A Voice for the Spirit Bears: How One Boy Inspired Millions to Save a Rare Animal

As a child, Simon Jackson found navigating the world of the school playground difficult. He felt most at home in the woodlands, learning about and photographing wildlife. As a teenager, he became fascinated with spirit bears, a rare subspecies of black bear with creamy white fur. These elusive creatures were losing their habitat to deforestation, and Simon knew he had to do something to protect them. He decided he would become the voice for the spirit bears. But first, he would have to find his own.

Putuguq and Kublu and the Qalupalik

What creatures lurk beneath the sea ice? Putuguq and Kublu – two siblings who can’t seem to get along- are about to find out! On their way to the shoreline, Putuguq and Kublu run into their grandfather, who has a stern warning for the pair: always beware when playing on the shore, because you never know if a qalupalik, a mythical creature that snatches children, is lying in wait under the ice. Kublu is pretty sure their grandfather is just trying to spook them with a scary story from the past….but maybe not?

A Little House In A Big Place

Every day, in a little house in a little town in the middle of a big place, a girl stands at her window and waves to the engineer of the train that passes on the nearby tracks. The engineer waves back and his wave and her wave together make a home in her heart. The little girl is curious about the engineer, about where he came from and where he goes. Which makes her wonder if she might go away, too, some day. 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.

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden

Bestselling author Andrew Larsen brings a light touch and gentle humor to this picture book story about several kinds of growth — of the boys and their friendship, the flowers in the newly thriving lot, and the community that comes together around it. Award-winning artist Anne Villeneuve’s illustrations add a visual layer to the storytelling as they show the transformation from mostly gray to vibrant color, both literally, in the blossoming garden, and figuratively, in the now engaged neighborhood. This book highlights the value of connecting to nature, even in urban areas, and the sense of community that comes from civic engagement. It’s an excellent choice for character education lessons on kindness, generosity and citizenship.

The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan

In this thoroughly researched picture book biography, Anne Renaud uses playful and rhythmic language and first-person storytelling to perfectly capture the essence of this unique woman’s uplifting life. The detailed, folk art-inspired illustrations beautifully convey the story’s time and place and sensitively portray Anna’s growth. A great lead-in for classroom discussions about differences and inclusion, this book also offers an excellent character education lesson on perseverance. An author’s note with photographs and more information about Anna’s life make this a terrific choice for lessons on personal development or for social studies lessons on this period in history.

The Origin of Day and Night

In this Inuit tale, the actions of a hare and a fox change the Arctic forever by creating day and night. In very early times, there was no night or day and words spoken by chance could become real. When a hare and a fox meet and express their longing for light and darkness, their words are too powerful to be denied. Passed orally from storyteller to storyteller for hundreds of years, this beautifully illustrated story weaves together elements of an origin story and a traditional animal tale, giving young readers a window into Inuit mythology.

Dodger Boy

In 1970 Vancouver, thirteen-year-old Charlotte and her best friend, Dawn, are keen to avoid the pitfalls of adolescence. Couldn’t they just skip teenhood altogether, along with its annoying behaviors – showing off just because you have a boyfriend, obsessing about marriage and a ring and matching dining-room furniture? Couldn’t one just learn about life from Jane Austen and spend the days eating breakfast at noon, watching “People in Conflict,” and thrift-store shopping for cool castoffs to tie-dye for the upcoming outdoor hippie music festival? But life becomes more complicated when the girls meet a Texan draft dodger who comes to live with Charlotte’s Quaker family. Tom Ed expands Charlotte’s horizons as they discuss everything from war to civil disobedience to women’s liberation. Grappling with exhilarating and disturbing new ideas, faced with a censorship challenge to her beloved English teacher and trying to decode the charismatic draft dodger himself, Charlotte finds it harder and harder to stick to her unteen philosophy, and to see eye to eye with Dawn.

Skating Over Thin Ice

Imogen St Pierre is a musical prodigy, a classical pianist touring the international concert halls in a trio with her father and grandfather. Though clearly accomplished, she is also painfully awkward socially, getting lost in the music even after it’s over. Imogen’s in the final year in a private boarding school where she meets a boy of the same age, Nathan McCormick, who turns out to be the “Next Great Hockey Player.” Nathan, however, has recently been penalized for a vicious fight in an international tournament. Imogen and Nathan don’t exactly become an item, but there’s an elusive special quality to their connection. Jean Mills has given us a thoughtful, moving, powerful story about what it’s like to be gifted and exceptional — and still young.