Monday, September 24, 2012

Annick Press Goes to Word on the Street

Not even the sudden downpour and brisk wind could dampen the spirits of the crowd at Sunday's Word on the Street. Luckily, there were enough sunny periods when people could browse at leisure among the many booths filled with the latest books. The Annick booth was a popular stop as children spotted their favorite titles by Robert Munsch, including the newest board books based on his stories. Also in demand were books by Sarah Tsiang who read two of her titles, The Stone Hatchlings and a Flock of Shoes to a rapt audience in the Children's Reading Tent. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Come to Word on the Street this Sunday!

It's Word on the Street time again! This Sunday, September 23, from 11 am to 6 pm, come check out all the books and authors in Queen's Park. The Annick booth is KS28, so drop on by--we'll have shiny new books and old favorites waiting for you.

You won't want to miss the great children's authors in the Children's Reading Tent, either! Our own Sarah Tsiang will be there from 12:10 pm to 12:30, reading from her latest picture book, The Stone Hatchlings. Check out this great interview with Sarah at The 49th Shelf, where she discusses inspiration for the story, why she finds it easier to read her picture books to children than her poetry to adults, and her take on the magic of childhood.

We hope to see you there! If you're not in Toronto, don't despair: perhaps another Word on the Street festival is closer to you?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Interview with Illustrator Gerry Rasmussen

You probably know illustrator Gerry Rasmussen's work from his comic strip, Betty. But did you also know that he's illustrated a book of soccer poems for us? Crazy About Soccer! came out this fall, and is bound to delight young soccer fans. I asked Gerry a few questions about his career as an illustrator--read on to find out the difference between comic illustration and picture book illustration, which sports Gerry enjoys, and his tips for young artists!

1. How is illustrating a children’s book different from illustrating comic strips?
Gerry: The two activities have very different purposes. In comic strips the goal is to simplify things so that the drawing can help get the ideas across in a brief, focused fashion. When it's done right this approach helps guide the reader's eye and lets the ideas come across without any visual obstacles. Comic strips are printed in different sizes, coloured or in black and white, so the writing and drawing have to be minimal to grab readers' attention.
     But picture book illustration has a different goal. You have to entice the reader's imagination into wanting to jump into the pool and go for a swim. Kids (young, old and ancient) will be poring over every inch of the pages for years, so the illustrations must have a timeless quality to be successful. I've heard that someone once did a survey and found that the average reader spends 2.5 seconds on a comic strip or panel. If it demands more time than that they move on. I don't know if that's correct but it does shed a bit of light on the difference between the two mediums.

2. Which poem was your favorite to illustrate, and why?
Gerry: Gee, that's a tough one. I had so much fun drawing each page in this book. For pure humour (I laughed the whole time I was drawing this one) I'd have to say page 44, with the pandas playing soccer in a checkered room. And any of the pages with dogs or the cat "Soccy" were so much fun. Since Loris's writing is so rich, visual and funny it called for so many different approaches. One of my favourites is the Moon Ball page because it ended up evoking so many great childhood feelings. Oh, wait, I'd have to say my favourite was drawing Humpty Dumpty getting a red card. Yes, Humpty Dumpty!

3. Do you play any sports, or follow any sports teams? Did you play sports as a kid?

Gerry: I've always loved sports. As a kid all of us used to play all the sports that were available (football, baseball, soccer...) but my favourite was football. I think it's because I was wasn't very good at soccer that I never played on a team but I have a lot of fond memories of playing soccer with a half deflated ball on packed down ice most of the winter. Good times. Now I follow pro sports when I can (football, soccer, hockey, basketball) but if I have a choice I prefer to just go for a run.

4. What was your first illustration job?

Gerry: In grade two I used to supplement my allowance by drawing pictures of Dennis the Menace and selling them to fellow students for 3 cents each. If any of those fellow students had kept their drawings they might even be worth more than that today.

5. What advice would you give to young artists?

Draw and paint as much as you can. Draw the people, animals, houses, trees, cars, toasters, shoes... anything around you, and do it for yourself. If you love drawing and painting you never know where it will take you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

CBC Podcast for It's Not All Black and White

On Wednesday morning, CBC Metro Morning's Matt Galloway interviewed Karen Arthurton and Lalo Lorza about their new book It's Not All Black and White: Multiracial Youth Speak Out. The book grew out of Karen's work with a group of mixed-race youth (including Lalo) at St. Stephen's Community House. Together, the group explored the experience of having more than one racial background, and then expressed themselves in artwork, poems, plays, essays, and interviews. Three of the contributors also starred in the CBC TV documentary Making Sense of One, produced by Mo-D Productions.

In the interview, Karen Arthurton sums up the importance of the book for youth:
As a teenager, I knew that I felt I didn't belong. ... When I was growing up, if I had had this book and was able to open it up and say, "Wow, there are other people who feel as I have felt," I think that it may have helped, that it may have made me feel like this isn't an individual experience and that other people are going through it.

Click here for a description of the podcast, and here to listen to the audio! You can also find reviews of the book here. And if you'd like to jump in and start reading, check out this preview of the first chapter. No matter what your background, we think you'll find something that speaks to you, or gives you a new perspective.