Heart of a Champion


Ellen Schwartz has done it again! In her new book Heart of a Champion (Tundra Books), Schwartz weaves the compelling tale of a young Japanese-Canadian child’s dreams to become a baseball player, against persecution and racism of the time. This excellent historical fiction book gives a face to a dark time in our country when people of Japanese heritage were uprooted from their homes, businesses and careers and sent to internment camps in small rural communities. These people lost everything; everything but hope. Through the eyes of Kenny, a 10 year old Japanese boy and his friendship with Susana, a Jewish girl the reader can begin to understand the prejudice, cruelty and discrimination faced by people of different races and religions.  Ellen’s book is expertly researched and extremely well-written. It is recommended for both children and adults who want an accurate portrayal of the life and times of Jews and Japanese Canadians in the 1940s.
– Shar Levine

Here’s what the Jewish Independent is saying about Heart of a Champion: http://www.jewishindependent.ca/uniquely-b-c-baseball-story/

Posted in book review, books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, juvenile fiction, novels, What Writers/Illustrators Read | Tagged | 1 Comment

Kah-Lan wins Word Award

CWILL member Karen Autio has won the national 2016 Word Award for best children’s novel for Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter illustrated by Sheena Lott and published by Sono Nis Press.

Karen is the acclaimed author of a trilogy of historical novels for young readers: Second Watch, Saara’s Passage, and Sabotage. Her books bring to life the remarkable stories she has discovered in Canadian history and express her love of sea otters and fondness for word play. Each title has been shortlisted for book awards, including the BC Chocolate Lily Book Award, Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book, and the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Karen is a popular visitor in BC and Ontario schools, and was selected as a presenter for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week in May, a nation-wide celebration of children’s literature. She also gave the opening keynote address at the 2016 BC Youth Writers’ Camp in Penticton.

The Word Guild sponsors the Word Awards, which honour work published in a wide variety of genres. For the full list of Word Award winners, see:


To learn more about Karen and her books, visit www.karenautio.com.


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Reading Lights Phase 2 is here!


CWILL BC is pleased to announce that the books for Phase 2 of the Reading Lights project have been chosen.

Reading Lights is a program in which plaques featuring children’s books by BC authors and illustrators are installed on lamp posts near parks, playgrounds, schools, and libraries throughout the city of Vancouver to offer children exciting and unexpected encounters.

Reading Lights is a collaborative project of Vancouver Public Library and the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of B.C. Society. The first set of twenty Reading Lights plaques were installed in January 2016.

Congratulations to the authors and illustrators whose books were selected for Phase 2 of the projects. Here’s the list:

Eat, Leo! Eat
Written by Caroline Adderson
Illustrated by Josee Bisaillon
Kids Can Press

The Yoga Game by the Sea
Written by Kathy Beliveau
Illustrated by Denise Holmes
Simply Read Books

Big City Bees
Written by Maggie de Vries
Illustrated by Renne Benoit
Greystone Books

Ben Says Good Bye
Written by Sarah Ellis
Illustrated by Kim La Fave
Pajama Press

Kendra Kandlestar and The Box of Whispers
Written and illustrated by Lee Edward Födi
Simply Read Books

Written by Cynthia Heinrichs
Illustrated by Jumin Lee
Simply Read Books

Written by Jude Isabella
Illustrated by Kathy Boake
Kids Can Press

Brave Highland Heart
Written by Heather Kellerhalls-Stewart
Illustrated by Werner Zimmermann
Fitzhenry and Whiteside

Peace is an Offering
Written by Annette LeBox
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegrin
Dial Books for Young Readers

A Boy Asked The Wind
Written by Barbara Nickel
Illustrated by Gillian Newland
Red Deer Press

Follow That Map!
Written and Illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Kids Can Press

Mister Got To Go, Where Are You?
Written by Lois Simmie
Illustrated by Cynthia Nugent
Red Deer Press

Small Saul
Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press

Stop Thief!
Written by Heather Tekavec
Illustrated by Pierre Pratt
Kids Can Press

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
Written by Chieri Ugaki
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press

No Pets Allowed
Written by Irene Watts
Illustrated by Kathryn Shoemaker
Tradewind Books

Hungry For Math: Poems to Munch On
Written by Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming.
Illustrated by Peggy Collins
Fitzhenry and Whiteside

Maggie’s Chopsticks
Written by Alan Woo
Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Kids Can Press

Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts
Written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Illustrated by Elizabeth Shefrin
Tradewind Books

Boy Meets Dog — A Word Adventure Game
Written by Valerie Wyatt
Illustrated by Dave Whamond
Kids Can Press

Details about when and where the plaques will be located will be released at a future date, so stayed tune!



Posted in Art exhibitions, CWILL BC news & events, latest news, literacy, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Book a trip—welcome the 2016 summer reading club!

