Monday, November 22, 2010

2 new awards from the Canadian Toy Testing Council

The Canadian Toy Testing Council has just released its list of Top 10 Great Books for Children 2011, and TWO of our titles are on it! Wow!
Perry by Paola Opal

And Ella's Umbrella's by Jennifer Lloyd with illustrations by Ashley Spires.

Thanks to all the kids who read and voted for our titles! And congrats to all the other winning books too!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dot, the world's smallest stop-motion animation

This is one of the cutest animations -- and the world's smallest. What's extra cute and serendipitous is that Henry's mother, from Sara O'Leary's When You Were Small books, is actually called Dot, too!
Thanks to Betsy Bird over at Fuse#8 for the link!
Sara also has an awesome blog about books and book-related things too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

cute, impractical bookshelf!

Thanks to Betsy Bird for the link! She got it from Yay!Everyday, a cool site with tons of inspiring images!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jolly news for Jack the Bear

The 2011 Blue Spruce Official Selections are out and hip-hip-hurray!
Jack the Bear by Christina Leist was one of the selected titles.

The Blue Spruce Award is part of the Forest of Reading Awards, a program headed by the Ontario Library Association. For each of the Forest of Reading Awards, readers are encouraged to read all or a selection of the books and vote on their favorite. Usually 250,000 readers across Canada (mainly Ontario) are involved.
It's a brilliant way of exciting readers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

fairy tale photos

These photos are fairy tale perfect. Flickr blogger Lissy Elle is so inspirational. Every photo suggests an enchanting story.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

GG nomination, Owls See Clearly at Night

Here is the big Simply Read Books news!

Owls See Clearly at Night: a Michif alphabet / Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: l’alfabet di Michif by the talented Julie Flett was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2010 for the category Children's Literature - Illustration.

The awards are announced November 16 in Montreal, and presented on November 25 in Ottawa at Rideau Hall.

As Canada Council says, "In Owls See Clearly at Night, Julie Flett’s beautiful and elegant illustrations eloquently describe the Michif alphabet. Each letter’s vignette is thought-provoking, depicting elements of the natural world in an illumination of meaning. The letters appear deceptively simple at first glance, but in fact each contains its own mysterious, lyrical story."

Congrats to all the other books nominated too! The competition is steep!

Here are some images from Julie's book:

TVO features The World is Your Oyster

Great news! The lovely TVO program, Gisele's Big Backyard, has featured another one of our titles, The World is Your Oyster by Tamara James and illustrated by Emma SanCartier.

Here's a link to the show!

When you are done learning all about the book, there is a great activity that includes questions relating to the book. Fun, fun, fun!

pom-pom activity for Foggy

Here is the first of a series of blog posts today!
This is the super cute pom-pom activity that goes along with the (also super cute) book Foggy, by Robin Mitchel-Cranfield and Judith Steedman.

The link to the pdf of the activity (on our website) is here.
And another great set of instructions is here.

We at Simply Read love craft activities that go along with books and are always looking for more. If you have any to suggest for any of our titles, please email at!

Monday, October 4, 2010

simply read books sign

At Word on the Street in Vancouver, it was raining quite a bit! Check out what happened to our sign:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

supernatural collective nouns

Our new board book Calling All Animals, by Matthew Porter, is all about collective nouns--but of the animal sort.
This amazing index lists all kinds of supernatural collective nouns! They are so great: a tizzy of fairies, a rage of orcs, a dignity of dragons. I'd love to see these illustrated.

Thanks to bookninja for the post!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Singing Away the Dark Shadow Puppets

Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad just came back from the press and we are very excited!

So excited in fact that we've created a fun activity to go along with the book - creating shadow puppets!
Specifically to go along with illustrations from the book like this:

A downloadable pdf of the instructions and templates are available from our website here.

And here are the instructions too.

Materials you need:
- white paper
- pencil
- thick board paper, any color
- brass paper fasteners
- extra-long straws or rods (around 40 cm long)
- tape or glue gun
- screen and light

Step 1.
Use the provided templates of the animal you want to make a puppet of on plain white paper. You can also draw your own
template! If you want your puppet to move you probably want to have two parts to it: the head, and then the body. You don’t want more than three (You don’t want more joints than a single puppeteer can manipulate). Cut the template out.

Step 2.
Trace the template onto a thick board. Cut the shape out.

Step 3.
Poke holes in the template where the hole marks are and stick a wire or brass paper fastener through fi rst the head, then the

Step 4.
Using a glue gun or tape, affi x a stick or an extra long straw or rod to the back of the puppet. Attach one rod to each part that
moves. For example, use one rod for the body and then one rod for the head.

Step 5.
Prepare a surface for refl ecting the shadows, such as a wall, screen or the side of a tent, free of pictures or wall hangings.

Step 6.
Choose a light source like a fl ashlight, lamp, or lantern. Even a projector makes an excellent screen.

Step 7.
Construct the performance area. Make sure you include an area for the puppeteers to maneuver the puppets between the light
source and the shadow surface.

Step 8.

Next up will be a pom pom activity to go along with Foggy by Judith Steedman and Robin Mitchell-Cranfield.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

beautiful limited edition classics

Wow! These limited edition puffin designer classics are so beautiful. The Secret Garden designed by Lauren Child especially so. (Unfortunately this one is sold out.)
Check it out and others here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Mania's Memory book launch!

This beautiful book is one of the first to launch Simply Read Books' new imprint Read Leaf of fiction, art and photography books and pop culture books.
In Mania's Memory is a powerful Holocaust story by award-winning journalist Lisa Birnie. The story follows the lives of two women, one a Holocaust survivor (Mania) and one an ex-Nazi guard (Johanne), as they cross paths on a search for the truth: did Joanne save Mania's life during the Holocaust?

The advance reception of it is exceptional so far:
The Vancouver Sun says: "A thorough and satisfying exploration of how two people on opposite sides of a great divide survived an unspeakably grim period of human history.”
Robbbi Waisman said, "I almost missed my plane - I couldn't put it down!"
He will be speaking at the book launch in Vancouver next week!

When: Thursday September 23, 6 to 8 pm
Where: Bau Xi Gallery, 3045 Granville Street

If you are in town, please join us for this amazing launch!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TimeOut New York Kids!

TimeOut New York Kids has been posting weekly picture book picks, including great books like More Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya and It's a Book by Lane Smith.
This week they chose Julie Flett's Owls See Clearly at Night!
They say: "The gorgeous, bilingual ABC book Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet introduces kids—and, likely, parents—to the language and culture of the M√©tis people of North America."
And the review ends with an awesome field trip idea (if you're in New York, of course): Consider pairing a reading with a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian.
For the full review, click here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

red riding hood animation

To continue fairy tale interpretations: here's a bizarre video of red riding hood by Tomas Nilsson, a Swedish art director and motion graphics artist.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

how pretty

In the mode of fairy tales -- we're working on a version of Wild Swans, and Alice Through the Looking Glass -- I came across this lovely image of Cinderella by PCP... more cute stuff here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

very cute baby bookshelf

This adorable bookshelf looks perfect for holding Simply Small board books by Paola Opal, no?
Especially Ollie!

You can find it at DwellStudio Baby.

Friday, August 20, 2010

it's a book

A very cute video by Lane Smith!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

bembo's zoo

Ooo la la. What fun!
Created by the graphic designer Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich Bembo's Zoo is an animated version of his picture book, "Bembo's Zoo: An Animal ABC Boo", in which letters form stylish animals. The animated, interactive site is amazing. Go to the page here and hover over the letters. Then click on one to see what happens! It's impossible to choose a single favorite letter/animal, but here are a few that I liked:

We love abc books at Simply Read. They are brilliant because they allow a talented illustrator to show off his or her style, or explore an interesting place, or an interesting concept.

Here are a few of ours:
ABC by Julie Morstad

ABC by Matthew Porter

Ryan Heshka's ABC Spookshow

Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer) by Julie Flett

Runaway Alphabet by Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrated by Ben Frey

And... in the works:

One day it would be nice to do a gallery show of all the Simply Read ABC illustrations!

Friday, August 13, 2010

calling all animals

Just a few days ago the wonderful Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 reviewed our board book, Calling All Animals, by Matthew Porter.
As she says:
"One of the finest little board books the eye ever did see. They may be small. They may be short. They may not be overwhelming you with content. But board books are hard and Matthew Porter consistently gets them right. Something to be said for that."

The full review can be read here.

Calling All Animals is consists of collective animal nouns. In general, collective animal nouns are so interesting!
Here are some included in the book:

Some other awesome collective nouns include:
a charm of hummingbirds
a smack of jellyfish
a mischief of mice
a sneak of weasels
a prickle of hedgehogs
a zeal of zebras

And why not make up more? A good collective noun for babies, I think (depending on their mood), would be a Giggle of Babies!

Also, if you don't follow Betsy Bird's blog, definitely check it out. It is an amazing blog, hosted by the School Library Journal, and she posts pretty much every day!

Monday, August 2, 2010

book cake

This is the best cake ever: a book cake.

Made by Cake Power Kids. As they say: "One of the sweetest things in the world is to make a kid's birthday cake--there is nothing like that look of wonder & happiness as the cake enters the room!"
Same thing goes with books. There is nothing like that look of a kid peacefully, happily reading.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

around a camp fire

Spending some time around a campfire? Why not fry up some delicious bannock?
It's a combination of Scottish bread and First Nations' fry bread and is found throughout First Nations' cuisine, including the Metis people. In fact, bannock, in Michif, is called Gallet. Here is the illustration in Julie Flett's Owls See Clearly at Night:

Here is a recipe to try yourself!

Campfire bannock

2 1⁄2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons of butter or earth bound butter replacement
1 cup cold water (approximately)

Combine the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut the butter in till well blended. Slowly add water to form a thick dough. Knead the dough on a floured board for less than a minute. Form the dough into one-half to one inch cakes and place into a warmed (greased) caste iron frying pan. Place on rack or prop into the coals of the campfire. Cook for approximately 10 minutes and turn, and then for another 10 (or until cooked in the middle).

Breakfast Bannock

Use the same bannock base, add a cup of berries and serve warm with molasses or maple syrup.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

cutest interview ever

We've all seen author and illustrator interviews, but what about an interview with a doll? Not just any doll, but Cloudy, the co-star of Foggy, by Robin Mitchell-Cranfield and Judith Steedman.

The interview is on TV, on the Knowledge Network. You can watch it between kids programming on Knowledge Network, or find it online at

It is such a funny, cute stop-motion!
Check out Robin and Judith's blog too, Windy and Friends, which is chock-full of excellent crafts for kids.

Best Books for Kids & Teens!

The Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens, 2010, just arrived in our mailbox.

Yay! Three of our books are included in it!

Saffy Looks for Rain by Paola Opal

Totty by Paola Opal

The Undesirables by Paule Briere and illustrated by Philippe Beha

The magazine guide is produced by The Canadian Children Book Centre, a national, not-for-profit organization and their Book News magazines are great too. The Centre is a wonderful recourse for anyone interested in children's books.
Congrats to all the other amazing authors and illustrators whose books were chosen!
And thanks to all the dedicated librarians, booksellers and educators who sat on the selection committees!