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Children's Fiction Imagination & Play

I’m Not Sydney!

illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2022
Imagination & Play, General, Friendship
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1


Finalist, CCBC Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
Finalist, Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature

Sydney and his friends gather outside to play, transforming one by one to climb, leap, lumber and soar into a shared jungle of their imagination.


Hanging upside down in a tree, Sydney imagines he is a sleepy, sun-bathing sloth. And that's where Sami finds him. Sami thinks sloths are too slow, so she scampers up the tree and becomes a spider monkey. “Fast is fun!” she chatters. “Fast is best!” And that’s where Edward finds them…

One after another, the neighborhood kids wander by and slip into a shared imaginative world where leaves and giant flowers unfurl, playing, laughing, teasing and bickering, until Edward the elephant fills up his trunk and—WHOOSH!—sends the children “galloping home like a herd of small wet animals.”

As always, Marie-Louise Gay’s writing and artwork are wonderfully pitched to young readers, capturing the effortless way that children travel back and forth between the worlds of real life and make believe. With its sun-dappled watercolors, depiction of time spent outdoors with friends, and quiet, wistful ending, I’m Not Sydney perfectly illustrates the slow-moving magic of a childhood summer.


Key Text Features



Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

About the author

MARIE-LOUISE GAY has achieved international acclaim as an author and illustrator of children’s books. She has won many awards, including two Governor General’s awards, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has also been nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Marie-Louise’s very popular Stella and Sam series has been translated into more than fifteen languages and is loved by children all over the world. Her recent books include Any Questions? and Short Stories for Little Monsters. She lives in Montreal.

Marie-Louise Gay's profile page


  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Short-listed, Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature

Editorial Reviews

Marie-Louise Gay entices readers with a narrative … inspiring a feeling that anything and everything is possible.

Montreal Review of Books

A creative tribute to the inventive inner world of children.


With pleasant illustrations, I'm Not Sydney is a fun, adventurous story for young listeners.

Miramichi Reader

Marie-Louise Gay understands children well … Her depictions of childhood are masterful in their simplicity and authenticity.

Canadian Children's Book News

Another winning work to add to Gay's body of work.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

A well-paced, funny adventure.

Horn Book

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