Deborah Hodge 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 was a lot of fun and we often laughed together. Once when she was heading to Bologna for the Children’s Book Fair, I told her I was envious of her trip. As a consolation, the next time I was in Toronto, she treated me to a dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant where we shared yummy pasta and glasses of sparkling prosecco.
What particular quality or ethic did Sheila bring to her editing work?
Sheila was a gifted editor who believed deeply in her creators and their creative process. She trusted the authors and illustrators she worked with and provided a warm, supportive space where creators could feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. She used to say to me, “I’ll read anything you write.”
What three qualities do you think a great picturebook possesses?
Wonderful writing, beautiful art and a seamless (and happy!) marriage between them.
What books did you work on with Sheila?
Cooking with Bear, Groundwood Books, 2019
Bear’s Winter Party, Groundwood Books, 2016
West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet, Groundwood Books, 2015
Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City, Kids Can Press, 2011
Up We Grow! A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farm, Kids Can Press, 2010
The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration, Kids Can Press, 2006
(I would also consider these books to be among my best ones.)