Announcing the 2021 shortlist for The Joan Betty Stuchner — Oy Vey— Funniest Children Book award

It’s April 1, but this is no joke!

The Joan Betty Stuchner — Oy Vey! — Funniest Children’s Book Award committee has a very serious announcement to make: our jury has finally stopped laughing long enough to tell us which books they have chosen for our shortlist!  Many funny books were entered for consideration, but these are the ones that had our jury the most buckled over with guffaws, incapacitated with giggles, and/or rib-ticklingly, side-splittingly, thigh-slappingly entertained.

The shortlisted books in the picture or board book category are:

Farm Crimes: Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg – written and illustrated by Sandra Dumais (Owlkids)

How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps – written by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by John Martz (Penguin Random House)

Aaalligator! – written by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier (Kids Can Press)

Princess Puffybottom and Darryl – written by Susin Nielsen, illustrated by Olivia Mueller Chin (Penguin Random House)

Not Me – written and illustrated by Elise Gravel (Scholastic)

The shortlisted books in the chapter book category are:

The Unteachables – written by Gordon Korman (Scholastic)

Kiddo – written and illustrated by Cynthia Nugent (Tradewind Books)

Sophie Trophy – written by Eileen Holland, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan (Crwth Press)

Mya’s Strategy to Save the World – written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Penguin Random House)

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life – written by Beverley Brenna, illustrated by Tara Anderson (Pajama Press)

Congratulations to all who are short-listed and thanks to our wonderful judges for doing the difficult work of deciding between so many funny books:

Sharon Freeman

Alan Woo

Ellen Schwartz

Winners will be announced at our Zoom extravaganza on Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (May 15, 2021) at 11am PST. If you would like to join us, please email Cindy Heinrichs  to reserve your spot.

Posted in awards, CWILL BC news & events, juvenile fiction, latest news, literary events, picture books | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join us at our Free Event — Writing and Illustrating Kids’ Books: The Inside Story

CWILL BC’s annual panel on becoming a children’s author / illustrator is coming up—and is free to attend.

When: Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Where: Hosted by the Vancouver Public Library via Zoom.

Who: Panelists include Karen AutioDarren GrothMelanie JacksonSara LeachSue Macartney and Lois Peterson. The panel will be moderated by Ellen Schwartz, author of 17 books for children, including picture books, chapter books, teen novels, and non-fiction.

Join us—professional children’s authors and illustrators—to find out how we broke into this exciting and competitive field and built our careers. Ask questions and get practical information on topics such as how to improve your writing, how to find a publisher and submit your work, what agents do, what to look for in a book contract, and what the financial rewards are.

For more information, including the link to access the event, visit the VPL website.

Posted in CWILL BC news & events, Get Started/Kid's Books panel, getting published, literary events | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you love BC creators, we’ve got you covered!

CWILL BC is pleased to announce our new and shiny newsletter, which will offer subscribers a round-up of all the latest publications being released by BC children’s authors and illustrators each season.

You can view our inaugural issue here, to learn about fall releases, and featuring artwork by our talented member, Russ Wilms.

And you can sign up for future issues here! We’ll be releasing our news round-ups two to three times a year.

Posted in new publications | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink Virtual Book Events

“Karen Autio has that great gift, which is to write a gripping story with a streamlined, yet richly specific vocabulary. I so enjoyed the physicality of Kah-Lan’s swimming and diving and grooming. This story of a young sea otter is also full of dangerous moments, which is realistic, and this makes for a real page-turner… with end-of-chapter cliff-hangers kids love!.”
Caroline Woodward, lighthouse keeper and author of ten books for adults and children including A West Coast Summer and Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper

The virtual launch of Karen Autio’s new chapter book Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink will be hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Emma Pedersen (illustrator) and Lindsaye Akhurst (Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue Centre) will join Karen to present and answer questions. It’s free and child-friendly. And it’s Sea Otter Awareness Week and Science Literacy Week! Register here:

Sea Otter Talk

Emma and Karen will also be doing a virtual book talk “All About Otters” hosted by the Vancouver Maritime Museum on Thursday, September 24. It’s child-friendly and free but they need you to register so they can send you the link:

Their publisher Crwth Press is doing a giving campaign until Oct 15, donating 40% of website sales to a non-profit related to the content of each Crwth Press book. For the Kah-Lan book it’s the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre:

To see the rest of the Crwth Press books and organizations being supported:

Posted in activities for kids, art, book launches, books/writing, classroom activities, illustration, illustration process, juvenile fiction, new publications, novels, presentations, publishers, readings, school visits | Leave a comment

CWILL BC stands in solidarity

CWILL BC denounces the acts of injustice, violence, and racism that have been committed against persons of colour, especially Black and Indigenous peoples of Canada. We stand in solidarity with them, and endorse the statements issued by The Writers’ Union of Canada, CANSCAIP, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canadian Authors Association and other organizations who have vocalized support, protested, and taken action to bring an end to prevalent and systematic racism.

As writers and illustrators who often work directly with children in schools and libraries, we realize the power that our work holds. Children’s books can offer hope to the youngest members of society, and can positively promote and effect change. Our members strive to provide diverse and fair representation in our work; this has always been a priority for us, and we will continue to make it so. Finally, we encourage, support, and celebrate the creators and stories that reflect diversity in our communities.

Posted in CWILL BC news & events | 1 Comment

Danielle R. Graham’s debut historical novel All We Left Behind

Human beings throughout history have always turned to art, music, philosophy and literature to understand and record our world. Art is how we process and document the human experience. And the arts are a source of hope during times of transition and uncertainty, like what we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, many artists and authors have had projects and appearances cancelled due to venue closures and restrictions on travelling and social gatherings, right at a time when people may need the arts the most.

Of course, creative people do quickly find other ways to share their content with live-streamed, one-person concerts from their home, drive-by window art galleries, and online story times, but the shift away from in-person events has been a challenge for artists who rely on audiences, visitors or readers.

If you have a favourite author, musician or artist you would like to champion, or if you are a patron of the arts, there are still many ways to support the arts during physical distancing.

  • Tell two people about a movie or song or book you liked, and hopefully they will tell two people so word can spread from there. Or “like” and share the artist’s social media posts to increase visibility.
  • Write reviews on book retailer sites and Goodreads.
  • Leave comments on a musician’s performance page.
  • Buy a work of art directly from an artist or commission a painting or sculpture to be delivered to you.
  • Order music and merchandise like t-shirts or posters from your favourite band or musician.
  • Start a virtual book club. Book clubs are moving to video conferencing social apps and most books are available to purchase from retailers or to borrow from the library as a digital eBook. You don’t even need an e-reader. Any computer or tablet can read eBooks with apps from iBooks, KOBO, Nook, and Amazon Kindle. Many book retailers and indie shops are also offering delivery or curbside pickup for paperback orders too.
  • Sign up for a virtual guitar lesson or art class.
  • Request that your public library purchase your favourite books for their digital catalogue — many people are surprised to learn that the Canada Council for the Arts pays public lending rights to Canadian authors for every copy of their books found in libraries across Canada — so ordering and borrowing an e-Book from your public library is another way to support authors.
  • If you are a teacher, introduce students to the work of artists and musicians online and ask them to write comments, invite them as a paid speaker to your virtual classroom, or assign a book you think is important to the reading list.

I’m sure there are more ideas to add to the list, but it’s a start.

The release date of my debut historical novel, All We Left Behind, is May 5th.
The timing of the release landing during a pandemic is both unfortunate and serendipitous at the same time.

For me, art, literature, philosophy and history have always been so important and intertwining. My two personal creative inspirations for my novel are my grandfather William Aldcorn, who was a Canadian spitfire pilot shot down during the war, and my nephews’ ninety-eight year old great-grandfather Ted Tadayuki Kadohama, who was born in Ladner BC and interned during the war.

More than 22,000 Japanese Canadians from British Columbia were treated as enemy aliens — forced by government orders to evacuate the coast and to surrender their properties and belongings. Most were sent to internment camps, highway work camps or to work as farm hands out of province. After the war ended, these Canadians — who had committed no crime — were still prevented by the government from returning home for another four years. Many never returned.

For many young people today, WWII probably seems like something that happened such a long time ago, in places they have never been to, and to people they didn’t know. The truth is, the tragic events surrounding WWII happened to people I knew, and they happened right outside our own front doors.

More than one million Canadians served in WWII, more than 40,000 were killed, and 9,000 were captured and taken prisoner of war. Food was rationed, factories were shut down or repurposed to make supplies for the war effort, nighttime quarantines and blackouts were in effect, lives at home were put on hold and lives sent overseas were lost.

Maybe another war like WWII would never happen again, but tragedies that strike and impact the entire world can and do happen — we are living through an example of that right now with the pandemic.

Not unlike the pandemic that has swept the world, World War II brought fear and disruption. But when the world is full of uncertainty, we can choose to react to that with fear or hope — just as the main characters in the book had to do. One of the quotes in the book is by the philosopher Albert Camus, which is particularly poignant today.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

— Albert Camus

With the world slowing down and taking a breather for this pandemic, the hectic component of our lives is removed and many of us find that we are inevitably drawn back to art, music, philosophy and literature. Maybe the experience of self-isolating is a reminder to return to a greater appreciation of what is truly important, to reconnect with our compassion, to re-harmonize through the rhythm of quiet creativity, to heal ourselves and the planet, and to ultimately make the world a better place.

To everyone who opens up the vulnerable part of their soul to create the art, to everyone who hears, sees, feels and becomes transformed by the art, and to everyone who deeply understands the human value of supporting the art, I thank you.

Please take care and be kind to one another. And maybe create some art to brighten someone’s day.

Danielle R. Graham is a family therapist and author from Steveston B.C.


Readers adore All We Left Behind

“As heartwarming as it is heartbreaking.”
Mark Sakamoto, author of Forgiveness, winner of CBC Canada Reads

“Heart-wrenching. Emotional. A powerful story of wartime love and devotion.”
Glynis Peters, author of The Secret Orphan

“A story crying out to be told”
Mary Martel, Netgalley

“From the very first chapter, I was hooked”
Whitney Wenthold, Netgalley

“This is another WWII novel with a bit of a twist… a story of friendship, love, heartbreak and so much more”
Pam, Netgalley

“Fabulous, gripping historical fiction…I am glad that I was able to come away from this novel learning something new about this time in history”
Rachel Fox, Netgalley

Gripping from start to finish…A must read for WWII fiction fans!”
Sydney Long, Goodreads

“An amazing story that will stick with me…historic fiction done right”
Stephanie Showmaker, Netgalley

“Historical fiction at its best”
Abby Siverman, Netgalley

Posted in books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, latest news, new publications, novels | Tagged , , | 2 Comments