Fall 2017, Vol. 37, No. 3
ISSN 1704-6033
En français

Letter from the Editor

As 2017 comes to an end, it’s a time to reflect on the year gone by. Many of our recent accomplishments were due to the leadership and guidance of Sheila Barry, Past President of IBBY Canada. It’s with a very heavy heart that I report the news of Sheila’s passing on November 15. Sheila was an incredible publisher, leader, and mentor. I am overwhelming grateful that I got to know her for the short amount of time I did — and that IBBY Canada had a chance to experience her leadership and vision. In this issue, Mary Beth Leatherdale writes about Sheila’s impact on IBBY Canada and Canadian children’s publishing.

As we look to the year ahead, I would like to invite you to join us on Saturday, March 3, 2018, for our annual meeting of members at the Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library. Perhaps you will consider inviting a friend, to share with them the important work that we do and to help our organization grow. We look forward to seeing you there.

– Katie Scott, Newsletter Editor

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President’s Report

Hello IBBY Canada friends,

This is my first time writing to you in my new role as Acting President. (My two-year term officially begins in March 2018.) In August, Sheila Barry resigned from her role as President to focus on her health. Sadly, Sheila passed away due to complications following her cancer treatment. In her short term as President, Sheila had a great impact on our organization and left us with clear priorities for the months ahead. In this, our final newsletter for 2017, we pay tribute to Sheila.

It’s been a busy few months for IBBY Canada.

  • We welcomed Lana Button as the new Liaison CANSCAIP on the IBBY Canada board of directors and thanked Debbie Spring for her many years of enthusiastic service.
  • IBBY Canada promoted our work at The Word on the Street in Halifax and Toronto.
  • Deborah Ellis has been nominated for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and was made a lifetime honorary member of IBBY Canada.
  • Three Canadian titles have been nominated for the IBBY Honour List, a biennial selection of outstanding books, honouring writers, illustrators, and translators from IBBY member countries around the world.
  • Ashley Barron completed a successful term as the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence at the Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library.
  • A group of IBBY Canada members attended the IBBY Regional Conference in Seattle, Washington. Theo Heras and Allison Taylor-McBryde presented a session titled “Canadian Picture Books — Across the Border: Embracing Diversity.” The excellent programming around the theme “Radical Change Beyond Borders: The Transforming Power of Children’s Literature in a Digital Age” left members inspired to continue IBBY Canada’s work at home and internationally.

As always, your involvement, ideas, and feedback is appreciated. Please contact me at president@ibby-canada.org to say hello and share your thoughts.

– Mary Beth Leatherdale, Acting President

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Remembering Sheila Barry

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Sheila Barry, Past President of IBBY Canada, died on November 15, 2017, of complications from cancer. Although Sheila’s term was cut short by her illness, she had a great impact on the organization and will continue to inspire us in the future. Sheila encouraged us to reach out and make the IBBY circle wider, convinced that a robust membership of diverse voices and perspectives was key to the organization’s success. Sheila sought to find ways for every member to be respectfully heard and to have the opportunity to shape the goals and activities of the organization. And, in leading the IBBY Canada initiative to provide every Syrian refugee family coming to Canada with a copy of JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith’s wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, Sheila showed us that ambitious and challenging projects were not only within the power of this small volunteer organization but essential to fulfilling our mandate.

Beyond her work with IBBY Canada, Sheila was a leader in Canadian children’s publishing. As publisher of Groundwood Books and the editor-in-chief at Kids Can Press, Sheila published countless acclaimed titles and fostered a diverse list of books. Beloved by her authors and illustrators, Sheila had the ability to bring out the best in her creators, whether they were first-time illustrators or seasoned authors. A generous and valued colleague, Sheila mentored many of the finest children’s editors in Canada today, evident in the high quality of their lists and their amiable relationships with their creators and colleagues.

Sheila cared deeply about young readers. As she wrote, “Like many children’s book publishers, I have a bit of missionary zeal for the importance of publishing books that will give children access to information or stories or insight that they might not be able to find elsewhere.” In her too short career, she achieved this. As Shannon Ozirny, head of youth services at West Vancouver Memorial Library, wrote, “Very few have the ability to make books with such dignity and genuine respect for young readers. A huge legacy and a huge loss.” To that I would add that very few so consistently treat colleagues, authors, and illustrators with such dignity, respect, and warmth. Through her example, Sheila taught us not only to do the right thing but to share much laughter doing it. What a legacy indeed. Our deepest sympathy to her husband Kim, her daughter Miriam, the Barry family, and Sheila’s many dear friends. The family have asked that donations be made in Sheila’s name to The Canadian Red Cross.

Thank you, Sheila.

– Mary Beth Leatherdale, Acting President

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Regional Report Ontario

Martina Gligorov, winner of the book pack from Toronto’s The Word On the Street festival. Photo courtesy of Zoran Gligorov.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help at the IBBY Canada booth at this year’s The Word On the Street festival: Gillian O’Reilly, Frances Gao, Helena Aalto, Grace Andrews, Lana Button, Katie Scott, Kathleen Bailey, Leigh Turina, Pam Mountain, Mary Beth Leatherdale, Jolise Beaton, and Theo Heras. The festival was held at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre on a very hot Sunday, September 24. Books from the IBBY Collection for Young People with Disabilities were a big hit with those passing by. Thanks to Leigh for selecting and talking about these books to passersby. Martina Gligorov won the raffle for the IBBY Canada book pack, generously donated by Groundwood Books and Kids Can Press.

Leigh Turina attended the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair in China, from November 17 to 19, 2017, to promote the 2017 IBBY Collection for Young People with Disabilities. Hopes are that access to the full IBBY Collection will return in February 2018 when the North York Central Library Children’s Department reopens from renovation.

– Lesley Clement, Regional Councillor Ontario

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Regional Report West

During September, the lower mainland was host to Word Vancouver, a celebration of over 150 authors and illustrators for children, young adults, and adults alike. While I was not personally able to attend, the event seemed to garner a fair amount of feedback via Twitter and Facebook. There was quite a good turnout (no seats left) for the panel that I was able to sponsor, featuring Julie Flett and her new book, Colours in Cree: Black Bear, Red Fox (Native Northwest, 2017). This new book works alongside Flett’s previous work on We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers (Native Northwest, 2014) and Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet (Simply Read Books, 2010). Along with Flett, Word Vancouver was host to other talented individuals, including Sarah Ellis, Lee Edward Födi, Kallie George, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Kathryn Shoemaker, and debut non-fiction writer Anita Miettunen (who I highlight here because of her association with the MA in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia).

In October, the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable hosted their annual Children’s Illustrator Breakfast, featuring Ashley Spires, who many of you likely know from The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press, 2014), Binky the Space Cat series (Kids Can Press, 2009–2013), and Fluffy Strikes Back (Kids Can Press, 2016), among others. Those in attendance had nothing but good things to say about the event.

Other fall events on the west coast include the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and the IBBY Regional Conference in Seattle, which hopefully a number of IBBY Canada members were able to attend! Here’s to a great fall/winter for everyone, and to many more upcoming events and opportunities for learning and discussion!

– Rob Bittner, Regional Councillor West

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IBBY Canada’s Indigenous Picture Book Collection

Last fall, IBBY Canada applied to the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Fund for support in creating and exhibiting an Indigenous Picture Book Collection. Working in partnership with Indigenous librarians, writers, and artists, our goal was to create a collection of more than 100 picture books celebrating the talents of contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit writers and illustrators from across Canada. The collection is intended to shine a spotlight on Indigenous children’s books today, promoting the work of contemporary authors and artists and offering insight into the diverse cultures, languages, experiences, and perspectives of Indigenous Canadians.

Although the application was highly recommended for financial support, a grant could not be awarded due to lack of funds. However, IBBY Canada is still committed to the project. We’re moving forward on the selection of the collection and are continuing fundraising efforts to ensure that Indigenous children and youth across the country have access to the books in their communities. If you’re interested in learning more about the project and how you could be involved, please contact Mary Beth Leatherdale at president@ibby-canada.org.

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Reminder: Call for Submissions for the 2017 Cleaver Award

We’d like to remind publishers that IBBY Canada is now accepting submissions for the 2017 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award. This award is given to a Canadian illustrator in recognition of outstanding artistic talent in a Canadian picture book in English or French, published in the 2017 calendar year.

Visit the IBBY Canada website for submission guidelines. The deadline for submissions is December 15, 2017.

