Kyo Maclear

Kyo Iona Maclear studied fine art and art history at the University of Toronto and also completed an M.A. in cultural studies there in 1996. Her graduate thesis: Beclouded Visions: Hiroshima-Nagasaki and the art of Witness was subsequently published by the State University of New York Press. She has written essays for several art exhibition catalogues and has also been published in many major Canadian art and cultural magazines. Maclear, who has Japanese ancestry through her mother, lives in Toronto and is currently working towards a doctorate at York University.

Non-fiction (Memoir)

Birds Art Life

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017.
QL685.5 .O5 M176 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

For Vladimir Nabokov, it was butterflies. For John Cage, it was mushrooms. For Sylvia Plath, it was bees. Each of these artists took time away from their work to become observers of natural phenomena. In 2012, Kyo Maclear met a local Toronto musician with an equally captivating side passion–he had recently lost his heart to birds. Curious about what prompted this young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature, Kyo decides to follow him for a year and find out.

Birds Art Life follows two artists on a yearlong adventure that is at once a meditation on the nature of creativity and a quest for a good and meaningful life.

Awards and Honours

2018 Trillium Book Award–English Language (Finalist)

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Flo

Illustrated by Jay Fleck.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Meet Flo! Flo is the littlest panda. She likes to explore, relax, and enjoy everything around her. She is never in a hurry. But . . . sometimes she takes too much time, and the other pandas get impatient. One day they find themselves in trouble. Can Flo’s floppy ways save the day? With Kyo Maclear’s sweet, spare text and Jay Fleck’s bold, bright illustrations, Flo is sure to be a favorite for even the busiest little pandas!

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Fog

Illustrated by Kenard Park.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Warble is a small yellow warbler who lives on the beautiful island of Icyland, where he pursues his hobby of human watching. But on a warm day, a deep fog rolls in and obscures his view. The rest of the birds don’t seem to notice the fog or the other changes Warble observes on the island. The more the fog is ignored, the more it spreads. When a Red-hooded Spectacled Female (Juvenile) appears, Warble discovers that he’s not the only one who notices the fog. Will they be able to find others who can see it too? And is the fog here to stay? Kyo Maclear’s witty story, brought to life with the delicate, misty artwork of Kenard Pak, is a poignant yet humorous reminder of the importance of environmental awareness.

The Good Little Book book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Good Little Book

Illustrated by Marion Arbona.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 2015.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

While banished to a dusty study one day “to think things over”, a boy pulls a book off a shelf and with great reluctance begins to read. As the afternoon passes, the story nabs him and carries him away. Before long, this good little book becomes his loyal companion, accompanying him everywhere … until, one day, the book is lost. Will this bad little boy get back his good little book? Will the good little book survive on its own without a proper jacket? A quirky, enchanting tale of literary love and loss — and love found again — that will win the heart of even the most reluctant reader.

Awards and Honours

2015 Governor General’s Literary Award–Children’s Literature in English (Illustrated Books)(Finalist)
2017 Blue Spruce Award (Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading) (Honour book)

Julia, Child book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Julia, Child

Pictures by Julie Morstad.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 2014.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Julia and Simca are two young friends who agree that you can never use too much butter — and that it is best to be a child forever. Sharing a love of cooking and having no wish to turn into big, busy people who worry too much and dawdle too little, they decide to create a feast for growing and staying young. A playful, scrumptious celebration of the joy of eating, the importance of never completely growing up and mastering the art of having a good time, Julia, Child is a fictional tale loosely inspired by the life and spirit of the very real Julia Child — a story that should be taken with a grain of salt and a generous pat of butter.

Awards and Honours

2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards–English language, Children’s Illustration (Finalist)

Fiction

The Letter Opener

Toronto: HarperCollins, 2007.
PS8625 .L435 L48 2007

Publisher’s Synopsis

Naiko is working in the Undeliverable Mail Office, a cavernous space that resembles a giant pawnshop. Immersed in orphaned letters and keepsakes, she attempts to reunite these lost treasures with their rightful owners, a task that offers a glimpse into the lives of complete strangers. When Naiko’s co-worker, Andrei, an enigmatic Romanian refugee who becomes the object of her curiosity and affection, suddenly vanishes, her fascination with the mysteries of his life intensifies. In her desperate search for clues to explain his disappearance, she discovers the elusive nature of truth.

