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Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards shortlists announced

The finalists have been announced for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, a pair of annual $6,000 prizes that recognize excellence in writing and illustration in Canadian English-language books.

This year’s winners will be selected by two five-member juries from Aldergrove Public School in Markham, Ontario, and will be announced on May 20.

The nominees in the children’s picture-book category are:

The nominees in the young-adult and middle-reader category are:

The awards are administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and funding from the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.

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Libris shortlists announced

The Retail Council of Canada has announced the finalists for the 2014 Libris Awards. Nominated and selected by members of the Canadian book industry, the awards recognize excellence among authors, publishers, editors, sales representatives, and booksellers from across the country.

Winners will be announced on June 2 at the Toronto Congress Centre, as part of the Retail Council of Canada’s Store Conference.

This year’s lifetime achievement award will be presented to CBC Radio host and author Stuart McLean.

The nominees are:


  • Joseph Boyden
  • Amanda Lindhout
  • Louise Penny
  • Charlotte Gray
  • Alice Munro




  • Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, Ontario)
  • McNally Robinson Booksellers (Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
  • Words Worth Books (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • Mosaic Books (Kelowna, B.C.)
  • Another Story Bookshop (Toronto, Ontario)

Specialty Bookseller

  • Bakka Phoenix Books (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Kidsbooks (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • Mabel’s Fables (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Woozles Children’s Bookstore (Halifax, Nova Scotia) 

Campus Bookseller

  • UBC Bookstore (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • The Book Store at University of Western Ontario (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • King’s Co-op Bookstore (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • University of Regina Bookstore (Regina, Saskatchewan) 


  • Jennifer Lambert, HarperCollins Canada
  • John Metcalf, Biblioasis
  • Nicole Winstanley, Penguin Canada

Young Reader

Picture Books

  • The Dark by Lemony Snicket; Jon Klassen, illus. (HarperCollins Canada)
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; Barbara Reid, illus. (Scholastic Canada)
  • Lasso the Wind by George Elliott Clarke; Susan Tooke, illus. (Nimbus Publishing)
  • This Little Hamster by Kass Reich (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt; Matthew Forsythe, illus. (Simon & Schuster)


  • HarperCollins Canada
  • Raincoast Books
  • University of Toronto Press

Sales Rep

  • Ali Hewitt (Ampersand Inc.)
  • Sherry Lee (Simon & Schuster Canada)
  • Lynne Reeder (Random House of Canada) 

Small Press

  • Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Biblioasis
  • Gaspereau Press
  • Groundwood Books
  • Nimbus Publishing


  • ECW Press
  • Dundurn Press
  • HarperCollins Canada
  • House of Anansi Press
  • Penguin Canada
  • Random House of Canada

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E.L. Doctorow wins Library of Congress Prize, Kickstarter fundraises for NYC pizza book, and more

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Q&A: Cinema Politica’s Ezra Winton on launching a self-published book

Svetla Turnin, filmmaker John Greyson, academic Tom Waugh, and Ezra Winton

Last week, Montreal’s Cinema Politica launched its first book, Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism, a compendium of writing by filmmakers, activists, and academics to mark the non-profit organization’s 10-year anniversary.

What began as a screening series of independent political films at Concordia University has, over the past decade, expanded into a vast network of more than 100 community and campus chapters across Canada and beyond. True to the organizations’s independent, anarchist roots, co-founders Svetla Turnin and Ezra Winton decided to self-publish the book – and come up with a distribution plan that excludes chain bookstores and multinationals like Amazon.

Q&Q talked with Winton about the self-publishing process.

How did the book come together? About a year ago at our board meeting we were talking about the approaching ten year anniversary of our organization, and we felt like it would be nice to have some kind of cultural artifact that serves as a marker, that acts as interpretive material for the films, and that also would give us a chance to articulate this important intersection between documentary and activism that we are so invested in. We just said, “Well, why don’t we make a book?”

Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route? Since we know designers and printers, we thought we would do it ourselves.

The person who designed our website and basically everything for us is Kevin Lo and he designed the book. We’ve worked for the last 10 years with the same printers here in Montreal called Kata Soho. They’re a community printing press and very much connected with the activist community, so we knew we’d work with them.

