Three Picture Books from Groundwood

I’m Not Sydney, by Marie-Louise Gay is a playful story full of adventure through the use of a child’s imagination. When some neighbourhood friends meet to play outside, they each dive deep into their imaginations to pretend as though they are some of their favourite jungle animals. From a sloth to an anteater along with such a wide variety of others, each child chooses a different animal to become for the day. As they play, they share details of what each animal likes or doesn’t like, and readers are taken along on their journey.

 The detailed descriptive imagery in this story really helps readers to use their own imagination to follow along with the children. Providing fun bits of information about each animal as they join in with their friends, the story also helps little ones learn about the different animals. It also captures some of the differences between animals – some are fast, some are slow, some like to sleep during the day and some at night. No matter the differences, the friends have a wonderful day playing together in their imaginative world. With pleasant illustrations, I’m Not Sydney is a fun, adventurous story for young listeners.

Flock, by Sara Cassidy, is a funny short story about a little girl waiting at a bus stop, and the bizarre situation she finds herself in. As she waits for the bus with her mother amongst the chaos of the city, she finds herself in her own little world as birds begin to join her. She decides to share her lunch with them, but the more she shares, the more birds arrive. She takes pleasure in naming each one and sharing lunch, until she must say goodbye to them all when the bus arrives.

Addy reads “Flock” while Harlow peeks over her shoulder. (Look closely!)

The illustrations by Geraldo Valerio are so vibrant and cheery, and really complement the fun, and quirkiness of the story. They are also detailed and help to captivate the attention of little listeners. While the storyline itself is simple and short, combined with the illustrations it provides amusing entertainment for little ones.

When I Listen to Silence by Jean E. Pendziwol shares a child’s imaginative journey after being asked to sit quietly. As they sit, their imagination blossoms and brings them on wild adventures, with dancing trees, mermaids, trips to the moon and so much more. The transitional flow from one aspect of the adventure to the next is written in a manner that is smooth and connects each piece so well. The way that the adventure comes to an end and brings the child back to a place where they enjoy sitting in silence is such a pleasant way of bringing everything together.

The illustrations by Carmen Mak are soft and dark yet colourful all at once, giving an imaginative, dreamy vibe that is the perfect match for the story. This story not only provides a glimpse into this child’s imagination but also shows children the things they can dream of with their own imaginations. It helps to show how silence can be a positive thing, as it allows them the opportunity to dream up anything, and the entertainment that can come along with that. When I Listen to Silence is a cheerful yet calming story for young listeners.

Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anansi, was founded in 1978 by Patricia Aldana with a mandate to publish children’s books of the highest possible quality for all ages, which has grown to include fiction, picture books, graphic novels and nonfiction. 

Their primary focus has been on works by Canadians, although they are often moved to publish outstanding literature from other countries. Many of their books tell the stories of people whose voices have been underrepresented or marginalized by traditional publishing channels.

Children's Picture Book Reviewer

Melanie is the Children's Book reviewer at The Miramichi Reader. She is a mother to two young children Adeline (4 years) and Harlow (2 years). She has a Bachelor of Health Science from Dalhousie University and previously worked as a Radiological Technologist before deciding to pursue a career in health insurance administration. She enjoys sewing, crafting, and going on adventures with her family. Having lived in all three maritime provinces, Melanie now raises her daughters with her husband in Moncton, NB.