Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Holidays!

The holiday season is upon us, and this blogger is taking a break. I wish you all a happy, relaxing time with family and friends — and many good books, too!

I'll be back in the New Year. Until then...


Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with P.D. James

It's been a long time since I read a P.D. James novel, but I'm going to pick one up again very soon. I heard Ms. James interviewed by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC radio this morning, and she was gracious, wise and very articulate. Every writer can learn something from her. (You can listen to the interview here.)

Even after all her success and many books, Ms. James (Phyllis) still has moments of self-doubt and relies on people around her to tell her if a piece of work is any good. Imagine that, at 91 years of age!

I appreciated her vitality, humility and perseverance. What a great role model! Now, I'm off to find one of her books. (I hope I'm still writing at 91.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Gifts for Writers

Not that I'm asking...

Yesterday, I read a funny article in Publisher's Weekly called, Holiday Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use, by Hannah Gersen. If you're stuck for ideas, check out her post for some great gift-giving tips. My personal favourite:

4. John Cheever famously donned a suit every morning in order to write. But as Ann Beattie recently revealed, and as a generation of bloggers already knows, most writers wear awful clothing while they are working. Help your writer friend out by giving her a beautiful robe to cover up her bizarre ensembles. Even if she already has one, she probably hasn’t washed it in a long time, and could use another.

And while I'm on the seasonal theme, I have been checking out Christmas/Winter books for the youngest book lovers in my life, and have come to the conclusion there are very few that I would consider buying. Perhaps it's time to write one myself. (Will ponder that idea over the holidays.)


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dreaming of Desolation Sound...

I have been hearing about Desolation Sound for years. It's the most northerly community on BC's Sunshine Coast and, from all reports (in spite of the gloomy name), it is a stunningly beautiful area. I had hoped to get there last summer, but never actually made it. So, imagine my thrill to find a new book about the place. (I can live vicariously.)

The book is Adventures In Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound by CBC Radio host, Grant Lawrence. It is funny, poignant, well written and filled to the brim with tales of interesting and quirky people who have lived in or passed through Desolation Sound over the years.

The stories span several decades and comprise an eclectic blend of writing that includes larger-than-life characters, wild frontier escapades, a reverence for nature, and an abiding love for family and friends. What more could we want?!!!

It was a book that surprised and delighted me, and convinced me I must get to Desolation Sound very soon.

To find out more about Adventures in Solitude, go here. You'll be dreaming, too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Titanic Reading

The one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is fast approaching and we are seeing the release of new books on the subject of this epic tragedy. As you know, the Titanic was billed as the "Unsinkable Ship," yet it went down and hundreds of people lost their lives. And, even though much has been written about the ship over the years, there continues to be huge interest in reading about it today.

For a list of recent Canadian books on the Titanic, check out the current edition of Book News, by the Canadian Children's Book Centre and see their section on maritime disasters.

What can we learn from these books? That no ship is unsinkable, that history is full of fascinating stories, and that kids are always keen to learn about them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Future of Books...

As a writer, I am more than curious about how e-books and other electronic technologies are changing the reading experience. I am especially interested in how today's young children are approaching reading.

On this note, I was fascinated to read a recent Globe and Mail article that included the sentence, "For some kids, an iPad is a book that doesn't work." If you'd like to read the article for yourself, go here.

It's a brave new world!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canadian Teacher Magazine

Thank you to Margriet Ruurs for making me her interview subject for the current issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine! (And also for asking hard questions that made me think.)

If you'd like to read the article, please go here.

And for those of you who woke up to very chilly Vancouver temperatures this morning, stay warm. Grab a book, a warm cup of something and cozy up to a fireplace.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seymour Elementary School

If you live in Vancouver, chances are you've heard of Seymour Elementary School and the primary teacher, Carrie Gelson, who spoke out recently about the needs of her students. (You can read Carrie's letter here.)

I had the privilege of meeting Carrie and her students today. I took my wildlife books and a collection of animal furs and skulls, and spoke to the children about local animals and how I write my nonfiction books. The children were brimming with questions and comments. I received an enormous hug from one of the boys, both on my arrival and my leaving.

I was so impressed with the school and am glad to have had the opportunity to see what a compassionate and caring community it is for the children who attend. Thank you to Carrie, and all the people at Seymour Elementary who have made the school a wonderful place to be!

If you'd like to read about their ongoing work, please go here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Writers Read

Our local writing association, CWILL BC, has begun a new series of interviews asking writers what they read. You can read the first interview, featuring Margriet Ruurs, here.

It's always interesting to see what books are on everyone else's bedside table.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Surrey Library Visits

I'm looking forward to visiting with children at two Surrey Libraries this week: Newton and Strawberry Hill Branches.

Thank you to Jennie Castleton for inviting me.

See you all soon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall, Glorious, Fall!

Part of my writing routine is to take a long walk every day. I find that the fresh air and exercise clears my head and helps me think. Imagine my delight today to see these gorgeous autumn leaves against the backdrop of bright sunshine and clear blue sky. I am lucky to live in a part of the city that has so many big old trees.

And, while I'm feeling lucky, I'd like to say a sincere thank you to the people who invited me to present at their events and schools last week. Thank you to: Hal Wake and Lizette Fischer, from the Vancouver International Writers Festival; Lucy Skipper and Ilona Beiks for setting up my visit at Britannia Elementary School; to the Writers Festival for sponsoring the school visit; and finally, to Wendy Ames and her team from the BC Teacher-Librarians Association for the invitation to speak at their conference. It was a wonderful week, full of book talk and book lovers. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Literary Season

The fall literary season is upon us and there are many wonderful events taking place in my fair city.

I attended a book launch at Barbara Jo's Book to Cooks the other night, where my friend Ellen Schwartz was introducing her new book, The Case of the Missing Deed. Her book is full of recipes contributed by her daughter, Merri Schwartz, a talented young pastry chef. We got to watch Merri cook, listen to Ellen read, and then sample the goodies. Yum!

On Saturday morning, I attended the Children's Literature Roundtable annual breakfast meeting, where Barbara Reid and Jo-Ellen Bogart were the guest speakers. On top of that, we heard book-talks for the 5 finalists for the Information Book Award of Canada. (May I ever so quietly mention that my book, Up We Grow, was one of them?)

This week, there are even more events. I am looking forward to speaking at the Vancouver Writers Festival, Britannia Elementary School (hi everyone!), and the annual BC Teacher-Librarian Conference. I am rushing around doing last-minute tweaks to my presentations and crossing my fingers that all will go well (or at least that I don't fail miserably).

I hope your fall is an excellent one, and that you are well-stocked with great books to read, or have a calendar full of bookish events to attend.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Farewell and Thank You, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs made my life better.

I didn't know him, but I use his innovations daily. My computer, phone, electronic reader, and music player are in constant rotation as I write, read, listen and communicate throughout the day.

I owe a lot to Steve Jobs. He was a true visionary. I will miss him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Great Quote!

I'm currently reading a very good children's book called Lives of the Writers: Comedy, Tragedies (and What the Neighbours Thought) by Kathryn Krull and Kathryn Hewitt.

It opens with this quote by Gustav Flaubert (famous French writer):

"Writing is a dog's life, but the only life worth living."

What do I think about that?


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Reading...

I just finished re-reading a wonderful book called, Passages: Welcome Home to Canada. It is a collection of thoughtful and inspiring essays by Canadian writers who were born in other countries. It includes articles by Shyam Selvadurai, Anna Porter, M.G. Vassanji and Moses Znaimer to name a few.

The first time I read Passages (a few years ago), I was writing my own thoughts on the topic: The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration. At that time, I read Passages (and many other books) strictly for research. On this second reading, I savoured the book and turned each page with enjoyment and contemplation. It is a lovely piece of work!

Another collection I am reading is a set of short stories titled, The Empty Family, by Colm Toibin — someone I had not read before but have heard about for a long time. These are beautifully written stories, set in Ireland, and full of poignancy, longing, melancholy and regret. I look forward to reading many more books by this writer. (He writes in a range of genres apparently — poetry, novels, essays and more.)

What are you reading this fall? Feel free to send your recommendations. I will gladly follow your lead.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vancouver Writers Festival

The Vancouver Writers & Readers Festival is quickly approaching and I'm thrilled to be a speaker this year!

I'm presenting in an event titled, Magic Between the Covers, featuring picture books for children in Grades K-3. On stage with me will be Margriet Ruurs, author of Amazing Animals (and many other books), and Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, creators of the famous Franklin books. I will be speaking about Watch Me Grow! To read up on our event, please go here.

On a related note, the teachers in our province are in a job action situation and, sadly, ticket sales to the Writers Festival are not as robust as usual. (Teachers and students make up a big part of the audience.) I received a message from Artistic Director, Hal Wake, letting me know that the BCTF has confirmed that field trips to the Writers Festival are still permitted during the job action. Hooray! I am posting part of Hal's message (see below) to help get the word out.

I look forward to the festival and hope to see you there!

Message from Hal Wake:

The Writers Festival Spreading the Word school events inspire students to read by introducing them to exciting writers from around the world.

The BCTF have confirmed that field trips to Writers Festival events are still permitted during the job action. Suggestions regarding the handling of money from Richard Hoover, Director of the Field Service Division at the BCTF are as follows:

  • Principals, if willing, would be able to handle the collection of students' money.
  • If not principals, there may be PAC representatives who would be willing to collect the money.
  • If neither the principal nor parents can collect the students' money, let the Festival know and we will make arrangements to accept payment for the tickets after the job action has ended, when the money can be collected some other way.
  • If all else fails, students would be able to pay for tickets themselves at the event, as long as the Festival has advance notice.

The Writers Festival still has lots of great events with tickets available. Please see below a full list of events with ticket availability. Visit for more information.

