News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Join Us For I Read Canadian Day Tomorrow—November 2!
I READ CANADIAN DAY takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, November 2! Join us and celebrate the breadth and diversity of our Canadian identity through our books for young readers, as well as Canada’s authors and illustrators. Schools, libraries, and families nationwide are encouraged to sign up and join the rest of Canada in reading, being read to, or listening to a Canadian book for 15 minutes. You are also invited to attend our two free virtual presentations, featuring over 25 Canadian authors and illustrators, including Michael Martchenko, Ruth Ohi and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Kenneth Oppel, Teresa Toten, David Alexander Robertson, and more. For Kindergarten-Grade 4 students, register here. For Grades 5-10, sign up here.
Remember, you can help promote reading Canadian all year round. Buy or borrow Canadian books. Share I Read Canadian Day with your colleagues, schools, teachers, librarians, friends, family, and bookstores. Tag #IReadCanadian in your posts and reposts. It’s a Canada-wide party, and everyone is invited. Spread the word! Learn more at ireadcanadian.com/day and help us make this day a success!
Meet the finalists of the 2022 Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse!
Communication-Jeunesse (CJ) and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) recently announced the finalists for the 2022 Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. The winning title will receive $50,000. The nominated titles represent the remarkable quality of work by Canadian creators and have made a valuable contribution to French-language Canadian children’s literature. The winner will be announced on November 15. Learn more.
Join Us for a Free Webinar: Accessible Books in the Classroom & Library
Are you interested in bringing more accessible Canadian children’s books into your classroom or library? Do you have students, patrons, or children in your life with a print disability? Have you struggled to find and access books in different formats? Join us for a free interactive presentation on November 22, 2022 from librarians, publishers, creators of accessible books, and experts from stakeholder organizations. Learn about the latest developments in accessible books. Accessibility note: Captioning, ASL interpretation, and a transcript will be provided. This event is brought to you by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Bibliovideo. Register here.
FOLD Kids Book Fest (November 8-12, 2022)
The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) launched in May 2016 and expanded to include a book festival exclusively celebrating underrepresented children’s authors, illustrators, and storytellers in 2019. For the past two years, the FOLD Kids Book Fest has been held entirely online. This year, the new multi-modal event will include over 20 events from November 8-12. The festival will host live virtual events their Virtual Clubhouse, with live in-person events taking place at the Brampton Civic Centre from November 10-12. All virtual events will be available to watch and re-watch until December 12, 2022. Register here.
The Canada Council for the Arts Reveals the Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalists
The Canada Council for the Arts recently announced the Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists! The winners for 2022 will be announced on ggbooks.ca on November 16. Congratulations to all the English- and French-language finalists, especially in the children’s/youth categories! Learn more.
Congratulations to the 2023 Forest of Reading® Nominees!
The Forest of Reading®, the largest recreational reading program in Canada, recently announced the English- and French-language nominees for their 2023 awards. And the best part? Young people get to pick the winner! Learn more.
White Ravens 2022 Selections Announced!
The White Ravens is an annual catalogue featuring new and notable titles in children’s and young adult literature from around the world. Seven Canadian titles—four in English and three in French—were honoured this year! Learn more.
2022 Janet Savage Blachford Prize Shortlisted Books Announced!
The Quebec Writers’ Federation recently revealed the shortlists for the 2022 QWF Literary Awards. The winners will be announced on November 14. Congratulations to this year’s finalists in the youth category! Learn more.
Fast Friends TD Grade One Book Giveaway
Fast Friends, written by Heather M. O’Connor, illustrated by Claudia Dávila, and published by Scholastic Canada, is currently being distributed to over 550,000 Grade 1 students through the TD Grade One Book Giveaway. Translated into French by Isabelle Allard, francophone Canadians and French immersion students across Canada are receiving copies of Amis instantanés, published by Éditions Scholastic.
Click here for classroom activities, including colouring pages, word searches, and body language exercises. Resources are also available regarding the importance of inclusivity, so check out our booklist featuring characters with various physical, intellectual, and/or cognitive capabilities.
Links We Love
Articles of interest to educators and parents
Heather M. O’Connor is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer based in Peterborough, Ontario. Her debut picture book Fast Friends, published by Scholastic Canada, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, and is this year’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway. Young readers can continue reading about Suze and Tyson in the sequel, Friends Find a Way, which comes out in 2023. Heather has also written two picture books about the Ojibwe Horse with Darcy Whitecrow. Runs With The Stars/Wiijibibamatoon-Anangoonan was published in 2022 by Second Story Press. It’s available in English and English/Ojibwe. Across The Ice: How We Saved The Ojibwe Horse will be published by Candlewick Press in 2025.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as an author?
Way back in 2003, a teacher friend was writing for Nelson Canada—they were creating lots of little graded reading level books for the new curriculum. I’d done some storytelling in her class, and she encouraged me to apply. I ended up writing three. I’d always loved to mess around with words, but I never dreamed someone would pay me to do it.
I joined a writing association and started learning about the craft. Before long, I was writing short stories and working on a novel. Today, I write full-time!
As an author, where do you draw inspiration from?
That’s a tough question. Ideas come from everywhere—personal experiences, true stories, writing prompts, news items. Fast Friends came from an anecdote I liked to share about my daughter and her friends. I have a very curious mind—I’m always asking “what if?” If I have time to grab a pencil and sit down, a story often follows close behind.
In your book Fast Friends, you write a lot about the importance of inclusion and acceptance of others. How important is that theme in your creative process?
I think that idea makes its way into almost everything I write. We’re all seeking inclusion and acceptance, even the most independent of us. Most people have felt left out at some point. It’s pretty universal. I think we crave somewhere to belong and someone to belong to. Sure, we want to go on adventures and explore the darkness, but we long to come back and sit around the fire, too. I like to show that process.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m juggling a bunch of picture book manuscripts, including a few more Suze and Tyson adventures. I love writing about those two.
Two stories about lost dogs are in revisions, and one about a lost horse is just starting to kick around in my imagination. I’m also working on a spy novel set at Parkwood Estate in Oshawa during the Second World War. The research has been fascinating. Parkwood Estate was once the home of auto tycoon Sam McLaughlin. I’m learning about the first blood donor clinics, high society life in Toronto, and the life of a teenage housemaid.
Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
A brand-new story about Suze and Tyson comes out next fall. Friends Find a Way is set at the zoo and our gal Suze is the hero! The two friends get separated from the rest of the class, so Suze shows Tyson how to find them.
And in 2025, Candlewick Press is publishing Across the Ice: How We Saved the Ojibwe Horse, my second collaboration with Darcy Whitecrow. It’s the true story of how four people saved the Ojibwe Horse breed. Caretakers of the breed call this incident “the heist across the ice” because they smuggled the last four mares across the Canada – U.S. border in the middle of winter.
Darcy and I are thrilled to be teaming up with super-talented Canadian illustrator Natasha Donovan (The Mothers of Xsan picture book series.) I love her work.
Learn more about Heather by visiting her website at heathermoconnor.com.
November Reading List: Canadian Reads for #IReadCanadian Day
Our November newsletter is all about I Read Canadian books! Get young readers excited about reading books by Canadian authors and illustrators with this list—great for parents, librarians, and teachers to use.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress
Written by Christine Baldacchino
Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Groundwood Books, 2014
IL: Ages 3-8 RL: Grades 2-3
Morris loves using his imagination and he dreams about having space adventures. His favourite place in his classroom is the dress-up centre—because he loves wearing the tangerine dress! But the children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses are for girls, astronauts don’t wear dresses! Warm, dreamy illustrations perfectly capture Morris’s vulnerability and the vibrancy of his imagination. This is a sweetly told story about the courage and creativity it takes to be different.
They Say Blue
Written and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Groundwood Books, 2018
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-2
This book follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know—she hasn’t seen one.
On the Trapline
Written by David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
Tundra Books, 2021
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3
A boy and his Moshom (grandpa) take a trip together into the Northern wilderness, to the trapline where his Moshom grew up. There, the two fish in the lake and pick berries to eat. Moshom points out places he remembers and tells his grandson what it was like to live on the trapline. A heartfelt story about intergenerational connection.
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
Written and illustrated by Danielle Daniel
Groundwood Books, 2015
IL: Ages 5-8 RL: Grades 1-2
In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, children—wearing masks representing their chosen animal—explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver, or moose. The author’s note explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they also act as animal guides, instructing and protecting children as they navigate their physical and spiritual life.
Junior & Intermediate Fiction
We Are All Made of Molecules
Written by Susin Nielsen
Tundra Books, 2015
IL: Ages 11 and up RL: Grades 7-8
Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially “ungifted.” Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the “It” girl of Grade 9, but her marks stink. When Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom, their worlds collide. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they—like the rest of us—are all made of molecules.
The Night Gardener
Written by Jonathan Auxier
Puffin Canada, 2014
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6
Orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip, fleeing the potato famine, arrive at Windsor estate to work as servants at the creepy, crumbling English manor house that is entwined with a massive, sinister tree. Although warned about the evil of the place, Molly and Kip are unprepared for the malevolence they find within. The terrible secrets of the cursed home will change their lives forever.
