News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
September Reading List: Back-to-School
Author Corner: Kallie George
Illustrator’s Studio: Qin Leng
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!
CCBC Survey For Educators
We are asking you once again to answer a few questions to dig down further into specific programs and services we offer to educators and librarians. Thank you in advance for participating in this survey. We value your commitment in the work of the CCBC.
ICYMI: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books
IBBY Canada and Bibliovideo are proud to present the launch of the 2021 edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books.
25 of the best Indigenous picture books published in Canada between 2018–2020 were selected for this collection. Care was taken to ensure that the collection reflects the diversity of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit voices from sea to sea to sea, and that the titles are available and in print for anyone who wishes to access them. Watch the virtual launch with host Waubgeshig Rice for a virtual launch event celebrating the 25 titles selected for the 2021 edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
Experience Stories! at the Telling Tales Virtual Festival
Aliens. So many aliens … fantastic creatures that emerge from broken crayons…a dragon riding assassin … being charming in NYC this year Telling Tales has it all!
Books have the power to transport us to different worlds, cities and places where we truly Experience Stories. In a year where we are staying home more than ever before, Telling Tales is excited to launch its 2021-22 season to bring these stories to you.
Following the success of last year, the 2021 Telling Tales season will continue as a virtual festival with an all-star line-up of authors, illustrators and storytellers sharing their stories and engaging audiences both near and far. Attendees to the Telling Tales Virtual Festival can look forward to interactive video presentations from an award-winning, diverse line-up, whose unique backgrounds and experiences reflect those of our audience.
Follow Bibliovideo on Social Media!
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.
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.
Links We Love
Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.
September Reading List: Back-to-School!
This month’s reading list is all about out favourite books to read this summer!
Kallie George is an author, editor, speaker and instructor of creative writing workshops. She has a master’s degree in children’s literature from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of a number of books for young readers, including the Duck, Duck, Dinosaur series, the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series, the Heartwood Hotel series, and the Wings of Olympus series, as well as numerous picture books, such as Goodnight, Anne, The Secret Fawn, The Lost Gift, The Doll Hospital, and the Anne of Green Gables early readers. She grew up on the Sunshine Coast in BC, where she spent her days roaming the forests and beaches. Now, she and her husband have made a home there so that her son can do the same.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?
I’ve always loved reading and writing from the time I was very small, and I was creating my first stories before I could even write. I used to dictate them to my parents and then I would do the pictures. They really encouraged me. When I was about five years old an author/illustrator came to live with my family for a while to finish her book. We lived tucked in the forest, and it was a good getaway for her. I remember sitting in a corner of the room where she was working, fascinated. I was star-struck. I wanted to be a writer too! I remember spending many days wandering the woods, daydreaming about stories, much like Anne Shirley. When I visited the city and went to my parents’ office, there was a photocopier. I loved that. I used it to make Christmas stories for my family as gifts. Santa and the Bubblegum is one of my favourites (I wrote it when I was about 7 or 8 years old.) The Snow Angels, about snow angels that are the guardians of Christmas Castle—sort of like superheroes—is pretty cute too. My first book was published over ten years ago, around the time when I graduated university.
How did the idea of adapting the Anne series for younger readers come about?
The Anne early chapter books and picture books came about in a unique fashion. I have always been a fan of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. But it was Tundra Books, the publisher, that was looking for someone to write some easy chapter books to introduce the classic to younger readers. I love the format of easy chapters AND I love Anne of Green Gables. I gave it a try, and they were happy with what I did. Now, Anne’s School Days is book three, and there are three more books in the works. I’ve written the fourth, Anne’s Tragical Tea Party, and am working on the fifth now. I am trying to stay as faithful as I can to the original. I’m SO enamoured with the art done by Abigail Halpin. It’s just perfect. I’ve read Anne of Green Gables probably thirty times now, and honestly, the magic of the story and the writing NEVER grows old. There is always SO much to discover in Montgomery’s writing. My goal is that the picture books (illustrated by Genevieve Godbout) and the easy chapter books (illustrated by Abigail Halpin) encourage readers to discover the novels.
