The Osborne Collection

Last week I said I’d say more on the subject of scrapbooks. I started keeping one in 1982 after my first book, Red is Best, was published. I put my rejection letters in it, the letter Annick sent saying they’d like to meet with me, the earliest Robin Baird Lewis sketches I saw that convinced Annick and me that she was the right illustrator for the book, and the notes I made for my acceptance of the IODE Award (on the same day the first edition of Big or Little? was released).

I didn’t keep the scrapbook up for very long, but those items now reside with the Osborne Collection at the Lillian Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library.

The Osborne Collection is a treasure trove of early children’s books. It contains numerous drafts of more recent children’s books, too. I was delighted to hear this spring that when the speakers at the conference I attended were treated to a tour of the collection, the good folks at the Osborne made a point of showcasing their Red is Best materials. (And I heard that one of my great writing heroes, David Almond, was quite impressed. David Almond is also this year’s winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award.)

The neat thing is: anyone can visit the Osborne Collection. Drop in from Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They rotate their displays regularly, so if there’s something specific you’re hoping to see, it might be wise to make an appointment beforehand.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Janet Barclay on May 3, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Too bad you didn't maintain that scrapbook – I'm sure it would be many volumes by now! I started a scrapbook for my business when I was getting started, but I just didn't have time to keep it up once I got busy. I guess it's like that for many of us!

  2. Kathy Stinson on May 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    It would indeed be a very fat scrapbook by now. Far better to have the Osborne organizing all that stuff.

    I think the beginning of a new career is the most interesting part to capture in a scrapbook. And its tapering off is a great indication it's a success.

    I'm very glad YOUR business has worked out so well, Janet, in part because MINE depends on it! (The virtual/technical side of it anyway.)

  3. Barbara Beeksma on December 25, 2018 at 11:14 am

    THIS CHRISTMAS I took a cue from the Red is Best book and hunted through thrift stores to find all the red items in the book for my granddaughter Josie. It was a lot of fun searching for the items and made for an interesting read! Thanks for your creativity and will look for other books in the future.

    • Kathy on December 26, 2018 at 11:34 am

      What a wonderful idea, Barbara. I bet Josie was delighted. Congratulations on YOUR creativity. I’m happy to report a new book will be out this spring — inspired by my dog this time. 🙂

      • Barbara Beeksma on December 30, 2018 at 9:41 pm

        Josie was happy to put on all the red is best things and we all enjoyed the book together

        • Kathy on December 31, 2018 at 9:16 am

          What fun! Happy to hear it1

        • Kathy on December 31, 2018 at 9:17 am

          What fun! Happy to hear it!

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