January 2019 Newsletter
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
January Reading List: Start the Year with Kindness
Author Corner: Polly Horvath
Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction
Illustrator’s Studio: Mike Boldt
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Introducing 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!
Welcome Rose Vespa!
A new year means big changes for the CCBC! Rose Vespa is the new Executive Director of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Rose began her career as a children’s librarian and most recently was the Director of Library Services for the Mississauga Library System. Welcome Rose!
Canada Reads 2019 is Coming Soon!
Canada Reads 2019 will take place March 25-28, 2019, with Ali Hassan back as host. The long list will be revealed on January 10th — our fingers are crossed for a YA title to be one of the books!
The Winter issue of Canadian Children’s Book News is filled with great reading recommendations for the winter months. See our ‘Bookmark!’ column with suggestions from five indie booksellers across the country and read the many reviews in our ‘Red Leaf Literature’ and ‘We Recommend’ sections. In this issue friends and colleagues pay tribute to the CCBC’s executive director, Charlotte Teeple, who retired at the end of 2018. We’ve also included a fabulous piece by Naseem Hrab about graphic novels recommending some recent titles to share with young readers in your life and in our profile piece we chat with Faith Erin Hicks who has a diverse collection of work in the graphic novel field. Vicki Grant, Shane Peacock and Richard Scrimger share their stories about having their work reissued in 2018 and we introduce you to Wendy McLeod MacKnight who has just published her second title, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!
IBBY Canada has created From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books, an amazing digital catalogue of 100 picture books by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors and illustrators.
- Includes 100 recommended picture books by Indigenous authors, many illustrated by Indigenous artists, published in Canada over the last 25 years and currently in print.
- Reflects the diverse cultures, perspectives, and experiences of Inuit, Métis and 29 First Nations.
- Gives attention to picture books that promote Indigenous languages, with 15 different languages/dialects represented.
- Features books for children of every age, ranging from board books to picture books for older readers.
You can check out the list here.
Awards Submissions are Now Open!
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now accepting submissions for its children’s book awards. The submission deadline for all awards is January 15, 2019. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply here.
Join us in celebrating TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and bring the magic of books and reading to children all across Canada! Apply today to have an author, illustrator or storyteller visit your community. The deadline is January 31, 2019. Find out who’s touring here.
Get your copy of The Landing by John Ibbitson
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.
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.
At the Ontario Public Service Holiday Gift Drive, First Book Canada and members of the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services donated 5,000 books to children in need. The books were generously donated by First Book Canada’s publishing partner Penguin Random House Canada and they will be distributed to the children through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. This year, First Book Canada has distributed over 500,000 books to children and youth in need in the province of Ontario alone!
The First Nation Communities READ Program awards excellence in Indigenous YA/Adult and Children’s literature.
Two separate librarian-led juries choose the selected titles for each category. The creator of each selected title is awarded the Periodical Marketers of Canada Indigenous Literature Award.To apply, fill out the application form here. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2019.
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.
The number one bestselling Canadian book of 2018 is The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline!
CBC Books counted down the bestselling books in Canada in 2018 and we were overjoyed to not only see a book for young people on the list but to see that it was the number one book in Canada for the year! Congratulations to Cherie Dimaline, author of the multi-award winning The Marrow Thieves. Read the full list here.
Author Kit Pearson was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for her contributions as an author of Canadian literature for children and young adults. Kit Pearson is one of Canada’s most beloved children’s authors and the author of books such as A Handful of Time, the Guests of War trilogy, The Daring Game, Awake and Dreaming and The Whole Truth. Congratulations to Kit!
Read more here.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators
January Reading List: Start the New Year with Kindness
“Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” ―
A new year can mean a new you! We all want to be our best self in the new year, and what better way to start than by being a little kinder? We love these books that encourage kindness and empathy.
Author’s Corner: Polly Horvath
Polly Horvath has written many books for children and young adults. She has won numerous awards including a National Book Award, Newbery Honor, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, International White Raven, Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book of the Year, short-listed for Germany’s most prestigious literature award, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, the Writers’ Trust Vicky Metcalfe Award for her body of work, and many others. Her books have been New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestsellers and Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah picks. She is translated into over 25 languages and her books are taught in children’s literature curricula in North America and internationally. Polly Horvath grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She now lives in Metchosin, British Columbia and is both an American and a Canadian citizen. She is married and has two daughters.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as an author? What is your writing process like?
I think writing began for me when I was about four and would sit on our kitchen counter and play with all the cans and boxes in the cupboard. I had intricate stories going constantly and characters changed as things were eaten and replaced by grocery shoppers. Writing today is not much different from those early years. I sit at a desk and noodle around with the stories and characters. The major change being that no one eats my characters when I’m halfway through a book.
