October 2021



News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Book Reviews
Links We Love
October Reading List: Get Out, Get Active!
Author Corner: Lindsay Ruck
Illustrator’s Studio: Carolyn Fisher
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Walk, Wheel or Run to Support the CCBC Through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge

The Scotiabank Charity Challenge is a unique fundraising program that is taking place virtually all across Canada. Participants can make their exercise endeavours more meaningful by raising funds for the charity of their choice. For the CCBC, the challenge provides a platform for a friendly fundraising competition with other organizations and groups. This year’s Charity Challenge will take place from October 1-31 with participants able to take part anywhere in Canada by walking, wheeling and running at a distance of their own choosing. Register at bookcentre.ca/run and join the CCBC’s team, the Speed Readers, or start a team of your own!


Apply to Take Part in Canadian Children’s Book Week/Tournée Lire à tout vent 2022

Are you a published Canadian author or illustrator who is passionate about connecting with and inspiring young people? Apply to take part in the 45th Canadian Children’s Book Week!  This virtual tour will allow you to engage with youth all across the country to celebrate books, stories and illustrations.

The upcoming tour will take place from May 1 to May 7, 2022, and will allow young readers to connect with highly acclaimed and emerging authors and illustrators. The deadline for applications is end of day on Friday, October 22nd.

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book Week at bookweek.ca and at communication-jeunesse.qc.ca.


Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books

On October 5th at 7PM EDT, join Ojibway Librarian and Educator Linda Lou Classens for the launch of the Educators’ Resource for the 2021 edition of “From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating #IndigenousPictureBooks.”

Watch here!

Malaika’s Costume Selected as the 2021 TD Grade One Book Giveaway

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited for the 2021 TD Grade One Book Giveaway. Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, will be distributed to over 550,000 Grade 1 students in the coming months. The book is the first in a series of three and is published by Groundwood Books, with the French edition (Le costume de Malaika) published by Éditions Scholastic.

Learn more here.

FOLD Kids Bookfest 2021, November 4-7, 2021

FOLD Kids Bookfest will host virtual events from November 4-7, 2021 on a brand new virtual platform that allows participants to chat with authors and industry professionals and to participate in our inaugural virtual scavenger hunt.

The 20+ events include workshops, story times, and conversations for children of all ages, as well as writers, families, and educators. Live sessions will take place during the school day, in the evenings, and over the weekend Nov 4-7. After the sessions air live, all sessions will remain available on-demand to passholders until December 7.

The complete schedule will be released when registration opens on Tuesday, October 14 at 11:00 am ET.

BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2021 Winners Announced

The West Coast Book Prize Society is thrilled to announce the winners of the 37th annual BC and Yukon Book Prizes. Prizes are awarded annually to recognize the achievements of BC authors and publishers. Award winners are selected through a juried system, with five finalists in each prize category, including the winner selected in each prize category.

To view the 2021 Awards Presentation Video click here.

The 2021 BC and Yukon Book Prizes winners include: Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Sara Cassidy (Illustrated by Charlene Chua), Genius Jolene (Orca Book Publishers)

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature PrizeRina Singh and Ellen Rooney (Illustrator), Grandmother School (Orca Book Publishers)

Call for Submissions: Best Books for Kids & Teens, Spring 2022

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is now accepting submissions for the spring 2022 edition of Best Books for Kids & Teens (BBKT), the CCBC’s semi-annual selection guide to the best Canadian children’s books, magazines, audio and video. Submissions are due October 15. 

Learn more here.

Home Is Where the Bookshelf Is: Architecture Inspired Reads

Elsa Lam is the editor of Canadian Architect magazine, and formally trained in architectural design and architectural history. She also has a pre-schooler who loves books. We asked her for her recommendations of books about architecture appropriate for kids aged 2-4.

Read the full list here.

Resources for Discussing Residential Schools and Indigenous Issues

Residential school history is a difficult subject to teach kids, but it’s something that all Canadians should know – so how do we do it?

Learn more here.

