Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged

VIOLA DESMOND WON'T BE BUDGED“On behalf of the Nova Scotia government, I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Viola Desmond’s family and to all African Nova Scotians for the racial discrimination she was subjected to by the justice system . . . We recognize today that the act for which Viola Desmond was arrested, was an act of courage, not an offence.” — Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, April 15, 2010

In Nova Scotia, in 1946, an usher in a movie theatre told Viola Desmond to move from her main floor seat up to the balcony. She refused to budge. Viola knew she was being asked to move because she was black. After all, she was the only black person downstairs. All the other black people were up in the balcony. In no time at all, the police arrived and took Viola to jail. The next day she was charged and fined, but she vowed to continue her struggle against such unfair rules. She refused to accept that being black meant she couldn’t sit where she wanted.

Viola’s determination gave strength and inspiration to her community at the time. She is an unsung hero of the North American struggle against injustice and racial discrimination whose story deserves to be widely known.

The African Canadian community in Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s oldest and most established black communities. Despite their history and contributions to the province the people in this community have a long experience of racially based injustice.

Like Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, who many years later, in 1955, refused to give up their bus seats in Alabama, Desmond’s act of refusal awakened people to the unacceptable nature of racism and began and process of bringing an end to racial segregation in Canada.

In 2018, Viola Desmond will appear as the new face of the $10 bill.

Watch the Long Road to Justice – The Viola Desmond Story to learn more about Viola Desmond:

Animated Film Adaptation of Deborah Ellis’s Bestselling The Breadwinner Nominated for an Academy Award for Animated Feature Film

The Breadwinner Groundwood Books

Groundwood Books is proud to announce that the full-length animated adaptation of The Breadwinner has been nominated for an Academy Award® for Animated Feature Film. The film is based on Deborah Ellis’s internationally bestselling novel of the same name.

“We couldn’t be more delighted that this beautiful film, based on Deb Ellis’s story of a young girl who must be brave enough to look after her family, is being given the recognition it deserves by the Academy. It is especially important at this time when stories about girls are finally being celebrated,” said Barbara Howson, Vice President of Sales and Licensing at Groundwood Books. 

The Breadwinner tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana, who lives in Kabul. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must disguise herself as a boy and become the breadwinner for her family. First published in 2000, The Breadwinner is the first book in the four-part award-winning Breadwinner series about loyalty, survival, family and friendship under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. The series has sold over two million copies worldwide and has been published in twenty-five languages. A movie tie-in edition and a graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner are now available in stores. 

“Stories that celebrate the determination and strength of girls, like Parvana in The Breadwinner, are needed now more than ever. We thank the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for shining a light on this timely and important film,” said Andrew Rosen, producer with Aircraft Pictures. 

The Breadwinner film was directed by Nora Twomey of Cartoon Saloon. It was produced by Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Productions, with producers Tomm Moore and Paul Young of Cartoon Saloon, Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen of Aircraft Pictures, and Stéphan Roelants of Melusine Productions. The film was executive produced by Jolie Pas Productions.

The Breadwinner has been a labour of love for Aircraft Pictures since we first connected with Deborah Ellis to adapt her inspiring novel for the screen. We’re so grateful to our visionary director Nora Twomey, our co-producing partners, our financiers and the many artists who participated in the film’s creation,” said Anthony Leo, producer with Aircraft Pictures.

The recipients of the 2018 Academy Awards® will be announced on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

Here is a link to the announcement from the Academy Awards® website: https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/90th_noms_announcement.pdf 

Here is a link to The Breadwinner trailer: http://www.tiff.net/tiff/film.html?v=the-breadwinner

About Deborah Ellis:

Deborah Ellis is an award-winning author and a peace activist. Deborah penned the international bestseller The Breadwinner, as well as many challenging and beautiful works of fiction and non-fiction about children all over the world. Deborah is a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised and has been named to the Order of Ontario, as well as the Order of Canada. She has donated most of her royalty income to worthy causes — Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Street Kids International, the Children in Crisis Fund of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and UNICEF. She has donated almost two million dollars in royalties from her Breadwinner books alone.

