Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Hug for the Holidays

This afternoon, the Annick office will close for the winter holidays, re-opening on January 3rd. I hope you'll take some time over the holidays to curl up with a good book. (Check out the Advent Book Blog for lots of great book recommendations.)

Our author Lesley Simpson has been busy making some videos to show off the latest edition of her book The Hug: it's now available in board book edition, with new art by Yayo. Here's a video Lesley made about the story behind The Hug, which was originally released as an Annikin in 1985:

And here's a touching trailer for the new board book edition:

Happy hugs for the holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guest Post from Author Judie Oron

Today, we have a great guest post by author Judie Oron:

In 2007, I interviewed Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger for a magazine article, and I’ve got to admit that I’ve been a total fan of the organization ever since. At the time, he told me that he’d been inspired by a newspaper story about the death of a former child slave in Pakistan. And there I was, talking to him about my own experience in freeing Wuditu--the real-life protagonist of Cry of the Giraffe--from slavery in Ethiopia.

Back then, I was just starting to write the book and struggling to do justice to Wuditu’s painful story. This October, things came full circle for me. At the Toronto Jewish Book Fair, Wuditu was standing beside me and I was listening with pride as she described the work she now does with people who’ve been traumatized in their own right.

Several weeks later, on December 9th, I was privileged to speak at a Free the Children ‘Lunch and Learn.’ I outlined the way in which Wuditu had fallen into slavery. It was a classic method--pretend that you’re hiring a servant; then, when the child is waiting to be paid their wages, explain that, rather than being owed money, they’ve fallen into debt and must work to pay it off.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed thinking about the other children out there in Wuditu’s former circumstances. I’m often asked, "What can we do?" I think that if we keep reading, keep caring and staying informed--not to mention informing others--we’ll have come a long way toward bringing this issue out of the dark and into the public forum.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Meet a Book Blogger: The Book Muncher

I feel like I start off every Meet a Book Blogger post by exclaiming that yet another month has passed. What can I say; time flies! It's December now, and Toronto has had its first major snowfall (though other areas have had it much worse). For this month's edition of Meet a Book Blogger, I interviewed The Book Muncher (who remains anonymous).

1. When did you start book blogging, and what was your motivation?
I started my book reviewing blog in December 2007. I had always been an avid reader and had become very active on a book discussion forum called BookDivas. It was there that I stumbled upon my first book blog, The Page Flipper. I took a look at her blog and realized that it was something that I could do. So I did!

2. How often do you post?
I schedule my posts in advance, so I usually have something go up every other day or so. I like to have new content up frequently, but not so frequently that it becomes overwhelming.

3. Which kinds of books do you like to review?
I prefer reading and reviewing young adult books, but occasionally, I stray into middle grade or adult fiction.

4. Where do you get the books you review?
I get a little bit from practically everywhere! When I started out reviewing, most of the books I reviewed came from my personal collection, the library, or my friends. Then I started getting books from authors, publicists, and agents. In addition to that, I also get books from reviewing programs such as Amazon Vine.

5. Where do you find out about new books?
Sadly, I’m never as up to date about new books as I’d like to be. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an ARC of an upcoming title that I haven’t heard of yet. Oftentimes, though, it’s a combination of skimming other book blogs, chatting with other book reviewers, and browsing the new release sections in bookstores.

6. Do you read other book blogs? If so, which are your favorites?
Once in a while, I’ll have the time to skim other book blogs, and when I do, I make sure to visit The Compulsive Reader, The Page Flipper, The Story Siren, and La Femme Readers. Unfortunately, I’m generally too busy to closely follow other blogs, and generally visit only if something particularly catches my eye in Google Reader.

7. What’s one of your favorite books? How about the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
Ooh, that’s a tough question, and one that I always try to avoid answering! I never like naming my favorite book because I feel like I don’t have just one or even just a few. My favorites list is always growing and includes everything by Siobhan Vivian, Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series, Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, among over a hundred others. As for the best book I’ve read in the past six months, there’s a tie between Nightshade by Andrea Cremer and Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

8. What’s the most enjoyable part of book blogging? What’s the worst part?
My favorite part of being a book blogger is being able to interact with other book people, whether they’re authors, other book reviewers, or just another teen bibliophile like me. The worst part would be the general maintenance of the blog, because it can become tedious to update my review archives every time a new review gets posted.

9. Do you have an eReader? If so, do you like it? If not, do you want one someday?
I don’t own an eReader, like a Kindle or a Nook, but I do have several ereader apps on my iPod Touch. I have the Kindle app, but I don’t use it very much because I don’t usually buy ebooks. However, I am in love with the Bluefire Reader app. You can transfer practically any ebook file to this app, and it makes reading on the go so much easier, because I already carry my iPod everywhere!

10. What do you do when you’re not reading?
I’d say I’m pretty obsessed with books, and reading and reviewing take up a large part of my life, as do other book related things. For example, I frequent book signings and hope to work in the book publishing industry. So understandably, books take up a lot of my time. In my (rare) spare time not spent on school, you can find me chatting with friends about everything and nothing, from fashion to movies.

Thanks for stopping by, Book Muncher, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Toronto Public Library's First & Best Booklist

Just in time for the holiday season, the Toronto Public Library has announced their fourth annual First and Best Booklist, which their press release describes as "a selection of the very best in Canadian books for children from birth to age five that are fun to read and also help build early literacy skills."

