A Flock of Shoes and The Stone Hatchlings

A Flock of Shoes 

Story by Sarah Tsiang

Art by Qin Leng

Annick Press




Abby is my kind of gal, she loves her shoes and has a fierce imagination to boot. Abby helps us learn about the seasons of shoes. In the summer she has a great pair of pink and brown sandals with lime green trim. But as it gets colder and her mother tries to persuade her to wear something warmer the sandals suddenly take off. They migrate with the other summer sandals to warmer climates. But don’t worry they send postcards to tell Abby how much they miss her.

All winter long she thinks about her sandals and how much she misses them. And she soon learns to love her winter boots. “They were white and blue and had a lovely trim of purple that went all around the edges.” But as the weather got warmer and the northern train started calling they too took off one day. But not to fear, Abby wasn’t left shoe-less because even before she could be sad about her boots “she heard the swish of flying sandals.” Her sandals had returned to her and a new summer of adventures was about to begin.

Abby returns in another story by Tsiang and Leng called The Stone Hatchlings. We see her imagination run wild again when she finds a pair of heavy eggs in her backyard, or are they stones?

The Stone Hatchlings

Story by Sarah Tsiang

Art by Qin Leng

Annick Press




In case you thought Abby only loved shoes here she is again learning about nature and the limitlessness of her imagination. When she finds two heavy eggs in her backyard she takes care of them as only a mother could and hatches two lovely blue-and-yellow feathered birds. Abby and the chicks do everything, including morning songs and birdbaths in the tub. But eventually Abby must learn to let go and let her baby birds fly free.

The artwork in both books is beautiful and detailed. Abby’s backyard looks like a place you could escape to for hours. Make sure to check out Qin Leng’s blog for more illustrations. And mark your calendars for The Word on the Street to meet Sarah Tsiang in person. She might even read you a story or two.

The Pirate Girl’s Treasure

The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure 

Peyton Leung and Hilary Leung

Kids Can Press



As a female reader I love children’s books with a strong heroine. The Pirate Girl’s Treasure written by brothers Peyton and Hilary Leung, combines girl power with high sea adventures. As with most of my favorite children’s books I loved the illustrations, the colours are bright and the imagery is happy and hip. Then I remembered that Hilary Leung is also the illustrator for the popular Ninja Cowboy Bear series and it all made sense.

The heroine of our story is a pirate girl whose pirate grandfather leaves her a map with promise of buried treasure. She embarks on an adventure up a mountain, through a valley, stumbling on rocks in a cave and finally out on the great sea in her origami boat. Later when you read the instructions for the origami you realize that it retells the story of the pirate girl. This is a cute story about girl pirates and using your imagination and making origami. I loved that you could make a game out of finding all the animals that are on each page of the book. There are toucans and monkeys, oh my! This is a fun book both for pirate girls and boys.

Don’t Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender

Don’t Laugh at Giraffe

Rebecca Bender

Pajama Press




I’m good friends with Giraffe and Bird. In case you haven’t had the privilege, allow me to introduce you to a pair of friends who remind us that getting along can sometimes be difficult. Giraffe and Bird hang on my bulletin board at work to constantly remind me that if Giraffe and Bird can make it work, I can do it too.

Giraffe and Bird, which was shortlisted for the CBA Libris Award Book of the Year, the SYRCA Shining Willow Award, and OLA Blue Spruce Award is a beautiful book that teaches us about the intricacies of friendship. Our favorite characters return in Don’t Laugh at Giraffe to show us again that sometimes being a true friend means getting a little silly.

My favorite thing about these books are the gorgeous illustrations. You can tell that Rebecca Bender is not only a skilled story teller but a fantastic artist. It’s truly a pleasure to flip through this book and look at the luscious pictures. And the story is a personal favorite of mine. Because sometimes the people we love the most are the people that we can’t stand (but not for very long).



Written by Susan Vande Griek

Pictures by Karen Reczuch

A Groundwood Book



When I first moved to Canada from California I remember a lot of people being surprised that I had seen snow before or that I already knew how to ski. But one of the most amazing things I had never seen before was the Loon. Going to my very first Canadian cottage and seeing a still lake with a single loon in the middle of the water was an experience I will never forget.

Equally unforgettable is this book. Loon written by Susan Vande Griek with beautiful pictures by Karen Reczuch is a book that both kids and parents will enjoy. The pictures are just unbelievably gorgeous and lush. Each page resembles expensive fine art that is probably found in most Canadian dignitary’s homes. The story is equally impressive and chronicles the life of a loon from chick to adult.

