Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two of My Favourite Things

Now this is very cool. And it's not really that much of a stretch -- scientists, after all, are some of the most creative thinkers going. And if they can explain their work creatively and without the bafflegab and jargon, well, we're all the better for it.

While we're on the topic of science and literacy, the Canadian Science Writers' Association has announced the winners of their annual Science in Society book awards.

Winner in the 2007 children's book category: Baby Sea Turtle by Aubrey Lang and Wayne Lynch (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)

Winner in the 2007 youth book category: Polaris by Julie Czerneda (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)

Friday, April 25, 2008

More BC Book Prizes finalists

A follow-up to yesterday's post, here are the finalists for The Christie Harris Illustrated Literature Award. (Blurbs from the BC Book Prizes site.)

The Day It All Blew Away, by Lisa Cinar

Huge-headed Mr. Tadaa and the little person are mighty lonely. Surrounded by characters who are always tipping their hats and shunning those who don’t return the favour, poor Mr. Tadaa has a head too big for his hat. Even worse, the little person’s hat is so big it wears him. One blustery day, Mr. Tadaa’s hat and the little person are blown away by the wind ... and right into each other! A surprise twist at the end shows that even in a world of hat-tippers, nonconformists can find happiness and friendship. Vancouver-based writer and illustrator Lisa Cinar graduated from Emily Carr Institute with a BFA in Fine Arts. This is her first book. Here's a review.

Elf the Eagle, written by Ron Smith, illustrated by Ruth Campbell

Elf is a baby eagle who worries about many things, including the distance from his nest, high up in a tree, to the ground, way, way down below. He also worries about his sister, Edwina, who is older and more adventurous than he is. Eventually, when his baby down grows into strong, black feathers, his parents stop bringing him food and tempt him with tasty morsels that they keep just out of reach. Elf gets very hungry and one day he accidentally tumbles out of his nest; before he knows it, he is flying. Founder and publisher of Oolichan Books, Ron Smith is the author of three collections of poetry and a book of short stories. He lives in Lantzville on Vancouver Island. This is his first book for children. An Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design graduate, Ruth Campbell is a painter who was born and raised in Montreal. She now lives in Vancouver.

Jeffrey and Sloth, written by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Ben Hodson

Jeffrey can’t think of a thing to write, so he doodles instead, only to have his doodle begin to order him about. Jeffrey struggles with the situation until he discovers that the most strong-willed doodle is powerless against a well-told tale. Jeffrey and Sloth is bound to have children rushing for their coloured pencils and their pens to see who and what they can create. Kari-Lynn Winters is an author and playwright. A graduate of Canada’s National Theatre School, she also performs with a children’s theatre group, The Tickle Trunk Players. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in the Language and Literacy Department at UBC. Ben Hodson is an award-winning artist based in Ottawa. Here's a review.

Pink, written by Nan Gregory, illustrated by Luc Melanson

Vivi is dizzy with wanting pink. Perfect pink. The kind the rich girls have, beyond the budget of her beloved truck-driver dad. One day in the window of a fancy toy store she sees something that embodies everything she longs for—a bride doll in a dress of perfect glistening pink. She saves and saves to buy the doll, walking the next-door dog and running errands. But when she takes her parents to show them the precious doll, she experiences a crushing disappointment. Pink is a touching story about longing for something beyond reach and finding something better close to home. Nan Gregory is a Vancouver-based award-winning author and professional storyteller. She won the CLA Book of the Year Award for Wild Girl and Gran and the Sheila A. Egoff Prize and the Mr. Christie’s Award for How Smudge Came. Luc Melanson is a commercial artist who has illustrated many picture books. He lives in Montreal. Here's a review.

A Sea-Wishing Day, written by Robert Heidbreder, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

On a hot summer day, a wish transforms an urban backyard into a place of breezy high-seas adventure. As our bold Captain and Skipper ride the salty waves, they encounter a beastly sea monster, buried treasure, a scurvy pirate crew, lovely mermaids and more. The creative pair who brought you the acclaimed I Wished for a Unicorn offer up another celebration of the boundless distances a childhood wish can travel. A retired elementary school teacher, Robert Heidbreder has been enchanting children with his joyful poems and rhymes for more than two decades. His 2005 book, Drumheller Dinosaur Dance, won the BC Chocolate Lily Young Readers’ Choice Award. Kady MacDonald Denton is an author and illustrator of books for children and lives in Peterborough, Ontario. Here's a review.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Celebrating BC Books and Magazines

I'm a bit late with this, but we're smack in the middle of BC Book and Magazine Week. If you go to their website you'll find a listing of events. Perhaps you'll find one near you? Or, why not check out a BC magazine you haven't cracked open before -- there sure are enough of them. According to BCAMP (the BC Association of Magazine Publishers) there are over 75 to choose from, including (ahem) KNOW and YES Mag of course, but also such diversity as Room of One's Own, The Block, Small Farm Canada, and Lusitania. Browse the full list at the BCAMP site.

Now, though, I'd like to mention the finalists for the BC Book Prizes in the two children's lit. categories:

Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize
(All blurbs from the BC Book Prize site.)

The Alchemist's Dream, by John Wilson

In the fall of 1669, the vessel Nonsuch returns to London with a load of furs from Hudson Bay. It brings something else, too—the lost journal from Henry Hudson’s tragic search for a passage to Cathay in 1611. In the hands of a greedy sailor, the journal is merely an object to sell. But for Robert Bylot—a once-great maritime explorer—the book is a painful reminder of a past he’d rather forget. As Bylot relives his memories of a plague-ridden city, of the mysterious alchemist John Dee and of mutiny in the frozen wastes of Hudson Bay, an age-old mystery is both revealed and solved. The Alchemist’s Dream was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. John Wilson is a prolific writer specializing in historical fiction for young adults, and this is the fourth time he has been shortlisted for the Sheila A. Egoff Prize. He lives in Lantzville on Vancouver Island.

Baboon: A Novel, by David Jones

Fourteen-year-old Gerry Copeland has mixed feelings about flying back to his parents’ research camp in the African savannah. While his biologist mom and dad study baboon behaviour, he’ll be thinking about the video arcade and restaurants back in the city. When their small plane goes down, Gerry wakes up thinking a baboon has broken his fall but is shocked to realize the furry arm is his own. Gerry’s only chance is to stay with the baboon troop but will his parents ever recognize him? Baboon has been shortlisted for several prizes, including Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children and has been listed in the Children’s Fiction Top 10 List by the Ontario Library Association and the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age. David Jones lives in Vancouver.

The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane, by Polly Horvath

Like her National Book Award-winning The Canning Season, The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane is filled with plot twists and extraordinarily strange characters. It is also a moving meditation on loss and finding family in the most unlikely places. Following the death of their parents, two cousins are sent to live with their distant, scholarly uncle and his eccentric house staff. Told in four characters’ voices, the novel is a layered account of one bad year from multiple points of view linking humour and pain. Polly Horvath has written many award-winning books for children and young adults, including The Trolls and Everything on a Waffle, which won the Sheila Egoff Prize in 2002. She lives in Victoria.

For Now, by Gayle Friesen

In Friesen’s previous book, Losing Forever, Jes learned to accept the inevitability of change. But change is moving at a heartbreaking pace and her world shifts by the day. There’s lots of uncertainty in Jes’s life, but the biggest uncertainty of all is love. Everyone has a different opinion on it. Dell says love should be so intense that it makes you puke—this from a girl who’s swept off her feet as easily as a dust bunny. Jes’s teacher says that love is about reuniting what was once divided—this from a guy who’s going through a divorce. If anything’s for sure, it’s that love is never predictable, but, as Jes begins to see, no one ever gives up on it. Born and raised in Chilliwack, Gayle Friesen studied English literature at UBC before becoming a writer. Her first novel, Janey’s Girl, won the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award. She lives in Delta.

Porcupine, by Meg Tilly

When her father is killed in Afghanistan, twelve-year-old tomboy Jack Cooper (or Jacqueline, as her mother insists on calling her) watches helplessly as her mother crumbles. Before long, Jack moves with her younger siblings from her Newfoundland home to a rundown farm on the Prairies with a great-grandmother they didn’t know existed. In the process, she learns that families come in many different forms and that love, trust and faith can build a home anywhere. A moving and inspiring tale, Meg Tilly’s Porcupine is a novel about adaptation and new understandings. Formerly a film actress, Meg Tilly is the author of two adult novels, Singing Songs and Gemma, and is currently at work on her second novel for young adults. She lives in Vancouver.

Congratulations, all.

This is getting long, so I'll post the finalists for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize in another post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day, a good time to redeem myself after yesterday's on-line hissy fit. Thank goodness there are far more fabulous books out there than aforementioned self-published dreck (I know, I know, there is some very well done self-published non-dreck) and Peter Sis's books are great examples of innovative non-fiction for kids.

In honour of the fact many of Charles Darwin's works are now on-line, I thought I'd take another peek at Sis's The Tree of Life (which has a subtitle reminiscent of the fabulously long titles of Darwin's time: A Book Depicting the life of Charles Darwin: Naturalist, Geologist & Thinker.) (Thanks to BookNinja, by the way, for alerting me to the Darwin archive and this article re. the release.) Using wonderfully detailed illustrations -- a Sis version of Where's Waldo and I Spy books, but much more beautifully rendered of course -- he introduces young readers to Darwin's life, his work, and some of his discoveries and ideas.

Here's Sis's Author's Note from the beginning of the book:

Charles Darwin regretted that he hadn't learned to draw. Instead, he kept detailed descriptions of everything he saw. It is these dense and vivid written passages in his diaries, letters and journals that have inspired me to use my own drawings, based on contemporary sources, to tell this story of his life. The text in my visualization of Darwin's diary entries has been freely condensed from his various writings about the voyage of the Beagle. Other sources for quotations and information include Darwin's autobiography, his letters, and the first edition of On the Origin of Species.

Sis takes us through Darwin's life story with the use of sketches, captioned illustrations, lists, diary entries, etc. We see Darwin as a child right through to his death. One of the most interesting spreads explained Darwin's serendipitous assignment as naturalist on the Beagle. We learn of his father's displeasure and how (with help from his maternal uncle Josiah Wedgewood), his father finally relented. On this spread Sis has used list to explain Father's Objections (e.g., That it would be a useless undertaking.) and then Practical Arrangements (e.g., case of strong good pistols; book on taxidermy; bible). Then we launch into his journey for several spreads followed by his life back in England, trying to piece it all together. (After the voyage, Sis clevery describes Darwin's activities into three parts: Public, Private, and Secret ("his developing a theory about the evolution and adaptation of species.)

Although I found the detailed drawings and explanations of his journey captivating -- and I'm sure younger readers will as well -- I'm not convinced that children will make the necessary leaps as to how he used these observations in his development of the ideas of natural selection. As I've written before, I think explaining natural selection and evolution is tricky and, in that vein, it can be such a challenge to distill it down. (Will young readers understand words such as adaptation and selection for instance?) So, while learning about Darwin's observations and discoveries on the Voyage of the Beagle are interesting in their own right, I'm not sure kids will make the connections between some of the things he'd seen on the voyage and his eventual development of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Of course Darwin took years to do this and he also incorporated other observations into this mix and I'm glad Sis included his (many) years after the Voyage as well. (As a side note, I was happy to see that Sis mention how Darwin spent eight years studying barnacles after his return. I always thought that was kind of quirky!)

Having said all this, I found this partial review by Roger Sutton at The Horn Book in the article The Ones That Got Away: Great Books That Didn't Get Their Due by Rick Margolis, in which Sutton makes a good point:

"Published to great reviews but no awards, Peter Sís’s The Tree of Life (Farrar/Frances Foster Bks., 2003) confounded those who wanted a straightforward explanation of evolution. Instead, the book is a remarkable joining of two imaginations, Sís’s and Darwin’s, hard at work to show us that scientific investigation is anything but straightforward. It instead requires the intense scrutiny of apparently disparate phenomena—just like this book.—Roger Sutton, The Horn Book"

(Yes, I agree, but I think this further points to how this book is definitely not a picture book for really young readers -- I think it's best suited for kids in the upper grades of elementary school and even beyond.) Quibbles aside, I think the book is a wonderful introduction to the life of one of our world's most important scientists and thinkers. His ideas (and of course those of Alfred Russel Wallace, who eventually came up with the same ideas, but was never as widely recognized) were indeed revolutionary and as the years go on are strengthened. The Teacher's Guide for this title is an added bonus, and will help strengthen many of the ideas introduced in the book. (Another reason why we need engaged and interested teachers and librarians in schools -- this book can bring you to a whole other level with wonderful instruction and discussion.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Almost, But Not Quite, Speechless

Uncharacteristically, I'm not quite sure what to say. Others have said it well, especially Colorado Writer who made this comment on Editorial Anonymous's post on this book: Barf-o-rama.

Others weigh in (yuck, yuck)
Patricia Storms over at BookLust, Nicholas Lezard at The Guardian and
Feministing. You can view a few pages over at Newsweek (make sure you check out the size of the doctor's shoulders). Ack, ack, double ack.

I probably shouldn't waste any cyberspace (or brain cells for that matter) ruminating on this, but frankly it ticks me off. Oh, and did I mention when this gem will be released? Mother's Day. Lovely.

I promise to be more productive and positive soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm Cravin' These Crayolas

Okay, I try to stay on task here, blogging about kids' books and other writerly things, but these crayon sculptures by Diem Chau were just so cool. And didn't we all started our careers as writers and illustrators with crayons? Make sure you check out Chau's site -- lots of goodies to ogle over. (Thanks to design*sponge for the link.)

Turning Up the Volumes

If you're in BC (and even if you're not; you can listen on-line) you might want to turn the dial CBC on Saturday mornings to check out Sheryl MacKay's North By Northwest. Alan Twigg, writer and publisher of BC's treasure, BC Bookworld, and supporter of all things literary in BC has a spot on the show every other week called Turning Up the Volumes. In each spot he profiles a BC writer and/or book that you may, or may have not, heard of. The shows thus far have been far-reaching and varied, from Wylie Blanchet, author of the classic The Curve of Time, to Eric Collier, author of Three Against the Wilderness, to Betty Pratt-Johnson, whose books on diving in BC are long-standing classics. All of the past shows are available on-line here. Twigg also spearheads the Author Bank, which includes entries on all authors from BC (an impressively long list).

Writing West Coast History

Ever been rescued by the Coast Guard on the west coast? If so, get your fingers tapping and write a short (very short) story for the story contest being held in honour of the Bamfield Life Boat Station's centenary celebration. (You can also use the experiences of others if you haven't been so "lucky" as to have been rescued by these fine folks.) I have been rescued by the Canadian Coast Guard, but it was on the east coast. Too bad -- it's a pretty good story. Another time...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Creatures Big and Small, Old and New

I am such a fan of Karen Patkau's work and I've had two of her books on my desk for awhile now, just waiting for a moment to blog. Karen is an illustrator and author from Toronto and she's published several books, including the natural history gems I have here: Creatures Great and Small and Creatures Yesterday and Today.

It's often the simplest of concepts that work so well. In Creatures Great and Small, Patkau explores animals of the world, but focusses on the large and small (although not always the largest and smallest) in each category. So, for the spread on amphibians she illustrates the Chinese Giant Salamander and the Poison Dart Frog. Four lines of text, written in the first person, give information on the animal pictured. For Chinese Giant Salamander, for instance, she writes:

I live in the mountains, among the rocks
of muddy riverbanks. Nocturnal, I am
awake at night. That is when I crawl along
the cold riverbed, searching for a meal.

Each text block reads almost like poetry to my ear. No doubt children will enjoy searching for the smallest creatures. On the spread on insects, for instance, the Feather-winged Beetle is about the half the size of a grain of rice. On the mollusk spread, a small garden snail "streaks" across the bottom of the page.

This book can be used in so many ways. Of course, children will love the bright illustrations and searching for the creatures, but parents and teachers can also use the book as a jumping off point for discussing animal classification (mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, arachnids, insects, etc.) and also units of measure. Two spreads at the end of the book help explain comparative sizes using kid-friendly terms (big, really big, small, really small), yet also have more complex ideas such as using grid squares to measure off size, and visual comparisons (e.g., actual size, 2 x actual size, etc.). This information may go over the heads of some children, but that's okay. At some point it will be useful even when they think they are too old for a picture book. (You never are, IMHO.) And I was so happy to see metric measures listed first, followed by imperial. Metric is, after all, the measure of science (not to mention Canada and most of the world; the US being the most notable hold-out).

Here's a review of Creatures Great and Small and the publisher's catalog copy.

