CCBC April 2015 Newsletter: TD Canadian Children’s Book Week


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
April Book List: TD Canadian Children’s Book Week
Classroom Activity: Theme Guide Activities
TD Book Week Interviews
Out now: Canadian Children’s Book News
Next Month…

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre

The TD Canadian Children’s Book Week free downloadable theme guide is now available here! We’ve featured an excerpt here.

Posters and bookmarks, featuring Julie Flett’s beautiful artwork for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, are available for purchase on our website.

News from our Friends

History teachers and students are invited to enter the Government of Canada History Awards, which honour exceptional teachers and students for their work marking important moments in Canadian History. The deadline for submissions is April 17, 2015. Click here for more information.

Our friends at IBBY Canada have put out a call for submissions for the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence. Canadian children’s book illustrators are invited to submit their applications by Thursday, April 30, 2015.

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April Book List: TD Canadian Children’s Book Week

by Emma Sakamoto

This month we are celebrating Aboriginal stories in Canada to tie in with the 2015 TD Canadian Children’s Book Week theme — Hear Our Stories: Celebrating First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. Here is a selection of titles we’ve chosen to highlight from our Book Week theme guide.

Picture Books

The Blind Boy & the Loon
Retold by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
Illustrated by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Daniel Gies
Inhabit Media, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-927095-57-7
IL: Ages 5-10  RL: Grade 3
Based on the acclaimed National Film Board of Canada animated short, Lumaajuuq, The Blind Boy & the Loon is a beautiful retelling of a traditional Inuit story that explains the origin of the narwhal and cautions listeners against the dangers of seeking revenge. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s mystical, brooding animation has been adapted to a picture book suitable for all ages. A timeless tale stunningly told.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Legend of Lightning & Thunder
Written by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt
Illustrated by Jo Rioux
Inhabit Media, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-927095-28-7
IL: Ages 6-10  RL: Grades 3-4
This beautifully illustrated Inuit legend weaves together elements of an origin story and a traditional cautionary tale, giving young readers a window into Inuit mythology. In this ancient tale, the actions of two orphaned siblings change the Arctic skies forever by creating lightning and thunder. This particular tale has been passed orally from storyteller to storyteller for hundreds of years in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Not My Girl
Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Annick Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55451-625-4
IL: Ages 5-10  RL: Grades 2-3
Two years ago, Margaret left her Arctic home for the outsiders’ school. Now, she has returned, rushing excitedly toward her waiting family. But Margaret’s years at school have changed her. “Not my girl!” her mother says angrily. Gradually, Margaret relearns the words and ways of her people and, as her family watches with pride, Margaret finds her place once more. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by evocative illustrations, this picture book adaptation is based on the memoir A Stranger at Home.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Wild Berries
Written and illustrated by Julie Flett
Simply Read Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-897476-89-5
IL: Ages 3-8  RL: Grade 2
Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother. Meet ant, spider and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett. This book is written in both English and Cree, in particular the n-dialect, also known as Swampy Cree from the Cumberland House are.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Junior & Intermediate Fiction

A Different Game
(Orca Young Readers)
Written by Sylvia Olsen
Orca Book Publishers, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-55469-169-2
IL: Ages 8-11  RL: Grades 3-4
In this sequel to Murphy and the Moustrap, Murphy and his three friends—Danny, Jeff and Albert — are making the transition from tribal elementary school to community middle school and trying out for the soccer team. But when Albert doesn’t play as well as he usually does, the boys begin to suspect something is wrong.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Dog Tracks
Written by Ruby Slipperjack
Fifth House Publishers, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-89725-229-1
IL: Ages 11-14  RL: Grades 6-7
Abby is having trouble fitting in at Bear Creek Reserve. After having lived most of her life with her grandparents in town, it’s definitely a transition moving back to the reserve. When Choom, her grandfather, falls ill, Abby must leave her best friends at school, her supportive grandparents, and her perfect pink bedroom, and adjust to living with her mom. Ruby Slipperjack, a member of the Eabametoong First Nation, writes the story of those who return to the reserve and rediscover their culture.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Peacemaker: Thanadelthur
(Tales from Big Spirit)
Written by David Alexander Robertson
Illustrated by Wai Tien
HighWater Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55379-479-0
IL: Ages 10 and up  RL: Grades 5-6
Cole will do almost anything to avoid speaking in public — even feigning illness. But when he hears the story of the remarkable woman known as Thanadelthur — peacemaker between the Cree and the Dene, and interpreter for the governor of Fort York — he is so inspired by her bravery, he overcomes his own fears. Readers will also want to explore the other titles in the series — The Land of Os: John Ramsay, The Poet: Pauline Johnson, The Rebel: Gabriel Dumont and The Scout: Tommy Prince.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
(Arctic Moon Magick, Book 1)
Written by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley
Illustrated by Andrew Trabbold
Inhabit Media, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-927095-54-6
IL: Ages 10 and up  RL: Grade 5
In the ancient Arctic, a wandering Inuit hunter named Kannujaq happens upon a camp in grave peril. Unbeknownst to Kannujaq, he has stumbled upon a battle between the Tuniit and a group of Viking warriors. As the camp prepares to defend itself, Kannujaq discovers that the Vikings may have motivations other than murder and warfare in their quest. This lush historical fiction is steeped in Inuit traditional knowledge and concepts of ancient Inuit magic.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Young Adult Fiction

Jeremy Stone
Written by Lesley Choyce
Red Deer Press, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-88995-504-2
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 6-7
After moving to a new school in a new community, Jeremy, a First Nations teenage boy, is plagued by bullying and struggling to find his place in the world. When he meets Caitlin, who tells him about her boyfriend who committed suicide, Jeremy is plunged into a convergence of the real world and the spirit world. Determining which is which becomes less important than finding out what is right and true.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Lynching of Louie Sam
Written by Elizabeth Stewart
Annick Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55451-439-7
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-8
In 1884, 15-year-old George Gillies witnesses the brutal lynching of a young Native boy and decides to find out if Louie Sam was really a murderer. As he uncovers the truth, tensions rise, revealing the harsh racial diversions in the frontier town. Inspired by a true story of the only recorded lynching on Canadian soil.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Night Wanderer: A Graphic Novel
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Adapted by Alison Kooistra
Illustrated by Michael Wyatt
Annick Press, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55451-572-1
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-8
Tiffany is having relationship problems and issues with both her mom and dad. She feels hopeless and alone — until a mysterious stranger, Pierre L’Errant, enters the picture. Little does Tiffany know that Pierre is a vampire who has returned home to die. Her chilling encounter with the dying Pierre, however, helps her come to terms with her own troubles.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Where I Belong
Written by Tara White
Tradewind Books, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-89658-077-7
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-8
This moving novel takes place during the Oka crisis in the summer of 1990. Adopted as an infant, Carrie has always felt out of place. Recurring dreams haunt her, warning that someone close to her will be badly hurt. When she finds out that her birth family is Mohawk, living in Quebec, she makes the journey and finally achieves a sense of home and belonging.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Lacrosse Warrior: The Life of Mohawk Lacrosse Champion Gaylord Powless
Written by Wendy A. Lewis
James Lorimer, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-55277-002-3
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 4-5
Gaylord Powless, who was playing lacrosse by age three, had lacrosse in his blood. He came from generations of legendary Mohawk players of the game. His tremendous skill and native ancestry, though, made him a target on an doff the lacrosse floor. Includes black-and-white photos and a glossary.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
My First Métis Lobstick
Written and illustrated by Leah Marie Dorion
Translated by Norman Fleury
Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-92679-517-1
IL: Ages 8-11  RL: Grades 3-4
This book, written both in English and Michif, takes young readers back to Canada’s fur trade era by focusing on a Métis family’s preparations for a lobstick celebration and feast in the boreal forest. This little known aspect of Métis history vividly comes to life through Leah Marie Dorion’s crisp prose and stunning gallery-quality artwork.
Amazon | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Shannen and the Dream for a School
(A Kids’ Power Book)
Written by Janet Wilson
Second Story Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-926920-30-6
IL: Ages 9-13  RL: Grades 4-6
Attawapiskat had nothing but a few portables where their children attended school. Shannen Koostachin was one of those children and she, along with her friends and community, decided to do something about it. They started off by making a YouTube video about the poor condition of the portables and travelled to Ottawa to speak to politicians, telling them they were failing First Nations children. Their story inspired children across the nation.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Stones, Bones and Stitches: Storytelling Through Inuit Art
Written by Shelley Falconer and Shawna White
Tundra Books, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-88776-854-5
IL: Ages 10 and up  RL: Grade 5
Curators share several important pieces, created by six Inuit artists, from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection: Oviloo Tunnillie, Joe Talirunili, Jessie Oonark, Lukta Qiatsuk, David Ruben Piqtoukun and Kenojuak Ashevak. Bibliography included.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

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Classroom Activity: Book Week Theme Guide

by Sandra O’Brien and Tracey Schindler

Below are two activities from the 2015 TD Canadian Children’s Book Week theme guide. You can download the full guide, which includes book suggestions for all grade levels, author interviews and more activities, here.

Get Graphic

Graphic novels can make potent teaching tools — as a mostly visual medium they have the power to engage and motivate readers at so many levels, putting excitement back into learning, especially with difficult subjects. Many First Nations authors such as David Alexander Robertson (author of both The Tales from Big Spirit and the 7 Generations graphic novel series) are creating graphic novels to explore themes such as stereotyping and racism, and to confront difficult issues in Canadian/First Nations history.

Other graphic novels such as Country of Wolves (found in the YA section) or the Raven Tales series (only available through the school market), tell First Nations stories, myths or legends. Have students select and read some of these graphic novels and then discuss the issues, ideas, myths or stories that are tackled in these books. Students could then create their own graphic novel — they can tell or retell a story, create a myth or explore a contemporary or historical issue concerning Canadian First Nations/Métis/Inuit peoples. Perhaps they could make their graphic story into a short film, inspired by watching the NFB production of Country of Wolves. The options are limited only by their imaginations.

Amazing Inventions

The Inuit and First Nations peoples are extraordinarily resourceful and have, over the centuries, created ingenious solutions to the problems of their environment and everyday living conditions. Many of these inventions are explored in The Inuit Thought of It (Annick Press, 2007) and A Native American Thought of It (Annick Press, 2008). Have junior or intermediate students choose one such innovation or invention to learn about. Through a closer examination of a particular invention or innovation, students will learn about the people who developed it — their environment, their communities, etc. Working alone or in groups, students should learn what problem the invention solved, what materials were used, how the invention/innovation has changed over time and if it is still in use today. Models, interactive maps or poster boards are all possibilities.

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Amy’s Travels in YA

by Amy Mathers

Dear Canadian Teen Book Lovers,

A lot of people have been asking what I’ve been doing with myself since my Marathon of Books ended, and also what my next project is going to be. I have many ideas I am inquiring about, but in the meantime there are two main opportunities that have come my way.

The first is the chance to support my sister Holly Mathers with the Young Carers Project through working on their social media. A young carer is someone between early childhood and young adulthood who lives with a sibling, parent or other relative dealing with addiction, mental health issues, disability, illness or cultural differences. Living in such a family is a unique situation and usually means taking on adult responsibilities emotionally and physically. You can read more about it on the website:

Young carers are an often overlooked population, so much so they have trouble identifying themselves. After all, if you grow up in a family where caring for a family member with special needs is the norm, it is difficult to come to the realisation not all families experience these challenges and rely on children and teens to fulfill adult roles.

Part of my job is trying to figure out how to help young carers recognize themselves and to find support. I went to a workshop and the launch of the Young Carers Project in February, and a comment from a young carer named Jaylen about how he found solace in books started me thinking.

The first book I thought of featuring a young carer was The Yo-Yo Prophet by Karen Krossing. Calvin Layne is about 14, and lives with his grandmother who is affected with memory loss, pain and fatigue from her years of exposure to dry cleaning chemicals. When her health gets worse, Calvin steps in to protect her when he feels she is being taken advantage of, take her to doctor appointments and cook for her. I re-read the book and wrote up a profile for Calvin as if he were a real person.

Hopefully by providing these examples of fictional young carers (I’m up to five finished profiles with a growing list) in young adult books, tv shows and movies and getting the word out about them, young carers will visit the site to find community and the support they need to attend to their own needs while caring for others. If you’re a writer who has written a children’s or young adult book about a young carer, please email me through this form so I can add it to my list and write up a profile. I’m calling it #WritersForYoungCarers.

The second opportunity came from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in the form of being asked to write a monthly article about young adult fiction for their e-newsletter. I happily accepted as you can see, and next month I will be writing about YA humour.

In the meantime I am keeping up on my reading. While waiting with baited breath for the first list of Amy Mathers Teen Book Award nominees, I am catching up on my White Pine reading as well as trying to read all of the books nominated for any teen type award in Canada. You can follow my Goodreads account to see how I’m doing.

See you next month!


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TD Canadian Children Book Week

TD Book Week is fast approaching, so we asked a few authors, illustrators and storytellers who are touring next month to tell us about what they have in store for their audiences.

Rukhsana Khan

I’m very excited to be part of the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tour! What I have planned will depend on the audience I’m in front of. It’s just the way I work as a storyteller. The best laid plans can run amok if a different set of people turn up! So I learned a long time ago to be flexible!

