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.

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