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  • FESA Staff

4 Books to Read this Month

The theme for our reading recommendations this month is oral history! Each of the stories focuses on telling the story of an individual, a cultural tradition, or history of the land. Readers can use this opportunity to understand different experiences and viewpoints, as well as gain a new perspective.


Meet Willie O'Ree (2020)

Written by Elizabeth MacLeod and illustrated by Mike Deas

“Growing up in Fredericton in the 1930s, Willie was a top all-around athlete — but the sport he loved most was hockey. On January 18, 1958, Willie became the first black player in the NHL. To get there, he had faced racism and an injury that would have ended most hockey careers. And playing in the NHL was only the start of his incredible career” — Scholastic Canada


Something from Nothing (1992)

Written and illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

“Joseph's grandfather made him a beautiful blanket when he was a baby, but now it's frazzled and worn, and Joseph's mother says it is time to throw it out. Joseph doesn't want to part with his special blanket, and he's sure that his grandfather can fix it. Sure enough, Grandfather miraculously alters the blanket into useful items again and again. But when Joseph loses the final item, even Grandfather can't make something from nothing. But maybe Joseph can?

Based on the Yiddish folktale "Joseph's overcoat," Phoebe Gilman's gorgeous artwork charts the transformation of the blanket and the progress of Joseph's family through the years, subtly teaching young readers about a lost way of life” — Scholastic Canada


Oscar Lives Next Door: A Story Inspired by Oscar Peterson's Childhood (2015)

Written by Bonnie Farmer and illustrated by Marie Lafrance

“Long before Oscar Peterson became a virtuoso jazz pianist, he was a boy who loved to play the trumpet. When childhood tuberculosis weakened his lungs, Oscar could no longer play his beloved instrument. He took up piano and the rest is history: Oscar went on to become an international jazz piano sensation.

Oscar Lives Next Door is a fictional story inspired by these facts. The book imagines a next-door neighbour for Oscar named Millie, who gets into mischief with him but also appreciates his talents: Oscar hears music in everything, and Millie calls him a magician for the way he can coax melodies from his trumpet. Millie writes to Oscar during his long stay in the hospital for tuberculosis, and she encourages his earliest notes on the piano. Set in Oscar’s true childhood neighbourhood of St-Henri — now known as Little Burgundy — the book provides a wonderful sense of this 1930s neighbourhood where most of Montreal’s Black working class population lived. Detailed digital illustrations make the community’s culture and music almost tangible.

The book concludes with a page of informational text about the author’s own connection to Little Burgundy and a short biography of the jazz legend” — Owl Kids


Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak (2020)

Written by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd, and illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers

“With bright and bold illustrations by celebrated Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers, this sturdy board book introduces iconic sounds of the West Coast and supports the language development of babies and toddlers. From the crackle of a beach campfire to the swoosh of canoe paddles, the rustle and creak of cedars in the wind, the roar of sea lions and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, the rhythmic text, vibrant illustrations and glossy tactile finish of Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak will delight the very youngest readers.” — Harbour Publishing



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