- Calla - Silver Threads on Teacher’s Guide: Silver Threads
- My next (big) thing…What I’m working on now | Urve Tamberg on Next big thing: What I’m working on now…
- Calla – Iryna Korpan at Toronto Film Festivals! | Moon Festival on Iryna Korpan at Toronto Film Festivals!
- mskrypuch on Barb Hesson’s Making Bombs review in the Calgary Herald
- Taras Tronka on Barb Hesson’s Making Bombs review in the Calgary Herald
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love everything about The Stowaways — from the beautiful Dean Griffiths painting on the cover to the bright red ribbon bookmark and the way that the book fits cozily in my hands. Even before opening it, I knew that it would take me back to a simpler time, and of classic children’s stories.
On one level, this is a straight adventure, about Rory, the younger twin brother, needing to prove to his family that he’s all grown up and dependable and that he will find their lost grandfather. There is sibling rivalry, bullying at school — all the things you’d expect in a book about kids, be they mouse kids or human.
But Marentette does some interesting things about stereotypes. The old people don’t sit on rocking chairs and snooze. They are action heroes. I also like how Marentette shows the baby sister also as having her own set of special talents. What a nice change for kids, to see that people (be they mouse or human) are active and vital regardless of their age.
Marentette also does interesting things with context. Just the thought of these little wee mice talking and thinking and going to school, making juneberry paste — makes you want to stop and think and consider every little thing. It’s also neat to think of the Stowaways’ entire world is the size of a city block. I loved small details of a thimble falling on the father’s head and getting stuck, a button becoming a bicycle wheel, escape by mail truck. All these instances of common things seen in different context is utterly neat to read.
And of course, what makes this book so enjoyable is that it is a page turner. We care about Rory and his family. We want them to find Grandfather. We want them to survive.
As I read this, I couldn’t help thinking what a fabulous movie this would be.
Thanks, everyone, who came to last night’s book launch at the Brant County Library in Paris! Zeta Phillipo and Sharon Brooks — thank you for organizing it! The young lady holding tightly onto her copy of The Best Gifts sat in the front row and listened intently. Zeta and Sharon, thanks for the lovely calla lilies — my favourite!
Author Marsha Skrypuch has two picture books out this week, When Mama Goes to Work, and a revised version of The Best Gifts, which was originally published in 1998. (BRIAN THOMPSON Brantford Expositor)
Brantford author Marsha Skrypuch’s recently released picture books are a marked departure from the historical fiction that continues to garner acclaim.
Out just this week are her 16th and 17th works: a picture book called When Mama Goes to Work, and a revised version of The Best Gifts, one of her earliest books, originally published in 1998.
“Having these two picture books out in the midst of the serious war fiction is a nice breath of fresh air,” she said.
It won’t be long before Book 18 hits the shelves. Underground Soldier is the third volume in a Second World War trilogy that includes Stolen Child and Making Bombs for Hitler. Publication is set for Jan. 1.
Skrypuch has also written a young adult novel scheduled to be published next summer — a First World War love story that originates in Brantford.
What with book launches, speaking engagements and school and library visits that take her across the country, life is sometimes a whirlwind for the successful writer.
“It’s crazy busy, but it’s good busy,” she said.
When Mama Goes to Work follows several children and their working mothers as they move through the day. The story idea, said Skrypuch, was inspired in part by her friend Sharon Brooks of Kids Can Fly. Brooks, and several librarians consulted by Skrypuch, agreed there is a dearth of books about working moms and the children they leave in the care of others.
“The story parallels what’s happening with mom and child as they do the same things throughout their days,” said Skrypuch. “They’re thinking of each other and wishing they could be together but they are in each other’s hearts.”
Skrypuch has dedicated the book to her mother and two grandmothers, all working women.
Fans of Skrypuch will remember The Best Gifts, the story of Sara and the important moments in her life. The author’s second published book, released 15 years ago, has sold worldwide.
This rewritten version makes Best Gifts a more multicultural tale with all new illustrations by Elly MacKay.
“The original pictures were all blue-eyed and blond,” said Skrypuch. “We wanted to make it more inclusive. It’s a similar story but the cultural details are different.”
On the heels of her 2013 Silver Birch Award (Grades 3 to 6 reader category) for Making Bombs for Hitler, Skrypuch has been shortlisted for more honours.
Making Bombs was a finalist for the $5,000 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. The book is also a finalist for the $25,000 Kobzar Literary Award. The winner will be announced in March.
One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way — based on the childhood of a Brantford woman — is shortlisted for the 2014 Silver Birch non-fiction award. This is one of the Forest of Reading programs in which 250,000 Ontario kids choose the winners.
A launch for Skrypuch’s newest books will be held at the Brant County Library in Paris on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the launch will go to Kids Can Fly, a registered charity that supports early learning and parenting.
Driftwood is unlike anything she has written before. The seemingly simple narrative of a boy on summer vacation at a campground by the sea turns out to be a series of linked stories wrapped together, commenting and reflecting on each other. Every single person in this novel changes for the better in an unexpected way. By the last page I was openly weeping. I don’t want to give the story away. Suffice it to say that you’ll be drawn into Driftwood by the simple and engaging story, but you’ll have a deeper appreciation of the world around you by the time you reach the end. Bravo Valerie!
A lovely and informative book. The illustrations are colourful and engaging and make the book feel kid-friendly. The author devotes a page or two to each significant Armenian holy days throughout the year, giving historical, religious and cultural details for each, as well as suggestions on how to celebrate or commemorate the day. This tiny book is chock full of useful information for Armenian parents and children who are eager to keep their traditions. It is also a useful quick guide for someone like me, who writes about Armenian history. Well done!
Meet the Professional: book wholesaler, Jeff Burnham
My hometown of Brantford Ontario is rich in Six Nations culture and history. I love to go on long bike rides and one of my favourite routes takes me behind the Mohawk Chapel and past the Woodland Cultural Centre. Right beside the Woodland Cultural Centre on Mohawk Street and tucked into an industrial mall is Goodminds.com. I had passed it many times and took note of it, meaning to drop in.
Last June, I did.
Jeff Burnham is the president and he operates Goodminds.com with his wife Linda and their staff. He took me on a tour.
The warehouse is huge. Jeff showed me through the section where Aboriginal materials are organized – shelves upon shelves of curriculum texts, language instruction books, fiction and non-fiction for the school market, but also for academic and general reading. This is the largest and broadest selection of Aboriginal books in North America.
Goodminds.com second specialty is the school library market. Marlene Turkington, a former teacher-librarian from London Ontario, is their curriculum consultant and that part of the warehouse is massive as well.
Jeff took the time to sit down with me and answer a few questions.
Can you tell me about GoodMinds.com?
GoodMinds.com is an Aboriginal, family owned book wholesaler, based on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, at Brantford, Ontario, Canada. The business now stocks more than 6,000 titles including school library books and a strong Aboriginal collection.
Although GoodMinds.com technically opened its “doors” in April 2000 to distribute Aboriginal educational resources, the roots of the business extend to a combination of events in 1987 and 1995. Today, GoodMinds.com is operated by Linda and Jeff Burnham and 10 staff to date, including Sheila Staats, Marlene Turkington, Rosemary Lunau, Josiahs Cook, Sandy Nagy and others.
What is your role in GoodMinds.com?
As President, I focus on long term planning. Up until recently, we focused on Aboriginal books, but we identified a need for non-Native high quality children and youth books for the school library market, so we’ve expanded to include that as well. With that change, we’ve been making it easier for schools to purchase from us. We implemented automated shopping carts at book fairs, in our office and our website.
We have also been working with publishers directly with some projects – assisting in the production of books where we have the expertise and we see a need.
Implementation of the new SALT program is something I am passionate about.
What is SALT?
SALT stands for Supporting Aboriginal Libraries Today. It is a fund started in 2013 by GoodMinds.com, initially to raise money for the Six Nations Public Library, for their $15 million dollar new building and archives. We almost immediately realized that a huge need for a library existed in hundreds of Aboriginal communities across Canada. More than 90% of Aboriginal communities do not have any public library at all.
GoodMinds.com is donating 10%, of Canadian public library sales to the SALT fund and will do the same for all other sales upon request. For complete details please see the SALT information on the web site at www.goodminds.com.
Wow. I had no idea that most First Nations communities do not have public libraries.
SALT is a literacy issue and an education need.
Currently no funding exists in First Nations communities to start a public library. What scarce dollars there are has to compete with obvious needs such as housing, water and sanitation, roads, and education. Given that competition, it is easy to understand why most First Nations communities do not have a public library.
SALT is ultimately a campaign to get the Federal Government to recognize the need for public libraries in Aboriginal communities, and to provide funding for public libraries, so that literacy can improve in Aboriginal communities. At GoodMinds.com we see this as an important social justice concern. With everyone’s help we can make a difference!
Can you tell me about your book selection process at Goodminds.com?
Books are selected by our two professional selectors. Sheila Staats selects all Aboriginal Books from Grades K-12, and also for our College, University and Adult collections.
Marlene Turkington selects all other books for the library collection, which also includes Early Education, Graphic Novels from Grades K-8 and YA books. Marlene is a former head librarian for a large school board in Ontario.
Both have had years of experience and are knowledgeable about choosing books that support curriculum needs.
Can you describe your typical day?
My day ranges from administrative accounting functions and consultations with staff in the office, to very interesting meetings with authors and customers at book fairs, conferences and other events. There really is not a “typical” day. It can range from packing 100 bins of books for a major display, to setting up at a show, to selling, then packing up again and returning to the office to put the books back on the shelf, only to repeat the process the next day.
What kind of writing are you passionate about?
I recently enjoyed reading The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.
Is there something you wish people would ask you, but they never do?
I would love to be invited to speak about the need for public libraries in Aboriginal communities.
Peer into your crystal ball and tell me what you see in the future for children’s publishing.
GoodMinds.com sells books that for the most part are written and published by others. We are dependent on writers who put their heart and soul into the books they write.
As for the future, I hope there will continue to be growth in children’s multicultural books and in particular Aboriginal books. I hope that the general public will read more multicultural titles. That would be the best way that I know for everyone to become more informed about our global village.
Let me close by using Aboriginal books as an example. A book about residential schools is written more for the non-Aboriginal reader than for the Aboriginal reader. Most Native people already know about Residential Schools, but non-Native readers can learn about the issue by reading such a book. They may not already know that the real intention of Residential Schools was to get rid of the “Indian Problem”. We know now that the Residential School policies didn’t quite accomplish their goal. In some cases they did more damage by creating a whole new set of problems that we are still living with today. By reading a book on that topic, a non-Native reader can gain empathy.
Marsha Skrypuch won the Silver Birch Fiction Award last year for Making Bombs for Hitler. Her narrative non-fiction, Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue From War won the BC Red Cedar Award for non-fiction and was a Red Maple Honour book. This year, One Step At A Time: A Vietnamese Orphan Makes Her Way is a Silver Birch non-fiction nominee, and Making Bombs for Hitler has been shortlisted for the Kobzar Literary Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.
I am THRILLED that Making Bombs for Hitler has been shortlisted for the Kobzar Literary Award. Congratulations to my fellow nominees –
The nominees for the 2014 Kobzar Literary Award, handed out every other year in recognition of Canadian books that present “a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit,” include poetry, a play, a “folk history,” and a pair of novels (including one for kids). The shortlist is as follows:
- Luba, Simply Luba by Diane Flacks, with Andrew Tarasiuk and Luba Goy, (Scirocco Drama/J.Gordon Shillingford, 2013)
- The Unmemntioable by Erin Mouré (House of Anansi Press, 2012)
- Baba’s Kitchen Medicines by Michael Mucz (University of Alberta Press, 2012)
- Blood and Salt by Barbara Sapergia (Coteau Books, 2012)
- Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic Canada, 2012)
Each of the finalists will read from their work on Oct. 27 as part of Toronto’s International Festival of Authors. The $25,000 prize will be handed out on March 5.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a must-read for anyone who thinks people who come to Canada to escape war and terror are treated with compassion. The CSIS rabbit hole that Suleyman Goven fell into in the late 1990s would have killed him if not for the twist of fate that brought Mary Jo Leddy into his life. Many refugees have suffered like he has in silence, and I am sure many continue to be abused by CSIS. Kudos to Leddy for her meticulous account of this injustice, and thank goodness Goven was able to survive this horrendous abuse.