News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
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Download Free Activities for Moira’s Birthday
This year’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway title is Moira’s Birthday by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko. Head to our website for free activities to download and share with young ones!
Orca introduces new Ultra-Readable books to reach more readers
Orca Book Publishers is introducing a new Ultra-Readable format for their bestselling lines of high interest, low reading level (hi-lo) books aimed at striving readers.All of Orca’s new hi-lo books are now being published in this format, which is designed to be more appealing to a wider range of reading levels and abilities, including readers with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties. With more than 200 hi-lo books on its list, Orca will now be reprinting all hi-lo titles in this format.
Marie-Louise Gay wins 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for The Three Brothers
IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) is pleased to announce that Marie-Louise Gay has won the 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for The Three Brothers, published by Groundwood Books. Selected from 122 submitted books, the winner receives $1,000. The jury also selected two honour books from the list of ten finalists: The Paper Boat by Thao Lam and At the Pond, by Geraldo Valério.
IBBY Canada presents 2020 Claude Aubry Award for distinguished service in children’s literature to Barbara Greenwood (English) and Robert Soulières (French)
IBBY Canada, the Canadian national section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), presents the 2020 Claude Aubry Award for distinguished service in the field of children’s literature in English to Barbara Greenwood and in French to Robert Soulières.
Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight/Tournée Lire à tout vent
We are excited to announce the touring creators for Canadian Children’s Book Week: Readers Take Flight. Forty-Five talented Canadian authors, illustrators and storytellers were selected to take part in this virtual tour and share a love of reading with young people in schools, libraries and homes all across Canada.
Established in 1977, this year’s national tour will take place from May 2-8, 2021. See the list of touring creators here.
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
It is essential now, more than ever, for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) to see themselves represented in the books they read. The Winter issue of Canadian Children’s Book News celebrates Black Canadian voices and showcases several talented authors and illustrators who are creating stories that provide this representation.
In this issue, author Nadia Hohn examines how the Canadian publishing industry has responded to #WeNeedDiverseVoices and #OwnVoices and why diversity is needed in children’s books. Ardo Omer sheds a light on the importance of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis explains what drives him to continue writing books about Black history and illustrator Eva Campbell shares her vibrant world of oil paint and pastel on canvas and the importance of having kids see themselves in her artwork. Four Black Canadian authors also share their road to publication. Our “Keep Your Eye On…” column introduces you to Andre Fenton, an author and spoken-word artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our Bookmark! column features 17 books written by Black Canadian authors, and as always, we have over 40 reviews of recently published books for you to enjoy.
With everyone across the country separated from their friends and families, we are all searching for ways to connect with one another. Support the CCBC and send your loved ones a greeting featuring art from past Canadian Children’s Book Week posters. Perfect for keeping in touch with friends, these greeting cards feature original art by illustrators Barbara Reid, Julie Flett, Ian Wallace, Wallace Edwards, Bill Slavin, Elly MacKay, Gabrielle Grimard and Eugenie Fernandes. All purchases from these packs of eight cards go towards programs like Canadian Children’s Book Week, the CCBC Book Awards and Bibliovideo
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Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.
March Reading List: Real Women, Real Stories
This month’s reading list is in honour of International Women’s Day, featuring books about or inspired by real women and girls. This selection of Canadian books for young people of all ages was selected by the CCBC: for more great books, visit bestbooks.bookcentre.ca.
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Elizabeth MacLeod is a children’s writer who likes researching and discovering amazing facts, then sharing the information and secrets she uncovers with readers. Dinosaurs, royal murder, horses that changed history, forensic science — Liz has written about them all. She has authored more than 70 books and has won many awards for her writing, including the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, as well as Children’s Choice awards across the country, such as the Hackmatack, Red Cedar, Red Maple and Silver Birch awards. Some of Liz’s favourite books to write are biographies, especially about great Canadians whose stories can inspire kids. She lives in Toronto.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
I liked writing — and loved reading — when I was a kid but when I went to university I studied sciences. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I graduated so when I got a chance to attend the Banff Publishing Workshop I leapt at it. That led to a job as an editor at OWL Magazine.
While working there, I was offered the chance to write books for Grolier Limited and was reminded how much I liked writing. After a few years at OWL I moved to Kids Can Press as an editor. The publishers were interested in having me work as an author for them as well, so I was happy to keep writing. When I later became a freelance editor, I was able to write for a number of publishers.
Canadian Women: Now + Then is a unique approach to studying historical figures, looking at women in similar roles in the past and present. What inspired this approach?
Canadian Women: Now + Then is published by Kids Can Press. Back in 2006 they published my book The Kids Book of Great Canadian Women and were looking for a way to give it more than just an update. There were current women in that book, as well as women who were pioneers in their fields. In Canadian Women: Now + Then the decision was made to pair trailblazers and modern women by occupation. That way, kids could see clearly the struggles of the older women, as well as the progress that Canadian women have made.
For instance in the “Politicians” category we’ve paired The Famous Five, who worked so hard to have women declared persons in 1929, with Julie Lemieux, who in 2017 was elected the first openly transgender mayor in Canada. Editor Katie Scott and I also put a special focus on diversity in Canadian Women: Now + Then because we want to make sure readers see themselves reflected in the book.
