Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Confessions of a Teenage Leper

Confessions of a Teenage Leper_YA

Not your average sick lit, Confessions of a Teenage Leper is an insightful and sardonic tale of a cheerleader who finds her world turned upside down when a surprise diagnosis not only changes her plans, but how she sees the world. Read on to find out how author Ashley Litlte was inspired by a class project and a visit to a leper colony in British Columbia.

Q&A with Ashley Little

Little_AshleyWhere did the idea for this story come from?

While I was doing my undergraduate degree in creative writing, a prof assigned our class a historical fiction piece. We had to find something in British Columbia’s history that interested us and then research it using three different sources (microfiche, interviews, encyclopedias, maps, etc. i.e. not the Internet) and then write a short story about it. I found out about a place called D’Arcy Island; a leper colony on a tiny island off the southern tip of Vancouver Island, not far from where I was going to university, in Victoria; it ran from 1891-1924. I did my research and wrote a short story from the perspectives of four men and one woman who had lived there. The idea had always stayed with me because it was so haunting, and the people sent there lived in really poor conditions and were basically sent there to die, not get better.

So, about ten years later, I decided it was time to write a novel about D’Arcy Island; I went to the island and stayed three nights and visited the orchard they had kept and saw the foundations of the buildings that had housed them. I did about six months of research towards a historical fiction novel and then one night, Abby Furlowe started talking to me, and it turned into something completely different than I had planned. But instead of fighting it and trying to force myself back to the D’Arcy Island piece, I listened to Abby and went along with her on her journey, and I’m glad I did.

Why did you choose Hansen’s disease?
I think the disease provides a great metaphor for feeling like a freak, an outcast; a feeling a lot of young people struggle with in their teenage years.

Were you ever a cheerleader?
No. All the cheer details were from research. But I do have a great respect for cheerleaders now after finding out how athletic and demanding a sport cheer is.

Describe your book in six words.
Mean Girls meets The Elephant Man.

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Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Kens

Kens_YA
Raziel Reid’s first novel When Everything Feels Like the Movies was a national sensation, selected as the first YA novel for CBC’s Canada Reads and winning the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature in 2014. But some critics took issue with the book’s language and representation of sexuality, National Post columnist Barbara Kay going so far as to describe it as a “values-void novel.” Now Raziel Reid is back with another savvy and at times shocking book. Kens is a sharply-drawn satire of consumer culture and the impact of social media on the lives of teens.

KensKens
By Raziel Reid

Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens?

Raziel Reid on Satire

Reid RazielWhat does Kens mean to you?
Kens is a satire about all the things that make me sad. All the things that make me scared. All the things we try (and fail) to protect each other from. I laughed at them. And I took away their power.

There aren’t a lot of YA satires in the world. Why did you choose to use this format?
Satire in literature is a device that serves to give us an electric shock from the page so that we don’t risk becoming apathetic or complacent. In the Trump era, satire is perhaps more essential — and at risk — than ever before. In a single tweet the President of the United States can decimate a comedian’s career. The Trump administration constantly undermines the first amendment and attacks the freedom of the press, creating a rippling wave of censorship as recently seen in the firing of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers for his satirical depictions of Trump.

Satire highlights, blows up, twists, and exaggerates social and political ideas to make you heal them. To give satire a trigger warning is counter-intuitive. The whole point of satire is to trigger you. Hopefully with a bit of laughter and fun. Nothing heals faster.

What authors inspired you during the writing of Kens?
My favorite satirists are considered adult fiction writers, although I read them in my teens. Writers like Bret Easton Ellis, George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, Chuck Palahniuk, and Evelyn Waugh. Young Adult satires are rare, but Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens inspired me as I wrote Kens for its hilarious commentary on unrealistic beauty standards and consumer culture.

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018

Kirkus Reviews has revealed their picks for the Best Children’s Books of 2018 and we’re thrilled that two of our titles made the list. Congratulations to our hardworking authors!

Best Picture Books of 2018

Petra
Marianna Coppo
Hardcover | 48 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN: 9780735262676

The humorous adventures of an irresistible little rock who finds herself in constantly changing circumstances, Petra is a picture book that celebrates the power of perspective and believing in yourself.

“Coppo accomplishes a lot with a little. Her illustrations—a mixture of tempera, pastels, and digital collage—are simple but emote mountains…. Lending itself to a range of readings, from perspective to an exploration of identity, this Italian import is a pleasingly intelligent book.” – Starred ReviewKirkus Reviews

Best Middle Grade Books of 2018

The Ghost Road
Charis Cotter
Hardcover | 368 Pages | Ages 9-12
ISBN: 9781101918890

Ghosts, a family curse, buried secrets — and two girls who have to figure it all out. A new book from an acclaimed author, for fans of Coraline, Doll Bones and The Night Gardener.

“Cotter’s complex and engrossing story is enhanced by its superbly presented isolated Newfoundland setting and a satisfying dose of ghosts. The theme—the power of words—creates both a fascinating conclusion and food for thought.” – Starred ReviewKirkus Reviews

Our 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalists

GGBOOKS
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 two finalists in the Young People’s Literature categories, one in text and one in illustrated books. Congratulations to Wab Kinew, Joe Morse, and Jonathan Auxier!

Finalist for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
ISBN 9780735262928 | Tundra Books
Hardcover | 40 Pages

  • “A beautiful celebration of Indigenous excellence.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “The reverberation of the central theme—you matter—and the gorgeous illustrations will resonate with readers” – School Library Connection
  • “Kinew . . . underlines the key idea that ‘we are people who matter./Yes, it’s true./ Now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.’” – Publishers Weekly
  • “This is a forever book; one that the child can grow with from the youngest age[.]” – Windspeaker

Finalist for Young People’s Literature – Text
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
by Jonathan Auxier
ISBN 9780735264359 | Puffin Canada
Hardcover | 368 Pages

  • “This dazzling, warmhearted novel contemplates selflessness and saving, deep love and what makes a monster.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
  • “As heartbreaking as bleak midwinter — and as hopeful as early spring.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
  • Sweep’s ambition and sophistication are impressive.” – Quill & Quire
  • “. . . a tale that is both uplifting and heartbreaking.” – The New York Times

Follow the conversation on Twitter through @CanadaCouncil and by using the hashtag #GGbooks. The winners of the 2018 Governor General Literary Awards will be announced on Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

Science Literacy Week

Science Literacy Week is a nationwide celebration of science and on September 20, they will be hosting their second National Science Reading Day! Here is a list of our suggested titles to look out for next month and to read. And if you read one this week, use the hashtag #SciLit to share!

the-darkest-darkThe Darkest Dark
By Commander Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion
Illustrated by the Fan Brothers
ISBN 9781101918623, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 48 Pages
Ages 3-7 | Preschool-Grade 2
Chris is an astronaut. A very busy astronaut. Saving the planet from aliens is much more important than taking baths or going to bed, because in the darkness that comes before sleep, the worst sorts of aliens appear. These aliens plague Chris – and his dog – every night at bedtime. But when Chris watches the first televised lunar landing, he realizes that there’s a dark out in space that’s much darker than what he’s used to, the darkest dark ever, and he discovers that the unknown can be … exciting!

Red Sky At Night
By Elly MacKay
ISBN 9781101917831, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 40 Pages
Ages 3-7 | Preschool-Grade 2
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. And, the next morning, when the dew is on the grass, no rain will come to pass. These are the perfect conditions for a grandfather to take his grandchildren out on a fishing trip. Acclaimed paper artist Elly MacKay illustrates a lovely family narrative through the use of weather aphorisms, creating a beautiful and informational story which will appeal to children’s timeless fascination with the natural world.

Dr JoDr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America’s Children
By Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Julianna Swaney
ISBN 9781101917893, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 32 Pages
Ages 5-8 | Kindergarten-Grade 3
When she graduated in 1898, Dr. Jo still faced prejudice against women in her field. She accepted a job in public health and was sent to Hell’s Kitchen, one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods where many immigrants lived. There, she was able to treat the most vulnerable patients: babies and children. She realized that the best treatment was to help babies get a stronger start in life. Babies need fresh air, clean and safe environments, and proper food. Dr. Jo’s successes, fueled by her determination, compassion and ingenuity, made her famous across the nation for saving the lives of 90,000 inner city infants and children.

