On the Bookshelf

By Jane Muller

My First Book of Canadian Birds

By Andrea Miller, illustrator Agnela Doak

Whether it’s a bird species that you see in your neighbourhood park, like the American robin or one that you’re not likely to see, like the cute little puffin, this book of bird basics is a perfect introduction for kids. The simple text makes it accessible to young children, offering a bit of information about things like habitat, birdcalls and egg size. The whimsical collage-style illustrations will help kids identify birds they see at home or on their travels. Ages 3 to 5 – Publisher, Nimbus – $22.95 hardcover

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise

By David Ezra Stein

There are elephants in this book, just so you won’t be surprised. They turn up in some surprising places to put a twist on classic tales. Little red chicken is looking for an elephant of surprise instead of an element and that makes completing his homework assignment interesting. The interactions between Papa and his chick are priceless in this gleeful story that cleverly incorporates tales like “The Ugly Duckling” and “Rapunzel”. Ages 4 to 8 – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $21.99 hardcover

There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor

By Wade Bradford, illustrator Kevin Hawkes

Kids love repetition, especially in stories. Mr. Snore tries again and again to find a room in the hotel where he can get some shut-eye but each time he encounters an obstacle, from water dripping on his head to a pig in his bed. Each room offers its own element of surprise and the final twist is a fitting finale for this fun-filled book. Ages 4 to 8 – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $19.99 hardcover

We Were Made for Each Other!

By Jiu Er & illustrator

There are no surprises here, simply some sweet musings on life featuring the quiet observations of a small pig named Little Sun. Written in the style of diary entries, most are addressed to Little Sun’s best friend Little Mouse. The entries address accepting sadness, being grateful for what you have, looking out for others, and downplaying individual achievement. The observations are translated from Chinese, which will explain why some of them might stretch the conceptions of North American readers. The beautifully illustrated book is accompanied by an audio recording that features a female narrator and musical accompaniment. Ages 5 to 9 – Publisher, Secret Mountain – $22.95

Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess

By Janis Hill

This is a quirky collection of Miss Marcella Mink’s 20 cat-approved life lessons, from the benefits of a good grooming and an afternoon nap to valuable advice on friendship and diet. Accompanied by gorgeous, lushly detailed paintings, it’s a treat for the eyes, for cat lovers and for lovers of fun fiction. Miss Mink turned to her cats for advice when she became overwhelmed with the responsibilities associated with running her feline-friendly cruise company for cat lovers and their furry companions. The cats really are quite wise, as readers of all ages will discover. Ages 5 and up – Publisher, Tundra Books – $21.99 hardcover

Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party

By Megan McDonald, illustrator Peter H. Reynolds

It won’t be surprising to fans of Judy Moody that there are some surprises in store for readers of the latest in the award-winning Judy Moody and Stink series. This time around, Judy is climbing her family tree and is clinging to a branch that could link her heritage with the Queen of England. But her little Majesty with a capital M is faced with some not-so-regal branches shaken loose by her nemesis Jessica “Fink” Finch. This is the 14th book in the series that is great for reluctant readers. Once they get hooked on Judy, there are lots of other titles to keep them reading about her comical adventures. Ages – 6 to 9 – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $19.99 hardcover

Kate’s Really Good at Hockey

By Christina M. Frey & Howard Shapiro, illustrator Jade Gonzalez

Kate is ready for her best summer ever at a summer camp for elite 9- to 12-year old hockey players. It’s something to which fellow young athletes can relate. All readers will relate to Kate’s discoveries off the ice that remind her to not only strive to be the best player but also the best person. While her camp is in Denver, there’s a Canadian connection. Among the international players is a Canadian whose grandmother, Abby Hoffman, had to cut her hair and pretend to be a boy in order to play league hockey as a child. She schooled the boys and was an outstanding goalie and went on to be an Olympic track athlete. The fact that it’s a graphic novel adds to the appeal. Ages 8 to 10 – Publisher, Animal Media Group – $10.95 US paperback

Sitting Still Like a Frog Activity Book

By Eline Snel, illustrator Marc Beautavant

This little book is an introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. The book contains 11 practices that focus on just these scenarios, along with short examples and anecdotes throughout. Everyone can use a little calm in their life and this book could be a great first step. Ages 4 to 8 – Publisher, Penguin Random House – $22.95 hardcover

The Ballet Book – The Young Performer’s Guide to Classical Dance

By Deborah Bowes & Karen Kain, photographer Kiran West

Prepared in conjunction with Canada’s National Ballet School, The Ballet Book is promoted as the definitive instructional resource for children who are beginning to explore the possibilities and delights of ballet. A detailed and practical guide illustrated with beautiful photos, it portrays the hard work and commitment needed to train for classical dance. The foot positions alone look extremely challenging and the moves and body position portrayed by both boys and girls in the book are exact and impressive. The guide is both entertaining and instructional and would be ideal for ballet students. Ages 8 to 14 – Publisher, Firefly Books – $19.95 paperback