Summer 2015, Vol. 35, No. 2
ISSN 1704-6033
En français

Letter from the Editor

We are thrilled to announce that a special exhibition of silent books will be coming to Canada this year! The IBBY Silent Books Exhibit will be travelling to three Canadian cities — Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto — from late August to December 2015. In this issue, Mariella Bertelli gives a full run-down of what to expect from the exhibition. Save the dates in your calendar and come check it out if you are in the area.

As well, we’ve got news about the recipient of the 2015 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program, a call for submissions for the 2015 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award . . . and much more.

I hope everyone is enjoying the final days of summer!

– Katie Scott, Newsletter Editor

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President’s Report

Hello IBBY Member!

Summer is a time of winding down, taking things slowly, and enjoying the few months of beautiful weather that living in Canada gives us. While visiting family in Saskatchewan this summer, I was struck by our common language across generations. On further reflection I realized that part of this shared language was due to our shared experience of children’s literature. Whether referencing Red is Best by Kathy Stinson and Robin Baird Lewis (Annick Press, 1982), or being introduced as “the person who gave you the blue book” to a child (Anna May’s Cloak by Christiane Cicioli and Susan Pearson [Simply Read Books, 2013]), or a huddle of cousins poring over a stack of information books about local wildlife on a quiet afternoon, the texts we share provide us with a shared frame of reference. IBBY Canada is proud to encourage creators and readers of children’s literature, here in Canada and around the world.

A number of exciting things are happening with IBBY Canada this fall — we hope you can participate in these projects wherever you happen to be. We are very pleased to be hosting the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit in its cross-Canada tour. Come see these marvellous wordless books in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto. Thank you to IBBY members extraordinaire Deborah Sorla, Mariella Bertelli, Merle Harris, and Nafiza Azad for helping to coordinate this incredible opportunity.

In October, Toronto Public Library will be hosting the third Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence, John Martz. In more local news, IBBY Canada is looking forward to participating in The Word on the Street Festivals in Toronto and Halifax. We are always looking for volunteers, so if this is something that interests you, please let us know!

Internationally, you can read an update on the rebuilding of IBBY libraries in Gaza as well as new initiatives supporting detained and unaccompanied minors in the southwest United States.

Happy reading,

– Shannon Babcock, President

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Regional Report West

Though we’re thick in the middle of summer (and suffering from the heat), we’ve already started looking forward to events that will occur in the latter part of the year. One of the more exciting events in the west is the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit. The exhibit, which features wordless pictures books from around the world, will be on display at three Vancouver locations in October:

  • October 1–23: University of British Columbia, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall
  • October 8–18: Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 West Georgia Street
  • October 10–22: Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan Street

Excitingly, the Claude Aubry Award is going to be presented to Judith Saltman at the opening reception for the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit. Please join us on October 3 at 2:30 pm at the University of British Columbia’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall. This event will be hosted by the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable. If you’re in the area, drop by either to the exhibition or to the reception or to both. I’d love to meet you there.

– Nafiza Azad, Regional Councillor West

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Call for Submissions: 2015 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award

Every year since 1986, IBBY Canada has given the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award to a Canadian illustrator in recognition of outstanding artistic talent in a Canadian picture book in English or French. The winner receives $1,000 and a certificate at an annual award ceremony.

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.

An eligible book as defined by the terms of the award is:

(1) a picture book, in which there is an interdependence of pictures and words;

(2) a first edition that contains original illustrations by a Canadian illustrator (either a citizen or permanent resident).

All genres are considered: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and folk and fairy tales. Books submitted in a previous year, even if submitted in a different language, will not be eligible for consideration.

To enter a book for the award:

(1) Send one copy of the book to each committee member (for a total of three copies). Contact Theo Heras for the mailing addresses of the three committee members.

(2) Send a $20 entry fee to IBBY Canada for each title submitted. The fee is non-refundable, even if the submission(s) is deemed 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. Please send a cheque made payable 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

For example, if you are submitting two titles for consideration, you will mail six books in total (three copies of each title) to the three jury members and a cheque for $40 to IBBY Canada.

IBBY Canada will donate the submitted books to a suitable recipient(s) at the end of each year.

The deadline for entries is December 7, 2015, for books published between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. The award will be announced in 2016.

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John Martz is the 2015 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence

logo JFIR IBBY Canada is pleased to announce that John Martz has been selected for the 2015 Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence Program at the Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library. During his residency in the month of October, John Martz will present art activities for classes of children visiting the library, lead evening workshops in the library for adults and teens, visit high schools and colleges to talk to students in art programs, and offer portfolio reviews.

John Martz (Photo: Olly Moss)

John Martz has illustrated children’s picture books including A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories (Koyama Press, 2014), Black and Bittern Was Night by Robert Heidbreder (Kids Can Press, 2013), and Dear Flyary by Dianne Young (Kids Can Press, 2012). He has also illustrated comic books, web comics, and iPad picture books, and was the founding editor of the illustration blog Drawn.ca. John lives in Toronto.

From illustrators’ applications from across Canada, the 2015 illustrator was selected by a jury comprised of Shannon Babcock, Ministère de l’Éducation, Quebec (and president of IBBY Canada); Meghan Howe, Canadian Children’s Book Centre; Martha Scott, Toronto Public Library; Patricia Storms, illustrator and author (Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence in 2014); and Leigh Turina, Toronto Public Library.

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 children’s books include 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.

– Helena Aalto, Promotions Officer

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IBBY Silent Books Exhibit: A Bridge of Books from Lampedusa to the World and Back

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The IBBY Silent Books Exhibit is coming to Canada! The travelling exhibit is made up of wordless picture books selected by IBBY’s international sections. It includes an honour list, with 10 of the best titles in this genre. The exhibit is housed in Basel, Switzerland, at the IBBY international office, but was initiated in Italy.

Deborah Soria and IBBY Italy started the Lampedusa children’s library project, with the aim to open a children’s library for the island’s children and teens and the thousands of young immigrants that arrive there every year. Because of the many different nationalities that pass through the Italian island, it made sense to begin the library’s collection with wordless picture books.

Although the books have no words, they are extra rich in visual language — a language we all have a natural access to and a language that often frees our ability to dream and imagine. Wordless picture books may tell stories in a simple and linear way or tell complex stories, pushing the boundaries of artistic and creative expression. Having a reading experience regardless of age or language crosses all kinds of boundaries in a genuinely democratic fashion.

Just as Jella Lepman, IBBY’s founder, had done so many years ago, a call for submissions was put out to IBBY’s national sections with the support of IBBY International. They were asked to send their best wordless picture books for Lampedusa’s first children’s library. More than 20 countries responded and sent more than 100 books.

Click to download the Silent Books exhibit catalogue.
Click to download the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit catalogue

With the participation of Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, where the exhibit opened in 2013, the exhibit’s scope grew to include documentation, study, and research. Part of the exhibit has become a permanent part of their Art Bookshelf, remaining “accessible to the general public and to scholars and experts in order to disseminate awareness of this special area of publishing and of the illustrated book’s potential as a tool for cultural mediation and for an initial education to the visual world.”

Another part of the silent books collection remains permanently in Lampedusa, while the travelling exhibit has circulated in nine cities across Italy and made its international debut in Mexico City at last year’s IBBY Congress. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto, the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit will tour in Canada. It will start in Edmonton (thank you to Edmonton Public Library and Merle Harris!), then on to Vancouver (at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Public Library, and the Italian Cultural Centre) and finally to Toronto (at Toronto Public Library). You can find more information about the dates and locations in the poster above.

There will be events to promote and highlight the exhibit in all three cities. One of the events will involve Canadian children, asking them to write or draw on a postcard to send back to the children of Lampedusa. In this way, Canadian children will connect to Lampedusa and contribute to building that bridge, from Lampedusa to the world and back.

– Mariella Bertelli, IBBY Canada and IBBY Italy member, coordinator of the IBBY Silent Books Exhibit to Canada

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2015 Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Catalogue Now Available!

Click to view the full catalogue online

The catalogue for IBBY’s 2015 Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities is now available online. The selection of books in the biennial catalogue represents the best international books from the past four years for or about children and teens with disabilities.

