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How are you celebrating National Aunt and Uncle’s Day?

Did you know that July 26 is National Aunts and Uncle’s Day? You may not get the day off from work, but we think it’s worth celebrating. After all, our aunts and uncles can occupy a very special place in our hearts.

We bet JonArno Lawson is thinking of his uncle Holland today. Growing up, JonArno heard stories about him at every family occasion. Uncle Holland got into a lot of trouble, but no one would ever call him dull. In fact, he was so interesting, he inspired a book!

Why not read a copy of Uncle Holland? And then call your aunts and uncles and wish them a happy day?


Uncle Holland
Written by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Natalie Nelson

When Holland is arrested for the thirty-seventh time for stealing beautiful things, he must make a very difficult decision. A police officer says that he must either go to jail or become a soldier. He chooses to join the army and is sent south, where he finds himself surrounded by beautiful things: palm trees, parrots, flowers and big blue waves…and fish!

Holland starts painting pictures of the fish, which he sells at the market on the weekend. Soon, he has money to send home to his parents. They are worried that he’s gone back to his stealing ways, so his father writes to ask if he earned the money honestly. Holland writes back to reassure him that he has decided to paint instead of steal because “not everything that’s pretty can be stuffed in your pockets!”

Based on a true story about JonArno Lawson’s uncle, and accompanied by Natalie Nelson’s collage illustrations, this quirky picture book is about making choices – and art.

In memory of Janet Lunn

We were deeply saddened to learn that Janet Lunn passed away this week at the age of 88. Her sixty-year writing career was marked by numerous awards, and 18 very special books for young readers. In her memory, our art director, Michael Solomon, shared his thoughts.

When I was new to Toronto and passionate about absorbing its abundant mystique, the Romanesque Revival red-brick mansions of the Annex and elsewhere were, and remain to this day, a favourite. Double Spell (known also as Twin Spell) was the perfect accompaniment to these explorations. The allure of an older Toronto, all too present and real if you only had the imagination to feel it all around you, was perfectly captured in Janet Lunn’s first novel. Masterful storytelling, a wise and reassuring voice, with just the right amount of creepiness — and twins to boot!

And what a privilege to soon find myself working with Janet to bring to the world some equally masterful picture books! Silly and joyous in all the right measures, the books wore their skill and expertness lightly. Janet, the dyed-in-the-wool critic and editor, was never absent from the process of making them: guiding all the light and joy was her unmistakable, uncompromising voice.

I have kept by my desk for many years a framed reproduction of a certain angry, shorn sheep, balefully regarding the bright and gaudy handicraft wrought from his own fleece — Kim LaFave’s immortal portrayal, of course. The book, Amos’s Sweater, has become a Canadian classic. And there was The Umbrella Party, a gem of a book in its narrow twenty-four-page compass, and with its splashing, brilliant pictures by Kady MacDonald Denton — pure summertime in convenient picture-book form.

But I always come back to that sheep — self-possessed, insisting on his rights, fierce, redoubtable, uncompromising, one of the great personages of Canadian literature … um, we’re talking about Amos, right?

Summer Is Better with Books!

School’s (almost) out for the summer! For kids this means swimming pools, scraped knees, climbing trees, and running around the neighborhood. Kids need to have fun, and summer’s good as it is, but… summer is even better with books! And for a limited time, ALL Groundwood titles are 30% off!

Books for Creative Kids

For the creative kids in your life, we’ve put together a collection of some of the most beautiful and imaginative books published by Groundwood, including New York Times Best Illustrated Books Sidewalk Flowers and The Black Book of Colors.
 

 

 

Books for Kids who Like Nature and the EnivironmentFor kids with a budding interest in the natural world, pick from a collection of some of our favourite Groundwood books that deal with nature and the environment, including Tokyo Digs a Garden, My Book of Birds, and West Coast Wild.
 

 

 

Books that are Windows to the World

The people, places and events (both real and imagined) in these books are perfect for kids who want to see and read the world, including Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina, and Sita’s Ramayana.


Joanne Schwartz on writing Town is By The Sea

Town is By the Sea is a 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honoree!
We asked Joanne Schwartz for a few words about how she wrote this hauntingly beautiful book.

