CCBC March 2017 Newsletter


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
March Book List
Author Corner: Cary Fagan
Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction
Illustrator’s Studio: Paul Covello
Booksellers’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

TDBW2017_Poster_2017-02-14TD Canadian Children’s Book Week materials are now available for pre-order! Get posters and bookmarks, featuring Ian Wallace’s stunning illustration, for your classroom or library.

Book Week will take place from Saturday, May 6 to Saturday, May 13, 2017. Since Book Week is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, the theme we have chosen to celebrate — Read Across Canada / Lire aux quatre coins du Canada — will encourage young readers to learn about Canada by reading books set in different provinces and locations across the country. To honour the 40th anniversary of the very first Book Week tour, the CCBC asked veteran illustrator Ian Wallace to create this year’s Book Week poster image. Ian Wallace was part of the original 12 authors and illustrators that set out on the first Book Week tour in 1977.

Links We Love

Why primary schools need to embrace picture books to boost literacy

Encouraging young voices in difficult times

Confessions Of A Teacher’s Kid

Quill & Quire’s Spring Preview 2017: Books for Young People

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March Book List: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Celebrate in your classroom or library with one of these great Canadian books featuring bold women in both fiction and history.

Picture Books

Hana Hashimoto

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
Written by Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press, 2014
ISBN 978-1-894786-33-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Music | Japan | Performing | Grandparents | Perseverance

In this beautifully written picture book, Hana Hashimoto has signed up to play her violin at her school’s talent show. The trouble is, she’s a beginner, and she’s had only three lessons. Her brothers insist she isn’t good enough. But Hana practises every day and once it’s her turn to perform she surprises everyone — even herself!

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette
Written by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55498-820-4
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades 2-4

Gertrude Stein | Alice B. Toklas | Paris | Birthdays | Celebrations

It’s Alice’s birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve. Inspired by the lives of artist Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, this is a sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

I Am Josephine

I Am Josephine: (and I Am a Living Thing)
Written by Jan Thornhill
Illustrated by Jacqui Lee
Owlkids Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77147-156-5
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Living Things | Classification | Individuality | Animals | Mammals

Meet Josephine: a spirited and curious girl, a big sister and a human being. Josephine is also a mammal, an animal and a living thing — all identities she explores with readers in this charming picture book. Young readers will recognize themselves as part of the natural world, just like Josephine, but also as unique: “there is no one else on Earth who is exactly like you!”

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Written by Laurel Snyder
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Chronicle Books, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4521-1890-1
IL: Ages 5-10 RL: Grades 2-3

Anna Pavlova | Ballerinas | Ballet | Dance | Inspiration | Generosity

Everything changes the night young Anna’s mother takes her to the ballet. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, and who will inspire legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova. A beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Junior/Intermediate Fiction & Non-Fiction

Because I am a Girl

Because I am a Girl: I Can Change the World
(Plan Canada International Books)
Written by Rosemary McCarney with Jen Albaugh and Plan International
Second Story Press, 2014
ISBN 978-1-927583-44-9
IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grades 4-5

Developing World | Girls’ Rights | Gender Inequality | Poverty | Education

Meet some remarkable girls from all over the world. The stories of their lives can be difficult to imagine. They describe the barriers and dangers that they, and millions of other girls, face daily. Despite the hardships they must overcome, these girls have hope for the future and strive to make their lives and those of their families and communities better.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Clara Humble and the Not-So-Super Powers

Clara Humble and the Not-So-Super Powers
(Clara Humble, Book 1)
Written by Anna Humphrey
Illustrations by Lisa Cinar
Owlkids Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77147-147-3
IL: Ages 8-11 RL: Grades 3-4

Humour | School Life | Friendship | Emotions

Fourth-grader Clara Humble thinks she has super powers. Which is convenient, because things aren’t going so well for Clara. Students from a rival school are moving in to her school for the term, and Clara’s favourite neighbour is moving faraway. Clara springs into action but learns that saving the day is harder than it looks… and sometimes trying to do right can go VERY wrong!