IBBY Canada Named Host of IBBY’s 40th International Congress in Ottawa in 2026

IBBY Canada, the Canadian national section of the International Board on Books for Young People, is thrilled to announce that Canada has been selected to host IBBY’s 40th World Congress. The event will take place in Ottawa, Ontario from August 19 to 23, 2026.

Learn more here.

Empowering Youth, One Generation at a Time: Free Resources 

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:

  • Ready-to-use
  • Deliverable online or in the classroom
  • Developed by educators, for educators
  • Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Learn more here.

Purchase Our Greeting Cards and Support the CCBC!

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 stocking stuffers, 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

Visit our shop today!


The Walrus is seeking young writers and artists for a special upcoming series!

If you are a writer, illustrator, or photographer between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, we want to hear from you!

For article submissions, please send 100–200 words outlining a topic or idea that’s important to you. We don’t need to know the whole story now—just tell us what you want to write about. Whether it’s politics, health, the environment, or the arts, we want to know what’s on your mind.

Submissions close on October 29, and all inquiries can be sent to teens@thewalrus.ca.

Learn more here.

SOYEON KIM is IBBY Canada’s Illustrator in Residence

IBBY Canada is delighted to announce that Soyeon Kim is the 2021 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence. The residency program will be hosted online by Toronto Public Library for the month of October.

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator who came to Canada in 2000.

In Memory: Bob Kain (1932-2021)

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of illustrator and cartoonist Bob Kain. Bob was known for creating the character of Chirp for Owlkids’ Chirp magazine. In addition to illustrating for the magazine, he also illustrated a series of Chirp books for the publisher.

Our thoughts go out to Bob’s family and friends. You can read the complete obituary here.

Follow the CCBC on TikTok

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now on TikTok! Follow us, like our first video and stay tuned for more!

Order the Fall Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News!

The Fall issue of Canadian Children’s Book News looks at how disabilities are represented in Canadian children’s books and what publishers are doing to help those with learning differences who struggle with reading. We look at how accessibility and inclusion have been represented in Canadian children’s picture books and author Andrew Katz shares with us how important it is for children with neurological differences, such as ADHD, to see themselves represented in a positive light.

With the new Jean Little First-Novel Award being awarded for the first time this fall, fellow children’s author Sarah Ellis, a long-time friend of Jean’s, shares with us the impact of Jean’s writing and the legacy she has left behind. Leigh Turina, Lead Librarian for the IBBY Collection for Young People with disabilities, offers a personal introduction to the collection and highlights some of its uses. Our Keep Your Eye On column introduces readers to Sabina Khan, whose first book, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, garnered international praise. Our Bookmark! column features a list of hi-lo books suitable for middle-grade and young adult readers and showcases the types of books publishers are producing to help reluctant readers enjoy reading. As always, our We Recommend section has over 40 fabulous new Canadian books for you to discover.

Buy the issue here!

Read and Support Animals!

In recognition of World Animal Day on October 4th, readers can freely access a delightfully charming (not-for-profit) picture book—Hopeful Hope. The authors request that readers then pledge a donation to any animal welfare organization (AWO) of their choice.

Learn more here.

Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Canadian Children’s Book News Online Preview

Canadian Children’s Book News: Fall Reading

It’s time for fall reading! Published quarterly, our magazine Canadian Children’s Book News reviews books, interviews authors and illustrators, includes annotated reading lists, informs and updates readers about issues affecting children’s education and reading, and provides information and news about the world of children’s books in Canada.

We are currently featuring bonus reviews online. See them all here. 


Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.

‘The stories will be the last thing to go’: Robert Munsch on his legacy as one of Canada’s great storytellers (CBC)

StoryWalks: A Fun Way to Engage Students’ Minds and Bodies With Books (Edutopia)

5 Indigenous heroes you’ll learn about on the This Place podcast (CBC)

This Indigenous Girl’s Ancestral Language Was Lost To Time, So She Wrote a Children’s Book About Finding It Again (mitú)

Lawrence Hill publishing first book for kids, get the first look at Beatrice and Croc Harry now (CBC)


October Reading List: Get Out, Get Active

Inspired by our participation in the Scotiabank Marathon, this month’s reading list is all about getting outside and staying active!

