is often a mixture of the two, so even with this book as a guide things still seemed to be a bit up in the air. I am most familiar with Grammar Girl on Twitter and had never really checked out her site, so her style of writing was new to me. I liked it. It was conversational and forgiving and less "hard and fast" than I was expecting a grammar guide to be. Grammar purists might not like all of the "in common usage, you can probably keep doing what you're doing" advice, but I really respect her focus on clear meaning rather than the strict following of grammar rules (and besides, grammar purists are probably busy pulling their hair out over Twitter or reality TV or something like that). Including examples from TV, movies, and books also helped to ground the discussion in actual real-world usage. If you're working for an organization that has its own style guide, you should definitely stick to that, but if you're looking for some helpful clarifications for your own writing, this is one title that you will want to peruse.

Check out the Grammar Girl website.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master In No Time by Mignon Fogarty
Grammar Girl's 101 Words to Sound Smart by Mignon Fogarty
The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
I Used to Know That by Caroline Taggert

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cover Kids: Chloe Mania by Suzanne Weyn

Chloe's been modeling for years - even though she's just thirteen. She's always booked lots of jobs, but she's worried that when she gets too old to model as a child model she won't be tall enough to be an adult model. Then a new opportunity comes her way: the TV show that she had a bit part on wants her back. This could be her chance to be an actress! Or a comedian! Or maybe even a music star. But Chloe's finding it hard to balance school, modeling, working in her parents' restaurant, and now acting. Even worse, the TV part seems to use a lot of stereotypes that Chloe's not comfortable with, an interview quotes Chloe out of context, and all of her friends are mad at her? Is this the price of fame?

When I was younger I had one of the books from this series. I probably picked it up from a yard sale or a book order or something (as I often did). I had Ashley's Big Mistake (the book immediately preceding this one in the four-book series)  and I loved the glamour of four teen (really, practically pre-teen) models all being friends with each other. I also was had no idea how to pronounce Chloe, so in my head I read it as Chlow. Anyway. This book picks up where Ashley's Big Mistake leaves off, with Chloe dealing with the doors that appearing on a TV show opens. I still find it a bit bizarre that the activity of one child model would be headline news, but really I guess it makes even more sense now in the age of Twitter and reality TV and everything else. I mean, Chloe becomes a really big star on the basis of...nothing. But there are positive messages about honouring your family and your commitments, what it means to be a good friend, and being true to yourself. If you loved these when you were younger (or discovering them makes you want to read them now), they're actually quite a good readalike for the America's Next Top Model novel series.

Check out Suzanne Weyn's website.

Find it at Amazon. 

Read it with:
Nicole's Chance by Suzanne Weyn
Tracey's Tough Choice by Suzanne Weyn
Ashley's Big Mistake by Suzanne Weyn

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Little Canada by Matt Napier illustrated by Renné Benoit

Canada isn't a little country. It has ten provinces, three territories, and is the second largest country in the world in terms of area. It can be difficult for young children to understand: what is Canada? This board book can help answer some of those questions. Set up in a question-and-answer style, the book explores lots of Canada's common symbols, animals, and cultural aspects. There's enough of a pause (and some visual clues) that kids have a chance to figure out the answer; books that encourage them to talk and use their words help to build their confidence when it comes to language and literacy. I'll admit that it was a bit strange to see the appearance of poutine (delicious, delicious poutine) in a children's picture book, but it also seemed to fit into the style of the book. (The mid-book plug for Tim Horton's, too, was a bit of a surprise, but in terms of Canadian culture, not out of place). The board book pages are sturdy for young readers, and it would make a good gift for new Canadians, ex-pat families, or people wanting to make sure that their little ones grow up with the appropriate amount of Can-con.

Happy Canada Day!

Learn more about Matt Napier and Renné Benoit.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Canada by Liz Sonneborn
Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier
Fraser Bear: A Cub's Life by Maggie De Vries
Good Night Canada by Adam Gamble