Literary awards are not everything, and they are almost always contentious, but all the same, they add a swirl of energy to the year in books. Here's a handy round up of the Canadian finalists for some of the major awards in 2013.
The Giller Prize: Lynn Coady won for Hellgoing. Finalists included Dennis Bock for Going Home Again, Craig Davidson for Cataract City, Lisa Moore for Caught, and Dan Vyleta for The Crooked Maid.
The Governor General's Awards: In fiction, Eleanor Catton won for The Luminaries, while finalists included Kenneth Bonert's The Lion Seeker, Joseph Boyden's The Orenda, Colin McAdam's A Beautiful Truth, and Shyam Selvadurai's The Hungry Ghosts. The poetry winner was Katherena Vermett's North End Love Songs; finalists were Austin Clarke's Where the Sun Shines Best, Adam Dickinson's The Polymers, Don Domanski's Bite Down Little Whisper, and Russell Thornton's Birds, Metal, Stones & Rain.
The Governor General's non-fiction winner was Sandra Djwa's Journey With No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page, among a field including Carolyn Abraham's Th …
For this edition of Top Shelf—our bimonthly spotlight on great 49th Shelf lists and posts—we set ourselves a challenge: could we assemble a bunch of lists and blog posts that would yield a book for just about any kind of kid? The answer was a resounding YES! So YES was it that we lost our minds a bit and far, far exceeded the 3–5-item format we promised to constrain ourselves to in the inaugural Top Shelf. Oh, well.
By consulting the lists provided below, you will find at least one book on:
*Bullying, discrimination (the entire Bullies Beware list)
*Anxiety disorders (e.g., Freaking Out)
*Living with a disability (e.g., Easy for You to Say)
*Homophobia (e.g., Homophobia)
Red-hot alert! If you have kids, if you'd like your kids to get the bleep outdoors, if you aren't a huge fan of the phrase "I'm bored!" on a perfectly beautiful summer's day ... A must-read from our children's librarian columnist, the most awesome Julie Booker. These books might just get you the adult reading time you're craving ...
Ever wonder how to whittle a Whim Diddle? How to measure the humidity using a piece of hair (it lengthens with moisture)? Or maybe your J stroke needs some honing? For those lucky enough to own a cabin in the woods, The Kids Cottage Book is the go-to choice, a veritable manual of up-north ventures by the sister duo Jane Drake and Ann Love. It contains some heavy-duty construction DIY projects: a diving raft with barrels, a flagpole made from a pruned tree, a hammock with handmade grommets, a tree fort complete with intruder alarms, a lean-to and comfy mattress for a sleep-out. But it also inspires clever creations: a scientific snake atlas to record sightings, a wild garden, a cool expedition satchel from old blue jeans. It’s all here, along with rainy day pastimes and recipes for plant fabric dyes. Caution: if you’re trying the fish prints, they get smelly so have a quick seal-tight disposal method.
With all the kids running around the neighborhood in summertime, the mind can easily wander to thoughts of writing for little ones ... or bigger ones in the tween and teen age groups with their fascinating blend of vulnerability and strong sense of what is right and wrong in the world. But writing for children and young adults is anything but child's play. As Marion Crook, author of Writing for Children and Young Adults, explains below, the writer aiming for these audiences needs a keen understanding of the psychology and reading levels of different age groups.
I have written for kids and teens and written for adults. The basic components of the story are much the same: appealing characters, interesting settings, and gripping plots. But while adult readers come in age groups with genre-specific interests, the distinctions are less sharp than for kids and teens. The following are some guidelines I find helpful for considering how to approach a book aimed at younger audiences.
1. Understand and Respect the Age of Your Reader
The successful writer of kids' or YA titles respects her audience's reading ability. Certainly some readers in an age group are more accomplished than others, but you need to be clear about the imaginary reader you are writing for and make su …
Our children's librarian columnist, Julie Booker, on very good kids' series where cats (and/or superheroes) figure large.
My three-year-old goes nowhere without his Iron Man. Held tight in the crook of his armpit, this obsession with the foot-high plastic figure forces him to experience life as a one-armed boy. When he spotted Ted Hughes’ novel, The Iron Man, on the kitchen table, he demanded to hear the story. Luckily, a few perfectly placed illustrations hit the plot points necessary to capture a toddler’s interest. He asked for it again and again, carrying the book around for days, which made for a very crowded armpit. I don’t think Hughes would have been surprised. The book is brilliant in its simplicity, pared-down language and action-oriented sentences.
Hughes knew just what to leave out. Written in 1968, it’s still a hit with the tween crowd, opening with the Iron Man standing atop a cliff. “How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows.....His great iron head, shaped like a dustbin but as big as a bedroom....” He topples, his body parts lie scattered on the beach. A hungry seagull picks up an eye, unites it with a hand, allowing the figure to reassemble itself. A small boy named Hogarth becomes the compassionate liaison between the terrified villagers and the "monster." It’s a fabulous, classic fable. I was thrilled to find the 1993 sequel, The Iron Woman, on my library shelves. Much lesser known, …
This week in Canada is Bullying Awareness Week, an important week in our culture given the sometimes scary environments our kids are dealing with today. The potential consequences of peer-to-peer cruelty were made horrifically clear this fall when BC teen Amanda Todd ended her life due to relentless offline and online bullying, but of course bullying is an age-old problem and goes on every day in Canada. The charitable organization BullyingCanada.ca reports that "one out of 4 kids are bullied, one out of 5 kids are the bully, and 282,000 high school kids are attacked each month nationally."
Bullying affects people of all ages but the most vulnerable group for bullying is often said to be kids aged 10 to 14, so we decided to post two Canadian fiction lists with this demographic in mind. The first contains books aimed at elementary-school-aged kids coming to terms with bullying for the first time, and the second comprises novels for pre-teens and teens who may encounter it in their middle- and high-schools. The majority of the titles listed here are award winners or nominees.
In addition to fiction, there are also important Canadian non-fiction books aimed at kids and teens, for example:
Bullying: Deal With It Before Push Comes to Shove, by Elaine Slavens
as well as …