News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
February Reading List: Black History Month
Author Corner: Shauntay Grant
Illustrator’s Studio: Eva Campbell
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
First-Ever National I Read Canadian Day to Take Place on February 19, 2020
A new nationwide initiative that celebrates the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature was recently announced. I Read Canadian Day, taking place for the first time ever on February 19, 2020, will empower families, schools, libraries, bookstores and organizations to host activities and events by reading Canadian books for just 15 minutes. We are working with OLA, CANSCAIP, Canadian School Libraries, Communication-Jeunesse and Eric Walters to make this nationwide event possible.
Stay updated by following I Read Canadian on Twitter and Instagram!
Get Excited for Bibliovideo!
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is taking Canadian children’s books to where youth already are: YouTube.
With funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Bibliovideo is the first step in a long-range digital strategy being developed by a consortium of organizations led by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre that includes the Association of Canadian Publishers/49thKids, Canadian School Libraries, CANSCAIP, Communication-Jeunesse and IBBY Canada.
Take part in a survey about what you would like to see on Bibliovideo here.
Learn more about Bibliovideo here.
Support Canadian Children’s Book Week
We are raising money for Canadian Children’s Book Week 2020, a national tour of authors, illustrators and storytellers who travel across Canada giving readings in this annual celebration of books. The donated funds will go directly towards the Adopt-a-School program, which allows schools, libraries and community centres who cannot afford the price of a reading to participate. Every $250 raised will cover the cost for a reading, which can have a lifelong impact on young people.
Canadian Children’s Book Week: Request for Expression of Interest
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is seeking sponsorship for one of our most important programs, Canadian Children’s Book Week. We are seeking organizations interested in sponsoring programs that help kids succeed in Canada.
Please download our Request for Expressions of Interest for more information.
Come Visit Us at Reading for the Love of It
We will be at Reading for the Love of It on February 20th and 21st. You can find us at booth 321.
Stop by a for free stuff, chances to win and the chance to be in a video!
Canadian Titles Recognized at Youth Media Awards
Canadian authors and illustrators received recognition at the 2020 Youth Media Awards in Philadelphia on January 27th. View the list of titles here!
Finalists announced for 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award
IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award. Every year, the Cleaver Award is presented to a Canadian illustrator in recognition of artistic excellence in a picture book.
The winner and the honour books will be announced at the IBBY Canada Annual General Meeting on March 6, 2020. All are welcome to attend. View the list of finalists here.
Isabelle Arsenault Shortlisted for the 2020 Hans Christian
IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People is proud to announce the shortlist for the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award – the world’s most prestigious award for the creators of children’s and youth literature. Canadian illustrator, Isabelle Arsenault, is among the finalists. Congratulations Isabelle! See the full list here.
Call for Submissions: 2020 CCBC Book Awards
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now accepting submissions for its English-language children’s book awards. The submission deadline is February 14, 2020. Learn more here.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me Wins the Walter Dean Myers Awards
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell has won the Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature, teen category. Read more here.
Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators
Picture Books about Mental Health (Tundra Books)
Grade 11 students in Ottawa are ditching Shakespeare for Canada’s Indigenous authors (Ottawa Citizen)
Watch: 12 children’s books that tackle mental health in age-appropriate ways (CTV: Your Morning)
More Canadians than ever are listening to books, not just reading them (CBC)
The New York Public Library Has Calculated Its Most Checked-Out Books Of All Time (NPR)
February Reading List: Black History Month
Our reading list this month is celebrating Black History Month. These books can be read in the classroom, in libraries or at home.
At the annual summer Africville Reunion Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a young girl imagines what the vibrant community was once like — from the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside to the pond where all the kids went rafting. Coming out of her reverie, she visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great-grandmother’s name is carved in stone.
Young Abigail Price is excited about spring in her new Birchtown home. Spring means her Aunt Dinah’s new baby will be born and just maybe she will get a new dress. This first picture book set in historic Birchtown, Nova Scotia, opens a window into the life of a Black Loyalist family in the early years of the historic colony.
A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice
Louise Bennett Coverley, better known as Miss Lou, was an iconic poet and entertainer known for popularizing the use of patois in music and poetry internationally—helping to pave the way for artists like Harry Belafonte and Bob Marley to use patois in their work. This picture book tells the story of Miss Lou’s early years, when she was a young girl growing up in Jamaica.
Oscar Lives Next Door: A Story Inspired by Oscar Peterson’s Childhood
Inspired by the real-life childhood of Oscar Peterson, this is a story of a boy forced to give up the instrument he loves — and who finds his way back to a lifelong passion for music. In this fictional account, Oscar’s friend Millie encourages him to play piano after tuberculosis robs him of his ability to play trumpet. This title is also available in French as Mon voisin Oscar : Une histoire inspirée de l’enfance d’Oscar Peterson.
Junior & Intermediate Fiction
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud Caldwell’s mother died when he was six years old, leaving him with nothing but a cardboard suitcase filled with memories and a possible hint of who his father may be. Now, 10 years old and on the run, Bud lives among the homeless in Flint, Michigan, until he decides to walk to Grand Rapids in search of his father. Helped by a few kind people along the way, Bud eventually locates Herman E. Calloway, a famous musician who denies Bud’s claim that he is his father. Finally, the contents of Bud’s suitcase provide the clues necessary to prove that Calloway is indeed related to Bud, but not in the way that Bud expects.
Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World
Ella Sheppard was born a slave in 1851, but her family bought their freedom and moved to Ohio where slavery was illegal. When her school ran out of money, Ella turned to music, becoming a founding member of the Jubilee Singers, a travelling choir that followed the route of the Underground Railroad, breaking down barriers between blacks and whites, lifting spirits and helping influence modern American music.
A heartbreaking history of prejudice, family ties, and the loss of innocence. When 12-year-old Titus Sullivan decides to run away to join his Uncle Amos and older brother, Lem, he finds an alien and exciting world in Oil Springs, the first Canadian oil boomtown of the 19th century. The Enniskillen swamp is slick with oil, and it takes enterprising folk to plumb its depths. The adventurers who work there are a tough lot of individuals. In this hard world, Titus becomes friends with a young black boy, the child of slaves who came to Canada on the Underground Railroad. When tragedy strikes in the form of a race riot, Titus’s loyalties are tested as he struggles to deal with the terrible fallout. Though the characters are fictitious, the novel is based on a race riot that occurred in Oil Springs, Ontario, on March 20, 1863. Grease Town is historical fiction at its finest.
The Madman of Piney Woods
Benji and Red couldn’t be more different and they aren’t friends, but their fates are entwined by a strange presence in the forest. Set in Buxton, Ontario, a community of escaped slaves, 40 years after the events of Elijah of Buxton, Benji and Red come together to solve the mystery of Piney Woods. This new edition includes bonus content.
Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Young Adult Fiction
A Big Dose of Lucky
Sixteen-year-old Malou’s life is a mystery. All she really knows is that she’s of mixed race and that she was left at an orphanage as a newborn. After a fire destroys the orphanage, Malou follows a single clue that takes her to the small town of Parry Sound. There she finds many young brown faces like hers. Are they relatives? Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about it?
Black Women Who Dared
Artist Naomi M. Moyer presents powerful biographical portraits of 10 black women and women’s collectives who were committed to uplifting their communities. Celebrate these remarkable women — anti-slavery activists, businesswomen, organizers who promoted healthcare, and educators who taught literacy and scholarship in black neighbourhoods — and the profound impacts they’ve had. These are inspiring and indomitable black women whose stories need to be told.
This Book Betrays My Brother
All her life, 13-year-old Naledi has been in awe of Basi, her charming and outgoing older brother. Then she sees Basi commit a horrific act that violates everything she believes about him. For Naledi, caught in a web of both family and communal loyalties and of cultural traditions and taboos, there are no simple answers. How will she live her life now?
When Morning Comes
It’s 1976, in South Africa. This is the story of four young people living in Johannesburg and its black township, Soweto, and their chance meeting that changes everything. Already a chain of events is in motion: a failed plot, a murdered teacher, a powerful police agent with a vendetta, and a secret network of students across the township. The students will rise. And there will be violence.
Africville: An African Nova Scotian Community Is Demolished — and Fights Back
In the late 1800s, Africville was founded on the northern edge of Halifax. The close-knit community was vibrant, with a strong sense of culture and tradition. But in the 1960s, the city demolished Africville, appropriating the land for industrial development. Through historical photographs, documents and first-person narratives, this book tells the story of Africville — and how the spirit of the community lives on.
The Kids Book of Black Canadian History
From the first Black person who came to Canada about 400 years ago to the most recent wave of African immigrants, Black Canadians have played an important role in our country’s history. In this informative overview, kids will discover the inspiring stories and events of a people who fought oppression as they searched for a place to call their own.
I Came as a Stranger
In I Came as a Stranger, Bryan Prince, a descendant of slaves, describes the people who made their way to Canada and the life that awaited them. From Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden, Ontario to Harriet Tubman’s Canadian base of operations in St. Catharines, the communities founded by former slaves soon produced businessmen, educators, and writers. Yet danger was present in the form of bounty hunters and prejudice. Complemented by archival photos, I Came as a Stranger is an important addition to North American history.
Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged
In Nova Scotia, in 1946, an usher in a movie theatre told Viola Desmond to move from her main floor seat up to the balcony. She refused to budge. Viola knew she was being asked to move because she was black. After all, she was the only black person downstairs. All the other black people were up in the balcony. In no time at all, the police arrived and took Viola to jail. The next day she was charged and fined, but she vowed to continue her struggle against such unfair rules. She refused to accept that being black meant she couldn’t sit where she wanted.
Author’s Corner: Shauntay Grant
Shauntay Grant is the author of several picture books for children including Africville, winner of the 2019 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and nominated for a 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award and the 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and she has shared her children’s poetry and prose internationally at festivals and events in Canada, the United States, England, the Caribbean, and Australia. A former poet laureate for the City of Halifax (2009–2011), she is a member of the college of teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University. Visit her online at shauntaygrant.com.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
Several years ago I was invited to read poetry at a local event for writers. I shared a poem called “Remember Preston” – a personal narrative inspired by my childhood and experiences in North Preston, one of Canada’s oldest historically Black communities and place that will always be home. I wrote the poem in my late teens, but it was nearly a decade later that I ended up sharing it in front of this audience of writers, editors, publishers, and literary enthusiasts. After my reading, Sandra McIntyre, who was a senior editor at Nimbus Publishing at the time, approached me with the idea of turning my poem into a book for children. A few years later, Up Home – a collaboration with illustrator Susan Tooke – took home the Best Atlantic-Published Book Award at the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s awards. And it was through this project that I became exposed to the world of children’s publishing, and seriously hooked on crafting stories for kids.
What is your writing process like?
My process is varied. I teach creative writing at Dalhousie University so the bulk of my writing happens outside of the teaching semester. But generally speaking, I like to write in the mornings. But that’s certainly not a hard and fast rule – Africville, for example, was written during an afternoon visit to the site of Africville. And site-based writing and listening on the physical land has become an important part of my process, not just as a children’s writer but as a poet and playwright as well.
For those who may not be familiar about Nova Scotia’s community of Africville, could you tell us a little bit about its history?
Africville was a Black communicated located on the shores of the Bedford Basin in Halifax. It was settled largely by a group of persons of African descent who migrated to Nova Scotia from America after the War of 1812, collectively known as the Black Refugees. The physical community of Africville was in existence for more than 150 years. It was a self-sustaining community of taxpaying citizens who were not afforded many of the services provided to other residents of the city, like running water, sewers, paved roads, as well as police, fire truck and ambulance service. As the city of Halifax grew, Africville became the preferred site for various unpleasant facilities like the city garbage dump, a slaughter house, and a hospital for infectious diseases. Instead of providing for the community, Halifax city officials decided to demolish it in the 1960s. Residents were moved out in dump trucks and their homes were destroyed. Some residents moved into public housing, some moved to other areas of the city, some moved out of the province.
