April 30, 2015

Authors for Indies Day: May 2, 2015


Celebrate independent bookstores in Canada
on Saturday, May 2, 2015 
with your favourite children's and YA authors 
who will be there volunteering!

Across Canada this Saturday, many authors will be volunteering their time to promote independent bookstores.   I know I’m going to miss some of your favourites but here’s a generous smattering of independent bookstores who will be hosting an assortment of authors (children’s, YA and adult) and even providing treats and prizes, if you’re lucky!

PLEASE check with the Authors for Indies website and individual bookstores listed with regards to the timing of events and schedule for author appearances. As you’ll note, authors may be at several venues during the day and I would hate for you to miss them because of a lack of clarity or detail in my listings.



British Columbia
Mosaic Books, Kelowna
Karen Autio

Black Bond Books (Trenant Park Square), Ladner
Susan Juby
Ashley Spires

Black Bond Books, Maple Ridge
Tiffany Stone

Talisman Books & Gallery, Pender Island
Penny Draper
Andrea Spalding

Salt Spring Books, Salt Spring Island
Margriet Ruurs
Kim Thompson

Black Bond Books (Central City), Surrey
Gabrielle Prendergast

Black Bonds Books Warehouse, Surrey
Sylvia Taylor

Kidsbooks in the Village, North Vancouver
Eileen Cook
Shelley Hrdlitschka
Ainslie Manson
David Smith

Book Warehouse on Broadway, Vancouver
Susin Nielsen
Paola Opal

Book Warehouse on Main Street, Vancouver
Sarah Ellis

Hager Books, Vancouver
Caroline Adderson
Beryl Young

Kidsbooks on Broadway, Vancouver
Caroline Adderson
Ashley Spires
Gabrielle Prendergast
Norma Charles
Kathryn Shoemaker
Susin Nielsen
Julie Flett
Jeremy Tankard
Cynthia Nugent
Tiffany Stone
Linda Bailey
Deborah Hodge
Sheri Radford
Maggie De Vries

UBC Bookstore, Vancouver
Shar Levine
Paola Opal
Sheri Radford

Bolen Books, Victoria
Daniel Luxton
Troy Wilson

Munro’s Books, Victoria
Julie Lawson
Kit Pearson
Robin Stevenson




ALBERTA
Owl’s Nest Books, Calgary
Janet Gurtler

Audrey’s Books, Edmonton
Mike Boldt
Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Gail Sidonie Sobat
Thomas Wharton




SASKATCHEWAN
SK Books & Collectibles Inc., Regina
Alison Lohans

McNally Robinson Booksellers, Saskatoon
Beth Goobie




MANITOBA
McNally Robinson Book Sellers, Winnipeg
Shelly Sanders
Larry Verstraete




ONTARIO
Mill Street Books, Almonte
Jan Andrews
Liane Shaw

Forster’s Book Garden, Bolton
Kelley Armstrong
Alyxandra Harvey
Steve and Mary Runciman, Runley Books

Lighthouse Books, Brighton
Peggy Dymond Leavey
Renee Schmidt

A Different Drummer Bookstore, Burlington
Sylvia McNioll

The Avid Reader Magazines & Books, Cobourg
Sarah Henstra
Linda Hutsell-Manning
Wesley King

Curiosity House, Creemore
Elly Mackay

A Novel Spot Bookshop, Etobicoke
Sarah Henstra
Beth Pollock
Linda Spalding

Rozanne’s Reflections Book and Card Shop, Fergus
Karen Krossing

The Bookshelf, Guelph
Douglas Davey
Thomas King
Jean Little
Kathy Stinson

Bryan Prince Bookseller, Hamilton
Gillian Chan
Joanne Levy

Epic Books, Hamilton
Sylvia McNicoll
Gisela Tobien Sherman

Novel Idea Bookstore, Kingston
Jill Bryant

Gulliver’s Quality Books & Toys, North Bay
Martha Attema
Steve Pitt

Manticore Books, Orillia
Lisa Dalrymple

Books on Beechwood, Ottawa
Allison Van Diepen

Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books, Ottawa
Kathy Clark
Don Cummer
Kate Jaimet
Caroline Pignat
Max Turner
Amanda West Lewis
Tim Wynne-Jones

Backbeat Books, Music & Gifts, Perth
Charles de Lint
Liane Shaw

The Book Keeper, Sarnia
Jacqueline Garlick

Another Story Bookshop, Toronto
Sangeeta Bhadra
Natale Ghent
Dennis Lee
Kyo Maclear
Kenneth Oppel
Drew Hayden Taylor

Bakka Phoenix, Toronto
Leah Bobet

Book City (Bloor West Village), Toronto
Sarah Henstra
Sharon Jennings
Patricia Storms

Book City (Danforth), Toronto
Evan Munday

Book City in the Beach, Toronto
Tish Cohen

Book City (Yonge at St. Clair), Toronto
Helaine Becker
Joyce Grant
Kathy Kacer
Angela Misri
Kevin Sylvester

Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, Toronto
Dan Bar-el
Robert Paul Weston
Dennis Lee
Mireille Messier
Edward Kay
Caroline Fernandez
Emily Adrian

Mabel’s Fables, Toronto
Helaine Becker
Paul Covello
Barbara Reid
Kevin Sylvester
Robert Paul Weston
Cybèle Young

Type Books, Toronto
Kyo Maclear
Cybèle Young
Paul Covello

Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge
Deborah Kerbel
Helaine Becker
Ted Staunton
Jennifer Dance

Words Worth Books, Waterloo
R. J. Anderson




QUEBEC
Librairie Paragraphe, Montreal
Elise Moser

Livres Babar, Pointe-Claire
Monique Polak
Lori Weber

Librairie Clio, Point-Claire
Monique Polak

Babar En Ville, Westmount
Carol-Ann Hoyte




NEW BRUNSWICK
Westminster Books, Fredericton
Kathleen Peacock
Cory Redekop



NOVA SCOTIA
Bookmark II, Halifax
Kate Inglis

Carrefour Atlantic, Halifax
Alison DeLory
Susan Tooke
Richard Rudnicki
Steve Vernon

Woozles, Halifax
Melanie Mosher
Natalie Corbett Sampson

Lexicon Books, Lunenburg
Joe Treggiari
Sylvia Gunnery

The Box of Delights Bookshop, Wolfville
Jan L. Coates
Ron Lightburn




PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Bookmark, Charlottetown
Sharon E. McKay




NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Broken Books, St. John’s
Charis Cotter
Andy Jones



Check out the Authors for Indies website for the plethora of adult authors I didn't even try to mention, and authors and illustrators whose names I don't even know, yet!




Any errors or omissions are completely my own. Please leave a comment if I've made any horrific impossible-to-ignore mistakes that I can resolve promptly.  Thanks.


April 27, 2015

The Journal

by Lois Donovan
Ronsdale Press
978-1-55380-350-8
204 pp.
Ages 10+
February, 2015

In October, 2004, almost thirteen-year-old Kami is uprooted from Vancouver to Edmonton where the girl has inherited her grandfather’s home–or she will if she lives there until her 18th birthday–and where her mother has secured a “career opportunity” as an urban designer. But The Journal is not just a coming-of-age story of new experiences and adventures.  It’s a story about power, compassion, courage and family.  The control imposed on others purportedly for their own good, whether it be adults upon children, the authorities to those whom they serve, or men onto women, will give readers much upon which to reflect.  And I mean lots.

Kami is definitely thrust into a situation in which she has no control and there is no one to whom she can turn for support: her mom who accepted the position in Edmonton before talking to Kami about it is always too busy; Kami hasn’t seen her father in years; her mom’s parents remain in Vancouver; her father’s mother has passed and the grandfather who has left her his home in Edmonton has moved to PEI to live with his daughter; and her friends are as distant as all her plans for playing soccer and a joint 13th birthday party with friend Becca.  Not surprising that Kami is left alone to investigate her new home, discovering some memorabilia including photos and an old journal in the attic where she intends to make her loft bedroom.

But the journal of thirteen-year-old Helen Mitchell slips Kami into January 1929–though she remains in the same house–where she overhears talk of pilot Captain “Wot” May's plan to fly an anti-toxin up to Little Red River Settlement in northern Alberta where a diphtheria outbreak has occurred.  Though Kami returns promptly to her own time, a visit to the library and reading a newspaper clipping in the journal about the “Mission of Mercy” transports her back in time again, this time making the acquaintance of Helen Mitchell and her family as they head to the airfield to see pilots May and Horner off. But Kami cannot find the means to be transported back to 2004, and must deal with the repercussions of being a girl of Japanese heritage, seemingly without family, in a time when cowering to those in authority is deemed respectful and showing gratitude.

