Kids Can Press authors Cybèle Young, Kyo Maclear, Wallace Edwards, Eugenie Fernandes, and Nicholas Oldland are in the spotlight at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, as part of the Animal Stories exhibit. The authors are reading from their works and engaging in activities with children attending the exhibit. The show also features original artwork from the books.
“For centuries, ceramic artists have drawn inspiration from the printed word, making our partnership with Kids Can Press an ideal collaboration,” Rachel Gotlieb, interim executive director and chief curator of the museum, said in a release promoting the exhibit.
Kids Can president Lisa Lyons added in the release, “With so many of our picture books featuring a menagerie of animals – from dog and cats to squirrels and turtles – the exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for KCP to partner with this prestigious specialty museum during our [40th] anniversary year, and a great way for families to enjoy art, illustration, and the written word.”
Author-illustrator Cybèle Young read from her book Ten Birds, which won a Governor General’s Award for illustration in 2011, as well as from her newly released Ten Birds Meet a Monster, at a launch party for Animal Stories on October 9. A visual artist whose sculptures in Japanese paper are shown around the world, Young told PW she thinks hands-on activities like the ones being offered in conjunction with the exhibit are a great way to help more people connect with art. “I know about the trap of elevating works and how it can cut off the public,” she said. “That’s why I got into books.” Young had created her own art activities to engage the children who attended, and added that the Gardiner had also staff for a separate mask-making activity.
Readings and activities with the other authors will take place on several of Gardiner’s Sunday Family Days through Dec. 15.
Stories of the Stage
Orca Book Publishers has launched a series of novels about young people involved in the performing arts. Limelights books feature dancers, musicians, actors, directors, poets, and circus performers, and so far, says publisher Andrew Wooldridge, the series has being well received and sales are strong.
Limelights is the brainchild of series editor Sarah Harvey, Wooldridge said. “Kids who are interested in the performing arts are so committed,” he explained, adding that there are many stories to tell in that world, and these books approach those stories without “a lot of moralizing or messaging.”
It helped that Wooldridge has a personal sense of the potential readers: “I was keen because I have a 14-year-old who is so into music and band and everything else, and it seemed to make perfect sense.”
The first three books came out this fall, and Wooldridge says they’ve performed beyond his initial expectations. Orca sold foreign rights for Robin Stevenson’s Attitude, about a dancer’s struggle to fit in a new ballet school, in eight countries before it was published. Tom Ryan’s Totally Unrelated, about a boy caught between his family’s Celtic music group and his own desire to play rock music, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Karen Krossing’s Cut the Lights, about a girl directing a play at her performing arts high school, got a starred review in Booklist, which Wooldridge said he was particularly pleased to see “because this kind of imprint branded fiction, especially the kind that we publish, doesn’t normally get that kind of attention.”
Orca created a Web site for Limelights, featuring a video of aspiring actors discussing their passion for performing. Author Ryan, who created this and other trailers for Orca, has another Limelights book, Big Time, due out next spring.
First Words, First Languages
The Canadian government’s past efforts to assimilate aboriginal children included forcibly taking them from their families and placing them in residential schools where they were often punished for speaking their own languages. The schools operated from the 1870s to the 1990s, although language policies changed in more recent decades. The policy did not entirely destroy those languages, but tremendous generational damage was done. Efforts are now being made to reverse that damage and promote the learning and use of First Nations languages.
Victoria-based Rocky Mountain Books is contributing to those efforts with its first two board books. Discovering Words and Discovering Numbers by Cree author and illustrator Neepin Auger introduce words and numbers to children in English, French, and Cree.
Publisher Don Gorman told PW that he knew Auger – an educator, artist, and champion of the Cree language – through a book he worked on with her late father, Dale Auger, author and illustrator of Mwâkwa – Talks to the Loon: A Cree Story for Children. Together, Gorman and Neepin Auger came up with the concept for the new board books.
Gorman says these multilingual books are unique in the North American market, and orders have been strong from libraries and booksellers. Based on the books’ positive reception, two more titles are planned for fall 2014.
“The Cree language has a strong and vast reach in Canada, and these books serve as a great re-introduction to the basics,” Gorman said. The next two books and the reprints of the first two will also contain pronunciation guides, he added. “We’re also imagining the series as one that can work for other languages” Gorman wrote of their hopes to expand the series to other First Nations languages or even to Asian or European languages.
A Timely Message from Scaredy Squirrel
Like Orca and its Limelight series above, Kids Can Press’s Scaredy Squirrel, created by Mélanie Watt, is also venturing into the performing arts. His onscreen appearance to promote the new Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween features a public service announcement complete with Halloween safety tips.