Saturday, December 12, 2009

I is for Inuksuk

Mary Wallace is Canada's Queen of the Inuksuk, or at least one of its greatest supporters! Her latest book: I is for Inuksuk: An Arctic Celebration, follows her other books: The Inuksuk Book, Make Your Own Inuksuk, and Inuksuk Journey.

Although at first glance you might think I is for Inuksuk is an alphabet book, it is actually an acrostic poem, with each letter in the word INUKSUK serving as a way to introduce another Inuktitut word. For example, "N is or Nanuq, the powerful polar bear of the North." After the introductory set up, Wallace goes on to provide more information related to that word. With smaller illustrations and a line or two of text, we learn, for example, that polar bears are good swimmers, that they hunt seals and give birth to babies in winter dens. We also get a close look at a paw print, complete with ice-gripping claws.

Other pages explore transportation, clothing, wildlife, family life and more. Wallace includes the Inuktitut script for each word, which is useful to show children that the Latin Alphabet is not the only one going. (One of my favourite things to do at school visits is to show children my books that have been translated into Arabic or Chinese script. This inevitably launches in to a discussion about alphabets and scripts.)

Wallace is also the illustrator of this book and her vibrant, joyful (especially U is for Umiaq where we see a family paddling their umiaq - summer sea boat — through the rolling seas) are highly appealing and engaging. (One pet peeve — and Ms. Wallace is not alone with this — is the huge plume of water gushing out of the whale's blowhole. The biologist in me cringes when I see this. The blowhole is connected to the lung. A whale with this much water in its lungs would be dead. (Yes, whales can drown.) The water you see "spouting" from whales is condensation. Think of what your breath looks like on the cool day. There is also a bit of water on top of the blowhole, but there is never a plume like this. Okay, biology lesson over.) I can see her illustrations sparking some wonderful art classes with a creative teacher at the helm, much like one of my girl's teacher used Ted Harrison's art.)

Each spread in the book includes a different type of inuksuk and its meaning. Children will enjoy trying to find each one on the pages. (And it was a revelation to me to learn that there were different types.) There is also a helpful. Inuktitut pronunciation guide.

Here's the publisher's blurb and a review from Canadian Materials.

You're Mean, Lily Jean (and many other books)

I'm back. I have a stack of books on my desk I've been meaning to blog about. (And a box under it, too. Sigh.) My own work and other writing projects have been taking my time, but these slower days (for the moment at least; comments from my editor are imminent) are giving me a bit of time to finally post. I hope you enjoy — or at least find useful — these updates and links. First up: You're Mean, Lily Jean by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.

Frieda was in Tough City earlier in the year so we had a chance to meet and have a cup of tea. It's always wonderful to meet other writers from across the country, so I'm glad she looked me up. I suspect there is not a child (probably female child) in the country, or an adult (probably female, too) who cannot relate to the scenario in You're Mean, Lily Jean. A new girl moves in next door — oh, joy! But it turns out that Lily Jean is a tad bossy and while she's happy to play with Sandy, she exerts her will and bossiness over Sandy's young sister, Carly. Whatever Lily Jean deems the girls shall play — house, cowgirls, king and queen — Carly is only permitted to play if she takes on a "lesser" role — baby, cow, dog. The dynamics of a trio of girls, which is already dredging up squirmy memories for me, is also at play in this book. Carly plays along, but only to a point. As you can expect, Lily Jean gets her comeuppance at the book's crescendo and all is resolved satisfactorily at the end, without any meanness. Kady MacDonald Denton's illustrations have always appealed to me, ever since I started reading 'Til All the Stars Have Fallen: Canadian Poems for Children with my own wee sprogs. (It's a fabulous book, by the way, and still in print almost 20 years later.) Her illustrations are bright and playful and the children's expressions, especially Carly when she is being relegated to the role of cow (complete with moos) cracks me up. Her art perfectly complements the characters well-envisioned by Wishinsky.

Others have a lot to say about this book, often along the lines of teaching about bullying and expressing ones feelings. Of course this is all very true, but above all it's a wonderful story, with spot-on illustrations, that I bet all children (old and not so) can relate to. What more could you want?