Awards and Honours

2008 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award (Finalist)
2009 K.M. Hunter Artist Award — Literature (Winner)

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Liszts

Illustrated by Júlia Sardà.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 2016.
PZ7 .M2227 L58 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

The Liszts make lists. They make lists most usual and lists most unusual. They make lists in winter, spring, summer and fall. They make lists every day except Sundays, which are listless. Mama Liszt, Papa Liszt, Winifred, Edward, Frederick and Grandpa make lists all day long. So does their cat. Then one day a visitor arrives. He’s not on anyone’s list. Will the Liszts be able to make room on their lists for this new visitor? How will they handle something unexpected arising? Kyo Maclear’s quirky, whimsical story, perfectly brought to life with the witty, stylish illustrations of Júlia Sardà, is a humorous and poignant celebration of spontaneity.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Mr. Flux

Illustrated by Matte Stephens.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2013.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Martin and his neighbors eschew change until eccentric Mr. Flux moves in and shows them that change can be big or little or even fit inside a box, and not at all scary. A tongue-in-cheek tale loosely inspired by the 1960s art movement known as Fluxus.

The Specific Ocean book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Specific Ocean

Illustrated by Katty Maurey.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2015.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In this gently told picture book, a young girl is unhappy about having to leave the city for a family vacation on the Pacific Ocean (which she used to call the Specific Ocean). As the days pass, however, she is drawn to spend more time in and near the water, feeling moved by its beauty and rhythms. “The ocean does its own thing, rolling backward and forward. Wash, swash, splush, hush. There is no late or hurry or racing in ocean time.” By the end of the vacation, the girl has grown to love the ocean and now feels reluctant to leave it behind. But as she soon realizes, it doesn’t ever have to leave her. “Calm. Blue. Ruffled. Gray. Playful. Green. Mysterious. Black. Foggy. Silver. Roaring. White. No matter where I am, this specific ocean will be with me.”

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Spork

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2010.
PZ7 .M2227 S76 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

His mum is a spoon. His dad is a fork. And he’s a bit of both. He’s Spork!
Spork sticks out in the regimented world of the cutlery drawer. The spoons think he’s too pointy, while the forks find him too round. He never gets chosen to be at the table at mealtimes until one day a very messy … thing arrives in the kitchen who has never heard of cutlery customs. Will Spork finally find his place at the table?

Awards and Honours

2010 Horace Mann Upstanders Book Award (Shortlist)
2010 Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, IBBY (Winner)
2011 Best Children’s Books of the the Year, Bank Street Children’s Book Committee (Winner)
2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (Canadian Children’s Book Centre) (Finalist)

 Stray Love book cover

Fiction

Stray Love

Illustrated by Heather Friese.
Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2012.
PS8625 .L435 T56 2012

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Virginia Wolf

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2012.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Vanessa’s sister, Virginia, is in a “wolfish” mood — growling, howling and acting very strange. It’s a funk so fierce, the whole household feels topsy-turvy. Vanessa tries everything she can think of to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work. Then Virginia tells Vanessa about an imaginary, perfect place called Bloomsberry. Armed with an idea, Vanessa begins to paint Bloomsberry on the bedroom walls, transforming them into a beautiful garden complete with a ladder and swing “so that what was down could climb up.” Before long, Virginia, too, has picked up a brush and undergoes a surprising transformation of her own. Loosely based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolf is an uplifting story for readers of all ages.

Awards and Honours

2012 Governor General’s Literary Awards–English language, Children’s Illustration (Winner)
2013 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (Canadian Children’s Book Centre) (Finalist)
2013 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (Finalist)

The Wish Tree book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Wish Tree

Illustrated by Chris Turnham.
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2016.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Charles wants to find a wish tree. His brother and sister don’t believe there is such a thing, but his trusty companion Boggan is ready to join Charles on a journey to find out. And along the way, they discover that wishes can come true in the most unexpected ways.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Yak and Dove

Illustrated by Esme Shapiro.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Friends Yak and Dove are complete opposites. Yak is large and Dove is small. Yak has fur and Dove has feathers. Yak is polite. Dove is ill-mannered. Yak likes quiet. Dove likes noise. One day as Yak and Dove list their differences they come to the conclusion that maybe they aren’t meant to be friends. In the hope of finding a new best friend, Yak holds auditions. But when a small feathered contestant sings Yak’s favorite song, the two begin to think that maybe they are alike after all . . .

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Kim, Christine. “Racialized Diasporas, Entangled Postmemories, and Kyo Maclear’s The Letter Opener.”  In Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora and Indigeneity in Canada, eds. Kim, Christine, Sophie McCall and Melina Baum Singer.  Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012, 171-190.
PS8089.5 .M55 C84 2912


Read, Robyn. “A Stadium of Small Things: Collecting Contemporary Canadian Fiction.” Ph.D. diss., University of Calgary, 2010.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Links

Kyo Maclear personal website

Publisher HarperCollins

Publisher Kids Can Press

Publisher Tundra Books

Macmillan Publishers, owner of the Farrar, Straus and Giroux imprint