Local Books for Kids and Young Readers

Get your kids reading during the holidays – and year-round – with this selection of stories for budding bookworms, written by local authors.

November 27, 2023 | | Arts

No matter their age, books always make a wonderful gift, and this year we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to high quality, locally produced books for kids and young adults. Cozy up by the fireplace this winter and read these lovely stories with, or to, your kids to take them on a whirlwind adventure. These stories are chock full of dragons, chipmunks, carnivorous plants, helmet-wearing dogs, magical creatures, and time-travelling dreams. Best of all, they are all available at your local bookstores.

The Tree Slide of Tragoo
But, Who Made the Rain?
The ABCs of Being Awesome

by Tyler Bayley
In The Tree Slide of Tragoo, Echo dreams of finding a magnificent slide to enjoy with her friends. Children aged 3 to 6 will enjoy the fun rhymes, illustrated by Rubia Iftikhar, as they follow Echo through a forest full of natural wonders in search of the ultimate slide.
Charmingly illustrated by the author, But, Who Made the Rain? tracks a little girl’s quest for answers as she explores the world around her. And in The ABCs of Being Awesome, diversity and inclusiveness are featured through rhyming vignettes, one for each letter of the alphabet.
Bayley creates his books through the winter months, when the Palgrave golf course he manages is closed. (TJB Publishing, $9.99 each)

Auston the Sidecar Dog Saves a Whale

by Wayne Sumbler
The intrepid canine with a taste for adventure is back in Wayne Sumbler’s new tale about Auston and his two-legged dad as they take a road trip to Canada’s East Coast, where they hang 10 on a surfboard, dodge a huge shark, and come to the rescue of a beached whale. In real life, Sumbler does own a shiny red Stella Original scooter, and Auston happily wears both goggles and a helmet for his rides in the sidecar.
Vibrantly illustrated by M. K. Komins, this book is a followup to Auston the Sidecar Dog Saves Christmas. Sumbler, who lives in Orangeville, is also the author of the rockin’ cookbook Sex, Drugs and Pots & Pans. (Nightingale Books, $20)

The Long Story of Mount Pester
The Long Story of Mount Pootzah

by Glenn Carley and Nicholas Carley
Cozy up with your kids for this rollicking read-aloud romp, written in two parts. Bolton-based author Glenn Carley first told these tall tales to his own children when they were small, and the adorable illustrations that appear in each chapter were hand drawn 25 years ago by his son and “co-imagineer,” Nicholas, as the stories were being written. The fantastical adventures of the four Ditch Diggers, who tackle volcanoes, rescue a prince, and encounter magical creatures, both good and bad, while eating as many sweet, sweet PesterPops as possible along the way, will captivate both children and adults. Glenn Carley is the author of a number of novels and short stories. His most recent work, Jimmy Crack Corn: A Novel in C Minor, was published in 2022. (Rock’s Mills Press, $19.95 each)

Stories from the Back Garden

by Kathleen Davies
Join young Kate, her cat Miss Mew and Chippy, the cheeky chipmunk, as they play a game of cat-and-mouse through Kate’s garden. Among the cast of forest friends are Henrietta Red Squirrel, Rackitty Coon and Rosy the skunk. As the seasons change, Chippy busies himself storing sunflower seeds and trying to avoid Miss Mew’s paws, claws and jaws. And after the snow thaws, Kate is delighted to see Chippy come back to visit. Though Davies now lives in North Bay, her dream-like watercolour illustrations depict actual scenes from her lush Caledon backyard, where she observed these crafty critters. (Rock’s Mills Press, $14.95)

Beatrice and Barb

by Kate Jenks Landry
Not all pets are cute and cuddly – but as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After Beatrice begs for a pet to love and care for, she and her mother finally reach a compromise, and she becomes the proud owner of Barb, a carnivorous Venus flytrap! Despite Beatrice’s doting attention, Barb begins to wither and wilt – until Beatrice learns exactly what her pet plant needs to thrive. Colourfully illustrated by Vivian Mineker, this gentle tale shows young kids how to be responsible for the living things in their care. Landry grew up in Orangeville and now lives in Kitchener. (Kids Can Press, $23.99)

Mom, We Are Just Like You!

by Mandeep Kaur Bassi
Kids learn by watching and following the example of the adults around them, and Mom, We Are Just Like You! reminds children – and their caregivers – how to be kind and responsible community members. Complemented by Eleanor Maber’s whimsical illustrations, this story for young readers focuses on the values of compassion, generosity, inclusiveness and respect. Bassi, who lives in Orangeville, has an extensive background as an educator in Toronto and Peel. (FriesenPress, $20.49)

Fractured Replica
The Replica Series, Volume 1

by Melanie Montesano
In this fast-paced dystopian fantasy for teens, Valentina and her brother, Sam, are stuck living in the desolate Outer Rim, an area outside the Wall where a brutal Administration controls everything. Determined to find out more about her mother who died in a failed rebellion, Valentina sneaks over to the other side. There she makes an unlikely ally who can help her solve the mystery of her origins while navigating a dangerous world of droids and drones. The novel’s cliffhanger ending will leave readers looking forward to the release of Volume 2 of this series. Montesano teaches at St. Peter Elementary School in Orangeville. (Melanie Montesano, $15.99)

Where Do I Go When I Sleep? Dreaming Helps When I Am Awake
Where Do I Go When I Sleep? I Am in Control

by Steven Bergwerff
These first two books in the Astral-Dreaming series, both playfully illustrated by Emma Smith, delve into the power and potential of dreams – with the goal of helping children sleep comfortably, understand their dreams, and open their minds to the concept of astral travel. Dreaming Helps When I Am Awake shows how dreams influence well-being, while I Am in Control focuses on reassuring kids that they are in charge of their dreams. Each book offers calming mantras to repeat before sleep, as well as opportunities for kids to write and draw about their dreams.
An Erin resident, Bergwerff is a video producer and motion picture editor. (Ironcloud Digital Media Productions, $13.99 each)

Ricky the Dragon and Agatha Dive into the Ocean

by Diana Hollister
Join Ricky the Dragon, his human best friend, Agatha, and marine biologist Halehandros on this whirlwind deep-sea adventure. When Halehandros takes Ricky and Agatha on a dive in his small submarine, they encounter a school for underwater creatures, join the school’s trip to a sunken shipwreck, and take part in a treasure hunt. An early childhood educator, Hollister hails from the English seaside town of Exmouth but now calls Caledon home. During the pandemic, when she could not be in the classroom, she related 10 stories about Ricky and Agatha via her YouTube channel. A follow-up book is in the works. (Nightingale Books, $8.99)

Sydney’s Wish

by Emily Mallett
Animal advocate Emily Mallett is back with a followup to her first story, Sydney’s Best Friend, about the bond between a girl and her dog, Bella. In Sydney’s Wish, fancifully illustrated by Aneik Wilson, Mallett relates the process of fostering and socializing Dub, an older dog who is quite different from Bella, but who captures Sydney’s heart nevertheless. Mallett, who lives in Orangeville, highlights the responsibilities of fostering an animal and gives tips on how to safely interact with dogs. Part of the proceeds of sales of this book will be donated to an animal charity. (Emily Mallett, $19.99)

Sarah’s Rainbow
Book Hospital
Daddy Goes to Kindergarten
How to Catch a Bully

by Marjorie Rodney
With dashes of humour that are sure to make kids chuckle, Marjorie Rodney’s picture books touch on common themes both at school and at home. In Sarah’s Rainbow, illustrated by Lowell Williams Jr., a little girl who is feeling sad after moving decides to turn her frown upside down by bringing the beautiful colours of the rainbow into her new home. Book Hospital, with illustrations by Joanne David, encourages young readers to treat their books carefully. In Daddy Goes to Kindergarten, Rodney collaborates with illustrator Nafisa Arshad to tell the story of young Roy, who persuades his father to join him on the first day of school – only to find that Daddy has a bit too much fun! And How to Catch a Bully, illustrated by Tawkib Hasan Shanto, highlights a determined principal who goes above and beyond to stop bullying at his school.

As a teacher and early childhood educator, Grand Valley writer Marjorie Rodney is very familiar with the topics that interest young readers. (Marjorie Rodney, $12.95 each)


Reviews compiled by Emily Dickson, Gail Grant, Carol Good, Dyanne Rivers and Signe Ball, with thanks to the staff at BookLore for their invaluable assistance in compiling this year’s book list.

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