News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
December Reading List: Our Favourites of 2020
Author Corner: David Alexander Robertson
Illustrator’s Studio: Byron Eggenschwiler
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
The second annual celebration of Canadian children’s literature is slated for February 17, 2021. The event will be a national celebration of Canadian books for young people, with the goal of elevating the genre, and celebrating their breadth and diversity. I Read Canadian Day will take place in homes, schools, libraries and bookstores all across the country. Visit the official website to register today!
I Read Canadian Day is brought to you by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Canscaip, the Ontario Library Association, Forest of Reading, Canadian School Libraries, Eric Walters and Communication-Jeunesse. Thank you to our generous sponsors, A Different Drummer Books, Access Copyright, Orca Book Publishers and Telling Tales.
Support the Jean Little First Novel Award
The Jean Little First Novel Award is intended to recognize the achievements of first-time Canadian children’s novelists.
After the beloved Jean Little died in April 2020, Sarah Ellis, Kit Pearson and Maggie de Vries came up with the idea of establishing an award in Jean’s name. In Kit Pearson’s words, “We decided that the most appropriate honour would be a prize for a Canadian middle-grade novel by a first-time writer. Much of Jean’s writing was for the middle grades, and Jean was always an enthusiastic supporter of beginning writers. This award would honour her long and successful career and encourage the next generation of writers following in her footsteps.”
Please consider contributing to this exciting venture — no amount is too small! The CCBC is a registered charity and will issue charitable donation receipts.
Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight/Tournée Lire à tout vent
We are excited to announce the touring creators for Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight. Forty-Five talented Canadian authors, illustrators and storytellers were selected to take part in this virtual tour and share a love of reading with young people in schools, libraries and homes all across Canada.
Established in 1977, this year’s national tour will take place from May 2-8, 2021. See the list of touring creators here.
This Year, #GiveKidsBooks!
To celebrate the holidays, we’re holding a contest with the winner chosen January 4. Enter to win 30 amazing books, featuring the 2020 #CCBCBookAwards shortlisted titles! Don’t forget to head to youtube.com/bibliovideo for great recommendations from bestselling Canadian authors and illustrators.
Annick Press to Publish First of Its Kind Trans Anthology for Young Readers
Annick Press is pleased to announce the future publication of a new anthology created by and for the trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer communities, slated for 2022. The book will be the first of its kind to provide #ownvoices representation all the way through its creation process, from the writers and illustrators to the editor, copyeditor, proofreader, and designer. Learn more here.
IBBY Canada announces Canadian nominees for Hans Christian Andersen Awards: author Angèle Delaunois and illustrator Sydney Smith
IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) is pleased to announce that author Angèle Delaunois and illustrator Sydney Smith are Canada’s nominees for the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Awards. Learn more here.
Thank You for Donating to the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award on #GivingTuesday
Thank you to everyone who donated to our Amy Mathers Teen Book Award yesterday and to all those who got the word out and helped us reach our goal. In 24 hours, we raised over $3,000 for the award.
We will still be raising funds to support the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award for the remainder of 2020 and throughout 2021. Thanks to your generous support yesterday, we are now closer to our goal!
Still want to help? Tell everyone you know about the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and our ongoing campaign. Donations can be made here. Also, consider making a monthly donation to have the greatest impact.
The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP) is inspired by Rick’s belief in the power of youth and their ability to change the world. RHFSP raises awareness, challenges perceptions, and changes attitudes, through a variety of lessons and activities, empowering youth to take action on important issues.
RHFSP resources are designed for youth from K-12 and include age-appropriate lessons and interactive activities for every grade level. Free, bilingual, and connected to provincial curriculum, our resources are:
- Deliverable online or in the classroom
- Developed by educators, for educators
- Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies
It is essential now, more than ever, for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) to see themselves represented in the books they read. The Winter issue of Canadian Children’s Book News celebrates Black Canadian voices and showcases several talented authors and illustrators who are creating stories that provide this representation.
In this issue, author Nadia Hohn examines how the Canadian publishing industry has responded to #WeNeedDiverseVoices and #OwnVoices and why diversity is needed in children’s books. Ardo Omer sheds a light on the importance of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis explains what drives him to continue writing books about Black history and illustrator Eva Campbell shares her vibrant world of oil paint and pastel on canvas and the importance of having kids see themselves in her artwork. Four Black Canadian authors also share their road to publication. Our “Keep Your Eye On…” column introduces you to Andre Fenton, an author and spoken-word artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our Bookmark! column features 17 books written by Black Canadian authors, and as always, we have over 40 reviews of recently published books for you to enjoy.
With everyone across the country separated from their friends and families, we are all searching for ways to connect with one another. Support the CCBC and send your loved ones a greeting featuring art from past Canadian Children’s Book Week posters. Perfect for stocking stuffers, these greeting cards feature original art by illustrators Barbara Reid, Julie Flett, Ian Wallace, Wallace Edwards, Bill Slavin, Elly MacKay, Gabrielle Grimard and Eugenie Fernandes. All purchases from these packs of eight cards go towards programs like Canadian Children’s Book Week, the CCBC Book Awards and Bibliovideo. Visit our shop today!
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Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.
December Reading List: Our Favourite Reads of 2020
Listen to Our Podcast!
Author’s Corner: David A. Roberston
DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. A sought-after speaker and educator, David is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg. His latest books are a middle-grade fantasy novel, The Barren Grounds (Tundra Books), and the memoir, Black Water (Harper Collins Canada).
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
I’ve been writing since I was a young boy. I wrote a poetry book in grade 3, and it made me want to be a writer. Since that day, I haven’t stopped writing. Writing professionally started about twelve years ago for me, when I wrote the four-part graphic novel series 7 Generations for Highwater Press. Including that series, which was later published as an omnibus, I’ve written about twenty-six books.
The Barren Grounds is the first in a series that brings the reader into a fantasy world that is rooted in Indigenous culture. What inspired you to tell this story?
A lot of things inspired me. There were many things I wanted to say, and I wanted to say them to kids. I’ve mostly written for kids, because I see the future in them, and it’s our job to provide them with literature that helps them understand the world we live in, but also to envision the world we want to live in. I wanted kids to learn about the foster care system in a way that was age appropriate, how the system removes children from their families, communities, culture, language, and the impact this has. I wanted to reframe classical literature through an Indigenous lens. I saw parallels between a traditional Cree story of the sky, and the Chronicles of Narnia. Both of these things inspired me, but I thought it was interesting to take a series that was influenced by Christianity, and use Indigenous influences instead. And finally, I wanted to talk about the environment, and land protection. That’s a pretty clear message in this book. What it’s really saying is that the land doesn’t need us, but we need the land, and we are taking too much from it right now. It only has so much to give.
When We Were Alone is one of our favourite picture books and has just been rereleased in Swampy Cree, with the original English. How did this new edition come about and what does having the Swampy Cree text mean to you personally?
It means a lot to me. My dad’s first language was Swampy Cree. So was my grandmother’s. Having this book in Swampy Cree honours their heritage, and mine. It also serves as a way to pursue language revitalization. Hopefully, a Cree kid reading this book sees their language, and it makes them want to learn. That’s how we create really meaningful healing and change.
I’ve always wanted to continue The Reckoner story in graphic novels. The YA trilogy was meant to be a backstory, the emergence of a Cree superhero. How he came to be a superhero. And then, now a fully realized superhero, where does that journey bring him? There are questions that remain unanswered, intentionally, in The Reckoner Trilogy, that I wanted to dive into. What I found is that Cole’s struggles aren’t over—the events of The Reckoner Trilogy have really had a negative impact on his mental health. I also found that Eva’s emergence as a superhero in her own right was an important aspect of the Reckoner world that I wanted to investigate. In many ways, she’s the star of Breakdown, volume 1 of the new series, which I hope to be an ongoing series.
I have a lot on the horizon. Next year, I have three books coming out: a new picture book where I’ve reunited with Julie Flett, called On The Trapline. The second book in The Misewa Saga. The second volume of The Reckoner Rises. Then, in 2022, I have another picture book coming out that I can’t talk about yet, the finale of The Misewa Saga, and the finale of The Reckoner Rises trilogy. I’ll also, I believe, have a literary fiction novel coming out. So, I’m busy.
Watch Your Favourite Book On Bibliovideo
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This holiday season, we’re choosing to #GiveKidsBooks! Every day until December 24th, Canadian authors and illustrators are recommending their favourite books to give this holiday season. Check Bibliovideo every day at noon ET for a new video! Don’t forget to like and subscribe.
Playlists to Binge Watch
Illustrator’s Studio: Byron Eggenschwiler
Byron Eggenschwiler is an illustrator living in Calgary, Alberta. He is the illustrator of Operatic, by Kyo Maclear, The Little Ghost Who Was A Quilt by Riel Nason and Beastly Puzzles by Rachel Poliquin. Byron has also done illustrations for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, GQ and others. He shares a home with his wife and two soft cats.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
From a very early age I have always enjoyed drawing and I used to love playing around making my own comics and characters. But my professional career started after I attended an art and design school in Calgary and began sending out promotional postcards to magazines and newspapers. At first I was getting some smaller editorial work but over time built a client base and got bigger jobs. Eventually I was able to quit my day job and put all my energy into illustrating. My first big book break was when Sheila Barry from Groundwood Books contacted me asking if I would be interested in illustrating a 150 page graphic novel. It was a little terrifying how large of a project it would be and something I never would have sought out on my own. Despite my reservations I was really excited for the opportunity and knew I had to take it on. I have now worked on a few picture books and look forward to whatever the next project is.
We loved The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt! This is a Halloween book that could definitely be used all year round. What inspired the palette and the contrasting colours in this book?
I experimented quite a bit with the colors to find the right feel and was inspired by the muted tones of older photographs. I was aiming for the feel of a classic ghost story, as if the book could have been made anywhere from 100 years ago or just yesterday. The muted tones I ended up using gave it an extra little bit of spookiness that I think played really well with the little blue ghosty and allowed his colourful quilt to really pop out in the scenery.
One of our favourite books last year was Operatic. How was the creation process for a graphic novel like that different from creating a picture book?
The graphic novel was definitely a lot more drawing! With a graphic novel, you have to think of each page in terms of a moment unfolding and figure out how a character will move along through the story. In a way it felt more like being a director, figuring out the timing and character development, and you can force the reader to slow down and draw out a moment because you have a lot more pages to work with. With a children’s book you are able to capture a lot more of the story in a single image and I spend more focus creating that perfect moment that will play off the text and add its own layer to the story.
As an artist, where do you get your inspiration from? Who or what has influenced your art style?
I tend to find inspiration by accident, when I am watching tv or reading a book sometimes a simple object or environment will give me an idea. It really isn’t one thing I can put my finger on but a combination of everything. I have found inspiration lately while looking at limited color screen printing techniques and old paintings. Most of the time I have to sit down by myself and let my mind wonder for a while before an idea will take shape and get me excited to work on it. I usually have a sketchbook around me, even on the nightstand just in case a dream or thought comes to me. I try to jot down any idea, big or small, that creeps into my mind throughout the day in hopes of collecting something that will lead to the seed of a bigger idea later. And the story always helps with inspiration and ideas, it’s great to have a jumping off point from a writer.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
Next year, I have a book with Groundwood Books written by Jon-Eric Lappano titled Song of the Snow which I think will be out later in 2021. It is about a girl named Freya who wishes the snow would return to her village. She finds a magic song that may be able to call it back home, but she will need help. I am also currently putting the final touches on a book titled The Strangest Thing in The Sea: And Other Curious Creatures of the Deep written by Rachel Poliquin which will be out next year as well. This will be our second animal fold out book together and this time it explores the fantastical world of sea creatures.
Find out more about Byron at www.byronegg.com.
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
Four recently-orphaned sisters travel halfway around the world to go live with their great-aunt Martha. When they arrive at their new home in a small BC town, they discover that great-aunt Martha has died but has left all her worldly goods to them. So they decide to hide the fact that they are living on their own and try to look after themselves. Their plan turns out to be surprisingly successful. But how long can four young girls manage on their own? Or how long do they want to carry on that way? Horvath’s latest middle grade offering is filled with humour and heart. The characters are a sheer delight and their story is laugh out loud funny while also being tender and heartwarming. This is Polly Horvath at her very best.
—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.
Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.
Barry Squires is a Newfoundland teen with as many hopes and dreams as the number of heel clicks per second in a Riverdance show. He has no doubt that he’s destined to join the Full Tilt Dancers lineup, the second-most popular entertainment attraction in his city (after the bagpiper Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Barry’s close-knit family, his geriatric pals at One Step Closer to God Nursing Home, and his best buddy Saibal, stand beside him on his rocky and difficult coming-of-age journey. The zingy narration is by turns funny and heartrending. Barry Squires is a marvellous and memorable show stopper of a novel. Encore, please.
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Staff of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre recommend their favourite books for kids and teens.
“When I think of the name Edward, I think of old kings who snore a lot. It is the name my parents gave me. But I call myself something else.”
Following Ari from childhood through adolescence, The Name I Call Myself is a moving and poignantly written picture book exploring gender identity. Ari’s family and everyone they know thinks that they’re a boy. Sometimes Ari wants to be a girl and growing up they struggle with their changing body, their father’s expectations and judgement from classmates. When they are 18, Ari bravely tells their parents their real name and that they are neither a boy or a girl.
With creative and thought provoking illustrations that delve into Ari’s deepest feelings and insecurities, this is a story that will appeal to children like Ari and open up empathy and conversation for children (and even adult readers) who don’t quite understand what Ari is going through.
— Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Look for our January newsletter in 2021!