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Ashley Barron’s Illustrator Residence at TPL

Ashley Barron installing an exhibit of her original artwork at the North District Branch

Ashley Barron was the children’s book illustrator chosen for IBBY Canada’s Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence in 2017, the fifth year of the program. The program honours Joanne Fitzgerald (1956–2011), illustrator of Plain Noodles, Emily’s House and Governor General’s Literary Award–winner Doctor Kiss Says Yes. Joanne’s family collaborated with IBBY Canada and Toronto Public Library to establish the program, which first launched in 2013.

The books Ashley has illustrated include the Math in Nature series (Owlkids Books, 2012–2014), Kyle Goes Alone (Owlkids Books, 2015), Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones (Owlkids Books, 2017), and Birthdays Around the World (Kids Can Press, 2017). Her illustrations also appear in magazines, animations, advertising campaigns, clothing, and window displays. Ashley grew up in Oshawa, moved to Whitby in her teens, and studied illustration and design at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, where she now lives.

Ashley Barron and program coordinator Helena Aalto

Ashley is best known for her cut-paper collage style artwork, and her illustrations combine elements of geometry, pattern, and texture. She creates three-dimensional effects with layers of cut paper, and the tiniest pieces can be barely larger than the head of a pin (to make a baby’s nose, for example). For cutting, Ashley uses a very sharp knife and a very steady hand, and she deftly wields a glue stick to hold all those layers of paper in place.

The Toronto Public Library’s Northern District Branch hosted Ashley’s residency, beginning with a launch event on October 2 attended by about 40 guests, including IBBY Acting President Mary Beth Leatherdale. In her speech, Ashley noted that her children’s book illustration career began when Mary Beth asked her to work on Owlkids Books’ Math in Nature series. Joanne Fitzgerald’s daughter Laura Young spoke at the launch and said her mother would have loved the detail in Ashley’s work.

For the month of her October residency, Ashley’s schedule was packed. On Mondays, she conducted 30-minute portfolio reviews with individual artists, as many as six on the same day. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, she led class visits for school groups (Grades 2 to 8) that travelled to the library from across Toronto. The younger kids worked collaboratively on one large cut-paper art activity that they completed during their class visit, and the older kids worked on individual pieces. Every Thursday evening, Ashley presented a series of one-hour sessions for adults, with topics that focused on working as an illustrator. As well, the library’s second-floor gallery featured an exhibit of her original artwork, which Ashley and her partner Kevin installed before the residency began.

Cut-paper activity, part of the school group programming

Cut-paper collaboration by a visiting school group

Each year, IBBY Canada issues a call for submissions for the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program, and applications are received from illustrators across Canada. The jury who chose Ashley Barron as the 2017 Illustrator in Residence was comprised of Sheila Barry, former publisher of Groundwood Books (and Past President of IBBY Canada); Sarah Bradley, Library Service Manager, Toronto Public Library; and Meghan Howe, Library Coordinator, Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Previous illustrators for the program were Martha Newbigging (2013), Patricia Storms (2014), and John Martz (2015), all hosted at the Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library; in 2016, Edmonton’s Stanley A. Milner Library hosted illustrator Dianna Bonder.

This signed print was gifted to those who attended the program’s launch

After five years, marketing of the program is well honed, and the great attendance at the workshops, class visits, and portfolio reviews shows how effectively IBBY Canada and the libraries are getting the word out. All the key Toronto Public Library communications vehicles were engaged to promote the 2017 program: the What’s On publication, website, electronic billboards in the branch, flyers, and social media.

Next steps for the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence: planning and delivering another five years of the program!

– Helena Aalto, Promotions Officer

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Call for Proposals: 2017 Frances E. Russell Grant

IBBY Canada is now accepting proposals for the 2017 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.

The deadline for the Frances E. Russell Grant is January 15, 2018. More information on criteria and submissions can be found on the IBBY Canada website.

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The Royal Commission on … Children’s Literature?: Research from the Frances E. Russell Grant

Over the past two years, I have been researching the archival papers of Ontario’s Royal Commission on Book Publishing, housed at the Archives of Ontario at York University. The Commission worked from 1971 to 1973 to answer the BIG question of what had gone so wrong in the Canadian publishing industry that The Ryerson Press (founded in 1829 as the Methodist Book and Publishing House) had to be sold to American branch plant McGraw-Hill in 1970. This sale to an American company caused a furor in the Canadian publishing industry, leading to questions in Parliament, dozens of articles in the media, and a protest march that culminated in a statue of Egerton Ryerson in Toronto being draped with an American flag.

