Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards shortlists announced

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 21:08

The finalists have been announced for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, a pair of annual $6,000 prizes that recognize excellence in writing and illustration in Canadian English-language books.

This year’s winners will be selected by two five-member juries from Aldergrove Public School in Markham, Ontario, and will be announced on May 20.

The nominees in the children’s picture-book category are:

The nominees in the young-adult and middle-reader category are:

The awards are administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and funding from the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.

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Libris shortlists announced

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 19:46

The Retail Council of Canada has announced the finalists for the 2014 Libris Awards. Nominated and selected by members of the Canadian book industry, the awards recognize excellence among authors, publishers, editors, sales representatives, and booksellers from across the country.

Winners will be announced on June 2 at the Toronto Congress Centre, as part of the Retail Council of Canada’s Store Conference.

This year’s lifetime achievement award will be presented to CBC Radio host and author Stuart McLean.

The nominees are:


  • Joseph Boyden
  • Amanda Lindhout
  • Louise Penny
  • Charlotte Gray
  • Alice Munro




  • Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, Ontario)
  • McNally Robinson Booksellers (Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
  • Words Worth Books (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • Mosaic Books (Kelowna, B.C.)
  • Another Story Bookshop (Toronto, Ontario)

Specialty Bookseller

  • Bakka Phoenix Books (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Kidsbooks (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • Mabel’s Fables (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Woozles Children’s Bookstore (Halifax, Nova Scotia) 

Campus Bookseller

  • UBC Bookstore (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • The Book Store at University of Western Ontario (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • King’s Co-op Bookstore (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • University of Regina Bookstore (Regina, Saskatchewan) 


  • Jennifer Lambert, HarperCollins Canada
  • John Metcalf, Biblioasis
  • Nicole Winstanley, Penguin Canada

Young Reader

Picture Books

  • The Dark by Lemony Snicket; Jon Klassen, illus. (HarperCollins Canada)
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; Barbara Reid, illus. (Scholastic Canada)
  • Lasso the Wind by George Elliott Clarke; Susan Tooke, illus. (Nimbus Publishing)
  • This Little Hamster by Kass Reich (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt; Matthew Forsythe, illus. (Simon & Schuster)


  • HarperCollins Canada
  • Raincoast Books
  • University of Toronto Press

Sales Rep

  • Ali Hewitt (Ampersand Inc.)
  • Sherry Lee (Simon & Schuster Canada)
  • Lynne Reeder (Random House of Canada) 

Small Press

  • Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Biblioasis
  • Gaspereau Press
  • Groundwood Books
  • Nimbus Publishing


  • ECW Press
  • Dundurn Press
  • HarperCollins Canada
  • House of Anansi Press
  • Penguin Canada
  • Random House of Canada
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E.L. Doctorow wins Library of Congress Prize, Kickstarter fundraises for NYC pizza book, and more

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 17:24
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Q&A: Cinema Politica’s Ezra Winton on launching a self-published book

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 15:40

Svetla Turnin, filmmaker John Greyson, academic Tom Waugh, and Ezra Winton

Last week, Montreal’s Cinema Politica launched its first book, Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism, a compendium of writing by filmmakers, activists, and academics to mark the non-profit organization’s 10-year anniversary.

What began as a screening series of independent political films at Concordia University has, over the past decade, expanded into a vast network of more than 100 community and campus chapters across Canada and beyond. True to the organizations’s independent, anarchist roots, co-founders Svetla Turnin and Ezra Winton decided to self-publish the book – and come up with a distribution plan that excludes chain bookstores and multinationals like Amazon.

Q&Q talked with Winton about the self-publishing process.

How did the book come together? About a year ago at our board meeting we were talking about the approaching ten year anniversary of our organization, and we felt like it would be nice to have some kind of cultural artifact that serves as a marker, that acts as interpretive material for the films, and that also would give us a chance to articulate this important intersection between documentary and activism that we are so invested in. We just said, “Well, why don’t we make a book?”

Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route? Since we know designers and printers, we thought we would do it ourselves.

The person who designed our website and basically everything for us is Kevin Lo and he designed the book. We’ve worked for the last 10 years with the same printers here in Montreal called Kata Soho. They’re a community printing press and very much connected with the activist community, so we knew we’d work with them.

