Friday, August 2, 2013

The Annick Blog Has Moved!

Tea Time at Annick Press is now hosted on the Annick website: please come say hi at!

Friday, July 26, 2013

SLJ SummerTeen Virtual Conference Wrap-Up

On Wednesday, the Annick offices--both in Toronto and Vancouver--were busy participating in our first virtual conference: School Library Journal's SummerTeen event. For regular conferences like BEA and ALA, one or two Annick staff members board a plane with our trusty red suitcase, set up our booth, spend a few days telling conference-goers about our great books (new and old), and then return to Annick to tell the rest of the team how it went. But for SummerTeen, no one needed their passport--and everyone at Annick was able to join in and watch the conference unfold.

Here's how it looked to enter the virtual conference (click to enlarge):

And here's the Annick booth!

Visitors to the Annick booth could watch a few short videos (one about our list, one in which Daniel Lafrance and Sharon McKay discuss collaborating on the graphic novel edition of War Brothers); download sample chapters, catalogs, bookmarks, and lesson plans; find e-galleys of our books on NetGalley; and enter our giveaway. We also had two scheduled author chats in our booth: Shari Graydon (Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know) and Chloe Shantz-Hilkes (Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home).

Back in the main auditorium, we had two authors participating in lively panels on diversity and multiculturalism (Karen Arthurton, It's Not All Black and White) and historical fiction (Elizabeth Stewart, The Lynching of Louie Sam).

There's no substitute for getting excited about books in person, but this conference was the next best thing. We hope the participants enjoyed the show as much as we enjoyed exhibiting--there may not have been tote bags (and how I do love a good tote bag), but on the other hand, there were no heavy materials to haul home!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Robert Munsch Discovery Portal Launches at Guelph Public Library

On Tuesday, July 16, the Guelph Public Library launched its new Robert Munsch Discovery Portal on its website. There's something there for everyone: games, activities, and videos for children; curriculum materials, lesson plans, and activity ideas for teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, and daycare centers; and videos and interviews for Munsch fans of all ages. You can even contact a "Munschologist" at the library to ask questions about Robert Munsch and his works!

The portal will also run various Munsch-related contests--the current contest asks entrants to create a 30-60 second video about why they love their favorite Munsch story. You have until Sept. 1, 2013, to enter: click here for full details.

In other Munsch-related news, a new organization called StoryMobs will be hosting a Paper Bag Princess story mob in Toronto on August 17! Want to know what a story mob is and how to get involved?* Visit the StoryMobs website.

*Hint: think "flash mob meets storytime," with lots of fun costumes thrown in.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fall 2013 Titles on NetGalley!

It's the middle of summer, so it seems a little early to think about fall just yet... but we've got a bumper crop of new books that will be available soon! Here are a couple sneak peeks of our upcoming picture books:

One title that is destined to become a bestselling, award-winning classic is The Man with the Violin, by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dušan Petričić. Based on a real event—the experiment by virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell to play in the Washington, D.C. subway station—this picture book tells the story of Dylan, a young boy who wants to stop and listen to the beautiful music. It will also be available as an e-book with read-aloud and animation (on supported devices) this fall.

Another picture book, this one by well-loved author and illustrator Ruth Ohi, is Kenta and the Big Wave. Inspired by the 2011 tsunami in Japan, it is the story of young Kenta and his family, who are evacuated to higher ground as the water rushes in. During their escape, Kenta’s prized soccer ball is swept up by the waves and carried off across the ocean. Will he ever see it again?

If you create a free NetGalley account, you can request e-galleys of these titles, along with the rest of our Fall 2013 books. Click here for a full list of titles on our NetGalley page!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Third-Place Finish for Team Canada at Kids' Lit Quiz Finals!

Team Canada--made up of four 12- and 13-year-old students from University of Toronto Schools--put in a solid performance at yesterday's Kids' Lit Quiz World Finals in Durban, South Africa. They even held the lead by the halfway point, but in the end it was the South African team, from Roedan School, that took home first prize. New Zealand came in second and Canada placed third. The teams were certainly well-matched: there were only two points separating the top three winners. "The Canadian team did an outstanding job!" said Nancy Davidson, National Co-ordinator of Kids' Lit Quiz Canada. "It was a nail-biter of an afternoon; we are so proud of this achievement!"