Doing research for Canadian Women: Now + Then, what is the most interesting or surprising fact you learned?
Penny Oleksiak made me so proud to be Canadian during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games — her first Olympics! — when she won four medals for swimming and was Canada’s youngest gold medallist ever. I was surprised to discover while I was researching her story that she didn’t even learn to swim until she was nine years old. That’s quite old for a competitive swimmer.
Penny had tried to train with a number of local swimming clubs. But she was turned down again and again because she couldn’t even swim one length of a pool. It’s almost impossible to believe that seven years later she was one of the best swimmers in the world.
There’s also a two-page spread at the end of the book that I hope readers will find especially interesting. I wanted kids to be inspired by the profiles of the women in the book and to think about how the women’s stories could give readers courage or help them discover their passion or assist them in overcoming obstacles. So on these pages I ask readers questions such as, “What makes you feel brave?,” “How will you change the world?” and “How will you follow your dreams?” I also include specific examples of how the women in the book became trailblazers or found role models.
Your most recent book in the Scholastic Canadian Biography series is Meet Thérèse Casgrain. What drew you to her and her story?
Did you know that Thérèse was the first woman in Canada to lead a political party? In 1951 she became the leader of the Quebec branch of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) — it would later become the New Democratic Party.
But before that, Thérèse led the struggle for women to finally get the vote in provincial elections in Quebec. Most women in the rest of the country had been able to vote in provincial elections since 1925, but women in Quebec only received this right in 1940 and only then because of Thérèse’s hard work.
What else? When Thérèse was 16 she and her family were in Paris along with her businessman father. When his meetings ran long, the family missed their ship sailing back to Canada — and missed sailing on the Titanic!
During World War II Thérèse fought profiteering on items that were in short supply. After the war, she found out that the Canadian government was about to start sending out the Baby Bonus to families across the country. The cheques were addressed to the mothers of the families — except in Quebec, where they were payable to the fathers. Thérèse managed to get that changed so Quebec moms received the cheques, like other Canadian women.
What I really love about Thérèse is her sense of humour. In 1970, when she was 74 years old, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asked her to become a senator. There was just one problem: senators have to retire at the age of 75. She could only be a senator for nine months.
Thérèse decided to do it anyway because it would give her a larger platform for her views and opinions. One young male reporter asked her derisively, “Why are you becoming a senator? What can you expect to accomplish in nine months? “Young man,” replied Thérèse, “You’d be amazed to see what a woman can do in nine months!”
Sorry for my lengthy answer — can you tell that my editor, Erin O’Connor, and I loved working on this book? I hope kids are as inspired by Thérèse’s compassion, persistence and fearlessness as I am!
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
This summer my book Meet David Suzuki will be published — it’s the eighth book in this series about great Canadians for kids ages six to ten. Right now I’m working on Meet Mary Ann Shadd — she was the first female Black publisher in North America and Canada’s first female publisher. (Mary Ann wasn’t born in Canada but was living in
Canada when she published her newspaper.) That book will be published early next year. I’m really proud to make these amazing people’s stories accessible to kids.
A book I co-wrote with Frieda Wishinsky, How to Become an Accidental Activist, will be published by Orca Books in April and we’re currently working on the third book in the series, How to Become an Accidental Entrepreneur with editor Kirstie Hudson. We hope the profiles in these books will encourage readers to become activists and entrepreneurs, as well as help them recognize their own incredible potential. I’m also working on a book for Orca about the importance of voting —I feel very strongly about the subject!
Find out more about Zetta on her website, zettaelliott.com.
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Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
The Fabulous Zed Watson by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester (HarperCollins, 2021) Ages 8-12
One of Zed Watson’s greatest passions in life is monsters, and specifically a book called The Monster’s Castle. Alas, only four chapters were ever released and Zed longs for more. The rest of the book was hidden by the author. But when Zed discovers a plant-loving neighbor, Gabe, who is also obsessed with this book, the two piece together clues and embark on an epic road trip to find this long lost manuscript. The resulting road trip/mystery tale is as wildly entertaining as Zed themselves! Zed, Gabe and Gabe’s sister Sam are delightfully quirky characters, their journey leads them to discover unique and wonderful people and places, and their literary quest is utterly fascinating from start to finish. Full of pure fun, it is also a poignant and heartfelt story featuring an utterly wonderful protagonist who may seem to Gabe like nothing ever bothers them but in actual fact Zed does experience sadness and frustration (especially when they are misgendered…which happens a lot). But their vulnerability only adds to their charm. A truly fabulous book in a myriad of ways, The Fabulous Zed Watson (both the book and the character) will delight readers and touch many hearts in the process.
—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.
In this affecting novel, 13-year-old Firefly is sent to stay with a relative, after her mother gets taken into custody. Life with Aunt Gayle, who owns The Corseted Lady costume shop, offers a beacon of light out of the darkness of the “Bad Night.” Firefly’s compelling story unfolds through her indomitable and spirited first-person narration, and flashbacks revisit her troubled childhood of neglect and parental struggles with addiction. Aunt Gayle’s care and kindness wraps around Firefly like a comforting, hand-knit blanket. Being surrounded by steadfast support, along with seven million costumes in the shop, allows Firefly the opportunity to try on different identities and begin to discover her true self in the process.
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Look for our next newsletter early next month, which is all about music!