Memories of a CFL Legend — Guest Post By Jael Ealey Richardson

Chuck Ealey - Hamilton Tiger CatsI remember walking into the stadium at Ivor Wynne with my father a few years ago for a game. I was a grown adult at the time, but I still felt like a child.

Whenever I go places with my father, I feel this way. I feel like I’m in pigtails with bows on the end, holding onto his hand – those long slender fingers. I feel uncertain, unsteady. Even now, after I’ve written two books about him.

Perhaps I feel this way because there is still so much I don’t understand, so much I still can’t relate to. Or perhaps it’s because the fondness I feel for him is not well suited to a grown adult relationship. I still adore him in a way that only a small-framed child with a towering father can. I still look up to him from a distance far greater than the height that now differentiates us.

It was a perfect day for football – cold enough that the spirit of fall was on its way, but warm enough to enjoy the full breadth of the day without worrying about frigid toes and fingers. My father led the way the same way he always does, with the confidence of someone who knows where he’s going, who’s certain others will follow without having to look back for reassurance.

We stepped out into the stands, bright sun on our faces, the gold and black of Hamilton Tiger Cats fandom all around us. For a moment, we were ordinary. A father and a daughter at a football game. And then it happened.

“Chuck Ealey!”

One person called out, and that is all it takes in Hamilton – one shout, one name recognition. Grown men stood up and introduced my father to their family members. Big grins, hearty handshakes. Little boys and girls climbed over benches and clambered down concrete steps with papers and pens to get his autograph.

It was clear they did not know who he was – he had led the Ticats to the Grey Cup at that very stadium more than forty years ago. But they didn’t come to get my father’s autograph because they recognized him. They came because they knew – because someone told them or because they felt it – that my father was someone worth speaking to, someone worth keeping a record of.

Chuck Ealey and Jael Ealey Richardson


The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson

The African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.

Chuck Ealey grew up poor in a racially segregated community that was divided from the rest of town by a set of train tracks, but his mother assured him that he wouldn’t stay in Portsmouth forever. Education was the way out, and a football scholarship was the way to pay for that education. So despite the racist taunts he faced at all the games he played in high school, Chuck maintained a remarkable level of dedication and determination. And when discrimination followed him to university and beyond, Chuck Ealey remained undefeated.

This inspirational story is told by Chuck Ealey’s daughter, author and educator Jael Richardson, with striking and powerful illustrations by award-winning illustrator Matt James.

Upcoming Events May 2016

There is so much going on this month with Groundwood Books. And we would absolutely love it if you could join us at one of our many events. We’ve rounded them up here, and hopefully we see you soon!

TCAF 2016

May 14 & 15
Toronto Comic Arts Festival

We have three wonderful illustrators making appearances at TCAF this weekend.

Book Signings

Saturday @ 10:30am to 11:00am – Matt James, illustrator of The Stone Thrower
Saturday @ 11:30am to 12:30pm – Dasha Tolstikova, creator of A Year Without Mom
Sunday @ 11:15am to 11:45am – Sydney Smith, illustrator of The White Cat and the Monk
Sunday @ 1:30pm to 2:30pm – Dasha Tolstikova, creator of A Year Without Mom

Programming

Saturday @ 10:00am – Matt James draw-along
locationDraw-Along Kids Room, Toronto Reference Library Appel Salon

Sunday @ 12:00 – Sydney Smith draw-along
  locationDraw-Along Kids Room, Toronto Reference Library Appel Salon

Sunday @ 12:15 – Dasha Tolstikova “Memoir for Kids” Panel
locationMarriott: Forest Hill Ballroom


Moore_Lisa_portrait_webMay 16 & 17
Lisa Moore @ Eh List Author Series

The eh List Author Series is hosting award-winning author, Lisa Moore at the Toronto Public Library. Lisa will be at the Lillian H. Smith branch Monday May 16th from 7:00pm-8:00pm, and Runnymede branch Tuesday May 17th from 7:00pm-8:00pm.
 


Lisa Moore and Dasha Tolstikova @ Koffler

May 18
Mother Daughter Book Club

On Wednesday @ 6:00pm, please join us as acclaimed creators Lisa Moore and Dasha Tolstikova read from their latest books and chat about mothers, daughters, growing up, and everything in between. The event is at the Small World Music Centre, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St.

New Releases from Groundwood this May

You won’t need to wait very long for this month’s new releases! We have two new juvenile fiction novels for YA fans, and two beautifully illustrated picture books coming out May 1st.


Flannery by Lisa MooreFlannery
by Lisa Moore
Available: May 1

Sixteen-year-old Flannery Malone has it bad. She’s been in love with Tyrone O’Rourke since the days she still believed in Santa Claus. But Tyrone has grown from a dorky kid into an outlaw graffiti artist, the rebel-with-a-cause of Flannery’s dreams, literally too cool for school.

Which is a problem, since he and Flannery are partners for the entrepreneurship class that she needs to graduate. And Tyrone’s vanishing act may have darker causes than she realizes.

Tyrone isn’t Flannery’s only problem. Her mother, Miranda, can’t pay the heating bills, let alone buy Flannery’s biology book. Her little brother, Felix, is careening out of control. And her best-friend-since-forever, Amber, has fallen for a guy who is making her forget all about the things she’s always cared most about — Flannery included — leading Amber down a dark and dangerous path of her own.

When Flannery decides to make a love potion for her entrepreneurship project, rumors that it actually works go viral, and she suddenly has a hot commodity on her hands. But a series of shattering events makes her realize that real-life love is far more potent — and potentially damaging — than any fairy-tale prescription.


Pinny in Summer by Joanne Schwartz

Pinny in Summer
by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Available: May 1

This engaging story, told in chapter-like episodes, follows Pinny on a long, lazy summer day. As sunshine turns to rain and back to sun again, Pinny searches for a wishing rock, watches clouds, picks wild blueberries, feeds a seagull, and bakes a cake to share with her friends.

An ideal book for children beginning to make the jump to independent reading, Pinny in Summerdemonstrates the joy young people find in nature and an unstructured life. Pinny is allowed to explore her world freely, and her small setbacks and triumphs will be familiar to every child.

With charming illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant and a spare, poetic text from author Joanne Schwartz, Pinny in Summer is a bright and inviting picture book that captures all the delight of a perfect summer day.


The Stone Thrower by Jael Richardson

The Stone Thrower
by Jael Ealey Richardson, illustrated by Matt James
Available: May 1

The African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.

Chuck Ealey grew up poor in a racially segregated community that was divided from the rest of town by a set of train tracks, but his mother assured him that he wouldn’t stay in Portsmouth forever. Education was the way out, and a football scholarship was the way to pay for that education. So despite the racist taunts he faced at all the games he played in high school, Chuck maintained a remarkable level of dedication and determination. And when discrimination followed him to university and beyond, Chuck Ealey remained undefeated.


A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

A Small Madness
by Dianne Touchell
Available: May 1

Rose and Michael are good students with bright futures. They are also in love. But when Rose gets pregnant, her behavior becomes increasingly strange as she pulls away from her best friend, and from Michael, while she struggles to cope with her predicament.

Rose cannot admit that she is pregnant (“If I say it, it will come to be true.”). She moves from denial to ineptly trying to terminate her pregnancy, to believing that she has miscarried, while deep inside, she is on a mental and emotional downward spiral. Meanwhile, Michael, in his confusion, desperation to help and fear of the wrath of his controlling father, sinks into his own kind of small madness.

Inspired by the story of two teens in the US who were arrested for hiding the girl’s pregnancy and later disposing of the baby, Touchell says, “When I saw them on TV I was amazed to see they looked like normal kids. They were from good families; they just looked destroyed. . . . I thought, there’s more than one victim here; what went on with these kids and why did they think they had no one to go to?”

 

Win a Black History Month Gift Package!

Black History Month Contest

In celebration of Black History Month, we’re giving one lucky winner a copy of the upcoming title, The Stone Thrower (May 2016), and Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged!

The contest runs from February 17th to February 24th. A winner will be randomly chosen. Fill out the form below to enter!

Matt James rediscovers the Northwest Passage

Earlier this week, the news broke that one of the lost ships from Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage was found in the Canadian Arctic by Parks Canada. You can read more about this fascinating discovery and story here.

NWP

Naturally, this news story made us think of beloved Groundwood creator Matt James and his unique re-imagining of Stan Rogers’ Northwest Passage, a haunting and moving tribute to the adventurous spirit of explorers and to the beauty of the vast land and icy seas. Here’s what he had to say about the find:

Matt JamesWow! Nice job Parks Canada!

I’m not surprised to hear that the boat was discovered very close to where early Inuit accounts suggested it was to be found.

It’s kinda spooky seeing that “ghost ship” sitting peacefully at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. I wonder what they will find on board?

 

NWP2


NWP cover

Northwest Passage

by Stan Rogers and Matt James

Award-winning artist Matt James takes the iconic song “Northwest Passage” by legendary Canadian songwriter and singer Stan Rogers and tells the dramatic story of the search for the elusive route through the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific, which for hundreds of years and once again today, nations, explorers and commercial interests have dreamt of conquering, often with tragic consequences.

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