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This list was compiled by King Township Public Library staff. All books are written by Canadian authors and/or take place in Canada. Each month there will be a new theme to help you read your way through a celebration of Canada’s 150th.

All books are available at the library!

To go to specific months click on the links below:





Notable Canadian authors who have left us too soon.

vinyl cafe turns the page

Vinyl Café Turns the Page
By: Stuart McLean
Book—2015 (Adult Fiction)
A brand new collection of Vinyl Café stories, from the inimitable Stuart McLean, featuring a worldlier and wiser Dave and Morley. Dave and Morley are growing older, Steph and Sam are growing up. Moving out and moving on. Dave and Morley’s marriage has mellowed and deepened like a fine wine, Sam has developed a palate for girls and Gruyere, and Steph’s found happiness with an artist who photographs roadkill. Everyone’s growing wiser and worldlier—well, almost everyone. Yes, Dave still has trouble with the automatic car wars, defibrillators, and hot yoga, but he’s come to appreciate Mary Turlington, and that’s saying quite a bit. In this collection of Vinyl Café stories, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

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vinyl cafe stories

Vinyl Café. Stories
By: Stuart McLean
Book—1998 (Talking Book CD Adult Fiction)
A compilation of nine McLean routines recorded at concerts throughout Canada in 1997 and 1998. As the host of Vinyl Café on CBC radio, Stuart McLean performs funny monologue/stories about Dave, who runs the record store called Vinyl Café; Morley, his wife; Stephanie his teenage daughter; and Sam, his young son. The stories often involve mishaps based on well-intentioned ideas or deeds that didn’t work out as planned.

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welcome home

Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada
By: Stuart McLean
Book—1992 (Adult Non-Fiction)
Across thousands of miles, the Canadian population clusters like loosely strung beads on the thread of the 49th parallel. This is truly Canada—a vast stretch of land and a bounty of small towns. In Welcome Home McLean takes us on a heartwarming journey from one coast to the other to visit these small yet vibrant places and meet their remarkable citizens. Each town Stuart visits tells us a little about Canada’s rich and often forgotten history and a lot about who Canadians are today. With a storyteller’s eye for detail and an effervescent sense of humour, Stuart McLean introduces us to seven truly wonderful places  and dozens of extraordinary people.

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life with words

A Life With Words: A Writer’s Memoir
By: Richard B. Wright
Book—2015 (Adult Non-Fiction)
As a small, watchful boy growing up in a working class family in Midland, Ontario, during the Second World War, Wright gradually discovered that he saw the world through different eyes. His intellectual and sexual awakenings, his exploits as a young salesman in Canadian publishing, his painful struggles to become a writer—all of this is balanced against the extraordinary reception that in the 1970s greeted his first novel, The Weekend Man, which was published around the world to great acclaim. Haunted by sometimes crippling depression and the ups and downs of the mid-life writer he finally achieved overwhelming success with Clara Callan that revitalized his career and swept every award in Canada.

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Clara Callan

Clara Callan
By: Richard B. Wright
Book—2001 (Adult Fiction)
Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2001
In a small town in Canada, Clara Callan reluctantly takes leave of her sister, Nora, who is bound for New York. The two sisters—vastly different in personality, yet inextricably linked by a shared past—try to find their places within the complex web of societal expectations for young women in the 1930s. Nora embarks on her glamorous career as a radio-soap opera star and Clara, a strong and independent-minded woman, struggles to observe the traditional boundaries of a small and tight-knit community without relinquishing her dreams of love, freedom, and adventure. Twists of fate will end up requiring all of Clara’s courage and strength, and will finally put the seemingly unbreakable bond between sisters to the test.

