Gabby soon to be a paperback!

Gabby will soon be available in paperback!

My story about the little girl who dropped her book and all the letters fell out — and then whatever she spelled with those letters comes to life — is being reprinted as a paperback. It will still feature the gorgeous illustrations by Jan Dolby.

Gabby won the Rainforest of Reading Award (2015) and was an OLA “Best Bet” (2013).

Until now, Gabby has only been available in hardback. The new paperback will be more affordable, and portable. You can take Gabby in the car, to the cottage — anywhere!

The paperback Gabby will be available in Spring 2019.

Don’t forget, there are two other books in the Gabby series that are still available in hardback. Collect ’em all! And, because they’re about putting letters together, spelling and making words, they make a great gift for early readers.

You can get a copy of Gabby: Drama Queen and Gabby: Wonder Girl from your independent bookstore, Chapters/Indigo, an online bookstore or online from Fitzhenry & Whiteside. If it’s not available in your area, contact me and I’ll make sure you get a signed copy.

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Join us at the OLA Superconference Jan. 29,10:15 a.m.

Joyce and Jan signing books at the 2014 OLA Superconference.

Joyce and Jan signing books at the 2014 OLA Superconference.

Gabby’s Joyce Grant and Jan Dolby will be signing copies of Gabby: Drama Queen at the Ontario Library Association’s Superconference on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 10:15 a.m.

We’ll be at the Fitzhenry & Whiteside booth, Booth #423/425.

The conference is at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Hall C, and it’s well worth checking out, especially if you’re a teacher, a librarian, or a book lover!

See you there!

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Gabby: Drama Queen

Gabby: Drama QueenJoin Gabby on another quirky, word-filled adventure!

In Gabby: Drama Queen, Gabby is putting on a play about a queen in a royal court. Her best friend, Roy, is eager to join in the fun.

He declares that he’ll be a… swordfish!

A swordfish? In a play about a royal court?!

Gabby and Roy will have to use their magic word-book to find some common ground.

As with the first Gabby book, there are lots of fun literacy-based activities in the back that parents can do with their child. And we’ll be posting more on this website so please check back with us.

Gabby: Drama Queen is illustrated by Jan Dolby, and published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.



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Blog tag: “The Next Big Thing,” Gabby—Drama Queen

Joyce Gabby JanThis post is part of “The Next Big Thing,” which is a world-wide blog tour—someone described it as a kind of chain letter for authors. It began in Australia, to showcase authors and illustrators and their work. If you Google “The Next Big Thing blog tour” you’ll get introduced to dozens of talented authors and illustrators.

Gabby illustrator Jan Dolby and I were tagged by two talented kidlit creators whose book, Skink on the Brink, comes out later this month. Skink was written by Lisa Dalrymple and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, a three-dimensional media artist.

In the blog tag, each kidlit creator answers the same six questions about their book. Here are the comments from Jan Dolby and myself.

What is the title of your next book?
Gabby_coverOur first book, Gabby, came out in January 2013.

Our second book in the series is called Gabby—Drama Queen, and it comes out in September 2013.



Where did the idea come from for the book? How did you come up with the final character illustrations for the book?
Joyce: I’m very passionate about literacy. Something I discovered in my research is that if reading can be “tactile,” many kids will absorb and understand it better and possibly faster. So I thought, ‘what if there was a way to have the letters in a book be touchable, and moveable?’ And there it was!

As for Gabby herself, I knew that we would have to have a character who was smart and quirky enough to just go with the flow when strange things started happening around her. The actual name “Gabby” came up in a brainstorming session with my editors/publishers, Christie and Cathy. Before that, the character was named Sarah, after a little girl I know. I think “Gabby” really suits the character—plus it’s a mild pun, which I really like.

Gabby with friends Jan: I draw and draw until I create a character-drawing that I fall in love with. With Gabby I fell in love fast. I’ve always enjoyed book characters that have red hair and a spunky personality. I had to give Joyce’s book one of those.

I tweeked the character a little to give her more height and width—with an “emotional flower” and crazy curly pigtails.