Creatures Yesterday and Today uses the same format but introduces us to creatures now extinct, and their distant relatives alive today. This is a fabulous concept and one that I don't think is tackled often, at least not in a picture book format. The first spread (labelled Creatures Yesterday), for instance, shows the dinosaur diplodocus. The text reads:

I was a giant planting-eating dinosaur,
with a big heart and a tiny brain. My neck
was so long, I could nibble fern leaves in
the forest while standing in an open field.

The next spread (Today) shows us a skylark with the text:

As I fly, you can hear my warbling song.
Like a theropod of long ago, I have a
wishbone, scaly feet, and hard-shelled
eggs. Am I a living dinosaur?

Theropod might send the teachers (but probably not the kids, who would know) searching for a dictionary, but Patkau has thought ahead and included a glossary for words that may need explanation. (And I'm wondering if planting-eating is an error -- plant-eating would certainly have scanned better.) Shelves are groaning with books on dinosaurs, but this book fills a gaping hole in paleobiology. Patkau goes beyond "dinosaurs as prehistoric animal" and introduces young readers to a broad range of prehistoric creatures: Hylonomus, Brontoscorpio, Smilodon, the crustacean Canadaspis and more, most of which they've probably never heard of. This is such a strength of the book. There is so much more to the prehistory of animals than dinosaurs and Patkau has sent young readers down the road to exploring the fascinating world of paleobiology.

Patkau's art at first glance seems simple, but it is so subtly rendered, with wonderful textures and patterns in each figure. The illustration of the Phorusrhacos, for instance, looks as if it has been carefully cut out of 10 or so different textured papers, yet it is computer generated. Patkau's style is definitely unique, engaging and recognizable. These books are as useful in art class and they are in science or language arts.

Both books include maps as endpapers, showing the relative locations of each animal illustrated. In Creatures Yesterday and Today, two spreads show a geological timeline and gives the approximate time when each of the prehistoric creatures lived.

Here's a review and the catalog copy for Creatures Yesterday and Today.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On the Road with Scaredy Squirrel, Stanley, and friends...

I'll be in great company at the Vancouver Island Children's Book Festival on May 31st in Nanaimo. Lookee here at the great slate of events and presenters. It will be lovely to meet and spend some time with a few fellow Kids Can authors and illustrators -- Melanie Watt, Bill Slavin, Wallace Edwards, and Linda Bailey. (My bookshelves will be lighter that weekend as I lug a box of books by these creators across the island so I can get them signed. Actually, I own books by all of the presenters, so it will be nice to meet the creators behind these wonderful books.) Others on the slate are Sarah Ellis, Andrea Spalding, Arthur Slade, and Simon Rose. A pretty stellar line-up if I do say so myself. Before Saturday's festival I'll be doing school visits in the mid-island (Ladysmith to Qualicum) area. Hope to see you there, too!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Meet a Children's Book Editor

The very prolific blogger (I'm in awe) Cynthia Leitich Smith over at Cynsations recently posted an interview with Sheila Barry, Editor-in-Chief at Kids Can Press. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

No Hippos with Pink Parasols Here

The Bologna Children's Book Fair is just winding up. Lookee here at the finalists for the Children's Illustration awards. Now I'm no expert, but the style seems so, well, European. Somehow darker, edgier. No hippos with pink parasols, or kids in all their safety gear (sunhats, bike helmets, elbow/knee protectors, SPF 50...) here. Sure there are some edgy exception in North American -- Stephane Jorisch's Jabberwocky comes to mind or Joe Morse's intercity interpretation of Casey at Bat (in fact all of the artistic interpretations of the poems in Kid Can's Visions in Poetry are innovative and edgy). I mean, look at this image from Poe's The Raven, illustrated by Ryan Price.

One of the most interesting books I have from when my kids were young is The Best Children's Books in the World: A Treasury of Illustrated Stories. Lofty title aside, it is a great book because it has 16 stories with their original text/script and a translation running along the bottom. So interesting for all of us to see the different artistic styles, not to mention the interpretation of what makes a "best" story. (It was an education for the kids to see all of the different scripts/languages too -- Hebrew, Chinese, Arabic, etc.)

Thanks to artist Christine Tripp for the link to the Bologna finalists.

