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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


David Homel and Marie-Louise Gay: How to Talk to Kids About War


One of our memorable family trips that was just waiting to be turned into a book took us to the coast of Croatia, a landscape of countless islands linked by improvised ferries. The country is peaceful and beautiful today, but the scars of recent ethnic conflict are just beneath the surface.

Traveling-Circus_3-1This new book held a special challenge for us as writers and parents who travel with their kids. Our Traveling Circus takes place in a country recently torn apart by the civil war that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. How do you fit that into a novel for young readers? How do we as parents and writers explain events to our kids? How would Charlie and Max, the two brothers on a trip with their parents, figure out what happened in this place, and how would it affect them?

They would do what any of us would. They compare their new surroundings to what they know from back home. On my street, Charlie says, people speak different languages and have different religions and look different, but they don’t fight. So what happened here? He will get his answers before the book comes to an end, and return home richer for it.

The other thing Charlie does is get a guide. Several guides, actually: his parents’ old friends Fred and Gordana and their grandson Libero, and their friends, the completely bald Bobo and his wife Silvia, who looks like a movie star. These people, part of the traveling circus, are a mixture of origins and backgrounds. They experienced the war, and have stories to share with Charlie and his brother.

But Charlie really begins to find things out when he heads off on his own adventures – with Max trailing behind, as always. On one of the islands they visit, a place where cars have yet to set foot, Charlie and Max come upon a frightening hermit with a few secrets that have to do with the war.

In The Traveling Circus, we mixed drama and humor in the right measure. When the kids discover a village that is half destroyed, half intact, and entirely deserted, they really see what a civil war means. But there is plenty of laughter as they confront fish thieves and ferry pilots who seem to be sailing with their eyes closed. Not to mention the time they almost get thrown into prison for sneaking across a border without their passports (Charlie was only taking Max behind the closest bush for a pee).


The Traveling Circus will take readers of our three previous books in this series to a place that few people see from the inside. We hope our Circus will inspire them to imagine other lives in other places, and widen their view of the world today.

Marie-Louise Gay is a world-renowned author and illustrator of children’s books. She has won many prestigious awards, including two Governor General’s awards, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

David Homel is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, journalist and translator. He has won the Governor General’s Award for translation, and the Hugh MacLennan Prize and the Jewish Public Library Award for fiction. His most recent novel is Midway. He lives in Montreal, Quebec. Together they have written four books about their family adventures.

A new Stella and Sam iPad app is available now!

Are you and your kids fans of Marie-Louise Gay’s adorable Stella and Sam books? Have you been watching Disney Junior’s TV adaptation of the books, the Stella and Sam TV show?

Inspired by the TV show, the Stella and Sam Adventures for the iPad launched earlier this year and are an exciting new way for families to get together and play with Marie-Louise Gay’s beloved characters from the Stella and Sam books and TV show.

INTO THE SNOW WE GO, RAINY DAYS, and the newest app — BACKYARD AT TWILIGHT — take children on a quest with Stella and Sam, featuring an animated story and integrated games that are intuitive and fun for young children.

Each adventure features:

  • Four original animated story chapters
  • Three open-ended, age-appropriate games
  • Ten minutes of continuous storytelling
  • Game replay
  • Quick navigation by chapter and game

Check out cutie-patootie Grady’s video review of the iPad apps on LoudMommy:

The Stella and Sam Adventures for the iPad are created by zinc Roe Design.

Celebrating TD Canadian Children’s Book Week with Ben Mulroney

We were very happy to be invited to join the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TVO Kids at Essex Hawthorne School in Toronto this morning to celebrate TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. Ben Mulroney, host of etalk Canada, read Marie-Louise Gay’s Caramba — last year’s TD Book Giveaway Pick — to a room full of bright-eyed kindergarten and grade one students. We were also excited to see Dalmar Abuzeid, one of the hosts of The Space on TVO Kids, do a mini-interview with Ben Mulroney and interact with the kids .

My favourite moment? Ben Mulroney encouraging the kids to use their imaginations and read as much as they can.

Our photos from the reading:


How are you celebrating Children’s Book Week with your family? We’d love to hear from you here or on Twitter!

Author picks for the holidays: Marie-Louise Gay recommends HARVEY

The book:

Harvey by Hervé Bouchard and illustrated by Janice Nadeau.
ISBN: 978-1-55498-075-8 * $19.95

The recommender:

Marie-Louise Gay, author and illustrator of Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth!

Marie-Louise Gay says:

A lovely, poignant, marvelously illustrated novel about a young boy named Harvey whose father suddenly dies. A simple story about death and the impact it has on a child’s imagination. Harvey tells the story with a sense of wonder and terrible sadness. He fantasizes about The Incredible Shrinking Man and feels himself disappearing when he finally sees his father in his coffin. The delicate drawings of Janice Nadeau create an emotional rhythm throughout. Breathtaking.

MARIE-LOUISE GAY is a world-renowned author and illustrator of children’s books. She has won many prestigious awards, including the Governor General’s Award, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her books have been translated into more than fifteen languages and are loved by children all over the world. Marie-Louise lives with her family in Montreal. Visit www.marielouisegay.com for more.


Anansi and Groundwood news update

The latest from Anansi:

  • Alison Pick’s Far to Go has been presented with the 2010 Words Worthy Award! This award is chosen by the staff of Words Worth Books to honour a book that has been overlooked by Canada’s major literary prizes. From the press release: “We are pleased to announce that in our estimation, Alison Pick’s second novel Far to Go is the finest work of Canadian fiction published in 2010.”
  • The 2011 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist has been announced — and we are proud to have two Anansi books among the 15 excellent Canadian books longlisted for the award. Congratulations to Lisa Moore (February) and Marie-Claire Blais (Rebecca, Born in the Maelstrom)!

On the Groundwood side:

  • Kirkus Reviews has released its 2010 Best Children’s Books list, and we are thrilled to be strongly represented with two Groundwood titles: Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth! (Marie-Louise Gay) and Arroz con leche / Rice Pudding (written by Jorge Argueta and illustrated by Fernando Vilela)! Congratulations to the authors and illustrators.
  • Playhouse Disney and Astral made a special announcement today: the Stella and Sam TV show, based on Marie-Lousie Gay‘s beloved books, will premiere on Sunday, January 9 at 10:30 a.m. EST! Read the full press release for more.
  • Last, but most certainly not least: today is Gordon Lightfoot’s 72nd birthday! We’re celebrating by reading Gordon’s new book, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, a picture book/gift book that is lavishly illustrated by the brilliant and award-winning illustrator Ian Wallace. Happy Birthday, Gord!


Marie-Louise Gay, author of the Stella books, stops by for a visit

Marie-Louise Gay (centre) with Groundwood Books/House of Anansi staff

Marie-Louise Gay (centre) with Groundwood Books/House of Anansi staff

Celebrated children’s author and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay stopped by our offices at the end of September while in Toronto as part of a cross-Canada tour promoting the 10th anniversary of her first Stella book. Her latest book, When Stella Was Very, Very Small, goes back in time to answer the questions often asked by the children who read and love her Stella books: Where does Stella get her wild ideas? How big is Stella’s imagination? What did Stella look like when she was small? How did Stella come to be the big sister to Sam that we all know and love?

Also newly available is the My Little Stella Library — four mini Stella books in an adorable boxed set.

P.S. This photo of us with Marie-Louise was chosen as PW Daily’s picture of the day! We’re a nice-looking bunch, aren’t we?

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