Sara O’Leary on A Family Is a Family Is a Family

Sara O'Leary A Family Is a Family Is a Family

Seeing Qin Leng’s final art for this book was full of joyful surprises. My sons and I sat and turned the pages, taking it in turn to point things out and make little exhortations.

There is such a lovely lightness of touch to Qin’s work but when you slow down to look you see joy imbued in each of the family groups. The loveliest surprise for me was turning to the final page and seeing that within the narrative of the story, the classroom functions as another family.

My mother, June McDonald, was a teacher for years. She taught Special Ed at a number of schools in Saskatoon and I know that for many students she was the loving, stabilizing influence in their lives. Lately on social media, I’ve noticed acquaintances talking about favourite teachers from childhood. I know there will be many adults out there who remember my mother the same way.

My first school was Elsie Dorsey School in Regina, Saskatchewan. This picture shows me and my classmates at about the same age as the narrator and her classmates in A Family Is a Family Is a Family. After this year, my family moved away and I no longer remember the names of most of the children arrayed in rows here. But I do remember being at the school and staring at the page of an old Dick and Jane reader. I remember the moment that the letters on the page suddenly shifted for me and became the word “wagon.” I remember how in that moment the code was broken and I could read. Reading (and writing) became one of the great joys of my life.

The narrator in my story is nervous because she thinks she is not the same as everybody else in the group. Her nervousness arises from her family situation but there are all sorts of reasons for children to feel different. I’d like to pay tribute to all teachers where the classroom becomes a place where difference can be celebrated and explored and where the tentative, anxious child can be made to feel at home.


Sara O'Leary A Family Is a Family Is a Family

When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all.

One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One has many stepsiblings, and another has a new baby in the family.

As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, it is special.

A warm and whimsical look at many types of families, written by award-winning author Sara O’Leary, with quirky and sweet illustrations by Qin Leng.

A Peek at Spreads from Groundwood’s September Releases

We’ve got FIVE new illustrated books publishing on September 1st (and available at houseofanansi.com a week early on August 25th)! If you can’t wait until then (and we don’t blame you), take a peek at a spread from each book to help tide you over (click on the image to enlarge!):

Turn On The Night
by Geraldo Valério
Turn On The Night by Geraldo Valério


A Family Is a Family Is a Family
by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng
A Family Is a Family Is a Family illustrated by Qin Leng


The Moon Inside
by Sandra V. Feder, illustrated by Aimée Sicuro
The Moon Inside Illustrated by Aimée Sicuro


Bear’s Winter Party
by Deborah Hodge, llustrated by Lisa Cinar
Bear's Winter Party illustrated by Lisa Cinar


The King of the Birds
by Acree Graham Macam, Illustrated by Natalie Nelson
The King of the Birds illustrated by Natalie Nelson

(And hey! We’ve also got two young adult books forthcoming in September: Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami and llustrated by Julianna Swaney, and Aluta by Adwoa Badoe.

How to Draw a Pig Puppet by Qin Leng

Qin Leng has received a lot of praise for her beautiful illustrations since the release of Happy Birthday, Alice Babette. Today she is lending her talent to our blog to offer you a drawing tutorial: How to Draw a Pig Puppet, inspired by the puppet theater Alice visits during her walk in the park.

Happy Birthday AliceBabette Drawing Tutorial

 

Download a printable version.

Check out our printable resources for parents, teachers, and librarians.


Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica KullingQin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. She has published numerous picture books in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, and South Korea. She has also illustrated for Save the Children and UNICEF. Her newest book is Happy Birthday, Alice Babette, written by Monica Kulling.

New Releases from Groundwood this April

It may be April Fool’s day, but this is no joke. There are several titles coming out this month, all with fun illustrations and beautiful stories.


Super Duper Monster Viewer by Kevin SylvesterSuper Duper Monster Viewer
written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Available: April 1

Imagine that you are holding a device that will allow you to see the monsters that live invisibly all around us. All you have to do is follow the simple instructions and . . . total chaos!

Technology isn’t always easy, and this monster viewer disguised as a book is no exception. If you hold the viewer too high, all you see are the tops of the monsters’ heads. Too low, and all you see are their feet. And things don’t get any better when the monsters themselves try to help out.

Full of puns and visual jokes, Super-Duper Monster Viewer pokes gentle fun at our obsession with technology and the next cool thing.

 


Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette
by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Qin Leng
Available: April 1

It’s Alice’s birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve.

Inspired by the lives of artist Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Monica Kulling’s warm and whimsical narration is perfectly balanced by Qin Leng’s bright and energetic illustrations. This is a sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.


My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério

My Book of Birds
written and illustrated by Geraldo Valério
Available: April 5

Geraldo Valério is an artist who loves birds, from majestic Golden Eagles and Snowy Owls to brilliant cardinals and jays to the tiniest of hummingbirds. Here he presents his favorites, with beautiful collage illustrations and brief descriptions that highlight intriguing facts about each one.

The illustrations show a variety of feathered creatures in their natural habitats as they hunt for food, impress their mates, nest, and care for their young. The concise, accessible text provides information ranging from clever techniques for finding food to remarkable physical features to fascinating behaviors. But above all, Geraldo Valério shares his passion for birds in this lovingly created album, inspiring young readers with their beauty and the excitement of discovery.

Includes an introduction, glossary, index and sources for further information.


Go Home Bay by Susan Vande Griek

Go Home Bay
by Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Pascal Milelli
Available: April 5

In 1914, Tom Thomson spent the summer at a family cottage on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, where he taught the ten-year-old daughter, Helen, how to paint. Author Susan Vande Griek and illustrator Pascal Milelli have imagined this time through Helen’s eyes, providing an intriguing glimpse into the famous painter’s life.

The story, told in lyrical free verse, has a quiet charm, while the illustrations capture the natural beauty that inspired some of Thomson’s most memorable paintings.

An author’s note provides more information about Tom Thomson’s life.


Kabungo by Rolli

Kabungo
by Rolli, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
Available: April 5

Ten-year-old Beverly is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary best friend. Her name is Kabungo, and she lives in a cave on Main Street. No one knows where she comes from or who she really is, but life is never dull when Kabungo is around.

Beverly tries to teach her friend about the ways of the modern world — the importance of teeth brushing, understanding strange holidays like Halloween, learning how to read. But Kabungo doesn’t take well to being civilized, and she can be stubborn, bossy, and plain infuriating. Sometimes Beverly gets so mad that she just wants to move to Cincinnati.

Then, just when you least expect it, Kabungo will do something surprising (and when you’re best friends with a cavegirl, you’re not easily surprised).

Groundwood Recommends: Summer Reading

Surely summer is the best time to read for pleasure, so today our is blog dedicated to reading just for fun! We asked some Groundwood staff members for their top picks for summer reads.

Almost every public library has a summer reading program designed to encourage children to read books that interest them — make sure to check out the program in your area for more recommendations!


Rosario’s Fig Tree is a perfect summer story, as it reminds us of the beauty and joy that can be found getting to know your neighbours, gardening and spending time in your backyard. Rosario reminds me of my own neighbour, who gifts me tomatoes and cucumbers throughout the summer! C’est magnifique! (Just ask the New York Times.)”

— Jolise Beaton, Rights Assistant

 

suzanne

“What’s the best part of summer? The mosquitoes, obviously. Griffin Ondaatje investigates the rich inner life of these omnipresent summer critters — and whether or not a leather jacket can make you cool — in his sweet new chapter book, The Mosquito Brothers.”

— Suzanne Sutherland, Assistant Editor

 

Cindy

“Summertime for me, an indoor kid, meant unlimited time to read books and get delightfully lost in their adventures. Reading would ignite my imagination to come up with stories of my own, just like in Marie-Louise Gay’s Any Questions? and its exploration of how to be creative, featuring a very ferocious beast.”

— Cindy Ma, Publicist

 

neil

“What I love most about Norman, Speak! is that it reminds me of the struggles some of my friends went through when they adopted their respective pets. Maybe things would have been easier for my friends if they learned Mandarin or Cantonese?”

— Neil Wadhwa, Technology Intern

 

gillian

“This enchanting picture book [Song for a Summer Night] makes me nostalgic for my childhood: those long summer nights when time and freedom were in abundance; when school was no longer part of the equation; and when friends and play were the only things that mattered!”

— Gillian Fizet, Rights Manager

 

Draw a Cat with Qin Leng!

DrawingTutorial

 

Download a printable version.

Check out our printable resources for parents, teachers, and librarians.


9781554984930_largeQin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. She has published numerous picture books in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, and South Korea. She has also illustrated for Save the Children and UNICEF. Her newest book is Song For a Summer Night, written by Robert Heidbreder.

Make a Magical Comic with Willow Dawson

This weekend the Groundwood crew and some of our creators will be at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. TCAF is a week-long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, which culminates in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other festival events include readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations and much more.

In 2003, TCAF’s first year, 600 members of the public attended. Last year, just over a decade later, 22,000 people filed through the Toronto Reference Library to meet their favorite artists.

If you can’t be in Toronto this weekend, there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate comics too. That’s why Willow Dawson (illustrator of Avis Dolphin) made a special printable workbook just for you! Click on the cover to download it.

MakeAMagicalComic-11

We have lots of downloadable goodies on our website for parents, teachers, and librarians. Check out all our downloadables here.

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