Yellow Dog by Miriam Korner
Jeremy lives in a small community where winters are long and stray dogs roam the streets. When peer pressure leads Jeremy into a bad prank, he is immediately struck with guilt — and that’s when his life changes forever. Trying to make amends, Jeremy befriends Yellow Dog — and in the process meets a curious old man who introduces him to the adventures of dog sledding. Soon Jeremy is forming his own old-time dog team that includes Yellow Dog and in the process, discovers more about himself — and the old man — than he ever thought possible. (Red Deer Press)
Magic Animal Adoption Agency 3: The Missing Magic by Kallie George, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
A new volunteer has joined the Magical Animal Adoption Agency, and Clover’s not too happy about it! Oliver Von Hoof is supposed to be an expert on magical animals, but he’s barely older than Clover. How can he be an expert on anything? He’s certainly not very good at caring for the animals, so why does Mr. Jams keep asking him to help?
When Mr. Jams is called away from the Agency on a secret mission, Clover and Oliver are left in charge. It’s their job to keep the animals happy, but something strange is going on. Picnic the invisible puppy is turning visible, and Clover’s green cat, Dipity, is losing his colour. All of the Agency’s amazing creatures are becoming ordinary! And even Oliver’s magic wands aren’t enough to cure them. Will Clover and Oliver learn to work together before it’s too late? (HarperCollins Canada)
Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall
“What’s with the get-up? Is that the company uniform or something?”
“This? All P.I.s wear a trench coat.”
“Dude, that’s a brown bathrobe.”
I shrugged and straightened out my sleeves. “First rule of private investigation, Ivy: work with what you’ve got.”
Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. He knows more than anyone how to work with what he’s got: a bathrobe for a trench coat, a makeshift office behind the school equipment shed, and not much else—least of all, friends. So when a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he’s ready to take it on himself . . . until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner. As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick—and a friend—is such a bad thing after all. (Sterling)
Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry
Alice doesn’t like noise, smells or strangers. She does like rules. Lots of rules. Nobody at her new school knows she has Asperger’s, so it doesn’t take long for her odd behavior to get her into trouble. When she meets Megan in detention, she doesn’t know what to make of her. Megan doesn’t smell, she’s not terribly noisy, and she’s not exactly a stranger, but is she a friend? Megan seems fearless to Alice—but also angry or maybe sad. Alice isn’t sure which. When Megan decides to run away, Alice resolves to help her friend, no matter how many rules she has to break or how bad it makes her feel. (Orca)
As if being a teenager isn’t difficult enough, Micah is coping with a disability that slowly diminishes his capability to do things others take for granted. He tries to be as normal as he possibly can: refusing to have a guide dog believing it will limit his freedom, trying to do without his white cane as often as possible, and hiding his flare-ups in the vain hope that his disability will go away on its own. The only place where Micah really feels in control is on the court when he plays goalball: a game designed for the visually impaired.
Young readers will relate to young Micah’s struggles: not necessarily his disability, but his anger issues, making friends, learning to be part of a team, that special relationship, and trying to become more independent of his parents. The language and tone of the book definitely feels like a young teen is speaking to the reader. It’s wonderful to have a book that is based locally and illustrates the pressures young people face as they juggle parental expectations, personal goals, expectations, relationships and in this case a degenerative disability.
-Reviewed by Marianne Huang