News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
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Introducing Bibliovideo, our new YouTube channel all about Canadian books for young people. Subscribe today and dive into the world of Canadian books for young people, with new videos added every Tuesday and Thursday.
We need your help to better understand what kind of content you would like to see on Bibliovideo. Fill out this survey, available in English and French, for your chance to win a package of Bibliovideo swag and great Canadian kids’ books!
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.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Learn more here.
Tackling Racism Reading List
How do you talk to young readers about the racism in the world and their own country? We have compiled a reading list of books for young people about racism. Each one of these amazing books can be the start of a bigger conversation with young people about discrimination and #BlackLivesMatter.
Learn more here.
Mortimer Selected as 2020 TD Grade One Book Giveaway Title
We are thrilled to announce that Mortimer, written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, has been selected as the 2020 TD Grade One Book Giveaway title. As we celebrate 20 years of the TD Grade One Book Giveaway, we are reminded of the way books can bring us together as a community. Mortimer joins 19 other phenomenal picture books that have been selected as TD Grade One Book Giveaway titles since 2000.
Learn more here.
Written, published and released during a pandemic: Eric Walters defies traditional publishing norms to create a book for young people living through the COVID-19 era.
Don’t Stand So Close to Me, a middle-grade novel by multi-award-winning author Eric Walters about a group of preteens forced into isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, was released digitally on June 2, 2020, from Orca Book Publishers. Walters came up with the idea on April 22, which went from conception to publication in less than seven weeks. Head to Bibliovideo to watch Eric read from the first chapter!
Learn more here and get your copy today.
This year with physical distancing guidelines in place, Telling Tales has made the decision to bring the festival online with an amazing line up of authors, illustrators, performers and storytellers. The team at Telling Tales are working hard behind the scenes to create a dynamic and interactive schedule that you will be able to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Connecting you with literary artists from across Canada and further abroad is what they love to do.
Learn more here.
The Ontario Library Association (OLA) and the Forest of Reading are excited to announce the Forest of Reading Festival, Canada’s largest literary festival for young readers, will be presented as a one-day, free digital award ceremony event, through a new partnership with CBC Books.
Everyone across Canada will have the opportunity to celebrate Canadian children’s and young adult literature and authors on Tuesday, June 16.
Learn more here.
The spring issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens, your guide to the best new Canadian books, magazines, audio and video for children and teens, is available now. Order your copy today for 100% Canadian book recommendations for kids and teens!
As of this month, our offices will move to 425 Adelaide Street West, Suite 200, Toronto. We will be sharing our offices with Canadian Scholars/Women’s Press. We are looking forward to being in a more central location and closer to many children’s publishers.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents
June Reading List: Diverse Families
This month’s reading list is all about celebrating all types of families! With June being Pride Month and family being a bigger part of our lives than it has even been, we’re celebrating families that break out of the nuclear family structure. Including foster families, adoption, found families and same-sex parents, all families will relate to these stories.
Natalie Meisner is a writer from Lockeport, Nova Scotia. Her plays have been produced across the country, won numerous awards, been collected in book form and appear in numerous Canadian anthologies. Natalie has published several books and she has recently been named Calgary’s fifth Poet Laureate. Meisner holds a Doctorate in English (University of Calgary), a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (University of British Columbia) and Bachelor’s degree in English from Dalhousie University. She has taught at the University of Regina, University of Calgary and currently is a professor in the Department of English at Mount Royal University where she teaches creative writing, drama and literature.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
I grew up in small fishing village Nova Scotia. We did not have art, music or theatre as a part of our education but what we did have… were natural storytellers. My grandparents, uncles and cousins can all keep you on the edge of your seat with a story. One of our favourite things to do when we see one another is to just sit around and tell “yarns”and this is the first place I learned what makes a great story.
We also had the bookmobile! An amazing library on wheels that would come through with books about every subject. I looked forward to this so much. Books that were my first windows to the great wide world. I also had some truly wonderful teachers in grade school and high school who recognized my wild imagination and set me some extra reading and writing tasks. I began to find and enter writing contests and after winning my first one (it was about fire safety and I think it was grade 3!) I was off and running.
My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me is based on your own family. What inspired you to write this book?
We are a two mom, racially-diverse family and although there are
some wonderful books out there that include LGBTQ+ families… I did not see any that were quite like ours. Also, I thought that it would be great to have a book with a diverse family that did not focus on our diversity as a problem, but rather showed the value. In the book the family is learning fun facts about sea creatures and how to build community. The fact that they happen to be a two mom two boy family is part of things rather than pulling all the focus. : )
This month’s newsletter is all about diverse families. Why do you think it is important to see families like the one in My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me reflected in books for young people?
When I was a young person in a rural place… the world looked very different. There was no such thing as marriage for gay people in Canada. Many people had the very mistaken idea that it was wrong to be an LGBTQ+ person. We were often discriminated against and had to hide who who we were. A lot of people lost connections with their communities and towns as they fled to cities, looking for acceptance and community. I feel very lucky that I have managed to maintain my ties with the beautiful place that I was born and the community that helped to raise me. I want to be a part of making communities like that: ones that keep their hearts and doors open to people of all cultures and genders.
How can teachers, librarians and parents use your book to engage with children?
I think there is certainly a gentle lesson on diversity and acceptance for racially diverse peoples and LGBTQ+ people in the book. I also wanted to share knowledge about some of the perhaps lesser known marine life (we have tons of books about dolphins… not so many about sea urchins!) and also do some modelling for how to build community and expand our notion of family. * Also, in addition to being an author, I am a professor of English, Languages and Cultures and so I do a lot of teaching on equity, inclusion and diversity in my own post-secondary classroom that I adapt for learners at different levels so get in touch in person and let’s work on something together.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
2019 was a big year for me. In addition to My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother & Me, I had three other books published. This can seem like some kind of rabbit out of a hat trick… but in fact some of these projects had been in the works for seven or eight years. What I am most excited about now is having been recently named Poet Laureate of Calgary! This is a great honour and a lot of responsibility given all that is happening right now. For the next two years, I will work on a book and a project called THIS MIGHT HELP that highlights the power of the written word to connect people in the face of adversity. I also have two new stage plays, Boom Baby (about workers in the Oil Sands) and Area 33 (about the collapse of our fisheries) to watch for on Canadian stages when things open up.
Find out more about Natalie at nataliemeisner.com.
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has taken Canadian children’s books to where youth already are: YouTube. Subscribe today to watch videos made specifically for booklovers!
Playlists to Binge Watch
Illustrator’s Studio: Frank Viva
Frank Viva is an award-winning illustrator and designer living and working in Toronto. His first picture book Along a Long Road was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration and was named one of The New York Times‘ 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011. His other books for children include Outstanding in the Rain, A Long Way Away, A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse and Young Frank, Architect. His art has appeared in many places such as The New York Times and the cover of the New Yorker and on the illustrated stationary produced by his company Whigby. Frank runs a branding and design agency in Toronto and is past president of the Advertising & Design Club of Canada. But making books is his favourite thing to do.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
After college I put together a commercial portfolio and visited art directors at magazines as well as a few design studios that I admired. This was before the Internet, so you couldn’t simply email somebody with a link to your website. While emailing is clearly simpler, the nice thing about having to do the face-to-face meetings was that it was possible to establish a relationship.
We are so excited to read Weekend Dad! How did you approach the illustrating process?
To begin with, I decided to accept the project because I was really inspired by the manuscript, so that was a good start. In general, I try to add to the storytelling rather than repeat what’s already being conveyed through the words. For instance, the colour palette gets incrementally brighter page-by-page to reflect the fact that — after the initial shock of the divorce — life gets better, slowly but surely.
What or who has influenced your art style?
I have enjoyed a lifelong love of artists like Calder, Giacometti and many others. Having kids (two daughters); a love of reading and a career as a graphic designer have all contributed to the way I approach making books.
How can teachers, librarians and parents use your books to engage with children?
For the most part, I have found that teachers and librarians are the experts when it comes to this, often tailoring the engagement to the particular needs and desires of their students. In one case, students were asked to create little movies based on one of my books and they were wonderful. Two of the publishers I work with – Little, Brown and TOON Books — have also created lesson plans for my books that are available upon request.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
I am working on a new book about a brother and sister who spend a day at the art museum. I’m not quite ready to say much more than that. It will be published this fall.
Find out more about Frank at www.vivaandco.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 sumptuously illustrated picture book about renowned Canadian artist Emily Carr is an exquisite celebration of the natural world and one little girl’s reverent fascination with it. Young Emily is always being scolded, admonished to sit still and not to get her Sunday dress dirty. These chastisements make Emily feel small. But when she starts exploring in her father’s garden and through the currant bushes, Emily finds herself transformed into Small, a creature whose joyful exuberance and natural curiosity are perfectly at home here. Together with her new friend Wild, she jubilantly revels in all the wonders and beauty and miraculousness of the world around them. With poetic prose and rich, vibrant mixed-media illustrations, Soloy has created a moving portrait of an artist whose intimate connection to the natural world is magnificently expressed in her art and writing. This brief glimpse into her childhood is moving and eloquent and beautiful.
—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.
Hark! Graphic novel fans wilt doth clamour to readeth this book anon. Father-daughter dynamic duo, Jeremy and Hermione Tankard, bring a uniquely classic twist to this story about finding friendship in unexpected places. Yorick is a skeleton who wakes up after hundreds of years. He longs for a pal and is thrilled when a cute little dog digs him up. But alas, poor Yorick soon finds the pup is more interested in chewing on his leg. Yorick has a flair for conversation, and speaks entirely in Shakespearean iambic pentameter. Cleverly told in Three Acts (“Love Bites”, “Man’s Pest Friend” and “Best Fiends Forever”), hilarious slapstick humour abounds in the illustrations. Readers will exclaim, “Forsooth, my joy, I barely can contain!”
—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.
With summer almost here and June being Pride Month and Indigenous History Month, I have a few recommendations to kick of summer vacation.
Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo) by Katherena Vermette, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson and coloured by Donovan Yaciuk (HighWater Press, 2017) Ages 12 and up
To dive right into Indigenous history, the first book in this graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo takes readers right into history as the main character, Echo, time travels from her history classroom to the era of the Pemmican wars.
This Place: 150 Years Retold, edited by HighWater Press (HighWater Press, 2019) Ages 15 and up
This graphic novel anthology explores the last 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators. The wealth of talent in this collection is staggering. You can watch the trailer here.
My Heart Fills With Happiness/Ni Sâkaskineh Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett (Orca Book Publishers, 2018) Ages 0-3
This title was selected as the 2019 TD Grade One Book Giveaway title and was distributed to half a million Grade 1 students all across Canada. With text in English or French and Plains Cree, this book is a beautiful celebration of all of the things that bring us joy.
Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2020) Ages 9-12
This new edition celebrates the LGBTQ+ communities history like the original, but has also been updated and expanded. This is a great first introduction to Queer history and all things Pride. For younger readers, Robin Stevenson’s board book, Pride Colors, celebrates the love a parent has for a child and explains the meaning behind each colour of the Pride flag.
Celebrate the lives of 10 black women and start a conversation about #BlackLivesMatter with young readers. This book celebrates inspiring women and women’s collectives that changed their communities and the world. Beautifully illustrated, this book features women from 1793 to present day.
The Stone Thrower by Jael Richardson, illustrated by Matt James (Groundwood Books, 2016) Ages 5-8
For younger readers, this picture book follows the life of African-American football player, Chuck Ealey, and the struggles and racism he faced growing up in the segregated United States. Told by his daughter, author Joel Richardson, The Stone Thrower shows how a young boy’s determination and hard work lead him to become a pioneer in football.
For more books about racism (including these), check out our newest blog post.
— Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator
See You In The Fall
Our newsletter will be back in September with more interviews, book recommendations and news!