But even though the community was scattered, their determination to stay together has remained strong. Since the 1980s former residents have been returning to the site of their community to hold the Africville reunion festival, an annual event for former residents, their descendants, friends and supporters. The site was declared a National Historic Site in 2002. And in recent years a replica of the community’s church was built as part of a compensation deal with the City of Halifax, and the building functions as a museum, offering year-round programming like 2020 Nova Scotia Heritage Day events which celebrates Africville province-wide.
Because Africville was demolished in the 1960s, how did you ensure your words, along with Campbell’s illustrations, stayed true to the community?
Both Eva and I engaged in research to inform the text and illustrations for the book. But one of the most rewarding parts of the research process for me was sitting down with former residents, showing them my text and Eva’s draft illustrations, and having them check for historical accuracy.
Have you ever attended an Africville reunion? If so, what was it like and what did it mean to you?
Yes! I’ve attended several reunion festivals, and my first public reading of Africville was at the 2018 Africville Reunion Festival which took place months before the book was available to the public. It’s actually that feeling that I get from attending the festivals and seeing the Africville community come together that became the central theme of the book – that feeling of home, family, community… ultimately that’s what I wanted to express.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I’ve been sharing a new board book published in November called My Hair Is Beautiful. I’m also working on two picture books at the moment, one that tells a lesser-known Black Canadian history, and one that takes us to the depths of the sea. I’m also developing a new piece of work for theatre, and 2b theatre company is working on a tour of my three-act drama The Bridge which premiered in 2019 at Neptune Theatre (a co-production between 2b and Neptune in association with Obsidian Theatre Company).
Find out more about Shauntay at shauntaygrant.com
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Illustrator’s Studio: Eva Campbell
Eva Campbell is an artist and illustrator who teaches visual art at Lester B. Pearson College UWC. She has exhibited her work in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Barbados and Ghana. Eva won the Children’s Africana Book Award for her illustrations in The Matatu by Eric Walters. She lives in Victoria.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
As I was always interested in art, I used to illustrate my own stories when I was young. However, my first published illustration project was with my mother Julie Campbell, a school teacher, who wrote a children’s reading book called Anno’s Kite. This was published by Woeli Publishing Services, in Ghana in 1994 and won the Toyota/Children’s Literature Award.
What was it like working with author Shauntay Grant on Africville, which won the 2019 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award?
It was fun working with Shauntay Grant on Africville. I already knew about the history of Africville but I learned a lot more during my research for the project. It’s an important part of Canadian history and I was excited to work on the project.
What artists and illustrators have influenced your own art style?
Many, but I can name a few who inspired my depiction of children. I like studying the 19th and 20th century illustrators like Beatrix Potter, Cecily M. Baker and others. When I was young I was also inspired by the drawings of the Jamaican artist J. MacDonald Henry.
What is it like teaching the next generation of artists?
I now teach at an IB World School called Brookes Westshore, which is an international school with students and staff from around the world. I enjoy teaching art and seeing youth develop their art-making skills and learn to express themselves visually. Art plays an important role in the development of the mind and in society so it should be a crucial part of education.
What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?
Although teaching occupies most of my time, I enjoy the time I can work on my own drawings and paintings in my studio. Also last year, I completed another illustration project for House of Anansi Press which you will see in the bookstores later in 2020.
Find out more about Eva at evacampbell.ca
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter (Tundra Books, 2019) Ages 9-12
When Ruth is sent to rural Newfoundland to spend the summer with maternal relatives she has never met, she discovers a whole new world. Firstly, as she bonds with her cousin Ruby, she learns more than she could ever have imagined about her mother and her mother’s family. She also makes some startling revelations about herself and her own special gifts. Together, she and Ruby begin to investigate a family curse that is rumoured to have been passed down through the generations. As the two girls slowly begin to unravel the secrets of the past and Ruth comes to terms with the terrifying visions that she experiences, they become ever more determined to break the curse and end the suffering that has plagued their family. Cotter has created a magnificently layered middle grade tale that is equal parts ghost story, mystery and family drama and which succeeds brilliantly on all fronts! She masterfully depicts her Newfoundland setting, vividly depicting the wild beauty, the close-knit communities and a keen sense of the supernatural. She also captures the complexities of family relationships in the present as well as in the past.
—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.
