Sunday, December 09, 2007


The Atelier Gallery is pleased to announce a special event featuring Julie Morstad’s artwork from the award winning children’s book “When You Were Small”

On Saturday December 15th, from 2-4 , artwork from this novel will be featured in the gallery and available for sale. Julie Morstad will be in attendance and signing books. There are only thirteen images in this collection - each one a treasure and a testament to Morstad’s reputation as one of Canada’s most interesting illustrators.

“When You Were Small” was illustrated by Morstad and written by Sara O’Leary. This enchanting children’s book has recently been awarded both the prestigious Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

A best selling Canadian book, it has now been translated into three languages including Korean. Heralded by the ‘Association of Booksellers for Children’, as one of the best books of 2006, this is an exciting opportunity to view and acquire an original artwork from this publication. The works will be on view in the gallery until December 22nd.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I can't wait to hold this baby!

The cover for the sequel (prequel?) to When You Were Small is now on Amazon. The book is called Where You Came From and is about Henry asking his parents that question and receiving a series of preposterous answers about what happened when the stork had the day off.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crooked House

I was interviewed by the wonderful Stephany Aulenback at Crooked House.
She writes:
The other day when I was posting about books featuring little people I forgot all about Sara O'Leary's When You Were Small, a spare, beautifully designed picture book that usually occupies a place of honour on my mantelpiece. When I found it in Munro's Books in Victoria, it made me feel simultaneously delighted and envious. Delighted, because this is the perfect idea for a picture book, perfectly executed. And envious, of course, because, well, why didn't I think of it first?

A boy called Henry asks his father to tell him about when he was small. His father proceeds to narrate a series of tall (small?) tales about the things that happened to Henry back then. Stuff like: "When you were small your mother once lost you in the bottom of her purse. When she found you again, you were clinging to an earring she'd lost three years before." And: "When you were small we used you as a chess piece, because our chess board was missing one of the knights and you were the perfect size."

This sweet, hilarious text is accompanied by pen-and-ink illustrations by Julie Morstad, whose work manages to be charming, surreal, and retro all at once. This book is a work of art, one that deserves to become a bedtime classic.

The very gracious Sara O'Leary has agreed to do an interview about this book and the next one, which is called Where You Came From. Sara says "it is also full of lies."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

When You Were Small named winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award


Sarah Ellis, Jan Thornhill, Eva Wiseman, and author-illustrator team 
Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad receive top honours.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (October 16, 2007) ― The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is thrilled to announce the winners of the four major children’s book awards it administers. The winners were announced last night at a gala event at the Design Exchange in Toronto.

Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie
When You Were Small 

Written by Sara O'Leary of Hampstead, QC

Illustrated by Julie Morstad of Vancouver, BC

Simply Read Books

“Beautifully illustrated and timeless… O’Leary takes the reader on a whimsical tour of the imagination and captures the essence of what it is like to be a child... Simply amazing!”

JURY MEMBERS: Jeffrey Canton, Faculty of Arts, York University and children’s book reviewer; Myra Junyk, literacy advocate and author; and Janis Nostbakken, writer, producer, broadcaster and founding editor of ChickaDEE magazine.

Friday, September 21, 2007


When You Were Small has been shortlisted for
in the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is pleased to announce the finalists for the four major children’s book awards it administers. The winners will be announced at a by invitation-only gala event at Toronto’s Design Exchange on October 15, 2007.

The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award honours excellence in the illustrated picture book format, for children aged 3 to 6. Charles Baillie, retired Chairman and CEO of the TD Bank Financial Group, is delighted to give the prize in his wife Marilyn’s name. As an award-winning children’s book author and an early learning specialist, Marilyn is involved in and passionate about children’s literature. The winning book receives $10,000.

WYWS chosen as a CanWest Raise a Reader Beginning Reader Pick

We're all for raising readers.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


When You Were Small
Sara O’Leary, Julie Morstad
Henry a little boy asks his father to tell him about when he was small in this sweet children’s book. His father pretends Henry was once very tiny- small enough to fit in a pocket, wear a thimble as a helmet, walk his pet ant and other imaginative fun things kid’s would have a blast thinking about. When Henry asks his father if any of it’s true his father asnwers- Don’t you remember? The illustrations by Julie Morstad that accompany the story are so cute. Henry has such a simple clean white face but everything else has color and tiny hatch marks. The end pages are my favorite. They are of all different frames hanging on a wall with pictures of “small” Henry in them. I was just working on a project for a client where they wanted a pattern of framed paintings on a wall so you could imagine how excited I was to find this for inspiration.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Reading in beautiful St. Martin's

I will be doing a reading and signing on Thursday, July 19th as part of St. Martins Book Fair, an inaugural event of the St. Martins Booktown Initiative.