Did you ever consider going with an established publisher? We didn’t, because we wanted to be able to control the content and the price, so we could keep the book accessible. Also, working with an academic process is a very slow process. We had a tight time frame.

We’re getting really good response from the book. If we don’t go bankrupt from doing this, we’re thinking of doing another one on a related subject and approaching an academic press to collaborate.

How did you choose contributors? We just kind of used a snowball procedure where we contacted filmmakers and academics that we knew. For instance, a filmmaker named Shannon Walsh, whose films we’ve shown, wrote a chapter. Another academic in Atlantic Canada, Darrell Varga, I heard him give a really great talk about documentary and utopia, and we asked him if we could publish the talk.

The second tier was approaching activists and people we work with. We asked Kristen Fitzpatrick at Women Make Movies in New York to write a short piece, because they’re one of our favourite distributors. And then Svetla and I wrote a long introduction where we tried to give shape to this abstract idea of documentary activism.

Will there be a digital edition of the book? There will be. We’re focusing on selling the hard copies right now. As we approach a break-even point, we’re going to release an ebook version that will be cheaper.

How did you approach practical publishing decisions given that you’re pretty new to this? It’s been a steep learning curve and kind of ad hoc decision making for sure. Three people have been advisers on the book: Marc Glassman, who ran the Pages bookstore in Toronto for over 30 years; Larissa Dutil from the Co-op Bookstore here at Concordia; and David Widgington, who ran a small publishing company called Cumulus Press from 1998 to 2008. We’ve been able to get some advice from them like how to price the book, which turns out to be quite tricky.

What’s your distribution plan? We have a four-pronged approach. We printed 1,000 books. We’ll be selling books online through our website. We’ll sell them at events like the Social Forum in Ottawa, the Anarchist Book Fairs, and other independent book fairs. We’re also hoping our local chapters will sell them at their events. We’re giving them a bulk price so they can use the book as a fundraising tool as well. Then there are the independent bookstores and libraries.

We’ve decided not to work with Amazon because of their poor labour record. I guess Amazon is increasingly the way people are getting their books, but the flip side of it is that there are fewer and fewer bookstores.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

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Cover to Cover: Janet Munsil’s That Elusive Spark

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 15:00
Click on the thumbnails to see how designer Natalie Olsen draws on a 19th-century industrial accident to suggest the story and themes in Janet Munsil’s play That Elusive Spark (Playwrights Canada Press).

This feature appeared in the April 2014 edition of Q&Q.


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Goodreads syncs with Amazon purchases, Lee Boudreaux to start Little, Brown imprint, and more

Wed, 16/04/2014 - 17:26
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NSFW: David Cronenberg’s new book trailer

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 22:10

It’s rare (if ever) that Q&Q posts a link considered not safe for work, but we’ll make an exception for David Cronenberg.

A trailer for the filmmaker’s debut novel, Consumed, has appeared on the website of his publisher Hamish Hamilton.

Very little else has been revealed about the novel, except that it will be released Sept. 30, the cover was designed by Chip Kidd, and Viggo Mortensen praised its “originality, wit, preoccupation with technology, and uncompromising carnality.”

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Paul Wells wins $10,000 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 22:08

Two weeks after receiving the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing, Maclean’s politics editor Paul Wells has won the 2014 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006­– (Random House Canada).

In a press release, the jury praised Wells for his “lively, witty and perceptive insider, political portrait of Stephen Harper as a calculating, incremental politician.”

Wells was selected for the $10,000 prize from a shortlist of five titles, narrowed down from 40 submissions. The other nominees were:

  • P. Whitney Lackenbauer, The Canadian Rangers: A Living History (University of British Columbia Press)
  • David O’Keefe, One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada’s Tragedy at Dieppe (Knopf Canada)
  • John L. Riley, The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

The prize is awarded annually to “the best book on Canada, Canadians, and/or Canada’s place in the world published in the previous calendar year.” It honours Canadian newspaper editor John Wesley Dafoe, who worked for the Manitoba Free Press from 1901 to 1944.

Wells will be presented with the award in Winnipeg on May 27.

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Biographer Gregory White Smith dies, Gone Girl trailer offers tip line for fans, and more

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 17:23
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Cooking lessons from the University of Guelph’s culinary collection

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 16:03

Melissa McAfee, special collections librarian at the University of Guelph, delicately opens a 1684 fifth edition of The Queen-Like Closet by Hannah Woolley, a British widower believed to be the first woman to make a living writing cookbooks.

Along with Kathryn Harvey, head of the university’s archival and special collections, McAfee has hand-picked favourites from the library’s collection of old and rare culinary tomes. There are handwritten sepia manuscripts with carefully wrought calligraphy; books that demonstrate how to prepare delicacies like swan pie; and those with more modest objectives, such as an early edition of Catherine Parr Traill’s The Canadian Settlers’ Guide. A thin saddle-stitched book commissioned by Jell-O offers harried 1950s housewives options for shortcut cooking, whereas Cory Kilvert’s The Male Chauvinist Cookbook demonstrates how 1970s men can woo ladies by appealing to their stomachs.

These titles don’t begin to cover the breadth of the University of Guelph’s culinary collection. At 14,000 volumes, it’s one of the largest in North America (Library and Archives Canada and McGill University also have significant collections). The British Library used to acquire Canadian domestic-arts books until the Second World War, when the wing in which they were housed was bombed.

The university’s archives and special collections are located in the basement of the McLaughlin Library, a building constructed in the seemingly ubiquitous Brutalist style of the late 1960s. Although much of the archives reflects the school’s early years as a centre for agriculture, domestic arts, and veterinary studies, they now include significant materials on Canadian theatre, Scottish culture, and literature. The Jean Little collection contains more than 90 diaries and other personal ephemera belonging to the beloved children’s author, while the Lucy Maud Montgomery archive features scrapbooks, journals, an original manuscript of Rilla of Ingleside, and more than 1,200 photos donated by Montgomery’s son and literary executor, Dr. E. Stuart Macdonald.

Tim Sauer, former head of information resources, and Jo Marie Powers, a retired hotel and food administration professor and founder of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards, established the collection in the early 1990s. The bulk of its holdings came from several high-profile donors. Shortly before her death in 1999, former Chatelaine home economist, author, and “collector of social history” Una Abrahamson donated more than 3,000 books and unpublished manuscripts, including many of the university’s rarest and oldest British, French, and early Canadian titles.

After downsizing her home in 2009, Jean Paré, author of the popular Company’s Coming series, donated 6,700 books from her personal research library. The university also acquired substantial materials from the late Edna Staebler, best known for her Food that Really Schmecks series on Mennonite cooking and culture.

Acquiring for the collection has never been an issue, says Harvey. “Once you let culinary enthusiasts know that you have anything related to cooking, they come out of the woodwork.” Space is the utmost concern: the entire library houses more than 1.2 million volumes in a building made for 625,000, with more stored off-site. There have been preliminary steps toward digitizing the collection, but it can be time-­consuming and expensive, especially when dealing with rare, valuable volumes.

Although donations of international titles were accepted in the past, Harvey and McAfee agree that, moving forward, the focus will be on Canadian content – a decision that brings its own challenges.

“We haven’t figured out what that means yet,” says McAfee. “It’s a complicated issue, because Canadian cooking is a mix of cultures and different ethnic groups. You can’t say it’s about butter tarts.”

One category the library is interested in is community cookbooks such as The Home Cook Book (Tried! Tested! Proven!), compiled by “the ladies of Toronto and chief cities and towns in Canada.” Since it was first published in 1877 as a fundraiser for the Toronto Children’s Hospital, there have been more than 100 editions, most recently in 2002 from Whitecap Books. McAfee jokes that, at some point in history, there was a copy in every household. “It’s become Canada’s Joy of Cooking,” she says.

Although it’s easy to get wrapped up in the beauty and novelty of 200-year-old books, the collection is not a static entity, nor is it stuck in the past. As part of the University of Guelph’s decade long role as co-host and sponsor of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards (rebranded in 2012 as the Taste Canada Food Writing Awards), the archive receives annual donations of all the shortlisted titles, which ensures that contemporary authors, such as Martin Picard and Naomi Duguid, are represented for future generations.

