YA & Kids

by Cory Doctorow

Near the beginning of writer and copyright activist Cory Doctorow’s new graphic novel, Anda and her friends are listening to a speaker at their Arizona high school. Liza, a “kick arse” gamer in a massive multiplayer role-playing game called Coarsegold has a pitch for the girls in the class: probationary memberships in her prestigious gaming guild on condition they play using female avatars. Read more…

by Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis’ latest YA novel tackles issues of waste, consumerism and family in a Borrowers-style tale about close encounters between those who live in, and off, conventional society. Read more…

by Philippa Dowding

This lively, fast-paced novel by the author of the Lost Gargoyle series moves fluidly from the whimsical to the fantastical and takes an intriguing detour to some dark places in between. Read more…

by Fanny Britt, Isabelle Arsenault ill.

Fanny Britt is well known in her native Quebec as a translator, playwright and children’s author. As well as being the first of her books to be translated into English, Jane, The Fox & Me is also her first foray into the graphic novel genre. She’s fortunate to be supported in this endeavor by the beguiling Isabelle Arsenault, whose illustrations for Kyo Maclear’s Virginia Wolf deservedly won the Governor General’s Award in that category a year ago. Read more…

by Darren Hynes

In Darren Hynes’ story about two disaffected teens in a small Labrador mining town, Pete “the Meat,” a snarling, be-muscled thug, is a bully in the classic mold. He and his posse’s victim of choice is Wayne Pumphrey, singled out for his smallness and the fact he never fights back. Beginning with verbal taunts (“faggot” and “pussy”) the attacks quickly get physical: Wayne’s tormenters hurl ice balls at his face and make him eat yellow snow. When things get really bad Wayne wets himself. Read more…

by S.M. Beiko

In S M Beiko’s florid debut, 16-year-old Ashleigh’s fantasy to escape her “bitter, broken” Manitoba town is finally about to come true: her chain-smoking nurse mother has announced they’ll leave at summer’s end. An incurable romantic, “Ash” spends her time painting, reading literature and dreaming of a love that will feed her “Coleridge soul and Neruda-spurned pulse”; one she knows she’ll never find in Treade. Read more…

by Tim Beiser; Rachel Berman, illus.

“Spring is such a funny thing,” muses author Tim Beiser in the opening lines of this delightfully brisk ode to seasonal romance among the woodland set. Miss Mousie has stopped in at the local deli, where she finds her knees turning to jelly at the sight of Matt LaBatt, the water rat, whose matinee-idol looks – black fur, red eyes, lemon-yellow teeth – leave her momentarily speechless. After Matt makes a disparaging comment about Miss Mousie’s weight, she beats a hasty retreat to her burrow, where she can hide her “chubby, tubby body” from the judgmental eyes of the outside world. Read more…

by Martine Leavitt

After a brief return to romantic high fantasy with 2006’s Keturah and Lord Death, Martine Leavitt turns her sights to her other forte: troubled youth in gritty contemporary settings. And while it doesn’t get much grittier than teen prostitutes working the so-called “kiddie stroll” on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside at the time of the Pickton murders, the Alberta-born author handles the subject with uncommon grace. Read more…

by Ivan E. Coyote

Despite being a fortysomething, confident, self-identified butch lesbian with a crew cut, tattoos, and killer biceps, Ivan E. Coyote’s heart still races when she enters high schools, where she gives talks far more often than she would like. Most performers try to connect with the broadest possible audience. Coyote’s hope is to reach just one or two kids – those whose lives may be changed forever because they met someone like her; like themselves. Read more…

by Deborah Kerbel

An introvert with a habit of swearing in French and classifying people as fonts, 15-year-old Lily MacArthur has never been popular at school and doesn’t want to be. Lily’s closest friend is her Aunt Su, a pot-growing, muumuu-wearing eccentric who lives alone in a cabin in the woods where she churns out popular romance novels. Read more…

by Robert Heidbreder; Marc Mongeau, illus.