Here's the publisher's blurb and a review from Quill and Quire.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Honour Book Honour for Robots

Robots: From Everyday to Out of This World, my most recent chlidren's book, was one of the finalists for the Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award. The short-list had six books on it. One Peace was the winner, but Robots was named one of two "honour books."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Orca Books

Here's an update on a great Canadian (and British Columbian) publisher surviving in these tenuous times. Long ago I published a book with Orca. It's still one of my favourites, but is sadly long out of print.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sell One, Give One Away

Awesome Book Tour from Dallas Clayton on Vimeo.

So what do you think of this? In an era when book publishing is in such flux, it's an interesting story of someone finding a new way. Of course self-publishing is not new, but he's also created what looks like (I haven't seen it) a great book that is well produced and, obviously, one that has struck a chord.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day Trio

This will come late to anyone hoping to plan something for the classroom or library, but, honestly, these books are good enough to haul out whenever you are discussing war, peace, poetry, history, and the lives of children here and there. I have just emerged from a very long book project and this was the earliest I could get to making this post, but these titles have been a diversion in the past for weeks for which I've been very grateful.

Linda Granfield, one of the finest non-fiction writers in Canada, has one new book out this year: Remembering John McCrae: Solidier, Doctor, Poet and, from last year, there is The Unknown Soldier.

I suspect that almost every child in Canada can recite at least the first few lines of "In Flanders fields, the poppies grow / Beneath the crosses, row on row...". Granfield's book brings depth to this poem as we learn the story of John McCrae, the man who scribbled it on a scrap of paper in honour of his friend, Alexis Helmer. This is just the kind of book I love—a running story line supported by a plethora of photos, paintings, journal excerpts, ephemera (even a photo of bone forceps) which adds graphical, and textual, interest to the pages. I can imagine a child browsing through the book, being drawn in by these images. Quotations from McCrae's letters and journals allow us to hear from McCrae himself.

This book is many things, but one thing that struck me after I finished is how it helps bring context to poetry. I think poetry if often intimidating to people, young and not so, and there is somehow a feeling of inadequacy when trying to "understand" it. But poetry is a source of expression — be it of joy or grief — and this book helps give context to that expression and somehow, I hope, make poetry — or at least the idea of poetry — more accessible to everyone.

Here's a review from Canadian Materials.

Apropos to this book, there is a show discussing Remembrance Day on the radio and one of the hosts just said that one of the greatest sorrows of veterans is to be forgotten. Was is such a tragic waste of life — usually young life — and with each death, a bit more of the human potential is lost. Memorials to the Unknown Soldiers help to remind us of those who were lost, and, tragically, never repatriated. These monuments give a place for people to remember all of the men who died and buried on the battlefield.

The Unknown Soldier also brings us to "The Unknown" monuments throughout the world as Granfield describes the monuments in 15 countries. The traditions surrounding these monuments was most interesting to me. In Moscow, for instance, it is a wedding tradition for newlyweds to leave flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Being one who enjoys visiting graveyards — they always seem very beautiful to me — I also enjoyed the spread explaining the symbols on gravestones. These sorts of details may be the perfect conduit to bring children into this book. The Unknown Soldier is another valuable addition to any bookshelf.

Here's a review from Canadian Materials.

Finally, the book Too Young to Fight: Memories From Out Youth During World War II compiled by Priscilla Galloway. I suspect this book is out of print now as it was first published ten years ago and, its publisher, Stoddart, is no longer with us. It is a gem, however, so worth searching for. (Wait! It's been republished by Fitzhenry and Whiteside!) Books about war are almost always about people fighting the war, but there were many ways in which people were affected. Perhaps a parent went to the battlefield, or your town was bombed, or you were interned because of your ethnicity. This book includes the remembrances of 12 Canadian writers who "were too young to fight." I'll confess that it's awhile since I've read this book, but it's on my stack for later today.

I'm not sure exactly how to sign off, but I can't help but remember a childhood friend of my sister's who brought my parents a "Happy Remembrance Day" card. Perhaps she didn't quite have the sentiment of the day right, but it was certainly memorable!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Letter to a Scientist (a "top" one)

Something to make your day, from Letters of Note, via BookNinja. Oh, so fabulous.

