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Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 2

Here's Part 2 of the Seeds of a Story series, which tells you the stories behind the stories nominated for the CCBC Book Awards, which were handed out in Toronto this week. Check out Seeds of a Story Part 1 here, and also the list of award winners. Congratulations to everybody involved!

And now read on to discover which books were inspired by history, by questions, by rap lyrics, by beach glass, true crime podcasts, and more! 

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Wolfe in Shepherd's Clothing, by Counio and Gane

Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award

The killer is often the starting point for our murder mysteries: we ask ourselves who they are, who they kill, and why. But we also build on what’s come before, seeking variation in motives, methods and victims from book to book. In Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing, the third book of the Shepherd & Wolfe mysteries, we knew we needed a brutal “bad guy,” one far more dangerous than anyone our boys had yet encountered.

Our concept of the killer evolved during the outlining and writing process. When we started writing the third book, we decided the villain would be someone hiding their identity, swooping in from another country to make their kills. When we shared this concept with our publisher, she made a suggestion that reshaped the entire plan, an …

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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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Seeds of a Story: I Am Not a Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis

Book Cover I am not a number

The Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards are presented tonight in Toronto, and we have one more "Seeds of a Story" tale to be shared with you. This one comes from Jenny Kay Dupuis, author of I am Not a Number, which is nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.

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I Am Not a Number was inspired by my granny’s experience being taken from Nipissing First Nation reserve at a young age to live at residential school. It was written as a tribute to my granny and over 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed and isolated from the influence of their families, communities, traditions, and cultures.

The children’s picture book was written in response to the question, “What are the consequences of silence?” When I was growing up, I rarely heard people talk about the history of Indigenous peoples at school. As an educator by profession, I thought deeply about what would happen if we continue to not to speak up and educate the next generation about the truth. So, I wanted to share a real-life story through the lens of my family’s community history that would help others to understand the effects of assimilationist policies on identity.

The intent of the book was to help break the silence. I also wanted to inspire all people to use Indigenous children …

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Seeds of a Story: Part 2

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 One appeared on Monday. 

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Canada Year by Year, by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Sydney Smith

Nominated for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction 

Canada’s 150th birthday was the inspiration for Canada Year by Year. I’m very proud to be Canadian, and I love sharing with kids how amazing our country is.

The book features an event for each year since Confederation, including the first singing of “O Canada” in 1880, the publication of Anne of Green Gables in 1908 and Terry Fox’s run in 1980. I’m especially interested in the incredible people who have changed Canada, so the book also contains more than 50 profiles.

Although I wrote most of the book’s text, some of the entries are from the “The Kids Book of” series. I’m grateful to Jane Drake, Barbara Greenwood, Carlotta Hacker, Pat Hancock, Ann Love, Briony Penn, the late Diane Silvey and Valerie Wyatt who allowed excerpts to appear in Canada Year by Year.

It was important to editor Katie Scott and me that the book consist of more than ju …

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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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Part Two: Seeds of a Story

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. 

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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 …

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Part One: Seeds of a Story

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.

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Sea of Shadows, by Kelley Armstrong

Nominated for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy

I often don’t know where my stories come from, but with Sea of Shadows, it’s so clear that I use it as an example when I speak. I was talking to my agent about wanting to write a teen high-fantasy trilogy. As we discussed settings, she said “Have you ever heard of the Sea of Trees?” It’s a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji, best known as the second highest suicide location in the world. While that combines the macabre with a wilderness setting—two things I love—it’s not an actual story. Then I watched videos of volunteers who try give peace to families by finding the bodies...which involves going into a forest so …

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Seeds of a Story: Part Two

On Thursday, 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. Don't miss Part One from yesterday!  

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The Further Adventures of Jack Lime, by James Leck

Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award

"After I finished The Adventures of Jack Lime, I knew that Jack wasn’t finished solving cases in the fictional town of Iona, but I didn’t know what mysteries would be heading his way in the second book in the series, The Further Adventures of Jack Lime. So, I started the ball rolling by brainstorming a bunch of crimes that I’d like to see Jack solve. What came out of that brainstorming session was a mystery involving an art heist. I was living in Kuwait at the time, teaching high school at an international school, and the students were creating all this incredible art in their art class. I thought how horrible it would be if someone were to sneak into the art room and steal someone’s painting, especially if that happened at the end of the year just before their work was about to be displayed for everyone else to see. While I was putting the finishing touches on that story I visited Nice, in Fran …

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Seeds of a Story: Part One

On Thursday, 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 tomorrow. (Update: you can find it here!)

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Graffiti Knightby Karen Bass

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

"Graffiti Knight started over a cup of coffee. I had driven out to a friend’s farm for a visit, and we were discussing the progress of the novel I was currently revising. Talking about a young adult novel must have triggered the thought, because my friend mentioned that her father had been a teenager in Leipzig, Germany, during and after World War II. The conversation veered to other things. I knew that Leipzig had been in what was called the Soviet Zone, and over the following year, the idea took root that a teenager in post-WWII Leipzig could make a great YA story. When my friend’s father agreed to let me interview him, the story took off."

 

Brothe …

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