Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Stamp Collector

Thisdale, François (Illustrator)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2012. 32 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9781554552184 (hardcover)
9781554553907 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, evocative language, figurative language, point of view, setting

Awards

Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book – 2013
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award – Finalist – 2013
TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2013
Crystal Kite Award – 2013
USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2013
The Forest of Reading – The Silver Birch Express Award Nominee – 2014
IBBY Honour List – 2014

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Two boys from different backgrounds grow up to become friends—on either side of prison bars. One is a prison guard, the other a writer. The painful oppression of thinkers and writers around the world is made accessible to young readers through this book.

The language is poetic and strong: “Stories do not buy bread.” The narration keeps a wise distance from specifics, while effectively portraying the bleak setting: “the prison is a hard, grey place; the writer is now much older than his years. He begins to cough and the sound pierces the guard’s heart with dread.”

Moody, miasmic illustrations combine painterly markings with ghostly effects. In contrast, postage stamps on the letters sent to the imprisoned writer burst with colour and detail. As the writer grows weaker, the guard gathers his courage and passes the forbidden letters to his friend. Silence and powerlessness are transformed: the writer will not survive, but his voice will live on through the guard.

Back material places the story in context and introduces readers to PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee. This powerful book offers children a harrowing yet inspiring perspective on the issue of freedom of speech.

  •  

    Discuss the concept of free speech. Why might some countries or organizations not want people to speak up?

  •  

    After discussing the story as a class, write a reflective response.

  •  

    Research information about the Canadian stamp. Choose a stamp from the Canadian collection. Create a poster highlighting the interesting or little known facts about that stamp. Present your poster to the class.

  •  

    Discuss the concept of free speech. Why might some countries/organizations not want people to speak up?

  •  

    As a class, create a storyline and timeline to help understand how the two parallel lives ultimately connect. 

  •  

    Discuss the limits of free speech. Why can’t people say or write everything they think? 

  •  Listen as the author’s note is read aloud. Take notes and jot down keywords. In small teams, discuss freedom of speech or expression.
  •  Explain the significance of these two quotes from the text: “Dreams do not buy bread” and “Stories do not buy bread.”
  •  With a partner, select two countries, each from a different continent. Research their laws regarding freedom of speech. Compare and contrast the information, using a medium of your choice. Present your findings to the class and discuss.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Media Literacy
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Social Sciences