News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
We are excited to announce the touring creators for Canadian Children’s Book Week 2020. Seven talented Canadian authors and illustrators were selected from nearly 100 applicants to tour outside of their home provinces and share a love of reading with young people in schools and libraries from May 2-9.
The deadline for applications is March 15, 2020.
Get Excited for Bibliovideo!
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is taking Canadian children’s books to where youth already are: YouTube.
With funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Bibliovideo is the first step in a long-range digital strategy being developed by a consortium of organizations led by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre that includes the Association of Canadian Publishers/49thKids, Canadian School Libraries, CANSCAIP, Communication-Jeunesse and IBBY Canada.
Learn more here.
Support Canadian Children’s Book Week
We are raising money for Canadian Children’s Book Week 2020, a national tour of authors and illustrators who travel across Canada giving readings in this annual celebration of books. The donated funds will go directly towards the Adopt-a-School program, which allows schools, libraries and community centres who cannot afford the price of a reading to participate. Every $250 raised will cover the cost for a reading, which can have a lifelong impact on young people.
CCBC Library Collections Find New Homes at Ryerson University and Hamilton Public Library
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is thrilled to announce that a home has been found for the CCBC’s regional collection at the Ryerson University Library and Hamilton Public Library.
As of April 1, our offices will move to 425 Adelaide Street West, Suite 200, Toronto. We will be sharing our offices with Canadian Scholars/Women’s Press. We are looking forward to being in a more central location and closer to many children’s publishers.
The First-Ever I Read Canadian Day Was a Success!
On Wednesday, February 19th, we joined Canadian authors Eric Walters, Sharon Jennings, Melanie Florence, Ruth Ohi, spoken word poet Wali Shah and four-time Juno award-winner Jack Grunsky at Folkstone Public School in Brampton for the inauguration of the first ever I Read Canadian Day — a day dedicated to celebrating the richness and diversity that Canadian books have to offer young people.
Happy 40th Anniversary to The Paper Bag Princess!
The iconic story of The Paper Bag Princess, written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, is celebrating it’s 40th Anniversary! Happy Birthday to The Paper Bag Princess!
Read Canadian All Year With These Amazing Videos!
Get to know amazing Canadian authors by checking out these videos in honour of I Read Canadian Day! Watch them all on the CCBC YouTube channel!
Sydney Smith Wins the 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Award
Sydney Smith is the winner of the 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Award for Writer Award for Small in the City! Congratulations to Sydney! Each year an outstanding writer and illustrator are recognized early in their careers for having created an extraordinary children’s book that reflects the diverse nature of our culture. This year, the award ceremony will be held on April 2nd, 2020 during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at USM in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The winning writer and illustrator will each receive $3,000 and a bronze medallion encased in lucite.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators
March Reading List: Read Around the World
Tina Athaide was born in Uganda and grew up in London and Canada. While her family left Entebbe just prior to the expulsion, she has memories of a refugee family and friends staying with them in their London home. The stories and conversations she listened to through the years became the inspiration for her book Orange for the Sunsets. Tina now lives in California with her husband, Ron, and their daughter, Isabella.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author? What is your writing process like?
I’m an educator by day and write in the wee morning hours and weekends. When I started teaching in Southern California, I was amazed by how little information my students had about other cultures and ethnic groups and always thought they could learn so much from books. It is one of the reasons I was inspired to write books for young readers.
I love writing, especially when an idea sparks and begins to shine, demanding I take notice. I wrote on and off for over ten years before ever trying to get anything published. It was an opportunity to study and learn the craft. Then, I began by writing beginning readers for students in kindergarten and first grade that are learning to read. I kept writing and published stories in children’s magazines. During this time, the seed for Orange for the Sunsets was starting to grow and spread its roots. I returned to it over the years until a story started to emerge and then I couldn’t wait to do the work that shaping a story requires. It is hard work, but a very rewarding process.
Orange for the Sunsets is based on true events. For those who may not be familiar with Uganda’s expulsion order, could you tell us a little bit about its history?
On August 7, 1972, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin ordered Ugandans with Asian ancestry (about 60,000 people) to leave the country within 90 days. The Asian Indian presence was a legacy of colonialism, as most Asian Ugandans were the children and grandchildren of Indians brought to Uganda by British leaders when the nation was a colony. When Idi Amin had taken over as President of Uganda, he’d declared an “economic war” aimed at transferring the economic control of Uganda back into the hands of Africans. This included a set of policies seizing properties owned by Asians and Europeans.
By the time of the deadline, around 30,000 Ugandan Asians immigrated to the UK. Others went to Commonwealth countries such as Australia, South Africa, Canada, and Fiji, or to India, Kenya, Pakistan, Sweden, Tanzania, and the United States.
How did the events of Uganda’s expulsion order shape your own childhood, as well as your current adult life? How did those experiences shape your book, Orange for the Sunsets?
The expulsion of Asian Indians from Uganda left a lasting impression throughout my childhood and into my adult life. Though my family’s departure from Uganda was not as traumatic as the experiences depicted in the novel, I remember relatives arriving at our London home with one suitcase and fifty shillings, which is all they were allowed to take when they left. Later, I attended a Ugandan reunion in Vancouver and was moved by how the community’s joy, hope, and resilience empowered them to rebuild their lives in new countries and I worried that the story might get lost and I knew it needed to be told. The real push to start writing came during the early years of my teaching career when I realized that there were few books that dealt with cultures outside of the white European experiences. So, I started writing.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for teachers using your books in their classrooms or advice on how to approach the issues raised in your books?
Our classroom libraries are often windows into worlds our students
cannot imagine but must learn if they are to develop into empathetic citizens. Books about social justice allow our students insight into what it feels like to be a refugee, to encounter racism, or to have to fight against great odds for rights and freedoms, which others take for granted.
Read alouds: Quite often, a current event might spur questions and discussion in class, revealing a need to slow down and examine what is happening in the story. Read alouds are the perfect opportunity to introduce your students to books about social justice while helping them to approach tough topics with understanding and empathy.
Book Clubs: Kids love to teach their peers and middle-grade students are no exception. They love social issues book clubs, which focus on topics such as marginalized groups, racism, and social inequalities. As a culminating activity to such book clubs, students can book talk their group’s selection to the rest of the class, and teach their classmates about the issue.
Opportunities for writing: In her book, The Journey is Everything, Katherine Bomer talks about the concept of “writing to think.” Students complete a chart to anchor their thinking. They write about what the social justice books they read made them wonder about by answering some of the following questions:
What do I think?
What do I question?
What do I fear?
What do I wonder?
What makes me angry?
What confuses or upsets me?
Writing and sharing their ideas in this way provides students with an opportunity to think about how they would work towards making our world a better place.
- Create a movie poster about the book.
- Make a film, recreating the book in 60 seconds.
- Select one scene from the book and create a diorama.
- Write a friendship letter from one character to another.
- Create a wanted posted for one of the characters.
- Extend the ending of the book by writing one more chapter.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
Little known historical nuggets of information are irresistible to me and have the energy to spark ideas. I’m juggling two projects at the moment: A fun, whimsical picture book story with Ghandi and his granddaughter, Sita, at the centre of the action; and a middle-grade story about the Asian Indians after they left Uganda and settled in other countries.
Find out more about Tina at tinaathaide.com
Listen to Our Two Podcasts!
Rachel Wada is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Vancouver, BC. Being Japanese-Chinese, her visual style is an amalgamation of cultural influences and techniques that reflect the melting pot of her cultural heritage. Rachel creates illustrations anywhere illustrations are needed — from publishing, books, magazines, online media, children’s books and more!
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
My name is Rachel Wada, and I have been active as a freelance illustrator for about three years now. Like many illustrators, I have loved drawing since I was a little girl. I was fortunate that my parents were supportive of my hobby, and allowed me to pursue post-secondary education at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver, majoring in Illustration. Since graduating, I juggled part-time jobs from office administrator to Art Director at a local university student paper while getting my illustration career off the ground. Much of my early illustration jobs were in editorial illustration, e-mailing my portfolio to every art director and publication that I could think of. Throughout this process, I slowly built up my portfolio with client work and it has now been a year and a half since I began illustrating full-time.
We love your art style! The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden is set in Japan, which is captured perfectly in your illustrations. How did you develop your personal illustrative style and what inspired it?
I have always been intrigued by the relationship between art and culture, hence the motifs, symbols and art of my Japanese and Chinese roots are a heavy inspiration to my artistic style. What are some artistic techniques, mediums and imagery that make an artwork look “Japanese” or “Chinese”? And how do I develop an artistic style that can encapsulate my Japanese-Chinese immigrant cultural identity? I began exploring these topics by utilizing traditional mediums such as brush and ink painting to traditional rice papers and also imposing contemporary techniques with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. This mash-up of traditional and contemporary was something that resonated with me as it encapsulated my traditional cultural roots but also represents my modern identity.
