Tag Archives: festival

Here Comes the Festival of Trees!

It’s actually not about trees (much to my surprise). It’s an annual festival, organized by the Ontario Library Organization that encourages reading across the province and recognizes Canadian children’s books authors and illustrators. It’s also a great opportunity to meet some of your favourite authors and illustrators and to participate in games and win prizes.

I had a wonderful opportunity to speak with Meredith Tutching, Program Coordinator, from her office in Toronto:

What is the Festival of Trees about?

The Festival is the culmination of the Forest of Reading Awards. We have 7 trees that are in our forest and 5 of them are geared towards kids. So, these are the kids programs that are wrapping up. There are a quarter of a million kids from across the province that read Canadian books that were on our short list, ending in the month of April. And the winners are being announced tomorrow and Wednesday and 12 of those  nominated authors are coming to Ottawa.

How do you choose the books that are nominated?

The books are submitted by publishers from across the country (they’re all Canadian publishers). We have teachers and librarians who have selection experience and they read all of the books that are sent in to submission and they short list it to down to 10.

The Festival in Ottawa will focus on the Silver Birch and Red Maple Programs? What are they about?

The Silver Birch is geared towards kids that are in grades 3 to 6 and the Red Maple is for kids in grades 7 and 8. And, so, in the Silver Birch there are 3 lists: a fiction list, a non-fiction list and a list called the express list, which is geared towards the grade 3 or 4 reader and the more reluctant reader and it’s a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. And Red Maple is just a list of fiction this year. And, so, that’s 40 books among the 4 programs.

When did the Festival start?

The Festival is in it’s 5th year. We did have small ceremonies before. The Program started in 1993 with just the Silver Birch. And it was a small Program and it’s just grown. And different people have come to us from across the province to add more trees to our forest. And, so, then we added Red Maple and it’s sort of grown and we have White Pine and Bruce Spruce and all sorts of different trees. We, now, have a French program and this year, in October, we’re going to be launching a French picture book program. 

And, finally, can you tell us about the nominated authors, who are going to be present at the Festival?

We have over 80 of the authors coming to Toronto over the 2 days and we have 12 of the authors coming to Ottawa. None of them know if they’re short-listed or if they’re winners. So, it will be a big surprise to them tomorrow and Wednesday. And, hopefully, there will be some winners among those who are going to Ottawa.

Each author will be doing a workshop and an autographing session. The authors and illustrators coming to Ottawa this year are: Philipa Dowding, Natalie Hyde, Jan Andrews, Anna Kerz, Rachna Gilmore, Jill MacLean, Patrick Bowman, Sharon E. McKay, Bill Slavin, Romi Caron, Susin Nielsen, Anna Ziegler.

The Ottawa Festival of Trees is taking place on May 17th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fieldhouse, Carleton University. Tickets are $10 +HST and can be purchased on-line. For more details, you can click here.

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Barefoot Books at the Veg Fest

Last Sunday, I was able to go to the Veg Fest. I haven’t been before, but I have never seen such crowds in a while; at one point, they had to stop people from going in and we had to stand in line outside until the inside cleared out a bit.

It was all about cooking demonstrations, guest speakers, silent auctions, vendors and a lot of food and planet-loving people.

I, of course, made a bee-line to the book stand, which wasn’t difficult since it was located right in front of the entrance.

Barefoot Books are books for children and they are gorgeous. (Even the stand was beautiful. Take a look below and don’t judge the stand based on the quality of my pics…it was reeeally hard getting  a decent pic with so many people around, I need to say.)

I had the opportunity to ask Dina Cristino, Barefoot Books Ambassador, a few questions about the books…she said that Barefoot is a small independent company that focuses on bringing together beautiful art work with story telling in a way that teaches children respect for all cultures and love for the planet. The characters are not standardized and come from different ethnic backgrounds and with different abilities and disabilities; the company works with authors and illustrators from around the globe to tell stories that are also varied. The stories speak of high morals and values and carry a deeper meaning rather than focus on pure entertainment. And children appreciate the depth of the stories as well as the beautiful images that speak to their own creativity and imaginations.

And what kind of a response have the books had? “Great response. A lot of people are happy to see something different. This is my third year with Barefoot and the response is greater and greater. I have customers who come back and are very happy.” Both parents and teachers are impressed with the response that they get from children, including autistic children and those with developmental problems.

The company continues to expand it’s product line. In addition to books and CDs with sing alongs and stories, Barefoot continues to come out with puppets and a range of games.

What are some new book titles to look forward to? “Buddhist Tales” and “Robin Hood”.

Does anyone out there have experience with Barefoot Books?


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Speaking of Meeting Writers…or “The Writer’s Festival”

The Writer’s Festival has been taking place, in Ottawa, since 1997; twice per year since 2004. It has welcomed writers, from Canada and abroad, who write about a range of topics and in a range of formats: science, history, poetry, politics, drama, fiction, non- fiction, biography, music, spirituality, TV and film scripts….in short, it’s a dream for the lover of the written (and spoken) word.

And the Festival doesn’t present just anybody. During it’s time, it has “featured more than 50 Governor General Award winners, two dozen Trillium Award winners, eight Giller Prize winners, seven Pulitzer Prize winners, five Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates Naguib Mahfouz and José Saramago, along with bestsellers and wonderful emerging voices.”

But don’t think that what we’re dealing with here are snooty intellectuals. The Festival has worked with writers and other organizations to support the development of literacy within the community; specifically within schools, with the homeless, First Nations, new Canadians and parolees.

The Writer’s Festival runs from April 26 to April 30 at various locations around the city.

P.S. It seems that Nick Cave was at the Festival in 2009. I wasn’t, but someone, who took this cool video of Nick reading, was.

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