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Hugh Brewster

Hugh Brewster

Photo: Ian Brewster

Being able to create books about history is a dream job for me since I’ve always been enthralled by history. When I was growing up in Georgetown, Ontario, our house was just around the corner from the town library. And I haunted its children’s section—reading sometimes four or five books a week. Our family had moved to Georgetown from a small town in Scotland in 1956, when I was six years old. When I was thirteen we moved to Guelph, Ontario, and I went to high school and university there. My first real job after graduating with an English degree in 1971 was with Scholastic – then a fairly new publishing company in Canada. As an editor for Scholastic Inc. from 1972 to 1984 in both Toronto and New York, I was involved in the creation of Scholastic’s Canadian children’s publishing program as well as in the selecting of books for Scholastic’s school book clubs. Between 1984 and 2004 I was the Editorial Director and Publisher of Madison Press Books in Toronto. While there, I helped to create a number of successful books for young readers including Exploring the Titanic, that has sold over one million copies and other award-wining award-winning titles such as Polar the Titanic Bear, Safari, Attack on Pearl Harbor, First to Fly and Journey to Ellis Island. The first book that I actually both wrote and compiled was Anastasia’s Album: The Last Tsar’s Youngest Daughter Tells Her Own Story, published in 1996. I had been lucky enough to go to Moscow in 1994 to see the last Tsar’s palaces and also the personal possessions of his family – letters, photo albums, diaries and school notebooks – that had been kept hidden in the state archives for over 75 years. Anastasia’s Album won a number of awards including the Silver Birch and Red Cedar awards. This made me want to write more books! In 1997 I wrote the text for Inside the Titanic, which featured amazing cutaway illustrations by Ken Marschall. With Laurie Coulter I compiled a book filled with fascinating facts about the Titanic entitled 882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic (1998). Laurie and I went on to write To Be A Princess in 2001 which was a Silver Birch and Red Cedar nominee. In 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, I wrote On Juno Beach which won the Children’s Literature of Canada Information Book Award in 2005. The success of that book encouraged me to write At Vimy Ridge which appeared in 2007 for the 90th anniversary of Canada’s great World War I battle. In 2005, I decided to devote myself to writing full-time for young readers and three new books are the result of that: The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint George published Fall 2006 and Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose: The Story of a Painting and Breakout Dinosaurs: Canada’s Coolest, Scariest Ancient Creatures Return! both published in Fall 2007 Publications: The Complete Hoser’s Handbook (1982), Anastasia’s Album (1996) Inside the Titanic (1997) 882 1/2 Amazing Answers To Your Questions About the Titanic (1998) To Be a Princess: The Fascinating Lives of Real Princesses (2000) On Juno Beach: Canada’s D-Day Heroes (2004). The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint=George (2006) At Vimy Ridge: Canada’s Greatest World War I Victory (2007) Carnation, Lily,Lily,Rose: The Story of a Painting (2007) Breakout Dinosaurs (2007) Awards: Silver Birch and Red Cedar Awards for Anastasia's Album (1996) Information Book Award for On Juno Beach (2005) Information Book Award Honour Book for At Vimy Ridge (2007) Governor General's Award Nominee for Carnation,Lily,Lily, Rose (2007).
My newest book is DIEPPE: Canada's Darkest Day of World War II (2009) which has been nominated for the 09/10 Silver Birch Award.

Eligible for National Public Readings Program:


Presentation Description

Presentations: Throughout the year, I am available for author visits in schools and libraries, as well as presentations and workshops at conferences and festivals. I find that talks work better than readings for non-fiction books and I like to bring visual aids that allow the audience to actually “touch” history. Subjects: Remembering On Juno Beach,  At Vimy Ridge and DIEPPE. These three books are subjects of great interest since so many Canadians have a direct family connection with World War I and II. My A/V talks about them are particularly in-demand in the weeks before Remembrance Day. I bring photos and artifacts to aid in the talk and these are always well received. People often bring family mementoes and there are usually plenty of questions. In schools I find Grades 4 and up most receptive. I also enjoy speaking to high schools, since the subjects are curriculum-related. I am happy to speak to large or small groups. My talks are also appreciated by adults and when I speak in libraries or to veterans or arts or civic groups I can tailor the talks to the audience. Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose For this book I will have a laptop slideshow with music combined with paintings and photographs to evoke the world that John Singer Sargent painted. One unique feature is the parlor song that inspired the title of the painting. No recording exists of it so I have made one with a male trio. The talk can be tailored to adults or to children aged seven and up or to a mix of both. Canada’s diinosaurs  are an ever-popular subject for all ages. For Breakout Dinosaurs, I have a laptop slideshow featuring some of the art from the book plus photos of dinosaur bones and fossils. In schools. This talk is be popular with Grades 1-4. I also have a slideshow about the Titanic which is popular with all ages.

Presentation Length:
1 hour
Workshop Description: