On the bookshelf


Barefoot Critters 


By Teagan White 

I was happy to see another Barefoot Critters book arrive on my desk and even happier to discover that this one not only features the sweet little critters but also ranks as one of the best counting books I’ve seen. The critters make counting part of their day and readers experience a wealth of fun activities from helping friends and making pancakes to playing pirates and exploring. If you know someone who is learning to count, be sure to add this book to his or her collection when it’s released in August. Ages 2 to 5 – Publisher, Tundra Books – $19.99

ABC Animals  


Illustrated by Toko Hosoya

It’s hard to believe that this picture book was created by an 18-year-old artist. Her website states that she is based in Toronto and is currently studying illustration at OCAD University. Although there are countless ABC books out there, this one rises to the top. I give the illustrations and the book design an “A” for above average. The book includes a beautiful poster and some picture quizzes in the final pages. Ages 2 to 5 – Publisher, Flowerpot Press – $21.99

1,2,3 Sea Creatures 


Illustrated by Toko Hosoya

Just like her ABC Animals, 1,2,3 Sea Creatures is a visual treat featuring delightful, hand-drawn illustrations. Learning to count and recognizing the sea creatures depicted is a treat thanks to the talents of this young artist. Not to be hidden away on a bookshelf, the illustrations are also featured on a poster that’s tucked inside the back cover.

Ages 2 to 5 – Publisher, Flowerpot Press – $21.99



By Esme Shapiro

Friendships are important to us all and it all begins with our first friends. Ooko is a young fox in search of a friend. The foxes who live in town have two-legged friends that they play with. Ooko finds his own “Debbie’’, as he’s heard them called, but the pet lifestyle is not for him. This fun little guy gives readers some insight into being themselves and the value of a good friend. The bright and quirky illustrations highlight the lively text that’s perfectly suited to reading aloud. Ages 3 to 7 – Publisher, Penguin Random House – $19.99 hard cover

How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow 


By Monica Sweeney, 

illustrator Feronia Parker Thomas

Most kids enjoy colouring and know the joy of a brand new box of crayons. Despite their engagement with crayons, they are not likely to think of them as world-saving super heroes. In this picture book, the crayons put the colour back into a world that has been cast into black, white and grey by an argument between the sun and the clouds. The story line creates a picture of teamwork and perseverance for a fun read featuring colourful characters. Ages 3 to 5 – Publisher, Sky Pony Press – $16.99 US hard cover

One More Dino on the Floor  

By Kelly Starling Lyons,  


illustrator Luke Flowers

Most kids go through a dinosaur phase and while this vibrant picture book includes many varieties, it’s more fun than fact. In fact, only T-Rex is mentioned by name in the rhythmic text that keeps the beat as more and more “dinos” stomp onto the dance floor. The illustrations, bursting with psychedelic colours, are as lively as the Jurassic dancers. Ages 3 to 5 – Publisher, Albert Whitman & Company – $16.99

Please Be Nice to Sharks 


By Matt Weiss 

Subtitled “Fascinating facts about the Ocean’s Most Misunderstood Creatures” this book does offer much amazing information about these misunderstood creatures. On the heels of the annual Shark Week in June, this humorous offering comes from the world’s only full time underwater photography editor. Though they’re often portrayed as vicious man-eaters, this humorous book humanizes them through captivating photography and information. Readers get a crucial message about conservation and environmental responsibility. Perhaps it will inspire research to find out how to encourage others to be nice to sharks. Ages 6 to 10 – Publisher, Sterling Publishing – $14.95 paperback

Amazing Water 


By Ana Gerhard, illustrator Margarita Sada

There is so much to learn about the world of classical music and this book and accompanying CD offer a concise voyage with some specific learning. Exploring the water theme and how it inspired composers, the works of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Debussy, and others are introduced. The 20 excerpts of incredible classical music performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra are paired with stunning illustrations and informative text. A glossary of musical terms and a short biography of each composer are included. Ages 7 to 9 – Publisher, The Secret Mountain – $16.95 US hardcover with CD



By Arthur Slade 

Readers might want to carve out enough time to read this book in one sitting since it’s tough to put down. Described as Gatsby meets the Twilight Zone, most of the story is set in Hollywood as the light of the silent film era is dimming. There is a Canadian connection with the story beginning and ending near Lethbridge, Alberta where orphaned twins Isabelle and Beatrice were born. Wards of a mysterious and influential director, the girls become entwined in a dark plot that goes beyond that of the horror movie in which Isabelle stars. Ages 8 to 12 – Publisher Harper Collins – $19.99 hard cover

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