The Solitary Vice

More food for thought on the hand-wringing over how little (actual or perceived) people are reading these days. Here's an interview with Mikita Brottman, the author of The Solitary Vice: Against Reading. Here's the gist:

"... Brottman, who has a PhD in English Language and Literature from Oxford University, is unconcerned. Despite her own book's title, she doesn't believe people should stop reading. In fact, she says we're reading more than ever — websites, email, text messages, blogs — and that this type of reading is more valuable than an unhappy slog through The Iliad."

Thanks to Bookslut for the link.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Okanagan Tour

Here are the dates for my upcoming tour in the Okanagan:

April 28, Penticton Public Library 10-11 am
April 29, Vernon Public Library 10:30-11:30 am
April 29, Lumby Public Library 1-2 pm
April 30, Salmon Arm Public Library 10-11 am
April 30, Armstrong Public Library 1-2 pm
May 1, Kelowna Public Library, 10-11 am

Hope to see you there!

Love Me, Love My Books -- The Kids' Lit Version

In the past few days this article has been circulating on the literary blogosphere. A pretty funny piece on how books (or the lack of them or poor choice in them) can be "literary relationship breakers." Too funny (read with a grain, or tablespoon, of salt of course). Now the kid's lit blog, Big A, Little a has run with the idea with a kid's lit version. Check the post and the comments here. And Betsy over at Fuse #8 brought up an old post in response to this, the wonderfully coined: Triumvirate of Mediocrity (the term created by Jane Yolen apparently). I will resist going on about I'll Love You Forever again, but, suffice to say, I agree on that account at least. (Although I think I'll have to check out The Giving Tree again.)

A slight aside:
With all this snickering in the comments though, I have to say that I dislike using the term hate in relation to books (and most things for that matter) -- all I can think about are those authors -- sure some are really successful -- but they put a huge amount of effort into their creation, like it or not. You can dislike a book for a variety of reasons, but writing something that doesn't resonate with you personally doesn't make it a hate crime. Enough said. I'm jumping down off my high-horse.

New Kid's Lit Prize

I was delighted to learn of a new book prize -- the Bolen Prize for Children's Literature -- for children's authors residing in Victoria (there are a fair number of them). I duly sent the press release to my Victoria writerly friends (and colleagues as we have a fair number of books by The Editors of YES Mag) and then I was alerted to this bit of fine print:

5. The work being submitted must:
a. Be a children’s picture book, children’s fiction or young adult fiction

What? (Insert expletive of your choice here.) Now I adore Bolen's Books. I grew up with them -- literally; I grew a few blocks away and spent much of my youth at the Hillside Mall -- and I still adore them and visit them whenever I'm in the city. But why oh why couldn't you insert just one more word in those submission guidelines?: non-fiction.

One day I will do a rant on how I'm sure that children's non-fiction writers are the bottom of the pile -- if we're even remembered at all -- when it comes to the hierarchy of writers and writing. But not today. I will behave and thank Bolen's for this $5000 annual boost to the bank account of some well-deserving Victoria (fiction) writer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Poetry Month

Forget April Fool's Day, today is the first day of National Poetry Month. So git yerself to your local bookstore, library, or bookshelf in a home near you and crack open the spine on a book of poetry. If you have any young poets kicking around you might check out the activities sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets for Young Poets' Week, April 7 to 13th. The theme for this year's celebration is Poetry Without Borders, where the Leage asks poets to ponder:

How can poetry celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions in Canada?
What are the possibilities for multilingual poetry events?
How can poetry combine with other forms of creative expression?
What does poetry without borders mean to you?

In our family we have, on and off over the last couple of years, read a poem before dinner. Usually they are funny kids' poems, but that's just fine with us. So that's one way to celebrate the month. Do you have other ideas? Send 'em on over.

Happy Birthday, Anne with an E

In case you haven't heard (highly unlikely) Anne of Green Gables is 100 this year. I think I shall blow the dust off the copy we have kicking around here somewhere and give it another go. I honestly can't recall how old I was when I first read it -- 12 perhaps? -- but my 15-year-old is still reading books about the red-headed gal. Check out Margaret Atwood's article on the Anne phenomenon from The Guardian -- a true piece of Atwoodiana, complete with her characteristic humour and a few well placed jabs at the industry that is Anne.