I grew up in Cape Breton, surrounded by landscape and stories, the mining story being one of the most compelling. It is a story that is palpable, ingrained in family histories and community memory; honored with monuments and annual memorials. As a kid we used to drive out to these small mining towns to go visit friends and family. People talked, sharing their stories with generosity in a disarming salt-of-the-earth manner. Those Sunday drives also took us often to Glace Bay to visit the Miners Museum. Here the dramatic labor struggles of the mining history were laid out. Years of injustice, poverty and lost lives mark their course. What I learned of the history of mining made an indelible impression on me, one that has never lessened. Over the years, and recently more intensely, I took a personal reading journey deep into the pit and slowly, Town Is by the Sea emerged.

How to describe these small towns dotting the landscape, perched at the ocean’s edge? The phrase “town, road, grassy cliff, sea” came to mind, to capture that remote end-of-the-world feeling of these towns. How to tell something of the families? And a young boy’s voice came next. Through his lens I could find my way into the story and show how the mining history runs through generations of families. How to convey the disjuncture between the beauty of the landscape and the deep, dark, underground world of submarine mining? Create a rhythm in the text, like the rhythm of the sea, back and forth between the ever-present ocean and the depths of the pit. How to tell something of the legacy of the labor history? Show that link between grandfather, father and son — how the past, present and future converge in a shared story of labor, struggle and memory.

Town Is by the Sea comes out of all of this. It is my ode to the miners and their families, to the struggles they have endured and the communities they have created, in this rugged corner of the country.


Town is By the Sea

Town is By the Sea
Written by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith
A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea.

With curriculum connections to communities and the history of mining, this beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of Canadian history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a Cape Breton mining town will enthrall children and move adult readers.

On Kids who are Caregivers

When we picture a family setting, we normally assume that the children of the family are the ones being cared for. In reality, though, over a million children in the United States act as caregivers for siblings, parents or grandparents.

In Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng’s emotionally gripping picture book Walk With Me, now available in English, we see how one little girl cares for her young sibling, does the shopping and prepares the family meals. Her mother has to work to support the family, and her father is completely absent…unless he might be related in some way to the imaginary lion who helps this little girl navigate each difficult day?


Walk With Me is a simple, imaginative story depicting the complex emotional reality of a girl whose father no longer lives at home.

The girl conjures up an imaginary companion — a lion — who will join her on the long walk home from school. He will help her to pick up her baby brother from daycare and shop at the store (which has cut off the family’s credit), and he’ll keep her company all along the way until she is safely home. He will always come back when she needs him, unlike her father whom she sees only in a photograph — a photograph in which he clearly resembles a lion.

Enter to Win a GG Books Gift Pack

We’ve made tote-bags in celebration of our recent Governor General’s Literary Awards and want you to have one to fill with all your Summer reads!

Enter below to win a Tokyo Digs a Garden tote-bag along with a copy of Governor General’s Literary Awards winners Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano & Kellen Hatanaka and Calvin by Martine Leavitt!

Tokyo Digs a Garden and Calvin

May is Mystery Month!

May is Mystery Month! We’ve wrapped up some of our favourite Groundwood Books for all ages in limited-edition The Moon Inside gift wrap. Which book is inside will remain a mystery until you tear it open! Click here to get your mystery book.

Groundwood Books May is Mystery Month

Here’s how it works:

Select a book age range from the drop down on the mystery book page — and adjust the quantity if you want more then one mystery book. In the “add special instructions for your order…” field during checkout, please let us know of any Groundwood books you currently have (just so we don’t send you those books) and/or the interests of your gift recipient. That’s it! We’ll send out your mystery book and your young reader will get a Groundwood surprise!

Stéphanie Lapointe on landing among the stars

Why does today’s society put so much value in being famous? This is the question that led author Stéphanie Lapointe to write the graphic novel Grandfather and the Moon, illustrated by Rogé.

Lapointe has spent time in the limelight herself. In addition to writing, she acts, sings, and is involved in various television, theater and film productions. Her musical career began in 2004 when she won the televised singing competition Star académie. As she said in an interview with La Presse, the connection between stardom and stars in space in Grandfather and the Moon is no coincidence.

The book is about a girl who enters and wins a contest to go to the moon, hoping that her grandfather will be proud of her. The journey into space is thrilling right up until she is about to reach the moon. To Lapointe, the story is a fable about realizing that the journey can be more important than actually achieving your dreams.

In her own words:

Twelve years ago, in Quebec, I won one of these reality-TV singing competitions that can take various forms and that have been so popular all over the world since the beginning of the 21st century.

It has been more than a decade already, and yet this moment when, for a split second and a handful of musical notes, my life was turned upside down in public under the gaze of millions of viewers, is still one of my most intact memories.

From this path that shaped me, gave to me, took from me and made me grow up, was born (almost without my knowledge!) Grandfather and the Moon.

In this world, which too often leaves us under the impression that we have to shine in order to exist, Rogé and I wanted to create a project that would exist, like a fable, and would ask a question similar to this one:

What if the essence of our lives lies in the crossing rather than at the finish line?


This moving graphic novel tells the story of the affection between a girl and her grandfather. When the grandfather withdraws in grief after his wife dies, the girl is determined to live life fully herself and enters an extraordinary contest — the result is a sensitive portrayal of pursuing a dream.

Grandfather, a man of few words, is devastated when his beloved wife succumbs to cancer, and he sinks into depression. His granddaughter (“Mémère,” as he calls her) has a different response. She decides to enter the Who Will Go to the Moon Contest, and when she actually wins, she hopes that Grandfather will be proud of her. She embarks on the thrilling journey and at first it is wonderful, but just as she is about to reach the moon, her journey takes an unexpected turn.

The Making of an Alphabet Thief

Here at Groundwood, there’s nothing we love more than a little peek behind the scenes at how our books are made, so when Roxanna Bikadoroff mentioned that she still had some of her early sketches for The Alphabet Thief written by Bill Richardson, we jumped at the chance to share them with you, along with her explanation of how she designed the Alphabet Thief character.

When coming up with the Alphabet Thief character, the first visuals that popped into my head were of the Chief Blue Meanie from the animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine and of a classic 17th-century highwayman. I also tried to imagine what sort of person she was. What would drive someone to commit such crimes? Perhaps she had never learned to read, so hoarding letters and depriving others of words was her method of compensation or revenge. Like most serial criminals, the Alphabet Thief is after fame and notoriety, hence her flamboyant attire. Perhaps she sees herself as a bit of a Lone Ranger or Caped Crusader, with her steampunk goggles being a modern version of the classic eye mask.  Her enormous hat feather is indicative of a highly mercurial nature and her mismatched gloves show an imbalance (like the Chief Blue Meanie’s boots). I’m not really sure where her striped stockings came from, other than I wanted to break up the solid black.

I suppose this somewhat sympathetic antihero, who leaves a trail of altered reality in her wake, can be interpreted as being all right-brained (i.e. stolen letters are hung up as pictures, rather than used in words), while the little girl hero is more the rational left-brained sort, determined to solve a mystery (even dressed like Sherlock, at one point) and restore order to a surreal, dysfunctional world that has ceased to make sense.


The alphabet thief stole all of the B’s, and all of the bowls became owls…

When night falls, along comes a peculiar thief who steals each letter of the alphabet, creating a topsy-turvy world as she goes. It seems that no one can stop her, until the Z’s finally send her to sleep so that all the other letters can scamper back to where they belong.

Bill Richardson’s zany rhymes and Roxanna Bikadoroff’s hilarious illustrations will delight young readers with the silly fun they can have with language — and may even inspire budding young writers and artists to create their own word games.

Short Stories for Little Monsters — guest post by Marie-Louise Gay

This post was originally shared on Marie-Louise Gay’s website, and she’s allowed us to repost it here.

What planet does my new book Short Stories For Little Monsters come from? The planet of my childhood, of course, as well as the outer-space of my adolescence! But also from the hours of joy spent reading and sharing my favorite comic strips or bandes dessinées with my two young boys as they fell over laughing at the hilarious adventures and mishaps of Spirou, The Shtroumps, Lucky Luke, Le génie des Alpages, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Philémon and Le concombre masqué etc.

I wrote these stories to tickle the funnybone of my ticklish readers, to recapture that sense of wonder and absurdity that inhabits children’s minds, the curiosity and boundless imagination that easily crosses the border between reality and fantasy.

Some of these stories are true, like Zombie-Mom, where a mother can see through ceilings all the mischief her children are getting into. Guess who the mother is ?

Other stories came to me as I walked through forests, eavesdropping on trees as in What do Trees Talk About?

I also eavesdropped on my kids when they started bossing worms around as in the story called Worms.

Nineteen short stories about invisible boys, arrogant snails, the secret life of rabbits and many more. Stories full of laughter, jokes and truth, sometimes stranger than fiction.

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