Did you ever consider going with an established publisher? We didn’t, because we wanted to be able to control the content and the price, so we could keep the book accessible. Also, working with an academic process is a very slow process. We had a tight time frame.

We’re getting really good response from the book. If we don’t go bankrupt from doing this, we’re thinking of doing another one on a related subject and approaching an academic press to collaborate.

How did you choose contributors? We just kind of used a snowball procedure where we contacted filmmakers and academics that we knew. For instance, a filmmaker named Shannon Walsh, whose films we’ve shown, wrote a chapter. Another academic in Atlantic Canada, Darrell Varga, I heard him give a really great talk about documentary and utopia, and we asked him if we could publish the talk.

The second tier was approaching activists and people we work with. We asked Kristen Fitzpatrick at Women Make Movies in New York to write a short piece, because they’re one of our favourite distributors. And then Svetla and I wrote a long introduction where we tried to give shape to this abstract idea of documentary activism.

Will there be a digital edition of the book? There will be. We’re focusing on selling the hard copies right now. As we approach a break-even point, we’re going to release an ebook version that will be cheaper.

How did you approach practical publishing decisions given that you’re pretty new to this? It’s been a steep learning curve and kind of ad hoc decision making for sure. Three people have been advisers on the book: Marc Glassman, who ran the Pages bookstore in Toronto for over 30 years; Larissa Dutil from the Co-op Bookstore here at Concordia; and David Widgington, who ran a small publishing company called Cumulus Press from 1998 to 2008. We’ve been able to get some advice from them like how to price the book, which turns out to be quite tricky.

What’s your distribution plan? We have a four-pronged approach. We printed 1,000 books. We’ll be selling books online through our website. We’ll sell them at events like the Social Forum in Ottawa, the Anarchist Book Fairs, and other independent book fairs. We’re also hoping our local chapters will sell them at their events. We’re giving them a bulk price so they can use the book as a fundraising tool as well. Then there are the independent bookstores and libraries.

We’ve decided not to work with Amazon because of their poor labour record. I guess Amazon is increasingly the way people are getting their books, but the flip side of it is that there are fewer and fewer bookstores.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

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Cover to Cover: Janet Munsil’s That Elusive Spark

Click on the thumbnails to see how designer Natalie Olsen draws on a 19th-century industrial accident to suggest the story and themes in Janet Munsil’s play That Elusive Spark (Playwrights Canada Press).

This feature appeared in the April 2014 edition of Q&Q.


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Goodreads syncs with Amazon purchases, Lee Boudreaux to start Little, Brown imprint, and more

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NSFW: David Cronenberg’s new book trailer

It’s rare (if ever) that Q&Q posts a link considered not safe for work, but we’ll make an exception for David Cronenberg.

A trailer for the filmmaker’s debut novel, Consumed, has appeared on the website of his publisher Hamish Hamilton.

Very little else has been revealed about the novel, except that it will be released Sept. 30, the cover was designed by Chip Kidd, and Viggo Mortensen praised its “originality, wit, preoccupation with technology, and uncompromising carnality.”

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Paul Wells wins $10,000 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize

Two weeks after receiving the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing, Maclean’s politics editor Paul Wells has won the 2014 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006­– (Random House Canada).

In a press release, the jury praised Wells for his “lively, witty and perceptive insider, political portrait of Stephen Harper as a calculating, incremental politician.”

Wells was selected for the $10,000 prize from a shortlist of five titles, narrowed down from 40 submissions. The other nominees were:

  • P. Whitney Lackenbauer, The Canadian Rangers: A Living History (University of British Columbia Press)
  • David O’Keefe, One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada’s Tragedy at Dieppe (Knopf Canada)
  • John L. Riley, The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

The prize is awarded annually to “the best book on Canada, Canadians, and/or Canada’s place in the world published in the previous calendar year.” It honours Canadian newspaper editor John Wesley Dafoe, who worked for the Manitoba Free Press from 1901 to 1944.

Wells will be presented with the award in Winnipeg on May 27.