The text flows nicely from page to page with a melodic tempo that resembles poetry. And at the end of the story the more mature reader can read up on their favorite bird with A Note on the Common Loon. Another detailed feature in this book, are the other animals featured throughout the book like the Moose, Raccoon, and various other birds. This book celebrates the Canadian outdoors and without being too preachy proposes ways for the reader to help maintain a healthy habitat for these creatures.

Karen Reczuch who is known for her work in numerous children’s books showcases her talents in this book. Karen is part of the Williams Mill, a not-for-profit corporation with a mandate to promote the visual arts in and around Halton Hills, Ontario.

The Vole Brothers

The Vole Brothers

Roslyn Schwartz


Owl Kids

From the author of the internationally acclaimed Mole Sisters comes a tale about two small, ravenous rodents – the Vole Brothers. A vole is very similar to a mouse but it would seem they are 100 times cuter.

In their quest to curb their appetites the Vole Brothers meet a cat, a crow and a troop of ants all in the pursuit of a slice of pizza. The Vole Brothers almost get eaten themselves but all ends well with a nutritious dinner of strawberries and flowers. Perhaps the moral of the story is that the trash the Vole Brothers find at the beginning of the tale are not wise dietary choices?

This is the second kid’s book I’ve read so far with a gray tabby cat. I wonder what other roles he will play in the upcoming books I’m about to read.

Not only does this book feature gorgeous pictures by the talented Roslyn Schwartz but it also uses sound effects in a way that I love so much about kid’s books. I wonder what “KARASHBAMBOOM” sounds like when Ms. Schwartz reads from her newest book at The Word on the Street on September 25th.


Cinnamon Baby

Cinnamon Baby

Written by Nicola Winstanley

Illustrated by Janice Nadeau

Kids Can Press




Miriam is a baker who has her own store and makes her own bread with as much love as I have for eating the stuff. She meets a man named Sebastian who also loves her bread and then falls in love with her. And soon there is a baby who doesn’t love anything. In fact the baby is so upset about everything that her tears fill the streets with rivers.

What could possibly be upsetting the baby so much? Miriam takes her baby to her bakery and bakes every type of bread imaginable until she gets to her favorite, the cinnamon bread. At first I thought the reason the baby is called Cinnamon is because she is biracial but only the illustrations hint at such a possibility. The main reason she’s a Cinnamon Baby is because the smell of Miriam’s bread is the only thing that can calm her down.

What I really loved about this book were the beautiful illustrations. The watercolors give the story a whimsical nature and the cutouts and fabric elements give the pages a three-dimensional effect. I liked  how some of the illustrations have grid paper backgrounds, as though they were straight out of Janice Nadeau’s sketchbook.


Noni Says No

Noni Says No

Written by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Illustrated by Geneviève Côté

Tundra Books



I sometimes have trouble saying – No. I’ve had  “friends” in the past who have asked and pushed and always wanted more.

“Sure I’ll help you do your homework.”

“Ok, I guess I can take notes for you in class.”

Noni has this problem too and it seems to be specifically whenever her friend Susie is around. Noni is a big girl and can tie her own shoelaces, recite the alphabet backwards (which I don’t think I can even do) but when it comes to her friend Susie, she just can’t say no. Susi borrows her favorite dress, plays with her special doll and even manages to convince Noni to cut off all her hair and dye the tuft in the front red! Of course, when Noni asks to play with Susie’s teddy bear or wear her sparkly tiara Susie has no problems saying no.

And so Noni gets pushed until she just can’t take it anymore. Susie stays overnight and sleeps in Noni’s own bed while Noni has to sleep on the floor! Poor Noni, with the worst haircut ever and the worst night of her life losses her cool and finally says “NO!”. And it’s no big deal. Susie is willing to negotiate.  If only she could have been more reasonable when she gave Noni a buzz cut. (Talk about no parental supervision.)

The moral of the story is…just say no! Because “no” means “no”. I feel like I’ve heard this somewhere before. But I guess it’s easier said than done, especially with those Susies in our lives. Next time someone asks me for something I’ll have to think of little Noni and her horrible haircut and I will try to say no.

Geneviève Côté does an amazing job yet again with the illustrations in this book. I talked about how much I liked her style in my last Children’s Book Review but I’ll have to say it again. Côté’s drawings make me smile. I was so delighted when she depicted little Susie has a wide-grinning little maniac.