In Canada, we have the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award which is our version of the US Newbery award and the kidlit version of the Giller Prize (in Canada) and the US National Book Award. These prestigious prizes were awarded to Canada's carefully selected books for young people. Although I served on last year's jury for the Norma Fleck non-fiction award and my book Malaika's Costume was not nominated, I felt it important to come out to support my colleagues. Tributes for my publisher Sheila Barry were in order throughout the night. You can see how her influence reached beyond award nominees (and one winner, Jan Thornhill author/illustrator The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk), her work with different Canadian publishers (Groundwood Books, Owl Kids, Kids Can Press), and organisations that support and promote children's literature in Canada (The Canadian Children's Book Centre, IBBY Canada). It was wonderful to remember Sheila with my colleagues, catch up, and get inspired and motivated.
The Groundwood Books family. (Above) Part of the team that worked on my Malaika books- editor Nan Froman, publicist Cindy Ma, editorial assistant Emma Sakamoto (missing illustrator Irene Luxbacher, art director Michael Solomon, and publisher/editor the late Sheila Barry). (Below) Assortment of @Groundwood Books authors and illustrators and award nominees Jo-Ellen Bogart, Sydney Smith, Helaine Becker, Jon-Erik Lappano, and Keller Hatanaka.
We need to have more diverse voices and representation too. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees for the evening.
Written on November 15, 2017:
Day 82 A time to mourn. My heart is broken. I learned today that my publisher Sheila Barry has passed away. Sheila acquired and edited both Malaika's Costume and Malaika's Winter Carnival. She was kind and honest with her feedback as an editor, a mother, and a wife. She believed in my abilities as a writer and in my stories when I didn't feel "good enough". I am honoured to have known and worked with Sheila. There was a certain magic about how she worked, her attention to details, her warmth of spirit, how she brightened the room, and how she said my name "Nod-cha." I always wondered about how she was able to pull together or identify what artist-author combination would work. How did she know which books would go on to win awards? How she helped Groundwood Books become one of the best publishers in North America. How she took risks like publishing my story about a little girl written in standard English and Caribbean patois? How she was committed to telling much needed diverse stories in the children's market? She was an advocate and has left a wonderful legacy. The last time I saw Sheila was at my book launch at A Different Booklist in August 2017. We were supposed to meet again after that but it didn't happen. Sheila was sick and I wish we had more time. I prayed she would pull through. We shared cancer stories too. I know how much she wanted to get better and how she really tried to be there until the end. This happened way too quickly and as I've come to learn from losing my brother in July, life is way too short and things can change suddenly. I will miss Sheila Barry. Prayers up, hugs, and condolences for her family and friends and for the Groundwood Books family. The Canadian Children's literature scene has lost a few this year. Rest in peace.
It's finally here! Over a week and several hours of relearning the editing process with iMovie and a full hard drive, I created this book trailer. The photos and video footage were taken in Quebec City, Port of Spain (Trinidad), and New York City. Enjoy!
My Peacock Librarian costume came together "just so and I shine from head to toe." (It also helps that peacock blue is my favourite colour so I have many items in this colour kicking around my place, including these lovely sneakers.) On October 28, 2017, I joined the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) for the Mini Monster Mile and Halloween Hustle in Centennial Park, Brampton, ON! What a lovely but chilly morning! Despite the bone-chilling temperatures (a teeth-chattering 8 degree Celsius or 47 Fahrenheit) and the drizzle, many mini Monsters made it for my reading from Malaika's Winter Carnival and marauding for Halloween treats and eats in the micro-marathon on the mile. (Try repeating that one fast many times.) The kids were dressed as a princess, Robin Hood, an astronaut Julie Payette, pizza slice, and even a lead singer from #Kiss. Even Malik, my peacock friend, was there. I also signed books with my stiff frozen fingers. Great to see so many people supporting diverse literature in Canada. I loved the gift that I received from the event organisers, care of the sponsor Starbucks. Now time to warm up.