About Groundwood Books:

Groundwood Books is an independent children’s publisher based in Toronto. Founded in 1978, the company is now part of House of Anansi Press. Our authors and illustrators are highly acclaimed both in Canada and internationally, and our books are loved by children around the world. We look for books that are unusual; we are not afraid of books that are difficult or potentially controversial; and we are particularly committed to publishing books for and about children whose experiences of the world are under-represented elsewhere.

About Aircraft Pictures:

Aircraft Pictures is an independent scripted-content production company creating quality entertainment for a worldwide audience, ranging from independent feature films to high-end television series. Aircraft has offices in Toronto and Los Angeles.

About Cartoon Saloon:

Cartoon Saloon is a two-time Academy Award® nominee for the 2010 film The Secret of Kells and its 2014 follow-up, Song of the Sea. The studio was formed in 1999 by Paul Young, Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, and is based in Kilkenny, Ireland. 

About Melusine Productions:

Melusine Productions is based in Luxembourg. They specialize in animated films and documentaries. Recent films include the award-winning Song of the Sea and Extraordinary Tales.

Our favorite Books for National Bird Day

Did you know that January 5th is National Bird Day? January 5th marks the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count is the world’s longest-running citizen science survey; it’s been going on for more than a hundred years. During the Christmas Bird count, thousands of volunteer birders count native birds and wild bird populations all over the United States. This count forms one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data, and the results are used daily by conservation biologists and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds.

In honor of National Bird Day, we’ve rounded up five (count ’em!) of our favorite picture books about birds. Is your favorite bird book listed here?

New Releases from Groundwood for January 2018

New year, new books! Or… new… graphic novel!

THE BREADWINNER: A GRAPHIC NOVEL
By Deborah Ellis

Available Now: The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel by Deborah Ellis

This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

Sheila Barry

Sheila Barry

We have the painful news to share that Groundwood Books Publisher Sheila Barry died last night. Sheila died at Mt Sinai Hospital in Toronto, of complications following her treatment for cancer.

Sheila had her family and her friends close by her through her illness, and close by her at the end. She died surrounded by those dearest to her.

As she did her whole life, Sheila brought happiness and laughter and thoughtfulness and love to all of us here. She was such a valued colleague. And Sheila was a great publisher – influential in ways large and small. The legacy of books she leaves will run far into the future.

We hold Sheila in our minds as the most wonderful example of a truly good person, one who had such a positive effect on so many people. We will miss her terribly.

A memorial service is being planned, and we will share information when we receive it.

Here are some of our favourite blog posts written by Sheila

An Excerpt from Sit by Deborah Ellis

1

THE SINGING CHAIR

Jafar was sitting on a work bench in the furniture factory.

Not sitting, exactly. Perching, like a little bird on the edge of a trash can, ready to take flight at the first sign of danger from a cat or a truck.

Or from the boss storming through looking for slackers.

As he rested his bony little body, Jafar stared into a sunbeam. It was only a second-hand sunbeam, one that bounced off the window of the coffin shop across the lane, but Jafar looked forward to it every day. It meant his workday, which began in Jakarta’s pre-dawn gray, was heading toward the end.

The second-hand sunbeam pushed through the factory gloom. It made the men and boys glow like angels as they bent over their work. The dust particles danced and sparkled in the air.

I’m in a gold factory, Jafar thought.

In the haze, the rows and rows of chairs looked like thrones meant for gods and goddesses, not just kings and queens. No wonder the workers were not allowed to sit on them.

“Don’t sit on the chairs!” Boss was always yelling at them. “The chairs are not for you and your filth.”

Jafar had to agree with Boss about that. All the boys and men in the factory were filthy. Even Boss, although he was not nearly as dirty as the rest of them.

One of Jafar’s jobs was to sweep. He swept the whole factory floor several times a day, but the dirt kept coming. Wood dust, wood shavings, grime from the sooty car and bus engines that blew in through the open wall that faced the street. The factory refused to stay clean while work was going on.

The dirt stuck to him, too. No matter how careful Jafar was with the glue and lacquer, drops always landed on his skin and clothes, and everything stuck to these drops. At the end of an especially busy day, when they rushed around to get their work done, sawing and sanding to fill orders, Jafar looked like some new kind of animal, with wood shavings for fur and soot-dust for skin. When he scratched his head with his glue-hands, the glue and wood dust made his hair stand up on the top of his head like many small ears.

“Quit daydreaming!” Boss yelled. He slapped the back of the boy’s head as he moved through the factory.

Jafar jumped. He felt a little guilty because he had been daydreaming. He was working, though, and quickly. He could work with his hands and still daydream in his head.

Jafar was sanding chairs today, the final sanding before the chairs would be loaded on a truck and taken away. His chairs would go on a journey and he would be left behind.

Who would sit on his chairs? Would it be a happy person or an angry person? Would someone sit on one of his chairs and give up on life? Would his chair be a place where a child learned arithmetic or where an old man sat to eat a meal? Would someone sit on one of his chairs to watch a sunbeam and keep watching as shadows grew and turned into night?

Jafar wanted to know, and he knew that he would never know.

These were not chairs that would be painted or polished. These were cheap chairs. They would be sold to people who still had to work hard and save long to buy them. The fancier chairs Jafar’s factory made were beyond those people, and the real carpenters worked on those. Boys like him worked on the cheaper ones.

Jafar didn’t care about not working on the fancy chairs. Work was work. Each day he worked brought him closer to paying off his family’s debt, closer to being able to keep the money he earned, closer to having a life where his belly was always full and he could take the time to find work in a place where the boss would not hit him.

“We would make perfect murderers,” said Sanu, who was a year older than Jafar but had only been at the factory for one year. Jafar had been there for three.

“What are you talking about?” Jafar asked.

Sanu held up his hands and wiggled his fingers.

“No fingerprints!” he said, laughing.

They could laugh now, but when Jafar first started sanding, his fingers got so sore and bloody!

“Get one more drop of blood on one of my chairs, you little cockroach, and I’ll send you back to your family in a garbage sack!” Boss had yelled at him.

One of the older boys had slipped Jafar a blood-stained rag.

“My fingers have healed,” he said. “You can have this now.”

“How much do I pay you?” Jafar asked.

The older boy shrugged. “Someone gave it to me. Pass it on to someone else when you’re done with it.”

The blood stayed off the chairs, Jafar was not sent home as garbage, and his fingertips grew tough and strong.

“No fingerprints. That’s a good one,” Jafar said to Sanu. “You should go tell the others. We could all be murderers!”

He laughed again, but he really needed Sanu to go to another part of the factory and leave him alone for a moment.

There was something he had to do, and he could not have any witnesses.

Sanu looked pleased with himself but made no effort to move.

“I’ll tell them later,” he said. “If I go over there now and tell them, they’ll think it came from you. They think all clever things come from you.”

Jafar looked at the rows of completed chairs. There were only a few left for him to sand. Then the whole lot would be loaded into a truck and driven away.

He could not miss his chance today! There would be other chairs and other chances, but he was ready today! Another day, he might not have the nerve.

Jafar decided to use an old trick. He started sanding viciously, really putting his muscles into making the chair leg smooth like milk, going at the bumps and slivers with all the strength of his bird-thin arms.

“What are you doing?” Sanu whispered. “The fellas have just got the boss used to the slower pace. You want the old quotas back? You want to keep working until midnight again?”

“I just feel like finishing up,” Jafar said, not slowing down one smidgen.

“Sweat by yourself, then,” Sanu said. He picked up the chair he was sanding and moved away to sit and sand more slowly with the others.

Jafar kept up his speed for a few minutes more until he heard the voice and stomp of Boss returning to the factory floor. He slowed his pace then, but kept the boss in his peripheral vision. He kept watch on everyone.

No one must guess his secret.

