Spring 2016, Vol. 36, No. 1
ISSN 1704-6033
En français

Letter from the Editor

Spring is the start of a new year at IBBY Canada, and this season has seen a number of changes that I’m excited to share with you!

A new slate of officers is now in place on the board of directors, a change that came into effect after our Annual Meeting of Members on February 27. Sheila Barry, publisher of Groundwood Books, has stepped into the role of President. As well, Mary Beth Leatherdale has taken on First Vice-President, and Rob Bittner has joined as Regional Councillor West. Welcome, all! From everyone at IBBY Canada, I’d like to thank Shannon Babcock for her leadership and guidance as President for the past two years and for her dedication to the organization. Shannon will remain on the board as Past President. Thank you also to Nafiza Azad, outgoing Regional Councillor West. You can view the full slate of new officers here on our website.

Another change we’re seeing this year is to the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program. This fall, the program will move to Edmonton Public Library. We plan for the residency to return to Toronto Public Library every other year, and in alternate years to be hosted by a library system in another part of the country.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead!

– Katie Scott, Newsletter Editor

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President’s Report

Hello IBBY Canada friends,

This is my first letter as the new President of IBBY Canada. I’m excited to be taking on the role of President, and I’m also very relieved that there is such a capable board and executive to keep me on the right track and to make sure that everything will run smoothly at IBBY Canada over the next year.

This past year was a busy year for IBBY Canada, and 2016 is off to a busy start as well. The IBBY Silent Books Exhibit was a huge success, thanks in large part to the extraordinary efforts of Mariella Bertelli. The exhibit has just left Canada after one final stop in Hamilton, Ontario. From here it will travel on to Basel, Switzerland.

In December 2015, IBBY Canada produced 25,000 copies of a postcard that explains our public libraries, as well as 4000 copies of a special edition of Sidewalk Flowers, written by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books, 2015), a wordless picture book. The idea came from Patsy Aldana, and was based on a similar project carried out by the Reforma Project in the United States. In Canada, the books and cards were placed in the welcome kits that were distributed to Syrian refugee families by the Department of Canadian Heritage. IBBY Canada was able to provide these materials thanks to the support of the IBBY Foundation, Webcom who donated the printing costs, and the author and illustrator who were willing to donate their royalties. In addition, many members of IBBY Canada, as well as Michael Solomon, Art Director, and Nan Froman, Senior Editor at Groundwood Books, worked quickly to create, copyedit, design, and translate the necessary information. Thanks to great outreach by Helena Aalto, this project generated excellent publicity for IBBY Canada, and I’m happy to report that the Dutch section of IBBY has now started its own version of the project for Syrian refugees who are arriving in their country.

This spring, IBBY Canada is putting on a membership drive. We hope to persuade people who were once members but have let their memberships lapse that they should renew, and we hope to attract new members as well, both individually and at the organizational level. As you all know, IBBY Canada is a completely volunteer-run organization, and we manage our programs on what often seems like a shoestring. If you know anyone who might benefit from being a member, I encourage you to pass the information along.

I hope that 2016 will provide many more opportunities for IBBY Canada to do great work at home and to collaborate with other IBBY sections internationally. If you have ideas for how we can make this wonderful organization even more effective, please feel free to contact me anytime.

– Sheila Barry, President

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Regional Report Quebec

Maya Munro Byers. Photo by Marisa Parisella
Maya Munro Byers. Photo by Marisa Parisella

Our congratulations go out to Maya Munro Byers, who has won the 2015 Judy Mappin Community Award. Maya is a former IBBY Canada board member, co-owner of Lives Babar Books (Pointe-Claire) and Babar en Ville (Westmount), which sadly has closed its doors after 10 years. She continues to be an integral figure to the Montreal book world.

By honouring Maya with this award, the Quebec Writers’ Federation has recognized her contribution to the publishing industry and her role in promoting literacy and children’s literature within the community for over 30 years. When seeking book recommendations, parents and teachers often turn to her for her wealth of knowledge. Over the years, she has become a true resource to the community. A devoted reader, Maya will continue to devour books as they are published.

– Danièle Courchesne, Regional Councillor Quebec

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Regional Report Ontario

Grade 3 students Autumn and Eujenaé reading Il Mare (“The Sea”) (Officina Libraria, 2012) at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board Education Centre
Grade 3 students Autumn and Eujenaé reading Il Mare (“The Sea”) (Officina Libraria, 2012) at the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit, Hamilton Wentworth District School Board Education Centre

Hamilton was the last stop in Canada for the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit. Featuring 100 wordless picture books from around the world, the exhibit showcased some of the most notable books from the children’s library on the island of Lampedusa, Italy. The library was created by IBBY Italia to serve the local community and refugees arriving from Africa and the Middle East. From March 21 to April 1, the exhibit was hosted by Hamilton’s Central Library Children’s Department, from April 4 to 8 by the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board Education Centre, and from April 9 to 14 by the Terryberry Branch of the Hamilton Public Library.

Throughout the exhibit’s stay in Hamilton, children had the opportunity to participate in a write-a-postcard activity and send a message to the children of Lampedusa. On the exhibit’s final evening in Hamilton, Mariella Bertelli of IBBY Canada spoke about the history of the Lampedusa library, her personal experiences travelling to Lampedusa to support the library project, and the role of wordless picture books in the lives of everyone, regardless of language. After leaving Canada, the exhibit headed to Basel, Switzerland.

For the responses of Grade 3 students at Hamilton’s Pauline Johnson Elementary School to the exhibit, see Rob Faulkner’s blog post.

But the stories do not end with the books travelling back to Europe. On April 16, Mariella Bertelli and Sarah Abušarar held a successful fundraiser, hosted by Beit Zatoun in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, for the Lampedusa project. They entertained a full house with their storytelling of “A Story: From the Mountains to the Sea.”

Finally, please save the date: Sunday, September 25 is this year’s The Word on the Street at Harbourfront Centre. Visit the festival’s website to see how you can become involved.

– Lesley Clement, Regional Councillor Ontario

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Regional Report Alberta

Students of Edmonton’s Westglen School participate in a second-hand book fundraiser for Lampedusa. Photo courtesy of Cory MacTaggart 
Students of Edmonton’s Westglen School participate in a second-hand book fundraiser for Lampedusa. Photo courtesy of Cory MacTaggart

With the Silent Books Exhibit touring in Edmonton last September, displays about Lampedusa and the Silent Books Project were up in and around the library, and all classes at Westglen School were introduced to the project.

The Grade 6 IB classes visited the exhibition and brought back enough postcards for everyone at school to complete and send to Lampedusa.

The Kids Helping Kids group and Grade 6 students chose Lampedusa as a fundraiser and decided to run a cookie and second-hand book sale in February. Three teachers, an education assistant, and the Grade 6 students organized and coordinated the event.

Letters were sent home asking for cookie and used book donations. To make things run more smoothly on the day, money was collected and students were given one ticket for every dollar.

All the staff, the Grade 6 students, and Kids Helping Kids were involved in setting up the fundraiser after school on Wednesday, February 3. On the Thursday, the sale ran in the gymnasium during lunch hour and for an hour after school.

The Grade 6 students and Kids Helping Kids were all involved in making sure everything went smoothly. They raised $1895. It is amazing what dedicated and engaged students can do.

Mariella Bertelli will be in Lampedusa in April, and we are hoping to connect Westglen students with children in Lampedusa while she is there.

– Merle Harris, Regional Councillor Alberta

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Regional Report West

I would like to introduce myself as the new Regional Councillor West. My name is Rob Bittner; some of you may know me from previous IBBY conferences or other literature related events in Vancouver or Toronto. I have an MA in children’s literature from the University of British Columbia and am nearing the end of my PhD in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU). While I am relatively new to the field of young people’s literature, I’ve been as active as possible with a number of organizations, including IBBY.