Picture Books

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World
Written by Katie Smith Milway
Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Kids Can Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77138-331-8
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4
Separated from his family when they are forced to flee their home in Burundi, young Deo lives alone in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Resources are scarce and gangs steal what they can. One gang leader has begun targeting Deo, who finds comfort in making a banana-leaf ball. When a coach arrives and organizes a soccer game, everything begins to change.


Canada Fun!
Written and illustrated by Paul Covello
HarperCollins Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4434-5811-5
IL: Ages 0-5 RL: Grades 1-2

From the author of the bestselling Canada ABC and Canada 123 comes this celebration of the multitude of activities Canadians enjoy—from hockey and curling to whale watching and making maple syrup! Youngsters explore some of the many sports, games, activities and festivals that are a special part of how Canadians love to have fun!


Ready, Set, Go!
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4431-4657-9
IL: Ages 3-8 RL: Grades 1-2

Miranda’s dad is running in his first big race, and Miranda needs to get him some water before it starts! But then the starter’s horn goes off! Miranda grabs a water bottle and dashes down the course, asking runners if they have seen her dad. Finally, Miranda gets to the finish line, where she finds her father… and gets a big surprise! This title is also available in French as Un, deux, trois, partez!


Terry Fox and Me
Written by Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Milan Pavlović
Tundra Books, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6768-8
IL: Ages 6-10 RL: Grades 2-3

Doug and Terry met at middle school basketball tryouts. As they grew up, the best friends helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: from the cancer diagnosis to the race of Terry’s life, his Marathon of Hope. This picture book biography honours the true value of friendship.


Written and illustrated by Julie Flett
Greystone Kids, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7716-4607-9
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades PreK-1

This wonderful bookcelebrates diversity and the interconnectedness of nature through an Indigenous perspective, complete with a glossary of Cree words for wild animals at the back of the book, and children repeating a Cree phrase throughout the book. Readers will encounter birds who chase and chirp, bears who wiggle and wobble, whales who swim and squirt, owls who peek and peep, and a diverse group of kids who love to do the same, shouting:




When the Moon Comes
Written by Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Matt James
Tundra Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-101-91777-0
IL: Ages 4-12 RL: Grades 2-3

The beaver flood has finally frozen — perfect ice, without a bump or a ripple. The kids in town wait impatiently for the right moment. Finally, it arrives: the full moon. They huff and puff through logging trails, farms, back roads and tamarack swamps, the powdery snow soaking pant legs and boots, until they see it — their perfect ice, waiting. And the game is on.



Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Across the Floor
(Orca Limelights)
Written by Natasha Deen
Orca Book Publishers, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4598-0920-8
IL: Ages 11-14 RL: Grades 3-4

Luc thought he knew what his passion was: football. He lives it, breathes it. So when his coach orders him to sign up for contemporary-dance classes to improve his game, Luc agrees. He never expected to fall in love with dance. Now Luc faces a tough decision. Is he willing to give up a future in pro football to pursue a new dream?


Hockey Night in Kenya
Written by Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters
Illustrated by Claudia Dávila
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-2361-7
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Kenyan orphans, Kitoo and Nigosi, spend their days studying, helping with chores and reading books in their small library. Kitoo finds a book called Sports Around the World and he becomes fascinated with an image of the Canadian national ice hockey team. When he finds a pair of beat-up rollerblades, Kitoo teaches himself to skate. But you can’t play ice hockey in Kenya… can you?



The Ice Chips and the Stolen Cup
Written by Mahtab Narsimhan
Scholastic Canada Ltd, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4434-5999-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

When aspiring photographer Dylan Moore is invited to join his best friend, Rohit Lal, on a family trip to India, he jumps at the chance to embark on an exciting journey just like their Lord of the Rings heroes, Frodo and Sam. But each boy comes to the trip with a problem: Rohit is desperate to convince his parents not to leave him behind in Mumbai to finish school, and Dylan is desperate to stay in India to prove himself as a photographer and to avoid his parents’ constant fighting.




Training Camp
(The Wizenard Series)
Written by Wesley King
Created by Kobe Bryant
Granity Studios, 2019
ISBN 978-1-9495-2001-9
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grade 2

The West Bottom Badgers are the lowest-ranked basketball team in the league, and the players live in the poorest neighbourhood. When a new coach, Rolabi Wizenard, appears at training camp, each player experiences strange visions that challenges what they know about basketball and their own personal struggles. Now the Badgers must take risks, learn to trust their teammates, and confront their inner fears.



Young Adult Fiction

Barry Squires, Full Tilt
Written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada, 2020
ISBN 978-0-7352-6746-6
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

It’s 1995. After watching the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers give an inspiring performance at the bingo hall, 12-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is bound to be rocky. Luckily, he has the support of a lively cast of characters, including his grandmother and best friend.

Written by Tanya Boteju
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5344-5502-3
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart. So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.


The Player
Written by Paul Coccia
Lorimer, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4594-1576-8
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Set in the traditionally homophobic world of amateur hockey, this book follows gay goalie Cooper in his struggle with his feelings for a teammate and coming out to his team. Cooper has been hooking up with teammate Pesh in secret, and has to play along when Pesh dates a girl and even tolerate locker-room homophobic talk. When Pesh outs Cooper online, trying to better his own chances at playing pro, Cooper chooses self-esteem and honesty over sex. With a strong and relatable main character, this book is a realistic, positive look at teen relationships — gay or straight.


A Time to Run: Stuart & Sam
Written by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Clockwise Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-988347-09-7
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Stuart, born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, can run like the wind. Sam was a basketball star destined to play varsity… until he’s sidelined by a dangerous heart condition. Now Sam is helping Stuart, his best Buddy, make the school track and field team. They both come to understand that there is a time to run and a time to stay where they belong.



Breaking Through: Heroes in Canadian Women’s Sport
Written by Sue Irwin
James Lorimer, 2018
ISBN 978-1-4594-1372-6
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grade 4

This book highlights the achievements of Canadian women’s sports stars and their fight for the right to compete in sports traditionally dominated by men. Proving that women’s sports are just as competitive and exciting to watch as men’s, this book focuses on seven sports and the women who made them their own.


Meet Willie O’Ree
(Scholastic Canada Biography)
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Scholastic Canada, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4431-7561-6
IL: Ages 4-9 RL: Grades 3-4

In 1958, Willie O’Ree became the first Black player in the NHL. To get there, he faced racism and an injury that would have ended most hockey careers. His achievements as a player, coach and ambassador for NHL diversity were celebrated with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. Available in French as Voici Willie O’Ree.


On Our Nature Walk: Our First Talk About Our Impact on the Environment
(The World Around Us)
Written Dr. Jillian Roberts
Illustrated by Jane Heinrich’s
Orca Book Publishers, 2020
ISBN 978-1-4598-2100-2
IL: Ages 7-9 RL: Grades 2-3

Crafted around a conversation between a school-aged child and an adult, this inquiry-focused book will help children shape their understanding of the natural world and how they can participate in protecting it. Beginning the discussion with the types of trash that children notice outside, Dr. Roberts explains how pollution is caused, and how we can better care for the world around us.



(Pride in)
Written by Emilie Dufresne
BookLife Publishing, 2021
ISBN 978-1-83927-085-7
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Sometimes being who you are can be difficult. From Fallon Fox to Nicola Adam, discover athletes from the LGBTQ2+ community who celebrate who they are and never stop fighting for what they believe in. No matter who you are, inside or out, this book is here to teach you that you can be proud of who you are.


Proud to Play: Canadian LGBTQ+ Athletes Who Made History
Written by Erin Silver
James Lorimer, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4594-1512-6
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grades 4-5

From swimmer Mark Tewksbury to rhythmic gymnast Rosie Cossar, this book profiles and celebrates gay, queer and trans athletes who have kept their LGBTQ2+ identity a secret in order to find a safe place to play and compete. These athletes teach through their example what it means to be a real champion—what it means to be proud to play.