Robert Heidbreder’s new book of rollicking rhymes is divided into two sections. The first, labelled “for grown-up use only,” presents kids with the dire, often smelly scenarios that can arise should they fail to rise from their beds. There’s the risk of being eaten by the sleep bugs in their eyes, or by the bed itself, which “burps itself awake” at exactly 7:35 each day and swallows whatever is lying in it. And if the prospect of being consumed isn’t enough to strike fear in young hearts, maybe the “ghastly green” toy trolls whose “feet smell strongly of manure,” or the Cabbage Scourge in the closet who threatens to sneeze a revolting concoction of “veggie goo” all over them will. Read more…

by Deborah Ellis

As a straight-ahead murder mystery, True Blue represents a departure for author Deborah Ellis, who is known for her many stellar YA novels focusing on the lives of immigrant and refugee teens.

Long-time best friends Jess and Casey are camp counsellors together when the body of one of their eight-year-old charges is found inside the trunk of a hollow tree. The dead girl’s bloody T-shirt is later discovered in Casey’s luggage, and she is quickly arrested and charged with the murder. Read more…

by Claudia Dávila

Whether it’s playing video games, zapping a brownie in the microwave, or getting a drive to the mall, most of 12-year-old Luz’s favourite activities rely on electricity or fossil fuels. But everywhere around her are signs that her habits need to change.

Concerned with the rising price of gas, Luz’s mother tells her she needs to start walking to the mall. City-wide blackouts, fun at first, are becoming a regular occurrence. Her mother tries to explain the principles of sustainability to her, but it’s only when Luz finds out that the price of the cool designer shoes she’s been saving for has doubled that the problem really hits home. Read more…

by Valerie Sherrard
by Beth Goobie

Two new YA novels by veteran authors share an unusual theme: both feature 16-year-old female protagonists who become unwitting (and, in one case, unwilling) accessories to serious crimes. Read more…

by Ransom Riggs

L.A.-based filmmaker and writer Ransom Riggs sifted through thousands of vintage photographs from several notable collections, including his own, before settling on the 44 singularly creepy images that form the basis for his debut novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—his approach making Riggs a bit like a W.G. Sebald for the YA set. Read more…

by Carolyn Beck

Brooke Kerrigan’s endearing illustrations are the star of this picture book about a floppy-eared dog called Wellington and his antagonistic relationship with a sneaky cat named Honey.

Slave to his prodigious hound’s nose, Wellington can’t resist the allure of meatloaf baking in the oven. As his master sleeps, Wellington takes the liberty of knocking the meatloaf to the floor and gobbling it up. He attacks the garbage can next, feasting on a repulsive concoction of mouldly cheese and pickled trout. When the master wakes up, Honey takes the fall, thanks to the cleanly licked meatloaf pan Wellington has stashed in her litterbox. He feels bad for a moment, but then remembers he’s been the victim of Honey’s tricks countless times before. Read more…

by Leora Freedman

Leora Freedman’s first YA novel revolves around two Jewish teens living in a Connecticut suburb in 1973. Zoe and her best friend Naomi spend their days smoking pot, cutting classes, and trying to get a rise out of Mrs. Lev, their Hebrew teacher. At home, Zoe finds inspiration reading about the life of Hannah Senesh, the Jewish heroine executed by a German firing squad after parachuting into Yugoslavia to liberate Hungarian Jews during the Second World War. Senesh’s determination and sense of purpose contrast starkly with the listlessness Zoe and Naomi feel about their own lives. Read more…

by Edeet Ravel

Seventeen-year-old Chloe Mills is in Greece on a summer volunteer work program when she is abducted by a couple who blindfold her, drug her, and take her by plane to another country. Worst case scenarios run through her mind: Will she be sold as a sex slave Do they want to experiment on her? Kill her for her organs? Read more…

by Annabel Lyon

Annabel Lyon follows up the huge success of her adult novel, The Golden Mean, with a return to children’s fiction and the appealing title character of her 2008 debut in the genre, All-Season Edie. These new Edie adventures take place two years later, with the now 13-year-old negotiating her first year of high school. Read more…

by Leanne Lieberman

It’s 1995, and Mia, a recent high school grad from Toronto, has arrived in Jerusalem to study at a Jewish seminary. Encouraged by her devout but sheltered friend Aviva, Mia has only recently taken an interest in practicing her faith. Her absentee, non-Jewish father is a musician who has come in and out of her life, and her social activist mother is highly critical of religious orthodoxy. Mia’s home life has been miserable of late, and her sudden interest in religion is clearly part of a quest for certainty. Read more…

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