The Fog
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Kenard Pak
ISBN 9781770494923, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 48 Pages
Ages 4-8 | Preschool-Grade 3
Warble is a small yellow warbler who lives on the beautiful island of Icyland, where he pursues his hobby of human watching. But on a warm day, a deep fog rolls in and obscures his view. The rest of the birds don’t seem to notice the fog or the other changes Warble observes on the island. The more the fog is ignored, the more it spreads. When a Red-hooded Spectacled Female (Juvenile) appears, Warble discovers that he’s not the only one who notices the fog. Will they be able to find others who can see it too? And is the fog here to stay? Kyo Maclear’s witty story, brought to life with the delicate, misty artwork of Kenard Pak, is a poignant yet humorous reminder of the importance of environmental awareness.

The Golden Glow
By Benjamin Flouw
ISBN 9780735264120, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 48 Pages
Ages 4-8 | Preschool-Grade 3
Fox loves nature. There’s nothing he enjoys more than reading about and picking flowers. One evening, he comes across a rare specimen in his old botany book — the golden glow, a plant from the Wellhidden family, found only in the mountains, that has yet to be described. Fascinated, Fox decides to set off on a quest in search of the mysterious golden glow. With spreads of educational content interspersed throughout, The Golden Glow is a charming story that details the simple pleasures of a nature hike and celebrates observing the beauty of nature.

My Journey to the StarsMy Journey to the Stars
By Scott Kelly
Illustrated by André Ceolin
ISBN 9780735263482, Puffin Canada
Hardcover | 48 Pages
Ages 5-8 | Kindergarten-Grade 3
In this debut autobiographical picture book, celebrated astronaut Scott Kelly describes how he – and his twin brother – grew up to achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut. As Scott Kelly prepares to blast back to Earth after a record-breaking year spent on the International Space Station, he thinks about what brought him here and what awaits him at home.

The ToadThe Toad
By Elise Gravel
ISBN 9781770496675, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 32 Pages
Ages 6-9 | Grades 1-4
She’s good for the environment … and she’s disgusting! The Toad is the next installment of the Disgusting Critter series. Hilarious illustrated non-fiction about toads perfect for beginning readers. Humorous text and funny illustrations will leave young readers croaking for more.

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, Tundra Books
Hardcover | 128 Pages
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7
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. From the marvels of aboriginal inventions such as the canoe, igloo and life jacket to the latest pioneering advances in medicine, education, science, engineering and the arts, Canadians have improvised and worked together to make the world a better place.

Endurance-Young Readers EditionEndurance, Young Readers Edition
By Scott Kelly
ISBN 9780735263420, Puffin Canada
Hardcover | 320 Pages
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7
Prepare to blast off with astronaut Scott Kelly as he takes readers on a journey through his year aboard the International Space Station. Discover the extreme challenges of long-term spaceflight, the pressures of living in close quarters with people from many countries, the extremely dangerous risk of colliding with space junk and the unnerving feeling of not being able to help if tragedy strikes at home. Find out the story of Kelly’s childhood, his struggles in school, and ultimately the inspiration that sparked his incredible career, and the training to become a test-pilot and then astronaut.

#TheGhostRoadTour

Our queen of spooky middle grade, Charis Cotter, released a new book this fall called The Ghost Road and some of our bloggers participated in a blog tour! Check out what they had to say below and pick up a copy of the book if you’re looking for something to get you in the Halloween spirit.

  • Lisa @ remarkablylisa said “Charis Cotter has a way with words that made it a perfect blend of middle grade and young adult level of writing.”
  • Jessica @ Vellichors suggested it as a “book to give you the chills and get you ready for Hallowe’en, but still make you feel warm fuzzies.”
  • Heather @ Krimsuun Pages liked that “Charis Cotter has a way of describing the environment around the characters that is both eerie and beautiful.”
  • Stephanie @ A Dream Within a Dream called it “a fantastic new addition to the middle grade paranormal genre.”
  • Katelin @ Pretty Little Library loved “the detailed family history, and the villainous curse that followed the members for generations was a great mystery.”
  • Cindy @ Cindy’s Love of Books was “pleasantly surprised” and “instantly sucked in.”
  • Amanda @ Brains, Books, and Brawn said that the characters and “lively” and “feel as if they could actually be real.”
  • Zoë @ Writing Whimsy thought the setting was “a charming introduction to Newfoundland in the 1970s.”

