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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Eric Walters

Walters, Eric_05-26-2020

Our final chat in this year’s special Governor General’s Literature Award coverage is with Eric Walters. Eric is the recipient of the 2020 GG's Award for Young People’s Literature (Text) for The King of Jam Sandwiches (Orca Books).

According to this year’s Peer Assessment Committee, "The King of Jam Sandwiches pulls us into the unforgettable friendship of hard-working Robbie and tough-as-nails Harmony in an exceptionally honest survival story that is also compulsively readable and emotionally gripping. Walters has written a heart-wrenching novel about what it is like to grow up amidst poverty and mental illness, one that speaks to contemporary young readers and offers them hope.”

Eric Walters is a Member of the Order of Canada and the author of over 115 books that have collectively won more than 100 awards, many of which have been translated into one or more of 16 different languages. A former teacher, he began writing as a way to get his fifth-grade students interested in reading and writing. Walters is a tireless presenter, speaking to over 100,000 students each year in schools across the country. He has won the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Fiction Award three times and the Association’s Red Maple Award four times, a Christopher Award …

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The Kids: Are They Alright?

Firefly is up for giveaway right now along with three other fab books in the DCB Middle Grade Bundle—Trip of the Dead, by Angela Misri; Birdspell, by Valerie Sherrard; Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer, by Leslie Gentile. Enter for your chance to win!

What is it like for a child who lives with a parent or who knows an adult struggling with a crisis of mental health, addiction, or homelessness?

Canadian children’s authors have written many moving, thoughtful books about kids coping with parents or adults in crisis. While writing my latest book Firefly, I read a lot of them (mostly pretty choked up).  

I couldn’t include them all, but here is a list of some of my favourite titles from recent years.

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Aunt Pearl, by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Dan, Marta and their mother try to help their Aunt Pearl, who is homeless, by giving her a home. But Aunt Pearl is different. She collects garbage and lives in a messy, jumbled way, and yet she shows the children that recycled items can have a purpose, that we can help each other in way …

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The Chat with Eufemia Fantetti

Eufemia Fantetti B&W PRINT

Today's chat is with Eufemia Fantetti, author of the brand new memoir My Father, Fortune-tellers, & Me, out now with Mother Tongue Publishing. It shares the story of the author’s experience growing up with a mother with severe mental health issues, and charts her lifelong relationship with her mother and father, both first generation Italian-Canadians.

Author Terri Favro calls the work “Utterly original and riveting, this book will tear your heart out.” You can check out the trailer here.

Eufemia Fantetti, a graduate of SFU’s Writer’s Studio and the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing master’s program, is a three-time winner of Accenti Magazine’s annual writing competition. Her work appears in Event Magazine, The New Quarterly and the Globe and Mail and is listed as notable by the Best American Essays Series. Fantetti is also an award-winning playwright and former stand-up comic. She teaches writing at Humber College and edits for the Humber Literary Review. Her debut book, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love, runner-up for the 2013 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and winner of the 2014 F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for short fiction, is also available from Mother Tongue Publishing.

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The Chat with Brian Francis

Francis_Brian high res colour Credit Samuel Engelking

Today, we’re in conversation with Brian Francis, author of the acclaimed YA novel—and Governor General’s Award-nominated—Break in Case of Emergency.

Centred around the story of a girl named Toby, the novel has been praised for opening up important conversations about teen mental health. According to the Globe and Mail, “Francis beautifully explores issues around mental health and suicide in a story that packs a powerful punch and stays with you long after you close the book."

Brian Francis is the author of two previous novels. His most recent, Natural Order, was selected by the Toronto Star, Kobo, and The Georgia Straight as a Best Book of the Year. His first novel, Fruit, was a CBC Canada Reads finalist and was selected as one of Amazon.ca and 49th Shelf’s “100 Canadian Books to Read in a Lifetime.” He lives in Toronto.

 
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Trevor Corkum: Break in Case of Emergency takes us back to 1992, and tells the story of Toby, a teenaged girl who has just learned that the father she has never met is coming to visit. Not only that, but her father …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books on Health and Wellness

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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The Health curriculum in the Junior Division focuses on self-awareness—understanding personal strengths, recognizing sources of stress, making decisions, and evaluating choices—as students acquire knowledge and skills related to healthy living. Sometimes picture books can be overlooked for Juniors as a way to open up discussion of these vital concepts—but in this list, we take advantage of them. 

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Whimsy’s Heavy Things, by Julie Kraulis, with its beautiful dream-like illustrations, is the story of Whimsy and all that weighs her down. The heavy things look like black balls (the size of bowling balls). She tries sweeping them under the carpet, ignoring them, sinking them, but they always come back, causing even greater problems. Finally, she thinks of breaking them into smaller pieces—i.e. into marbles with her friend—thus, making her heavy things lighter.

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Book Cover Max's Treasure

Max’s Treasure, by Michelle Persyko, photography by Jessica Newman, illustrated by …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Michael Christie

Mike-Christie

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This month on The Chat we’re back with an interview with award-winning author Michael Christie, whose book If I Fall, If I Die created well-deserved buzz on both sides of the border when it was released in 2015.

If I Fall, If I Die tells the story of Will, a young boy living with his agoraphobic mother in Thunder Bay. As the novel opens, Will ventures forth outside his home for the first time. Through an artistic outsider, Will is introduced to the world of skateboarding and gradually pulled outside the confines of his small world.

The Star calls the novel “A sort of Alice in Wonderland in reverse, where a kid from a place where fantasy reigns clambers out of his rabbit hole and emerges, awestruck, into the real world.”

If I Fall, If I Die was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice. Michael's previous collection of short stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a finalist for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. H …

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Rona Maynard on Mental Illness and the REAL Talking Cure

Book Cover My Mother's Daughter

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Rona Maynard has been a champion for mental health since 1997. When a suicide call turned up on her voicemail at Chatelaine, where she was Editor, she knew she had found her mission. The magazine’s award-winning health journalism reflected Rona's conviction that an illness of the mind deserves equal time with an illness of the body.

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Early in my tenure as Editor of Chatelaine, I let my readers in on a secret. I had suffered from depression that took hold of me in childhood and did not let go until my mid-30s. In its grip, I hid behind a mask of competence—meeting every deadline as a busy freelance writer and making fettuccine from scratch because my family deserved the best. No one saw me spend entire days crying.  At my lowest low, I realized that I couldn’t keep up my charade. Terrified of being exposed as a fraud, …

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