The book signing in Ottawa

A Loving Grandmother’s GGBooks Tradition

14 December 2017

Joanne Ritchie is a cool grandmother. For the last 17 years, she has been buying the Governor General’s Literary Award winning Young People’s Literature Illustrated books in English and French for her grandkids and having them signed by the authors and illustrators. On Christmas morning, Alex and Chris in Moncton, NB, and Lily and Georgia in Halifax, NS, eagerly open their presents from their grandmother in what is now a very special family tradition.

Each year, Joanne purchases four copies of the books at independent bookstores in Ottawa and organizes different ways to get them signed, either attending the winner events at the Canada Council in Ottawa or coordinating with the Council GGBooks team. One year, when a winner wasn’t able to attend the Ottawa events, Joanne contacted her directly and was invited to her home in Montreal to have the book signed!

Joanne’s grandsons with their collection at Christmas 2016. Alex, age 17 (right), is a senior at RNS (Rothesay Netherwood School) in Rothesay, NB, and Christopher, age 15 (left) is in grade 10 at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton, NB.
Joanne’s grandsons with their collection at Christmas 2016. Alex, age 17 (right), is a senior at RNS (Rothesay Netherwood School) in Rothesay, NB, and Christopher, age 15 (left) is in grade 10 at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton, NB.

“I bought the first books (Yuck, a Love Story and L’Écharpe rouge) for Alex in 2000 and have given him both English and French winners (Children’s Literature, Illustration) for Christmas every year since. I have done the same for the other kids each year since they were born,” says Joanne.

The granddaughters enjoying their books at Christmas. Lily, age 15 (left) is in grade 10 at Citadel High School in Halifax, and Georgia, age 13 (right) is in grade 8 at Halifax Independent School.
The granddaughters enjoying their books at Christmas. Lily, age 15 (left) is in grade 10 at Citadel High School in Halifax, and Georgia, age 13 (right) is in grade 8 at Halifax Independent School.

The story has touched the winners and the Canada Council staff who are honoured to continue the tradition. Joanne says “All of the books are personalized and autographed, many with delightful drawings, by the illustrator and, in most cases, the author as well.”

GGBooks winners from 2014, 2015 and 2016 signing their books for fans.
GGBooks winners from 2014, 2015 and 2016 signing their books for fans.

The 2017 winning books, When We Were Alone and Azadah, have been signed, but the grandkids are just going to have to wait until Christmas morning to see what’s inside.

Thanks to Joanne, Alex, Chris, Lily and Georgia for sharing their story and loving great Canadian literature.

Tagged As Prize Winners