We're very pleased to have two of our talented author/illustrators on the list: Ruth Ohi (for Chicken, Pig, Cow Horse Around) and Andrea Wayne von Königslöw (for How Do You Read to a Rabbit?). If you've got a little one to buy for this holiday season, check out the list and you're sure to find the perfect gift.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NCTE 2010 Convention in Orlando

From November 19-21, Annick Press exhibited our titles at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention in Orlando, Florida. Here's our booth:

Lots of high school teachers were looking for books for reluctant readers, so we introduced them to the Single Voice series: each book has two short, edgy stories that appeal to readers aged 14 and up, but the reading level is around third or fourth grade.

Our international titles were also a big hit: Thunder over Kandahar takes place in Afghanistan, Chanda's Secrets, The Bite of the Mango, and Cry of the Giraffe are set in Africa, and Chenxi and the Foreigner unfolds in China.

Thank you to everyone who dropped by our booth to say hi and find out about our titles! Please visit our website to find lists of all our books by theme, to download free lesson plans, or to browse our latest catalogs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rocky Mountain Book Award Shortlist

We're thrilled to announce that two Annick Press titles have been shortlisted for the Rocky Mountain Book Award: Born to Write, by Charis Cotter, and Kaboom! by Gillian Richardson.

Born to Write is the story of what six famous authors--Madeleine L’Engle, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Philip Pullman, Christopher Paul Curtis, C.S. Lewis, and E.B. White--were like as children. How did their childhood experiences and influences shape the writers they would become?

Kaboom! takes young readers through the exciting world of explosions, from man-made blasts to those that occur in nature. From popcorn to fireworks to volcanoes, readers will explore how and why things blow up.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and illustrators!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards

Last night's Canadian Children's Literature Awards celebration was an impressive affair. Held at The Carlu, the event attracted people from across the children's publishing industry--authors, illustrators, agents, editors, booksellers, publishers, librarians, members of literary organizations and committees.

After some time spent mingling while enjoying delicious hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, it was time for the presentations to begin. MC Garvia Bailey, from Radio One CBC, did a great job setting the tone and moving things along.

And the winners were:

We were very proud to have three of our authors nominated (Charis Cotter's book Born to Write was also a finalist for the Norma Fleck Award), and absolutely thrilled when Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road won. Priscilla Galloway gave a moving speech about persevering through some major health issues that delayed her book's publication, and how happy she was to finally see it not only published, but also recognized with such a prestigious award. She received a touching standing ovation after her speech.

(Above: Priscilla Galloway and Dawn Hunter accept the Norma Fleck Award for Non-Fiction)

Click here to check out the rest of our photos on Flickr!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Meet a Book Blogger: Callista at SMS Book Reviews

It's November, and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Movember, and last but not least--time for another Meet a Book Blogger post! This month, I interviewed Callista, who blogs at SMS Book Reviews.

1. When did you start book blogging, and what was your motivation?
I started my book blog in 2003, but I started reviewing books in 1999. I started reviewing on my geocities website, then in 2001 I found and started reviewing on there. In 2003, they stopped letting you review there unless you had bought from there, so that's when I needed another place to blog. I found some book blogs and decided a blog would be perfect for my reviews. I wasn't an active book blogger in the community with regular posting till 2007, though.

2. How often do you post?
I don't have a regular posting schedule. I tend to post many times a week for a few months and then get busy with life or interested in other things for a bit and rarely post for a few months and then start posting again. I'm just finishing up a lag in posting right now. I love book blogging but sometimes I just need a computer break.

3. Which kinds of books do you like to review?
I mostly review children's books and nonfiction. I rarely do adult fiction, maybe one to three a year. As for children's, I like everything from picture books to YA, fiction as well as nonfiction. For children's fiction, I prefer realistic fiction.

4. Where do you get the books you review?
I started out with library books and books I owned but the last few years I've gotten most of my books through publishers, authors, and publicists. I've been trying to cut down on the amount of review books I get lately because it's hard to catch up and I want more time to read the books I choose out of the blue during library visits.

5. Where do you find out about new books?
I learn about some books from blogs but I also get catalogues from publishers and direct offers.

6. Do you read other book blogs? If so, which are your favorites?
Yes, I subscribe to more than 200 other book blogs. My top favs would be Maw Books, Caroline Bookbinder, A Striped Armchair, A Reader's Respite, At Home with Books, and Reading Through Life.

7. What’s one of your favorite books? How about the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives by Richard Wiseman is one of the best adult nonfiction books I've read. It was VERY interesting. Best book in the last six months? Writing for the Web by Crawford Kilian.

8. What’s the most enjoyable part of book blogging? What’s the worst part? Do you blog about other topics too?
I love helping others find books to enjoy that perhaps they might not have picked up on their own without reading a bit about it first. I especially like introducing people to nonfiction, which I don't think enough people read.

The worst part is keeping up the blog when you need a break. When you let it go, you lose readers, are behind on special community events, and get tons of spam. I only blog about books and reading/literacy on my book blog but I have another blog that I use for other topics.

9. Do you have an ereader? If so, do you like it? If not, do you want one someday?
No, I don't have an ereader. I'm reluctant to use them as I love real books, but they would be good sometimes for books only available on an ereader. I don't like that you can't just donate an ebook when you are done with it like a regular book, though. I prefer to share my books.

