Shelley Tanaka

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Shelley Tanaka
Occupation Editor, writer, translator, writing teacher
Period 1980s–present
Genre Children's literature, non-fiction

Shelley Tanaka is a Canadian editor of numerous young adult novels, an award-winning author of non-fiction for children, a translator, and a writing teacher.


Shelley Tanaka was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She received an Honours Bachelor's degree in English and German from Queen's University, and a Master's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto.[1][2] She lives in Ontario, Canada.[3]

Tanaka began her editing career at Clarke Irwin.[4] She has been the fiction editor at Groundwood Books, a Canadian children's book publisher, since 1983 and has edited books by many Canadian writers, including Tim Wynne-Jones, Deborah Ellis, Martha Brooks, Sarah Ellis and Alan Cumyn. She is the editor of thirteen Governor General's Award winning books.[1][5][6]

Shelley Tanaka writes nonfiction for children, including books in the I Was There series and A Day That Changed America series. She has won numerous awards for her writing, among them the Orbis Pictus Award in 2009.[7] Her books have been translated into several languages: German, Danish, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Thai.[8] Additionally, she has translated many children's picture books and novels from German and French into English.[2][8]

Tanaka teaches in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.[3]


  • Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator won the Orbis Pictus Award in 2009.[9]
  • Translation of Good for Nothing by Michel Noël was on the IBBY Honour List for translation in 2006.[10]
  • Secrets of the Mummies won the Science in Society Children's Book Award in 2000.
  • Discovering the Iceman won the Mr. Christie's Book Award in 1997.[11]
  • On Board the Titanic won the Silver Birch Award in 1997.[12]
  • The Buried City of Pompei won the Information Book Award in 1997.
  • On Board the Titanic won the Information Book Award in 1996.[13]
  • On Board the Titanic and The Buried City of Pompeii were finalists for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.[4]



Historical events[edit]


  • Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator (2008)
  • In the Time of Knights (2000)
  • One More Border: The True Story of One Family’s Escape from War-Torn Europe, co-written with William Kaplan (1998)



  • Climate Change (2006)
  • A Great Round Wonder: My Book of the World (1991)
  • The Heat Is On: Facing Our Energy Problem (1991)


  • Mummies: The Newest, Coolest & Creepiest from Around the World (2005)
  • New Dinos (2003)
  • Secrets of the Mummies (1999)
  • Graveyards of the Dinosaurs (1998)
  • Discovering the Iceman (1996)


  • "Ghost Town" a short story in Dear Canada – Hoping for Home: Stories of Arrival (2011)

Earlier works[edit]

  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, adapted for young readers (1998)
  • The Illustrated Father Goose (1995)
  • Mr. Dressup's Birthday Party Book (1988)
  • Mr. Dressup's 50 More Things to Make and Do, written with Ernie Coombs (1984, 1991)
  • Mr. Dressup's Things to Make and Do, written with Ernie Coombs (1982, 1991)
  • Michi's New Year (1980)

Books translated into English[edit]

  • The Birthday Party by Michel Aubin (1987)
  • The Secret Code by Michel Aubin (1987)[8]
  • Himalaya by Tenzing Norbu Lama (2002)
  • Secret of the Snow Leopard by Tenzing Norbu Lama (2004)
  • Good for Nothing by Michel Nöel (2004)
  • Broken Memory by Élisabeth Combres (2009)
  • The Fire: An Ethiopian Folk Tale by Heinz Janisch (Groundwood Books, 2002)[2]
  • True Friends: Tales from Tanzania by John Kilaka (Groundwood, 2006), picture book OCLC 61300807
  • Girl from Mars by Tamara Bach (Groundwood, 2009)[2]
  • Definitely Not for Little Ones: Some Very Grimm Fairy Tale Comics by Rotraut Susanne Berner (Groundwood, 2009)[2]
  • Hound and Hare by Rotraut Susannne Berner (Groundwood, 2011)[2]


  1. ^ a b "Member Profile | The Writers' Union of Canada". Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Translators: Shelley Tanaka". Cultures in Translation. Goethe-Institut ( Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Shelley Tanaka | Vermont College of Fine Arts". Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Shelley Tanaka". Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Shelley Tanaka | Canadian Children's Book Centre". 13 June 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children". Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "On board the Titanic : what it was like when the great liner sank". Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "IBBY Honour List | Canadian Children's Book Centre". 28 May 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Mr. Christie's Book Awards". 11 June 1998. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Silver Birch Award | Canadian Children's Book Centre". 28 May 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Information Book Award | Canadian Children's Book Centre". 28 May 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Shelley Tanaka. "Nobody Knows". House of Anansi. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 


  • Ward, Barbara A. and Terrell A. Young. "Talking with Shelley Tanaka." Booklist Online. 2 June 2009. [1]

Additional resources[edit]

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