The Barren Grounds

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Aski, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

The Wanderer

As with Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, it gives us collective goosebumps to introduce the singular talent and imagination of Peter Van den Ende to North America. Without a word, and with Escher-like precision, Van den Ende presents one little paper boat’s journey across the ocean, past reefs and between icebergs, through schools of fish, swaying water plants, and terrifying sea monsters. The little boat is all alone, and while its aloneness gives it the chance to wonder at the fairy-tale world above and below the waves uninterrupted, that also means it must save itself when it storms. And so it does. We hope that readers young and old will find the strength and inspiration that we did in this quietly powerful story about growing, learning, and life’s ups and downs.

Small Mercies

Mercy lives in modern-day Pietermaritzburg, South Africa with her eccentric foster aunts―two elderly sisters so poor, they can only afford one lightbulb. A nasty housing developer is eying their house. And that same house suddenly starts falling apart―just as Aunt Flora starts falling apart. She’s forgetting words, names, and even how to behave in public. Mercy tries to keep her head down at school so nobody notices her. But when a classmate frames her for stealing the school’s raffle money, Mercy’s teachers decide to take a closer look at her home life.

Small Mercies has been discussed in My Take/Your Take for December 2020.

Cane Warriors

Cover art for Cane Warriors features a blue and black photograph of a young Black boy with an ink drawing of Tacky's Rebellion in the background.Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica in 1760. A powerful young adult tale told through the eyes of Moa, a 14-year-old slave, this fictionalized account of the most significant rebellion of the time is rarely mentioned in history books or taught in schools. The story begins as Moa is awoken in the middle of the night by one of the rebels, who informs him that the revolt will begin on Easter Sunday. Moa’s father doesn’t like the idea of his son joining the rebellion, but his mother gives Moa her blessing. Together, Moa and his 16-year-old best friend Keverton take up arms, learning about brotherhood, courage, faith, and sacrifice along the way. Alex Wheatle’s storytelling and characterization bring to life the issues, pain, and the power structure of the era, along with the hopes and the dreams of the people. In writing this story, Wheatle’s meticulous and extensive research evokes the stories and legends passed down by word of mouth over the centuries.

Cane Warriors is a WOW Recommends: Book of the Month for January 2021.

Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species

Inspired by biologist AnaPêgo’s life’s work, and filled with engaging science and colorful photographs, this foundational look at plastic pollution in the ocean explains why it is such an urgent contemporary issue.

Catherine’s War

A magnificent narrative inspired by a true survival story that asks universal questions about a young girl’s coming of age story, her identity, her passions, and her first loves.

Gamayun Tales I: an anthology of modern Russian folktales

Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Russian folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books!.

The Boy, The Wolf, And The Stars

Abandoned as a baby in a forest to be eaten by Shadow Creatures, twelve-year-old Bo and his pet fox embark on a quest to return the wish-granting Stars to the Ulvian sky before the Shadow Witch can steal the star magic.

The Star Outside My Window

Ten-year-old Aniyah and her little brother Noah find themselves living in foster care after the sudden disappearance of their mom, but with her life in disarray, Aniyah knows just one thing for sure–her mom is not gone forever.