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden is about loss, centring around the tsunami that wrecks the Japanese town Mr. Hirota lives in. How did you go about illustrating a story about grief?
In the early stages of developing the illustrations for this book, the art director and I had several conversations regarding how to visually convey grief and loss but in a palatable way for a young audience. This was certainly a tricky task. We wanted the illustrations to focus on the emotions and nuances behind the characters and the events that transpired. For example, the colour palette of the overall book shifts throughout the beginning, middle and end. The book begins with a bright and colourful palette that alludes to spring, to a dark, cool-toned colour palette in the middle of the book once the tsunami hits and its aftermath. The colours change from cool to warm towards the end of the book, as Makio comes to terms with and accepts the loss of his father. Through such visual cues, we were able to convey the emotions experienced by Makio and the tragic events that transpired without literally visually depicting it, which we agreed would be “heavy” for a young audience.
This was your first picture book, and you worked with award-winning author Heather Smith. Not a bad start! Who else would you like to work with?
What I loved about The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden, in particular, was the fact that we were able to bring a voice to cultures and communities that are often not represented in the West. Representation of other cultures, communities and minorities is really important to me, and I’d love to work with other authors and creatives who share the same values.
What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?
I have another picture book in the works which I am super excited about! I’m not sure how much of it I can share, but the book is based on the author’s childhood and is about a family’s time spent in a Hmong refugee camp before coming to the United States.
Find out more about Rachel at rachelwada.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:
A group of eighth-graders on a school trip to the Carlsbad Caverns find themselves trapped in the very depths of the caverns after an earthquake separates them from their teacher and leaves them desperate to find their way to the surface in this action-packed adventure. Told from alternating perspectives, it is a gripping survival story set in a vivid, oftentimes harrowing subterranean landscape. Fast-paced and briskly-plotted, it is also a carefully nuanced tale in which three different young people are forced to confront their own personal challenges as they face seemingly neverending obstacles. Eric and Silvia emerge as unlikely leaders in the students’ quest for survival while King Carlos is the young lord of an underground kingdom that has lived beneath these caves for centuries. Determined to protect his people from the threat that he believes these “invaders” pose, Carlos soon discovers that they are friends not foes but even with his help, Eric and Silvia and their peers are still in grave danger. Thought-provoking, suspenseful and riveting, Wesley King has created another middle-grade novel that appeals to a wide range of readers.
—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager
Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 1533 Birmingham St., Halifax, NS B3J 2J1 www.woozles.com
If your independent bookstore would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.
In this realistic, gritty mystery, 14-year-old Harbour Mandrayke is living in a tent in a Toronto ravine, with her dog, and a dwindling supply of crackers and canned tuna. She isn’t homeless, she keeps telling herself, she’s just waiting for her father to pick her up in their sailboat as planned. When the bitter winter wind starts to blow, and her father never shows up, Harbour has to confront some hard truths. Reading this immersive, empathetic novel is like walking in someone else’s shoes. Harbour’s powerful, first-person narration of her experiences surviving on the streets and untangling the secrets of her past is deeply engrossing and affecting.
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Childhood wonder and first friendship shine in this simple story about two best friends and one great day. The writing and the beautiful illustrations perfectly capture the world through the lens of two young friends during a day of play. This is Jillian Tamaki’s second picture book and her drawings are richly imaginative and instantly invoke childhood memories. Children will love this tale of new friendship and imagination.
— Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Told in free verse, Ebb & Flow follows the story of 11-year-old Jett, who has been sent to live with his unconventional, yet loving grandmother over the summer following the betrayal of a friend. Wrought with guilt and self-loathing, Jett still hasn’t forgiven himself for his actions, but with the help of his wise grandmother, Jett will soon come to realize that sometimes good people do bad things too and it’s okay to forgive ourselves.
This beautiful book will keep readers engaged from the first page to the last. Do not be fooled by the simplicity of style, as this powerful and emotionally charged story will leave readers reflecting on their very own relationships, choices and identity. If there’s a book that can inspire change amongst young people, I believe it’s this one.
— Paola Gonzalez, CCBC Magazine & Marketing Intern
Look for our April newsletter next month, which will be all about the environment!