Remembering Jean Little

Last night we were saddened to hear of the death of Jean Little, a beloved and distinguished member of the Canadian children’s literary community. Born in Taiwan in 1932 to Canadian doctors who were serving as missionaries, Jean was legally blind from birth. After obtaining a B.A. in English Language & Literature from the University of Toronto, she taught briefly before her first novel, Mine for Keeps, was published in 1962 and she went on to publish over fifty works including picture books, novels, memoir, short fiction, and poetry.

Jean was notably one of the first Canadian authors to write candidly about children living with disability. She also wrote about the immigrant experience in Canada, adoption and the foster care system, often drawing on her own family’s experiences. No matter what genre or form she chose to write in, Jean’s work celebrates the resilience of children and the strength of the human spirit.

Jean’s awards and honours were numerous, including the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Governor General’s Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, and the Horn Book Honor Award. She was a member of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and was nominated multiple times for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. In addition to her significant literary impact on generations of readers, Jean was one of the founding Members of CANSCAIP, an organization that fosters support and professional relationships among Canadian creators of children’s content. She is often cited by contemporary Canadian authors as an inspiration, and those who knew her remember her devotion to children, animals, and her very dry wit.

Join us in honouring Jean’s memory by getting lost in one of her many beautifully written books and share your memories of her with us on Twitter.

Once Upon a Golden Apple: 25th Anniversary Edition
By Jean Little and Maggie de Vries
Illustrated by Phoebe Gilman
26 Pages | Ages 0-3
ISBN 9780670070077 | Puffin Canada

A brand-new board book edition, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this fractured fairy tale bedtime story. In this hilarious fractured fairy tale romp, everything goes awry. Goldilocks lives with the seven dwarfs, a princess kisses Humpty Dumpty, and she and the prince rescue the Wicked Witch of the West! Can all this mischief get sorted out so that everyone lives happily ever after? Jean Little and Maggie de Vries’s playful text and Phoebe Gilman’s magical illustrations make this twisted classic a delight to share with new generations of readers.

Mama’s Going to Buy You a Mockingbird: Puffin Classics Edition
By Jean Little
264 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780143187875 | Puffin Canada

Jeremy is not having a good summer. His best friends have moved away, and he has to stay at the cottage with only his little sister Sarah and his Aunt Margery. His parents have remained in the city so his father can have an operation.

When Jeremy finally sees him again, he finds out that his father has cancer and isn’t going to get better. Suddenly, Jeremy’s life has completely changed. But then he finds an unlikely friend in Tess, who knows what it’s like to lose someone. As his friendship with her grows, through good times and bad, Jeremy discovers that his father has left him something that will live forever…

Stand in the Wind
By Jean Little
256 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780143167600 | Puffin Canada

At a beach cottage, two sets of sisters who have never met before must spend a few days together without their parents. It looks as if it’s going to be the longest holiday ever, until Martha discovers something about Christine that changes everything.

“I stand in the wind and eat peanut brittle.”

Somebody Else’s Summer
By Jean Little
192 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780143016434 | Puffin Canada

On a flight from Vancouver to Toronto, two girls meet, forming an unlikely friendship. Tall, athletic Samantha is going to spend the summer with a family friend while her father is in South America. Alexis, a shy girl who likes books, is being sent to a horse farm to learn how to ride while her mother and stepfather are travelling in Australia.

By the time their flight lands in Toronto, the girls have hatched their plots. They’re going to trade places for the summer. After all, the people they’re going to visit have never met them, and their parents are far away and hard to contact. But will they manage to pull it off? For how long? And with what consequences?

Tributes to Jean have been pouring in from fellow Canadians since the news broke. She will be deeply missed.

“An acclaimed, multi-award-winning author, she was smart, funny and frank, someone I so enjoyed talking to when I had the chance. She is a legend in Canadian children’s literature circles, and all of us at Penguin Random House Canada feel lucky to have been able to be her publisher and thankful that she was able to write for as long as she did.”— Lynne Missen, Publishing Director, Fiction, Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

“When I was young, and so nerdy, and always reading books in the library during recess, I was obsessed with her. I found her number in the phone book and called her, and we kept talking every few months for 2 or 3 years I think. She always remembered me and she was always happy to chat. I think it might have been the first time I realized authors were people and not Hollywood celebs.” — Zoe Maslow, Editor, Doubleday Canada

“Jean Little taught me so much about compassion and kindness and showed me lives very different than my own. I thought I was reading stories but I was learning to how to be a person.” — Kate Rennie, Indigo Sales Manager

“I remember walking by her house and getting a little thrill as a little kid.” — Justin Sorbara-Hosker, District Sales Manager

“I loved all of Jean Little’s books and her spiky but good intentioned heroines. The moment I remember the most is my grade five teacher coming up and touching my shoulder during Math, because I was so engrossed in From Anna I hadn’t realized that reading time was over.” — Vikki VanSickle, Director, Marketing & Publicity, Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

Quill & Quire Best Books of 2019

Quill & Quire recently released their list of best books of 2019 and we’re so happy to see some of our titles were included! Congratulations to our creators!

The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster
By Cary Fagan
ISBN 9780735266216 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Tundra Books
“A sublime reading experience, Cary Fagan’s The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster is a flawlessly written, not-to-be-missed middle-grade book. Featuring wonderfully drawn young characters staring down emotional crossroads, the novel threads two interconnected storylines to offer a tender tale of loss, uncertainty, art, and the quiet promise of resolution and hope.” – Michelle Callaghan, Fab Book Reviews blog, Vancouver


Honourable Mentions

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
ISBN 9780735266247 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
“Walters and Kacer pull off this impressive feat of complex storytelling and make it look easy, with a novel that flows and entertains and devastates. Above all, they respect their intended audience by not trivializing the high and lows of middle-school and by being honest, open, and unflinching about some of the more dark and traumatic aspects of history.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

We Contain Multitudes
By Sarah Henstra
ISBN 9780735264212| Hardcover
Ages 14+ | Penguin Teen Canada
“Opposites attract: a powerful yet familiar story. Governor General’s Literary Award-winner Sarah Henstra uses the premise well, sweeping us up in the giddy joy of fulfilled narrative expectations. She leverages another potent story too: the difficulty and importance of coming out…. Henstra’s latest is certainly multitudinous: worth reading, enjoying, interrogating.” – Quill & Quire

The Globe 100: Books That Shaped 2019

Every year, the reviewers and editors at the Globe and Mail put together their list of notable books called The Globe 100 and we’re so happy to see some of our titles were included! Congratulations to our creators!

Albert’s Quiet Quest
By Isabelle Arsenault
ISBN 9781101917626 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
Albert just wants to read his book in peace . . . why won’t his friends give him some quiet? A delightful picture book about finding alone time from an internationally acclaimed illustrator.

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
ISBN 9780735266247 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers – and the death of her beloved grandmother – Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo.

It Began With a Page
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
ISBN 9781101918593 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | 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.

Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
ISBN 9780735264069 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Based on the classic folk song made famous by a beloved trio of children’s entertainers, this picture book is best sung aloud! “Skinnamarink” is a timeless anthem of love and inclusion.

The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster
By Cary Fagan
ISBN 9780735266216 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Tundra Books
Hartley Staples, near-graduate of middle school, is grappling with the fact that his older brother has run away from home, when he finds a handmade postcard that fascinates him. And soon he spots another. Who is G.O. and why are they scattering cards about the town?

School Library Journal’s Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

School Library Journal has revealed their picks for the Best Middle Grade Books of 2019 and we’re thrilled that one of our titles made the list. Congratulations to Kelley!

Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
By Kelley Armstrong
Hardcover | 288 Pages | Ages 10-14
ISBN: 9780735265356

Monster hunting isn’t for the faint of heart — the first in a brand-new middle-grade series by NYT bestselling author, Kelley Armstrong.

“Thrilling action scenes are balanced with emotionally resonant moments…Give this to any fantasy and adventure fan ready for a fast and fun read.” – Starred ReviewSchool Library Journal

2019 Joan Betty Stuchner — Oy Vey! — Funniest Children’s Book Award

The Joan Betty Stuchner— Oy Vey! —Funniest Children’s Book Award was created in memory of a beloved children’s author and teacher. The biannual award honours Joan’s life-affirming humour and encourages other children’s writers to laugh it up on the page the way she did. We would like to congratulate Cary Fagan, Mort Ziff is Not Dead won this year’s award!

Mort Ziff is Not Dead
By Cary Fagan
176 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Puffin Canada
ISBN 9780143198482

A humorous coming-of-age middle-grade novel set in 1960s Florida. Battling obxious siblings, sunburns, and a corporate millionaire, Norman is determined to help an old comedian save his career.

Mort Ziff is Not Dead kept the jury “buckled over with guffaws, incapacitated with giggles, and/or rib-ticklingly, side-splittingly, thigh-slappingly entertained.”