December 2022

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
Accessibility Column
Illustrator’s Corner: Claudia Dávila
December Reading List: Best of the Year
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Your School Can Apply for Canadian Children’s Book Week starting December 6!

Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. The upcoming tour will take place from April 30 to May 6, 2023, and will allow young readers to connect with highly acclaimed and emerging authors, illustrators, and storytellers. See the complete list of everyone touring here. Your school, library, or community centre can apply to take part! Applications open December 6. Check out for more details.

Call for Submissions for 2023 TD Grade One Book Giveaway

The CCBC invites all Canadian publishers to submit Canadian picture books for us to consider for the 2023 TD Grade One Book Giveaway.  It is part of every year’s focus to feature characters of different ethnicities, cultures, genders, family structures, and abilities. This year, we are seeking a picture book by creators from Asian communities that speaks to Asian experiences in Canada, and one that is appropriate for Grade 1 students. We welcome submissions from and about South Asian, East Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. It is the CCBC’s hope to support the important work being done by the “Stop Asian Hate” movement through our choice of book. We welcome submissions that address issues of overt racism as well as microaggressions; however, submitted stories are not required to specifically encompass such themes, as long as they centre characters of Asian backgrounds.

Learn more.

The CCBC Launches Phase II of Its Picture Book Gallery, Just in Time for the Holidays!
A Place to Call Home Sweet Home 5 (back cover), by Jamileh Salek

We are excited to announce the addition of more artists to our Picture Book Gallery! During the second phase of this initiative, artwork by seven creators has now been added. The Picture Book Gallery features Canadian illustrators (many award-winning) who sell prints and original art to support the CCBC’s annual Canadian Children’s Book Week program. Illustrators donate 60 percent of the value of their art sold in support of the CCBC. All funds raised contribute to connecting authors, illustrators, and storytellers with young audiences across Canada.

Visit the gallery here!

Orbie’s La fin des poux? wins the 2022 Prix TD!

Communication-Jeunesse (CJ) and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) are pleased to announce that the 2022 Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse has been awarded to La fin des poux? written and illustrated by Orbie, and published by Éditions Les 400 coups. Sponsored by TD Bank Group, Orbie takes home the $50,000 prize, while her publisher receives $2,500 for promotional purposes. An additional $10,000 is shared among the creators of the four remaining finalist titles for their contribution to Canadian French-language children’s literature. Learn more.

The Canada Council for the Arts Reveals the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award Winners!

The 14 best books published in Canada in 2022 were selected by peer assessment committees that followed a rigorous process to deliberate and choose them from among the 70 finalists in seven categories, in both English and French. The winners of English- and French-language children’s/youth categories are listed below.

English-language Winners

Young People’s Literature – Text – The Summer of Bitter and Sweet – Jen Ferguson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Heartdrum/HarperCollins Publishers

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books – The Sour Cherry Tree – Naseem Hrab and Nahid Kazemi (Toronto, Ontario / Montreal, Quebec) Owlkids Books

French-language Winners

Young People’s Literature – Text – Cancer ascendant Autruche – Julie Champagne (Mirabel, Quebec) La courte échelle

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books – Trèfle – Nadine Robert and Qin Leng (Varennes, Quebec / Toronto, Ontario) Comme des géants

Learn more.

Right to Read: Accessible Books for Everyone

This is the first of a regular column exploring Canadian books in accessible formats designed to ensure that all kids, including those with print disabilities, can discover the joy of reading. ~Tara Mandarano

All the Cool Kids are Doing It

by Laura Brady

I bet you’ve heard the phrase “born accessible” and wondered what the heck it meant. It refers to books that are built from the start with accessibility in mind—not just things like publishing with the needs of an accessible digital book in mind, but also disability representation in the book and among creators.

Books that are born accessible are easier for kids with print disabilities to use. They have image descriptions and are clearly laid out with an obvious hierarchy. Manipulating them by changing the font, the font size, or the spaciness of the page is straightforward. Often, a good accessible book can be listened to—with synthetic or human narration—at the same time that it’s read.