Read more about the letter here. It was sent in 1957 in a young person's bid to bring Australia into the space race. I love the: "You put in the other details."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Support for BC Bookworld

Four times a year I look forward to a new edition of BC Bookworld. Each issue profiles BC authors, illustrators and publishers, including self-published authors. It is an invaluable resource and a wonderful way to profile all things literary about BC. The magazine is available free through bookstores and on the BC ferries as well, so it is sure to get into peoples' hands and, no doubt, helps put new writers in readers' hot little hands. You can also subscribe to BC Bookworld for the very reasonable price of $25. Given the latest round of funding cuts BC Bookworld's future is a bit shaky. Please take a minute to read this letter and consider supporting BC Bookworld.

Dear Friend,

For more than twenty years, Alan Twigg and David Lester have produced B.C. BookWorld, Canada?s most-read independent publication about books. It?s an educational newspaper that serves 100,000 people per issue, via more than 900 distribution outlets around the province.

With the onset of the Olympics, the B.C. provincial government has suddenly withdrawn all its annual support, terminating a 22-year partnership with the non-profit society that sponsors B.C. BookWorld. The news came in a brisk phone call in October, without any explanation, and no paper trail, with less than one month?s notice.

Similar calls were made, on the same day, to the B.C. book publishers? association and the B.C. magazine publishers? association.

The future of B.C. BookWorld is now in jeopardy.

If you value and enjoy B.C. BookWorld, I invite you to help preserve and embolden this essential publication by sending a Supportive Subscription cheque of $25 to:

Pacific BookWorld News Society
3516 West 13th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C.
V6R 2S3

In return, B.C. BookWorld will be mailed to your home or office address throughout 2010.

Please act now. As legendary Canadian publisher Jack McClelland put it, ?In all sincerity, let me say that I have never encountered a book journal as engaging as B.C. BookWorld.?

Sent on behalf of Pacific BookWorld News Society; publisher Howard White (president), historian Jean Barman, Simon Fraser University chief librarian Lynn Copeland, Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing director Rowland Lorimer, Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia executive director Margaret Reynolds, author Andreas Schroeder, bookseller Don Stewart, Vancouver Public Library chief librarian Paul Whitney. In conjunction with the Coalition for the Defence of Writing and Publishing in British Columbia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Word on the Street

Thanks again to the fab. CWILL-BC blog — here's a list (with links) of all of the BC writers and illustrators creating children's books who will be appearing at Vancouver's Word on the Street event. Thanks, Tanya!

Win a Writer or Illustrator!

Head on over to the CWILL-BC blog to learn more about the Fall Book Harvest and to learn how you can win a visit by a BC writer or illustrator.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Week Until The Word on the Street

Next Sunday, September 27, is The Word on the Street. This year's events will be held in Vancouver, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax. I will be at the Vancouver event, in the magazine tent with the magazine and also presenting in the Kids' Tent at 4 pm. See you there!

TD Books Kids' Club

The CBC and TD are holding a contest to have a kids' book club come to your school. All you need to do is organize some sort of cheer and have your teacher or principal record it and send it off to the CBC. (Well, and then you have to win of course.) The classes that win get to meet the author travelling in their area and, of course, have their scintillating discussion recorded for all to hear. This year the regions are limited to: Greater Vancouver, Edmonton area, Calgary area, Manitoba, Montreal area, and mainland Nova Scotia. (And, yes, those odd and inconsistent descriptions are from the contest details.) Details here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September Q&Q Reviews

Quill and Quire's September issue has reviews of the latest children's books by: Arthur Slade, Valerie Wyatt, Joanne Schwartz, Melanie Watt, Marie-Louise Gay, Mireille Messier, Nicholas Maes, James Laxer, Eric Walters, Fiona Bayrock, Nancy Harty, Maureen Garvie, Kenneth Oppel, Allison van Diepen, and Jocelyn Brown.

Canadian Materials Goes Weekly

Canadian Materials is now publishing weekly, which is great news for all those wanting to keep up on the latest on Canadian books for kids. This week look for interviews with Larry Verstraete, Eva Wiseman, and Marty Chan as well as 23 book reviews. (This is a great magazine, but I sure wish they'd come up with a new, more inspired, name!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Upcoming Events: Fall Book Harvest

Mark your calendars. Fall Book Harvest is coming soon to the Vancouver area. This is a great opportunity to meet some of the Canadian authors and illustrators who are creating books for children. And, of course, it's a great chance to see (and purchase a signed copy of) their latest books. A similar event will be held in Victoria in November. Stay tuned!

For more about the Fall Book Harvest and the Hycroft Event (and other happenings from writers and illustrators in BC), visit the CWILL-BC Blog.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Finally the Bride, Not the Bridesmaid

After years of many other honours, my colleauges at YES Mag have finally been awarded the Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers! This is much deserved honour for a very hard working crew.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Honours for Robots

Robots: From Every Day to Out of This World (which I wrote as part of my gig at KNOW Mag) has been short-listed for two awards: the Hackmatack and the Rocky Mountain Book Awards. Not sure where the awards ceremony will be in either case, but with The Rockies and The Maritimes one can't go wrong!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Lu & Clancy Go to Hong Kong

I received some good news the other day — my four Lu & Clancy titles (Carnival Caper, Secret Codes, Sound Off, and Spy Stuff) are heading to Hong Kong. Rights have been sold to Sun Ya Publications to publish these titles in the "Complex Chinese" language and to do distributed in Hong Kong and Macao. These photos are from the books when they were published a few years ago in China. It will be interesting to see how the characters differ. I think this is Mandarin? (Please help me if you know.)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Whoo, Hoo, Howie Woo

For Robots, we were lucky enough to have the very talented Howie Woo do the illustrations. The arrival of Howie's cartoons and illustrations at our office is always a happy thing. He is one of the funniest guys I know and...he crochets too! Every once in awhile he sends us little crocheted treasures, like the pumpkin that appeared last Halloween and even quirkier things, like grenades. (Yes, grenades.) If you have a moment, and even if you don't, check out Howie's blog. Thanks for the laughs, Howie!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More on Violence...

Book Ninja has waded in with his thoughts on the topic. I think a lot of this, as with many (most?) things in the world, depends on the individual. Some kids seem to be able to handle "bad things" or violence more than others. It's all in your definition of violence, too. Some people would consider an animal dying to be violent. Me? I would consider that the "cycle of life" (to quote The Lion King), but would be sensitive to my little readers ears and emotional state. At this juncture, bear with me as I begin, yet again, my not-so-private rant about how this is another situation where knowledgeable librarians, teachers, and booksellers (and parents, yes, but very few are kids' lit fanatics) are SO CRITICAL to putting the right book in the right child's hand, at the right time in their life. To continue with the violence metaphor — well-stocked and STAFFED libraries and bookstores staffed with knowledgeable sales people — are worth fighting for.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

See, They Do Let Me Out on Occasion

A photo of moi with the fabulous Tanya Lloyd Kyi at CWILL's also fabulous Spring Book Hatching. Sorry we missed you! Watch for the Fall Book Harvest in, well, the fall!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Differences a Border Can Make

Of course we share many things with our neighbours to the south, but when people tell me that Canadians and Americans are just the same, I beg to differ. For the most part, our differences are subtle and perhaps only apparent to those who are really looking, but there are fundamental differences too that I believe affect us more than we like to let on or more than we can pinpoint. This is a case in point. It makes me very sad to think that people can have - when they are gravely ill - the added stress of financial strain as a result of getting the treatment they need. And also that someone else (an HMO perhaps?) could call the shots on their treatment. This post is verging on the political, but children's writers and others in the kid lit community are rallying behind Bridget Zinn. The Canadian system is by no means perfect (and YES, we do get to choose our own doctors; I don't know who was feeding my relatives in California the BS that we can't) but universal health care for all citizens is a fundamental underpinning to who we are up here. Who did Canadian's vote for as our Greatest Canadian? Not a movie star or a football star or a gazillionaire -- Tommy Douglas, the man who spearheaded universal health care.

And to make this post fully relevant to the (supposed) theme of this blog. Here's a children's book by Bill Waiser all about Tommy Douglas for those who'd like to learn more.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Eye Candy

Oh, so pretty. If you love type, you can waste a lot of time on the site where this was originally posted.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Temporary Twilight-Insania

So we were driving back home after a week away when we noticed the parking lot at one of the most popular beach accesses was barricaded. A police car was immediately behind the barricade. We surmised it could have been one of two things -- a search and rescue (in reality, more like a "recovery," a tired euphemism if there ever was one) for a surfer out of his/her league, or ... a movie shoot. Option two was the correct one. It seems as if Tough City and environs were all a-twitter since some vampirey sorts were lingering in the neighbourhood.

Even though this is largely a blog about writing for children and youth, I doubt I will ever wade through the Twilight saga (I've got too many other books demanding my attention and besides, I am trying to work my way through this, which should take the rest of my lifetime).* And I am notorious for watching a movie for an hour or so before deciding that I'd much rather read on my nice comfy couch by the fire, so I doubt I'll ever watch the movies unless I'm stuck on a plane or in a hotel room, so I was happy to come across this summary of all four books in one handy-dandy cartoon.

*Related to the New Canadian Library. I am trying to collect the set. (Why, I'm not sure since my house is overflowing with books at the moment, but perhaps it's because I think I'm missing something by not trying to at least get through some of the "Canadian Cannon" -- mind you, only one publisher's canon. Just trying to be a good Canadian and all.) Plus, the spines of the older versions - with the coloured spines -- are pretty appealing lined up on my bookshelf. In a moment of insanity I actually thought I might blog my way through it, so thank goodness I found out another pair got there first. Phew, dodged that time-sucker. Anyhow, if you have any of the NCL that you would like to trade for some of my books, please get in touch. I'm looking for the versions with the one-colour covers with the numbers of the spine, or the earlier versions with the caricatures of the authors on the covers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Books with Long Legs (and a long caterpillar)

I love the simplicity of Eric Carle's books (and, of course, the vivid illustrations). Other fans might enjoy this interview.

"I often joke," he says, "that with a novel you start out with a 35-word idea and you build out to 35,000 words. With a children's book you have a 35,000-word idea and you reduce it to 35. That's an exaggeration, but that's what's taking place with picture books."

One day, when I finally get to the eastern seaboard (final destination New York), I shall make a pilgrimmage here. What a legacy to leave.

Friday, March 13, 2009

BC Book Prizes - 2009

Congratulations to those on the short lists for the BC Book Prizes. An especially enthusiastic shout-out to a book on the history of Tough City and environs. The awards will be presented April 25 in Vancouver.

For some Friday Fun, check out this post on The Book Bench on how to write a bedtime story. Make sure you follow the links to Lemony Snicket's tale-telling tips. I will especially note the point about the cocktail.

The gray whales and tourists are making their way to Tough City for this event. This usually means that I migrate against the tide to leave more space in town for the visitors and this week is no exception. I'll be taking a hiatus for a week or so. I'll be back in awhile (perhaps with give-aways). Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where the Wild Things Gather Dust

Some bloggers have "Funny Fridays" or some such day where they post things that are frivolous and slightly (or wholly) off-topic. I'm not so organized or disciplined and am always eager to share the fun (or avoid work), so here are some toys to make when you need some down time with the scissors, tape and glue. Check out Toy-a-Day's great paper figures. These are somewhat related to the (supposed) subject of this blog: Max, Cat in the Hat, and Bill.

Joe, the artist behind Toy-a-Day very generously has supplied a blank template, too. Might make a nice tie-in to a picture book or novel study. Have students create 3-D renditions of the characters. There. Not so frivolous after all.

Advice for Aspiring Writers

As usual, Editorial Anonymous's blog is full of great advice (and much hilarity). If you are an aspiring writer, or even a published one, this blog is required reading. EA is posting a very useful series called "Definitions for the Perplexed" where you can read about publishing terms such as C,M,Y,K or proofs or BookScan. Here's the most recent post, but make sure you scroll down to see the posts over the past few weeks. While you're there, make sure you check out EA's list of Things Not To Send in Slush Ever Again in the margin.

