2015 Information Book Award Shortlist

The Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada announce the 2015 Information Book Award Shortlist

(Nonfiction published in 2014, listed alphabetically)

Any QuestionsAny Questions? By Marie-Louise Gay. Published by Groundwood Books.




A Brush Full of ColourA Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison. By Margriet Ruurs & Katherine Gibson. Published by Pajama Press.



Komodo DragonsDo You Know Komodo Dragons? By Alain M. Bergeron, Michel Quintin, and Sampar. Illustrations by Sampar. Translated by Solange Messier. Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.



Dreaming in IndianDreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices. Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale. Published by Annick Press.



Not My GirlNot My Girl. By Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. Published by Annick Press.



The RatThe Rat. By Elise Gravel. Published by Tundra Books.




ShapesShapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles. By Catherine Sheldrick Ross. Illustrated by Bill Slavin. Published by Kids Can Press.



Take ShelterTake Shelter: At Home Around the World. By Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton. Published by Orca Books.




tastes like musicTastes Like Music: 17 Quirks of the Brain and Body. By Maria Birmingham. Illustrated by Monika Melnychuk. Published by Owl Kids.



We countWe All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers. By Julie Flett. Published by Native Northwest.



Information Book Award Jury:
Camden Jenkins, Kerry-Ann Kerr, Ashley Killian, Deanna King, Alina Kosel, Molly Kumar, Mark MacKichan, Allison Mills, Zane Phillips, Dan Pon, Kelly Savage, Fiona Trotter, Danielle Wing.
Advisor: Judith Saltman
Chair: Kay Weisman

  • Voting Deadline: Saturday October 31, 2015
  • Winner Announcement: Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the VCLR Illustrator’s Breakfast
  • Award Presentation: Wednesday January 27 at the VCLR’s Celebrate Event: A Celebration of Award Winning BC Children’s Authors and Illustrators

For more information about voting and submissions please contact the Information Book Award Chair, Kay Weisman at weismankay@gmail.com

In person: Jacqueline Woodson, May 8, 2015

JackieWoodson74810-web-only2014 National Book Award Winner for her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. The author of more than two dozen books for young adults, middle graders and children. The recipient of many awards, she is a three-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, as well as a Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include The Other Side, Each Kindness, Beneath A Meth Moon, the Caldecott Honor Book Coming On Home Soon, Feathers, and Miracle’s Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and was adapted into a miniseries directed by Spike Lee. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature. In 2013 she was the United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Ms. Woodson lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

May 8, 2015 | Robson Square Auditorium | 7:00 pm | $25 |

Register today!

Only 8 days left to register for Serendipity 2015!

We are really excited about the line-up of speakers at Serendipity 2015. It is going to be the best edgy, eerie, exceptional day! If you haven’t registered yet, you’ve only got eight days to do so. If you have registered then now is the time to invite a friend to come with you and to start thinking about the edgy, eerie, exceptional costume you plan to wear.

Here’s a reminder of the amazing speakers we’ve brought in for you:

Andrew_SmithAndrew Smith (@marburyjack):

Author of numerous books for teens, including The Marbury Lens, Winger, 100 Sideways Miles, and Grasshopper Jungle, which was recently awarded a Printz Honor and a Boston Globe – Horn Book Award. His newest book is The Alex Crow.

TamakiMariko Tamaki (@marikotamaki):

Author of a number of novels for teens, as well as two graphic novels illustrated by her cousin, Jillian Tamaki. The most recent graphic novel, This One Summer has received a Governor General’s Award for Illustration, a Printz Honor, and a Caldecott Honor.

MollyMolly Idle (@MollyIdle) andKelli
Kelli Chipponeri:

Molly is the illustrator of numerous children’s picturebooks, including the delightfully macabre Zombelina, and the Caldecott Honor winning Flora and the Flamingo. Kelli Chipponeri is the Editorial Director, Children’s Books, at Chronicle Books in San Francisco.

HollyHolly Black (@hollyblack):

Author of a very large number of novels and short stories for children and teens, and editor of a number of short story collections. Some of her more popular books include The Spiderwick Chronicles, the Newbery Honor winning Doll Bones, and a brand new modern fairy tale titled The Darkest Part of the Forest.

And don’t forget your costume! Not only do we have prizes, we will have a photobooth with fun props to play with. Instagram pictures of you with friends and authors to #Serendipity2015

Getting to Serendipity 2015
We are holding Serendipity on the UBC campus in the Swing Space building (2175 West Mall), which is right beside the West Parkade. Map.