There is a wave of accessible publishing happening—a wave I’d like to see grow into a tsunami—of thoughtfully built print books with accessible ebook and braille counterparts. My heart sings with joy about this trend.

Please consider having a look at the Bibliovideo Accessible Books / Des livres accessiblesplaylist on YouTube to learn more about some of the great Canadian books now available for young readers with print disabilities.

Laura Brady is an international accessibility busybody who’s worked in trade publishing since the mid-’90s.

Tell us what you’d like to know about accessible books. Send your comments or questions to

Lastly, we’re so pleased to share our webinar all about accessible books. If you weren’t able to join us live, please watch now! We need your feedback! Be sure to fill out our survey and enter to win a collection of fantastic Canadian children’s books!

Winners for the 2022 QWF Awards Announced

On November 14, Quebec’s English-language literary community gathered for its first fully in-person gala in over two years. In the youth category, the 2022 Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature was awarded to Mina, by Matthew Forsythe, and published by Simon & Schuster Canada.

Learn more.

Order the Fall Issue of Book News!

Faeries, wizards and dragons, oh my! The theme of the fall issue is fantasy and science fiction.

In it, we feature Heather Fawcett, who shares with us her passion for the fantasy genre. Sarah Raughley interviews four Canadian authors who have written middle-grade and YA fantasy books inspired by their cultures. Book expert Rachel Seigel also explains the difference between fantasy and science fiction, and examines the classic subgenres associated with sci-fi in her informative article.

Our Keep Your Eye On column introduces you to Judy I. Lin, whose debut fantasy duology, The Book of Tea, is inspired by Chinese history and mythology. And our Bookmark! column features many fantasy and sci-fi books sure to enchant young readers from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Buy the issue here!

Fast Friends TD Grade One Book Giveaway Launch

Fast Friends, written by Heather M. O’Connor, illustrated by Claudia Dávila, and published by Scholastic Canada, is currently being distributed to over 550,000 Grade 1 students through the TD Grade One Book Giveaway program. Translated into French by Isabelle Allard, francophone Canadians and French immersion students across Canada are receiving copies of Amis instantanés, published by Éditions Scholastic.

On Friday, November 18, at St. Paul Catholic Elementary School in Peterborough, resident and author Heather M. O’Connor invited students to participate in a reading of the book. Students had the chance to discuss the story and play a game called “Human Emojis,” where they practiced interpreting each other’s nonverbal communication. Students also watched a video created by Fast Friends illustrator Claudia Dávila, in which she explained the steps involved in getting her artwork ready for the book, and what her creative process looks like. At the end of the event, students eagerly lined up to get their copies of the book signed.

Order the Fall Issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens!

Best Books for Kids & Teens is your guide to the best new Canadian books, magazines, audio, and video for children and teens. Whether you’re stocking a bookshelf in a classroom, library, or at home, every title in this guide has been given the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s stamp of approval. Expert committees of educators, booksellers, and school and public librarians from across Canada have handpicked the materials listed in this guide. Committees look for excellence in writing, illustration, or performance. Most importantly, these committees focus on selecting materials that will appeal to children and young adults. Buy the issue here!

Links We Love

Articles of interest to educators and parents

Groundwood Books publisher Karen Li discusses Severn Speaks Out (Quill & Quire)

The First Page student writing challenge is coming back in 2023! (CBC)

Discover new Canadian books expertly chosen for K-12 classrooms (49th Kids)

This book is for anyone who knows what it’s like to have a ‘difficult’ name (CBC)

16 festive Canadian children’s books to read over the holidays (CBC)

Diversity in publishing is the way forward (Quill & Quire)

Illustrator’s Corner

In her career as a creator for children’s publishing, Claudia Dávila has illustrated over 30 non-fiction and picture books, as well as art directing and designing kids’ books for over 20 years. She has illustrated several award-winning graphic novels including Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used In War by Jessica Dee Humpreys and Michel Chikwanine, and her own graphic novels Luz Sees the Light and Luz Makes a Splash. She also wrote and illustrated the award-winning picture book Super Red Riding Hood. In 2015 she toured for Canadian Children’s Book Week, and this year Fast Friends was the TD Grade 1 Book Giveaway, distributed to half a million grade 1 children across Canada.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as an illustrator?

When I was an associate designer at Owl magazine back in the late 1990s, I was lucky enough to draw spot illustrations for Owl and Chickadee and Chirp whenever the need arose. And I loved doing it! I soon realized I wanted to become a freelance illustrator, and took the leap in 2001, despite being a little terrified of leaving a steady job with coworkers I cared about. I was over the moon when I got my first book illustration contract with Maple Tree Press (now Owlkids Books) drawing Yoga For The Heart.

As an illustrator, where do you draw inspiration from?

Truly I love observing people in real life—how they move and dress and express themselves, how their thoughts and emotions show up on their faces and in their postures—be they my own children, or kids in the schoolyard, or strangers on the street. And lately, I’ve been relishing drawing trees and plants and landscapes, though this doesn’t come as easily to me as drawing people. But I am entranced by all things in nature and try to get the colours, textures, forms, and movement on paper. People and nature are endless sources of inspiration for me.

How do you balance being both an author and illustrator? Do you identify as one more than the other?

When I think of a story idea, usually the visuals pop into my head simultaneously, so the words and pictures balance each other. To me, writing a story is like transcribing a movie I’m seeing in my head. Drawing still comes more naturally to me because I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, and writing came much later in my adult life. I find that a good story with engaging characters takes quite a bit of mapping out and rejigging, whereas even a sketch or doodle can have lots of charm and “story.”

What projects are you working on now?

I’ve just completed two books, so I’ve been taking this time to start writing my own YA graphic novel, while also dabbling in learning new art techniques, like gouache illustration. And in the new year, I’ll be illustrating a new graphic novel series with Kids Can Press. A friend and I are also working on a teen/YA self-help book about dealing with climate anxiety. I’m really excited about all of these projects and am looking forward to leaning into each of them over the next few years.

Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

Yes, I have just finished two books that will be coming out in 2023! One is a graphic novel with Kids Can Press called Thunderboom! written by Jack Briglio. It’s a fun and heartwarming adventure about a non-verbal boy who gets lost at a Christmas parade, and how he finds his inner strength to overcome his fears. The other is a follow-up to Fast Friends by Heather M. O’Connor and published by Scholastic Canada. This picture book is called Friends Find A Way and coincidentally is also about getting lost, though this time at a zoo!

Learn more about Claudia by visiting her website at

December Reading List: Best of the Year

Our December newsletter is a celebration of the CCBC staff’s favourite books of 2022! Get young readers excited about reading books by Canadian authors and illustrators with this list—great for parents, librarians, and teachers to use.

Picture Books

Rodney Was a Tortoise
Written by Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
Tundra Books, 2022
ISBN 978-0-7352-6662-9
IL: Ages 3-8 RL: Grades 1-3

Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank. As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice.


My Name Is Saajin Singh
Written by Kuljinder Kaur Brar
Illustrated by Samrath Kaur
Annick Press, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7732-1705-5
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-2

Saajin loves his name—he loves it so much that he sees it spelled out in the world around him in his snacks, in the sky, and sometimes he even sings it aloud. On his first day of school, Saajin is excited to meet his new classmates, but things take a turn when the teacher mispronounces his name as Say-jin and he is not sure how—or if he should—correct her. After trying to live with the different version of his name for a while and some thoughtful conversations with his family about the meaning behind it, Saajin realizes the importance of reclaiming his name and embracing his identity. 


