Obituary Note: Aubrey Davis

Canadian children's author and storyteller Aubrey Davis, who published four award-winning picture books with Kids Can Press, died December 15. Quill & Quire reported that after "discovering the stories of Sufi writer and thinker Idries Shah in the 1970s, Davis began traveling the continent and sharing those stories on radio, television, at libraries, schools and festivals in the 1980s."

He wrote the story that would become his first book when he was asked to tell a Chanukah story to a big audience of young children and he couldn't find one he liked. Bone Button Borscht has remained in print since it was published. His other books include The Enormous Potato, Bagels from Benny and A Hen for Izzy Pippik.

"I've always said that one of my favorite moments at KCP was getting to watch Aubrey seemingly pull a story out of thin air in a gymnasium full of kids at North Kipling Junior Middle School," said Naseem Hrab, associate publisher, creative at KCP. "He was accepting the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award for A Hen for Izzy Pippik, and instead of reading from the book, he said, 'Let me tell you all a new story I've been working on'.... I don't remember what the story was about, but I do remember being completely enthralled. His storytelling was magical."

The Idries Shah Foundation wrote that Davis "first encountered Idries Shah's writing when he was a young man travelling in Europe and North Africa. '[Shah's] bottomless tales provoked, puzzled and delighted me,' he once wrote. 'They helped me look at things in fresh, new ways.' Aubrey began to tell these stories in nursing homes, schools, festivals, libraries and jails. For some 17 years, he used teaching-stories to help special needs students in Toronto. Aubrey also worked tirelessly through the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange and Books Without Borders to make Shah's children's books available to kids in need in deprived societies around the world. His efforts ensured that a quarter of-a-million books were donated to children in Canada and Afghanistan alone."

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