March 29, 2012

Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award

Another Canadian young readers' book award?  You bet!
If you're a young reader, 9 to 12 years of age, living in Atlantic Canada, then you're fortunate to be able to share your favourite reading with others through the annual Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award literary program.  This program, designed to promote literacy and Canadian books, provides four lists of ten nominated titles annually: English Fiction, English Non-Fiction, French Fiction and French Non-Fiction.  Nominations are announced in the spring with reading taking place from September to March, voting before April, and then announcement of the winning titles in April or May.

Young readers will soon be voting for their favourite reads from the 2011-2012 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award nominations (see lists below) with the winners announced at a ceremony on April 27, 2012 in Moncton, New Brunswick. 

2011-2012 Hackmatack Award nominees
The Adventures of Jack Lime 
by James Leck 

The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods
by Kate Inglis

The Gnome’s Eye
by Anna Kerz

Kayak Combat 
by Eric Howling

Libby’s Got the Beat 
by Robert Rayner 

Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas
by Cary Fagan

Prisoner of Dieppe: World War II
by Hugh Brewster

Pit Pony  
by Joyce Barkhouse

Tumbleweed Skies
by Valerie Sherrard

Zach & Zoe: Bully and the Beagle
by Kristin Butcher


Animals That Changed the World
by Keltie Thomas

Canada from Above
by Heather Patterson

Canada’s Wars: An Illustrated History
by Jonathan Webb

Don’t Touch That Toad & Other Strange Things Adults Tell You
by Catherine Rondina

Fatty Legs: A True Story
by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science
by Susan Hughes

The Hilarious History of Hockey
by Helaine Becker

Highway of Heroes
by Kathy Stinson

New Brunswick Kids Cook
By Marilyn Lohnes

Wild Ones
by Paddy Muir


Bienvenue à Rocketville
par Danielle Boulianne

Catastrophe en Guadeloupe
par Camille Bouchard

Le combat des caboches
par Marie Beauchamp

L’étrange affaire du 413
par Nadya Larouche

Les livres mènent loin!
par Emilie Boucher

Du soccer extrême
par François Gravel

Le projet Persée
par Sophie Bérubé

Livreur express
par Véronique Drouin

Ton journal intime Zone Frousse
par Richard Petit

Vlad et moi et les nids-de-poule
par Brigitte Huppen


L’astronomie facile et amusante
par Jean-Pierre Urbain

Le cheval
par Sylvie Roberge et Jacques Pasquet

Citron bleu et zeste de carotte
par Céline Malepart

Marco Polo
par Johanne Ménard

Les Marmottes
par Alain Bergeron; Sampar; Michel Quintin

Julie Payette
par Christine Ouin et Louise Pratte

Le petit livre des affaires dégueulasses
par Stéphanie C. Dubois

Mon premier livre de contes du Canada
par Corinne De Vailly

Secrets des fleurs de bord de routes
par Marie D’Amours

par Melvin Gallant

The 2012-2013 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award nominations will be announced this spring.

More Canadian Book Awards?

The past six weeks it seems that I've had post after post listing nominated titles for book awards.  It's all in prep for the April and May award announcements.  A quick glance reveals that, from the end of February to the end of April, young readers will be voting for their favourite books in the following programs:
  • Blue Spruce, Silver Birch, Red Maple, White Pine and Le Prix Tamarac Awards;
  • Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards;
  • Shining Willow, Snow Willow and Diamond Willow Awards;
  • Red Cedar Awards; and
  • Hackmatack Awards.
 Many of these awards will have their winners announced in the spring, along with announcements of many juried book awards, including:
  • Canadian Library Association Book Awards;
  • Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing;
  • B.C. Book Awards;
  • Saskatchewan Book Awards;
  • Manitoba Book Awards; and
  • Atlantic Book Awards.
 So, in answer to your inevitable questions:
  1. Yes, there are a lot of Canadian book awards.  We're a big country.
  2. Yes, it is important to know about all these book awards.  If we don't applaud the efforts of our authors, illustrators and publishers, no one will know how great they are and how lucky our young readers are.  And this will influence sales which will hopefully keep these books being published.
  3. No, they don't all have to be announced at the same time, but that's just the way it is.  Not up to me.
  4. Yes, I think we should publicize all the short-lists (see all my awards postings for evidence of this view).  Short-lists provide valuable bibliographies for selecting new reading material and promote even more great Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers (see #2).
  5. Yes, it is sometimes hard to keep all the book awards straight. For that reason, I will be posting the ultimate guide to all Canadian book awards relevant to children's and young adult literature.  Soon.  I've started.  It's just hard to keep all the book awards straight.
Any other questions?  Let me know.

In the meantime, look forward to a few more postings about awards.  Yes!

Red Cedar Book Award

Also known as B. C.'s Young Readers' Choice Awards, the Red Cedar Book Award Program is a readers' choice program for British Columbia students in Gr. 4 - 7.

Each fall, two short-lists of nominated titles are announced: one for fiction, and one for information books. To be included in the program, a book must have been:
  • written by and illustrated by a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant who has lived in Canada for at least two years;
  • published two calendar years before the nomination date;
  • published by a recognized publisher and available in print;
  • recognized by other reviewers of Canadian children’s literature; and 
  • recognized as being of general interest to students in Gr. 4 - 7.
Children vote in the month of April and the winners are announced annually in May. With voting coming up shortly, I thought I would list here the nominated titles for this year's awards.

Information (or Non-Fiction) Category
Out of This World: The Amazing Search for An Alien Earth  
by Jacob Berkowitz
Kids Can Press

100% Pure Fake  
by Lyn Thomas
Kids Can Press

How to Build Your Own Country  
by Valerie Wyatt
Kids Can Press

Hoaxed! Fakes & Mistakes in the World of Science  
Editors of Yes Magazine
Kids Can Press

Whispers from the Ghettos  
by Kathy Kacer
Puffin Canada

Big Train: The Legendary Ironman of Sport, Lionel Conacher 
by Richard Brignall

It's A Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph  
by Monica Kulling
Tundra Books

Animal Aha! Thrilling Discoveries in Wildlife Science 
by Diane Swanson
Annick Press

Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers: One Hundred Ancient Egyptian Jobs You Might Have Desired or Dreaded
by Kristin Butcher
Annick Press

Fighting for Gold: The Story of Canada's Sledge Hockey Paralympic Gold
by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

The Insecto-files: Amazing Insect Science and Bug Facts You'll Never Believe
by Helaine Becker
Maple Tree Press

Learn to Speak Music  
by John Crossingham
Owlkids Books

Charlie: A Home Child's Life in Canada  
by Beryl Young
Key Porter

You Are Weird! Your Body's Peculiar Parts and Funny Functions 
by Diane Swanson
Kids Can Press

Kaboom! Explosions of All Kinds
by Gillian Richardson
Annick Press

Fiction Category
Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter  
by R. J. Anderson
Walking Backward  
by Catherine Austen
Orca Books
A Desperate Road to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson  
by Karleen Bradford
Scholastic Canada
After the Fire  
by Becky Citra
Orca Books
The Prince of Neither Here Nor There  
by Seán Cullen
The Ship of Lost Souls  
by Rachelle Delaney
The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods  
by Kate Inglis

Wanting Mor  
by Rukhsana Khan
Groundwood Books
by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada

Timothy and the Dragon's Gate 
by Adrienne Kress
Scholastic Canada

The Giant-Slayer  
by Iain Lawrence
Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Rex Zero the Great Pretender 
by Tim Wynne-Jones
Groundwood Books

March 28, 2012

The Grave Robber's Apprentice

by Allan Stratton
HarperCollins Canada
256 pp.
Ages 10-14
March 2012

Far from the menace suggested by Allan Stratton's title, The Grave Robber's Apprentice is merely the occupation which an infant boy, retrieved from a jewelled chest awash on the shore, is anticipated to fill by his rescuer, Knobbe, a grave robber.  After twelve years, Hans knows very little about himself, except that he does not want to be a grave robber.  On the other hand, Angela, the twelve-year-old daughter of the Count and Countess von Schwanenberg knows that she wants to write and perform her marionette plays in all the courts of Europe.  But, when Archduke Arnulf decides that Angela will become his next archduchess upon her thirteenth birthday, their lives take an unexpected turn.

While Knobbe uses tales of the Necromancer, an evil sorcerer who speaks to the dead, to keep Hans in line, Angela seeks out this Necromancer to help her evade her fated marriage to the iron-handed (literally) Archduke.  Her plan to use a potion to mimic her death is thwarted by the Necromancer who betrays her to the Archduke.  Luckily, Angela is saved from suffocating in her crypt by Hans, who begs to join her in saving her parents from the Archduke.

Along their journey to the mountain refuge of Peter the Hermit, a wise man who had named Angela at birth, Hans and Angela are hunted by the Necromancer and his unsavoury minions, Weevils.  With the help of some extraordinary new friends, Hans connects with his past, Angela rescues her parents, and both children help restore order and integrity to the Archduchy.