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Biographer Gregory White Smith dies, Gone Girl trailer offers tip line for fans, and more

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Cooking lessons from the University of Guelph’s culinary collection

Melissa McAfee, special collections librarian at the University of Guelph, delicately opens a 1684 fifth edition of The Queen-Like Closet by Hannah Woolley, a British widower believed to be the first woman to make a living writing cookbooks.

Along with Kathryn Harvey, head of the university’s archival and special collections, McAfee has hand-picked favourites from the library’s collection of old and rare culinary tomes. There are handwritten sepia manuscripts with carefully wrought calligraphy; books that demonstrate how to prepare delicacies like swan pie; and those with more modest objectives, such as an early edition of Catherine Parr Traill’s The Canadian Settlers’ Guide. A thin saddle-stitched book commissioned by Jell-O offers harried 1950s housewives options for shortcut cooking, whereas Cory Kilvert’s The Male Chauvinist Cookbook demonstrates how 1970s men can woo ladies by appealing to their stomachs.

These titles don’t begin to cover the breadth of the University of Guelph’s culinary collection. At 14,000 volumes, it’s one of the largest in North America (Library and Archives Canada and McGill University also have significant collections). The British Library used to acquire Canadian domestic-arts books until the Second World War, when the wing in which they were housed was bombed.

The university’s archives and special collections are located in the basement of the McLaughlin Library, a building constructed in the seemingly ubiquitous Brutalist style of the late 1960s. Although much of the archives reflects the school’s early years as a centre for agriculture, domestic arts, and veterinary studies, they now include significant materials on Canadian theatre, Scottish culture, and literature. The Jean Little collection contains more than 90 diaries and other personal ephemera belonging to the beloved children’s author, while the Lucy Maud Montgomery archive features scrapbooks, journals, an original manuscript of Rilla of Ingleside, and more than 1,200 photos donated by Montgomery’s son and literary executor, Dr. E. Stuart Macdonald.

Tim Sauer, former head of information resources, and Jo Marie Powers, a retired hotel and food administration professor and founder of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards, established the collection in the early 1990s. The bulk of its holdings came from several high-profile donors. Shortly before her death in 1999, former Chatelaine home economist, author, and “collector of social history” Una Abrahamson donated more than 3,000 books and unpublished manuscripts, including many of the university’s rarest and oldest British, French, and early Canadian titles.

After downsizing her home in 2009, Jean Paré, author of the popular Company’s Coming series, donated 6,700 books from her personal research library. The university also acquired substantial materials from the late Edna Staebler, best known for her Food that Really Schmecks series on Mennonite cooking and culture.

Acquiring for the collection has never been an issue, says Harvey. “Once you let culinary enthusiasts know that you have anything related to cooking, they come out of the woodwork.” Space is the utmost concern: the entire library houses more than 1.2 million volumes in a building made for 625,000, with more stored off-site. There have been preliminary steps toward digitizing the collection, but it can be time-­consuming and expensive, especially when dealing with rare, valuable volumes.

Although donations of international titles were accepted in the past, Harvey and McAfee agree that, moving forward, the focus will be on Canadian content – a decision that brings its own challenges.

“We haven’t figured out what that means yet,” says McAfee. “It’s a complicated issue, because Canadian cooking is a mix of cultures and different ethnic groups. You can’t say it’s about butter tarts.”

One category the library is interested in is community cookbooks such as The Home Cook Book (Tried! Tested! Proven!), compiled by “the ladies of Toronto and chief cities and towns in Canada.” Since it was first published in 1877 as a fundraiser for the Toronto Children’s Hospital, there have been more than 100 editions, most recently in 2002 from Whitecap Books. McAfee jokes that, at some point in history, there was a copy in every household. “It’s become Canada’s Joy of Cooking,” she says.

Although it’s easy to get wrapped up in the beauty and novelty of 200-year-old books, the collection is not a static entity, nor is it stuck in the past. As part of the University of Guelph’s decade long role as co-host and sponsor of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards (rebranded in 2012 as the Taste Canada Food Writing Awards), the archive receives annual donations of all the shortlisted titles, which ensures that contemporary authors, such as Martin Picard and Naomi Duguid, are represented for future generations.

“These books are great for showing what ingredients are available, what people’s tastes are, what they were interested in during a certain time period,” McAfee says. “It’s a really great way of studying communities.”

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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