This year’s catalogue featured four Canadian books. An introduction by Leigh Turina of Toronto Public Library delves into the selection process, answering the question “How do we pick outstanding books?” We highly recommend you check it out. Happy reading!

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You’re Invited: IBBY Congress 2016

The IBBY Congress 2016 planning team with IBBY Executive Director Liz Page.
The IBBY Congress 2016 planning team with IBBY Executive Director Liz Page.

IBBY is pleased to invite you to the 2016 IBBY Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, from August 18–21, 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 interested in presenting at the Congress, the deadline for proposals is September 30, 2015. More information about how to submit an abstract is available here on the Congress 2016 website.

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Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Presentation to South Africa’s PRAESA

PRAESA's Carole Bloch, Malusi Ntoyapi, and Ntombizanele Mahobe at the ALMA award ceremony, Stockholm Concert Hall, June 1, 2015. Courtesy of ALMA. Photo: Stefan Tell
PRAESA’s Carole Bloch, Malusi Ntoyapi, and Ntombizanele Mahobe at the ALMA award ceremony, Stockholm Concert Hall, June 1, 2015. Courtesy of ALMA. (Photo: Stefan Tell)

On June 1, 2015, PRAESA was presented with the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). Based in Cape Town, the organization has promoted reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992. The nomination was made by IBBY Sweden, IBBY South Africa, and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).

A short video about the organization was shown at the award ceremony, held at the Stockholm Concert Hall:

You can watch highlights from the awards ceremony, including the presentation of the award and PRAESA’s acceptance speech, here or read the full transcript of the acceptance speech here.

Congratulations, PRAESA!

PRAESA has promoted reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992. Courtesy of ALMA. Photo: PRAESA
PRAESA has promoted reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992. Courtesy of ALMA. (Photo: PRAESA)

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CANSCAIP Spotlight: Rona Arato

Photo courtesy of Rona Arato
Rona Arato (Photo: Errol Young)

Rona Arato is an award-winning author who focuses on non-fiction and historical children’s books. Originally from New York, she grew up in Los Angeles, spent one year in Israel, and travelled through Europe before settling in Toronto. She has won numerous awards for her children’s books. Her latest book The Last Train: A Holocaust Story (Owlkids Books, 2013) won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, the Red Maple Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Rocky Mountain Book Award.

From 1994 to 1998 you were an interviewer of Holocaust survivors for Shoa, a Steven Spielberg project that recorded the histories of Holocaust survivors. Did that have a strong influence on you when you were writing The Last Train?

Yes. When I first met my husband Paul, he told me he had been in the same “camp” as Anne Frank. From that moment on, the Holocaust became part of my life. So when I had the opportunity to become an interviewer for the Shoa project, I jumped at the chance because I felt it would help me better understand my husband. Interviewing over 100 survivors gave me an insight into their experiences that helped me bring the people in The Last Train to life.

The Last Train was your husband’s story of surviving the Nazi occupation during the final years of World War II. What was it like writing about something so personal and near and dear to your heart while dealing with your husband’s responses during the writing process?

When we first learned about Matt Rozell and his Living History Project (an oral history project involving high school students in Hudson Falls, New York) Paul was reluctant to get involved. He didn’t want to open up old wounds. Once we contacted Matt, and Paul met the soldiers who had liberated him, it was a life-changing experience for both of us. So when I said I wanted to write a book, he was all for it. His big concern was that people would remember him as, he called it, “the bratty little kid in the book,” and not as the brilliant industrial designer that he was. I assured him that wasn’t true, and when the book came out, he was very proud of it.

Writing this book was an emotional roller coaster for me. Paul was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in February 2012, so while I was working on the book, I was also dealing with his illness and the prospect of losing him. The Last Train was published in March 2013. We had 300 people at the launch. Paul got up to speak, but he was so weak that I had to finish for him. He passed away three months later. I am so proud of Paul and the book, and am thrilled with the attention it has received. And I was delighted when the Association of Chartered Industrial Designers held a tribute that recognized Paul’s outstanding work over 40 years.