The Bug Girl (a true story) by Sophia Spencer, with Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoët (Tundra Books, 2020) Ages 4-8
Sophia Spencer is a child who has loved bugs since the day a butterfly landed on her shoulder. In this inspiring picture book memoir, the fourth grader conversationally shares her passion for the insect world. When Sophie is bullied at school because of her ardour for arthropods, her mother reaches out to an entomological society for support. Words of encouragement pour in from scientists around the world, and her story starts a #BugsR4Girls movement. The lushly expressive watercolour illustrations by husband and wife team Kerascoët capture Sophie in her natural habitat: happily looking for bugs by the stream near her house. Young naturalists will find a kindred spirit in The Bug Girl.
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
Wings of Olympus by Kallie George (HarperCollins Canada, 2019) Ages 8-12
Pippa is an orphan who loves horses, and has just heard of the race the Gods hold to choose the next winged horse that Zeus will ride, where the riders are mortal children. In fact, she’s so excited that it leads to her losing her home and job. But then Pippa wakes up in Olympus. She has been chosen as one of the riders of the winged horses in the latest race! The winner will get to stay in Olympus, but there are so many other children riding, many of them with stronger horses and equally good reasons. A charming short chapter book full of magic and friendship.
—Polly Ross-Tyrell, Children’s Librarian, Aurora Public Library
Through the Woods by Emily Carrol (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014) Ages 14 and up
In the tradition of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Through the Woods is a graphic novel collection of eerie, haunting short stories that will stay with you after dark. The illustrations are a perfect companion to the wonderfully creepy stories – sparse when needed and using red and black as emphasis. The various period costume used lends it a certain old timey feel that adds to the atmosphere of the stories. This is a great collection for older teens looking for scary stories, and the short, fast pace makes it a perfect recommendation for reluctant readers as well.
—Kat Drennan-Scace, Manager, Red Hill Branch, Hamilton Public Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2019) Ages 4-8
There has never been a board book like this one, which was inspired by the colours of the rainbow pride flag. With sweet rhyming text and photos of adorable children throughout, at the heart of this board book is the message to a child that no matter what, they are loved. Children will love the colourful pictures and message of love and acceptance.
— Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Ping by Ani Castillo (Little Brown Books for Young Readers) Ages 5+
Using table tennis as a metaphor to tell an important lesson, Ping is a visual representation of what we send out (Pings) and what we receive back (Pongs). Pings can be a variety of things – they can be a simple hello, a nerve-wracking performance in front of a crowd or even an expression of love. Pongs, on the other hand, are unpredictable as they’re completely out of one’s control. Will that simple hello get a smile back, will the crowd of that performance cheer their hearts out, and will that expression of love get an “I love you” back, or worse, nothing at all? Ping is a book that reminds readers to be brave by doing the things they love, but also understanding that their actions and emotions may not always receive the response they had hoped for. Nonetheless, it’s important to get back up and try again.
Readers, both young and old, will appreciate the simple, yet adorable watercolour images done by Ani Castillo, as well as Ani’s ability to take a meaningful lesson we have all learned before and presenting it in a unique manner never seen before. This clever book will be sure to have readers reflecting for days!
— Paola Gonzalez, CCBC Magazine & Marketing Intern
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, written by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant (Groundwood Books, 2014) Ages 3-8
Who is Morris Micklewhite, you ask? He’s an endearing and imaginative little boy who marches to the beat of his own drum. His favourite activity at school is the dress-up centre where his favourite item is the tangerine dress. “It reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.” Swish, swish, swish is the sound the dress makes when he walks. Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle is the sound the dress makes when he sits down. And, click, click, click is the noise his favourite shoes make when he walks across the floor.
Of course, all the happiness that this tangerine dress brings him dissipates when his classmates tease him and tell him that dresses are for girls, not boys. Writing about the world of a gender non-conforming child, author Christine Baldacchino introduces us to a character with great strength, who, despite all of the teasings from his classmates, shows them and the reader that he has the courage to be different.
I love the final line of the book. After his classmate makes a point of telling him again that “Boys don’t wear dresses,” Morris simply replies, “This boy does.”
— Meghan Howe, CCBC Library Coordinator
Look for our March newsletter next month, which will take us around the world!