Archive for the ‘The Remarkable Maria’ Category

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Honours for The Remarkable Maria

It is an honour to have Maria recognized by the following organizations:

Children’s Book of the Year, 2006 Alberta Book Awards

Edmonton Public School Board,  2006

The Ontario Library Association, 2007 Silver Birch Awards.

Select Comments by Silver Birch Readers:

“I really liked your book. Though it was easy, I thought it was truly remarkable. It was beautiful.”
Elodie, Grade 5

“One word describes it all: AMAZING. When I read (The Remarkable Maria), I felt so touched that someone could have so much thought. The book felt so warming.”
Rebecca, Age 11

“A really nice story with a wonderful message at the end.”
Simran, Silver Birch Reader

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Q & A with Tara Langlois & Patti McIntosh

An interview with the author and illustrator of The Remarkable Maria:

Patti and Tara, by Ryan (Age 10)

1. What was the inspiration for The Remarkable Maria?

Patti: I was first in Paramaribo, Suriname in 2004, working on a project with five organizations that helped people affected by the AIDS crisis. These organizations were quite small—especially the ones working with children “infected or affected” by HIV/AIDS. And they had many challenges.

I was saddened to learn that people thought the housing needs for children affected by AIDS would grow 10 times in the next five years. Ten-times! And there were incidents in the newspapers where parents were complaining about having children from one of the orphanages in school.

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Learn More About The Remarkable Maria


The Remarkable Maria takes place in the capital city of Suriname called Paramaribo. Suriname is in the northeast corner of South America and shares borders with Guyana, Brazil, French Guiana – and the North Atlantic Ocean.

Suriname is an amazing and spirited country with a population of about 440,000. It has a richly multicultural population: Hindustani, Creole, Javanese, Maroon, Amerindian, Chinese and European. The food is wonderful! (Especially the roti.)

Suriname is former colony of the Netherlands. Dutch is the official language but other languages are spoken, including English and Sranang Tongo (which is sometimes called Taki Taki).

Suriname is a developing country. Approximately, 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. The poverty line is a complicated measurement of financial well-being. But it can mean that the people under that line do not have the resources to buy all the essential things needed to live a healthy life.


We know HIV/AIDS is a very large problem in the developing world. The number of children impacted by HIV/AIDS is enormous. To date, 14 million children around the world have been orphaned. That is 45% of the population of Canada. Imagine that!

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Introducing the Remarkable Maria

The Remarkable Maria is the story of a young girl who lives Paramaribo, Suriname – an amazing and spirited country in South America.

The story is told through Maria’s eyes – and recalls her carefree dream of singing and dancing on her favourite television program, Babbel Box. Her story also recalls a time in her young life when there were many sad changes and she had to learn to face problems she didn’t fully understand.

Maria introduces us to the wonderful characters that surround her: her little sister Willie, who she must parent while their mother is dying, Mrs. MacKenzie, their concerned neighbour who always has an eye out for them – and Mrs. De Groot, the caregiver at the orphanage, who has a house full of children but enough love in her heart for two more. Plus their dog.

Maria is a hero of our times. This is her story.

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About the Children’s Drawings

Where did the amazing children’s drawings in The Remarkable Maria come from? Tara and Patti travelled to Paramaribo in June 2005 to work with the children of SMART (Suriname Art) on the illustrations for Maria.

Jetty Helstone, founder of SMART, organized the workshop. There was a great response! Over 30 children from all over Paramaribo came to the art workshop. The children took their art very seriously, and showed in their drawings great compassion and understanding for the issues facing children affected by HIV/AIDS.

That was remarkable.

Thank you to Jetty and Maikel. And thank you very, very much to Marten for helping on the first day of class.