Alcuin Society’s Best-Designed Canadian Books of 2019

Since 1981, the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada recognizes and celebrates fine book design in Canada, and promotes the appreciation of beautifully produced books. We would like to congratulate our designers (who are also authors!) Kelly Hill and John Martz on their awards.

First Prize (tie)

Anne’s Alphabet
By Kelly Hill
Designed by Kelly Hill
28 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735262867 | Tundra Books
Iconic moments from the beloved L.M. Montgomery classic are celebrated in this adorable concept book. Artist Kelly Hill creates vignettes of the most recognizable moments from Anne of Green Gables, including nosy neighbors, freckles, kindred spirits and imagination. Each letter of the alphabet is brought to life through a memorable Anne scene, with simple text and tactile, gorgeous works of art created from cut fabric and embroidery.

Second Prize (tie)

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Designed by John Martz
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
Gyo Fujikawa’s iconic children’s books are beloved all over the world. Now it’s time for Gyo’s story to be told – a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations. Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. While Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting – for herself, her vision, her family and her readers – and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together.

Third Prize (tie)

King Mouse
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
Designed by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264045 | Tundra Books
A sweet, thoughtful tale of friendship, sharing and play, King Mouse begins when a mouse comes upon a tiny crown in the grass. The mouse puts the crown on his head, and when a bear subsequently comes upon him and asks if he’s king, the mouse responds “Yes.” This diminutive monarch settles into his new role very comfortably . . . until a snake comes upon a crown and claims she is queen. The mouse is not amused, especially when one by one the other animals find crowns and claim they are kings too. But when the bear can’t find a crown, King Mouse makes a most surprising decision. This inspired collaboration between an award-winning author and debut picture book illustrator Dena Seiferling is quietly profound in its simplicity and has the feeling of a modern classic.

Honourable Mentions

Alma and the BeastAlma and the Beast
By Esmé Shapiro
Designed by John Martz
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263963 | Tundra Books
Alma lives happily in her hairy world, where she can braid the trees, comb the grass, pet the roof and feed her plumpooshkie butterfly. Until one day . . . a hairless, button-nosed beast appears in the garden! At first Alma is scared, but when she realizes the beast is lost and misses her hairless home, Alma offers to help her find her way back. As the two take a fantastical journey through the red-headed woods and the bearded mushroom glen to the beast’s bald abode, they discover that they are much more alike than different. This quirky and charming story about friendship, empathy and perspective invites readers into a surreal, fantastical world that evokes Alice in WonderlandWhere the Wild Things Are and The Lorax.

Your First Day of Circus SchoolYour First Day of Circus School
By Tara Lazar
Illustrated by Melissa Crowton
Designed by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263710 | Tundra Books
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It’s the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry – your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn’t so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you’ll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters.

CTV Your Morning Kids’ Book Segment on I Read Canadian Day

CTV Your Morning Feb 19 2020
Our Marketing & Publicity Associate Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning today to honour of #IReadCanadian Day by providing Canadian “readalike” choices for kids. Check out our titles from her recommended list below and don’t forget to watch her segment!

AGES 3-7

For fans of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond read:
how to give your cat a bathHow to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by John Martz
ISBN 9780735263543 | Hardcover
40 Pages | Tundra Books
In this hilarious and clever “how-to,” a little girl and a know-it-all narrator are thwarted by a cat who refuses to take a bath. Watch as the steps keep changing, the cat keeps escaping, the girl keeps eating cookies and the mess keeps escalating. Soon it’s not just the cat who needs a bath–it’s the whole house!

AGES 6-9

For fans of the Narwhal and Jelly series by Ben Clanton, read the Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel:
The BatThe Bat
By Elise Gravel
ISBN 9780735266483 | Hardcover
32 Pages | Tundra Books
Hilarious illustrated nonfiction about bats perfect for beginning readers. Conversational text and silly illustrations will have you up all night reading about the only flying mammal on Earth!

