January 14, 2012

Brief Interview with...me!

Please may I brag?

I was recently interviewed by Kay Weisman, a moderator (with Ellen Fu) for the blog of the Canadian Library Association's network, Canadian Libraries Are Serving Children (CLASC).  CLASC is an online hub where children's services librarians and staff may connect and share resources and ideas relating to books, programs, and all things related to children's literature. 

Kay and I had been fellow committee members for the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children Award (BOYCA) for several years, finally meeting at the CLA conference in Edmonton in 2010. (You have no idea how often librarians and teacher-librarians never meet, communicating so much online.) That was the year that Nancy Hartry's book Watching Jimmy (Tundra, 2009) won the Book of the Year for Children's Award.  

If you haven't had a chance to read this book, please do so, to see why it won BOYCA and was a finalist for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People (2010), the 2010 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and the Golden Oak Award (2010).

The interview was originally posted on the CLASC blog at  https://claclasc.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/clasc-profile-helen-kubiw/.  However, since the Canadian Library Association disbanded in January 2016, the CLASC blog has been removed.

I have posted the interview below:

Helen Kubiw—a self-described Canadian, teacher, librarian, reader, reviewer, selection committee member, writers' festival volunteer, enthusiastic promoter of great literature—is a teacher librarian in Guelph, Ontario and creator of CANLIT FOR LITTLECANADIANS http://canlitforlittlecanadians.blogspot.com/, a delightful blog promoting Canadian literature for youth. We caught up with her recently during a rare quiet moment.

CLASC: Helen, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. First of all, what prompted you to start your new blog this fall and how do you find the time to post so often—and so thoughtfully?

Although I’ve always been a reader, it wasn’t until recently that I found that sharing my reading with others was equally fulfilling.  I’d be on a book buying trip at S&B Books or at a board-organized take-away show and I would find myself saying over and over again, “You’ve got to read this one” or “I think this is even better than Twilight and it’s Canadian” or “The newest Arthur Slade is out now.”  Through my participation on selection committees for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading and on the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award, as well as keeping up with reviews in Quill & Quire and CM: Canadian Review of Materials and other blogs, I was well aware of the wealth of Canadian literature for young people.  But many other readers, teacher-librarians, children, teens, and parents, were not, making them more vulnerable to the books that received the most hype: large displays at bookstores, movie tie-ins, TV spin-offs, advertising, and the plethora of reviews of such.  CANLIT FOR LITTLECANADIANS is my way of sharing my reading with others, in the hopes that they will do the same, and bring kidsCanlit the hype it truly deserves.

I have to admit that another reason that I started this blog is to pursue my interest in Canadian children’s literature but along a different avenue.  My recent experiences as a teacher-librarian have not been fulfilling.  I love being a teacher-librarian but most of my time is scheduled for teaching other subjects or providing planning time for teachers.  Feeling that my skills as a teacher-librarian are undervalued and consequently underused by administration, I’m using my blog to pursue other career choices.  So, if you know anyone who is looking for a promoter of great Canadian children’s lit who reads and reviews constantly, be sure to pass along my name.

CLASC: Your site has wonderful content—author and publisher Links, book trailers, and book awards for Canadian young people. Who you see as your web audience? Parents? Professionals? Kids? Have you ever used the site as a resource with your students?

I really hope that any reader of books for young people – teachers, teacher-librarians, parents, students, grandparents, publishers, authors, reviewers world-wide – would take the time to regularly peruse CANLIT FOR LITTLECANADIANS to direct their reading choices and become accustomed to always searching out Canadian titles first.  Becoming familiar with the authors and the publishers who are responsible for these wonderful books is key to recognizing their value and encouraging followers.  Of course, I have included a direct link on my school library website to CANLIT FOR LITTLECANADIANS.  If I can’t be there personally to tell them about the books, then I’ll let the blog speak for me.

CLASC: What forgotten gem or unsung story are you promoting this season?

I would have a hard time picking only one book that I believe fits that bill but three books published in 2011 that I think are still coming into their own are:
True Blue by Deborah Ellis from Pajama Press; The Tiffin by Mahtab Narsimhan from Dancing Cat Books; and Little Jane Silver by Adira Rotstein from Dundurn.  I will also be promoting Making Bombs for Hitler from Marsha Skrypuch (Scholastic Canada) but that’s not scheduled for release until February, 2012.

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