Oh baby! I've got a special reason to look forward to the coming year. 

My lovely publisher OwlKids has said I can go ahead and share all three of these gorgeous covers by Karen Klassen.

The first of the series, You Are One, rolls out in March and I can't wait to share the beautiful images created by Karen Klassen. You Are Two and You Are Three will follow in fall 2016 and Spring 2017.



This week I came across a review of This Is Sadie that meant a lot to me. It was partly to do with its placement since the mandate of the International Literacy Association is pretty dear to my heart. (Links to previous posts on literacy here.)

But I was also pleased by the things that the review itself recognized about the book and the way that allows me to think about the way that picture books are really produced by the writer, the illustrator, the editor, and the designer.

Here's the review:

Thank you, Lisa D. Patrick for giving me the opportunity to say that while Julie Morstad and I have our names on the front of this book, credit is also due to our editor, Tara Walker, and our designer, Kelly Hill of Tundra Books.

The idea to use "This is Sara" and "This is Julie" on the jacket copy belongs to Tara Walker and I think it was a brilliant one...not just because it is kind of sweet and funny (although it is) but because it ties the author/creator bios into the book and somehow makes the whole thing organic.

I am still learning about picture books--I went from reviewing them to writing them to teaching how to write them and am only now am finally starting to feel I am coming close to beginning to suss out how they work--but I find one of the wonderful things about them is how everything matters.

A novel with a not-great cover will still be as good or as bad a novel as it was in manuscript (although its sales may not be what they might be) but a picture book with a not-great cover is much, much less than it might have been.

This is Sara & Tara celebrating Sadie
I was very lucky in that The Henry Books were all designed by the brilliant Robin Mitchell-Cranfield and all three books have been recognized for the brilliance of their covers and their design, but with This Is Sadie I really got a chance to see into the process of the book's design.

I felt very fortunate to see the sample illos that Julie Morstad did and how Kelly Hill then worked with the title text and design to pull the final image together.

And when we ended up with not one but two wonderful covers, in a stroke of genius, Tara Walker found a way to use them both!

When I look at This Is Sadie, it really pleases me to see how things came together on it and it makes me so grateful both to be making picture books and to be working with such great people.


Summer Hours

Haven't been on here much lately and need to update a few things but in the meantime here's this lovely review that I seem to have neglected to post. Big thanks to Maria Russo and The New York Times.

Also a few nice pieces of news (via Publishers Weekly):

Now it's back to work!


Sadie Reading

Reading at the beautiful Greenwood Centre for Living History this weekend. Come and see me or just come and see the fabulous historic home. Thanks to StoryFest Hudson and ELAN Arts Alive.


Sadie Reviews & Interviews

A few new shiny things to share. I did an interview with the wonder that is Mr. Schu for Watch. Connect. Read.   

And Julie Morstad and I rode our tandem bike over to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to talk to the fantastic Julie Danielson. 

Julie shared some early sketches from This is Sadie

I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the kind words from bloggers and over on Instagram so if I miss anything, do please let me know. Here are a few responses from the past week.
Author Sara O’Leary takes a remarkably common premise –kids have wild imaginations, and can do wondrous things with nothing more than an empty box– and weaves something incredible. Her text harkens back to a day of unforced simplicity in children’s literature, when easy ideas were delivered with just a pinch of poetry to make them go down even easier. Kinderlit Canada
I don’t know if it was seeing Sadie in a box, on a boat, hammering, wearing a fox mask, sleeping in a blanket fort or looking for her wings that felt most like a connection to my younger self. I do know that reading the lines – “A perfect day is spent with friends. Some of them live on her street, and some of them live in the pages of a book” – made me want to give a copy to every family I know. The Book Jam
‘This is Sadie’ by the formidable picture book pairing of Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad is a celebration of creatively quirky characters and positive affirmation of a wild and wonderful imagination. Pictures Book Blogger
In "This Is Sadie" the little girl with a big imagination sees the ordinary as extraordinary. The Waterloo Record
In this story Sara O'Leary has given readers a character to cherish.  Through Sara's words we see a girl who looks at her world, making it larger with her making, doing and being. Librarian's Quest
Sadie's imagination is so huge she can go anywhere, be anything, without leaving her room. With soft, whimsical illustrations and spare, lyrical text, This Is Sadie takes us on a sweet adventure and reminds us of how far and wide our own imaginations can go.Staff recommendation, Powell's 
Strap on your imaginations and take a trip with Sadie (I think you are going to fall in love with her). This gentle ode to creativity will make a nice addition to storytime. Don’t miss this little Canadian gem, beautifully illustrated by Julie Morstad. Valley Storytime
Earlier reviews and interviews can be found here.


Freedom To Think

Freedom To Think is an initiative that believes (as I do) that children thrive when allowed the luxury of boredom.

In This is Sadie, it is pretty easy to draw a direct line between boredom and creativity.