AGES 8-12

For fans of the Guinness Book of World Records and National Geographic, read: Innovation NationInnovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier
By David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
ISBN 9780735263017 | Hardcover
128 Pages | Tundra Books
Successful innovation is always inspired by at least one of three forces – insight, necessity and simple luck. Innovation Nation moves through history to explore what circumstances, incidents, coincidences and collaborations motivated each great Canadian idea, and what twist of fate then brought that idea into public acceptance.

For fans of realistic fiction master Judy Blume, read:
Me and BanksyMe and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
ISBN 9780735266919 | Hardcover
272 Pages | Puffin Canada
Dominica’s private school is covered in cameras, and someone is hacking into them and posting embarrassing moments for the whole school to see. Who has access to the school security cameras and why are they doing this? Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out, and in the process start an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom.

For fans of mystery queen Agatha Christie, read:
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen The Body Under the PianoAggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
ISBN 9780735265462 | Hardcover
336 Pages | Tundra Books
A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot.

For fans of the classic survival story Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, read:
The Skeleton TreeThe Skeleton Tree
By Iain Lawrence
ISBN 9781101918371 | Paperback
288 Pages | Tundra Books
Less than 48 hours after twelve-year-old Chris casts off on a trip to sail down the Alaskan coast with his uncle, their boat sinks. The only survivors are Chris and a boy named Frank, who hates Chris immediately. Chris and Frank have no radio, no flares, no food. Suddenly, they’ve got to find a way to forage, fish and scavenge supplies from the shore.

Feb 19 2020

Meow! Today is national cat day!

Celebrate national cat day by feline fine and checking out a good story. Here is the purrfect list for cat-lovers of all ages!

PICTURE BOOKS

how to give your cat a bathHow to Give Your Cat a Bath
in Five Easy Steps

By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by John Martz
ISBN 9780735263543 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Seems simple, right? One problem: the cat has no intention of doing any of these things! Watch as the steps keep changing, the cat keeps escaping, the girl keeps eating cookies and the mess keeps escalating. Soon it’s not just the cat who needs a bath – it’s the whole house!

miss minkMiss Mink
Life Lessons for a Cat Countess

By Janet Hill
ISBN 9781770499225 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
This whimsical collection of twenty cat-approved life lessons for living your purrfect life is accompanied by gorgeous, lushly detailed paintings.

princess puffybottom and darrylPrincess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl
By Susin Nielsen
Illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
ISBN 9781101919255 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Princess Puffybottom has the perfect life – her subjects serve her delicious meals, clean up her “delicate matters” and wait on her hand and foot. Life is good . . . until Darryl arrives. Princess Puffybottom thinks he’s disgusting, horrid and a true animal. Though she tries everything in her power to banish him (including hypnosis, trickery and even sabotage), it looks like this puppy is here to stay. Can Princess P. and Darryl find a way to co-exist?

Copy CatCopy Cat
By Ali Pye
ISBN 9780763699352 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Nosy Crow
Bella loves Anna. In fact, Bella loves Anna so much that she wants to be just like her and copies every single thing she does. Finally Anna decides she’s had enough of Bella being such a copycat! What is Bella going to do? With an adorable troupe of colorful kittens and vibrant illustrations, this author-illustrator debut from rising star Ali Pye is a lighthearted look at playground friendships and finding your own way.

The Cat Who Lived with Anne FrankThe Cat Who Lived With Anne Frank
By David Lee Miller and Steven Jay Rubin
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
ISBN 9781524741501 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Philomel Books
Told from the perspective of the cat who actually lived with Anne Frank in the famous Amsterdam annex, this poignant book paints a picture of a young girl who wistfully dreams of a better life for herself and her friends, tentatively wonders what mark she might leave on the world, and, above all, adamantly believes in the goodness of people.

The Cat BookThe Cat Book: A minibombo Book
By Silvia Borando
ISBN 9780763694722 | Hardcover
Ages 2-5 | Candlewick Press
Who’s that, curled in a ball? Call out his name to wake him! Now turn the page and see him give a big stretch, waiting for you to pat him. Purr, purr, purr. Aww. But what’s that? Fleas! Quick, squish them with your finger! As this pampered cat’s day progresses, readers will have their hands full, acting as umbrella and towel and even clapping their hands loudly to save a bird . . . oh no!

Ghost CatGhost Cat
By Kevan Atteberry
ISBN 9780823442836 | Hardcover
Ages 3-6 | Neal Porter Books
There’s something oddly familiar about this ghost cat – it does lots of things that remind the boy of the cat he used to have. The boy’s not sure why the ghost cat never stays for more than a few moments, or why the ghost cat has visited him in the first place. He follows the ghost cat all over his house, until finally it leads him to something new and wonderful.

Professor Astro Cats StargazingProfessor Astro Cat’s Stargazing
By Dr. Dominic Walliman
Illustrated by Ben Newman
ISBN 9781912497836 | Hardcover
Ages 5-7 | Flying Eye Books
In this new addition to the bestselling science series, we learn all about the stars in our universe, including our own sun! From scientific discoveries to the constellations dreamed up by humans centuries ago, the adventurous and wise Professor Astro Cat will guide young readers through fascinating facts.

Bad DogBad Dog
By Mike Boldt
ISBN 9781984847973 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Cat lovers and dog lovers alike will howl with laughter at this little girl’s willful insistence that her cat is a dog. The hilarious ways in which cats and dogs are different are brilliantly illuminated with each turn of the page and will leave young readers and their grown-ups giggling.

There Are No Bears in This BakeryThere Are No Bears in this Bakery
By Julia Sarcone-Roach
ISBN 9780399556654 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
A tough gumshoe of a cat–the name’s Muffin–protects his territory: The Little Bear Bakery. But there are no bears here. Not on Muffin’s watch. One night, Muffin hears a suspicious noise. Mouse? Raccoon? Bat? Nope, not the usual suspects. But Muffin hears . . . growling. Could it be? Yup. A bear. Just a cub. Whose stomach is definitely growling. Muffin’s got this case solved–clearly this bear needs some donuts.

Maya and the Lost CatMaya and the Lost Cat
By Caroline Magerl
ISBN 9781536204230 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Candlewick Press
Where does Cat live, and who can lead the way there? A lyrical, charmingly offbeat tale about wanderlust and family, rescue and finding home. What will lure Cat down? Feather boas? Pretty pink shoelaces? A boatful of fish under a tiny tin sail?

Peg and Cat - The PuddlePeg + Cat: The Puddle
By Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
ISBN 9781536206982 | Trade Paperback
Ages 3-7 | Candlewick Entertainment
A rainy day in the park has Peg and Cat singing, dancing, and measuring puddles to find out which ones are perfect for jumping in. Splash! Peg jumps right in, but Cat isn’t so sure. Just how deep is that water, anyway? If only they had some way to measure how far down the puddles go!

CHAPTER BOOKS

megabat and fancy catMegabat and Fancy Cat
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
ISBN 9780735262591 | Hardcover
Ages 7-10 | Tundra Books
Megabat returns, this time with a new nemesis: a very fancy cat. Can our tiny bat hero stop his Daniel’s heart from being stolen by this nefarious, fluffy villain?

The Adventures of Miss Petitfours - paperbackThe Adventures of Miss Petitfour
By Anne Michaels
Illustrated by Emma Block
ISBN 9780735263222 | Trade Paperback
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
Miss Petitfour enjoys having adventures that are “just the right size – fitting into a single, magical day.” On windy days, she takes her sixteen cats out for an airing: Minky, Misty, Taffy, Purrsia, Pirate, Mustard, Moutarde, Hemdela, Earring, Grigorovitch, Clasby, Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Cothespin, Your Shyness and Sizzles.

Klawde Evil Alien Warlord CatKlawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat
By Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
Illustrated by Robb Mommaerts
ISBN 9781524787202 | Hardcover
Ages 8-12 | Penguin Workshop
Klawde is not your average cat. He’s an emperor from another planet, exiled to Earth. He’s cruel. He’s cunning. He’s brilliant… and he’s about to become Raj Banerjee’s best friend. Whether he likes it or not.

Timmy Failure - The Cat Stole My PantsTimmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants
By Stephan Pastis
ISBN 9781536209099 | Trade Paperback
Ages 8-12 | Candlewick Press
Timmy is in Key West, Florida, ostensibly for the honeymoon of his mother and Doorman Dave — if they even got married, which Timmy doubts. Unfortunately for Timmy, crime doesn’t take a vacation. And because Total has fled to Cuba seeking political asylum, Timmy must rely on a new partner for help: Doorman Dave’s nephew Emilio. Meanwhile, a surprise newcomer shows up in Timmy’s life and, as if things couldn’t get more hectic, Timmy’s pants have been stolen by a six-toed cat.

NON-FICTION

Cat Science UnleashedCat Science: Unleashed
Fun activities to do with your feline friend

By Jodi Wheeler-Toppen
ISBN 9781426334412 | Trade Paperback
Ages 8-12 | National Geographic Children’s Books
Unleash the power of science! Have fun with 22 safe and cat-friendly activities that let you work alongside your cat to discover what makes her tick. Learn how catnip affects your kitty and how she can see so well in the dark. Find out what kind of toys your cat loves by making a feather flyer. How does your cat balance so well and always land on all fours? Each activity is paired with step-by-step instructions, clear and interesting scientific explanations, and cool photographs shot specifically for this book.

Our 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalists

GGbooks2019

Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts honours the best books in Canadian literature with the Governor General’s Literary Awards. This year, we have four finalists in the Young People’s Literature categories, one in text and three in illustrated books. Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!

Finalist for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books

Albert’s Quiet Quest
By Isabelle Arsenault
ISBN 9781101917626 | Tundra Books
Hardcover | 48 Pages | Ages 4-8
“In Arsenault’s ideal neighborhood, independent children make their own decisions and form their own community, and they resolve their own conflicts, too.” – Publishers Weekly

How to Give Your Cat a Bath
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by John Martz
ISBN 9780735263543 | Tundra Books
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 3-7
“This laugh-out-loud picture book can serve as a beginning reader. . . . The inevitable ending will delight both children and adults and this title will be requested over and over.” – Starred Review, Booklist

King Mouse
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
ISBN 9780735264045 | Tundra Books
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 3-7
“Graceful and perceptive in both illustration and text, the timeless theme is particularly pertinent today.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Finalist for Young People’s Literature – Text

The Grey Sisters
By Jo Treggiari
ISBN 9780735262980 | Penguin Teen Canada
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Ages 12+
“Dark and gripping. . . . [R]eaders will have a hard time putting the book down.” – School Library Journal

Special thanks to the peer assessment committee: Shauntay Grant, Jon Klassen, Kathryn Shoemaker, Kagiso Lesego Molope, Kenneth Oppel, and Ellen Schwartz.

Follow the conversation on Twitter through @CanadaCouncil and by using the hashtag #GGbooks. The winners of the 2019 Governor General Literary Awards will be announced on Tuesday, October 29, 2019.

Nicola Winstanley’s #TundraCats

stanley and luluWe’ve asked our #TundraCats authors and illustrators to tell us a little bit more about their favorite felines. Today, we’re meeting Nicola Winstanley’s adorable cat.

What is your cat’s name?
Stanley Winstanley.

How old is your cat?
Eight.

Which #TundraCats book is your cat’s favorite?
Am I allowed to choose my own? If not, Princess Puffybottom … and Darryl.

What is your cat’s greatest strengths?
Poking me in the face with his paw to get more pats. Tricking us into feeding him dinner three times in a row. Being fat.

What does friendship mean to your cat?
Letting the small thing lick his ears. (The small thing is our dog, Lulu.)

Complete this sentence: If my cat is staring out the window, it’s because . . .
He’s mad because it’s raining.

Be sure to check out Nicola Winstanley’s newest book:

how to give your cat a bathHow to Give Your Cat a Bath
in Five Easy Steps

By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by John Martz
ISBN 9780735263543 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Nicola Winstanley has always believed in the power of stories to bring comfort. She is the author of The Pirate’s Bed, A Bedtime Yarn and Cinnamon Baby, which won an honor prize for the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award and was shortlisted for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Nicola lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with her family, one dog and one cat.