Book on the shelf

By Jane Muller

We are (Not) Friends
By Anna Kang, illustrator Christopher Weyant
Friendship isn’t always a smooth ride, especially for youngsters learning about its ups and downs. And who better to learn from than a pair of fuzzy friends who need to figure out how to deal with a new friend in the mix? While dealing with feelings of rejection and anger the author keeps things light with expert use of comedic timing. Both empathetic and funny, readers will enjoy the teaching opportunities this friendship triangle provides.  Ages 3 to 5 – Publisher, Two Lions – $25.99 hardcover

A Piglet Named Mercy
By Kate DiCamillo, illustrator Chris Van Dusen
An origin story of the popular chapter book series’ star and porcine wonder, this picture book prequel is also wonderful as a stand-alone. Any new parent will recognize the joy the cute little piglet brings to the “too ordinary” life of Mr. and Mrs. Watson. This is a delightful story that’s as sweet as little Mercy Watson. Ages 3 to 7 – Publisher, Candlewick – $18.99 hardcover

The Not-So-Great Outdoors
By Madeline Kloepper, illustrator
We all get grumpy when we’re forced to do something unappealing and that’s how this story begins. An unplugged family camping vacation doesn’t seem very exciting until the great outdoors reveals itself with the help of lush and detailed drawings. This love letter to nature entices the reluctant protagonist to have a change of heart and find greatness and beauty outdoors. Ages 3 to 7 – Publisher, Tundra Books – $21.99 hardcover

A Little House in a Big Place
By Alison Acheson,
illustrator Valeriane LeBlond
Kids often think about what they’ll be when they grow up. This beautiful free verse picture book explores the magic of a connection made between strangers, while also pondering the idea of growing up, and what might lie beyond a child’s own small piece of the world. A little girl who connects with the driver of  a train that passes her home with a simple wave each day considers heading off into the distance herself one day. Dreamy illustrations immerse readers in the big, open place where she lives. Ages 4 to 7 – Publisher, Kids Can Press – $18.99 hardcover

Albert’s Quiet Quest
By Isabelle Arsenault, illustrator
This book landed at the top of this month’s stack of books for this column. The award-winning author and illustrator has created an engaging, cleverly illustrated story of a boy who just wants a quiet place to read. His boisterous friends have other ideas until they all come to realize the value of communing with a good book.  Anyone familiar with Montreal will recognize the exterior stairs on Albert’s house, the alley where the action occurs and the reference to the Mile End neighbourhood. Ages 4 to 8 – Publisher, Tundra Books – $22.99 hardcover

Nature All Around: Trees
By Pamela Hickman, illustrator Carolyn Gavin
Seconds into reading this comprehensive introduction to trees and the important role they play, amazing facts are revealed. The bestselling author engagingly presents the information in this edition of the “Nature All Around” series making it easily digestible. With the support of vibrant illustrations painted in a somewhat childlike fashion, the book is a thorough exploration of trees. It’s ideal for summer reading. Ages 7 to 10 – Publisher, Kids Can Press – $18.99 hardcover

Backyard Adventure
By Amanda Thomsen
From forest to pavement and throughout the year, this guide to 51 free-play activities will be especially welcome by anyone charged with entertaining kids this summer. Exploding sidewalk chalk is just one example of how the author puts a new spin on perennial favourites like mixing vinegar and baking soda. Also gotta love the idea of digging the deepest hole possible. Kids will love getting messy and wet, building something cool and just having fun. Ages 3 to 10 – Publisher Thomas Allen & Son – $16.95 US softcover

The Heart of a Boy
By Kate T. Parker
The author of the celebration of girls, “Strong is the New Pretty” has brought the same amazing concept to the world of boys. Page after page of stunning photography accompanied by touching and often profound quotes from her young subjects, make this 250-page tribute to boys a treasure. Subtitled “Celebrating the Strength and Spirit of Boyhood”, it’s a book to be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. Ages 4 and up – Publisher, Workman Publishing – $18.95 US softcover

City on Strike, A Novel
By Harriet Zaidman
This important chapter of Canadian history comes alive on the pages of this novel. The chaos of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike is experienced through the lives of a 13-year-old boy and his younger sister, part of a poor but hardworking immigrant family in Winnipeg’s North End. Well researched and well written, this riveting novel is a wonderful way to combine learning with the pleasure of a good read. Ages 11 to 15 – Publisher Red Deer Press – $14.99 paperback