There is no better way to get to know the landscape of Canada than through the stories and illustrations in children’s books.
A week ago was "Canada Day" - the national day of Canada and we celebrated the country's 150th anniversary. I asked my colleague, author and children's librarian Joanne Schwartz from Lillian H. Smith branch of Toronto Public Library to recommend great Canadian children's picture books that help us discover Canada.
Joanne wrote to me: "Here is a very small sample of picture books that take you from the East Coast to the West Coast and up to the North. Follow it up with The Canadian Railroad Trilogy for a sumptuous visual narrative of the people and places that went into the incredible feat of building a railroad across Canada."
"The books on this list focus on landscape, settings and seasons to give a sense of the geography of Canada. They all have beautiful illustration artwork."
Click on the link or image of each book below to place a hold on the book with your library card and pick it up at your local Toronto library branch. The Canadian province or place that is featured in the book is noted after each title. Enjoy the trans-Canadian journey!
- Duncan’s Way by Ian Wallace, 2000 (Newfoundland)
- A Fiddle for Angus by Budge Wilson, illus. Susan Tooke, 2001 (Cape Breton)
- The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, 1999 (Sainte-Justine, Quebec)
- Have You Seen Josephine? by Stephane Poulin, 1986 (Montreal)
- A Big City ABC by Allan Moak, 1984 (Toronto)
- Last Leaf First Snowflake to Fall by Leo Yerxa, 1993 (northern Ontario)
- Caribou Song by Tomson Highway, illus. Brian Deines (Northern Manitoba)
- A Mountain Alphabet by Margriet Ruurs, 1996 (British Columbia)
- Baseball Bats for Christmas by Michael Kusugak, illus. by Vladyana Krykorka , 1990 (Nunavut)
- What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses? By Richard Van Cap, illus by George Littlechild, 1998 (The Northwest Territories)
- The Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot, illus. Ian Wallace, 2010 (across Canada)
Take a moment to listen to Gordon Lightfoot - Canada's most famous folk singer - as he sings the "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" - a very moving song and one of his most loved. He wrote the song in 1967 to mark Canada's 100th anniversary and it has become a classic.
The "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" song inspired one of the best Canadian picture book artists Ian Wallace to create the stirring pastel illustrations that accompany the song lyrics that became the text of the book. A fascinating illustrated book journey about the history and settlement of Canada itself.
"Gordon Lightfoot’s lyrics celebrate the vision and incredible effort that went into building the Canadian Pacific Railroad. They also celebrate the rugged and splendid terrain through which the railroad passes, and their rhythms suggest the desperation, longing, and exultation experienced by those who laboured on it." Quill & Quire magazine
Happy (belated) Canada Day! Do you have a favourite picture book that illustrates and tells a story from Canada?