CCBC May 2016 Newsletter
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
May Book List: TD Canadian Children’s Book Week
Author Corner: Nadia L. Hohn
Amy’s Travels in YA
Illustrator’s Studio: Geraldo Valério
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
• From Author Readings to Literacy Parades, the 39th Annual TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and Reading Town Canada Cultivates a Joy of Reading
Twenty-nine of the country’s most celebrated children’s authors, illustrators and storytellers will visit libraries, schools, community centres and bookstores across Canada from May 7th to May 14th as part of the 39th annual TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. Sponsored by TD Bank Group in collaboration with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC), TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is the largest national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. Each May, during the week-long event, more than 400 live book readings and activities are provided for 28,000 children in every province and territory across Canada. Click here for more information.
• Sylvan Learning Helps to Celebrate TD Canadian Children’s Book Week
Sylvan Learning Centres across Canada are excited to participate in the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. To celebrate this event they are sponsoring a reading contest. You can have your students enter this contest by choosing a book written by a favourite Canadian author. Please submit entries to the nearest Sylvan Learning Centre to have a chance of winning a prize.
Primary (K-3): Students must submit an illustration of the most interesting event in the story or write three sentences on why they liked the book.
Intermediate (4-7): Students must write at least five sentences explaining why they liked the book.
High school (8-12): Students must write a paragraph explaining why they would recommend this book to a friend.
Make sure to visit Sylvanlearning.ca for the Sylvan Learning Centre nearest you.
Contest rules: All entries must be submitted by May 14, 2016. Contest winner is decided by participating Sylvan Learning Centres and all decisions are final. Winners will be contacted by phone or email by May 31, 2016.
News from our Friends
• IBBY Canada is inviting submissions from Canadian children’s book illustrators for the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program. The program provides a jury-selected illustrator with a month-long residency for October 2016, to be hosted at the Stanley A. Milner Library in downtown Edmonton.
Submissions will be evaluated by a jury with expertise in children’s books and illustration. The submission deadline is Friday, May 13. Click here for more information.
Notable News & Links
Articles and videos of interest to educators
May Book List: TD Canadian Children’s Book Week Authors and Illustrators
To celebrate the start of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week next week, we have decided to feature the authors and illustrators who are touring for the first time this year. For this year’s Book Week theme guide, which includes more books and additional resources, click here.
Double Trouble at The Rooms
Duck, Duck, Dinosaur
The Fabulous World of Mr. Fred
Giraffe Meets Bird
I’m Drawing a Picture
The Little Knight Who Battled Monsters
Junior & Intermediate Fiction
Billy Sure, Kid Entrepreneur
Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter
March Grand Prix: The Fast and the Furriest
Narine of Noe
Young Adult Fiction
Light of Day
Jewel of the Thames
Author’s Corner: Nadia L. Hohn
Nadia L. Hohn has been writing stories, drawing, and making books since she was five years old. She is the author of the Music and Media books in the Sankofa Series, published by Rubicon Publishing. Her first picture book, Malaika’s Costume, was recently published by Groundwood Books. Nadia lives in Toronto, where she is a public school teacher.
How did you get started as a writer?
The short answer is I have always been a writer.
Now for the long answer. Writing is something I have been doing from a very early age. As a child, I was very bookish and an early reader. At the age of six, I began to write and illustrate my own books. I also started keeping a journal at the age of nine. I have over 60 today. In Grade 7, I started writing my first novel. In high school, I wrote articles for my school newspaper and eventually continued on to university and community newspapers. When I was 20, I did an internship at Psychology Today magazine in New York City where I wrote articles that got published.
In spite of all of this, I didn’t look at writing as a viable career, just some hobby or “lofty goal.” Growing up, I didn’t know any writers personally. Although I loved to write, I wanted to keep it as something that I could choose to do instead of have to do. I didn’t want to make writing “my bread and butter” out of fear that I would grow to hate it. So, after considering many different careers, I became a teacher, although my mom really wanted me to become a nurse or some other health professional (like many women in my family).
I had an ex-boyfriend who was a professional writer. When I shared something I wrote, he thought it was very good. He was also working on the draft of a novel, which I had proofread. He once told me that writing is something that chooses you. I now understand what he meant since no matter what career or field I considered, I was always writing.
In 2009, I began to write a book that could teach kids about the media and it eventually became the first chapter of a novel. In early 2010, I took Writing for Children 1 with Ted Staunton at Mabel’s Fables bookstore so that I could develop the chapter further. For one of the course assignments, I wrote my first draft of Malaika’s Costume among other stories. The course helped me to not only rewrite that chapter, it “excavated stories from my subconscious”, and rekindled my childhood hobby of creating picture books. Even though I received a good grade in this course, I thought my teacher was being generous and not because I actually wrote well.
Getting diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010, I got a wake-up call. Although the prognosis was good and treatment full of challenges, there were also a few blessings. Cancer helped me to realize how suddenly one’s life could end and drastically one’s health could change. I felt it would be a tragedy if my talents were unused and dreams were unfulfilled including those books I wanted to write. During my recovery, I began to write more each day. By starting a blog called Blue Butterfly which chronicled my healing journey and transition to veganism, writing became my “lifeline” — therapy, community, and passion rolled into one. I wrote so much during that time — sometimes two or three blog posts in one day as well as shared photos, restaurant and book reviews. I kept a journal and made art too. Writing was something I could do when I had no appetite or little energy to do anything else. It was “my constant friend” when I was in 4 days of radioactive isolation. (Twice.) As my treatment neared its end, I became even more determined to write and publish. My writing dreams flourished.
I began to attend CANSCAIP’s monthly meetings and writing conferences, took more courses, networked, entered contests and awards, joined a critique group, applied to MFA programs, and kept on writing. It paid off. Within one week in late 2013, I received two e-mails. The first was from Rubicon Publishing looking for writers for books in its Sankofa series (which resulted in me writing Music and Media books). The second was from Sheila Barry, by then publisher at Groundwood Books, indicating that she was interested in publishing my manuscript for Malaika’s Costume. After receiving Sheila’s e-mail and then an award for that manuscript in 2014, I began to see my writing as a special gift to be shared which changed everything. I became a writer.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I write something everyday — it’s usually my journal, e-mails and Facebook posts. As for my stories, they usually sit in my head for a while (days, months, even years) before I commit them to paper. Novels are a little slower to write but I am working on that. Also, I take a lot of courses and like writing critique groups because I work well with deadlines, which helps me to finish my writing projects and get stuff done. They hold me accountable. I am a full-time teacher so my writing projects fit around everything else. I write before work, late at night, on weekends, on vacation, at a cottage — it all depends. I usually have a few projects “in the works” at once.
Tell us about your new book, Malaika’s Costume. What inspired you to write it?
A few things inspired me to write Malaika’s Costume. As I mentioned, I wrote it for a picture book assignment in Ted Staunton’s Writing for Children class. My experience of attending Caribana (formerly the Toronto Caribbean Carnival) as a child and playing Mas’ (wearing costume and dancing in the parade) as an adult, a picture book that I created in Grade 5 called “The Greatest Carnival Ever” and a strong girl character who is resilient, creative and plucky are all things I wanted to portray. The immigration experiences of women in my family and others of Jamaican and Caribbean descent, that often involved parents separated from their children and their partners or spouses, comes out in the story. This is called “the barrel children” phenomenon. Also, my students at the Africentric Alternative School also inspired me to write stories that I could use in my classroom. They were my very first “critique group” for Malaika’s Costume, just by their reactions to the story any time I read it. These all came into the telling of Malaika’s Costume.
What were your favourite books growing up?
I loved Walter Dean Myers in high school. A book called Motown & Didi was the first novel that I read and re-read. I connected with the teenaged characters as it was set in Harlem. At that time, I had never been to Harlem. Even though I had often visited relatives in The Bronx in New York and I grew up and lived in Rexdale and the Jane and Finch communities of Toronto, I could relate to Myer’s characters and Harlem for its diverse ethnic groups, urban environment, inequalities, and struggle. I also loved Blue Tights and Every Time A Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams Garcia as well as Rosa Guy. I read mostly African-American authors from my pre-teen to teen years — Terri McMillan, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison—although these were not kids’ books. I also loved a book called Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield. I loved reading Judy Blume, The Little House and Babysitters Club books. As a child and pre-teen, I also loved reading non-fiction books about the human body and stories about different countries and the children who lived there. For Canadian books, I loved Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker and Harriet’s Daughter by M. Nourbese Philip. Philip’s book was the first time I read a story that was about a life so similar to my own — immigrant and first-generation African-Caribbean girls in Toronto. It was fantastic! I loved Owl, Chickadee, Highlights, and National Geographic World magazines.
Do you have any suggestions for teachers on how to incorporate your books into the curriculum? Do you have any activity suggestions?
Yes. Some themes and subjects that are found in Malaika’s Costume, such as environmentalism and recycling, celebrations, families and immigration stories, art with found materials, geometry and spatial sense, as well as music, Carnival arts and character education. As a teacher, I know how helpful these lesson plans can be, so I am working on some as we speak. These will be available on my website in the near future.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
Currently, I am promoting Malaika’s Costume in bookstores, at events and in libraries in Canada and the United States. Malaika’s story continues in the sequel picture book, which will be out in fall 2017. I am also working on a few writing projects, including editing my middle grade novel manuscript and conducting research for a book. I also hope to turn Malaika’s Costume into a play, so I have already written some scenes and am developing it further.
For more information about Nadia’s work, visit www.nadialhohn.com.
Amy’s Travels in YA
by Amy Mathers
With TD Canadian Children’s Book Week happening from May 7 to May 14 across Canada and the Festival of Trees coming up in London, Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie, May is a very good month for Canadian children’s and YA authors to strut their stuff.
I’ve read books by all of the CCBC’s YA authors’ line up for this year’s Book Week, and anyone who attends one of their public events is in for a good time.
Starting on the west coast, Wesley King will be touring Vancouver Island. Known for The Vindico Duology (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers) and the recently published OC Daniel (Simon & Schuster, 2016), King is a creative thinker who is sure to entertain.
Author Vicki Grant will be cracking up audiences in the Yukon. Her most recent book is Small Bones (Orca Book Publishers, 2015), part of the Secrets series, and Grant will be discussing her varied and prolific career.
Kate Jaimet, author of Endangered (Poisoned Pencil Press, 2015) and several Orca Sports titles, is taking on Alberta, talking about art and science in a presentation featuring endangered sea turtles. That makes me wish I was out west to see it!
Authors Angela Misri and Allison Van Diepen are covering Manitoba, which means YA readers there will be especially lucky to hear about the concise logic and detailed research behind Misri’s Portia Adams Adventure series (Fierce Ink Press), as well as the inspiration behind Van Diepen’s page-turning reads. Van Diepen’s latest offering is Light of Day (HarperTeen, 2015).
Next up in Ontario are Marty Chan, author of the Ehrich Weisz Chronicles (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), who will be talking about the latest book in the series, as well as his playwriting skills; and Danika Dinsmore, author of the Faerie Tales from the White Forest series (Hydra Books), who will be exploring world-building and writing speculative fiction.
Robin Stevenson will be touring in Quebec. While her most recent teen fiction book is The World Within Us (Orca Book Publishers, 2015), Stevenson has lots to offer all age groups with her latest non-fiction title, Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community (Orca Book Publishers, 2016). She is also offering creative writing workshops and insight into the art of revision.
Last but not least, Judith Graves, author of the Skinned series (Leap Books) and Exposed, part of the Retribution Trilogy (Orca Book Publishers, 2015), will be in Nova Scotia. All of her many presentations are to die for!
If you’re interested in attending the public presentations of these awesome YA writers, check out TDReads.com for all the event listings. Attending is an excellent way to show your support for your favourite authors. Last year I heard Susan White, author of Ten Thousand Truths (Acorn Press, 2012), speak in Toronto about the inspiration behind her books, and it was a truly enlightening experience.
So, enjoy the month and keep your eye on your Twitter and Facebook feeds to find out which books children and teens pick as their favourites for the Festival of Trees. Also, if we’re lucky as readers, the authors traveling across Canada will be inspired by their experiences during Book Week to write some more fantastic Canadian teen fiction in the future. It happens more than you’d think.
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 www.amysmarathonofbooks.ca.
Illustrator’s Studio: Geraldo Valério
Geraldo Valério was born in Brazil. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and received a Master of Arts degree from New York University. He is the author and illustrator of many books published in Canada, the United States, Brazil and Portugal, and his most recent work is My Book of Birds (Groundwood Books). He lives in Toronto.
How did you get started as an illustrator and how did you develop your unique style?
I love being an author and illustrator. Since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed making drawings and being creative with my hands. When it was time for me to go to university, I knew I wanted to study art. A course I took opened my eyes to the imagination and beauty of children’s books.
The illustrations that accompany my work are done in mediums with which I can freely play with colors and textures. I like experimenting with collage and I’ve used this technique in a lot of recent projects.
Can you tell us about your illustrating process? (Here you could share some pictures.)
It usually starts with an image that comes to me unexpectedly. Then I create a story for this image. Once I have this picture and story in my mind I then make many sketch drawings. At this point I already know which technique I will use. I keep making adjustments to my sketches to better fit the story and also to accommodate the demands of the book’s design.
When I am using collage for the final art, I can spend hours cutting and gluing paper; I have a lot of fun doing this.
Tell us about your latest book, My Book of Birds. What inspired you to create it?
Growing up in Brazil, I always saw many beautiful birds around me. There was a river close to my house and along the water we would find egrets, wild ducks, gallinules and finches. I became fascinated with birds.
I’ve also been very influenced by the work of artists such as John James Audubon. His paintings are so magnificent that I became inspired to create my own books of birds.
I had published a book about Brazilian birds, and that got me excited to do a book about North American birds. I used to live in British Columbia, and on walks along the water I would see blue herons, eagles and swans, and they became my friends.
Do you have any suggestions for educators who would like to use your books in the classroom?
It would be so great to see My Book of Birds used as a launching pad to explore students’ interests relating to science, the environment, stewardship and creative, artistic expression.
What were your favourite children’s books and illustrators growing up?
Growing up, our house had only a set of encyclopedias. I read those 12 volumes over and over. I was fascinated to learn about animals, plants, different countries and historical figures.
What projects are you working on now?
I am so thrilled about my current projects, two of which will be published in Fall 2016. A tale I wrote and illustrated, Turn On the Night (Groundwood Books), features some brave, helpful characters.
Moose, Goose, Animals on the Loose! (OwlKids Books) is a book I wrote and illustrated about Canadian wildlife. It has a lot of movement and energy!
Images courtesy of Geraldo Valério. Visit geraldovalerio.com for more information about his work.
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
• Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books in Ottawa, ON: Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame (Candlewick, 2016), Ages 14 and up
We are so excited to see Don Calame’s Dan vs. Nature on our shelves. Like Don’s other teen books, Swim the Fly, Beat the Band and Call the Shots, Dan vs. Nature had us laughing out loud. It is perfect for all sorts of readers — reluctant, avid, teen, adult or a combination thereof — who enjoy an engaging story, a good belly laugh and a fart joke or two. —Kim Ferguson, Co-owner
Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books: 1018 Bank St., Ottawa, ON K1S 3W8 www.kaleidoscopekidsbooks.ca
• Type Books in Toronto, ON: Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (Razorbill, 2016), Ages 13 and up
Montgomery Sole is a square peg in a small town, a girl with two moms forced to go to a school full of homophobes and people who don’t even know what irony is. Her saving grace — her two best friends, Thomas and Naoki. Monty’s obsessed with paranormal mysteries like ESP, astrology, superpowers, and the healing powers of frozen yogurt, but when strange things actually start happening to Monty, she realizes that the greatest mystery of all is herself.
Recommended by Serah-Marie McMahon, Children’s Buyer for Type Books
Type Books: 427 Spadina Rd. & 883 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON www.typebooks.ca
• Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: Shooter by Caroline Pignat (Razorbill, 2016), Ages 11 and up
In this tense psychological drama, five teens find themselves trapped in a boys’ washroom at their high school when a lockdown is called. When they discover that someone with a gun is prowling the halls of the school and ultimately work out the true extent of his plans, they are forced to work together to try to prevent him from succeeding. As the five unlikely comrades face this situation together, they get to know one another and form a unique bond. Told from their alternating points of view, Pignat’s latest masterpiece is powerful, poignant, filled with high stakes drama and simply unforgettable. —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.