How has your love of fairy tales impacted you as a storyteller?
I do love fairy tales. I actually did my thesis on them. Fairy tales feature thoughtful sparse storytelling and the magic of three and have timeless themes. I am fascinated by the variations of the same tale. I often try out many variations of my own stories, to see what might be the strongest. I think I get this from fairy tales. I also love how fairy tales change and adapt and grow with the times.
A new school year is a great new start! What advice do you have for budding storytellers?
It IS a great new start. I think fall is my favourite season. As Anne says, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
In terms of advice for budding storytellers:
- Have fun!
- Don’t worry about spelling too much. I’m not a great speller. I used to worry about it, but learned over time that it isn’t so important; spelling is fixable.
- Share ideas that you are working on with friends, family, teachers, etc! It’s fun to story-tell together.
- Read a lot.
- Bring a notebook to jot down ideas/sketch/write.
I have a few projects that are upcoming. There’s a picture book this fall called I Hear You, Forest, illustrated by Carmen Mok, and a picture book called Merry Christmas, Anne, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. Next year, I have an early chapter book series called Crimson Twill: Witch in the City illustrated by Birgitta Sif out spring 2022, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Academy illustrated by Lorena Alvarez in fall 2022. These projects have been in the works for a while. I’m actually currently working on another longer story. We will see what happens with it. Truly, writing is an adventure!
Find out more about Kallie on her website, kalliegeorge.com.
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Illustrator’s Studio: Qin Leng
Qin Leng is a designer and illustrator known for her illustrations of children books. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork.
Throughout her career, Qin has illustrated picture books, magazines and book covers with publishers around the world. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the APALA Award for best picture book.
She lives in Toronto, with her husband and her son.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
I grew up in a family of very visual people. My mother would draw in her spare time and looking at her old doodles now, knowing that she did not receive any artistic training, her sketches were quite well executed.
My father Leng Hong is an artist himself, a professional painter whom I’ve watched work in his studio since I was a little kid. And my twin sister is incredibly skilled as well, creating life-like illustrations (we call her the human scanner in the family). I think being surrounded by a group of very visual people has always ignited my love for the arts.
I went to school to become a biologist, getting accepted to the Biology program at McGill university, but at the last minute I changed my mind and enrolled in film animation at Concordia University (MelHoppenheim school of cinema). It was a revelation… I was excited at the prospect of turning my love for drawing into a career.
After a few years designing layouts in animation, I realized I needed more. I wanted to get my own work published into the world and was tired of designing other people’s creations.
I submitted portfolios to publishers across the Globe and slowly but surely grew my network of contacts and accumulated projects. I mainly focus on magazine and picture book illustrations with publishers in Canada, the US, and France.
We are excited for A Kid is a Kid is a Kid! What was it like illustrating this companion to A Family is a Family is a Family?
Working on A Family is a Family is a Family was such a dream! Sara O’Leary’s writing style seems to be the perfect fit for me. I like books that give me room to explore the words further and add my own touches to the story and Sara allows me to do just that.
What made it really exciting to work on A Kid is a Kid is a Kid is that it came 5 years later. By that point, my style had evolved quite considerably. The images in A Family is a Family is a Family were inked on paper then scanned and painted digitally. However, I now work exclusively with traditional mediums (ink, watercolor, oil pastel and pencil crayons) and it was very interesting to explore Sara’s world with new visuals.
You have illustrated so many amazing books! How do you keep up with such a full workload?
When I first started picture book making, I took on as many projects as I could pack in a year. I was young, eager to make my work seen and known in the industry and I wanted to gain as much experience as possible. During all this time however, I never left the animation industry. So for the last 11 years, I have been juggling a full time job as a layout supervisor in studios in Toronto as well as picture book making (which usually takes place during evenings and weekends). It definitely takes a lot of discipline. Not many hours in a day to do much else than draw draw draw. But I love what I do and drawing fills me with such joy and sense of accomplishment.
And then, I had a little boy 4 years ago and quickly realized I was only one person and this was getting to be too much.
I am slowly trying to find a better balance, be a little more selective with my book projects and cut down on my animation work hours.
Hopefully I will find where the best of both worlds sits.
You are a master at telling stories through your wonderful illustrations; how did you find working for the first time on both the text and images for I Am Small as author-illustrator?
I never thought I was that good at making up stories. Writing is so
intimidating and writing good picture books is really difficult. I always felt more inspired to develop a visual world from other people’s words. But seeing so many illustrators successfully write their very own stories gave me the push to give it a try. I am not usually the type of person to sit and wonder if I can do something. I prefer to be proactive, to give things a try and find out for myself if I can be successful at it.
I originally tried to write the book in English and after many attempts, realized it just didn’t feel right. I was struggling to find the right words, the right rhythm. Then I thought about the books I grew up reading and what I loved about them. That’s when it clicked: I spent my early childhood in France. It made sense to revisit the language of my childhood in order to write a children’s books. From that point on, the words came out on their own, very naturally.
What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?
2021 has been one of my busiest years! I have many projects I am so excited about. Two upcoming picture books with Tundra Books which are follow ups to Sharon Lois and Bram’s Skinnamarink (with words by Randi Hampson), a new project with Quebec publisher Comme des Geants, written by author and publisher Nadine Robert which will be a beautiful book celebrating nature (60 pages of woodsy landscape, my most favorite subject to illustrate).
2022 will be filled with more projects as well: At the Window with Candlewick Press written by Hope Lim and Insect Expedition with Greystone Kids, written by David Suzuki and Tanya Lloyd Kyi.
Find out more about Qin on her website, qinillustrations.com.
Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit findabookstore.ca.
Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:
Clever and spirited Aggie Morton makes a friend, finds a dead body and determines the identity of the murderer in this delightful and carefully-crafted mystery. In this fictional version of Agatha Christie’s childhood, Marthe Jocelyn creates a vivid setting, charming characters (most notably the heroine), and a pleasing puzzle to be solved. Aggie is a smart. observant but somewhat socially awkward protagonist whose “Morbid Preoccupation” with death frustrates her mother but enables Aggie to remain calm and analytical when she stumbles upon the body of a neighbour under the piano in her dance class. Her quiet but very real grief over the recent passing of her father is also sensitively depicted, making her even more relatable in her vulnerability. This is a wonderful addition to Marthe Jocelyn’s already impressive oeuvre!
—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 The Bug Club, Elise Gravel shares her ardour for arthropods. Smiling, wide-eyed insects of all different shapes and sizes are on colourful display in the zippy cartoons, like the harmless Scorpion Fly who has a scary-looking tail and a funny one-liner: “Well, I’m cute on the INSIDE.” Pithy, attention-grabbing facts about irresistible invertebrates abound, including the Praying Mantis’s strict diet (“live insects and even small birds”), the Stink Bug’s odorific aroma (akin to “sweaty feet and cilantro. Yummy”), and the tiny Tardigrade’s hardiness (able to survive “ten years without water, and thirty years frozen!”). Gravel pays close attention to crawly critters we often take for granted and leans into their delightful weirdness. One peek inside this buzz-worthy book and readers will catch the entomology bug.
—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.
Staff of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre recommend their favourite books for kids and teens
Catalina has the perfect life until she has to share her home with three Labrador Retriever puppies. While before their arrival she could feel a little sad and alone, now she is never alone and has to share all of her things. Eventually Catalina realizes that her new family isn’t so bad and that she’ll never have to be lonely again.
Catalina is a delightful story, perfect for young children adapting to change, or anyone who just likes cats. The bright and vibrant illustrations have a retro and unique style that jumps off the page. The text also uses Newfoundland place names and expressions that add to the story’s charm and even teaches the reader a bit about Newfoundland and Labrador. I loved this sweet and fun story about adapting to life’s changes and making new and unlikely friends.
— Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator