February 2021


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
February Reading List: Black History Month
Author Corner: Zetta Elliott
Illustrator’s Studio: Danielle Murrell Cox
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

#IReadCanadian Now More Than Ever!

The second annual celebration of Canadian children’s literature took place February 17, 2021. The event was a national celebration of Canadian books for young people, with the goal of elevating the genre, and celebrating their breadth and diversity. This year’s  celebration was a massive success!  Watch the playlist of I Read Canadian videos  to keep the celebrations alive all year long. 

Thank you

I Read Canadian Day is brought to you by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Canscaip, the Ontario Library Association, Forest of ReadingCanadian School Libraries, Eric Walters, Bibliovideo and Communication-Jeunesse. Thank you to our generous sponsors, A Different Drummer Books, Access Copyright, Orca Book Publishers, Scholastic Canada and Telling Tales.

We Want To Hear From You!

We need your help to better understand what kind of content you would like to see on the channel. Fill out this survey for your chance to win a package of Bibliovideo swag and great Canadian kids’ books!

Fill out the survey here!

Announcing the 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award Finalists

Every year, IBBY Canada presents the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award to a Canadian illustrator in recognition of outstanding artistic talent in a Canadian picture book.

The illustrators of the finalist books, including four wordless picture books, depict with talent and originality stories of hope, friendship, courage, imagination and acceptance in an array of styles and techniques for a range of children from preschoolers to teens.

Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight/Tournée Lire à tout vent

We are excited to announce the touring creators for Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight. Forty-Five talented Canadian authors, illustrators and storytellers were selected to take part in this virtual tour and share a love of reading with young people in schools, libraries and homes all across Canada.

Established in 1977, this year’s national tour will take place from May 2-8, 2021. See the list of touring creators here.

Announcing the Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2021!

Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is back — with a virtual twist! Free of the shackles of corporeal existence, TCAF’s marketplace will have more days than ever before, and include a week of on-demand programming. Comic and art lovers can visit TCAF 2021 online any time between May 8-15, 2021, to peruse and shop hundreds of exhibitors’ amazing works, sit in on classic Q&As, workshops, talks, and so much more!

If you want to exhibit at TCAF 2021, fill out this form by March 3, 2021: Click here to apply.

Call for Submissions: 2021 CCBC Book Awards

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now accepting submissions for its English-language children’s book awards. The submission deadline is March 1, 2021. Only works by Canadian authors and illustrators are eligible for submission. In the case of translations, the translator must also be Canadian. Books must be published between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Learn more here.

Empowering Youth, One Generation at a Time: Free Resources 

The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP) is inspired by Rick’s belief in the power of youth and their ability to change the world. RHFSP raises awareness, challenges perceptions, and changes attitudes, through a variety of lessons and activities, empowering youth to take action on important issues.

RHFSP resources are designed for youth from K-12 and include age-appropriate lessons and interactive activities for every grade level. Free, bilingual, and connected to provincial curriculum, our resources are:

  • Ready-to-use
  • Deliverable online or in the classroom
  • Developed by educators, for educators
  • Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Learn more here.

Order the Winter Edition of Canadian Children’s Book News Now!

It is essential now, more than ever, for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) to see themselves represented in the books they read. The Winter issue of Canadian Children’s Book News celebrates Black Canadian voices and showcases several talented authors and illustrators who are creating stories that provide this representation.

In this issue, author Nadia Hohn examines how the Canadian publishing industry has responded to #WeNeedDiverseVoices and #OwnVoices and why diversity is needed in children’s books. Ardo Omer sheds a light on the importance of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis explains what drives him to continue writing books about Black history and illustrator Eva Campbell shares her vibrant world of oil paint and pastel on canvas and the importance of having kids see themselves in her artwork. Four Black Canadian authors also share their road to publication. Our “Keep Your Eye On…” column introduces you to Andre Fenton, an author and spoken-word artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our Bookmark! column features 17 books written by Black Canadian authors, and as always, we have over 40 reviews of recently published books for you to enjoy.

In honour of Black History Month, you can download an article for free! Read “Keep Telling Tales: Shaping How Young People Engage With the World.”

Order your copy today!

Purchase Our Greeting Cards and Support the CCBC!

