March 2023

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
Accessibility Column
Author’s Corner: Julia De Laurentiis Johnston
March Reading List: Intersectional Feminist Children’s Books
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Remember to Register for Our Get Published! Webinar Taking Place on March 25!

If you haven’t registered yet, you still have time to sign up! Our popular Get Published! webinar will take place on March 25, 2023, and will focus on writing picture books and fiction for young people. Panelists include Karen Li, Publisher, Groundwood Books, Ruth Ohi, author/illustrator, and Joel A. Sutherland, author. Full of expert advice from industry professionals, budding creators will not want to miss this session!

Register here!

Purchase One-Of-A-Kind Art to Support the CCBC!
Toboggan Girl by Barbara Reid

If you haven’t discovered the talent on display in our Picture Book Gallery, now is the perfect time! It features Canadian illustrators (many award-winning) who sell prints and original art to support the CCBC’s annual Canadian Children’s Book Week program. Illustrators donate 60 percent of the value of their art sold in support of the CCBC. All funds raised contribute to connecting authors, illustrators, and storytellers with young audiences across Canada.

Toboggan Girl by Barbara Reid is an illustration taken from I Am Canada—A Celebration, published by Scholastic Canada. The book is a lyrical poem by Heather Patterson, illustrated by thirteen illustrators. According to Reid: “The text for my page is ‘I skim over the snow on my toboggan’ and I was inspired by a news article about young refugees to Canada experiencing tobogganing for the first time. The setting is inspired by Riverdale Park in my Toronto neighbourhood.”

Visit the gallery here!

Owlkids Books, Orca Book Publishers & La courte échelle nominated for 2023 Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year

Three Canadian publishers—Owlkids Books, Orca Book Publishers and La courte échelle—have been nominated for the 2023 Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year. Six prizes are awarded annually, one for each geographical area: Europe; Asia; Africa; North America; Oceania; and the Caribbean plus Central and South America. The winners will be announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which runs from March 6–9, 2023. Previous Canadian winners include Monsieur Ed, (2022), Les 400 coups (2020), Comme des géants (2019) and Kids Can Press (2017).

Learn more.

CCBC Donor Spotlight: Hatley

Can you tell us a little bit about Hatley, your history and your brand?

Founded in North Hatley, QC Canada in 1986, Hatley is a global brand that designs and sells premium clothing and accessories for women and children. Featuring hand-drawn original prints, Hatley’s designs are colourful, whimsical, and celebrate the relationship between fun and fashion. Each of its daywear, rainwear, sleepwear and swimwear collections is created with meticulous attention to detail and is crafted to last, ensuring that each piece will be a pure delight to wear—and hand down. Chris, Nick and Jeremy Oldland took the business over from their parents John and Alice in the late 90’s. Check out the full story.

What made you decide to donate to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre?

Hatley has a number of charities that we work with each year. These partnerships are very important to us, but when your organization reached out this seemed like an easy thing for us to get behind for a couple of reasons. The CCBC mission aligns very well with our own values at Hatley. Nicholas Oldland, Hatley’s creative director and co-owner, is also a children’s author who has published seven picture books. Big Bear Hug was his first title, released in 2009. Hatley also owns the brand Books to Bed, which pairs popular children’s books with matching sleepwear. So this seemed a nice fit and we were happy to contribute.

Eleanor Koldofsky (1920–2023)

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Canadian children’s book author Eleanor Koldofsky on February 14, 2023, the 30th Valentine’s Day spent with her beloved spouse, Barbara Bondar.

In a life devoted to the assistance and recognition of Canadian artists’ achievements and as a philanthropist and patron of the arts, Eleanor helped fund, support and champion Canadians in music, fine arts and theatre. Clip-Clop, her only children’s book, illustrated by David Parkins, was published by Tundra Books in 2005.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends. Donations in Eleanor’s memory may be made directly to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or North York General Hospital.

CCBC Donor Spotlight: The Leacross Foundation

Can you tell us a little about the Leacross Foundation and what you do?

Our mission is to educate women and children in society. We try to focus on opportunities for training at accredited institutions in the STEM fields to promote healthy economic independence. We also provide opportunities for creative and artistic endeavours. We believe that each individual can succeed, if only with a little help along the way. We hope that women and girls can participate in whatever career they choose without discrimination or bias. Learn more about us here.

What made you decide to donate to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre?