Though an unusual plot for Allan Stratton, whose emotionally-charged books Chanda's Secrets (Annick Press, 2004) and Chanda's Wars (HarperCollins, 2008) address tough issues of AIDS, child soldiers and civil war, The Grave Robber's Apprentice actually feeds Allan Stratton's passion for theatre, particularly the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.  In his Acknowledgements, Allan Stratton describes his love of classic storytelling and attending shows and working, both on stage and behind-the-scenes, at Stratford.  As such, all the features of classic tales - an evil entity, weak-willed followers, the requisite royalty, a secret, some magic, and a quest or two - with the added flavour of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies come together in The Grave Robber's Apprentice.  As the author eloquently draws the reader along, following the purposeful Angela to right the wrongs done by the Archduke, and Hans who haphazardly becomes enlightened about himself, Allan Stratton provides the charming theatricality of fairy tales and plays as the vehicle to advance the tale to its happy ending. (Come on, you knew there would be a happy ending, didn't you?)

Moreover, it's a reader's delight to identify the hidden references made to the much-loved classics.  Intimations to Shakespeare's Macbeth (e.g., the Necromancer's three prophecies), Romeo and Juliet (e.g., a potion to mimic death), The Taming of the Shrew (e.g., Bianca, and "no taming of the shrew"; pg. 231) and L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful World of Oz (e.g., "I'm melting! I'm melting!"; pg. 266) are but a few examples, and I fully intend to reread the book just to reveal a few more.

And, if you're still not sure that The Grave Robber's Apprentice is the amalgam of fairy tales and Shakespeare but instead a dark, menacing tale of thievery, let this last note convince you.  True to form, Allan Stratton starts the story with "Years ago,..." (that's "Once upon a time," right?) and ends it with the "The End."  How classic is that?


In this author talk video, uploaded by Harperkids, Allan Stratton shares more about The Grave Robber's Apprentice and his writing.

  Uploaded by HarperKids on March 13, 2012 on YouTube

March 25, 2012

Titanic Tragedy lives on in CanLit

 Image created using Textorizer
When the RMS Titanic left Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 for her maiden voyage to New York City, she was lauded as a marvel in design and size, being the largest ship afloat at the time.  When Titanic hit an iceberg less than 400 km from Newfoundland just minutes before April 15, she sadly secured a record as one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters of all time.

The 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy is due to be commemorated on April 15, 2012, with a variety of memorial cruises, dive expeditions, special movie and audio broadcasts, documentaries, and publications. To provide a comprehensive look at the RMS Titanic and her tragedy, through the words of Canadian authors and publishers, as well as through illustrations, explore this list of titles which includes picture books, novels, and non-fiction, for use in the classroom or for personal interest.


Polar the Titanic Bear
by Stone Spedden and Daisy Corning
Illustrated by Laurie McGaw
Little, Brown / Madison Press

Narrated by Polar, a stuffed polar bear, Polar the Titanic Bear, illustrated by Canadian Laurie McGaw, tells the true story of the Spedden family's travels, including their voyage on the Titanic.  Photographs and memorabilia add to the story of the family's survival after the collision with the iceberg.


Canadian Flyer Adventures #14: SOS! Titanic! 
by Frieda Wishinsky 
Illustrated by Jean-Paul Eid 
Maple Tree Press

Travelling by their amazing Canadian Flyer sled back to the afternoon of April 14, 1912, Matt and Emily land on the Titanic.  While they enjoy meeting new friends, they also realize that they have only a few hours before the massive ship will hit an iceberg.  Can they do anything to stop the collision or save their new friends?  Should they?


The Mariner’s Curse
by John Lunn
Tundra Books
Rory, who adores reading all things oceanic, is thrilled to get to travel on a luxury cruise ship, even if it is with his mother and her new husband.  When he meets the elderly Mr. Morgan, Rory is convinced there is something mysterious about the man, who could have been a passenger on the Titanic

The Danger Beneath (A Wordsy and Jess Adventure)
by David Boyd
Napoleon Publishing

In The Danger Beneath, while Wordsy travels back to April 12, 1912 and onto the Titanic, Jess must rescue her kidnapped cousin Tim from bank thieves he videotaped accidentally.

No Moon 
by Irene Watts 
Fourteen-year-old Louisa, who works as a nursemaid to a London family, accompanies them on their trip to New York aboard the Titanic.  While she tends to her young charges diligently, the sinking of the Titanic brings forth tragic memories of the drowning of Louisa's young brother, Johnny.

That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1912 (Dear Canada series)
by Sarah Ellis 
Scholastic Canada 

One month after the sinking of the Titanic, twelve-year-old Dorothy Wilton shares the details of her ordeal on board the sinking ship, as the means to explain her recent inappropriate actions at school. (CanLit for LittleCanadians review)

Deadly Voyage: R.M.S. Titanic, Jamie Laidlaw, April 14, 1912 (I Am Canada series)
by Hugh Brewster
Scholastic Canada

Returning to Montreal with his parents, Jaime Laidlaw, 14, comes of age while exploring the opulent ship and then enduring its collision with an iceberg. (CanLit for LittleCanadians review)

Ghosts of the Titanic 
by Julie Lawson 
Scholastic Canada  

Kevin and his family travel to Halifax to claim an old house they've mysteriously inherited.  While exploring, Kevin finds some old photographs and such and begins to have scary dreams about needing to help someone.  One night, he tries to answer the plea for help, and finds himself in a flooded corridor aboard the Titanic

Titanic Book One: Unsinkable 
by Gordon Korman 
Scholastic Canada

Titanic Book Two: Collision Course 
by Gordon Korman

Titanic Book Three: S.O.S.  
by Gordon Korman  

Gordon Korman's trilogy, Titanic, focuses on four young passengers aboard the grand ship: Paddy, who is a stowaway; Sophie, whose mother has been arrested; Juliana, whose wealthy father shows bizarre eccentricities; and Alfie, who is hiding a secret that would get him kicked off the Titanic.  The lives of these four young people become intertwined and they must work together to solve some hidden mysteries if they are to survive the voyage and the disaster.


The Ship That Voted No and Other Stories of Ships and the Sea
by Tony Keene
Lancelot Press

This collection of twelve Canadian tales of the sea includes one of the rescue efforts to find survivors of the Titanic.

On Board the Titanic: What it was like when the great liner sank 
by Shelley Tanaka 
Scholastic Canada

Told from the perspectives of a first-class passenger and the ship's wireless operator, On Board the Titanic presents a rich and child-appropriate introduction to this tragedy.

Titanic Halifax 
by Rob Gordon and Alan Jeffers 
Halifax reporter, Rob Gordon, with his personal connections to the tragedy, provides a guide to Halifax's connection to the Titanic, including artifacts unearthed by Alan Jeffers.

 882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic 
by Hugh Brewster and Laurie Coulter 
Illustrated by Ken Marschall
Scholastic Canada

Fact-filled book about all things Titanic, including quizzes, trivia, photographs and the personal stories of survivors.

Inside the Titanic: A Giant Cut-Away Book
by Ken Marschall
Text by Hugh Brewster
Little, Brown & Company

The stories of real children are used to personalize the amazing illustrations that show the inside layout of the great ship.

Ghost Liners: Exploring the World's Greatest Lost Ships
by Robert D. Ballard and Rick Archbold 
Illustrated by Ken Marschall
Scholastic Canada

Robert Ballard, oceanographer, recounts his discovery and exploration of the Titanic seventy years after her disappearance, as well as details other ships disasters of the 20th century, like the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River.

Titanic Remembered: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax
by Alan Ruffman

The author, a marine geologist and historian, details in text and numerous photographs, the city of Halifax's response to the tragedy in archiving the evidence and mourning the victims of the Titanic's sinking.

by Jim Pipe
Firefly Books

Told from the perspective of a reporter on board, Titanic reveals all aspects of the ship and recounts the dramatic events of its tragedy.

Titanic: The Canadian Connection (Amazing Stories) 
by Lanny Boutin
Altitude Publishing

This collection of short stories reveals the Canadian connections with the sinking of the Titanic.
Case Files: 40 Murders and Mysteries Solved by Science
by Larry Verstraete
Scholastic Canada

The sinking of the Titanic is covered in this intriguing collection of historical mysteries, which emphasize the approaches and methodologies used by scientists in solving them.


Voyage of the Iceberg: the Story of the Iceberg that Sank the Titanic
by Richard Brown
James Lorimer
2012 (Third ed.)

Looking at the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic at the turn of the twentieth century, Richard Brown's tale tells of the voyage of the iceberg and the animals and ships that cross its path, until its collision with the Titanic.

RMS TITANIC: Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage
by Hugh Brewster
HarperCollins Canada
March 2012

While published as an adult book, young adults fourteen years of age and older will enjoy reading the personal narratives of some of the famous victims and survivors of the Titanic, especially because of Hugh Bewster's exhaustive research and attention to detail (including rarely seen photographs).

Titanic Lives: On Board, Destination Canada 
by Rob Rondeau
Formac Publishing
April 2012

Marine archaeologist Rob Rondeau focuses on the fascinating stories of ten Titanic passengers, both famous and not.

n.b. Teachers or book-buyers who would like a pdf of this posting can download one here from scribd