No one must guess that he went to school.

Boss had not told him he couldn’t go, but Jafar suspected he would if he knew about it. Boss said nasty things to workers who were smarter than he was. The other boys would make fun of him, too, if they knew. They would poke him and trip him and tell him he thought he was too good for them.

They gave him a hard enough time the day they caught him writing on a piece of scrap paper with a tiny stub of a pencil.

They grabbed his pencil and would not give it back. They tried to get his piece of paper, too, but he would not let them see what he was writing. He popped the paper in his mouth and chewed it and swallowed it. They did not get to see what he thought about the beggar on the corner, how her face looked like sunshine when she smiled. They did not get to know his private thoughts.

Anyway, he had written it clumsily. The words scrawled on the paper did not at all match the thoughts and feelings in his head.

His teacher at the school for working children read them poems. Poems told him feelings he didn’t know he had. Poems made his heart dance and his mind fly above the smoke and stench and sweat of the city.

How do writers do it? Jafar wondered for the millionth time.

Today, he had a whisper of an answer.

Today, he had completed his first poem.

He had worked on it for days, trying to find the words, the words that would say exactly what he wanted to say.

Today, the poem was done.

Six words.

Six words that told the story of him.

Six words. Today, he had to grab the time and the privacy to write down his six words and send them off into the world.

Maybe someone would discover them. Maybe someone would discover them years from now when the smooth yellow-wood chairs were gray with age and dust, the smoothness battered with dents and scratches.

Jafar kept watch for his chance.

He saw his moment.

He took a nail from his pocket. He lowered himself to the floor, tipped over the chair he was sanding and scratched his six words into the underside of the seat.

With this chair

I am there.

Boss would not like the poem on the chair. He would see it as damage. He would certainly hit Jafar if he found it, and make him pay for the damage with months and months of labor.

But Jafar needed his poem to leave his head. He needed to see it written down, and when he did, it was more beautiful than all the stars and all the flowers and all the kittens that ever were.

Quickly he pocketed the nail again and stood the chair up on its legs. He placed it in the row with the others.

Astonished at his boldness, adrenaline dashing through him, he finished sanding his last chair and put it with the others, too.

“What are you standing around for?” Boss yelled at him. “You think those chairs are going to load themselves? Move!”

Jafar carried chair after chair into the truck. The chair with his poem on it looked like all the others. But to Jafar’s touch, it hummed and buzzed with life. His life.

The driver got into the truck and started the motor.

There was clean-up to do, sweeping and more sweeping. But Jafar leaned on his broom and watched.

He watched the truck with his chair and his poem move off down the street, passing the coffin shop the sunbeam had abandoned, merging with the motorbikes, taxis and people.

Somehow, amidst the honking horns, revving engines, hawking merchants and crying babies, Jafar heard something else. Something wonderful.

He heard his chair. It was singing.

With this chair

I am there.

It was the happiest day of his life.


Sit 
By Deborah Ellis

The seated child. With a single powerful image, Deborah Ellis draws our attention to nine children and the situations they find themselves in, often through no fault of their own. In each story, a child makes a decision and takes action, be that a tiny gesture or a life-altering choice.

Coyote Tales: A new addition to your Coyote library

Two tales, set in a time “when animals and human beings still talked to each other,” display Thomas King’s cheeky humor and master storytelling skills. Freshly illustrated and reissued as an early chapter book, these stories are perfect for newly independent readers.

In Coyote Sings to the Moon, Coyote is at first the cause of misfortune. In those days, when the moon was much brighter and closer to the earth, Old Woman and the animals would sing to her each night. Coyote attempts to join them, but his voice is so terrible they beg him to stop. He is crushed and lashes out — who needs Moon anyway? Furious, Moon dives into a pond, plunging the world into darkness. But clever Old Woman comes up with a plan to send Moon back up into the sky and, thanks to Coyote, there she stays.