Also courtesy of EA is news of an virtual cat fight over the news that several agents twittered on why they were rejecting manuscripts. Follow the links, but if you want to cut to the chase, here are some of the Twitter posts. (From Chico Writer's Group.) Regardless of how you feel about the ethics, there is a lot of good advice in those tweets.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cool Science for the Discerning Reader

Science writer Fiona Bayrock has a great post over at Unabridged full of tips and the advice of a pro for those interesting in writing about science for children. She takes her own advice in her new book, Bubble Homes and Fish Farts. (Illustrated by Carolyn Conahan.) There are two launches coming up: one in Vancouver (March 14 - THIS Sat.) and one in Chilliwack (March 28). If you're nearby, get yourself over there (and don't forget your bubble blower).

Eau de Used Book Store

Something light, but book related (sort of).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Which Way Should I Go?

Congratulations to Ron Martin — who lives very near to Tough City — on his book (written with Sylvia Olsen and illustrated by Kasia Charko): Which Way Should I Go? This lovely picture book explores several themes, the main one being that we all have choices to make, often very hard ones. Joey is a happy boy who loves visiting with his grandmother. One of the things she does is pass on a song, which talks about choices: which way should I go? When his beloved grandmother dies, Joey has to learn to make choices to create his own world into being. This is an empowering book, that tells us, despite the sad and bad things that happen to us, life is what we make it. Although the characters in this story are First Nations, the sentiment is universal. In 2009, this book was selected as the title for the First Nations Communites Read program.

Here's more on the First Nations Communities Read program. And be sure to check out their resources, including the very helpful and handy "2009 Tips Sheet." Here are the other books submitted for this award. A must-read for anyone wanting to include First Nations-related literature in their home, school or library. The publisher also has produced a Teacher's Guide. And here's a review from Canadian Materials.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers, Lest They be Angels in Disguise

Not much to do with children's book (although I'm sure Shakespeare & Co. has some), but, if, like me, you're a fan of Jeanette Winterson, bookstores and Paris, the here's a great read for you.

A Smattering of Book Reviews

The latest reviews from Susan Perrin at the Globe and Mail.

Here are links to the titles:

Have You Ever Seen a Duck in a Raincoat? by Etta Kaner and illustrated by Jeff Szuc.

The Orphan Boy by Tolowa Mollel and Paul Morin. Here's another review of this title.

A New Life by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Nasrin Khosravi.

Call Me Aram by Marsha Skrypuch and illustrated by Muriel Wood. Here's another review.

You Are Weird by Diane Swanson. Here's a review from Quill and Quire.

Friday, March 06, 2009

How Does Your Paper Get Pulped?

I'm all for alternative papers, but this is a new one.

For Aspiring Picture Book Creators

If you are a writer or illustrator who aspires to write a picture book, you should carefully study this post on the beast know as a "picture book dummy." Even though pictures books are 32 pages long, you do not have 32 pages to play with. Thanks to Kirsti Wakelin for the head's up on this one. (Canadian Illustrator extraordinaire.) Check out her fabulous blog to learn about projects in progress.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Could Kindle Kill the Comic?

There are not a lot of comics read around here (graphic novels are big though) and we can't get Kindles in Canada, but some food for thought re. electronic readers. Lots of discussion and confusion amongst writers and readers about whether these readers are a good thing. I love the idea of being able to travel with hundreds of books in one handy-dandy reader, but I do love my books. And then, is it just another gadget that is going to be continually upgraded and made obsolete but the next best thing to come along (and thus, putting more electronic junk into our landfills)? The debate continues. What do you think?

Getting Back on Track...

Surprisingly, I've had a few comments on my blog lately. This has me mightily excited and wondering why people are wading in now and choosing to comment. Regardless, it's been a good kick in the butt to get me going again. Suffice to say, I've been swamped with work and school and, ahem, trying to be the nice-parent-who-seems-to-be-in-control-but-is-just-on-the-verge-of-losing-it. (Oh, did I mention that we were having a door that wouldn't close probably fixed yesterday and it's not morphed into ripping apart one corner of our house?) School ends in a month or so, and then I hope to be back on track with some regular posting and reviews. For now, though, I give you this website. My goodness. Is that fabulous or what? (I have website envy. Me thinks my website might need an overhaul (and an artist*).) I have several Shaun Tan books in the bookshelf right above my desk. They stare at me daily, begging to be read and read and written about. In Canada, Tan is published by Simply Read books, who is doing so many innovative books I fear daily for their survival. I loaded up on their books at last year's Word on the Street. I regularly cull my children's book shelves for books to donate to the free shelf at the local elementary. I dare say that Simply Read books will ever go in that cull pile. The quality and innovation is so high.

* Speaking of artists... I've always had a couple in the house — my children are pretty talented (no bias there) — but imagine my delight when this painting arrived in my home. It the first painting my husband has ever done and is the product of a weekend painting workshop I gave him for Christmas. I was even more excited when he spent the day after arriving home painting another one. The boy needs to relax and (once said house is put back together) I hope he keeps this painting thang up.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

PC Fairy Tales (or Not)

No surprise that fewer and fewer parents are seeking out the original versions of fairy tales because they are not PC enough. Better than the article though, is BookNinja's thoughts on this:

Guys, if my kid isn’t lying awake in bed each night, staring at the ceiling and thinking of what he’s just read or been read, then we’ve got the wrong books. Though perhaps the HP Lovecraft was a little early. I jest. Don’t call the cops. Seriously though, he’s scared shitless of Medusa. And who can blame him. So beautiful, so snakey. The cyclops too. And I think that’s a good thing. It’ll teach him to keep away from giant, deformed fellows. And around these parts, you never know.

(Have I already said this year that you should make Bookninja required daily reading?)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yes, but can they name ONE Canadian children's author?

No doubt you've heard this startling news. If that's not distressing enough, I doubt the percentage for Canadians who writer for children would be much, much lower. If you feel the need to do some educating of your friends, family and colleagues in this regard, a great place to direct them would be to the Authors and Illustrators lists on the CWILL-BC and CANSCAIP websites. Second rant of the day now officially over.

Fairy Tale Generator

Needs some inspiration or just looking to waste a bit of time? Try this fairy tale generator from Brown University. I chose trickery, departure and wedding and this is what appeared:

The man smelled my skin and laughed. "You smell like fresh meat," he said. "You smell like you expect to be killed and eaten alive. What kind of boy would run around this fog like that?"

I had no choice but to leave. Out, away from home was the only place I could go. The wind rustled the walls of our wooden shack, but neither my father nor my mother stirred from their deep slumbers. I put only a small piece of bread and a snippet of dried meat in my satchel, fastened my shoes, and quietly walked out of my home, our small wooden home, into the wind and fog that enveloped me into the night.

As the soil on me continued to turn into gold, the ground of our garden sprouted trees, fruits, and vegetables. My family and I stared in a daze as we watched our land grow rich and the people of the soil draw away.

Yes, I'm Still Here

Happy New Year to you all. I realize there's been a bit of a drought here, but my one nod to a New Year's Resolution is to try to keep this site somewhat active. As always, my goal is to make this a place to bring you the news on Canadian kid's book and Canadian writers (and, yes, peppered with a bit of news now and then about my own writing), but with work, school and a few other writing projects brewing (not to mention trying to be a pleasant mother), this will be an on-going challenge. Still, I'll do my best with your help. If you ever come across kid's book news, then please pass it on.

For a start, of course, those keen on Canadian books for kids could always go to the Canadian Children's Book Centre and subscribe to their wonderful Children's Book News. Money very well spent IMHO. More and more I am feeling so strongly that we need to put our money where our collective mouths are if we want to nurture a culture of books, reading, writing and literacy in our children. Of course that sounds like a no-brainer, but I think we need to support local bookstores, suck-it-up and not always search for the bargain when it comes for quality books, and get libraries and librarians back in every school in this country. Okay, rant over.

Here's some food for thought on the topic of buying second hand here.

Quill & Quire's Books of the Year issue gave the nod to five books for children that the mag. felt were "books to remember from 2008." Congrats to:

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson (Penguin Canada)

Thing-Thing by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Nicolas Debon (Tundra Books)

Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (Random House)

Ojingogo by Matthew Forsythe (Drawn & Quarterly)