If you’ve ever wanted to make your own maple syrup, Bear Goes Sugaring (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Canada, $25, hardcover) is the book for you.
Maxwell Eaton III, who lives among the Adirondack Mountains in New York state, has written the exhaustive guide.
From identifying the right tree (did you know there are four different kinds of maple trees?) to building your own evaporator, this lavishly illustrated picture book will teach readers how to extract and prepare this yummy breakfast treat. It also has the standard warnings, such as "do not attempt without the guidance of a responsible (human) adult." (It’s possible the reference to "human" is because the text features a bear and a dog.)
Dog also provides plenty of humorous comments on the side... and the methods detailed in the book should also work for Manitoba birch syrup sold at local farmers’ markets. For ages 5-8.
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Eric Walters has probably written more books for teens and pre-teens than any other contemporary author in Canada. From historical fiction to current realistic novels to adventure stories for reluctant readers, he has engaged young readers for over 25 years.
Broken Strings, written by Walters and accomplished writer Kathy Kacer (Puffin Canada, $22, hardcover) appears at first to be simply the story of a junior high production of Fiddler on the Roof that is being staged soon after the catastrophic destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001.
When the school’s music director is severely injured, her duties are taken over by an elderly man, Zayde, grandfather to Shirli. Zayde is a musician who has locked away his memories of the Holocaust along with his music.
We soon realize that elements of this famous musical have uncanny connections to Zayde’s own history. As details of his tragic past are revealed, Shirli comes to appreciate the power of family and the insignificance of minor rivalries in the face of major catastrophe. As Shirli discovers Zayde’s story she also comes closer to Ben, who plays Tevye to her character of Golde. Recommended for ages 8-12.
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Filippo the Flamingo is lonely. When he tries to make friends with Zak the Zebra and Poncho the Panda, they tell him he’s too pink.
In Andrée Poulin’s Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color (Pajama Press, $24, hardcover) Zak and Poncho tell Filippo that pink doesn’t mix with black and white. Pink is for crying babies, and fussy princesses, they say.
But Filippo’s family and friends convince him pink is special: the colour of sunsets, of peonies, cotton candy and strawberry ice cream, as well as the color of happiness.
When Filippo and Ludo the Lemur decide to splash pink around, most of the animals love it. Ludo shows Filippo what it’s like to be a friend.
Lucille Danis Drouot from Montreal has supplied the lively and colorful illustrations to produce an amusing and thoughtful picture book for ages 4-7.
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Dinosaur lovers, or those who need a bit of encouragement, will enjoy T-Rex Girl by Quebec author Gwen Smid (Peanut Butter Press, $20, hardcover).
Ting is quiet and smart but too bashful to put up her hand or join in games at school. But when "Create a Costume Day" comes and she dresses up as T-Rex Girl, she finds anything is possible, excelling both in class and on the playground.
Only after she has to remove her costume to rescue a friend does she realize her true bravery comes from inside, not outside.
The author admits her inspiration for this book came from a child’s drawing. Ottawa artist and Grade 12 student Ko-Chi Chen has contributed large and colorful pictures for this dinosaur-friendly picture book.
Helen Norrie is a former teacher/librarian and lecturer in children’s literature at the University of Manitoba.