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Groundwood Favorites Giveaway

We won!

In celebration of being named Best Children’s Publisher of the Year in North America by the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, we’re giving away three of our favourite Groundwood titles:

  1. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
  2. Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith
  3. Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

The contest runs from April 6th to April 20th. A winner will be randomly chosen. Fill out the form below to enter!

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.


The Essential Role of School Librarians — Guest post by Marie-Louise Gay


Recently, the Lester B. Pearson School Board of Montreal decided to eliminate the jobs of all school librarians in their employ because of government budget cuts. Marie-Louise Gay was asked to give a statement about this at a recent board meeting, which you can read here. This post was originally shared on Marie-Louise Gay’s website, and she’s allowed us to repost it here.


We send our children to school to learn to read, to write, to expand their minds, to give them a chance to lead successful happy lives. A primary school is a small milieu where, for the first time, young children are exposed to the vast world outside of their homes.

It is a place where they will learn skills that, for the most part, they will use throughout their lives. So how can a school open the doors wide enough to introduce children to original thoughts, other lives, different cultures and knowledge?

As an author and illustrator of over sixty children’s books over the last thirty years, I have had the pleasure of traveling all across Canada, from Vancouver to St, John’s, and from Inuvik to Chisasibi, as well as crisscrossing the United States, giving workshops, presentations and readings to thousands of students in libraries and schools: huge inner-city schools, rural schools, remote island schools, first nation schools, alternative schools, private and public schools.

What has struck me in the hundreds of schools I have visited is the influence that a school library and a school librarian have on the children I meet. I can tell as soon as I start interacting with them that the children are more engaged and more articulate; they ask questions, their minds race to make connections. They share something precious: a love of reading, a curiosity, an open mind and a boundless imagination. And the reason is that they have access to a wide collection of books, classics and contemporary, and they have someone who can suggest, lead, persuade and inspire them to expand their minds with books.

That is the role of the school librarian.

In opposition to this, I have visited schools where libraries are inexistent or very poor, where books are outdated and in sad physical shape, where the library is used as a place to put unruly students, and run by well-meaning volunteer parents or overworked teachers. In these schools I meet children who know how to read, but since they are not in contact with a variety of books about an infinity of subjects that would expand their minds, they are more passive and less engaged.  Some lucky and passionate readers in these schools might have a chance of becoming life-long readers if books are read in their homes, or if they have access to a public library. But the others, the children from low-income and less educated families, the reluctant readers, the slow readers, the bored readers, the new immigrants to our country will be functionally literate, but reading will not be an integral and important part of their lives. And a lot of doors will remain closed to them.

That is why I find it so shocking that we would not support the important role of the school librarian, as well as a school library in every single school. That, as a society, we would not demand that our young children be offered  a rich choice of reading materials that will enlighten their choices, instill a sense of belonging to a community, accept difference and expand their vision of the world.

This is what school librarians bring to a school:

They have the up-to-date knowledge of what books will interest, stimulate and persuade children to expand their reading habits.

They make a choice of which books to buy on an often reduced budget. They prepare and catalogue the books.

They keep a modern, well stocked, well organized library where they suggest and recommend books that will ignite and inspire young scientists, romantics, adventurers, athletes, artists, science-fiction fans, drama queens, budding computer experts and daydreamers.

They give enthusiastic readings to classes that visit the library. Have you ever seen a school librarian reading a book to a class? It’s pretty awesome. Stories come alive. Strange voices ring out. Kids are mesmerized.

School librarians organize book clubs, book weeks, book fairs and reading marathons, creating an excitement and a buzz about reading and books.

School librarians organize and coordinate author visits, meeting with students to read, study and discuss the author’s books ahead of the reading.

School librarians help, advise and collaborate with teachers as well as students with their research projects, directing them to books, materials and websites where the best information can be found.

Above all, school librarians are passionate about their goal, which is to get all children hooked on reading.

School librarians are irreplaceable and essential to a modern-day school.


— Marie-Louise Gay

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



“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



“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



“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



“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


Behind the scenes and between the pages of Any Questions? — Guest Post by Marie-Louise Gay


At last! I am holding in my hands the fresh-off-the-press copy of my new book, Any Questions? It has been a long time since the seed of the idea for the story started growing, spreading itsroots and stretchingits branches to the sky.

Five years! A lot of things can happen in five years. Small trees grow, children start to read,  grandparents grow old, people stay in one safe place or explore the world while others have no choice. Books are written, songs are sung and new species of animals are discovered.

Five years of exploring a story I wanted to tell. Following paths that got lost in a labyrinth of confusion or petered outinto a dead-end. Five years of searching for the true voice or voices, of looking for colors, textures and rhythm, words, puns and rhymes. Creating  a cast of characters, from polar bears to pterodactyls, elephants to snails, giants and beasts and dozens and dozens of children brimming with questions.


Five years spent gathering materials, ideas and inspiration to create a story about how to create a story, with words and pictures, based on the wide experience I have had in meeting with children, reading to and with them, drawing and creating stories in schools and librairies and especially answering their endless questions.

I wanted my story to be playful, magical and surprising. I  didn’t want it to be a bookthat tells children how to write, but rather to discover that there are many ways of writingand telling stories.

I wanted children (and adults) to realize that they will be moved to be more creative when they are facing the unknown in that uncertain, scary, exciting mindspace between the time you know you have a story to tell, but before you have found a way to tell it.

I hid details and clues throughout the book, sometimes in plain sight, other times more subtly. For example, take a look at the title page, an illustration of an artist’s studio…

Pore over the tiny sketches that reveal some of the images that you will discover further on in the book (singing dinosaurs, trees running for their lives, caterpillars, snails, cat’s pawprints). With these images you start to understand the creative process, random images that float into your creative radar and weave themselves into the story.

I also invited some of my favorite characters from my other books to take part in Any Questions? I gave them bit parts or cameo roles: Try to find Stella and Sam, Roslyn Rutabaga orCaramba and Portia.

I want this book to have many voices: the Narrator’s voice, the Children and Animal voices, the Second Narrator’s voice in the story-within-a-story. I also wanted to vary the visual design from black and white storyboards…

to full color spreads with another layer of action behind the scenes, to the visual creative process in The Shy Young Giant story where color and collage progressively invade the images.

Enough said!

I hope you enjoy reading, exploring and sharing Any Questions?

By the way, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I might just have some answers…

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