With everyone across the country separated from their friends and families, we are all searching for ways to connect with one another. Support the CCBC and send your loved ones a greeting featuring art from past Canadian Children’s Book Week posters. Perfect for stocking stuffers, these greeting cards feature original art by illustrators Barbara Reid, Julie Flett, Ian Wallace, Wallace Edwards, Bill Slavin, Elly MacKay, Gabrielle Grimard and Eugenie Fernandes. All purchases from these packs of eight cards go towards programs like Canadian Children’s Book Week, the CCBC Book Awards and Bibliovideo

Visit our shop today!

Follow Bibliovideo on Social Media!

Bibliovideo, the YouTube channel all about Canadian books for young people, is now on social media! Follow on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the newest videos!

Congratulations to David A. Robertson, Winner of the 2021 Freedom to Read Award!

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is pleased to announce that Manitoba author David A. Robertson is the recipient of the 2021 Freedom to Read Award. The award is presented annually by TWUC in recognition of work that is passionately supportive of the freedom to read. Learn more here.

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

back to top

Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.

11-year-old uses Instagram to celebrate books with Black characters (CBC Kids)

I Love to Read Month: Manitoba authors share their stories (Global News)

21 Children’s Books About Gender Identity And Gender Expression That Should Be On Every Kid’s Bookshelf (BuzzFeed)

Local libraries help keep people connected online during pandemic (CBC)

10 Kids’ Books About Love That Are Perfect For Valentine’s Day (Huffington Post)

To help his kids love their Japanese Canadian identity, this dad writes books (CBC)

No shortage of young people’s reading material for I Read Canadian Day (The Globe and Mail)

11-year-old Kitchener author hopes to inspire with anti-bullying book (CBC)

Kids pick a movie, book and song in honour of Black History Month (CBC Kids)

How This Teacher Helps Students Explore Their Identities Through Children’s Books (PopSugar)


back to top

February Reading List: Black History Month

 This month’s reading list features just a small selection of all the amazing books from Black Voices, featuring Canadian books for young people of all ages.

Picture Books

Written by Shauntay Grant
Illustrated by Eva Campbell
Groundwood Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77306-043-9
IIL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grade 2

At the annual summer Africville Reunion Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a young girl imagines what the vibrant community was once like — from the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside to the pond where all the kids went rafting. Coming out of her reverie, she visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great-grandmother’s name is carved in stone.


The City Speaks in Drums
Written by Shauntay Grant
Illustrated by Susan Took
Nimbus Publishing, 2010
ISBN 978-1-4431-0789-1
IIL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grade 2

Two boys from North End Halifax explore their neighbourhood and the city beyond, finding music everywhere. At the skate park, by the Public Gardens, down Spring Garden Road, and on the boardwalk, drums and saxophones and dancers and basketballs create the jumbled, joyful, pulsing rhythm of Halifax. Shauntay Grant’s playful spoken word-style poem and Susan Tooke’s vivid illustrations create a wildly energetic and appealing journey through the big, bright city.


Dear Baobab
Written by Cheryl Foggo
Illustrated by Qin LEng
Second Story Press, 2011
ISBN 978-1-8971-8791-3
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades  2-4

Maiko has left his village in Africa far behind, moving to North America to live with his aunt and uncle. When he thinks of home, he thinks of the beautiful big baobab tree at the center of the village. In his new home, Maiko feels a connection to the small spruce tree in the front yard – it’s seven years old, the same age as he is. The tree sings to Maiko and shares his secrets. When he learns that the roots of the tree are growing too close to the house, putting the little spruce in danger of being cut down, Maiko tries to save it. He knows all too well what it’s like to be small, and planted in the wrong place.


Dear Black Girls
Written by Shanice Nicole
Illustrated by Kezna Dalz
Metonymy Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-9990-5883-8
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3Dear Black Girls is a letter to all Black girls. Every single day poet and educator Shanice Nicole is reminded of how special Black girls are and of how lucky she is to be one. Illustrations by Kezna Dalz support the book”s message that no two Black girls are the same but they are all special–that to be a Black girl is a true gift. In this celebratory poem, Kezna and Shanice remind young readers that despite differences, they all deserve to be loved just the way they are.Wholesalers

Greetings, Leroy
Written by Itah Sadu
Illustrated by Alix Delinois
Groundwood Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-5549-8760-3
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-2

Roy and his family has just moved to North America from Jamaica. His new home is different from his old home — even the sun feels cold! His nerves ease, though, as welcome reminders of home follow him through his day. His neighbor gives him a button as a gift for his first day of school. The principal tells him about the soccer team and his new class makes him feel welcome. The friendly people he meets, and their shared love of Bob Marley, make for a good start at his new school.



Malaika’s Surprise
Written by Nadia L. Hohn
Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7730-6264-8
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades 1-2

It’s summertime, and Malaika and Adèle are enjoying playing carnival in their bright costumes, dancing and laughing in the sunshine. But when Mummy announces that they will soon have a new baby brother or sister, Malaika is unsure how to feel about another change in her family. Will Mummy forget about me? But a surprise arrives on Malaika’s birthday that gives her more reason to celebrate her family’s love.

Forthcoming: Published March 1, 2021



A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Written by Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Noa Denmon
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020
ISBN 978-0-3743-0741-7
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1-2

In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year. Summertime is filled with joy—skateboarding and playing basketball—until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.


Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Dragons in a Bag
(Dragons in a Bag)
Written by Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Geneva B.
Random House Children’s Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-5247-7045-7
IL: Ages 8-10 RL: Grades 3-4

When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady called Ma, he finds out she’s a witch! Now Ma needs his help delivering baby dragons from Brooklyn to a magical realm where they’ll be safe. There are only two rules: Don’t let them out of the bag and don’t feed them anything sweet! Is Jaxon up to the task?


Elijah of Buxton
Written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada, 2007
ISBN 978-0-4390-2345-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grade 4-6

The first child born into freedom in Buxton, Ontario, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit, Elijah is best known in his hometown as the boy who threw up on Frederick Douglass. Not on purpose, of course, he was just a baby then! But things change when a former slave calling himself the Right Reverend Zephariah W. Connerly the Third steals money from Elijah’s friend Mr. Leroy, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah joins Mr. Leroy on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the disreputable preacher, and he discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents have fled; a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home.



Hockey Night in Kenya
Written by Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters
Illustrated by Claudia Dávila
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-2361-7
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Kenyan orphans, Kitoo and Nigosi, spend their days studying, playing soccer, helping their elders with chores around the orphanage and reading from the limited selection of books in their library. When the librarian gives Kitoo a copy of Sports Around the World he becomes fascinated by an image of the Canadian national men’s ice hockey team. Then one day the fates align and Kitoo finds a pair of beat up old roller blades, he teaches himself to skate and dreams of one day playing hockey like the men in his book. But you can’t play ice hockey in Kenya, can you?



The Mighty Miss Malone
Written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Yearling, 2012
ISBN 978-0-4404-2214-3
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 5-6

Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But it’s 1936 and the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother, Jimmie, go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie’s beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.


Young Adult Fiction

Returning to her childhood home, Anna, once known as Annaka, faces the death of her beloved Grampy and memories from her younger self. With more questions than answers, Anna learns the danger of dwelling on the past — especially when she’s confronted with some comfortable truths.

Sixteen-year-old Indy has tried to live by her Grammy’s rules, but her relatives in Nassau have already labelled her trouble — she just can’t escape her mother’s reputation. Now she is hiding an unwanted pregnancy, looking for a safe place to call home. What Indy discovers is that home is not just four walls and a roof — it’s about the people she shares it with.



Fate of Flames
Written by Sarah Roughly
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4814-6677-6
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle. When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.



This Book Betrays My Brother
Written by Kagiso Lesego Molope
Mawenzi House Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-988449-29-6
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 10-11

All her life, 13-year-old Naledi has been in awe of Basi, her charming and outgoing older brother. Then she sees Basi commit a horrific act that violates everything she believes about him. For Naledi, caught in a web of both family and communal loyalties and of cultural traditions and taboos, there are no simple answers. How will she live her life now?



Africville: An African Nova Scotian Community Is Demolished — and Fights Back
(Righting Canada’s Wrongs)
Written by Gloria Ann Wesley
James Lorimer, 2019
ISBN James Lorimer, 2019
IL: Ages 13-18 RL: Grade 8In the late 1800s, Africville was founded on the northern edge of Halifax. The close-knit community was vibrant, with a strong sense of culture and tradition. But in the 1960s, the city demolished Africville, appropriating the land for industrial development. Through historical photographs, documents and first-person narratives, this book tells the story of Africville — and how the spirit of the community lives on.Wholesalers

Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians
Inspiring Stories of Courage and Achievement

Written by Lindsay Ruck
Illustrated by James Bentley
Nimbus Publishing, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7710-8917-3
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-5

Among these amazing Black Atlantic Canadians are people who saved lives, set sports records (Delmore William “Buddy” Daye), achieved international superstardom (Measha Brueggergosman), made change in their own neighbourhoods (Quentrel Provo), overcame injustice (Viola Desmond), and enacted many other inspiring deeds of courage and perseverance. With dozens of profiles on both historical and contemporary Black people from Atlantic Canada, Lindsay Ruck celebrates the accomplishments of some of our region’s amazing Black heroes.



Trailblazers: The Black Pioneers Who Have Shaped Canada
Written by Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore
Indigo Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7739-3898-1
IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grades 6-8

Trailblazers introduces readers to Canada’s Black history through the under-told stories of over forty incredible Black change makers. Some of these trailblazers, such as Josiah Henson, have saved lives through their bravery. Some, such as Viola Desmond and Bromley Armstrong, have improved laws through their advocacy. Others, such as Albert Jackson and Bernice Redmon, have broken down barriers by being the first in their fields and inventing new ways of doing things.



Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged
Written by Jody Nyasha Warner
Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki
Groundwood Books, 2010
ISBN 978-0-8889-9779-1
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades 1-5

In Nova Scotia, in 1946, an usher in a movie theatre told Viola Desmond to move from her main floor seat up to the balcony. She refused to budge. Viola knew she was being asked to move because she was black. After all, she was the only black person downstairs. All the other black people were up in the balcony. In no time at all, the police arrived and took Viola to jail. The next day she was charged and fined, but she vowed to continue her struggle against such unfair rules. She refused to accept that being black meant she couldn’t sit where she wanted.




back to top

Listen to Our Podcast!

back to top

Author’s Corner: Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott was born in Canada and moved to the United States in 1994. She is the author of over twenty-five books for young readers, including Dragons in a Bag and the award-winning picture books Bird and Melena’s Jubilee. She is also a contributor to the anthology We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she currently lives in Illinois. Visit zettaelliott.com or follow her on Twitter @zettaelliott and Facebook: Author Zetta Elliott.

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

I left Canada! I knew I wanted to be a writer at age 13 but I had no role models and didn’t even know how books were published. I wasn’t introduced to Black Canadian writers until after I graduated from university, but I had read books by Mildred D. Taylor, Toni Morrison, and Jamaica Kincaid. They all lived in the US so when my father moved from Toronto to Brooklyn in the ’90s and invited me to join him, I didn’t hesitate. I doubt I would have become an author if I had stayed in Toronto.

You have your own imprint called Rosetta Press. What inspired you to create your own publishing line?

Getting my first book published in the US wasn’t easy. I had some poems and essays accepted for publication, but I couldn’t find an agent or interest editors in my adult novel One Eye Open. I started writing for kids in 2000 but my first picture book, Bird, didn’t come out until 2008. It won a number of awards, but I still couldn’t place the dozens of other stories I had written. In 2008 I self-published a young adult novel and a memoir; when Amazon started its own publishing company, it acquired A Wish After Midnight and re-released it in 2010 followed by a middle grade fantasy novel Ship of Souls in 2012. By 2014 I was tired of waiting for doors to open and so I started to self-publish many of the picture books, early readers, and novels on my hard drive. At the time, I was using the print-on-demand platform CreateSpace and there was an option to include a logo on the back of your book. Black writers have long been excluded from the publishing industry, leading some to start their own press. I thought about Black feminists Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde who founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1980 and decided to establish similar objectives with Rosetta Press. Rosetta was my paternal grandmother’s name; she was institutionalized in the Caribbean and died when my father was a teenager, but he named me after her and that has kept her alive, in a way. So Rosetta Press is about resisting erasure, insisting on having my voice heard, and giving children the inclusive books I never had.

Your books A Place Inside of Me and Say Her Name both feature poetry that speaks to the Black Lives Matter movement. Both of these books feature brave, poignant, and passionate poems. Say Her Name actually began as a teaching exercise with high school students, inspired by the poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks. What advice do you have for educators who want to embark on a similar project with students, perhaps using your poems as a starting point?

I hoped Say Her Name would have a section at the back to encourage readers to become writers. When that didn’t happen, I self-published a workbook called Find Your Voice. During the pandemic I’ve been giving the PDF away for free to educators, hoping it will help them access their own creativity so they can inspire and guide young writers. Many people find poetry intimidating, and it’s important that students know poetry is for everyone; if you don’t like a particular poem, that’s okay—move on and keep reading. I remember being selected for an enrichment program in the eighth grade, but we were pulled out of class to read Robert Frost and his poems didn’t appeal to me. Mentor poets show students what’s possible in the world of poetry—and it is a whole world! As I say in “Mic Check,” there’s more than one way to be a poet. Let your students watch videos of spoken word artists (or host your own slam!); let them transcribe and study rap lyrics; read Shakespeare’s sonnets but also the sonnets of contemporary poets of color. Teach them forms that have rules like the haiku, but also let them write free verse poems with no punctuation or capitalization. Encourage them to read and write poems about current events—and don’t be afraid of the difficult conversations that might follow. When I teach my online poetry classes, I introduce a poem, we read it together, discuss it, and then I ask students to point out its defining features. Can we recreate the poem’s envelope and insert our own message? Or can we take the message and send it another way? Say Her Name has close to fifty poems written in a range of forms, which allows readers to pick a few favorites and experiment. I think experimentation is key to making poetry fun and accessible to all.

We love Dragons in a Bagand The Dragon Thief! What does it feel like to know that you are inspiring a new generation of fantasy writers from all backgrounds?

I guess I’d say it’s bittersweet. It’s gratifying to know that I embody possibility; I never met an author who looked like me as a child, and I hope kids now see me and know that everyone has a story to tell. But very little has changed within the White-dominated publishing industry, so writers of color continue to be excluded. The Star recently published the results of its second diversity survey but the statistics obscure the fact that out of 51 books published in Canada with a Black main character, only TWO were written by Black authors. That’s 4%, and it gets worse if we look at the total number of books for children published in Canada—2 out of 419 means Black kid lit creators represent less than half of one percent! I understand why people hold me up as a role model—and I take that responsibility seriously—but the truth is, I still can’t get published in Canada. Even with award-winning books and an experienced literary agent, Canadian editors continue to reject my stories. Unless Canadian publishing professionals are pressured to open their doors and their ranks, nothing will change and kids of color with dreams of becoming an author will face the same disappointment and frustration that led me to emigrate.

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

It’s January and I’m juggling deadlines for three books in revision—The Witch’s Apprentice (Book #3 in the dragon series), Moonwalking (a middle grade novel-in-verse co-authored with Lyn Miller-Lachmann), and Juneteenth Blessing, a picture book poem. I have a couple of young adult novels to finish and hope to move forward with my stage adaptation of Say Her Name.

Find out more about Zetta on her website, zettaelliott.com.

back to top

Watch Your Favourite Book On Bibliovideo

Subscribe to Bibliovideo today to watch videos made specifically for booklovers! Don’t forget to push the bell to receive updates when new videos are uploaded.

Featured Video

Playlists to Binge Watch 

For Educators / Pour les éducateurs

I Read Canadian / Je lis un livre canadien

Telling Tales: Celebrating Stories

Illustrator Demonstrations / Démonstrations des illustrateurs

TD Summer Reading Club / Club de lecture d’été TD

Stay Home, Read Together / Lisons ensemble à la maison

Author Interviews / Entretiens avec des écrivains

Book Readings / Séances de lecture


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


back to top

Illustrator’s Studio: Danielle Murrell Cox

Photo by Kyle Bernard

Danielle Murrell Cox is a minimalistic graphic designer from Canada. She graduated from the Graphic Design Program at Dawson College in 2011. In addition to her work as a graphic designer, she is an illustrator and the toy designer of the plush toys “Zuri & Dre”.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Hi! I’m Danielle, I’m a 30-year old Black woman from Montreal. My parents were born in Barbados and England, but they grew up here in Canada.

I’ve always been the “artsy” kid, from childhood and well into my school years. Once I graduated high school, I was in Arts & Culture, and then went into the Graphic Design program, at Dawson College, here in Montreal. Illustration was always a big part of me, but I focused on graphic design, to better my skills and to build a career in the art world. Despite me working in design for more than a decade, I’ve always made sure to doodle, draw or sketch here and there. Lately (the past couple of years), I’ve been focusing more on illustration and moving further away from Graphic Design. Making the switch, back to my original love, feels like I’m learning things all over again, which has had its ups & downs, but it has been a fun journey.

What or who has most influenced your art style?

In my mid-twenties I went through a shift of wanting to make my life less chaotic/cluttered, after my grandmother passed away. I started to focus on reducing the number of things I had around me, that no longer served a purpose, or didn’t bring me joy. That time in my life was hard, but it was very necessary. That shift trickled down to more than just what items I had around me, but to how I dressed, (I reduced the amount of colour I wore, since it just made me overwhelmed), and eventually to how I designed & illustrated. It was great, because I finally started to feel like myself, versus being & doing things that I thought I had to do, to be apart of the “crowd”.

We love My Hair and think that it’s simultaneously adorable and important. This is your first children’s book: what inspired you to dive into the world of books for young people?

To be honest, I never thought I’d ever be an author, it was never something I aspired to, or dreamed of. I always thought that I would stay in the field of graphic design and work for clients for years to come. Now I find myself creating things for young people, that I wish I had myself as a child. I’ve always been the person to watch animated shows/movies that were meant for kids or adults, so the idea of creating something that would resemble animation for young people, isn’t too far off from my everyday self.

I originally entered the world of books as a self-published author through my colouring books. They started as a personal project that was inspired by the people around me, and then turned into books that have touched thousands of people. So maybe my biggest inspiration are the people around me.

Your colouring books are awesome! How was making those different than working on a book like My Hair?

Thank you! Since my colouring books are self-published, the start to finish process was a bit different, as it was just me (other than my printer who helped me manufacture the books). From deciding what paper to use and what size the final book should be, to figuring out what visuals should be shown and when I should launch it. I received feedback from people via social media, but it was mainly me trying to figure things out.

When working on My Hair, I had my Editor, Luana, as well as her colleagues and team members at HarperCollins. It was great to have that support, especially from people who are in the book world, and have experience in this field that is still very new to me.

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

Right now, I am working on getting my Plush Toys, Zuri & Dre, in more stores. The Plushies’ faces are based on the minimal style in my colouring books. Right now I’m focusing on the products and books I have, which means no upcoming books at the moment. – Thanks for having me!

Find out more about Danielle at dmcox.co.

back to top

Experts’ Picks

Booksellers’ Picks

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

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:

Girl on a Motorcycle, written by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Julie Morstad (Viking Books For Young Readers, 2020) Ages 5-9

This picture book biography about Anne-France Dautheville, the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world, is a spare, evocative, lyrical celebration of a strong and free-spirited woman, and of our wondrous world!  The text is economical and elegant, poetic and pensive while the illustrations perfectly capture the ethereal quality of Novesky’s tale.  The author recounts some of the various stops on Dautheville’s journey, the marvels great and small that she experienced, the times that she fell or broke down as well as the many kindnesses she received and the people she met along the way, and her general sense that “I want the world to be beautiful, and it is beautiful.  I want people to be good, and they are good.”  Morstad’s illustrations are light-filled and detailed, with soft, thin lines and delicate washes of colour that bring an even more intimate feel to the story.  An exquisite, dreamlike account, many readers will be inspired to read more about this remarkable journey and quest for beauty.

Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

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

La Maison Anglaise bookstore, Québec, QC:

Find Fergus, written and illustrated by Mike Boldt (Doubleday, 2020), Ages 3-7

Fergus is a bear who LOVES to play hide-and-seek, but is regrettably not very good at hiding!  Fortunately, the narrator is there to help with handy how-to-hide tips.  Children will giggle at Fergus’ wildly ineffective attempts at hiding and will soon become thoroughly engaged in the search, as Fergus, through patient coaching and persistence, becomes REALLY good at hiding!  A large fold-out page and a list of 14 additional items to find add extra fun to this storybook-puzzle book combination!

Mike Boldt’s bright, colourful illustrations and simple, humorous text come together to create an entertaining and interactive reading experience children will ask for again and again!

Marie-Josée Sauvageau, Manager

La Maison Anglaise bookstore : 164-2600 boul. Laurier, Québec, QC, G1V4T3 www.lamaisonanglaise.com

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

Librarians’ Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.

It’s a Mitig! by Bridget George (Douglas & McIntyre Kids, 2020) Ages 4-7

It’s a Mitig!, by Anishinaabe author-illustrator Bridget George, is a superbly designed picture book that is a joyful celebration of nature, culture, and language. Riddle-like sentences offer a fun guessing game, as well as provide an introduction to 13 Anishinaabemowin words:  “Some critters throw acorns, — watch out below!/ Climbing a tree, it’s an ajibdamoo!” Perfect for reading aloud, the rhyming narrative structure also seamlessly affords pronunciation clues.  Adding another playful layer of meaning to the text are colourful, spirited illustrations that reveal the answers, like the accompanying frisky, bushy-tailed squirrel perched high on a tree branch.  As informative as it is entertaining, back matter includes an illustrated Ojibwe-to-English glossary and a guide to the double-vowel pronunciation system.

Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.

back to top

Next Month

Look for our March newsletter next month, which  is in honour of International Women’s Day.

back to top