In Coyote’s New Suit, mischievous Raven wreaks havoc when she suggests that Coyote’s toasty brown suit is not the finest in the forest, thus prompting him to steal suits belonging to all the other animals. Meanwhile, Raven tells the other animals to borrow clothes from the humans’ camp. When Coyote finds that his closet is too full, Raven slyly suggests he hold a yard sale, then sends the human beings (in their underwear) and the animals (in their ill-fitting human clothes) along for the fun. A hilarious illustration of the consequences of wanting more than we need.

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Thomas King has written several highly acclaimed children’s books. A Coyote Solstice Tale, illustrated by Gary Clement, won the American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award for Best Picture Book, and A Coyote Columbus Story, illustrated by William Kent Monkman, was a Governor General’s Literary Award finalist.

King, who is of Cherokee and Greek descent, was a Professor of English at the University of Guelph for many years, where he taught Native Literature and Creative Writing. He recently won the Governor General’s Literary Award for his adult novel The Back of the Turtle, and he has been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

“Captain Canada” Ian Wallace reflects on forty years of storytelling

In my home stands a tall, finely crafted cabinet of curiosities. Its contents represent the four decades I have traveled Canada from sea to sea to sea, telling stories in words and pictures.

On those journeys, I flew over jagged Rocky Mountain peaks; crisscrossed golden prairies; traversed frozen tundra, boreal forests, pristine lakes and rivers; and swept over glistening icebergs. I visited cities and towns, villages and outports with arresting names like Come By Chance, Sheshatshit, Moose Jaw and Zeballos.

When not telling stories, I went salmon fishing off Vancouver Island and dogsledding with world-champion musher Eddy Streeper in northern British Columbia.

I was taken on a caribou hunt with Dene hunters in the Northwest Territories and stood on the Arctic Circle when the temperature hovered at -48 degrees Celsius (-54 degrees Fahrenheit).

On the shore of Pipestone Creek in northern Alberta, I encountered a cliff that held dinosaur bones, most likely of the Pachyrhinosaurus, in strata of dark sediment.

One November night I witnessed a rare sight, a solely red aurora borealis dancing in a wintery Whitehorse sky.

I ate things I’d never eaten before. Bannock and Arctic char, seal flipper pie and cod tongues, bear, elk, caribou and moose.

I met children, teens and adults from every walk of life, ethnicity and faith, and made new friends across the country.

One day I realized that this vast land was a nation of families and diverse neighborhoods, and that I had left a piece of myself in each one — and they in me. Always, I was welcomed with kindness, generous hospitality and good humor.

As the decades passed, the number of kilometers I traveled clicked into the tens of thousands, the number of provinces and territories climbed, the number of young people I read to approached one million and counting, causing a close friend to nickname me “Captain Canada.”

Often, teachers and librarians shared intimate stories of the impact my books had had on their students and readers. In elementary schools, my stories enabled two sensitive young girls, both select mutes, to speak for the first time in several years. One university student told me how my author/ illustrator visit had impacted him so profoundly that he decided that day to become an artist. Each story left me deeply touched and gratified.

I was given countless thanks-for-coming gifts: mugs, thermoses, pens, T-shirts, handwritten notes and notepads, student writing and art, and occasionally, something handcrafted by a town artisan to remind me of the community.

In one Winnipeg elementary school I found the greatest gift of my life — a teacher/librarian who became my wife.

Each of these gifts and experiences has become part of my curiosity cabinet. Most are not priceless treasures to anyone but me, yet they remind me of the extraordinary adventures I have had and the people who have enriched my life all across this land. As a child, I never could have imagined the wondrous life I would lead.

Come and take a look inside.


The Curiosity Cabinet
Written by Ian Wallace

Ian Wallace, one of Canada’s best-known children’s book creators, invites us to look inside his cabinet of curiosities, which contains treasures from his decades of traveling the country from sea to sea to sea, sharing stories with young readers.