See How We Move! A First Book of Health and Well-Being
(Exploring Our Community)
Written and illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Kids Can Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77138-967-9
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 2-3

Join five young friends as they get ready for a swim meet! While the friends work hard, preparing their bodies and minds for the competition, they discover the benefits of physical fitness and learn about many important aspects of active, healthy living. This engaging introduction to physical and health education encourages children to see physical fitness as fun, social and rewarding.


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Author’s Corner: Lindsay Ruck

Lindsay R. Ruck, born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism in Ottawa. Since graduating in 2008, she has worked in the marketing, communications and publishing fields. Similar to her grandfather, the late Calvin W. Ruck, she has a deep and abiding respect and affection for her home province of Nova Scotia. She has recently returned to Halifax, after living in Ottawa for twelve years, to further her career as a writer and editor.

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

When I was a little girl, my mother took my sister and myself to hear Nova Scotian poet Maxine Tynes read from one of her books at our local public library. My sister was interested in writing at the time and I just tagged along for the field trip. But the moment I heard Maxine Tynes read one of her beautiful poems I was amazed, and I was inspired. I began filling notebooks with songs, poems, short stories, and any and every idea that popped into my head. While I thought it would be amazing to be an author, it started as a hobby and I had my sights set on sports journalism as a career. But while I was at Carleton University studying journalism, I began to write a book about my grandfather, the late Senator Calvin Ruck. He was a social activist, a human rights advocate, an author, and a social worker. (And just an amazing human being!) He became too ill to write his own story so I began to research more about his life and started conducting interviews with those who knew him best. I sent part of the manuscript to a publisher in Nova Scotia and they ended up liking the story and eventually publishing the book. It’s called Winds of Change: The Life and Legacy of Calvin W. Ruck. To have my first published book be about my grandfather is incredibly special, and I knew I wanted to write more. So I switched gears from journalism and dove head first into a career as a writer, and I’m so glad I did. 

What was your key inspiration for writing Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians?

My grandfather. It was an honour to tell my grandfather’s story and I knew there were so many more I wanted to tell. When I went to school, I wasn’t learning much about Black Canadian history and the people and moments that brought us to where we are today. The stories in Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians are part of our collective history and I wanted to make sure kids had a resource that would be educational, entertaining, and inspiring. 

Your first two books were written for an adult audience. How was it a different experience writing a non-fiction book for young people?

There are lots of different things to think about when writing for a younger audience. I thought a lot more about the language, the visuals, and the layout for Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians. I wanted to make sure the book was visually pleasing and caught the reader’s attention. Things like text boxes, beautiful illustrations, a glossary in the back explaining certain words a bit more, are all things I didn’t think about for my first two books, but were top-of-mind for Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians. 

This month’s newsletter is all about being active. Which athlete from Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians do you think is the most inspiring? 

They’re all incredible individuals who completed some amazing feats. I really enjoyed learning more about Marjorie Turner-Bailey. She worked so hard to follow her dreams and had to prove herself time and time again because of the colour of her skin. As a mother myself, I connected to the fact that she had a son and woke up extra early to train and then worked two jobs. She’s achieved so much and her story is truly inspirational. 

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I’m always filling notebooks with book ideas and I’m currently working on a book of poetry for children (in the very early stages!). I’m also really excited about a new role I’ve just taken on as Africentric Publishing Program Coordinator with the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As a writer and editor, I’m typically in that first and second stage of the book-writing process, so I’m really excited to now be able to work with other writers and develop their work. I’ll be creating learning materials for youth, working on special projects that highlight Black history, and much more. It’s a new venture that I know will be so rewarding and it will allow me to flex other creative muscles that I don’t always use as a writer. 

Find out more about Lindsay on her website, lindsayruck.ca.

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Watch Your Favourite Book On Bibliovideo

Subscribe to Bibliovideo today to watch videos made specifically for booklovers! Don’t forget to push the bell to receive updates when new videos are uploaded.