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Every Day is Malala Day

Every Day is Malala Day
(Plan Canada International Books)
Written by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International
Second Story Press, 2014
ISBN 978-1-927583-31-9
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 2-3

Malala Yousafzai | Biography | Girls’ Rights | Education

At 15, Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban because she spoke out about the right of all girls to an education. Since that moment, she has become an inspiration, a voice for the rights of girls everywhere. This is a letter to Malala, illustrated with beautiful photographs from Plan International. Girls around the world express their sympathy, sisterhood and admiration for her. In Malala, these girls recognize a leader, a champion and a friend.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin: Pioneer for Animal Rights and Autism Awareness
(Remarkable Lives Revealed)
Written by Linda Barghoorn
Crabtree Publishing, 2016
ISBN 978-0-7787-2694-4
IL: Ages 8-10 RL: Grades 3-4

Temple Grandin | Autism | Animal Welfare | Biography | Advocacy | Role Models

This book highlights the achievements of American scientist Temple Grandin — a champion for animal rights and an advocate for people with autism. Living with high-functioning autism herself, Grandin overcame language and social challenges to become one of the world’s most influential minds in animal welfare and in autism education, exposing the incredible, and sometimes unacknowledged, potential of people who have special needs.

Amazon | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

These Are My Words

These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens
(Dear Canada)
Written by Ruby Slipperjack
Scholastic Canada, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4431-3318-0
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

Residential Schools | First Nations | Anishinaabe | Canadian History | Identity | Family

In 1966, Violet must go far away from home to attend Residential School. She has run-ins with the other girls, she misses her Grandma, and everything she brought has been taken from her, including her name — she is now just a number. But worst of all, she fears forgetting the things she treasures most: her Anishinaabe language and her traditional customs. She fears forgetting who she is.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

What Milly Did

What Milly Did: The Remarkable Pioneer of Plastics Recycling
Written by Elise Moser
Illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Groundwood Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55498-893-8
IL: Ages 8-11 RL: Grades 3-4

Milly Zantow | Recycling | Environmentalism | Determination | Biography | Activism

In 1978, Milly Zantow wanted to solve the problem of her town’s full landfill. She began by building her own plastic recycling plant and ended up creating a global recycling standard — the system of numbers you see inside the little triangle of plastics! This is the inspiring story of how one woman mobilized her community, creating sweeping change to help the environment.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Young Adult Fiction & Non-Fiction

Bad Girls of Fashion

Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels from Cleopatra to Lady Gaga
Written by Jennifer Croll
Illustrated by Ada Buchholc
Annick Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55451-785-5
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Fashion | Feminism | Women | History | Biography

From Cleopatra to Coco Chanel and Marlene Dietrich to Madonna, female style rebels have used clothes to shake things up and break the rules. With an energetic, appealing writing style, Croll demonstrates how through the ages, women — often without other means of power — have used fashion as a tool, and how their influence continues to shape the way women present themselves today.

Amazon | Indigo |
Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Speak a Word for Freedom

Speak a Word for Freedom: Women Against Slavery
Written by Janet Willen and Marjorie Gann
Tundra Books, 2015
ISBN 978-1-77049-651-4
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 7-8

Slavery | Women Abolitionists | History | Biography | Human Trafficking

Meet 14 female abolitionists who took extraordinary risks in their struggles to end slavery from the 18th century to the present. From Alice Seeley Harris, whose photographs of mutilated Congolese slaves galvanized a nation; to Hadijatou Mani, who successfully sued the Niger government for failing to protect her from slavery — this is an inspirational, shocking and informative account of brave women who have devoted their lives to freedom for all.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

This One Summer

This One Summer
Created by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Groundwood Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-55498-152-6
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 5-6

Friendship | Coming of Age | Relationships | Secrets | Family

Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have stayed at Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this summer is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. A stunning and authentic story of friendship, illuminated by subtly heart-breaking moments and pure summer joy.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow
Written by Lena Coakley
HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
ISBN 978-1-44341-659-7
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Escapism | Siblings | Sisters | Brontës | Imagination | Storytelling

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. Their vivid imaginations let them escape from their strict upbringing, transporting them into their created worlds. But as Branwell descends into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters refuse to let them go.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

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Author’s Corner: Cary Fagan

Cary FaganCary Fagan is an award-winning author for children. His kids’ books include the popular Kaspar Snit novels, the two-volume Master Melville’s Medicine Show, and the picture book Mr. Zinger’s Hat, which was selected for the 2015 TD Grade One Book Giveaway program. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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

I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was quite young, twelve or earlier. I’m not exactly sure why except that it seemed like something special and that you couldn’t be tested on it! I had to write for class occasionally and found it an exhilarating experience from the start. My teachers liked to read my work out loud, so I had encouragement from the beginning. And my parents, lovely people, thought that I was a genius, of course! In fact, it was probably easier than when I started in earnest in my twenties. There were lots of rejections — ten years worth — before my first adult books were published.

What were your favourite Canadian children’s books growing up? Or, alternatively, your favourite Canadian children’s books to share with family and friends now?

The truth is that I don’t think I knew Canadian books as a kid. My first experience was in high school when I discovered Robertson Davies and became angry that nobody had told me about him. Kids books came later, when I was an adult. I fell in love with the picture books of Dayal Kaur Khalsa and anything illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. I’m still catching up. I just listened to an audio version of Anne of Green Gables. Hey, that’s a good book!

Tell us about your latest book, Little Blue Chair. What inspired you to write this picture book?

Little Blue ChairWhen I was a kid I always felt that inanimate objects had a kind of inner life and that we should respect them and even thank them for their service. Possibly this is common for children but I still hang on to some of this feeling. And what serves us more than a simple chair? It bears our weight without ever complaining. It’s such a simple and beautiful thing. And, you know, I realized after writing it that chairs have figured in some of my adult work.

As well, I was very drawn to the idea of an object going on an adventure and being used in interesting and creative ways. Maybe that’s because I like to repurpose things myself (in fact, I once turned an Ikea chair into a banjo). And finally, I realized that many of my picture books were for the late end of picture book readers, but that my own favourites were for very young kids. That’s who I’m trying to write for now.

Do you have any suggestions for teachers on how to incorporate Little Blue Chair or any of your books into the curriculum? Do you have any activity suggestions or tips?

Interesting question. I’m not a teacher and when I go into the classroom for an hour or a day I’m always happily exhausted after.  How do they do it?

I think it might be a nice idea for kids to think of an object—a flower pot, a table, a refrigerator box — and imagine all the different ways that it might be used. Also, I like the idea of giving away things that we don’t need anymore. Maybe kids could think of something they own—a toy, a piece of clothing—they might want to pass on. They might even make up their own story, imagining all the people who might use it after them.

What’s next for you? What projects are you working on now?

I have another picture book coming out this year called A Cage Went in Search of a Bird (Groundwood). And, also, a novel (but not until August) that is, I hope, quite funny, called Mort Ziff is Not Dead (Penguin Canada). Next year come two new picture books, a novel, and the second in my new Wolfie and Fly chapter book series. So I hope to have a lot of fun over the next while with school and library visits. As for manuscripts, I’ve recently completed two picture books (my texts keep getting shorter!) and I’m working on a middle-grade novel that’s comic and serious at the same time.

For more information about Cary’s work, visit

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Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction


With the recent passing of both Norah McClintock and Stuart McLean, Canada’s storytelling/writing community has taken a major hit.

