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2015 Preview Interview: Annick Press

One publisher I’ve never talked to is Canada’s Annick Press. Let’s fix that, shall we? I talked to Brigitte Waisberg over at Annick to get up to date on their 2015 books.

Travis: How was 2014 for Annick Press? Things you were especially happy about?

We were thrilled when The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dušan Petricic, won the 2014 TD Children’s Literature Award.

It had already received a number of other awards, but winning the premier children’s book prize in Canada was especially exciting.

The other book which garnered a great deal of attention, rave reviews, and prestigious awards, including a place on the 2015 USBBY Outstanding International Book Honor List, was Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices.

Young Natives from a wide range of backgrounds and accomplishments contributed heartfelt pieces about growing up Indigenous. Countless people have told us just how much a book like this has been needed.

We also published a book version of Shane Koyczan’s international hit To This Day: For The Bullied and the Beautiful, a poem that has been called the core of the anti-bullying movement and has become an internet sensation viewed by millions of people.

Thirty artists from around the world contributed deeply personal illustrations to complement Koyczan’s poem.

That’s a cool idea.

Publishing question: Annick is based in Canada – do you notice any differences in the children’s book market between Canada and the US?

I think we’re both dealing with many of the same issues—the decline in independent bookstores and cutbacks in school budgets; however, when we’ve attended conferences in the U.S., we’ve found that teachers and librarians are still actively looking for books that meet core curriculum standards while fostering a love of reading. We often hear them say that they particularly like the books coming from Canadian publishers because they feel fresh and different.

I could see that. There are a lot of great books coming out of Canada.

Speaking of, what do you have coming up for the picture book crowd?

Ready, Set, Kindergarten! is a charming picture book about a little girl developing all the skills she’ll need when she starts school.

Once she learns to do things like count, recognize letters, say “sorry,” and share her toys, she approaches the first day of kindergarten with confidence. This is a great book to help young children get over pre-school jitters.

Middle grade?

We’re very proud of an upcoming picture book for middle grade readers. Mister Doctor is based on the true story of Janusz Korczak, a well-know pediatrician and radio personality in pre-war Poland, who also ran an orphanage for Jewish children.

When the Nazis forced all the Jews into the ghetto, and then to the death camps, he never abandoned them. This is a profoundly moving book that can be used to introduce children to the Holocaust without exposing them to the more graphic details found in books for older children.

Nonfiction makes up a good chunk of your list – is that considered a specialty of Annick? What’s new on the nonfiction horizon for you guys?

Nonfiction is definitely an area that we’ve become known for. We like to combine history or science with storytelling so that kids want to read nonfiction simply because the stories behind the facts are interesting. A good example is Galloping Through History: Incredible True Horse Stories.

Author Elizabeth MacLeod introduces six horses that have been instrumental in changing the course of history.  Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat is a wide-ranging look at the history, science, and economics of food.

Kids will find it particularly interesting to read about how marketing hype affects our food choices. It will also help them figure out some of the confusing messages about what and what not to eat.

Thanks for the update! Anything we missed?

If they’re not familiar with them already, teachers and librarians may want to check out our free Book Talks for whiteboards at our website, www.annickpress.com/books/book-talks.php. These interactive, ready-made talks are a great tool to introduce students to many of our titles.

Thanks for taking my questions, Danielle!

More 2015 Preview Interviews:

Flying Eye Books

Groundwood Books

Kids Can Press

Owlkid Books

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.