thank you, Paul Dewar.


A few weeks ago, I realized I was feeling really politically winded. Apathetic almost. I sat with the feeling for a while, wondering from whence it came. Sure, I tear up at the radio newscasts regularly, fascists are gaining ground everywhere and the prospect of ecological collapse is impending, but let’s be honest, this wasn’t really new.

With the news of Paul Dewar’s prognosis and his launching of Youth Action Now, it hit me. I realized what it was. Ever since I moved out of my parents’ house, I have lived (until recently) in ridings with progressive, can-do, Members of Parliament. When I got back from a study stint in Sweden–a country I had chosen because of its feminist and democratic traditions–I lived in Paul Dewar’s riding. I got to vote for a progressive who got elected. And re-elected. I saw him at events and received prompt responses back when I sent him letters about issues that mattered to me. He agreed with me. Every time. It was empowering to know that I was represented by someone who had strong progressive stances, and by someone who could, would and did make things happen. When I moved to Halifax, my MP was none other than Megan Leslie. And when I moved back to Ottawa for the Parliamentary Internship Programme, I was again represented by Paul Dewar. I even got to work in the same gorgeous spaces and see his integrity and deep care firsthand.


Now I live in a riding represented federally by someone who won’t get back to me when I get in touch looking for help sorting out dental insurance for refugees and whose office’s hands are tied when I call and write about getting very large graffitied swastikas removed from a highway overpass. It hurts my heart. But more than that, their complacency engenders apathy and cynicism in me. It’s sapped a lot of the respect I have for the institutions of our parliamentary democracy.

I think a lot about agency. About what it is that fosters this sense of oneself as being able to create change–the political imagination and roll-up-your-sleeves resourcefulness. Having a Member of Parliament who politically had my back and who, I knew, was in the business of helping constituents, made a world of difference for me. How beautifully formative. It’s had a tremendous impact on my confidence that initiatives that strive for greater equality and justice can–with stick-to-it-iveness and elbow grease–get off the ground and find their champions.

I have so missed living in a riding represented by Paul Dewar. I wish I had taken the time to write to him to let him know.

Reading his words, I recommit to doing my utmost to rekindle my sense of political agency and to shift my focus to community building when politics get me down.




favourite socially conscious kids’ books. presentation + book list.



I’m the mother of two boy kids, aged 6 and 3.


I’ve always loved picture books and libraries, so I did expect to enjoy discovering new books and reading with my kids, but I hadn’t anticipated the extent to which books would become a life line or the extent to which books would become their own storyline in my parenting journey.


First, what I love most about children’s books: they are place savers, they are conversation starters.


As I embarked on the politically intimidating task of raising two race conscious, feminist, and progressive white, blond haired, blue eyed, boy kids in (our homogenous) rural Canada, I remember reading an article on a great website called ‘Raising race conscious children’ (race about the importance for white kids to read picture books with protagonists that do not look like them. It said something along the lines of “you’re going to have a hard time talking about the concept of racism with your kids when they’re 4, 5 or 6 if you don’t name race when they’re 1, 2 and 3.


Two things about that speak to me.


First, we hear a lot about the importance of representation in books. That it’s so important for kids to see themselves reflected in the books they read. For biracial kids to see families that look like theirs, for kids with two moms to see families like theirs, for kids with disabilities to see protagonists that look like them.


And anyone who’s done a diversity audit of their school libraries will probably tell you that there is a huge gap in what the school body looks like and what’s reflected in that schools resources. (see



But what we too often forget is that the kids who DO see themselves reflected most of the time badly need to read books where they can see other realities represented. Too often, everything aligns for them to think that their experiences are universal (that white is universal, that male is universal).


I see this in the random books that end up on our shelves and in our library bags. They’re great books, there’s nothing wrong with them. But if we’re looking to raise a generation of empathetic young people, I believe we need to reinforce the message that all kids can relate to all kids, that is, reading a great book about a black girl protagonist is interesting for black girls like it is for white boys.  Children of colour, girl kids have been asked to stretch their imaginations so that stories about white boys are relatable to them. We need to expect and foster the same imagination in our white boys.


The second thing I love about the idea that we talk about skin colour and race to our toddlers to have the foundation to talk about racism with our preschoolers and youth is the reminder that we need to be in it for the long game.



In other words, I want to be able to talk to my teen boys about how to combat rape culture on their campuses in 15 years, so I talk to them about consent a lot right now.



My second top reason for turning to children’s books is that I really believe that it takes a village to raise a child. But when it comes to a number of values that are important to me, I don’t have that village. For example, no one else is telling my gender creative first grader that kids can wear dresses and identify as boys. And that’s a lonely place for both of us to be.


Books are authoritative. Their messages are published and real. Finding books that reinforce progressive messages that my kids don’t hear in their day to day, messages that a lot of the time contradict what they hear, gives weight to the lessons I’m trying to teach them.


My third reason for turning to children’s books: they help me talk about issues I don’t know how to talk about.


I read Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress with my kids—a book where a boy child who wears a beloved tangerine dress is excluded from games and friendships—because I want to talk about bullying and gender identity but don’t know how to bring it up without sounding like a nosy, frightened mom.


I love reading about Florence Mills in ‘Harlem’s Little Blackbird’ or about Viola Desmond or Rosa Parks because I’m not sure how to talk to my kids about where segregation comes from and how it shapes, limits and annexes lives.


One of my favourite finds when it comes to giving me tools to talk about a big issue is When We Were Alone.


This book was written by David A. Robertson, illustrated by one of my favourite illustrators Julie Flett and published by Highwater Press. To my great joy it was translated into French by Les Éditions des Plaines in 2017 and titled Quand on était seuls.


What I really appreciate about this book is that it’s in a vivid, resilient, strong present day where a grandmother explains parts of a past that are extremely relatable to children.


Young children can easily empathize with the examples brought up in this book: of not being able to wear your hair the way you want, not being able to wear the clothes you feel good in, not being able to be with your parents, your siblings. Kids GET that. They FEEL that.


This book also highlights that you don’t need to tell the whole story right away, that a 5-6 year old doesn’t need to learn the traumatic details of residential schools to start learning about the history of residential schools.  But they do need to be exposed to this part of our history. And when the topic gets revisited, as they grow, we add layers. Much like we do when we teach math or languages. We don’t start with algebra or complex verb conjugation. You need a foundation and you need to build on it over time. The long game.


Books like When We Were Alone set us up to be able to start having these conversations.  My hope is also that by being willing and eager to broach difficult topics with the children in our lives, they will be willing and able to do the same with us.


As a closing word, I’d like to share 3 reminders that I repeat to myself often. With kids and equity/justice issues, be explicit. Kids pick up on all of the unspoken and condoned unfairnesses in the world. They pick up on the biases, on the prejudice. They need to hear their grown-ups counter these before they take them as fact. And I’ve found that in explaining things to my kids, I need to remember to keep it really simple.


Second, I think a lot of adults worry about the questions kids will ask when we read books about big issues. Truth is their questions are usually fairly simple. They’re not looking for a history lesson. In the parent and teacher guide and accompanying video to When We Were Alone, a grade 1 teacher who reads this book with her kids says the bulk of the questions she gets are along the lines of “could the kids bring their stuffies?” or “could they call their parents?” A ‘No they couldn’t’ is enough. And to the big “why” questions (i.e. “but why would they take the kids from their families, maman?”), it’s a good opportunity to be really straightforward. My 6 year old doesn’t want to listen to me explaining the history of colonialism but he does want me to answer truthfully. Why?  “because the European settlers who came here, thought they were better than the Indigenous people and taking kids from communities is the fastest way to lose languages and celebrations (cultures). Because it hurts people so so much to be separated from the people they love.” I might add that I can’t imagine how sad and unhealthy our town would be if all the kids were taken away. I tell them that they’re safe and that we need to learn about this together to make sure that all kids are safe.

Lastly, when it comes to giving hard, necessary conversations a go with kids: blunder on! We learn by trying and by making mistakes.


I brought a milk crate of books for people to peruse after the panel. Here’s a list of what I brought. It contains some of our favourites, the ones we own.  (The all time favourites are marked with a * )



  • Little You, Written by Richard Van Camp, Illustratef by Julie Flett (board book)*
  • When We Were Alone, by David A. Robertson, Illustrated by Julie FLett (traduit au français sous le titre Quand on était seuls)*
  • Shi-shi-etko, written by Nicola I. Campbell, Illustrated by Kim LaFave (a été traduit au français, même titre)
  • Shin-chi’s Canoe, written by Nicole I. Campbell, illustrated by Kim LaFave (a été traduit au français sous Le canoe de Shin-chi)
  • A Day with Yayah. Written by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Julie Flett.
  • My Heart Fills With Happiness. Written by Monique Gray Smith. Illustrated by Julie Flett. (board book)


People of Colour

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
  • Joy, By Joyce Carol Thomas and Illustrated by Pamela Johnson (board book)*
  • A Taste of Freedom. Gandhi and the Great Salt March. By Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri
  • Bagages. Mon histoire. Poèmes de jeunes immigrants illustrés par Rogé.
  • Rosa Parks. Écrit par Lisbeth Kaiser, illustré Marta Antelo*
  • A Sweet Smell of Roses. By Angela Johnson illustrated by Eric Velasquez.
  • Susan and Gordon Adopt a Baby (Sesame Street). Written by Judy Freudberg, illustrated by Joe Mathieu.
  • Something Beautiful. Written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, Illustrated Chris K. Soentpiet*
  • Harlem’s Little Blackbirk. The Story of Florence Mills. Written by Renée Watson, Illustrated by Christian Robinson.
  • Last Stop on Market Street. Words by Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson.*
  • Fatima et les voleurs de clémentines. Écrit par Mireille Messier, illustré par Gabrielle Grimard.
  • Desmond and the Very Mean Word.Written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Illustrated by A.G. Ford.
  • Counting on Community. Written and illustrated by Innosanto Nagara (board book)



  • Tu Peux. Écrit et illustré par Elise Gravel
  • A Girl Like Any Other. Written and illustrated by Sophie Labelle
  • Ada La grincheuse en tutu. Écrit et illustré par Elise Gravel
  • Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Written by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. (A été traduit au français sous le titre Boris Brind’amour et la robe orange)*
  • Deux garçons et un secret. Écrit par Andrée Poulin, illustrée par Marie Lafrance.*


Family diversity

  • The Great Big Book of Families. Written by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith
  • The Family Book. By Todd Parr
  • We Belong Together. A Book About Adoption and Families. Todd Parr.*
  • Daddy, Papa, and Me, by Lesléa Newman, Illustrated by Carol Thompson (board book)
  • Mommy, Mama, and Me By Lesléa Newman, ILlystrated by Carol Thompson (board book)


Being Different / Feelings

  • It’s Okay To Be Different. By Todd Parr
  • The Great Big Book of Feelings. Written by Mary Hoffman, Illustrated by Ros Asquith


Politics/Feminism for kids

  • My First Book of Feminism (for boys) By Julie Merberg, Illustrated by Michèle Brummer Everett (board book)
  • On n’est pas au centre du monde. Par Claire Cantais et Jean-Loïc Le Quellec
  • Atlas des inégalités. Texte de Stéphanie Ledu et Stéphane Frattini, Illustrations d’Élodie Balandras et Julien Castanié.
  • The Peace Book. By Todd Parr.*
  • Le petit livre pour parler des sans-abri. Par Dr Xavier Emmanuelli, Sophie Bordet-Petillon, Rémi Saillard
  • L’homme sans chaussettes. Écrit par Jennifer Couëlle, illusté par Ninon Pelletier*




un mois de haine sur l’autoroute 50


Chers M. Lauzon, M. Iracà,


Je vous écris à propos de graffiti à caractère haineux.


Il y a un mois (le 21 juillet 2018) j’ai signalé des graffiti à caractère haineux (photo en pièce jointe) à la Sûreté du Québec. Il s’agit de croix gammées avec le texte « service secret / GRC / Trudeau drogué vos enfant » et se trouve sur le pont autoroutier à Montée Parent, près de la sortie 187, sur l’Autoroute 50 direction est. Un employé du Ministère des Transports m’a rappelé peu après pour confirmer l’emplacement des graffiti et m’a dit qu’il s’en chargeait. J’ai attendu et les graffiti s’y trouvaient toujours.




Le 1er août 2018, j’ai rappelé la Sûreté du Québec. J’ai aussi appelé le Ministère des Transports directement. J’ai rappelé l’emplacement des graffiti, rappelé qu’il s’agit de graffiti à caractère haineux et que ce n’est pas la première fois qu’il y en a sur ce pont autoroutier. J’ai aussi demandé à des ami.e.s de faire ce signalement au Ministère des Transports, espérant que plus de plaintes accéléreraient la chose.


Avec la montée de la droite radicale et de mouvements suprémacistes blancs que connaîssent actuellement l’Amérique du Nord, le danger de se montrer complaisant à de tels messages haineux dans nos espaces publics est réel. Ces graffiti portent atteinte à notre sentiment de sécurité et à notre vivre-ensemble.


