33 Canadian picture books to watch for in spring 2022
Here are the Canadian picture books we are excited about this season.
A Long Way Home tells the story of Jane and Maya, two girls who are two very different people. While Maya is a quiet girl, a refugee and new to this country, Jane is chatty and outgoing and has lived in the same place her whole life. After learning about the plight of endangered animals, the two bond over watching over butterflies and planting a milkweed garden. A Long Way Home is about togetherness and understanding the ways we are alike and different.
A Long Way Home is for ages 4 to 8.
Canadian children's writer Jean Little was the author of over 50 books, including Dancing Through the Snow, Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird, From Anna and Orphan at My Door. Born with scarred corneas that severely limited her vision, Little often wrote stories about children with physical disabilities. Her work earned her many honours, including the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and being named a Member of the Order of Canada. Little died on April 6, 2020 at the age of 88.
Gabrielle Grimard is an author and illustrator from Quebec. She wrote and illustrated the picture books Lila and the Crow and Nutcracker Night and illustrated the books Stolen Words by Melanie Florence and The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris.
The picture book Mina is a colourful and heartful look at the bond between father and daughter. Mina lives with her dad in a tree stump on the edge of the forest. When her father brings home a surprise, an anxious Mina learns more about the power of trust and loyalty.
Mina is for ages 4 to 8.
Matthew Forsythe is the Toronto-born author-illustrator of Pokko and the Drum, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a recipient of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book.
I Love You More is a picture book about a child named Des and the power of love. The story is an affirming look at how kindness in the community crosses lines of gender, race and age.
I Love You More is for ages 3 to 8.
Emil Sher is a Toronto author and playwright. His work includes Young Man with Camera, Away and the picture book Mittens to Share, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. Sher has written the stage play adaptations of Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine and The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown, and the script and lyrics for a stage musical of Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater.
Children's author Barbara Reid, who uses plasticine to illustrate her stories, has written several bestselling books including Picture a Tree and Sing a Song of Mother Goose. In 2013, Reid was appointed a member of the Order of Canada. Among her many awards, her picture book The Party won the 1997 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature. In 2013, Reid received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, which recognizes a writer's entire body of work.
In the first volume of this graphic novel series inspired by traditional stories, a Mi'kmaw girl, Mali, is sad after her favourite hair clip goes missing. Her mom thinks she lost it, but Mali knows deep down it was stolen by the pugulatmu'j, or Little People, the original guardians of the land who make their presence known by the tricks they play. When she meets Puug, he's wearing her hair clip, but she has to help him hunt for the objects on his list before she can get it back. One small problem: first they have to outsmart the ancient giant that's chasing them.
Giju's Gift is for ages 6 to 8.
Brandon Mitchell is the Fredericton-based founder of Birch Bark Comics and creator of the Sacred Circles comic series, which draws on his Mi'kmaq heritage.
Veronika Barinova is an emerging illustrator currently living in Calgary. She has a Bachelor in visual communication design from the Alberta University of the Arts and works primarily in digital media.
Britt Wilson is an Ontario ceramic artist, illustrator, cartoonist and letterer. A graduate from Sheridan College, Britt is the author-illustrator of Britt Wilson's Greatest Book on Earth, Ghost Queen, and Cat Dad, King of the Goblins.
The Magic Shell is a picture book about Pigeon Pea, a young person who has a lot of questions about identity and family. When Auntie gives them the magic key to all the answers, Pigeon Pea travels across time and space to learn more about their past and who their ancestors were.
The Magic Shell is for ages 6 to 8.
- Why the poetry of Jillian Christmas examines the realities of Black queerness, femininity and community
Jillian Christmas is an educator, activist and community organizer who focuses on increasing anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. She is the former Artistic Director of Vancouver's Verses Festival of Words. Christmas won the 2021 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers and CBC Books named her a 2020 writer to watch.
Raised in Stoneville, N.C., Diana Mungaray grew up enthralled by the world around her. She started her journey painting watercolour pine trees in her composition book, going on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Interactive Design.
In Journey of the Midnight Sun, a true story comes to life in picture book form. The book is based on the journey of the Midnight Sun Mosque — in 2010, a Winnipeg-based charity raised funds to build and ship a mosque to Inuvik, one of the northernmost towns in Canada's Arctic. This set off a 4,000-kilometre journey filled with bad weather, even worse roads and a pressing deadline to make it there before the first winter freeze.
Journey of the Midnight Sun is for ages 3 to 5.
When you can read it: March 15, 2022
Shazia Afzal is an Ontario teacher and storyteller. Having immigrated to Canada in 2002, Shazia sought to live near her community mosque with every move. Because of her firsthand understanding of the challenges Muslim families face in new communities, the incredible story behind the construction and transportation of the Midnight Sun Mosque resonated with her.