If you are going to be in the area, then please do stop by.

And if you aren't going to be in the area, then why not? St. Martins is a lovely little seaside village on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy and has much to recommend it ... including lots of books for sale at the Book Fair, which runs from July 13-21st, 2007.


TONY Kids / Issue 21: July 2007 "Hidden gem"

Wee one When Henry asks, “Dad, tell me about when I was small,” his playful pop interprets the request literally and begins to regale his son with winking tales, such as “When you were small you wore a thimble for a hat,” and “You used a ruler as a toboggan.” In When You Were Small ($17), Julie Morstad’s pen-and-ink drawings charmingly illustrate Sara O’Leary’s whimsical text in a sweet ode to messing with your kid’s head. Check out the brief but appealing list of other titles put out by the duo’s Vancouver-based boutique publisher ( for further proof of that old adage about good things and small packages. Ages 5 and up.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A nice notice from Jabberwocky Books


I love love love this book. Whimsical drawings, quiet unexpected images and a sweet reassuring read. Likely to become a family bedtime ritual for all who come to know it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Canadian Library Association Illustration Prize

The shortlisted titles for the 2007 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award

Alphabetter - illustrated by Graham Ross - Orca Book Publishers
The Farm Team - illustrated by Bill Slavin - Kids Can Press
Fox Walked Alone - illustrated by Barbara Reid – Scholastic Canada
Mwâkawa Talks to the Loon - illustrated by Dale Auger - Heritage House Publishing
Scaredy Squirrel - illustrated by Mélanie Watt - Kids Can Press
What Are You Doing Sam? - illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay – Groundwood Books
When You Were Small - illustrated by Sara O'Leary - Simply Read Books
The Birdman - illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle -
Tundra Books
Snow - illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton – Groundwood Books
Sack Full of Feathers - illustrated by Cindy Revell – Orca Book Publishers

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Go Shopping

At the beautiful Mahar Dry Goods, where they have just added WYWS to their inventory...

When author Sara O’Leary wrote and introduced us to her book When You Were Small we were instantly smitten not only by her simple imaginative story but also by the beautiful illustrations of Julie Morstad. It’s a bedtime story told by a father to his son about when the little boy was small, not younger but quite literally smaller. Named one of the best books of 2006 by the Association of Booksellers for Children, we’re pleased to see this wonderful book begin to garner well-deserved recognition. You can learn more about the author, illustrator and story at it’s very own web site. When You were Small was published by a small independent press, Simply Read Books in 2006. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Notice from a "small" magazine

"This is a quietly amusing and touching story of a father telling his son tales 'from when you were small'. A beloved topic with small children, they will be enchanted by the gentle story and laugh out loud at the whimsical pen and ink drawings."

Monday, April 23, 2007

A note from my delightful, clever and charming godmother

Dear Sara,
I doubt that I have told you how often I visit your website for When
You Were Small. I do so quite frequently, and as I read the reviews and
accolades I glow with pride, as though, somehow, just by being your
godmother, I had some hand in the delightful, clever, and charming
person you turned out to be!
My autographed copy (thank you for the lovely inscription) is proudly
displayed, and pointed out to all who visit my living room. Although I
will never be the "book person" your mother is, I have always loved
books, and I have a cherished cache of much read classics from
childhood, including A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Mary Ganon, and L. M.
Montgomery, just to name a few.
With love, Penny

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lemony Snicket!

I was delighted to receive a lovely note about When You Were Small from Daniel Handler this week. It seems wonderful to me that he took the time to reply to my offer of reading material for his small son. But, on consideration, it seemed presumptuous of me to actually post his note here and so if you want to know what it says, you will have to come over to my house and read the framed original up on my office wall!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

FIRST PRIZE in the children's book category of the Alcuin Society Awards goes to the very deserving Robin Mitchell

Vancouver, BC - The Alcuin Society has announced the winners of its 25th annual Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. The judges (Alan Brownoff (University of Alberta Press, Edmonton), book designer, artist, and teacher; Jan Elsted (Barbarian Press, Mission, BC), letterpress printer and teacher; and Glenn Goluska (Imprimerie Dromadaire, Montreal), book designer, typographer, and letterpress printer) selected 34 winning titles from 252 entries; 96 publishers from 9 provinces participated.