How do you continue to find inspiration for such amazing stories and unique characters?
I have no idea what happens. Writing is a Mystery to me with a capital M. Sometimes bits and pieces come from my life but they always morph into something else and take on a life of their own that is equally real to me while I am working on it.
I really didn’t draw on anything. I don’t know a writer who really wants people to think she is drawing on someone else’s work to do her own.
Looking at your many past titles, you have a great deal of range as a writer. Is there any type of genre you’ve always wanted to try your hand at?
I have completed what I think is a good adult novel which is something I have always wanted to do. I would like to do picture books but I don’t have the talent for it. And I’ve always thought a mystery would be a lot of fun but again, most writing isn’t fun, it’s engrossing and exciting and hard work but seldom fun and I haven’t the right talent for mysteries.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I just completed an adult novel that I am very happy with it. It is called The Canadian and it is with my agent, Andrea Cascardi, who is reading it right now so too soon to say what will become of it.
Find out more about Polly on her website www.pollyhorvath.com
Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction
Going into my podcast with author Sylvia McNicoll, most recently known for Body Swap, I had ideas about what I wanted to ask her. Focusing on her last four YA/teen books alone, the themes of death, rebirth and second chances have fascinated me, especially since they keep reappearing and are obviously something Sylvia has wrestled with.
Sometimes though, podcasts get away from me. While I did get to bring a bit of that out in my conversation with Sylvia, ultimately when she started to talk, all I wanted to do was listen. Her writing career has spanned decades and continents — experiencing first hand how our ideas of writing have changed over time. Sylvia knows how to engage her listener, and I could have continued our conversation for a lot longer.
I say in the podcast that it was recorded for December, but we’re releasing it in January because I have been dealing with health concerns. Hoping to bring you many new podcasts in 2019 — next month I have an excellent podcast recorded with author Robin Stevenson about the power of activism.
Happy New Year and Happy Reading!
*Any beliefs expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise funds to create the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.
Illustrator’s Studio: Mike Boldt
Mike Boldt is an author-illustrator who has been working professionally for the last 20 years. While starting out illustrating speech therapy puzzles, concept art for animation, and toy design, he now focuses most of his time in publishing. Picture books he’s illustrated include Get Me Another One, by Robert Munsch, How to Grow a Dinosaur, by Jill Esbaum, and the I Don’t Want to be a Frogseries, by Dev Petty. He’s also written and illustrated a number of his own books, including 123 Versus ABC, Colors Versus Shapes, A Tiger Tail, and his latest, Attack of the 50-Foot Fluffy. Mike lives with his wife and three children in the countryside, just outside of Edmonton. He’s also a big fan of ice cream.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an author and illustrator?
Ever since I was young, I was creating stories and drawing pictures for them, but I never thought of being an author/illustrator. Instead I believed animation school and Disney were the only course for someone who wanted to draw for a career and tell their own stories. Shortly after high school, I was hired to create some speech therapy products after a complete stranger saw a couple of my doodles. It was a great experience that sort of became my secondary education as I first learned about digital illustration and what is meant to be working as a professional illustrator.
After two great years, I found myself suddenly out of work when the company I worked for was bought out. So I reset my target on the goal of working at Disney and I applied and was accepted to Vancouver Film School, but I never even made it there. That summer, I landed another local job with a small publisher as an in-house illustrator for their books. I learned that everything I wanted to do in animation, was actually right in a book. The initial idea, story, character design, story boarding, final artwork — it could all be done by the author/illustrator of a book, and I loved that!
Roughly 12 years ago I left that small publisher to pursue a new dream of creating my own picture books. It really felt like I had come full circle back to books from where I started as a kid writing and illustrating my own ideas. After I self-published my first book, I was fortunate enough to gain representation from literary agent, Jennifer Rofé, and sold my first book deal with a publisher, HarperCollins, in early 2011. It’s been a pretty incredible journey so far, and one I’m very grateful for.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I normally sit down at my desk and get started shortly after my children have left for school. Respond to a few emails, make a (hopefully) short stop on social media, and dive into what ever book project is on my schedule. If I’m doing illustrations for a book, I’ll often fire up a Skype conversation with a few other author/illustrator friends. We have sort of a virtual office where we toss ideas around, get opinions and give critiques, and just chat. A couple of us have been hanging out like this for nearly 8-9 years now.
If I’m writing and working on story development, it’s sort of the opposite though, and I work offline. I’m definitely not that person who’s mind can handle talking (or doing anything else) and writing at the same time. My work day breaks around 4-5pm and may resume again after my wife and kids go to bed. More so when I have deadlines.
Thank you! Honestly, I don’t have a special formula for where my ideas come from. Sometimes I just sit down and start writing whatever comes to mind, sometimes it’s from a random doodle or observation in life, and a couple times it’s even been a passing statement that suddenly stood out during a conversation.
Attack of the 50-Foot Fluffy actually came from a request for a commissioned drawing of a family as characters in some sort of old monster movie poster. I noticed the little girl had a stuffed bunny from the photo, and thought it would be funny to incorporate that somehow. A quick Google search for retro monster movie posters, and I instantly knew it was going to be based on Attack of the 50 Foot Movie and the bunny was going to be the monster. Once the commission was complete I ended up realizing that there may be something more to this, and so started developing it further. The best part of that story is that earlier this year, I was able to visit the class of the little girl who inspired the book. It was pretty amazing.
What advice would you give to teachers who want to use your books in their classrooms?
That’s tough! Teachers are the professionals and are already using my books in amazing ways that I would have never thought of. So they may already know this, but one of my favourite times in a school visit is the question period. I just love the way kids’ imaginations work reason out what or why I’ve done something in a book. So, sometimes I respond to their question by asking them a question right back — without defining or sharing my own answer too quickly for them.
Student: “Did Fluffy really get big and wreck everything or was that just Claire’s imagination?”
Me: “That’s a great question, what do you think really happens?”
Student: “Is Fluffy really alive?”
Me: “You tell me!”
Get their imaginations started without restrictions and you’ll really see their genius then.
What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?
I’ve recently finished up a couple of really fun books that will be out in the second half of 2019. Thunder Trucks! by Cheryl Klein and Kate Beebe, which is my first book with Hyperion (sort of my Disney dream come true!). Also being released at that time is another of my own books, Bad Dog (actually a story about a cat), which is with Doubleday.
Currently, I have two other picture book projects on the table that are due in 2019 and am always developing other ideas. But I don’t like to get too far ahead of the myself. I know each and every book I get to work on is an amazing privilege. I want to make sure I bring my best work and truly enjoy the journey.
Find out more about Mike Boldt and his work at mikeboldt.ca
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
This original and engaging romp through the alphabet features a range of well-loved animals as well as several less commonly celebrated critters to represent all 26 letters. But what makes the book so unabashedly delightful are the little-known “facts” that author Sara O’Leary shares about each creature. Clever, fanciful, giggle-inducing and pure fun, this is an alphabet book for all ages! The quirky, subtle and artfully stylized illustrations perfectly capture the joyous wit and whimsy of the text, and young readers will undoubtedly relate to many of the characteristics that the author attributes to the animals herein. —Lisa Doucet, Co-manager
Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 1533 Birmingham St., Halifax, NS B3J 2J1 www.woozles.com
The faerie Nix is put in charge of his forest’s village when their queen makes a sudden disappearance. Balancing responsibility and mischief Nix, learns what’s important. Funny and adorable, Wicked Nix is perfect for a great read aloud, and any kid looking for a nice short read. —Sabrina, bookseller at McNally Robinson
McNally Robinson at Grant Park: 1120 Grant Ave., Unit 4000, Winnipeg, MB R3M 2A6 www.mcnallyrobinson.com
It is our fears, and how we overcome them, that hold the power make us great — even if such greatness is contained within a tiny mosquito. Born among 400 brothers and sisters, Dinnn Needles, the extra ‘n’ to differentiate him, is fearful of flying after nearly drowning in a parking-lot puddle. When the swarm heads on their annual migration, Dinnn is left behind. Here, in a home beneath a drive-in cinema, and a school in an abandoned air conditioner, Dinnn takes the time to dream. He discovers the stories of his family, meets a new brother, and finds out what it truly means to be cool. Perfect for young readers, this early chapter book takes us through Dinnn’s journey as he navigates the travails of being left behind. This nature-adventure also features wonderful line drawings, humour, and insect facts!— Nicole, Bookseller
Mabel’s Fables: 662 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2N3 www.mabelsfables.com
If your independent bookstore would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
This picture book is poignant and unique, with beautiful art that captures the greenery in the story, giving each plant life beyond their roots. With layers of depth hidden behind this seemingly simple story, I feel like there is no picture book like this one. The simple prose contrasts with the striking illustrations. Nahid Kazemi is definitely someone to watch, especially after her Governor General’s Literary Award nomination earlier this year. — Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing and Website Coordinator
Look for our February newsletter early next month, which will be all about activism! Look forward to interviews with Erinne Paisley, Julie McLaughlin and a podcast interview with Robin Stevenson!