You have written a series that includes the titles On a Canadian Day, On an American Day, and On a Medieval Day where you write about the real life adventure, drama, romance, and tragedy of ordinary young people living through historical times. Do you or your readers have a favourite story and why?

Those books were fun to research and write. I love “Jamal and the Doctor” in On a Medieval Day (Owlkids Books, 2010), that takes place in Baghdad in the year 905 BCE. It’s about Al Razi, a doctor who started the first hospital in the world. He treated everyone, rich and poor. “Sent Away” in On a Canadian Day (Owlkids Books, 2009) is about a girl who is sent to an internment camp during World War II simply because she is of Japanese descent, and about her best friend, who realizes that if she were living in Europe her fate would be even worse simply because she is Jewish.

How do you link your stories to current issues such as immigration and social responsibility? How do you make these issues relevant to children today?

When I speak to children, I tell them that they are the new generation. I say, “You may not be able to change the whole world, but you can make your own world a better place. You can make a difference in your school or neighbourhood. If you see someone being bullied, step in and stop it. If a classmate needs help, give it and be a friend to another child who needs one.” Children ask me how something as awful as the Holocaust could happen. I tell them I don’t know why people hate, but I do know that it happened because no one stopped the hatred once it got started. That’s our job. To make sure events like this never happen again.

Will you continue with the same issues of immigration, gangs, bullying, and social conscience in your sequel to Ice Cream Town?

Yes. Sammy and the Headless Horseman (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015) takes place in the Pine Grove, a small hotel in the Catskill Mountains in 1921. It’s based on my memory of my mother’s family’s hotel where I spent my summers when I was little. The book is a sentimental look at the beginning of the “Borscht Belt” culture, but it is also about racism. The Borscht Belt was a group of hotels in the Catskills that catered to Jewish people. It became known as the “Borscht Belt” because the biggest hotel, Grossingers, served beet borscht as an appetizer at meals.

My book is set in 1921, before the large hotels became famous for their food and entertainment. In the early days there were people called tummlers who went from hotel to hotel entertaining the guests. Sammy loves to sing and joins Moishe the tummler to put on shows for the guests. The Hermit is a black man who is being terrorized by the Headless Horseman. At the same time, someone is trying to force the Pine Grove’s owners to sell their hotel. Sammy, his cousin, “the awful Joshua,” and his new friends Shayna and Adam call themselves the Ichabods, after Ichabod Crane. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the Headless Horseman and end the harassment. To do this they must combat racism and solve a long-standing family feud.

Talk about your book Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and how you teach students about environmental impacts.

Researching and writing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster (Crabtree Publishing, 2014) was extremely interesting. I had to make the concept of a nuclear reactor understandable to children. That meant I had to figure out how it works. I was lucky to find a person who services reactors, and he told me to think of it as a giant steam kettle. Once I understood the concept, I was able to pass it on to my readers.

Courage and Compassion: Ten Canadians Who Made A Difference won the 2011 Golden Oak Award and was nominated for the 2010 Silver Birch Award. What is the secret to making biographies exciting and grabbing your audience in just a few pages?

In Courage and Compassion (Owlkids Books, 2009) I wrote about people who had accomplished amazing things, often under extreme duress. Writing an exciting biography is the same as writing any story. The difference is that you don’t have to make up the plot. I write the biography with a beginning, middle, and end and turning points that keep the reader engaged. The important thing is to bring the character to life so the reader cares enough to follow the story to the end and, hopefully, think about its message after they’ve finished reading.

Tell us about your research in your science books Fossils: Clues to Ancient Life and Protists.

When I was asked to write Protists (Crabtree Publishing, 2010), my first question was, “What’s a protist?” Learning about this fascinating group of microbes that is neither a plant, animal, nor fungi opened up a world of information. Now, when I see seaweed or algae, I know they are not plants. Fossils (Crabree Publishing, 2005) was easier to research and a lot of fun to write. I grew up in Los Angeles, where we were introduced to dinosaurs and other fossils via the La Brea Tar Pits from an early age, so I was comfortable with the topic. One of my sources was the website of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta.