I’ve spent a good amount of time reading over the last few years, having served on a number of committees including the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the Newbery Medal, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Stonewall Awards, and the BC Book Prizes. I’ve also taught a number of introductory courses on children’s literature at SFU. All this is to let you know that I’m doing as much as possible to stay on top of what’s new in books for young readers. I look forward to working with the IBBY Canada board over the next few years and hopefully meeting a number of you during that time as well. Nafiza, your previous Councillor West, will be a tough act to follow.

Here’s to a year of amazing things in children’s literature!

– Rob Bittner, Regional Councillor West

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Sidewalk Flowers Wins the 2015 Cleaver Award

Groundwood Logos SpineIBBY Canada’s Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award, established in 1985, honours one of Canada’s pre-eminent book illustrators. Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver left funds in her will to annually recognize outstanding artistic talent in Canadian picture books. The winner receives $1000.

IBBY Canada is pleased to announce that Sidewalk Flowers, illustrated by Sydney Smith and inspired by a story by JonArno Lawson (Groundwood Books, 2015), is the winner of the 2015 Cleaver Award.

Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia and has been drawing since an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated many children’s books. He now lives in Toronto and works in a shared studio space in Chinatown and goes to the library or the Art Gallery of Ontario on his breaks. 

The jury for the 2015 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award was comprised of Theo Heras (Toronto), children’s librarian and author (jury chair); Allison Taylor McBryde (Vancouver), adjunct professor, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, University of British Columbia and retired children’s librarian; and Lyne Rajotte (Montreal), school librarian and board member for the Corporation of Professional Librarians of Quebec. In selecting Sidewalk Flowers, the jurors commented:

A wordless book, Sidewalk Flowers is a little miracle. Sydney Smith deftly uses ink and watercolour to construct a clever and meaningful visual narrative. A little girl and her father walk together in a city. While her father is busy on his cell phone, the girl gathers and then gives away the urban wildflowers that grow along their way. Pages with multiple illustration panels alternate with full-page and double-page spreads. Perspectives shift from overhead views to long-shots to close-ups. The girl’s red jacket is a consistent bright note in colour palettes that range from grey to multi-hued. Sidewalk Flowers is a brilliant and evocative book.

The jury also selected three Honour Books that were considered for the Award:

L’arbragan, written and illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn (Éditions de la Pastèque, 2015). The cartoon-style illustrations are detailed, soft, subtle, expressive, sensitive, and possess humour and dramatic energy.

Orca Chief, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers and co-written with Robert Budd (Harbour Publishing, 2015). The painterly illustrations combine traditional and modern styles. Look carefully for the holographic images that appear, adding depth and mystery to the storytelling.

That Squeak, illustrated by François Thisdale and written by Carolyn Beck (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015). Layered multi-media illustrations are both ethereal and realistic, capturing the beauty of nature, the gritty feel of a small town, emotional turmoil, and ultimately the hope that springs from a new friendship.

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Call for Submissions: 2017 Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Selection

Every two years, the IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities asks National Sections to recommend books for its list of outstanding books. Selected titles, representing the best books for young people with disabilities, will be featured in a biennial catalogue (2017) and travelling exhibition. The committee is aiming for an international selection of approximately 50 titles in the following three categories:

  1. Books produced in special formats, such as Braille, sign language, PCS or Bliss symbols, tactile, and easy-to-read books, specifically written for young people with developmental, mental, or language disabilities, published in 2012 or later.
  1. Picture books from the regular production especially selected for young people with disabilities that also answer their particular needs through design, topics, illustrations, and texts, published in 2012 or later.
  1. Picture books and novels from the regular children’s book production that portray persons with disabilities, published in 2012 or later. 

IBBY Canada is asking its friends and members to send their recommendations for this list. Please send English title suggestions to Theo Heras at vicepresident2@ibby-canada.org and French title suggestions to Danièle Courchesne at conseillerquebec@ibby-canada.org.

