Tater tales will have wee spuds giggling


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Beginning readers who enjoy humor will chuckle at The Greatest in the World (the first in a series of Tater Tales) by Seattle author Ben Clanton (Simon & Schuster, 88 pages, $16, hardcover).

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Beginning readers who enjoy humor will chuckle at The Greatest in the World (the first in a series of Tater Tales) by Seattle author Ben Clanton (Simon & Schuster, 88 pages, $16, hardcover).

With as many pictures as there is text, we meet the three tater siblings — Rot, Snot and Tot — who compete to show who is the greatest. As they roll down hills, compete in a potato sack race and end up in a mud puddle, we are treated to plenty of potato jokes: a couch potato, a half-baked potato, a hot potato. The amusing illustrations will leave youngsters giggling.

Clanton is the author and illustrator of many books for this age group, including Mo’s Mustache, Rot, The Cutest in the World and The Table Sets Itself. For ages 5-9.

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Anyone who has ever had encounters with those mischievous, clever nighttime robbers will enjoy Revenge of the Raccoons by Calgary author Vivek Shraya (Owlkids, 40 pages, $20, hardcover).

Written in rhyming verse, its text practically begs to be read aloud. Consider: “We’re furry, we scurry, we’re wild… you worry!” Or “We chew on your fences. We crawl up your trees. We climb on your rooftops and down your chimneys.” Young readers will pester you to read it again and again.

Shraya is a multidiscipled artist who is also known for her music and artwork as well as work in the theatre.

The large and colourful pictures by Toronto comic artist Juliana Heufeld add to the appeal of this picture book. If anyone can make these sometime pests adorable it’s Heufeld.

Good for ages 3-7.

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In the mid-level novel She Holds Up the Stars by Sandra Laronde (Annick Press, 192 pages, $12, paperback) an Indigenous writer presents a feisty young woman, Misko, who is being introduced to her roots for the first time.

When Misko arrives at her grandmother’s home in a remote community, she has no intention of staying. Her home is in the city, where she lives with an older sister and has many friends. But after she sees a spirited young horse named Mishtadim on a neighboring farm and learns that Thomas, a young boy, has been given the task of either breaking him or having him destroyed, she determines to find a way to save him.

Laronde says she has set out “to shine a light on our brilliance and beauty as well as what we have endured as a people.” With her own background from Temagami in Northern Ontario, she paints accurately the character of Misko, with her love of nature, her faith in compassion and her belief in the power of dreams. For ages 9-12.

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Fans of Bollywood movies, or books that resemble them, will enjoy The Love Match (Salaam, 378 pages, $25, hardcover), by New Jersey author Priyanka Taslim.

Zahra Khan’s family have emigrated from Bangladesh, where they had held considerable status as distant relatives of Pakistani royalty. But in New Jersey, Zahra’s family struggles to pay the bills, and Zahra’s ambition to attend a prestigious university and become a writer seems ridiculously unattainable.

Nothing stops her enterprising Amma, however, who manages to arrange a connection with Harun, the aloof and reluctant son of a wealthy local family, and to persuade his family that Zahra is a suitable match.

The match seems inevitable, until she meets a penniless young man, Nayim, working as a dishwasher. Nayim is handsome, talented (he plays the guitar and writes music), uninhibited and charming. Zarah and Harun decide to persuade their families that their union would be a disaster.

With plenty of amusing episodes, this Bangladeshi-American author details the tumultuous match-up between Zarah and her two possible suitors as she struggles to maintain her independence. A fun read for ages 11 and up.

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Helen Norrie is a Winnipeg writer and librarian who enjoys finding good books for kids.

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