10. What do you do when you’re not reading?
I am a stay-at-home-mom of two girls ages three and four plus I am pregnant with another child due in April. I love listening to music and I'm a Girl Guide leader. I currently work with three different age groups: 5-6, 7-8, and 9-11.

Sounds like your life is full of children and books, how wonderful! Thanks for telling us the story behind your blog, Callista.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooky Halloween Blog Tour Wrap-Up, and Forest of Reading Nominations!

Happy Halloween! Our Spooky Halloween Blog Tour for The Night Wanderer traveled across six different blogs this week, and included reviews, interviews with author Drew Hayden Taylor, and giveaways!

If you missed it, never fear: just click on the links below!
Oct. 25: Teresa's Reading Corner
Oct. 26: A Girl Reads A Book and YA Book Shelf (plus a bonus interview)
Oct. 27: Chick Loves Lit
Oct. 28: Word of Mouse Book Reviews
Oct. 29: Tahleen’s Mixed-Up Files

The ebook is live on Kobo, and until Halloween you can take advantage of special promotional pricing.


In other news, the nominations for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading awards have been announced! Annick Press has three books nominated:

Congratulations to all the nominated authors and illustrators!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Check Out Our Spooky Halloween Blog Tour, Oct. 25-29!


In celebration of the release of our ebook edition of Drew Hayden Taylor's The Night Wanderer, six blogs are hosting a spooky Halloween blog tour from Oct. 25-29. There will be interviews with the author, reviews, and giveaways, so stop on by!

Here's the trick-or-treat schedule:
Oct. 25: Teresa's Reading Corner
Oct. 26: A Girl Reads A Book and YA Book Shelf (plus a bonus interview)
Oct. 27: Chick Loves Lit
Oct. 28: Word of Mouse Book Reviews
Oct. 29: Tahleen’s Mixed-Up Files

The ebook will be live on Kobo next week, along with some special promotional pricing, so check back in on Monday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Snack of Shoes

Today, we have a guest blog post from author Sarah Tsiang, who recently launched her book A Flock of Shoes in Kingston. Take it away, Sarah!

Children in Kingston will tell you that shoes are pretty tasty if you give them a try. On October 2nd, over 50 kids got their choice of chocolate or vanilla sandals at the Flock of Shoes book launch. Don't the sandals look delicious?

Even the local library got involved, planning an entire morning’s program around the theme of shoes and boots. At the end of the program, I read “A Flock of Shoes” and everyone headed upstairs for some crafts, cakes, and general partying.

Kids made wings for their shoes, sandals, and boots--there were quite a few children that we had to convince off the ceiling (wings and icing--you try keeping kids on the ground)! Abby, the star of the book, was busy all morning eating cake, demonstrating the craft, and assuring the grown-ups that the book is actually a true story (Abby wants me to write a side note to kids: the book isn’t really a true story, but grown-ups don’t know that).

Many thanks to all the great kids and grown-ups who came!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cry of the Giraffe Launch

Last night, we celebrated the launch of Judie Oron's book Cry of the Giraffe with a party at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Guests mingled and enjoyed delicious hors d'oeuvres while waiting to get copies of the book signed by Judie.

Esteemed MC Theo Heras kicked off the evening's presentations with a short, moving speech. Next, Annick Press Director Rick Wilks said a few words, and then Judie shared some of her experiences writing the book. The presentations concluded with a touching speech by Judie's adopted daughter, on whom the main character Wuditu was based. (One of Judie's sons, Daniel, assisted by being both an interpreter and a supportive brother.)

It was a wonderful night--thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate this book. You can see the rest of the photos on our Flickr account.

For more info on Cry of the Giraffe:
Listen to a podcast interview with Rick Wilks (starts at 1:24) for The Book of Life:

Watch the book trailer:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Meet a Book Blogger: Anastasia Suen

It's October already? Well, that means it's time for this month's edition of Meet a Book Blogger! Today, let me introduce you to Anastasia Suen, who maintains six (yes, six) active blogs:

1. When did you start book blogging, and what was your motivation?
I started blogging in 2005. At the time I was posting children's book biz news once a week on my webpage for my writing students. A blog looked like an easier way to manage that, so I took the plunge. Over the years I have had 15 or so blogs. (I've lost count!) I've used LiveJournal, Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress and Twitter.

2. How often do you post?
I have 6 active blogs now, so I post 4 times a day Monday through Friday. (I write ALL of the blog posts over the weekend and then schedule them to post throughout the week using Hootsuite.)

3. Which kinds of books do you like to review?
I blog about the book genres that I write. (It helps me see what is selling.) I don't "review" books the way many bloggers do--I "booktalk" them instead. I write a short teaser and include a snippet of text from the book. (No spoilers!)

I like to have one kind of book per blog, so I have a board book blog (Read to Me), a picture book blog (Picture Book of the Day), an easy reader blog (5 Great Books) and a chapter book blog (Weekend Reads). I also have an activities blog for my own books (Book of the Week), and a new version of the Children's Book Biz News blog that started it all.

4. Where do you get the books you review?
I used to find all of my books at the library but now the publishers send them to me directly. (I also write a monthly column for the Booklist's Quick Tips for Schools & Libraries.)

5. Where do you find out about new books?
Publishers send their books to me several months before the book comes out now, so I place them on my shelves by the month of publication and plan my blog posts that way. (I blog for parents and teachers, so I only write about a book after it is available to the public.)