Working for Freedom: The Story of Josiah Henson is listed in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens 2010. How do you tackle racial discrimination in this book?

My favorite line in Working for Freedom (Dundurn Press, 2009) is taken from Josiah’s autobiography. Josiah’s role as the prototype for Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin had made him famous. He was a former slave who became a renowned abolitionist and preacher. He was respected in Canada, the United States (where he met President Rutherford B. Hayes at the White House), and in Great Britain (where he had an audience with Queen Victoria). In March 1888, he revisited his boyhood home in Maryland. His former mistress greeted him and said, “Why, Si [his nickname], you’ve become a gentleman.” Josiah responded, “I always was, Madam. I always was.”

Josiah was a strong, intelligent, principled human being who, in spite of his circumstances, believed that everyone had the right to freedom of body and freedom of thought. I show that even though he was a slave, he was morally superior to the people who owned him, and in that way, I emphasize the wrongfulness of judging people by skin colour or other superficial factors.

What has it been like winning such prestigious awards for The Last Train?

It has been amazing. The fact that three of these awards are readers’ choice awards, and those readers are kids, is overwhelming. It means that they are getting the message. I love hearing from students about how much they loved the book and how it has inspired them to learn more about the Holocaust. I feel that these awards are a tribute to Paul and the other survivors. They are also a tribute to the soldiers who had fought long and hard to free Europe from the Nazis and then stopped long enough to liberate 2500 Bergen Belsen survivors from a death train and make sure they all received the care they needed to survive.

Do you think that you will retire in the near future? What direction do you see yourself going in or what kind of projects would you like to be working on?

The nice thing about being a writer is that there is no deadline for retirement. I plan to keep writing. My new book Sammy and the Headless Horseman will be out this fall from Fitzhenry & Whiteside. It’s a lighter topic but I’ve still added an anti-racism layer to the story. I love writing on a variety of topics. I enjoy the research and seeing the story come together. I will continue to write about human rights issues because young people need to know what has happened in the past, so they can help ensure these tragedies do not happen in the future.


Rona Arato is a master at utilizing non-fiction and historical fiction as a powerful tool to engage readers and teach children about important issues such as anti-Semitism, bullying, and making a difference. She makes learning both entertaining and exciting.

– Debbie Spring, Liaison CANSCAIP

debbieDebbie Spring has nine published books. She likes to write children’s books about sports and overcoming obstacles, as in The Kayak and Breathing Soccer, published by Thistledown Press.

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Upcoming Events

August 28–December 11, 2015 — EDMONTON, VANCOUVER, TORONTO: IBBY Silent Books Exhibit will travel three Canadian cities. See the Edmonton Public Library website and the event poster for dates and locations.

September 1, 2015: Early bird registration opens for the 35th IBBY International Congress to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, from August 18–21, 2016. The theme of next year’s congress is “Literature in a Multi-literate World.”

September 19, 2015 — HALIFAX: Join us for The Word on the Street at the Halifax Central Library from 11 am to 4 pm. Be sure to stop by the IBBY booth and say hello!

September 27, 2015 — TORONTO: Stop by the IBBY booth at Toronto’s The Word on the Street from 11 am to 6 pm. The festival will be in a new location at Harbourfront Centre. You can check out the featured authors and activities here.

September 30, 2015: Submission deadline for individual presentations and posters for the 35th IBBY International Congress in Auckland, New Zealand. The Congress will be held from August 18–21, 2016.

October 3, 2015 — VANCOUVER: Please join us as we present Judith Satlman with the 2014 Claude Aubry Award. The presentation will take place at 2:30 pm at the University of British Columbia’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall.

October 16–18, 2015 — NEW YORK CITY: USBBY will be holding their 11th IBBY Regional Conference. The theme this year is “Through the Looking Glass: Exploring the Wonderland of International Children’s Literature.” The three-day conference will include talks by Kate DiCamillo, Leonard Marcus, Roger Mello, Paul Zelinsky, and more. You can find more information on their website.

October 27–31, 2015 — HAVANA: IBBY Cuba will be holding their Reading 2015 International Congress. More information is available on their website.

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IBBY Canada Newsletter

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