6.12.16

Writer and Illustrator Meeting

Why are Qin Leng and I smiling? 
Is it because we inadvertently showed up to our event wearing matching outfits? Is it because we got to talk about our book together with a lot of wonderful children and their grown-ups? Or is it because we've just learned that A Family Is a Family Is a Family is headed for its third printing?
All of the above!

30.11.16

A Family Event in Toronto

I'm looking forward to this weekend's Bookmarker Event with Koffler Arts. It's Sunday at 1 -2:30 pm at Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street and it is FREE.
For this edition of our Bookmarkers series, we’ve invited award-winning author Sara O’Leary and award-winning illustrator Qin Leng to read from and talk about their latest children’s book, A Family is a Family is a Family. When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways – but the same in the one way that matters most of all. Plus: cartoonist Jonathan Rotsztain will also be joining our Bookmarkers conversation, featuring an intergenerational comics project with grandparents and grandkids.
One of the things I'm most looking forward to is meeting Qin Leng for the first time. It's a very funny thing making books with people--I always say to Julie Morstad that it's like we have all these children together even though we've only meet IRL a handful of times. And this really goes to the heart of what this post is circling around which is how both books and families are made. I'll be meeting Qin for the first time that day and yet I already feel that she and I are family in a way. I hope she won't made me saying so!

Koffler Arts has allowed Qin and I to take over their Instagram account for the week. This is the post that is going up today along with a little detail from this amazing spread from the book.




Here is a lovely depiction by Qin of a child's idea of how she sees herself...this detail is so funny and joyful and full of life! The purple hair! The winning smile!  A big part of what this book is about for me is exactly that--how children see themselves. My lovely publisher Groundwood has a page on their website called Windows & Mirrors that talks about issues of representation and inclusion in children's books. Here's one little bit of that: "Groundwood is committed to publishing books for and about children whose experiences of the world are under represented elsewhere." And it's for just that reason that I wanted to make a book with Groundwood and with its brilliant publisher Sheila Barry. I wanted this book to be in the world for children who wouldn't necessarily see themselves or their own home situation reflected in the pages of the picture books available to them. And, just as importantly, I wanted the book to be there for children who need to see that there may be other configurations and permutations to family than what they have grown up with. Windows and mirrors. Love is love.



18.11.16

Bookstore Love

Events in Saskatoon and Winnipeg now just a happy memory, but I did leave signed copies behind for anyone who might be interested. Thanks to my publisher, Groundwood Books for sending me west. Big thanks to McNally Kids for being fabulous hosts!

A photo posted by McNally Robinson for Kids (@mcnallykids) on





A photo posted by McNally Robinson for Kids (@mcnallykids) on






2.11.16

A Family Book Tour

                                              
Did you know that November is Picture Book Month?

And, handily, today's theme is SCHOOL which makes for a convenient hook on which to hang this post about my classroom-set book, A Family Is a Family Is a Family.


I'll be doing bookstore visits in Saskatoon and Winnipeg this month. Big thanks to Groundwood Books and my fabulous publisher, Sheila Barry, for sending me and to McNally Robinson Saskatoon and McNally Robinson Winnipeg for hosting me!

Here's a post I did for Groundwood about this book.

And while we are the subject of schools...I would absolutely love to hear from any classroom teachers using this book with their students!

24.10.16

Second Printing!


A Family Is a Family Is a Family is going into second printing and I am so joy-filled I could be a drawing by Qin Leng!



While I'm here, could I ask a favour? We've been very lucky with reviews (stars from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly) but it would be nice to have a few more reader reviews up here if anyone has the time or inclination. Thanks!


20.10.16

This Is Sadie Shortlisted

A photo posted by Sara O'Leary (@123olearyo) on



This Is Sadie is shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation Prize for Children’s/YA Literature.

Here's the complete list:
  • Bonnie Farmer; Marie Lafrance, ill.‚ Oscar Lives Next Door(Owlkids Books)
  • Sara O’Leary; Julie Morstad, ill.‚ This Is Sadie (Tundra Books)
  • Mélanie Watt‚ Bug in a Vacuum (Tundra)

17.10.16

Thoughts on Family

I'm so happy to have this book out in the world. Here are a few recent looks at my new book with Qin Leng, A Family Is a Family Is a Family.

Book Dragon at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has a lovely write up.

As author Sara O’Leary configures her many delightfully diverse familial units, artist Qin Leng – with her signature style so overflowing with whimsy and charm – imbues each member with individual identity and unique personality, all brought together with enveloping warmth and unbreakable bonds. The message is powerfully simple: no one gets to define a family but the members themselves. Audacious and obvious both, Family is already a well-deserved bestseller on our northern neighbor’s various lists. That said, this Canadian import undoubtedly belongs on bookshelves everywhere.

School Library Journal has very kindly awarded the book a star. (I believe this is our third!)

In this warm, nondiscriminating narrative, O’Leary removes limiting definitions and labels like “adopted,” “fostered,” or “divorced” and instead presents a tale that is innocent and wise. Leng’s ink and digitally rendered watercolor illustrations are light and airy and complement the text by capturing the thoughts and purity of a child’s perspective. The classroom is a beautiful blend of children of different races, genders, and body types. VERDICT Parents, caregivers, and educators will appreciate the message that this story offers for one-on-one sharing and for discussion with small groups. A sweet and tender tale that shows that families are composed of love regardless of how they may be configured.

Waking Brain Cells has a lovely look at the book with bonus points for use of the word "zings."

O’Leary does not lecture about families here. Rather she shows the wide variety that there are in families and how each of those is based on love. There is no need to be didactic, as every child will see themselves in the pages of this book. It is a wise way to look at families, since each is just as special and marvelous as the one before. The emphasis here is on love itself, the care that is given to children in each of those families no matter their structure. Leng’s illustrations add so much warmth to this picture book. The illustrations are full of details and invite readers to look closely. Each page zings with energy from the mothers singing under the night sky to the child who lives with both her father and mother, just at different times. There is a playfulness on the pages too, which makes each family come to life.
The response by readers on Goodreads has also been very positive. I'm particularly heartened to see favourable notices from those who may find themselves slightly outside their own comfort zone but willing to join in with a the celebration of all kinds of families.

And finally, quite literally a look at the book, provided by Kellie Diguangco who runs thekaleidoscopeca

5.10.16

Books matter

Very happy to find A Family Is a Family Is a Family sitting on the Canadian bestseller list for picture books!

Also, pretty happy about this--from an article titled "It's The Most Wonderful TIme of the Year," written by JoEllen McCarthy and published by Heinemann.
There have also recently been very nice notices for A Family Is a Family Is a Family in CM Magazine and Montreal Families.