Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Trailer: The Night Wanderer by Drew Hayden Taylor

Our latest book trailer, The Night Wanderer, is up -- and it's pretty spooky! Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Author Q&A with Robyn Harding

Robyn Harding, author of My Parents Are Sex Maniacs and a number of other books (check her website for a complete list of titles!), has answered some of our burning questions about life, high school, writing, and food. Enjoy!

1. What embarrassed you most as a teenager about your parents?

My mom remarried when I was 11. Of course, it never occurred to me that this meant she was having sex with my stepfather. Imagine my shock (and horror) when she got pregnant when I was 13! I definitely know how Louise felt when her mom was waddling around her high school hallways with a huge baby belly.

2. Have your kids reached the age where you’re embarrassing them yet?
My son is eleven so he finds me a little embarrassing – which is crazy because I keep telling him how lucky he is to have the coolest mom in the world.

3. What was your favourite part of high school? Least favourite?
I really enjoyed drama and creative writing classes. My least favourite part was anything math related.

4. What’s your writing strategy?
It’s taken me several years to figure this out, but I’m really only creative in the morning. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d get up at 5:00 AM and write in my pajamas for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, I am so lazy so I usually start work around 8:30. I kind of self edit as I go along, so I don’t have to write too many drafts.

5. What is your favourite part of being an author? Least favourite?
I love writing! I love telling stories! And I love when readers tell me that something I wrote touched them or made them laugh. The worst part is definitely bad reviews. A bad review is like a punch in the solar plexus.

6. Who are some of your favourite authors?
I love YA author Susan Juby. Her Alice, I Think series is hilarious. David Sedaris is soooo funny. I literally cried with laughter reading Naked on a plane once. And Nick Hornby is always good.

7. What are your most- and least-eco-friendly habits?
I am pretty green (if you care to know exactly how green, you can read: Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs? My Confused, Guilt-Ridden and Stressful Struggle to Raise A Green Family). About a month ago, I bought a composter, which I think is a huge step in my green evolution. But I still feel bad about a lot of non-green things I do: dyeing my hair, using a lot of Kleenex, flying to Australia (my husband is an Aussie) every four years…

8. If you didn’t have to worry about any practical matters (work visas, language, moving, kids’ schools, work, etc.), where in the world would you choose to live?
Paris! I’ve only been there once but it really spoke to me: Come live here Robyn, it said, before you get tied down with work and visas and kids’ schools! So if that were all off the table, that’s where I’d be. But Vancouver is a pretty awesome place to live, too.

9. What food could you eat exclusively for an entire week without getting sick of it?
Dairy Queen Blizzards. I’d have a different flavor every day for variety.

10. What advice do you have for writers who want to get published?
Write and then submit. Get the Writer's Market and send your manuscript everywhere. I didn’t have any insider connections and I got published. It’s not easy but I remember reading some sage advice: if you’ve written something good, it will find a home.

Thanks, Robyn!

Winners of the "My Embarrassing Parents" Contest!

Robyn Harding's book My Parents Are Sex Maniacs introduces us to sixteen-year-old Louise, whose parents are in the middle of some very public, very embarrassing relationship drama (one parent has an affair; the other starts dating Louise's math teacher!).

I asked readers to send in their own tales of parental embarrassment, and the following submitters of teen trauma tales each won a copy of the book!


When I was in fourth grade, I used a weird, nonsensical, and babyish name when I addressed my mother, but only at home. I don't even remember how I arrived at it, but it was definitely not for everybody and their sister to know.

At a Girl Scout meeting, we made puffy-paint shirts (yeah, I'm betraying my age now) and it wasn't until my mother's shirt had dried and she was wearing it all around, showing everybody, that I realized she'd written THAT NAME all over it. Of course, expecting other fourth-graders to overlook that is like thinking sharks are going to just ignore that bucket of blood in the water. I didn't hear the end of it until middle school. Needless to say, that name never left my lips again, either.


Grade eight. Mom came to pick me up after school, and the parking lot was, as usual, filled with all the cool kids who were standing around and chatting about make-out parties (I'd never kissed anyone) and the latest episode of The Simpsons (I didn't own a TV). The cool kids walked home or took the bus. They acted like they didn't have parents. I had tried to convince my mom to pick me up a block or so away from the school, but she thought I was being ridiculous. She drove right up to the front of the school and I got in the car with my backpack and my bag of gym clothes. I slunk down low in my seat so that maybe nobody would see me with her. She said, "Well, if you're going to be embarrassed, I might as well do something embarrassing!" and she reached into my gym bag, pulled out my shorts, and put them on her head. She then started jigging around and singing a little tune that went something like, "I'm wearing gym shorts on my head! Look everybody, Alison's mom is wearing gym shorts on her head!" Luckily the windows were rolled up and I don't think anyone heard her. But the windows were made of glass, a notoriously transparent substance, and as we slowly moved through the parking lot, pausing frequently to wait while the crowds of kids got out of the way of the car, I thought how nice it would be if I could just evaporate.

