With the rash of wildfires that have threatened many communities this summer, B.C. author Shari Green’s middle-grade novel Missing Mike (Pajama Press, 248 pages, $19, hardcover) seems especially topical.
When 11-year-old Cara’s family is forced to flee from their home as fire threatens their town, she can’t locate her dog Mike and has to leave him behind. Mike isn’t just the family pet; he’s the rescue dog with whom Cara has formed an unbreakable bond. As she volunteers at the evacuation centre where they are sent, she never stops searching for Mike, even when it involves a dangerous trip back to their fire-ravaged town.
Green’s novel, written in blank verse, is full of dramatic images of the fire that engulfs the town, and helps emphasize the trauma wildfires can have not only on buildings but on the people who live in them. Good for ages eight to 12.
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Winnipeg-born, Vancouver-based author and former CBC radio host Bill Richardson is well-known for his humorous adult fiction (Bachelor Brothers Bed and Breakfast), but his latest offering, The Bunny Band (Groundwood, 32 pages, $17, hardcover), proves he can also appeal to young children.
When a veggie-loving badger finds a sneaky bunny robbing her garden, she threatens to make rabbit stew, but relents when the bunny promises to use her magic to help the garden grow. The bunny returns with a full orchestra of rabbit musicians whose music makes the vegetables reach incredible sizes.
Richardson’s verse is lively and musical, and makes this a joy to read aloud. With the attractive watercolour illustrations by Roxanna Bikadoroff (also from Vancouver) this is a feel-good picture book for early readers.
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Wab Kinew is best known now as the leader of the New Democratic Party in the Manitoba legislature. However, as a former musician and journalist, the appearance of a children’s book authored by him is not surprising.
Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes (Tundra, 40 pages, $22, hardcover) draws attention to 13 Indigenous persons who have been celebrated for their accomplishments. These individuals range from historical figures such as Tecumseh — who helped defend Canada during the War of 1812 — to John Herrington, an American astronaut who was the first Native American to fly in space.
While the biographical information on these individuals is told concisely in an appendix, in previous pages the heroes are introduced in a series of rhyming couplets which, while described as rap, do not have a definite beat or rhyme. "We’re like John Harrington — in space, no wait, Mars. We’re like Carey Price standing tall against a charge." The intention is good, but the result a bit disappointing.
However, artwork by Toronto artist Joe Morse in this outsized volume is colourful and lavish, and this book will undoubtedly have a welcome place among Indigenous writings for children. The book launches Saturday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers’ Grant Park location.
Helen Norrie is a local writer and reviewer whose column appears on the third Saturday of the month.