Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gimme five

Five is a significant number in Canadian women's history, for it was the Famous Five in Alberta back in the late 1920s who fought tooth and nail all the way to the British Privy Council so that Canadian women could be considered persons. And so, on this International Women's Day, I want to celebrate using the number 5. As you know, I spend a lot of my time working with Atlantic Canadian books for children. Here are 5 + 5 + 5 contemporary creators of such books.

Fiction Writers
Kate Inglis: A promising new writer of enchanted realism for the 8-12 set, Inglis has one book The Dread Crew, with a second companion novel in the works.
Janet McNaughton: One of Canada's foremost writers of children's/YA fiction, McNaughton has written in multiple genres for mulitple ages.
Valerie Sherrard: Sherrard also writes for a broad age range. She has penned picture books, detective fiction and contemporary realism.
Darlene Ryan: Ryan has one book for babies under her belt and four titles of contemporary realism for young adults.
Budge Wilson: Prolific, canonical, literary, Wilson is the grand-dame of children's literature in Atlantic Canada.

Darka Erdelji: Erdelji is a Czech artist, set designer, puppet creator and illustrator who is now based in Saint John's, Newfoundland. Her illustrations for Andy Jones' adaptation of The Queen of Paradise's Garden are magnificent. To see a sample, watch the book trailer: here.
Hilda Rose: Hilda Rose is a Nova Scotia-based illustrator. The gallery on her website has many fine examples of her work.
Heidi Jardine Stoddart: Stoddart's regionally-themed picture books create nostalgia for the Maritime shoreline.
Susan Tooke: Nova Scotia-based Tooke is one of the most sought-after illustrators in the region. Her illustrations for numerous picture books demonstrate her wide artistic range.
Frances Wolfe: Wolfe's Where I Live won the Amelia-Frances Howard Gibbon award for illustration in 2002. She has written and illustrated two books since.

Karen Davidson: Davidson was the winner of the New Brunswick Born to Read manuscript contest in 2008. The resulting book, published by the Early Childhood Centre at The University of New Brunswick, is a collection of verses called Baby's Garden. A copy, along with several other books, is given by the provincial government to each child born in New Brunswick.
Shirley Downey: The pioneer of New Brunswick's Born to Read Program, Shirley Downey, is a poet in her own right with four fun and fabulous titles to her name.
Sheree Fitch: Poet and fiction writer, Fitch plays non-stop hopscotch with words. From 1987's Toes in My Nose through to 2010's Pluto's Ghost, her titles have been as varied as they are excellent. She is one of Canada best-known and best-loved writers for children.
Shauntay Grant: Grant is a spoken word performer, musician and poet from Halifax. Her two books for children are Up Home and The City Speaks in Drums.
Rita Joe: Rita Joe is known as the poet laureate of the Mi’kmaq nation. A collection of her poems suited to a younger audience, entitled For the Children, was published posthumously in 2008.

May you all find good words and pictures to keep you company on this International Women's Day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Follow me on Twitter

For any of you who are interested, I now have a twitter account devoted solely to children's literature. You can find me at @bookmuggins. Thanks to Sheree Fitch for giving me my new handle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No memory can replace it

While others were complaining about the lack-lustre hosting of the Oscars on Sunday night, or perhaps being either delighted or mortified by the use of the "F-bomb" in an Oscar acceptance speech*, I was doing a little dance of delight in my living room for Australian author-illustrator, Shaun Tan. Tan won the Oscar for best animated short for the film adaptation of his cross-over picture book, The Lost Thing. If you haven't encountered Tan's work before, please make a point of doing so. His wordless novel The Arrival is a masterpiece. Don't believe me? Go have a look at some of the stills from it and then make a point of tracking down a copy. (note: you might have to click on the thumbnail for the book in order to see the full entry for it.)

And if, like me, you're always a bit disappointed that you never get the chance to see Oscar calibre short films, fear not. You can view The Lost Thing in its entirety here. Now if only there was a way to see fellow nominee and children's book adaptation, The Gruffalo, online as well. I guess you'll just have to settle for the trailer--that is if you didn't catch it on TV last week or in the run up to Christmas.


* I sometimes marvel at television controversy. While the f-bomb may have no place in an acceptance speech, these are the Oscars for pete's sake. Almost all the films being honoured flaunt that word with reckless abandon. Heck, even the King of England got in on the action. So, maybe there is no need for a tempest in a teapot.


Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss. I hope there is much glee, nonsense and rhyming wherever you may be.