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ASK THE BOOKSELLERS: FOR THE CHILD WHO loves exploring new worlds

Your mom is more than just “mom.” This holiday season, we encourage you to go beyond the gift guide. If you’re looking for personal gift recommendations for the people in your life, with all their unique quirks and interests and dreams, you should shop at indie bookstores.

This week, we asked three Canadian indie booksellers what gifts they would recommend for the child who loves exploring new worlds.

Each recommendation is as unique as the store that made it. Are you shopping for this person in your life? Use the “Shop Local” button to find this book near you or visit your local indie bookstore for their gift recommendations today! 

From Moonbeam Books in Toronto, ON:



The Land of Roar
Written by Jenny McLachlan, illustrated by Ben Mantle
Published by HarperCollins Canada

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were the heroes of Roar, a magical world they invented where the wildest creations of their imaginations roamed. Now that they’re eleven, Roar is just a distant memory. But it hasn’t forgotten them. When their grandfather is spirited away into Roar by the villain who still haunts their nightmares, Arthur and Rose must go back to the world they’d almost left behind. And when they get there, they discover that Grandad isn’t the only one who needs their help. This enchanting, action-packed novel is perfect for readers who’ve always dreamed of exploring Narnia and Neverland.

Jenny McLachlan is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels. Before she became a writer, she was head of English in a secondary school. When she isn’t thinking about or writing stories, she enjoys living by the seaside, cycling, and running over the South Downs.

Ben Mantle has illustrated numerous books for children. He is also the creator of the award-winning The Best Birthday Present Ever!





From Kidsbooks in Vancouver, BC:


Da Vinci's Cat

Written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Published by HarperCollins Canada

Federico doesn’t mind being a political hostage in the Pope’s palace, especially now that he has a cat as a friend. But he must admit that a kitten walking into a wardrobe and returning full-grown a moment later is quite odd. Even stranger is Herbert, apparently an art collector from the future, who emerges from the wardrobe the next night.

Bee never wanted to move to New Jersey. When a neighbor shows Bee a sketch that perfectly resembles her, Bee solidifies her resolve to keep to herself. But then she meets a friendly cat and discovers a mysterious cabinet in her neighbor’s attic—a cabinet that leads her to Renaissance Rome.

This compelling time-slip adventure is full of action, mystery, history, art, and friendship—and features one unforgettable cat. The book includes black-and-white spot art throughout of Da Vinci’s cat by Caldecott Medalist Paul O. Zelinsky, as well as an author’s note about the art, artists, and history that inspired the novel.

Catherine Gilbert Murdock is the acclaimed author of the Newbery Honor Book The Book of Boy, as well as six other novels. She grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.



From Woozles in Halifax, NS:



The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga, Book One

Written by David A. Robertson
Published by Penguin Random House Canada

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place. Then, a portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds. The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek (Fisher) welcomes the human children. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award. The Barren Grounds received a starred review from Kirkus and was a Quill & Quire best middle-grade book of 2020 and nominated for the OLA’s Silver Birch Award. A sought-after speaker and educator, as well as recent recipient of the Writers' Union of Canada's Freedom to Read Award, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg, MB.



Thank you to the booksellers who provided recommendations this time around. We'll be back next week with another edition of Ask the Booksellers!


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