Kids' Lit Quiz, known as the "Sport of Reading," originated in New Zealand and is now in its 22nd year. Quiz questions can be based on any children’s book published in English, and topics range from authors to poetry to mythology and graphic novels. This is only the third year that Canada has fielded a team, so Team Canada's third-place finish at the World Finals is an impressive accomplishment.

Find out more (and try some sample quizzes) on the Kids' Lit Quiz website.

Chicago, Chicago, That Wonderful Town!

Everyone loves Chicago, which is only one reason why the ALA Annual Conference held there last week was so well attended. The appearance of such noted authors as Khaled Hosseini and Ann Patchett  may also have had something to do with it.

Annick Press could be found near the front of the busy hall where we met and greeted dozens of librarians. Many stopped by the booth just to say hello and to tell us how much they were looking forward to seeing our Fall 2013 books.

The star of the booth was undoubtedly the new picture book by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, The Man with the Violin. Many people remembered the event on which the the story is based--the experiment conducted by the Washington Post that had the world-famous violinist, Joshua Bell, play his priceless Stradivarius in a Washington, D.C., subway station.

Other Annick titles that drew a lot of attention were War Brothers: The Graphic Novel, which was selected as a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. It's a Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History also drew positive comments for its unique infographic approach to world history. And many people were drawn to When I Was Eight, a picture book version of the best-selling memoir, Fatty Legs.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Given the great response to our list, Fall 2013 promises to be a banner season.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Battle of the Books: Kids' Lit Quiz Champs Compete in World Finals

Next week, a team of four 12- and 13-year-old students from University of Toronto Schools will be representing Canada at the Kids' Lit Quiz World Finals in Durban, South Africa. Team Canada will be staying in South Africa for one activity-packed week, which will include a book exchange, meeting other teams and local authors, participating in storytelling workshops... and, of course, sightseeing!

The World Finals quiz will take place on Wednesday, July 3. All contestants will be between the ages of 10 and 13, and they may be quizzed on any children's book published in English. Past categories have included authors, poetry, titles, settings, characters, nursery rhymes, and graphic novels. You can try your hand at some past quizzes on the Kids' Lit Quiz website.

To get a picture of the excitement produced by these literary competitions, watch this video of Canadian teams competing in the national finals earlier this year:

Kids' Lit Quiz Canada's National Coordinator, Nancy Davidson, will be traveling with the team and distributing free books (she passed along an alarming statistic to me: only 8% of school in South Africa have libraries). Annick Press donated copies of Africans Thought of It, Animals That Changed the World, Fatty Legs, Kids Who Rule, People Who Said No, and Red is Best... we know they'll all find good homes.

Good luck, Team Canada!

A little about Kids' Lit Quiz
Kids' Lit Quiz started in New Zealand over 20 years ago, as a way to consolidate students' reading skills before they enter high school. Schools compete on local, regional, and national levels. The national winners then go on to compete in the annual world finals, which participating countries take turns hosting. For more information, visit the Kids' Lit Quiz website. You can also check out the Kids' Lit Quiz Canada website, or follow them on Twitter: @kidslitquiz_ca.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Student Reviews from Trillium Woods Elementary

Today, we're delighted to present student reviews from Daniella and Dayna, who are both grade six students at Trillium Woods Elementary School. Thank you for the reviews, Daniella and Dayna, and have a great summer!

Hey! My name is Daniella and this is my review of the book Fatty Legs. I enjoyed this book a lot! I loved how throughout the book there was a glossary in the form of little blue bubbles. I liked this because a lot of the words could have been confusing to me without them! Another great thing was how there were supporting visuals (photos) at the back of the book! It gives the reader a nice idea of how things looked back then! I even enjoyed the illustrations! They are pretty colorful and could appeal to younger readers. The storyline kept me hooked the whole way. It’s sad but everyone loves a happy ending. With all of this being said, I wish there had been more photos. I enjoyed looking at them. All together I recommend it and would give it 4 out of 5 stars!

