Author Tags: Kidlit & Young Adult, Literary Criticism

In 2015, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Canada announced the recipients of the 2014 Claude Aubry Awards for distinguished service in the field of children’s literature in English. Judith Saltman of Vancouver, author (with Gail Edwards) of Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing (University of Toronto Press), received the English-language award. Saltman, chair of the University of British Columbia’s master of arts in children’s literature program and professor at the school of library, archival, and information studies, was praised for her research in the fields of children’s literature, publishing, and public library services. Saltman emerged as a protege of Sheila A. Egoff, her role model, with whom she co-edited a new edition of The New Republic of Childhood: A Critical Guide to Canadian Children's Literature in English, in 1990. Established in 1981 in honour of the late author and translator Claude Aubry, a former director of the Ottawa Public Library, the biennial awards are given to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to Canadian children’s literature.

DATE OF BIRTH: May 11, 1947


EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Professor of children's literature and library services, UBC, School of Library; also chair of the Master of Arts in Children's Literature Program at UBC


Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children's Illustrated Books and Publishing (UTP 2010). With Gail Edwards. 978-0-8020-8540-7 $39.95

Forty years of library education. Vancouver, University of British Columbia, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, 2001.

The New Republic of Childhood: A Critical Guide to Canadian Children's Literature in English(with Sheila Egoff). Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Goldie and the Sea. Illustrated by Kim LaFave. Toronto: Groundwood, 1987.

Modern Canadian Children's Books. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Editor. The Riverside Anthology of Children's Literature. 6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985.


BA, University of British Columbia, 1969. BLS, University of British Columbia, 1970.

Master of Arts in Children's Literature, Simmons College,1982.

Professor, School of Library, Archival & Information Studies, University of British Columbia, 1983 - present.

[BCBW 2015]

Picturing Canada
review / summary

Picturing Canada is the first interdisciplinary history of children’s publishing in English-speaking Canada through the lens of Canadian children’s illustrated books. Here is article from B.C. BookWorld

So you wanna be an author?

For Judith Saltman and Gail Edwards, it took eleven years of slogging—and endless cups of coffee and tea (and the occasional glass of wine)—to gain the knowledge and trust of 136 authors, illustrators, publishers, designers, librarians, children’s literature specialists and booksellers.

That’s how many people were consulted for Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing (University of Toronto Press $39.95), a one-of-a-kind overview that investigates what might be particularly Canadian about the text and illustrations in Canadian publications for children.

How have the depictions of Canada in children’s books changed over time? Do authors, illustrators and publishers think that Canadian identity is important when they create books for Canadian children? Do Canadian children need Canadian children’s books?

Does it matter?

Among our B.C. interviewees were notables Sheila Egoff (Saltman’s mentor), Ron Jobe, Janice Douglas, Sarah Ellis and Kit Pearson. They also talked to picturebook creators—including Sheryl McFarlane, Ann Blades, Sue Ann Alderson and Linda Bailey—about the relationship of image and text, place and identity—and examined the folk art covering every inch of Stefan Czernecki’s highrise apartment.

Bookseller Phyllis Simon of Vancouver Kidsbooks discussed the challenges and rewards of the independent children’s book trade. Publishers Bob Tyrrell (Orca Book Publishers), Michael Katz (Tradewind Books), and Dimiter Savoff (Simply Read Books) gave their views on regional, national, and global markets.

In some cases Saltman & Edwards had to become detectives to locate the heir of an illustrator whose book was so long out of print that the original publisher no longer existed, or had become part of a multinational corporation which had not retained the publishing records of their predecessors. Efforts to track the estate of Hazel Boswell, a Paris-trained artist and the granddaughter of BC Lieutenant-General Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, were reward by the cooperation of a nonagenarian cousin.

“Everyone we talked to,” says Saltman, “was generous with their time.”

At Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, during a swelteringly hot week in July, they read through boxes of correspondence with art directors and editors, examined rough sketches, and compared finished art work to the printed image.
“Anyone undertaking a history of publishing,” Saltman realized, “is reliant on the corporate memory of institutions that may not recognise the importance of their own history.”

The collection of early children’s publications held in Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of British Columbia was a prime resource. As well, at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at the Toronto Public Library, they confirmed that self-consciously Canadian publishing for children began at the turn of the twentieth century, with the publication of David Boyle’s Uncle Jim’s Canadian Nursery Rhymes, illustrated by C. W. Jefferys. His original watercolour illustration for the cover of the 1908 work was such a striking representation of a distinctively Canadian landscape that it became their choice for the cover of Picturing Canada.

And so, with help from almost 100 graduate research assistants from UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, Picturing Canada has found its way into the world, and the previously undocumented history of children’s publishing in Canada has been documented.

The authors have also developed a database of Canadian award-winning illustrated books; mounted a website for the project (; and organised an exhibition of Canadian children’s illustrated books based on Picturing Canada on display at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections until the end of the summer.

“And in the process of writing,” Saltman concludes, “we have come to believe, more than ever, that a vibrant and healthy Canadian children’s publishing and bookselling trade is critically important if Canadian children are going to have access to Canadian children’s books in their homes, their schools and their libraries.”


BCBW Autumn 2010