Kami does return to her own time, and back to 1929 again as well, but no matter what time period she is in, she must find ways to deal with issues of inequality–racial, gender and age–and learn from those who have charted pathways to making things right.

Lois Donovan does a commendable job of intertwining historical events such as the Mission of Mercy and the actions of the Famous Five with Kami’s life in 2004 Canada, and having Kami see her own dilemmas in relation to those of much more difficult times.  But I could not stop myself from despising Kami’s mother, and this probably prevented me from experiencing the fullness of the plot of The Journal.  In a book in which ordinary individuals show extraordinary courage and compassion to deliver medicine to a remote community, Kami’s mother shines as a self-absorbed parent who repeatedly fails to see how her decisions are solely beneficial for herself and disrespectful of her daughter.  The Journal's ending, however, is proof of Kami’s ability to forgive and her youthful resilience, because the theory of karma suggests that Mom should be the one tripping over herself to make things right.

I suspect that younger readers will not overemphasize Kami’s mom’s flaws as I have and instead will recognize the plotting as an opportunity to see into a different time and the bounty of their own lives relative to 1929.  By making Kami into a young teen whose strife-filled life is still manageable, Lois Donovan has provided hope for all and any, even those with me-first mothers.

April 26, 2015

The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Nicki Haddon Mystery

by Caroline Stellings
Second Story Press
978-1-927583-63-0
152 pp.
Ages 12-16
March, 2015

I'm so sorry that I missed Caroline Stellings' first Nicki Haddon mystery, The Scratch on the Ming Vase (Second Story Press, 2013), but now that I've enjoyed The Secret of the Golden Flower, I'll go back and learn how this young kung-fu champion and spy-in-training found herself on an action-packed trajectory in aid of international security.

In The Secret of the Golden Flower, sixteen-year-old Nicki Haddon arrives in London, England with her handler and former family butler Fenwick to further her training with the British Secret Intelligence Service.  But, whilst Fenwick is summoned away to Buckingham Palace, Nicki heads to Fenwick's sister Emma's place where she will board.  Though her 40-something punker band mates, Dawn and Anika, and Anika's 18-year-old son Sid, are welcoming, Emma is less than kind and keeps Nicki en garde, just as the teen is about a flower vendor at the airport who was taking photos of her or with a friend of Sid's named Todd Bead, a heroin addict and gang member who had been stalking Nicki though he comes to warn Sid about the cops coming.

But Sid is arrested, ending up in Limehouse Prison, an unhealthy place for someone suffering from respiratory illness, such as the tuberculosis rampant in London's East End, and Nikki tries to unravel the connections between a major heroin syndicate, a series of lectures at the Natural History Museum, an old book Queen Victoria's grandsons had in their possession, and the involvement of Todd, Sid, one of Nicki's intelligence instructors, and others.

The subplots of The Secret of the Golden Flower are like petals of the titular flower: not dense and overwhelming but loosely overlapping, fragile and tender but foreshadowing something more powerful, even dangerous.  In fact, Caroline Stellings' Nicki Haddon is not unlike the flower itself, seemingly small and pretty, even delicate, perhaps a little vulnerable because of the secrecy of her heritage and adoption from China, but not one with whom you would mess, if you were wise.  Nicki is a teen with her own issues which help build her compassion for others, even heroin addicts and gang members such as Todd.
Their only option in life was to join a gang and learn to steal and use violence to try to get some control over their lives. (pg. 117)
I prefer Nicki to so many of the strong female protagonists of trendy YA lit. She is never over-the-top.  Sure, her being recruited as a spy for British Intelligence may seem unrealistic at first glance, but it never seems so in The Secret of the Golden Flower, and I suspect it is similar in The Scratch on the Ming Vase.  She just happens to be a clever and talented martial artist, with the right stuff to insinuate herself into situations in which she can problem-solve the mysteries within. And for those of you who wonder how she is able to manage all this with her family–e.g., don't her parents wonder what she's up to?–you'll need to read the books to see how seamlessly Caroline Stellings is able to integrate all these aspects of Nicki's life.

