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: