CCBC Newsletter: May 2017
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
TD Canadian Children’s Book Week will take place from Saturday, May 6 to Saturday, May 13, 2017. Our free online theme guide features the newest books by the 27 touring authors and illustrators and introduce readers to the three touring storytellers. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the online guide contains a listing of 150 books that pay tribute to the different regions of Canada. Young readers are invited on a literary journey across the country through books written by some of Canada’s most talented creators.
See an author, illustrator or storyteller in your area! We have over a hundred public events around the country. Click here to see the Book Week calendar.
Links We Love
May Book List: Adventure Books
This month, our librarian Meghan Howe has put together a list of books featuring great adventures! Find the books below, all by Canadian authors or illustrators, at your local library or bookstore.
An Armadillo in Paris
Paris | Travel | Eiffel Tower | Adventure
A winsome armadillo goes to Paris, accompanied by his grandfather’s journals, to meet the Iron Lady. Along the way, he eats a croissant, visits the Louvre and walks beside the Seine as he follows his grandfather’s path to the Iron Lady. But who is she? Each spread has a clue, and readers will see hints of her scattered throughout the book.
Imagination | Curiosity | Adventure | Family
Edmund is an adventurous and energetic ball of yarn! From the time he could roll, he’s been bouncing down his front steps to explore, and his parents have always been there to reel him in and wind him back up. Edmund can’t resist the tug of adventure, the twists and turns of discovery, but as he ventures far from home, he learns the importance of family and friends.
The Not-So-Faraway Adventure
Intergenerational Relationships | Birthdays | Adventure | Travel | Grandparents | Exploration
Theo wants to give her grandfather the perfect birthday gift. Poppa was an explorer and keeps his travel mementos in a trunk. That gives Theo an idea for a special gift — their very own adventure to the beach! They travel by streetcar, skip stones and slurp gazpacho. Theo learns that you don’t have to travel far from home to have an adventure!
Skunk on a String
Adventure | Adversity | Humour | Journeys | Problem Solving | Wordless Book
A wordless tale about a hapless skunk who finds himself tied to the string of a balloon. Up, up he floats, through a bustling parade, past apartment buildings with their busy inhabitants, through the zoo, into traffic, under water, until he lands atop a Ferris wheel. So what’s a skunk to do? The answer is as surprising as a skunk on a string!
Junior & Intermediate Fiction
Brother XII’s Treasure
Treasure | Quests | Adventure | Siblings | Pirates
The year is 1936, and seven children from England embark on a summer sailing adventure in British Columbia. They soon discover the true story of Brother XII, a shadowy figure who is rumoured to have buried treasure on one of the coastal islands. Their vacation turns into a treasure hunt — but will they find the loot before a band of pirates does?
Adventure | Mystery | Conspiracy | Friendship | Deception
Eli lives in the most perfect town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. He has never left until the day he cycles to the town limits and everything changes. Eli and his friends uncover a shocking secret connecting Serenity to some of the greatest criminal masterminds ever known. The kids realize they can trust no one… not even their parents!
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
Adventure | Storybooks | Fantasy | Magic
Two years ago, Peter Nimble and Sir Tode rescued the kingdom of HazelPort. Now they have been summoned for a new mission: find Sophie Quire — 12-year-old bookmender and Storyguard. Sophie repairs old books and also rescues storybooks from Inquisitor Prigg’s pyres, but when Peter and Sir Tode appear with a mysterious book, she finds herself pulled into an adventure beyond anything she has ever read.
Super Agent Jon Le Bon! The Brain of the Apocalypse
Adventure | Humour | Espionage | Friendship
Amidst a world filled with danger stands the Agency — an ultra-secret organization whose mission is to safeguard the World. It uses the most talented agents and cutting-edge technologies. However, a new recruit is about to join the Agency — and he will forever change the balance between good and evil. His name? Jon Le Bon! This title is also available in French as L’Agent Jean! Le cerveau de l’apocalypse.
Young Adult Fiction
Are You Seeing Me?
Siblings | Autism | Letting Go | Family | Adventure | Loss | Love
Twins Justine and Perry have left Australia and embarked on a road trip in the Pacific Northwest. When their dad died, Justine became caregiver for her autistic brother, who has now been accepted into a group home. Before he moves in, the twins want to create the perfect memory. For Perry, the trip is a celebration; for Justine, it’s an opportunity to learn how to let go.
Friendship | Secrets | Espionage | Adventure | Mystery | Quests
Why did Adam’s grandfather have a Walther PPK pistol, a huge stash of foreign cash and fake passports hidden in the family’s cottage? Was he a traitor? A spy? Determined to find the truth, Adam takes the gun and follows the clues to Bermuda where he finds danger, espionage, dark secrets, a beautiful girl and the true meaning of “live and let die.”
Earth & Sky
Time Travel | Science Fiction | Adventure | Quests | Colonization | Social Justice
Seventeen-year-old Skylar has always been haunted by fleeting yet powerful feelings that some things around her are wrong. After she meets Win, she learns an unsettling truth: we are not alone. In fact, Earth has been manipulated by others for centuries, and the essential fabric of our world is starting to unravel. Is Skylar’s heightened awareness the key to Earth’s salvation?
Love, Lies and Spies
Romance | Historical Fiction | Humour | Adventure | Espionage
Juliana Telford is not your average 19th-century young lady. When her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Spencer Northam is not your ordinary 19th-century gentleman. He is a spy for the War Office, on his first mission. But when his assignment involves observing lovely Juliana and her friends… plans for a season without romance are foiled!
Author’s Corner: Joyce Grant
Joyce Grant is an author, freelance journalist and editor. She is the author of the Gabby series of picture books, and the middle-grade novel Tagged Out. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as an author?
I was five years old and I wrote a story about a stolen diamond ring. And I remember very clearly thinking, “This is what I do — I’m a writer.” I was so convinced of it that, in Grade 4, I had the nerve to ask the school principal to let me skip recess and gym class for a whole year to “write a novel.” I remember swanning around the classroom, dictating precious prose to my friend, Ann, who was writing it all down — possibly to avoid gym class. Our first book was Michael Swervefinch Rides, in anticipation of the sequel, Michael Swervefinch Rides Again. Surprisingly, neither book was ever snatched up by a big publisher.
And, by the way, Ann — still one of my closest friends — told me later that she used to just write down whatever the heck she wanted, not what I was dictating. Serves me right!
What is your writing process like?
Nearly every day, I spend some time writing at the “office” — Starbucks. There are always a bunch of us there. That’s where I was the day I finished my first novel, Tagged Out. I wrote the words “The End” and then promptly burst into tears. My friend, Angela Misri, asked me what happened and I told her that I’d just finished my first novel. Two other people at a nearby table immediately offered congratulations — and they turned out to be the very successful authors Danielle Younge-Ullman and Bev Katz (although I didn’t know them at the time).
You’re touring Alberta for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week this May. What are you looking forward to the most?
Meeting the students! I always learn so much from kids. I’m also looking forward to seeing Alberta. I’m actually taking a two-day train ride to get to Edmonton; I plan to write and spend a lot of time in the observation car — like a mini writing-retreat. Then I’ll be presenting in cities I’ve never visited before, like Edmonton, Red Deer and Camrose. I’m really excited about this trip and I appreciate CCBC and TD for doing this every year. It’s amazing for the students and the authors.
Tell us about your latest book, Tagged Out. What inspired you to write it? How can educators incorporate it into the curriculum?
To say that my son is “an avid baseball player” is putting it too mildly. He is obsessed with the sport; he’s now a pitcher for the Toronto Mets. So, for the last 10 years or so, my second home has been on baseball diamonds. I’ve watched the way baseball kids interact, and talk and play the sport. That inspired me to write Tagged Out, a baseball novel set in Toronto’s Christie Pits. It’s a wonderful old park, with tons of history — including the fact that it was the scene of a race riot in 1933. The Pits is practically a character in the book — I encourage anyone in Toronto in the summer to head down there and take in an Intercounty Baseball League game.
One of the main characters in Tagged Out is a new kid who’s joining the Blues. Jock is from the States and he’s the best ball player you can imagine. He’s also gay, which he says doesn’t define him — but which the players on the Blues have a really difficult time with; they’re kind of jerks about it. That gives Jock second thoughts about joining their team. Tagged Out is all about inclusion, and prejudice and bullying — and finding common ground so you can move to a place of greater understanding. That’s a message that teachers are sending to students all the time these days. It’s an important one, but it’s multi-faceted and really difficult. I hope Tagged Out helps them by supporting that learning.
Teachers can download a free copy of the teacher’s guide for Tagged Out on my website: http://joycegrantauthor.com/teachers-guide-for-tagged-out-free/. It includes discussion prompts, vocabulary, grammar, inference questions and writing prompts. It also connects the fictional scenes to the real-life Christie Pits, which is a great strategy to help reluctant readers.
Tell us about TeachingKidsNews.com—what inspired this project, and how can educators and parents use it?
When my son was in Grade 3, I asked his amazing teacher, Jon Tilly, if I could talk to the class about the news. The kids loved it! We were talking about the G20 Summit and oil spills and all that complicated stuff and they always wanted more. After that, Jon said he wanted every student in Canada to be able to access the news … so, along with literacy expert Kathleen Tilly, we started TeachingKidsNews.com. Every week we provide a kid-friendly article and curriculum material for free. We want kids to know about the real news that’s happening in their world and to think critically about that news. It’s so, so important.
More than 4,000 people use TeachingKidsNews.com every day. You can go on and just read the articles. Or teachers can put the article up for shared reading and use the excellent curriculum questions that Jon and Kathleen write. We have an amazing science reporter — all of our articles are written by professional journalists. This isn’t a kids’ website. It’s a news website, that happens to be for kids. We explain the jargon and add more context so kids can access the news more easily than if they were reading a newspaper written for adults.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I’m writing a sequel to Tagged Out! I’m excited to be back in the Blues’ world, down in Christie Pits, having fun with the team. It’s tentatively called Home Team and it features two kids who were more minor characters in the first book. It’s about the first baseman, Miguel, who has to spend his time looking after his family, who are being threatened with deportation. And Sebastian, the goofy and likeable but somewhat naïve catcher, has to realize that not everyone has such a happy-go-lucky life. And, of course, it’s all centred around playing baseball in Christie Pits. I’m about half-way through writing it now, and I’m hoping it will be published in 2018.
For more information about Joyce’s work, visit joycegrantauthor.com.
Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s 40th Book Week is just around the corner, coming up from May 6th to May 13th! This is immediately followed by the Forest of Reading Festival of Trees, running in London, Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie from May 12th to May 19th. I love how both these events foster connection between authors and their audiences, letting kids and teens meet the people whose work they’ve loved, and teaching them about the varied process of writing.
There’s a list of nine YA/teen authors this year travelling across Canada, starting with Natasha Deen in the Northwest Territories. She’s talking to teens about the power of story format in fiction and non-fiction works, as well as how to write their own. Based on her involvement with the Retribution series with Burned and Terminate, I am sure she has valuable insight to share about engaging characters and good plot twists.
Ted Staunton will be making the rounds in the English-language tour of Quebec. Sharing anecdotes and his creative process, he aims to hook reluctant readers with his books from the different Seven series (Speed, Jump Cut and Coda), and his Orca Currents books, Power Chord and Ace’s Basement.
Ontario is hosting Jason Chabot and Gabrielle Prendergast. Chabot, known for The Broken Sky Chronicles, wants to help teens discover their own creativity and imagination while also sharing about the writing process. Prendergast, author of Audacious, Capricious and the upcoming Zero Repeat Forever, will be using her work to teach teens about verse novels through poetry exercises.
In Manitoba, Beth Goobie talks to teens about challenging issues such as rape, bullying and abuse. Author of The Pain Eater and a whole host of other books on these subjects, she will also be talking about the importance of balancing serious topics with everyday, ordinary life activities in writing.
Saskatchewan will feature Allan Cumyn in the northern region, and Erin Bow in the southern region. Cumyn will read from his books, including Tilt and Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend, and will answer questions about his writing process and works. Bow plans to dive into the nitty gritty of writing a novel — exploring all the steps along the way that make it a manageable project. Each of her novels, including her Prisoners of Peace series, is meticulously researched, and she has humorous stories to tell about her methods.
Next up in British Columbia’s northern region is Melanie Florence. Her writing brings modern Indigenous affairs to a reluctant reader audience with Missing, He Who Dreams and One Night. Florence discusses the history of Indigenous people in Canada with students, delving into the long-term impact of residential schools, as well as the day-to-day issues of high suicide rates, the need for clean drinking water on reserves and the missing Indigenous women.
Last, but not least, Emil Sher is going to the Yukon. Author of Young Man With Camera, Sher uses his talents as a children’s author and a playwright to offer many presentations about the different hats he wears and the unique challenges of each project he’s worked on.
Thanks to the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week website for all the information on each author’s presentations. If you’d like more details, including who will be visiting your area during the week, visit www.bookweek.ca to find out more.
I hope both authors and audiences alike have a wonderful Book Week, and, as always, I look forward to seeing the pictures and reading the stories that come from it.
Until next month, happy reading!
In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise money for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.
Illustrator’s Studio: Ashley Barron
Ashley Barron is an illustrator who specializes in cut-paper collage. Her works include the Math in Nature series, Kyle Goes Alone and most recently, Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
How did you get started as an illustrator?
I was really drawn to art as a kid, and my parents were quick to recognize this. They enrolled me in after school art classes whenever possible and kept a healthy supply of blank paper and markers around the house … in the back seat of the car … even in our camper trailer, should I get the urge to doodle. And doodle I did.
Despite my artistic inclinations, whenever people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always dentist. I truly wanted to say artist, but I didn’t personally know any adults who made art for a living and therefore I never saw it as a real job.
That eventually changed when my family moved to Whitby in my teens. A young couple in our neighbourhood was looking for a babysitter for their 3-year-old daughter and newborn twins. My mom soon acquainted us and, as luck would have it, Chrissie and her husband, David Wysotski, both worked as freelance illustrators. They had deadlines to meet, and so I watched their little ones while they worked in their downstairs studio. They were always happy to share what they were working on (book covers, editorial pieces, posters, etc.), and it slowly dawned on me that I, too, might be fit for this sort of thing. Chrissie and David had both attended the Ontario College of Art and encouraged me to do the same. I applied, got accepted, and then spent the next four years studying illustration in Toronto.
Can you tell us about your illustration style and how it came about? What is your illustration process like?
I started experimenting with paper collage by accident in my third year at OCAD. I remember wanting to achieve a flat, even background colour on one of my assignments. I tried using acrylics and gouache, but still, my strokes were causing streaks. Out of sheer frustration, I glued a sheet of coloured paper down instead. Problem solved.
To my surprise, my teachers didn’t seem to mind this “easy fix.” In fact, they encouraged it. And so I started using paper in the foreground, too.
Ten years have passed, and I’m still using paper as my go-to medium. I’ve since welcomed paint back into the picture. Paint helps breath life into my work by adding texture, pattern, colour and depth.
Here’s my process in a not-so nutshell:
I’ll draw a pencil sketch and then scan it into my computer. Using Photoshop, I’ll then resize parts and play around with the composition. Once it’s to my liking, I’ll print this new, revised sketch out.
Next, I’ll retrace my sketch onto multiple pieces of tracing paper. Translucency is key, as I’ll be using this as my guide to cut through the desired paper underneath.
I make my cuts with exacto knives and scissors and adhere everything with glue sticks and double-sided tape.
I start with the background and then build my way up, much like a set designer would with a stage. I’ll wedge cardboard underneath the “starring actors” and foreground “props.” All of this wedging makes sense once the final piece has been scanned or photographed, because it is then that the shadows reveal their magic.
Tell us about your latest book, Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones.
Up! is my sixth book with Owlkids. Written by Susan Hughes, Up! takes the reader on a baby-carrying journey across the globe. Some scenes depict culturally specific ways of carrying babies, while others are more universal. Overall, it’s a nice mix, and one that seems realistic in this fast-paced, ever-changing globalized world we live in.
Up until this point, my work consisted mostly of plants and animals, so this was a huge jump for me. Not only was I thrust into drawing and collaging people, but, of all things, babies! (Babies have such particular proportions.) Alas, everything worked out in the end, thanks to the helpful coaching of my editor, Debbie Rogosin, and art director, Barb Kelly. I can’t thank them enough. I must have done something right, because Owlkids has me working on another baby-filled book.
Do you have any suggestions for teachers on how to incorporate your books into the curriculum? Do you have any activity suggestions or tips?
The presentations I give at schools and libraries usually involve an art activity of some sort. Kids take quickly to paper collage and, as a result, we end up having a lot of fun together.
I designed this little art activity with Owlkids to go along with the Math in Nature series.
In addition, Owlkids offers downloadable Teacher’s Guides for each of the books in the Math in Nature series, as well as Kyle Goes Alone.
Do you have any advice for aspiring children’s book illustrators?
The best advice I can give to aspiring illustrators is to make art like no one is watching. Experiment, make mistakes, try new mediums and forget about perfection. This is your time to simply find your voice and slowly build up your portfolio.
Some advice on promotion:
Upon graduating from OCAD in 2007, I sent out a whole bunch of postcards and emailers to potential clients. This method of promotion worked well at the time. It helped me land my first handful of editorial illustration jobs. (I still work with some of these original clients today!)
Of course, times have changed, and I don’t personally think emailers are the best way to go anymore. Social media platforms, like Instagram, work wonders at showcasing your art to a global audience, but never underestimate the power of meeting someone in person. It’s a far more powerful connection, I think at least.
Visit Ashley’s website for more information about her work.
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
• Mabel’s Fables Bookstore in Toronto, ON: Blackflies, written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Jay Odjick (Scholastic, 2017), Ages 3-8
Who doesn’t love a new Munsch?!? And this one is extra special! It’s essentially about a family battling the very Canadian problem of the awful, the terrible, the absolute worst summer nuisance: BLACKFLIES! It’s funny in a way that Munsch always manages to pull off brilliantly. My favourite thing about Blackflies lies in the illustration. I am ALWAYS looking for diverse books that aren’t necessarily about diversity and illustrator Jay Odjick has delivered. The family in Blackflies is First Nations and the greatest part is that in this book, that’s not the theme. They just are the family that they are — realistically representing our country, our neighbours, our friends — just as that and simply as that, without the need to label or point out diversity. They are like every family, any family and I love that! —Erin Grittani, Kids Bookseller
Mabel’s Fables Bookstore: 662 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S 2N3 www.mabelsfables.com
• McNally Robinson at Grant Park in Winnipeg, MB: The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second, 2017), Ages 12+
The tentative peace reached at the end of The Nameless City comes to a boiling point in this intense sequel by Faith Erin Hicks. Though the General of Blades sets out to establish a representative council to rule over the City, the general’s son sees the power to rule as his inherited right. Meanwhile, Kaidu and Rat stumble across an ancient power that may lead to either the City’s advancement, or destruction.
Faith Erin Hicks and colourist Jordie Bellare return to the Nameless City with astounding flourish. The Stone Heart is as engaging and energetic as its previous installment, but with an elevated sense of danger and foreboding. Between assassinations, would-be conquerors, and the ever-looming threat of war, I eagerly await the conclusion to this spectacular series. —Shanleigh Klassen, Kids Bookseller
McNally Robinson at Grant Park: 1120 Grant Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3M 2A6 www.mcnallyrobinson.com
• Type Books in Toronto, ON: The Gold Leaf by Kirsten Hall and Matt Forsythe (, 2017), Ages 4-7
Brooklyn publisher Enchanted Lion’s much anticipated modern fable is finally here. A pack of forest fauna inadvertently destroy a gold leaf, which comes apart on each page in real gold leafing. Montreal illustrator Forsythe (fresh from a stint on cult cartoon Adventure Time) creates a quiet, contemplative, and utterly lush landscape. For readers who like: contemporary classics for adults and children alike. —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: Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant (HarperTrophy, 2017), Ages 13+
Cam and his dad (a washed-up former boy band and TV sitcom star) operate a reasonably successful (albeit slightly out of the ordinary) rent-a-relative business. While doing a gig at a funeral they encounter the inimitable Albertina Legge, an elderly dame who doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. When Albertina decides to recruit Cam, along with his new client/friend Raylene for her own somewhat mysterious purposes he essentially finds himself propelled into her assorted madcap crusades and investigations. With her trademark wit, Grant has crafted a wonderfully wacky romp that will have readers of every age laughing out loud at regular intervals. Her quirky characters are vividly depicted yet multi-faceted. While this is a wickedly humourous tale, Cam is nevertheless a very relatable teen boy and both Raylene and Albertina have more going on than meets the eye. A book that will surely appeal to any and every reader. —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.