Phoenix Gets Greater
Written by Marty Wilson-Trudeau with Phoenix Wilson
Illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith
Second Story Press, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7726-0253-1
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades 1-3

Phoenix loves to play with dolls and marvel at pretty fabrics. Most of all, he loves to dance—ballet, Pow Wow dancing, or just swirling and twirling around his house. Sometimes Phoenix gets picked on and he struggles with feeling different, but his mom and brother are proud of him. With their help, Phoenix learns about Two Spirit/Niizh Manidoowag people in Anishinaabe culture and just how special he is.


Room For More
Written by Michelle Kadarusman
Illustrated by Maggie Zeng
Pajama Press, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7727-8252-3
IL: Ages 5-8 RL: Grades 1-2

Two wombats, two wallabies, a koala, and a tiger snake humorously squeeze into one burrow—and reveal important truths about environmental disasters, climate change, and the importance of welcoming refugees. When a fire sweeps through the Australian bush, wombats Dig and Scratch are glad to have a cool, damp burrow to keep them safe. But Dig notices that other animals are not so lucky. When Dig invites a wallaby mother and her joey to shelter with them, Scratch grumbles. When Dig beckons to a koala, Scratch complains. And when Dig welcomes in a tiger snake, Scratch is fit to be tied—but Dig is sure there’s always room for more.


Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Forever Birchwood
Written by Danielle Daniel
HarperCollins Publishers, 2022
ISBN 978-1-44346-334-8
IL: Ages 9–12 RL: Grades 4-5

Adventurous, trail-blazing Wolf lives in a northern mining town and spends her days exploring the mountains and wilderness with her three best friends Penny, Ann, and Brandi. The girls’ secret refuge is their tree-house hideaway, Birchwood, Wolf’s favourite place on earth. When her beloved grandmother tells her that she is the great-granddaughter of a tree talker, Wolf knows that she is destined to protect the birch trees and wildlife that surround her.


These Are Not the Words
Written by Amanda West Lewis
Groundwood Books, 2022
ISBN 978-1-773-06792-6
IL: Ages 9–12 RL: Grades 4-5

Missy’s mother has gone back to school to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Missy’s father works in advertising and takes Missy on secret midnight excursions to Harlem and the Village so she can share his love of jazz. The two write poems for each other—poems that gradually become an exchange of apologies as Missy’s father’s alcohol and drug addiction begins to take over their lives. 


Anne of Green Gables: An Adaptation (Sort Of)
Written and illustrated by Kathleen Gros
HarperAlley, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-0630-5766-1
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Anne Shirley has been in foster care her whole life. So when the Cuthberts take her in, she hopes it’s for good. They seem to be hitting it off, but how will they react to the trouble that Anne can sometimes find herself in…like accidentally dyeing her hair green or taking a dangerous dare that leaves her in a cast? Then Anne meets Diana Barry, a girl who lives in her apartment building, the Avon-Lea. The two become fast friends, as Anne finds she can share anything with Diana. As time goes on, though, Anne starts to develop more-than-friends feelings for Diana.


Young Adult Fiction

The Queen of Junk Island
Written by Alexandra Mae Jones
Annick Press, 2022
ISBN 978-1-773-21635-5
IL: Ages 16 and up RL: Grades 10-11

Still reeling from a recent trauma, sixteen-year-old Dell is relieved when her mom suggests a stay at the family cabin. But the much-needed escape quickly turns into a disaster. The lake and woods are awash in trash left by a previous tenant. And worse, Dell’s mom has invited her boyfriend’s daughter to stay with them. Yet Dell is drawn to Ivy in a way she doesn’t fully understand. As Dell uncovers secrets in the wreckage of her family’s past—secrets hinted at through troubling dreams and strange apparitions—Ivy leads her toward thrilling, if confusing, revelations about her sexuality and identity.


Love From Mecca To Medina
Written by S.K. Ali
Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022
ISBN 978-1-66591-607-3
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart. Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable. Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia.


A Magic Steeped in Poison
(The Book of Tea, Book 1)
Written by Judy I. Lin
Feiwel and Friends, 2022
ISBN 978-1-250-76708-0
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.


