CCBC February 2015 Newsletter: Freedom to Read Week


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
February Book List: Freedom to Read Week
Freedom to Read Week: Interview with Anne McClelland
Out Now: Winter 2015 Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News
Interview with Illustrator Sydney Smith
Next Month

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Teachers, we would love to get your feedback on our History Book Bank! Let us know what you think by filling out this survey by Monday, February 23, and your classroom will be entered in a draw for a set of Canadian children’s history books!

Book Week materials are now available for purchase on our Book Week website. Get bookmarks and posters for your classroom, featuring beautiful artwork from Julie Flett.

The Winter 2015 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News is out now! Click here for more details.

We will be at the Reading For The Love Of It Conference on February 9 and 10 — if you’re planning on attending, don’t forget to stop by our booth (#614)!

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February Book List: Freedom to Read Week

by Emma Sakamoto

Freedom to Read Week runs from February 22-28 this year. This is the perfect time to talk and read about intellectual freedom. To celebrate, we’ve gathered a list of Canadian books that have been challenged or banned in the past, but that we’re glad to be able to read. A lot of these titles have gone on to become classics.

Click on each title to see why it was challenged. Please note that You Can’t Read This by Val Ross was not a challenged book, but was included because it discusses censorship.

Picture Books

Asha’s Mums
Written by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse
Illustrated by Dawn Lee
Women’s Press Literary, 1990
ISBN: 978-0-88961-143-6
IL: Ages 4-7  RL: Grades 2-3
Asha is excited about the upcoming school trip to the Science Centre. However, when her teacher Ms. Samuels tells her that her permission form is filled out incorrectly, she faces not being able to go on the trip. When Asha explains that both of her mums signed the form, Ms. Samuels argues that “you can’t have two mums.”
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Matthew and the Midnight Flood
Written by Allen Morgan
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1998
ISBN: 978-0-77375-941-1
IL: Ages 4-8  RL: Grade 3
A plumber saves the city from disaster after Matthew awakes at midnight to find water right up to his windowsill!
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Thomas’ Snowsuit
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Annick Press, 2007 (© 1985)
ISBN: 978-1-55451-115-0
IL: Ages 4-7  RL: Grades 2-4
Thomas refuses to wear his new snowsuit despite the pleas of his mother, his teacher, and even his principal. When everyone’s best efforts lead only to comedic chaos, they all agree it’s best to let Thomas suit himself.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Waiting Dog
Written by Carolyn Beck
Illustrated by Andrea Beck
Kids Can Press, 2003
ISBN: 978-1-55337-006-2
IL: Ages 8 and up  RL: Grades 3-4
With gruesomely delicious rhymes and wickedly joyful illustrations, this unique tale invites readers to share in a dog’s ultimate fantasy as it eagerly anticipates the delivery of the daily mail — and it isn’t the letters this dog is interested in!
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Hey, Dad!
Written by Brian Doyle
Groundwood Books, 2006 (© 1978)
ISBN: 978-0-88899-708-1
IL: Ages 8-12  RL: Grades 4-5
Thirteen-year-old Megan isn’t exactly excited about about her upcoming cross-Canada family road trip. She would rather stay home. However, along the way, Megan and her dad come face to face with how sad and happy growing up can be.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The King’s Daughter
Written by Suzanne Martel
Translated by David Homel and Margaret Rose
Groundwood Books, 1994 (&copy 1980)
ISBN: 978-0-88899-218-5
IL: Ages 10-15  RL: Grades 6-7
Jeanne Chatel has always dreamed of adventure. So when the 18-year-old orphan is summoned to sail from France to the wilds of North America to become a king’s daughter and marry a French settler, she doesn’t hesitate. However, her new husband is not the dashing military man she has dreamed of, but a trapper with two small children who lives in a small cabin in the woods. This title is also available in French as Jeanne, fille du roy.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Trouble on Tarragon Island
Written by Nikki Tate
Sono Nis Press, 2005
ISBN: 978-1-55039-154-1
IL: Ages 8-13  RL: Grades 4-5
Heather Blake is horrified when her grandmother gets involved with the Ladies of the Forest, a radical group of protesters willing to do just about anything to save a stand of old-growth trees from the loggers’ chainsaws. When the Ladies make a calendar, semi-nude photos of Granny and her friends hang on just about every fridge on Tarragon Island. Things get even worse when protesters get arrested and tempers flare.
Amazon | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Underground to Canada
(Puffin Classics)
Written by Barbara Smucker
Puffin Canada, 2013 (© 1977)
ISBN: 978-0-14-318789-9
IL: Ages 9-13  RL: Grade 5
Ripped from her mother by slave traders, Julilly yearns to be free. She and her friend Liza dream of escaping to Canada, the ‘Promised Land’ of freedom. So when the Underground Railroad offers to help them escape, they are ready. But slave catchers are also ready to relentlessly pursue them. Includes an introduction by Lawrence Hill.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Young Adult

