CCBC December 2018 Newsletter


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
December Reading: Our Favourite Books of 2018
Author Corner: Joanne Schwartz
Illustrator’s Studio: Geneviève Godbout
Booksellers’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Marianne Dubuc Takes Home Three Awards at the TD Gala in Montreal!

The winners of the French CCBC Book Awards were announced at a event in Montreal on November 19th, sponsored by TD Bank Group. Now a two-time winner of the Prix TD, Marianne Dubuc stole the show, taking home the grand prize for all three awards: the Prix TD ($50,000), the Prix Harry Black ($5,000) and the Choix du public pour la littérature de jeunesse ($5,000) for her picture book Le chemin de la montagne (Comme des géants).

Find more details and the full list of winners here. Congratulations to all!

Today Only: Enter to Win 49th Shelf’s 12 Days of Bookness Contest

Today only, enter to win a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Book Award prize pack as a part of the 49th Shelf’s 12 Days of Bookmas. The winner will receive Town Is by the Sea (winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award), When the Moon Comes (winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award), #NotYourPrincess (winner of the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction), The Assassin’s Curse (winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People), The Hanging Girl (winner of the John Spray Mystery Award) and The Marrow Thieves (winner of the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award). Enter to win here. Good luck everyone!

Introducing #ShelfElf

Holiday shopping can be overwhelming but the CCBC is here to make it a little more holly and jolly. Our #ShelfElf knows what everyone is looking for this December: a new book on their shelves! Tweet #ShelfElf, tag the @KidsBookCentre and be sure to include a little bit about whoever you’re shopping for (an iPad addicted third grader, a sports loving teenager or a reluctant reader) for the perfect book recommendation! Follow us on Twitter for more!

Don’t forget to check out our holiday gift guide for more great gift ideas!

Apply for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week

Join us in celebrating TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and bring the magic of books and reading to children all across Canada! Apply today to have an author, illustrator or storyteller visit your community. Find out who’s touring here.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline wins the CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature

Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves has won the 2018 CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature! The CODE Burt Award is a global literacy initiative that recognizes excellence in locally authored young adult literature. Supported by the Canada’s Literary Prizes Foundation and the legacy of William “Bill” Burt, the CODE Burt Awards is dedicated to supporting literacy and ensuring that youth have access to culturally relevant, high-quality literature. The award recognizes excellence in Indigenous-authored literature for young adults (ages 12-18). Congratulations to Cherie!

Click here to learn more.

Awards Submissions are Now Open!

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now accepting submissions for its children’s book awards. The submission deadline for all awards is January 15, 2019. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply here.


550,000 Grade One Students Across Canada Are Reading Giraffe and Bird

Since 2000, in cooperation with  ministries of education, school boards and library organizations across Canada, the CCBC has given every Grade One child a free Canadian children’s book, thanks to the generous sponsorship of TD Bank Group. This year’s book is Giraffe and Bird (La girafe et l’oiseau) by Rebecca Bender. We love seeing kind messages from happy young readers all across Canada. We’re glad you love Giraffe and Bird as much as we do! Want to share photos of your students enjoying Giraffe and Bird? Tag us on twitter @kidsbookcentre!

Find out more about the program here.

Rose Vespa appointed Executive Director of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Rose Vespa has been appointed the new Executive Director of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and will begin the position in the new year. Rose began her career as a children’s librarian and most recently was the Director of Library Services for the Mississauga Library System. Welcome Rose!

Find out more here.

Get your copy of The Landing by John Ibbitson

Set in Depression-era Muskoka, this evocative and powerful Governor General’s Literary Award–winning novel follows a young musician’s awakening to the possibilities of a world beyond his borders.

The Landing is geared toward young adults, but just as easily belongs to the Canadian coming-of-age genre occupied by the likes of Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence.” — The Globe and Mail

Proceeds from this 10th Anniversary edition support the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

On sale now! Available in bookstores or through the CCBC’s online shop. Order through the CCBC and receive a FREE subscription to Canadian Children’s Book News and Best Books for Kids & Teens. Enter coupon code landing to take advantage of this limited time offer.

