News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
June Reading List: Summer Reading
Author Corner: Sara O’Leary
Illustrator’s Studio: Carmen Mok
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books
IBBY Canada and Bibliovideo are proud to present the launch of the 2021 edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books.
25 of the best Indigenous picture books published in Canada between 2018–2020 were selected for this collection. Care was taken to ensure that the collection reflects the diversity of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit voices from sea to sea to sea, and that the titles are available and in print for anyone who wishes to access them.
The collection will launch on June 9, 2021, at 7:00pm EDT at a virtual event at youtube.com/bibliovideo, followed by a Meet & Greet on Zoom. The virtual event will be hosted by celebrated author and journalist Waubgeshig Rice, and will feature interviews with authors and illustrators Rebecca Thomas, Jenny Kay Dupuis, David Alexander Robertson, Leah Marie Dorion, Richard Van Camp, Monique Gray Smith, and Nadia Sammurtok. Registration details are available on Eventbrite.
Malaika’s Costume Selected as the 2021 TD Grade One Book Giveaway
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited to announce the title for the 2021 TD Grade One Book Giveaway. Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, will be distributed to over 550,000 Grade 1 students in fall 2021. The book is the first in a series of three and is published by Groundwood Books, with the French edition (Le costume de Malaika) published by Éditions Scholastic.
The Scotiabank Charity Challenge
The Scotiabank Charity Challenge unites the spirit of runners with a unique fundraising program to help support our local community. Help us reach our goals while you are achieving yours! As Scotiabank covers all the fees associated with online fundraising, 100% of the funds you raise will go directly to the CCBC. $5 of your registration goes back to the CCBC. Challenge each other and raise money to help support reading and earn cool prizes!
This year, you will be able to participate anywhere virtually across Canada. Let’s get active, come together and help support a good cause!
Sign up today at bookcentre.ca/run!
Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Awards
The Canada Council for the Arts celebrates the best in Canadian literature. The Governor General’s Literary Awards recognize finalists and winners in seven categories, in both official languages, for readers of all ages.
The Governor General’s Literary Awards are among Canada’s oldest and most prestigious prizes. The awards, worth $25,000 each, annually recognize the best published books in Canada.
The prizes are given to seven English-language and seven French-language books in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature — text, young people’s literature — illustration, drama and translation.
2021 Forest of Reading® Winners Announced at Wednesday’s Virtual Edition of the Forest of Reading Awards
The Ontario Library Association (OLA) and the Forest of Reading are excited to announce the winners of the 2021 Forest of Reading Awards, presented at the Forest of Reading Award ceremonies, a three-day, free digital event, streamed on Curio in partnership with CBC Books, hosted by Ali Hassan.
Resources for Discussing Residential Schools and Indigenous Issues
Residential school history is a difficult subject to teach kids, but it’s something that all Canadians should know – so how do we do it? Learn more here.
Winners of the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award
English Nonfiction: Rachel Poliquin for Beastly Puzzles; illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
English Fiction: Angela Misri for Pickles vs. the Zombies
French Nonfiction: Karine Gottot and Maxim Cyr for Dragouilles 21 : Les Vertes de Honolulu
French Fiction: Alexandra Larochelle for Trucs de peur tome 1: Perdues dans le noir, illustrated by Yohann Morin
Congratulations to all!
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:
- Deliverable online or in the classroom
- Developed by educators, for educators
- Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies
It is with deep sadness that Annick has learned of the passing of author, Inuvialiut knowledge keeper, and residential school survivor Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton. She was 84 years old. Young readers all over the world have been introduced to the harsh reality of residential schools through her books with co-author Christy Jordan-Fenton: Fatty Legs: A True Story, A Stranger At Home, When I Was Eight, and Not My Girl. Margaret-Olemaun met with thousands of school children to share her experiences and to share her message of hope and survival so that future generations would understand the devastating legacy of the schools.
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
2021 Atlantic Book Awards Winners
The winners of the Atlantic Book Awards were announced on Friday May 13 at a virtual ceremony. Winners in the categories for young people were author Tom Ryan and illustrator Sydney Smith. Congratulations to Tom, Sydney and all of the finalists!
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature
Keep This to Yourself, Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman & Company)
Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration
I Talk Like a River, Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith (ill.) (Neal Porter Books/PRHC)
Experience Stories! at the Telling Tales Virtual Festival
Aliens. So many aliens … fantastic creatures that emerge from broken crayons…a dragon riding assassin … being charming in NYC this year Telling Tales has it all!
