This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.
Today we're launching new picture book Born, by John Sobol and Cindy Derby, a beautiful story celebrating the ordinary miracle of life.
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
Born is about the magical journey of birth as it is experienced by a baby, beginning with the baby patiently waiting inside her mother to be born and filled with curiosity about the world she hears and feels, and ending with mother and child looking lovingly into each other’s eyes for the first time.
Describe y …
This week, the CCBC Book Awards, celebrating the best of children's literature in Canada, 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 later this week.
Read on to discover what books were inspired by an East German museum, the song "What a Fool Believes," two vibrant communities on opposite coasts, and one writer's son's important question.
Aftermath, by Kelley Armstrong
Nominated for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the John Spray Mystery Award
The “aftermath” in the title is the aftermath of a school shooting and how it affected both the sister of a shooter and the brother of a victim. The story seed came from an article about the online and real-life harassment a sibling’s shooter endured. I knew parents of shooters received intense scrutiny and negative attention—I’d recently listened to an interview with one parent—but the sibling relationship was an angle I hadn’t considered. I was extremely wary of using an actual shooting in a thriller, but dealing only with the aftermath seemed like a good way to tackle a sensitive subject, and my editors agreed.
It takes over two years for my books to go …
The final installment of our spring preview has finally arrived, with amazing picture books, early-readers and middle grade, and YA titles that will delight readers of all ages.
Little Brothers and Sisters (April), by Monica Arnaldo, starts with four pairs of siblings in and around an apartment complex, each expressing through play and daily life the pleasures and pitfalls of living with and playing with siblings. In Counting on Katherine (June), Helaine Becker tells the bold story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and who was depicted in the film Hidden Figures, with illustartions by Dow Phumiruk. And Lana Button captures the apprehensions of a young student facing a substitute teacher for the first time in My Teacher's Not Here! (April), illustrated by Christine Battuz.
Award-winner Jan L. Coates' A Halifax Time Travelling Tune (June), with illustrations by Marijke Simons, is a rollicking, lyrical journey through 1950s’ Halifax. In Swimming With Seals (April), by Mag …
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.
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 …
Family Literacy Day comes each year on January 27, a national initiative spearheaded by the non-profit ABC Life Literacy Canada to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. And this year to mark the occasion, we're thinking about the picture books we've read to pieces, sometimes quite literally—see the photo above. The books we never tire of, the ones we've read a million times, from the time our kids were babies, and now they're reading alongside us. Although who are we kidding? Nobody's reading. All of us know these stories off by heart.
These are the books that my family has loved until their bindings broke. What are some of yours?
Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
We love everything illustrated by Jon Klassen, from his Governor General's Award-winning Cat's Night Out (with Caroline Stutson) to his Caldecott-winning creation This is Not My Hat. But if pressed, I'd choose Extra Yarn as my favourite, because of its amazing subversive protagonist and her amazing year-bomb …
The thing about a picture book is that it has to keep kids riveted on the first, fifth, tenth, and even twentieth reading. So when we say that these are good ones, we really mean it. These books are tried, tested, and wonderful.
The Princess and the Pony, by Kate Beaton
Superstar Kate Beaton (Hark a Vagrant, Step Aside Pops) brings her characteristic wit to the the picture book set, along with her signature roly-poly pony. The pony is a birthday gift for spirited Princess Pinecone, whose Viking Father and Amazon Mom have a knack for choosing gifts that are just a little wrong—certainly this is not a proper horse for a warrior princess. But as ever, Pinecone becomes determined to make the best of things, bringing her pony into the gladiator ring anyway, discovering that there's more than one way to win a battle, and that there are surprising advantages to being cute and cuddly after all.
This is a princess book that will satisfy princess fiends and the princess-averse all at once. It's an empowering tale for any reader, plus it's got pony farts, so your kids are going to love it.
Next week, on November 18 in Toronto, the 2015 Canadian Children's Book Awards will be presented, celebrating the best in Canadian kids' books; you can explore the shortlists here. And this week with "Seeds of a Story," nominees will be sharing their literary inspirations with us—where did these stories come from? Where they inspired by real life encounters? Amazing flights of the imagination?
The answers to these questions are various and curious, each one a story of its own, offering remarkable insight into some excellent books. And don't miss Part One: Seeds of a Story from earlier this week.
Julian, by William Bell
Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award
My novel, Julian, begins on miserable, snowy March morning when Aidan, a foster child, steps off the bus at the art gallery on a class field trip. Aidan feels a vague stirring of adventure inside, a sense that today will mark a new turning in his life. And Aidan was exactly right. That day unleashes events he could never have expected and puts him on the path to completely change his life: within weeks, Aidan becomes Julian and strikes out with a completely new identity and existence. In this novel I was interested in exploring a concept that I think has universal appeal: what does it take for you to …
Our children's librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
Cary Fagan, Margaret Atwood, Joy Kogawa, Roch Carrier: all acclaimed Canadian writers of adult fiction, and all authors of incredible kids' books, too.
Cary Fagan's novels are perfectly pitched for junior grades. It's Ethan's first summer away from home in The Big Swim, and he's intrigued when bad-boy Zachary, the new arrival at camp, ends up in his cabin. Zachary seems impervious to peer pressure, causing Ethan to question his place in the world and how he sometimes feels apart from everyone. Zachary is also spending a lot of time with Amber, and Ethan has a crush on her. A swim challenge across the lake brings the threesome together in a way that Ethan couldn't have predicted. Grade 3+.
In Mr. Karp's Last Glass, also by Fagan, the reader is immediately intrigued with 11-year-old Randolph, an avid collector of beer bottle caps, pens, and new words (checked off in the dictionary). When Randolph's dad loses his job at the department store, his family …
You would think that school would be paradise for a bookish, nerdy kid, like I was. But as any former bookish, nerdy kid will tell you, that was hardly the case. Sure, there was always lots to read, new books to discover, stories to talk about (and sometimes even write!). But there was a downside as well. So often, the books we had to read were old hat, or overly familiar. Things I’d read long before, or things I had no interest in reading.
I lost track, early on, of the number of times I got caught reading the books I had chosen, not the ones assigned in class. I thought I had it all worked out: keep the book in your lap, and glance down to read when the teacher’s not looking. Keep the book you want to read underneath the book you’re supposed to be reading, with only a few lines visible at a time. It seemed like it should work, but I got caught almost every time.
That didn’t stop me, though. I don’t think it stopped any bookish, nerdy kid.
And we never forget it. We never quite grow up.
Even now, decades later, I’m still that kid close to the back of the room, sneaking Tom Swift or Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators or John Bellairs, when I’m supposed to be reading ... Funny. I can’t even remember what I was supposed to be reading, but those books I snuck? Those books I loved enough to risk the ire of the teachers, and the threats of the hallway or principal’s office? Those books became a part of me.
In celebration of September, this is a special editi …
This year for Family Literacy Day, we're turning things over to an expert. Nathalie Foy, of the 4 Mothers Blog, knows books and she knows boys, and her life is rich with both of them. In this list, she recommends great reads for boys of a wide range of ages. And even better: there's no reason a boy's sister won't love these books too. Which is perfect when the very point is families reading together.
One of my greatest joys as a parent is to see my boys with their noses deep into a book or to hear them plead for time to read just one more chapter, one more page, one more word. We are a family of bibliophiles, and I cultivate the love of books in every way that I can. I do not take it as a foregone conclusion that boys would almost always rather do anything but read, or that books are made for boys or girls, or that boys only want to read about boys, or that you have to bribe a boy to sit down with a book, or that you have to settle for less in the literary quality department if you want to match a boy to a book. I refuse to read aloud a book that I will not enjoy myself, and I will not buy books that do not have lasting value. What the boys borrow from the library is entirely up to them, as is what they read in class at school. Between us, we manage to cove …
Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
Whilst capturing some key historical moments in Newfoundland, these five novels and a picture book each evoke the speech, landscape and mores of the time in which they are set.
In The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, by Jill MacLean, sixth grader Travis is dealing with a few challenges. After the passing of his mother, he and his dad move from St. John’s to Fiddler’s Cove, population 63. Because the town is waiting for parts for the arena’s broken zamboni, Travis is without his crutch: hockey. To top it off, the local bully has threatened everyone into not talking to him. Feeling lonely for the first time in his life, he discovers an abandoned wharf in Gully Cove, a place he’s been warned to stay away from. The starving, feral cats he finds there give him a secret purpose. Things start to spiral out of control when the lies he’s told his dad about where he goes after school, as well the bully’s escalating actions, force him to rely on new and unlikely allies. This is a well-written story that engages the reader’s empathy for the main character. Perfect for grades 5 or 6.
January is a fine time for looking ahead, and for scoping out the scene on the forthcoming reading year. Spoiler: it's going to be a good one. Throughout the month, we'll be sharing titles of books you're going to be falling in love with, beginning with kids' books.
On your marks; get set; GO!!!
Hooray for us! We've got a new picture book from Caroline Adderson, Eat, Leo! Eat! (April), illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, about a clever Nonna who convinces her grandson to eat his lunch using the power of story (and the power of pasta). In Ready, Set, Kindergarten (February), by Paula Ayer and Danielle Arbour, a young girl readies herself for the big adventure that is school. Award-winners Carolyn Beck and Francois Thisdale team up for That Squeak (May), the story of a young boy grieving the death of a friend. In Giraffe Meets Bird (May), Rebecca Bender shares the origin story of the animal friends whose adventures have been captured in her two previous acclaimed books.
Brandee Bublé (younger sister of the singing Michael) releases her f …