The Study

(Back to the Front Porch)

An extensive collection of Canadian Children’s Books is housed at Mount Saint Vincent University. This page will feature some of the titles that can be found there…

The Canadian Children’s Book Collection maintains mirror collections of Canadian children’s books in each region of the country.  In Atlantic Canada the collection had been housed at the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia but needed a new home. Donna Bourne-Tyson, Mount Saint Vincent University’s Librarian, arranged for the collection to be housed in their Library and the transfer was effected in April, 2010. There are over 6,000 books in the collection from Canadian publishers – currently arranged into Young Adult, Series, Non-fiction and Picture Books. Several hundred books will be added each year as they are published.

This is an amazing resource. According to the terms of the deposit the books can not circulate, but they will eventually be entered into the Novanet catalogue and be available for research and reference purposes.

Some of the books that can be found there…


Award-winning author Marie-Louise Gay has created an endearing new character – Caramba is a sweet, shy cat who bravely accepts that he is different, and then discovers his own special talent.

This is a wonderful, quirky book with a great message that touches young and old alike.


The Terrible, Horrible, Smelly Pirate

Written by Carrie Muller & Jacqueline Halsey and Illustrated by Eric Orchard, this book won the 2009 Halifax Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Book Illustration.

Set in the misty waters around Halifax Harbour, this fun read-aloud pirate story follows the adventures of a terrible, horrible, smelly pirate named Sydney and his friend Parrot Polly.Carrie Muller grew up in Cape Breton and now lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,  Jacqueline Halsey is a writer, artist, and avid reader who for the last fifteen years has worked as a programmer in the youth services department of Alderney Gate Library. Eric Orchard attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where he studied painting and art history.

Factory Girl

Writer Barbara Greenwood recounts the plight of North American working children during the early 1900s, using a blend of fiction and non-fiction. 

The fictional story describes the life of 12-year-old Emily Watson who has to leave school to work as a factory girl. The non-fiction in the text discusses the historical aspects of Emily’s story.

This is an amazing book that includes archival photos of  a time in our history when children’s lives were somewhat less priviledged then they are today. A wonderful insight into our past.

The Birdman

Written by Veronika Martenova Charles Illustrated by Annouchaka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphane Daigle

This is the true story of a broken man who wanders the streets of Calcutta until he finds a new purpose: rescuing and freeing thousands of illegally captured birds.

This is a journey into another world with startling and captivating imagery.

The Inuit Thought of It: Amazing Arctic Innovations

Alootook Ipellie is an Inuit artist, writer and poet who wrote this book along with David MacDonald in order to draw attantion to Inuit culture and ingenuity.

This book is full of over forty inventions that the Inuit designed in order to help them survive in the harsh arctic weather.

Beautiful illustrations as well as interesting facts about Inuit inventions make this an important Canadian book and a wonderful addition to any classroom.

The Nine Lives of Travis Keating

Nominated for the Ann Connor Brimer Awars for Children’s Literature and shortlisted for the CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award in 2009, Jill MacLean’s first novel for young readers deals with bullying, alcoholism, stereotypes, and even animal cruelty. It is an excellent “read-aloud” book about a young boy named Travis and his father, who move to Ratchet, a small fishing community in Newfoundland.

There is lots of action to keep readers interested, with breathtakingly vivid descriptions of the geographical area. Readers will easily relate to Travis’s loneliness and the twisting plot will provoke many interesting class discussions.

Sir Reginald’s Logbook

Written and illustrated by Matt Hammill,  this book features Sir Reginald, who is a lovable but nutty armchair explorer on a quest for the “Lost Tablet of Illusion”. The book is full of lush watercolours which depict his incredible jungle adventure as it exists in his mind, but the stark black-and-white illustrations show the journey for what it really is – an imaginative man’s heroic exploration into the depths of his living room.

The Raven

This is a dark vision of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic dark poem. Ryan Price has used a drypoint technique, with rich blacks and feathery lines, capturings the poem’s nightmarish tone.

Price is an artist from Guelph Ontario who graduated from the technical arts program at BealArt in London, Ontario. His focus for the most part has been in printmaking, specifically in the areas of drypoint and monotype. His works in these mediums have won several awards and have been viewed and collected fairly extensively. This is his first children’s book.

The Subway Mouse

Barbara Reid is a well known Canadian children’s book artist who works with plasticine. She incorporates found objects into her art and has won many awards for her children’s book illustrations.

In The Subway Mouse we meet Nib, who lives deep in the subway and has heard stories of the mythical land known as Tunnel’s End, where the air is sweet and the nests soft, but where scary, mouse-eating monsters roam.

The Painted Circus: P.T. Vermin Presents a Mesmerizing Menagerie of Trickery and Illusion Guaranteed to Beguile and Bamboozle the Beholder

Written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards

P.T. Vermin, ring mouse extraordinaire, ushers patrons into the Big Top to behold astonishing stunts featuring optical illusions. This work of art will leave readers spellbound by the power of perception and the magic of imagination.

Every page holds hidden treasures and imaginative journeys into visual illusions as well as a text full of fabulous fun and word play.


