Award-winning Canadian picture book a gift for every Syrian refugee family / Un album jeunesse canadien primé pour chaque famille syrienne réfugiée

IBBY Canada, Groundwood Books and Canada’s libraries welcome Syrian children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2015

Sidewalk-FlowersIBBY Canada, the Canadian national section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), is pleased to announce a special initiative: a children’s book as a gift of welcome and support for the Syrian refugee families coming to Canada, along with a card in English, French and Arabic encouraging children and their families to go to their public library where they will find so many of the resources they will need for their new lives.

IBBY Canada plans to provide Syrian families arriving here with a copy of Sidewalk Flowers, a wordless picture book with no language barriers to understanding, a visual story that can be enjoyed by children and parents.  Sidewalk Flowers, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award, shows a walk through a city by a father and daughter, as the little girl gathers urban wildflowers growing along the way.

For this special distribution of Sidewalk Flowers, author JonArno Lawson and illustrator Sydney Smith will be donating their royalties, publisher Groundwood Books will be foregoing any revenues, and Webcom will be donating the printing.  IBBY Canada is seeking distribution assistance for the books to reach Syrian families through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

english arabicIn the books will be a welcome letter from IBBY Canada. Also part of the welcome package for each family will be a postcard in English and Arabic or in French and Arabic, that introduces refugee families to Canada’s public libraries. The IBBY Foundation in Switzerland is supporting the printing of the cards. Libraries in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Quebec are working with this IBBY initiative to make Syrian families feel welcome, and libraries in more cities across Canada are expected to join.

Patsy Aldana, president of the IBBY Foundation and founder of Canada’s National Reading Campaign spearheaded the initiative. “IBBY has a long history of providing books for children in crisis. Books are healing for children and families in difficult circumstances, and reading helps children everywhere live better lives,” said Ms Aldana.  “I’m so proud of how well IBBY Canada has executed this project.  And the response from Canadian public libraries has been wonderful. ”

IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) is committed to bringing books and children together. Founded in 1953, IBBY is an international network represented in over 70 countries. IBBY’s Children in Crisis projects have helped children in 25 countries in post-conflict and post-natural disaster situations. IBBY Canada was formed in 1980 to promote Canadian children’s literature; members include authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, educators, and publishers.

For more information, please contact

IBBY Canada, Groundwood Books et les bibliothèques canadiennes souhaitent la bienvenue aux enfants syriens


Sidewalk-FlowersIBBY Canada, la section nationale de l’Union internationale des livres pour la jeunesse (IBBY), est heureuse d’annoncer une initiative spéciale : un livre pour enfants sera remis comme cadeau de bienvenue et comme soutien pour les familles syriennes réfugiées qui viennent au Canada. Ce livre sera accompagné d’une carte en anglais, en français et en arabe qui va encourager les enfants et leurs familles à se rendre dans leur bibliothèque publique où ils trouveront beaucoup de ressources nécessaires dans leurs vies nouvelles.

IBBY Canada planifie de remettre aux familles syriennes qui arrivent ici un exemplaire de Sidewalk Flowers, un livre sans paroles qui grâce à une histoire racontée visuellement n’offre aucune barrière linguistique à la compréhension, cette histoire peut être appréciée par les enfants et par leurs parents. Sidewalk Flowers a remporté le Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général de 2015 pour l’illustration; on y voit un père et sa fille qui font une promenade dans une ville, alors que la petite fille cueille des fleurs sauvages qui poussent sur le chemin.

Pour cette distribution spéciale de Sidewalk Flowers (page couverture), l’écrivain JonArno Lawson et l’illustrateur Sydney Smith vont faire don de leurs droits d’auteur, l’éditeur Groundwood Books va renoncer à ses revenus et Webcom va couvrir les coûts pour l’impression. IBBY Canada a demandé du soutien au Ministère de Patrimoine canadien pour la distribution des livres devant rejoindre les familles syriennes.

french arabicUne lettre de bienvenue d’IBBY Canada sera incluse avec les livres. Dans le colis de chaque famille, on trouvera aussi une carte postale en anglais, en français et en arabe qui présentera les bibliothèques publiques canadiennes aux familles réfugiées. La Fondation IBBY (IBBY Foundation) de Suisse soutient l’impression des cartes. Des bibliothèques de Toronto, de Vancouver, d’Edmonton et du Québec travaillent activement avec cette initiative d’IBBY pour que les familles syriennes se sentent bien accueillies. Des bibliothèques de plusieurs autres villes doivent se joindre au projet.