Wish Upon a Satellite
Written by Sophie Labelle
Second Story Press, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7726-0257-9
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

The glaciers are melting and the climate crisis is on their mind, but nothing shakes the foundations of non-binary teen Ciel’s world more than sharing an unexpected kiss with their best friend, Stephie. Everything they thought was clear is suddenly all mixed up—and that’s without the new problems at school: sexting, peer pressure, and overdue book reports. In this new book for teens, Sophie Labelle’s beloved characters are leaving childhood behind and grappling with new questions of identity, loyalty, and how to negotiate dating and relationships in the age of social media.



Can You Believe It?
Written by Joyce Grant
Illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte
Kids Can Press, 2022
ISBN  978-1-5253-0322-7
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Should we believe everything we read online? Definitely not! And this book will tell you why. This fascinating book explores in depth how real journalism is made, what “fake news” is, and, most importantly, how to spot the difference. It’s chock-full of practical advice, thought-provoking examples, and tons of relevant information on subjects that range from bylines and credible sources to influencers and clickbait.


More Than Money
Written by Hadley Dyer & Mitchell Bernard
Illustrated by Paul Gill
Annick Press, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7732-1700-0
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

No matter how rich or poor you are, economic inequality impacts every aspect of your life—the place where you live, the opportunities you experience, the healthcare you get, and the education you receive. More Than Money breaks down why the rich seem to be getting richer while the rest of us are struggling to just get by. With vivid, energetic illustrations, the use of graphs and charts, and tips for how to investigate topics of interest, readers learn the most important issues and ideas in economics to better understand the consequences of inequality.


Her Courage Rises: 50 Trailblazing Women of British Columbia and Yukon
Written by Haley Healy
Ilustrated by Kimiko Fraser
Heritage House Publishing, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7720-3425-7
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 8-9

This fascinating, informative, and charming book introduces young readers to a diverse group of women who changed the face of history in unexpected ways and defied the expectations and gender norms of their times. Through charming illustrations and concise biographies, Her Courage Rises features social activists and politicians, artists and writers, scientists and healers, pioneers and prospectors, athletes and entrepreneurs, teachers, and cultural tradition keepers.


Experts’ Picks

Bookseller’s Picks

Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. Find an independent bookseller here.

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:

This Is It, Lark Harnish by Laura Best
Nimbus Publishing, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7747-1106-4
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-7

When thirteen year old Lark Harnish is sent to work as a hired girl in the MacMaster household, she is anxious but hopeful. Still grieving the recent passing of her father, she knows that her family desperately needs the money. Lark misses her own family terribly, but she is determined to prove herself to her new employer, the stern Mrs. MacMaster. Yet somehow she keeps saying and doing all the wrong things. Lark soon comes to realize that this family too is grieving, and she wishes she could help bring some light and laughter into their home, but will she ever be able to please Mrs. MacMaster and make it past the trial period that has been set for her? Lark is an earnest, tender-hearted protagonist and author Laura Best provides a thoughtful exploration of grief in this lovely historical fiction offering. 


—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 6013 Shirley St, Halifax, NS B3H 2M9

Librarian’s Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.

Fox and Bear by Miriam Körner
Red Deer Press, 2022)
ISBN 978-0-88995-646-9
IL: Ages 5-8 RL: Grades 1-3

Living the good life, Fox and Bear have a contented routine of gathering just as much food and treasures as they need in a day. Fox’s industrious idea to ramp up productivity sounds enticing at first, but their concerted stockpiling efforts leave no time for tree naps or sunset views. Automation is assumed to be the answer. Körner’s intricate dioramas, made from recycled paper and cardboard, reveal an elaborate egg-collecting and berry-picking contraption that blocks out the scenery and alters the forest. Exhausted by the never-ending quest for “bigger engines and faster machines,” Bear considers what is truly sustainable. Fox and Bear is a prophetic, fable-like picture book about how craving more can be destructive to happiness as well as to the natural world.    


—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

See you in January for our next issue!