  1. One of the books in the Canadian Children’s Book Collection is “The Secret of Grim Hill” by Linda DeMeulemeester (Lobster Press, 2007). I was spurred to read “The Secret of Grim Hill” by a new student who wondered if the library had the sequels because he enjoyed this book so much.

    Cat and her younger sister, Sookie, have just moved to a new town with their mother, and Cat is not enjoying Darkmont High at all. Soccer-playing Cat soon finds out about soccer scholarships to the nearby private Grimoire school that are earned by the winning team of a Halloween match. Despite continually hearing from Sookie and their neighbour, Jasper, that something just isn’t right about Grimoire, Cat goes ahead with her daily team practices until the bizarre events of an early Halloween party change her priorities.

    Cat is a realistic tween protagonist: she is easily annoyed by her younger sister, very aware of her school’s social hierarchy and endeavours to climb it, fulfills her household responsibilities despite wishing she didn’t have to, and is quintessentially likable. When push comes to shove, Cat’s priorities are in order (soccer and family at the top with homework nearly dead last). Sookie is as much or even more compelling as a precocious, Monopoly-loving little girl who generally appears as annoyed with Cat as Cat is with her.

    The atmosphere of Grim Hill is generally light with escalating indications to the reader that something dark is afoot. DeMeulemeester’s incorporation and explanations of Celtic mythology and traditions are seamlessly done, and the tension builds to a peak that is exhilarating and urgent but not full-on scary. I look forward to reading one or more of the sequels (loaned from another school library for the student mentioned earlier) to see if the Celtic theme is maintained or if other mythologies are incorporated into the series. Overall, it is a solid beginning to a middle-grade fantasy series that would be a great read-aloud in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

  2. After exploring this site I realized that there seem to be so many great books that I have never read before! I also wanted to familiarize myself with some Canadian authors so I checked some books out of the library one of them was Barbara Reid’s book called The Subway Mouse.

    I really enjoyed reading about Nib and his adventures deep beneath the subway; I also thought the illustrations were excellent. The use of plasticine and common objects that you could easily identify made it more fun to read.

    When I share this book with my class I thought about creating our very own Nib’s by using plasticine. It is a fun way to use a book to inspire art projects!

  3. As a grade one teacher with the HRSB, I received 22 copies of the book, Caramba for each of my students this year. Every year since 2000 all grade ones students across Canada have become part of the TD Grade One Book Giveaway Program. What a great program that allows the children to take home a Canadian authored book to share with their families, fully funded by TD Bank Financial Group. I always take the opportunity to not only send the book home but read it and use it in my program! Having multiple copies of a book allows us to really experience the wonderful children’s literature that we receive. Caramba is a lovely story with a great lesson on differences and the special talents that we all have that we may not even realize. I used this story as one of my Canadian author selections for my children’s literature curriculum project. I was so excited to be able to share this book with my students and they loved it. We laughed throughout the story and shared the sadness that Caramba, the cat felt as he was not able to fly like all his cousins and friends. One day Caramba realized, by accident that he was able to swim and none of his friends could. My students shared their special talents and differences. We made self portraits and displayed them showing how special each of us is. A wonderful read for you to share with all children.

  4. I can attest to the fact that the Library at the Mount has a wonderful and extensive children’s and young adult literature section. I logged a significant amount of time there as my daughters collection of books and books from borrowed colleagues provided me with only so much literature during our creation of our Readers Notebook. I encourage all of you to have a look at the section immediately behind the journals as it is both extensive and from what I can see, rarely used.

    One of the books I happened to read in my time there was The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate. I agree that the book is a nice read with a great local content so contextually it could allow students to make significant connections and would allow rich classroom discussions to follow I suspect.
    A mermaids riddle, the tireless storyline of a treasure search, and a nameless characters transformation from dirty to clean kid all fall a distant second to the illustrations. Vibrant, rich in colour and out of the norm character representations create humorous depictions of both character and plot.
    It was upon it’s completion that I made my first attempt at signing out the book from the Mount library so I could read it at home with my daughter. As it turns out no sign outs permitted from this particular section of the library. I do however think this one may be worthy of a purchase.

  5. I am very familiar with the book The Terrible, Horrible, Smelly Pirate. During my years as a primary teacher I would have a pirate week. This book was among my pirate book collection and was a favourite of my students. My students and I were lucky enough to take a field trip to the Alderney Gate Library to have Jacqueline Halsey read the story to us and tell us how the book came to be. It was a really great experience for my students to meet a “real author”, as they called her.

    Barbara Reid is another favourite of mine. She is a fantastic author to do an Author Study on. Reid’s books are so fun and colourful! Her website is a great help when teaching students about plasticine. Her books will always be a helpful hand in my teaching.

  6. ‘The Inuit Thought’ of it is a very good resource for teachers. It is probably the best contemporary and comprehensive work on this subject. the everyday life of the Inuit is discussed in practically all aspects with many realistic pictures. I have found that kids enjoy it very much!

  7. Teaching on a tiny island in New Brunswick, I came across, “The Terrible, Horrible, Smelly Pirate” in a collection of books my dad gave me. I was not familiar with this selection and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it was not just any old pirate tale but one based in the waters off Halifax. My students really enjoyed this story. They were captured right away by the title, which made them laugh. They also loved the treasure hunt adventure and could directly relate to the ocean and island life that was present throughout this book.

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