May 2019


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
May Reading List: Book Week Reading
Author Corner: Naseem Hrab
YA Write with Amy Mathers
Illustrator’s Studio: Tony Cliff
Booksellers’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

We Want You To Read Canadian During Book Week!

Since 1977, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre has organized Canadian Children’s Book Week, a nationwide celebration of Canadian books for young people and the creators who make these books possible. This year, we’re asking for your help in the celebration. From May 4-11, we are calling on every Canadian who loves children’s books to be a part of this nationwide celebration. During Book Week, take to social media and share which Canadian children’s book you’re reading or post an old favourite. Use the hashtag #TDBookWeek and #ChooseCanadianBooks, tagging @KidsBookCentre. Photos, videos, blog posts: we want you to get the word out any way you can and get as many people as you can to take part as well.

We Want You To Hear From You!

Are you a non-member of the CCBC? The Canadian Children’s Book Centre wants to hear from you! We are undertaking an evaluation of our membership program and would be grateful for your input to help us highlight our strengths and identify areas where we can serve you better. Your voice is important as we shape a strong future for the CCBC.  Please take a few minutes to answer these six questions by May 27th. The CCBC will share a summary of the results online once the survey results are compiled and analyzed.

Fill out the survey here.

Attend Our Get Published Seminar!

Get insight. Get writing advice. Get Published.

Attend our seminar on May 25th in Toronto to learn from the experts on how to take your children’s book from dream to reality.

Our panel of industry professionals includes award-winning authors Melanie Florence and Cary Fagan, as well as bookseller Maria Martella (Tinlids) and publishers Lynne Missen (Publishing Director, Fiction, at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers) and Semareh Al-Hillal (Publisher, Groundwood Books).

Learn more here!

Our PayPal is currently out of service, so please call Meghan at 416.975.0010 ext. 222 to reserve your spot!

Buy Your Book Week Poster Now!

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is a little over a month away and we couldn’t be more excited! This year’s tour includes 28 authors, illustrators and storytellers who will travel across Canada and read to children in libraries, classrooms and community centres. This year’s theme is Readers Are Dreamers and the amazing poster was created by illustrator Elly MacKay. We’re in love with the way Elly perfectly captured the dreamlike world of reading through her paper art. The poster is available now: please call Meghan at 416.975.0010 ext. 222 to buy yours today!

Stay up to date with Book Week 2019 by checking!

Attend the Official Telling Tales Launch

Telling Tales is a Canadian, not-for-profit organization committed to inspiring a love of reading and raising awareness of the importance of literacy in our communities. They do this by bringing Canadian authors, illustrators, musicians and storytellers together with their audiences: our children. Attend their official 2019 launch in Hamilton on May 1.

Learn more here!

Membership May

This month the CCBC is carrying out a membership campaign to spread the word about who we are and what we do. If you enjoy our programs and publications, consider becoming a member today!

The Essential Guide to Today’s Book Market Available Now!

What sub-genre saw the most growth between 2017 and 2018? It was Fiction / Asian American, which increased 384% in print unit sales largely thanks to Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems.

More insights like this, including other top titles and categories that saw significant increases over 2017, can be found in the 2018 edition of BookNet Canada’s annual The Canadian Book Market report.

Check it out here!

Visit the CCBC’s Social Justice and Diversity Book Bank

Be sure to visit our newest book bank, highlighting Canadian titles that focus on diversity, social justice and activism. We believe that there is a dire need for more diverse stories in Canadian children’s literature and our new book bank is a way for us to support these stories while providing a tool to help readers have quick and easy access to hundreds of titles.

This new book bank is perfect for teachers, librarians and parents to use in finding great Canadian content.

Visit the book bank here!

Spring Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News Available Now

The spring issue of Canadian Children’s Book News is available now! This special Teen Takeover issue features reviews and opinion pieces by teenagers all across Canada, this issue is all about teens and what they read! You’ll find reviews and articles by Canadian teens, plus articles featuring Susin Nielsen, Kevin Sylvester, Amy Mathers, Elly MacKay and Kari Maaren!

Buy yours today!

Attend FOLD (Festival of Literacy Diversity)

The 2019 The Festival of Literary Diversity is May 2-5. Taking place in Brampton, this year’s festival includes authors S.K. Ali, Tanaz Bhathena, Vivek Shraya, Ben Philippe and more!

Space is limited, so register early.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: CANSCAIP’s Writing for Children Competition

CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) welcomes entries by unpublished writers for the 22nd annual Writing for Children Competition. The deadline for entries is May 31, 2019. Five writers will receive $500 for the winning entry of a Picture Book, Early Reader, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, or Young Adult. Two finalists for each of these categories will also be selected. Find out more here!

