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Children's Fiction General

The Stamp Collector

by (author) Jennifer Lanthier

illustrated by François Thisdale

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
General, Books & Libraries, Other, Friendship
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2015
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12


On the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List 2014

2013 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor Book

2013 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award nominee

Forest of Reading's Golden Oak 2014 winner

2014 Silver Birch Express Award nominee

OLA 2012 Best Bet - Picture Books category

A city boy finds a stamp that unlocks his imagination; a country boy is captivated by stories. When they grow up, the two boys take different paths—one becomes a prison guard, the other works in a factory—but their early childhood passions remain. When the country boy's stories of hope land him in prison, the letters and stamps sent to him from faraway places intrigue the prison guard and a unique friendship begins.

About the authors

Jennifer Lanthier is a former wire service and newspaper reporter, speechwriter, magazine freelancer, and editor. She has interviewed actors, politicians, directors, musicians, scientists, athletes and CEOs and shared their stories with readers around the world. Jennifer is the author of the acclaimed Hazel Frump series adventure novels for children: The Mystery Of The Martello Tower and The Legend Of The Lost Jewels. She lives in Toronto with her family and enjoys basketball, taekwondo, and running, but regrets the fact that she cannot read music, play an instrument, or whistle. The Stamp Collector is Jennifer's first picture book.

Jennifer Lanthier's profile page


L’œuvre de François Thisdale mélange les techniques traditionnelles et l’imagerie numérique. Il est l’illustrateur de The Stamp Collector, qui a été sur la liste d’honneur IBBY, That Squeak, un livre qui s’est mérité une mention d’honneur pour le prix IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver et Missing Nimama, lauréat du prix TD de littérature pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. François vit à Montréal, au Québec.


François Thisdale's work blends traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery. He is the illustrator of The Stamp Collector, which is on IBBY Honor List, That Squeak, an honour book for the IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik- Cleaver Picture Book Award, and Missing Nimama, winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Book Award. François lives in Montreal, Quebec.


François Thisdale's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Jennifer Lanthier faced formidable challenges in crafting her first picture book. The journalist and author had to figure out how to tell a story about freedom of expression to a young audience; how to ensure the book remained meaningful without becoming too dark; and how to give the story power beyond its political message. With The Stamp Collector, illustrated by François Thisdale, Lanthier has succeeded in overcoming these challenges. . . Thisdale's dreamlike illustrations feature textured backgrounds with collages of postmarks and Chinese characters. Darkness is illuminated by moments of whimsy (a postage stamp imagined as a kite) and the exquisite detail of the colourful stamps."
Quill & Quire

"It's fitting that a book on paper should celebrate letter writing, as author Jennifer Lanthier and artist François Thisdale do in this tale of philately and friendship."
National Post

"The Stamp Collector is a must-buy for school and public libraries, and particularly for intermediate grade classroom teachers who are looking for a discussion starter.
Highly Recommended."
CM Magazine

"This is a story about imagination, passion, and friendship. It teaches children that creativity and imagination can take you to the corners of the world, and that kindness and compassion can help sculpt you into an honourable friend."
Teach Magazine

"The Stamp Collector is a thoughtful, lyrical tale about how imagination and empathy take hold in different ways, a poignant fable."
Book Page

"This powerful and moving story teaches children about freedom of expression and the power of stories. The subject matter is mature, but the story of two Chinese men on opposite sides of prison bars is presented in an accessible way such that children are challenged to think differently about themselves and others. Illustrations are beautifully rendered and complement the story well. Parents welcome the opportunity to have discussions with children about rights and freedoms."
The Toy Testing Council

Librarian Reviews

The Stamp Collector

In China, a poor city boy who loves stamps becomes a prison guard to support his family. His life intersects with that of a poor country boy who loves words. Hired as a factory worker, the rural lad is jailed for writing about the pollution caused by his employer. Strict prison rules forbid the guard and the prisoner from conversing. Unbeknownst to them, the writer’s story is spreading across the land, generating hope among working people. Years pass, and the guard becomes intrigued when letters for the prisoner begin to arrive from distant countries. Besides being fascinated by the beautiful stamps on these envelopes, he learns of the writer’s past and they become silent friends. When the prisoner dies as a result of the harsh jail conditions, the guard leaves his employment, devoting himself courageously to the memory of the author.

With great sensitivity, Lanthier has written a stirring account about the dire circumstances of these young men. Her words settle deeply and unforgettably into our souls. Here is her description of their growing friendship: “Each day, the writer grows weaker. Yet, in whispers, he tells the guard a new story. And the story fills the guard’s soul until he wonders if he will burst. He marvels at the words that soar and swoop and thrill and break his heart.”

Thisdale’s alluring illustrations blend traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery. His expressive artwork is poignant in its beauty. Detailed Chinese landscapes are creatively blended with dreamy, imaginative vistas.

In an afterword entitled “Freedom to Write, Freedom to Read,” Lanthier explains that she was inspired to write this book by two imprisoned Chinese writers. She describes the punitive realities facing writers in countries where no laws protect freedom of speech or expression, and discusses PEN International, an organization which helps and brings hope to imprisoned writers. In fact, a portion of this book’s proceeds will support PEN Canada’s initiatives.

The Stamp Collector is a profound book about freedom and friendship, which will move and enlighten all who read it.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2012. Volume 35 No. 4.

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