I present to audiences from babies (literally!!!) to senior citizens! And I have SO many presentations that I’ve designed and I always have Persian and Arabian folktales to fall back on as well. I can do fun stories for Kindergarten to grade 3, like my hugely popular book Big Red Lollipop. I go a little bit more serious for the junior (Grades 4-6) and intermediate (Grades 7-8) students.

For example, one of my favourite presentations involves the story behind my international award winning book The Roses in My Carpets. In that presentation I take the audience on a visual tour of the Afghan refugee camp that I visited in Pakistan, to meet the little boy who was the inspiration! It’s one of my most popular presentations! I’ve performed it all over the world and I never get tired of telling that story.

For intermediate and secondary students I go into the inspiration behind Wanting More, which is based on a true story of a girl in Afghanistan who was abandoned by her father and ended up in an orphanage where I sponsored a library with the money from [the sales of] The Roses in my Carpets.

I also talk about what it was like coming to Canada. Most people don’t expect someone who looks and dresses like me to be funny, but I’m told I am. (At one point I briefly considered getting into stand-up comedy! But I’ve abandoned that idea! I much prefer telling stories and presenting to school audiences where my humor can teach as well as entertain, hopefully.) So audiences can basically expect an interesting experience! And hopefully they’ll learn something in the process!

My books range from silly chickens, scary chickens, kite fighting and red lollipops to child refugees, and Afghan orphanages. But even my older presentations are laced with humour because I love to laugh as much as any audience does!

And I’m looking forward to La Belle Province!!!

Rukhsana will be touring Quebec during TD Book Week. Read her Book Week profile here.

Bill Swan

In my visit to Prince Edward Island, presentations will take two forms: one for high school and public sessions and one for grade school visits.

For high schools, I will focus on my three non-fiction books in the Lorimer Real Justice series. My book on the Donald Marshall, Jr. story is set in Cape Breton, and is the true story of one man’s struggle against racism. My latest book in the series is the story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter — a story that grew out of racism in the United States, and became a truly Canadian story. From such stories we will look at the common elements to injustice and unjust convictions. The Real Justice series is ideal for law and civics classes and the discussion of racism and police training.

My three books in the series are:
Jailed for Life for Being Black: They Story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter
Convicted for Being Mi’kmaq: The Story of Donald Marshall Jr.
Fourteen and Sentenced to Death: The Story of Steven Truscott

For middle-grade school visits, the focus will be on story: what makes a story; the common elements of story structure, and how a writer builds a story. This includes discussion of the three main elements: People, Place, Plot, and how good stories combine these in a special way. From Dr. Seuss to Harry Potter and even on the movie screen, writers structure the 3Ps to enhance the story. This will provide the students with a guide to enrich both the reading and the writing of stories. Students who have been active in writing their own stories (and reading stories!) will find the sessions rewarding.

Some examples will also be used from my nine middle-grade sports novels, all published by James Lorimer & Company: Man-to-Man, The Enforcer, Deflection!, Corner Kick, Off Track, Road Rage, Mud Happens, Mud Run and Fast Finish.

Bill Swan will be touring PEI during TD Book Week. Read his Book Week profile here.

Gail de Vos

I am very excited to be revisiting the province of Quebec as a storyteller. I have previously told to adult audiences in several festivals in Montreal and in the Eastern Townships but have not yet had the opportunity to tell in schools and libraries.

The stories that I tell draw from a wide variety of sources, demonstrating my strong belief that the world is composed of story. I am eager to bring to these audiences a taste of Alberta history through stories of the early settlement and development into a community, while much younger than Quebec, which shares numerous commonalities with the province. I will provide a sense of wonder with my telling of less common folktales from wide and far, demonstrating why these stories remain relevant today and how contemporary authors have adapted, adopted, and reshaped the folktales, characters and motifs to charm a new generation of listeners, readers and viewers. The more audiences are aware of these old tales, the more they can recognize literary allusions in poetry and narratives and underlying messages in advertisements and commercials, for instance. Some of my stories will touch upon universal themes with family stories, and all of my stories will present a chance for audience members to exercise their imaginations to create visual images with me in the various story worlds I will be creating with them.

