Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry Month and Kidlitosphere Central

Garden with some tulips and narcissusImage via Wikipedia
April is an exciting month.  Spring is in the air.  The publishing world is aflutter with fabulous new books, and the entire month is a celebration of poetry. There are poets and poetry out there to inspire pretty much anyone and everyone.  At Kidlitosphere Central, more than a dozen Kid's Lit and YA Lit bloggers have stepped up to share all things poetry;  from a Poetry Potluck to a Poetry Party...from EduHaiku to Teen Poetry, you'll want to check out the links.
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A new picture book by Maurice Sendak

Looks like Maurice Sendak reads Dylan Thomas since he has no plans to go gentle into that good night.  At 83, Sendak, who heralded a new age in children's books with Where the Wild Things Are, is about to publish the first book he's written and illustrated since 1981. His hotly anticipated new picture book, Bumble-Ardy, features a mischievous year-old pig who hasn't had the pleasure of a birthday party in all his nine-years.  The pig puts matters to right by inviting all his friends to a  masquerade party that gets out of hand.  It isn't due out until September with HarperCollins, but I can't wait to see it.  It's reported to contain the same childhood exuberance and unshakable love between parent and child that won him both Caldecott and Hans Christian Anderson Medals.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't Miss BC Book Prizes Soirée 2011

BC Book Prizes Soirée 2011

Event Date(s)
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The Listel Hotel, Impressionist Gallery
1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC
7:00 - 9:00 pm | free
Event Description

The West Coast Book Prize Society invites you to the 8th annual BC Book Prizes Soirée on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at The Listel Hotel.
It’s a great opportunity to mix and mingle with nominated authors and BC’s vibrant literary community while supporting the BC Book Prizes On Tour program.
Enter to win great door prizes and bid for weekend getaways, prize-winning books and many other treats in a fabulous Silent Auction while enjoying light refreshments from The Listel Hotel.
Finalist authors will sign copies of their books at the People’s Co-op Bookstore table.

The BC Book Prizes Soirée 2011 is made possible by the following sponsors:

  • The Listel Hotel
  • People’s Co-op Bookstore
  • Please contact us if you’re interested in sponsoring the Soirée

Diana Wynne Jones

Elizabeth Bluemle posted a great tribute on Shelftalker this morning.
Sad news in the YA world...fantasy writer, Diana Wynne Jones has passed away.  Best known for the Chrestomanci series, she started populating her books with witches, sorcerers, ghosts and goons when J.K. Rowling was still playing in the sandbox.  One of the things that I particularly enjoyed about her books is her wonderful sense of humor.  She could be both funny and scary, which is quite a rare mix.  It's hard to believe that we'll soon be seeing the last of her phenomenal books. What a great loss.  As far as I know, and surprisingly, only one of her books was turned into a movie, Howl's moving Castle, which is probably why a lot of North American readers aren't as familiar with her as they could be.  I've heard that her very last book will be published by Greenwillow Books early next year. Fortunately, she leaves a huge body of work.  I know I'll be downloading a few of my favorite titles on my Kobo to reread. Elizabeth Bluemle posted a great tribute on Shelftalker this morning.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

AppCheese review site for iPads

SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 02:  An attendee holds t...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
With eReaders and iPad readers making such a splash these days, I'm sure many of you are looking for ways to sift the wheat from the chaff.  While books that are being published in the eReader format are getting reviews, this hasn't been the case with books in the iPad format...until now.  AppCheese is a new site that offers unbiased reviews of iPad book apps. The site is run by a collective of artists, writers and developers, so they are well equipped to take the task on.  Since they're just getting started, they've only got about a dozen reviews up, but so far they have reviewed both picture books (original and retellings) and novels.  Their review criteria is comprehensive and includes: production quality, quality of original story or retelling, quality of graphics and sounds, the balance between illustration and text, innovation, appropriateness to the targeted audience and replay factor.  The reviewers make use of video demonstration so you can see what they are talking about.  If you're considering a book app for children, and you don't want to pay for cheesy apps that are a waste of time, this is the place to go.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to make your editor happy

Alison Janssen has written a fabulous post called "8 Fiddly Things You Can Do To Your Manuscript To Make Your Editor's Day".  I am so rereading this before I submit another manuscript.  Thank you thank thank you Alison.

Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room is a very cool blog about mystery writing with a different blogger posting every day. So many of the posts relate to all sorts of writing even if they aren't, they're just plain fantastic and worth checking out.

