CCBC November 2016 Newsletter
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
November Book List: CCBC Award Nominees
Author Corner: Mireille Messier
Amy’s Travels in YA
Illustrator’s Studio: Cale Atkinson
Now available: Canadian Children’s Book News, Fall 2016
News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Upcoming Seminar: The Business of Writing: Selling Your Books, Selling Yourself
What can authors do to promote themselves and their books? What business skills should authors have? How can you use social media to your advantage? How can you reach schools and libraries? Join us on November 26 and let our panel of experts show you the best ways to be a self-promoter!
Our panel of industry professionals will include:
- Helaine Becker, author
- Debbie Ohi, author-illustrator
- Felicia Quon, Vice President, Marketing and Publicity, Simon & Schuster Canada
- Joel Sutherland, author and children’s librarian
Save the date! TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2017
TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2017 runs from May 6-13, 2017. Book Week applications open October 15, 2016. Visit www.bookweek.ca to apply for a Book Week visit in your school or library and find out which authors, illustrators and storytellers will be touring your area!
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators
November Book List: CCBC Book Awards
This month, we are highlighting the nominated books for three of the awards administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre: the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, the John Spray Mystery Award and the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. The winners will be announced on November 17, 2016. Last month’s newsletter featured our four other awards.
Junior & Intermediate Fiction
The Blackthorn Key
The Case of the Missing Moonstone
Young Adult Fiction
5 to 1
Mad Miss Mimic
The Masked Truth
The Scorpion Rules
Trouble is a Friend of Mine
The Truth Commission
The Unquiet Past
Young Man With Camera
Author’s Corner: Mireille Messier
Mireille Messier is an author, freelance writer and voice-over artist. She has published over a dozen children’s books, several articles for youth magazines and has collaborated in the production of many family programs airing on CBC, TVO and Teletoon. She lives in Toronto.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as an author?
I’m a proud Franco-Ontarian with a background in theatre and broadcasting. I became an author by accident. By that I mean that my first published book actually wasn’t written with the intention of becoming a book. It was a collection of scripts I’d written for a children’s program on TFO (French TVO) in 1999. I was one of the co-hosts of the program, and because our teams (and budgets) were very small, everyone on the team did a little bit of everything: acting, directing, writing.… I had no clue what I was doing, but I enjoyed writing for children very much. Once I saw my name in print, I was hooked! When my on-camera gig was finished, I decided to write full-time. It was financially risky, but I made it work … mostly. I also continued scriptwriting and directing as a freelancer, and doing voice-overs for other clients.
What is your writing process like?
My “writing process” (if you can call it that) is all over the place. Since I wear many hats, no two days are the same and no two projects are the same either. I try to write every day, but that hardly ever happens. I mostly write early in the day or very late at night in little, very intense spurts. I can ruminate on a story for months before I ever manage to put anything down on paper. I do however always have a notebook with me in case inspiration strikes. And it does! Often at the most inopportune times. I’m often working on four or five manuscripts simultaneously, some in French, some in English, some fiction, some non-fiction. When I get stuck on one, I move on to the next. It’s strange, but it seems to work.
The Branch, which was recently nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award (congratulations!), is the first book you’ve written in English and then translated into French, instead of the other way around. How do you decide which language to write in? What is the translation process like?
Being perfectly bilingual has many advantages and some strange side effects. Whatever language I’m using when a story comes to me is the language I write my first draft in. Some stories work better in French, while others just seem to shine more in English. Sometimes, I’ll start a story in one language only to switch part way through. C’est la vie! Of course, most writers create so they can share their stories with as many readers as possible. I’m no exception to that rule. Writing in English has provided me with the opportunity to reach more readers.
You’ll be touring for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week in May 2017. What do you have planned for your classroom visits?
I am really looking forward to the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and to sharing my love of writing and reading with hundreds of students. I will tell them all about my tree and the real ice storm that inspired the story, “The Branch.” I’ve also had a giant version of the book printed so that even the kid at the back of the room will be able to see Pierre Pratt’s beautiful illustrations when I read them the story. In the past, I’ve tried to project copies of my books on a screen during school visits and I have found that reading from an actual book (especially a giant-sized one) is much better. First, because a book rarely has technical problems and, second, because I think it’s important that a book remains a book and not some other on-screen product. There’s something magical and automatically polarizing about being read to from a book that just cannot be replaced. I also want to hear about their experiences with a favourite tree, a scary winter storm or repurposing a beloved item—everybody has a story to tell and I yearn to hear theirs.