Such great reviews! If you’re looking for a Halloween book, look no further than The Ghost Road.

The Ghost Road
Written by Charis Cotter
Hardcover | 368 Pages
ISBN: 9781101918890

For the first time, Ruth is heading to Newfoundland to stay with family she’s never met instead of spending the summer traveling with her dad. When she arrives, she finds life in the small community of Buckle very different from Toronto–everyone knows everyone else, and some of them believe in ghosts and The Sight and family curses. Ruth’s cousin Ruby is also staying for the summer, and the two discover they have a lot in common: they both lost their moms when they were two years old, they’re the same age and they even like the same food. But while Ruby believes in spirits and fairies, Ruth believes in science and cold, hard facts.

When they find ominous information on some tombstones in the local cemetery, Ruth and Ruby start investigating their family’s past and discover that twin girls are born in every generation, and every set of twins dies young, leaving their children without mothers. What’s more, one of the twins always has The Sight and can see the Ghost Road that leads to the mysterious lost settlement of Slippers Cove. What happened there? What does it have to do with their family? And who is the ghostly presence that keeps visiting Ruth late at night?

The answers lie somewhere along the Ghost Road . . . if they can only find it.

Finalists for the 2018 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) has announced the finalists for the following eight major awards for Canadian children’s books:

  • TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
  • Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse
  • Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction
  • Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
  • John Spray Mystery Award
  • Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
  • Prix Harry Black de l’album jeunesse

The nominated books exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators. The following Penguin Random House Canada Young Reader titles have been chosen:

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

When the Moon ComesWhen the Moon Comes
Written by Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Matt James
Tundra Books for ages 4-8
“When the Moon Comes is an idyllic childhood moment frozen in time… The quiet, expressive text combined with the evocative illustrations draws the reader in to the story until you become one with the children, feeling the biting cold of the night air on your cheeks as you glide effortlessly over ice in the silver light of the moon… The illustrations evoke a strong feeling of nostalgia and community friendships and are a perfect complement the text.”

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Little Blue ChairLittle Blue Chair
Written by Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
Tundra Books for ages 3-7
“This circular tale takes readers on a whimsical journey from here to there and back again following the travels of an ordinary little chair… Charming illustrations in a soft palette offer just the right amount of detail to draw in children and give them plenty to explore with each re-reading… This gentle story is a testament to the creative power of the imagination…”

When the Moon ComesWhen the Moon Comes
Written by Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Matt James
Tundra Books for ages 4-9
“This nostalgia filled adventure with friends will resonate with those who love the moon, nature and hockey… The friends’ anticipation and excitement for their nighttime excursion is palpable… James’ strong illustrations emphasize the beauty of winter, the wonder of a dark night, the power of the moon and the fun of an escapade with friends.”

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

The Agony of Bun O'KeefeThe Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada for ages 12 and up
“This sad and beautiful book, rich with soul and heart, gives voice to marginalized characters and addresses weighty topics with sensitivity… I will not forget Bun O’Keefe. She holds a place in my heart as she does in the heart of Busker Boy and will do in the hearts of those who read her story… This is a book that may be a mirror or a window for readers, or a story that builds empathy for the many challenges faced by those not fitting societal expectations.”

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

The Agony of Bun O'KeefeThe Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada for ages 12 and up
“A moving and heart-wrenching story about loneliness, innocence and the healing power of finding a family of one’s own… Themes of forgiveness, loyalty, love and healing are woven throughout the story, and combine with humour and unforgettable characters to make a book that will stay with readers long after the last page.”

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined - paperbackEverything Beautiful is Not Ruined
Written by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Penguin Teen Canada for ages 14 and up
“An enthralling novel that packs an emotional punch, Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined is the story of one teenaged girl’s personal journey towards forgiveness and self-discovery… Younge-Ullman has crafted a beautiful and compelling story about a mother and daughter, grief and resilience.”

Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!

The winners of the English-language awards will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at Bram and Bluma Appel Salon in Toronto on October 29, 2018. The winners of the French-language awards will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at Scena in Montreal on November 19, 2018.