Wednesday, July 06, 2011

My new site is up

I've been busy building myself a new site which includes a wordpress blog and website rolled into one.  I'm gradually transferring content.  This is where all new posts will be located.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New site coming soon...

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I'm in the midst of a website/blog move...I hope to have the new site up in a few weeks so watch for announcements.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

National Aboriginal Day and Summer Solstice Today

Today is the summer solstice, but also National Aboriginal Day.  I'm hoping to get to a few of the activities to celebrate with my First Nations and Metis friends.  Just about right now, a Salish Welcome Totem is being raised at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.  I'll be there in spirit, and will try to get down soon to take a picture of it for you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tall Tale Books

Kids' BooksImage by pattie74_99 via Flickr
Although Victoria, BC is not a particularly large city, we are lucky enough to have our very own children's book store, Tall Tale Books.  Unfortunately, this fabulous little bookstore, like many other independents, is having a tough time these days.  The owners aren't willing to give up though.  Here's their plan...they've created a "Hero Society" which is open to any patron who agrees to pay a mere $10 a month in return for children's books of their choice. The idea is basically to give the store a guaranteed income so that it can keep going. Anyone can join, and even if you don't make it to Victoria regularly, you can save your store credits and cash them in any time. 

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Getting Started

Like most other professional writers with a focus on books for kids and teens, I'm frequently asked by family and friends to look at their stories and/or help them get published.  But, writing a cute story simply isn't enough. Most amateurs aren't aware of just how much time, effort, and work goes into getting published, especially these days.  Even very short manuscripts can require a dozen rewrites, and of course you have to find a publisher interested enough to take a chance on your work.  Writing for kids is not something you can do just because you've got a little retirement time on your hands.  It takes knowledge about the industry and a commitment to the craft of writing. Even if you decide to opt for the self-published route, you still need to follow the previous steps, but in addition, you will also need to find the services of a professional editor, designer, and illustrator or photographer for your book's cover (and, if necessary, interiors), possibly a computer expert (if you are going the e-book route) and you'll still need someone to handle promotion and sales.

If all this is sounding a little overwhelming, you may want to check out Harold Underdown's "Getting Started" pages.  Underdown, is a former editor, and the author of The Complet Idiot's Guide to Children's Publishing.

His advice is solid gold.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canadian Children's BookCentre announces 2011 award short-lists

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is pleased to announce the finalists for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the inaugural John Spray Mystery Award.

The books on these shortlists exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is proud to share these titles with you.

Written by Alma Fullerton (Midland, ON)
Dancing Cat Books
Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Written by Gordon Lightfoot (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Ian Wallace (Brookline, MA)
The Glory WindWritten by Valerie Sherrard (Miramichi, NB)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
I Know Here
Written by Laurel Croza (Markham, ON)
Illustrated by Matt James (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books

Plain KateWritten by Erin Bow (Kitchener, ON)
Scholastic Canada

Sponsored by TD Bank Group
Le chasseur de loups-marins
Written by Claire Vigneau (Sherbrooke, QC)
Illustrated by Bruce Roberts (Westmount, QC)
Éditions Les 400 coups

Devant ma maisonWritten and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc (Montreal, QC)
Éditions La courte échelle

La fille d'en faceWritten by Linda Amyot (St-Charles-Boromée, QC)
Éditions Leméac

Oh ! la vache !Written by Alain M. Bergeron (Victoriaville, QC), Édith Bourget (Saint-Jacques, NB),Colombe Labonté (Saint-Lambert, QC) and Guy Marchamps (Trois-Rivières, QC)
Illustrated by Caroline Merola (Montreal, QC)
Soulières éditeur

Xavier-la-luneWritten by Martine Audet (Montreal, QC)
Illustrated by Luc Melanson (Laval, QC)
Éditions Dominique et compagnie

MARILYN BAILLIE PICTURE BOOK AWARD ($20,000)Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie
I Know Here
Written by Laurel Croza (Markham, ON)
Illustrated by Matt James (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books
In Front of My HouseWritten and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc (Montreal, QC)
Translated by Yvette Ghione (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press

Singing Away the DarkWritten by Caroline Woodward (Victoria, BC)
Illustrated by Julie Morstad (Vancouver, BC)
Simply Read Books
SporkWritten by Kyo Maclear (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Montreal, QC)
Kids Can Press
Stanley’s Little SisterWritten by Linda Bailey (Vancouver, BC)
Illustrated by Bill Slavin (Millbrook, ON)
Kids Can Press

Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

Case Closed! Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science Written by Susan Hughes (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press
Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to BeWritten and illustrated by Daniel Loxton (Victoria, BC)
Kids Can Press

Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
Written by Elin Kelsey (Pacific Grove, CA)
Illustrated by Clayton Hanmer (Toronto, ON)
Viola Desmond Won't Be BudgedWritten by Jody Nyasha Warner (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki (Halifax, NS)
Groundwood Books
Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces
Written by Hadley Dyer (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Marc Ngui (Cambridge, ON)
Kids Can Press
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

Exiles from the War: The War Guests Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss
(Dear Canada)

Written by Jean Little (Guelph, ON)
Scholastic Canada

Written by Marthe Jocelyn (Stratford, ON)
Tundra Books
The Glory WindWritten by Valerie Sherrard (Miramichi, NB)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Queen of Hearts
Written by Martha Brooks (Winnipeg, MB)
Groundwood Books
Wild GeeseWritten by Caroline Pignat (Kanata, ON)
Red Deer Press

Sponsored by John Spray

Written by Allan Stratton (Toronto, ON)

Dead Bird Through the Cat Door
(Megabyte Mystery)
Written by Jan Markley (Calgary, AB)
Gumboot Books

The Mystery of the Cyber Bully
(Marty Chan Mystery)
Written by Marty Chan (Edmonton, AB)
Thistledown Press
A Spy in the House
(The Agency)
Written by Y.S. Lee (Kingston, ON)
Candlewick Press

Victim Rights
(Ryan Dooley Mystery)
Written by Norah McClintock (Toronto, ON)
Red Deer Press

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guardian's Top non-fiction picks

The Guardian posted their 100 top picks for non-fiction.  Sadly, there were quite a few of the titles that I hadn't read, but then I do tend more toward fiction, so I suppose I can be forgiven. Here are a few that I read, although I confess that when it came to Hawkings' A Brief History of Time, it was more of a "tried to read" kind of thing.

It makes me wonder if anyone has put a similar list together for kid's non-fiction?

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards for Children.

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick)  

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook)

Picture Book
Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor (Houghton)

Honor Books are:

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial)
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke (Kane Miller)

Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty (Candlewick)
Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White (Candlewick)

Picture Book

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen (Houghton)
Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Putnam)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Simple writing exercise helps break vicious cycle that holds back black students

One of my colleagues mentioned this article in a list serve I belong to. It involves having students write for 15 minutes about something they believe is important. It could be good grades, a skill or talent or having good friends. The exercise was originally done with grade 7 students in a class that was a mix of white and black students and was intended to boost self-esteem. And guess what, it works. So, if your a teacher, check this out. Simple writing exercise helps break vicious cycle that holds back black students.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's the content that matters

It's always refreshing when you read a pragmatic piece about books.  There's so much hype about platform that we sometimes for get that it's the content that's important...and as Margaret Atwood points out in a Globe & Mail piece published in March that I somehow missed, there's no content without authors!
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Greg Pincus, "IT's June (and I'm Still in School)"

KuehlschrankpoesieImage via Wikipedia
I love Greg Pincus.  He's just so enthusiastic as well as being a great poet.  Check out his poem "It's June (and I'm Still in School)"

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the dark YA literature controversy

There has been such a flurry over dark YA literature this past week.  I've added my two cents worth on my teenreads blog.  Check it out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ABC's of Team BC Legacy Project: connecting kids with books

Here's a very cool project that connects kids with books.  Check it out, and if you can, participate.  If BC is too far away, consider starting up a similar project in your home town.  Share books and you will be sharing opportunities to grow, read, and learn.


Athletes Believing in Communities Western Canada Summer Games August 5-14, 2011
The ABC’s of Team BC Legacy Project is an initiative of the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games Team BC program. Team BC, in partnership with Literacy in Kamloops (LinK), will launch the “Bright Red Bookshelf” project in Kamloops. The ABC’s Legacy Project (Athletes Believing in Communities) teams up with LinK to fill custom built bright red bookshelves placed in designated locations in Kamloops with new and gently used children’s books. Children can enjoy these books at the sites and take home free books.

Team BC Mission Staff will lead the collection of books, designated for children from birth to 12 years old, from Team BC athletes, coaches, managers, parents, partners and MLAs and deliver them to LinK who will deliver them to bookshelf location sites (Food Bank, homeless shelters, inner city schools, medical walk-in clinics, etc.).
The initiative demonstrates the social responsibility and mobilizes the goodwill that Team BC members feel as participants in a multi-sport Games event and recognizes the needs in their home communities across the province.
In exchange for a donation, a Team BC sun pin will be provided to the donor.

Books can be given to a member of Team BC to provide to one of the Mission staff and can also be dropped off at PacificSport Regional Centres and Canadian Sport Centre Pacific Centres throughout BC (Nanaimo, Victoria, Whistler, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, and Fort St. John).
The 2011 Western Canada Summer Games take place Aug. 5-14 in Kamloops and will bring together approximately 2,300 athletes competing in 18 sports, along with coaches, managers and officials from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory.
Team BC will send 356 athletes aged 12 to 22 and 69 coaches to the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games. BC has won the Western Canada Summer Games Cup every year since the Games’ inception in 1975.

For more information contact PacificSport/ Canadian Sport Centre Pacific Addresses:

PacificSport Fraser Valley
2499 McMillan Road Abbotsford, BC V2S 7R3
PacificSport Interior BC
Tournament Capital Centre 910 McGill Road Kamloops, BC V2C 6N6
Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre PacificSport Northern BC 3333 University Way Prince George, BC V2N 4Z9
Pomeroy Sport Centre PacificSport Northern BC 9324 – 96 Street Fort St. John, BC
V1J 0H6
(book drop-off locations)
PacificSport Okanagan
645 Dodd Road Kelowna, BC V1X 5H1
PacificSport Vancouver Island
900 Fifth Street (Bldg. 100) Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5
Canadian Sport Centre Pacific (Victoria Campus) Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence 4371 Interurban Road
Victoria, BC V9E 2C5
High Performance Training Centre @ Whistler Athletes' Centre 1090 Legacy Way Whistler, BC
V0N 1B1
CSC Pacific Vancouver Campus
1 Athletes Way
Vancouver, BC
V5Y 0B1

New British Children's Laureate appointed

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 07:  Author Julia Donal...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Good news for England.  Julia Donaldson has been named as the Children's Laureate for 2011-2013.  With more than a hundred titles to her name, including The Gruffalo, The Snail and The Whale, What the Ladybird Heard, The Princess Mirror-Belle books, and Running on the Cracks.  Donadson has written musicals, plays, poems and songs, and is a well known performer.  The queen of rhyme is a welcome change, especially given her popularity with younger children. The Guardian reports that "To have a children's laureate whose skill lies in appealing to pre-school children who, once hooked by what books offer, are more likely to enjoy reading and become readers for life, is an invaluable asset in the UK's efforts to improve national standards of literacy."  
Donaldson celebrated the honor by including all seven previous children's laureates in an original rhyming poem!

So Canada, when will you be stepping up to the plate and appointing a Canadian Children's Laureate?

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

2011 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Book Awards

The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Book Awards have been announced.

Here are this year's winners.


Chester’s MasterpieceBy Mélanie Watt (Laval, QC)
Published by Kids Can Press


Half Brother 
By Kenneth Oppel (Toronto, ON)
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

To find out more about this Ontario Arts Council Award, check out their site.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The 2011 Chocolate Lily Book Award Winners


Winner - Fred and Pete at the Beach by Cynthia Nugent

2nd Place - Stanley's Beauty Pageant by Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin


Winner - Zach and Zoe Bully and the Beagle by Kristin Butcher

2nd Place - Goldfish Don't Take Bubble Baths by Trina Wiebe


Winner - The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence
2nd Place - Bank Job by James Heneghan and Norma Charles

Friday, June 03, 2011

It's June (and I'm Still in School

I love Greg Pincus.  He's so full of enthusiasm and he's a great  poet and poetry advocate.  Check out his "It's June (And I'm Still in School)" poem.  If you're a teacher and are looking for something to entice kids given all the craziness of year end going on, have them write their own "June" poem.

How to Host a Skype Author Visit

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
Author school visits are a wonderful way to turn kids onto books.  But, with tight budgets, a lot of schools simply can't afford the expense; unless they get creative.  Author Skype visits are a less expensive alternative, and it's easier than you think.  Most schools already have the equipment necessary and Margriet Ruurs has written an easy "how to" host an author Skype visit in Canadian Teacher Magazine. While you're there, check out a few of the other wonderful articles.
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Cat's out of the Bag: Pajama Press

My former publisher, Gail Winskill has started a new press.  I'm super excited.  They are starting out with three fabulous authors, who have all been edited by Ann Featherstone, my long-time editor.  I just know that this new publishing house for children's titles will be great.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Getting Books into the hands of kids

One of the regular occurrences of being an author is the request for books.  Most people aren't aware that we authors have to buy our own books and pay for shipping.  Sadly, that means that most of us creators simply can't afford to support every charity request that comes our way. My colleague and friend Margriet Ruurs has come up with a clever solution.  She's come up with a service called Bookmatcher. The idea is to match books with groups that are trying to get books into the hands of children, no matter where they are in the world. So, if you are in need of books to support children and reading, or if you have books to donate, this site is for you.  Here it all is in Margriet's own words.

 Matching books to readers

Are you in need of books?
If you run a program to get books into the hands of children, anywhere in the world, this is the place to come! As a service learning site, schools, libraries, organizations and individuals can find programs to support.

To have your project approved, send details, including where, how and why you bring books to children. Once approved, your project will be shared online.

If you are an educator, parent, librarian or any person wanting to help bring books and children together, check this blog, select the project of your choice, then contact that project directly to send books, school supplies or money.

If you have any questions, you can reach Margriet Ruurs at
If you run a service program to get books into the hands of children, anywhere in the world, this is the place to come! Please scroll to 1st post for details.

Help Slave Lake, AB rebuild their fire-devestated library

My son-in-law has been up fighting the fire in Slave Lake Alberta.  In a phone conversation to us he spoke about how terrible the destruction was.  What a nightmare for the people of that fire-devestated town. My heart goes out to them. One of their losses has been their new public library.  I'm so happy to see that support from other libraries, publishers and book lovers has been pouring in. Please consider helping with:
1) cash donations which can be made through on their "Make a Donation" link, or
2) donating new or nearly new books (they are asking for books no older than 2 years, probably to avoid musty cast-offs).  These can be shipped to the Peace Library system headquarters for cataloguing and storage until a temporary library can be opened in Slave Lake.

ATTN: Books for Slave Lake Library
Peace Library System
8301 -- 110 Street
Grande Prairie, AB T8W 6T2

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Support for libraries is linked to increased reading scores

Guess what?  
Support for libraries is important to learning.  What we all knew intuitively turns out to be true.  A group of American and Canadian researchers have found that when support for school libraries goes up, so do reading scores as well as learning measured in other ways. "School Library Research Summarized" can be found at the link below. It has also been turned into a booklet and a website. Both can be found here: Thanks to my colleague Brenda Kearns from the Canadian Society of Authors Illustrators and Performers  (CANSCAIP for the heads up).

Friday, May 06, 2011

Rules by Cynthia Lord

One of the problems with loving books is trying to keep up with reading everything that comes through the door! This is made worse by living in a tiny house with limited bookshelves requiring me to double the rows of books.  I’ve had Rules by Cynthia Lord since it came out, but only recently rediscovered it in the back book row when I was doing a little book weeding.
Once I started Rules, I couldn’t put it down.  It’s an absolutely wonderful book, with insights into the lives of families coping with the challenges of autism that we can all learn from.  The story is narrated by Catherine whose younger brother David is autistic. Catherine is a loving, but frustrated sister who is frequently responsible for looking after her brother while her mom works from her home office.  The novel’s title comes from the rules Catherine makes for herself and those she makes for her brother.  Rules like “When things get confusing, make a joke,” help her to cope with making new friends including Jason, the quadriplegic boy she meets at her brother’s physiotherapist’s office. More basic rules like “Keep your pants on! Unless Mom, Dad or the doctor tells you to take them off,” help her brother survive in the sometimes frightening and incomprehensible world around him.   But, neither Catherine nor her brother can rely entirely on rules.  When rules don’t work, Catherine has art to fall back on.  When rules don’t work for David, he takes comfort in the words of Arnold Lobel. But sometimes something more is needed; sometimes, tolerance and love and humor are what gets you through the day.  This is a book about all of those things…rules, art, language, love and tolerance and humor.  This is a book you’ll want to read, 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oops. I missed my 5 year blogging anniversary

Life is crazy busy right now, so I've decided to cut myself a little slack.  I'm taking a blogging vacation until things settle down a little.  Feel free to peruse the past five years of  posts (I actually missed my five year blog anniversary!).  I'll still be tweeting and facebooking on occasion so I won't be disappearing entirely.  Happy spring.

Canadian Children's Book Week is here!

Don't forget that the TD Canadian Children's Book Week runs from April 30th-May 7th 2011. The theme this year is "Changing the World, One Child at a Time." Check out the theme guide for some great book recommendations.  And watch for touring authors, illustrators and storytellers in your area.

And, if you or someone close to you has always wanted to become a writer, check out this year's story contest winners and the judges comments.  They'll be posted at on May 4th.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Little Chicken's Big Day by Katie Davis

One of the best things about blogging is discovering other bloggers.  One that I follow regularly is Katie Davis who also happens to be an author.  Katie is especially known for her great Brain Burps podcasts which have some really great interviews.  Katie has a new book just coming out, and the booktrailer is one of the cutest I've seen.  In fact, I totally love it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My friend Margaret

Yesterday I visited my dear elderly friend Margaret in the hospital.  She's had a stroke, and is making pretty good progress. But Margaret is a fish out of water in the hospital. She misses her books, even though she is still too weak to hold them. A smattering of magazines and a few soft covered picture books are not enough to feed Margaret's lively curiosity and active mind.  She's one of those people who has read at least a book a day since forever.  She can discuss Virginia Wolf, the latest Margaret Atwood, or the appropriateness of the ending of Lane Smith's It's a Book, with equal ease.  Unfortunately, talking books don't work for Margaret as she is a little deaf and is in a room with several others.

Every Thursday since Margaret has been housebound (several years now) she has held a "salon" day where friends dropped by toting books and ideas.  Lively discussions, wonderful snacks, and exotic teas have always been part of those Thursdays which I have missed since Margaret's illness.  Still, Margaret is tenacious, and although she desperately wants to be home, with her books, and the lovely garden that her husband Ernst has created, Margaret is still with us. For that I am grateful. There aren't many people in this world as generous, kind, loving and cracker-jack smart as Margaret.  Today after work, I will bring along my Kobo, and my boyfriend's iPad to see if either work for Margaret. I have my fingers crossed that one of them will do the trick.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Celebrate Teen Lit Day with Rock the Drop

Yep, it's Teen Lit Day today, and there is no shortage of ways to celebrate.  For ideas on how to make this day rock, check out YALSA (Young Adult Library Services)

Meanwhile, readergirlz, one of my favorite blogs, have come up with a pretty cool way to get the word out. It's called Rock the Drop!  Here's what you do.

1. Visit their site (the link is above)
2. Download the same bookplate I've snagged below
3. Print it
4. Paste it into your favorite YA novel
5. Drop the book in a public place (bus stop, coffee shop, etc.
6. Snap a photo 
7. Send it on over to readergirz AT gmail Dot com 
8. check out their site to see the YA love
9. Thank the cool ladies at readergirlz
10. spread the word

Here's my contribution.  I left it in the lobby of my local rec. centre and it was gone when I finished my workout an hour later.  I know that whoever has it will enjoy Miss Smithers by Susan Juby.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TVO Parents Book Club

TVO Parents Book Club is a great way to find out about wonderful books for your kids or classroom.  Here are the Book Pics of the three esteemed panelists below, but be sure to visit TVO Parents Book Club for updates, great new title recommendations, and to add your suggestions for favorite books for others to share.

Our Panelists:
Suzanne MuirSuzanne Muir is the Equity and Inclusive Education Coordinator for the Halton District School Board and a children’s book author of over 15 books.

Gillian OReaillyGillian O’Reilly has been the (freelance) Editor of Canadian Children’s Book News for 15 years.  She is also the author of two non-fiction books for young people:Slangalicious: Where We Got That Crazy Lingo (2004) and The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (co-written with Cora Lee, 2007).

Sheila BarrySheila Barry is the Editor-in-Chief at Kids Can Press. In this role, she edits non-fiction, picture books and fiction, and is also involved in identifying topics for theCitizenKid collection. To see more on this collection, watch the CitizenKid book trailers.

Panelist Book Picks:
Suzanne's Picks:
Taxi Drivers book coverOn My Walk book cover
Why Are All The Taxi Drivers....
by Chris D'Souza
published by Diverse City Strategies
On My Walk 
by Kari- Lynn Winters
published by Tradewinds Books
Ages: 4-8

Allah Made book coverAllah Made The World 
app by Suzanne Muir (soon to be on iTunes)

Gillians's Picks:

Lily and Paper man book coverKeep Out book cover
Lily and the Paper Man
written by Rebecca Upjohn
illustrated by Renne Benoit
Second Story Press,
Ages: 4-8
Keep Out! (Red Dune Adventures)
written by Helene Boudreau
illustrated by Diane Lucas
Nimbus Publishing
Ages: 7-10

Speechless book coverSpeechless
written by Valerie Sherrard
Dundurn Press
Ages: Over 10

Sheila's Picks:
How to Build book coverOne Hen
How to Build Your Own Country
written by Valerie Wyatt
illustrated by Fred Rix
published by Kids Can Press
Ages 8-11

Children Around book coverChildren Around the World
illustrated by Donata Montanari
published by Kids Can Press
Ages 4-7

The TD Canadian Children's Book Week runs from April 30th-May 7th 2011. The theme this year is "Changing the World, One Child at a Time." Check out the theme guide for some great recommendations.
One Hen
written by Katie Smith Milway
illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
published by Kids Can Press

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I'm a big fan of Nathan Bransford's blog. Nathan is a former agent, a kid's book writer, and a very generous guy when it comes to the writing business.  If you haven't met the guy (virtually speaking of course) and you have an interest in writing books for kids, you must must must hurry on over to his site.  On the other hand, if you're a reader, Nathan's got something for you too.  Here's the trailer for his new book which will be released in a few short weeks with Dial Books for Young Readers. JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, is a middle grade novel about three kids who blast off into space, break the universe, and have to find their way back home. 