Do you have any tips or activity suggestions for teachers who would like to use your books in the classroom?
I know it’s sometimes hard to use picture books in the classroom. There’s the story, but then what? One of my favourite activities to do with a picture book is the “new word quilt.” It’s a fun way to help kids take ownership of a new story. While reading a picture book out loud, page by page, jot down on the board any new vocabulary words that the students find in the story. After, work together to find the definition of the new words. Then, each student gets to pick a new word and illustrate it on a 5” x 5” piece of paper. Gather all the illustrations and stick them together to create a “new word quilt” inspired by the book!
What’s next for you? What projects are you working on now?
I have many stories that are in various stages of production. Some are being illustrated and will come out soon, some I’m waiting to hear back about, some I’m in the process of writing and some are just a nagging thought that is (not so) patiently waiting for me to put it down on paper. Because picture books take a long time to publish, this list should easily take me to 2020. After that … probably more of the same!
For more information about Mireille’s work, visit www.mireille.ca.
While the children’s book awards season seems to last all year long in Canada, there are four main awards I keep an eye on because they are nationwide and teen-related. Those awards are the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature for Text, the Forest of Reading White Pine Award and, of course, the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.
Three of these four awards announce their finalists in September/October, leading to a rapidly expanding to-be-read list for the winter months ahead. I usually keep a more casual eye on the CLA YA Award and the GG Young People’s Literature Award, because their finalists are commonly not all for a strictly teen audience, but this year something magical happened and the stars aligned on the GGs to feature a bona fide teen list of reading. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled.
All in (with some overlaps), Canadian teen fiction enthusiasts have sixteen award-nominated books to read this fall. According to Goodreads, that’s a little over 4,500 pages of reading. In case you don’t have that much time, here’s a breakdown with 10 to 15 word summaries and award information, so you can decide what you want to read (because, let’s face it, it’s a happily long list). Enjoy!
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger (AMTBA) In 2054’s India, unequal gender ratios mean Sudasa has her pick of five men.
Calvin by Martine Leavitt (CLA, GG, WP) Obsessed with cartoonist Bill Watterson, Calvin redefines reality during his first schizophrenic episode.
Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame (WP) A camping trip goes awry as Dan tries to drive off his mother’s new man.
The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones (GG, WP) Recently orphaned, Evan investigates a family mystery involving opposing soldiers in the Pacific War.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (WP) Hermione finds herself in a situation no girl should ever have to face.
Fifteen Lanes by SJ Laidlaw (WP) Coming from vastly different social classes in India, Noor and Grace find ways to connect.
Once, in a Town Called Moth by Trilby Kent (GG) With a sudden intercontinental move from Bolivia to Canada, Ana has many questions to answer.
The Orange Grove by Larry Tremblay (WP) Life is irreparably changed for twins Amed and Aziz when a bomb kills their grandparents.
Rodent by Lisa J. Lawrence (WP) Dealing with an alcoholic mother and caring for two siblings, the stress gets to Isabelle.
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (AMTBA, CLA, WP) A terrifyingly logical AI holds the children of world leaders hostage to maintain peace.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston (GG, WP) Lo-Melkhiin takes his latest wife after killing hundreds and gets more than he bargained for.
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly (AMTBA) The enigmatic Digby turns Zoe’s life upside-down in his quest to find a missing girl.
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby (AMTBA, CLA) A quest for truth inspires Normandy to uncover some uncomfortable realities.
The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett (GG) From a parallel Earth, Lirael is rigorously trained to take over her alternate’s life.
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (WP) The Brontё siblings pay a terrible price to find their legendary inspiration.
Young Man with Camera by Emil Sher (AMTBA, past GG) T—’s talent behind the camera lens enables him to see things and people that others miss.
(Award codes: AMTBA = Amy Mathers Teen Book Award Finalist, CLA = Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award Finalist, GG = Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature – Text Finalist, WP = White Pine Forest of Reading Nominee)
Amy Mathers read and reviewed 365 YA books to raise money for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award in 2014. Read about her journey at www.amysmarathonofbooks.ca.
Illustrator’s Studio: Cale Atkinson
Cale Atkinson is an illustrator, writer and animator whose work can be found in children’s books, animated shorts, television, and games. His latest books include Maxwell the Monkey Barber and The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold (written by Maureen Fergus). He currently lives in Kelowna, British Columbia.
How did you get started as an illustrator?
Ever since I was a wee lad I’ve always had a love for illustration and storytelling, be it in comic books, picture books, comic strips, animation, you name it! This quickly transitioned to attempting to illustrate and tell my own stories in the different mediums.
Never lacking ambition or motivation, I opted out of attending an art school and instead taught myself through books, resources online, and an endless amount of growing through practice. My first full-time job was working for a game company, where we worked on children’s learning games, working with brands such as Spongebob, Dora and Scooby Doo. While working for a studio, I spent my personal time working on my artwork in hopes of signing with an illustration agency that would help me step into the kid lit world. I excitedly signed on with the Tugeau2 Agency not too long afterwards and began my journey into children’s publishing. Since then I’ve been fortunate to work on picture books, comics, animations, games, magazines and more!
The key factors along the way have been perseverance in putting myself out there (regardless of how many rejections come back), an openness to continue learning/growing and a never-ending passion to draw, draw, draw!
If you’re interested in reading a more detailed write-up of my journey to becoming a professional illustrator, feel free to check out my blog post here.
Can you tell us about your illustration style and how it came about? What is your illustration process and where do you find inspiration?
I think, like most Illustrators, my style has slowly evolved from the various design sensibilities and inspirations that have excited me. A lot of my inspiration has come from animation, especially the modern designed shorts of the 1950’s. Something about graphic textures and bold, simple shapes have always grabbed me. I love a lot of the classic golden book artwork, too, such as work done by the Provensens. There are so many amazing artists and wonderful things everywhere to be inspired by, that I believe my style is sort of a melting pot of what influences me, and how I personally adapt it.
Inspiration is one of those mysterious beasts that sort of exists everywhere, but can be different for everyone and hard to find when you really need it. I find inspiration can come in all sorts of ways. It can be from things I see in day-to-day life, or from travelling the world and taking in new surroundings. It can be from watching or reading something that gets me excited, to talking to friends. It can also come from simply sitting down and randomly doodling on some scraps of paper.
My illustration process always starts with an idea. Once I have an idea in my head, I usually move into drawing a bunch of tiny, rough thumbnail drawings, which helps me figure out the layout and takes the idea from my brain to paper. I will also look up any research related to the idea online to help inspire design ideas. Next, I choose the thumbnail that I like best and stretch it big on the computer to begin sketching something cleaner and more detailed. After I get my sketch done and can see how my illustration will look, I do more thumbnails on my computer, but this time for finding the colour palette and mood I want the piece to have. It is much easier exploring colours and trying combinations on small mock-ups rather than diving right into the final piece. When I’ve found the colour direction I want to go in, I go back to my clean sketch and begin painting and colouring it digitally on the computer in Photoshop. One thousand saves and five thousand undo’s later, I hopefully have a finished piece!
You’ve now written three books of your own, the latest being Maxwell the Monkey Barber. How did you get into writing? What comes first, the words or the images?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved both illustration and storytelling. The two always went hand-in-hand in my mind. If I wanted to make comics, I had to write the stories to draw. If I wanted to make cartoon strips, I had to write the jokes. I never really thought of myself as a ”writer” growing up, but definitely was doing it every step along the way in some form or another.
I had always dreamed of writing my own picture books, and seriously began going after it a few years after signing up with my kid lit agency. I’ve never had a lack of story ideas, but have had to work hard to grow (and still am!) as a writer and to get those ideas down in coherent words.
When writing a story, I usually bounce back and forth from words to pictures. With picture books, the stories are just as much visual as they are written, so I try to keep both in mind as I go. Most of the time I will be writing out ideas and manuscript drafts, while also sketching heaps of thumbnail pages to try and see it play out visually page by page.
Do you have any activity suggestions or tips for teachers who would like to use your books in the classroom?
I like to hope each of my books offers some form of good message or lesson tucked in. As far as activities, I know some teachers have gotten their classes to pause during To the Sea and come up with various ideas on how Tim could get Sam back to the sea, through writing and drawings. I’ve seen some pretty great ideas come out of it! For Explorers of the Wild, I created a printable template to fold into personal ”Explorer Journals” that students could create and then head out to find and document their discoveries. You can find the journal templates at the bottom of the following link: http://www.cale.ca/explore
What projects are you working on now? Anything you are particularly excited about?
