With a deal finally signed between NHL players and owners, young hockey fans may enjoy the picture book Crosby's Golden Goal by Toronto author Mike Leonetti (North Winds Press, 32 pages, $20 hardcover).
Writing for hockey lovers aged six to 10, Leonetti conjures up all the excitement and tension of the final gold medal game of the 2010 Olympics as Tyler and his father travel to Vancouver and celebrate as real-life hockey star Sidney Crosby scores the winning goal.
Tyler, who has become disenchanted with hockey, is inspired to once again try out for, and, with hard work, rejoin his team.
Large and colourful illustrations by Ontario artist Garry McLaughlin add to this attractive volume. McLaughlin is best known for painting a portrait of every single Toronto Maple Leaf player from 1827 to 2007.
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Really and Truly, by Quebec writer Emilie Rivard (Owl books, 24 pages, $10 hardcover) tells a sensitive and heart-warming story about a little boy named Charlie and his grandfather, who suffers from dementia.
Before his illness, his grandfather had told him wonderful stories, about pirates in the attic and witches in the backyard shed. When Charlie finds his grandfather simply staring out the window, Charlie decides to cheer him up by telling him his own stories. Perhaps this way he can rediscover grandpa's smile.
Written for ages four to six, this book would offer a positive way to talk about the reality of fading memory and abilities in older loved ones. Artwork by well-known Quebec artist and teacher Anne-Claire Delisle is light-hearted and delightful.
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Mr. Zinger's Hat, by award-winning Toronto author Cary Fagan (Tundra Books, 32 pages, $20 hardcover), is another picture book about the power of a good story. When Leo returns Mr. Zinger's hat, which has blown off in the wind, Mr. Zinger begins a wonderful tale. But he allows Leo to contribute all the details of the story, sparking his own imagination.
Toronto artist Dusan Petricic's whimsical pictures reflect his career as a political cartoonist, as well as a children's author and illustrator.
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Anyone with an interest in jazz will enjoy Toronto author Jack Batten's biography Oscar Peterson: The Man and his Jazz (Tundra Books, 144 pages, $22 hardcover).
Writing for ages 12 and up, Batten includes plenty of details of the jazz great's life and career, from his debut in 1949 at Carnegie Hall to his death in 2007 at age 82. The book contains more than 30 black-and-white photographs, a comprehensive index and dozens of quotations from Peterson himself, his friends and colleagues.
A versatile writer and former journalist, Batten has written many non-fiction books for adults and kids alike, as well as several crime novels.
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For sheer beauty of presentation, Gulf Islands Alphabet by B.C.'s Bronwyn Preece (Simply Read/Raincoast Books, 56 pages, $20 hardcover) gets full marks. The letters of the alphabet reflect the names and unique qualities of these islands off Canada's West Coast.
For example: "Setting Sail through the Salish Sea, we leave the Shores of Savary, Sauntering Southward to Saturna's Shoals of Starfish, and Salt Spring Island all Speckled in Sheep, where we hope to spot the Seldom Seen Sharp-Tailed Snake."
Alex Walton, whose watercolour illustrations make this book special, was born in Jamaica but now makes his home in B.C. While this is aimed at youngest readers, adults will appreciate the lush beauty of the artwork and the clever choice of words in the text.
Winnipegger Helen Norrie has taught children's literature at the University of Manitoba. Her column appears on the third weekend of the month.