News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
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 and Eric Walters to make this nationwide event possible.
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.
Learn more 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 for 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.
Come Visit Us at OLA Super Conference and Reading for the Love of It
We are going to be at OLA Super Conference in Toronto! Come visit us at the Community Boulevard on Wednesday January 29th and come to booth 334 on January 30th and 31st.
We will also be at Reading for the Love of It on February 20th and 21st. You can find us at booth 321.
Stop by at both events for free stuff, chances to win and the chance to be in a video!
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators
January Reading List: Graphic Novels
Our reading list this month is all about graphic novels. These books can be read in the classroom, in libraries or at home.
Author’s Corner: Faith Erin Hicks
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and artist. She worked in the animation industry for several years before transitioning into writing and drawing comics full time in 2008. She started making comics “for fun” and putting them on the web when she was in college. Her first published work was Zombies Calling (SLG Publishing) in 2007. Since then, she has published a number of other graphic novels, including The War at Ellsmere (SLG), Brain Camp, with Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan (First Second), Friends with Boys (First Second ), Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, with Prudence Shen (First Second), The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse Comics), The Last of Us: American Dreams, with Neil Druckmann (Dark Horse Comics), the Bigfoot Boy series, with J. Torres (Kids Can Press), and the middle-grade fantasy trilogy, The Nameless City (First Second). She won an Eisner Award in 2014 for The Adventures of Superhero Girl. In 2019 her debut young adult prose novel, Comics Will Break Your Heart, was published by Roaring Brook Press.
Faith currently lives in Vancouver, BC with her partner, Tim, and their helpful cat.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author? What is your process like when writing and illustrating a graphic novel?
I started my very first webcomic, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer inspired story called Demonology 101, way back in 1999. I finished it in 2004, and thought that would be the last time I drew comics. I’d gone to college for animation training, and planned to work in that industry. I never thought comics would be my career; I never thought I’d be good enough to make it. But in 2008 I lost my job in animation and figured I’d give comics a try until my savings ran out. That was 11 years and 14 published graphic novels ago, so I think I’m doing okay!
The first thing I do when I’m writing and drawing a graphic novel is to sit down and do a rough draft of the entire book, in thumbnail form. Thumbnails are basically blueprints for the finished comic book page; they are drawn very loosely, usually with stick figures and no backgrounds. And I write the dialogue for each page by hand next to the thumbnail. When I’m done this part of the process, I basically have a very rough, stick figure version of the final book. Then I type up a script based on that thumbnail version (no one sees it but me) and pass that off to my editor. She gives me notes and when we’re happy with the script, I start drawing. I draw my comic pages on a Wacom Cintiq, which is a giant computer monitor that you can draw on with a stylus. Then I print out those digitally drawn pages on to thick paper called Bristol, and clean up my artwork by tracing over it with a watercolour brush and ink. I often get asked why I don’t work entirely digitally, instead of half digital, half traditional, but I really enjoy inking my drawings by hand, so I don’t want to give up that part of the process.
I don’t usually colour my own comics, so if the graphic novel I’m making will be in colour, I send the colourist that I’m working with digital copies of the pages I’ve drawn, and they work their magic.
It’s a lot of work, making a graphic novel! It usually takes me a year to write and draw a 200 page comic.
What artists and storytellers have influenced you as a creator?
I love Jeff Smith, who made the incredible fantasy comic Bone, Hiromu Arakawa, creator of Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon, and Naoki Urasawa, creator of many series, my favourites being Pluto and 20th Century Boys.
What was it like working with author Rainbow Rowell?
Rainbow is incredibly smart and funny and when I read what she writes, I see these smart, funny characters coming to life. It was so cool to be able to take her words and put my drawings to them, I feel very fortunate for the opportunity.
How does illustrating your own characters compare with illustrating characters we all know and love, like Buffy and Aang?
It’s always fun to play in someone else’s sandbox, to take the world they’ve set up and add a little bit of myself to it. It’s also fun because they’ve done all the hard work of creating this world, and I just get to dive in and mess around with it. I’m very fond of Avatar: The Last Airbender in particular. I started watching the show when season 3 was airing over a decade ago, and was blown away by the sophistication and heart of the show. It feels amazing to contribute my own stories to that world. But I also love making up my own characters and worlds, and while that can be harder and more time-consuming, I find it very rewarding. It’s like taking an image you see in your head and pasting it onto the page in front of you. It can be very intimate, because you’re sharing this hidden part of yourself with the reader, but there’s no greater feeling when a comic you made resonates with a reader.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I’m working on two new things, one is a licensed project (so, not my characters and world) and the other is all me, writing and drawing. Unfortunately neither has been announced yet, so I can’t talk about them. I also have a new graphic novel coming out in July from First Second. It’s called One Year at Ellsmere and is about a scholarship student’s experiences at a posh boarding school. It’s pretty much the kind of graphic novel I desperately wanted to read when I was 10 years old. I hope readers out there like it!
Find out more about Faith at www.faitherinhicks.com
Listen to Our Two Podcasts!
Illustrator’s Studio: Mike Deas
Capilano College’s Commercial Animation Program in Vancouver helped Mike fine-tune his drawing skills and imagination. Work as a concept artist, texture artist and art lead in the video game industry took Mike to England and California.
Mike lives with his family on sunny Salt Spring Island.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
I grew up on Salt Spring Island which has a strong arts community and spent a lot of my time drawing and reading comics. Knowing I enjoyed drawing and cartoons, Capilano College’s Commercial Animation Program (North Vancouver) seemed like an obvious choice. After graduation I found myself in the Video Game industry for a number of years. Looking for a change of scenery, I put together and passed around an illustration portfolio. Orca Book Publishers were looking for an illustrator on the Graphic Guide Adventure Series and I am very grateful they took a chance with me.
Where did your inspiration for Shadow Island (Sueño Bay Adventures) come from?
Nancy and I wanted to create an adventure story that felt like the ones we remember enjoying over the years whether it was The Famous Five, The Goonies or any of the Miyazaki films. We tried to use our knowledge of the west coast to create a believable, while mysterious and magical world for the characters to explore.
What artists and illustrators have influenced you as a creator?
Like many of my generation, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes has been a huge influence over the years. Others include; the many artists of Mad magazine, Hergé’s Tintin and René Goscinny, and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix and Obelix series. I have also learned so much from my co-workers throughout the time I was working in video games.
We love the Scholastic Canada Biography books! Is there anyone else from Canadian history that you’re itching to draw?
There are so many I would love to do! For me living in BC and being able to relate to the locations, Emily Carr’s world would be a great one to draw, not to mention her rich and interesting life. The series has been a fantastic opportunity for me to really dig into and learn about the lives of these Canadian heroes. All the subjects of the books have been so fascinating to research and draw.
What is next for you? What projects are you working on now?
I am really excited about all the projects I am currently working on. I am in the middle of inking and colouring of the second book in the Sueño Bay Adventures series, Otter Lagoon, which has a sea monster in it (always fun to draw). We are currently on the sixth book in the Scholastic Canada Biography series which features Terry Fox. There is so much to read about his life and influence. We are just putting the finishing touches together on Huddle Up, Cuddle Up a classic bedtime children’s book format with an American Football theme by Bethany Hegedus being published by Viking Press (August 2020).
Find out more about Mike at deasillustration.com
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
Fern is a little girl who loves to draw and whose “imagination is as big as the earth, as big as the sky, as big as the universe.” Horn is her brother who borrows her crayons and scissors to design enormous elephants and polar bears that gobble up everything in their path. Fern uses cleverness, creativity and cookies(!) to offset the obstacles that her brother raises. This book is a whimsical celebration of the imagination which features Marie-Louise Gay’s magnificent, mixed-media illustrations. The loose-lined, sketch-y images are filled with colour and energy, and they unerringly capture the playful tone of this delightful sibling exchange. —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.
Sometimes you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it. In this inviting picture book by Mireille Messier, two siblings play in a meadow and search for treasure. Told through pitch-perfect dialogue, the children deliberate on the elusiveness of their quest. A feather, an acorn, and a milkweed pod catch the little boy’s eye, but big sis wants to keep looking, because the “best treasures are always hidden.” There are lots of discoveries to make in Irene Luxbacher’s gorgeous watercolour and collage illustrations. The curious kids are rewarded by finding a natural treasure so awe-inspiring that it won’t fit inside a pocket, but can only be experienced. Treasure poetically captures the thrill of the hunt.
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
Toby has had trouble letting people in since her mom committed suicide. She has pushed away her best friend and boyfriend to cope. When Toby’s absent and estranged father enters her life, she is not prepared for the challenges he brings. Her father has achieved fame as a Drag Queen but is not be prepared to fill the role of “parent”. The characters in this book are multifaceted, complex and believable. This family-centric LGBTQ+ book will guide you through Toby’s world as she attempts to make sense of her new reality.
—Meghan Tinmouth, Collections Librarian–Youth, Hamilton Central Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
This true story is full of heart and brings us into the world of Hawaii through the eyes of a child who doesn’t identify as either wahine (girl) or kane (boy). Ho’onani is happy to be in the middle and wants to lead an all boy traditional hula chant, even though she’s a girl. As Ho’onani defies expectations by not only being part of the hula chant but by becoming the leader, she finds her true place not as simply a wahine or a kane but as a true hula warrior.
Well written and with beautiful watercolour illustrations, this story is not only a glimpse into Hawaiian culture but also an important story for gender non-conforming and non-binary children. You can watch a short documentary about Ho’onani’s story called A Place in the Middle by filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson here.
— Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator
It’s the first day of school for Faziah and Asiya, but this particular one is extra special because it will also be Asiya’s first day of wearing a hijab. Made up of a beautiful blue that’s reminiscent of the ocean waving to the sky, Faziah couldn’t be more proud of her sister. Unfortunately, not everyone understands Asiya’s hijab, and when faced with mean and hurtful comments, Faziah must find the strength in herself to overcome the prejudice of others.
Told with beautifully drawn illustrations, The Proudest Blue is an empowering read about the bond of family, love and faith. Faith has the power to change how people treat others, but Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali show young readers that it’s actually the parts that make people appear “different” that are worth celebrating. The strong and supportive bond between the two sisters will touch the hearts of readers young and old, reminding them to take pride in who they are and to wear their proudest colour!
— Paola Gonzalez, CCBC Magazine & Marketing Intern
Look for our February newsletter next month, which will be all about Black History Month!