News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
February Reading List: Kindness
Author Corner: Leslie Gentile
Illustrator’s Studio: Holly Hatam
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Celebrate Black History Month With Our Reading List
February is Black History Month and we’ve created a reading list full of books that are perfect for educators and librarians to use all year round. See the full list here.
Share the Love and Purchase One-Of-A-Kind Art to Support the CCBC!
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited to announce the launch of the virtual Picture Book Gallery. Award-winning Canadian illustrators are selling original art to support the CCBC’s annual Canadian Children’s Book Week program. Illustrators are donating 60% of the value of their original art in support of the CCBC.
Be a Friend, Share a Book!
Be a friend, share a book! Support the CCBC by purchasing this vintage style poster by celebrated children’s book illustrator Pierre Collet-Derby. Produced entirely in Canada, these prints are letterpressed by Everlovin’ Press and are signed by the illustrator. Proceeds go to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
Writing Contest for Canadian Kids in Grades 1-6 from DC Canada!
If you’ve ever dreamed about seeing your words published for kids around the world to read, this is your chance! Our second ever DC Canada One Story a Day Writing Contest is underway, and if you’re in grade 1 to 6 and live in Canada, we want to see what you’ve got.
Submit your short stories by March 31, 2022, 12 p.m. EST.
Grades 1 and 2: 50 to 100 words
Grades 3 and 4: 150 to 250 words
Grades 5 and 6: 250 to 350 words
Winners in each category will receive a cash prize and be published in an illustrated storybook. The school with the most participants will also win a prize – lots of our books!
Accessible Kids’ Books Survey
Teachers and librarians: we’re working on a new project all about #AccessibleBooks for kids. Please fill out our survey to help with the development of this resource, and be automatically entered to win a selection of great Canadian kids’ books! Fill out the survey by clicking here.
Promote Your Accessible Kids’ Books!
The CCBC is developing a resource for teachers and librarians on accessible books for young readers. We plan to:
• raise awareness of the need for accessible books,
• enhance discoverability, and
• market accessible books to readers across Canada and globally.
To start, we are creating a list of accessible kids’ books that are currently available (or forthcoming) from Canadian authors.
We would like to invite you to submit your accessible books for inclusion in this project. Please download this spreadsheet to learn more about the project and complete your submissions.
The deadline for submissions is February 18, 2022. Please send your completed spreadsheet to email@example.com.
Your School Can Apply To Be a Part of Canadian Children’s Book Week!
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 May 1 to May 7, 2022, and will allow young readers to connect with highly acclaimed and emerging authors and illustrators. See the complete list of everyone touring here.
Your school, library or community centre can apply to take part! There are still a few spots available: apply here to take part.
Create Your Own Junk Journal with Carol-Ann Hoyte
Presented in both English and French
Junk journals are made from an assortment of new and recycled types of papers. These useful and attractive books are a great papercraft, as they use multiple materials found at home. These creations can be used for writing stories, creating artwork, journaling, storing keepsakes, and more! Participants will learn how to make and decorate a junk journal cover as well as create and embellish pages for a junk journal.
*Proceeds from the registration fees will support the work of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Canadian Titles Nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award
Mystery Writers of America Announces 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations, including Canadian titles Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden by Marthe Jocelyn and The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur! Learn more here.
Celebrate Freedom to Read Week: February 20–26, 2022
Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Show your support and order Freedom to Read Week 2022 posters.
Take your child or classroom on an adventure with MS Read-a-Thon
With over 40 years of fun, MS Read-a-Thon is a program you may remember from when you were a kid. Now you can share your childhood memories with your own kids in with the new and updated MS Read-a-Thon program. The rules are simple – read whatever you like, as much as you can!
Kids love MS Read-a-Thon and it’s never been easier or more exciting to take part. MS Read-a-Thon is more fun than ever before with a new, interactive website that lets kids track the books they read, download colouring pages and more.
Fundraising has never been easier and will help fund vital services for the MS community. You can register now to start fundraising and be ready for the official reading period from January 27th to February 28, 2022. Time to put your reading caps on and have loads of fun!
Annick Press is Looking for Indo-East African Illustrators
Share your portfolio by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
CBC Books’ national creative writing challenge for Grades 7 to 12 students is coming back!
The First Page will be open for the entire month of February 2022.
The Challenge: Write the first page of a novel (300-400 words) imagining how a current day issue or trend has played out in 150 years. The book could be from any literary genre, from mystery or thriller to literary fiction, from adventure or romance to satire or science fiction.
Prizes: The winner of each category will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which delivers monthly boxes of books and literary-related goodies. The school library of each winner will also receive a donation of 50 books.
Everything you need to know about the challenge can be found at cbc.ca/thefirstpage.
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
Order the Newest Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News!
The Winter 2021 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News looks back on all of the good things that happened in the children’s book world this year! The Fan Brothers share their collaboration process, childhood aspirations and the inspiration behind their multi-award-winning picture book, The Barnabus Project. IBBY Canada launched the second edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea, a timely and important catalogue celebrating Canadian Indigenous picture books. Author June Hur is featured in our Keep Your Eye On column. Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher, creators of this year’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway book Maliaka’s Costume, share their excitement at having their book selected as a giveaway book. Our Bookmark! column features a list of books about COVID-19 to help a young one in your life understand the pandemic or process the feelings they are having regarding isolation or the changes in their life.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a young bookworm in your life, we asked Canadian children’s booksellers to recommend their favourite books of 2021. And, as always, our We Recommend section has over 40 new fabulous books for you to enjoy!
Canadian Children’s Book News Online Preview
Canadian Children’s Book News: Winter Reading
It’s time for winter reading! Published quarterly, our magazine Canadian Children’s Book News reviews books, interviews authors and illustrators, includes annotated reading lists, informs and updates readers about issues affecting children’s education and reading, and provides information and news about the world of children’s books in Canada.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.
February Reading List: Living With Kindness
Our February newsletter is all about living with kindness, inspired by Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17.
Leslie Gentile’s novel Elvis, Me and The Lemonade Stand Summer was released by Cormorant Books in February 2021. Her debut MG book won the 18th annual Victoria Children’s Book Awards, and is a finalist in both the Rocky Mountain and Silver Birch Book Awards.
Gentile lives on Vancouver Island with her husband Dan, as well as a German Shepherd who is convinced that he’s a lap dog, and a cat who snores. Gentile is of Salish, Tuscarora and Scottish heritage and lives on the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ people.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
Even before I could read, I was fascinated by the mysteries that chapter books held inside them. I was the youngest of seven kids, and can remember watching my older siblings read ‘big kid books’ filled with this secret, magical code that I couldn’t crack. When I was about four, I stapled some blank papers together to make a book and drew a cover picture. I was determined that I would write a book – even though I couldn’t read or write. I asked my older sister (Karen Lee White, author of The Silence) to print the title for me: The Little House in the Big Woods. I was so proud of it! Even before I could read and write, I had this burning desire to be an author.
How did your background as a musician lead to you becoming an author?
It’s all about storytelling, really. Song writing is just a different medium, which is a great training ground for learning to write sparingly. With a song, you just get a few verses and a chorus to tell a story. And after all these years, I still wanted to write a book, so I felt it was time to sit down and try. And forty thousand words – what a luxury!
We love Elvis, Me and The Lemonade Stand Summer: what inspired you to tell Truly’s story?
I had a friend who had been raised right down in the legendary Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco by a very free-spirited mother, and she had some VERY fascinating stories to tell about her childhood. Her mother was obsessed with Elvis Presley, sewed Elvis styled costumes for entertainers, and eventually married an Elvis Impersonator. Hearing this made me wonder if a young child would understand the difference between the real and the fake Elvis. As I pondered this, I had the image of a young girl sitting on the side of a country road, waiting as a Sun Bug pulled up and Elvis stepped out. I sat down to write, and asked her “why are you sitting here waiting?” and she began to tell me her story.
The theme of kindness has a strong presence in your novel, why do you think that it’s important for kids to read books like this?
I wanted to show that kindness can be a choice. Being kind is something that we can control in a world that sometimes feels so out of control. I come from both settler and Indigenous heritage, so I wanted to show young readers how racism – which is extreme unkindness – can manifest. Because Truly has a hard life, it was important to me that I balance it by showing how much kindness and love there was for her that she wasn’t really aware of at first. It was also important to me that it was the Indigenous characters who came to Truly’s rescue when her family abandoned her. We have such a huge separation between Indigenous and settler people here in Canada that it’s so easy to believe the misconceptions about Indigenous people. One of the most powerful things to come out of publishing this book was when an adult reader contacted me to tell me that I had made them do some real soul-searching about their misconceptions and preconceived ideas about Natives.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I’m working on a middle grade novel told from the perspective of an ‘Urban Rez Dog’, who helps his kids solve a mystery. It’s very different than Elvis, Me and The Lemonade Stand Summer; (hopefully) funnier, and a bit lighter. I’m having a lot of fun writing from a dog’s perspective! I have also started to draft out a sequel to Elvis. I really thought that Truly’s story was complete when I wrote it, but I’ve had so many requests from readers for a sequel that I began to think about what comes next for Truly and Andy El. They’re letting me know!