I’m a Grade 6 student named Dayna and I am going to review Follow Your Money by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka. I like how the pictures are cartoons and they appeal to kids. Another thing that appealed to me is there is a new topic on almost every page. I also like how on some pages the last topic leads into the next. It is also nicely organized. I learned that there are extra costs when pizza is delivered which I didn’t know before. But there are a few things I wish the author had done differently. Some topics didn’t have as much information as others. For example, the "Let’s Eat" section could have more detail. Other than that the book was great. On a scale of 1-5 it was a 4 because there are more things I liked about the text than I didn’t. So I do recommend this book to students in grade 5-8.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Robert Munsch!

This week was beloved children's author Robert Munsch's birthday (June 11, 1945... it's on his website so I'm not giving away any secrets, heh!). Part of my job involves monitoring online mentions of our titles, and not a week goes by without Robert Munsch or one of his titles popping up. Sometimes it's an announcement of an upcoming play based on his books. Sometimes it's a new parent blogging about rediscovering his books with their own child.

By far, the title that shows up the most is The Paper Bag Princess. It pops up on lists of essential books for girls, lists of strong female role models, and lists of favorite princess and fairy tale books. But my absolute favorite is when people have been inspired to create crafts, activities, and costumes from the book.

Some recent examples:

And finally, a simple Google Images search of "Paper Bag Princess costumes" yields pages and pages of results: adorable toddlers (and even an infant or two!) in paper bag costumes with tiny tiaras; high fashion concepts; women of all ages dressed up as Elizabeth for Halloween parties; and fan art putting a new twist on Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ronald, and the dragon. Go take a look! You might be inspired. And hey... it's never too early to start putting aside paper bags for a homemade Halloween costume!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Man with the Violin Trailer

Yesterday night, violinist Joshua Bell performed at Roy Thomson Hall. One of the many music lovers in attendance was author Kathy Stinson, whose upcoming picture book, The Man with the Violin, is about the time that Joshua Bell played a free concert in a metro station, posing as a street musician. Kathy presented Joshua with an advance copy of the book, which hits shelves this fall.

Kathy Stinson presents Joshua Bell with the picture book based on his metro performance
Kathy enjoyed both the concert and meeting Joshua:
Hearing and watching Joshua Bell play his multi-million-dollar Stradivarius violin was even more exhilarating than I imagined it could be when I wrote these words (in my upcoming fall book, The Man with the Violin):

“The high notes soar to the ceiling. The low notes swoop to the floor. All the notes swirl and sweep around the blur of poeple rushing here and rushing there. The music is telling an exciting story. It makes the hairs on the back of Dylan’s neck tickle.”

Joshua Bell had seen the text and the illustrations for The Man with the Violin before I met him backstage after the concert and gave him his advance copy (he had to, to know what kind of Postscript to write for it). But I could tell, when he held the book in his hands, that he was as delighted with the actual book as I was. He called it “a sweet book.” And after meeting him, I have to say: Joshua Bell is one sweet man.
To find out more about The Man with the Violin, visit our website or check out the book trailer below:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Joshua Bell is the Man with the Violin

Author Kathy Stinson is ready to record!
Today, I was at Orange Lounge recording studio with author Kathy Stinson. She was reading her upcoming picture book, The Man with the Violin, so that we can add an audio track to the e-book edition. Both print and e-book editions of the book will be available this fall--click here for more information.

The Man with the Violin is based on a true story: in January 2007, renowned violinist Joshua Bell went undercover as a street musician and played a free concert in a Washington, D.C., subway station. At least a thousand people passed as he played, and yet no one stopped to listen, or applauded when he finished a piece. Joshua noticed that children often wanted to stop, but their parents hurried them along. The Man with the Violin imagines what the subway concert might have been like for one of those children. The picture book includes beautiful artwork by Dusan Petricic and a postscript from Joshua Bell.

If you're in Toronto, you're in luck: Joshua Bell is playing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra next week, on June 5, 6, and 8. Click here to read more in the Toronto Star, or visit the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's website.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Festival of Trees Winners!