Attend a David Booth Tribute Event

For over 40 years, Professor Emeritus David Booth, was involved in education as a classroom teacher, arts consultant, professor, researcher, speaker and author. He has authored many teacher reference books and textbooks in several areas of curriculum development: the arts, drama and theatre, early literacy, reading, writing, speaking and listening, and media and recently penned a yummy poetry collection for children called Head to Toe Spaghetti: Poems That Tickle Your Lips and Tangle Your Tongue! Sadly, David passed away on December 22, 2018. As a tribute to his incredible legacy, the Ontario Literacy Association of Niagara will be hosting an after school event for educators, friends and colleagues of David Booth at the Trius Winery in the beautiful Niagara region. The event will be an opportunity for fellow educators to consider some of David’s great literacy suggestions and lessons learned .A friend of David’s and fellow professor, Larry Swartz, will share some of the ways we were influenced by David and how he contributed to students developing their love of reading.

Event title: “Lessons Learned from David Booth”

Date and Time: Wednesday, May 8th; 5pm-7pm

Location: Trius Winery, 1249 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara on the Lake, ON

Attend Montreal YA Fest!

MTL YA FEST! is the first young adult book festival in Montreal. The event’s goal is to connect teens with their favourite authors in a fun environment. This includes panel talks, discussions, games and more! This year’s festival takes place at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal on May 26, 2019. Check out the full lineup here.

Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators

Every Student Can Be a Poet (Edutopia)

Experts Say Story Time Can Help Children Recover From Trauma (Mentalfloss)

WATCH: Celebrating Lives of Music and Song with Sharon and Bram (The Agenda)

2019 Green Earth Book Award Winners Announced

Sure, you could buy that book online for $15. But here’s what that book really costs (Chicago Tribune)

WATCH: Baby’s first library isn’t complete without these new classics (The Loop)

How Jay Odjick illustrated the Robert Munsch picture book Bear for Breakfast (CBC)

Sask. and Canadian governments invest $2M into literacy initiatives (Global News)

10 Ways to Support Your Library (Bookish)

How to make sure your kids aren’t just reading, but reading well (Aleteia)

33 Quiet YA Books that Need to Be on Your Radar Now (Barnes & Noble)

Kids Whose Parents Read to Them Hear Up to 1.4 Million More Words (Mentalfloss)

Why old-school printed books may be better than e-books for teaching kids to read (CBC)


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May Reading List: TD Book Week

Our reading list this month is all TD Canadian Children’s Book Week Here are books by the 2019 touring creators to be read in the classroom, in libraries or at home.

Read the full list here.

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Author’s Corner: Naseem Hrab

Naseem Hrab is a writer, funny (enough) person and maker of ice cream. She is the author of the funny (enough) picture books Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings, illustrated by Josh Holinaty (Owlkids). She is also the author of the forthcoming (but not funny) picture book Weekend Dad, illustrated by Frank Viva (Groundwood). When she’s not writing and performing, Naseem works in children’s publishing. She previously worked as the librarian at the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and currently works as the Associate Publisher, Creative at Kids Can Press. Naseem lives in Toronto with her pet fish, Ian.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an as an author?

I’m the author of two picture books: Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings, illustrated by the amazing Josh Holinaty and published by Owlkids Books. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a writer whether it was a poet, a playwright or a screenwriter. It wasn’t until I started working in marketing at a children’s book publishing company that I actually started to see that it was possible to be an author. After that, I thought about writing for another ten years before actually forming a writing group and sitting down to write picture book.

We love the Ira Crumb books! Where did the inspiration for the character come from?

The inspiration for Ira came from my own neuroses. Ira has a big personality, big feelings and big troubles making friends … and he thinks he’s really funny. I can totally relate to him!

What advice would you have for educators and librarians who want to use your books in schools?

I think both books are great tools for teaching kids about friendships and feelings in a completely accessible and hilarious way. For example, Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings can help start discussions about what it means to express your emotions and be empathetic towards others … and includes a really fancy fart joke. I realize that some educators and librarians are not entirely comfortable reading comics-style books out loud (or fart jokes) and my advice is to do silly voices and have fun!

You are one of the touring creators for the 2019 TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. What are you most looking forward to and is there anything you’re nervous about?

I’m most looking forward to meeting kids in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet and, hopefully, laughing together! I’m nervous about whether or not the kids will enjoy my presentations or like the Ira books!

What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?