I've become quite impressed with the depth and diversity of Caroline Stellings' writing, from The Secret of the Golden Flower to her previous books including The Contest (Second Story Press, 2009), The Manager (Cape Breton University Press, 2013) and Gypsy's Fortune (Peanut Butter Press, 2014).  Whether it be picture books, historical fiction, middle grade fiction or action-mystery, I think Caroline Stellings will be on the CanLit for LittleCanadians lit radar from now on. 

April 25, 2015

Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet

by Kevin Sylvester
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
978-1-48141-0-380
320 pp.
Ages 8-12
January, 2015

Boy chef Neil Flambé, now 15, can't seem to keep himself out of trouble, not even when he tries.   He tries to ignore a jar of old honey with its mysterious note in it that was part of a case excavated at a demolition in London and now the basis for a meal extraordinaire he is preparing for Lord Lane of Liverpool.  But an unexpected shortage requires the ostracized jar to be opened, and the note– with a poem, some numbers and a drawing of a key–is taken by Lane, a Shakespearean aficionado and thespian supporter, but not before Neil's cousin and partner, Larry,  snaps some photos of it.  

As luck (?) would have it, Lord Lane disappears and Her Majesty "requires" that Neil and his Nose–he can sniff out anything–promptly travel to London to smell out the mystery and, of course, find Lane and the "jewel" alluded to in the note.  Neil may have the Nose but it's Larry with his limitless knowledge of Shakespeare's work–I know, go figure–and his sweet affection for the ladies who enables Neil to search out the right sources and decipher the multi-layered clues.

The two are soon partnered with Rose Patil, the uber-brilliant chemist and acquaintance of Neil's sweetie, perfumier Isabella Tortellini. The thorny Rose, who is working at recreating the actual scents that Shakespeare's wife may have worn, agrees to help them decipher the note, suggesting their investigation begin with Will Kemp, a comedic actor whose friendship with Shakespeare had mysteriously sour.  Following clues about Drake's voyage, the Globe Theater, a clock and more, Neil, Larry and Rose, and eventually Isabella and her bodyguard Jones, begin an action-packed foray into history, Shakespeare's work and Elizabethan cooking, while being pursued by the unsavoury Crayfish brothers, all in the hopes of discovering the "jewel" and finding Lord Lane, hopefully alive.

Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet is a full serving of epicurean delights, that infuses a mystery with history, action with education–do your homework, Neil!–and fromage with farce.  And the punning and word play is wonderfully inventive and flavourful! 
"So since food and Shakespeare are the themes of the day right now, I wondered what Shakespeare would call his plays if he were also a chef!" (pg. 212)
...
"Measuring Spoon for Measuring Spoon!"
"The Taming of the Stew!"
"Romeo and Omelet!"
"Twelfth Bite!"
"A Midsummer's Light Cream!"
"The Merchant of Venison!" (pg. 213)
The solution to the mystery is never, never evident, unless you are a scholar of food, Shakespeare and word play, and perhaps not even then.  It takes an assortment of characters, some sweeter than others, to separate the clues, then blend them together into something that is both recognizable, palatable and delicious. Kevin Sylvester does this easily in Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet, perhaps his most bountiful Neil Flambé Caper to date.  

  *  *  *  *  *  

Yes, I loved Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet but I must share with you a brief Twitter conversation I had with author Kevin Sylvester about the end of the book.  I hope that, if my review doesn't get this book into your hands or into your school, this might.



You'll need to read this book to see what I mean, and then we'll all have to wait for Book 6 for a more revealing answer.

April 22, 2015

Shakespeare in youngCanLit

Everyone may be celebrating Earth Day but April is a significant month historically when we consider William Shakespeare, the Bard.  He was baptized April 26, 1564 and his death was recorded as April 23, 1616.  Having recently finished reading Kevin Sylvester's Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet (Simon & Schuster, 2015), I realized how the plots and themes of William Shakespeare's plays are so universal and expressed in such eloquent poetry and prose that it's not surprising that they're often used as the basis for more contemporary novels.  If you're a lover of Shakespeare, consider reading the following for a different flavour of Shakespeare's wonder, whether to learn more about the man and his works or to just enjoy how Canadian authors have found creative means to embed his work.


