February 2019 Newsletter


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
February Reading List: Activism and Social Justice
Author Corner: Erinne Paisley
Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction
Illustrator’s Studio: Julie McLaughlin
Booksellers’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Introducing Red Apple Reading!

We are excited to announce the launch of Red Apple Reading, an online Facebook community for Canadian librarians and educators. We wanted to create a space for educators to connect through their love of books for children and teens. Request to join today!

The Chatham-Kent Public Library will be host to the 2019 Book Bash Canadian Children’s Literature Festival

The festival is a fun-filled, free children’s festival featuring a variety of activities and programs with Canadian children’s authors, illustrators and entertainers. The library’s event will highlight First Nations and French-language literature and culture.

The festival will take place on October 23, 2019. Learn more here.

Greystone Books Announces New Kids Program

Greystone is known for publishing award winning non-fiction and has launched Greystone Kids. The kids program will publish picture books and non-fiction books for middle-grade readers. Learn more here.

Celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Freedom to Read Week

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This year Freedom to Read will takes place from February 24 to March 2.  The official website has great ideas on how to get involved for educators and the 2019 kit is available now.

The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) Announces the FOLD Kids Book Fest and Teen Track

The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories, is thrilled to announce the FOLD Kids Book Fest, a new children’s literary festival that will kick off in Brampton this September. FOLD has also expanded its youth programming. In addition to events for school groups on Friday, May 3, the FOLD is launching its first TEEN TRACK – a full-day of programming for aspiring writers aged 12-18 on Saturday, May 4.

To assist in the programming and promotion of the inaugural Teen Track, the FOLD has partnered with Simon & Schuster Canada to provide a Writer-in-Residence program. In addition to involvement at the festival, the Teen Track Writer-in-Residence will conduct two webinars in the weeks leading up to the festival for writers and educators.  S.K. Ali, author of Saints and Misfits, and Love From A to Z (May 2019) will be the inaugural Teen Track Writer-in Residence for 2019.

Visit the CCBC’s Social Justice and Diversity Book Bank!

We are excited to announce the launch of our new book bank highlighting Canadian titles that focus on diversity, social justice and activism. We believe that there is a dire need for more diverse stories in Canadian children’s literature and our new book bank is a way for us to support these stories while providing a tool to help readers have quick and easy access to hundreds of titles.

This new book bank is perfect for teachers, librarians and parents to use in finding great Canadian content.

Check out the book bank here!

Get your copy of The Landing by John Ibbitson
978-1-5253-0025-7 $12.99 | Ages 12-14

Set in Depression-era Muskoka, this evocative and powerful Governor General’s Literary Award–winning novel follows a young musician’s awakening to the possibilities of a world beyond his borders.

The Landing is geared toward young adults, but just as easily belongs to the Canadian coming-of-age genre occupied by the likes of Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence.” — The Globe and Mail

Proceeds from this 10th Anniversary edition support the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

NEW! Use our teaching guide for background information and discussion questions. Download yours here.

On sale now! Available in bookstores or through the CCBC’s online shop. Order through the CCBC and receive a FREE subscription to Canadian Children’s Book News and Best Books for Kids & Teens. Enter coupon code landing to take advantage of this limited time offer.

2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards Now Accepting Submissions

The Book Publishers Association of Alberta is now accepting submissions for the 2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards.

The awards are open to all active Alberta owned and controlled publishers whose primary activity is publishing original material; nominated books must be published between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. Submissions will be accepted until February 28, 2019 and the awards will be presented on September 13, 2019 at a gala event in Edmonton, Alberta. For complete details on the awards and process please visit www.bookpublishers.ab.ca/awards.

Mabel’s Fables Launches Kids Read North

Mabel’s Fables is heading North! The Toronto children’s bookstore recently launched the new literacy program ‘KIDS READ NORTH’ to bring your favourite books to First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. Mabel’s is asking for your help in getting your favourite stories out to these children. Much like their Angel program, they will have the name, age and school of different Indigenous children in Northern Ontario hanging on the ceiling with a ribbon. Pick a name, choose a book, and we will specially wrap and deliver it to that child!

Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators

Why Reading Books Should Be Your Priority, According to Science

The Benefits of Ear-Reading

Librarians Recommend 10 Books That Deal With Gender Identity Or Sexuality

Inspired by her daughter, this first-time author is shining a light on LGBT Muslim teen experiences

Whistler author Sara Leach releases new children’s book

How to Start a Book Club for Small Kids

Toronto-based illustrator teams up with Paul McCartney on children’s book

‘They don’t know what they don’t know’: Teachers reach out for tips on integrating Indigenous content

29 Canadian kids books & YA to look for in spring 2019


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February Reading List: Activism

Our reading list this month is all about rising up and making a difference! Social justice and activism are at the forefront in these books that are perfect for classroom and library use.

Picture Books

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs
Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Valérie Boivin
Kids Can Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77138-653-1
IL: Ages 7-9 RL: Grade 4

In this engaging informational picture book, author Susan Hughes provides a fictionalized story of the life of Jane Jacobs, an urban thinker and activist who made planning and development of healthy cities her life’s work and whose influence is still felt today. Kids will be inspired to notice the “sidewalk ballet” around them and to protect what makes their communities — and their cities — great!

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

The Water Walker
Written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson
Second Story Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77260-038-4
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 2-3

Nokomis Josephine Mandamin, an Ojibwe grandmother, walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi (water) for future generations and for all life on the planet. Nokomis has walked around all the Great Lakes from the salt waters (oceans) all the way to Lake Superior. Young readers are challenged to take the responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers



Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Pandas on the Eastside
Written by Gabrielle Prendergast
Orca Book Publishers, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4598-1143-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 5-8

When 10-year-old Journey Song hears that two pandas are being held in a warehouse in her neighbourhood, she worries that they may be hungry, cold and lonely. Horrified to learn that the pandas, originally destined for a zoo in Washington, might be shipped back to China because of a diplomatic spat between China and the United States, Journey rallies her friends and neighbours on the poverty-stricken Eastside. Her infectious enthusiasm for all things panda is hard to resist, and soon she’s getting assistance from every corner of her tight-knit neighbourhood.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

The Summer We Saved the Bees
Written by Robin Stevenson
Orca Book Publishers, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4598-0834-8
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 5-6

Wolf’s mother is obsessed with saving the world’s honeybees. He gets that. But it’s another thing altogether when she announces that she’s taking her Save the Bees show on the road — family style, complete with mortifying bee costumes. Can Wolf and his sisters convince her that dragging the family around in a beat-up panel van may not be the best idea she’s ever had?

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Young Adult Fiction

Matt, a white quarterback from Montreal, Quebec, flies to France (without his parents’ permission) to play football and escape family pressure. Freeman, a black football player from San Antonio, Texas, is in Paris on a school trip when he hears about a team playing American football in a rough, low-income suburb called Villeneuve-La-Grande. Matt and Free join the Diables Rouges and make friends with the other players, who come from many different ethnic groups. Racial tension erupts into riots in Villeneuve when some of their Muslim teammates get in trouble with the police, and Matt and Free have to decide whether to get involved and face the very real risk of arrest and violence.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

In Plain Sight
Written by Laura Langston
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4598-1416-5
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades  3-4

Fifteen-year-old Megan “Cause Queen” Caliente is president of the political science club and likes to make her voice heard. But after the protest she organized on the Las Vegas Strip takes an unexpected turn, she is suddenly wishing she could disappear. When her mother comes to pick her up at the police station, Megan learns, to her horror, that her whole life has been a lie. Her father is a convicted terrorist, responsible for the deaths of more than 200 people, and her mother has been living under an assumed name for 15 years. Now everyone, students and teachers alike, is treating Megan differently now. Cruel accusations and gossip, as well as persistent reporters, follow her everywhere. Worried that she is destined to follow in her father’s footsteps, Megan, with the help of the charismatic Matt Mendez, the only person at school who hasn’t turned on her, decides to track down the father she thought was dead and get some answers.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Fight to Learn: The Struggle to Go to School
Written by Laura Scandiffio
Annick Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-5545-1797-8
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