Featured Video

Playlists to Binge Watch 

For Educators / Pour les éducateurs

Indigenous / Autochtone


I Read Canadian / Je lis un livre canadien

Telling Tales: Celebrating Stories

Illustrator Demonstrations / Démonstrations des illustrateurs

TD Summer Reading Club / Club de lecture d’été TD

Stay Home, Read Together / Lisons ensemble à la maison

Author Interviews / Entretiens avec des écrivains

Book Readings / Séances de lecture


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


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Illustrator’s Studio: Carolyn Fisher

Illustrator and author Carolyn Fisher has been drawing pictures and writing stories for her whole life. She wrote three of the eight books she has illustrated. Her book Cells: An Owner’s Handbook was shortlisted for the 2021 Silver Birch Express Award and her book Summer Feet (with words by Sheree Fitch) was chosen as one of CBCs best Canadian Picture Books of 2020. When she’s not dreaming up books, Carolyn teaches workshops to kids and adults. She loves to ski, paddle and hike in the Rockies with her husband and son near their home in Calgary.

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

I grew up on a farm in southern Alberta. I loved to draw and write stories (and I didn’t love farming!) After studying illustration at university, I moved to New York City to show my portfolio to newspapers and magazines. And I started trying to write books for children. Writing a 500 word book with a beginning, middle and an end over 32 pages is more challenging than you might think! I’m still working to perfect this craft. I feel lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to share my stories – in both words and art – with kids on every corner of the continent and beyond.

As an artist, where do you draw inspiration from? Is there anything or anyone in particular who has influenced your art style?

Stories and pictures happen to me all the time. I live in Calgary, where the mountains and the prairie are gorgeous in different ways in every season. And there’s a crop of talented Calgary artists who inspire me with their work – Renata Liwska & Mike Kerr, Dena Seiferling, Byron Eggenschweiler, Sandy Nichols, Dave Whamond, and Kim Smith, just to name a few.

What was it like adapting Sheree Fitch’s vibrant poetry into illustrations in Summer Feet?

Sheree’s words are so much fun! The pictures practically drew themselves. (See the photo of my thumbnail sketch storyboard.) Sheree will tell you that she was inspired to write the text by a real-life conversation with a little girl. And I was inspired by real-life kids in my neighbourhood, including my son and his friends. Summer Feet is set near the ocean, and I live in Alberta. Still, I couldn’t resist sneaking some of my favourite prairie wildflowers into the illustrations!

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Keep a sketchbook! When you’re a creative person, whether you’re an author or an artist or a musician or a scientist, you need a place to collect and grow your ideas. That place for me is my sketchbook. You can use a sketchbook or a creative journal or a binder or a phone or even a bunch of pieces of paper in a pile, but the important thing is that you have a place to experiment.

My sketchbook goes with me everywhere I go, and whenever I see something interesting, or someone interesting, I scribble it down in my sketchbook. Then I draw and redraw until my idea looks and sounds the way I want.

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I can’t share specific information about upcoming books, but I can tell you that my current notebook features an octopus, a school of fish, a pencil, an eraser, a pint-sized lion, four wolves, the brothers Grimm and a hippo. Now let your imagination go wild!

Find out more about Carolyn on her website, carolynfisher.com.

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Experts’ Picks

Librarians’ Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.

It Fell From the Sky written and illustrated by the Fan Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2021) Ages 4-8 

The latest extraordinary picture book from the Fan Brothers is a wise and wonder-filled fable. When garden insects discover a mysteriously fetching, shiny round object lying on the grass, they speculate on its origins. Spider, a top-hatted, bow-tied Victorian dandy, claims ownership and builds a Wall Street-like “Grand Exhibit” empire around the marble treasure.  As access is restricted and friends are alienated, the greedy scheme goes from boom to bust.  An “Unexpected Disaster” coupled with a nighttime epiphany leads to a new community-based found installation, founded on generosity. Entrancing graphite black-and-white illustrations afford a welcoming admission to a miniature world with great perspective.  It Fell From the Sky is a stunning marvel to behold.  


Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.