The Leacross Foundation believes that the importance of reading for children cannot be underestimated, and that reading for pleasure can benefit a child’s education, social and cognitive development, their well-being, and their mental health. Through our involvement with organizations like MASC and Libraries in the NCR, we have interacted directly with authors and illustrators from across the country. Because of this, we have seen the value of personal engagement with youth. We are happy to support other organizations like yourselves, to promote literacy and creativity.

Order the Winter Issue of Book News!

The Winter 2022/2023 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News looks at “tough topics.” Author Lana Button shares highlights of her writing career and how her work as an early childhood educator lead her to write books for children that deal with difficult subjects. Book expert and secondary school teacher Spencer Miller has written an enlightening article on using books to teach empathy to young readers. Krista Jorgensen speaks with Dr. Jillian Roberts, child psychologist and children’s author, about using books as therapy and how she tackles tough topics and transforms them into age-appropriate books for young readers to help them process their feelings. Our Bookmark! column offers excellent book recommendations for children and teen readers that address difficult subjects in age-appropriate ways. As always, we have reviews of over 40 new Canadian books for you to enjoy!

Buy the issue here!

CCBC Donor Spotlight: CANSCAIP

Can you tell us a little about CANSCAIP, and what you do?

CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers) began almost fifty years ago. A group of eleven creators met for the first time at a literary event and decided that they wanted to stay in touch and support each other. And fifty years later, that’s pretty much it! We now have close to one thousand members, however, but our mandate is still the same: we willingly share our professional expertise—both in craft and in best business practices.

As founder Claire MacKay carefully constructed, we are a ‘society’ and not an organization. We are volunteer-run, with one paid employee, our administrative director. We don’t hand out awards, or write reviews, or send ourselves on book tours. We don’t lobby governments, or argue for policy changes. The board doesn’t speak on behalf of its members, nor take on causes. At our meetings and events, we support people to become creators, and then to become more successful. And we congratulate each other every step of the way.

Our budget is small and relies on membership fees and income from The Writing for Children Competition and Packaging Your Imagination. And we rely on volunteers for every program and event. Staying this ‘grassroots’ means that we don’t worry about programs collapsing because a grant is denied or because a donor shifts ‘brand.’ We do worry about volunteer ‘burnout’, but so far, the people that I’ve worked with find that they get back more than they give.

One other thing to know about CANSCAIP: besides professional advice and encouragement, belonging gives a creator a network of colleagues and a family of friends.

What made you decide to donate to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre?

CANSCAIP is pleased to honour Jean Little, one of our founders, with a donation to the Jean Little First Novel Award. She believed in the support and camaraderie that we offer our members, and would be pleased to know that through this award, we continue to encourage new voices. Jean was a pioneer in Canadian children’s literature in many ways, possibly most notably by changing the way we write stories about children with disabilities. Jean was a mainstay at our meetings, and we miss her wit, insight, and candor.

Right to Read: Accessible Books for Everyone

Other Ways of Reading

A photo of author David Bouchard, posing outside wearing a pink t-shirt and earbuds. He has grey hair, glasses, and full sleeve tattoos.

by David Bouchard, Métis raconteur and author of many acclaimed books for children, including We Learn from the Sun and Nokum is My Teacher

(Editor’s Note: David Bouchard self-identifies as Métis, but his heritage has been challenged by Métis Nation British Columbia)

The biggest reading challenge I face is dyslexia and short-range memory issues. I’ve never been a really good reader, and I’ve told people forever that I didn’t read a book from cover to cover until I was 27. Of course, the best source of stories is through reading. But there are other ways.

I listen to more books than I read. My biggest problem used to be finding something that I can read that I wanted to read. But that’s changing. All of a sudden there are so many books that are accessible to me that I really enjoy reading.

All students should be allowed to access books they can love. I’ve traveled in the North extensively and there are so many Canadian students who don’t have access to books. That’s a real sad thing. So if you’re a student out there and you have access to books, for heaven’s sake, don’t drop the ball, pick them up and read them for all the kids who wish they could.

Watch David share more of his story in English and French.

Links We Love

Articles of interest to educators and parents

20 Canadian books for kids and young adults to check out during Black History Month (CBC Books)

The Heart of the Story: PW Talks with Julie Flett (Publishers Weekly)

Like a Hurricane Review (Quill & Quire)

17 YA Books with Indigenous Representation (Epic Reads)

Freedom to Read Week a reminder not to be complacent about intellectual freedoms (Quill & Quire)

11 Canadian children’s books to read on Pink Shirt Day (CBC Books)

New publisher Griots Lounge committed to platforming African-Canadian voices (Quill & Quire)

“Capturing Lightning in a Bottle” Naseem Hrab on the Magic of Kids Can Press Turning 50

Chris Hadfield’s children’s book brought to life on stage (CTV News)

Author’s Corner

Julia De Laurentiis Johnston is an award-winning journalist, podcast producer and children’s book writer.

She’s the author of the picture book Her Epic Adventure: 25 Daring Women Who Inspire a Life Less Ordinary, which introduces young people to women who centred adventure as the song in their heart.

She writes and produces podcasts for The Globe and MailMaclean’s and The Toronto Star, among others.

For more information about Julia and her work, visit

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?

I’ve been a journalist for about 17 years, so I’ve been in the world of non-fiction writing for a long while and this was my first book.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

In terms of writing for younger audiences specifically, my inspiration comes from the idea that we need to treat kids like they are people. That might seem like an obvious thing to say but most people treat kids like they are just kids and that’s different.

Think of all the experiences you had as a kid that shaped who you are— whether they are actual memories you can recall or just the vague way things made you feel. We treat the world and each other like we left our younger selves behind but, really, we always carry them with us. So when it comes to writing for kids, I draw inspiration from the idea that I’m always speaking directly to the spirit that helps inform who they’ll become. Like, whether what I write makes an impression on them or not isn’t as much the point for me as having reverence for the opportunity that I get to speak to these one-day adults while they’re small, and to be intentional about it.

How did you come up with the idea for your book, Her Epic Adventure, (illustrated by Salini Perera)?

Kids Can Press got in touch with me and asked if I would write it for them.

For about 15 years, I’d been involved with a magazine called Shameless, written for teens and trans youth, and spent many of those years as an editor, helping to shape the voice of the publication.

Kids Can felt I had proficient writing in a way that’s accessible to young people, and that, coupled with my journalism experience, made them feel I was right for the job.

As someone who describes herself as “inspired by women and nonbinary folks who live their lives with joy, grit, and vulnerability,” what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To me it really is a day to celebrate the joy and grit it takes to be a woman in this world—to make it, to survive, let alone to thrive. And that means it’s not the day to send your mother or wife flowers. Save that for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. Instead, why not donate to an organization that works for women’s equal pay or accessible childcare for the most marginalized? That’s how you really celebrate International Women’s Day.

How can children’s publishing do better when it comes to the representation and inclusion of different women’s voices?

I’d love to see more non-binary and trans feminine folks at the helms of power in children’s publishing, in charge of the money and assigning books and authors. We need them to write the books too, sure, but you really bust tokenization when you give them more real power, and that’s how.

As a feminist, why did working on Her Epic Adventure resonate with you so much?

Honestly, I’ve never aspired to be a children’s author, but when Kids Can Press knocked on my door with this offer, I couldn’t turn it down. It was the only kids’ book I could ever imagine writing—a book to tell the tales of often marginalized women who lived their dreams through adventure—all of whom acknowledge they got tons of community help along the way to make it all come true. Because even though they all shine bright like a diamond, they all knew—you cannot do it alone. And neither can the women in your life—so go help them out.

What projects are you working on now?

I make podcasts for a living, writing and producing them. Currently, I’m working on season 3 of City Space, a podcast about the future of cities for The Globe and Mail, dropping in Spring 2023. I helped create and launch this series right from the beginning so it’s a joy to now be entering our third season.

March Reading List: Intersectional Feminist Children’s Books

Our March newsletter honours International Women’s Day. Get young readers excited about reading intersectional feminist books with this curated list—great for parents, librarians, and teachers to use.

Picture Books

Beautiful You, Beautiful Me
Written by Tasha Spillett-Sumner
Illustrated by Salini Perera
Owlkids Books, 2022
ISBN 978-1-7714-7452-8
IL: Ages 3-7 and RL: Grades 1-3

Izzy’s favorite place to be is in Mama’s arms—skin to skin, safe and warm. One night, cuddled up on Mama’s lap, Izzy notices something she’s never noticed before: her skin is the color of chocolate, but Mama’s skin is the color of sand. When Izzy realizes she’s different from Mama in other ways, too, she feels sad and confused. She wants to be beautiful like Mama! But Mama addresses Izzy’s disappointment with a gentle, loving refrain: You’re part of me, and I’m part of you. I’m beautiful like me, and you’re beautiful like you. Finding lessons from nature and repeating her affirming message, Mama encourages Izzy to see her own unique beauty.


