Who do you think you are?

Boyne, John. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2015.
When Pierrot is four years old, his father – a German soldier in the Great War – disappears. When Pierrot is seven years old, his French mother dies in a Parisian hospital. He is sent to live with his Aunt Beatrix, a housekeeper for Adolf Hitler. It is 1935 and life is changing in Europe.
What happens when people flatter us and make us feel important? What happens when lies start to sound like truth? What happens when we realize we’ve betrayed the people who love us?
Spanning the course of World War II and its aftermath, this 215-page novel by a breathtakingly powerful writer is highly recommended for mature readers 11-years-old and up. [France; Germany; Historical fiction; Hitler, Adolf; Orphans; Self-awareness]  

More stories of World War 2 HERE.

More stories of controlling societies HERE

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Remembering…

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Genevieve’s War. New York: Holiday House, 2017.
August of 1939. Summer is over. Time to leave France and go home to America. But thirteen-year-old Genevieve decides – at the last moment – to stay with her grandmother in the small Alsatian village rather than return to New York. Mere months later, Nazi soldiers arrive and life changes.
This story is among the best of Giff’s many novels. Who are your friends? Whom can you trust? For whom will you risk your life? All these questions are quietly and skillfully addressed in a compelling novel for readers 11 years old and up.

More stories of World War 2 HERE.

More stories set in France HERE.

More stories of love HERE.

More stories of courage HERE.

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Mennonite Migrants

Trottier, Maxine. Migrant. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2011.

Anna and her family leave their home in Mexico each spring to travel north. All spring and summer they work on farms before returning to Mexico for the winter. They are part of a group of German-speaking Mennonites who left Canada in the 1920s but now return for part of each year, earning just enough money to survive.

This powerful story encourages readers – and listeners – to think about the life of migrant workers and the role they play in providing food for Canadian and American consumers. An afterword explains the history of these Mennonites who moved to Mexico.

Read a literary analysis of this story HERE.

More stories of migrants HERE.

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Making life happier…

Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2016.

Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl Go Exploring. Toronto: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2016.

Buddy, a dog, and Earl, a hedgehog, continue the adventures they started in Buddy and Earl. These joyful picture books provide unique perspectives on everyday life and will delight both the adults who read them aloud and the children who listen.

More picture books HERE.

More humorous stories HERE.

 

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Moonlight

Rylant, Cynthia. Long Night Moon. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
Names tell stories. And in this poetic picture book, Rylant lyrically describes the name for each month’s moon. November has a Frosty Moon. February has a Snow Moon. June has a Strawberry Moon.
All these names were given to the moon long ago by Native Americans. In Canada nowadays, we would say aboriginal people or indigenous people. These names for the first people of North America tell their own stories.
What is your name? What story does it tell?
This picture book creates a wonderful opening for all sorts of discussions. And the evocative full-page charcoal, pencil and pastel illustrations by Mark Siegel will inspire all sorts of art work in readers 6 years old and up.

More stories of indigenous people of N.A. HERE.

More picture books for artists HERE.

“I never really thought about how when I look at the moon, it’s the same moon as Shakespeare and Marie Antoinette and George Washington and Cleopatra looked at.” – Susan Beth Pfeffer, Life As We Knew It.

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Are you my friend?

Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2015.

Charlotte and Wilbur.
Frog and Toad.
George and Martha.
Snake and Lizard.
Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.
And now there are Buddy and Earl: a dog and a hedgehog.

(Warning: the style and size of the font unfortunately do not enhance the humour of this story. But the evocative illustrations by Sookocheff and the endearing quality of the story make this a recommended picture book for children up to 8 years of age.)

More picture books HERE.

More dog stories HERE.

 

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Why did you leave?

Kent, Trilby. Once in a Town Called Moth. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2016.
Why did Anneli’s mother abandon her and her father? Why has her father – 10 years later – brought her to Canada? Fifteen-year-old Anneli struggles to fit in at her new high school after growing up in a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia. But with the help of a few friends, she learns more about herself and finds her mother. While the plot is a bit too predictable and the Mennonite setting a bit too stereotypical, the novel is nevertheless a smoothly written mystery. It is recommended for readers – 13 years old and up – who enjoy quiet stories about outsiders. [Bolivia; High schools; Mennonites; Missing persons; Mothers and daughters; Mothers and fathers; Moving, Household; Secrets; Toronto (Ont.)] 

More stories about moving HERE

More stories set in Canada HERE

More stories for teenagers HERE

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