6. Do you read other book blogs? If so, which are your favorites?
I have a massive blogroll on my webpage at Blog Central. I read editor blogs, agent blogs, artist blogs, author blogs, and reviewer blogs. (My blogroll is always in need of updating as I continue to add more blogs to my reader.) For favorites, bookmark the Cybils blog and the blogs of my Cybils committee members! We'll be reading lots of easy readers and early chapter books for the next four months.

7. What’s one of your favorite books? How about the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
I read so many books each week that I can never answer this question, unless I were to say that my favorite is the book I have in my hand (and that changes daily!) I just love to read books.

8. What’s the most enjoyable part of book blogging? What’s the worst part? Do you blog about other topics too?
I love having all of these books come to me. I have stacks and piles of books to read, so I never run out! The other side of that coin is that I never seem to catch up. (There are always more books to read than there are hours in the day.)

I also blog about my other day jobs. For my writing students I share "children's book biz" news once a day. I'm also a children's literature consultant, so once a day I also share a literacy link.

9. Do you have an ereader? If so, do you like it? If not, do you want one someday?
I don't have an e-reader yet. It would be a nice toy for plane trips, but I'm waiting for the market to mature before I buy one. (VHS vs Beta anyone?)

10. What do you do when you’re not reading?
When I am not reading, gardening, or watching mysteries on TV, I work as a children's book author, consultant and teacher. (Yes, all of my "day jobs" involve children's books!)

Thanks, Anastasia! Best of luck with all of your blogs, and have fun with the Cybils awards this month!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Post by Judie Oron: We Day 2010

Today, we're lucky to have a guest post by author Judie Oron, who attended We Day in Toronto yesterday. Take it away, Judie!

18,000 teenagers filled the Air Canada Centre yesterday. It was We Day and I’d been anticipating this event, knowing that Free the Children co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger would be speaking, along with celebrated performers and a sprinkling of Nobel Prize Laureates.

And what an event it was! Since then, people have been asking, “What was the high point?” Whew! There were so many.

Betty Williams, the Nobel Prize Laureate who worked for peace in Ireland, asked the audience to get up and give each other a hug! But her manner was warlike when speaking of freeing children from slavery and abuse. “They said it couldn’t be done. So I said, ‘will ya just get out of my way!’”

“A dream that you dream alone remains a dream,” said renowned physician and author, Deepak Chopra. “But a dream that we dream together, combined with action--this can transform the world!” To the young listeners who had been working all year to build schools in Africa, this was just the reinforcement needed.

At twelve, Craig Kielburger went to Pakistan on a fact-finding mission and found himself freeing a child slave. As a boy who grew up in Canada, “I looked at him, and, except for our age, there was nothing similar between us.”

I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience in going to Ethiopia to look for Wuditu, heroine of Cry of the Giraffe. I remembered how she’d bow with her nose nearly touching the ground whenever I looked at her. What must her years in slavery have been like, to have produced such a horrifying, instinctive response?

My attention was caught by the mass of enthusiastic teenagers shouting, “freedom!” And I realized that this was not a moment to cling to sad thoughts but to celebrate achievements.
(top: the packed Air Canada Centre in Toronto; bottom: Craig Kielburger addresses the crowd)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Word on the Street this Sunday!

Just a quick note to say Annick Press will be selling books at the Word on the Street festival in Toronto this Sunday, September 26. Drop by our booth (KS27): we'll be selling all of our books at 20% off--even the new Fall titles. If you mention this blog, we'll give you a FREE book, and if you buy any 4 books, you'll also receive a FREE surprise bag of books! (While supplies last.)

And if that wasn't enough, you'll also get to meet the fabulous Ruth Ohi, who will be signing her books. She'll also be in the Children's Reading Tent at 11:30 a.m.

Here's an interview with Ruth in which she discusses her adorable Chicken, Pig, Cow series:

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thunder over Kandahar Launch

On Tuesday, Annick Press and Canadians in Support of Afghan Women (CSAW) threw a book launch for Sharon McKay's novel Thunder over Kandahar. The event was held at the historic Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto, and included delicious Afghan food, an Afghan market, and, of course, Sharon McKay signing her books! (She also donated 40% of the proceeds from sales of her book to CSAW.)

The evening's events included presentations from CSAW, an introduction from Annick Press Director Rick Wilks, and some words from Sharon McKay.

There was also a moving speech from Mrs. Zuhra Bahman-Ludin, wife of Afghanistan's Ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Jawed Ludin, who opened by saying, "I love events like this because they bring three of my favorite things together: books, education, and Afghanistan." She went on to relate how the Taliban took over her home town in Afghanistan when she was a student, and she was no longer able to go to school. Undaunted, she began to read through her father's extensive library and discovered that reading offered an escape from living in a conflict zone. Her passion for education has remained strong ever since: she is now working on her PhD.

Three sisters (left to right: Yasna, Nagesa, Weeda) then gave a wonderful reading from Thunder over Kandahar.

Congratulations, Sharon! To see the rest of the photos, visit our Flickr album!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interview with Allan Stratton, Dennis Foon, and Oliver Schmitz at TIFF

On Tuesday, some of the Annick staff headed downtown to watch Life, Above All, the movie based on the novel Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton. Everyone agreed it was a moving, faithful reproduction of the book; it captured the powerful emotions of the story, from vulnerability, fear, and shame to love and loyalty.