I use a string to tell some of the stories and, with older audiences, talk about some of the research behind the various books I have written for teachers and librarians (and students too). Although best known as a storyteller of urban legends and scary stories, I tend not to tell these types of stories to audiences younger than Grade 6. I encourage all audience members to retell the stories, to make them their own, and to find other stories that feed their imagination so to continue to celebrate the power of oral storytelling as humanity’s major communication tool. Each session will include a brief question and answer period about the stories, storytelling and my books.

Gail will be touring Quebec during TD Book Week. Read her Book Week profile here.

Claudia Dávila

Young children and big kids alike will have a lively and thought-provoking time with my two presentation options.

For Kindergarten to Grade 2, my debut picture book Super Red Riding Hood will spark a debate about what makes an everyday superhero. In this book, Ruby is a present-day kid who feels like a superhero when she puts on the red cloak her grandmother made for her. Of course, she ends up strolling through the deep, dark woods, and indeed feels frightened when she encounters the wolf. Thankfully she draws upon her inner hero and saves herself from the wolf — but her truly heroic act was in discovering why the wolf was acting so fierce, helping the two of them overcome their differences, and in the end saving the day with an act of friendship. Together with the younger kids, we’ll create our own kid hero as I draw their collective ideas on a large sheet of paper, as we discuss the qualities of a hero. I’ll end my presentation with a reading of my book.

For Grades 3-6, I’ll be diving into the heart of my graphic novels Luz Sees the Light and Luz Makes a Splash. As I click through a PowerPoint presentation of pages from my book, I’ll invite kids to read along. Together with Luz, we’ll investigate where all forms of energy and electricity come from and how we use it and need it in our day-to-day lives. We’ll go on to explore the many important ways people and the planet need fresh water, and the how’s and why’s of water conservation. Our hero Luz discovers the importance of relying on friends and bringing together her community to make exciting changes to the way they use, and save, energy and water.

Claudia will be touring Alberta for TD Book Week. Read her Book Week profile here.

Joel Sutherland

During my ten plus years as an author-librarian, I’ve discovered that all kids love reading and writing, stories and storytelling, whether or not they’ll openly admit it. I truly believe that the students who say they’re not interested in stories just haven’t found the right ones yet. As authors, educators, librarians and parents, it’s our responsibility to find the right book for the right kid in order to spark a lifelong passion for reading and writing.

Creating stories is rewarding, energizing and, above all else, fun. Proving this to students of all reading levels is my ultimate goal when visiting schools and libraries. If I have to be goofy, I’ll be goofy. If I have to be silly, I’ll be silly. If I have to be a little disgusting, well, you get the picture. The key is “tricking” kids into developing literacy skills by having so much fun they don’t even realize they’re learning.

Here’s a little secret: my latest book, Haunted Canada 4, is a textbook in disguise. Kids devour the popular series for the scary ghost stories and gruesome details, but the book is also packed with Canadian history, geography and notable people. But let’s keep that between us, okay?

During Book Week, I’ll walk children of all ages through the entire creative writing process, right from brainstorming to book launch partying. I’ll also, of course, share a spooky story or two. And if any students are particularly interested in the supernatural, they just might find themselves enrolled in Ghosthunters Academy. It’ll be like Halloween in May!

Joel will be touring the BC Interior during TD Book Week. Read his Book Week profile here.

Kim Firmston

I have two different presentations for my teen-aged audiences. In the first one, called “Over Coming Challenges and Learning to Love Words”, we track down stories in some unexpected places and learn to overcome things which keep us from enjoying them. The second session I offer, simply called “Action”, focuses on the fast and furious world of the action scene. Both presentations are not static creatures. Instead they are done in a game show format with audience participation, interaction and laughs, with the overlying message being — anyone can write a story.

Kim will be touring Labrador during TD Book Week. Read her Book Week profile here.

Read more interviews with touring author, illustrators and storytellers at

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Out now: Spring 2015 Canadian Children’s Book News

In the Spring 2015 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News: First Nations, Métis and Inuit Writing and Publishing

In recognition of the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and its theme “Hear Our Stories: Celebrating First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature,” this issue will explore several facets of this vibrant part of children’s literature.

This issue will also include:

  • a profile of author David Alexander Robertson
  • Who is publishing First Nations, Métis and Inuit stories? A look at the publishers and the market for these exciting new voices and stories
  • a personal reflection by David Bouchard

Plus a summer sports book list in preparation for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, a chat with first-time Book Week authors and our regular news and review columns.

The Spring 2015 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News is currently available for purchase at select bookstores or in our online store.

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Next Month…

Our May newsletter will be all about humour in children’s/YA literature. Please contact us if you have any questions or feedback — we would love to hear from you!