Picture Books

Goodnight, Sweet Pig
by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Josée Masse
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 2-5
2007
Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves
by Andy Jones
Illustrated by Darka Erdelji
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
52 pp.
Ages 4+
2012






Fiction

Broken Bones (A Peggy Henderson Adventure)
by Gina McMurchy-Barber
Dundurn
196 pp.
Ages 9-12
2011


Buried Truths
by Alice Walsh
Tuckamore Books/Creative Book Publishing
173 pp.
Ages 11-14
2013


The Grave Robber's Apprentice
by Allan Stratton
HarperCollins Canada
256 pp.
Ages 10-14
2012


Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet
by Kevin Sylvester
Simon & Schuster
320 pp.
Ages 8-12
2015


Pegeen and the Pilgrim
by Lyn Cook
Illustrated by Pat and Bill Wheeler
Tundra Books
278 pp.
Ages 9-13
2002


The Shakespeare Stealer
by Gary Blackwood
Puffin Books / Penguin Books Canada
216 pp.
Ages 10-14
1998


Shakespeare's Scribe
by Gary Blackwood
Puffin Books
272 pp.
Ages 10-14
2000


Shakespeare's Spy
by Gary Blackwood
Puffin Books
288 pp.
Ages 10-14
2003


Stitches
by Glen Huser
Groundwood Books
200 pp.
Ages 11-14
2003







Young Adult

Closer to Hamlet
by David Boyd
Wonderdog Press
120 pp.
Ages 13-17
2010


Come Like Shadows
by Welwyn Wilton Katz
Puffin
224 pp.
Ages 13-17
1995



A Breath of Frost
by Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury
496 pp.
Ages 12-18
2014


Whisper the Dead 
by Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury
408 pp.
Ages 12-18
2015


Minerva's Voyage
by Lynne Kositsky
Dundurn Press
240 pp.
Ages 11-14
2009


Only in the Movies
by William Bell
Doubleday Canada
240 pp.
Ages 13-15
2010


A Question of Will
by Lynne Kositsky
Roussan
141 pp.
Ages 12-14
2000


Rough Magic
by Carol Cude Mullin
Second Story Press
264 pp.
Ages 14-17
2009



The Taming
by Eric Walters and Teresa Toten
Doubleday Canada
229 pp.
Ages 13-17
2012


Wondrous Strange
by Lesley Livingston
HarperCollins
327 pp.
Ages 12+
2008


Dark Light
by Lesley Livingston
HarperCollins
312 pp.
Ages 12+
2010


Tempestuous
by Lesley Livingston
HarperCollins
361 pp.
Ages 12+
2011






Non-Fiction

All the World's a Stage: A Pop-up Biography of William Shakespeare
by Michael Bender
Raincoast Books
20 pp.
Ages 9+
1999


A Child's Portrait of Shakespeare
by Lois Burdett
Firefly Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-12
1995


Hamlet for Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett
Firefly Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-12
2000


Macbeth for Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett
Firefly Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-12
1996


A Midsummer Night's Dream for Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett
Firefly Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-12
1997


Much Ado About Nothing for Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett
Firefly Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-12
2002


Romeo and Juliet for Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett
Firefly Books
64 pp.
Ages 7-12
1998


The Tempest for Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett and Christine Coburn
Firefly Books
40 pp.
Ages 7-12
1999


Twelfth Night For Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun)
by Lois Burdett and Christine Coburn
Firefly Books
40 pp.
Ages 7-12
1994



April 20, 2015

Tell-Me-More Storybooks: from Fitzhenry & Whiteside

A Tell-Me-More Storybook series from Fitzhenry & Whiteside is a set of picture books that focus on telling a delightful fictional story about an element of the natural world and then appending the story with informational text, activities and fun learning.  Currently, the series includes 6 stories that cover mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and gardening.  With Earth Day around the corner, the series would be a great addition to any school or home library.