                                                                       art: Julie Morstad

Here's a little about the program from Freedom To Think founder, author Jonathan Stroud:
I believe that:
All kids can and should be creative.
They need time and space to achieve it.
Unscheduled time is creative time.
We can give them this.
Our Freedom to Think website will have a rolling programme of possibilities – but it’s up to the kids to do what they want with the time. Even if nothing tangible comes out of it, they’ve been let off the mental leash for an hour or two, and this very freedom will rejuvenate them.
I hope you will join us in the campaign to give free time back to children. I would love to hear what you think and see any photographs of your children’s creations or ideas. You can upload images or videos to this tumblr site, tweet them to @iamfree2think or email them to freedomtothinksite@gmail.com.


Reader Response to This is Sadie (and a favourite reader)

This is Sadie, my latest book with the outrageously talented Julie Morstad was released this week and I thought I'd try to catch up a little on the notice it has received thus far. My very favourite review is the beautiful one that says a thousand words pasted in just below.

Publishers Weekly:

                                                                       Photo: Rosie Winstead

As in previous collaborations like When You Were Small and Where You Came From, O’Leary and Morstad put forth a playful, imagination-first portrait of childhood, introducing a girl named Sadie who is equally at home in the expanses of her mind as she is in the outside world. Striking an irreverent tone from the first page (“This is Sadie. No, not that. That’s a box. Sadie is inside the box”), O’Leary follows her raven-haired heroine as she sets sail in the aforementioned cardboard box, spends the day with friends (“Some of them live on her street, and some live in the pages of books”), and inserts herself into the stories she reads. 

✭ School Library Journal: 
This award-winning duo beautifully convey the magic that is to be found in reading or listening to a story. The appealing text is accompanied by lush drawings rendered in gouache, ink, and Photoshop that lend it a fanciful feel in the best way possible. With its leisurely pace and verdant illustrations, this book is a delight for bedtime as well as an excellent storytime choice paired with Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon and Peter Bently’s King Jack and the Dragon (Dial, 2011). VERDICT A wonderful purchase for all collections.
Huffington Post:
Sadie is a young girl who revels in the power of her imagination and is not limited by silly things like traditional gender constructs. The dynamic duo of O'Leary and Morstad have crafted a quiet but powerful celebration of childhood with a heroine that is a role model for boys and girls alike. Readers should be prepared to reserve a special place on their shelves -- and in their hearts -- for the incomparable Sadie. 
Quill and Quire:
Morstad's soft-palette illustrations engage perfectly with O'leary's text creating a whimsical kid-centred picture book that will be enjoyed by both children and adults. With something new to discover upon each encounter, This is Sadie is sure to become a favourite bedtime read. 

 Montreal Review of Books
With the picture book This Is Sadie, Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad team up to introduce us to a girl of great imagination. Rather than plotting a linear storyline for her heroine, O’Leary offers us a character sketch of a girl uninhibited by adult limitations.

Book Page
Sadie’s days are never long enough, and readers may feel the same way about this story: It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and every moment is a pleasure. And don’t forget to remove the book jacket to see the surprise waiting on the cover.
Here’s hoping for more of Sadie’s adventures in the future.
Buzzfeed: "What kind of reader is it for? This is a story for those with a deep love of stories."
Canadian Review of Materials
This is Sadie is an irresistible book filled with a charm that entrances and a heroine that is unforgettable. Sara O’Leary’s fine narrative is sublimely complemented by the exceptional and aesthetically appealing art of Julie Morstad. Don’t miss this one! It is delightful.


This is Sadie's Book Birthday

Today is publication day for This is Sadie and to celebrate I decided to buy myself a little present....
                                                                                                                                                                        Atelier Caroline

My little Sadie doll was built by the very talented Atelier Caroline. Check out her work here. I couldn't be happier!

I also couldn't be happier with this book. Julie Morstad just gets better and better and given how good she was to begin with, this is really saying something. Working with Tundra Books and its Editorial Director Tara Walker has been a dream. Her belief in the book from the very beginning has been what's brought it to glorious life.  Jackie Kaiser of Westwood Creative has been Sadie's literary godmother and I am grateful for this and all other blessings she has brought into my life. The whole Tundra Books/Random House Canada team has been fantastic to work with. 

                                                                                               Atelier Caroline

                                                                                                                                                                       Atelier Caroline
Special thanks to the book's brilliant designer Kelly Hill (that cover!) and to Sylvia Chan and Pamela Osti and Aliya Stacey for helping Sadie find her way in the larger world.  Response to the book so far has been lovely.  


This Is Sadie Book Teaser

Not long now until This is Sadie is in stores! And my brilliant son Euan has put together this little teaser trailer to celebrate.

May 12, 2015
Available to pre-order at:
Barnes & Noble Indie Bound Amazon.com McNally Robinson Indigo Powell’s Hive