Annick's Director, Rick Wilks, had this to say: "For a publisher, having a novel adapted for a feature film is like being struck by lightning. Even better, watching a beautiful, intelligent and deeply moving film based on a beloved book is one of those absolutely glorious experiences. This is a film with integrity: from the writing through to the remarkable actors, it telegraphs authenticity. One can’t help but have a deeply moving experience."

If you missed the film, don't worry: it will be out in theatres sometime next year. Until then, check out this post-movie Q&A at TIFF with Oliver Schmitz (the director), Allan Stratton (the author), and Dennis Foon (the screenwriter), courtesy of

TIFF 2010: Life, Above All from on Vimeo.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Life, Above All at TIFF: Update

Life, Above All, the movie based on Allan Stratton's novel Chanda's Secrets, will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this Sunday and next Tuesday. A few people from Annick will be in attendance, so look for an update next week.

In an exciting development, South Africa has chosen Life, Above All as its official entry for best foreign-language picture at the Academy Awards. We'll have to wait until late January to see whether the Academy officials give it a nomination, though, so our fingers are crossed!

Khomotoso Manyaka in the role of Chanda

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meet a Book Blogger: Steph Bowe at Hey! Teenager of the Year

Happy September! Last month, I started a new feature: Meet a Book Blogger. This month, let's get to know Steph Bowe, who blogs about books at Hey! Teenager of the Year. She's also an author: her debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, will be published by Text Publishing this fall. This is Steph:

1. When did you start book blogging, and what was your motivation?
I started blogging in April of 2009, because I wanted to talk about what I was reading and connect with other writers and readers.

2. How often do you post?
It varies - sometimes daily, sometimes once a week. Depends how I'm feeling/if I have anything interesting to blog about!

3. Which kinds of books do you like to review?
Young adult.

4. Where do you get the books you review? 
Usually from publishers.

5. Where do you find out about new books?

Other blogs, of course! Plus recommendations from friends.

6. Do you read other book blogs? If so, which are your favorites?
I do read other book blogs, but I love so many it's impossible to choose a favourite.

7. What’s one of your favorite books? How about the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell is one of my favorites. In the past six months, the best book I read was Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

8. What’s the most enjoyable part of book blogging? What’s the worst part? Do you blog about other topics too?
Enjoyable: reading and responding to comments, talking about books we've read and loved.
Worst: nasty anonymous comments.
I do blog about other things - about being a writer and teenager.

9. Do you have an ereader? If so, do you like it? If not, do you want one someday?
No! And I prefer paper books. One day I'd like an ereader incorporated into a phone, maybe.

10. What do you do when you’re not reading?
Writing! And doing schoolwork, and spending time with family.

Thanks, Steph! Looking forward to more great book reviews... and may your own books receive many glowing reviews, too!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Life, Above All at TIFF

Author Allan Stratton is having a very exciting (and busy!) year. The movie Life, Above All, which is based on his novel Chanda's Secrets, made its debut at the Cannes International Film Festival and has been receiving accolades ever since. The film also secured North American distribution with Sony Pictures Classics, and will be screened at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

In other news, the Toronto Public Library has announced that Allan will be their writer-in-residence this fall! If you're in Toronto, you can come and meet him at an event on October 2nd. Or read a short interview with him at TeenRC. (Here's a full chat transcript!) Young adult writers (both writers who are young adults, or who write about young adults) can also submit short excerpts of their work for a chance to meet with Allan for a manuscript evaluation and discussion. The deadline is October 16th: click here for full details.

And now for some Annick Press trivia: Chanda's Secrets is one of the first books we converted to ebook format. It's available from the Kobo and Chapters Indigo online bookstores, and will soon be available in more places... so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Children's Authors Win Big at Physics Conference

Last month, authors Cora Lee and Gillian O'Reilly traveled to Portland, Oregon, to accept an American Institute of Physics writing award for their book The Great Number Rumble. Congratulations, Cora and Gillian! Here's Cora's account of their trip:

Come join the circus... or maybe a physics conference?

The American Institute of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers does controlled chaos quite well, juggling hundreds of sessions, workshops, committee meetings and receptions as well as, literally, balls in the air (more on that below). How would two writers know? We were there--last month we traveled to Portland, Oregon to receive our AIP Science Writing Award for The Great Number Rumble, and to speak on a panel discussion on publishing science in popular forms. When we weren’t needed, we peeked into various conference venues.

Highlights? Getting the award, of course. But also: surviving the panel discussion without a microphone... watching unicycles and contortionists, jugglers and jokesters in their Physics of Vaudeville show... overhearing a request for The Great Number Rumble and The Great Motion Mission at Powell’s, Portland’s humongous bookstore!

 Left to right: Philip W. Hammer, PhD, Associate Vice President, Physics Resources Center, American Institute of Physics; Cora Lee, author; Gillian O'Reilly, author.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meet a Book Blogger: Stacey at Word of Mouse Book Reviews

Welcome to a new feature of Tea Time at Annick Press: Meet a Book Blogger! Our books are reviewed by many fine book bloggers, so I thought it was high time to profile some of them. Our very first interview subject is Stacey from Word of Mouse Book Reviews. Here she is, enjoying a summer read:

Luckily, I was able to get her away from her book long enough to answer a few questions for us!

1. When did you start book blogging and what was your motivation?
I started Word of Mouse Book Reviews in July of this year. I have always had a passion for children’s literature and really wanted to highlight Canadian children’s book authors and illustrators and local talent as I found there was a lot of it and not a lot of attention paid to many great books!

