Montreal·Books

6 books about children's adventures and discoveries

This week’s list of books let children live vicariously through other children, answering questions about life along the way.

Stories about navigating through life, from going to school to coping when things change

This week's books let children live vicariously through other children, answering questions about life along the way.

Truman, written by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

(Angus P Byers)

Truman is a tiny tortoise that lives with a little girl named Sarah in a cozy apartment above a noisy street. One day she puts on her back pack and takes the bus, and Truman realizes he has to follow her.

One of the scariest things about heading to school for the first time can be thinking about what, or whom, we leave behind. This story is a salve for that fear, reminding our children that if they're thinking about us, we're thinking about them.

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! Written and illustrated by Mo Willems

(Angus P Byers)

Pigeon is back and he's completely freaked out about starting school. Will the teacher like him? What about lunch? And why does the alphabet have so many letters? Pigeon addresses all these fears, and more.

Speaking directly to the reader, Pigeon makes an immediate connection, putting the reader or listener in a position to respond to his anxieties as well as their own. Hilarious, and surprisingly soothing.

Unstoppable Me, written by Susan Verde, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

(Angus P Byers)

A young child powers through his day, playing, jumping and most of all, running. He even dreams with a relentless energy. Meanwhile, his parents are just trying to keep up.

Children can seem to have boundless energy, and this book is a celebration of that benevolent frenzy. Perfect for the kid who can't sit still, and the parents who need a reminder that this challenge can be a strength.

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

(Angus P Byers)

A young boy lives in an apartment that might seem small to most, but is full of endless possibilities to him. Nerf basketball, hide and go seek, and kitchen science experiments are just some of the ways he makes a small space gigantic.

It is very easy to forget how big the world can seem to children. Everything is far too big, each staircase a mountain, each yard a prairie. Conan and Lalonde remind us that the only true limit on space is our imagination.

Owen at the Park, written and illustrated by Scott Ritchie

(Angus P Byers)

Owen and his father work in a park, tending to the grounds while the guests play and relax. Once a week, he gets to do his favourite part of the job — set aside his shyness and talk to everyone before he turns on the tap to the sprinklers.

Inspired by the author's trip to Berlin and its Tiergarten park, it shows how small joys can be big, especially when we have to wait for them.

Waiting for Chicken Smith, written and illustrated by David Mackintosh

(Angus P Byers)

Chicken Smith and his dog, Jelly, have yet to show up at the beach this year, and his friend, a little boy, is anxious. The boy remembers all the adventures he and Chicken had while trying to ignore his sister's yelling. But when he finally snaps out of his reverie, he realizes that maybe just playing with his sister is enough.

Sometimes things that seem immutable will change, and sometimes disappointment can bring about fantastic discoveries. A delightful little slice of life is wonderfully captured in this story.

About the Author

Angus P Byers

CBC Homerun Book Columnist

Angus P Byers is a bookseller at Livres Babar Books, an illustrator and a tattoo artist. You can find him on Instagram @angustattoos. You can also hear Angus on Homerun, on CBC Radio One (88.5 FM), once a month on Wednesday afternoons starting at 3 p.m.

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