“The Four Heroes in Haunted City” by Ms Cohan’s Grade 4 Class

Artwork by Josh Rosen

Our Character:

  • Sally The Night Cat, a girl werecat
  • She has black cat ears, the head and tail of cat with a human body
  • She’s funny and loves making jokes
  • She’s nocturnal (sleeps during the day and is awake at night!)
  • Has butterfly wings and can fly
  • Long straight blonde hair
  • She carries a bow and arrow
  • She has a device that can make people big or small
  • She is very scared all the time
  • She runs away from big monsters when she sees them
  • Loves the monkey bars
  • She is hungry and wants to find food in Haunted City

Our Setting:

  • Is a little bit spooky but not too spooky
  • Outdoors at nighttime, and is pretty dark
  • There are owls with big eyes on little buildings
  • There are witches here, and they make really stinky potions
  • Around the buildings are trees with red bark and mostly fallen-off leaves
  • There are leaves are on the ground
  • There is a ghost train with ghosts inside it
  • When you pull the horn on the train it makes a spooky train sound like this: “AHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
  • There are about 20 funny little geese walking around outside and inside the buildings
  • There are shadows that have the voices of kids
  • It smells like pie outside
  • There is an empty building
  • There is also the smell of horrible breath outside (like someone who hasn’t brushed their teeth in years)
  • Along the building are pipes dripping water
  • There’s a fang on the ground
  • There are written messages on the walls

The Four Heroes in Haunted City

Once there was a girl named Sally, who lived in Haunted City. She used to live with her parents until they both had heart attacks and died while at the train station. They were at the train station because a big red tree had fallen and crushed their family home.

Sally was a normal girl, but a few days after her parents died, something turned her into a werecat.

She was now Sally the Night Cat! She had butterfly wings to fly with and could turn into a real cat, but didn’t realize she had these powers.

There were monsters and witches in Haunted City, and Sally wanted to save the day. But there was a problem, she was too scared to face them! She wanted to learn about them at Monster School, but she was made fun of for wanting to go.

There was also a boy named Bloodly Boy who had also lost his parents in a tragic accident at the train station. He wanted to fight monsters too, but he was also scared of them!

Bloodly Boy and Sally the Night Cat went outside to take a walk by the pond, where the frogs and jellyfish lived, to make themselves feel better.

They ran into a tiger named Anthony, who lived in the jungle. He had been forced into the city from his home. Anthony was with a good vampire, named Mary, who had lost her fang.

The four of them teamed up and went to the library to look for books on how to defeat monsters. In the library, they encountered a book monster that could disguise itself as a book. There was also a special book that could give them special powers that could turn them into dragons.

The next book they found told Sally all about her Night Cat powers and how to use them. She was starting to feel less afraid of monsters, but the book monster suddenly appeared and stole the book…


“Dusty Donna & Jojo Potato’s Crazy Journey” by Ms Kelly’s Grade 4 Class

Artwork by Josh Rosen

Our Characters:
Dusty Donna

  • The main character is a jazz singer named Dusty Donna
  • She doesn’t like to clean up and is covered in dust
  • She was expelled from school for being too dirty
  • She has long black hair and is always wearing rags
  • She’s 17 years old
  • She spins around and covers her audiences in dirt, so they throw old fruit at her

Jojo Potato

  • He wears a mouse shirt and has potato chip hair that grows back after he eats it
  • He loves Donna and yells “Potato” at the stage when she is singing
  • Can regrow himself in the earth if he is hurt

Soda man

  • one side blue, one side white

Our Setting:

  • A really big boat in the middle of the ocean being grabbed by an octopus monster
  • There is a desert with monsters in it that smell like rotten eggs and are ugly and mean
  • The monsters are protecting gold treasure by the volcano
  • The smoky volcano is overflowing with lava, and inside it is the chief monster who leads the Monster Army and guards the gold treasure
  • Near the volcano are deceptively stinky blue and gold flowers with flames and spikes that HEAL PEOPLE!
  • The monster army is coming together to ATTACK!

Dusty Donna & Jojo Potato’s Crazy Journey

One day Dusty Donna was invited to sing on a fancy yacht. When she started singing, the audience realized why she was called ‘Dusty’ Donna. She spun around, covering them in dirt! The audience got mad and threw rotten fruit at her. She was on this ship because she had been expelled from school, after 17 years without a bath!

Jojo Potato, Dusty Donna’s friend, was hiding backstage with all his magical potato friends. Jojo Potato was wearing his favorite shirt with a mouse on it. He had potato chip hair that he snacked on sometimes, but it always grew back!

As Dusty Donna was singing, a giant octopus attacked the ship because it came too close to its octopus babies. Jojo Potato fed the octopus his most delicious potato chip which made the octopus dance with joy. It danced so hard that it poked some holes in the ship with the spikes in its tentacles. The yacht started to sink!

Jojo Potato wanted to get everyone to safety, so along with his friends, he created a potato boat to get everyone to the desert island.

Dusty Donna and Jojo Potato arrived at the island and saw a giant volcano with lava coming out! They also noticed big, ugly, mean monsters that smelled like rotten eggs. It looked like the monsters were protecting something next to the volcano.

Dusty Donna figured out that they were protecting treasure that she thought would make her clean. She had been dirty for so long that even a normal shower would not do the job! Her dream was to sing her beautiful jazz music without the audience throwing fruit at her. She headed toward the volcano to get the treasure.

Meanwhile, Soda Man, who lived underneath the volcano, threw two cans of soda into the mouth of the volcano. This caused it to erupt in a giant wave of soda! Inside of the volcano lived unicorns, mermaids, and a lochness monster. A giant explosion of soda carried them all out of the volcano, and they began fighting the monsters guarding the treasure!

Dusty Donna and Jojo Potato were also trying to get the treasure, but they were caught between all the magical creatures and the giant monsters…


“Maurice’s Defeat Day” by Ms Wasserman’s Grade 2 Class

Artwork by Chris Green

Our Character:

  • Is a fairy princess named Maurice Bloomiz
  • She is a member of the royal fairy family, and they all have wings – one is a butterfly wing and one is a bat wing
  • She is 9 years old
  • She is skinny and flat and only 3 inches tall
  • She is a treasure hunter, likes to makes art about kindness and respecting people, and is silly
  • She wears a crown, glass shoes, and a pink dress that has three pink stars on it
  • She also has a dress that is gold with flowers on it for special occasions
  • She lives in a pink castle
  • She has straight yellow and pink hair that is past her shoulders, and sharp nails
  • She also has a nice house that is beside a lake
  • Maurice has a wand with magical powers – she can point to things and change them into whatever she wants
  • She wears black eyeliner, likes makeup and basketball, and is good at math
  • She has a friend who is also a fairy princess and is 6 years old, and they have flying races with each other
  • Her dad is a prince who wears a handsome vest, and his name is Shining Armour
  • She has two younger siblings: a baby brother named Jean who is very strong and can lift big fat rocks, and a baby sister who likes to steal her eyeliner and does a bad job of putting it on
  • Her mom is the queen fairy, Cadenza, who has blue hair and is pregnant with twins

Our Setting:

  • A beautiful place where there are books in trees
  • There are little ants who live there as well
  • There is a storage cupboard where there are tools and ladders
  • There are clouds high up in the sky where you need ladders to climb up to them
  • There is an underground house that has a kitchen and washroom
  • There are sharks who have books in their tummy
  • There is also a tree house where you can play board games and play with other people
  • Near the tree house there are two gardens with fruits and vegetables
  • The books have hands, legs, and wings and can fly
  • In  the tree house there is a little bird’s nest with an orange mom bird

Maurice’s Defeat Day

The royal fairies, Maurice, her baby sister, baby brother, and their parents, the prince and the queen, wanted to protect their magical books from the giant sharks who were trying to eat them all.

This was happening in the fairy world called Castle. In this place there was a bookstore called Work Shop. The queen’s name was Cadenza and the prince was called Shining Armour.

While the fairies were fighting the sharks, a volcano exploded and the whole planet started turning into lava and a lava dragon flew out of the volcano. The dinosaurs were defeated by the lava. Maurice began to feel worried because she feared her family might be destroyed by the sharks and the dragon. Maurice’s family began to feel angry and sad because they wanted to protect the magical books.

Then, it started to rain, so the sharks were able to swim on land! The sharks were swimming so fast, they made a huge wave so that they could charge right at the fairies! The mom and dad fairy flew to the lava dragon to battle him, while Maurice and her baby brother and sister tried to use the sharks to defeat the lava…


Update: Story Planet’s New Headquarters!

