Hello everyone! Are you ready for I Read Canadian Day? February 17th is I Read Canadian Day: “…a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people. This is a day dedicated to ‘reading Canadian’ and will empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week”, challenging “the nation to “Read Canadian” for 15 minutes and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media. Young people are encouraged to read, or be read to, a Canadian book of their choice”. I thought it would be the perfect chance to talk about two lovely titles by Canadian authors, illustrators and creators, and share them here, just in time for I Read Canadian Day! Thank you to friends at Pajama Press for A World of Mindfulness and Raincoast Books for The Word for Friend. Happy reading- and happy I Read Canadian Day!
From the kind folks at Pajama Press, we have: A World of Mindfulness: Use Your Senses. Find Your Calm. from the Editors & Illustrators of Pajama Press. In this picture book, fourteen wonderful Canadian artists come together to bring readers a gentle, encouraging, and useful guide to finding serenity and mindfulness. Much like the layout of its predecessor A World of Kindness, in A World of Mindfulness each open-facing spread is complete with a sentiment (of usually a few sentences) accompanied by a visual representation from a different artist. In all, there are fourteen illustrators/creators whose work is in A World of Mindfulness, from Miki Sato, Suzanne Del Rizzo, Tamara Campeau, Scot Ritchie and more, with Carmen Mok’s artwork featured in the Table of Contents. The subject(s) of mindfulness and meditation are truly so broad, arguably overwhelming, so it is definitely something to appreciate that A World of Mindfulness can extract genuine, understandable and usable sentiments (mantras, even) for children- and their grown-ups. For example: “Bad feelings are like cold snow melting in my hand. I feel them…I acknowledge them…and eventually they are gone”, or “Sometimes my mind is like a mixed-up swirling snowstorm. It isn’t right or wrong- it’s just how I feel”. The book closes with a spread and concise note on what mindfulness is, and a reminder to “use your senses” and “find your calm”. A warm, relatable, sunshine breathe of a book, acknowledging our wheel of emotions, feelings and senses, and how to steady ourselves, this title is sure to be practical and helpful for use in classrooms, libraries, and homes. Keeping I Read Canadian Day in mind, A World of Mindfulness is also helpful if you’re curious about or interested in further exploring Canadian creators! Extras: Be sure to check out the downloadable Teaching Guide for A World of Mindfulness on the Pajama Press site!
From the kind folks at Raincoast Books, we’ll be taking a look at the latest book from acclaimed author-illustrator Aidan Cassie (Sterling, Best Dog Ever) called The Word for Friend. Kemala is an adorable pangolin who has moved with her mom to new country. Looking out from her new room’s window, Kemala thinks about starting at her new school and the possibility of making new friends. While shopping for school supplies at the market, Kemala keeps up a busy running dialogue, telling “her mama each thing that was different” from her old home. Kemala just loves, loves to talk, but when she is welcomed to her new school and classroom she finds out that the kids at her new school speak a different language. How is Kemala supposed to talk to her teacher? To her classmates? How is she supposed to make new friends If they can’t understand her? While her mom reassures her that they will both “catch on” to the new country’s language, Kemala is very worried. And the worry and stress grows when she introduces herself to the class…and no one can understand what she says. Kemala decides to curl herself up into a little pangolin ball and make the school day go away. During a lonely recess, however, a friendly anteater named Ana starts to talk to Kemala- but even with that show of kindness, Kemala is overwhelmed and in despair at ever learning a new language. In a thoughtful and terrific story turn, Cassie takes readers on a journey that shows Kemala and Ana learning to communicate with each other through crafting, puppets, and stories and with determined, supportive steps in listening and practicing the words and sentences of a new language. The Word for Friend is as beautiful, hopeful, and heartwarming as you might expect from a picture book by Aidan Cassie: rich in storytelling, characters, meaning, and of course, the sweetest, most delightful animals (it is especially lovely to see a starring pangolin and anteater, who are not so common in the picture book world!). At the book’s end, there is additional information for readers on the international language Esperanto, as well as on pangolins. Bonus: Readers who enjoyed Aidan Cassie’s Little Juniper Makes It Big might be delighted to spot familiar friends here!
I received a copy of A World of Mindfulness courtesy of Pajama Press, and The Word For Friend courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.