Books·Fall Book Preview

30 Canadian picture books to watch for this fall

Here are the books for young readers we are excited for this coming season.

Here are the illustrated books for young readers we are excited for this coming season.

The Playgrounds of Babel by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Piet Grobler

The Playgrounds of Babel is a picture book by JonArno Lawson (above) and illustrated by Piet Grobler. (Groundwood Books, Philip de Vos)

The Playgrounds of Babel is a picture book inspired by the Tower of Babel. An old woman tells the story of Babel to two little boys, but only one of them understands her. The other must translate for his friend. The book goes back and forth between the woman's story and the conversation between the two boys.

JonArno Lawson, a children's book writer from Toronto, won the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books for Sidewalk Flowers.

Piet Grobler, originally from South Africa and now living in the U.K., is an award-winning illustrator and has published over 80 books.

When you can read it: The Playgrounds of Babel is now available.

Aunt Pearl by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Aunt Pearl is a picture book by Monica Kulling (above) and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. (Groundwood Books)

In Aunt Pearl, a young girl named Marta learns about poverty and homelessness when her aunt comes to live with her family. 

Monica Kulling is a Toronto-based writer of more than 50 books for young readers. 

Irene Luxbacher is an artist and illustrator whose projects include the I Can... series for Kids Can Press. She is also based in Toronto.

When you can read it: Aunt Pearl is now available.

A Likkle Miss Lou by Nadia L. Hohn, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

A Likkle Miss Lou is a picture book by Nadia L. Hohn (left) and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. (Owlkids)

A Likkle Miss Lou is a picture book about Louise "Miss Lou" Bennett Coverley, a Jamaican poet known for bringing international attention to Jamaican patois.

Nadia L. Hohn is a children's book author from Toronto. Her other titles include Malaika's Costume and Malaika's Winter Carnival

Eugenie Fernandes is an artist and children's book illustrator based in Ontario. 

When you can read it: A Likkle Miss Lou is now available.

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

Small in the City is a picture book by Sydney Smith. (Groundwood Books, Steve Farmer)

In Small in the City, a young boy is on the hunt for a precious item he has lost on a snowy day in a big city. Along the way, he navigates special shortcuts and and shares secrets about the city he lives in.

Sydney Smith is a Halifax-based illustrator. His other books include Town is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz, and Sidewalk Flowers, written by JonArno Lawson. Town Is by the Sea won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2018 and the U.K.'s Kate Greenaway Medal for children's illustration.

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2019

Fern and Horn by Marie-Louise Gay

Fern and Horn is a picture book by Marie-Louise Gay. (Groundwood Books)

Marie-Louise Gay's newest picture book, Fern and Horn, is the story of twin siblings who love to create and draw. But when Horn's creations keep destroying Fern's, she gets an idea to protect her art once and for all. 

Gay is an award-winning writer and illustrator of children's books. Her other works include the Stella and Sam series and the books Rainy Day Magic and Any Questions. In 2005, she received the Vicky Metcalf Award for literature for young people, which recognizes a children's book author for their complete body of work. 

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2019

Ping by Ani Castillo

Ping is a picture book by Ani Castillo. (Hachette Book Group, Jamie Campbell)

Ping by Ani Castillo is a celebration of self-expression in the digital age, with so much communication happens digitally and when we are constantly connected.

Castillo is a Mexican Canadian illustrator. Ping is her first book.

When you can read it: Sept. 3, 2019

Sharon, Lois & Bram's Skinnamarink illustrated by Qin Leng

Qin Leng illustrates the picture book version of the classic children's song Skinnamarink, sung by entertainers Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein & Bram Morrison. (Tundra Books)

Qin Leng illustrates a picture book based on Sharon, Lois & Bram's beloved children's song.

Sharon, Lois & Bram are a Canadian children's musical group that have performed together for over 40 years.

Leng is a children's book illustrator from Toronto who has also illustrated the books Good Night, Good Night by Dennis Lee and Away by Emil Sher.

When you can read it: Sept. 3, 2019

The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Terry Fan & Eric Fan

The Scarecrow is a picture book illustrated by the Fan Brothers (above) and written by Beth Ferry. (Michelle Quance, HarperCollins)

The Scarecrow is a picture book illustrated by the Fan brothers about an unexpected friendship: one between a scarecrow and a small, scared crow.

