Seamus’s Short Story Will Make You Stand Tall!

Seamus's Short Story

Seamus would give anything to be taller! One day, while playing dress-up in his mother’s closet, he finds a way to reach new heights.

With his mother’s high-heeled shoes on, Seamus can suddenly reach everything that was once too high: the top-floor elevator button, the chocolate milk in the fridge, the TV remote and that horrid picture of him as a baby. But when Seamus encounters problems that can’t be solved from a great height, he has to admit that sometimes being small just isn’t so bad.

 

Acclaimed picture book author Heather Hart-Sussman brings a light touch to this nuanced story about acceptance, resourcefulness and love, complemented by the humor and beauty in Milan Pavlovic’s colorful paintings of Seamus’s world — where there are times to be tall and times to be small.

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Back to School with Buddy and Earl

Buddy and Earl know that with the right education they can become anything — even a dentist or a hot-dog vendor! So they eagerly gather their silly, smelly supplies and head to school.

Trace a path through this maze to help Buddy and Earl find their way to school!

 

For more fun Buddy and Earl activities, download our free Buddy and Earl Go to School activity guide!


Buddy and Earl Go to School
by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Carey Sookocheff

Buddy and Earl know that with the right education they can become anything — even a dentist or a hot-dog vendor! So they eagerly gather their silly, smelly supplies and head to school.

In this fourth book in the critically acclaimed Buddy and Earl series, the dog who likes to play by the rules and the hedgehog who knows no limits learn just how much fun school can be.

Nadia L. Hohn on Celebrating Carnival on Emancipation Day

This Emancipation Day, August 1st, I find myself in the birthplace of Caribbean Carnival, on the island of Trinidad. Although Trinidad’s festivities take place before Lent begins, reflecting its largely Catholic majority, Barbados’ Carnival Crop Over and Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival (formerly Caribana) take place during this Emancipation season.

This time of year marks the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British colonies. Although there were other forms of indentureship and servitude in existence after slavery, it meant a lot for my ancestors to be freed from a life of slavery.

As you may already know, Carnival in any Caribbean nation and across the African diaspora is a “serious thing.” All year long, people pour their resources and energy into preparations for an event that lasts but a few days. To some, it may appear frivolous and maybe even a bit fanatical, but when you consider what is inspiring this fervor — the fact that our African enslaved ancestors were freed from hundreds of years of bondage — it is completely fitting. Today in Trinidad, we prepare to celebrate Emancipation Day with our brothers and sisters across the African diaspora in the Caribbean and all over the world, including Canada. We don bright colors and African prints and watch a parade.

Although I’d never been to Trinidad before today, its Carnival lived in my imagination and inspired my book. Tomorrow, I make my way to Barbados where I will play Mas’ with Crop Over revelers from around the world, casting off our cares and woes, rejoicing in costumes and pageantry under a hot Caribbean sun. Each Carnival song calls to a part of ourselves in which we forget our pains and losses so that we can celebrate our lives, our freedom and our shining moment.

For Malaika in my picture book Malaika’s Costume, it is to forget for a moment that she is poor and living without her mother who has migrated to Canada for work. She finds joy and solace in celebrating Carnival. As I don my costume at Crop Over in Barbados, I will remember my joys and losses this year, including my younger brother who recently passed away. I will celebrate because I’ve survived, and I love and continue to live the dreams of freedom that my ancestors had. And through celebration and festivities, I will keep their memories alive and create new ones.



Malaika’s Costume
Written by Nadia L. Hohn
Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

Malaika’s Winter Carnival is coming soon!

Watch for Malaika’s Winter Carnival, to be published on September 1, 2017!

Greetings, Leroy launch at A Different Booklist

The bright, airy space that is A Different Booklist’s new location welcomed a crowd of family, friends and community members as author Itah Sadu and illustrator Alix Delinois launched their picture book, Greetings, Leroy, on Thursday night. Scroll down for photos of the event, as well as a clip of Itah reading part of the book to a rapt audience. In honor of Alix’s Haitian roots, Dr. Eric Pierre, Honorary Consul of Haiti, spoke about Haitian arts and culture.

Itah Sadu has co-owned the Toronto-based A Different Booklist with her husband, Miguel San Vincente, for the past seventeen years. The bookstore is dedicated to selling books by and about people from the African-Canadian mosaic. Since moving to its new location at 779 Bathurst Street in the new year, the store has officially expanded to a community cultural hub. Individuals and organizations can take out memberships with A Different Booklist Cultural Centre: The People’s Residence.


Greetings, Leroy
Written by Itah Sadu
Illustrated by Alix Delinois

The first day at a new school is nerve-wracking enough, never mind when it’s in a new country! In this lively picture book from award-winning storyteller Itah Sadu, Roy realizes he may come to love his new home in Canada as much as he loves his old home in Jamaica.

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.

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