Young adult: 13 and up
FOR an early chapter book that is fun to read and delightful to look at, try Houndsley and Catina Through the Seasons by James Howe, with artwork by MarieLouise Gay (Candlewick, 184 pages, $11, hardcover).
A compilation of four previous books by New York author Howe, the adventures of friends Houndsley the dog and Catina the cat are illustrated with Montreal artist Gay’s charming watercolours.
When Judy Moody thinks she’s related to the Queen of England she plans a royal tea party, but is upset when no one arrives.
In Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party by California writer Megan McDonald (Candlewick, 160 pages, $20, hardcover), Judy’s young brother Stink and her classmate Jessica manage to save the day
Fun illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds make this latest addition to the many Judy Moody books attractive to early readers.
Probably the ultimate in dinosaur books, Dinosaur: A Photicular Book by Dan Kainen and Kathy Wollard (Workman, 24 pages, $35, hardcover) uses 3D technology that makes the eight dinosaurs presented seem to menace and move.
There is plenty of detailed information about each dinosaur, but it’s the “moving pictures” that accompany it that gives this volume a boost. All the most wellknown dinosaurs are here — including Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops — as well as a few lesser-known species such as Parasaurolophus.
Kainen, who lives in New York, is both an artist and inventor, while Kathy Wollard is a science journalist living in Ohio.
FOR a feel-good story from two-time Newberry award winner Kate DiCamillo, consider Louisiana’s Way Home (Candlewick, 240 pages, $20, hardcover).
Louisiana has lived with her grandmother all her life and become used to her eccentric ways. But when her grandmother wakes her in the middle of the night and insists they drive to Georgia, Louisiana only wants to go back home to Florida and her friends Raymie and Beverly.
Things become serious when her grandmother disappears, and Louisiana is left alone in a motel room with no money and only her exceptional voice to rely on.
Louisiana’s mixture of ingenuity, honesty and self-reliance win the day, as she attracts a fun-loving boy, a compassionate woman and a helpful pastor to assist her. Her character was first introduced in DiCamillo’s prior novel, Raymie Nightingale. DiCamillo, born in Philadelphia, now lives in Minneapolis.
Guelph resident Eric Walters is unchallenged as one of the most prolific authors of children’s books in Canada. For his 100th novel he has written Elephant Secret (Puffin Canada, 272 pages, $22, hardcover).
Thirteen-year-old Samantha (Sam) lives with her father in a sanctuary for abused or retired working elephants. She has such a close connection to her charges that she’s been called “Elephant Girl” at school.
When Woolly, a baby elephant, is born in the sanctuary and the mother dies, Sam develops an even closer relationship to him — a bond that is threatened when the unusual parentage of Woolly is revealed.
Both a plea for better treatment of elephants and a description of their possible future with experimental breeding, Walters’ novel has more facts and less action than most of his previous works. However, his characterization of Sam and his connection with an elephant’s feelings and motivations are both impressive.
The consequences of a dramatic rise in sea levels by melting ice fields are explored in Australian author Mardi McConnochie’s dystopian novel The Flooded Earth (Pyjama Press, 336 pages, $20, hardcover).
Living in the country of Dux 40 years after a worldwide flood, twins Annalie and Will are anxious to find their father, Spinner, who has been arrested by the Admiralty, the new government authority. Joined by Annalie’s friend Essie and a former slave, Pod, they commandeer Spinner’s boat, the Sunfish, and set out for remote islands to which they believe Spinner has fled.
Facing storms, pirates, gun battles and boat troubles, this adventurous quartet provide plenty of action and suspense. Especially good for sailors or would-be sailors.
●●● S.M. Beiko is a Winnipeg writer and freelance editor whose young-adult novels feature high fantasy mixed with complex mythology. Children of the Bloodlands (ECW press, 500 pages,
$23, hardcover) is the second book in her series, The Realms of the Ancient, and follows Scion of the Fox.
It’s highly recommended that Book
1 be read first or the complex adventures of Roan, who has acquired the Calamity Stone, which both protects and inhibits her, will require considerable explanation. Roan and her friends confront the monster Seela, who epitomizes evil, and must battle a multitude of malevolent forces. Meanwhile a mysterious plague threatens to take over the children of Edinburgh, possibly wiping out a generation.
A special feature of this series is the important role the city of Winnipeg plays as the setting for much of the story. It’s fun to hear about familiar streets and parks.