– Theo Heras, Second Vice-President, and Danièle Courchesne, Regional Councillor Quebec, IBBY Canada Selection Committee

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Winner Announcements at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, from April 4 to 7, 2016, winner announcements were made for several major international children’s literature awards, including the Hans Christian Andersen Awards, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. IBBY Canada is a nominating body for each of these awards, and each eligible year we prepare nomination dossiers to champion Canadian talent on the world stage. You can read more about this year’s nominees for each of the awards in the Spring 2015 and Fall 2015 issues of the newsletter.

Hans Christian Andersen Award

Rotraut_Susanne_BernerOften referred to as the “little Nobel,” the Hans Christian Andersen Awards is one of the most prestigious honours in the field of children’s literature.

The winner of the 2016 Andersen Award for illustration is Rotraut Susanne Berner (Germany). The jury wrote:

Berner’s work is at all times recognizably hers, while simultaneously being intensely responsive to the demands of the text, or in the case of the Wimmel Books, to the specific world of a very specific town.  She is willing to take risks — The Princess Will Arrive at Four is a brilliant example of this as is the fairy tale comic book, Definitely Not for the Little Ones, and When Death Came for a Visit, written by Jürg Schubiger. Her books can be hilariously funny, and equally deeply moving.  And she doesn’t fear showing life’s dark moments.

Cao_WenxuanThe winner for the 2016 Andersen Award for writing is Cao Wenxuan (China), of whom the jury wrote:

The unanimous choice of the jury, Cao writes beautifully about the complex lives of children facing great challenges. He is a deeply committed writer, whose own difficult childhood has been deeply influential on his writing in which there are no easy answers. In Bronze and Sunflower, a novel set during the time of the Cultural Revolution in a rural Chinese village close to a re-education center for people sent from the city, a village boy who does not speak and a little city girl who ends up coming to live with his family can be said to “save” each other. These children are entirely convincing and we care deeply about their fate. In Cao’s Dingding Dangdang series, we are captivated and moved by two brothers with Down syndrome who separately flee their village and then search for each other through a world that is alternately loving and rejecting. These books take risks and have a great deal at stake.

You can read more about the winners and the shortlisted authors and illustrators on the IBBY website. Click here to view a video that highlights the shortlisted nominees for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Awards.

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Photo by Jean Goldsmith
Photo by Jean Goldsmith

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the richest prize in children’s literature, and is awarded each year to an author, illustrator, storyteller, or reading promoter of children’s literature.

The winner of the 2016 ALMA is author Meg Rosoff. The jury’s citation reads:

Meg Rosoff’s young adult novels speak to the emotions as well as the intellect. In sparkling prose, she writes about the search for meaning and identity in a peculiar and bizarre world. Her brave and humorous stories are one-of-a-kind. She leaves no reader unmoved.

You can read the full jury citation here on the ALMA website.

IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award

The IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award is given biennially to two groups or institutions that have made a lasting contribution to reading promotion programs for children and young people.

The winners for the 2016 Asahi Awards are Read With Me (Iran) and Big Brother Mouse (Laos). Of this year’s winners, the jury wrote:

Read With Me has the objective of making quality books accessible to disadvantaged children in marginal areas of big cities and those living in remote and deprived areas of Iran. The project, nominated by IBBY Iran, provides books and focuses on reading aloud to create a meaningful experience for children; it introduces related art and craft activities, with an emphasis on role-playing and drama as part of reading sessions; it empowers teachers, librarians and volunteers through training workshops and regular mentoring and, as the final phase, it sets up small libraries to ensure sustainability of the work already done.

Big Brother Mouse is based in Luang Prabang and Vientiane and all the planning and decisions are made in Laos, based on and often adapting to the conditions that are faced there. The first books were made in 2006. Some are just in Lao; others are in both Lao and English, making them useful not only for the primary audience — Lao children — but also for people of any age, who speak either English or Lao, and are learning the other language. The project aims to give books, especially children’s books, an important place in Laos as well as make sure that children in rural areas have access to books. They believe that every child should have the possibility to read and enjoy books and that this is important in helping promote reading and fighting against the widespread illiteracy, still found in Laos.

You can read more about each of the winning organizations on the IBBY website.

Bologna Prize Best Children’s Publisher of the Year – North America

Congratulations to IBBY Canada patron Groundwood Books, and publisher Sheila Barry, for winning the 2016 Bologna Prize Best Children’s Publisher of the Year – North America. The prize is awarded to six publisher from six different parts of the world “that have excelled in terms of creativity and the quality of their editorial choices over the last year.” 


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IBBY Canada’s Annual Meeting of Members

Books on display at the Annual Meeting of Members, including shortlisted books for the 2015 Cleaver Award and the Canadian selections for the 2016 IBBY Honour List.
Books on display at the Annual Meeting of Members, including shortlisted books for the 2015 Cleaver Award and the Canadian selections for the 2016 IBBY Honour List.

On Saturday, February 27, IBBY Canada held its Annual Meeting of Members at the Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library. It was a busy morning, as members and board members gathered to hear about and report on the organization’s accomplishments over the past year.

Highlights from the day included:

  • President Shannon Babcock spoke about the past year’s achievements, including John Martz as the 2015 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence and the touring Silent Books Exhibit.
  • Vice-President Sheila Barry reported on the Syrian refugee initiative, which saw 4000 copies of a special edition of Sidewalk Flowers go to Syrian refugee families. The books included a letter of welcome about how to read wordless picture books with children and how books can be a source of help for children who have been through traumatic events. The initiative also included printing 25,000 postcards, in English/Arabic and French/Arabic, explaining the resources available at local public libraries.
  • Leigh Turina of Toronto Public Library spoke about the Silent Books Exhibit, which had stops in Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, and Hamilton. Thanks to Mariella Bertelli, member of IBBY Canada and IBBY Italia, for all her efforts in spearheading the touring exhibit.
  • Helena Aalto reported on John Martz’s term as the 2015 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence and informed members that Edmonton Public Library will host the 2016 residency.
  • Theo Heras announced that Sidewalk Flowers, illustrated by Sydney Smith, written by JonArno Lawson (Groundwood Books, 2015), won the 2015 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award.
  • Meghan Howe announced the Canadian selections for the 2016 IBBY Honour List:
    • (Text) Teresa Toten. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2013.
    • (Illustration) Marianne Dubuc. Le lion et l’oiseau. Montreal: Éditions de la Pastèque, 2013.
    • (Translation) Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou. Jane, the Fox & Me. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2013. Translation of Jane, le renard & moi by Fanny Britt. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Montreal: Éditions de la Pastèque, 2012.

The day was filled with lots of exciting news and was a wonderful reminder of everything IBBY Canada has achieved in the past year.

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You’re Invited: IBBY Congress 2016

IBBY is pleased to invite you to the 2016 IBBY Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, from August 18 to 21, 2016. The biennial event is a gathering of IBBY members and others from the children’s literature community from around the globe. The conference will host a number of speakers, whose discussions will focus on this year’s theme: Literature in a Multi-literate World.

For more information, please visit the Congress website.

If you are planning on attending the Congress, please let us know! We’d love to see you there.

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Upcoming Events

August 18–21, 2016 (AUCKLAND): 35th IBBY International Congress in Auckland, New Zealand. For more information, please visit the Congress website.

September 19, 2016 (HALIFAX): Come say hello at the IBBY Canada booth at Halifax’s Word on the Street festival, Halifax Central Library, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

September 25, 2016 (TORONTO): Visit the IBBY Canada booth at Toronto’s Word on the Street festival, Harbourfront Centre, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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IBBY Canada Newsletter

Editor: Katie Scott

Copy editor (English): Meghan Howe

Formatter: Camilia Kahrizi

Banner design: Martha Newbigging