An interview with Serendipity 2015 conference organizer, Rob Bittner

BittnerSerendipity is the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable’s capstone event, a showcase for outstanding “talent” in children’s literature publishing and its authors, illustrators, and editors. Serendipity draws speakers and panelists from all over the globe. Months of planning and organizing make the event come together. Although it’s a large team-effort, one person (sometimes two) is the prime organizer. The organizer of this year’s dark-themed Serendipity, is the very busy Rob Bittner and he has agreed to answer some questions about the conference and talk about what makes this one particularly noteworthy.

KT: First of all, tell us a little about Serendipity 2015. Why attend? What can we expect of the day?

RB: This year’s lineup is one that I’m particularly proud of, and I think people who attend will find themselves educated, challenged, and energized! I mean, how often do you get the chance to meet such world-class, award-winning authors and illustrators? This really is the chance of a lifetime, especially since this year we introduced a special rate for teens, so they can come and meet these seriously amazing people! I would hope that if you love children’s and young adult literature, you will come to be a part of that community and talk to friends and colleagues[who will be there]!

KT: The event title is very provocative. You use the words “eerie,” “edgy,” and “exceptional.” Not terms, perhaps, that we readily think of when talking about literature for children. Can you give some examples of how they might apply?

RB: Children’s literature is always pushing boundaries. Holly Black’s Doll Bones, for example, takes something simple, a story about children and a doll, and creates a story that will give you chills, turning the doll into something both menacing but also intriguing. I think it’s important to remember that there is a darker side to children’s literature, but that doesn’t mean the literature can’t be fun and exceptional at the same time. Doll Bones did get a Newbery Honor, after all!

KT: What aspect or feature of the upcoming Serendipity most interests you?

RB: I love the way each of the authors manages to take a different perspective on important issues like adolescence, sexuality, friendship, imagination, and family. I love hearing the way different people react to all of these radically different books and narrative styles.

KT: Some Roundtable events inspire costumes. At a past event, for example, lots of admirers of Marie-Louise Gay’s books turned up as Stella. You are encouraging attendees to show up in costume—with a prize for the best. Are you going to be wearing a costume? Can you give us any hints regarding which character or book you’ll be looking to for inspiration?

RB: Hmmm… I still have time to get a costume together, right? I will likely be going for something from an Andrew Smith novel, though I may just show up in a pink swimsuit like my hero, Flora. One thing I hope everyone will be sure to do is dust off their Instagram accounts so we can show off all the costumes throughout the day! We will be having a photo booth set up during lunch!

KT: What guided your selection of speakers for this year’s Serendipity?

RB: I see so many people working on literature conferences and the speakers are, more often than not, authors of fiction with happy endings. I wanted to do something different, but also keep things interesting and even possibly light-hearted, as contradictory as that seems. I think this lineup speaks to that desire! I mean, have you read Grasshopper Jungle?

KT: What is it like talking to and arranging details with famous authors and illustrators?

RB: It can be intimidating. While I find I can develop a good rapport with authors, working with publishers to schedule them is a unique experience, often requiring a lot of patience. You definitely don’t want to have an aversion to emailing people!

KT: Can you share some stories about people you met or corresponded with while organizing the conference?

RB: Organizing this conference has allowed me to meet a lot of great people at various publishers, and getting to know the authors more is a great pleasure. I don’t really have anything specific, though at one point I did attend a dance party in Vegas with Holly Black.

KT: There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about children’s lit. What do you see as the biggest?

RB: Children’s literature seems to be a constantly expanding area of the book world. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about children’s literature is that it has to be happy or have a moral, but as you can see from our authors, that’s not always the case. I think children’s literature has the unique ability to speak to audiences all the way from children, to teens, to adults. I love that so many books for children and teens aren’t pretentious!

KT: You are heavily involved on book award committees, such as BC Book Prizes, the Newbery Medal Committee, and the Stonewall Book Award. About how many children’s books do you read a year? Any new authors that pique your interest? Any we should be keeping an eye on?

RB: I think I read about 300-400 books a year, between picturebooks and novels. It really depends on the type of award I’m reading for. Either way, it’s a lot!

I can’t single out authors on here because there’s just too many. There’s a lot of great stuff coming out later this year! If you want specific titles, come talk to me at Serendipity!

KT: Given that we’re talking about a children’s literature event, I think that readers of this interview might be interested in knowing what you like to read. Who are some of your favourite authors? And, what are you reading right now?

RB: First and foremost, I like books that really work to be different when it comes to gender and sexuality. Boundaries are there to be pushed, and there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s doing just that. I think it’s important for literature to change with culture, which is why I love reading what’s coming out NOW, so I can see how it’s mirroring contemporary society.

I love A.S. King, Gregory Maguire, Mac Barnett, and many, many others, including our speakers, of course! Right now I have to be secret about what I’m reading because I’m on a committee, but needless to say, pretty much all YA written in 2015 is up for grabs!

KT: I hear you are quite the wine connoisseur. Can you suggest wine pairings for those who like to sip while reading children’s literature?

RB: I find a nice Sauvignon Blanc works for shorter works of fiction, like picture books, while a big bold Shiraz is a great pairing with longer works and books with darker themes. Graphic novels often pair well with a nice Rosé or bottle of sparkling wine. But if you prefer cocktails, might I suggest looking to Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird?

KT: OK, and just for fun . . . if you had a superpower, what would it be?

RB: Hmmm… I would want to be an author! I seriously feel like authors are superheroes.

KT: Is there anything particular you’d like to say about Serendipity 2015 to the people reading this interview that I might have missed asking about?

RB: I don’t want people to get bored with me, so I probably shouldn’t say anymore. But I just hope everyone enjoys the conference and finds their own expectations about children’s literature challenged and expanded!

Robert Bittner is a PhD student in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. He has a BA English and a MA in Children’s Literature. Robert has spoken at numerous conferences on LGBTQ issues in children’s and YA books as well as on censorship and sexuality. In the past, Robert has also been a juror for the BC Book Prizes, the Newbery Medal Committee, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the Stonewall Book Awards. He currently sits on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. He feels like he lives under constant threat of being buried under piles of books.

Karen Taylor has a BA in English and a MA in Children’s literature and is a member of the VCLR Steering Committee.

One more reason to attend Serendipity 2015

Shannon Ozirny

Shannon Ozirny to host Serendipity 2015.

In addition to a seriously amazing lineup of authors, illustrators, and other publishing industry professionals speaking at Serendipity 2015 we are fortunate to have Shannon Ozirny as our host. If you have been to Serendipity in recent years, you will recognize Shannon as the fabulously energetic and enviably witty sprite at the microphone and mistress of ceremonies of our larger events.

Besides being a member of this year’s Odyssey Award committee, which honours the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, Shannon is a brilliant librarian and head of the youth department at West Vancouver Memorial Library. She has spoken at TEDx, has presented at numerous conferences, and remains one of the most engaging emcees you’ll probably ever see.

And, of course, one cannot speak of Shannon without mentioning her great taste in music and her cutting edge fashion sense. Come see Shannon host this wonderful lineup and keep you energized throughout the day!

Speaking of cutting-edge fashion, we will be giving away prizes for the best edgy, eerie, exceptional costumes at Serendipity this year. Pick a character or theme from one of our presenters’ books and don’t hold back.

And, because we “heart” you, we’ve extended our Early Bird ticket prices–register before February 14.

If you’ve already registered, please share the good news on your social media channels using our hashtag #Serendipity15

Serendipity 2015: Early bird deadline extended to February 14

kablam-Flowers-with-HeartsWe’ve extended the early bird registration period two more weeks because we “heart” our members and those who support children’s literature publishing. Please take advantage of these low ticket prices and register before Valentine’s Day to attend an Edgy, Eerie, Exceptional Serendipity 2015 on Saturday, March 7. You won’t regret it!

Note that we have also added special pricing for K-12  groups and high school students.

The talented Mariko Tamaki will be speaking at Serendipity 2015. Have you got your ticket?

TamakiIf you live in Canada, it’s pretty much impossible not to have heard about Mariko Tamaki. Along with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, Mariko has written the critically acclaimed graphic novels Skim (2008) and This One Summer (2014). She has also published a number of novels, including (You) Set Me on Fire (2012), Fake ID (2005), and Cover Me (2000). In addition to being an accomplished writer of fiction, Mariko is also a playwright, a performer, an activist, and a filmmaker. Come see Mariko in all of her multi-talented glory at Serendipity 2015.

Be sure to register for Serendipity 2015 while the early bird rates are still in effect!

Edgy, Eerie, Exceptional Serendipity takes place March 7, 2015 at UBC.