I have a picture book coming out in Spring 2020 called Weekend Dad. It’s illustrated by Frank Viva and will be published by Groundwood Books. It tells the story of a little boy visiting his dad’s new apartment after his parents get separated and it features a letter my dad wrote to me when I was nine-years-old. I think it will make readers feel all the feels. I’m also working on a picture book about death because I guess I’m moving away from fart jokes for now … BUT NOT FOREVER!

Find out more about Naseem on her website at

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YA Write with Amy Mathers



In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise funds to create the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.

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Illustrator’s Studio: Tony Cliff

Tony Cliff is the author of DELILAH DIRK AND THE PILLARS OF HERCULES, available August 2018. It is the third in the critically-acclaimed DELILAH DIRK series of books. A New York Times Bestselling author and nominee for Shuster, Harvey, and Eisner awards, Tony was raised in and currently lives in Vancouver, BC, where he is a thirteen-year veteran of that city’s animation industry.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an as an author and illustrator?
I think I was lucky to have a lot of really great teachers throughout elementary and high school, all who encouraged creativity with their time and resources. Mom and dad always put me in drawing classes, too, and now I don’t remember whose idea that was, nor whether I kept drawing because I was good at it or was good at drawing because I kept at it. Either way, I did, and in my mid-20s got involved with the FLIGHT comics community, with Kazu Kibuishi, Kean Soo, Raina Telgemeier, and many others. And, you know, peer pressure is what it is, so here we are.

Where did the inspiration for the Delilah Dirk series come from?
From a million different things, but mostly I wanted to make something that would make me (and readers) feel the way I felt watching the Indiana Jones movies when I was younger. Plus, I’d been gorging myself on Napoleonic War fiction (the Sharpe and Hornblower series, specifically), and that setting was a sandbox I wanted to play around in, so that’s where DD is set.

What comics/graphic novels would you recommend to young people who have never read anything from the genre?
It’s important for readers to think of comics and graphic novels as a medium, not a genre. Romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and western are all genres. Each of those genres of stories can be told in the pages of a comic book. Additionally, it’s not necessary to distinguish between comics and graphic novels. All graphic novels are comic books, but not all comic books are graphic novels. The only difference is that graphic novels are thicker, generally. Some people seem caught up in these labels or trappings as if they’re meaningful, but they’re not. Graphic novels, comics, novel-novels, “real” books, and so on — they exist at all points on the spectrum of literary quality, regardless of how they present themselves superficially.

The best person to recommend comics to a reader is a librarian. Each reader should be able to go to a librarian and say, “here is what I have been enjoying“—whether that is a Raina Telgemeier comic, the latest Battle Royale game, the Hottest New Anime, the fourteenth Avengers movie, a John le Carre novel, or War & Peace—and, after a follow-up question or two, the librarian will hopefully direct them toward some new work to enjoy. My recommendation to young readers is to make friends with their librarians and be open-minded. There’s a comic for every taste.
(And all young readers must read Calvin & Hobbes, regardless.)

We know that you worked on My Little Pony: The Movie. What was it like working on a film like that and how did it help you grow as an artist and a storyteller?
There’s a lot of crossover in the skills required to work in animation and comic books. They both require strong draftsmanship and an understanding of how to convey story through images. Think about a professional plumber. Sometimes someone’s building a big commercial building and they need a commercial plumber. Probably loads of them. Someone building a small house for themselves needs a plumber, too, because plumbing is an important part of any human structure. Working in feature or TV animation is like working on a big commercial building: there are lots of people involved. Everyone fills their own role. Many only ever work on commercial projects. Meanwhile, making my own graphic novel is like designing and building my own house.

The major difference is the work environment. In an animation studio, you get to joke around with and learn from your co-workers. I was doing visual development on MLP and was working with a really skilled group of artists. It was so instructive to go around and look at other peoples’ work and ask, “how’d you do that?” and push yourself to stay competitive. Working alone, the challenges and learning have to be more self-motivated, but regardless, I’ve found the growth experience to be similar: each project teaches you something new and offers a few more rungs on the skill ladder.

You are one of the touring creators for the 2019 TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. What are you most looking forward to and is there anything you’re nervous about?
Ha ha, I’m not a great traveller, and I don’t sleep well the first night in a new place, so I am nervous about going without sleep for an entire week. I’m also going straight from Book Week travelling into exhibiting at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, so I’m wondering how much of that I’ll be mentally present for. As context, comic conventions are exhausting enough on their own, so I’m looking forward to aging ten years over the course of a week.
Otherwise, I am generally looking forward to it. Visiting schools, talking to kids, there’s always something surprising and delightful that pops up, and you never know what it’ll be. That’s the fun part. The kids are always so much brighter and more engaged than adults would have you believe. I always leave schools feeling pretty optimistic about life.