Books have the power to transport us to different worlds, cities and places where we truly Experience Stories. In a year where we are staying home more than ever before, Telling Tales is excited to launch its 2021-22 season to bring these stories to you.
Following the success of last year, the 2021 Telling Tales season will continue as a virtual festival with an all-star line-up of authors, illustrators and storytellers sharing their stories and engaging audiences both near and far. Attendees to the Telling Tales Virtual Festival can look forward to interactive video presentations from an award-winning, diverse line-up, whose unique backgrounds and experiences reflect those of our audience. Learn more here.
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Spring Issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens Available Now!
Best Books for Kids & Teens is your guide to the best new Canadian books, magazines, audio and video for children and teens. Whether you’re stocking a bookshelf in a classroom, library or at home, every title in this guide has been given the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s stamp of approval. Expert committees of educators, booksellers, school and public librarians from across Canada have handpicked the materials listed in this guide. Committees look for excellence in writing, illustration or performance. Most importantly, these committees focus on selecting materials that will appeal to children and young adults.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.
June Reading List: Summer Reading
This month’s reading list is all about out favourite books to read this summer!
Sara O’Leary is a Canadian children’s writer and novelist. She is the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books including Maud and Grand-Maud, This is Sadie, A Family is a Family is a Family and When You Were Small.
Her novel, The Ghost in the House, is published by Doubleday Canada.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
I came late to children’s books. It was almost as though I had to try absolutely everything first. I attended poetry workshops as a teenager and started writing short stories while studying English at the University of Saskatchewan. I then discovered postcard stories which was to me the best of both of worlds and I stuck to those for a while, eventually publishing a collection titled Wish You Were Here.
I moved to Montreal when I got my first Canada Council grant and
wrote a collection of short stories while I was there. Then I got interested in writing plays and by the time I moved to Vancouver thought that was what I wanted to do. But while I was out west, screenwriting turned my head. I also spent some years writing a weekly literary column and it was while I was doing that that I was drawn into children’s writing and published When You Were Small. That was also the first picture book for Julie Morstad, and we went on to do another three books together.
Now I can’t believe I ever wanted to do anything other than picture books because there’s absolutely nothing like writing for children. I very much like compressed forms and the idea of creating a small world with fewer than five hundred words really appeals to me.
We’re so excited for This is Ruby! What inspired you to write a book about science and creativity?
This is Ruby was written as a companion book to This is Sadie, and the funny thing is that readers often assume that Sadie must be me but honestly, she’s more like someone I would like to be. Ruby’s another version of that—she’s inquisitive and confident and full of projects and plans. I love the version of her that Alea Marley created. On the cover she’s standing, arms akimbo and hands on hips. There’s something so self-assured and content and joyful in her whole demeanour. I hope that young readers will see themselves in her the same way that they did with Sadie.
Percy’s Museum is a sweet book about the wonder of nature. How does the natural world impact your writing?
It’s a bit of a joke in my family at just how much of an indoors-y person I am, but when my kids were small, we moved to this beautiful place where there was a brook full of fish in their own backyard and it was amazing to see all of that through their eyes. I like the stage in children’s development where they are figuring all that stuff out. Even the fact that apples grow on trees can be such a joyous revelation at a certain age! The title of the book was originally Percy’s Museum of Natural Curiosity and the genesis of the story was that impulse to collect and categorize.
What advice do you have for young writers?
Mainly to read as much as you can. And to be sure to read widely in the genre that you are interested in writing. I think I really came into my own as a children’s writer only after I started teaching the subject and being forced to articulate what I thought made a picture book work.
And for those just finding themselves as writers, I would say just to keep writing and not to worry too much about publication or all of that until you’ve figured out what it is you really want to do.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
This August I have a book with Qin Leng called A Kid is a Kid is a Kid. It’s a follow-up to A Family is a Family is a Family. That first book what was written with the goal of being as inclusive as we could make it. It mattered to me that there were young readers out there who needed to see their own home situations depicted in a book and we tried to make the representation open enough that there were many entry points for children to identify with. I was also trying to capture that sort of matter-of-factness that children have and that we seem to lose as we become more self-conscious as we mature.
