Usually Spring or January 1 are associated with fresh starts but parents and kids know September is the true new year. Crisp fall colours, new school shoes, and matching lunchbox containers all indicate beginnings. Catalogue Baby depicts many new beginnings, false starts and devastating losses. The graphic novel shares a complex fertility journey which I found very relatable despite my story being so different. On Haida Gwaii, in September, Mattie and Jojo play in the forest after a summer of beaches and berry picking. And as the days got shorter, I escaped into stories of young people trying to make sense of the initial pandemic lock-down, trapped inside on a never-ending Spring Break.
Back-to-school also means new friends and classrooms full of new books! Share your favourite back-to-school book recommendations and comment on our reviews using #VMBookClub
Three great back to school reads!
Twelve Months of Fun on Haida Gwaii with Mattie & Jojo
Written by: Carsen Gray and Lynn Hughan
Illustrated by: Lynn Hughan
Recommended audience: 2+
This story shares the year-round adventures of a brother and sister on Haida Gwaii. From flying kits by the sea to lighting the Christmas tree at Spirit Square, the book paints a picture of Indigenous culture, celebrations, and family traditions as the seasons change. There are words throughout the story in both Haida and English like Tang.GWan (ocean,) Chiixwaay (beaches), Hlk’inxadaay (forests). The mother and daughter authors share the joy and connection to nature and family, children on Haida Gwaii experience each month. Find the audiobook with a Haida translation here.
Now it’s September. Into the fall, the St’all nay (chanterelles) start to grow on the forest floor.
The sun and rain help them grow. The kids enjoy searching for the yellow mushrooms hiding in the moss while a Xuuya (raven) teases them from the spruce branches up above.
Find it: Amazon.ca
Sunny Days Inside
Written by: Caroline Adderson
Recommended audience: Age 9-12
Publisher: Groundwood Books
As I read through this book, I remembered how I fell in love with reading fiction novels about intertwined relationships and character’s dreams. In this tween fiction, each chapter is the pandemic story of one young person, all neighbours in an apartment building. The simplicity yet inner complexity of the relationships and how each family navigates the “grown-up virus” made me reflect on all the different perspectives we had as we navigated the first few weeks of social distance and lockdowns. I imagine this book will be read in years to come, by kids who can’t fathom keeping away from friends and family, missing sunny days. These stories, although fiction, are the narratives of so many. I really enjoyed reading this and escaping into the drama of kids and young adulthood.
Instead, Connor’s dad got canned when all the restaurants closed. There was a good side to this, though. His dad used to work really long hours. Connor and his little sister Eden barely saw him except on Sundays and Mondays, his days off. Now Connor and his dad could couch surf the playoffs together. Way to go, Virus! Life was getting better and better.
Find it: Caroline Adderson Kids
Written by: Myriam Steinberg
Illustrated by: Christache
Recommended audience: Grown-ups
Publisher: Page Two
I was fortunate not to have any fertility struggles so I was surprised at how much I connected with this book about the challenges and turbulent journey to motherhood. The grief, pain, love, and longing the author shares are relevant to all levels of pregnancy and motherhood. Even having not shared the same challenges, the emotions are similar to those I had with my own challenges. Catalogue baby is a graphic novel, telling honest and uncomfortable truths about fertility, miscarriage, and motherhood through pictorial illustrations depicting incredibly raw experiences, hitting all the senses. I became invested in the various storylines and couldn’t put this book down. The author’s spirit and robust optimism are inspiring. I recommend this book to anyone whose pregnancy wasn’t straightforward or who knows someone with this experience.
It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to really understand what your friend/family member/colleague is going through. How do you support someone going through this journey?
Nothing you say or do will take away the pain. However, there are some very simple things you can do to ease it.
It all boils down to BE THERE, LISTEN, NOURISH, RESPECT.
Find it: Catalogue Baby
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!