A Canada Day Shout-out: Some Summer Reads For “Young Readers”

It’s been awhile since I gave a shout-out to some fellow authors by sharing with my readers some of the great Canadian books that are out there for readers, young and old. I thought it was high time I did something about that.  And since it’s the Canada Day weekend, what better way to celebrate than giving a shout-out to some Canadian books? While the title of the post suggests that these books are for young readers I know many older readers who enjoy reading books for the younger set. I happen to fall into that category.

This list contains some of the books I’ve read recently and really enjoyed, and a few that are on my summer reading list. You do have a summer reading list–don’t you?

I hope you’ll keep in mind that a good book is a good book regardless of the intended market. So it you’re not inclined to read books aimed for young readers, I suggest you consider giving some of these a try because a good book really is a good book. Hey, I already said that!

Talking to the Moon: A new middle grade novel by Jan L. Coates. I’m  really looking forward to reading this one. My Dalhousie friends will remember Jan as our author-in-shining armor who pitched in and helped Jeff sell books at my book launch, and helped save the day!

Deep roots. Last year in Social Studies, Miss Matattall got us to draw our family trees. Mine was the only one with no roots and just one full branch for me, plus a half branch for Moonbeam. Because maybe she’s already dead, and that’s why she didn’t come back to get me.

Katie Dupuis Pearson wants to find her real mother; her only clues are her Lavender Lady, a piece of amethyst, and a bookmark from Lunenburg. While spending a month in lovely Lunenburg with her foster mother, Katie makes friends with estranged sisters, Aggie and Jessie Langille. Katie becomes fascinated by stories about their ancestor, Catherine Marguerite Langille, one of the original Foreign Protestant Lunenburg settlers in 1753. Like Katie, Catherine was friends with the Moon. Like Katie, Catherine was uprooted, forced to transplant herself. Will Katie find her own roots buried deep within the Lunenburg soil?

Halifax Time Travelling Tune by Jan L. Coates. This year, Jan has not only one book but two coming out. I’ll be picking up a copy for my grand kids as well as myself!

Grandma closed the piano lid. “I love singing those old tunes with you.
I wish you could have seen the Halifax I once knew.”

This dreamy and whimsical story follows a young child who travels back in time to 1950s Halifax with a whimsical tune. Follow the pair through Point Pleasant Park, the Public Gardens, Spring Garden Road, Citadel Hill, and other historic Halifax landmarks, showing off all the sights and sounds of the city. With lively text from Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Jan Coates and vivid illustrations of mid-century Halifax by Marijke Simons, A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune is bound to conjure more than a few bedtime sing-a-longs.

Camped Out by Daphne Greer. This book has been nominated for the 2019 Hackmatack Award. It’s the sequel to Daphne’s earlier book, Maxed Out. And is definitely on my summer reading list.

Max knows his mom can’t afford to send him to summer camp. But he really, really wants to go. He needs a break from looking after his autistic brother, Duncan. And from his mom’s new boyfriend. He is surprised when his mom says that he can go after all. But there’s a catch. There are spots available at the camp for families with special needs. A grant would cover Duncan’s fees, and Max could attend at no charge. If he goes as Duncan’s escort.

This is the second story featuring Max and Duncan after Maxed Out. 

Here so Far Away by Hadley Dyer. I was anxiously awaiting the release of this book and I wasn’t disappointed. Really, really enjoyed it. It actually stayed with me for a time afterward. Just couldn’t shake it. Valley people might be interested to know that Hadley is a former West Kings student.

George Warren (real name: Frances, but nobody calls her that) is well aware that she’s sometimes too tough for her own good. She didn’t mean to make the hot new guy cry—twice. And maybe she shouldn’t have hit the school’s mean girl in the face. George’s loyalty and impulsiveness are what her friends love about her—they know she’s got their backs.

On the cusp of her senior year, though, everything starts to change: a fight with her best friend puts an irreparable rift in George’s social circle, George’s father can no longer work as a police officer, and the family’s financial problems threaten her dream of going away for college. The year is turning out nothing like what George envisioned, but unfortunately, life’s a bad writer.

Then George meets Francis, an older guy who shares her name and her talent for sarcastic banter. In him, she—the queen of catch-and-release—has finally found someone she wants to hold on to, when lately it seems like she’s only been pushing people away. And with him, she falls hard and recklessly in love in ways she never thought herself capable. In short, it’s the year George nearly loses everything, including herself, in secret and utterly alone. 

