Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


Illustrators' Gallery: When Raven Became Spider

Book Cover When Raven Became Spider

Shaun Beyale, The Time Traveller, 2015, ink, grey Copic marker, and white Gelly Roll pen on paper. Collection of Regina Public Library. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.

Taking its title from a body of work by Sonny Assu, depicting Spiderman in a traditional Kwakwa_ka_'wakw style, When Raven Became Spider was a contemporary art exhibition curated by Vancouver-based Gitxaala/British, curator, artist and writer Leena Minifie.

The book, When Raven Became Spider, serves as documentation of the exhibition, and continues Minifie's research on supernatural characters in Indigenous art and modern comic superheroes, expanding the conversation to include a commissioned art work by Jolene Yazzie, and essays by Indigenous scholars from across North America.

We are pleased to publish a selection of images from the publication.


The Beautiful NDN SupermaidensTM

Joi T. Arcand, The Beautiful NDN SuperMaidensTM Trading Cards: Neckbone Wonder Woman, 2016, mixed media. Collection of the Artist. Photo: Don Hall.


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Art Books Make the Best Gifts

tagged: art books

We've got art books to recommend for readers of all ages, tastes, and even geographic regions. Check out this selection and find the perfect gift for the art-loving souls on your holiday shopping lists.


For the Nature Lover

Life Sketches, by Robert Bateman

About the book: Internationally acclaimed artist Robert Bateman has brought the natural world to vivid life with his unique perspective. His vast body of work—spanning species as large as the buffalo and as small as the mouse—has touched millions of hearts and minds, awakening a reverence for wildlife of all kinds. Bateman is perhaps best known for his gorgeous depictions of birds in flight and in repose, images that stir in the viewer a deep appreciation of colour, form and spirit.

Life Sketches is a moving journey in both words and images that, for the first time, allows Bateman’s fans full access into his creative process, detailing his singular artistic vision and the inspiration behind his iconic art. What emerges is a portrait of a young boy enchanted by the natural world around him and called to record it in his sketches and paintings. Bitten by wanderlust, Bateman travelled the world and documented his real life experiences in journals, sketches, and paintings. In Life Sketches, he recounts the e …

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Lives of the Artists: James King on Art Biographies

Book Cover Inner Places

James King has written two biographies of Canadian artists. Inward Journey: The Life of Lawren Harris is the first biography of the leading spokesman of the Group of Seven and the creator of some of the most iconic images in Canadian art. His most recent book is Inner Places: The Life of David Milne. In both books, King emphasizes the connection between life experience and artistic expression.

In reflecting on other biographies of Canadian artists, he chooses some biographies he feels move the reader to a clearer and deeper understanding of the meaning of the art of those whose lives are chronicled:


Book Cover A Concise History of Canadian Painting

A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Third Edition, by Dennis Reid

In this resplendently illustrated history, Reid marshals significant details in the life experience of Canada’s major painters in such as way as to demonstrate how “our best painters have managed to find common ground in their genuine desire to confront the Canadian sensibility through the medium of their art.” Anecdotal details are carefully assembled to give the reader a sense of …

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On Our Radar: Art Books Spectacular

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.


Introducing Suzy Lake, by Sophie Hackett

"The artist regards us like an unbowed veteran of a long and difficult campaign." 

This career retrospective accompanies the exhibit on now at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Read more about the exhibit, also called "Introducing Suzy Lake," in Rupert Everett-Green's recent review in the Globe and Mail.


Wilf Perrault: In the Alley by Dave Margoshes (Editor), Timothy Long and Donald Kerr

We were pleased to feature an excerpt from In the Alley on our blog earlier this month, a book that commemorates the Wilf Perrault exhibit on at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina until January 4.

"I was never a cutting edge artist," Donald Kerr quotes Perreault as saying. "All I want to be is true to me. I’ll be a cutting edge artist someday."


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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Art Books

Each month, our resident Children's Librarian, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks. 


Story and visual art are intertwined in the following titles. Whether fiction or non-fiction, each appeals to the young artist in different ways.

Mr Gauguin's Heart

The picture book Mr. Gauguin’s Heart, by Marie-Danielle Croteau, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, reveals a crucial moment in the life of a young Paul Gauguin. When his family moves, taking an ocean liner from Denmark to Peru, Paul is comforted by his imaginary dog. But on the journey, his father is “carried away,” his tearful mother explains. Paul pictures him floating away holding onto a balloon. The mother tries to explain further by showing him the setting sun, slipping into the ocean. But each day Paul waits with his imaginary pup at the ship’s bow for sunrise. He meets an artist who, when they reach Peru, teaches him to paint his father in a way that he’ll always be remembered.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, also illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, is told from the point of view of Virginia …

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Strange Material

Strange Materials Cover

November is Art Books Month at 49th Shelf, for which there's no one better to turn to than Leanne Prain, the Queen of Canadian Cool DIY. Her latest book is Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles,and we're pleased to feature an excerpt from her chapter, "Technology and New Methods of Storytelling," which explores the ways that textile artists are using digital and social media to further their craft. 



"I really enjoy the way that the Internet has enabled an interest in knitting to spread much further. I love the way that so many knitters embrace technology." —artist Freddie Robins


The digital world has brought about a variety of ways to communicate, including blogging, tweeting, and texting. Textile artists are exploring new technologies, weaving stories into QR codes that can only be read by a smartphone, re-creating Internet memes in their stitchwork, or journaling on fabric about online matchmaking. The urge to share our experiences through the handmade arts is not a notion lost in historical reference but a vibrant part of the community. Why shouldn’t our textile work reflect how we communicate today?

Crafters have long embraced the opportunity to share stories about themselves and meet each other online. The popular website Knithacker asks k …

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Wilf Perreault at Work

Wilf Perreault: In the Alley is a stunning full-colour presentation of the work of a significant prairie artist, including essays, prose and poetry that responds to the visual feast. Wilf Perreault is in a class of artists known primarily for a single subject—in his case, the humble urban back alley. Coteau Books proudly joins forces with the MacKenzie Art Gallery to present a coffee-table book with more than a hundred full-colour images, accompanied by essays discussing the work of the artist best known as "Wilf". The book contains an additional treat—11 pieces of creative writing by Saskatchewan literary artists responding to Wilf's work in general, or to specific paintings that have inspired them. Wilf Perreault takes us up his alley, rendered in a breathtaking detail that asks us to take another, closer, look at the everyday.

We are pleased to present a gallery of images from the book, and an excerpt from former Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Don Kerr's contribution, "Wilf Perreault at Work." 


Reflective Day

Reflective Day, 1985, Wilf Perreault. Watercolour, collection of Byrna and Ron Barclay


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New Lit Wish List: All the Art Books

To start off this week's Lit Wish List, we asked Jeannette Montgomery from M Gallery|Book in Penticton BC to recommend 5 great books with images as their focus. But of course, her selections are only just the beginning. Please add your own suggestions in the comments below.

Wind River Variations by Brian Brett, Illustrated Poetry, and Photography by Fritz Mueller

The collaboration between Brett and Mueller, in this book, is based on a decade-long friendship and their exploration together of the Wind River. Prose and images combine to tell a story greater than their individual parts.





Jacques Hurtubise, edited by Sarah Fillmore

Through his five-decade career, Jacques Hurtubise has been an artist redefining for Canadians that which is continually evolving: the definition of Canadian art. The book is bilingual, making it an interesting storytelling (or storyreading) experience; the same thing can rarely be said in two languages.

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