It’s officially summer and, once again, time for the BC Library Association’s Summer Reading Club!

I’m pleased to be the official illustrator for this year’s program. I’m joining illustrious company; many CWILL artists have taken on this role in the past, including Jeremy Tankard, Ashley Spires, Dianna Bonder, and Kirsti Wakelin.

The theme for this year is “book a trip”—which is right up my alley, since I love to travel and it’s a big part of my creative process. As a matter of fact, I was on a trip to the UK and Ireland when I first agreed to take on the project.

I spent the fall working on the concepts and visual designs for the theme. I decided to build around the idea of a steampunk-style book that has the ability to transform into different vehicles and take a trio of critters on different adventures.

You can see this concept illustrated in the final poster:

I produced many options for the trio of critters, but eventually we ended up with the following crew:

The pilot: Amelia Squirrelheart, a flying squirrel

The navigator: Caboodle Cogsworth, a travel bug

The engineer: Fixer, a polar bear

Here are some of the images of the crew on their adventures . . .

The talented team at the BCLA has done a wonderful job with all this material. Roger Handling designed all the material, such as the poster, the reading record, and the stickers. Shayne Letain (a previous summer reading club artist) also produced a wonderful website, that is full of animation and completely interactive. Here’s a snapshot of the homepage:

Check out all the interactivity here. (But be prepared to be lost on the site for a few minutes while you click on all the different scenarios and animations.)

My friends and colleagues know that in addition to being a writer and illustrator that I like to build. So it was kind of a no-brainer to try and construct a model of the steampunk book (which I like to call the portal passport). Here’s my model:

Of course, it doesn’t look exactly like my illustration . . . but it does have moving parts! This summer I’ll be visiting many BC libraries and helping kids make similar props—portal passports full of dials, gears, and buttons . . . and of course, the best thing of all: empty pages to fill with their own imaginings and inspirations.

Posted in activities for kids, Summer Reading Club, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

First chance to get Last Chance Island!

Come celebrate the launch of two new books, “Last Chance Island” and “Taking a Chance on Love,” with the authors, Norma Charles and Mary Razzell on Thursday, April 28.

This is a free event, hosted by the wonderful Christianne’s Lyceum in Vancouver. Threw will be tea, wine, and Irish baking! And, of course, there will be a chance to purchase signed copies of the books by the authors.

Book Launch!

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Calling BC Writers and Illustrators


Do you write stories or poems for children 12 years and younger? Would you like them to be featured under a Reading Light?

Have look at the Reading Lights installed this year. (Ashley Spires and her panel are pictured above.)

The Vancouver Public Library and CWILL BC Society are now seeking submissions of BC books for twenty more ‘lights’.

As part of Year 2 of this initiative, excerpts of stories or poems with associated illustrations from published children’s literature will be featured on permanent plaques (24” high by 7” wide) and placed on lamp posts in Vancouver. The author and illustrator will be highlighted with links to the library for further reading. They are intended to spark an interest in stories and reading, while celebrating the work of BC authors and illustrators.

If you are/ or have been a resident of BC for at least 2 years and write or illustrate for children 12 years and younger, please read these submission criteria. Books in English and other languages reflecting the diversity of BC are welcomed.

Submission Criteria

  • The story excerpt or poem must be aimed at young readers, 0 to 12 years.
  • Fiction, nonfiction and poetry are all eligible.
  • Illustrations must be integral to the text.
  • At least one of an author/illustrator team must be/ or have been a resident of BC for 2 years.
  • Books must be submitted in print. No electronic copies.
  • You may submit up to 3 books for consideration.
  • All permissions must be included with your submission – from the author, illustrator, and publisher. This can be in the form of a letter or a print copy of an email. Include these in your submission package.

What Happens Next?

  • A jury of three people will review the submissions and select twenty to feature on lamp posts across Vancouver.
  • The design team from VPL will consult with selected authors / illustrators before the plaque is finalized and request a high-quality digital image from the book.
  • The plaques will be manufactured and installed at selected sites.
  • The anticipated completion of Year 2 of this project is January 2017.
  • Books submitted as part of the application process will be donated to the Vancouver Public Library.


Before mailing – please follow this checklist:

  1. Have you included a hard copy of your book specifically aimed at children 12 years and younger?
  2. Is one of your author / illustrator team a resident, or has been a resident of BC for 2 years?
  3. Are all print copy permissions included with the submission? SUBMISSIONS SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED UNLESS ALL PERMISSIONS ARE INCLUDED IN THE PACKAGE.
  4. Have you included your contact information? Please include our name, address, phone number, and email address.

Send hard copies of all of the above to:

Reading Lights
1250 Esquimalt Avenue
West Vancouver
V7T 1K3

Questions? Contact Reading Lights.

Your submission must be postmarked by April 30, 2016 for consideration.

Posted in Art exhibitions, CWILL BC news & events, latest news, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment