Our approach to illustrated children’s books follows the finest publishing tradition and spirit with inspired content, extraordinary artwork, outstanding graphic design form, and quality production. We introduce contemporary books with a modern appeal and fresh outlook, and offer a careful selection of timeless stories that link the past with the present.
Simply Read Books’ commitment to excellence has succeeded in awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), IPPY, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), the Alcuin Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), ForeWord Magazine, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, the Ontario Arts Foundation, the BC Book Prizes, and the Canadian Toy Testing Council.
As Counsellor West for IBBY Canada, I had the great fortune of organizing the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver award presentation to Julie Morstad for her absolutely wonderful picturebook How To. During the course of planning this event, I looked up Simply Read Books and was blown away by the number of books I have read and loved that were released by them. So I looked up their authors, illustrators and their award winning books. I was further impressed. Add to all that the fact that they are local publishers, there was no question but that we should shine the spotlight on them. And who better to tell us about Simply Read Books than someone who works for them, Kallie George, who also, incidentally is an alumni of the MACL (Masters of Arts in Children’s Literature) program that all four of us graduated from. Kallie is an editor over at Simply Read Books.
I’m an author, editor, and speaker living in Vancouver, BC, near the sea. When I’m not writing or editing, I’m teaching creative writing workshops.
I have my Masters of Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia.
I love picture books, fairy tales, beautiful art and music, and baking cookies.
1. Tell us about Simply Read Books? When did you first hear about them?
I first learned about Simply Read Books because of the books themselves. I was in the middle of my Masters program at UBC in Children’s Literature and for one assignment students had to choose an illustrator to present on. I chose Shaun Tan, as his book, The Red Tree, is one of my favorites. At the time, Simply Read Books published all the Shaun Tan books in North America. Coincidentally, in the same month, one of my best friends introduced me to a beautiful (at that time new) book When You Were Small, by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad—and it was also published by Simply Read Books!
It was soon after that I contacted Simply Read and was given my first editing job there. One project turned into more…
2. What is the best part of your job as an editor?
Definitely working with all the amazing authors and illustrators and designers. I feel so blessed to work with so many talented people. (Sometimes I have a teensy bit of that star-struck feeling!) And I love that problems in my day include whether a hoot owl should be a jaybird’s friend, or if a gorilla detective should be making a sticky paws trap to catch a thief, or if a sun’s argument to the moon needs more embellishing.
3. Does your experience as a writer affect your role as an editor? If so, how?
I hope that it makes me more empathetic to some of the struggles that authors have. I know only too well how hard the editing process can be, especially changing something that you are really emotionally tied to and has been part of the story for a long time. I try to word my editorial letters as carefully as possible, letting authors know that these are only my thoughts on their story, and that I am eager to work with them to find solutions that are the right fit for the world/story they have created.
4. Of all the wonderful titles released by Simply Read Books, is there a particular one that is your favourite?
I can’t choose—there are too many! (Wild Berries by Julie Flett, How To by Julie Morstad, Murilla Gorilla by Jennifer Lloyd and Jacqui Lee…the list goes on and on…) But I am probably most in love with upcoming projects—because those ones always occupy my mind the most. Sun and Moon by Lindsey Yankey is turning out so beautifully.
5. In the same vein, is there a particular upcoming title that we should keep an eye out for?
Sun and Moon by Lindesy Yankey! And also Mo and Beau by Vanya Nastanlieva. We are also doing a book by Beatriz Martin Vidal that is totally stunning.
6. One of the most wonderful things about the picture books put out by Simply Read Books is how the art always matches the story. Is there a process involved in choosing an artist for a picture book or does the author (if they are not also the artist) get to pick?
It really depends. Quite a few of our books are written and illustrated by the same person, but in the other cases, we approach finding illustrators in a number of ways. We are always keeping files of illustrators we like—and I love to check out new illustrator’s websites. Sometimes a book immediately brings to mind a certain style or illustrator. Sometimes we are not sure, and we look at a few different styles. Dimiter, the publisher of Simply Read, has an amazing artistic eye and design sense. Also, we almost always involve the author to some degree. This is unusual, I think, but we do believe that authors often have valuable insights to share about the visual vision of their stories. Books are collaborative projects and even if having everyone involved can create a lengthier process, we would rather that happen, and the best book emerge. That said, we love to give a lot of artistic freedom to our illustrators.
In the following days, we will be reviewing a variety of books released by Simply Read Books (in the afternoon portion of the day so you’ll get your regular fix of spec-fic in the mornings) so do come and check those out. Who knows, we may introduce you to your new favourite book!