With our Kid book I began with the idea of a child who was gender non-conforming starting at a new school who was being asked
questions around their identity. In the story, the kids on the schoolground talk about the questions they each get asked or the ways in which they feel different. Something really beautiful happened when the text was handed over to Qin because she managed to visually show this movement from isolation into acceptance and community. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen and I love it so much. The book is really a celebration of identity and I hope it has something to offer for a reader who is maybe of the age to be starting school and beginning to get a sense of their place in the world.
Find out more about Sara on her website, saraoleary.ca.
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Carmen Mok is an award-winning illustrator with prior experience in product design, and graphic design. After studying studio art at University of Waterloo and design at Sheridan College, she decided to dedicate herself to children’s illustration.
She is the illustrator of Grandmother’s Visit, written by Betty Quan, and Waiting for Sophie, written by Sarah Ellis. Grandmother’s Visit was selected as the picture book honor title of the 2018-2019 Asian/Pacific American Award, and made the 2019 short list for the IODE Ontario Jean Throop Book Award. Violet Shrink, written by Christine Baldacchino and A Stopwatch from Grampa, written by Loretta Garbutt. Tough Like Mum by Lana Button and Percy’s Museum by Sara O’Leary.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
I have always loved to paint and to make craft since I was little, but I have never thought of becoming an illustrator. I didn’t even know there was a job called illustrator. When I studied fine art at the University of Waterloo, realistic painting wasn’t right for me, so I chose my major in ceramic sculpture. My turning point was when there was a time I worked as a graphic designer in a publishing company; I was fascinated by the beautiful editorial illustrations. It inspired me to pursue becoming an illustrator.
I realized it might take me some time to become a professional illustrator, so I worked a full-time job by day, and self-learning illustration by night. It took a couple of years until I finally felt my portfolio was ready to share to my potential clients. On one hand, my formal art education does help my illustration, on the other hand, I call myself a self-learned illustrator.
Who or what has most influenced your illustration style?
I have influence from vintage illustrations and children’s books. I collect them from garage sales, thrift shops or used bookstores. Some books were from local and some came from my travels overseas. I love the colour palettes and the art styles from that era. Some objects such as vintage vehicles or old phones we don’t see too often, they help me to visualize a world beyond my life experience and my cultural background.
As a picture book illustrator, I see myself could also act as an interior designer, an architect, or a landscape designer – to decide the surroundings and atmosphere of a story. Or a fashion and hair stylist – to design the appearance of the characters. Besides vintage illustrations, I am constantly craving visual images from social media and online research, or from my personal observation.
You have 3 books coming out this spring alone (Percy’s Museum, Tough Like Mum and Here Babies, There Babies in Summer). How does the illustration process differ from project to project?
Since the story and the author’s writing style of these three books are so different, my visual interpretations and my making process were quite unique. The fun thing from illustrating children’s books is nothing is repeated.
Percy’s Museum (written by Sara O’Leary) is about the excitement of discovery and the wonder of nature. I like to take my art approach mixing between realistic and whimsical style. The sky is yellow, some trees are pink, flowers and mountains don’t look traditional. Percy misses his friends after moving from the city to a new home in the country, so I decided to add a cat to accompany him, which the text doesn’t tell.
Tough Like Mum (written by Lana Button) is about family hardship, vulnerability and a love relationship between mother and daughter. It is a sensitive topic to talk to children, so I purposely created some elements to let young readers stay hopeful. For example, their mismatched socks and patched clothing and furniture show their simple life, but the bright colour palette makes a balance to the mood. When the dark scenes appear in the second half of the story, I created a glimpse of hope by adding a candle light and some happy scenes from their book reading. I hope young readers are able to understand that tough and happy moments always coexist in our lives.
Here Babies, There Babies in Summer (written by Nancy Cohen) is a delightful rhythmic baby board book, the second book of the Here Babies, There Babies series. This book is for newborns to age 2, I know readers at this age mostly enjoy visual images as adults reading out loud. Therefore, I chose eye catching vivid colours for my illustrations. Then I created summer activities that babies are able to relate to such as having a picnic in a park, playing ball and hide and seek etc. I also include babies with diverse skin tones which I believe is an important voice for this book.