After awhile, the tiny little girl—Gabby—with the red glasses and yellow socks arrived!

In what genre does your book fall?
It’s a children’s picture book, for ages approximately 3 to 6.
At the back of the book there are also literacy activities that parents can do with their kids.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Miranda Cosgrove young
Joyce: It would have to be someone young and very quirky and smart. Maybe someone like Miranda Cosgrove when she was a little younger (she played Carly in iCarly).

38th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards - InsideOr what about Quvenzhane Wallis – the girl who was in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”? She’s pretty smart and, I think, quirky.


Phyllis Diller 2Jan: When I came up with the Mrs. Oldham character, I was constantly thinking of Phyllis Diller. I loved her outbursts of laughter, her crazy hair and body language. I’m also a big fan of Rico Rodriguez (Manny) from Modern Family. His character on the show is so confident. That’s how I see Gabby’s friend, Roy.

What is a brief synopsis of your book?
Gabby—Drama Queen
When Gabby and her friend Roy want to put on a play, what could go wrong?
They soon find out, as “Queen Gabriella” loses her precious crown! They’ll find it in the most unlikely place – with the help of Gabby’s magic word-making book and her nutty but loveable neighbour, Mrs. Oldham.

Who is publishing your book?
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, Publishers in Toronto.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? How long did the illustrations take to complete?
It took about a year to write the first Gabby book, and then re-write and revise it eight or nine times. When you don’t have many words, you have to make sure each one works really hard. Plus, you have to leave room for the illustrator to breathe.

It took a bit less time to write the second one, because I had less time—actually, we’re still revising but we’re pretty gabby-drama-queen-pg10close to the final product.

Jan: Creating the new characters for Gabby—Drama Queen was a blast and didn’t really take me that long.  That for me is the most fun.  Between the storyboard drawings and the final painted illustrations, I would say it has taken me about 3 to 4 months to get the illustrations ready to scan.  I’m at the digital stage where the magic of Photoshop and Illustrator come in.  That process will take just a couple of weeks to finish. 


ThankDavid Anderson illustrators for reading, blog tour-ers! I’m happy now to tag the next person in this blog tour, multiple award-winning illustrator and cartoonist, David Anderson. I’ve known David for a long time, back when he drew brilliant editorial cartoons for a publication I was an editor with, called Canadian HR Reporter. Of course, his drawings have also appeared in some lesser-known papers like, oh, the New York Times and Time magazine. Enjoy!

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Come to Gabby’s book launch party Sunday., Jan. 27

Gabby launch party evite(It’s also Family Literacy Day!)

Join us for the launch of Gabby!

Bring your kids – there will be a book reading, colouring and plasticine. Make your own “Gabby” so we can include it in our Kids’ Gallery.

Illustrator Jan Dolby and I will be available to talk to you about the book and personally sign your copy of Gabby.

The party is on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 1:00, at the Intergalactic Travel Authority Cafe (and Story Planet), 1165 Bloor St. W., in Toronto. One block west of Dufferin, on the south side of the street. (Beside Bloor Collegiate.) Hope to see you there!
Map to the ITA cafe.

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Gabby To Launch Jan. 15, 2013!


Joyce Grant, (Gabby), Jan Dolby with one of the first copies of the book – at our publisher’s, Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Just got back from the publisher’s, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, to pick up the first copies of “Gabby.” Very exciting!

Illustrator Jan Dolby and I could not stop grinning. Heck, we’re still grinning. The book looks beautiful and we want to thank all of the wonderful, talented people at Fitz & Whits.

Our publicist, Cheryl, said the official launch date – and the date when it will be in stores – is Jan. 15.


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Interview with up-and-coming literary starlet – Gabby!

Joyce and Gabby interview; by Jan Dolby, based on a photo by Robert Gagnon

Joyce Grant and Gabby take a time-out from their lunch to chat about their upcoming book – and Gabby’s fabulous hair; illustration by Jan Dolby, based in part on a photo by Robert Gagnon.

Gabby is the main character in Joyce Grant’s new children’s picture book (illustrated by Jan Dolby and published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside). She recently agreed to chat with Joyce Grant about the new venture.

JG: Gabby—may I call you that?—it’s so wonderful to talk to you in person. After all, you’ve been in my head for so long.

G: My full name is Gabriella, but almost no one calls me that so please do call me Gabby. And yes, it’s great to finally be out of there—it was a bit cramped.

JG: Well, there’s lots of other stuff in there and I won’t apologize for that.

G: Streetcars? Chefs?

JG: Right. Sorry about that. They’re from a couple of other books I’m working on. They’ll be gone soon—I hope. But let’s talk about your book. You’re the star! Are you excited?

G: It is exciting! I was especially thrilled when our editor, Christie, suggested naming the book after me. I can’t wait to see my name on the cover.

JG: And your picture, too! Would it surprise you to know that your name was nearly Sarah?

G: What?!

JG: Well, when I first wrote the book it was called, “Sarah Makes Friends,” after a girl I know. And then Christie and Cathy (from the publisher) met with me for a coffee at Starbucks and we discussed other names. You were also nearly Fanny!

G: I’m speechless. I’m so clearly “Gabby.”

JG: Yes, I agree. And part of the reason for that is that Gabby is kind of a quirky name. Would you say you are quirky?

G: People call me that, certainly. I think they mean that I sometimes look at things a little differently. And I do agree with that.

JG: Can you give us an example?

G: It’s mostly about letters and words. For instance, you’re wearing a T-shirt. So I’m asking, “What does the T stand for? Is it ‘Tea shirt’—like one you’d wear while you’re drinking tea? (It would account for that stain, Joyce.) Or is it a Tee-shirt like you’d wear on a golf course? I mean, what’s the T for?”

JG: Well that certainly is a unique perspective. Oh, here’s our appetizer.

G: Alphabet soup—my favourite! Letters you can eat. How perfect is that?

Alphabet_soup by strawberryblues; Wikimedia Commons

Alphabet_soup image by strawberryblues; Wikimedia Commons

JG: Yes, stop playing with it, though. You’re getting it all over the…

G: See, if you put these letters together…

JG: Gabby, you’re splashing soup everywhere!

G: …just need another L for G-a-b-r-i-e-l-l-a

JG: Gabby, can we please talk about something else? I just love your signature red hair. It’s so “you.”

G: Thank you. And I don’t even have a stylist. I just get up in the morning and stick it in ribbons… really I just let it do whatever it wants. In fact, that’s my attitude towards life in general. Go with the flow.

JG: It certainly seems to work for you.

G: Yes. How else could I get two warring species to become friends?

JG: Now, Gabby, don’t spoil the ending for people!

G: Hey, it’s not every day a kid helps to thwart thousands of years of evolution.

JG:Thwart”? You do love words, don’t you?

G: Speaking of words, look at what I’m spelling in my alphabet soup!*

JG: Gabby, I think this interview is just about over, don’t you? Is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?

G: Well, just buy my book, please.

JG: Well, it’s your book and it’s my book and Jan’s book and Fitzhenry & Whiteside’s book. In any case, this seems like a good note to end on. Thank you very much, Gabby.

G: Thank you. And you just ended a sentence with a preposition, Joyce.

JG: On which to end, then. Gabby—stop splashing!

G: G’bye!

JG: G’bye!

* “Fitzhenry.” She spelled Fitzhenry.

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“Gabby” to be published Nov. 2012

In just a few months, Gabby will be published!

Writing a picture book is an exciting process and through this blog I hope to bring you into the loop.

For instance, many people think that your manuscript needs to include both words and illustrations. While it’s true there are some writer/illustrators, in my case — and in the majority of cases — the publisher chooses the illustrator for you.

My editor from Fitzhenry & Whiteside Publishing chose the perfect illustrator for this book. In my head, Gabby was irreverent, quirky, confident and likeable. Jan Dolby (check out her blog here) captured Gabby’s nature perfectly.

Gabby; illustration by Jan Dolby

Illustration by Jan Dolby.

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