Friday, November 25, 2011

Ten Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Thanksgiving Dinner

For those in the U.S., it's the Thanksgiving long weekend (or for shopaholics and bargain hunters alike, it's the Black Friday long weekend). I was going to make a list of book-related things to be thankful for, but instead, my mind wandered to food...

Mmmm... a delicious book feast!
Ten Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Thanksgiving Dinner
1. No travel required.
2. You can have as many second helpings as you want without feeling ill or gaining a single pound.
3. No turkeys were killed in the making of your book.
4. There's no risk of forgetting to thaw your book.
5. If the book's tone is getting on your nerves, you can just put it down without starting a family feud.
6. Reading for a few hours won't leave you in a stupor.
7. It doesn't matter how long the book's been on the shelf--it won't be "too dry." (And if it is, pick something livelier.)
8. Your pets won't devour your book if you just leave it on the table for a while after you're done.
9. You don't need to do any prep work before sitting down to a delicious book.
10. There's no clean up: when you've finished reading, you don't need to wash the book!

Do you agree? Disagree? Have a better reason why a book is better, or why Thanksgiving dinner is? Share your ideas in the comments!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

50 Burning Questions Wins Information Book Award

We're very proud to learn that the the winner of the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable's 2011 Information Book Award is 50 Burning Questions by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird.

But wait, there's more! The Honour Book is Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes.

The Information Book Award is given to a book that "arouses interest, stimulates curiosity, captures the imagination and fosters concern for the world around us." (More criteria here.) The winners were announced on November 15, and they will be presented with their award on February 25, 2012, at the Roundtable's annual Serendipity event.

Congratulations again to the winners and finalists!

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Day, a time to pause and reflect on the wars of the past and present, and to thank those who have served and those who are still serving today.

To truly appreciate what trench warfare in WWI was really like, we recommend Generals Die in Bed, originally published in 1930 and acclaimed as “the best of the war books” by the New York Evening Standard.

Click here to read an excerpt. And if you'd like to teach this novel to your high school class, you can download a free lesson plan here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

How an Author Learned to Read Graphic Novels

Prolific author Tanya Lloyd Kyi is the star of this week's blog post, with her behind-the-scenes tour of a seminar on comics and graphic novels. Take it away, Tanya!

A few weeks ago, I escaped my keyboard, left my children to the ice-cream indulgence of their grandparents, and headed off to a professional development seminar for teachers called Getting Graphic: Effective Literacy Learning with Comics and Graphic Literature.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi (right) with an intermediate school teacher

Official Story:
I was at the conference as part of a CWILL BC group of writers and illustrators. The opportunity to meet more than 100 teachers and librarians was too good to resist--I set up a display of the 50 Questions series and The Lowdown on Denim, spread out some teachers' guides, and prepared to boast about some of the comic-style illustrations incorporated by Ross Kinnaird and Clayton Hanmer.

Unofficial Story #1:
I was secretly spying.

Teachers and librarians know what catches student interest. Many of the teachers who stopped to chat seemed to think 50 Underwear Questions would appeal to both the girls and the boys, while teachers with reluctant boy readers turned directly toward 50 Poisonous Questions. Apparently, there's still a need for good, gross, bubbling boy topics.

Unofficial Story #2:
A stellar panel talking about graphic novels? Sign me up! This whole meet-the-teachers thing was a great way to sneak in and see the actual presentations.

There were four experts speaking about their experiences with graphic novels: senior UBC instructor Margot Filipenko, UBC Instructional Programs Librarian Jo-Anne Naslund, illustrator Kathryn Shoemaker, and primary teacher Dionne Risler.

Now, I have a confession to make. Graphic novels make me go cross-eyed. I'm usually a fast reader. Slowing down to absorb all the visual information makes me feel like a long-distance runner in lead sneakers. I love novels. I love the visual cornucopia of entirely illustrated books such as Shaun Tan's The Arrival. But a mix of the two? I feel like I may have a seizure.

This was the advice of Kathie Shoemaker: get over it.

In technical teacher terms, I'm lacking the ability to decode multi-modal texts. In other words, once I learned to read, I stopped paying enough attention to the pictures.

I now have a list of graphic novels to check out, both fiction and non-fiction. And did you know the opera was a multi-modal experience?

As I'm getting over my visual impairment, I can now notice all sorts of graphic novel details. The way time passes. The way panels can show moment-to-moment action, or scene-to-scene. The way white space can leave room for emotion.

Thanks to Kathie and her panel cohorts, the next time one of my books is destined for graphic-novel-style illustration panels, I have a whole new world of variety to consider.

So, from this conference-crasher, many thanks to the panelists, Vi Hughes, and LOMCIRA for a great morning!