Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookies and Books

Not much free time around here to do a Christmas post, but head on over to Sheryl McFarlane's blog where she's been posting contributions by children's authors about their favourite holiday books (with recipes). My post went up today.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On Writing a Novel . . .

Oh my goodness . . .

Funny (in a pathetic kind of way).

[Via Bookninja}

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Secrets Shared

Here is a great blog post from Keri Smith for any self-employed artist needing a boost or inspiration. Good advice that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bill Slavin - Great Artist for Great Moments

One of my favourite features at the mag., is when our regular comic arrives in my IN box. Bill Slavin creates Great Moments in Science for us and he always does such a fabulous job. It's a pleasure to have him onboard. For the last cartoon, Bill wrote a blog post telling us more about the process and the subject of this month's column: Winsor McCay. Check it out!

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Information Book Award Results

Congratulations to Valerie Wyatt and Hugh Brewster for their accolades from the 2010 Information Book Award from the Children's Literature Roundtable. Val was the winner for How To Build Your Own Country and Hugh was the Honour Book for Dieppe: Canada's Darkest Day of World War II.

More info. here.

If you care about books for children — particularly Canadian children's books — literacy and reading, then please consider supporting/joining a Literature Roundtable near you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Science in Society Book Awards

If you, or someone you know, has published a science book this year (and you're Canadian), don't forget to submit it for the Science in Society Books Awards, administered by the Canadian Science Writers' Association. Info. here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Celebrate Science! The Movie

Here's a great video that encapsulates the Celebrate Science! event BC children's science writers*, including me, took part in at UBC's Beatty Biodiversity Museum. Thanks again for all who put it together.

[*There's got to be a better way to say this. BC Children's Science Writers is a mouthful and could be confusing, but I guess it's better than "writers who write for children about science."]

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Making a Book

When I visit children I find they are often quite confused over how a book is actually put together. They can understand the writing and the illustration part, but the physical part of putting the books together is a bit of a mystery. The younger children, in particular, think that I put together each book. Although this is a more "old-fashioned" type of printing, this video provides a glimpse into some of the steps. I love the offset, letterpress look so it was fun to see how the Field Notes booklets are put together.

Wings: Making the Field Notes 2010 Fall Edition from Coudal Partners on Vimeo.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Many Moons Ago, We Started KNOW . . .

[Cover art by Bill Slavin.]

The latest issue of KNOW is out. The theme for this issue — our 29th — is moons. Not just Earth's Moon, but the other moons in our solar system, too. Over 60 "moons ago" we started KNOW. It's hard to believe I started with Peter Piper Publishing in August 2005. The Jan/Feb 2011 issue will be our 30th and we're celebrating our fifth birthday. Just like the astronauts on this issue's cover, bouncing along in their Moon buggy, it's been a great ride.

If you haven't checked out KNOW, I hope you'll do so. I am, of course, totally biased, but I would argue that you would be hard pressed to find more value for your buck in a children's magazine.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Congratulations to BC writer, Polly Horvath, for winning the Vicki Metcalf Award for Children's Literature. We're big fans of Everything on a Waffle in our house.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hycroft on November 9

For those of you living in the lower mainland, mark your calendars for the annual CWILL event at Hycroft. It's a great chance to see your favourite BC authors and illustrators at a group launch/announcement/celebration of their new titles. Information here.

Like I Don't Have Enough to Do

Thanks, Kelowna! I'm having a great time here, visiting schools full of curious kids. One day down, three more to go. And like I don't have enough to do, I think I will sign up for this, just for the heck of it. I mean, how hard can writing down ideas? The execution is where I bog down!

And I received some exciting news from a publisher yesterday. I'll post more with details, but it seems like after a few years' hiatus busy with other writing, I have a new book for children in the pipeline.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Silver Birch Shortlist Announced

Congratulations on all who are on the short-list for Ontario's Silver Birch award, but especially to my buds, Jude Isabella (for Hoaxed) and Valerie Wyatt (for How to Build Your Own Country).


CWILL-BC (Children's Writers and Illustrators of BC) has a great blog that you should visit if you want to know more about the writers and illustrators of British Columbia. The blog (and website) is a wealth of information. This great new feature, readBC, gives short interviews with writers. Check it out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Annick's Spooky Blog Tour Next Week

Annick Press is hosting a "Spooky Halloween Blog Tour" October 25-29. More details here but during the tour you can virtually visit five blogs, read interviews with authors and book reviews. There will be giveaways, too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Respect for Science Writers

Not that awards are the end-all and be-all, but it's nice to see some recognition for excellence in science writing. Here's an interview from Wired Science with E. O. Wilson and Harrison Ford, who endowed the prize. I'm especially thankful to Ford, who, unlike many other uber-wealthy citizens of this planet, has chosen to do something helpful with his money. (And, Wilson? Well, he's always been my hero.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Readings in Tough City (aka Tofino)

For those of you on the west coast there are two readings next week by local writers.

On October 28, Chris Lowther launches her new book of poetry, My Nature. 7 pm at the Darwin's Cafe in the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

On October 29, Caroline Woodward launches Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny. 7 pm at the Salal Room at the Wickaninnish Inn.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GG Awards - The Kids' Lit Version

Since most blogs and newspaper articles usually relegate the Governor General Awards nominees in the children's categories to afterthoughts (if at all), I will post them here and send you here for the full list. Congratulations to all of the nominees, writers and illustrators.

Children’s Literature — Text

K.L. Denman, Powell River (British Columbia), Me, Myself and Ike
(Orca Book Publishers; distributed by the publisher)

Me, Myself and Ike is a gripping novel full of surprises. K.L. Denman’s masterfully-crafted first-person narrative on schizophrenia sweeps the reader along as Kit Latimer descends into a terrifying world where the real and imagined have no discernible divide. Denman manages to portray Kit in a way that is both realistic and sympathetic.

Lesley Fairfield, Toronto, Tyranny
(Tundra Books; distributed by Random House of Canada)

Tyranny is a powerful piece of writing crafted as a graphic novel.
Lesley Fairfield convincingly delves deep into the psyche of a young woman suffering from anorexia. The strength of the book lies in its simplicity, which carries the reader along on Anna’s horrifying journey to wellness.

Gina McMurchy-Barber, Surrey (British Columbia), Free as a Bird
(Dundurn Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press)

Free as a Bird is a poignant journey through the life of
Ruby Jean Sharp, a child living with Down syndrome. In this compelling tale of perseverance, trust and hope, Gina McMurchy-Barber takes the reader from the isolation and abuse of an institution, to the warmth and opportunity of a home, to the danger and camaraderie of the streets.

Wendy Phillips, Richmond (British Columbia), Fishtailing
(Coteau Books; distributed by Publishers Group of Canada)

Fishtailing is the story of four teenagers, four lives intertwined in the complex world of relationships and power struggles. In passionate poetic language that both chills and caresses, Wendy Phillips breathes life into these unforgettable characters whose stories offer insight, warning and endless possibilities. This compellingly-crafted poem is impossible to put down.

Cheryl Rainfield, Toronto, Scars
(WestSide Books; distributed by Chapters / Indigo)

Cheryl Rainfield’s Scars asks: When hurt is deeply buried, how do you bring it to the surface? For Kendra, the possibilities lie between
self-destruction and the redemptive powers of creativity. Teetering between these polarities until the very end, she is a memorable character whose struggle captivates.

Children’s Literature — Illustration

Kristi Bridgeman, Victoria, UirapurĂș: based on a Brazilian legend,
text by P. K. Page
(Oolichan Books; distributed by University of Toronto Press)

Kristi Bridgeman’s evocative illustrations draw us into the exotic rainforest of Brazil. Her lively and rhythmic design playfully combines vibrant colours and patterns that reference Brazilian textiles and ancient Mayan imagery. On the pages of UirapurĂș, the illustrator’s rainforest magically comes to life.

Julie Flett, Vancouver, Owls See Clearly at Night: a Michif alphabet / Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: l’alfabet di Michif, text by Julie Flett
(Simply Read Books; distributed by Publishers Group Canada)

In Owls See Clearly at Night, Julie Flett’s beautiful and elegant illustrations eloquently describe the Michif alphabet. Each letter’s vignette is thought-provoking, depicting elements of the natural world in an illumination of meaning. The letters appear deceptively simple at first glance, but in fact each contains its own mysterious, lyrical story.

Matt James, Toronto, I Know Here, text by Laurel Croza
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)

The “howl of the wolf and the smell of the fox in his cage and the stare of the old moose…” are boldly captured in Matt James’ intense illustrations. I Know Here speaks a universal, yet markedly original artistic language about a child’s sense of place.

Jon Klassen, Los Angeles [originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario], Cat’s Night Out, text by Caroline Stutson
(Simon & Schuster / A Paula Wiseman Book; distributed by
Simon & Schuster Canada)

In Cat’s Night Out, Jon Klassen creatively arranges pulsating patterns, lines and shapes to express a fantasy mood. He uses different tones and textures to contrast the mysterious night scene with the many vivid dancing cats. The illustrations match the content perfectly.

Renata Liwska, Calgary, The Quiet Book, text by Deborah Underwood
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; distributed by Thomas Allen & Son)

Renata Liwska’s method of using soft edge drawing to portray lovely and simple images is perfect to express the story of The Quiet Book. Each composition is creative and each page draws the viewer into a fresh mood. The illustrations are elegant with a sweet gentle tone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Becker Wins Inaugural Lane Anderson Award

Congratulations to Helaine Becker who won the first Lane Anderson prize for children's science writing for her book Insectofiles. Details here. It is so nice to see science writing (and children's science writers) getting some serious attention!

Monday, September 20, 2010

E-Books for Kids

I was wondering how e-books are translating to children's books. Here's one article that discusses it.

While adult readers bemoan the death of print — and make much of e-books availability across different devices (and the functionality of said devices) — Apple’s (APPL) iPad and other touch screen mobile devices are fertile ground for publishers to cultivate a whole new e-reading customer -– kids.

Think about it. Touch screens are tailor-made for the tactile exploration of the scooter set. You won’t hear them complain that they miss the smell of a book’s pages. And show me a smart phone loving teen or tween who doesn’t constantly have the device under their thumbs.

Another reason to go the app route lies in the limited functionality of the .epub format. The standard for e-books right now is designed to support traditional narrative text only. Without color and video capabilities, illustrated books suffer not only from lack of pictures, but the potential for interactive engagement.

This is primarily about board books and picture books, but I wonder how it would translate to non-fiction for children. Anyone out there with any examples/experience in this regard?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Canadian Writers and Books Boost a California School's Library


Los Angeles – As part of their ongoing commitment to strengthen inner-city school libraries throughout Los Angeles and beyond, Access Books has joined forces with a team of Canadian authors to help impoverished families gain access to books. The event will take place at Ralph Bunche Elementary (16223 Haskins Lane, Carson, CA 90746-1092) on October 2, 2010 at 9 a.m. This school is one of 25 elementary schools in the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) that is in desperate need of books for its 450 students.

Access Books, "Air Lift to L.A." and a team of volunteers from Bunche will spend October 2nd revitalizing the library by painting murals and cataloging brand new books. In addition to the books, Access Books will provide a reading rug, rocking chair and sofa to create a warm and inviting environment for students. Five authors from Canada will be on hand for the event and to give fun and exciting presentations to the students.

The participating authors are:

Rob Weston, author of Silver Birch award winner Zorgamazoo

Kari-Lynn Winters, author Jeffrey and the Sloth, On My Walk, and other award-winning books.

Jill Murray, YA author of Rhythm and Blues and Break on Through

Wendy Kitts, Freelance Writer, Book Reviewer, and author of a soon-to-be published picture book from Nimbus Press

Helaine Becker, author of more than 40 books for children including Silver Birch award winners Boredom Blasters and Secret Agent Y.O.U.

Sadly, only 48 percent of Bunche's students are scoring "proficient" or "advanced" in English & Language Arts on the California Standards Test. Research has shown that the best predictor of how well a child will learn to read is the number of books to which he or she has access, but 61 percent of economically disadvantaged children don't have age-appropriate books at home. The students of Bunche Elementary fit this profile: 90 percent live at or below the poverty line. According to a 2009 report from the Jumpstart Foundation, communities ranking high in achievement tests share a common denominator: an abundance of books in their libraries.

California's Department of Education recommends 28 library books per student, according to the February 2010 draft of its School Library Standards. Bunche, however, has a mere three books per student. Therefore, Access Books has set a goal: Collect at least 5,000 books for Bunche's library and classrooms. Many of these will be brand new, popular fiction titles – books that have been carefully selected to get students excited about reading.

Access Books' partner for this endeavor, "Air Lift to L.A.," grew wings after Canadian children's author Helaine Becker visited a Long Beach elementary school and saw the empty shelves. Shocked and saddened, she rallied her Canadian colleagues and started a book drive. "The conditions [in Los Angeles] are on par with the worst of the Third World countries," she writes on the "Air Lift to L.A." Facebook page. "Actually, they are worse, because in much of the Third World, people are doing their best to raise their standards, while in Los Angeles, conditions have deteriorated abysmally in the last ten years."

Bunche has just moved its campus library into a new, larger space to afford room for growth, but unfortunately, many of the shelves are bare. The library assistant nicknamed the library "The Dream Shop," but with so few books, its dreams have yet to be realized.

California ranks last in the nation in funding for school libraries, spending less than one dollar per child. Although the 2011 federal budget proposal includes a $400 billion investment in education, there's no mention of federal funds specifically geared toward school libraries. According to Sandra Barnett, head of the American School Library Association, "the budget is proposing to take away the last access to literacy for these kids in high-poverty areas." The American School Library research data clearly shows that students with access to school libraries and good books score higher in state reading scores and are more interested in reading.

"I think the big issue is that we really need to make reading part of school and make reading fun and interesting," said Rebecca Constantino, P.h.D., the founder and executive director of Access Books. "And that starts with having a good library."

About ACCESS BOOKS: Access Books provides quality, high-interest books to Southern California's most impoverished school libraries. Since 1999, they have donated more than a million books to school and community libraries in the greater Los Angeles area. Access Books has been featured in USA Today, the L.A. Times, the New York Times and School Library Journal among many other media outlets. Access Books' founder, Rebecca Constantino, is a recipient of Oprah's "Use Your Life" award. She has published over 100 articles and a book in the areas of literacy development, equity in education, urban school and cultural perspectives of language acquisition.

Give a Child a Book, She'll be Happy

Give a Child a Library, She'll be Literate

P.O. Box 64951, Los Angeles, CA 90064


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Finally, an award for science writers . . .

and children's science writers too! The short-list for the inaugural Lane Anderson Award has just been released. Congratulations to all the nominees.

It's a Book

Very funny, but prescient!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Picturing Canada: A Discussion on the Importance of Canadian Books for Canadian Children

There was a great discussion on the Canadian children's books on CBC yesterday. The guests were Judith Saltman and Gail Edwards, authors of Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children's Illustrated Books and Publishing.

From the CBC site:

Picture a Children's Story

For most of us our first encounter with a book was when we were very young. Odds are it was a big thing, or at least seemed so to our tiny hands. It was filled with pictures, some words and usually involved a parent or two along side trying to help us navigate this exciting new world called reading.

And while we moved on to different types of books and different types of reading as we aged, this first encounter may well have defined not only what type of reader we were going to be but also implanted some pretty strong ideas of what type of person we might be. So you would think that given the importance of that first contact the world of illustrated children's books would be a much studied and analysed experience. But you'd be wrong. For the most part, the illustrated children's book has been,the orphan child of academia.

That's something that Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman have set out to correct. Gail Edwards is Chair of the Department of History at Douglas College. Judith Saltman is an associate professor in the school of Library, Archival and Information studies and Chair of the Masters of Arts in Children's Literature Program at the University of British Columbia.

And they are the co-authors of Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children's Illustrated Books and Publishing. They joined us from our Vancouver Studios.

You can listen to the show here.

Here is a review and the authors also have a Facebook page.

I know what's on my Christmas list this year.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fun Things to Do With a Sharpie

If I ever find myself with a free month or two (I wish), I might have to try this in Canada. There are a few signs around here I'd like to take a Sharpie to.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Writers and Illustrators on Tour

I don't do a lot of school visits, not because I don't want to, but primarily because I'm so busy and because of the logistics of being a writer based in Tough City. I have to add two days of travel to just about any trip I do. But . . . my children are now older and easier to leave for a bit (not that they're alone; FH is always around for them) so things just might change in that regard. I do love visiting the children I write for. They are usually so keen to meet you and you definitely get feedback on your books (whether you want it or not!). We benefit, but of course the children do too. Meeting a "real life writer" who is just as "normal" as their own mom or dad can be a revelation. And they can see how all of the slogging they are doing at the moment, learning to spell, read, punctuate, etc. all has a purpose in life. On my visits I always try to relate how the skills children are learning in school translate to my everyday reality!

If you are a teacher, librarian or parent looking to invite an author to a local school or library, you can start with a look here, for the Canadian writers and illustrators willing to visit your community. If you are in British Columbia, you can begin here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

For Aspiring Illustrators (and those who love picture books)

... the web site and blog of Kirsti Anne Wakelin are certainly worth spending some time on. Gorgeous work.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marketing 101

Would it be too wrong to steal this idea? (I guess I should actually finish the book first...).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Canadian Children's Book Centre - Shortlists

Congratulations to those on the short lists of the Canadian Children's Book Centre awards: The TC Canadian Children's Literature Award, the Prix TD de litterature canadienne pour l'enfance et la jeunesse, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction, and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Here are the lists.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A little bit of blogger help?

Okay, generally I am digging this new layout (not sure about the colours yet), but does anyone out there know what to do about the video links stretching out over the right sidebar?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Love Those Librarians

I have been quiet for far too long. Will try to rectify that! For now, enjoy this hilarious video:

Monday, April 26, 2010

BC Book Prizes - 2010

The BC Book Prize gala was this past weekend in Victoria. I was hoping to make it this year, but couldn't swing the trip. Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners. Sheryl McFarlane did a blogpost about part of the evening, which you can read here.

For a full list of the finalists and winners visit the BC Book Prizes site.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lu & Clancy Go to Hong Kong

Fun to receive these copies of Lu and Clancy in the mail. They've been translated into Complex Chinese by Sun Ya Publications of Hong Kong.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Canada Children's Book Week Moving to Spring

Many of you may have been on the receiving or delivering end of the Canadian Children's Book Week. News from the Canadian Children's Book Centre this week is that they are moving the event from fall to spring. The press release explains it all, but weather seems to have played a big part. Moving authors around Canada in November can be problematic at times. This change means no Book Week in 2010, but it will be back May 201..

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Future of Publishing?

You may have already seen this, but it is very clever. (I have a long list of posts to get up soon. Yes, soon!)