Last week on May 15 and 16, the Harbourfront Centre was making the most of the gorgeous, sunny weather at its annual Festival of Trees event. The Festival of Trees celebrates the winners of the Forest of Reading awards with readings, book signings, workshops, and all sorts of entertainment. It's attended by thousands of students, who are themselves responsible for voting for the winning books.

We're proud to announce that 50 Underwear Questions, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Ross Kinnaird, was selected as an Honor Book for the Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award. Another book in the series, 50 Poisonous Questions, recently won the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award, which prompted Ross to draw this (probably venomous) snake wiggling with glee:
(c) Ross Kinnaird

Check out the full list of Forest of Reading award winners on their website or on the Canadian Children's Book Centre website. It's the perfect place to put together a kid-approved summer reading list!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Award Announcements & Mother's Day

One of our recent award-winners!
Just two weeks ago, I posted about the award nominations pouring in for Annick authors and illustrators... and now there are more! Please join me in congratulating the authors, illustrators, and everyone else who worked on these outstanding titles:

Now, I haven't forgotten that this Sunday is Mother's Day. (And neither have you, right? Right?) I may be a little biased, but I think book-related Mother's Day gifts are sure to please. How about:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Will You Celebrate TD Canadian Children's Book Week?

Next week, from May 4-11, 35 authors, illustrators, and storytellers will be visiting schools, libraries, bookstores, and community centers across Canada. Find an event near you to join the conversation! This event is put on by the Canadian Children's Book Centre, so check their handy events calendar to plan your week. You can also browse their Book Week website for more information on the history of Book Week, along with a neat interactive map of events.

This year's theme is All the Bookshelf's a Stage: Celebrating the Performing Arts. (If you want to celebrate the performing arts by acting out a classic Robert Munsch story, check out Munsch at Play and Munsch at Play Act 2!) Winners of the annual writing contest (for grades 4-12) will also see their stories appear online on May 8.

Two of our authors are among those on tour for this year's Book Week. Sarah Tsiang (poet and picture book author) will be visiting Nunavut from May 2-11, where she will give 10 school readings and four public readings. Click here for more information on her schedule. Fellow author and poet JonArno Lawson (Old MacDonald Had Her Farm) will be touring Quebec from May 6-11; click here for more information.

Whether you find an event in your community or simply settle down to read a child a new book (or an old favorite), I hope you enjoy celebrating Canadian Children's Book Week!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Awards Announcements & Author Blog Spotlight

 It's shaping up to be a great spring for Annick books, as award nominations pour in:

Congratulations to our authors, illustrators, and everyone who worked on these great titles!

And to continue with our spring theme, have you checked out author Hazel Hutchins's new blog feature, Story Seeds? Each post features the "seed" from which one of her stories unfolded, plus a writing tip.
Her most recent post is about how she found a solution to writing about a cat on his ninth life without having to have the cat die at the end of the book. She pairs that story with some tips for authors who have a hard time coming up with a satisfying ending for their book. Her other posts offer advice for rewriting, looking at ordinary objects in a new way, getting your words flowing by making lists, and more. Go take a look!
Hazel Hutchins (photo credit: Gaston Maqueda)

Friday, April 19, 2013

April is National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month, so what better time to highlight some of our excellent children's poems? Long-time Annick author, illustrator, and poet Loris Lesynski creates books filled with hilarious rhymes that roll off the tongue. She's also a great performer, and hearing her read her work aloud makes kids (and some adults!) want to bop along to the beat, and perhaps come up with a few poems themselves. Loris's website is filled with poetry resources for teachers, like this guide to writing in rhyme.

Last fall, Annick published a book of soccer poems by Loris, Crazy About Soccer!, and this fall, Crazy About Basketball! will hit the shelves. You can also get Crazy About Soccer! and four of Loris's other popular titles in e-book format with Open Road Integrated Media.

In honor of National Poetry Month, here's one of my favorite poems from Crazy About Soccer!, "KangaKicks."

at all
at all
can learn to kick
a ball
a ball.
A kangaroo
could do it,
a bigger kick
than me or you,
but never put one
in a game
’cuz they can kick—

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bologna Honors

Last month, two of our staff were showing off Annick's titles (and perusing other children's publishers' lists) at the annual Bologna Book Fair. Associate Publisher Colleen MacMillan fills us in on some of the great honors Annick received at the fair.