Biometrics Wins the 2018 Lane Anderson Award

The winners of the 2018 Lane Anderson Award Winners were announced earlier this month. This year’s winner in the young readers category was Biometrics: Your Body and the Science of Security by Maria Birmingham and illustrated by Ian Turner, published by Owlkids Books! The finalists were Big Blue Forever: The Story of Canada’s Largest Blue Whale Skeleton by Anita Miettunen (Red Deer Press) and Rewilding: Giving Nature a Second Chance by Jane Drake and Ann Love (Annick Press). Learn more here.

Congratulations to all!

Best Books for Kids & Teen‘s Fall Issue Available Online!

You might know that the CCBC has a magazine called Best Books for Kids & Teens but did you know that we have an online version as well? The fall 2018 Best Books selections are available online today! Chosen by experts, these books are the best of Canadian kid lit and YA. Click here for the full list!

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

Margaret Atwood weighs in to help student with analysis of The Handmaid’s Tale

How the Toronto Library’s Dial-a-Story program helped this child of refugees learn English, one call at a time

How kids are benefiting from reading year-round: TD’s Summer Reading Club encourages kids to read all year long.

11 Of The Dreamiest Bookstores To Get Lost In Across Canada

Some Libraries Are Facing Backlash Against LGBT Programs — And Holding Their Ground

The Difference a School Librarian Can Make, According to One Dad

WATCH: In the Studio with Illustrator Qin Leng

How to Encourage a Love of Books and Reading in Preschoolers

Canadian folk anthem Log Driver’s Waltz finds new life in children’s book

LISTEN: Books, censorship and what happens when Indigenous Lit goes mainstream

Groundwood Books Celebrates 40 Years of Innovative Children’s Publishing

8 Clever Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Books

The Chat with Governor General’s Award Winner Jonathan Auxier


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December Reading List: Our Favourite Books of the Year!

It’s been a big year filled with amazing books! For our last newsletter of 2018, we’re looking at some of our favourite books from the year.

Picture Books

Written by Shauntay Grant
Illustrated by Eva Campbell
Groundwood Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77306-043-9
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-3

When a young girl visits the site of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the stories she’s heard from her family come to mind. She imagines what the community was once like — the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside, the field where boys played football, the pond where all the kids went rafting, the bountiful fishing, the huge bonfires. Coming out of her reverie, she visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great- grandmother’s name is carved in stone, and celebrates a summer day at the annual Africville Reunion/Festival.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Deep Underwater
Written and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77306-014-9
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades K-2

Sophia bravely dives down to discover the secrets under the sea. She encounters beautiful fish and floating forests. Farther down, the dark water is full of tentacles and treasures. Deep underwater, she is never alone. Do you dare dive down after her? The ocean is full of endless possibilities in this dreamy, imagistic story from acclaimed author/illustrator Irene Luxbacher. Her otherworldly paintings show colourful fish, rippling seawater and the secrets to be found at the bottom of the ocean. Sophia’s journey will linger with readers long after the return to shore.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

The Log Driver’s Waltz
Written by Wade Hemsworth
Illustrated by Jennifer Phelan
Simon & Schuster Canada, 2018
ISBN 978-1-50116-195-7
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1-2

Based on the perennially popular Canadian folk song and animated short film of the same name, The Log Driver’s Waltz showcases a spunky, independent young woman whose parents are keen for her to marry. The town’s well-to-do doctors, merchants and lawyers try to impress her, but it’s the humble log driver — with his style, grace, and joie de vivre — who captures her attention. When she and the log driver finally meet on the dance floor, their joy leaps off the page. With homages to the original film, and celebrating the flora, fauna and folk art of this great land, The Log Driver’s Waltz brings a hallmark of Canadian childhood to life.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Ocean Meets Sky
Written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-48147-037-7
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honour him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


The Pink Umbrella
Written by Amelie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
Tundra Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-10191-923-1
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades 2-3

When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too, and piece by piece leaves her little gifts that help her find the joy in a grey, rainy day. Along with cute-as-a-button illustrations, The Pink Umbrella celebrates thoughtful acts of friendship.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

They Say Blue
Written and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Groundwod Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77306-020-0
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-2

Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue 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. Stunningly beautiful illustrations flow from one spread to the next, as time passes and the imagination takes hold. The world is full of colour, and mystery too, in this first picture book from a highly acclaimed artist.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Written by Kenneth Oppel
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
HarperCollins Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-44345-028-7
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

The Rylance family is stuck. Dad’s got writer’s block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school — even though he can’t draw. Sarah’s still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom. So much more than they can say. Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together — and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything. It’s not until Inkling goes missing that this family has to face the larger questions of what they — and Inkling — truly need.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

(Megabat, Book 1)
Written by Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
Tundra Books, 2018
ISBN 978-0-7352-6257-7
IL: Ages 7-10 RL: Grades 3-4

Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. AND it’s haunted… or is it? Megabat was just napping on a papaya one day when he was stuffed in a box and shipped halfway across the world. Now he’s living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there. Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute. Add some buttermelon, juice boxes, a lightsaber and a common enemy and you’ve got a new friendship in the making!

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No Fixed Address 
Written by Susin Nielsen
Tundra Books, 2018
ISBN 978-0-7352-6275-1
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

Twelve-and-three-quarter-year-old Felix Knutsson has a knack for trivia. His favourite game show is Who, What, Where, When; he even named his gerbil after the host. Felix’s mom, Astrid, is loving but can’t seem to hold on to a job. So when they get evicted from their latest shabby apartment, they have to move into a van. As their circumstances go from bad to worse, Felix gets a chance to audition for a junior edition of Who, What, Where, When, and he’s determined to earn a spot on the show. Winning the cash prize could make everything okay again. But things don’t turn out the way he expects…

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A Possibility of Whales
Written by Karen Rivers
Algonquin Young Readers , 2018
ISBN 978-1-61620-723-6
IL: Ages 10-13 RL: Grades 5-6

Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher loves possibilities: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, the possibility that the trans­gender boy she just met will become her new best friend, the possibility that the paparazzi hounding her celebrity father won’t force them to move again. Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses her, loves her, and is just waiting for Nat to find her. But how can Nat find her mother if she doesn’t even know who she is?

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Written by Jonathan Auxier
Puffin Canada, 2018
ISBN 978-0-7352-6435-9
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-5

For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys” — orphans owned by chimney sweeps — to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived — and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature — a golem — made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

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The Whirlpool
Written by Laurel Croza
Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Groundwood Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77306-032-3
IL: Ages 10-13 RL: Grades 5-6

In this collection of seven short stories about the whirlpool of adolescence, five teenagers, a doll and a squirrel break out of the expectations placed upon them. Jaz endures the rumours at school about what happened to her last summer; the Oh! So Perfect Hair Dolly wishes for just the right child to take her home; a squirrel ruminates on life and death…

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Young Adult Fiction

Shane is still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. How could he have missed the fact that she was so sad? He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara, but she’s too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person on the rez whom he loves — his friend, David. But he and David have to hide their relationship from everyone. Shane feels that his only chance of a better life is moving to Toronto, but David refuses to join him. When yet another tragedy strikes, the two boys have to make difficult choices about their future together.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

A Girl Like That
Written by Tanaz Bhathena
Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2018
ISBN 978-0-374-30544-4
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that 18-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

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Learning to Breathe
Written by Janice Lynn Mather
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers , 2018
ISBN 978-1-5344-0601-8
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules — to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow. When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof — it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.

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(The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim, Book 2)
Written by Shane Peacock
Tundra Books,  2018
ISBN 978-1-77049-701-6
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

Edgar Brim is a sensitive orphan who, exposed to horror stories from his father as a young child, is afraid of almost everything and suffers from nightly terrors. His stern new guardian, Mr. Thorne, sends the boy to a gloomy school in Scotland where his dark demons only seem to worsen. But years later, when 16-year-old Edgar finds a journal belonging to his novelist father, he becomes determined to confront his nightmares and the bullies who taunt him. Edgar becomes involved with an eccentric society at the urging of a mysterious professor who believes that monsters from famous works of literature are real.

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Speak: The Graphic Novel
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson
Illustrated by Emily Carroll
Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2018
ISBN 978-0-374-30028-9
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

“Speak up for yourself — we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless — an outcast — because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night.

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This Book Betrays My Brother
Written by Kagiso Lesego Molope
Mawenzi House Publishers , 2018
ISBN 978-1-98844-929-6
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

What does a teenage girl do when she sees her beloved older brother commit a horrific crime? Should she report to her parents, or should she keep quiet? Should she confront him? All her life, Naledi has been in awe of Basi, her charming and outgoing older brother. They’ve shared their childhood, with its jokes and secrets, the alliances and stories about the community. Having reached 13, she is preparing to go to the school dance. Then she sees Naledi commit an act that violates everything she believes about him. How will she live her life now?

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Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Henry Holt & Company
ISBN 978-1-25013-752-4
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades 3-4

As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe. From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

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Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World  
Written by James Gladstone
Illustrated by Christy Lundy
Owlkids Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77147-316-3
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

The year 1968 was a year of unrest: many nations were at war. People marched for peace, fairness and freedom. At the same time, the Apollo 8 crew was about to go farther into space than anyone had gone before — to the moon. As they surveyed the moon’s surface, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 looked up just when Earth was rising out of the darkness of space. They saw the whole planet — no countries, no borders. The photograph they took, Earthrise, had a profound effect when published widely back on Earth, galvanizing the environmental movement, changing the way people saw our single, fragile home planet, and sparking hope during a year of unrest.

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From the Heart of Africa:
A Book of Wisdom

Compiled by by Eric Walters
Illustrated by various artists
Tundra Books, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77049-719-1
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades 3-4

A collection of African wisdom gorgeously illustrated by artists from Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, the United States and more. Aphorisms are universal. They give guidance, context and instruction for life’s issues, and they help us understand each other and the world around us. We use them every day, yet never think about where they came from or why they exist.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Girl Squads:
20 Female Friendships That Changed History

Written by Sam Maggs
Illustrated by Jenn Woodall
HarperCollins Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-44341-659-7
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Spanning art, science, politics, activism, and even sports, these girl squads show just how essential female friendship has been throughout history and throughout the world. In this hilarious and heartfelt book, geek girl Sam Maggs takes you on a tour of some of history’s most famous female BFFs.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty
(The World Around Us)
Written by Dr. Jillian Roberts and Jaime Casap
Illustrated by Jane Heinrichs
Orca Book Publishers, 2018
ISBN 978-1-45981-617-6
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades 1-3

A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Insightful quotes from individuals and organizations such as UNICEF are included throughout to add further perspective on the issue. An invaluable section on how kids can help empowers readers to take what they have learned and use it to make a difference.

Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs
Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Valérie Boivin
Kids Can Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77138-653-1
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades 3-4

From the time she was a young girl, Jane Jacobs’ curious mind made her a keen observer of everything around her. When she grew up, she moved to New York City, a place full of new wonders for her to explore. It was there she realized that, just like in nature, a city is an ecosystem.  So, when city planner Robert Moses proposed creating highways through the city that would destroy neighbourhoods and much of what made New York great, Jane decided she couldn’t let it happen. She stood up to the officials and rallied her neighbours to stop the plans — and even got arrested! Jane’s bravery and ideas had a huge influence on urban planning that is still being felt today.

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Author’s Corner: Joanne Schwartz

Joanne Schwartz was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her first picture book, Our Corner Grocery Store, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her other books include City Alphabet and City Numbers, with photos by Matt Beam, and two Inuit folktales with Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak — The Legend of the Fog, illustrated by Danny Christopher, and Grandmother Ptarmigan, illustrated by Qin Leng. Her most recent book Town Is by the Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith, is about a boy growing up in a mining town in Cape Breton. Joanne has been a children’s librarian for more than 30 years. She lives in Toronto.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author? What is your writing process like?

I spent many years reading picture books before I started writing. It was a great education. My first book, Our Corner Grocery Store, was based on the corner store near my house. The comings and goings of that little store inspired me to try my hand at writing. It was the perfect subject and the picture book was the perfect vehicle. Picture books excite me. The possibilities that emerge with the marriage of words and illustrations seem boundless. The idea and the text come first though. It’s a challenge to find the right words, and not too many of them, to tell the story. I work away at it until the story has texture and the words have a rhythmic flow.

Many of your books, such as Pinny in Fall, Our Corner Grocery Store and Town Is by the Sea, perfectly capture a place by looking at it through the eyes of a child during one day. How did your own childhood impact this approach to storytelling?

Growing up in Cape Breton has definitely influenced my approach to telling a story. It has to do with scale — coming from a small town on a small island. I could feel the edges of things, where things began and ended. The cycle of a day has that same feeling. It delineates both the perimeters and parameters of a story. For kids, the unfolding of a day is one of the first ways in which they come to understand time. The quotidian rituals give form and meaning to their daily life.

In a small town like the one in Town Is by the Sea, this sense of time, the recurring pattern of daily life, is acutely felt and very much a part of the background of the story. This pattern is what frames the boy’s existence — he tells us about one day in his life but it is filled with all the feelings and thoughts that he experiences each day.

In Our Corner Grocery Store Ana Maria spends her Saturdays with her grandparents and she narrates the events of that special time with them. Through her eyes we get to be at the store all day long and witness the whole hustle and bustle of daily events at this little store. The focus on the day captures the rhythms of a neighbourhood hub in a large urban city.

In the Pinny books the arc of the day is just the perfect amount of time to have a small adventure.

It’s a framework I feel drawn to over and over again — the small details of a day that shape a child’s reality. A day can be equally ordinary and extraordinary, and holds within it the possibility of revealing something meaningful about life.

Town Is by the Sea won the 2018 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, which is a huge honour. What does winning an award of this caliber mean to you?

Winning an award of this stature is a tremendous honour. It’s a great recognition of my work and a real encouragement to continue on. It’s also very gratifying that this book, which has such personal significance to me, has received such accolades. The exposure, excitement and dialogue around the award mean my Cape Breton story reaches a much bigger audience, and will continue to be read as the years go by. That is the greatest gift.

Do you have a favourite children’s book of the last year that you could recommend?

I would recommend The Funeral by Matt James. James takes a difficult subject and infuses it with a child’s perspective that is original and authentic. The quirky, sideways view of a kid at a serious adult event, trying to find the right emotional tenor, is exceptionally insightful. And, as a consummate illustrator, the gorgeous, energetic, expressionistic illustrations deepen the perspective even further. It’s a wonderful book, bursting with life.

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

My second Pinny book, Pinny in Fall, has just come out in August. Once again Isabelle Malenfant’s illustrations grace the pages and beautifully capture the moody season. I’m so pleased to have two books out now about Pinny and her little adventures. The format for the Pinny books is a little bit unusual — they have four tiny chapters, each a little episode that moves the day along. I have another picture book coming out with Groundwood in 2020 but it’s much too early to talk about that one yet.

Find out more about Joanne at

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Illustrator’s Studio: Geneviève Godbout

Geneviève was born and raised in Quebec. She studied traditional animation at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal followed by another degree at the prestigious school of Gobelins in Paris. She then fell in love with London where she worked and lived for seven years. In 2013 she moved back to Montreal to become a full-time illustrator. Her clients include The Walt Disney Company, Chronicle Books, Tundra Books, Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Les Éditions Milan, Comme des géants and La Pastèque. Her latest children book, Johnny Appleseed, was selected at the Society of Illustrators Original Art 2017 Exhibit. She currently works on a series of books based on the famous andbeloved Anne of Green Gables. 

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started as an illustrator?

From Goodnight, Anne by Kallie George

I didn’t plan to become a children’s book illustrator. I studied traditional animation in Montreal (Cégep du Vieux-Montréal) and then in Paris (Gobelins) and my dream was to work in a big studio like Pixar. In 2007, I became a character artist at Disney Consumer Products in London. I was responsible for the Winnie the Pooh franchise in the whole of Europe. Though it was an amazing experience, the lack of creative growth tired me very quickly. In my spare time, I did illustration work that I posted on my blog. One thing led to another and a first publisher contacted me: La Pastèque. In 2012 I found a literary agent: Emily Van Beek. I got my dream job without even planning for it!

Can you walk us through the artistic process for your illustrative work? What artists and illustrators have inspired you? 

I do all my illustrations traditionally with soft pastels (Sennelier) and colour pencils (Faber Castell Polychromos). I love the softness and delicate texture of these mediums. As a child, I grew up with Richard Scarry’s illustrations and when I studied animation, I discovered the work of Mary Blair. Both those artists continue to inspire me greatly.

How has your background in animation affected your personal style?

I think it influenced my style a lot. Animation taught good draftsmanship, posing, movement. Though these are great qualities, I then had to find my own graphic style as animation tends to polish everything. Unlearn to learn more… that’s what they say!

From When Santa Was A Baby by Linda Bailey

Do you have a favourite children’s book of last year that you could recommend?

I have many! There is Captain Rosalie by Timothée de Fombelle and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Isabelle’s work is phenomenal and full of poetry. We share the same work studio and she’s a great inspiration as well as a friend.

I also recommend The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Of course this duo needs no introduction. I love Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey (whom I worked with on When Santa Was a Baby) and Júlia Sardà and also Bloom by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad. Finally I would like to add Through a Life by Tom Haugomat which is simply stunning and deeply moving.

What projects are you working on? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I’m currently finishing a book called Apple Cake with Quarto in London. Dawn Casey’s story is like a beautiful poem, a thank you to nature. I can’t wait to share my illustrations!

I’m also working on a second book based on Anne of Green Gables with Tundra Books. After Goodnight, Anne, Kallie George explores another part of Anne’s imagination. It’s called If I Couldn’t Be Anne.

Finally, my first book as an author was just published in French by La Pastèque. It’s called Malou and it’s the story of a little kangaroo who doesn’t want to jump anymore. Tundra Books will release it in English around 2020.

Find out more about Geneviève Godbout and her 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: Finding Grace by Daphne Greer (Nimbus Publishing, 2018), Ages 12 and up

When Grace’s older sister Dotty dies, life at the Belgian convent that is her home changes dramatically for her. Now she is moved to the dormitory with the other girls, and where she is now under the watchful eye of cruel Sister Francis. If only her mother would come back for her.  But when she finds an old diary hidden in the library she becomes transfixed by the sad story of the young woman who wrote it, and who endured such terrible suffering during the Nazi invasion of Belgium. This compelling historical saga features nuanced and fully-realized characters and complex relationships. It is a thoughtful, poignant and engaging read. —Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

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

Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, ON: Past Tense by Star Spider (HarperCollins Publishers, 2018) Ages 14 and up

I loved this debut novel!  Past Tense is a wonderful teen read exploring family relationships, depression, self discovery, sexuality and friendship all with a completely original approach. I found the plot like no other — which as an avid reader is so refreshing. Sensitively written, both heavy and light, it brought me back to the days of navigating high school life. The struggle is real —  especially when your mother believes that she is dead. — Erin Grittani, Assistant General Manager

Glad Day Bookshop: 499 Church St., Toronto, ON  M4Y 2C6

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

Staff Pick

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press, 2018), Ages 10-14

I love this graphic novel about  life in middle school, following tough looking Jorge who has a big heart and his very first crush. The third in the series, Crush combines timeless pre-teen issues (friendship, crushes) with modern issues like cyber bullying. You’ll fall in love with the characters and find that this book deals with serious issues while also being a cute story about friendship. All of the books in this series are amazing and are definitely must-reads for pre-teens. — Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing and Website Coordinator

Next Month

We’ll see you in the new year! Look for our January newsletter early next month: we’re starting the year right with a newsletter all about kindness. Look forward to interviews with Polly Horvath and Mike Boldt.

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