Beth Ferry is an American children's book author.

Eric Fan and Terry Fan are frequent collaborators on children's books. Their books include The Darkest Dark, written by Chris HadfieldThe Night Gardener and Ocean Meets Sky.

When you can read it: Sept. 3, 2019

Goodnight World by Andrea Lynn Beck

Goodnight, World is a picture book by Andrea Lynn Beck. (Scholastic Canada)

Children will learn how the world is connected as everyone goes to sleep one night in Goodnight World. The book celebrates this global connection while sharing different customs from around the around.

Andrea Lynn Beck is a children's book author and illustrator based near Toronto. Her other books include Goodnight, Canada, Good Morning, Canada and Thank You, Canada. 

When you can read it: Sept. 3, 2019

And Then the Seed Grew by Marianne Dubuc

And Then the Seed Grew is a picture book by Marianne Dubuc. (Kids Can Press, Canadian Press/Patrick Doyle)

When a new seed starts growing in the garden, it disrupts the life of everything that calls the garden home: the gnomes, the mole, the earthworm. But when they decide it's time for the new plant to go, they realize that it's not just a nuisance, it's someone else's home too.

Marianne Dubuc is a Montreal-based writer and illustrator. Her other books include Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip and The Bus Ride.

When you can read it: Sept. 3, 2019

Treasure by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Treasure is a picture book by Mireille Messier (above) and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. (Orca Book Publishers)

In Treasure, a brother and a sister look for treasure in the forest. When the brother sees treasure everywhere, it's a gentle reminder that every day life is filled with treasure, if you only look for it.

Mireille Messier has lived in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. She has written more than 20 books for children.

This is the second book on this list illustrated by Toronto-based artist Luxbacher. The other is Aunt Pearl by Monica Kulling.

When you can read it: Sept. 10, 2019

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly

The Proudest Blue is a picture book by Ibtihaj Muhammad (top) with S.K. Ali (bottom left) and illustrated by Hatem Aly. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Heidi Gutman-Guillaume, Andrea Stenson)

Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first Muslim American woman to compete for the United States in the Olympics while wearing a hijab. In The Proudest Blue, her first book, two sisters are facing their own firsts: it's Faizah's first day of school and Asiya's first day wearing a hijab.

S.K. Ali is a YA author. Her books include Saints and Misfits and Love from A to Z.

Hatem Aly is a children's book illustrator who lives in New Brunswick.

When you can read it: Sept. 10, 2019

The Moon is a Silver Pond by Sara Cassidy, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

The Moon is a Silver Pond is a picture book by Sara Cassidy (above) and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. (Orca Book Publishers, Amaya Tarasoff)

The Moon is a Silver Pond celebrates the unique way children see the world. It encourages imagination and seeing the magic in every day objects.

Sara Cassidy is a journalist, editor and author living in Victoria. She has written more than 10 books geared to young readers.

Josée Bisaillon is a children's book writer and illustrator based outside Montreal. Her other books include Leap!, written by JonArno Lawson and The Snow Knows, written by Jennifer McGrath.

When you can read it: Sept. 10, 2019

Our Big Little Place by James A. Conan, illustrated by Nicolle Lalonde

Our Big Little Place is a picture book by James A. Conan and illustrated by Nicolle Lalonde. (Tinara Herpel, Annick Press, Dumitru Diaconu)

In Our Big Little Place, a young boy shares the joys of living in a small apartment high in the sky in a big city.

James A. Conan is a chef and Nicolle Lalonde is an illustrator. Both are based in Toronto and Our Big Little Place is their first book. 

When you can read it: Sept. 10, 2019

The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust 

Kari Rust is a Canadian author and illustrator. (Owlkids Books,

In The House at the End of the Road, two siblings and their cousin encounter a spooky building close to their grandmother's house. But it's not empty: they find out the house is inhabited by old Mr. Peterson. They become regular visitors, until one day, Mr. Peterson is gone. He has left for a retirement home and his house sits empty. The children decide to honour his life by creating mementos for Mr. Peterson to cherish. 