With brilliant humor and heartbreaking truth, award-winning author Hadley Dyer tells a story of finding love—and the road back from unthinkable loss.

Missing Mike by Shari Green. Shari’s novels are in verse which makes them unique especially to anyone who isn’t familiar with Verse novels. I met Shari at the Festival of Trees in May. Her book Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess was also a nominee for the Silver Birch along with Cammie Takes Flight. I knew Shari previously through blogging and I have to say she was just as nice in person. This book is on my TBR list. I can hardly wait. Check out her other books.

He’s a rescue, a mutt. Maybe there’s a little golden retriever in him, although he’s not exactly pretty. He’s had a run-in with coyotes and he’s missing an eye. But Mike is eleven-year-old Cara Donovan’s dog, and they love each other absolutely. Usually her pet follows Cara everywhere, but on the day the family first smells smoke in the air, Mike becomes anxious. Pine Grove is in the path of a wildfire, and the family is ordered to evacuate. In the ensuing chaos, Mike runs off. And then the unthinkable happens; there is no time to search for Mike. They are forced to leave him behind.

Shocked and devastated, Cara watches helplessly as the family drives through a nightmare, with burning debris falling from the sky and wild animals fleeing for their lives. Once in the city far from the burn zone, the Donovans are housed with a volunteer host family. Jewel, the hosts’ daughter, is nice, but Cara can only think about what she may have lost. What will happen if nothing is left? But as she reflects on what “home” means to her, Cara knows only one thing. She is not going to lose Mike. She will do what it takes to find him, even if it means going back to Pine Grove on her own.
With her signature style combining simplicity and lyricism, the author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles and Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess tells an uplifting story of love and loss. And she shows how one girl’s stressful journey eventually leads her to an unexpected place, and a new definition of home.

The Goodbye Girls by Lisa Harrington. I first met Lisa at the launch for A Maritime Christmas and shortly before her book Rattled was published. I’ve also added this book to my summer reading list. I’m going to be a busy reader!

The students at Lizzie’s high school are notoriously terrible at breakups. Forget awkward conversations—they’re dumping each other via text. Inspired by the terrible breakups around her, sixteen-year-old Lizzie, strapped for cash and itching to go on the school’s band trip to NYC, teams up with her best friend, Willa, to create a genius business: personalized gift baskets—breakup baskets—sent from dumper to dumpee. The Goodbye Girls operate in secret, and business is booming. But it’s not long before someone begins sabotaging The Goodbye Girls, sending impossibly cruel baskets to seemingly random targets, undermining everything Lizzie and Willa have built and jeopardizing their anonymity. Soon family, friendship, and a budding romance are on the line. Will Lizzie end up saying goodbye to the business for good?

So here you have some Canadian books to consider on this Canada Day weekend.  I hope you’ll check some of them out, either for yourself or perhaps a young reader on your gift-giving list. It’s never too early to start thinking of Christmas, or is it?

Please feel free to give your own shout-out to any Canadian books that are on your summer reading list in the comment section below? It’s always always fun to share titles with others. 

Happy Canada Day. Enjoy the long weekend!

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Dandelions, book signings and childhood memories

While walking outside with my granddaughter recently, she looked at the dandelions growing behind the house and said, “Some people think dandelions are weeds, but I think they’re flowers.”

Okay, so I had to agree with her. I happen to think of them as flowers as well.

Of course her statement reminded me that life really is just a matter of perception, that there isn’t always a right or wrong to things, and that the perfection we often strive to find only exists in our own minds. The answer lies in the way we’ve been conditioned to think and be.

I was also reminded that day of what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a child, something we lose through the process of living. Can you imagine a world where everyone sees a dandelion as a flower instead of a weed? We certainly wouldn’t be striving so hard to have them removed. I know people who put a great deal of effort into removing dandelions from their property, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that especially if that’s something important to you.  Of course, the magic of it all is that in a few short weeks they leave all on their own with no assistance from us—just saying

I love the story my sister used to tell about “blow flowers.” When her daughter was young she was fascinated by the fluffy white dandelion heads that had gone to seed and she called them “blow flowers.” At the time I thought: leave it to a child to see the beauty in something that’s at the end of its life cycle.  I remember picking those dead dandelions as a child, blowing on them, and watching the seeds fly through the air. Such a simple thing and yet it was fun. I suppose those same white heads would make most adults cringe as they imagine their lush green lawns becoming a field of yellow the coming year. However, my granddaughter would be delighted!