The winning books will be exhibited internationally at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs, and, in Canada: in Halifax; Wolfville (NS); Montréal; Ottawa; Toronto; Edmonton; Vancouver; and Victoria (BC).

First prize: ROBIN MITCHELL [Hundreds and Thousands], designer of When You Were Small by Sara O’Leary (Simply Read Books)
Second prize ANDRÉE LAUZON, designer of L’Envers de la chanson by André Leblanc (Les 400 Coups)
Honourable mentions: KAREN POWERS, designer of Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer (Kids Can Press); ROBIN MITCHELL [Hundreds and Thousands], designer of One Winter Night by Jennifer Lloyd (Simply Read Books); and ANDRÉE LAUZON, designer of Philou, architecte et associés by Sophie Gironnay (Les 400 Coups).

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Milk Teeth

If you are in Vancouver then lucky you, because you can go see Julie Morstad's exhibition Milk Teeth at Atelier Gallery, 2421 Granville Street, Vancouver BC V6H 3G5.

For the rest of us, you can view the works from the show at

Monday, February 05, 2007

Now Playing at a Library Near You

This link makes a handy Henry finder - you can check to see if he's in residence at your local library through
Very cool.

In love with a little-ish book...

So, Julie Morstad is pretty wonderful...I mean, her work is. I know lots of you applets are fans.
She did the beautiful drawings for Neko-my-love-Case's most recent record sleeve, and some sweet little bird tipped me off about the children's book she illustrated, called When You Were Small, which I now own and am in love with. It is a little-ish book with a little story about a boy named Henry (my most favorite boy-name, p.s.) who asks his father repeatedly "Tell me about when I was small". His dad seems to be a very creative sort with a wonderful imagination, and he regales Henry with tales of just how small he was.
It is simply one of the most quietly, perfectly-spare but lovely little picture books I have ever seen. The book's design is clean but sweet and library-like, and the drawings are charming and fragile-looking vignettes. The words are matter-of-fact in this wonderful, whimsical way.

Again, I'm smitten with the endpapers:

See how delicate and perfect?

At first I thought that the "thread" illustration was clearly my favorite...but now I think the "sleeping in a slipper" might be...

From Emily at which is full of lovely things to look at and covet.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Noted by Vancouver Public Library

By Sara O'Leary
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
2006 - $19.95 - SIMPLY READ BOOKS
"When you were small, you wore a thimble for a hat," his father tells the inquiring Henry. Dad's matter-of-fact whoppers about a younger Henry are made all the more credible by Morstad's clean and elegant illustrations. A quietly beautiful production.

Golden Fuse Awards

When You Were Small named
Best Unappreciated Picture Book of the Year

Mean Magpie's favourite Canadian-designed and written book of 2006

Best book to read aloud and just look at the pictures
I submitted Sara O'Leary's When You Were Small to Quill and Quire as being my favourite Canadian-designed and written book of 2006. Fans of Neko Case may recognize the work of illustrator Julie Morstad, who also drew the cover for her Fox Confessor album. The book itself is wonderful, and if you're struggling over what to get your younger/pregnant relatives for Christmas this year, I'd suggest this. It's great.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

When You Were Small: Second Printing

The second print run of When You Were Small has arrived by ship from Italy!

32pp, Full-colour illustrations, 8" x 10", Cloth
Ages 5 and up
CDN $19.95

ISBN 1-894965-36-1

Written by Sara O'Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

When You Were Small: When You Were Small nominated for 2006 Cybils Award

When You Were Small: When You Were Small named one of the best books of 2006 by Association of Booksellers for Children

Doty wee man

Finest Picture Book
November 12th, 2006
No bookshelf under age 5 (or 50) should be without a copy of Sara O’Leary’s illuminating children’s book: When you were small. I challenge anyone to find a more doty wee man than Henry in print.

Henry's world travels

A Mexican edition of When You Were Small will be published by Artes de Mexico - National Ministry of Education. 59,122 copies are to be distributed in schools.

The talented Julie Morstad

To see more of Julie's work go to:

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Understated and spare ...

When You Were Small by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad
O’Leary gives us a father telling his son Henry stories about when he was small, very small, about-the-size-of-a-pen-cap small. O’Leary’s text and Morstad’s illustrations are understated and spare, making for a surprisingly quiet book given the subject matter. It’s just right, though: these aren’t stories told to make a child laugh, they’re meant to entertain and let a child know how much he’s loved.