Kazaak! 
Written and illustrated by Sean Cassidy
2011

Reviewed here
Tooter's Stinky Wish
Written by Brian Cretney
Illustrated by Peggy Collins
2011



Bye, Bye, Butterflies! 
Written by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli
2012


Skink on the Brink 
Written by Lisa Dalrymple
Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
2013

Reviewed here
A Woodpecker's Tale 
Written and illustrated by Sean Cassidy
2014

Reviewed here
Charlie's Dirt Day
Written by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli
2015

April 19, 2015

Charlie's Dirt Day

by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
978-1-55455-334-1
32 pp.
Ages 4+
January, 2015


Charlie's Dirt Day may sound like another story of messy play, but it's actually one for the onset of spring and the coming of Earth Day and could be so useful in teaching the value of composting and joys of gardening to little ones!

Charlie may think the "nannies and grannies and moms and dads and boys and girls and cats and dogs and wagons and wheelbarrows and buckets and bowls and babies" are the start of a parade but, when his dad–who bears an uncanny resemblance to author Andrew Larsen–and Charlie follow, the procession leads them to a big pile of dirt, resting in the middle of the park beneath a banner announcing "Dirt Day!"  Not just dirt, as a man in green overalls corrects, but "the richest, dirtiest dirt you'll ever see."

Though Mr. Martino has plans for the compost, including sharing it with Mrs. Lee and Mr. Patel, Charlie has no garden and is disappointed that he won't be able to share in this experience.  But Andrew Larsen allows Charlie, and all readers, to learn about growing cherry tomatoes from seed and the satisfaction of coming together to do something good for Mother Earth and enjoying the fruits of one's labour (pun fully intended!) as a community. The pleasure in the faces of Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli's characters, especially that of young Charlie as he cradles his first potted seed, is wide and encompassing and joyous.  Bravo and yum too!

The activities and information included in Charlie's Dirt Day, as always appended to the story in Fitzhenry & Whiteside's Tell Me More Storybook series, includes differentiation between dirt, soil and compost; how nature composts; growing cherry tomatoes from seed; and making compost in a cup, a perfect hands-on activity for children.

Here's my only question:  where's the recipe for Martino's Marvellous Spaghetti Sauce?!  Tell me more!

April 14, 2015

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

by Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press
978-1-894786-33-1
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
2014

Having recently recommended Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin to a fellow teacher-librarian looking for picture books about perseverance, and then noting the numerous book awards that have included this book on its shortlists, I was dismayed to realized I have never reviewed this little gem on CanLit for LittleCanadians.  My bad.  This omission is solely due to my negligence and the overwhelming number of great youngCanLit books I choose to read.  Hopefully this post will put some things to right.

During their summer trip to Japan to visit her grandfather, Hana had become enthralled with the beautiful music he could make.  As the Second Violin in a symphony orchestra, Ojiichan could play the classical pieces of Mozart and Mendelssohn and Bach, but he would also play requests for his grandchildren and recreate sounds of the natural world like crickets, raindrops, and birds.  

Upon their return home, Hana had begun to take violin lessons and, though her older brothers laugh at her efforts, she is determined and even signs up to play in the school talent show.  She may practise for her parents and her dog Jojo and even for her grandfather's photo, but she still feels nervous when her name is called, following five previous violinists!  In her mind, Ojiichan's words of encouragement, "Gambarunoyo, Hana-chan", help her to do her best and consequently captivate her audience, even her brothers.

Chieri Uegaki's message of trying to do your best is a global one but one that too often gets lost when children are told that they're great at everything that they endeavour.  That is a disservice we do.  While Hana is never told she's the greatest and she can do anything to which she puts her mind, she chooses to persevere.  Her achievement in the talent show is not the success of many formulaic books that would have her winning or being showered with accolades (thank you, Chieri Uegaki) but rather in challenging herself to get up on
stage and make magical music with her violin.  She does this rather successfully, just as Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng do.  Qin Leng's illustrations have that light touch that works so well with the musical nature of Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, the Japanese cultural landscape, and the little girl with the quiet strength.  

Without going over the top myself, I can sincerely attest to the faultlessness of including Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin on lists for the 2015 USBBY Outstanding International Book List, the Cooperative Children's Book Center 2015 Choices and on shortlists for the 2014 Governor General's Award for Illustration, 2016 Shining Willow, and the 2015 Christie Harris Illustrated Book Prize among others.  It seems that everyone appreciates Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin.




I've posted KidsCanPressMovies book trailer for this lovely picture book here.