Canadian Children’s Book News

Winter 2015 | Vol. 38 No. 1

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Below (Broken sky Chronicles, Book 1) written by Jason Chabot HarperCollins Canada, 2014 978-1-44340-779-3 (pb) $17.99 978-1-44340-781-6 (eBook) $9.99 for Grades 7 and up Fiction | Dystopia On the barren plains of Below, a teenage boy named Hokk lives in isolation amid the remnants of our modern world. On the floating islands in the skies of Above, Elia and her family are enslaved in endless drudgery. When a natural disaster in Above causes the islands to crumble, Elia falls to Below. ere she is rescued by Hokk, who realizes she might be the key to ending his exile. Both teens are desperate to return to the homes they've lost, and their journey will propel them into a centuries-old battle for the earth and sky around them. In this first novel of his debut futuristic fantasy trilogy for young adults, Jason Chabot paints a picture of two very different worlds. Below is bleak and desolate, and its inhabitants scavenge the human bodies that fall from Above, hoping to find treasures that will help them to survive. Hokk, a teenage criminal living in exile, is tough and resourceful and is biding his time in Below until his banish - ment is up and he can return to the city and his family. In contrast, Above is a bustling metropolis on a system of islands in the sky in which Elia and her family are enslaved. e worlds of Above and Below are vividly written, and Chabot immediately hooks readers by enshrouding them in mystery and raising questions about the worlds and their inhabitants. roughout the story, there is a definite sense that every thread is leading up to something important, but the author doesn't get there quite fast enough to fully engage readers who prefer a quick reveal. Yet, in spite of the sometimes slow pacing, Below is a promising start to an original new series that is sure to engage fans of dystopian fiction. Rachel Seigel Dance of the Banished written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch Pajama Press, 2014 978-1-927485-65-1 (pb) $15.95 for Grades 8 to 12 Fiction | Historical Fiction | World War I | Ottoman Empire | Canada | Genocide | Internment It is June 1913, when Ali breaks the news to his fiancee Zeynep that he will be leaving their Anatolian village to go to Canada. Once there, he hopes to finally be able to save enough money to pay for her passage, and to build a new life for them there. But the world is on the brink of war and everything soon changes. e two record the events that they witness in journal entries to each other, even though they both fear that they will never see one another again. Alternating between these two sets of journal entries, readers learn Zeynep's story of going to live and work with Christian missionaries. As World War I looms, she witnesses first-hand the horrors of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Young Turks who now control the government. Conditions for her and the other Alevi Kurds are only marginally better, but that is small consolation as she watches Armenian men, women and children being cruelly treated and marched to their deaths. Meanwhile, in Canada, Ali and the other Alevi Kurds who had tried to settle in Brantford, Ontario, are falsely accused of a crime and sent to an internment camp in northern Ontario. As these two separate stories unfold, a vivid and devastating picture emerges. is latest work is an outstanding testament to Skrypuch's mastery as a writer of historical fiction for young readers. She has created forthright and dramatic accounts of two little-known events from that time period, inviting readers of all ages to try to understand the depth of suffering that these groups have expe - rienced. She has put a profoundly human face on the horrors of war while also creating an insightful portrait of the Alevi Kurds. Zeynep and Ali are both forced to mature very quickly, and their development is convincing. Skrypuch skillfully captures their voices, their longing, their heartbreak and their courage. Lisa Doucet The Art of Getting Stared At written by Laura Langston Razorbill, 2014 978-0-67006-750-3 (hc) $18.99 978-0-14319-298-5 (eBook) $11.99 for Grades 9 and up Fiction | Physical Appearance | Hair | Alopecia Sixteen-year-old Sloane Kendrick is given the opportunity of a lifetime aer she produces a school video that goes viral on YouTube. Invited to apply for a film scholarship at a renowned film school, she must produce a video in less than three weeks and work with Isaac Alexander, a flirtatious classmate who usually doesn't do his share of the work. And if that isn't enough to deal with, Sloane discovers a bald spot on her head and is diagnosed with alopecia areata — an autoimmune disease that has no cause, no cure and no definitive outcome. For a girl who never thought appearances mattered, nothing could be further from the truth as she attempts to deal with her hair loss. Determined to keep her disease a secret and get her video recorded, Sloane learns that she needs to stop judging the people in her life and let them help her. Laura Langston has written a YA novel that grabs your attention from the get-go and keeps you engaged until the very last page. We watch as Sloane transitions from a teenager who doesn't care about her looks to a teenager battling a disease that drastically changes her appearance and has her terrified of what others will say. is novel brings to the forefront the emphasis society places on the importance of physical appearance and how that affects teenagers' identities. e novel also deals with many other issues (bullying, parental relationships, romance) that teens deal with on a daily basis, making it an ideal resource for high school classrooms and libraries. A highly recommended read! Sandra O'Brien is the Interim Program Coordinator at the Canadian Children's Book Centre. W W W. B O O K C E N T R E . C A W I N T E R 2 0 1 5 C A N A D I A N C H I L D R E N ' S B O O K N E W S 3 5

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