Patsy Aldana, présidente de la Fondation IBBY (IBBY Foundation) et fondatrice de la Campagne pour la lecture a mené cette initiative. « IBBY a une longue histoire de fournir des livres pour les enfants en crise. Les livres apportent un baume aux enfants et aux familles dans des circonstances difficiles et la lecture aident les enfants partout au monde à vivre une vie meilleure. » a déclaré Mme Aldana. « Je suis si fière de la façon dont IBBY Canada a mis ce projet en œuvre. De plus, la réaction des bibliothèques publiques du Canada est formidable. »

IBBY (Union internationale les livres pour la jeunesse) favorise la rencontre des enfants et des livres. Fondée en 1953, IBBY est un réseau international représentant plus de 70 pays. Les projets Enfants en crise (Children in Crisis) d’IBBY ont apporté du soutien à des enfants de plus de 25 pays dans des zones affectées après des conflits ou après des catastrophes naturelles. IBBY Canada a été fondé en 1980 pour faire la promotion de la littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse; ses membres sont des auteurs, des illustrateurs, des bibliothécaires, des libraires, des enseignants et des éditeurs.

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter

INVITATION: Launch of IBBY exhibit Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa

invitation-launch-Silent-Books-TorontoPlease join us for the Toronto launch of Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa, an international touring exhibit of wordless picture books.

Monday, November 2, 2015
Reception 6:30, Launch 7:00
North York Central Library, Toronto Public Library, Auditorium
5120 Yonge Street (north of Sheppard)

Hosted by Shannon Babcock, President, IBBY Canada; Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library; Alessandro Ruggera, Director,  Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto; Deborah Soria, Silent Books Project Director, IBBY Italia

In honour of the exhibit, original art by Sydney Smith from the Canadian wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers will be on display.


In response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, the International Board on Books for Young People (through IBBY Italia) is working to establish the island’s first children’s library, to be used by young migrants and local children. To build the library’s collection, IBBY Italia gathered outstanding wordless picture books from 23 countries.

To showcase the library, Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa, an exhibit of more than 100 renowned wordless picture books, has been touring around the world. Following stops in Italy, Mexico and Austria, in Canada the Silent Books exhibit has travelled to Edmonton (August 28 to September 18), Vancouver (October 1 to 22) and Toronto (November 2 to December 11).

These wordless picture books have a universal language of images and art, bypassing age, culture and language barriers, to offer readers a unique but shared reading experience.

Children’s book creator John Martz is Illustrator in Residence at Toronto Public Library

JFIR logoIBBY Canada program honours illustrator Joanne Fitzgerald

September 29, 2015 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: IBBY Canada and the Toronto Public Library are pleased to announce that children’s book creator John Martz is the 2015 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence. John Martz’s residency will be at the Northern District Branch (Yonge & Eglinton) for the month of October.

John Martz has illustrated children’s picture books including A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories (Koyama Press), Black and Bittern Was Night (Kids Can Press), and Dear Flyary (Kids Can Press). He has also illustrated comic books, web comics and iPad picture books, and was the founding editor of the illustration blog

John Martz’s Illustrator in Residence schedule includes a series of workshops, art activities for children’s class trips to the library, visits to high schools and colleges, and portfolio reviews with individual artists. The Northern District Branch art gallery will feature John Martz’s and Joanne Fitzgerald’s artwork.

“The Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program launched at the Toronto Public Library in 2013, and has become a key event in the children’s book community,” said Shannon Babcock, president of IBBY Canada.

“Toronto Public Library is pleased to once again host the program at our Northern District Branch,” said Vickery Bowles, City Librarian. “This is a wonderful opportunity that provides people of all ages and stages with meaningful experiences, connects artists and supports the city’s creative and cultural communities.”

The Illustrator in Residence Program is a collaboration between IBBY Canada and the family of Joanne Fitzgerald (1956–2011), honouring the award-winning illustrator whose books include Plain Noodles, Emily’s House, and Doctor Kiss Says Yes.

The Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program offers a published children’s book illustrator a month-long residency in a public library. The Program honours the memory of Joanne Fitzgerald (1956–2011), whose booksinclude Plain Noodles, Emily’s House, and Doctor Kiss Says Yes, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award.  The Program is a joint project of IBBY Canada, Toronto Public Library and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, with financial support from Joanne’s family.

Toronto Public Library is one of the world’s busiest urban public library systems. Every year, 19 million people visit our branches in neighbourhoods across the city and borrow 32 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, visit our website at or call Answerline at 416-393-7131. To get the most current updates on what’s happening at the library, follow us on Twitter @torontolibrary.

IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People (, founded in 1953, is an network of organizations in over 70 countries, committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY Canada ( promotes quality French and English Canadian children’s literature nationally and internationally.

