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Literary Criticism Children's Literature

Picturing Canada

A History of Canadian Children's Illustrated Books and Publishing

by (author) Gail Edwards & Judith Saltman

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
May 2010
Children's Literature, Books & Reading
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2010
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2010
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2014
    List Price

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The study of children's illustrated books is located within the broad histories of print culture, publishing, the book trade, and concepts of childhood. An interdisciplinary history, Picturing Canada provides a critical understanding of the changing geographical, historical, and cultural aspects of Canadian identity, as seen through the lens of children's publishing over two centuries.

Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman illuminate the connection between children's publishing and Canadian nationalism, analyse the gendered history of children's librarianship, identify changes and continuities in narrative themes and artistic styles, and explore recent changes in the creation and consumption of children's illustrated books. Over 130 interviews with Canadian authors, illustrators, editors, librarians, booksellers, critics, and other contributors to Canadian children's book publishing, document the experiences of those who worked in the industry.

An important and wholly original work, Picturing Canada is fundamental to our understanding of publishing history and the history of childhood itself in Canada.

About the authors

Gail Edwards is the chair of the Department of History at Douglas College.

Gail Edwards' profile page

Judith Saltman is an associate professor in the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies and the chair of the Master of Arts in Children's Literature Program a the University of British Columbia.

Judith Saltman's profile page


  • Winner, 2014 Claude Aubry Awards awarded by The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Canada
  • Winner, International Research Society for Children's Literature Book Award
  • Short-listed, The Canada Prize in the Humanities

Editorial Reviews

'Leafing through the pages of Picturing Canada, I find myself floored by just how much is packed into this history of Canadian children’s illustrated books—and their publishing history—from the 1700s to the present day. The book is academic analysis, book history, and thoughtful insight all in one: an objective look at the many styles of children’s writing and children’s illustration throughout numerous periods in Canada’s history.'

Tiffanie Ing, <em>Canadian Booknews</em>, vol33:02:2010

'A groundbreaking study of children's publishing in Canada and of the material conditions and cultural shifts that have informed the production of illustrated books and picture books. They offer much more than this, however: by alerting readers to the complex issues that surround textuality for children and young people, they suggest lines of inquiry and fields of research that will build on the foundational work carried out in this book.'

Young People, Texts, Cultures 3.1(2011)

'Picturing Canada is a book that I will cherish because it has made me think about the books that I love and, perhaps even more importantly, about the children reading them. If, as I so deeply believe, that it is reading Canadian books that will tell us who we are as Canadians then Picturing Canada is an essential tool that will guide us on the way.'

Jeffrey Canton, Children's Studies Program, York University

‘This book would make an excellent text for college and university students studying the genre. It will also be of use to librarians who have an interest in the history of picture books and their authors. I would highly recommend it as a professional resource.’

Victoria Pennell, <em>Resource Links: Journal of Society for Canadian educational Resources: vol16:02:2010</em>

‘This book will be invaluable for scholars in the field of Canadian children’s literature, cultural studies, and book history. It provides scholarly analysis of one of the most popular forms of reading instruction and entertainment that children will encounter in their formative years, and adds greatly to our understanding of how national awareness is gained through this medium.’

Leslie McGarth , <em>Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada vol49:01:2011</em>

'Picturing Canada is a welcome addition to the growing list of scholarly titles that demonstrate the centrality of book history to Canada's cultural history.'

Canadian Historical Review; vol 92:02:2011

Other titles by Judith Saltman