In many countries around the world, universal access to education is a seemingly unattainable dream; however, determined individuals with vision and drive have made this dream come true for many. Fight to Learn highlights people such as Okello, a former child soldier in Uganda, who founded a school for children like him whose education was derailed by war; Chicago teen Deonte Tanner, who changed one high school’s culture from guns and gangs to talking and learning; Shannen Koostachin, a feisty 13-year-old Cree whose fight for the right of First Nations children to have proper schools endured even after her untimely death.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Meet Viola Desmond
(Scholastic Canada Biography)
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Scholastic Canada, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4431-6387-3
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 2-4

On a rainy November day in 1946, Viola decided that she would not give up her seat in the unofficial white section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Viola knew she was being asked to move because she was black. She was jailed, tried and found guilty of an unfair charge. But Viola and her supporters persisted in their campaign for social justice — all the way to Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court. Because when Viola decided to do something … she did it! This new picture book biography series features simple text and full-colour, comic-flavoured illustration with speech balloons that help bring the story alive. Historical photos and a timeline support the narrative.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Our Rights: How Kids are Changing the World
Written by Janet Wilson
Second Story Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-9269-2095-5
IL: Ages 7-12 RL: Grades 3-4

A girl who spoke out against her government for the rights of aboriginal children, a boy who walked across his country to raise awareness of homelessness, and a former child soldier who wants to make music not war. Here are true stories of kids just like you who are standing up for their rights. Read about how they have made a difference. Dylan Mahalingam from the USA started an online charity to raise money to fight child poverty. The bravery of Nujood Ali Mohammed from Yemen inspired other girls who were being forced to marry too young. of them are making a difference for children’s rights.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World
Written by Caroline Paul
Illustrated by Lauren Tamaki
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-68119-822-4
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Passionate about politics? Dedicated to saving the environment? This guide book, featuring change-maker tips, as well as anecdotes of young activists around the globe, is for those with a fierce sense of justice, a good sense of humour and a big heart. So make a sign, write a letter, volunteer, march or take part in a sit-in! You’re never too young to change the world!

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


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Author’s Corner: Erinne Paisley

Erinne Paisley is an activist, public speaker, youth content developer, writer and student who made international headlines when she turned her math homework into a dress and wore it to prom, then donated the money she would have spent on a dress to the Malala Fund. She is studying Peace, Conflict and Justice, as well as Book and Media Studies, at the University of Toronto and was an intern at She’s the First in New York City in 2017. She is the author of the PopActivism series. Follow Erinne on Twitter @ErinneP

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author? What is your writing process like?

My journey as an author began when I was twelve years old. I wrote my first complete book manuscript called Salieri’s Diary (a YA mystery based in Vienna, Austria). It was rejected by every publishing house I submitted to, but Orca Book Publishers let me come and tour their publishing offices. Six years later, I graduated high school in Victoria, BC and created my prom dress out of my old pre-calculus 11 homework. On it I wrote: “I’ve receive my education. Not every woman has that right. Malala.org.” I then donated the money I would have spent on a dress to the Malala Fund. The story went viral and I had the opportunity to promote women’s educational rights on platforms such as MTV and Teen Vogue. Sarah Harvey (the series editor at Orca) saw the story and recognized me from Salieri’s Diary. I was approached by Orca to write a book on going viral. I instead proposed a three-part series on youth activism with a focus on digital technology. The PopActivism book series was born!

Do you have any advice on bringing out the spirit of activism in young people?

Activism is about turning your creativity and passions towards an issue that means something to you in order to help others! I think the most important thing when encouraging young people to get involved in activist activities is to really look at how you’re defining activism. When a young person is first getting started, activism to them could look like creating a poster at their school about bullying or posting a drawing they did of their favourite feminist on their Instagram to bring awareness to women’s rights. It could also mean attending or organizing a protest or emailing a politician. The list is endless. As long as activism is approached as a creative and fun way to help others, then I always find people (of all ages) are easily engaged and excited to get starting making a positive difference in the world!

What’s pop activism and how did it start?

