25th Trillium Award

Open Book Recommends: The Back-to-School Edition

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We love September. It never fails to summon up the back-to-school feeling of fresh starts and wonderful possibilities. This month has inspired us to dust off our binders, sharpen our pencils and start making lists. Our first list: reading recommendations that will feed the back-to-school mood of readers of all ages.

Contest! You can enter your name to win a prize pack of these fabulous books. To enter, send an email with the subject link "Back to School" to [email protected] with your name and address as well as the title of one of the books from our list that you're interested in reading. Please click here for the full contest rules. The contest closes on September 30, 2012.

Martin on the Moon by Martine Audet, illustrated by Luc Melanson

In Martine Audet's Martin on the Moon (OWLkids) Martin tries to pay attention. He really does. But he can't help slipping into his daydreams, which are vivid and full of imagination, building on themselves to become full-fledged adventures that carry Martin away from the classroom and the first day of school. It's not until he comes back to earth though that he realizes his powerful imagination isn't a handicap, but rather a special ability that can help him make friends and have fun.

Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812 by Connie Brummel Crook

As Canada observes the bicentennial of the War of 1812, young readers ages 10 and up will be fascinated to read Connie Brummel Crook's historical novel, Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812 (Pajama Press). While we are all familiar with Laura Secord's story, this novel depicts the events with vivid details and imaginative characters that truly bring one of our country's great legends to life.

Hard Light by Michael Crummey

In recent years Michael Crummey has made waves with novels such as Galore, but he began his writing career as a poet. First published in 1998, Hard Light (Brick Books) spins into verse the tall tales and folklore of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries where his father made a living. If you're familiar with the lilt and spirit of Newfoundland English, you'll know that it takes no small skill to match its music and take it one tone higher. Look for a new collection of poetry by Michael Crummey to be published with House of Anansi in 2013.

Pick Up Your Pen : The Art of Handwriting by Monica Dengo

Big loops, flowing script or spiky turns — handwriting is as individual as a fingerprint, and in Pick Up Your Pen (OWLkids) both kids and adults can both practice their own penmanship and learn to see the beauty in this disappearing artform. Organized to feel more like art play than homework, this interactive book will have creative kids scrawling away, experimenting with colour, style and more. A perfect addition to your back to school books!

A Really Good Brown Girl by Marilyn Dumont

Now in its 13th printing, Marilyn Dumont's A Really Good Brown Girl (Brick Books) takes on the paradoxes, challenges and judgments that entangle her Metis heritage. Her humour and her fine skills of observation make these highly charged poems both powerful and entertaining. ("There it is again," she writes, "the circle, that goddamned circle, as if we thought in circles, judged things on the merit of their circularity, as if all we ate was bologna and bannock and lived in teepees." The poems in A Really Good Brown Girl are frequently anthologized, but are even better appreciated in this remarkable collection.

A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton

A Good Trade (Pajama Press), written by Alma Fullerton and illustrated by Karen Patkau, is a story that will give Canadian children ages 5 and up a glimpse into one boy's life in a far-away Ugandan village. Like so many other children in his community, Kato spends his days walking great distances and facing grave dangers to collect water for his family. But one day is different — an aid worker arrives with a gift that will change Kato's life, and now Kato wants to do something in return.

Off To Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World  by Susan Hughes

School in a cave? On a boat? Or a train platform? These aren't fictional adventures, but real life places of learning from all over the world, and you can read all about them in Susan Hughes' Off To Class (OWLkids). But these schools do more than just offer great scenery — they offer a chance for children in some of the most challenging environments, both physical and social, to learn and thrive creatively. From Brazil to Russia, and from China to Uganda, readers will be dazzled by the incredible schools that have cropped up to meet the unique needs of students around the world.

A Bear in War by Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat

Imagine clearing out your attic and finding a briefcase filled with letters, photos and a teddy bear, all belonging to a soldier killed in battle in World War I. These cherished items, misplaced for 85 years, were the inspiration for A Bear in War (Pajama Press), written by Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat and illustrated by Brian Deines. Stephanie Innes is the great-granddaughter of Lawrence Browning Rogers, a Quebec man who enlisted in 1915. His daughter sent him a teddy bear to help keep him safe, but sadly Lieutenant Rogers was never to see his family again. This is the moving true story of the teddy bear's journey from a Quebec farm to Passchendaele to the Canadian War Museum.

The Grey Islands by John Steffler

When John Steffler fled Newfoundland's mainland for a remote island off the coast in the early 1980s, he had no way of knowing that the product of that pilgrimage, the now-classic poetry collection The Grey Islands (Brick Books), would establish him as one of the finest poetic voices in Canada. These poems tell of a voyage of personal discovery in the face of solitude, harsh elements and outport identity. John Steffler has since penned numerous other books, been nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize and served as Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada. Emblematic of our best wilderness writing, The Grey Islands resonates more deeply with every reading of the book.

Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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