Groundwood Authors for Indies round-up

This Saturday (May 2nd), something very special is happening. All across Canada, 600 authors will gather at their favourite independent book stores in the first annual Authors for Indies Day. The day will be celebrated in all sorts of ways. Authors will be playing bookseller, recommending their personal favourites, giving readings – some bookstores will even have cake!

Here we’ve rounded up a list of appearances by Groundwood authors. Or check out the entire list and see who will be at your local.

Caroline Adderson
10:30 – 11:30 AM PDT – Kids Books, 3083 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
2:00 – 3:00 PM PDT Hager Books 2176 West 41 st Ave. Vancouver BC

Sarah Ellis
10:00 – 12:00 PM PDT
Book Warehouse, 4118 Main Street, Vancouver BC

Tim Wynne Jones
2:00 – 4:00 PM EST – Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books, 1018 Bank Street, Ottawa ON

Thomas King
1:00 – 1:30 PM EST – The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec Street, Downtown Guelph ON

Linda Little
4:00 – 5:00 PM AST – Woozles, 1533 Birmingham Street, Halifax NS

Elise Moser
10:00 – 2:00 PM EST – Librairie Paragraphe Bookstore, 2220 McGill College Avenue, Montreal QC

Cybèle Young
2:00 – 3:00 PM EST – Type Books, 883 Queen Street West, Toronto ON
4:00 – 5:00 PM EST – Mable’s Fables, 662 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto ON

Win a complete 15th Anniversary The Breadwinner set!

The Breadwinner Series by Deborah Ellis is a story about loyalty, survival, families and friendship under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Since the original release of The Breadwinner in the year 2000, the series has been published in twenty-five languages and has earned more than $1 million in royalties to benefit Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International.


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On the 15th Anniversary of the Publication of The Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis Reflects on War

9781554987658It’s been thirty-six years since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. It’s been twenty-six years since their departure marked the start of the bloody civil war. It’s been nineteen years since the capture of Kabul by the Taliban army, and fourteen years since that terrible day in September that unleashed events leading to the Taliban’s removal from power.

That’s an awful lot of war for a country that’s barely the size of Texas.

My involvement with Afghanistan began when the news of the crimes of the Taliban hit the Toronto newspapers back in l996. Since then, I have been trying to understand what war does to people.

War is made by people living in safety who make the decision to take risks with the lives of others whose opinions on the matter are not even solicited. War is made by those who profit from the manufacturing of weaponry. War is made by people who are too lazy to put the creative work and compassion into coming up with a solution to their problems that does not involve murder.

I’ve seen the way bombs and bullets shatter human bodies and devastate families. I’ve learned what happens when the destruction of infrastructure leads to bad water, food shortages and the lack of medical care. And I’ve learned from refugees about how their lives have been derailed and reduced to Waiting — for food, for shelter, for documents, for peace.

Through all the tales of crime and chaos, there have been heroes — giants of courage — who, in big ways and small, put human decency above all else.

I’ve met teachers around the world who carve out little niches of safety and childhood for kids in need. I’ve met librarians who remind us that human beings are capable of creating things noble and sublime. I’ve met builders and farmers, health workers and home workers who go through incredible difficulties just to make the next day, the next hour a little bit better for those around them. I’ve met parents of dead children who take in children of dead parents, raising them with love and care.

And I’ve met children who cast aside the hatreds of the older generation and work toward building a world of radical kindness and beauty.

In today’s warfare, ninety-five percent of the casualties are civilians. This means that when we give our governments permission to go to war, we are giving them permission to kill people who are just like us — who complain about the weather, love their children and wonder what to have for dinner. People who have done us no harm.

Books can help us remember what we have in common as humans.

That’s what I try to do with mine.

Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner is an award-winning novel about loyalty, survival, families and friendship under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Since the original publication of The Breadwinner in 2000, the series has been published in twenty-five languages and earned more than $1 million in royalties to benefit Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International.

No Safe Place

9780888999733This past weekend, hundreds of migrants (including an estimated 60 adolescent boys) died off Italy’s coast. Save the Children estimates that 2,500 more children could drown in the Mediterranean in 2015 if the European Union doesn’t restart search and rescue operations. In the face of human suffering on such a scale, and remembering that every day, all over the world, thousands of children are driven from their homes by poverty and war, it’s hard to know if there is any point in reading books.

But then I think of Deborah Ellis, who has made it her life’s work to tell the stories of children who are displaced, abused and killed because of the action — and inaction — of adults. In her novel No Safe Place, she tells the story of one boy’s lonely and dangerous journey from Iraq to England in search of security. The book isn’t easy reading. But then, why should it be? How could it be?

— Sheila Barry, Publisher

Download a sample of No Safe Place

An amazing new book: The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina

Written by Fatima Sharafeddine, illustrated by Intelaq Mohammed Ali

Born in Persia more than a thousand years ago, Ibn Sina was one of the greatest thinkers of his time — a philosopher, scientist and physician who made significant discoveries, especially in the field of medicine, and wrote more than one hundred books.

As a child, Ibn Sina was extremely bright, a voracious reader who loved to learn and was fortunate to have the best teachers. He memorized the Qur’an by the age of ten and completed his medical studies at sixteen. He spent his life traveling, treating the sick, seeking knowledge through research, and writing about his discoveries. He came up with new theories in the fields of physics, chemistry, astronomy and education. His most famous work is The Canon of Medicine, a collection of books that were used for teaching in universities across the Islamic world and Europe for centuries.

Ibn Sina’s story, told in the first person and beautifully illustrated, provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the great intellects of the past.

The Slippers’ Keeper: The Story of the Purdon Conservation Area


The Slippers’ Keeper by Ian Wallace tells the story of Joe Purdon, a boy who didn’t much like to work on his family farm. As soon as his chores were done, Joe would take his dog, Laddie, and explore his family’s 300 acres in Eastern Ontario.

It was on one of those walks that Joe stumbled upon a cluster of eight very rare wild orchids called the Showy Lady’s Slipper. Joe knew from studying them in school how delicate these plants were. They needed the perfect balance of sun and shade, just the right amount of water in the soil, and lots of bees to pollinate the plants in order to survive. And even if all their needs were met, it could take up to fifteen years for the plants to bloom. Joe had stumbled on a rare bit of land that was uniquely suited to growing these precious plants — and it was on his own farm.


Joe dedicated himself to caring for that patch of orchids, cutting away scrub and brush, chasing away hungry deer, and gently nudging seeds from the pods into the earth to take root. He grew up and grew old on that farm, and by the end of his life, that patch of eight orchids had grown to thousands. After his death, his family honored his wish and entrusted sixteen thousand Showy Lady’s Slippers to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. You can visit the Purdon Conservation Area to this day.


Ian Wallace has had a distinguished career as an author and illustrator of picture books, publishing such classics as Chin Chiang and the Dragon’s Dance, Boy of the Deeps, The Huron CarolCanadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot and Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. He has won the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award and the IODE Violet Downey Book Award. He has also been nominated for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Ian lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife, Deb.

Enter to win a copy of Rosario’s Fig Tree!

On April 10th we are celebrating the arrival of spring by giving away a copy of Rosario’s Fig Tree, written by Charis Wahl and illustrated by Luc Melanson.

This contest is open to residents of North America (excluding Quebec). We will accept entries until midnight on Thursday, April 9th, and will contact the winner by email on Friday, April 10th.

Good luck!

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A Guest Post by Frieda Wishinksy on Writing Avis Dolphin

Sometimes a story finds you. It pulls you in. It transports you to another time and place. It helps you remember a moment, a person or an experience.

That’s what happened with Avis Dolphin. I was researching shipwrecks for a non-fiction book. One of the shipwrecks was the Lusitania, the magnificent Cunard ocean liner torpedoed on May 7, 1915 by a German U-boat off the coast of England. As I read about the passengers, I stumbled upon the story of a twelve-year-old girl with the wonderful name of Avis Dolphin. Her story was even more engaging than her name.

She travelled on the Lusitania with two women who worked for her mother. She was lonely and apprehensive about the future. Luckily, Avis met Professor Ian Holbourn. He was a teacher, a writer and a speaker, and he told her stories, took her on walks around the Lusitania and cared about her as if she were one of his own children. He told her that if something were to happen to the ship, he’d be there for her. And he was.

We all hope that in a crisis we’ll find a kind, caring friend like Ian Holbourn. We also hope that if tragedy strikes we’ll find the fortitude and courage to survive. But it’s not easy. It couldn’t have been easy for Avis.

The more I read about her experience, the more her story resonated with me. Like Avis, I sailed across the Atlantic for the first time when I was twelve. Like her, I left New York on a sparkling, clear spring day. And, like her, I travelled to meet relatives I didn’t know in a country I’d never visited. Unlike Avis, I travelled with my Mom.

On our second day at sea, we hit a storm. Chairs slid across the decks. Furniture flew across the cabin. I was violently seasick. My mom hurt her head and a man died of injuries he sustained as the ship tossed and turned.

Luckily, the storm finally subsided. The ship didn’t sink. And when the sea calmed, I explored the ship and made friends. We shared stories and adventures.

Writing about Avis made me remember those days and my fear, apprehension, relief and excitement. But most of all it reminded me how stories and friendships enrich our lives in good times and bad.


Frieda WishinskyAbout Frieda Wishinsky
Frieda Wishinsky is an award-winning author and teacher with a Master of Science in special education. Her first picture book, Ooonga Boonga, was voted “Pick of the List” by American booksellers, and Each One Special was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. She has written more than forty trade and educational books, and many of them have been translated into French, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Korean, Spanish and Catalan. Frieda lives with her family in Toronto.

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