For more information, please contact:

Helena Aalto
Promotion Officer
IBBY Canada

INVITATION: IBBY Canada Illustrator in Residence launch and silent auction

JFIR logo

IBBY Canada and Toronto Public Library
invite you to celebrate the
Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence program 
and the 2015 illustrator

Thursday, October 1, 2015
6:00 to 7:30 pm
Toronto Public Library, Northern District Branch
40 Orchard View Blvd., 2nd floor art gallery


The event will include a SILENT AUCTION of artwork by
Joanne Fitzgerald, John Martz, Martha Newbigging and Patricia Storms
with proceeds in support of IBBY Canada.

Call for Submissions for the 2015 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award / Le Prix Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver pour le meilleur livre d’images Canadien

Publishers across Canada are invited to submit picture books for the annual Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award / Le Prix Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver pour le meilleur livre d’images Canadien (the Cleaver Award).

Every year since 1986, IBBY-Canada has given the Cleaver Award to a Canadian illustrator in recognition of outstanding artistic talent in a Canadian picture book. The winner receives a cheque for $1,000.00 and a certificate at an annual award ceremony.

Three members of IBBY-Canada form the Cleaver committee and administer the award. The committee members for the 2015 award are: Theo Heras, Chair; Allison Taylor-McBryde; and Lyne Rajotte.

Please keep in mind these terms when submitting your book(s):

  1. The recipient is a Canadian illustrator of a picture book published in Canada in English or French during the 2015 calendar year.
  2. To be eligible, the book must be a first edition and contain original illustrations by a Canadian illustrator (either a citizen or permanent resident).
  3. Picture books include: original stories, poetry, and folk and fairy tales.
  4. There is a $20.00 fee for each title submitted to the Cleaver Award. The fee is non-refundable, even if your submission is determined to be ineligible, so please read the submission guidelines carefully. This fee will be used to offset administration costs as well as costs associated with the presentation of the award.
  5. Please send a cheque made out to “IBBY Canada” with “Cleaver Award fee” on the memo line to:

IBBY Canada
c/o The Canadian Children’s Book Centre
217-40 Orchard View Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4R 1B9

Please submit one copy of any eligible book to each committee member (total of 3). For their addresses, please contact Theo Heras at

Deadline for entries is December 11, 2015.

International exhibit of wordless children’s picture books tours Canada

IbbyPoster-(3)Edmonton (Aug 28 to Sept 18), Vancouver (Oct 1 to 22), Toronto (Nov 2 to Dec 11)

People around the world are deeply touched by the desperately dangerous circumstances for boatloads of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, with many arriving on the small island of Lampedusa, Italy. In response to the waves of refugees, IBBY Italia is working to establish the first children’s library in Lampedusa for the young migrants that arrive there every year, as well as for the local children and teens.

With such a diversity of cultures, it made sense to begin the Lampedusa library’s collection with wordless picture books—“silent books” that tell a story with pictures but no text. IBBY Italia gathered a selection of outstanding books from 23 countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, Korea, the UK, the US, and Canada. These wordless picture books begin at the beginning, with the universal language of images and art, bypassing age, culture and language barriers, to offer readers a unique but shared reading experience.

In the true spirit of Jella Lepman who founded IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People), the library in Lampedusa is conceived to provide a place of peace, reflection, pause and hours of reading enjoyment. It is like a seed library that has been planted and that will grow into a complete collection of books for the use and pleasure of the children who live or pass by there.

To showcase the library, “Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa,” a travelling exhibit of more than 100 renowned wordless picture books, has been touring around the world. Following stops in cities in Italy, Mexico City and Graz, Austria, the exhibit is now in Canada, travelling to Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.

Canadian children and adults will delight in reading these books, experiencing our uniqueness while celebrating our differences. Activities and events to promote and highlight the Silent Books exhibit will include a postcard that Canadian children can fill with a drawing or a message to send back to the children of Lampedusa. Sharing these books may bring us closer to the children who live in Lampedusa and to other children who travel until they find a safe place to call home.

Canadian tour dates for Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa travelling exhibit

Aug. 28 to Sept. 18
Stanley A. Milner Library, 7 Winston Churchill Square

Oct. 1 to 23
Irving Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, 1961 East Mall

Oct. 8 to 18
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 West Georgia St.

Oct. 10 to 22
Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan St.

Nov. 2 to Dec. 11
Toronto Public Library, North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St.

IBBY Italia and IBBY Canada thank the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto for its generous support, as well as IBBY Italia, IBBY International, the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Edmonton Public Library, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Public Library, and Toronto Public Library. Special thanks to Merle Harris of Edmonton and Dr. Kathryn Shoemaker of Vancouver.

IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People is committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY was founded in 1953 by Jella Lepman, and is an international network represented in over 70 countries. IBBY Canada was formed in 1980 to promote Canadian children’s literature; members include authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, educators, and publishers.

For more information, please contact