Over the past forty years, Ian Wallace has made thousands of school and library visits in tiny communities, towns and huge cities all across this land. Some of these visits have inspired young readers to become artists themselves; others have moved children to speak or act in new ways; others have simply given rise to the laughter and sheer delight that come from a good book. In return, Ian has been the recipient of many gifts himself, from the wide range of experiences he has had to the mementos made by young children or artists in the communities he has visited. All these gifts come together in his cabinet of curiosities — an eclectic and personal collection that nonetheless represents and appreciates our rich and varied land.

Each double-page illustration shows a shelf in the cabinet dedicated to a province or territory with the gifts or special memories Ian has from that place — tamarack geese made by Cree artists in northern Ontario, a fishing-stage facade from Newfoundland, the Douglas fir trees in Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island, and much more.

Canoeing on Pickerel Lake with Jean E. Pendziwol

There’s nothing quite like waking up to the haunting laugh of a loon and the wind whispering through the pine trees, then slipping out of a warm sleeping bag to peek through the tent screen and watch the sun rise.

We’ve canoed as a family since our children were young, paddling the Boundary Waters along the Canada / US border, Quetico Provincial Park, and once, into an isolated and somewhat mysterious wooden castle built on White Otter Lake. We fell in love with being on the water, the scent of pine needles under our bare feet, swimming off the rocks, watching wildlife, cooking over the campfire and, of course, fishing.

I wrote Me and You and the Red Canoe to capture the magical moment of early morning on a lake, of that special time when the world is just waking up and the fish are, hopefully, biting. It was inspired by our many canoe trips, and is as much about simply slowing down, looking around and appreciating the amazing world around us as it is about the beauty of the Canadian landscape.

The stunning illustrations by Phil capture the scenery of my Northwestern Ontario paddling adventures and the Algonquin Park area that he is more familiar with. This August, I was able to take a short trip into Quetico Provincial Park’s Pickerel Lake and I snapped a few pictures of our time there.

Here’s hoping you get the chance to slip away to a quiet lake and trail a lure through the blue-green depths, spinning, twirling, dancing.

Our campsite this year was on a small island close to several other islands. On the one adjacent to us was an aerie, and the eaglet called continuously for its mother. Only the mature birds have white heads and tails.

My daughter, Erin, who is now grown and living in BC, came along on this trip. I’m paddling in the helmsman position, steering the canoe, and she’s in the bow, the avant in voyageur terms.

Not an early-morning paddle, but this captures some of the Quetico scenery.

There are sandy beaches as well as lovely rocky areas, perfect for camping on.

We had a loon or two visit us every day, and we could hear them calling, especially in the evenings.

The root system of this pine almost seemed to be gripping the rocks.

Our campsite had the perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset.

Sometimes we cast a line right from shore. You never know!

And sure enough! There was a smallmouth bass lurking in the rocks just off the point.

The best breakfast ever: fresh pickerel (walleye) cooked over the open fire.

This brigade passed by our campsite just as the sun was setting.


Me and You and the Red Canoe
Written by Jean E. Pendziwol
Illustrated by Phil

In the stillness of a summer dawn, two siblings leave their campsite with fishing rods, tackle and bait, and push a red canoe into the lake. A perfect morning on the water unfolds, with thrilling glimpses of wildlife along the way.

Now Available: Only In My Hometown

The northern lights shine, women gather to eat raw caribou meat and everyone could be family in this ode to small-town life in Nunavut, written in English and Inuktitut.

Sisters Angnakuluk Friesen and Ippiksaut Friesen collaborate on this story about what it’s like to grow up in an Inuit community in Nunavut. Every line about the hometown in this book will have readers thinking about what makes their own hometowns unique. With strong social studies curriculum connections, Kisimi Taimaippaktut Angirrarijarani / ᑭᓯᒥ ᑕᐃᒪᐃᑉᐸᒃᑐᑦ ᐊᖏᕐᕋᕆᔭᕋᓂ / Only in My Hometown introduces young readers to life in the Canadian North, as well as the Inuit language and culture.

Angnakuluk’s simple text, translated into Inuktitut and written out in syllabics and transliterated roman characters, is complemented by Ippiksaut’s warm paintings of their shared hometown.

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