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from the dead

From the Dead
By: Norah McClintock
Book—2014 (Young Adult Fiction)
Rennie is in Uruguay when his cousins discover a secret cache at their dead grandfather’s cottage. Thousands of dollars in foreign currencies. A mystifying notebook. Multiple passports, some obviously fake. A gun. A disguise. And a photo of some Nazis. Rennie’s mission: to find out whether there was more to the old man than anyone knew. Was he a spy? If he was, what did he do? And for whom? Did he help a Nazi war criminal escape justice? Ronnie’s quest leads him to Argentina and then to Detroit, where he finds more questions than answers and more than one gun pointed—and fired—in his direction. From the Dead is the sequel to both Slide, part of The Seven Prequels and Close to the Heel, part of Seven (The Series).

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she said/she saw

She Said/She Saw
By: Norah McClintock
Book—2011 (Young Adult Fiction)
Tegan was in the backseat when her two best friends were gunned down in front of her. Was it an argument over drugs? An ongoing feud? Or something more random? Tegan says she didn’t see who did it. Or know why. Nobody will believe her. Not the police; not her friends; not the families of the victims; and not even Kelly, her own sister. Is she afraid that the killer will come back? Or does she know more than she is saying? Shunned at school and feeling alone, Tegan must sort through her memories and try to decide what is real and what is imagined. And in the end she must decide whether she has the strength to stand up and do the right thing.

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dance me to the end of love

Dance Me to the End of Love
By: Leonard Cohen
Book—2006 (Adult Non-Fiction)
A deliriously romantic song by Leonard Cohen that was brilliantly visualized through the sensual paintings of Henri Matisse. Cohen’s song is a lyrical tribute to the miracle of love, the grace it bestows on us and its healing, restorative power. This poetic song is gloriously married to the art works of Matisse, perhaps the greatest artist of the twentieth century. Dance Me to the End of Love is the perfect book for art lovers, song lovers, and all other lovers as well.

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book of longing

Book of Longing
By: Leonard Cohen
Book—2005 (Adult Non-Fiction)
Book of Longing contains erotic, playful, and provocative line drawings and artwork on every page, by the author, which interact in exciting and unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and at times darkly humorous. The book brings together all the elements that have brought Leonard Cohen’s artistry with language worldwide recognition.

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beautiful losers

Beautiful Losers
By: Leonard Cohen
Book—1966 (Adult Fiction)
2005 Canada Reads Contender
Beautiful Losers is Cohen’s most defiant and uninhibited work. As imagined by Cohen, hell is an apartment in Montreal, where a bereaved and lust-tormented narrator reconstructs his relations with the dead. In that hell two men and a woman twine impossibly and betray one another again and again. Memory blurs into blasphemous sexual fantasy—and redemption takes the form of an Iroquois saint and virgin who has been dead for 300 years but still has the power to save even the most degraded of her suitors.

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butterfly winter

Butterfly Winter
By: W.P. Kinsella
Book—2011 (Adult Fiction)
Butterfly Winter was the seventh novel published by Kinsella. The story of Julio and Esteban Pimental, twins whose divine destiny for baseball begins with games of catch in the womb, the novel marks a return to form, combining his long-held passions of baseball and magical realism.

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By: Austin Clarke
Book—2015 (Adult Non-Fiction)
Clarke shares his own experiences growing up in Barbados and moving to Toronto to attend university in 1955 before becoming a journalist. With his vivid realism he describes Harlem of the ‘60s, meeting and interviewing Malcolm X and writers Chinua Achebe and LeRoi Jones. Clarke went on to become a pioneering instructor of Afro-American Literature at Yale University and inspired a new generation of Afro-American writers. Clarke has been called Canada’s first multicultural writer.

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choosing his coffin

Choosing His Coffin: The Best Stories of Austin Clarke
By: Austin Clarke
Book—2003 (Adult Fiction)
Choosing His Coffin is a selection of Austin Clarke’s finest work from more than 40 years of storytelling, drawing on his Caribbean roots and his years in Canada. These stories range in theme from growing up in West Indian society and what it means to be black in both the United States and Canada to surviving as an immigrant in a predominantly Anglo-Saxon culture. Clarke has become one of the most respected authors in North America and is one of Canada’s national literary treasures. He is a master of fictional invention.

