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Back-to-School with Alberta Books

By Ayesha Clough

If you think we need more Alberta books in Alberta schools, you’re not alone! Welcome to BrightSparks! the Read Alberta column that’s all about kidlit. In this inaugural edition, we bring you lots of great reads from local publishers and authors to get your kids excited for Back-to-School. Got your own suggestions? Share them on social media and tag us @WeReadAB.

Pre-School

Alberta Alphabet Book by Nicky Bird

B is for Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park. H is for Hoodoos, towers of rock shaped by the weather. V is for Vulcan, home of the Trek Station. Have a wonderful time trekking around the province with your new friends Bucky Beaver, Scotty Squirrel, and Robbie Rabbit!

Alberta Alphabet Book

Nicky Bird (CA)

Published: Sep 15, 2020 by Folklore Publishing
ISBN: 9781897206232

Rocky Mountain 123s by Jocey Asnong

From Canmore artist and author Jocey Asnong, a lyrical board book that teaches number recognition and counting from one to twenty. See also her Nuptse and Lhotse series about two adventurous cats who love to travel.

Rocky Mountain 123s

Jocey Asnong (CA)

Published: Jun 04, 2017 by RMB | Rocky Mountain Books
ISBN: 9781771602112

Elementary (KG-Gr3)

The Two Brothers: A Haida Story by Diane Brown

Illustrated by two Haida carvers, this is the story behind the Two Brothers Totem Pole in Jasper National Park. Told in Haida, English, and French, we learn the unusual connection between the west coast islands of Haida Gwaii and our own Rocky Mountains.

The Two Brothers: A Haida Story

Diane Brown (CA)

Published: Jun 15, 2011 by Summerthought Publishing
ISBN: 9781926983042

Castles and Knights by Tamara Hartson

The “Super Explorers” are taking you back in time to the medieval days when people lived in castles and knights slayed dragons. Learn all about moats and secret passages, as well as weapons and armour. (See also Astronauts & Space, Robots, Volcanoes, and more in this series).

Castles and Knights

Tamara Hartson (CA)

Published: Mar 01, 2019 by Blue Bike Books
ISBN: 9781926700984

Juggling the Jitters by Deborah Fannie Miller

A “Dealing with Feelings” picture book from Calgary author Deborah Fannie Miller. A fun way to deal with anger and anxiety by turning worry into wiggles and jiggles. See also Grappling with the Grumblies, Deborah’s first book which won The Steffie Young Readers Choice Award.

Juggling the Jitters

Deborah Fannie Miller (CA)

Published: Oct 13, 2013 by Frontenac House, Ltd
ISBN: 9781927823026

Little Women’s Lodge Kit – Basic by Darlene Pearl Auger

“When little ones are born unto the earth, they are slowly let down with a Rope into the Tipi.” — From Mîkiwâhp: The Traditional Tipi, one of four Nehiyaw (Cree) picture books in the Kit. The stories are designed to help children learn about traditional parenting roles and responsibilities, as well as Cree language, story, and singing. The Basic Kit includes four picture books, two CDs, and a Teacher’s Guide.

Book cover image for Little Women's Lodge Kit: BasicLittle Women’s Lodge Kit: Basic
Darlene Pearl Auger
Published by Eschia Books
ISBN: 9781926696669

Howdy, I’m John Ware by Ayesha Clough & Hugh Rookwood

A picture book about Alberta’s legendary Black cowboy who blazed a trail of kindness despite adversity. Includes comic-book style illustrations, a timeline, and educator’s notes. Finalist, ‘Children’s Book of the Year’, Alberta Book Publishing Awards and Nominee, Heritage Calgary ‘Storytelling Award’, both in 2021. Author and illustrator do Virtual Visits for Black History Month in February.

Read Alberta Case Study: Howdy, I’m John Ware

Howdy, I’m John Ware

Ayesha Clough (CA)

Published: Jun 01, 2020 by Red Barn Books
ISBN: 9781999108786

Middle Grades (Gr4-8)

Lillian & Kokomis by Lynda Partridge

Lillian is at her seventh foster home, and at the end of her rope. As a girl of mixed Anishinaabe and white ancestry, she struggles to fit in and is bullied at school. But this time is different. With the love of “Auntie”, and more importantly, Kokomis (Grandmother) the learning and healing begins. A wonderful story interspersed with cultural teachings, Anishinaabek words, and charming illustrations.

Lillian and Kokomis: The Spirit of Dance

Lynda Partridge (CA)

Published: Mar 21, 2019 by Durvile Publications
ISBN: 9781988824277

Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands by W. Scott Persons

Meet the locals—the terrifying Albertosaurus and plant-eating Edmontosarus—plus visit the Danek Bonebed and Alberta’s other notable dig sites. This beautifully presented book is loaded with photos and illustrations that will appeal to young readers. Winner of the 2019 Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards Juvenile/Young Adult Non-Fiction category.

Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands

W. Scott Persons (CA)

Published: Mar 10, 2018 by Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
ISBN: 9781550178210

 

 

From Blue To Red by Ross McIntyre (+ Students)

This animated story with a jazzy soundtrack was created by award-winning Calgary music teacher Ross McIntyre with help from his students, funding from the Space Agency, and narration by Diana Krall! Watch it online in English (www.frombluetored.net) and French (www.dubleuaurouge.net). Alberta’s ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ in 2013. An oldie but a goodie. And free to view online!