I’m happy to report that I’m currently working away on more books. I’m ecstatic to have just finished illustrating a picture book based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy property, titled Night, Night Groot, coming out in April 2017. I am also in the process of colouring my next written/illustrated picture book, set for 2017, along with some other exciting projects for the following year. Much on the plate that I cannot wait to share with all of you!
Thanks so much for all your support and for checking out my books!
Images courtesy of Cale Atkinson. Visit www.cale.ca for more information about his work.
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
• Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books in Ottawa, ON: Sweetest Kulu, written by Calina Kalluk, illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis (Inhabit Media, 2014), Ages 0-5
This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.
Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little “Kulu,” an Inuktitut term of endearment often bestowed upon babies and young children, this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.
Recommended by Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books staff
Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books: 1018 Bank St., Ottawa, ON K1S 3W8 www.kaleidoscopekidsbooks.ca
• Mabel’s Fables Bookstore in Toronto, ON: Wenjack by Joseph Boyden (Penguin Random House, 2016), Ages 14+
This very quick read should be in all middle schools and high schools. As much as it has been written for adults, it’s presented in a way that is totally accessible to teen readers and even those a little younger, with support. Boyden tells the story of the last few days of Chanie Wenjack’s life, on the run from his residential school, desperately trying to get home. It’s told both from 12-year-old Chanie’s perspective and from that of some of the forest animals around him. Powerful. Relevant. Important. —Erin Grittani, Kids Bookseller
Mabel’s Fables Bookstore: 662 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S 2N3 www.mabelsfables.com
• McNally Robinson at Grant Park in Winnipeg, MB: Friend or Foe? written by John Sobol, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova (Groundwood Books, 2016), Ages 4-7
Down on the ground, a mouse looks up at a castle to see a cat watching him. Up on the castle, a cat looks down to see a mouse watching him. Each wonders if they are looking at a friend, or a foe. A wonderfully illustrated book with a surprise ending that will leave you pondering this most intriguing of questions. —Shanleigh Klassen, Kids Bookseller
McNally Robinson at Grant Park: 1120 Grant Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3M 2A6 www.mcnallyrobinson.com
• Type Books in Toronto, ON: A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars, written by Maria Birmingham, illustrated by Josh Holinaty (Owlkids, 2015), Ages 8 to 12
Juvenile non-fiction is getting smarter and more creative all the time. Owlkids is doing a great job cornering the market on inventive books for curious kids. The Beginner’s Guide to Immortality explores all the ways to live forever; magical substances, people and places, and ;health and technological advances are all parsed for their prolonging potential. The illustrations are modern, but also suggest medieval woodcuts that make you feel like you are uncovering old secrets. I hand-sell this often with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. —Serah-Marie McMahon, Children’s Buyer for Type Books
Type Books: 427 Spadina Rd. & 883 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON www.typebooks.ca
• Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS: The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes, written by Wade Albert White (Little, Brown, 2016), Ages 10-14
Anne and her best friend Penelope have literally been counting down the days until they will finally get to leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. But when things do not go according to plan … that’s when the adventures begin! Anne soon finds herself on a Rightful Heir Quest that must be completed in only a handful of days. Dragons, wizards and zombie sharks all make appearances in this action-packed yarn, as the plucky heroine and her companions solve puzzles, hurtle into one dangerous situation after another and demonstrate courage, daring, loyalty and tremendous heart. This book is outrageously fun, wild and wickedly humourous and filled with wit and whimsy. —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.
Now available: Canadian Children’s Book News, Fall 2016
The importance of non-fiction books for young readers and much more in the Fall 2016 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News!
Jan Thornhill talks about her years of work in the field as an author and illustrator while industry experts discuss the creation of Canadian non-fiction books for young readers. Joel Sutherland profiles the witty and prolific Helaine Becker, and we chat with Kira Vermond about breaking into the kidlit scene. Our library coordinator has created a list of high-quality non-fiction titles for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12; you’ll find books about kids who have had to fight for the right to an education in “The Classroom Bookshelf”; and you can read over 30 reviews of great new Canadian titles.