There is nothing as powerful as a young mind engaging with a picture book. Here’s how to take that experience to the next level, with insights from the exquisitely versatile Kyo Maclear (Julia, Child; Bloom; The Big Bath House) and two-time Governor General’s Literary Award winner David A. Robertson (When We Were Alone and On the Trapline), who is also the editorial director of a new Indigenous-focused children’s imprint at Tundra Books.
Phillip Larkin aside, families really are pieces of work. And that’s just what we know about them. It took the unearthing of their family secrets to unlock the fullest creative expression of these highly accomplished writers, all of whom shake the conventions of memoir and auto-fiction. This will be a profound conversation about learning how to reconcile and transcend one’s family – and transform one’s self.
Kyo Maclear is an award-winning essayist, novelist, and children’s author. Her books have been translated into 18 languages, published in more than 25 countries, and garnered nominations for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and the National Magazine Awards, among other honours. Her hybrid memoir, Birds Art Life, was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust prize for Nonfiction and the winner of the Trillium Book Award and the Nautilus Book Award for Lyrical Prose. Maclear holds a doctorate in environmental humanities and is on the faculty at the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA. She lives in Toronto. Website: kyomaclear.com Instagram: @kyomaclear Facebook:@kyomaclear
What the world needs now is more graphic novels like Operatic, the first collaboration between writer Kyo Maclear (Birds Art Life, Bloom, Julia Child) and illustrator Byron Eggenschwiler (Swerve, the Walrus, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra).
Kyo Maclear is a novelist, essayist, and children’s author. She was born in London, England, and moved to Toronto at the age of four. Maclear holds an Honors B.A. in Fine Art and Art History and an M.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Toronto, and is currently a doctoral student at York University, where she holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. She is the author of two acclaimed novels for adults, The Letter Opener and Stray Love, and numerous beloved books for children, including Julia, Child, and the Governor General’s Award-winning Virginia Wolf. Maclear lives in Toronto where she shares a home with two sons, two cats, a musician, and a truckload of books. Birds Art Life For Vladimir Nabokov, it was butterflies. For John Cage, it was mushrooms. For Sylvia Plath, it was bees. Each of these artists took time away from their work to become observers of natural phenomena. In 2012, Maclear met a local Toronto musician with an equally captivating side passion — he had recently lost his heart to birds. Curious about what prompted this young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature, Kyo decides to follow him for a year and find out. Intimate and philosophical, moving with ease between the granular and the grand view, Birds Art Life celebrates the creative and liberating effects of keeping your eyes and ears wide open, and explores what happens when you apply the core lessons of birding to other aspects of life. This touching memoir is about disconnection — how our passions can buckle under the demands and emotions of daily life — and about reconnection: how the act of seeking passion and beauty in small ways can lead us to discover our most satisfying life. The Fog Warble is a small yellow warbler who lives on the beautiful island of Icyland, where he pursues his hobby of human-watching. But on a warm day, a deep fog rolls in and obscures his view. The rest of the birds don’t seem to notice the fog or the other changes Warble observes on the island. The more the fog is ignored, the more it spreads. When a Red-hooded Spectacled Female (Juvenile) appears, Warble discovers that he’s not the only one who notices the fog. Will they be able to find others who can see it too? And is the fog here to stay? Maclear’s witty story, brought to life with the delicate, misty artwork of Kenard Pak, is a poignant yet humorous reminder of the importance of environmental awareness. Yak and Dove Friends Yak and Dove are complete opposites. Yak is large and Dove is small. Yak has fur and Dove has feathers. Yak is polite. Dove is ill-mannered. Yak likes quiet. Dove likes noise. One day as Yak and Dove list their differences they come to the conclusion that maybe they aren’t meant to be friends. In the hope of finding a new best friend, Yak holds auditions. But when a small feathered contestant sings Yak’s favorite...Read More
Kyo Maclear is a novelist, essayist and children’s author. She was born in London, England and moved to Toronto at the age of four. Kyo holds an Honors B.A. in Fine Art and Art History and an M.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Toronto, and is currently a doctoral student at York University, where she holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. She is the author of two acclaimed novels for adults, The Letter Opener and Stray Love, and numerous beloved books for children, including Julia, Child and The Good Little Book. Kyo Maclear lives in Toronto where she shares a home with two sons, two cats, a musician and a truckload of books. Kyo Maclear has one adult book and 2 youth books which will be presented during the festival: The Fog and Yak and Dove. Find more information on Kyo’s Kids books here.
For readers of Crying in H Mart and Wintering, an unforgettable memoir about a family secret revealed by a DNA test, the lessons learned in its aftermath, and the indelible power of love. Three months after Kyo Maclear’s father dies in December 2018, she gets the results of a DNA test showing that she and the father who raised her are not biologically related. Suddenly Maclear becomes a detective in her own life, unravelling a family mystery piece by piece, and assembling the story of her biological father. Along the way, larger questions arise: what exactly is kinship? And what does it mean to be a family? Thoughtful in its reflections on race and lineage, unflinching in its insights on grief and loyalty, Unearthing is a captivating and propulsive story of inheritance that goes beyond heredity. What gets planted, and what gets buried? What role does storytelling play in unearthing the past and making sense of a life? Can the humble act of tending a garden provide common ground for an inquisitive daughter and her complicated mother? As it seeks to answer these questions, Unearthing bursts with the very love it seeks to understand. GET THE BOOK Shelf Life Books | Calgary Public Library | Audible BE CURIOUSER Unearthing couples the natural world with the meaning of family – NPR In Unearthing, Kyo Maclear turns an explosive discovery into an exploration of kinship – The Globe and Mail Memoir Unearthing author’s ancestry is ‘brilliantly told.’ – Parry Sound North Star When the Results Arrived – Literary Review of Canada Watch 26@26: Hiromi Goto & Kyo – Wordfest Imagine on Air
Beautifully written… this book hit me in all sorts of funny-tender spots. A truly moving and insightful book. – Kyo Maclear An award-winning writer retraces her unconventional, biracial, globe-trotting family’s journey as she reckons with ethnicity and belonging, diversity and race, and the complexities of life within a multicultural household. Charlotte Gill’s father is Indian. Her mother is English. They meet in 1960s London when the world is not quite ready for interracial love. Their union results in a total meltdown of familial relations, a lot of immigration paperwork, and three children, all in varying shades of tan. Together they set off on a journey to Canada and the United States in an elusive pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness – a dream that eventually tears them apart. Almost Brown is an exploration of diasporic intermingling involving two deeply eccentric parents from worlds apart and their half-brown children as they experience the paradoxes and conundrums of life as it’s lived between race checkboxes. Their intercultural experiment features turbans and tube socks, chana masala and Cherry Coke, feminist uprisings, racial alliances and divides, a divorce, multiple grudges, and plenty of bad fashion. The family implodes, but after 20 years of silence, father and daughter reclaim a space for forgiveness and love. Almost Brown is a funny, turbulent, and ultimately heartwarming book about the brilliant messiness of a mixed-race family and a search for answers to the question, What are you? Tender and incisive, it is both a deeply personal memoir and an excavation into ethnicity, ancestry, and race – a historical concept that still informs our beliefs about identity today. GET THE BOOK Shelf Life Books| Calgary Public Library | Audible BE CURIOUSER Charlotte Gill is from two worlds in her memoir Almost Brown – Shondaland Charlotte Gill creates a masterpiece with memoir on what it’s like to be biracial in Canada – Toronto Star Ending a 20-year rift with my Indian father helped me make sense of my biracial identity – Charlotte Gill, The Guardian Biracial family journey at the centre of new memoir from Charlotte Gill – The Vancouver Sun My parents’ mixed-race marriage radically shaped my family tree. This generation is helping me embrace it. – Charlotte Gill, The Globe & Mail ‘I Tried Hard to Think of Myself as Normal and Regular.’ – Charlotte Gill, The Tyee
Esta Spalding is an award-winning screenwriter and producer for film and television, poet, novelist, and children’s author. She grew up on a tropical island where she never wore shoes, and has since lived all over the world. When she’s not writing, she kayaks, bakes and assembles whale skeletons with her husband, a marine biologist. Knock About With the Fitzgerald-Trouts Welcome to the further adventures of the plucky Fitzgerald-Trout siblings, who live on a tropical island where the grown-ups are useless, but the kids can drive. In this second installment, the delightfully self-reliant siblings continue their search for a home. This time, their pursuit will bring them face-to-face with a flood, illegal carnivorous plants, and the chance to win an extraordinary prize at a carnival. Will they finally find the place they truly belong? Events & Tickets Thur, Oct. 12 @ 10am: Tundra Books 50th Anniversary Celebration (Full event details) Powered by Eventbrite Thur, Oct. 12 @ 9:15pm: Late Night Series: Literary Death Match (Full event details) Powered by Eventbrite Fri, Oct. 13 @ 10am: Wordfest Youth presents Kyo Maclear & Esta Spalding (Full event details) Powered by Eventbrite Sat, Oct. 14 @ 11:45am: Tasty Bites: Esta Spalding Door Sales Only (Full event details) Powered by Eventbrite Sat, Oct. 14 @ 3pm: Reel Life Tales (Full event details) Powered by Eventbrite
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