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?