“These books are great for showing what ingredients are available, what people’s tastes are, what they were interested in during a certain time period,” McAfee says. “It’s a really great way of studying communities.”

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Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch wins Pulitzer

Mon, 14/04/2014 - 21:11

Donna Tartt’s third novel, The Goldfinch (Little, Brown), has won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The 784-page bestseller, which beat out Philipp Meyer’s The Son and Bob Shacochis’ The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, was recently optioned for screen by producers of the Hunger Games series.

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall won the Pulitzer for biography; Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin won for non-fiction; and 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri won for poetry.



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Book of Negroes casts Nova Scotia residents, Grapes of Wrath turns 75, and more

Mon, 14/04/2014 - 17:21
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Random House Canada to publish McGarrigle memoir

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 21:45

One of Canada’s most beloved musical families, the McGarrigles, will recount their personal and artistic history in a new memoir published by Random House Canada.

The book will be co-written by Anna McGarrigle – who was one half of the folk duo Kate and Anna McGarrigle along with her sister Kate, who died in 2010 – and her elder sister Jane, who managed their career for nearly 20 years.

In a press release, Random House Canada associate editor Amanda Lewis, who acquired world rights to the book, says, “This will be a quintessentially Canadian book of the best kind, encapsulating Anna and Jane’s Irish-French background, growing up in Saint-Sauveur and Montreal, and launching stellar international careers in the music industry. It will also speak to the important (sometimes lifesaving) role of sisters, and will be a deeply moving book that captures the profound importance of the sibling relationship.”

The memoir will be released October 2015.

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Moose Jaw named inaugural Reading Town Canada location

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 21:12

Poems delivered with pizza and street-corner lending libraries are just a couple of the activities planned for Moose Jaw’s inaugural Reading Town Canada event, which runs from May 3 to 10.

According to the event website, the National Reading Campaign has partnered with the Saskatchewan Festival of Words to turn the city of 35,000 into an “exemplary model of what a reading Canada would look like.”

For a week, the NRC promises to have reading woven into the everyday lives of Moose Jaw residents. Events include a fully stocked “reading glen” in downtown Crescent Park and a reading “duel” between former Saskatchewan poet laureate Bob Currie and Judith Krause, who currently holds the position.

As part of the initiative, First Book Canada will donate thousands of Canadian children’s books to lower-income families in the city.

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Jon Klassen’s hat books sell one million copies

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 19:47

Italian editions of Klassen’s books at the 2014 Bologna Children’s Book Fair

In less than three years, Canadian-born Jon Klassen has achieved superstar status in the international children’s book world.

Publishers Weekly reports that Klassen’s first two picture books, I Want My Hat Back and the Caldecott Medal–winning This Is Not My Hat (both published by Candlewick Press/Random House), have together sold one million copies worldwide, with translations in 22 languages.

In a statement, Candlewick senior vice-president and sales director John Mendelson said, “The extraordinary support the books have received from booksellers and readers is a testament to Jon Klassen’s immeasurable talent, as he continues to win new fans every day.”

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Arthur Ellis Awards announce longlist for best novel

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 18:38

Crime Writers of Canada has announced the longlist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing in the best novel category.

For the first time this year, the 10-book longlist is being announced in advance of the shortlists in all Arthur Ellis Awards categories, “in recognition of the increasing number and quality of submissions,” a press release says. The five-title shortlist will be announced April 24.

The nominees are:

  •  John Brooke, Walls of a Mind (Signature Editions)
  •  Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk, The Wolves of St. Peter’s (HarperCollins Canada)
  •  Sean Haldane, The Devil’s Making (Stone Flower Press)
  •  Lee Lamothe, Presto Variations (Dundurn Press)
  •  Michael McCann, The Rainy Day Killer (Plaid Raccoon Press)
  •  Robert Rotenberg, Stranglehold (Simon & Schuster Canada)
  •  Howard Shrier, Miss Montreal (Vintage Canada)
  •  Sean Slater, The Guilty (Simon & Schuster U.K.)
  •  Simone St. James, An Inquiry into Love and Death (Penguin)
  •  David Whellams, The Drowned Man (ECW Press)

Winners of the Arthur Ellis Awards will be announced at a gala in Toronto on June 5.