Canadian writer Graeme Gibson, book historian George Parker, and many others mark the sale of The Ryerson Press as the greatest upheaval in Canadian publishing, one that “would radically transform the industry for the rest of the century.” Its sudden demise provides many important lessons for current cultural policy and publishing business practice, the main one being that Canadian publishers are still dangerously undercapitalized.

One of the major issues with the sale was that The Ryerson Press was one of the county’s biggest textbook publishers and the idea that Canadian kids would be reading American material alarmed many. A series of literature readers — full of Canadian literature, along with British and American — were key textbooks that Ryerson produced.

As well, The Ryerson Press was responsible for one of the largest publishing projects ever undertaken for children in this country — a new Sunday School curriculum with three books for each age group. You can read more about this in my article “‘The Substance of Things Hoped Forʼ: Peter Gordon White and the New Curriculum of The United Church of Canada” in Mémoires du livre/Studies in Book Culture (Spring 2015).

When The Ryerson Press was sold, Canada did not have any children’s publishers, nor even a dedicated children’s editor at one of the many general publishing houses. The first full-time children’s editor in Canada — children’s writer Janet Lunn — was hired at Clarke, Irwin in 1972, the year AFTER the Commission heard from all corners about what was wrong with Canadian publishing.

Some of those who testified before the Commission were particularly interested in children’s literature, notably Margaret Tyson from Peterborough, who told the Commission how hard it was to even hear about Canadian children’s books, which she was determined to purchase for her children. Canadian publishers, she told the Commission, needed to do more to market children’s books or their potential customers would never find them. As well, she argued, booksellers needed to be supported with education and library sales in order to ensure their survival in smaller towns and cities.

Published in 1973, the Commission’s recommendations, which were largely the work of University of Toronto Press Director Marsh Jeanneret, had more impact nationally than provincially, resulting in some key developments in cultural policy related to Canadian children’s publishing, such as the exemption of the requirement for printing in Canada for children’s illustrated books since offshore printers offered so many more options than Canadian ones.

The thought of pouring through old papers in order to unearth their secrets does not appeal to everyone, but I’ve always enjoyed the treasure hunt that archival research provides. And the Archives of Ontario Reading Room provides one of the most pristine, heaven-like places for such a pursuit.

Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr, recipient of the 2016 Frances E. Russell Grant

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Canadian Nominees for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The nominees for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) were announced on October 12, 2017, at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Thirty-five candidates from 60 countries are in the running for the world’s largest and most prestigious children’s literature award. Click here to view the full list of nominees.

IBBY Canada is honoured to nominate Deborah Ellis for the 2018 ALMA. Her contribution to children’s literature and her commitment to children’s rights is evident:

Canadian author Deborah Ellis writes about the experiences of children living under duress, whether because of war, prejudice, or familial or societal breakdown. Unflinchingly honest, Ellis writes about how adults harm the children they should protect, while showing the resilience and dignity of children even in the most extreme circumstances. One of Canada’s best-loved authors, Ellis’s international outreach is so pronounced that Nobel Prize–winner Malala Yousafzai declared that The Breadwinner is the one book all girls should read.

Congratulations to other Canadian nominees Sarah Ellis and Marie-Francine Hébert. The winner will be announced in Stockholm and Bologna on March 27, 2018.

– Mary Beth Letherdale, Acting President

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2018 IBBY Honour List: Canadian Selections


IBBY Canada is pleased to announce that three Canadian books have been selected for the 2018 IBBY Honour List. This biennial selection represents some of the best in children’s literature from IBBY member countries. The Canadian selections are:

(Text) Jean-Francois Sénéchal. Le boulevard. Montreal: Leméac Éditeur, 2016.

(Illustration) Sydney Smith. Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2015.

(Translation) Sophie Chisogne. Une berceuse en chiffons: La vie tissée de Louise Bourgeois. Montreal: Éditions de la Pastèque, 2016. Translation of Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016.

The 2018 selection committee was comprised of:

Shannon Babcock, educational consultant and Regional Councillor Quebec, IBBY Canada

Danièle Courchesne, teacher and former Regional Councillor Quebec, IBBY Canada

Meghan Howe, Library Coordinator, Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Liaison CCBC, IBBY Canada

The IBBY Honour List catalogue will be available in 2018, with the full list of titles from national sections. The Honour List books will be on display at the 2018 IBBY Congress in Athens, Greece.

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Save the Date: Annual Meeting of Members

IBBY Canada’s Annual Meeting of Members will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the Northern District Branch, Toronto Public Library (40 Orchard View Blvd.), room 224. Join us for membership renewal and coffee at 9:30 a.m. Meeting begins at 10 a.m.

The annual meeting is a wonderful opportunity to meet the outgoing and incoming executive board, to catch up on what IBBY Canada has accomplished over the past year, to vote on upcoming changes, and to learn about what we’re looking forward to in 2018. We will also be announcing the recipients for our 2017 awards and grants.

We hope to see you there!

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You’re Invited: IBBY Congress 2018

IBBY is pleased to invite you to the 36th International Congress in Athens, Greece, from August 30 to September 1, 2018. The biennial event is a gathering of IBBY members and others from the children’s literature community from around the world. The conference will host a number of speakers, including Deborah Ellis, Perry Nodelman, Gregory Maguire, Michael Neugebauer, and Kathy G. Short. The theme of the Congress is “East Meets West Around Children’s Books and Fairy Tales.”

For more information, please visit the Congress website.

If you are planning on attending the Congress, please let us know! We’d love to hear about your experience.

And save the date for these future IBBY Congresses:

  • September 5–7, 2020, in Moscow, Russia. Theme: “Great Big World Through Children’s Books.” ibbycongress2020.org
  • September 5–8, 2022, in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Theme: “The Power of Stories.”

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A Holiday Gift Idea

The holidays are just around the corner. This season, consider making a donation to IBBY Canada as a gift to your loved ones.

By making a holiday donation, you are realizing Jella Lepman’s vision of promoting peace through children’s literature. IBBY Canada is a volunteer-run organization supported by memberships and donations. Your support means that IBBY Canada can continue its important work in Canada and in bringing international recognition to Canadian children’s books. Donations also allow us to directly support Canadian creators and scholars with prize money, ensuring they are able to continue their culturally important work.

You can customize your gift by directing the donation to a particular fund, such as the Children in Crisis Fund, which provides support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder, or natural disaster. To do so, simply add a note at checkout to indicate which fund you would like to support.

Donations can be made online on the IBBY Canada website. You will receive a charitable tax receipt for your donation.

Happy holidays from your friends at IBBY Canada!

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News from Our Partners

CANSCAIP: The Packaging Your Imagination conference took place in Toronto on Saturday, November 11, with speakers including Andrea Beck, Barbara Reid, Arthur Slade, Carey Sookocheff, and many more. Thanks to everyone who stopped by IBBY Canada’s table to learn about the organization.

CODE: CODE is seeking volunteer editors to mentor African authors, editors, and publishers whose manuscripts are eligible to compete in CODE’s Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. The submission deadline is March 30, 2018. See the call for applications for more information.

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International IBBY News

Europe — IBBY Ireland, IBBY France, and IBBY UK have collaborated to produce an English edition of 100 Books for Children and Young People in Arabic. The list, originally published in French, was selected by the Arab World Reading Committee of the journal Takam Tikou, which brings together professionals from different horizons: the French National Library / IBBY France, the Institute of the Arab world, Libraries of the City of Paris.

New Zealand — The New Zealand section of IBBY, which works in partnership with the organization Storylines: Children’s Literature Trust of New Zealand, has been granted $5,000 USD from the IBBY-Yamada Fund for a project to provide refugee children arriving in New Zealand with books in their own language. The project will be implemented in 2018, in consultation with the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

United Arab Emirates — UAEBBY launched a bibliotherapy training program in February 2017, the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates. The second phase of the training was completed in July 2017. More information is available through the UAEBBY’s newsletter.

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Upcoming Events

March 3, 2018 (TORONTO): IBBY Canada’s Annual Meeting of Members, Northern District Branch, Toronto Public Library (40 Orchard View Blvd.). Join us for membership renewal and coffee at 9:30 a.m. Meeting begins at 10 a.m.

March 27–31, 2018 (HAVANA, CUBA): Reading 2018 International Congress: To read the 21st, hosted by IBBY Cuba.

August 30–September 1, 2018 (ATHENS, GREECE): IBBY’s 36th International Congress. The conference’s theme is “East Meets West Around Children’s Books and Fairy Tales.” For more information, visit the Congress website.

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IBBY Canada Newsletter

Editor: Katie Scott
Copy editor (English): Meghan Howe
Formatter: Camilia Kahrizi
Banner illustration: Martha Newbigging