I Read Canadian Day

February 19th, 2020 will mark the first ever I Read Canadian Day and we can’t wait to shout about our favourite Canadian authors and books!

The goal is to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness and diversity of our country’s literature by encouraging everyone to read something Canadian for at least 15 minutes.

Libraries and bookstores are encouraged to sign up and host their own mini events and displays to help spread the news. Find out more on their website and join the conversation on social media with #IReadCanadian.

We’ll be reading Canadian on February 19th – will you join us?

Author Guest Post: Mental Space by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

We’re bringing you a special treat today: a guest post from Me and Banksy author, Tanya Lloyd Kyi! Check out Tanya’s previous posts on Reading with Rendz and The Contented Reader for more insight into her writing process and be sure to keep an eye on her own blog for the final installment tomorrow.


To write a novel, you need two types of time. Time to sit in front of the keyboard, tapping away. And time to let your mind wander, puzzling over characters and playing with plot twists. The problem with the latter is that it looks suspiciously like doing nothing. And if you live, like I do, in a house with a husband and two teenagers, you’re not allowed to do nothing for long.

Can you drive me to the gym? Can these extra friends stay for dinner? And have you seen my black socks? No, not those black socks, the other ones.

I wrote Me and Banksy on a very tight deadline. I loved my characters — passionate and artistic Dominica, fiery Saanvi, and the über-smart but highly unmotivated Holden. But every day I needed to churn out new pages. I desperately needed time to plan and plot. 

Can you sign these field trip forms? Can you proofread my essay? Where did I put my hat? No, not that hat, the other one.

The answer, I found, was bedtime. Not my kids’ bedtimes, because they stay up later than me these days. No, it was my own bedtime. Instead of picking up a book or plugging in an audiobook like usual, I would turn out the light, close my eyes, and imagine myself in Dominica’s world. More often than not, the glimmer of an idea would appear. Sometimes, I’d scribble it down during breakfast.

Can you book me a haircut? Is this a pimple or a wart? Where did I put my backpack? Yes, of course that one.

I recently read a tweet about making use of unclaimed time. The minutes while waiting for the noodles to boil. I’m going to take that advice to heart this year, and see what new ideas appear, and what new stories I can write. I might just find a few more glimmers, tucked between the socks, the hats, and the backpacks.


Me and Banksy is available now! Make sure you’re following Tanya on social media!

TANYA LLOYD KYI: website | twitter

2020 Outstanding International Books List

Since 2006, the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) has put together an honor list of international books for young people. The list is published each year in February and highlights international books that are deemed to be outstanding in their field. We would like to congratulate Miguel Tanco whose beautiful book, Count on Me, was included on this year’s Outstanding International Books list!

Count on Me
By Miguel Tanco
Hardcover | 48 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN 9780735265752 | Tundra Books

A young girl sees the world differently in this beautiful picture book celebration of math.

Everyone has a passion. For some, it’s music. For others, it’s art. For our heroine, it’s math. When she looks around the world, she sees math in all the beautiful things: the concentric circles a stone makes in a lake, the curve of a slide, the geometric shapes in the playground. Others don’t understand her passion, but she doesn’t mind. There are infinite ways to see the world. And through math is one of them.

This book is a gorgeous ode to something vital but rarely celebrated. In the eyes of this little girl, math takes its place alongside painting, drawing and song as a way to ponder the beauty of the world.

CTV Your Morning Kids' Book Segment on Mental Health & Wellness

YourMorning_January20
Our Marketing & Publicity Associate Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning today to talk about kids’ books dealing with mental health and wellness. Check out our titles from her recommended list below and don’t forget to watch her segment!

PICTURE BOOKS

What’s Up, Maloo?
By Genevieve Godbout
ISBN 9780735266643 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Grumpy Monkey Party Time!
By Suzanne Lang
Illustrated by Max Lang
ISBN 9780593118627 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Random House Books for Young Readers
Have you ever been a little anxious about going to a party? Jim Panzee feels that. Porcupine is having a big party, and according to Jim’s best friend Norman, there will be–gulp–dancing. Jim can DEFINITELY not dance. When he tells his friends, they all try to teach him cool moves–surely that’s the only reason Jim isn’t excited about this party!

Big Boys Cry
By Jonty Howley
ISBN 9781524773205 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Random House Books for Young Readers
It’s Levi’s first day at a new school, and he’s scared. His father tries to comfort Levi by telling him “Big boys don’t cry.” Though the father immediately understands his misstep, he can’t find the words to comfort his son, and Levi leaves for school, still in need of reassurance.

CHAPTER BOOKS/MIDDLE GRADE

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
By Lenore Look
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
ISBN 9780375849305 | Paperback
Ages 6-9 | Yearling
Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
By Susin Nielsen
ISBN 9781770496545 | Paperback
Ages 10+ | Tundra Books
Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keeps a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

YOUNG ADULT

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198673 | Paperback
Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada
It’s Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun’s mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
By Teresa Toten
ISBN 9780385678346 | Paperback
Ages 12+ | Doubleday Canada
When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? 

Fight Like a Girl: Q&A with Cover Artist Lauren Tamaki

Looking for a mid-week pick-me-up? Look no further: we have a new Q&A with artist Lauren Tamaki. She’s the genius behind the striking cover for Sheena Kamal‘s upcoming YA debut, Fight Like a Girl. Read on to see just how many sketches Lauren went through before she landed on this final image.

Did you read Fight Like a Girl before starting on the cover? If so, what about it stuck out to you the most?

I read the whole thing, front to back! I was struck by the ferocity of the main character: she’s angry, she swears, she fully realized. Her Trinidadian-Canadian identity is front and center and although we come from different backgrounds, I could relate to feeling of being in-between worlds and not knowing your place. The author explored the vagaries of being a 16 year old girl with gusto and the emotion was further heightened by the crazy fight sequences!

What emotions did you want to capture on the cover?

When John Martz, my wonderful art director, first briefed me on the project, we talked about dynamic image of a girl throwing a punch or a kick. The book is woven around the main character’s love for Muay Thai. I tried a few versions of that, and while they were active, sweaty and impactful, none of them had the confrontational nature that the character possessed. I tried a couple drawings that had direct eye contact but I didn’t want to create an explicit portrait of her face (someone told me a long time ago not to do that on book covers). I came to a nice solution that showcased the character’s searing stare and physicality with a bit of vulnerability tossed in.

How did you choose the colour scheme?

I knew the colour had to be hot and intense. The story is about love and violence, so I had no choice! I ended up using black ink washes coloured digitally (so it was still transparent in areas). I put a purple bruise colour under the red so it felt just a bit… achey.

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

The original vision for the cover was of a simple figure in an expressive illustrated style. I watched a ton of Muay Thai on YouTube to get an idea of what I was dealing with. This particular martial art is very calculated for all the fury it brings. We ended up gravitating away from that original thought, but drawing all those figures was extremely helpful.

How many drafts/designs did you go through before it was “finished”?

So so many…. I sent through 8 pencil sketches for the first review, mostly of the expressive figure in action. We toyed with a couple directions for a while but went with a more centralized view of a girl staring down the viewer while ‘on the ropes’. Once we decided on that path, I tried about 9 colour/tone tests, but nothing seemed right. I stripped it back to simple black line work and a flood of colour, which was the right treatment because it was bold and direct.

As per usual, I nit-picked right up to the delivery date: I noticed I hadn’t addressed the hand wrapping *exactly* as it should be so I went back in and fixed that. Research is so important!

Have you worked on other book covers before or do you have any coming up?

I’ve done a handful of book covers and this is definitely one of my favourites! My first book cover was with Penguin UK (Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe) and I had a great experience working with them: they let me go wild with the illustration and design of the entire wrap. I’m working on a book right now that will require a cover at some point… I think it’ll probably be the last thing I tackle!

How is designing a cover different from other illustration projects you’ve worked on?

I’ve heard designers and illustrators bemoan how book covers are difficult because of the variety of opinions required to pass muster. I’ve had wildly different experiences – mostly positive. The most joyous work occurs when you have trust and rapport with your AD. The worst experiences are when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, there is a lack of clarity and no respect for your time. Any illustration work (editorial, advertising, etc) can fall on either side.

What are some recent book covers you admire?

Designer Na Kim creates the most stunning book covers. The way she mixes illustration, photography, type… so wonderful! Her covers have incredible variety but are all blessed with her magic touch. Her image for Girl by Edna O’ Brian (featuring a gorgeous drawing by Chioma Ebinama) stopped me in my tracks.


Fight Like a Girl will be released on March 10, 2020. In the meantime, make sure you’re following Lauren and author Sheena Kamal on social media!

SHEENA KAMAL: website | instagram
LAUREN TAMAKI: website | instagram