What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?
I’ll have a kids’ hunt-and-seek book coming out called Let’s Get Sleepy, and I’m working on a few other projects that I can’t talk about. And the fourth Delilah Dirk book is under way, too. It’ll take us back to DD’s youth, pitting her against a ferocious pirate foe, and making it explicit what sort of push back a young English girl might have faced if she wanted to run around and swing swords in the 1800s. You know, for the one or two twelve-year-old readers out there who haven’t read Sense and Sensibility yet.

Find out more about Tony and his work at

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Booksellers’ Picks

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

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: She Dreams of Sable Island written and illustrated by Briana Corr Scott (Nimbus Publishing, 2019), Ages 3-7

Beloved Nova Scotian artist Briana Corr Scott has crafted a beautiful ode to Sable Island in her exquisitely-illustrated picture book with poetry that is both lilting and lovely.  The book has a wistful, haunting feel and illustrations that are light-infused and delicate and dreamy.  As her young protagonist visits Sable Island in her dreams, she (and young readers) get to explore the flora and fauna of this very special wilderness environment, including the wild horses that make their home there.  She thoughtfully depicts, in words and images, the fragile beauty of this rugged, unspoiled landscape.  She also provides several pages of information about Sable Island and its plants and animals.  Renowned for her intricate paper doll creations, Briana’s debut picture book comes with its own charming paper doll!—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

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

McNally Robinson in Winnipeg, MB: Fake Blood written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers , 2018), Ages 10 and up

Fake Blood is a fun graphic novel, for fans of vampires and humourous storylines. It’s about a boy, AJ who is just starting middle school when he develops a crush on a girl who seems to obsess over vampires. So, AJ decides that pretending to be one is his best chance with her, only to discover that his crush is actually a vampire hunter. Illustrated with fun colours and drawings, Whitney Gardner does a phenomenal job at showcasing the story. —Sabrina, bookseller at McNally Robinson

McNally Robinson at Grant Park: 1120 Grant Ave., Unit 4000, Winnipeg, MB R3M 2A6

Mabel’s Fables in Toronto, ON: Evie and the Truth About Witches by John Martz (Koyama Press, 2018), Ages 5-10

Evie is a little girl with poofy red hair and a hankering for something scary. When she wanders into the local bookstore in search of something bone-chillingly good, she finds just the book: The Truth about Witches. The brave young girl cracks open her new book that night,  only to be greeted with this warning: do not read the last page out loud! Ah, but that is just what she is here for, and so to the last page goes, uttering the forbidden words. Nothing. Evie falls asleep, but soon she awakens to the misty red cloud forming at the foot of her bed, and from it, a shadow—a witch! The old lady takes Evie into the land of witches, where the young girl learns the truths and untruths about these ancient, long misunderstood figures, including that no, they do not eat children—yuck!—and they are not evil. After her fill of adventure, Evie declares her readiness for home. But the witches begin then to glance nervously at one another, worry on their faces. Oh, dear. Evie will get just the fright she has been seeking all along, for as she learns, she can never go home again.

This tiny book will tingle with magic in your hands. Evie and the Truth About Witches screams sequel, perhaps even a seriesIts eye-popping red and black illustrations set the tone for a spritely, spine-tingling tale, albeit one that isn’t too scary for young readers. It features both text and comics. The delightful range of visual sequences propel the plot forward and encompass the storyline with succinct and entertaining efficiency. This perfect early novel eases youngsters into reading with confidence. Hand-drawn illustrations, humour and a little of palatable fright make for a fun and magical adventure, one that will have you revisiting the old adage: be careful what you wish for.  — Nicole, Bookseller

Mabel’s Fables: 662 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2N3

If your independent bookstore would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.

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Staff Pick

My Cat Looks Like My Dad by Thao Lam (Owlkids, 2019), Ages 3-7

Thao Lam’s newest is an adorable picture book about family of all kinds. Using paper collage art, the art style simultaneously is unique to Thao’s other books (Skunk on a StringWallpaper) while still utilizing her signature style. Like her other books, My Cat Looks Like My Dad tells an amazing story in a simple way. I especially like the unexpected ending, not to mention the titular cat being the cutest and most realistic feline in modern literature, probably. — Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing and Website Coordinator

Next Month

Look for our June newsletter early next month, which will be a celebration of Indigenous Heritage Month! Look forward to interviews with author Monique Gray Smith and illustrator Julie Flett!

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