Friday, April 08, 2011

Monkey & Croc an iPhone app for kids

Yesterday I downloaded my first picture book app for an iPhone. I haven't exactly jumped on the band wagon sooner, partly because I don't have any little ones at home any more.  Besides, I tend to love the feel of picture books.  The app I downloaded was Monkey & Croc by Will Terry.  I totally loved it.  It's a simple, but engaging story that would amuse if you were, say at the grocery store checkout with an ansty toddler, or stuck in traffic with a whiny preschooler in need of a snack.  The art is clean, bright, and punchy enough to be appeal.  The story line is pretty simple, but hey, it works well on a small screen. You can choose to read it yourself, or have it read.  Each word lights up as it's read.  And, there aren't a lot of bells and whistles of the sort that can be off-putting.  The only thing I didn't like was that if you choose the voice feature, the enunciation of individual words tends to impede the story's flow.  Still, for $2.99 you can hardly go wrong...and it's available as a PDF, through Amazon (for Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and as an app for an iPad or iPhone through iTunes.  Below is the trailer that Will says, "I had way too much fun making."

Thursday, April 07, 2011

When work is good...

Yesterday I started playing around with a new picture book manuscript over lunch but had to leave it to get back to what I'd been working on earlier.  Last night I dreamed about poka dot pajamas and this morning I got up and the words to the yesterday's picture book flowed through my fingers onto the screen.  Magic I tell you...pure magic.  Of course, tomorrow when I look at it again, I'll see all the little flaws that will require painstaking and finicky editing, but for now, I'm thrilled.

Canadian Children's Book Week is coming

Saturday, April 16th at 2pm...Celebrate Local Authors with a Bon Voyage Bash at Tall Tale Books

This Spring, no fewer than FOUR Victoria authors have been selected for the TD Canadian Children's Book Week tour that begins on April 30th. Tall Tales Books invites you to a special event to meet this talented group as we bid them farewell and good luck on their tours.

Authors Julie Lawson, Penny Draper, Michelle Mulder and Robin Stevenson will talk about their new books and what it's like to be chosen to participate in Canada's most important children's book event. Refreshments will be served and there will be time to meet the authors and have books signed.

Julie Lawson (Scholastic) is the author of more than twenty books for young people a winner of the Sheila A Egoff Award. In Ghosts of the Titanic, Kevin finds himself caught up in a century-old mystery when his haunting dreams of the doomed luxury liner become all too real.


Professional storyteller Penny Draper (Coteau Books) has shared tales at schools, libraries, festivals, on television, in a harem, and from inside a bear's belly! In Ice Storm, the 6th in the Disaster Strikes! series, two 12-year-old cousins battle the dramatic 1998 ice storm that brought Montreal to its knees.

Michelle Mulder (Orca Book Publishers) enjoys writing about kids who seize life's opportunities. In Out of the Box, Ellie is more than happy to do just that, in a tale of family ties, political intrigue, and a unique musical instrument. Michelle is a world traveller and author of several books for young readers.

Robin Stevenson's (Orca Book Publishers) experiences travelling in Australia were the inspiration behind her new book Outback, in which Jayden finds himself fighting for survival in a hostile climate. Robin, a full-time author and creative writing teacher, was shortlisted for the 2009 Governor General's Literary Award.

TD Canadian Children's Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children's books and reading. Close to 35,000 children, teens and adults participate in activities held in every province and territory. Hundreds of schools, public libraries, bookstores and community centres host events as part of this major festival.

Be sure to join Tall Tale Books in celebrating our local authors!

Tall Tales Books
795 Fort Street
Victoria BC  V8W 1G9