Hold Fast: 35th Anniversary Edition
Written by Kevin Major
Groundwood Books, 2013 (© 1978)
ISBN: 978-1-55498-376-6
IL: Ages 12-15  RL: Grades 6-7
When his parents are accidentally killed in a car crash, Michael is sent from his Newfoundland outpost home to the city, where he must make a new life for himself in an often hostile environment. A fast-paced and senstive exploration of early adolescence.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Shepherd’s Granddaughter
Written by Anne Laurel Carter
Groundwood Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-88899-903-0
IL: Ages 14 and up  RL: Grade 6
Amani’s family home in Palestine is being threatened by encroaching Jewish settlements. As she struggles to find increasingly rare grazing land for her starving sheep, her uncle and brother are tempted to take a more militant stance against the settlers.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Written by Raziel Reid
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55152-574-7
IL: Ages 14 and up  RL: Grades 9-10
Inspired by a true story, this is an edgy, extravagant novel for young people, full of gender-bending teen glamour, dark mischief, and enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi. A boy who smells like Chanel Mademoiselle, calls Blair Waldorf his biggest childhood influence, and reads Old Hollywood star biographies like gospel doesn’t have the easiest path to travel in life, but somehow, Jude paves his own yellow brick road and makes us all wish we could join him over the rainbow.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Who Is Frances Rain? Twentieth Anniversary Edition
Written by Margaret Buffie
Kids Can Press, 2007 (© 1987)
ISBN: 978-1-55453-229-2
IL: Ages 12-15  RL: Grade 6-7
A vacation at her grandmother’s cottage is the highlight of Lizzie’s year, but this summer the whole family is going. To escape the bickering, Lizzie explores a nearby island and finds a pair of glasses. When she tries them on she finds herself watching two women from the past.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


The Little Black Book for Girlz: A Book of Healthy Sexuality
Written by St. Stephen’s Community House
Annick Press, 2006
ISBN: 978-1-55037-954-9
IL: Ages 14 and up  RL: Grades 9-10
Teen stories, poetry and artwork about sexuality, plus facts from health experts about relationships, birth control, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, AIDs and assault.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak
Written by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books, 2004
ISBN: 978-0-88899-645-9
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 6-8
Children on both sides of the Middle East conflict tell their stories. The text includes background information, photographs, a map, a glossary and suggestions for further reading.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
You Can’t Read This: Forbidden Books, Lost Writing, Mistranslations, and Codes
Written by Val Ross
Tundra Books, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-88776-732-6
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-8
Explore the decoding of ancient languages, secret writing and people around the world who defied the laws – made by censors, slave-owners and kings – that stopped them from reading.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Emma Sakamoto works in Canadian publishing and has a particular love for children’s books.

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Freedom to Read Week: Interview with Anne McClelland

by Kate Abrams

Freedom to Read Week is an initiative created by the Book and Periodical Council (BPC), an organization that encompasses various Canadian associations involved in the writing, editing, manufacturing, distributing, selling, and lending of books and periodicals. Anne McClelland is the Executive Director of the BPC and a member of its Freedom of Expression Committee, which organizes Freedom to Read Week. She answered a few of our questions about the program.

Can you tell us a little bit about Freedom to Read Week and why it was created?

The Book and Periodical Council’s (BPC) Freedom of Expression (FOE) Committee was formed in 1978 to raise awareness of attempts to ban works by authors such as Margaret Laurence, Alice Munro, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck from Canadian classrooms. The mandate of the FOE Committee is to monitor and oppose threats to free expression and to highlight issues of censorship, intellectual freedom and access to writing in Canada. In 1984, the FOE Committee launched Freedom to Read Week (FTRW), a unique annual program aimed at increasing the public’s understanding of these issues. 2015 is the 31st year that the committee has been organizing FTRW, which is celebrated by Canadians across the country.

How can teachers and libraries get involved with and encourage Freedom to Read Week?

The best way to help us spread the word is by ordering, sharing and displaying our Freedom to Read kits and posters. We encourage schools, libraries and communities to set up Freedom to Read displays, organize their own Freedom to Read Week events and share information about them with us so we can help get the word out.

What resources do you have available for parents and educators?

Our Freedom to Read kit is the best resource we have for parents, librarians and educators. This year, for instance, we have an infographic that describes what goes into a book or magazine challenge. We provide tips for safety and privacy on social media, a quiz and a word-search puzzle. Our kit has many articles about freedom of expression in Canada. In addition, we produce an annual campaign poster. Our website has online resources as well, including lists of challenged books and magazines, web-banners, clip art, bookmarks, etc.

Do you have any suggestions for children and teens who are looking to learn more about censorship in Canada?

First, we recommend checking out a neighbourhood library or their school library to find out what kinds of programs or resources they have. Right now, many libraries have displays set up, and they are planning community events for Freedom to Read Week. For a year-round resource, our website has downloadable games and quizzes, and we always post news about censorship issues in Canada on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

How are people celebrating Freedom to Read Week across the country? Do you have any suggestions for anyone who wants to plan an event?

Schools, libraries and communities across Canada are celebrating their freedom to read in a variety of ways: banned book clubs, photo or video contests, reading and lecture series, and more. We love to see what people are up to, so we ask event organizers to submit the details of their events to our Events listings so we can help get the word out. For help planning an event, organizers can visit our Get Involved page online or look through the Events page to see what else is happening around the country.

For more information, and to contact Freedom To Read:
(416) 975-9366

Kate Abrams is a freelance dramaturge and editor based in Toronto.

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Out Now: Winter 2015 Canadian Children’s Book News

Let Books Be Books, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Julie Flett, a special quiz and much more in the Winter 2015 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

“Let Books Be Books” is the international conversation on gender stereotyping in books and in marketing books. In this issue of Canadian Children’s Book News, our roundtable discussion takes a Canadian look at the topic. Plus:

  • A profile of Tanya Lloyd Kyi, noted non-fiction and fiction author
  • A chat with Cree-Métis author and illustrator Julie Flett, creator of Wild Berries, the 2014 First Nation Communities READ selection
  • A challenging quiz on French Québécois children’s literature
  • Reviews of over 30 new books

Canadian Children’s Book News can be purchased at select bookstores or in our online store.

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Illustrator’s Studio: Sydney Smith

by Stephanie Dror

Sydney Smith, hailing from the east coast, has illustrated a range of works from poetry and picture books by Sheree Fitch and Jill Barber to the longer fictional works of Kate Inglis. This range of projects is met by his colourful and expressive artwork, which beautifully captures the language it accompanies. Here is our interview with Sydney.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a children’s book illustrator.

I’ve always loved drawing since I was very little but I didn’t show any sign of being “gifted” or especially skilled. There were moments in my life so far that have pushed me closer to being the creative person I am today.

Most of those moments involved meeting supportive and creative people. People like my best friends in elementary school who also loved drawing superheroes or adults who encouraged me through their excitement and genuine interest. There were also times in my adolescence when drawing was an escape. I created friends on paper when I had none or drew powerful characters when I felt weak and alone. It would be rare to find an artist who hasn’t sought sanctuary in their art.

I decided to be a children’s book illustrator during a printmaking class at NSCAD University in 1999. It made so much sense. I could dive as deep as I wanted into my own imagination and encourage children to do the same. Besides, I’ve always felt like a 12-year-old boy. Sometimes now, by accident, I refer to myself as a kid.

Sydney, you illustrate books for children of all ages, from picture books like Sheree Fitch’s There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen and Mabel Murple to middle grade works like Kate Inglis’s Dread Crew and the upcoming book of wordless poetry, Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson. What draws you to this variety of projects?

I enjoy the challenge of every project. When working on Sheree Fitch’s stories I wanted to celebrate the whimsy she used in her wordplay. With Kate Inglis’s novels it was important to me to express the detail and reality in her fantastic story and Sidewalk Flowers has a quiet innocence and gentle simplicity to it. In each book there is a danger of using clichés instead of sourcing something original. Originality is the real goal but the kind that Uri Shulevitz referred to when he said “Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think, yourself.”

Your illustration style is very unique, full of colour and intricate detail. Can you talk about your way of illustrating stories and how it came about? Would you share some of your inspiration and method with us?

When I was younger I loved artists like Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, and gothic illustrators like Arthur Rackham or Edmund Dulac. That informed a lot of my early drawing and I drew a lot with crosshatching. Detail with thousands of fine lines is fun but also impressive to look at. When Nimbus Publishing asked me to illustrate Sheree Fitch’s books I knew that the graphic line wouldn’t work so I picked up a brush and I haven’t put it down since. It is a difficult transition and I still feel like I’m learning with every project. My sources for inspiration now include artists that have more dynamic application of their mediums like Brian Wildsmith, Ben Shahn or Lynda Barry to name a few. But as much as I love children’s books I feel like I get as much inspiration from films and photography.

My process is pretty standard. I start with sketches and collect inspiring images and source material and then build from there. Storyboards lead to rough sketches and then the final paintings with watercolour and ink that are scanned and cleaned up digitally. I find that a lot of my favourite ideas come to me when I’m walking or running.

How do you imagine that your illustrations, apart from or with their texts, might be used in the classroom? Do you have any suggestions for teachers or parents to engage kids with illustration?

With Wordless books like Sidewalk Flowers there is a unique opportunity for the child to read to the adult. There are no words that are telling you how to look at it. There are enough non-specifics with the characters or the environment that the reader can project their own interpretations while the essential themes of play and generosity are clear.

I’ve led illustration workshops with children before and it’s not hard to engage them when you remind them that they are in charge of how to tell the story and the balance between words and pictures should not be a mirrored relationship. It starts becoming fun when the images change the way you read the words. Illustrations could even tell a different story all together.

What projects are you working on now? Anything you are particularly excited about?

I have a lot lined up right now. I am currently in the beginning of two exciting books; one is a history of Canada for kids and the other is a quiet story about a Monk and his cat. I just finished illustrating a book about an American artist who leaves the Iowa farm for Paris. That one is called Grant and Tillie Go Walking. I am also secretly working on writing my own stories but shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Thank you so much Sydney, for your time and your answers!

Images courtesy of Sydney Smith. Click to enlarge.

Stephanie Dror has a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature. She is the Membership Secretary for IBBY Canada, a founder and blogger at The Book Wars and a book reviewer for CM: Canadian Review of Materials and The Ottawa Review of Books.

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Next Month…

In our March newsletter, we will be highlighting playwrights and performing arts. Please contact us if you have any questions or feedback — we would love to hear from you!