A sad anniversary

Although this has nothing to do with books, I want to recognize a terribly sad anniversary of the sort that we all hope we'll never have to the occasion to mark. Today it's the 20th anniversary of the abduction of Michael Dunahee, a 4 year old boy who disappeared from a park in Victoria, BC.  His parents appealed for information about their son again on this most difficult day.  They still have no idea if he is alive or dead.  I can't even imagine their anguish.  My heart goes out to them and to the families of all children to have disappeared. Here is a site where you'll find a few links if you want to support them

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Julie Lawson at the VCLR April 11

Julie Lawson
Monday Apr. 11th, 7:30 pm
at the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable

Award-winning author Julie Lawson will speak on “Fact or Fiction: How to Write a Gripping Tale While Staying True to the Facts”and read from her new book, Ghosts of the Titanic. Julie has published over thirty books for young people including White Jade Tiger, which won the prestigious Shelia Egoff Award, historical novels about the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Klondike Gold Rush, and numerous picture books.

The VCLR is open to the public. Members free ($25/year), drop-ins $5, students $4. Meetings are held at the Nellie McClung Branch Library, 3950 Cedar Hill Road in Victoria, BC. Come early and browse Tall Tales Books' table, and bringa friend! Doors open at 7 pm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Hurray!  Poet Lee Bennett Hopkins now has his own website.  Visit his site for the perfect way to celebrate World Poetry Day.  Thanks to Gregory K. over at GottaBook for the heads up.  You can check out Hopkins' new picture book anthology, I am the Book, in which 13 children's poets celebrate the power of poetry, language and books.

World Poetry Day

Happy World Poetry Day.  Celebrate by reading, writing and sharing poems. Here's one I like...

After English Class 
    By Jean Little
I used to like "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."
I liked the coming darkness,
The jingle of harness bells, breaking--and adding to
--the stillness,
The gentle drift of snow. . . .
But today, the teacher told us what everything stood for.
The woods, the horse, the miles to go, the sleep--
They all have "hidden meanings."
It's grown so complicated now that,
Next time I drive by,
I don't think I'll bother to stop.
(Little, J. (1986).  Hey world, here I am! Toronto: Kids Can Press.) 

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Here's a pic from my sunset run along Dallas Road yesterday.  Notice that it isn't dark even though it was almost 7pm.  Later some friends and I walked down to Dallas Road again to check out the super moon (when the moon is closest to the earth).  It was pretty awesome, but sadly didn't get the moon over water shot I was after.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One difference between computers and typewriters

For those of you old enough to remember typewriters, you'll find this hysterical.  The younger crowd may have to have it explained.

Women's History Month in Canada

Colleague and friend Adrienne Mason has reminded me that my posts re: Women's History Month is short on Canadian titles.  Adrienne has given a great run down on some excellent Canadian contributions on her blog, so check her out.  While you're at it, you may want to check out some of Adrienne's books too.
Thanks Adrienne.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Women's History Month & St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day, and Happy Women's History Month.

Kaboose is one place to check out for St. Patrick's Day kid's books, and there is no shortage of great books for kids that clebrate women and our history.

The following are four sites that feature books for families & educators looking for books that shine a light on women's history.

Kidlit has a great selection of books to celebrate WHM.

Another site to check out is ON-LION for Kids

A third great site to peruse is Reading Rockets

Last but not least is The Fourth Musketeer

Share the links and the books, and if you come across a good site, pass it on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

Gregory from GottaBook will be featuring 30 Poets in 30 Days to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.  Some of the poets he'll be hosting are: Arnold Adoff whom I saw many years ago and whose poetry I still adore, Vancouver's own Avis Harley, multicultural poet extraordinaire, Janet Wong, and the amazingly versatile Jane Yolen to name just a few.  Do be sure to check it out his blog, and to make it easier, you can even subscribe!

Changing the World, One Child at a Time

Mango, манго - дары тропиковImage by Tatters:) via Flickr
Took a break to eat absolutely yummy fresh mango.  Still reading story entries for the Canadian Children's Book Centre writing contest, "Changing the World, One Child at a Time".  Hope to get out to do a few hours of yard work because everything is leaping out of the ground faster than you can say spring!
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Canadian authors speak up: Is this country good to its writers?

An interesting Globe and Mail post this morning about working as a writer in Canada. Well worth reading, even though they didn't feature any kid's book writers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Icelandic children's writer to present at UVIC

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, author, at the Edinburgh ...Image via Wikipedia
Yrsa Sigur›ardóttir is an Icelandic children's writer and civil engineer involved in large scale hydro electric projects.  She'll will be speaking at the University of Victoria on Monday, 4 April, 7:30 pm at the Clearihue Building, Room A311 

With characters like the Little Mermaid, Pippi and the Moomins, Scandinavian literature has a secure place in the hearts of children. But what of other Scandinavian writers for the young? Yrsa may not be well-known among English speakers, but that's all the more reason not to miss this chance to explore the literature of another culture, especially the work of one of it's award-winning authors.

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Canadian Children's Book Centre Story Writing Contest

Off to pick up the package of stories sent by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.  I wonder how many there'll be this year.  Last year I had about 200!  This year I'll be judging the grade four stories and poems guided by the theme of Changing the World One Child at a Time.  Check out the Canadian Children's Book Centre website for more info on Book Week and how you can be a part of it.  Can't wait to dig in to those stories!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Reinvention of Teaching by Ross Laird

I was fortunate enough to hear Ross Laird speak at a Writers' Union of Canada symposium yesterday.  The topic was "Securing a Footing in the Changing Literary Landscape" and boy was this guy good.  He was upbeat, encouraging and full of advice and resources to help writers equip themselves for the revolution that publishing is undergoing.  In fact, he's a goldmine of information on all sorts of topics, from running, to refinishing antique mahogany to how to become more web savvy.

If you are an educator, parent, or forward thinker, you won't want to miss his fabulous article on "The Reinvention of Teaching."  It's provocative as well as informative.  It was refreshingly concrete and not steeping in double speak!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2011 BC Book Prize short-lists announced

The BC Book Prize short-lists have been announced.  To find out more about these and short-listed books in other categories as well as upcoming events, check out BC Book Prize 

Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize

Supported by the BC Library Association

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom
by Susin Nielsen
Publisher: Tundra Books

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom
Violet’s TV-director dad has traded a job in Vancouver for one in LA, their house for a home complete with a pool, and, worst of all, Violet’s mother for a “trophy” wife. Violet’s younger sister reacts by bed-wetting, and her mother ping-pongs from one loser to another and Violet gets angry in ways that are infuriating, shocking, and hilarious. When her mother takes up with (the unfortunately named) Dudley Wiener, Violet and her friend Phoebe decide that they need to take control. If Violet’s mom can’t pick a decent man herself, they will help her snag George Clooney. Gemini Award-winner Susin Nielsen got her start with Degrassi Junior High, writing sixteen episodes and four of the books. She also adapted author Susan Juby’s books into a TV series. This is her fifth book for children. 

Fatty Legs
by Christy Jordon-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes
Publisher: Annick Press

Fatty Legs
Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak wants to learn to read, even though it means leaving her village and family. Her father finally agrees to let her attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. At school, the Raven, a black-cloaked nun, immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. In the face of cruelty, mocking and humility, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity.Fatty Legs is complemented by artwork by Liz Amini-Holmes and archival photos. Christy Jordon-Fenton lives with her family in Fort St. John, BC and co-wrote the book with her mother-in-law, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, who attended a residential school in Inuvialuit. 

Free as a Bird
by Gina McMurchy-Barber
Publisher: Dundurn Press

Free as a Bird
Born with Down syndrome, Ruby Jean Sharp comes from a time when being a developmentally disabled person could mean growing up behind locked doors and barred windows, being called names like “retard” and “moron.” When Ruby Jean’s caregiver and loving grandmother dies, her mother takes her to Woodlands School in New Westminster and rarely visits. It’s here, in an institution that opened in 1878 and was originally called the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, that Ruby Jean learns to survive isolation, boredom, and abuse—she learns a lesson about patience and perseverance. Gina McMurchy-Barber was the recipient of the 2004 Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Her first novel, Reading the Bones, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award and the Langley Book of the year Award. 

Hunger Journeys
by Maggie de Vries
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

Hunger Journeys
During WWII in Amsterdam, 19-year-old Lena leaves her starving family to travel by train with her friend, Sofie, to Almelo, a town close to the German border. It’s a risky plan. They have false papers and are quickly pulled off the train by German soldiers. Only with the help of Albert, one of the soldiers, do they make it back on the train. Lena soon fears her new friendship with the helpful Albert may lead her into more danger as Sofie befriends a soldier too, resulting in a relationship that quickly turns serious and has unforeseen consequences for both girls. Maggie de Vries is a writer, editor, teacher, and the award-winning author of several children’s books. 

Northward to the Moon
by Polly Horvath
Publisher: Groundwood Books

Northward to the Moon
Featuring the characters from My One Hundred AdventuresNorthward to the Moon can be read as a sequel or as a stand alone book. When her stepfather, Ned, is fired from his job as a high school French teacher, the family packs up and Jane embarks on a series of new adventures. Setting off by car, they wind up spending the summer with Ned’s eccentric mother on her ranch out west. As Jane lives through it all—developing a crush on a ranch hand, reevaluating her relationship with Ned, watching her sister Maya’s painful growing up—she sees her world, which used to be so safe and secure, shift in strange and inconvenient ways. Polly Horvath has written many award-winning books for children and lives in Metchosin, BC. Top

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

Supported by Kate Walker and Company

The Cowboy Fisherman
by Seiji Hiroe 

The Cowboy Fisherman
The Cowboy Fisherman is a story of friendship between Slim and Tomizou during the Great Depression. Slim was a man trying his hand at fishing to support his family, and Tomizou was a seasoned Japanese fisherman who took Slim under his wing. Find out how Slim uses his cowboy skills to save his and his son’s life when they find themselves in dangerous water and the rock anchor disappears into the ocean.

Fraser Bear: A Cub’s Life
by Maggie de Vries
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
Publisher: Greystone Books

Fraser Bear: A Cub’s Life
Fraser Bear: A Cub’s Life is a moving, beautifully illustrated story follows a black bear cub’s life in the Pacific Northwest from his birth to his first salmon catch, uniting the cycles of bear and fish. A map and further information about bears and salmon are included. The book is based on a top-selling plush toy named Fraser Bear, created by the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Rocky Mountaineer Vacations. This toy, holding a salmon in his mouth, is sold on Rocky Mountaineer trains and through their souvenir catalogue, with sales benefiting the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Maggie de Vries is a writer, editor, teacher, and the award-winning author of several children’s books. Renné Benoit is an award-winning artist who has illustrated many books for children. 

Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet / L’alfabet di Michi
by Julie Flett
Publisher: Simply Read Books

Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet / L’alfabet di Michi
Languages are precious; they capture the very essence of a culture. Once spoken by hundreds of thousands across the Canadian Prairies and the northern United States, Michif, the language of the Métis people, is now endangered. Métis elders in scattered parts of North America may still speak the language, but the young are largely monolingual English speakers. From Atayookee! to Lii Zyeu: this simply, elegantly illustrated picture book introduces young and old alike to the unique Michif language. Julie Flett is a Vancouver-based Metis artist and illustrator who incorporates photography, drawing, and painting into her practice. 

The Salmon Bears: Giants of the Great Bear Rainforest
by Ian McAllister, Nicholas Read
Illustrated by Ian McAllister
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

The Salmon Bears: Giants of the Great Bear Rainforest
Great bears need a great rainforest to survive. Extensively illustrated with Ian McAllister’s magnificent photographs, The Salmon Bears explores the delicate balance that exists between the grizzly, black and spirit bears and their natural environment, the last great wilderness along the central coast of BC. Key to this relationship are the salmon that are born in the rivers each spring, who then go out to sea as juveniles and return as adults to spawn and die, completing a cycle of life that ensures the survival of not only their own species but also virtually every other plant and animal in the rainforest. Ian McAllister, a founding director of both the Raincoast Conservation Society and Pacific Wild, is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker. Nicholas Read, a lifelong lover of animals, has written on animal issues for the Vancouver Sun and works with Animal Aid in the UK.

Up We Grow! A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farm
by Deborah Hodge
Illustrated by Brian Harris
Publisher: Kids Can Press

Up We Grow! A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farm
Up We Grow! highlights the importance of small, local farms with photos that invite children into the world of a small, co-operative farm over four seasons. Readers will get to know the hardworking farmers who plow, plant, compost, mulch, harvest and market fruits and vegetables, and care for animals. Discover people of all ages and abilities working together to grow and share food, while protecting and respecting the land and animals we depend upon for our sustenance. Deborah Hodge is the award-winning author of more than 20 books for children. Award-winning photographer Brian Harris uses his images to help charitable organizations raise awareness and create a better world to live in. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Happy International Women's Day, celebrating 100 years

Happy International Women's Day. Although we didn't really start celebrating IWD here in North America until the 1970's, this is the 100th year celebration.  Join with women across the world to celebrate the strides we have made since 1911.
A 1932 Soviet poster for International Women's...Image via Wikipedia
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss

Today's the day to wish Dr. Seuss a happy birthday.  He published 44 children's books, with off-the-wall c characters and dynamo rhyme. We all know his books, Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, an How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but my fav. has always been One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. His birthday  has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association so happy birthday Read Across America Day too.