Kari Rust is a Victoria-based author, educator and illustrator. She is also the author of the 2017 picture book Tricky

When you can read it: Sept. 15, 2019

In My Anaana's Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok, illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko

In My Anaana's Amautik is a picture book by Nadia Sammurtok (left) and illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko (right). (Inhabit Media)

An amautik is a pouch inside a parka where you can carry children. The picture book In My Anaana's Amautik is told from the perspective of a baby safely nestled in their mother's amautik.

Nadia Sammurtok is an Inuk writer and educator. Her books include The Caterpillar Woman and The Owl and the Two Rabbits

Lenny Lishchenko is an illustrator based in Toronto.

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

It Began with a Page by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad

It Began with a Page is a picture book by Kyo Maclear (above) and illustrated by Julie Morstad. (Tundra Books)

It Began with a Page is a picture book that tells the story of iconic children's book writer and illustrator Gyo Fujikawa. Fujikawa wrote more than 50 books, including the popular Babies and Baby Animals. But as a Japanese woman, she faced many challenges to become an artist and fought for every opportunity she could.

Kyo Maclear is an essayist, novelist and author of children's books. Her other children's books include Virginia Wolf and Bloom, which Julie Morstad also illustrated.

Morstad is an artist based in Vancouver. Her other books include Today, How To and This is Sadie, written by Sara O'Leary.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

What Is a Refugee? by Elise Gravel

What Is a Refugee? is a picture book by Elise Gravel. (Schwartz & Wade)

Elise Gravel gently explains what a refugee is, why they need to leave their homes and why they end up in Canada in her new picture book, What Is a Refugee?

Gravel is a Montreal-based illustrator. Her books include The Worst Book Ever, The Cranky Ballerina and The Mushroom Fan Club.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Blueberry Patch / Meennunyakaa co-written and illustrated by Jennifer Leason, co-written and translated by Norman Chartrand

Blueberry Patch / Meenunyakaa is a picture book by Jennifer Leason and Norman Chartrand. (Theytus Books)

In Blueberry Patch / Meennunyakaa, a Salteaux elder remembers what it was like collecting blueberries in his youth. The picture book, co-written and illustrated by Jennifer Leason, and co-written and translated by Norman Chartrand, includes both English and Anishinaabemowin.

Leason is an academic and researcher. Blueberry Patch / Meennunyakaa is her first children's book. Chartrand is her great-uncle.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez by Christiane Duchesne, illustrated by François Thisdale

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez is a picture book by Christiane Duchesne (above) and illustrated by François Thisdale. (Pajama Press)

Mister Rodriguez is an old man who lives in a small village. Every day at four o'clock, he goes for a walk. The village children are fascinated by this mysterious man. Who is he and where is he going?

Christiane Duchesne is a writer based in Montreal who has worked in TV, film and radio. 

François Thisdale is an award-winning illustrator also based in Montreal. His other children's books include Missing Nimama and The Stamp Collector.

When you can read it: Sept. 27, 2019

Birdsong by Julie Flett

Birdsong is a picture book by Julie Flett. (Greystone Books, Canadian Press/Patrick Doyle)

In Birdsong, a lonely girl becomes friends with her new neighbour, an elderly woman. Together, they watch the seasons change, but as they both grow older, the young girl learns to cope with her friend's declining health.

Julie Flett has illustrated several picture books including Little You, My Heart Fills with Happiness and We Sang You Home. She won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration for When We Were Alone, written by David A. Robertson.

When you can read it: Sept. 30, 2019

Hello, Crow! by Candace Savage, illustrated by Chelsea O'Byrne

Hello, Crow! is a picture book by Candace Savage and Chelsea O'Byrne. (Keith Bell, Greystone Books)

In Hello, Crow!, a young girl named Fanny has a friend that's a crow. But her family doesn't believe her. Can she prove it? 

Candace Savage is a Saskatchewan-based writer who has penned more than 20 books. She also has a work of nonfiction, Strangers in the House, coming out in fall 2019.

Chelsea O'Byrne is an illustrator based in Vancouver.

