May Cutler (1923-2011)

Photo Credit: Laureen Sweeney

IBBY Canada is sad to report on the passing of Tundra Books founder, May Cutler, at the age of 87. She was at home in Montreal.

Ms. Cutler created Tundra Books in 1967 in the basement of her home, running it for 28 years while also raising four boys. This accomplished woman also served four years as the first female mayor of Westmount, elected in 1987, which was also the year she won IBBY Canada’s Claude Aubry Award.

Ms. Cutler’s influence on Canadian children’s publishing cannot be measured. She believed children’s books could be works of art while also telling Canadian stories, which gave Canadian children a chance to see their own lives and environments reflected on the page. This is exemplified in one of Tundra’s earliest publications, Mary of Mile 18, by Ann Blades, which reflected the young author’s northern life. The book’s artwork was exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery, giving children’s book illustration a cachet it hadn’t had before in Canada. She continued to marry beautiful art with Canadian stories, publishing children’s books by renowned artists such as William Kurelek, Stéphane Poulin, Ted Harrison, and Song Nan Zhang. And, of course, she published one of the most iconic Canadian children’s books, The Hockey Sweater, by Roch Carrier.

May Cutler will be missed, but we will always feel her influence on Canadian children’s literature, Canadian art, and Canadian childhood.

We invite you to leave a note of remembrance for Ms. Cutler here and on Tundra’s blog.

Recent Russell Grant winner shortlisted for book award

Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing (University of Toronto Press) has been shortlisted for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Book Prize, under the humanities category in English.

Authors Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman won IBBY Canada’s Frances E. Russell Grant–a $1,000 prize–in 2007. The Russell Grant supports research for a publishable work on Canadian children’s literature, giving authors a financial boost in often costly endeavours. Ms. Saltman said, “We’re so grateful to IBBY Canada and the Frances Russell jury for research support and encouragement.”

Could your work be the next Picturing Canada? IBBY Canada is currently accepting applications for the 2011 Frances E. Russell Grant. For more information, please click here. The deadline for proposals is May 31, 2011.

Call for Russell Grant submissions

Proposals are now being accepted for the 2011 Frances E. Russell Grant. The $1,000 grant is intended to support IBBY Canada’s mission “to initiate and encourage research in young people’s literature in all its forms” and is given in support of research for a publishable work (a book or a paper) on Canadian children’s literature. This grant supports scholarly work only; works of fiction are not eligible. The competition is open to Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. A jury, appointed by IBBY Canada, will select the successful applicant.

The Frances E. Russell Grant was established by the late Marjorie Russell in memory of her sister, Frances E. Russell, a longtime supporter of IBBY Canada. For more information, please click here. The deadline for proposals is May 31, 2011.

Register your interest for the 33rd IBBY International Congress

The official website of the 33rd IBBY International Congress, which will take place August 23-26, 2012, in London, England, is now up and running. The theme of the Congress is “Crossing Boundaries: Translations and Migrations.”

Check out the website here and click on “register” to be added to an email list. The organizers will notify you when more information is available, including when Congress registration begins.

Patsy Aldana Appointed to the Order of Canada

IBBY Canada congratulates Patricia Aldana on her recent appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada. Patsy was one of 54 new appointments announced by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. The Order of Canada recognizes a “lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation.” We were particularly pleased to see that Patsy’s citation recognized “her contributions to children’s publishing in Canada and around the world.” The announcement is available to view here.

Founder of Groundwood Books, one of Canada’s pioneer and pre-eminent publishers of outstanding children’s books, Patsy has been a tireless advocate for children and reading through her leadership roles in publishing associations, school library coalitions and the TD National Reading Summits.

During her recent four-year tenure as the President of IBBY, Patsy forged new partnerships with like-minded organizations, strengthened the national sections, and worked tirelessly for the the Children in Crisis and The Child’s Right to Become a Reader programs. Her efforts were highlighted in a January 2011 Globe and Mail editorial, available here.

Our warmest congratulations to a remarkable woman!


Mark your calendars! IBBY Canada’s annual general meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 26 at the Runnymede Public Library (2178 Bloor Street West) in Toronto. Come hear about all of our activities from this busy year and meet other active IBBY members from the children’s publishing community, including librarians, editors, authors, and scholars. Refreshments will be served.