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

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Professional development is better with muffins

What a great morning.  It started out at 5am.  I was on Galiano Island visiting friends, but had to rush back to meet up with fellow author Julie Lawson for a little  private professional development, and of course food; muffins and tea in this case.  What fun.  Be sure to catch Julie at the Victoria Children's Literature Roundtable on Monday, and watch for her new book, Ghosts of the Titanic.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The importance of success in the learning continuum

I'm often in the class teaching writing workshops to students and doing professional inservice for educators. As a teacher and a writer I learned some time ago that some students are built for ballet, and some just aren't. Some students can shoot a ball through a basketball hoop from any position while others have a hard time making a basket from under the hoop.  Some of the students I've taught may become great writers while others have a hard time stringing more than a few sentences together.   While I expect my students to work to the best of their ability, my goals for individual students will be different.  Success for one student might be a polished story.  Success for another might be what I call the talking points for a story (similar to a simplified outline). Classroom teachers can usually help students to improve their writing skills, but let's face it, not everyone is going to be a great writer.  My goals for teaching writing are pretty much the same as my goals for teaching anything...move my students along the learning continuum from where they are to a new place, while celebrating their strengths. The child in this ballet video isn't all that likely to move onto other positions if she fails so miserably in the first. The same goes for writing.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

An affordable way to get arts into schools

Greg Pinkus has come up with a really great way to kick off Poetry Month.  You can help fund his project of getting poetry in the schools by making a donation as small as $1 through Kickstarter which is a very cool new way to fund and follow creative arts projects.  Of course, you can, and I hope do, help Greg and his poetry in schools project out with a bigger contribution.  Hey, you can even pitch your own project there. The transactions are handled by Amazon, so it's totally safe.  Arts at the grass roots level is what it's all about.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Celebrating a month of Poetry...

"Perhaps You'D Like To Buy A Flower?"

    By Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

    Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower?
    But I could never sell.
    If you would like to borrow
    Until the daffodil

    Unties her yellow bonnet
    Beneath the village door,
    Until the bees, from clover rows
    Their hock and sherry draw,

    Why, I will lend until just then,
    But not an hour more!
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