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Novelist Sue Townsend dies, Amazon to buy ComiXology, and more

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 16:56
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First-time playwright adapts Yann Martel’s Beatrice & Virgil

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 20:15

Lindsay Cochrane

When Toronto teacher Lindsay Cochrane first read Yann Martel’s allegorical, multi-layered novel Beatrice & Virgil (Knopf Canada), she was convinced it would make a fantastic theatre production.

Four years later, the first-time playwright’s adaptation is having its premiere at Toronto’s Factory Theatre. Directed by Sarah Garton Stanley and starring Damien Atkins and Pierre Brault, the production runs from April 12 to May 11, with an opening night performance on April 17.

Q&Q spoke to Cochrane about her experience.

How did this adaptation come to be? When the book came out four years ago, there was this incessant voice in my head saying that it needs to be adapted into a play. I felt the action between the taxidermist character and Henry the writer was inherently dramatic and would work well on stage. I also thought a lot of the book’s themes would translate, especially the idea of being silenced and finding a voice.

How did you get Yann Martel’s permission? I didn’t have any playwriting experience, but I felt someone needed to do this. On a whim, I emailed Yann Martel a draft of a couple scenes and an outline. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it. His initial response was that he thought it sounded pretty ridiculous but he would take a look at it. A few months later there was a message from Yann on my voicemail giving me permission to adapt it. I was probably the least qualified person to take this on. I teach French immersion at an elementary school.

How did Factory Theatre become involved? I had the rights for six months and wrote a couple of drafts, which I submitted to Factory Theatre’s dramaturge Iris Turcott, who is responsible for developing new playwrights. Her guidance and experience helped me make this piece into something that’s quite sophisticated.

What were some of the challenges you faced? Most of the book translated quite easily. The biggest challenge was not making it too enigmatic or dense. There’s still a lot of mystery and people will leave the play not knowing everything, but, as the director put it, it needed to have a “comfortable level of enigma” so that it’s not too confusing.

How did you deal with the book’s non-human characters? That’s funny, it never struck me as a problem. One of the wonderful things about theatre is that it doesn’t have to be literal. You can have two people acting on stage and know on some level that they’re a monkey and a donkey without actually putting them in monkey and donkey suits.

How involved was Martel in the process? He’s been incredibly supportive. He flew to Toronto in June 2012 to help us workshop the script and has seen drafts since then. He will be here for previews, but not for the opening.

What lessons did you learn about writing for the theatre? I’ve watched theatre for many years so I was always thinking about it as an audience member and makes it the most interesting and engaging for them. But in doing workshops it became apparent I had to think about what the actors need, too.

Will you write any more plays? I don’t know, I have other creative projects that I’m pursuing. If I do write another one, it will have to be like this one: a story I just have to tell.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Bedouin Soundclash singer writes ebook series, PMO insiders offer intimate portrait of Stephen Harper, and more

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 17:37

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Wayne Johnston, Red Green, Arthur Black among nominees for Stephen Leacock humour award

Wed, 09/04/2014 - 20:08

The nominees for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour were announced today at Lakehead University in Orillia, Ontario.

Black’s latest, Fifty Shades of Black, is up against previous nominee Bill Conall’s The Promised Land and Wayne Johnston’s The Son of a Certain Woman, which was longlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The five  shortlisted books are:

  • Arthur Black, Fifty Shades of Black (Douglas & McIntyre)
  • Jane Christmas, And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life (Greystone Books)
  • Bill Conall, The Promised Land: A Novel of Cape Breton (Boularderie Island Press)
  • Wayne Johnston, The Son of a Certain Woman (Knopf Canada)
  • Steve Smith, Red Green’s Beginner’s Guide to Women (Doublesday Canada)

Five judges from across Canada and a small committee of readers from Orillia will select the winner, to be revealed on April 24 at the Best Western Mariposa Inn in Orillia.

The winner will receive a $15,000 cash prize provided by TD Bank Group and a silver Leacock Memorial Medal. Last year the prize went to Cassie Stocks for her novel Dance, Gladys, Dance (NeWest Press).

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