I cut high school with my best friend. We went from NJ to NYC and... ran into my dad in the Village! He let us go, but we got in big trouble.

Congratulations to all our winners... it's about time being embarrassed by your parents paid off! Hope you enjoy the book.

Up next: Q&A with author Robyn Harding!

Friday, April 17, 2009

TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2009!

My first "spring has almost arrived in Toronto!" post was on March 20, and I quickly learned I'd been a bit premature. (I plead ignorance: I only moved to Toronto last September, after all!) But today really felt like spring: the temperature went up to 20C and I was able to go outside in short sleeves. Hooray!

Things have been busy at Annick: books are heading off to the printer, new books are in the works, and we're gearing up for some neat stuff for fall (more about our fall list later!). Meanwhile, our books continue to win awards: Mattland (written by Hazel Hutchins and illustrated by Dusan Petricic) has won the Canadian Library Association's Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, and Melanie Little's The Apprentice's Masterpiece is the CLA's Young Adult Canadian Honour Book. I also selected the winners for our My Parents Are Sex Maniacs contest, and will be posting their stories, along with a Q&A with author Robyn Harding, next week!

More good news: three of our authors have been invited to this year's TD Canadian Children's Book Week! From November 14-21, Kristin Butcher (Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers), Claire Eamer (Super Crocs and Monster Wings), and Charis Cotter (A World Full of Ghosts) will be giving readings at schools, community centres, and libraries. (More information on tour schedules to follow!) In celebration of Vancouver's 2010 Olympics, this year's Book Week theme is "sports."

Wherever you are, I hope you're enjoying spring so far!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chanda's Secrets in Namibia!

Chanda's Secrets author Allan Stratton shared a heart-warming story with us recently: Aly Martin, a young woman teaching with the Peace Corps in Otjimbingwe, Namibia, is using Chanda's with her grade 10 students, shown above in this photo, and the book is having a big impact on everyone.

Allan was originally contacted by Aly's mother, as Aly has limited internet connection from her village. She informed Allan that his novel of 16-year-old Chanda, whose family and village in Sub-Saharan Africa are struggling with HIV/AIDS, reflects well life in Otjimbingwe and is touching everyone there who reads it. To point, here's a passage from one of the messages from Aly's mom:

A touching story for you. Last year, at Aly's request, I sent several of Chanda's Secrets books. She carefully lent them out (she is also in charge of the Library) to students she knew would take care of the book. One boy, kept begging for the book. Aly was wary as the boy was very irresponsible and a troublemaker. Sadly, he lives by himself in a tin shack without electricity or running water - I believe he is an orphan. His many chores kept him from attending school altho Aly said he is very bright. Aly decided to loan him the book and this is what she relayed onto me: The boy was in bed reading your book. All of a sudden he noticed the sun was shining on his face and he was crying very hard. He hadn't cried in years. Now, he is reading the book to his friends who cannot read and cannot go to school because they can't afford it. This is why she wants to teach your book the entire semester because it is the story of her village. She starts the whole process today! Through donations from her family and friends, every student will have a copy of the book.

This is heart-warming praise, indeed!

Chanda's Secrets, Africana Book Award winner and Printz Honor Book, is published in over 20 countries around the world.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bella Bologna!

What would spring be without a trip to Italy for the Bologna Book Fair, the only international rights fair dedicated soley to children's and YA books?

Publishers, agents, scouts, authors and illustrators from all over the world gather in this beautiful city for four days to proudly present their latest releases, reconnect with industry friends, and pitch, persuade, listen, review, oogle, covet, poo poo, and generally buy and sell rights to publish books from other countries. What fun.

The photo here shows the entrance to the fair, which this year featured Korea as Guest of Honour. In addition to several halls of publisher booths, the fair also hosts an Illustrators Exhibition, designated areas for literary agents, translators, tv/film producers, and other specialized fields within the biz.

For Annick, the fair was again a success, with international editors praising the innovation and originality of Annick books. But the hard work begins now as materials are sent out for review so editors can mull over these books in more detail and decide whether or not to make an offer for rights to publish their own edition of the book. Stay tuned for news... !!!

But wait! Before we go, we must share a true Italian delight - parmiggiano: