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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Canadian Children’s Literature for the Theatrical

Didja miss me?

Didja even realize I was gone?

Well our annual trip to Stratford, Ontario has come and gone.*  Time to reenter the real world once more (sort of . . . I’m still on maternity leave, after all).  It’s funny but the minute I got back, New York experienced a small earthquake.  I’d been reading the earthquake heavy Tall Story by Candy Gourlay so quakes seemed a perfectly appropriate welcome committee.  As for Canada, it has once again outdone itself.  I appreciated that at the height of August they were willing to place snow in their snow dumping areas (hence to the photo to the right taken on Saturday).  I also appreciated that my mom, dad, brother, and sister all descended on the town to take care of the Baby Bird while my husband and I saw some Shakespeare (it’s what Stratford’s known for).

Of course the whole time I was there I was thinking about children’s books.  And why not?  Canada has its own fair share of children’s book publishers.  And they’re not all putting out books that look like this:

So I stopped in the local used bookstores as well as the theater gift shops to get a sense of the local literature.  One used bookstore offered an interesting and very Canadian array of titles.  There’s your standard biography . . .

. . . your local authors (the predecessor to this book actually made it to #76 on the Top 100 Picture Books Poll, so I was pleased to meet its sequel in person) . . .

. . . and your terrible terrible ideas (somehow this one didn’t make it to the States):

Then there were the new books.  The biggest gift shop the theaters of Stratford offer had a lovely bookselling portion.  It was there that I met with several interesting surprises.  First off, this section of stuffed swans (they may look like they are wearing shades, but they are not), and various books on dance, princesses, and Shakespearean tropes.  And right there on the upper right hand side?  Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Santat.  What a lovely surprise!

The fiction was fascinating as well.  R.J. Anderson’s Faery Rebels wasn’t surprising since she lives in town.  Plus fairies = A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet looked pretty perfect too.  Again, though, I was disappointed not to see Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies! present.  Seems like a shoo-in inclusion to me.

I found this last cluster of books even more baffling.  I loved Keeper, but there are remarkably few mermaids in Shakespearean plays.  In any case, it was a fascinating collection.

And that is that!  I’ll spend the rest of the week catching up with the news.  In the meantime, don’t be intimidated by the earthquakes!

*Someone pointed out to me the irony of this trip.  Each year we leave New York City to see theater in Canada.  I guess I’d find it weird too if the shows weren’t always so doggone fantastic.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Not to quibble (okay, who am I kidding – to quibble) Zoom at Sea and Zoom Away are by the same author but not the same book. Just so you know. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Canada!

  2. Alyson Whatcott says

    Glad you enjoyed Stratford. I vacation nearby on the shores of Lake Huron, so we also attend Stratford every year. I recognize all of your photos. Great place.

  3. Yay! The chickens have invaded Canada! Thanks for sharing.

    In spring 2012, BAWK & ROLL comes out. Dan’s art is amazing. He even turned Elvis Poultry into a bit of a diva. Who knew?

  4. Aren’t grandparents, aunts, and uncles amazing? My in-laws did the same favor for me so my husband and I could see shows at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Glad you had a nice trip.

  5. Terrible terrible ideas? Nonsense. The little prince has some serious unfinished business with the baobab trees. They’ve run wild long enough. IT’S TIME TO KICK ASS, LE PETIT PRINCE.

  6. I love the Shakespearean tie-ins; for Keeper, one could have “Sea nymphs hourley ring his knell….”

    But what’s stumping me is finding anything in Shakespeare that relates to “Chicken Dance.”

  7. Thanks for the bookshelf pictures, Betsy. It will always be a thrill to see my books out there in various corners of the world! Canada- who knew?!?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Well, I loved the inclusion, Boni. It’s such a relief to see some dragon fare amidst the princessy stuff anyway. I just wish they had both your dragon books.