À cause de la haine et xénophobie qu’elles véhiculent, ce fut très difficile pour moi d’expliquer à mes enfants de 3 et 5 ans la signification des croix gammées et les raisons pour lesquelles elles suscitent de si fortes réations chez moi. Pas aussi difficile, toutefois, que de tenter de répondre à la question de mon plus vieux, « pourquoi est-ce que c’est encore là, maman? », un mois plus tard. En effet, cher enfant, pourquoi.


Pourriez-vous SVP me laisser savoir quand ces graffiti seront effacés ou recouverts?



Saint-André-Avellin, QC.



Si vous lisez cette lettre et que vous voudriez bien appeler le Ministère des Transports je serais bien reconnaissante.

  • Signalez le 511 (ou 1 888 355-0511 si vous n’appelez pas du Québec)
  • option 2 du menu (« signaler un incident »).

Et il s’agit de 3 croix gammées sur le pont autoroutier à Montée Parent, (avant la sortie 187 – Thurso) en direction est sur l’autoroute 50.

from city to pasture. again.

Today was my first day post-having a job in the city.

I savoured my time out of traffic, out of my (great but still a car) yaris, out of the bustle and the anxious rushing. Savoured drinking coffee out of beloved ceramic instead of metal to-go mugs.




I seeded more broccoli trays, some more squash pods, and the flower seeds I never seem to get to. I’ve willed myself to believe that it’s not too late. I may be wrong.




I took in the garden and grounds that I’ve had such high hopes for but have felt heavy about abandoning these past months.




I used birthday funds this year (merci pépé et maman!) to buy a fair amount of trees for around the house–our home yard is quite wide open, which has made me realize just how much I love trees. I feared a number of them hadn’t made it given the lack of watering and, let’s say it, care. But they’ve all grown substantial foliage save for three. I so appreciate the resilience of nature.




My half of the garden isn’t as barren as I’d been fearing either (so I stopped my frantic calls to all of the garden centres, confident that the year’s brassica harvest will see us through). Given our competitive natures (and our strong desire for excellent yields), P and I decided to have a vegetable garden contest whereby we each have 3 sections and we compete for victory–we’ve together established desired yields for each section as well as general principles for extra points (such as successive planting, rotations, cover cropping, frugality, etc.) It feels good knowing I can still win.




What I’m looking forward to most though is spending slow time with these two humans. Spending eleven hours a day away from this home and my family took a toll–on connections and patience and a sense of knowing where these kids are at.

So while this isn’t exactly how I thought this great off-farm adventure would go, I’m at peace and full of gladness for where I’m at.





d’autres livres préférés.

Avant qu’on les retourne à notre bibiothèque de ville, voici quelques titres particulièrement appréciés.

Je me découvre un sérieux penchant pour les livres où les personnages adultes/parents sont présentés comme étant tout à fait faillible.

(Les rhinos ne mangent pas de crêpes, Anna Kemp et Sara Ogilvie aux éditions Little Urban)

Certains n’écoutent pas leur enfant quand elle leur dit qu’un rhino est emménagé chez eux.

(On fait des miettes on imite le coucou, Lina Ekdahl et Emma Hanquist aux éditions Cambourakis)

D’autres veulent que tu sortes à tout prix et te rappellent à l’intérieur avec autant d’insistance peu après.


(Deux garçons et un secret, Andrée Poulin et Marie Lafrance aux éditions de la bagnole)

D’autres encore te disent que tu ne peux/pourras pas marier la personne que tu aimes.


On fait des miettes de Lina Ekdahl a non seulement une super représentation d’enfants racisés, mais le texte est également the best pour l’adulte lecteur qui s’ennuie de lire des reccueils de poésie à voix haute.



100 bonhommes de neige d’Andrée Poulin et Qin Leng est le seul livre d’enfant que j’ai lu qui parle de mortinatalité. Ce qui arrive à leur chère enseignante n’est pas expliqué en détails, mais ils comprennent qu’il n’y aura pas de bébé et savent qu’elle et son conjoint vivent une période sombre/une dépression. Un livre touchant.



Parce que tout le monde aime les atlas et les données sociologiques et démographiques représentées de façon visuelle.



Mon nouveau livre préféré sur les baleines.