The Big Bath House
Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Gracey Zhang
Random House Studio, 2021
ISBN 978-0-593-18195-9
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

In this celebration of Japanese cultural traditions and body positivity, a girl visits a traditional bath house with her grandmother and aunties. After a shower, they ease their bodies—their creased, gangly, saggy bodies—into the bath. Based on Maclear’s memories of childhood visits to Japan, this picture book is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women.


Margot and the Moon Landing
Written by A.C. Fitzpatrick
Illustrated by Erika R. Medina
Annick Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7732-1360-6
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-2

“A universal story about speaking, listening, and being heard.” A.C. Fitzpatrick and Erika R. Medina create a powerful book where the importance of making room for your passion shines through. An astronaut-enthusiast, Margot is frustrated when no one listens to her talk about space. So, she goes on a journey to show people what she is trying to say. Filled with magical wishes, Neil Armstrong references, and stars, Margot’s adventure shows young girls how to stay determined in their dreams.


Smile So Big
Written by Sunshine Quem Tenasco
Illustrated by Chief Lady Bird
North Winds Press, 2023
ISBN 978-1-4431-8767-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1–3

When Challa comes home in tears after being teased about her smile, her mom gives her a special gift. It’s a magic mirror—shiny, beaded and beautiful—passed on from her mom, and from her djo djo before her. Challa’s mom tells her that when anyone looks into the mirror, they will see their true self. There’s just one rule: Everyone has to say what they see in the reflection. At first the mirror seems to work for everyone but her. Challa keeps looking and looking. The more beauty she sees in herself, the happier she feels, and the longer she looks into the mirror, the more beauty she sees, until finally Challa sees so much beauty, she can’t contain her smile! This special story, from award-winning activist Sunshine Quem Tenasco and artist Chief Lady Bird, introduces readers to concepts of self-acceptance, self-empowerment, and recognition of the unique beauty that comes from within. 


Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer
Written by Leslie Gentile
Cormorant Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7708-6615-7
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 6-8

In the search for her father, Truly Bateman pursues an interesting lead: Elvis Presley. While the rest of the world believes Elvis is dead, Truly knows this isn’t the case. In fact, she knows that Elvis lives right next-door in her community at Eagle Shores Trailer Park. As an 11 year-old girl who identifies as both Indigenous and Settler, Truly embarks on an investigative journey (which includes lemonade stands, Bannock, and puppies) to find her place in the world.


The League of Super Feminists
Written and Illustrated by Mirion Malle
Translated by Aleshia Jensen
Drawn and Quarterly, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-7704-6402-5
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 6-8

Mirion Malle and Aleshia Jensen tackle an important question with their graphic novel about feminism: how can we explain a concept like this to a younger audience? Using superheroes, knights, and princesses, this book tackles important topics when it comes to intersectionality, white privilege, sexuality, self-love, and media. Using humour and topical allusions, Malle and Jensen create a powerful tool for young readers.


Written by Melinda McCracken and Penelope Jackson
Roseway Publishing, 2019
ISBN 978-1-7736-3129-5
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

It’s 1919. Cassie, 10, lives with her working-class family in Winnipeg. Frustrated with low wages and long hours, workers in the city orchestrate a general strike. Cassie desperately wants to help so she volunteers as a papergirl, distributing the Strike Bulletin and watches the strike take shape. When a peaceful demonstration turns violent on Bloody Saturday, Cassie is changed forever. Lively and engaging, this novel is a celebration of solidarity, justice and one brave papergirl.


Young Adult Fiction

Written by Tanya Boteju
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022
ISBN 978-1-5344-5503-0
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-12

In this coming-of-age story, Daya Wijesinghe deals with complex emotions of grief and guilt. After losing her parents in a car accident, she is left alone in the world. However, Daya finds a way to keep her pain at bay. She begins to rely on bruises as a form of comfort. When she enters a roller derby match, she hopes to forget her feelings of loss, and concentrate on the physical pain. She is instead met with teammates who help her confront her path to healing, showing a beautiful display of comfort and strength in LGBTQ+ communities. 


Fight Like a Girl
Written by Sheena Kamal
Tundra Book Group, 2022
ISBN 978-0-7352-6557-8
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to the Toronto east-end townhouse that Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat…


He Must Like You
Written by Danielle Young-Ullman
Penguin Teen Canada, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6569-1
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Libby’s having a rough senior year. When Perry Ackerman, notorious lech and customer at the restaurant where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she douses him with a pitcher of sangria. Now she must navigate the fallout of her outburst, deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life—and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.


