Tour the World: Destination Canada

It’s our penultimate stop on the world tour today, and we’re heading north to visit the vast beauties of Canada.

From the Rockies

to its cosmopolitan cities

to the rocky cliffs of the Atlantic, all of Canada is on display in these great overviews. Plus one title about life in Canada’s newest province, Nunavut. 

Canada in Words, by Per-Henrik Gürth
published in 2012 by Kids Can Press

For the youngest travelers, Per-Henrik Gürth has a number of titles out like this one with his bold, stylized artwork illustrating a variety of preschool concepts.

Each of the pages in this book is labeled with just one, very-Canadian, word. Beaver. Toque. Stanley Cup. If you’re not acquainted enough with Canadian culture to know what or why these items are here — then I guess you’ll have to do a bit more rummaging on your own. For those of us who love Canada, each page is a joy. Ages 18 months and up.  Look for more of his work if you like this.

Carson Crosses Canada, written by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Kass Reich
published in 2017 by Tundra Books

The newest book I’ve seen — and so delightful — is this trans-Canada road trip with white-haired Annie Magruder and her friendly dog, Carson.

Annie and Carson live amid towering pines along the Pacific Coast. One day a letter arrives. Annie’s sister Elsie, way out in Newfoundland, is sick. Pack the car! Fill the cooler! Grab Carson’s squeaky chicken! We’re off to the rescue, driving all across Canada. Vibrant illustrations, a charming dog, and maps on the endpapers. What more could you want? Perfect for ages 3 and up.

You can also cross Canada in much more depth with one of the many fabulous titles from Vivien Bowers. Here are two to start with:

Hey Canada!, by Vivien Bowers, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
published in 2012 by Tundra Books

Constructed around another road trip, this book goes into much more depth following along with Alice, age 9, her brother Cal, age 8, and their Gran, as they take the trip from east to west.

Beginning in Newfoundland, “The Rock” you’ll be treated to photographs, kid-friendly illustrations, and upbeat narrative about some of the top sites, sounds, tastes, of each of the provinces. Historical U-Turns along the way present bits of Canadian history in comic book style. It’s an ideal amount of information presented in a nicely casual tone, for kids ages 7 and up.  Some of Bowers’ other books in this series take a similar approach but go into much more depth for even older readers. They’re all very well done.

That’s Very Canadian, by Viven Bowers
published in 2004 by Maple Tree Press

Formatted like a school report — well! it’s quite a dandy school report! — this book feels like looking at a fantastic scrapbook of Canadiana. You’ll get the scoop on Canadian cultural icons, trivia, history, food, hockey lore, provincial sites — there’s a ton o’ info stuffed inside here.

We throughly enjoyed wandering through this book when we studied Canada in our old homeschool days. For kids ages 7 or 8 and up, it’s a fantastic resource for painting a picture of Canadian culture.

Eh? to Zed: A Canadian Abecedarium, written by Kevin Major, illustrated by Alan Daniel
published in 2000 by Red Deer Press

A very clever, happily-rhyming poem forms the text of this book. Each line of it lists words dear to a Canadian’s heart. Thus:

Arctic, apple, aurora, Anik
Bonhomme, Bluenose, beaver, bannock

Colorful illustrations flood the pages with these images.

Don’t know what bannock is? Or why insulin is in the list? Never fear, pages crammed with notes by author and illustrator reveal the significance behind all these word and image choices. It’s a fantastic survey of Canada that adapts well to ages 3 through adult.

I is for Inuksuk: An Arctic Celebration, written and illustrated by Mary Wallace
published in 2009 by Maple Tree Press

We enjoyed this book years ago in our Canada studies as well. Gorgeous illustrations reveal the majestic beauty of the far north — every page is stunning.

Along the way we learn about the inuksuk — stone sculptures used by Arctic peoples for thousands of years as guides, markers, celebratory pieces. Learn, too, about some Inuit ways and the creatures that share their magnificent Arctic life. Included are Inuktitut words written in their fascinating script, a visual guide to the variety of inuksuit so you can try to spot the different ones in various illustrations, and a pronunciation guide. A gem for ages 5 and up.


Fishing with Grandma, by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula, illustrated by Charlene Chua
published in 2015 by Inhabit Media Inc.

This is one of several books I’ve seen from this publisher telling stories set in contemporary Nunavut which simultaneously inform us about Inuktitut culture.

Here, two children go ice-fishing with their grandma, an elder with much to teach them about the way to fish as well as the way to treat their neighbors. Extras include a guide to Inuit fishing tools and a pronunciation guide to some Inuktitut words used in the story. I love that grandma teaches the old fishing methods and rides her ATV to get to the best spot — great glimpse of real, contemporary life in this place for ages 3 and up.

Next week our tour winds up in Europe.

Catch all the previous stops on this fascinating tour of the world via picture book with these links:

Destination: The Caribbean and Mexico

Destination: Central and South America

Destination: West Africa

Destination: Central and South Africa

Destination: East Africa

Destination: Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa

Destination: Indian Subcontinent

Destination: East Asia

Destination: Australia, New Zealand, and Micronesia

A Sampler of Cultures

Buckle up for a World Tour

Musings: a world of swiss cheese