When you can read it: Sept. 30, 2019

I Promise by Catherine Hernandez, illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware

I Promise is a picture book by Catherine Hernandez (right) and illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Dahlia Katz)

I Promise is a portrayal of all the joys and challenges of parenting and a celebration of the many different forms that loving families come in.

Catherine Hernandez is a playwright, performer and the author of the novel Scarborough.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, activist and scholar whose work has appeared in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Globe and Mail and part of Nuit Blanche.

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2019

Sounds Like Christmas by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Sounds Like Christmas is a picture book written by Robert Munschl left, and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, right. (Scholastic Canada)

Robert Munsch takes on Christmas in his latest children's book. In Sounds Like Christmas, Lincoln and Georgia want to make their Christmas tree the best tree ever, complete with the best — and the noisiest — decorations.

Munsch is one of Canada's iconic storytellers and Michael Martchenko is the long-time illustrator of several of his books. Their books together include MortimerThe Paper Bag PrincessA Promise is a Promise and many more. 

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2019

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao is a picture book illustrated by Charlene Chua (above) and written by Kat Zhang. (Simon & Schuster, Wayne Santos)

In Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, a young girl named Amy is determined to make the perfect bao, a Chinese dumpling. But hers never come out right. One day, she gets an idea that she knows will make her recipe work. 

Kat Zhang is an American children's book writer. 

Charlene Chua is an illustrator based in Hamilton, Ont. Her books include The Wind Plays Tricks, Akilak's Adventure and How Nivi Got Her Names. 

When you can read it: Oct. 5, 2019

Tallulah Plays the Tuba by Tiffany Stone, illustrated by Sandy Nichols

Tallulah Plays the Tuba is a picture book by Tiffany Stone (left) and illustrated by Sandy Nichols. (Tanya King, Annick Press)

Tallulah Plays the Tuba is about a young girl named Tallulah, who wants to play the tuba. But the tuba is very big and Tallulah is very small.

Tiffany Stone's other children's books include Floyd the Flamingo and his Flock of Friends and Rainbow Shoes. 

Sandy Nichols is a Calgary-based illustrator. She has worked on several children's books, including the 40th anniversary edition of Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie.

When you can read it: Oct. 8, 2019

Kevin the Unicorn: It's Not All Rainbows by Jessika von Innerebner

It's Not All Rainbows is a picture book by Jessika von Innerebner. (Dial Books)

In Kevin the Unicorn: It's Not All Rainbows, Kevin is having a less-than-perfect day. This is a problem when you're a unicorn, the most perfect creature imaginable. 

Jessika von Innerebner is a Kelowna, B.C.-based illustrator who has worked with Disney, Marvel, DreamWorks and more. 

When you can read it: Oct. 22, 2019

I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe, illustrated by Pauline Young

I Lost My Talk is a picture book by Rita Joe and Pauline Young. (Nimbus Publishing)

This children's book shares Rita Joe's iconic poem I Lost My Talk with a new generation. I Lost My Talk is about how Joe, a Mi'kmaw elder and poet, lost her language and culture after she was sent to residential school. 

I Lost My Talk is the companion book to I'm Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas. Both books are illustrated by Pauline Young, a Mi'kmaw illustrator who lives in New Brunswick.

When you can read it: Oct. 31, 2019

I'm Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas, illustrated by Pauline Young

I'm Finding My Talk is a picture book by Rebecca Thomas and Pauline Young. (Nimbus Publishing)

I'm Finding My Talk is Rebecca Thomas's response to Rita Joe's poem I Lost My Talk. Thomas is a poet and a second-generation residential school survivor. In I'm Finding My Talk, she celebrates reconnecting with her language and culture.

Both books are illustrated by Pauline Young, a Mi'kmaw illustrator who lives in New Brunswick.

When you can read it: Oct. 31, 2019

My Hair is Beautiful by Shauntay Grant 

My Hair Is Beautiful is a children's book by Shauntay Grant. (Nimbus Publishing,

Shauntay Grant's latest children's book is a celebration of natural hair. My Hair is Beautiful is a board book that encourages self-love and self-expression.

Shauntay Grant is a Canadian writer and performance artist based in Halifax. Her other books for children include Up Home and Africville

When you can read it: Oct. 31, 2019


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