The Subtweet
Written by Vivek Shraya
ECW Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7704-1525-6
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-12

Vivek Shraya writes The Subtweet as a novel about being “seen” in media versus real life. When two women musicians go from friendship to a stinging rivalry, Shraya exposes the way social media and entertainment industries pit women against each other. This story displays complicated relationships between women and multi-dimensional characters that are affected by the internet’s power to destroy women’s perceptions of themselves.



Better Connected: How Girls Are Using Social Media for Good
Written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Julia Kyi
Illustrated by Vivian Rosas
Orca Book Publishers, 2022
ISBN 978-1-4598-2857-5
IL: Ages 9 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Girls are using online platforms in creative and powerful ways to change the world for the better. They’re building diverse communities. They’re changing the public conversation in areas from environmental activism and LGBTQ2S+ rights to immigration policy and education access. This book explores the many ways girls are showing up, teaming up and speaking up online.


Canadian Women: Now and Then:
More than 100 Stories of Fearless Trailblazers
Written by Elizabeth Macleod
Kids Can Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-5253-0061-5
IL: Ages 9–12 RL: Grades 4–7

Canadian women have long been trailblazers, creating art, making discoveries and setting records — and often battling incredible odds and discrimination in the process. Here, award-winning children’s writer Elizabeth MacLeod presents biographies of more than one hundred of these remarkable women, from the famous, such as Margaret Atwood, to the lesser known, such as multi-award-winning mathematician Karen Yeats. There are stories of activists and architects, engineers and explorers, poets and politicians and so many more. Each category pairs a historical groundbreaker with a present-day woman making her mark in that same field. Included are stories of Indigenous women, immigrants, women with disabilities and women from the LGBTQ+ community. Together, they tell the story of Canada. And together they offer a vision of what’s possible, to inspire all children to blaze trails of their own.


Unstoppable: Women with Disabilities
Written by Helen Wolfe
Illustrated by Karen Patkau
Second Story Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7726-0209-8
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 5-7

Canadian author Helen Wolfe works with illustrator Karen Patkau to showcase brilliant women with disabilities around the world. Women in this book range from filmmakers to lawyers to neurosurgeons who face health challenges every day. The barriers in environment, employment, and education, however, are broken by these notable women, ultimately creating a better place for all.


Experts’ Picks

Bookseller’s Picks

Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. Find an independent bookseller here.

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:

A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis
Written by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Lauren Soloy
Greystone Books, 2023
ISBN 978-1-7716-4951-3
IL: Ages 4–8 RL: Grades 1-3

In this beautiful tribute to celebrated folk artist Maud Lewis, author Kathy Stinson describes her hard life and her determination to find joy in spite of hardships. She grew up in rural Nova Scotia and suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. When her arthritis became so severe that she could no longer play piano, her mother introduced her to painting and opened up a whole new world for her. Soon she was painting everything in sight. Even after she married gruff fish peddler Everett Lewis and moved into his tiny, dilapidated house, she continued to paint birds and flowers and colour-filled images all over their home, on scraps of wood that Everett scavenged and anywhere she could think of. Although her life was hard and she remained poor, she never lost her ability to see the beauty all around her and her joy in bringing that beauty to life in her paintings. Lauren Soloy’s bold and richly colour-saturated illustrations perfectly capture the essence of Maud’s art and spirit. Together, author and illustrator have created a beautiful picture book biography of an inspiring and beloved folk artist.


—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 6013 Shirley St, Halifax, NS B3H 2M9

Librarian’s Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.

Simon and Chester: Super Family!
(Simon and Chester Book #3)
Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Tundra Books, 2022
ISBN 978-0-7352-7243-9 
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 1-4

The spooktacular duo of Simon, the cheeky professional ghost with a penchant for typewriters, ukeleles and cross stitching, and Chester, his human best pal and housemate, return in their third glorious graphic novel escapade. After seeing seemingly perfect families on television shows and in the school parking lot, Chester starts to wonder what it would be like to be part of a “normal” family.  Chester takes a closer look, and with the unequivocal love of his super family, he puts the puzzle pieces together and realizes they are a perfect fit. Cale Atkinson is a master at comedic timing. The vast range of expressions shown on the characters’ faces, from smug mugs to pensive ponderings, are truly astounding. This sweet, spirit-lifting graphic novel is hauntingly hilarious and heartfelt. 


—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

See you in April for our next issue!