Call for Papers on “Children’s Literature and Imaginative Geography”

In October 2012, the Department of English at the University of Ottawa will host a symposium on “Children’s Literature and Imaginative Geography: Past, Present, and Future.”

For Tolkien, the Realm of Faerie defined an imaginative place. That sense of place not only defined fairy tales for him; it made the magic of fairy tales possible. It was at the beginning, at the root of fairy tales. Story begins in a place. An imaginative place is also the backdrop of a children’s novel, poem, or play; it IS the world of Story. Whether realistic, fantastic, historical, gothic, or nonsensical, a work of fiction has its own geography. The giant sequoia on a prehistoric island opens Kenneth Oppel’s Darkwing, and defines the soon to be destroyed safety of its colony of chiropters, Oppel’s imagined prehistoric bats. The North shapes the adventures and redemption of protagonist Burl Crow in Tim Wynne-Jones’s The Maestro. P.E.I. inspires and nurtures Anne of Green Gables; her own imagination grows out of her love of the Island. Fantastic geographies, whether in the past or present, can be small or epic in scope: Lilliput or Middle-earth, the Hundred Acre Wood or Narnia, the house of the Other Mother in Coraline or the dark multitudinous worlds of the Inkheart trilogy to name a few.

Cyberspace cannot be mapped like a place on Earth, but it plays a role in present day imaginative geography. It is a place of websites, blogs, e-mails, and tweets, and enables the downloading of books, as well as the creation of interactive fictional worlds. Computers, cell phones, e-readers, and tablets connect us to imaginary places. Cyberspace has also helped make our world into a global village, where it is not so strange to read children’s literature from around the world, whether about the Australian Outback, Nazi Germany, India, or the thick woods of early Canada. The imaginative geography of children’s literature is the focus of this conference. Where has it been? Where is it now? Where is it going?

Among the keynote speakers are Kenneth Oppel, Alan Cumyn, and Margot Hillel.

Please send electronic or paper proposals by November 15, 2011 to Aïda Hudson at or Amy Einarsson at

Volunteer Editors Needed for CODE’s Reading Liberia Program

IBBY Canada’s partner organization, the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE), needs volunteer editors for their Reading Liberia program. The aim of the Reading Liberia program is to help guide Liberian writers and artists in creating quality children’s books. The larger aim is for Liberians to have a self-sustaining children’s publishing community that creates books in which Liberian children can recognize themselves. These stories will be their stories.

Editors will mentor Liberian writers and illustrators by e-mail and phone. Manuscripts will be available for review starting September 1, and editors will be able to work on their own schedules, though the time commitment is anticipated to stretch to May 2012. This is an opportunity to help others who are passionate about connecting children with books. IBBY Canada member Kathy Stinson has shared her Reading Liberia experience here:

Please contact Meddie Mayanja, Liberia Program Manager at CODE at or call toll free 1.800.661.2633.

Joanne Fitzgerald (1956-2011)

IBBY Canada is sad to report that Governor General’s Award-winning artist, Joanne Fitzgerald, passed away on August 14, 2011, after a long battle with cancer. Born in Montreal, Joanne knew from a very young age that she loved to draw. She attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Joanne illustrated many beloved Canadian children’s books including Plain Noodles, Emily’s House, The Blue Hippopotamus, and This Is Me and Where I Am. She won the Governor General’s Award for her work in Teddy Jame’s Doctor Kiss Says Yes.

Her family is asking that in lieu of flowers, friends of Joanne make a donation in her name to IBBY Canada by clicking here. Please be sure to note “In Memory of Joanne Fitzgerald” in the section marked Additional Comments.

Thanks to Groundwood and Kids Can Press!

IBBY Canada has submitted the Canadian nomination dossiers to the Hans Christian Andersen Award jury. Our nominations this year are Tim Wynne-Jones (author) and Stéphane Jorisch (illustrator). IBBY Canada is the only eligible nominating body in Canada for the HCA Award, which is considered one of the most prestigious children’s literature awards in the world and is often referred to as the Little Nobel.

Since the HCA jury is truly an international one, with jurors living across the globe, it is expensive to ship two nomination packages, including books.

IBBY Canada would like to thank Groundwood Books and Kids Can Press for their generous donations of books and funds to help us submit the required materials for the HCA Awards nominations. Their financial support helps to ensure Canadian authors and artists get their due recognition on the international stage.

Watch this space for news on the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Awards and keep your fingers crossed for Tim and Stéphane!

Look Who’s the Latest IBBY Canada Patron!

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, is now a Patron of IBBY Canada. We are thrilled to have his support along with that of our other Patrons: Annick Press, Groundwood Books, HarperCollins Canada, Kids Can Press, and Library and Archives Canada.

How to Help the Slave Lake Library

As of May 15, 2011, the public library in Slave Lake, Alberta, burned to the ground in a massive forest fire that also consumed 40% of the town infrastructure. Even more heartbreaking, the library had just opened in 2010—a brand-new, beautiful building full of new books and excited staff. If you would like to donate books—new or nearly new (nothing more than two years old) and in good condition—or money, please check out the Peace Library System website or these other helpful links.