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Canadian Books to Celebrate Black History Month

Elijah of Buxton

Elijah of Buxton
By: Christopher Paul Curtis
Book—2007 (Junior Fiction)
2008 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award; 2008 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction
Elijah of Buxton is about an eleven-year-old boy, Elijah Freeman, who lives in Buxton, Canada. It was started as the Elgin Settlement, a refugee camp for African-American slaves who escaped via the Underground Railroad to gain freedom in Canada. Elijah is the first free-born child in the settlement, and has never lived under slavery. He has only heard of it. He goes into the United States to help stop a man from his settlement from stealing money from his friend, and learns there that it is a privilege to be free.

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Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes
By: Lawrence Hill
Book—2007 (Adult Fiction)
2007 Rogers Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize; 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book Overall; Canada Reads 2009
A historical epic, Lawrence Hill brings home the brutal realities of the slave trade through the powerful, haunting tale of one woman's extraordinary life. At the age of 11, Aminata Diallo is kidnapped from her African village and brought to South Carolina to work as a slave. She eventually wins her freedom and becomes a force in the abolitionist movement in Britain, but only after decades of struggle and adversity.

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i am my fathers son

I Am My Father’s Son
By: Dan Hill
Book—2009 (Adult Non-Fiction Memoir)
In memoir, one of Canada’s most respected singer-songwriters traces his difficult relationship with his father. From when Dan Hill picked up a guitar at age 11, he tried to win the approval of Daniel Hill Sr., a man who has been called Canada’s father of human rights. But Hill Sr. set impossibly high standards for himself and his family, especially for his eldest son, leading to conflict and alienation even as young Dan achieved international fame and success. Hill tells the story of two parallel lives—his father’s in mid-20th-century America and his own as a young black man coming of age in suburban Canada—and the stormy but ultimately loving way each of those lives affected the other.

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child soldier

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War
By: Michel Chikwanine
Book—2015 (Junior Non-Fiction)
Red Maple Nominee 2017

Michel is like many other five-year-olds: he has a loving family and spends his days going to school and playing soccer. But in 1993, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Michel and his family live, is a country in tumult. One afternoon Michel and his friends are kidnapped by rebel militants and forced to become child soldiers. This book is sometimes heartbreaking but ultimately an inspiring true story of the triumph of the human spirit.

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journey from tollgate

The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton
By: Adrienne L. Shadd
Book—2010 (Adult Non-Fiction)
When the Lincoln Alexander Parkway was named, it was a triumph not only for this distinguished Canadian but for all African Canadians. The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway looks at the history of blacks in the Ancaster-Burlington-Hamilton area, their long struggle for justice and equality in education and opportunity, and their achievements, presented in a fascinating and meticulously researched historical narrative. Although popular wisdom suggests that blacks first came via the Underground Railroad, the possibility that slaves owned by early settlers were part of the initial community, then known as the "Head of the Lake," is explored.

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half blood blues

Half-Blood Blues
By: Esi Edugyan
Book—2011 (Adult Fiction)
Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2011; Finalist for Man Booker Prize 2011; Canada Reads Finalist 2014

A vivid evocation of Berlin and Paris during the Second World War, Half-Blood Blues centres around the disappearance of Hiero, a talented young black German jazz musician, at the hands of the Nazis in Occupied France. His friend and fellow musician, Sid, is still struggling to come to terms with Hiero's fate 50 years later. Half-Blood Blues is an entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

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phillis wheatley

My Name Is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom
By: Afua Cooper
Book—2009 (Junior Fiction)
Phillis Wheatley, born into an African family of storytellers, is captured by slave raiders and forced aboard a slave ship, where appalling conditions mean death for many. Weakened by the voyage and near death in a Boston slave market, Wheatley is bought by a kind family who nurses her back to health and teaches her to read and write where they discover she’s a quick learner and talented. At the age of 12, a torrent of poetry begins to flow out of Wheatley. Proud of her achievements, her mistress organizes readings in Boston's finest parlors and drawing rooms, and Wheatley's fame spreads. But while many in Boston are calling her a prodigy and a genius, some remain unsure that a slave should be able to write, much less write poetry. When Phillis travels to London she is a media sensation, feted by the cream of English society and after her book of poems is published she becomes free.

