Throwback Thursday: TD Book Award Edition

Fall is always an exciting time for us. It means hot apple cider at our desks, kids heading back to school, and watching some of the books we’ve been working so hard on get released into the wild. And along with all of these wonderful things, fall is also when the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards finalists are announced.

This year we are thrilled that two of our books, Any Questions? and Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, are finalists for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Not only that, but Morris Micklewhite and From There To Here are finalists for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award as well!

You can see the whole list (and it’s a pretty incredible one!) on the Canadian Children’s Book Centre website. We’d like to send out a big congratulations to Marie-Louise Gay, Christine Baldacchino, Isabelle Malenfant, Laurel Croza and Matt James, as well all the other nominees!

All of this excitement reminds us of times when we’ve had the honor of celebrating the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People in the past. In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, here’s a round-up of our award-winning books!


 

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

The TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award aims to find the two most distinguished Canadian books of the year for children ages 1 through 12 (in English and French.)

One Year in Coal Harbour by Polly Horvath WINNER 2013
WINNER 2013

Shin-chi's Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell & illustrated by Kim Lafave WINNER 2009
WINNER 2009

Odd Man Out by Sarah Ellis WINNER 2007
WINNER 2007

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WINNER 2006

 

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction

Canada’s non-fiction books for young people are internationally renowned for the superb quality of their text, illustration and design. The Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction was established by the Fleck Family Foundation and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre on May 17, 1999 to recognize and raise the profile of these exceptional non-fiction books.

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WINNER 2013

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WINNER 2012

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WINNER 2003

 

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award honours excellence in the illustrated picture book format for children ages three to eight, written and illustrated by Canadians and first published in Canada.

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WINNER 2011
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WINNER 2008
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WINNER 2006

 

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

The Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People is awarded annually to reward excellence in the writing of an outstanding work of historical fiction for young readers, by a Canadian author.

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WINNER 2006
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WINNER 2005
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WINNER 2004
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WINNER 1993

West Coast Wild Adventure: A Guest Post by Deborah Hodge

If you’ve had the pleasure of leafing through West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet, written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Karen Reczuch, then you know it’s a very special book. This stunning nature alphabet book explores the fascinating ecosystem of the Pacific west coast — a magnificent area that combines an ancient rainforest, a rugged beach and a vast, open ocean, and where whales, bears, wolves, eagles and a rich variety of marine species thrive in an interconnected web of life.

We thought you might like to see how such a special book is researched and created, and Deborah Hodge kindly agreed to dig into her photo archives and give you a peek behind the curtain. Read on!


Two years ago, I picked up Karen Reczuch from her Vancouver hotel and we set off on a west coast adventure. I hadn’t met Karen before, but I was familiar with her lovely art — I had admired her illustrations for years.

When Sheila Barry (Groundwood’s amazing publisher) agreed to publish my latest work, West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet, I said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Karen could illustrate the book?” Sheila agreed, and a new creative collaboration was born.

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Karen decided to come to BC for a week-long research trip (she is from Acton, Ontario) and I offered to be her travel guide. We spent the better part of a week in late September exploring the magnificent west coast of Vancouver Island. Not quite a Thelma and Louise trip, but a lot of fun nonetheless!

From Vancouver, we took a two-hour ferry ride to Nanaimo and then drove west across Vancouver Island for another three hours, with the trip ending at the open Pacific Ocean, where I like to imagine that I can see all the way to Japan. Here’s Karen surveying the view from the ferry.

1. Karen on the ferry 2.-Karen-and-tree

We stopped enroute at the awe-inspiring Cathedral Grove to investigate the forest of giant trees that are centuries old and seem to reach to the sky. Karen was astonished at the scale of the nature we were seeing. It was all so big! Here she is with an 800-year-old tree. Look w-a-a-a-y up!

Karen had never been to the far west coast, but I have been visiting the beautiful Pacific Rim region for over forty years — first as a teenager, then as a university student, later as a mom with a growing family, and now with my adult children and their young kids. I feel as though I’ve gone full circle. It’s been thrilling to watch the newest members of my family discover this special place. (They were the inspiration for this book, in fact.) On a recent trip to the beach, the kids and I were very excited to find a big purple sea star!

3.-Boy-&-sea-star 4.-Boy-&-bucket

What’s it like on the west coast? It is beautiful and wild. Sea and sky go on forever. There are miles and miles of a long sandy beach bordered by ancient trees that have stood for hundreds (or maybe thousands) of years. The surf crashes and the ocean roars — and it stretches far as the eye can see.

5.-Karen-&-photo-of-sky

Whales, eagles, wolves and other wild animals inhabit this spectacular spot. And there is an abundance of marine life in every shape and colour: bright green anemones, tiny pink crabs, brilliant purple and orange sea stars, and more kinds of seashells and seaweed than you can imagine. It is a beachcomber’s paradise!

6.-orange-sea-star

Karen and I stayed in a cabin on a little cove, right on the water. Every day we saw amazing sunrises and sunsets, and watched the tides roll in and out. The weather was uncharacteristically sunny and warm for late September. I kept saying, “Do you know how lucky we are?” (This region of the west coast is one of the rainiest places on earth.) Here’s the day and night view from our cove.

7.-Mackenzie-Beach,-day

What did we do for the week? We hiked the glorious rainforest trails, where we saw plants and trees in a remarkable palette of greens. We visited the fish hatchery and watched salmon on their fall spawning run, leaping up waterfalls, and black bears scooping the fish out of the stream with their big paws!

We walked the beaches in the sunshine (see our selfie) and revelled in the expanse of sea and sky. We checked out the “catch and release” aquarium and had a close-up view of the local marine species. I loved the shifting, shimmering sea jellies and the waving pink anemones.

 

9.-Karen-&-Debbie-selfie

And we caught up with friend and fellow author Adrienne Mason, who works as biologist on the coast, and kindly reviewed the art and text of our book and answered a zillion questions about west coast species.

In the evenings, we cooked dinner (Karen makes a delicious Greek salad) and sat by the fireplace discussing our lives, the upcoming book and the possibility of Karen moving out west. (She was that impressed by what she’d been seeing.) There may have been some wine involved in our fireside chats, but I am remaining mum on that.

Karen took photos wherever we went — some 400 photos that became the basis for her art in the book. I took a few photos myself, mainly to document our adventures, but also because I love looking at the ocean photos throughout the year when I am back in Vancouver.

11.-sea-and-sky

With some reluctance, our time at the beach came to an end and we made the return journey to our respective homes.

It’s been great to see the art that emerged from our trip and to visualize the west coast through Karen’s eyes. Her work is stunning! I feel very fortunate to have my words brought to life by her art.

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If you haven’t been to the far west coast of Canada, consider a visit. It is one of the world’s most beautiful places. Bring your kids — they will love it! (Check out the back pages of West Coast Wild to learn more about exploring this region.)

And if you can’t arrange a trip just now, you can travel there by reading our book:

A is for an ancient forest that towers over a long sandy beach…

O is for orcas that leap and dive in the west coast waves…

T is for tides that rise and fall endlessly…

See you on the west coast,

Deborah Hodge

Enter to win a copy of I Don’t Live Here Anymore

I Don't Live Here Anymore by Gabi Kreslehner

Charlotte’s life is changed forever when her parents’ marriage breaks up, and Charlotte has to leave her beloved house and her old life behind. Then two very different boys cross her path, and a new emotion creeps into her sadness and anger — an emotion that is both confusing and sweet.

If grownups can make such a hash of it, how on earth can a fifteen-year-old cope?

We’re giving away a copy to one lucky reader.

Contest open to residents of North America (excluding Quebec). We will accept entries until midnight on Monday, September 14th, and will contact the winner by email on Tuesday, September 15th. Good luck!

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Enter to win a copy of Buddy and Earl!

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In the first instalment of the new Buddy and Earl series, Buddy does not know what is in the box that Meredith carries into the living room. But when the small, prickly creature says he is a pirate — and that Buddy is a pirate too — the two mismatched friends are off on a grand adventure.

We’re giving away a copy to one lucky reader.

Contest open to residents of North America (excluding Quebec). We will accept entries until midnight on Sunday, August 16th, and will contact the winner by email on Monday, August 17th.

 

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The Essential Role of School Librarians — Guest post by Marie-Louise Gay

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Recently, the Lester B. Pearson School Board of Montreal decided to eliminate the jobs of all school librarians in their employ because of government budget cuts. Marie-Louise Gay was asked to give a statement about this at a recent board meeting, which you can read here. This post was originally shared on Marie-Louise Gay’s website, and she’s allowed us to repost it here.


 

We send our children to school to learn to read, to write, to expand their minds, to give them a chance to lead successful happy lives. A primary school is a small milieu where, for the first time, young children are exposed to the vast world outside of their homes.

It is a place where they will learn skills that, for the most part, they will use throughout their lives. So how can a school open the doors wide enough to introduce children to original thoughts, other lives, different cultures and knowledge?

As an author and illustrator of over sixty children’s books over the last thirty years, I have had the pleasure of traveling all across Canada, from Vancouver to St, John’s, and from Inuvik to Chisasibi, as well as crisscrossing the United States, giving workshops, presentations and readings to thousands of students in libraries and schools: huge inner-city schools, rural schools, remote island schools, first nation schools, alternative schools, private and public schools.

What has struck me in the hundreds of schools I have visited is the influence that a school library and a school librarian have on the children I meet. I can tell as soon as I start interacting with them that the children are more engaged and more articulate; they ask questions, their minds race to make connections. They share something precious: a love of reading, a curiosity, an open mind and a boundless imagination. And the reason is that they have access to a wide collection of books, classics and contemporary, and they have someone who can suggest, lead, persuade and inspire them to expand their minds with books.

That is the role of the school librarian.

In opposition to this, I have visited schools where libraries are inexistent or very poor, where books are outdated and in sad physical shape, where the library is used as a place to put unruly students, and run by well-meaning volunteer parents or overworked teachers. In these schools I meet children who know how to read, but since they are not in contact with a variety of books about an infinity of subjects that would expand their minds, they are more passive and less engaged.  Some lucky and passionate readers in these schools might have a chance of becoming life-long readers if books are read in their homes, or if they have access to a public library. But the others, the children from low-income and less educated families, the reluctant readers, the slow readers, the bored readers, the new immigrants to our country will be functionally literate, but reading will not be an integral and important part of their lives. And a lot of doors will remain closed to them.

That is why I find it so shocking that we would not support the important role of the school librarian, as well as a school library in every single school. That, as a society, we would not demand that our young children be offered  a rich choice of reading materials that will enlighten their choices, instill a sense of belonging to a community, accept difference and expand their vision of the world.

This is what school librarians bring to a school:

They have the up-to-date knowledge of what books will interest, stimulate and persuade children to expand their reading habits.

They make a choice of which books to buy on an often reduced budget. They prepare and catalogue the books.

They keep a modern, well stocked, well organized library where they suggest and recommend books that will ignite and inspire young scientists, romantics, adventurers, athletes, artists, science-fiction fans, drama queens, budding computer experts and daydreamers.

They give enthusiastic readings to classes that visit the library. Have you ever seen a school librarian reading a book to a class? It’s pretty awesome. Stories come alive. Strange voices ring out. Kids are mesmerized.

School librarians organize book clubs, book weeks, book fairs and reading marathons, creating an excitement and a buzz about reading and books.

School librarians organize and coordinate author visits, meeting with students to read, study and discuss the author’s books ahead of the reading.

School librarians help, advise and collaborate with teachers as well as students with their research projects, directing them to books, materials and websites where the best information can be found.

Above all, school librarians are passionate about their goal, which is to get all children hooked on reading.

School librarians are irreplaceable and essential to a modern-day school.

 

— Marie-Louise Gay

Enter to win a copy of Swimming, Swimming by Gary Clement!

SwimmingSwimming

Drawing on his own memories of the best days of summer in the city, Gary Clement brings us an illustrated version of the beloved classic “Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool,” full of fun and humor.

This contest is open to residents of North America (excluding Quebec). We will accept entries until midnight on Sunday, July 12, and will contact the winner by email on Monday, July 13th.

Good luck!

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Great Moments in Swimming History: Lord Byron

To celebrate the launch of Swimming, Swimming, we asked illustrator Gary Clement to tell us about some of his favourite swimmers. He did us one better, and created five comics about them! We’ll be posting Gary’s comics all week. Click here to see everything posted so far.

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Swimming, Swimming by Gary ClementDrawing on his own memories of the best days of summer in the city, Gary Clement brings us an illustrated version of the beloved classic “Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool,” full of fun and humor.

 

Great Moments in Swimming History: Lynne Cox

To celebrate the launch of Swimming, Swimming, we asked illustrator Gary Clement to tell us about some of his favourite swimmers. He did us one better, and created five comics about them! We’ll be posting Gary’s comics all week. Click here to see everything posted so far.

swim-lynne-600


Swimming, Swimming by Gary ClementDrawing on his own memories of the best days of summer in the city, Gary Clement brings us an illustrated version of the beloved classic “Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool,” full of fun and humor.

 

Great Moments in Swimming History: Johnny Weissmuller

To celebrate the launch of Swimming, Swimming, we asked illustrator Gary Clement to tell us about some of his favourite swimmers. He did us one better, and created five comics about them! We’ll be posting Gary’s comics all week. Click here to see everything posted so far.

swim-johnny-600


Swimming, Swimming by Gary ClementDrawing on his own memories of the best days of summer in the city, Gary Clement brings us an illustrated version of the beloved classic “Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool,” full of fun and humor.

 

Great Moments in Swimming History: Esther Williams

To celebrate the launch of Swimming, Swimming, we asked illustrator Gary Clement to tell us about some of his favourite swimmers. He did us one better, and created five comics about them! We’ll be posting Gary’s comics all week. Click here to see everything posted so far.

swim-esther600


Swimming, Swimming by Gary ClementDrawing on his own memories of the best days of summer in the city, Gary Clement brings us an illustrated version of the beloved classic “Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool,” full of fun and humor.

 

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