Books

Picture Books from Canada: Part 1

What can I tell you? I am a proud Canadian! I also love picture books and try to keep up with all the great books published every year here at home as well as in the USA and beyond. In this series, I am sharing some of my favourite picture books from Canada. These books all have either a Canadian author, illustrator, or both. They also all have universally appealing themes, settings, and characters. Some are informative, some are compelling, and some are just pure fun. My selections include Indigenous authors and illustrators, and my aim is to introduce you to some fabulous, too-good-to-be-missed picture books for everyone, with love from North of the border.

Carson Crosses Canada is written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Kass Reich. 

Have you ever driven across a literal continent? In Tofino, on the west coast of Canada, a lovely senior lady named Annie receives a letter that impels her to take her dog Carson on one very, very, very long road trip in a funky yellow Beetle. Destination? Newfoundland! Readers of all ages will delight in Annie and Carson’s adventures across Canada to their sweet destination that has a reunion (or two) that will warm even the coldest heart! Recommended for ages 4 and up.

The Doll Hospital is by Kallie George and Sara Gillingham.

The pandemic has given me a deep appreciation for what health care workers do every day so this book seems especially relevant these days. Dr. Pegs is a planner and her day at the doll hospital is planned out quite nicely, thank you very much! But then the doorbell keeps ringing and more and more patients keep arriving! To tell you any more would be getting into spoiler territory but suffice it to say that this is simply one of the most satisfying picture books I have ever read. And I’ve read a lot of picture books. Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock is written by Dallas Hunt and illustrated by Amanda Strong. Both author and illustrator are Indigenous.
My best friend’s beautiful Indigenous mom Lena introduced me to her traditional version of bannock when we were kids. Since then, the mere mention of bannock transports me back to her warm kitchen…yum! So, a picture book about making bannock is going to be a hit with me no matter what (I absolutely love Fry Bread by Kevin Maillard too.) Awâsis accidentally drops Kôhkum’s bannock off a bridge but then the animals of the forest work together to gather the ingredients for a fresh batch. This adorably illustrated book includes some Cree dialogue, as well as a Cree word list and pronunciation guide. It also includes a bilingual recipe for bannock! Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Hello, Rain! Written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham. 

Climate change is not a joke. At the time of writing, here in British Columbia, we’re on our third and unprecedented “atmospheric river” weather system which essentially means we get months’ worth of rain in a matter of days. We’ve had terrible mudslides, huge floods, and tragically we’ve lost some people and many animals in this disaster. But, rain is still a fact of life and a book like this one lets readers marvel in the beauty and renewal that a typical rainy day brings. Recommended for ages 2 and up.

Nibi’s Water Song is written by Sunshine Tenasco and illustrated by Chief Lady Bird. 

I am really troubled by the fact that there are unsafe water supplies in many Indigenous communities. This amazing book written by Anishinabe clean water activist Sunshine Tenasco sheds light on the issue in a way that young children can understand. Nibi is thirsty but only dirty brown water comes out of her tap. Someone gives her a small bottle of water but it isn’t enough…she’s still thirsty! Nibi’s energetic activism eventually spreads to others who take up the cause. The illustrations by Chippewa and Potawatomi artist Chief Lady Bird are fantastic. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

What other great picture books from Canada have you read recently? Let us know in the comments below!


Our guest blogger today is Tess Prendergast. Tess is a children’s librarian who now teaches librarianship and children’s literature courses at The School of Information, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. She has served on many ALSC committees and is soon finishing her term on the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award. Tess has published many articles, chapters and blog posts about early literacy. You can read more about her work here and here.


Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you are interested in submitting a guest post, please read and fill out our Guest Blogging Interest Form.

2 comments

  1. Angela Reynolds

    I love Lauren Soloy’s books, especially “When Emily was Small”, which is a look into the life of a young Emily Carr. I adore just about anything from Inhabit Media, but especially “The people of the sea” / told by Donald Uluadluak : a really well told slightly creepy mermaid tale. And what about “This is Sadie” by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by very fabulous Julie Morstad! Ok, I’ll stop now….

    1. Tess Prendergast

      Thanks for sharing those other amazing Canadian books, Angela!

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