Bob Heidbreder will be speaking at our annual Illustrator’s Breakfast on November 16. This year’s theme is a tribute to the late Sheila Barry a highly regarded publisher at Groundwood Books and a beloved editor to all who worked with her. Her legacy includes many wonderful award-winning books for children.
What is your favourite memory of Sheila?
Sheila and I did not meet often because of distance, but with emails and phone conversations I felt we were both discovering again and again a valued, happy friendship.
Every aspect of living engaged Sheila. Liveliness, lovingness, warmth and care are what I will always remember about Sheila. She willingly shared her spirit.
What particular quality or ethic did Sheila bring to her editing work?
Big ears—to listen to the creator and to catch the rhythms of the story as it is told.
Big eyes—to see the beauty, power and strength that even an unfinished manuscript is hiding.
Big heart—to embrace books, to cherish editing and to esteem others.
What three qualities do you think a great picture book possesses?
Great picture books are like great choreography. The words and the pictures dance together to create a moving musical whole.
Great picture books are like great poetry. They send you along linguistic and visual paths you didn’t know and challenge you here and there on the way.
Great pictures books are like great gifts. They surprise you, enrich you and become a lasting part of your life.
What books did you work on with Sheila?
There were only two books that Sheila and I worked on together directly:
Song for a Summer Night and Rooster Summer, but I know she was behind the scenes in many of my other books at KCP: Lickety-Split, Drumheller Dinosaur Dance, A Sea-Wishing Day, etc. And we were just to begin editing Our Corner Store, which in an email to me when she accepted the book she called “pure joy.”