Portrait of a Groundwood Intern


This summer, we were very lucky to have the help of fabulous intern Rachel Fagan at Groundwood HQ. We asked her to write a few words about the day in the life of a Groundwood intern for our blog. Read on for a peek behind the curtain!

Groundwood is usually off to a leisurely start in the morning, and the office is quiet as the staff slowly trickle in; most of them with coffee in hand. Someone invariably comes bearing sweets to share.

I sit down at my desk and, as always, am greeted with a cheerful smile from Sheila who I suspect may actually live in the Groundwood office as she’s always in before me and is always there to wave goodbye when I leave.

The first thing I do is check my email, then I organize the newest mail pile and make sure none of them are for Anansi.

By mid-morning, the office is humming with activity. Michael uses my desk to spread out the newly arrived prints for the Fall 2015 picture books – very exciting stuff! I take a break from my emails to glance over some beautifully illustrated Pacific west coast landscapes from West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Karen Reczuch. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Suzanne stops by for a hallo! and offers me a manuscript to scour for grammatical mistakes. I’m just happy to read a new manuscript, but I get to work. Embarrassingly, I spend about ten minutes deliberating over a comma and then mention the potential intruder to Suzanne who spends another few minutes thinking about it as well. We’ll have to ask Nan when she gets in.

Soon I’m sent over to the bookstore to measure the books. Yes, that’s right. As Sheila and Suzanne calculatingly discuss the size of the upcoming fall season’s novels, they decide to send me to Type Books to do some research. I awkwardly ask the Type employees if they would mind me spending some time with my ruler in the children’s section. They happily comply. Five by eight seems to be the popular size, so I hurry back to deliver my findings.

At 3:30, the Groundwood staff file into the conference room for our production meeting. I’m just an observer, but everyone else intently scribbles away in their notebooks as Erin goes through the list of upcoming publications and delivery dates.

As the day comes to a close, I finish up any remaining emails and if I have time browse through some of the new material, trying to familiarize myself with the impressively large Groundwood catalogue. I generally get distracted until Sheila peeks out of her office and reminds me that it’s after five.

I pack up my bags, clean up my desk and arm myself with a manuscript to read at home, As I walk out of the office, I’m met with a barrage of smiling goodbyes and see you next weeks. Another busy day at Groundwood is over and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Arr! Celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day with Buddy and Earl!

Ahoy, mateys!

It’s that special day of the year when all the the land lubbers at Groundwood are in full-on pirate mode. On Talk Like a Pirate Day — and every day — there is nothing like a good friend with a great imagination to make any adventure especially fun.

But a nice hat doesn’t hurt either. Which is why we’ve partnered up with our favourite dog-and-hedgehog team to put together a free guide to help you make a special pirate hat all your own.

Download The Activity Sheet


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

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

Odd Man Out by Sarah Ellis WINNER 2007



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.






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.



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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.



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.


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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 4.00.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-14 at 4.00.16 PM

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!

Sorry! Contest closed!

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A Roundup of Native Books to Read This Year

The new school year is about to start, and that means another year for students and parents alike to learn about Native history and issues. To celebrate the release of P’ésk’a and the First Salmon Ceremony by award-winning illustrator and author Scot Ritchie, we’ve rounded up a few other books that touch on a wide range of Native subjects, all of which are highly educational and worth a read in 2015/16 (and beyond!). Here are a few books we recommend picking up:

P'ésk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony by Scot Ritchie

P’ésk’a and the First Salmon Ceremony
by Scot Ritchie

It’s the day of the first salmon ceremony, and P’ésk’a is excited to celebrate. His community, the Sts’ailes people, give thanks to the river and the salmon it brings by commemorating the first salmon of the season.

Framed as an exploration of what life was like one thousand years ago, P’ésk’a and the First Salmon Ceremony describes the customs of the Sts’ailes people, an indigenous group who have lived on the Harrison River in British Columbia for the last 10,000 years. Includes an introductory letter from Chief William Charlie, an illustrated afterword and a glossary.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
by Danielle Daniel

In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal, while the few lines of text on each page work as a series of simple poems throughout the book.

In a brief author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children seeking to understand themselves and others.

The Outside Circle Written by Patti Laboucane-Benson Illustrated by Kelly Mellings

The Outside Circle
Written by Patti Laboucane-Benson
Illustrated by Kelly Mellings

In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.

Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. One night, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, get into a big fight, which sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail. Initially, Pete keeps up ties to his crew, until a jail brawl forces him to realize the negative influence he has become on Joey, which encourages him to begin a process of rehabilitation that includes traditional Aboriginal healing circles and ceremonies.

Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.

Winter Moon Song Written by Martha Brooks Illustrated by Leticia RuifernándezWinter Moon Song
Written by Martha Brooks
Illustrated by Leticia Ruifernández

Have you ever seen the rabbit-in-the-moon? Folktales from many cultures explain how the rabbit came to be there. When award-winning novelist Martha Brooks heard one such tale, she was inspired to write her own lovely story about a little rabbit who finds a special way to brighten the darkest month of the year.

Leticia Ruifernandez has graced the story with her tender illustrations.


Shi-shi-etko Written by Nicola I. Campbell Illustrated by Kim Lafave

Written by Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrated by Kim Lafave

In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.

She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world — the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather’s paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.

Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss — a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system.

Shin-chi's-Canoe Written by Nicola I. Campbell Illustrated by Kim Lafave

Shin-chi’s Canoe
Written by Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrated by Kim Lafave

This moving sequel to the award-winning Shi-shi-etko tells the story of two children’s experience at residential school. Shi-shi-etko is about to return for her second year, but this time her six-year-old brother, Shin-chi, is going, too.

As they begin their journey in the back of a cattle truck, Shi-shi-etko tells her brother all the things he must remember: the trees, the mountains, the rivers and the salmon. Shin-chi knows he won’t see his family again until the sockeye salmon return in the summertime. When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko gives him a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from their father.

The children’s time is filled with going to mass, school for half the day, and work the other half. The girls cook, clean and sew, while the boys work in the fields, in the woodshop and at the forge. Shin-chi is forever hungry and lonely, but, finally, the salmon swim up the river and the children return home for a joyful family reunion.

The four books below also touch on Native issues — click on a cover to learn more:

As Long as the Rivers Flow Written by Larry Loyie Illustrated by Heather HolmlundNiwechihaw / I Help Written by Caitlin Nicholson Translated by Leona Morin-NelsonLooks Like Daylight Written by Deborah Ellis Last Leaf, First Snowflake to Fall Written by Leo Yerxa

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