Friday, October 25, 2013

Great Kids, Great Reads Podcast

I've started something a little new, trying to combine my love of radio with my love of books.

So I'm launching a new podcast. Great Kids, Great Reads (click here to hear #1)

GKGR features interviews with my fave booksellers and I get their picks for must-read books - picture book, middle-grade and YA.

The amazing Melissa Bourdon-King and Michelle Gram from Mabel's Fables Bookstore are my guides for the first few episodes. Podcast #1 features some of their spooky book nods.

There's also a Facebook page for the podcast, where we will post the books (feel free to LIKE)!

And stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where have you gone Jackie Robinson?

So, now that the big TD awards are behind us (List of amazing winners here), it's time to turn our attention back to baseball.

The World Series starts tonight. (Why the teams needed 5 days off to rest, I do NOT understand. Kind of eradicates the idea of playoff conditioning. I mean, each team is now rested and can start whomever they want as a pitcher.)

Anyway, I'm working on a book about baseball and numbers so I'm thinking about the little things in the game right now, and the not so little things.

One thing struck me as I was looking at the rosters of Boston and St. Louis. They are almost exclusively white players. This is definitely true of the starting pitching, and mostly true of the starting lineups in general.

This is worth noting, because it signals a trend in baseball, that baseball itself is trying to address - the decline of African-American players. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig launched a task force at the beginning of this season to look at the causes and some possible solutions.

When Jackie Robinson joined Brooklyn in 1947 he ushered in an era of integration. The percentage of African-American players in the game peaked around 30 years later, which is now around 30 years ago. It was about 19%. Now it's closer to 7%. (The folks at SABR have a great analysis of the numbers here. It is worth noting that there is a rise in players from Latin America and Asia.)

I won't get into all the reasons why this is important. Let's just say if baseball is "America's pastime", it needs to better reflect "America's demographics."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Tonight is the BIG awards night for Kids Lit in Canada.

The TD Book Awards. (Full disclosure, Neil Flambe #4 is up for the John Spray Mystery Award! I'll be wearing my lucky snoopy tie.)

As my friend Helaine Becker points out, there's more money handed out tonight than at any other Canadian book awards night. I sincerely hope the media reports the results tonight and tomorrow. (hint, hint)

Will the winner of the big $30,000 TD award be mentioned/interviewed on national radio? Fingers are crossed.

I'm always perplexed by the lack of attention Canadian authors get at home, compared to children's authors in other countries. When I was hosting CBC Radio Q a few weeks back, I opened with an essay praising the incredible depth of the Canadian scene. (Full text is here)

The Canadian scene is as strong as any in the world. The quality of writing, the excellence of the images, the strength of our editors, publishers, booksellers and librarians (this is a team effort) is unrivalled, but hampered (perhaps) by the term "Canadian."

Time to jettison the idea that the term limits us. That it means we only tell stories for Canadian kids, or (worse) that we only get published here because we are Canadian. We publish and sell everywhere, and names such as Oppel, Gay, Klassen, Ellis, Nielsen, (and so many more) are debated in school yards and reading clubs around the world. (Oh, yeah, did I forget Franklin, Munsch and Scaredy Squirrel?)

Alice Munro's Nobel win proves that you can find the universal in the local. It also proves the rest of the world recognizes what we've got here.

This isn't an "us vs. them" rant about kids writers vs. adult writers. I'll be hosting the Giller Lite Bash in a couple of weeks and just like good writing, wherever it exits. We are all separate parts of an incredibly rich world.

So, time to celebrate all of us!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bearded Bosox

I'm not a huge fan of the Red Sox, but I love those beards!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Land of the Silver Birch!

Flambé and the 
Tokyo Treasure has been nominated for the Silver Birch Award for Fiction!

Canada has such a rich and varied collection of writers and illustrators. Check out the list here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The GREAT Roy Peterson

I'm not sure how I missed the news that Roy Peterson died at the end of September but there was a glowing and much deserved tribute in today's Globe and Mail.

Sad news, but a chance to remember one of my absolute heroes.

When I was younger, I was given a copy of his book Blood, Sweat and Bears. Peterson did the cartoons, and Stanley Burke wrote the text.

Peterson's mastery of line, shadow (cross-hatching that would make angel's weep) and his sense of fun inspired me to try drawing my own cartoons. I've never even come close.

I mean, just look at how much is going on in this one!

I love the Alan Eagleson caricature, flipping the bird. If you ever read my book Shadrin Has Scored for Russia, you'll see dozens of 'homages' to this book in my drawings.

This one if possibly my fave. So simple, but so thoroughly considered. Each details is perfect, from the curve of the stick, to the way the wood of the trophy has clearly been chewed instead of sculpted. Wow.

I still have my copy of Blood, Sweat and Bears, one of my most treasured possessions. And I still pull it out and study it, and steal from it for my own work.

Roy Peterson, thanks.