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Vanished: True Tales of Mysterious Disappearances

No one loves a mystery more than Elizabeth MacLeod, author of the award-winning Bones Never Lie and Royal Murder. In her newest book, she presents six compelling stories about some of the world’s most bewildering disappearances.

Readers will be captivated by such true tales as the Alcatraz prison break, where three dangerous convicts engineered a daring escape. Did they live to see freedom, or did they perish in the icy waters surrounding the prison? And will anyone ever know what happened to the captain and crew of the SS Mary Celeste? In 1872, it set out from New York for Genoa, Italy, but everyone on board disappeared for no apparent reason.

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

For hundreds of thousands of years Great Auks thrived in the icy seas of the North Atlantic, bobbing on the waves, diving for fish and struggling up onto rocky shores to mate and hatch their fluffy chicks. But by 1844, not a single one of these magnificent birds was alive.

In this stunningly illustrated non-fiction picture book, award-winning author and illustrator Jan Thornhill tells the tragic story of these birds that “weighed as much as a sack of potatoes and stood as tall as a preteen’s waist.” Their demise came about in part because of their anatomy. They could swim swiftly underwater, but their small wings meant they couldn’t fly and their feet were so far back on their bodies, they couldn’t walk very well. Still the birds managed to escape their predators much of the time … until humans became seafarers.

To Burp or Not to Burp: A guide to Your Body in Space

Of all the questions astronauts are asked by kids, the most frequent one is “How do you go to the toilet in space?”

This book not only answers that question but many others about the effect of zero gravity on the human body: How do you brush your hair in space? What happens when you sweat? What does food taste like? The best thing is that the answers are provided by Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut who speaks from first-hand experience. Written for kids ages 7 to 10, this book uses age-appropriate language to explain the different phenomena that astronauts encounter during a mission. The bright, colorful pages, short blocks of text accompanied by photos and humorous illustrations make this a very attractive choice for young readers. The opening message from Dr. Dave empowers kids to follow his example by believing in themselves and following their dreams.

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees

The phenomenon of desperate refugees risking their lives to reach safety is not new. For hundreds of years, people have left behind family, friends, and all they know in hope of a better life. This book presents five true stories about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the U.S. from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; Mohamed, an orphan, runs from his village on the Ivory Coast. Aimed at middle-grade students, Stormy Seas combines a contemporary collage-based design, sidebars, fact boxes, timeline and further reading to produce a book that is ideal for both reading and research. Readers will gain new insights into a situation that has constantly been making the headlines.

Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community

For gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their supporters, June is a month of pride and celebration, and the high point of that month is the Pride Day Parade. Pride Day is a spectacular and colorful event. But there is a whole lot more to Pride than rainbow flags and amazing outfits. So what exactly are we celebrating on Pride Day? How did this event come to be? And what does Pride mean to the people who celebrate it?

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals

Pinkalicious meets National Geographic in this nonfiction picture book introducing the weirdest, wildest, pinkest critters in the animal kingdom!

Sure, pink is the color of princesses and bubblegum, but it’s also the color of monster slugs and poisonous insects. Not to mention ultra-intelligent dolphins, naked mole rats, and bizarre, bloated blobfish. Isn’t it about time to rethink pink?

Slip on your rose-colored glasses and take a walk on the wild side with zoologist Jess Keating, author of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, and cartoonist David DeGrand.

I Am Not A Number

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.

The Ferryland Visitor: A Mysterious Tale

In the 1970s, artist Gerald Squires moved, with his wife and two young daughters, into the abandoned lighthouse keeper’s house in Ferryland, Newfoundland. Shortly after their arrival, they had a visitor – one who claimed to be the former constable of the area and who regaled them with stories of the place and its previous occupants. A visitor, they soon learned, who was more than he appeared to be. / Acclaimed children’s writer Charis Cotter tells the tale of this mysterious visitor from the perspective of Esther, the youngest daughter. In beautifully crafted language, Cotter captures the delight of a curious young girl discovering her new landscape, the excitement of living in a lighthouse at the edge of the ocean, and the haunting mystery of the visitor himself. / Renowned artist Gerald Squires has contributed paintings and drawings of the lighthouse and its surrounding landscape, as well as family photographs taken during the lighthouse years. / The result is a book of striking beauty – part family album, part art book, all mystery

All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean

Cleanliness is next to godliness. At least that was the point of view espoused by John Wesley in 18th century England. But accounts of people bathing go back to the Bronze Age in the Indus Valley. All the Dirt on Getting Clean is a lively, informative exploration of the evolution of keeping clean. Starting with a number of myths about cleanliness, the author quickly establishes how our ideas have changed drastically over time, and how the definition of cleanliness in one part of the world may differ radically from another. There is just enough of a gross factor that the target audience of 9 to 12-year-olds will find the book as entertaining as it is enlightening. Colorful spreads, lots of sidebars, humorous illustrations, and photos make it ideal for browsing as well as reading in depth.

Yellow Dog: A Novel

Jeremy lives in a small community where winters are long and stray dogs roam the streets. When peer pressure leads Jeremy into a bad prank, he is immediately struck with guilt—and that’s when his life changes forever. Trying to make amends, Jeremy befriends Yellow Dog—and in the process meets a curious old man who introduces him to the adventures of sled dogging. Soon Jeremy is forming his own old-time dog team that includes Yellow Dog and discovers more about himself—and the old man—than he ever thought possible.

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles

Eleven-year-old Bailey longs for miracles. She and her younger brother are spending a month on Arbutus Island with a spoon-stealing grandmother they haven’t previously met while their parents are at Marriage Repair camp. As Bailey’s new friend Daniel, a boy with cystic fibrosis, demonstrates his capacity to live in the present, Bailey learns to think about things she can change, and things she can’t, in a more mature and positive way. Family secrets, as well as unique and complex characterizations, make this a light-hearted yet evocative page-turner.

OCDaniel

From the author of Incredible Space Raiders from Space! comes a brand-new coming-of-age story about a boy whose life revolves around hiding his obsessive compulsive disorder—until he gets a mysterious note that changes everything.

Daniel is the back-up punter for the Erie Hills Elephants. Which really means he’s the water boy. He spends football practice perfectly arranging water cups—and hoping no one notices. Actually, he spends most of his time hoping no one notices his strange habits—he calls them Zaps: avoiding writing the number four, for example, or flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times over. He hopes no one notices that he’s crazy, especially his best friend Max, and Raya, the prettiest girl in school. His life gets weirder when another girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time. She doesn’t just notice him: she seems to peer through him.

Then Daniel gets a note: “I need your help,” it says, signed, Fellow Star child—whatever that means. And suddenly Daniel, a total no one at school, is swept up in a mystery that might change everything for him.

With great voice and grand adventure, this book is about feeling different and finding those who understand.

The Nameless City

Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don’t let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders.

Kaidu is one such outsider. He’s a Dao born and bred–a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Let’s hope so because the fate of the Nameless City rests in their hands

The Inn Between

The Shining meets “Hotel California” in this supremely creepy middle-grade novel about the bizarre things that happen to two girls stranded at a desert inn.

Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned

When Quinn’s best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara’s parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara’s family before it’s too late?

The Hill

Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. When Jared insists on hiking up the highest hill in search of cell phone reception, Kyle hesitates; his Cree grandmother has always forbidden him to go near it. There’s no stopping Jared, though, so Kyle reluctantly follows. After a night spent on the hilltop—with no cell service—the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. Nothing in the forest surrounding them seems right. In fact, things seem very wrong. And worst of all, something is hunting them. Karen Bass, the multi-award-winning author of Graffiti Knight and Uncertain Soldier, brings her signature action-packed style to a chilling new subject: the Cree Witiko legend. Inspired by the real story of a remote plane crash and by the legends of her Cree friends and neighbors, Karen brings eerie life—or perhaps something other than life—to the northern Alberta landscape in The Hill.

Heart of a Champion

Ellen Schwartz’s Heart of a Champion is, on one level, a story about a younger brother who saves his brother. Key to the novel, however, is the World War II setting and the background of the central characters. Set in 1941-2, Heart of a Champion has as its larger theme the expulsion and internment of British Columbia’s Japanese Canadians.

Flickers

Isabelle and Beatrice are twins born near Lethbridge, AB, in 1913. Only a few years later, in 1926, their life has changed dramatically. Both of their parents have died, their home has burned to the ground, and the girls are in Santa Monica, CA, living as the wards of Mr. Cecil, an up-and-coming director of movies, or flickers as they were known at the time. Although they are twins, the two girls couldn’t be more different. Isabelle is pretty and has become a film star thanks to Mr. Cecil’s tutelage. She has only starred in silent films to date, but she is soon to have a role in the very first talking picture to hit movie screens. Her biggest asset is a piercing and powerful scream – and soon it will actually be heard by theatre audiences. Beatrice, on the other hand, was badly scarred as a baby and spends her time in seclusion at the Cecil estate, absorbed in science books and an insect collection and not being included in any of the Hollywood activities. This gives her time to think, and more and more she begins to wonder about what happened to her and her twin as infants and the role Mr. Cecil has played in their lives and in various other disturbing coincidences at the estate in Santa Monica. He isn’t always the caring guardian he portrays, and his upcoming movie begins to take on a chilling, even evil, quality which Beatrice senses but cannot quite explain.

A Boy Named Queen

Despite being called A Boy Named Queen, this charming story is actually about a girl named Evelyn and her journey towards self-discovery. Evelyn lives with her parents in an extraordinarily structured life. On the last day of every summer vacation, the family dutifully scrubs the entire house and puts away all remaining vestiges of summer. They then go to buy Evelyn her new, practical loafers for the school year. Evelyn is careful and precise. She speaks quietly and enjoys math because “numbers always act as they should.” Her mother has told her to keep a damper on her imagination, and her fond wish for her daughter is that Evelyn becomes a government office worker. Into this sterile world bursts Queen. He is confident and witty, creative and quirky. Evelyn is drawn to his carefree spirit, and the two begin a friendship on their daily walk home from school.

What’s the Buzz?

Whether they live alone or together, in a hive or in a hole in the ground, bees do some of the most important work on the planet: pollinating plants. “What’s the Buzz?” celebrates the magic of bees–from swarming to dancing to making honey–and encourages readers to do their part to keep the hives alive. All over the world, bee colonies are dwindling, but everyone can do something to help save the bees, from buying local honey to growing a bee-friendly garden

We Are All Made of Molecules

Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless.  Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules.

That Squeak

Joe and Jay were best friends. There was nothing more fun than spending the day exploring on their bikes. But things have changed now. Jay is gone and Joe can’t help but notice that his parents have forgotten that Jay’s bike is still parked outside the school. Joe decides to take the bike home – to polish it and paint it up just like Jay would have liked. That is when the new kid Carlos offers to help – but he probably just wants to steal it. Then again, maybe there is more to Carlos’s story than meets the eye. And maybe Joe has finally found a new friend to share the special place and the bike that has “that squeak” with.

The Summer We Saved the Bees

Wolf’s mother is obsessed with saving the world’s honeybees, so it’s not too surprising when she announces that she’s taking her Save the Bees show on the road—with the whole family. Wolf thinks it’s a terrible plan, and not just because he’ll have to wear a bee costume—in public. He likes his alternative school and hates the idea of missing weeks of classes. His teenage stepsister doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend, and one of his little half sisters has stopped talking altogether, but Wolf’s mom doesn’t seem to notice. She’s convinced that the world is doomed unless ordinary people take extraordinary action. It isn’t until the kids take some drastic action of their own that she is forced to listen when Wolf tells her that dragging the family around the province in a beat-up Ford panel van may not be the best idea she ever had.

Seven Dead Pirates

Lewis Dearborn is a lonely, anxious, “terminally shy” boy of eleven when his great-grandfather passes away and leaves Lewis’s family with his decaying seaside mansion. Lewis is initially delighted with his new bedroom, a secluded tower in a remote part of the house. Then he discovers that it’s already occupied — by the ghosts of seven dead pirates. Worse, the ghosts expect him to help them re-take their ship, now restored and on display in a local museum, so they can make their way to Libertalia, a legendary pirate utopia. The only problem is that this motley crew hasn’t left the house in almost two hundred years and is terrified of going outside. As Lewis warily sets out to assist his new roommates — a raucous, unruly bunch who exhibit a strange delight in thrift-store fashions and a thirst for storybooks — he begins to open himself to the possibilities of friendship, passion and joie de vivre and finds the courage to speak up.

Rain Shadow

Bethany knows that she is special. She doesn’t learn things as easily as her classmates do and that sometimes makes them mean to her. They call her names – including the really “bad” name. Even her mom and her sister Mira say unkind things at times. But Bethany has friends like her neighbor Mrs. Goldsborough as well as happy times with Dad when he gets home from work. And now, Mira has promised to protect her from the bullies when the new school year begins.Then tragedy strikes, tearing Bethany’s world apart in ways she could never have imagined, and she starts to wonder if there will ever be a place that feels like home again.

The Nest

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? This is a haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, from acclaimed author Kenneth Oppel (Silverwing, The Boundless) with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

Masterminds

Eli Frieden lives in the most boring town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. Only thirty kids live in the idyllic town, where every lawn is perfectly manicured and everyone has a pool and a basketball hoop. Honesty and kindness are the backbone of the community. There is no crime in this utopia.

Eli has never left town…. Why would he ever want to? But everything changes the day he and his friend Randy bike to the edge of the city limits. Eli is suddenly struck with a paralyzing headache and collapses. Almost instantly, a crew of security—or “Purple People Eaters,” as the kids call them—descend via helicopter. Eli awakens in the hospital, and the next day, Randy and his family are gone.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

Hiawatha was a strong and articulate Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves—a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.