CCBC September 2017 Newsletter
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2018 Tour Roster
The next TD Canadian Children’s Book Week will take place from May 5 to 12, 2018. Thirty authors, illustrators and storytellers will visit schools, libraries and bookstores in communities across Canada to share a love of reading, stories and books. To find out who will be visiting your province or territory, visit www.bookweek.ca. Applications to host a reading/workshop open at the end of September.
CCBC Book Awards
The shortlisted books for the CCBC’s eight literary awards will be announced later this week! Keep an eye on bookcentre.ca for the latest updates.
So You Want to Get Published! Seminar
What does it take to get children’s book published? What are children’s book publishers looking for? How do booksellers pick the books they sell? Join us this November and let our panel of experts show you what you need to do to get your manuscript published!
Panelists will include industry professionals such as Kathy Lowinger, former publisher of Tundra Books; Gail Winskill, publisher of Pajama Press; Heather Kuipers, owner of Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore; Joel A. Sutherland, author; and Rebecca Bender, author & illustrator, and art director at Pajama Press.
The seminar will take place November 4, 2017 at 10:00 AM at the Northern District Library in Toronto, ON. Click here to register.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators
September Book List: Fall Reading
This month, our Library Coordinator Meghan Howe has collected a list of new and upcoming books to read this fall.
Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend
Friendship | Humour | School Life | Change | New Kid at School
Meet Ira Crumb. He’s the new kid in town. He knows what that means: when the new school year starts, he’ll play alone at recess, eat alone at lunch, and walk home alone at the end of the day. So Ira launches a whole-hearted campaign to befriend neighbourhood kids before the first day. Full of comedic touches, comics-style storytelling, and a diverse cast of quirky characters, this hilarious debut picture book puts an endearing spin on the anxiety that accompanies change and making friends.
My Wounded Island
Climate Refugees | Inuit | Arctic | Climate Change
There is an invisible creature in the waves around Sarichef. It is altering the lives of the Iñupiat people who call the island home. A young girl and her family are forced to move to the centre of the island for refuge from the rising sea level. Soon the entire village will have to relocate to the mainland. Heartbroken, the young girl and her grandfather worry: what else will be lost when they are forced to abandon their homes and their community? This title is also available in French as Mon île blesse.
Picture the Sky
Natural World | Environment | Science | Seasons | Emotions
Wherever we may be, we share the same sky. But every hour, every day, every season, whether in the city or the forest, it is different. The sky tells many stories: in the weather, in the clouds, in the stars, in the imagination. Renowned artist Barbara Reid brings her unique vision to a new topic — the sky around us. In brilliant Plasticine illustrations, she envisions the sky above and around us in all its moods. This title is also available in French as Imagine le ciel.
Seamus’s Short Story
Acceptance | Resourcefulness | Love | Humour
Seamus would give anything to be taller! One day, while playing dress-up in his mother’s closet, he finds a way to reach new heights. With his mother’s high-heeled shoes on, Seamus can suddenly reach everything that was once too high: the top-floor elevator button, the chocolate milk in the fridge, the TV remote and that horrid picture of him as a baby. But when Seamus encounters problems that can’t be solved from a great height, he has to admit that sometimes being small just isn’t so bad.
Graphic Novels | Family | Relationships | Alcoholism
In this powerful new graphic novel we meet Louis, a young boy who shuttles between his alcoholic dad and his worried mom, and who, with the help of his best friend, tries to summon up the courage to speak to his true love, Billie. A beautifully illustrated, true-to-life portrayal of just how complex family relationships can be, seen through the eyes of a wise, sensitive boy who manages to find his own way forward.
Forthcoming: October 1
The Disappearing Boy
Family | Secrets | Coming of Age
Neil MacLeod, 13, feels like a fish out of water. He’s trying to adjust to his new life in Ottawa, and his mother still refuses to tell him the truth about the father he’s never met. While visiting his grandmother, Neil stumbles across a clue to his father’s identity, and begins to unravel the mystery. When he uncovers a shocking secret, and the truth about his unconventional family sinks in, Neil decides to run away, all the way to his grandfather’s horse farm in New Brunswick.
Forthcoming: October 1
The Night Garden
Family | Friendship | Fantasy | World War II
It is World War II and Franny Whitekraft lives with her parents on a farm on Vancouver Island. Their peaceful life is interrupted when their neighbor begs Franny’s mom to watch her children while she goes to visit her husband at the military base because she suspects he’s up to no good. Soon after the children move in, letters start to arrive from their father and they don’t understand what they mean until it is too late to stop him from doing something that threatens to change their whole lives. Can the ancient, forbidden night garden that supposedly grants everyone one wish help? And if it does, at what cost?
Forthcoming: September 12
Autism Spectrum Disorder | Family | School Life | Humour | Empathy
On slug days Lauren feels slow and slimy. She feels like everyone yells at her, and that she has no friends. Today is definitely one of those days. But not every day is like this. On butterfly days Lauren makes her classmates laugh, or goes to get ice cream, or works on a special project with Mom. Author Sara Leach introduces young readers to a character with ASD who, with support and stubbornness and a flair that’s all her own, masters tricks to stay calm, to understand others’ feelings, and to let her personality shine.
Forthcoming: October 27
Young Adult Fiction
Mystery | Supernatural | Bullying | Death | Loss | Friendship
Jacob Mueller and Mike McCallum couldn’t be more different. After mystifying doctors, who finally decide that he is an elective mute, Jacob ends up in a juvenile group home. Mike, also in the group home, is scarred physically and emotionally after the murder of his younger brother. He manages to keep everyone at bay until he encounters Jacob. Mike is fascinated by Jacob, particularly the way in which he seems able to shut out the world around him. This fascination becomes tinged with a mixture of awe and horror when Jacob starts to talk, and appears to have knowledge of Mike’s past, particularly of his dead brother.
Forthcoming: September 12
Supernatural | Fantasy | Paranormal
Maggie Johnson is dealing with too much — the rising distrust and hate of the townspeople, her growing (and unpredictable) supernatural powers, and the dead, waiting to be transitioned from this side to the next. When a soul-eater steals the ghost she’s transitioning, things don’t just take a turn for the worse, they take a turn for the personal. This is the sequel to Guardian and Gatekeeper.
Forthcoming: November 30
Terminal Illnesses | Friendship | Relationships | Love | Suicide
Trevor has known since he was 10 years old that he has Huntington’s disease, but at 16 he is informed that he has one year to live. He befriends an old man named Plank, and it’s the beginning of an odd but intriguing relationship. Both Trevor and Plank decide to live by Plank’s Law, which is “just live.” This means Trevor has to act on the things on his bucket list which includes actually talking to Sara — the girl at the hospital who smiles at him. With the aid of Plank and Sara, Trevor revises his bucket list to include more important things and takes charge of his illness and his life.
Forthcoming: September 12
Dystopian Fiction | Friendship | Coming of Age | Love | Loss
For Marivic Stone, home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence. But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution.
Biometrics: Your Body and the Science of Security
Biometrics | Science | Scientific Discoveries
Biometrics — the science of using the body to identify a person — is everywhere, not just in science fiction, but in everyday life. Today, biometrics is on the cutting edge of security. This book explores nine biometrics in detail, explaining how each works, where it’s used, its pros and cons, and how it compares to other techniques. It also discusses privacy, security, why we need methods of identification, and touches on biometrics of the future.
Forthcoming: September 15
See What We Eat! A First Book of Healthy Eating
Nutrition | Farms | Science
Yulee and her four friends — Nick, Pedro, Sally and Martin — are taking a trip to her aunt’s farm to pick apples and make an apple crisp for a potluck harvest dinner. Yum! But first, Aunt Sara gives the friends a tour of the whole farm, where they learn what it means to eat balanced meals, why eating local food matters and all that goes into getting food from farm to table. Who knew there was so much to learn about what we eat? It makes everything taste better!
To Look a Nazi in the Eye
Holocaust | Biography | History | Social Justice
This is the true story of 19-year-old Jordana Lebowitz’s time at the trial of Oskar Groening, known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, a man charged with being complicit in the death of more than 300,000 Jews. A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Jordana was still not prepared for what she would see and hear. Listening to Groening’s testimony and to the Holocaust survivors who came to testify against him, Jordana came to understand that by witnessing history she gained the knowledge and legitimacy to be able to stand in the footsteps of the survivors who went before her and pass their history — her history — on to the next generation.
Forthcoming: September 12
Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People
Indigenous Peoples | History | Mythology | Ancient Civilizations | Archaeology
Unlike most books on the history of Native peoples, which begin with the arrival of Europeans in 1492, this book goes back to the Ice Age to give young readers a glimpse of what life was like pre-contact. The title, Turtle Island, refers to a Native myth that explains how the Americas were formed on the back of a turtle. Based on archaeological finds and scientific research, we now have a clearer picture of how the Indigenous peoples lived as far back as 14,000 years ago. A wide variety of topics are explored including what people ate, how they expressed themselves through art, and how they adapted to their surroundings.
Forthcoming: September 12
Author’s Corner: Nadia Mike
Nadia Mike is an educator and author. She graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina, and published her first book, an Inuktitut-language first-words board book, in 2014. Her most recent pictures books include Leah’s Mustache Party (Inhabit Media, 2016), followed by Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing (Inhabit Media, 2017). She lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as an author?
I am from Iqaluit, Nunavut. I have two daughters: Leah (ten years old) and Jaime (five years old). We like spending time outdoors, especially during nice summer days. I was born and raised in the North, and moved around a lot before settling in Iqaluit, and calling it my home.
As for how I got started, honestly, when one door opens, another opportunity presents itself. I had started my Bachelor of Education almost a decade ago, and met Neil Christopher, who was one of my professors.
A little background:
I remember being in primary school in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, and reading books that did not pertain to the North. One of my favourite books to read was Chika Chika Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. I remember being in Kindergarten or Grade 1, and always requesting to read that book with my Grade 5 reading buddy.
Now, a couple of decades later, upon entering my degree in Education, I came to realize that our education system lacked resources that were relevant to the North, to Inuit.
As I said, Neil was one of my professors and he had begun a publishing house with Louise Flaherty, who was also part of the education faculty (at the time). I had little knowledge of Inhabit Media, but I knew they were publishing books with the sole purpose of preserving Inuit culture and traditions.
During my degree, I had learned so much about the psychology of children, their development and behaviour, and the importance of exposing children to books at an early age to instill a love of reading so they become avid readers as they grow up. With that said, I was pregnant in my final year of my degree, and ordered a ton of baby board books online. That’s when I had my first book idea — an Inuktitut baby board book — and I pitched it to Neil. He liked the idea, and soon I had my first little writing contract with Inhabit Media.
I knew more books had to be made that related to the North, to Inuit, to our culture and traditions so that children would have an array of books to be able to relate to themselves. That’s when I knew I wanted to write. I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be an author.
What is your writing process like?
It really depends on the project; some require research, or interviewing people to ensure authenticity. Usually I jot down ideas pen-to-paper, try to look online to see that there isn’t something too similar out there. But I need my quiet space, some good coffee. Once I have a draft, I like to send it to a few people to look at, to get any feedback and notes on how to improve it.
What inspired you to write your latest picture book, Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing?
My latest book Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing was actually a short film that I wrote and directed, before it became a picture book. This was for a different project. Like I said, one door opens, and another opportunity presents itself.
How can educators incorporate Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing into the curriculum? Do you have any tips or activity suggestions?
Well, once my short film has finished its film festival circuit, it will be released to the public. When I was in school, I loved reading books, and then watching movies that was adapted from them.
Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing was one of those projects, so students in Nunavut can view the film after reading the book. It is definitely something for southern Canada, too, for students to learn about the North.
There aren’t extension activities made for my book; however, as an educator, we are taught to develop those activities for books that are outside of the curriculum.
I would ask students to consider questions like:
- How could Ukaliq have been more prepared to go fishing?
- How should Ukaliq have listened to Kalla?
- What would have happened if Kalla didn’t bring extra gasoline?
More detailed extension activities could be:
- Have students write an alternate ending.
- Have students write in their journal about their favourite part of the book and then discuss it with a partner or with the class.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
My next (third) picture book, The Muskox and the Caribou, will be out this fall. I am also currently pitching another picture book idea to Inhabit Media.
Amy’s Travels in Teen Fiction
In the age of smartphones, teen life has changed so considerably that a line has been drawn in contemporary YA fiction ― before and after. These days it’s difficult to write a plausible, current story without either including modern technology by embracing this new way of communication or addressing its lack.
Sometimes this lack is accounted for by the use of another genre. Examples would include fantasy stories set in other worlds or realities, and what is becoming historical fiction ― stories set during eras when people used now outdated forms of technology such as records, cassette tapes and typewriters.
In my recent reading though, there has been a disconnect. New and established authors have often experienced their teens before social media and smartphones, and their writing usually reflects that. It is only in the past few years we are starting to see books like All the Feels by Danika Stone, which thoughtfully explores the importance of internet fandom in one teen’s life, and With Malice by Eileen Cook, a story that uses multiple types of media to scrutinize the vilification of Jill Charron, the main character, in the wake of a fatal car accident.
While the inclusion of texting and social media present multiple challenges to a writer in terms of style, story flow, and basic character interaction, I came across two articles during my summer reading that point to their importance. The first is a Huffington Post article by Vivian Parkin DeRosa entitled, “I’m A Teenager and I Don’t Like Young Adult Novels. Here’s Why.”
DeRosa makes several well-considered remarks about YA books and I would recommend the article to anyone who is or wants to be a YA writer, but what caught my attention was her point that teens in YA act more like 20-year-olds. What DeRosa means is that teen characters have the skills, knowledge and confidence of someone who is older than they’re supposed to be. It’s not believable.
DeRosa mentions a dislike for character Holden Caufield because he reminded her of classmates who slacked off on school projects ― I shared a similar dislike because he seemed like a 40-year-old in a teen’s body ― too cynical to actually be 16. As a result, I didn’t really appreciate the book until I was in my twenties.
Not long after I finished reading about how YA authors make their characters too mature, I read another article that agreed with DeRosa for different reasons. The Atlantic’s September 2017 issue included an article by Jean M. Twenge asking the question, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”
A researcher of generational differences, Twenge discusses how smartphones have increased overall physical safety, but have also led to a generation that socializes over their devices instead of face-to-face. Twenge describes what she labels “iGen” (born from 1995 to 2012) “as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.” She attributes this statement to the amount of time they spend on their phones, and citing studies that have linked time spent on social media with unhappiness.
Previous milestones of teen life like learning how to drive, going on dates and attending parties don’t hold the same attraction they did for previous generations, and Twenge writes that “Eighteen-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds.”
Characters acting like 20-year-olds when readers are behaving younger than their actual ages leads to an even greater disconnect in YA books. The inclusion of a realistic portrayal of what teens face today in contemporary fiction is happening slowly, beginning with a marked increase in books about mental health disorders. Susin Nielsen’s Optimists Die First comes to mind, and although set in the late ’70s, Riel Nason’s All the Things We Leave Behind deals with isolation, grief and depression.
As future writers complete their teen years under the influence of social media and smartphones, with streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, I expect to see more of a shift in writing about teenage life in form and subject matter. With solitude, immediate gratification and virtual reality becoming so prevalent in our society, I keep going back to books like Feed by M.T. Anderson, Yesterday by C.K. Kelly Martin and The Eye of the Minds by James Dashner, wondering if that’s what our future looks like.
In 2014, Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise money for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.
Illustrator’s Studio: Kass Reich
Kass Reich is an artist and educator. She has a degree in Art Education from Concordia University and worked as an early childhood educator in Beijing for nearly three years. Her latest book is Carson Crosses Canada (Tundra Books. 2017). She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
How did you get started as an illustrator?
I started illustrating when I moved to Beijing in 2010. Despite the fact that I studied art education, it didn’t take me long to realize I would get a much better job teaching English than I would teaching art in China. So I took a job as an ESL preschool teacher. I ended up really loving my time with the little guys. I wrote and illustrated a book based entirely on what I thought my students would think was funny. After I read it to them, I put it aside without any intention of doing anything with it. Two weeks later I got an email from Orca Book publishers telling me they were interested in publishing my manuscript. Turns out my mom went ahead and submitted my book without telling me. Only then did I consider a career as an illustrator. Thanks, Mom.
Can you tell us about your illustration style and how it came about?
The only downside to being published by surprise is that I had a false sense that being published in general is an easy thing to do. It’s not. Outside of the series, I met with a lot of rejection. I realized that my portfolio looked like five different artists did it. I decided to take a step back and really refine my style. I made it my goal to produce work everyday. Social media was super helpful. I was posting work consistently and was able to see what people were really responding to.
Before I focused on illustration I spent a lot of time oil painting. I was obsessed with palette knife textures and my paintings always had a loose, raw feel to them. As an illustrator I still I celebrate painterly textures. I love illustration that really feels like it was done by hand. Whether its graphite or gouache, I make sure to emphasize the charming, hand-done paint strokes and gesture lines.
Tell us about your latest book, Carson Crosses Canada. What was the process of illustrating it like?
Carson Crosses Canada was so much fun to work on. Dogs and foliage are two of my favourite things to draw and this book has a healthy amount of both. I painted each page with gouache and added coloured pencil detail on top. I love gouache because it dries completely mat which is great for layering with dry mediums. I scanned each page into Photoshop and added layers of other hand painted textures to add depth. It’s lots of work but I think the extra steps are always worth it.
You’ve written and illustrated a series of books for smaller children featuring adorable hamsters. What inspired the series? Will there be more?
It was definitely my preschool class that inspired the silly hamsters. I love the kind of ridiculous things that kids find funny. There are no plans for another hamster book; the series feels complete with four.
You have a background in art education. Do you have any activity suggestions or tips for teachers who want to use Carson Crosses Canada or your Hamster series in the classroom?
I think Carson Crosses Canada has a lot of potential as a learning tool in the classroom. It’s a great way to introduce Canadian geography in a super-playful way. As an art teacher I think it would be a lot of fun creating a lesson plan inspired by the map of Canada on the endpapers. I would have a discussion with the students about illustrated maps and what makes them interesting. They could create their own based on an imaginary country or work on a massive collaborative illustrated map based on a place they happen to be studying at the time.
What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?
I’ve recently finished two books that will hit bookshelves in 2018. The first one is called Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest, written by Sarah Hampson and published by Kids Can Press. I love this book, can’t wait to see the final proofs. The second is another one with Tundra Books and is written by Anna Humphrey. This one features a talking bat. I’m pretty much obsessed with his character. It took me a while to design the character, because this little bat is just bursting with personality and I had to make sure he had the right look to go with it. I have two other book projects lined up to keep me busy, I also plan on teaching a few art classes here and there in the upcoming school year.
Images courtesy of Kass Reich. Find out more about her work at www.kassreich.com.
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: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli (HarperCollins, 2017), Ages 13 and up
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness — and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari — a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Recommended by Erin Grittani, Kids Bookseller
Mabel’s Fables Bookstore: 662 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S 2N3 www.mabelsfables.com
• Type Books in Toronto, ON: Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki and Brooke Allen (Amulet Books, 2017), Ages 7 to 14
Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin — Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley — love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.
Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they’ve ever seen, things don’t go quite as planned. For one, they didn’t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.
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: Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow by Michelle Cuevas and Sydney Smith (Dial, 2017), Ages 4 to 7
A beautifully illustrated tale of a playful shadow who breaks free from his quiet, timid boy to pursue his dreams. His adventurous spirit inspires other shadows to try to realize their own dreams. But when Smoot begins to think that it might be time to rein in all this unbounded enthusiasm and bring the shadows and their people back together again, he must then come up with just the right plan to make this happen. Smith’s boldly-outlined, expressive illustrations lend light and life to Cuevas’s delicate and imaginative tale. —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.