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By: Suzette Mayr
Book—2011 (Adult Fiction eBook)
The suicide of a bullied and heartbroken gay 17-year-old has devastating and unexpected effects on his family, friends and Catholic school community, including the school principal and guidance counsellor who are in a long-term homosexual relationship that they keep secret in order to keep their jobs. A tragicomic masterpiece about secrets and identity.

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Whylah Falls

Whylah Falls
By: George Elliott Clarke
Book—1990 (Adult Non-Fiction)
Winner of the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry; 2002 Nominee for Canada Reads mythic community created within these poems is populated with larger-than-life characters: lovers, murderers, musicians, and muses. Winner of the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry, Whylah Falls has inspired a drama, a stage play, and a feature film, One Heart Broken into Song. This Tenth Anniversary Edition includes "Apocrypha" - a section of previously unpublished poems - and an introduction by Clarke.

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The polished hoe

The Polished Hoe
By: Austin Clarke
Book—2002 (Adult Fiction)
Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2002; Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book Overall 2003; Trillium Book Award 2003
In Bimshire in the West Indies in 1952, an elderly woman confesses to killing a plantation owner. As Mary-Matilda, the confessor, shares her story with the local police sergeant over the course of one long night, what emerges is an unforgettable portrait of the legacy of colonialism. The Polished Hoe is a powerfully affecting, intimate story, but it also has an epic sweep.

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By: William Bell
Book—2001 (Young Adult Fiction)
Young Adult Book Award 2002; Mr. Christie’s Book Award
Garnet was always a different from other guys, never fitting in and he was okay with that. In his final year of high school, he's marking time, waiting to get out into the real world. When a mysterious girl transfers to his school Garnet thinks he might have found the girl of his dreams, if only he could get her to talk to him. As Garnet struggles to win over one girl, another girl is trying to get his attention - unfortunately she lived over 150 years ago. Fascinated by her history and that of the black community she belonged to, he draws closer to the truth, and uncovers a horrifying chapter in his town's history. And how history can still reverberate in the present.

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underground to canada

Underground to Canada
By: Barbara Smucker
Book—1977 (Junior Fiction)
Ripped from her mother by slave traders, Julilly yearns to be free. She and her friend Liza dream of escaping to Canada, the ‘Promised Land’ of freedom. So when the Underground Railway offers to help them escape, they are ready. But slave catchers are also ready to relentlessly pursue them… This Canadian classic includes an intro by Lawrence Hill.

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Cafe Babanussa

Café Babanussa
By: Karen Hill
Book—2016 (Adult Fiction)
Informed by many of the author’s own experiences, a young mixed-race woman travels from Canada to Germany to start her life anew. Ruby Edwards, escaping a loving but at times overbearing family, throws herself into the shifting social and political sinews of 1980s-era West Berlin—a time of new music, punk rockers, travellers, racial tensions and a beating pulse of artistic energy. Here, Ruby finds love and new challenges, striving to discover the person she was meant to be. But the highs become too high and the lows too low, and Ruby finds herself plunged into the depths of mental illness. With courage and determination, Ruby again and again pulls herself back from the brink and revels in what matters most to her—her family, her community and her own individuality. Inspiring and heart-rending, Cafe Babanussa is an engrossing, deftly crafted novel by a voice that was lost to us all too soon.

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Canadian Picture Books to enjoy!

bumblebee sweater

A Bumblebee Sweater
By: Betty Waterton
Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice, 2009

Grandma Needlethorpe knits a sweater for her granddaughter Nellie's role as a bumblebee in the upcoming spring concert. And it’s a huge success, but almost too much so! With every wear the sweater needs another was that ends up shrinking the oversized sweater...will it end up being too small for the concert?

