FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (May 19, 2022) — The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is proud to announce the title for the 2022 TD Grade One Book Giveaway. Fast Friends, written by Heather M. O’Connor, illustrated by Claudia Dávila and published by Scholastic Canada, will be distributed to over 550,000 Grade 1 students in fall 2022. Translated into French by Isabelle Allard, francophone Canadians and French immersion students across Canada will receive copies of Amis instantanés, published by Éditions Scholastic. “To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we are excited to introduce Fast Friends as this year’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway title,” says Rose Vespa, Executive Director of the CCBC. “Children all across Canada are bound to love this story about taking the time to listen to every child’s voice. For children with print disabilities, the CCBC is collaborating with the CNIB to produce print braille editions of the title. There will also be an eBook version with image descriptions. The CCBC is committed to the idea that all Canadian children should have access to great Canadian books. Our plans for this year’s title are another step towards making this dream a reality.”
When Suze, a nonverbal student, is introduced to high-energy Tyson’s class, everyone is tentative about him being around her. But while the other students and even the teacher don’t understand Suze, Tyson does. And Tyson and Suze might have more in common than anyone thought. Fast Friends will be distributed through school boards, library organizations and ministries of education to every Grade 1 child in Canada, including those in remote areas and Indigenous communities.
“My daughter Suze is nonverbal and uses a wheelchair,” says author Heather M. O’Connor. “That didn’t stop her friends from playing with her and, yes, sometimes zooming her around the schoolyard speedy-quick. One in five Canadians has a disability. But kids like Suze seldom see themselves in the stories they read. Fast Friends puts them right on the cover. Representation matters. Because who doesn’t want to star in their own adventure? Getting chosen for the TD Grade One Book Giveaway is a huge honour. I can’t believe that more than half a million Canadian kids will read Fast Friends! I hope it opens the door to many new friendships.”
“What an incredible honour to have Fast Friends selected as the TD Grade One Book Giveaway, and what a fabulous program this is!” says illustrator Claudia Dávila. “I loved illustrating Heather’s story. The two friends in the book are so different from each other and have great big personalities. Because Suze is nonverbal, I was able to show how she communicates with her eyes and gestures—especially in her delight when playing with Tyson. I am certain Fast Friends will entertain and touch the hearts of young readers across Canada because of the special connection the two kids form with each other.”
Administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and through the generous support of TD Bank Group, every year the TD Grade One Book Giveaway gives the gift of a great Canadian children’s picture book to every Grade 1 student in Canada. “Fast Friends is a wonderful story about two friends, with different strengths and challenges, who form a special bond as they navigate daily life in school,” says Amy Hanen, Associate Vice President, Social Impact (Canada), TD Bank Group. “Through the TD Ready Commitment, our global corporate citizenship platform, we’re proud to share this book with families across the country and help kids to fall in love with Suze and Tyson. Through this book, and together with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, we’re helping teach children about listening and understanding others across differences, and the building blocks of friendships.”
Since 2000, over 12 million books have been given to Grade 1 students across Canada. For many children, this will be the first book they have ever owned. “Putting books into the hands of children is what Scholastic is all about,” says Diane Kerner, Vice President, Publishing of Scholastic Canada. “So it’s a special pleasure to participate in this program—and Fast Friends is a book that everyone can enjoy.”
Premiering today on the CCBC’s YouTube channel, Bibliovideo, is an exclusive trailer of Fast Friends, perfect to get young readers excited for this amazing book. Watch the video now and subscribe to the channel for more videos all about Canadian books for young people.
For more information, please contact:
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre
416-975-0010 ext. 2
About the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1976. We are dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for young readers. Our programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers. For more information, visit bookcentre.ca.
About Scholastic Canada
Scholastic Canada is the country’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books in both official languages. A subsidiary of Scholastic Inc., which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020, the company is a leading provider of quality books and eBooks, and print and technology-based educational resources. Scholastic also makes a great variety of books available to children through school-based Reading Clubs and Book Fairs, as well as retail and online stores, schools and libraries. Established in Canada in 1957, with a long history of service to schools and families, Scholastic Canada continues to carry out its commitment to “Open a World of Possible” for all children. Learn more at www.scholastic.ca.