After the story about my paper prom dress went viral, I had a hunger to learn more about how popular culture influences activism and vice versa. Activism is defined as the creation of political and/or social change. I defined PopActivism as activism that is integrated with pop culture and inspires similar acts which can be created in everyday life. To reflect and inspire this concept, I created the blog popactivism.com and found the overarching theme for the series.

How do you stay motivated and positive despite everything going on in the world today?

This is a really important topic that needs to be talked about more. If your energy is low and your tank is empty, then you won’t be able to help anyone else! It’s important to keep time in your day for self care, whether that means time with friends, walking the dog, meditating, cooking etc. I think it’s also important to stay educated on as many topics as possible but to focus your energy on one or a small number of issues that matter the most to you. You will be able to contribute more effectively this way as well!

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

At the moment, I’m about to graduate from the University of Toronto with a degree in Peace, Conflict, and Justice and Book and Media Studies. I’m hoping to study the topics of activism, the Internet, and creative writing in my graduate studies as well. For writing projects, I’m currently working on a picture book on the topic of fake news and a YA fictional mystery series featuring a young student journalist named Maggie!

Find out more about Erinne on her website at  popactivism.com and erinnepaisley.com

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Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction



In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise funds to create the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.

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Illustrator’s Studio: Julie McLaughlin

Julie McLaughlin is a freelance illustrator born in Edmonton, raised in Saskatchewan, and, after living in Montreal and Vancouver, now resides in Victoria, BC (unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations). She’s illustrated four children’s non-fiction titles, as well as over 50 middle grade book covers. Her previous books have been nominated for several awards, including the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, which she won for Why We Live Where We Live by Kira Vermond in 2015. Clients include HarperCollins, Scholastic, Random House, Disney/Hyperion, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Algonquin Books, Chronicle Books, Owlkids, Usborne, Orca Book Publishers, and more.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Growing up I was always quite creative and loved to draw; my specialty was faces, quirky buildings, and horses. So many horses. I was constantly poring over picture books and examining all the little details over and over again. Perhaps it was growing up somewhat sheltered in small town Saskatchewan, but it never once occurred to me that maybe one day I could be the one drawing those pictures. In grade 4 I got a hand-lettering book I was obsessed with (from the Scholastic book fair, of course), and when we finally got Windows 95 I fancied myself quite the Microsoft Paint artist! But I thought the closest I could get to a creative career was interior design or “computer graphics,” which was a vague concept for me and, at best, meant something like making goofy WordArt or ClipArt.

Everything changed when I moved back to Alberta for the last two years of high school, and met with an amazing guidance counselor who had an information booklet on ACAD (Alberta College of Art & Design) and blew me away with a whole new world of creative opportunities and career paths. I dove in and immediately began crafting my application portfolio. My parents were so supportive and I had a really wonderful art teacher who let me stay late or come in off-hours to work on it.

Photo by Melanie Grisak

I was accepted into the Visual Communications program at ACAD and started the fall after high school in 2002. I was 17 and still had to get permission slips signed by my parents for school trips! It was the scariest and best thing ever. I took the Illustration stream, with the exception of one semester in third year when I was continually frustrated and second guessing everything, and so switched to the design stream instead. It actually ended up being very helpful in my illustration work by furthering my understanding of typography and composition. I graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Design, and from there I started freelancing for local publications and volunteering to do gig posters for my friends’ bands, I slowly built up a portfolio and professional contacts from there. It has obviously not been without struggles, but I feel tremendously lucky to have known what I wanted to do from a young age and have it actually work out pretty well!

Can you walk us through the artistic process for your illustrative work?

A book cover from start to finish

I always start with a lot of written notes and teeny tiny thumbnails. They look like incoherent chicken scratches, but it helps me work out the most basic compositional elements, as well as be able to move quickly between different concepts without getting too hung up on particulars. (This is perhaps not widely recommended, but I almost always do this part sitting in bed with my laptop and papers and drawing tools strewn about. I have a hard time doing this initial phase anywhere else! Weird, but it works.) From there I move to my computer and Wacom tablet, where I use a mix of digital brushes and scanned textures for refining sketches and completing artwork.

In terms of selecting books for you to illustrate, what appeals to you the most?

It’s a mix of things! Sometimes I have a personal connection or interest in the content, sometimes it covers an issue I think is really important. Sometimes it’s because I have limited experience with the subject matter, and the process of learning something new and then trying to communicate that to others is a fun and unique challenge.

Julie’s dog, Mr. Pants, makes his way into her work

What inspires you most as a creator?

Being out in nature is a big part! I live on Vancouver Island and the natural beauty is incredible. It’s lush and green all year round (there are flowers blooming in January!), it never ceases to be inspiring, especially as I include a lot of plants and animals in my work. Travelling, people-watching, looking at other artists/illustrators work too. I also like to include bits of real life where I can, like people, pets or places. It gives me another layer of engagement and interest while working. I have a sassy, old Pomeranian named Mr. Pants who makes his way into an illustration almost every year!

Julie painting a Frida Kahlo mural on a telephone pole in Victoria

What projects are you working on? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I’m working on a fun non-fiction book written by Johanna Wagstaffe (who’s also a meteorologist/science host for CBC) called Little Cloud, due out in Spring 2020 with Orca Book Publishers. It’s the story of a cloud who wanted to grow up to be a hurricane… until he did! It’s for young readers to learn the science of hurricanes through the adventures of a little cloud with big dreams! Aside from that, I’ve been working on several  [predominantly middle grade] book covers, which I absolutely adore doing, a bunch of those will be released in the coming year. I read every book I illustrate a cover for and I’m always blown away by the quality of books out there for young people!

Find out more about Julie and her work at whatwouldjuliedraw.com

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Booksellers’ Picks

Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.

A Different Booklist in Toronto, ON

February is that special month when we celebrate African History Month, Chinese New Year, Family Day, Patty Day, Bob Marley Day, and of course Valentine’s Day, the day of love. As you celebrate the simple pleasure of reading this February, join me and the family of A Different Booklist in reading Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki (Groundwood Books, 2010), Africville by Shauntay Grant and Eva Campbell  (Groundwood Books, 2018), Black Women Who Dared by Naomi M. Moyer (Second Story Press, 2018) and Philomena (Unloved) by Christene A. Browne, (Second Story Press, 2018).  Right On Reading! —Itah Sadu, Co-manager

A Different Booklist: 779 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M5S 0B7

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: Africville written by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Eva Campbell (Groundwood Books, 2018), Ages 4-7

With vibrant, richly-hued and sumptuous illustrations, this book lovingly evokes the spirit of the once-thriving community of Africville, a closeknit Black community in Nova Scotia that was razed to the ground in the 1960s.  In spare, perfectly-paced poetry, Grant captures a sense of what life was like for the families who made Africville their home.  It is a nostalgic tribute to a particular time and place while also serving as a more universal celebration of home and family.  The young girl at the centre of this story is a contemporary child attending the annual Africville festival/reunion.  Based on the stories that she’s heard through the years and the recollections of the former residents of Africville, she imagines this place and she feels her connectedness to it.  So too readers of all ages and from any place will be swept up in this beautiful, melodic, timeless homage. —Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 1533 Birmingham St., Halifax, NS B3J 2J1 www.woozles.com

If your independent bookstore would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.

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Staff Pick

Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes by Eva Chen, illustrated by Derek Desierto (Feiwel and Friends, 2018), Ages 4-6

This picture book is about shoes, but it’s also about strong women and learning from them. When Juno can’t find her favourite pair of shoes, a simple (and maybe a little boring) pair of tennis shoes, she finds herself in a magical closet filled with some very special footwear. She finds herself literally walking in the shoes of great women like Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Marie Curie and Sally Ride. When Juno finds her own shoes, she finds a way to  add a little magic to them, channeling all the women whose shoes she tried on. I love the texture to the art and the way that  all of the groundbreaking women (and their shoes) fit into this cute story. — Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing and Website Coordinator

Next Month

Look for our March newsletter early next month, which will be all about girl power! Look forward to interviews with Tanaz Bhathena and Julie Morstad!

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