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 legacy@teambc.org.BACKGROUNDER 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.