Find out more about Leslie by following her on instagram.
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Holly Hatam has been an artist since she could first hold a pencil. She would hold art gallery openings featuring her work in her tiny bedroom and charge her parents and brother an admission price of $0.25 to attend.
Today she is an illustrator and graphic designer who illustrates in a whimsical and quirky style. She loves to combine line drawings, photography and texture to create endearing illustrations that burst to life with personality and emotion. She is the illustrator of #1 New York Times Bestselling Picture Book, DEAR GIRL, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Paris Rosenthal, and has illustrated books for Dial Books, little bee books, Annick Press, and Tilbury House. She also debuted as an author/illustrator with the MAGICAL CREATURES board book series published by Random House.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator and author?
Since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of becoming a book illustrator.But along the way, I lost confidence in myself as an artist and instead studied graphic design in college. I was a graphic designer for years and even owned my own stationery company. It wasn’t until 2013 that I found the courage to shut down my business and follow my dreams. During the years, I was always drawing, so I posted some of my work on a website, began emailing publishers and not soon after that I got my first book deal. In 2015 I signed with my current agent and my career has took off since.
What artists or illustrators have inspired you or even influenced your art style?
The one artist I always look to for inspiration is Mary Blair. Other artists I’m inspired by are Oliver Jeffers, Peter H Reynolds, Isabelle Arsenault and Brittney Lee.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I can’t share everything, as it hasn’t been announced yet! But I am in the process of finishing two more books that I wrote and illustrated called, If You Met Santa and If You Met the Easter Bunny. I’m also developing a few concepts for animated tv series.
Find out more about Holly at her website, hollyhatam.com.
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:
This well-known and dearly loved Newfoundland folk song is beautifully brought to life in the pages of this gorgeous book illustrated by Lauren Soloy. From cover to cover, every single page is a visual feast (including the delightful endpapers!) The rich, sumptuous palette, sketchy lines and energetic compositions capture the lively and infectious spirit of the song while exuberantly depicting the rugged, majestic beauty of Newfoundland itself. The illustrator’s note at the back provides helpful information and explanations of numerous words and phrases and give readers (even those of us who have grown up singing this song) new insight into its origins and meaning. Icebergs, whales and fishing boats, laundry hanging on the line, puffins and Newfoundland dogs…all of these make appearances here amidst the rollicking dancers and musicians whose energy leap off the page. A magnificent celebration of a place that is clearly very dear to the illustrator’s heart.
—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager
Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 6013 Shirley St, Halifax, NS B3H 2M9 www.woozles.com
Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.
In this outstanding novel, fourteen-year-old Sami searches for the truth about her recently deceased mother, who she thought died years ago. The eight-day road trip from Toronto to Chicago she takes with Carl, her alcoholic and taciturn grandfather, and Aggie, their indominable next-door neighbour (who brings along a suitcase full of wigs she calls “the girls”) is an emotional journey into the secrets of her family’s past. Themes of forgiveness and embracing community run throughout this tour de force. Sami’s crystal-clear first-person narration is honest and funny and spot on. The characters all travel far and their homecoming will grab readers by the heart. Eight Days is a memorable ride.
—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.
Young Zoe is excited to visit her best friend Kaitlyn’s house and play dress up together, until they start arguing over who gets to wear the coveted princess outfit. Kaitlyn, who is white, tells Zoe, who is of African descent, that princesses always have hair and skin like her, not like Zoe. When Zoe arrives home in tears, her parents explain to her the ignorance behind Kaitlyn’s statement. They share with her the rich history of royalty in Africa and describe many strong African queens including in modern-day countries. Zoe’s family then visits with Kaitlyn’s family and teaches them more about African nations. The two friends make up and Zoe shows Kaitlyn her new beautiful African-style gown. Zoe now embraces her ethnicity and heritage and is happy to share it with her friend. This is a book full of important messages on friendship, the racist micro-aggressions that even children endure and the importance of being educated on the history of black people. A must-read and especially for Black History Month!
Chief Willie Sellars of Williams Lake First Nation and illustrator Kevin Easthope have once again paired up to create a fun and engaging picture book, this time about a championship hockey game. This winter must-read combines a star female hockey player, energetic and joyful illustrations, Indigenous linguistic and cultural references and, of course, a winning goal. Whether you are a hockey fan or not, this fantastic read-aloud story will keep kids and adults engaged from start to finish, and it might even inspire you to strap on a pair of skates and hit the ice!
—Amanda Halfpenny, Events and Program Coordinator for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
See you in March for our next issue, all about graphic novels and comics!!