Teen fiction is, at times, a veritable feast of teen angst. McClintock’s considerable skill for writing books for young adults and teens with sensible, forthright characters produced stories that were palate cleansers for her readers. My personal favourite is My Life Before Me, part of the Secrets series, which featured Cady, an ambitious female reporter fighting sexism and uncovering racism in the 1960s. Like McLean’s own memorable Dave and Morley, McClintock’s characters made me feel something, and her serial characters, Ryan Dooley, Rennie, and Riley Donovan, kept me coming back for more

Using empathy to draw people so completely into a story, whether through spoken word or printed pages, is an incredible talent and gift. Such engaging stories can make you forget where you are, and care about characters who are as real as if they truly breathed. These stories play an integral role in calming mind, body and spirit — helping readers make sense of the world while also giving them a chance to escape from it.

In the spirit of these great storytellers, I started thinking about books I’ve loved because the characters meant as much to me as my own family. From my middle grade and young adult years, those were books written by Jean Little and Kit Pearson, like From Anna and Stand in the Wind and The Guests of War Trilogy. With a teen book trend of issue-specific stories, however, sometimes it’s difficult to find the books that simply allow you to escape into a character-driven story.

I’ve been impressed lately by Vicki Grant’s Short for Chameleon, a novel about Cam, who works with his father as the main players in a rent-a-family organization. Then there’s Freedom’s Just Another Word by Caroline Stellings — the story about Easy, a teenager with a stunning blues voice living in Saskatchewan who is invited by Janis Joplin to sing with her in Texas.

Both books feature a community of characters that leap off the page — from the feisty Albertina and elusive Raylene to a tormented Janis Joplin and Marsha’s inner conflict over being a nun. Like McClintock and McLean’s stories, they contain complete worlds and personalities I wish I could meet and talk to in real life. Who wouldn’t want an Albertina looking out for them?

When creators die, I grieve the loss of their future work. But, to comfort myself, I return to the books and stories already completed. McLean’s Holland story of when Dave and Morley first meet, for example, and McClintock’s From Above, her most recent Riley Donovan installment. In this way, they feel a little closer, and their loss a bit less painful. The characters they brought to life remain for us to enjoy, a powerful legacy reaching into the future to readers and listeners who haven’t even been discovered yet.


Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise money for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award in 2014. Read about her journey at

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Illustrator’s Studio: Paul Covello

Covello_Pau smalllPaul Covello is an illustrator, designer and motion graphics artist. He is the author and illustrator of Canada ABC and Toronto ABC. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

How did you get started as an illustrator?

Although I have been drawing and interested in illustration for as long as I can remember, my first book started as a personal project that I began after working as a video and graphic designer for a few years. I wanted to use my experience on something personally creative and inspiring, and I decided to focus on Toronto as my subject, where I love living and exploring. From there I created an early version of Toronto ABC as a very short animation.

Once the project was completed, it served as a great portfolio piece that interested my publisher. With the help of my editor, I then refined it into a book, learning a lot about illustration, planning and all the skill that goes into bookmaking.

Can you tell us about your illustration style and how it came about? What is your illustration process like?

I love to paint, draw and experiment with different materials, but Toronto ABC and Canada ABC are both illustrated digitally. I wanted to learn how to create digital illustrations and I felt that a bold and colourful graphic-design-inspired style lends itself to depicting real locations and landmarks. I also think it’s a style that appeals to all ages of readers, which was a goal I always had in mind.

I usually start my illustrations with a very small rough sketch and then refine it as much as possible on paper before starting work on the final piece on my computer. Sometimes the finished illustration is very close to the initial idea, but other times it ends up completely different. Working digitally allows me the freedom to play and experiment, especially with different colour combinations and compositions, which is one of the most fun parts of the process.

Canada ABC: B is for Beaver    CanadaABC_BeaverFinal

Tell us about your latest book, Canada ABC, your follow-up to Toronto ABC. What inspired you to create this series?

Canada ABC is an alphabetical tour across the country, featuring iconic Canadian places, symbols, animals and events that I wanted to depict in new, interesting and fun ways. I was thinking about the book while working on Toronto ABC, and focusing on the entire country felt like a natural follow-up, especially in time for Canada’s 150th celebrations.

Toronto ABCMore importantly, I think Canada is such a unique and inspiring place to live. I’m very happy to have been able to create a book that showcases so many of the great things, details and ideas about the country that so many people have such strong connections with.

Do you have any advice for aspiring children’s book illustrators?

Right now my experience working as an illustrator is very small, so my only advice would be to continue to pursue your abilities and to remember that creating good work that you can be proud of often takes a lot of time, effort and sacrifice. Creating strong and thoughtful sample projects on something you’re very passionate about is a great way to showcase your skill and reach this goal. These are things that I continue to think about and try to apply to my own work.

What projects are you working on now? Anything you are particularly excited about?

Currently, I’m right in the middle of finishing a follow-up to Canada ABC, which is called Canada 123 (due out this fall), but I do have a few other titles that I’m developing: some more about Canada, about other places in the world, and books that are entirely different than what I’ve done before — all of them are exciting!

Images courtesy of Paul Covello. Visit for more information about his work.

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Booksellers’ Picks

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

Soldiers SketchbookMabel’s Fables Bookstore in Toronto, ON: A Soldier’s Sketchbook by John Wilson (Tundra Books, 2017), Ages 10+

This incredible record of a WWI soldier’s experiences could not have been put into better hands — those of historical writer John Wilson. Private Russell Rabjohn, a trained artist, kept a sketch diary of everything he saw during the war despite not being allowed to do so. Wilson has written the context of what this visual record is telling us. Rabjohn’s beautiful and sometimes chilling drawings give us a very special glimpse into the experiences — both of day to day life and of battle — of a WWI soldier, and Wilson is able to give us explanation and the story of what we are seeing. An incredible piece of Canadian history seen through an artist’s eyes and explained through a writer’s words… WOW. —Erin Grittani, Kids Bookseller

Mabel’s Fables Bookstore: 662 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S 2N3


The Goat• Type Books in Toronto, ON: The Goat by Anne Fleming (Groundwood Books, 2017), Ages 9-12

There is a mountain goat on the roof of a New York City apartment building. Six of its tenants know a little something about the four-hoofed beast, the most curious among them being a kid named Kid. Kid has temporarily relocated to the Big Apple by way of Toronto, where she and her family will be caring for a distant’s cousin’s dog named Cat. When she meets Will, a charming oddball who speaks in Spoonerisms, they decide they need to see the goat for themselves. This is a lovely little mystery, less a whodunit than a whatisitevendoingthere, with nods to The Westing Game, Harriet the Spy and the playful language of Polly Horvath. A great middle-grade novel that takes a concept that could easily be told as zany or madcap but instead presents it as delightfully ordinary. —Serah-Marie McMahon, Children’s Buyer for Type Books

Type Books: 427 Spadina Rd. & 883 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON


Town is the Sea• Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: Town is by the Sea written by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books, 2017), Ages 5-8

In subdued and measured prose, with illustrations that are both haunting and luminous, this book tells the tale of a boy whose father works in the coal mines of Cape Breton. From the time he wakes up and looks out his window to the sea until nighttime when he falls asleep to the sound of the waves, the boy’s day is filled with ordinary events: playing with a friend, picking up groceries for his mom, sharing the evening meal with his family when his father comes home. But all the while, the sea is there. Sparkling and beautiful, white-capped waves that glisten in the sun. And always there is the knowledge that “deep down under that sea, my father is digging for coal.” Text and illustrations together convey both a somber, weighty sense of what it means to be a miner’s son and also the heartbreaking beauty of a familial love that goes back generations. Exquisite, profound in its simple evocation of this particular way of life, timeless in its appeal. —Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

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

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