Book cover image for From Blue to RedFrom Blue to Red
Ross McIntyre
Published: 2012 by Tiberious Publishing
ISBN: 9780986741623

Middle Grades (Gr4-8) continued...

Kung Fu Master by Marty Chan

Jon Wong earns some serious street cred when word spreads around school that he’s a kung fu master. Except he’s not. So when the school bully challenges him to prove his skills, Jon must figure out a way to somehow keep his status as the cool kid … without getting pulverized.

Kung Fu Master

Marty Chan (CA)

Published: Aug 27, 2019 by Orca Book Publishers
ISBN: 9781459822467

Hat Trick by Jacqueline Guest

Leigh Aberdeen is the only girl on her Alberta hockey team, the Falcons, and not everyone is happy about that. A local classic, Hat Trick is a suspenseful, action-packed story of a young Métis woman who learns about the difficulties of leading a double life—the hard way!

Hat Trick

Jacqueline Guest (CA)

Published: Sep 15, 2010 by James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
ISBN: 9781552775639

Uncertain Soldier by Karen Bass

Erich is a young German POW working at a northern Alberta logging camp during WWII. He befriends Max, the twelve-year-old son of German immigrants. But with a saboteur haunting the logging camp and anti-German feeling running high in town, their friendship puts them both in danger. Winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, and finalist for the Red Maple Award.

Uncertain Soldier

Karen Bass (CA)

Published: Apr 01, 2015 by Pajama Press Inc.
ISBN: 9781927485729

High School (Gr9-12)

The Loxleys and Confederation by Mark Zuehlke, Alexander Finbow, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Claude St. Aubin, & Christopher Chuckry

This award-winning graphic novel is a great way to present history to highschoolers. We rejoin the Loxleys in 1864 in the Niagara peninsula (see also The Loxleys and the War of 1812). Under threat of an American invasion, the Canadian colonies look to unite. We trail the Loxleys on their journey to the Charlottetown Conference and witness the events that lead to the Dominion of Canada.

The Loxleys and Confederation

Mark Zuehlke (CA), Niigaanwewidam Sinclair

Published: by Renegade Arts Entertainment
ISBN: 9780992150891

Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung

Homes is the true story of a young boy who emerged from a war zone and found safety in Canada. This 2019 Canada Reads Audience Choice Winner provides a relevant and empathy-building window into understanding Syria for junior/senior high readers. Plus, the last section of the book takes place in an Edmonton junior high school.

Homes: A Refugee Story

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah (CA), Winnie Yeung (CA)

Published: May 01, 2018 by Freehand Books
ISBN: 9781988298283

Flashback by Simon Rose

I see dead people … and I have flashbacks to a life that’s not my own. Whoa! Max investigates the unsolved murder of a teenaged boy, with the help of the boy’s ghost. Nominated for a 2016 Alberta Book Publishing Award in the Young Adult category.

Book cover image for FlashbackFlashback

Simon Rose

Published: Mar 25, 2015 by Tyche Books

ISBN: 9781928025115

Rescue in the Rockies by Rita Feutl

Janey, the time-travelling teen, is back! This time, the fourteen-year-old is forced to spend the holidays in Banff with Max, a sixteen-year-old German kid she finds very annoying. When she tries to get away, she’s whisked off to 1883, then a WWI internment camp, and finally the Banff area after the war. What do these time-hopping visits have in common, and can Janey solve the mystery before the enemy she’s made in the past captures her and Max for good?

Rescue in the Rockies

Rita Feutl (CA)

Published: Sep 01, 2021 by NeWest Press
ISBN: 9781774390399

TwoBlackEyes and the Unfinished Script by Tyler Trafford

Brandon Flock was an adventurous Calgarian who left an unfinished film script. Award-winning author Tyler Trafford takes the core of that story and imagines it into a fictional coming-of-age tale starring high school senior Nathan Munro. Together with three friends, Nathan escapes into a vividly imagined personal myth about being a prehistoric bull hunter. With the help of a mysterious teacher, the four friends challenge boundaries, face their fears and write their own futures.

TwoBlackEyes: And The Unfinished Script

Tyler Trafford (CA)

Published: Jun 30, 2017 by Frontenac House Ltd.
ISBN: 9781927823705

Cold White Sun by Sue Farrell Holler

Cold White Sun is based on the true story of a boy who escapes political turmoil in Ethiopia and shows up alone and terrified at the former Greyhound station in Calgary. Set partly in Ethiopia and partly in Canada, readers will gain insight into what it means to be a refugee. Finalist for the Governor General’s Award, Young People’s Literature.

Cold White Sun

Sue Farrell Holler

Published: Mar 01, 2019 by Groundwood Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781773060811

About the Author

Photo of Ayesha CloughAyesha Clough is the owner/operator of Red Barn Books, a boutique publisher of western-themed books by Alberta authors and artists. As a former journalist and a mom, it’s her personal conviction that Alberta kids need more Alberta stories. She’s delighted that the BrightSparks! column will shine a light on locally-produced titles for young readers. Email ayesha@redbarnbooks.ca with your suggestions and feedback.