Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


GGBooks Special: The Chat with David Robertson & Julie Flett

“With its muted palette and gentle text, On the Trapline is quietly profound. Robertson’s reflective storytelling coupled with Flett’s masterpiece illustrations make this picture book a must-read about the connection to language, family, the land and tradition.” – 2021 Peer Assessment Committee

Headshot David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers, including When We Were Alone (illustrated by Julie Flett), which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction.  He is also the author of The Barren Grounds and The Great Bear, two books in a middle-grade fantasy series called The Misewa Saga. The Barren Grounds was a Kirkus and Quill & Quire best middle-grade book of 2020, as well as a USBBY and Texas Lone Star selection, and was shortlisted for the Silver Birch Fiction Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

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A Smorgasbord of Influence

Hey there lovely 49th Shelf readers!

Author. Illustrator. And all around nice guy, Rob Justus here. I’ve been asked to put together a humble but mighty list of Canadian creators who influenced my work, but more specifically influenced me when I was writing (and drawing!), what I can only assume is your new favourite graphic novel, Death and Sparkles.

I draw inspiration from all over the place. From television and movies, to toys and video games, but these books and graphic novels just left such an imprint on me that their awesome story powers will seep into my work for the foreseeable future.

This list is pretty all over the place, but I’d argue that Death and Sparkles is a little all over the place too. It’s a little bit of something for everyone!

So without further adieu, here’s my list.


Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton

What can I say that hasn’t been said about the comics in Hark! A Vagrant? Probably not much, I’m not that clever. Regardless, this book is absurd and hilarious. I don’t even know half of the historical people she refere …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jillian Tamaki

JT Photo Credit Emma McIntyre_1

Jillian Tamaki is the winner of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young People (Illustration) for her gorgeous book They Say Blue.

The peer assessment committee says "They Say Blue is a wonderful blend of words and art, a sweeping, joyous book from cover to cover. Its lively and dynamic compositions are sure to captivate both children and those who love to read to children. Wonderfully uplifting and imaginative, it spans an entire range of emotions and colours and makes one’s heart sing."

Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator from Calgary, Alberta, who now lives in Toronto, Ontario. She co-created the highly acclaimed graphic novels Skim and This One Summer with Mariko Tamaki, and is the creator of the teen drama webcomic SuperMutant Magic Academy and Boundless, a collection of short comics for adults. She has won many awards for her work, including a previous Governor General’s Literary Award (in 2014), a Caldecott Honor, a Printz Honor, the Eisner Award, and an appearance on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books list. A working illustrator since 2003, she has also taught students of all levels at Parsons and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.



Trevor Cor …

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The Chat With 2016 Governor General's Award Winners Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka

JELAPPANO HEADSHOT by Robert Scarborough_1

K_HATANAKA_HEADSHOT by Kiersten Hatanaka_1

The next chat with this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners is a conversation with Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka. Jon-Erik and Kellen won this year’s award for Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books) for their book Tokyo Digs a Garden.

Tokyo Digs a Garden marries text and illustration in a richly ornamented dream landscape that simultaneously suggests a digital and an organic world,” states the jury. “Kellen Hatanaka’s illustrations are inventive and groundbreaking and the hypnotic text by Jon-Erik Lappano conveys its message in a darkly humourous and elegant manner. A book for any age.”

Jon-Erik Lappano is an environmental educator, storyteller, and creative producer with curiosity and love of all things wild. He lives in Guelph, Canada, with his young and growing family. This is his first book.

Kellen Hatanaka is a designer and illustrator who lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Kiersten. He is also the author and illustrator of Work: An Occupational ABC and Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites …

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Marthe & Nell Jocelyn in Conversation: On Monkeys, Collaboration and Avoiding Purple & Pink

Book Cover Where Do You Look?

Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn are the mother/daughter picture-book creating powerhouse behind Where Do You Look? most recently, and also Ones and Twos. We thought it would be fun if they interviewed each other, and we weren't wrong!

Marthe: I'll start by asking you the same question that everyone else asks: What was it like working with your mother?

Nell: I've never been too excited about working with a partner or in a group at school but somehow working with you is a lot easier. We've known each other for 22 years so we know what makes the other tick. In other aspects of our lives we might intentionally push each others' buttons but professionally we keep it... well... professional.

How do you like working with your (favourite?) daughter?

Marthe: Intentionally push each others' buttons? You say those things on purpose? Just kidding... I LOVE working with you! (Also with your sister, Hannah, by the way, but that's a different interview). It's a marvel to me to watch another artist work from the same sketch and come up with something so utterly different from what's in my own head. But then to recognize at once the references, or the path that took you there. I also like that we both avoid pink and purple as much as we can.

Nell: Who is your favourite character that …

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From Sketch to Finish: Cassie McDaniel on illustrating Beto's Burrito

Beto's Burrito Details

Coming up with an illustration is often an intuitive process, but there are moments in a story that are crucial for the art and words to be in sync. Sometimes the words are fast and playful and the artwork can mirror that feeling with bright colors and busy-ness. Other times, you want your reader to pause and think about what's being said and felt.

Beto's Burrito, which is a story about a young boy waking up to delicious smells in the kitchen, has one such moment of pause when Beto's father is trying to leave for work.

"His father calls from the kitchen. “I have to go to work now, m’ijo. Your mother made burritos.” Burritos! Now Beto remembers how wonderful his mother’s burritos taste. He jumps out of bed and gets dressed. He runs to the kitchen and hugs his father tight. His father laughs, and then he pushes Beto back gently by his shoulders so he can see his eyes."

The love theme is integral to this story. As the illustrator, I wanted the reader to feel Beto's excitement and energy, but I also wanted them to stop and feel the way Beto's father feels about his son. It is important that the reader pauses to look into Beto's eyes, just as his father does.

This illustration was so important to get right that I actually ended up scrapping my first painting and …

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