Aliya Ghare is a Toronto artist and illustrator. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration and Adobe, and has been awarded by and published in the Applied Arts and 3x3 magazines.
In this poetic story about the relationship between children and the natural world, young Martin is faced with moving away from his beloved river in the countryside. When he visits the city with his parents to explore their new home, none of its charms can compare with the river. But when he encounters a stream running through the park, Martin discovers that his connection with nature can be just as wondrous in the city.
Martin and the River is for ages 3 to 6.
Jon-Erik Lappano is a children's book author from Ontario. His picture book, Tokyo Digs a Garden, won the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration.
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.
I'm Not Sydney! introduces young readers to Sydney and his friends — or are they animals? Sydney likes to imagine he's a sleepy sloth hanging from a tree, while his friend Sami prefers to become a fast spider monkey. They're joined by the other neighbourhood kids in this story about the power of play, imagination and the slow-moving magic of a childhood summer.
I'm Not Sydney! is for ages 3 to 6.
Marie-Louise Gay is a prolific author and illustrator of children's literature from Montreal. She has won the Governor General's Literary Award for children literature — illustration twice, for Rainy Day Magic and Yuck, A Love Story. Her other children's books include Mustafa, Any Questions? and the Stella & Sam series.
I Am Everything in Between explores gender ideals, differences and stereotypes. The picture book is a celebration of youth and focuses on a positive and empowering message for those who want to be seen for who they truly are.
I Am Everything in Between is for ages 4 to 8.
Eighteen-year-old Sydney Sunderland is a writer and illustrator who grew up in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, B.C.
Sangeet and the Missing Beat celebrates the joy of music. Sangeet loves to create and play music, and especially loves playing the tabla, her favourite instrument. One day, Sangeet overhears an awesome beat but can't quite play it on the tabla. She needs to figure out the missing beat to make the music sound complete.
Sangeet and the Missing Beat is for ages 4 to 10.
When you can read it: March 15, 2022
Kiranjot Kaur is a B.C.-based multi-disciplinary artist, author and engineer. Her work aims to celebrate her artistic influences including her Panjabi, Sikh and Canadian heritages.
Sing in the Spring! is a poetic celebration of the season when flowers bloom. The book looks at all the weather changes that spring brings, including melting snow, blowing winds, dripping rain. The book is about budding flowers, muddy puddles and the joy the season brings.
Sing in the Spring! is for ages 4 to 8.
When you can read it: March 30, 2022
Sheree Fitch is the author of more than 25 books, including Kiss the Joy As It Flies. Her children's books include Mabel Murple and young adult novels, like The Gravesavers. She received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People in 2000.
Deb Plestid plays with fabric, thread, and paint. Her eye is drawn mostly to nature, mathematics, light, and shadow; exploring colours, textures, and life. Her work is in collections in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Her singular pleasure is eliciting a smile with her work.
A story about navigating different cultural identities, Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes follows Paro, a girl who dances Bharatanatyam with her mom at home and is also excited to learn ballet. While they might be very different, Paro navigates how to appreciate and excel at both.
Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes is for ages 3 to 6.
When you can read it: March 29, 2022
Mahak Jain is a Toronto writer and author of books for young people and adults. Her picture book Maya, illustrated by Elly Mackay was a Kirkus Best Book of the Year and winner of the 2017 South Asia Book Award. Mahak lives in Toronto.
Anu Chouhan is an illustrator from Burnaby, B.C. A trained animator and character designer, Anu often combines her love of Bollywood, anime and global fashion into her art. She enjoys creating art that celebrates diversity and empowerment.
Hot Cross Buns For Everyone involves a diverse group of children and an Easter party. When Jackson's friends and their families bake assorted hot cross buns for his Easter party, it becomes a feast of different foods and spices from different cultures and countries. The book features themes of community and a shared understanding around food.
Hot Cross Buns For Everyone is for ages 3 to 6.
When you can read it: April 1, 2022
- Why Yolanda T. Marshall created a picture book about the tastes and sounds of Africa and the Caribbean
Yolanda T. Marshall is a writer of children's books including My Soca Birthday Party. Marshall was born in Guyana and grew up in Scarborough, Ont., surrounded by Caribbean culture. The children's books she writes are full of her love and appreciation for that culture and food is a big part of it.
Daria Lavrova is a children's book illustrator and painter based in Amsterdam.
As Glenn as Can Be is a picture book that looks at the life of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. A child prodigy, the classical musician lived an interesting life of mindfulness, learning and sounds. Gould always wanted to do what he loved best, while being true to himself in the process.
As Glenn as Can Be is for ages 3 to 6.
When you can read it: April 1, 2022
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver author, teacher and children's literature expert. She has written more than 20 books across the genres, and her books have been translated into French, Spanish, Danish, Chinese and Japanese. She has won the Governor General's Literary Award for Pick-Up Sticks