Les gens arrivaient de partout pour visiter Glace-Terre et Fauve s’en donnait à coeur joie à les esquisser et à les cataloguer, observateur d’humains dévoué qu’il est. Un jour, un brouillard s’installa et les humains cessèrent de visiter l’île. L’indifférence généralisée des autres oiseaux semblait alors épaissir le brouillard. Jusqu’à ce la capuchonnée rouge à lunettes fit son apparition et qu’avec ses connaissances en origami, elle aida Fauve à trouver d’autres êtres qui ne se foutaient pas du brouillard omniprésent qui gommait son bonheur. Morale de l’histoire : trouves-toi des copines-copains qui voient le monde comme tu le vois, ensemble vous pourrez le changer à tout jamais. Touchant.



Un nouveau préféré d’A. (2,5 ans) et un livre qui se traduit sur-le-champ quand même assez facilement. En 1986, Sesame Street publiait un livre où un couple Noir explique ce qu’est l’adoption (et la transition dans une famille après l’arrivée d’un nouveau bébé) aux enfants. Comme si mon amour de Sesame Street n’était pas déjà un peu exagérée.

Vive les albums jeunesse.

my off-farm shift


I’ve been working off farm for three weeks now.  It’s been a good shift for me. The hour-long commute was getting heavy, but I then discovered the joy of the audiobook. Having  completed one for every week of work thus far, I’m looking forward to the months ahead. To shift the kid to adult book ratio to my read list.

While it’s hard to be away from the kids, the artefacts that they leave behind at the end of the day–the miscellaneous duplo and lego constructions, the bits of written letters and words, the mountains of minuscule paper clippings, the 300+ puzzle pieces, that is: every single kids puzzle we own completed on the living room floor — are evermore heartwarming.


The real family bonus though is that, since starting this job, I’ve started overhearing the kids speaking dutch together. I was so hoping that more home time with P. would make dutch more of a langue d’usage for them. And it has.

Also, P. has taught himself to play dozens of kids’ songs on our new piano, which means that our youngest, who already broke into song at least a dozen times a day, now does so even more. The cuteness is almost unbearable.




And in this empowering, emboldening yet existentially exhausting #MeToo moment, where women are seizing this groundswell of a moment, are speaking up and denouncing and holding their parties to account as every second day it seems a new member of parliament resigns because allegations of sexual assault or harrassment come to light,


I get to work alongside committed and seasoned feminist activists. It’s so very good for the soul.


it’s been a long december. / un semblant de résolutions.


It’s been a strange and amazing and rough beginning of winter.

Realising that a change of pace and a feeling of bread-winning would do wonders for my confidence, I started looking for work. The exercise was fascinating. It gave me a lot of energy. And while writing cover letters is never very pleasant there’s something about taking the time to imagine your life in many different configurations, and in being forced to talk up your trajectory and skills, that made me feel more solid and resilient despite some blows.

I found a job working four days a week with a very feminist team. I’m really looking forward to it (and also really hoping that this change won’t be too much of a weight on my supportive partner, who’ll be full-time farming on top of doing more of the daycare+school pick ups and school bus coordinating).



I received words that cut really deep before the holidays and I’ve had an embarrassingly hard time trying to shake them. They encompassed the whole and the whole ordeal sowed such deep doubt. It’s been a lot of trying to find my way out of a rabbit hole, wondering if someone else can be righter about me and my experiences than I am. There have been strong moments of Of course not. but the doubt and anxiety linger.

After witnessing a messy kind of e-exchange a few months earlier, I had committed to not penning long cathartic emails when human interactions get strained and challenging. I’m so grateful for the lesson. I’ve tried to make non-violent communication and compassionate patience more of a practice since having kids (and since being faced with the very real and surprising challenges of existing as a hetero- nuclear family in a rural/frugal/farm setting). The practice isn’t perfect. Neither is my communication. But in an effort to let go of the funk, I am recommitting to it for 2018.




I’m committing to more quiet reflection and to more movement.

To more sharing of the joy that is.

Committing too to continuing the reflection on what it means to try to grow your assertiveness as someone who’s been conditioned to ‘be nice’ at all cost; what it means to set clear boundaries and to take up space in relationships where it’s hard, where it’s unwelcome and challenged.

Committing to work on fostering less needlessly critical ways of being. To limit its intake and out-take both from within and from out.




I’m going to let the women pals who support me and teach me kindness, self-compassion and steadfastness know just how much I fucking love them.

Take time to be truly and utterly wow-ed by my eldest who is (entre autres) WRITING WORDS. Tout seul! Beautifully and phonetically. And by my youngest who is such a delightful ray of sunshine that I tear up daily thinking about how unbearably fast he’s growing.




Am going to savour closeness, this life I’m/we’re building, and the wide-variety of challenges we choose to face everyday.





playground-toothbrush fundraiser ! / levée de fonds pour embellir les cours d’école


L’école de notre village organise une levée des fonds dans le but d’embellir ses cours  d’école. Elles ont grand besoin d’amour et de nouveau. (Le Ministère de l’Éducation s’est déjà engagé à défrayer le tiers du coût du projet, soit 25,000$.)


Our town’s school is organizing a fundraiser to fix up its school yards. They’re in high need of love and newness. (This and other fundraisers are to supplement the $25,000 that the Ministère de l’Éducation has committed.)



Pour se faire, les enfants sont invités à vendrent des brosses à dents. Elles se vendent au coût de 3$ et sont offertes gratuitement par la clinique dentaire de St-André-Avellin, donc toutes les sommes ammassées iront directement au projet cours d’école.


The kids are invited to sell toothbrushes at the cost of $3, and given that the toothbrushes are being generously donated by our local dental clinic, all proceeds are going to the school.



Quand nous étions chez la dentiste cette semaine, on a pu voir de quelle marque/style sont les brosses à dents. Elles sont bien belles, les voici :


When we were at the dentist earlier this week, we asked to see what brand/style of toothbrushes we were selling. Here they are, bright and shiny :



Pour placer une commande, envoyez moi un mot à en précisant combien de brosses à dent pour adulte et combien de brosse à dent pour enfant vous voulez. / Merci de soutenir notre belle communauté rurale !


To place an order, please send me word at letting me know how many adult toothbrushes and how many kid toothbrushes you’d like. / Thanks for supporting our lovely rural community !


with our own two hands.



I figured out the best thing to do with stress (and kid-free time).



I’ve been thinking about the jobs I’ve had. The jobs I’ve quit. And I’ve been thinking about this killer line in Old Man Luedecke’s I Quit my Job,

all my friends work their dreams with their hands.

and truly this is the promised land.

…don’t let them take the joy that you make.

on your own.

I picked up 10 kilos of honey this week from a strong woman pal who started (professional) beekeeping. It’s beautiful stuff. And I know it wasn’t and isn’t easy. There are no buts about it. Not even a local, food sovereignty, feel good, wholesome « but. » Pretty glorious to make my kids honey tea from this stuff though. Between that and learning that an artist pal (another awe inspiring woman) is starting an artful leather goods business, it’s been a week of good reminders.



My eldest’s school is running a number of fundraisers to upgrade its school yards. We went over there, he and I, during a pd day to take some photos to make a really compelling fundraising pitch for our friends and fam (I had envisioned him making sad faces on the busted swing sets, but he wasn’t really into it). There’s something about the vintage rusty metal park infrastructure and the miscellaneous cement paints that really took my breath away. (Much like the efforts of solid community folks in our village wanting to make a difference). Regardless, if you want a really awesome deal on some toothbrushes, get in touch.

some (kids) books we love. 2017 edition.


One of the perks of having kids is hands down getting to read oodles of kids books. The combined joy of relatively short reads, simple word play, pleasant repetition, and colourful illustrations, make this genre one of my faves. With less traditional books you also get the bonus of a conversation starter, of a place saver. To talk about race and poverty and residential schools and transphobia and all of the rest.

I got really lucky with these kids of mine, they happen to both really love books too and are happy to spend hours being read to.

Here’s our shared shortlist of the more political books we’ve really enjoyed these past months. En français et en anglais.


Niko Draws a Feeling. Written by Bob Raczka, Illustrated by Simone Shin.

This book is such a gem. A young child is misunderstood for drawing feelings instead of things. He draws an even bigger feeling, which is later understood by a new neighbour friend. It’s totally endearing, beautifully illustrated, and if you’ve ever felt like an oddball, this one will make you smile.




Something Beautiful. Written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet.

The story of a young girl going around her neighbourhood asking people about their « something beautiful » after talking about the courtyard of her building, which is littered with trash, broken glass and aggressive graffiti. It’s the story of a kid who wants to make her environment her own, who’s surrounded by beauty, and who’s asking the right questions. The illustrations are gorgeous. The text is powerful.



Manchots au chaud. Écrit par Andrée Poulin, illustré par Oussama Mezher.

Inspirée d’une histoire vraie, c’est l’histoire d’un petit Matéo qui, suite à une terrible marée noire demande à sa grand-mère de lui apprendre à tricoter pour qu’il puisse fabriquer des chandails pour les manchots qui autrement, moureraient de froid ou d’empoisonnement. Utile pour celles et ceux qui veulent apprendre aux enfants que le tricot est révolutionnaire.



Little You. Written by Richard Van Camp, Illustrated by Julie Flett.

This is the book I give to all of the new babies. It’s perfect. It was also my youngest’s fave for a time, so we know it by heart and recite it. Other collaborations of Van Camp and Flett that we love (but that I keep giving away): ‘My Heart Fills with Happiness’ and ‘We Sang You Home.’ If you want to introduce elements of Indigenous culture to kids, these books are sweet intros.



Clive and His Babies. Written and illustrated by Jessica Spanyol.

A board book filled with kids of different races and boys who take care of their dolls. Those things shouldn’t be noteworthy but they are, so this is a good book to gently challenge stereotypes, already so painfully present in board books.



Les Papas de Violette. Écrit par Émilie Chazarand, illustré par Gaëlle Souppart.

Un super livre sur une famille homoparentale. Violette se fait agacer à l’école, se demande quelle « maladie » a ses papas suite aux moqueries des camarades de classe. Elle ne veux pas décevoir ses papas donc n’en parle pas, et raconte comment elle les veux les deux présents à ses trucs d’école, comme ils font plutôt le relai pour ne pas « lui rendre la vie trop difficile. » Vraiment touchant. Un bon rappel aux parents en couple hétéro de parler des différentes compositions familiales à leurs enfants–pour que les Violettes ne se fassent pas intimider de la sorte par des enfants qui ignorent que d’autres sortes de familles existent.

De par le passé, j’évitais les livres avec des moqueries écrites dans le texte, parce que je trouve ça dur à lire, et je trouvais pas ça nécessaire pour faire passer un message. Par contre mon grand m’a surpris en appréciant particulièrement Boris Brindamour et la robe orange.


Boris Brindamour et la robe orange. Écrit par Christine Baldacchino, illustré par Isabelle Malenfant.

Un garçon qui aime particulièrement la couleur et le frou-frou d’une robe orange et le tic-tic de souliers « de madame. » Les enfants rient de lui à l’école. Ça persiste et un matin, il dit avoir trop mal au ventre pour aller à l’école. Finalement, il s’affirme en tant qu’astronaute qui porte une robe et les amiEs l’accepte. En fin de compte, je pense qu’avoir les vraies moqueries qu’un enfant entenderait (ou entend) sur la cour d’école, ça aide.



L’Étrange É. Écrit par Grégoire Aubin, illustré par Roxanne Bee.

Les E aiment jouer à cache-cache mais un jour, se retrouve devant un É. Un beau texte qui raconte ce qui peut arriver quand on se retrouve devant l’Autre.



The Peace Book. Written and illustrated by Todd Parr.

A sweet read. « Peace is everyone having a home. » « Peace is reading all different kinds of books. » « Peace is having enough pizza in the world for everyone. » Le livre de la paix, en français, et tout aussi adorable.



When We Were Alone. Written by David A. Robertson, Illustrated by Julie Flett.

I don’t know how to do this one justice. What I first loved about it was that it dealt with the challenging issue of residential schools through a conversation between a grandmother and a grand-daughter. The curiosity of the child and the power and strength of the grandmother are palpable. It makes the injustices and the hardships so relatable for young kids who have never had to think about not being able to speak their language, to have their hair long, to wear colours. It’s very gentle and my 5 year old enjoys the book (despite the fact that maman always tears up). I wish I could buy cases of this book and make sure that every school library in this country has a few copies.

I wrote to the author not long ago and he told me a french translation would soon be released by Les Éditions des plaines. Une bonne nouvelle.



Ada La grincheuse en tutu. Écrit et illustré par Elise Gravel.

À bas les stéréotypes sexuels et les rôles de genre! Un bel album avec des Poum! Bam! Tchac! qui font rigoler les enfants à chaque lecture.



The Big Book of Families. Written by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith.

Some people have sisters, some people live in apartments, some children live with their grandma and grandpa. Some families celebrate this or that, some go on vacations. A solid book that shows that there are so many ways that people can live, and love, and transport themselves.



Joy. Written by Joyce Carol Thomas, Illustrated by Pamela Johnson.

Another favourite board book. This book is a poem, through the seasons, of a parent telling a child the many ways that she/he is her joy. A great read-aloud book.



Deux garçons et un secret.Écrit par Andrée Poulin, illustré par Marie Lafrance.

La belle histoire de deux jeunes garçons, des meilleurs amis, qui s’aiment et qui se marient avec des bagues empruntées. Les parents d’un d’eux les oblige à se « démarier. »  En racontant que ses parents lui ont dit que les garçons ne peuvent pas se marier ensemble, une copine lui répond, « Les parents ne savent pas toujours tout! Des fois, ils se trompent. Maman me l’a dit. Papa aussi. » Un message important. Un autre bon livre à offrir aux bibliothèques d’école pendant les semaines pour contrer l’intimidation.



Sophie et sa courge. Écrit par Piet Zietlow Miller, illustré par Anne Wilsdorf. (Traduit de l’anglais, Sophie’s Squash).

Si vous voulez inspirer vos enfants à dessiner des visages sur vos courges pour des années à venir, c’est l’ouvrage parfait. Bon pour promouvoir le jardinage et la confection de jouets par soi-même aussi.



Quel génie! Écrit et illustré par Ashley Spires. (Traduit de l’anglais, Most Magnificent Thing)

Le meilleur livre d’enfant que j’ai lu sur la persévérance et la frustration. Il nous a beaucoup servi.



Harlem’s Little Blackbird. Written by Renée Watson, Illustrated by Christian Robinson.

The illustrated story of Florence Mills. A lovely book. Has been a great tool to start talking about segregation and to keep talking about racism with my 5 year old.



Bonjour l’ami. Écrit et illustré par Kang Full.

Un roman graphique qui raconte l’histoire d’un enfant qui tente d’aider un chaton à retrouver ses parents la nuit en pleine tempête de neige. L’enfant sait poser des questions qui aident son ami chaton à penser autrement son rapport aux autres. Très touchant comme ouvrage.



Trompette,petit dinosaure au grand coeur. Écrit par David Bedford, illustré par Mandy Stanley.

Le livre préféré de mon petit de 2 ans. Je trouve que la générosité dont fait preuve Trompette est un peu poussé (spoiler alert: il donne son doudou!) et que lui et Pelote aurait bien pu trouver une solution un peu plus créative au problème du trou dans la montgolfière, mais c’est très doux comme histoire et mes deux enfants connaissent le texte par coeur.


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Sex is a Funny Word. Written by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

The sequel to « What Makes a Baby » (actually!) and the book you wish you had had when you were 7 or 10 or 12. It’s a pretty solid read when you’re in your thirties too. It makes me really happy that books like this exist.



Amazing Grace. Written by Mary Hoffman, Illustrated by Caroline Binch.

Grace loves stories and dress-up and make-believe. When her class puts on the play Peter Pan and she raises her hand to play the lead role, she’s told (by class-mates) she can’t be Peter Pan first because she’s a girl, second because she’s black. She proves them wrong. Gorgeous illustrations.



Y’a pas de place chez nous. Écrit par Andrée Poulin, illustré par Enzo Lord Mariano.

Un livre à propos de deux jeunes réfugiés dans un bateau en mer. Ils tentent d’accoster sur différentes îles, différentes rives, mais on les refuse, et avec une intolérance pas mal haineuse. Je le trouve dur à lire et je trouve qu’il ne va pas assez loin pour entamer une discussion sur les droits des réfugiés ou notre responsabilité humaine d’accueillir les individus et les groupes qui quittent des situations de guerre. Mais c’est tout de même un livre qui aide à expliquer la situation de tant de gens dans le monde et il laisse beaucoup de place à l’adulte qui en fait la lecture.



Haïti mon pays. Poèmes d’écoliers Haïtiens illustrés par Rogé.

Un beau livre à feuilleter. Un bel aperçu poétique de la vie d’enfants.


Le bain d’Abel. Écrit et illustré par Audrey Poussier.

Un livre rigolo où un jeune Abel se retrouve dans un système d’épuration d’eau pour retrouver son « bon bain bien chaud avec de la mousse et des jouets dedans. » Si l’idée de parler d’eaux usées et de ruisseau qui mène au fleuve qui mène à la mer t’emballe, c’est l’ouvrage parfait pour toi.


Thanks to Octopus Books for ordering all of our English language books. Merci à pour la possibilité de commander en ligne de libraires indépendants. And mostly, to the Ottawa Public Library for having non-resident library memberships–for $50 a year, we borrow as many books as we want. So grateful.