Seeing that today is Canada Day I thought it might be interesting to check out some very famous Canadian authors as we celebrate the birthday of Canada. Not many people realize that Canada has a rich history in literature.
In recent years there have been numerous Canadian authors who have enjoyed considerable success in the world of literature. Among them include, Lawrence Hill who wrote The Book of Negroes which won the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize and the 2009 Canada Reads award, Yann Martel's The Life of Pi which was made into a feature film, Terry Fallis's The High Road, and Ru by Kim Thuy.
When I was a teenager, one of my favourite types of novels to read were animal stories similar Sheila Burnford's Incredible Journey, which tells the story of a group of animals who journey home. I still enjoy books similar to these especially the American writer, Jack London's White Fang and The Call of the Wild. R.D. Lawrence (not to be confused with D.H. Lawrence who wrote Lady Chatterley's Lover!!) was an British born author who came to Canada and became a well known naturalist and writer and who wrote The North Runner, a fascinating book about his rescue and rehabilitation of a wolf-dog who had been abused.
In the world of young adult literature the classic Canadian novel, Anne of Green Gables is known and beloved around the world. Not many people know that Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables is in fact the first book of eight she wrote about the red-haired heroine, Anne Shirley. In a plate (left) from the original Anne of Green Gables novel, the Anne Shirley in this illustration looks remarkably like actress/director Megan Follows who played Anne in Kevin Sullivan's 1985 adaptation of the novel.
Montgomery was a prolific writer and most of her other novels, including Emily of New Moon, The Blue Castle, Pat of Silverbush, The Story Girl, Jane of Lantern Hill, and the Avonlea Chronicles have now been published in many editions. This wonderful Canadian writer also wrote well over one hundred short stories, some of which are among her best works of fiction. If you'd like to delve into Lucy Maud Montgomery's works in a critical way, you can check out the L. M. Montgomery Institute of UPEI as well as the L.M. Montgomery Research Institute at the University of Guelph.
There are currently many wonderful Canadian authors who write books for teens including Megan Crewe who is working her way through her Fallen World trilogy (The Way We Fall and The Lives We Lost), Cathy Ostlere who wrote a wonderful novel in verse titled Karma, Nora McClintock, and Marthe Jocelyn.
I would be entirely remiss not to include Gordon Korman who wrote the hilarious MacDonald Hall series. Korman was born in Montreal and wrote his first book when he was in Grade 7 as part of an English assignment! That book, This Can't Be Happening At Macdonald Hall was published when he was fourteen years old. This was the beginning of the Bruno and Boots series which relates the antics of two boys, Bruno Walton and Melvin "Boots" O'Neal who attend an all boys boarding school, Macdonald Hall. My children consider these books his best and funniest.
Another well known favourite author is Kenneth Oppel who wrote the fabulous Silverwing trilogy and Airborn. Born in Port Alberni, Oppel is currently writing his way through a dark, intense trilogy about Victor Frankenstein, with the first two books in the trilogy, This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent already published.
Some of the best Canadian picture books are by American born writers who moved to Canada. Robert Munsch and Pheobe Gillman are two such people who were born in the United States but moved to Canada as adults and began writing here in Canada.
Robert Munsch is another beloved Canadian writer, whose books many children throughout the world have grown up with. Although born in the United States, Munsch moved to Canada in 1975 to work at a preschool lab at the University of Guelph. He began publishing the stories he told to the daycare children he supervised and among his most popular are The Paper Bag Princess and Love You Forever.
Pheobe Gillman was born in the Bronx but moved to Toronto where she met her husband and taught at the Ontario College of Art. Gillman is best known for her books, The Balloon Tree and Jillian Jiggs. Her books incorporated delightful poetry with her rich, colourful illustrations. Pheobe Gillman died in 2002 of leukemia.
Many libraries in Canada highlight books written by Canadian authors. Check out some of the ones I've mentioned here if you haven't read them.