Atana and the Firebird by Vivian Zhou.

HarperCollins, 2023. 9780063075931

Atana’s island may be quiet and peaceful, but mostly, it’s lonely. With the outside world full of magic hunters who would stop at nothing to capture a mermaid like her, Atana has never been brave enough to swim far from her island’s shores and seek the answers to her mysterious past—until a firebird named Ren unexpectedly crashes into her life.

The Bellwoods Game by Celia Krampien

Simon and Schuster, 2023. 9781665912501

Everyone knows Fall Hollow is haunted. It has been ever since Abigail Snook went into the woods many years ago, never to be seen again. Since then, it’s tradition for the sixth graders at Beckett Elementary to play the Bellwoods Game on Halloween night. Three kids are chosen to go into the woods. Whoever rings the bell there wins the game and saves the town for another year, but if Abigail’s ghost captures the players first, the spirit is let loose to wreak havoc on Fall Hollow—or so the story goes.

The Big Sting by Rachelle Delaney

Penguin Random House Canada, 2023. 9780735269323

Eleven-year-old Leo is an “armchair adventurer.” This, according to Dad, means he’d choose adventures in books or video games over real-life experiences. And while Leo hates the label, he can’t argue with it. Unlike his little sister Lizzie, Leo is not a risk-taker.

So when he, Lizzie, Mom and Dad leave the city to visit Grandpa on Heron Island, Leo finds all kinds of dangers to avoid — from the deep, dark ocean to an old barn on the verge of collapse. But nothing on the island is more fearsome than Grandpa himself — Leo has never met anyone so grumpy! 

 The Cricket War by Tho Pham

Kids Can Press, 2023. 9781525306556

Twelve-year-old Tho Pham lives with his family in South Vietnam. He spends his afternoons playing soccer and cricket fighting, but life is slowly changing under the Communists. His parents are worried, and Tho knows the Communist army will soon knock on their door to make his brother, and then him, join them. Still, it shocks him when his father says he’s arranged for Tho to leave, immediately. Tho tries to be brave as he sets out on a harrowing journey toward the unknown. A survival story drawn from real-life experience enriches this riveting refugee story.

Gnome is Where Your Heart Is by Casey Lyall

HarperCollins, 2023. 9780063239845

Lemon Peabody loves spending time with Grandpa Walt. Even though he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved to an assisted living facility, he’s still the same funny, loving grandpa he’s always been. One of Grandpa’s claims to fame is his story about meeting an alien years ago—and that it looked like a garden gnome. Ever since, it’s been something of a town-wide joke, and the cause of a rift between Grandpa and Lemon’s dad. Lemon is determined to find those extraterrestrial gnomes and vindicate Grandpa Walt—while Grandpa can still remember it.

The Islands of Elsewhere by Heather Fawcett

Penguin Random House Canada, 2023.


Not many kids have an island in their backyard, but suddenly, the Snolly sisters have three. They’re staying at Granddaddy’s seaside property for the summer, which includes the mysterious Fairy Islands: Fairy, Little Fairy, and Ghost. The people in Misty Cove call them “in-between places,” and say they’re full of magic—a magic that gets inside you. But ten-year-old Bee Snolly doesn’t believe in magic—she just wants to help her ill Granddaddy. And if she and her sisters can unravel the mystery of the Fairy Islands in time, they may discover a long-buried secret that could help them all.

Nish North and South by Isabelle Picard

Scholastic Canada, 2023. 9781443197243

While Léon spends all his free time playing hockey, and wondering how he can prove he has the talent to make it big in a place with no competition, Éloïse works on a school project that opens her mind to the history of her people — their victories and their battles lost.

But when their father gets sick and needs treatment almost 1000 km from home, and someone from their village mysteriously disappears, the twins learn lessons about the fragility of humanity and the dangers of the land they call home.

No Place Like Home by Lihn S. Nguyen

HarperCollins, 2023. 9781443466202

A recent immigrant to Canada from Vi?t Nam, Lan is lonely in the basement apartment she shares with her dad. Her mom and little brother are still in Vi?t Nam, and she misses them so much. Her books are the only things that bring her comfort. No one is more surprised than Lan when a mysterious wind whisks her right into the pages of her latest fantasy read—and more shocking still is the fact that she summoned the winds herself! Plunged into the magical world of Silva, Lan learns she is a budding witch with the power to help Annabelle and Marlow, the very characters she’d just been reading about, save their home.

Squire & Knight by Scott Chandler

First Second, 2023. 9781250249340

Squire is brainy, bookish, and terribly under-appreciated by the brawny, inept knight Sir Kelton, who somehow always gets all the glory. So when the two mismatched heroes find themselves in a cursed village plagued by a demonic dragon, Kelton rides off to slay it and Squire stays behind to catch up on some reading. But Squire starts to notice that something isn’t quite right about this town . . . Can he uncover its strange secrets?

Up For Grabs by Michelle Mulder

DCB, 2023. 9781770866942

Frida and her brother, Zac, have lived in seven countries in ten years. In fact, they’ve been traveling for so long that Frida has never considered herself from anywhere — until they inherit their grandmother’s house in Victoria, British Columbia. Now they’re up to their ears in family heirlooms, paintings of dead relatives, vintage paper clips, and ceramic animals. Then a nosy antique dealer takes an interest in her grandmother’s stuff. A big, sneaking-around-trying-to-break-in-to-the-house kind of interest. Is this strange neighbor looking for something specific? And will Frida and Hazeem figure it out before it’s too late?