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Seeds of a Story: 2020 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards

Last week, the winners of the 2020 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards were announced. And now we're excited to share short pieces by finalist authors on the inspirations for their celebrated works and how they came to be born.

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Love From A to Z, by S.K. Ali

Nominated for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

Love from A to Z grew from many seeds—one of which was that I wasn’t seeing the kind of love story that was familiar to me and my family and friends. Muslim romantic storylines in popular culture tend to be focused on marriages arranged by parents (even if that’s not the romance in the story, the main character is often presented as grappling with the expectation of arranged marriages) and that wasn’t my experience, and isn’t an intrinsic part of Islam. Muslim cultures vary widely and so how relationships develop vary. I just wanted to tell a story familiar to me but that I wasn’t seeing on shelves: two Muslims meeting serendipitously and falling for each other.

The journey of two characters falling in love had to be dealt with justly (I felt) so I set out to tell two distinct stories. That meant mapping out two story-arcs, two character journeys, two worlds, and then I proceeded to envision these two tales as they would look fully realized, as tho …

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Seeds of a Story: Kids' Book Nominees Tell All

From Beyonce's "Lemonade", to Sigur Ross, a game of shinny in the woods, a grandfather stationed on a training vessel during the Halifax Explosion, and the work of Vincent Van Gogh. These are just some of the seeds of the stories which have been nominated for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards, presented next week in Toronto.  

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Picture the Sky, by Barbara Reid

Nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Acorns and maple keys were the seeds for Picture the Sky. It was while looking at trees for my book Picture a Tree that I found a new appreciation for the sky. 

My illustrations are made by spreading and modelling Plasticine on board; the layers build from back to front. The sky is often the background and sets the mood for the image. I noticed how often the sky appears in pictures by artists from five-year-olds to Vincent Van Gogh, and that the sky is important to the story in those images too. 

But how to fit the sky into a book? When I got a letter from a young artist with drawing of a vertical strip of sky between city buildings I knew I had to try. I chose settings and moments where a child might have an emotional connection to the sky. Things like being part of the sky on a Ferris wheel, cloud spotting from a hammock, or hiding in th …

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2017 Seeds of a Story: Part One

On November 21, the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards will be presented in Toronto. We asked the nominees to tell us about the seeds of their stories, the places from which their inspiration grew. Here are some of their responses. Part Two appears on Thursday.

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Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, by Jonathan Auxier

Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard is the tale of a 12-year-old book-mender who discovers a magical book that launches her on an adventure beyond anything she has ever imagined. The story is a sort of love letter to dusty bookshops and libraries, which are my favorites places in the world. (I suspect I'm not alone in this feeling!)

The seeds of Sophie’s adventure were planted long before I was even born. My mother grew up on a wheat farm in the flats—a region where books were few and far between. Still, she was a voracious reader, and she read everything she could get her hands on. When I was growing up, my mother would occasionally mention how, as a teenager, she ran out of novels to read—there were literally no more stories to read in her library. Any time she mentioned this, I would think: What if she had found one last book hidden in that library...and what if that book was more than just a s …

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CCBC Awards: Seeds of a Story (Part Two)

Book Cover Mad Miss Mimic

The shortlisted books for this year's Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators across the country. Go here for a complete list of nominees. Winners will be announced at a gala in Toronto on November 17th. And in the meantime, we're featuring the second half of our "Seeds of a Story" feature, in which writers and illustrations share the inspiration for their celebrated works.

 Don't miss the first half of the story, which appeared last week. 

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Mad Miss Mimic, by Sarah Henstra

Nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 

Mad Miss Mimic began with a visit to Kew Gardens in London, UK, while I was on a research trip for my academic job. I sat on a bench watching a glossy black chicken run around on the lawn, and I started to dream up a story about an upper-class girl in the nineteenth century visiting the gardens with a relative. Who might this girl be? What might be troubling her (because, of course, something had to be troubling her, or there wouldn’t be a story)? Everything I noticed on that trip seemed to bring me back to this girl’s tale, feeding it and giving it substance: the wrought-iron daisies adorning the train station; the handsome old homes in Blooms …

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CCBC Awards: Seeds of a Story

Book Cover Delusion Road

The shortlisted books for this year's Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators across the country. Go here for a complete list of nominees. Winners will be announced at a gala in Toronto on November 17th. And in the meantime, we're featuring the first half of our "Seeds of a Story" feature, in which writers and illustrations share the inspiration for their celebrated works.

Don't miss "Seeds of a Story Part Two" as well.

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Delusion Road, by Don Aker

Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award

Delusion Road took me more than four years to write, but it’s been percolating in the back of my mind for more than four decades. When I was growing up, my parents never moved from the community where we lived, so I was fortunate to graduate with friends I’d known for many years. In fact, I attended a rural high school where everyone knew everyone else, so strangers in our midst were readily apparent. I recall sitting in an assembly during the first day of my senior year and seeing someone I didn’t recognize sitting alone a couple of rows ahead of me. Even all these years later, I vividly remember thinking how horrible it must have felt for that person to be “the new kid” who had to leave all of his …

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