Meeting Marie-Louise Gay, the Author Behind the Stella and Sam Series

On February 14, Valentine’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event with Canada Post.  The event was to highlight an upcoming commemorative stamp and this particular stamp’s feature star was Stella and Sam – the charming and lovely characters created by Marie-Louise Gay.

The event was held at the Canada Post Printing Facility where all of the stamps get printed and packaged for public consumption.  We took a tour of the printing facility, which was phenomenal to see as there is so much more that goes into printing a single stamp than one might ever imagine.

We also got to speak directly with staff members who told us about the high level of security that is maintained at the facility and why it’s so important to have those specific security measures in place to preserve the value of the commemorative stamps we saw.

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During the event, we also heard from the designers who designed Marie-Louise Gay’s stamp, set to be released in the Fall, and learned about the process that Canada Post follows to choose a stamp and create it.

We learned that a panel comes together to review possibilites for upcoming stamp designs, design companies are sent a brief and the design companies that want to pitch their designs, do so. They are then put in front of a blind panel that chooses the winning designs and concepts and then the stamp-creation process begins. The entire process can take up to a year – year and a half to fully complete.

stamp2This year, Canada Post will release approximately 25 commemorative stamps whereas last year, they did many more than that as the year held events like the Titanic 100 year anniversary, the anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, the Queen’s Jubilee, etc.

Marie-Louise was chosen to receive a commemorative stamp because of the impact that she’s had on Canadian children’s literature. Born in Quebec City, as a child she lived in Montreal and Vancouver. Gay has received numerous awards for her written and illustrated works in both French and English, including the 2005 Vicky Metcalf Award, multiple Governor General’s Awards, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. Her famous Stella and Sam books have been published in more than twelve languages.

It was fantastic to meet such an amazing, humble, down to Earth author and illustrator who lives right in our backyard (or just a stones throw away really…) and it was awesome to get a peek into the process that is involved to creating commemorative stamps.

Huge thank you to Canada Post for inviting myself and Crystal (although Crystal was unable to come due to her daughter getting the flu) and thank you for the lovely Stella and Sam book.

Marie-Louise, thank you for signing our books and for being so open to our questions and to us being there to spend some time with you and share in this most impressive honour.

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Source of Marie-Louise Gay’s history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Louise_Gay