Update: November 8, 2017

We’ve been painting!!

Thanks to the amazing Farha and Logan for getting the place launch ready. We’ll need a few hands to help with some more painting and some carpeting!

Email me liz(at)storyplanet.ca if you like to help make our space beautiful!

Our new space at Parliament Library will be creative workshop, meeting and office space. It will enable us to run consistent, impactful programming for children in the neighbourhood (both James Town and Regent Park), as well as allow schools from all over the GTA to come on a field trip to us.

The space will be designed for maximum creativity and will feature all kinds of art from kids, artists and writers. We will embrace our galactic theme so children entering the space truly feel like they are going to a new, imaginative place where their ideas matter.

We know from the library that there are many families and children who are in need of creative and writing support. Toronto Public Library is the perfect partner because they are a trusted space, with the perfect companion to writing support…books! They are as excited as we are about the impact we can have on the community and how we can support each others’ programs and co-create new ones. 

We will be offering after-school programs twice a week, weekly field trips, Teen Writing Group, as well as camps, and that’s just to start!

Story Planet at Word on the Street!

It was a blazing hot day, but we had a total blast making crafts with awesome kids all day!

Major kudos goes out to our incredible team of volunteers who made the festival such a fun and creative experience for everyone!

We can’t wait for Word on the Street 2018 – see you there!

Summer Musings

Bed in Summer


In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
If you have a favourite poem, send it to us and we’ll post for others to enjoy!

Alien Has Landed at Topcliff!

Story Planet had an amazing week working with students to uncover the stories of a mysterious landing. The students learned all about comic books and told their stories in true cartoon style! More to come…

Books For Earth Day

Copy of StoryPlanet_Diversity

With Earth Day approaching, we’re thinking more and more about the importance of protecting our incredible and beautiful planet here at Story Planet. We know that stories have the power to educate and connect us, and so we believe that reading and sharing stories that help teach us the value and importance of protecting our Earth are now more important than ever. We recommend the following list of books to help any young people in your lives (and you too!) learn more about the environment, and how crucial it is to have respect and care for our special Earth. We hope you love them!

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer by Claire A. Nivola
Ages 4 – 8

Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
Ages 5+

Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea.
Summary from Amazon.ca

The Promise and Laura Carlin
Ages 5+

A picture book of great beauty and hope about the power we have to transform our world. On a mean street in a mean city, a thief tries to snatch an old woman’s bag. But she finds she can’t have it without promising something in return – to “plant them all”. When it turns out the bag is full of acorns, the young thief embarks on a journey that changes her own life and the lives of others for generations to come. Inspired by the belief that a relationship with nature is essential to every human being, and that now, more than ever, we need to renew that relationship, The Promise is the story of a magical discovery that will touch the heart and imagination of every reader, young and old. With poignant simplicity, honesty and lyricism, Nicola Davies evokes a powerful vision of a world where people and nature live in harmony. And Laura Carlin’s delicate illustrations capture a young girl’s journey from a harsh, urban reality to the beauty and vitality of a changed world.
Summary from Amazon.ca

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
Ages 5+

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change. Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Kenya’s Art by Linda Trice, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell
Ages 5 – 8

Kenya’s class is on spring vacation and their teacher asked them to write a report about how they spent their time. But vacation is almost over and Kenya hasn’t done anything worth noting. A late visit to a museum’s recycling exhibit and a walk through her neighborhood with her daddy inspire Kenya to use her old, broken toys and other items to make art with her family. Now she’s prepared to teach her whole class how to Recycle! Reuse! Make Art!
Summary from Amazon.ca

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
Ages 8 – 12

Clandestine e-mail exchanges, secret trips, fake press releases, and a tree-house standoff are among the clever stunts and pranks the kid heroes pull in this exciting ecological adventure.

“Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk,” reads Julian Carter-Li in an angry e-mail message meant for his greedy, high-powered uncle. The fateful message sets him on the course to stop an environmental crime! His uncle’s company plans to cut down some of the oldest California redwood trees, and it’s up to Julian and a ragtag group of friends to figure out a way to stop them. This thrilling, thoughtful debut novel shows the power of determined individuals, no matter what their age, to stand up to wrongdoing.
Summary from Amazon.ca

The Last Wild by Piers Torday
Ages 8 – 12

In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he’s told there’s something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he’s finally gone crazy. But the animals have something to say. And they need him. The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester’s help, and together they must embark on a great journey, joined along the way by an overenthusiastic wolf cub, a military-trained cockroach, a mouse with a ritual for everything, and a stubborn girl named Polly. The animals saved Kester Jaynes. But can Kester save the animals?
Summary from Amazon.ca

Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change edited by Tony Bradman
Ages 10 – 13

From the effects of rising sea levels to changes in animal behaviour and human lifestyles, these powerful stories portray the issues surrounding climate change in personal terms and so bring them vividly to life. Offering warnings and inspiration in equal measure, the stories cover a wide range of localities from Siberia and Canada to Australia, UK, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Writers include award-winning Linda Newbery as well as exciting newcomers like Australia’s George Ivanoff. Whether read from cover to cover or dipped into for one or two stories, this book will enlighten and inspire everyone to consider how climate change will affect us all.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Ages 10 – 14

This Newbery Honor-winning, hilarious Floridian adventure involves new kids, bullies, alligators, eco-warriors, pancakes, pint-sized owls, and more. A New York Times bestseller!

Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?
Summary from Amazon.ca

Breathe by Sarah Cossan
Ages 14+

Ever since the Switch, when the oxygen levels plummeted and most of humanity died, the survivors have been protected in a glass dome full of manufactured air. If you want to live, you pay to breathe. But what if you can’t pay? And what if you think everything could be different? Alina’s a revolutionary who believes the Resistance can save the environment, can break free, and she’s on her first mission. Quinn’s a Premium who’s never had to worry about having enough air. His best friend, Bea, is an Auxiliary who’s never worried about anything but having enough air. When all three cross paths and walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Ages 15+

Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Ages 16+

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Books on Social Justice & Diversity


At Story Planet, we believe that books can open our eyes and our hearts to new perspectives and experiences. We also believe that hearing the stories that often go untold are so important for building more open and accepting communities. The following books all focus on issues of diversity and social justice, and we think that these books are more important than ever to add to our reading lists. We hope you enjoy them!

Secret Side of Empty by Maria E Andreu
Ages 7+

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.

With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a “normal” future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience to tell a story that is timely, relevant, and universally poignant.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
Ages 8 – 12

In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them.

Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. When they arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with her, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.

This moving, funny novel won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling
Ages 9 – 12

Young Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle. Young Aki Munemitsu never expected to be sent away from her home and her life as she knew it. The two girls definitely never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected on a Southern California farm in a way that changed the country forever. Who are Sylvia and Aki? And why did their family stories matter then and still matter today? This book reveals the remarkable, never-before-told story—based on true events—of Mendez vs. Westminster School District, the California court case that desegregated schools for Latino children and set the stage for Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education at the national level.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird
Ages 9 – 12

curfew. Israeli tanks control the city in response to a Palestinian suicide bombing. Karim longs to play football with his mates – being stuck inside with his teenage brother and fearful parents is driving him crazy. When the curfew ends, he and his friend discover an unused patch of ground that’s the perfect site for a football pitch. Nearby, an old car hidden intact under bulldozed buildings makes a brilliant den. But in this city there’s constant danger, even for schoolboys. And when Israeli soldiers find Karim outside during the next curfew it seems impossible that he will survive . . .

A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird is an exciting, enlightening and important story that brings to life the reality of events reported daily in the news, and will help young readers understand more about one of the worst conflicts affecting our world today.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
Ages 9 – 13

When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Stella lives in the segregated South—in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community—her world—is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz
Ages 10 – 17

Rad Women Worldwide tells fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. From 430 BCE to 2016, spanning 31 countries around the world, the book features an array of diverse figures, including Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica). This progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history and belongs on the shelf of every school, library, and home.

Together, these stories show the immense range of what women have done and can do. May we all have the courage to be rad!
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Grease Town by Ann Towell
Ages 10+

A heartbreaking history of prejudice, family ties, and the loss of innocence.When twelve-year-old Titus Sullivan decides to run away to join his Uncle Amos and older brother, Lem, he finds an alien and exciting world in Oil Springs, the first Canadian oil boomtown of the 19th century.

The Enniskillen swamp is slick with oil, and it takes enterprising folk to plumb its depths. The adventurers who work there are a tough lot of individuals. In this hard world, Titus becomes friends with a young black boy, the child of slaves who came to Canada on the Underground Railroad. When tragedy strikes in the form of a race riot, Titus’s loyalties are tested as he struggles to deal with the terrible fallout.

Though the characters are fictitious, the novel is based on a race riot that occurred in Oil Springs, Ontario, on March 20, 1863. Grease Town is historical fiction at its finest.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Ages 10+

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show her how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple’s conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way. “A must-read for those kids cringing at their own identities.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Dephine Mainoui
Ages 10+

Nujood Ali’s childhood came to an abrupt end in 2008 when her father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. With harrowing directness, Nujood tells of abuse at her husband’s hands and of her daring escape. With the help of local advocates and the press, Nujood obtained her freedom—an extraordinary achievement in Yemen, where almost half of all girls are married under the legal age. Nujood’s courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family has inspired other young girls in the Middle East to challenge their marriages. Hers is an unforgettable story of tragedy, triumph, and courage.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis
Ages 10+

The first book in Deborah Ellis’s riveting Breadwinner series is an award-winning novel about loyalty, survival, families and friendship under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father ― a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed ― works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Ages 12+

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson
Ages 12+

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years.
Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

Like Louise Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

A Big Dose of Lucky by Marthe Jocelyn
Ages 12 – 16

Malou has just turned sixteen—hardly old enough to be out in the world on her own—and all she knows for sure is that she’s of mixed race and that she was left at an orphanage as a newborn. When the orphanage burns to the ground, she finds out that she may have been born in a small town in Ontario’s cottage country. Much to her surprise, Parry Sound turns out to have quite a few young brown faces, but Malou can’t believe they might be related to her. After she finds work as a cleaner in the local hospital, an Aboriginal boy named Jimmy helps her find answers to her questions about her parents. The answers are as stunning—and life-changing—as anything Malou could have imagined back at the orphanage.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Way to Go by Tom Ryan
Ages 12 – 18

Danny thinks he must be the only seventeen-year-old guy in Cape Breton—in Nova Scotia, maybe—who doesn’t have his life figured out. His buddy Kierce has a rule for every occasion, and his best friend Jay has bad grades, no plans and no worries. Danny’s dad nags him about his post-high-school plans, his friends bug him about girls and a run-in with the cops means he has to get a summer job. Worst of all, he’s keeping a secret that could ruin everything.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Ages 13 – 18

Based on a true story.

A school assignment to interview a residential school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, his friend’s grandmother, who tells him her story. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy was soon adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changed. Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalled the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls ― words that gave her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive. Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. We wish to achnowledge, with the utmost gratitude, Betty’s generosity in sharing her story. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Meyers
Ages 13+

New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers tackles the social contract from a teen’s perspective in his novel All the Right Stuff. In one of his most thought-provoking novels to date, Myers weaves together political philosophy, basketball, and making soup in Harlem, with the depth that defines his writing career.

After his father is shot and killed, Paul Dupree finds a summer job at a Harlem soup kitchen. Elijah, the soup man, questions Paul about tough life choices, even though Paul would rather be playing basketball. Over the summer, Paul begins to understand the importance of taking control of your life.
– Summary from Amazon.ca

He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander
Ages 14+

Sparks will fly in this hip-hop-hot teen novel that mixes social protest and star-crossed romance, from Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Honor–winning author Kwame Alexander! He Said, She Said is perfect for fans of Walter Dean Myers and Rachel Vail alike. This paperback edition includes a Q&A with author Kwame Alexander.

He says: Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls has got it made—a full football ride to UMiami, hero-worship status at school, and pick of any girl at West Charleston High. She says: Football, shmootball. Here’s what Claudia Clarke cares about: Harvard, the poor, the disenfranchised, the hungry, the staggering teen pregnancy rate, investigative journalism . . . the list goes on. She does not have a minute to waste on Mr. T-Diddy Smalls and his harem of bimbos.

He Said, She Said is a fun and fresh novel from Kwame Alexander that throws these two high school seniors together when they unexpectedly end up leading the biggest social protest this side of the Mississippi—with a lot of help from Facebook and Twitter. The stakes are high, the romance is hot, and when these worlds collide, watch out!
– Summary from Amazon.ca