Treat yo’shelf

This holiday season, deck the family library with these new Canadian reads


Whether you’re seeking a stocking stuffer with substance or a new read to get your kids through the next snowbound day, our list of children’s books has something for every age and stage.

You Owe Me One, Universe

You Owe Me One, Universe

By Chad Lucas

Amulet Books, 2023

About the book: The sequel to “Thanks a Lot, Universe” continues the saga of Brian and Ezra’s preteen friendship. In “You Owe Me One, Universe,” Brian suffers from anxiety and depression and is seeing a therapist, while his best friend, Ezra befriends Victor—a kid who bullied Brian last year. To complicate matters, Ezra worries that he’s falling for his new friend.

About the author: Critics praised former newspaper reporter, communications advisor, freelance writer, part-time journalism instructor and parenting columnist Chad Lucas for his debut novel, “Thanks a Lot, Universe.” A descendant of the historic African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville, Lucas makes his home near Halifax. 

Snowy Mittens: A Winter Adventure

Snowy Mittens: A Winter Adventure

By Shauntay Grant

Illustrated by Candice Bradley

Abrams Appleseed, 2023

About the book: The spare and poetic picture book “Snowy Mittens: A Winter Adventure” celebrates the simple pleasures of a day in the snow. In this action-based adventure for very young children, a family builds a snowman, goes sledding and ice skating and have a snowball fight before enjoying cocoa in front of a warm fire. The text, printed in a large, bold font in capital letters, uses stand-alone words to label objects, activities, and feelings, perfect for encouraging language development in toddlers and helping preschoolers learn to read. “Snowy Mittens: A Winter Adventure” features illustrations by Candice Bradley.

About the author: Acclaimed poet, playwright, and author Shauntay Grant won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for her book, “Africville,” and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, and the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterwork Arts Awards. A former poet laureate for the City of Halifax, she is an associate professor of creative writing at Dalhousie University.

The Enchanted Symphony

The Enchanted Symphony

By Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

Illustrated by Elly MacKay

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2023

About the book: When a mysterious fog falls over a lively village, the town turns dull and silent. One day, a boy’s simple melody strikes a chord, reminding everyone of what matters most—even in the darkest of times. This picture book is about the power of art, nature, and community.

About the illustrator: An award-winning picture book maker, paper artist, author and illustrator, Owen Sound-based Elly MacKay also wrote and illustrated “Red Sky at Night,” “If You Hold a Seed” and “Butterfly Park,” among others. She has illustrated a number of books, including “Too Early.” She creates her art by setting up layers of paper three dimensionally and photographing the scenes. She attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, The University of Canterbury with a focus on printmaking and illustration, and has a Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University.

Grandmothers Galore!

Grandmothers Galore!

By Judith Henderson and Ellen Yeomans

Illustrated By Rashin Kheiriyeh

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2023

About the book: A mysterious yellow envelope arrives at Hollyhock House addressed simply to “the greatest grandmother in the world.” The trouble is, there are a lot of grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and even a great-great-grandmother living at Hollyhock House. A hilarious hullabaloo ensues in this full-colour picture book.

About the author: Montreal-based Judith Henderson is a bubbie, author, artist, and Emmy Award–winning composer who wrote more than 600 North American campaigns and jingles before segueing into children’s television as a TV producer and series creator. She is the author of the three-book series “Big Words Small Stories,” “Aaalligator!” and “This Is a Dog Book!”

The Cat, the Owl and the Fresh Fish

The Cat, the Owl and the Fresh Fish

By Nadine Robert

Illustrated By Sang Miao

Milky Way Picture Books, 2023

About the book: One day, Grey Cat stumbles upon a surprise in one of his usual fishing spots: a small wooden rowboat containing a bucket of fresh fish sitting idly. Curious and eager to snatch it up, Grey Cat seeks the help of a nearby owl, who is willing to lend a hand if Grey Cat helps him free his claw from under a log. But will Grey Cat choose to help the owl—or is he too eager to reach the rowboat and grab his newfound treasure?

About the author: Currently residing in Montreal, Nadine Robert began her career as a video-game designer and director of animated films. The founder of the publishing house Comme des géants is also author of “On the Other Side of the Forest,” a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus and a New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book.

Lara Captures the Sun

Lara Captures the Sun: A story of hope and connection for people and planet 

By Ruth Tabacnic

Illustrated by Iris Kiewiet

Ruth Tabacnic, 2023

About the book: Two worlds—Gulu, Africa and Chelsea, QC—are brought together by Lara and her mother Rose, who look for a better way after seeing children get sick from the burning of oil lamps. With fossil fuels and climate change threatening to destroy our planet, this book, which is based on a true story, has two goals: to introduce children to this important issue, and to raise money for the purchase of solar lights in Africa.

About the author: A volunteer with Beads of Awareness for over 10 years, Chelsea resident Ruth Tabacnik has worked to improve the lives of people in Uganda. She’s worked for over 30 years as a writer, editor and project manager with her own company and for the federal government.

About the illustrator: Iris Kiewiet lives in Wakefield, QC and has a background in illustrations for newspapers, magazines and books. For this book, she integrated the handmade fabric artisan animals from Gulu residents with her own drawings and multimedia.

The Adventures of Wandering Willis

The Adventures of Wandering Willis

By Nicole Caputo

Illustrated By Iwan Gunawan

Nicole Caputo, 2022

About the book: Willis, a fun-loving border collie and his best friend, Cameron Caribou embark on an adventure in the small town of Fernie, B.C., learning along the way that true friends will stop at nothing to help each other.

About the author: User experience designer, educator and author Nicole Caputo lives in Gatineau.