Apart from the excitement of making the shortlist of five companies for Best Children's Publisher of 2013 for North America at the recent Bologna Book Fair, the Annick team was also thrilled to see Elizabeth Stewart's novel, The Lynching of Louie Sam, included in the White Ravens catalogue. The catalogue contains a selection of 250 “notable and remarkable“ children’s and youth books from around the world, as selected by the International Youth Library in Munich. It is often used by public and school libraries as a basis for making purchasing decisions.

The entry for Louie Sam describes it as a “compelling teenage novel...,” and also includes two of the catalogue's special symbols, used to denote additional qualities of select titles. There are a total of three special symbols:
  • The first symbol acknowledges a book to which they wish to draw particular attention
  • The second indicates content which contributes to an international understanding among cultures and people
  • The third indicates topics of interest to older and foreign-language readers
Many entries carry no symbols. Only one book in the selection received all three symbols, and a mere five titles received two symbols, including The Lynching of Louie Sam (which received the first two listed above).

Congratulations to author Elizabeth Stewart, who created such an important and engaging story in her novelization of the tragic, true story of Louie Sam, a member of the Stó:lō tribe who was lynched by a mob when he was only 14 years old.

The Lynching of Louie Sam is available wherever books and e-books are sold.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Fall, Boy Soup is on the Menu for Grade One Students!

Yesterday, the Canadian Children's Book Centre announced that Boy Soup, by Loris Lesynski and Michael Martchenko, will be this year's TD Grade One Book. This means that over 500,000 Canadian grade one students will be receiving their very own copy of the book. Loris and Michael will also be visiting schools and libraries to treat children to a live reading of the book.

Boy Soup is the hilarious tale of a giant who wakes up with a bad cold and decides that the only remedy is a nice big bowl of boy soup. He captures a handful of boys, along with a single girl, Kate. To save her friends from becoming the giant's meal, Kate hatches a brilliant idea: wreck the giant's cookbook and convince him that boy soup is soup made by boys, not soup made from boys. Kids will delight in the disgusting ingredients that make their way into the boys' soup (a handful of fleas, a dollop of dandruff shampoo, sour green pickles...). Warning: do not try this recipe at home!

Boy Soup is also available as an e-book, with a read-aloud track by Loris Lesynski. For more information on the e-book, visit Open Road Integrated Media.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Searching for the Right Illustrator

Have you ever wondered how a publisher finds the right illustrator for a book? Does it matter if the illustrator lives in the same cityor even the same countryas the publisher? Today, Annick's creative director Sheryl Shapiro tells the story of how she decided which illustrator would be right for an upcoming book.

Choosing an illustrator for a book is like casting for a movie. You feel more confident if you’ve seen something they’ve acted in before. You often prefer to use a comedy actor for a comedy and a dramatic actor for a drama. You also want that person to bring his or her own personality to the role, to provide something fresh and insightful.
But sometimes you do something to surprise and challenge your audience. Annick Press has just sent a book on medieval history to press and we chose a humorous cartoonist, Ross Kinnaird, for a history book. The book is called It’s a Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History (available this fall!). It’s full of snippets of neat infographic information about the Middle Ages and Ross’s entertaining art.
One of Kinnaird's illustrations for It's a Feudal, Feudal World
Using the Internet, it’s really almost as easy to work with an illustrator on the other side of the world as it is to work with one in the same city, except if you need to spread out sheets of paper on a boardroom table. I’ve worked with illustrators all over the world and never get to meet them in person.

When we chose Ross to illustrate the book, I had no idea where he lived. I was amazed at the coincidence when I discovered that he lives in Auckland, New Zealand, one of my stops on a trip to New Zealand last year. It was so neat to sit down at an outdoor café with him in person.
Sheryl and Ross in New Zealand
Ross turned out to be a serious, thoughtful guy as well as someone with a great sense of humor who sees the funny side of everything. Now I’m thinking about all those other illustrators I’ve worked with who live in interesting countries and wouldn't it be great to meet them in person too!      —Sheryl Shapiro

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hoppy Easter from the Mole Sisters!

Have you met the Mole Sisters? They're a pair of inquisitive siblings with wild imaginations, and they've starred in ten gorgeous picture books and a TV series. They've also been spotted online these days... on Facebook and in e-book format, for starters. You just never know where the Mole Sisters will turn up next!

The Mole Sisters also love holidays, and Easter is no exception. With Open Road Media's help, they've put together a lovely activity guide with all sorts of Easter-themed fun: treasure hunts, egg dying, and chocolate chip cookies with cracked mini eggs, for example!

You can download your own copy of the Mole Sisters Easter Event Kit here, or take a look below. Enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Trailer for War Brothers

Next week, our Sales and Rights Manager, Gayna Theophilus, and our Associate Publisher, Colleen MacMillan, will be showing off Annick's latest titles (and offering sneak peeks of our Fall 2013 list) at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. (If you're attending, come say hi at Hall 29, D/12.)

They'll also be crossing their fingers, because Annick Press has been nominated for the Best Children's Publisher of the Year award, in the North America category. It's an honor just to be nominated, especially given the high quality of the competition, so we'll be breaking out the champagne regardless of the final winner.

If you can't make it all the way to Italy, allow me to bring one of our big spring titles to you instead. War Brothers (Sharon McKay/Daniel Lafrance), a graphic novel about a young Ugandan boy who is kidnapped and forced to join a rebel army, has been receiving excellent reviews. We're also very proud of the book trailer--take a look!

The narrator's voice belongs to Toolit Ivan, a young man who lives in Gulu. The song is called "African Children (Black Children)," and was performed and recorded in Africa by Ugandan stars Rax & Romeo. You can watch their music video to hear the complete song. For a limited time, you can also receive an e-galley of the book through

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Annick's Stars

Three of Annick’s talented creators came to our offices this week to discuss their latest projects in front of a video camera. Judith Keenan and Aria Evans from BookShorts acted as director and cinematographer. They will also be editing the footage to create two video profiles, one featuring Kathy Stinson and Dušan Petričić, author and illustrator of the upcoming picture book, The Man With the Violin, and the other, Sharon McKay and Daniel Lafrance, co-authors and illustrator of WarBrothers: The Graphic Novel. (Sharon’s taping will take place in early May, when she visits Toronto from her home in Prince Edward Island.)

Kathy spoke about the inspiration for The Man With the Violina newspaper article about the world-famous musician, Joshua Bell, who played his priceless violin in the Washington D.C. subway as busy commuters rushed by with hardly a glance. As well as being enthralled by the story, Dušan jumped at the opportunity to illustrate the book because of the challenge it presented—how to represent music visually. The result of their collaboration is a very special book where the lyrical text and imaginative illustrations merge together brilliantly.

Illustrator Daniel Lafrance and Judith Keenan with some of his artwork for War Brothers
Daniel Lafrance who spoke about the process of creating a graphic novel based on the novel, War Brothers, explained that he was attracted to the project because of his desire to raise awareness of the plight of child soldiers. His stark, powerful images bring the story of one boy’s experience to life, leaving an indelible impression in the mind of every reader.
Look for the author videos later this spring at

Monday, March 11, 2013

Judie Oron at the Jerusalem Book Fair

Last month, author Judie Oron was invited to speak about her novel, Cry of the Giraffe, at the 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair. (She was happy to note that her trip was made possible by a generous travel grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and with the support of the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv.) On February 12, she was interviewed by renowned author and educator Dr. Chaim Peri as part of the book fair's prestigious Literary Café.

(above, below) Dr. Chaim Peri and Judie Oron answer questions at the Jerusalem International Book Fair.
While Cry of the Giraffe is listed as fiction, it is based on the experiences of Judie's adopted daughter ("Wuditu" in the book) in the late 1980s as she traveled from Ethiopia to Sudan, hoping to reach Israel. (Wuditu and her family are Ethiopian Jews, who faced religious persecution in their community.) While her parents were successfully transported to Israel, Wuditu and her little sister Lewteh were caught and taken back to Ethiopia, where they struggled to survive and be reunited with their family. Judie's interview sparked an animated discussion about Wuditu's decision to expose such a painful story. After all, even when the Holocaust ended, it took many years before people began to reveal their tragic experiences. Wuditu’s courage in being the first woman in her community to tell her story publicly received much praise.

