Out into the Big Wide Lake book cover

Out into the Big Wide Lake

An empowering and necessary picture book about a young girl with Down Syndrome who gains confidence and independence through a visit to her grandparents.

It's Kate's first time visiting her grandparents on her own at their lakeside home. She's nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. And she makes best friends with her grandparents' dog, Parbuckle. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself!

When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it's up to Kate–but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author's sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart and feisty character who will capture your heart in this gorgeous and moving story about facing fears and gaining independence.

Distinctions: Finalist, 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature—illustrated books.

Ideal for:
World Down Syndrome Day March 21, National Down Syndrome Week Oct. 23-29, 2022.
"Rock Your Socks on the Storytime Trail"

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Out into the Big Wide Lake. Text © 2021 Paul Harbridge Illustrations © 2021 Josée Bisaillon. Reproduced by permission of Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, a Penguin Random House Company, Toronto.

The author was motivated to write this meaningful and charming story by his own incredibly accomplished sister who has Down Syndrome. He is obviously proud of her and her achievements, and his tender respect shines through this charming tale.

CM Reviews

Harbridge has included a photo and short biography of his sister Kate, whom he describes as an excellent athlete and lover of the outdoors. It’s only here that we learn that Kate has Down syndrome, and it’s to the writer’s and the illustrator’s credit that once the book starts, we quickly forget any judgments or assumptions we might have about kids with this diagnosis.

Montreal Review of Books

Book Creators

Paul Harbridge

Paul Harbridge portrait

Paul Harbridge is the author of the picture book Helena's Voyage and several published short stories, including When The Moon Comes, which won the Muskoka Magazine short story contest. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he works as a speech-language pathologist with adults with developmental disabilities. He and his wife Isabel live in Etobicoke, Ontario and are the proud parents of Daniel and Helena. Paul grew up in Muskoka and feels he carries the lakes and forests in his heart wherever he goes.

Josée Bisaillon

Josée Bisaillon portrait

As a young girl, Josée loved drawing cats and houses. She really enjoyed school and always returned home full of stories to tell. She liked being in the classroom so much that she pursued her education all the way to university, where she studied graphic design. It was there that she fell in love with illustration.

Since 2005, with scissors and brushes in hand, Josée has illustrated more than 30 children’s books, as well as magazines and newspapers for adults, all around the world.

Josée lives just outside of Montreal with her spouse, their 3 children one hairless cat and many paper characters.