In general, I need quite a long time in my early process. If my publishers allow, I always hope to have two to three months to read the manuscript repeatedly and to drop down any possible ideas in my sketchbook. It takes time for me to enter the story as I am acting in a movie. My brain works randomly and actively in this stage. Sometimes images come first, other times colour palettes may come first. Ideas could pop while walking on a street, or during my cooking or in my dream at night. The experience is pretty bizarre but filled with surprises! Once the thumbnails and rough sketches are approved, I feel much more relaxed during making the final art.
What advice would you give students who are interested in perusing the arts?
On top of being able to produce good quality art, self-discipline is often listed as one of the major qualities that make a good illustrator. You need to maintain a daily or weekly routine to keep on growing. There is no one who will push you forward except yourself. Other business skills such as communication skill, time management and bookkeeping are always useful for self-employed freelancer. Since after pandemic, I also realized virtual presentation skill is a great thing to equip.
There are many nice people from the children’s book community who are happy to share their experience. The best way to learn from them is joining conferences and social gatherings. Don’t be afraid of asking questions, you will be surprised by what you learn from them that may not be found from formal art education.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I am excited about making a set of final art for my next picture book When I Listen to Silence. (written by Jean E. Pendziwol) It is a charming story about a child’s imaginary world. This book will be published by Groundwood Books in the spring of 2022.
The upcoming picture book I Hear You, Forest (written by Kallie George) will be published by Greystone Books in the fall 2021. The story is about a child steps into the forest, she listens carefully and hears marvelous things. This is the first book in a series, I will soon start creating final art for the second book I Hear You, Ocean.
There are a couple of new projects on the way, I am so looking forward to share more when time is right.
Find out more about Cameron on her website, carmenmokstudio.com.
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:
World-renowned naturalist Charles Darwin was one of the most influential thinkers of his day…and of all time. His contributions to science and how we understand our world are legendary. And yet, he was also a father. In her latest picture book biography, author-illustrator Lauren Soloy depicts the loving relationship between Darwin and his young daughter, Etty as they walk Darwin’s thinking path together and ponder some very important questions. “Do you believe in fairies,” Etty wants to know. When her father says that he would require proof of their existence, his young daughter tries to oblige. Ultimately, father and daughter both learn major life lessons from this special time together. With thick-lined, lush and lavish illustrations, this book highlights some profound yet simple truths as it magnificently captures the tender bond between a girl and her beloved papa. The illustrations bring the country garden setting vividly to life and the simple exchange between father and child creates a striking portrait of both characters.
—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager
Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 1533 Birmingham St., Halifax, NS B3J 2J1 www.woozles.com
Little Maya is a playwright with strong ideas and big ambition for her new play, which is about feminism, equality and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for everyone in her great imagined queendom. But when the actors try to express their own ideas for the play, will this bossy little drama queen be equal to the task of promoting equality for all? Can good friends find a way to improve the play and convince Her Majesty to be people too?
This third book in Arsenault’s Mile End Kids Story series is once again a blend of picture book and graphic novel with charming soft charcoal drawings broken only by Maya and the other children’s bright pink costumes. The pictures bring vivid support to the story as Maya’s bossiness flares up in pink, almost overwhelming the pages when she takes over the play, until it dissolves into bright flowers and confetti when the children celebrate finding their common ground.
Maya’s Big Scene is a perfect story to help children, and other tiny dictators, understand that nothing equals the amount of fun (and pink confetti!) to be had when everyone can participate! Despite its sparse text, this book speaks volumes about freedom, respect and the value of working together.
—Marie-Josée Sauvageau – Manager
La Maison Anglaise bookstore : 164-2600 boul. Laurier, Québec, QC, G1V4T3
If your independent bookstore would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.
Stand Like a Cedar, by award-winning Nłeʔkepmx, Syilx and Métis author Nicola Campbell, poetically shares Indigenous knowledge. The young narrator reflects upon natural sights and familial seasonal experiences including paddling in a cedar canoe in spring, picking blue berries in summer, walking across the land in autumn, and returning to a favourite mountain trail in winter. Nłe7kepmxcín and Sto:lo Halq’emeylem words, each carrying a teaching, are woven seamlessly into the sentences. Informative back matter offers a glossary and phonetic pronunciation guide. The vibrant illustrations by Sto:lo artist and environmental consultant Carrielynn Victor radiate warmth and connection. Expressions of respect and gratitude run deeply throughout this significant picture book: “We are grateful for all living things.”
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.