Plus, I was also returning to work after 14 months of maternity leave and KNEW I needed a project to help take my mind off missing my daughter. It’s certainly helped!

2. How often do you post?
Daily! Can you believe it? I decided to immerse myself so I review a book a day. Occasionally I also post interesting topics related to kids’ lit and my musings on my blog.

3. Which kinds of books do you like to review?
I review all kinds of books for children (picture books, board books, YA fiction, educational, etc.) from Canadian authors and illustrators and I try to exclusively focus on Canadian publishers as well.

4. Where do you get the books you review?
I wish I could say I own all the books I review but sadly my budget doesn’t allow for that! I often troll my local library (the Markham Public Library System rocks!) and local bookstores and see what strikes my fancy but I do also receive some Advance Readers’ Copies (ARCs) of books, some gifts and many suggestions.
Surprisingly, Twitter has been an invaluable resource in connecting me to some lesser known authors in my local area and book suggestions.

5. Where do you find out about new books?
Same as above plus I frequently visit publisher’s websites for new titles and their catalogues and I am a member of the Canadian Children Book Centre which offers some great suggestions too!

6. Do you read other book blogs? If so, which are your favorites?
I wish I had more time to read other people’s blogs as there is some great original content out there but it’s tough especially as I have to fit in my own blogging time. Here are some of the blogs I frequent: A fellow book-a-day reviewer who reads the most obscure books! Really fascinating, his wife put him up to the task as he waits for his work visa. I think he’s on his 50th post and is currently completing a children’s literature week! I love Thao’s aesthetic for finding great looking picture books. She is an illustrator and often posts about great looking picture books. I haven’t seen anything for August so I hope she’s just taking a break and not giving it up! Donna’s musings on picture books are both hilarious and insightful. She’s an illustrator and writer and always has a fresh take on things. She also loves a lot of books I do!

7. What’s one of your favorite books? How about the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
One of my favorite children’s books of all time is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery! My dad read the entire series to me and my sister and the stories have stayed with me since. I’ve read almost everything she’s written; another favorite is The Blue Castle, a great tale for young women even today!

It’s extremely difficult to pick a new favorite as I love so many of the books I have reviewed but for different reasons. A few of the top ones: ME HUNGRY! by Jeremy Tankard, Baboon by David Jones, and anything by Ruth Ohi makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

8. What’s the most enjoyable part of book blogging? What’s the worst part?
I love reading all these children’s books! It’s so amazing to be immersed in this world of kids lit! I love writing and sharing ideas and starting a discussion

I really appreciate all the comments I get and the small but loyal following I have already gained in such a short time. It’s been a great distraction for me and I love forcing myself to write daily especially on a topic I feel so passionate about.

It’s harder than I thought to craft a post every single day, especially when life happens! Sometimes I have writer’s block and there are times when I feel panicked when I don’t know what I will write about but it always seems to work out in the end. I think the worst part is thinking about a BETTER review I could’ve done three days later! In the end you just have to “ship” it and hope for the best. Your readers let you know what works and what doesn’t

Oh, and I miss the time to read adult novels. I still get the occasional one in but it’s a challenge!

9. Do you have an ereader? If so, do you like it? If not, do you want one someday?
I’m not opposed to them but I just don’t think they are for me. One of my greatest joys is feeling a book in my hand, touching it, physically turning pages. I love the smell of them (even the sour-smelling library books) and I just don’t think I could stare at a screen for that long.

On the other hand, the idea of being able to take a bunch of books in one small gadget is appealing. (Ask anyone who has helped me move in the last few years, books can be heavy and I like having as many as I can around me at all times!)

I think an ereader would be ideal for going on vacation so I’ll probably end up getting one just for that reason!

10. What do you do when you’re not reading?
Aside from reading and blogging, I do have a “real” job in the communications/PR field and love spending time with my beautiful daughter Emmerson, my sweet husband Neil and our two hounds, Harry and Lady (or as I more likely to call them lately, Larry and Hady) and our Siamese fighting fish Spike (although he’s not really great with conversation). I also love writing my own children’s stories and short stories and whenever I can, I love painting. Somewhere in between all of this I also do laundry, cook meals, scrub bathrooms and repeatedly clean up toys from the floor. Oh, and I tweet!

Thanks, Stacey! All the best with your blog and thanks for your dedication to Canadian books!

Friday, August 6, 2010

New Trailer for A Flock of Shoes!

It's time to introduce you to another of our new Fall titles: the delightful A Flock of Shoes, in which Abby's beloved sandals fly south for the winter. However, they haven't forgotten her--all through the winter, Abby receives postcards from her vacationing sandals. Will they be back in time for spring... and will they still fit? Stacey at Word of Mouse Book Reviews declares that this cute picture book is "as thrilling as shoe shopping!"

And there's another great story behind the story. Author Sarah Tsiang came up with the idea of making a trailer for the book, and asked illustrator Qin Leng if she'd like to be involved. Things developed quickly after that: Sarah explains that "the fantastic Qin just ran with it and created something waaaaay beyond my skill level!" Qin says that she agreed to try making the trailer as a test, and then, "soon enough, I got carried away with the images, text, and music. It was most definitely an extremely exciting experience!"

In just three short weeks, Qin and Sarah put together a wonderful trailer, and now it's ready to make its debut. Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Updates for Fall

We're excited to announce that our Fall books are now up on our website! Check them out at

Today I found a great blog post called Great Children's Books About Princesses. I was very pleased (but not surprised!) to see that The Paper Bag Princess had made the list. (Fun fact: this book has now been in print for 30 years. It's available in hardcover, paperback, Annikin version, board book, and special 25th Anniversary edition!)

It also got me thinking: what would Elizabeth, star of The Paper Bag Princess, read as a teenager? Any suggestions? Favorite young adult novels with strong female protagonists? Let me know in the comments! (Personally, I'd vote for Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy... can't wait for the third one, Mockingjay, to come out this August!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Annick's Vancouver Office Has Moved!

Our Vancouver office has moved to a new home! Here's the inside scoop from my colleague Paula:

July 8 was moving day for Annick’s small but mighty Vancouver outpost. It was a big job—Colleen and I spent weeks sorting through dusty old files, packing up shelves overflowing with books, and reliving many years of memories along the way. Despite a few bonks on the head while putting together the bookshelves, the move went smoothly, and we are now settled in to our new location in the beautiful Duncan Building in downtown Vancouver, just a few blocks from our former office in Gastown. We’re in a cozy, bright one-room office with wood floors, plants, and plenty of natural light, looking down on the bustle of Pender Street outside. Books have been re-alphabetized and shelved, pictures have been hung, and we’ve even set up a mini-kitchen. It already feels like home!

And here's Paula, all settled in and busy already:

And of course it's not official unless there's a plaque, right?

The new address is Suite 205, 119 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC. Click here to view more pictures on our Flickr account.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dear Publisher...

This week on Twitter, users tagged questions and comments to publishers with the hashtag #dearpublisher, leading to the kinds of interesting conversations Twitter was made for. (To learn more about how the hashtag was started by @jennIRL and @HarperPerennial, read this article at FuturEbook.)

By far the most re-tweeted post was by @katrinalantznov, who wrote: "#dearpublisher Combine ebooks with hardcovers, but please don't stop printing books ever. The book is not dead. It just had babies." Good to know, as Annick expands its ebook program. (We definitely have no plans to stop printing books!)

Here are a few other noteworthy tweets, along with our responses:

@asthasr: "#dearpublisher, If your author has a web page or blog (or active Twitter), add that to the author bio. We like their writing. Give us more."
Happy to oblige! We include our authors' websites in their bios and/or on their book's copyright page. We also have an author page for each of our authors and illustrators on the Annick Press website, and we list their websites and other online presences. (This blog also has links to Annick contributors' websites and blogs in the right-hand frame, so feel free to explore!)

@CheekyReads: "#dearpublisher Please indicate on covers if book is part of series & what # it is. On inside, please list series in order."
Our latest series, Single Voice, isn't sequential, so we don't have numbers on the covers. However, we do have a list of the other books in the series inside each book.

@tehawesomersace: "#dearpublisher People of color don't all live in the ghetto or have abusive parents or wish they were white. Why can't we be vampires?"
Good point! You might like The Night Wanderer by Drew Hayden Taylor, which features a First Nations vampire. (Click here for the book trailer, and here for a clip of Drew reading from the book.)

"#dearpublisher #dearblogger Don't ignore me bc I'm a "new" blog. I've been talking, reviewing, & recommending books since the dawn of time :)"
"#dearpublisher I'm more likely to pick up a book because of a blogger I respect or from friends in a Goodreads group."
We try to work closely with book bloggers for that very reason: people who are enthusiastic about books and read a lot of them are exactly who we'd love to have recommend our books to others! When bloggers approach me for review copies (or when I pitch books to them), I look at their blog's content rather than its age: are the reviews well written and insightful? Based on the blogger's tastes and what genres they review, will they like our books? Are they active in the book blogging community (including Goodreads and Twitter)?

@Irisheyz77: "#dearpublisher please encourage your authors to comment/email bloggers when they like a review. It gives us the warm fuzzies."
We do send our authors links to blog reviews, but from now on, we'll encourage them to comment, too!

If you'd like to ask Annick any questions directly, you can always comment on this blog, send us a message on Twitter (@AnnickPress), or contact us through our fan page on Facebook. (And if you're looking for submission guidelines, here they are: Hope to hear from you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Annick-versary!

June marked a very impressive achievement for our production manager, Heather: 25 years at Annick Press! Over the years, Heather has developed an impressive archival memory when it comes to the Annick list--something that her coworkers (especially the newer ones!) definitely appreciate. In honor of her contributions, Annick's Toronto office had a celebratory lunch, then headed back to the office for cake and presents (and a few touching speeches).

In the following interview with Heather, she reflects on publishing, books, and how Annick has changed over the past 25 years.

1. Why did you want to work in publishing?
It was actually my "back-up" plan. After graduating from University with an English degree (and no actual job skills) I was thinking of journalism school. I thought I should have a back-up plan for that and found out about a publishing course. I went to an information seminar about the course and I was hooked. All I'd ever known about publishing was editing. About two months after starting the course, I knew I never wanted to be an editor! Coincidentally, my grandfather was an editor at General Publishing--and used to bring us all kinds of books.

2. Tell us a bit about what life was like at Annick when you started. How have things changed?
When I first started, there was only myself and the two owners/publishers Anne Millyard and Rick Wilks. We were in two and half rooms above a bagel shop! Eighteen months later, Anne and Rick bought the Annick house. We thought we'd never fill it. The three of us did everything. Gradually, more and more people joined us, specializing in different areas. Now, Anne Millyard has retired and we're full to the rafters with people!

3. How did you move into Production?
At first, I did a little bit of everything (except editorial). I had the production skills thanks to the publishing course and I liked it--a lot. As more and more people joined Annick and took over their areas of specialization, I got more and more focused on production. Of course, in a smaller work environment, we all still do a lot of "other duties as required"!

4. What’s your favorite part of your job?
Anything remotely hands-on. When I started we were still doing paste-up with repro' type! I loved that. Now it's all computers, but there are still some things that emulate that "craft" part of production. Manipulating electronic layouts. Working in Photoshop. Mostly our designers do that now, but occasionally I still get to.

5. What’s the most challenging part of Production?
Trying to get books in on schedule if they're delayed. Trying to keep costs down.

6. Name some of your favorite books.
Hmmmm. Two Solitudes by Hugh Maclennan; the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (I re-read it every few years), Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (heh--I have a thing for post-apocolyptic books and movies).

I read a LOT of YA fiction. Right now I'm anxiously awaiting the third installments of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and the Life As We Knew It trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer (OK, that one's available, but only in hardcover).

Picture books? Nicholas at the Library by Hazel Hutchins (one of my all-time favorite Annick books). The Chester series by Melanie Watt. I love Chester.

I definitely prefer fiction, in all genres, to non-fiction.

7. What non-book-related hobbies do you have?
I swim--a LOT. I belong to a competitive club. I've competed, off and on, since I was nine. We train three times a week. I like distance the best and this summer I'll be doing a 1.5 km (.9 mile) open water race. Last year I did 3 km but the water was really rough (3 ft waves) and cold and it was not enjoyable. The longest I've done is 5 km (3.1 miles) and I loved it. Someday I'd like to try 10 km.

I also do a lot of things with my hands--I guess that's the production side of me. Jewelry-making, cross-stitch, sewing. But NOT knitting.

And I love plants. I have a lot of houseplants and a vegetable garden on my balcony. However, I'm kind of a "survival-of-the-fittest" gardener. Tough plants only!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Annick Goes to Washington

While the weather outside was sweltering, thousands of librarians were enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of the Washington Convention Center while checking out all the latest books that publishers had on display. Judging by the number of attendees streaming by the Annick booth, the 2010 ALA (American Library Association) Annual Conference was a great success. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello. We loved hearing how much you enjoy the Annick titles in your library, and appreciated your feedback on our publishing program. Thank you for sharing your stories about Annick books that have been particular favorites of teen visitors to your libraries: The Bite of the Mango, In Ecstasy, Chanda's Secrets, Leslie's Journal, and The Little Black Books. And how wonderful it was to see you embrace the Single Voice series as perfect material for reluctant readers. As for our Fall titles, it was great to hear your enthusiasm for so many of our upcoming books such as Fatty Legs, Thunder Over Kandaher, Cry of the Giraffe and A Flock of Shoes.

But the highlight of the conference came when two young visitors stopped by our booth on the last day of the show. Nothing beat the 7-year-old boy whose parents couldn't pull him away from Chicken, Pig, Cow and the Purple Problem as he read the story out loud, or the 6-year-old girl who giggled her way through How Do You Read to a Rabbit? It was a great reminder of why we love the business we're in.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Sports Book That's Perfect for Fall

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been giving a sneak peek at what our fall list will bring. I've posted about books set in Afghanistan (Thunder over Kandahar) and Ethiopia (Cry of the Giraffe), and now it's time to move to North America and the wide world of sports.

In Game Day: Meet the People Who Make it Happen, Kevin Sylvester takes young readers on a tour of behind-the-scenes jobs in sports. From timekeepers to coaches, and from Zamboni drivers to organ players, there are many careers in sports beyond being an athlete. For more examples, click here to listen to Kevin's podcast about the book (podcasts are in alphabetical order by title), or watch this interview with him:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Classic Children's Books to Read with Dad

This Sunday is Father's Day, so I've put together a quick list of classic children's books featuring dads. What's your favorite dad-themed book? Did you have a favorite book to read with your dad when you were little? Tell us all about it in the comments!

50 Below Zero (Robert Munsch/Michael Martchenko): A little boy gets to play the role of parent when dealing with his sleep-walking father.

Angela's Airplane (Robert Munsch/Michael Martchenko): A man takes his daughter to the airport... but she gets lost and ends up flying a plane!

I'd Know You Anywhere (Hazel Hutchins/Ruth Ohi): A young boy thinks up lots of good disguises, but somehow his father always knows it's him.

Muddle Cuddle (Laurel Dee Gugler/Vlasta van Kampen): Dad has settled into his comfy armchair with the paper, but his son insists that dad needs company. Like a teddy. Or a kitty. Or a clown. Or...

My Dad (Debbie Bailey/Susan Huszar): This classic board book for younger children shows a variety of dads interacting with their kids. It will also be coming out as an Annikin edition this fall!

Something Good (Robert Munsch/Michael Martchenko): Ever tried grocery shopping with sugar-crazed kids? A harried dad tries to make it through the supermarket without buying all the "good" stuff his three children clamor for.

If you need more inspiration, the blog Hot Guys Reading Books has been posting pictures of dads reading with their kids since last week, and will continue until Father's Day. Enjoy!