The launch of the Hebrew edition of Cry of the Giraffe received exceptional coverage in Israel’s Hebrew, English, and Amharic media, such that the author briefly lost her voice after giving back-to-back interviews during the five days of the Book Fair. The book's release in Hebrew also coincided with a special date for the author and her two adopted daughters, Wuditu and Lewteh: on February 21, they celebrated the 21st anniversary of the day that Wuditu was found in Ethiopia and released from slavery. (Judie notes that a spectacular amount of shopping featured prominently in the celebration, with dining and dancing coming in a close second.)

Upon her return home, Judie received a warm welcome from broadcast journalist Gail Vaz-Oxlade (Newstalk 1010, Late Shift with Gail Vaz-Oxlade), who interviewed her about Wuditu's experiences both in the time period covered in the book and afterward, when she arrived in Israel with Judie. Click below to play a clip (sound only):

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tips for World Read Aloud Day

March 6 is World Read Aloud Day, an initiative of Lit World. In honor of literacy, I asked two Annick picture book authors to share their thoughts on what makes a good read-aloud book and why reading aloud with your kids (or someone anyone's kids!) is important.

Hazel Hutchins, who has a picture book (What the Snakes Wrote) and two board books (Cat Comes Too and Dog Comes Too) coming out this season, has this to say:

photo (c) Gaston Maqueda
Reading aloud is such a simple act and yet it's a wonderful gift to give a child or group of children. Wrapped up with the joy of story is the cadence of language, the organization of ideas, the flow of narrative, the expansion of vocabulary (all those words one skips over when not quite sure what they are--even as an adult!) and the exposure to ideas they may or may not choose to read about on their own. The kids don't need to know that of course. They'll just take what they can in their own way.

Once a child is used to being read to, all kinds of stories are possible. If you are just beginning, however, here are some quick guidelines: 
  • Picture books: a story in which the child can actively participate, engaging illustrations, lively language, repetition, action and humor.
  • Chapter books: a story that immediately draws the child into the world of the young hero or heroine, a mix of dialogue/action/description and chapters that end with cliffhangers (which don't need to be scary--a puzzle or mystery works just as well).
Sarah Tsiang, who writes poetry for adults and has published three picture books with Annick (The Stone Hatchlings, Dogs Don't Eat Jam, A Flock of Shoes), wrote about reading to children for Open Book Toronto: click here to read "Don't Teach Your Kids to Read." She also shares: "As for what makes a good read aloud book, I would say anything that trips off the tongue and feels natural in your mouth. Anything that makes you smile as you read it. A good read aloud picture book dances with you."

What book will you be reading aloud today?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Interview with Author of Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home

Last week, Chloe Shantz-Hilkes was interviewed on CBC Radio's Here and Now program about her new book Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home. This collection of ten true stories is based on interviews Chloe conducted with people who, in their youth, lived with a parent or sibling who was struggling with addiction. Besides assuring readers with similar experiences that they are not alone, the book also provides a comprehensive Resources section for more information and help.

Click here to listen to Chloe's interview!

Also: Attention teachers, librarians, and reviewers: Preview Hooked at

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Follow Your Money: Making Financial Literary Kid-Friendly

When the York Catholic District School Board held a PD day last Friday, Eleanor LeFave, owner of Mabel’s Fables, saw it as a perfect opportunity to introduce teacher librarians to a new book by Annick Press: Follow Your Money: Who Gets It, Who Spends It, Where Does It Go? She asked authors Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka, both widely recognized from their broadcasts on CBC Radio, to come and present their book, which they were only too happy to do. Here's a brief clip:

Michael spoke in general about the economy: what it actually is, how kids (and adults) perceive it, and why knowing about money matters. His clear, down-to-earth explanations reflected the accessible, kid-friendly tone of the book itself. In the meantime, Kevin demonstrated that becoming financially literate doesn’t mean that kids can’t have fun. Using games, quizzes, charts, and humorous illustrations, he got everyone talking and thinking about the different paths money takes. Both authors are available for school visits. For more information, contact Kevin at and Michael at m_hlinka [at] hotmail [dot] com.

The two co-authors also did an interview with CBC's Metro Morning: click here to hear it!

Attention teachers, librarians, and reviewers: Preview Follow Your Money at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bones Never Lie: Guest Post by Elizabeth MacLeod

Today, we have a guest post from Elizabeth MacLeod, author of Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History's Mysteries. Take it away, Detective MacLeod!

Have you seen all the news lately about the discovery of the bones of England’s King Richard III? His skeleton was found lying under a parking lot in Leicester, a small town in the middle of England. Scientists would still be wondering whose bones they really were if it weren’t for DNA analysis.

It’s amazing to think of how many long-time mysteries we might now be able to unravel, thanks to modern technology and crime-solving. For instance, in my new book Bones Never Lie, I look at how DNA testing has also answered many questions about the fate of Marie Antoinette’s son. But there are lots of other tools and techniques that detectives use to solve mysteries and crimes that have puzzled historians for centuries.

For instance, CT (computed tomography) scans let doctors take a three-dimensional look inside a patient’s body. And these scans also gave archaeologists lots of clues about what might have caused the death of Egypt’s most famous monarch, King Tut. CT scans of Tut’s mummy revealed the bone disease that made it hard for him to walk, the king’s buck teeth and cleft palate, and much more.

Autopsy, deductive reasoning, archaeological techniques, and crime scene procedures are just some of the other techniques historians and detectives use to solve history’s mysteries. Probably my favorite story in the book is the case of Russia’s Grand Duchess Anastasia. For decades, the world wondered if she had survived the 1918 slaughter that killed the rest of her family. Many people believed that a woman who became known as Anna Anderson was actually Anastasia.

In the days before modern technology, methods such as handwriting analysis, dental records, ear matching, facial comparison, and more were all used to try to establish Anna’s true identity, with no definite conclusions. Years after Anna’s death, using DNA testing, scientists revealed that—sorry, but you’re going to have to read Bones Never Lie to find out the solution to that mystery!

Are you dying to know the answer? Bones Never Lie is available for review on!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Spring 2013 Titles Ready on NetGalley!

I'm writing this while a snowstorm rages outside, and I must admit it feels a little strange to be talking about spring. However! Our Spring 2013 books will be hitting shelves soon, and are now available for review at Sign up for a free account to access e-galleys of any of our new titles.

If you're looking to entertain younger children, you'll find a new pair of adorable board books from Hazel Hutchins, Cat Comes Too and Dog Comes Too. The picture book What The Snakes Wrote tells the charming story of some snakes who form words with their bodies to enlist the help of the farmyard dog, Rufus, to save their winter hibernation hole. Rufus can't read, but he can tell that the snakes are acting strangely, so he finally manages to alert the farmer to their plight. Finally, When I Was Eight is a picture book version of our hugely popular memoir Fatty Legs, so that younger readers can experience and empathize with Margaret's trials as she learns how to read at a residential school.

We've got lots of fascinating non-fiction for middle school readers, from how modern forensics can solve mysteries from the past (Bones Never Lie), to certain plants that started wars, cured diseases, or made mass transportation possible (10 Plants That Shook the World), to why things cost what they do and what happens after you spend money (Follow Your Money) and what jobs you can have behind the scenes in show business (Showtime). Native Americans: A Visual Exploration is a dynamic pictorial guide to Native American peoples, and The Arab World Thought of It explores the many inventions and innovations of the Arab peoples.

For older readers, War Brothers is a visually stunning exploration of life as a child solider in Uganda. Originally published as a novel in 2008, this graphic novel adaptation gives new life to a subject that is both emotionally challenging and greatly important. Finally, Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home tells ten true stories from the perspective of a teen living with a parent or sibling who is struggling with addiction (to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or food).

We're very excited about our Spring 2013 titles, and we hope you enjoy them, too!