Yesterday, I was off to Coles in the Bridgewater mall for a book signing. It was part of the Canada 150 celebration that Coles and Chapters had set up with various authors coming in at one hour intervals. As I’ve said in the past, for me, it’s never about the amount of books bought or sold but the conversation with those who drop by. I had some really great conversations, found out some news, shared some laughs and sold some books. Author  Syr Ruus  dropped by to lend her support too, so that was an added bonus. Have I mentioned that Syr’s memoir will be published next year?

I’ll also be at the Inside Story in Greenwood on the 24th. I’m quite pleased to be going there. The very first book signing I ever attended was at the Inside Story. Allison Maher was signing copies of I, the Spy. I was quite nervous meeting her and remembering being  a bit in awe that she’d had a book published. I’d been published in various literary magazines at that point but had my sights on one day having a book published as well. Of course I had yet to write that book. She encouraged me to keep writing, and reminded me that dreams do come true. She was so right.  A few years later Hadley Dyer was signing copies of Johnny Kellock Died Today  and when I head she’d gone to the same High School I did I knew I had to go meet her. Still didn’t have a book of my own published.  Loved her book, BTW and we’ve kept in contact since. She’s been very supportive of my writing and that means so very much. I’ve also gone to the Inside Story to hear Sheree Fitch read from her first adult novel, Kiss the Joy as it Flies . My first novel , Bitter, Sweet had been accepted for publication and Sheree was absolutely wonderful. So, as you can see, it’s a real thrill for me to actually be going there this time to sign copies of my own book. I do love signings, you really never know who you’re going to meet or what great conversations you’ll end up having. And, if you’re lucky, the cherry on top of it all could be a few book sales.

So, as I come to end of these ramblings I find myself curious to know:  do you consider a dandelion to be a flower or a weed, and have you ever gone to a book signing before? If so do you remember the first one? Did it leave you with any lasting impressions?

I won! I won!

Okay, let me calm down for a second so  I can share my exciting news with you.

Who’s the winner of the Booker Award? That would be moi, thank you.

Admit it, for  a split  second you thought,  Hmm, does  Laura  actually mean the prestigious Booker Prize, that  International writing award any author would give their first born up to win? …Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you know what I mean.  Did you see the little note below the prize that says “For those who refuse to live in the real world.” Ummm, that would be moi as well.  But listen, an author has a right to dream and dream big, right?  In the meantime I’m most  happy with my Booker Award  and the knowledge that my first born  didn’t  have to  make any sacrifices  for my  writing  career. (I’m a good mom, aren’t I?)

I was given this award by Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda series of books for children 8-12.  Check  out her  blog and you’ll  learn all about her and this great series. Darlene’s one of the nicest bloggers/authors/people I’ve met  on line. And to think we might never have crossed paths had it not been for the Country Roads anthology we were both contributors to.

Accepting this award means I’ll list five of my favourite books. Now this won’t be my five all time favourite since I couldn’t possible narrow it down to five, and I’m  also going to use this opportunity to give some shout outs to a few local books –so here I go:

Kit’s  Law  by Donna Morrissey.  This was Donna’s debut  novel and it’s a terrific read. I especially like the fact that Donna lives in my home province of Nova Scotia. I haven’t  yet met Donna but she’s on my list  of  author’s  too meet.  I came close  this fall  as she was  scheduled to come to The Inside Story  for a book signing, but had to cancel. Still hoping she makes it there. Would love to meet her.

The Birth House by Ami McKay. You know how every now and again we read a book and think, this is a book I would have liked to have written just because it seems to really speak to you in a special way?  Well, the Birth House is one of those books for me.  Ami is a fellow Nova Scotian as well. Her book was a #1 Canadian bestseller.

The Case  Against Owen Williams by Allan Donaldson.  Allan in a fellow Maritimer and lives in New Brunswick. I thought this novel well written and made me sympathetic toward a character  whom I might otherwise been indifferent to.

My next two are children’s books, and books that would also appeal to many adults as well.

Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer. Hadley grew up in the Annapolis Valley and even went to the same high school as me which I think is rather neat in itself. I met Hadley at a book signing some years back and she sent me some notes of encouragement at one time. A very supportive writer.

The Year Mrs. Montague Cried by Susan White. Susan is a writer from New Brunswick. I totally enjoyed this book and the fact that Susan drew on her own experience of losing her son made it so very authentic.

So there you have five books that I can’t really call my favourite, but local books I really enjoyed. I’m not going to pass this award on, but if you`d like to leave a list in the comment section of five, or four, or three….books you really enjoyed please feel free to do so.

Happy Reading!

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