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boy soup

Boy Soup
By: Loris Lesynski
When Giant wakes up with a big hurting head and a sore raspy throat, he finds the cure is a bowl of Boy Soup! Giant captures five boys and Kate, who all protest his plan. But Kate soon comes up with her own remedy and convinces the Giant that the soup should be made, not of boys, but by boys.

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Fishermen Through and Through
By: Colleen Sydor
Blue Spruce Nominee 2016

For Peter, Santiago and Ahab they are fishermen through and through and the sea is their home. But they still dream of other places, far away and vastly different from what they know now—however the fishermen realize it impossible to imagine their life without the sea.

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follow that star

Follow that Star
By: Kenneth Oppel
Zach and his brothers are tending sheep when his brothers see an angel that tells them to go to Bethlehem. They leave Zach a note and he too follows. Along the way he runs into problems—mainly having to take his sheep with him. Every time Zach`s patience is tested there is always someone who comes to his rescue. Could they be the angels Zach was looking for?

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in a cloud of dust

In a Cloud of Dust
By: Alma Fullerton
Blue Spruce Nominee 2016

In a Tanzanian village school, Anna struggles to keep up. Her walk home takes so long that when she arrives, it is too dark to do her homework. Working through the lunch hour instead, having missed the truck from the bicycle library she has to hide her disappointment and help her friends learn to ride. She doesn't know a compassionate friend will offer her a clever solution--and the chance to raise her own cloud of dust.

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sidewalk flowers

Sidewalk Flowers
By: JonArno Lawson
Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustrated Book;

A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year

In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.

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the branch

The Branch
By: Mireille Messier
When an ice storm snaps a small girl's favorite branch from the tree in her yard, she won't let it be hauled away. To her, it wasn't just any branch, "It was my castle, my spy base, my ship..." Her neighbor Mr. Frank agrees. He says the branch has "potential," and the two get to work transforming what was broken into something whole and new, to be enjoyed again and again.

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The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten
By: Maureen Fergus
When a little girl starts kindergarten she noticed that her Mom was happy for her, of course, but also a little sad to leave her. So the little girl invites her mom to join the class one day. But, when Mom comes to kindergarten for the day she can’t seem to get the rules right. How embarrassing! The girl must become patient and be the sometimes frustrated expert who teaches her Mom how to behave.

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hockey sweater

The Hockey Sweater
By: Roch Carrier
For young Roch his life is school, church and hockey. Every boy’s hero was Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard and everyone wore his #9 jersey. They mimicked him every way possible. But when Roch outgrows his favourite Canadiens sweater his mother writes away for a new one. But it’s a blue and white Toronto Maple Leafs sweater that he receives instead. The dreaded and hated foes to his beloved team. How can Roch face the other kids at the rink?

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wonderful pigs of jillian jiggs

The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs
By: Phoebe Gilman
Jillian Jiggs has finally cleaned up her room! And after discovering that a jar of buttons she found during the cleanup look just like pigs' noses, Jillian Jiggs embarks on an extravagant pig-making enterprise. She makes pirate pigs, princess pigs, striped pigs and plaid pigs, and plans to sell them for ten cents each. But can Jillian part with her pigs when they are so full of personality?

Also, find a guide to making your own pigs in the back of the book!

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By: Jean Little
Make a wish and the sky's the limit in this delightful rhyming story from the incomparable Jean Little.

In this charming new picture book, children and their wild imaginations take centre stage! In a true celebration of wishers and dreamers, Jean Little entertains readers with bouncy rhymes depicting kids' favourite wishes - from puppies to pancakes; and sundaes to snowflakes.

If wishes were stories, there would only be one - this one!

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Yuck, a love story

Yuck, a love story
By: Don Gillmor
Governor General’s Award 2000 for Children’s literature illustration

Austin's life is perfect until Amy moves in next door. He doesn't understand why a girl has to live beside him, or why girls have to live anywhere for that matter. Despite having no use for Amy, Austin seems to be strangely affected by every comment she makes and everything about her - right down to the bows on her shoes. Yuck, a Love Story will touch the heart of anyone who has survived that earth-shattering first crush.

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