Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Forest of Reading 2013: The Blue Spruce Award

The Blue Spruce reading program brings recently published Canadian children’s picture books to children ages 5 to 7 in kindergarten through to Grade 2. For many children, this is their first introduction to the world of books. After all the titles have been read, the children vote for the book they liked the most.
The Nominees
 The Busy Beaver, by Nicholas Oldland

The busy but careless beaver spends his days following random impulses, rarely thinking things through and leaving in his wake a devastated forest filled with stumps, half-nibbled trees and injured, homeless animals. But then one day, the beaver finds himself on the wrong side of a falling tree, which as it turns out, is just the thing to knock some sense into him. After reflecting on his behaviour, he decides to make some changes. The now wiser and gentler beaver is getting down to the business of making things right, much to the delighted surprise of his forest friends.This charming story from the creator of Big Bear Hug and Making the Moose Out of Life gently teaches youngsters how to take care with others, as well as with the world around us.

Don’t Laugh at Giraffe, by Rebecca Bender

Giraffe and Bird make the oddest pair. All they do is spat, squabble and get on each other’s nerves. In the morning, Bird uses his loudest outdoor voice, so Giraffe makes a disgusting noise as he clears his phlegmy throat, so Bird tickles his neck, and...well, you get the picture. There’s nothing Bird likes more than to have a laugh at the expense of his lanky friend, and one dry day at the pond, he gets his chance. Giraffe’s awkward attempt to reach the water without getting his hooves wet raises a cackle from the flamingo, a chortle from the zebra, then a howl from the hippo. Soon everyone is having a good laugh...especially Bird. In fact, Bird is having a ball until he realizes that his mortified friend has left the pond without quenching his thirst. Now Bird is sorry. How will he get Giraffe back?

Ella May and the Wishing Stone, by Cary Fagan, Geneviève Côte
One day, Ella May finds a stone that has a line going all-all-all the way around it. Surely a stone this special must grant wishes, she decides. Soon she is busy making wishes and bragging about them. When her friends want to share in the fun, Ella May objects. But she learns that keeping the stone to herself is a sure way to lose friends. By using her imagination – much more powerful than any stone – she is able to grant everybody’s wishes, including her own.

Here Comes Hortense!, by Heather Hartt-Sussman, Georgia Graham

The feisty, irrepressible Nana we met in Nana’s Getting Married is back. And what could be more fun for a six-year-old than having your nana and her new husband take you to a theme park? But the fun is spoiled when Nana and Bob announce that they’ve planned a surprise: The three of them will be joined by Bob’s granddaughter, Hortense. It turns out to be the worst surprise ever. Nana shares her room with Hortense instead of her disgruntled little grandson. She sings her special good-night song to Hortense. She goes on all the scary rides with Hortense. And, worst of all, Hortense has a special name for Nana. A perceptive and hilarious exploration of rivalry, there’s a gentle lesson within this story, for readers, young and old alike.

JoJo the Giant, by Jane Barclay, Esperança Melo
Children are eager to grow bigger, and JoJo is no exception. He always asks his mother the same question: “How much did I grow today?”. No matter how often his mother assures him that good things come in small packages, he is desperate to be bigger. After all, he wants to run in a race to win a pair of red Rocket Racer shoes. But how can he compete against bullies who are much bigger than he is? A delightful story with a surprise ending illustrates how true growth is not always measured in inches.

Kate and Pippin, by Martin Springett, Isobel Springett

The real-life story of a special friendship sure to capture the hearts of all. When Pippin, a helpless baby fawn, was abandoned by her mother on the property of Isobel Springett, things looked uncertain for her. Three days went by, but when her mother didn't return for her, Isobel stepped in and brought her inside-only to discover that some unconventional help was on hand. Isobel's great dane, Kate, adopted Pippin immediately. From the moment Pippin snuggled into Kate's side, she didn't leave it-even when Isobel fed her sheep's milk with a baby bottle. During her first strange and confusing days in a human household, Pippin followed Kate everywhere, just like a real puppy and in turn, Kate patiently shepherded Pippin throughout the house.
Larf, by Ashley Spires

No one believes that Larf exists, and he likes it that way. Larf, you see, is a sasquatch, the only sasquatch in the world (or so it seems). He has a very pleasant, and very private, life in the woods, where on any given day he might be found jogging, gardening or walking Eric, his pet bunny. But everything changes one morning when Larf discovers that another sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance in the nearby city of Hunderfitz. What?! That must mean Larf is not the only sasquatch in the world! Excited by the prospect of having a friend to share hair grooming tips with (and let's face it, teeter-tottering alone is no fun), Larf disguises himself as a city slicker and heads for Hunderfitz — where he's in for a couple of enormous surprises.

Really and Truly, by Émilie Rivard, Anne-Claire Delisle
With tenderness, sensitivity, and humour, Really and Truly explores the effect that dementia has on a young boy named Charlie and his family. Charlie is very close to his grandfather, who loves to tell fanciful stories about pirates, witches, and gnomes that amuse Charlie to no end. But lately, Charlie’s grandpa doesn’t have any new stories to tell...in fact, some days Grandpa doesn't even recognize Charlie. A disease has stolen grandpa’s memories, his appetite, and even his smile. Charlie wants so much to make his grandpa smile again that he comes up with a plan to tell him stories: the same ones that Grandpa used to tell Charlie! Without shying away from the inevitable heartache that comes from watching loved ones suffer, Really and Truly is a spirited book for young readers struggling to remain optimistic during troubling times.

Splinters, by Kevin Sylvester

Cindy Winters loves to play hockey. When her family's basement apartment is flooded and the floor freezes, she's delighted to skate on the frozen concrete. Her parents are too poor to enrol her in a hockey league but Cindy’s resourceful and does odd jobs until she earns enough money to join a team. Armed with her mother's old equipment, she is thrilled with the prospect of playing on a real life hockey team. But her happiness doesn't last long. Among her teammates are the horrible “Blister Sisters”. They make Cindy’s life miserable. And worst of all, she’s sidelined by the coach, who just happens to be Mrs. Blister. It looks like she'll be spending the season cleaning equipment, instead of on the ice. Cindy's luck changes when her Fairy Goaltender appears and saves the day. With its great humour and hilarious illustrations, Kevin Sylvester's Splinters is bound to become a favourite.

You Are Stardust, by Elin Kelsey, Soyeon Kim

You Are Stardust begins by introducing the idea that every tiny atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded long before we were born. From its opening pages, the book suggests that we are intimately connected to the natural world; it compares the way we learn to speak to the way baby birds learn to sing and the growth of the human body to the growth of a tree. Award-winning author Elin Kelsey, along with a number of concerned parents and educators around the world, believe that children are losing touch with nature. This innovative picture book aims to reintroduce children to the innate relationship they have with the world around them by sharing many of the surprising ways that humans are connected to the natural world.

Grounded in current science, this extraordinary picture book provides opportunities for children to use their imagination and marvel at some big ideas. Soyeon Kim’s incredible diorama art enhances the poetic text, and her creative process is explored in full on the reverse side of the book’s jacket, which features comments from the artist. Young readers will want to pore over each page of this book, exploring the detailed artwork and pondering on the message found in the text. They will be excited to find out just how connected to the Earth they really are...

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