Children’s Book Recs.

Bookworm Jessica Rose digs into the best new kids books in Canada.

100 Chapatis

By Derek Mascarenhas, illustrated by Shantala Robinson

Owl Books, 2023


Recommended ages: 4-7

Waiting isn’t easy, especially when you’re small. In 100 Chapatis, Derek Mascarenhas' debut picture book, Simon is anxiously awaiting news that his new sibling has arrived. To help pass the time, Pappa and grandson Simon make 100 chapatis (a type of flatbread), carefully measuring ingredients, kneading the dough, and sharing stories along the way. Accompanied by Shantala Robinson’s bright, textured illustrations, 100 Chapatis is a joyful book about intergenerational relationships, embracing change, and the power of food.

When the Ocean Came to Town

By Sal Sawler, illustrated by Emma Fitzgerald

Nimbus Publishing, 2023


Recommended ages: 4-7

Gretchen loves living near the ocean. In fact, she’d spend all her time playing near the foamy seawater if she could! Inspired by author Sal Sawler’s own experience living through Hurricane Juan, When the Ocean Came to Town is a thoughtful picture book — illustrated by Emma Fitzgerald — about what happens after Gretchen hears her anxious parents talking about climate change and a great storm that’s about to come. For three days, the windows rattle and houses sway, sending townspeople into a frenzy. But what comes next is a powerful lesson in community care and resilience as they all work together to rebuild.

The Words We Share

Written and illustrated by Jack Wong

Annick Press, 2023


Recommended ages: 4-7

The Words We Share is the moving story of Angie and her beloved dad, who speaks mostly Cantonese. Written and illustrated by Jack Wong, it follows the duo’s day-to-day life as Angie translates, helping him navigate their new life in Canada. Soon, Angie realizes she can help others, too. That is until a bad review threatens to squash her entrepreneurial spirit. An extraordinary picture book about communication and care, The Words We Share is a heartwarming testament to love, understanding, and the bond between a father and his daughter.

Lost Inside My Head

Written and illustrated by Vigg

Orca Book Publishers, 2023


Recommended ages: 6-8

Less than an hour ago, Vincent could recite a fable in a single breath. He couldn’t be more prepared to present it to his class! However, when his turn comes, Vincent freezes. There isn’t one syllable in his head. Inspired by author and illustrator Vigg’s own experience growing up with ADHD, Lost Inside My Head is a stunning book that brings readers inside the mind of a neurodiverse character. With tenderness and humour, it shares Vincent’s struggles and frustrations, but, more importantly, it celebrates his uniqueness.

Naaahsa is an Artist

Written and illustrated by Norma Jean Russell & Hali Heavy Shield

Second Story Press, 2023


Recommended ages: 6-8

Winner of the Second Story Press Indigenous Writing Contest, Naaahsa is an Artist is the first book by multidisciplinary artist Hali Heavy Shield. Inspired by the many adventures the author has had with her mom, Naaahsa is an Artist follows a young girl and her grandmother — an artist and residential school survivor — to Ottawa for an art show at the National Gallery. With statements like “You can always make something out of nothing. Just use your imagination!” and “Art is a language everyone understands,” Naaahsa is an Artist is a powerful reminder to all young readers that the art they make matters.

Alone: The Journeys of Three Young Refugees

Written by Paul Tom, illustrated by Mélanie Baillairgé, translated by Arielle Aaronson

Groundwood Books, 2023


Recommended ages: 8-12

The stories of Afshin, Alain and Patricia in Alone: The Journeys of Three Young Refugees give a glimpse of what the over 400 minors go through who arrive alone in Canada each year requesting refugee status. Told in both the first and second person, and accompanied by Mélanie Baillairgé’s sparse but deeply affecting illustrations, this poignant book urges young readers to imagine what it must be like to start a new life, all alone. Dedicated to “the children who come here. To the parents who stay there,” Alone perfectly captures grief and loneliness, but also hope, sacrifice and love.