Summer Days, Starry Nights
Written by Vikki VanSickle
Scholastic Canada, 2013
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 4-5
Reenie Starr loves summers at her family’s resort, but as a teenager she feels like she’s living in a country where people speak a different language. When Gwendolyn Cates arrives to teach dance at the resort, Reenie comes to realize that there is more to life than fishing, campfires, and climbing trees. She also discovers that there’s more to being a teenager than just wearing cool clothes and knowing the right songs.
Young Adult Fiction
The Art of Getting Stared At
Written by Laura Langston
Razorbill Canada, 2014
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 6-7
Sixteen-year-old Sloane is given an incredible opportunity—the chance for a film school scholarship. Then she discovers a bald spot on her head and is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has no cure and no definitive outcome. Determined to produce her video and keep her condition secret, Sloane is forced to make the most difficult choice of her life.
The Truth Commission
Written by Susan Juby
Razorbill Canada, 2015
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 7-8
Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. Except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil, juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design—they are the Truth Commission. But Normandy’s passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed.
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Written by Teresa Toten
Doubleday Canada, 2013
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grade 6
When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. But when you’re almost fifteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love.
90 Days of Different
Written by Eric Walters
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7
When Sophie’s boyfriend breaks up with her because she is too predictable and too boring, her best friend, Ella, comes up with a plan to help Sophie find her spontaneous side. In the 90 days before the start of university, Sophie will do amazing, new, different and sometimes scary things. Can 90 days of different create a different life?
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada, 2017
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9
It’s Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a shuttered, lonely life with her negligent mother, who is a hoarder. One day, Bun’s mother tells her to leave, so she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother’s house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family—a family of friends who care.
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Annick Press, 2017
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grade 8
What is it like to be an Indigenous woman or girl today? In this compelling collection of art, essays, poems, and interviews, more than fifty contemporary artists come together to shatter stereotypes, reveal hurt from the past, and celebrate hope for the future. This compilation showcases the strength, diversity, and talent of Native American girls and women.
Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Achievement
Written by Lindsay Ruck
Illustrated by James Bentley
Nimbus Publishing, 2021
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4
This book features over fifty amazing Black Canadians from the Atlantic provinces, sharing their incredible stories and accomplishments, both past and present: from boxer George Dixon, inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, to Viola Desmond, who inspired many by challenging racist policies all the way to the Supreme Court, and Donald Oliver, the first Black Nova Scotian senator.
Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum
Written by Michael McCreary
Annick Press, 2019
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 8-9
Stand-up comic Michael McCreary has been told by more than a few well-meaning folks that he doesn’t “look” autistic. Or that comedy and autism don’t really go together. But autism doesn’t have a “look”—or a limit. This unique and hilarious #OwnVoices memoir breaks down what it’s like to live with autism for readers on and off the spectrum.
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. Find an independent bookseller here.
Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:
Let The Monster Out by Chad Lucas (Amulet Books, 2022);
ISBN 978-1-41975126-4; Ages 10-14
Bones Malone is the new kid in town…in a small town with very few other Black families. Kyle Specks is used to feeling different and has long suspected that he is on the autism spectrum, although his parents don’t want him to be tested. Baseball brings these two boys—each bearing their own burdens and insecurities and fears—together. But as they each begin to notice suspicious changes in the adults around them, they become determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on in their town. Chad Lucas’ latest novel for young readers is a thrilling mystery that is filled with earnest, likeable, and highly relatable characters. The relationships that form the heart of this story are nuanced and realistic, and the story touches on many important themes with sensitivity and care.
—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager
Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 6013 Shirley St, Halifax, NS B3H 2M9 woozles.com
Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.
Forever Truffle by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Susan Ouriou (Groundwood Books, 2022); ISBN 978-1-77306070-5; Ages 7–10
The sweetly blithe little brother from Louis Undercover takes centre stage in Forever Truffle. Told in three interlinked stories, the red-headed dreamer gets a cool, jet-black leather biker jacket (“Just like Elvis’. Just like Joan Jett’s”) for his birthday and forms an air-guitar band called The Man-Eating Plants with his pals. When a girl named Nina makes Truffle weak in the knees (he loves her “even more than the Beatles”), he doesn’t know how to “get his heart to talk.” With utmost authenticity and charming wit, Truffle tries to make sense of his world: “Sometimes you can be so very glad you can feel kinda sad.” I can’t stop singing the praises of this note-perfect graphic novel. Encore!
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
See you in December for our next issue!