Books

Books by Canadians Jon Klassen and Julie Flett among New York Times' best children's books of 2021

Jon Klassen’s The Rock from the Sky and Julie Flett’s We All Play are two Canadian titles that made the New York Times list for the best children's books of 2021.

New York Times named the top 25 children's books of 2021

We All Play is by Julie Flett and The Rock From The Sky is by Jon Klassen. Both books made the New York Times list for best children's books of 2021. (Greystone Books, Carson Ellis)

Two Canadian titles, Jon Klassen's The Rock from the Sky and Julie Flett's We All Play, have been named among the 25 best children's books for 2021 by the New York Times.

The list recognizes "the most notable picture, middle grade and young adult books of the year," as curated by the Times's children's book editor.

The Rock from the Sky and We All Play made the list for best picture books.

The Rock from the Sky is a comedic picture book about friendship, fate, shared futuristic visions, and the funny feeling you may get that there's something off somewhere, but you just can't put your finger on it. 

Klassen is a Toronto author and illustrator now based in Los Angeles. His accolades include the American Caldecott Medal and CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal (both for This Is Not My Hat, which he wrote and illustrated), as well as the Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — illustration for Cats' Night Out, which was written by Caroline Stutson. He has also frequently collaborated with American author Mac Barnett on books like The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, Triangle, Square and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

LISTEN | Jon Klassen on writing for children:

Jon Klassen is a big name in the world of children’s picture books. His bestselling titles include I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat. While the award-winning author and illustrator has been named to the Order of Canada, he says you don’t need to be good at drawing to do what he does. Klassen joined Tom Power to talk about his latest book, The Rock from the Sky, and shared a simple trick he uses to tell stories with pictures.

Flett's We All Play is a picture book that celebrates diversity and the interconnectedness of nature from an Indigenous perspective. The back of the book includes a glossary of Cree words for wild animals, while children also use a Cree phrase throughout the book.

Flett is a Cree Métis author and illustrator who has illustrated several picture books, including Little You, My Heart Fills with Happiness and We Sang You Home. She has twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — illustration, in 2021 for On the Trapline and in 2017 for When We Were Aloneboth written by David A. Robertson. Her picture book Birdsong won the $50,000 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, which recognizes the best Canadian kids book for readers up to age 12, in 2020.

Other notable titles on the list include American Dan Yaccarino's The Longest Storm, which tells the timely story of a family who is trapped inside of their home, and Gilded by American Marissa Meyer, which is a haunting retelling of the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin. 

Other titles include The True Story of a Mouse Who Never Asked for It, Neverforgotten, The Genius Under the Table and Watercress.

You can see the full list on the New York Times's website.

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