For more info, call or email Box Office Manager Allison Sullivan on 604 681 6330 x107 or


Oct 18 (Tues) 10:00 AM Gr. K to 3 Franklin's Birthday Party

Oct 19 (Wed) 1:00 PM Gr. K to 3 Magic Between the Covers


Oct 18 (Tues) 1:00 PM Gr. 3 to 5 Fitting into the Family

Oct 20 (Thurs) 10:00 AM Gr. 3 to 5 Animals Big and Small

Oct 20 (Thurs) 10:00 AM Gr. 3 to 6 Family Follies, Family Love

Oct 19 (Wed) 10:00 AM Gr. 4 to 6 One Third of the World's Population

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Word on the Street 2011

It's that time of year again, when literary events fill the calendar. This Sunday (Sept. 25) is the annual celebration of books, Word on the Street. In Vancouver, we never know if we are going to have blazing sunshine or rain and wind for this celebration. I've been there during both kinds of weather, and my fingers are crossed for warmer temperatures. (It can get pretty chilly with the wind whistling around the tents at Library Square.)

Brian Harris, creative partner and photographer for my most recent books, will be talking about Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City. Find him at the Raise-a-Reader Corner at 2:20 pm and hear about his ideas on photography, sustainability and using his talent for good works. Best of all, see his amazing photos! (To learn more about Brian, check out his website here. To learn more about Watch Me Grow!, go here.)

I often present at WOTS, but am glad to be a spectator this year and have the chance to wander among the wonderful gathering of books, families, authors and readings.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy To Be in the Top Ten!

A recent article, The Ten Happiest Jobs, by Steve Denning reports the findings that authors rank fourth highest in a survey of who is happiest with their jobs. In the listing for fourth place, it says, "For most authors, the pay is ridiculously low or non-existent, but the autonomy of writing down the contents of your own mind apparently leads to happiness."

I have to concur that I am very happy with my job! (In spite of the ridiculously low pay, with which I also concur.)

Who rates happier than authors? Clergy, firefighters and physical therapists. All very good people in my books.

If you'd like to read the full text of the article, go here. (Meanwhile, I will go back to writing down the contents of my brain.)


Friday, September 9, 2011

Back to School...

The sun is shining brightly in Vancouver, making up for a cold and rainy July. The tomatoes are ripening in the garden and it still feels like summer!

But for children and teachers in my part of the world, the vacation season has passed and it's back to school time.

I wish you all a happy and productive school year! And many great books to fill your days!

(For tips on what to read, check out Best Books for Kids and Teens, published by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

May the Muse Be With You!

The weekend is upon us and for all of those amazing speed-demon writers, it is time for the annual 3 Day Novel Contest. I can hear the sharpening of pencils across the continent. Tonight at midnight, the contest begins.

I am not a fast writer, rather a very slow one, in fact. But I have huge admiration for those writers who can pen an entire novel in a single weekend. My Dad is one of them. Yay, Dad!

My weekend is a busy one, so I can't say much now, but I will direct you to an earlier post from another year, celebrating the 3-Day-Novelists and, especially, those who are related to me.

May the muse be with you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who Lives Here? in China!

I recently received a letter from my publisher at Kids Can Press informing me of the happy news that my series, Who Lives Here? has been sold to Shanghai Xiron for Simplified Chinese rights. Hooray!

I am thrilled to know that young children in China will be able to turn the pages of these books and learn all about animals and their habitats.

I visited Shanghai a couple of years ago and had so much fun meeting elementary school students who were keen to say hello and practice their English. Maybe some of them will read these books. :-)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hooray for Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss, world-famous children's author, has a new book out: The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. It contains 7 stories that were published in Redbook Magazine in 1950 and 1951. I wonder if they stand the test of time? You can read about the new book here.

Did you know that Dr. Seuss's first book, And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it finally found a home at Random House?

At the time of Theodore Seuss Geisel's death, in 1991, he had sold more than 200 million copies of his books (numbered then at 46). Impressive!

Shows the value of perseverance.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

This Weekend at SCBWI

The huge SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators) summer conference is on in L.A. this weekend. Lots of my friends are there and I wish I were, too!

The next best thing to being there is following along with the live blogging and tweeting that is taking place. And that's what I'm doing! If you'd like to follow along, too, here are the links for the conference blog and tweets.

We can live vicariously. :-)


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Authors on Tour

Publishers don't have a lot of $$$ for PR these days and it's often up to an author to be a self-promoter. Lots of authors are building websites, writing blogs, creating trailers and twitter-feed, all in the hopes of attracting people to their books.

Here's a story about three authors who are doing even more — they have joined forces to set up their own author tour. Hooray for them!

Meanwhile, I'm hunkered down in my office, working hard on revisions. (There's a certain irony that while I'm busy with this project, the sun has finally come out in Vancouver, and I'm missing all the beach fun. Ah, the charmed life of a writer...)


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Writer's Retreat

All I have to say is: I am jealous. Very, very jealous.

Check out where BC author, Chris Humphreys, spends his writing hours, here.

Need I say more?

Happy Long Weekend, all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Children's Writers Conference in L.A.

In a week or so, the annual SCBWI conference in L.A. begins and I would love to be attending. Sadly, it wasn't in the cards this time.

The Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators is a great organization that has chapters worldwide and does their best to support and encourage writers and illustrators, both published and aspiring. The last time I went to the L.A. summer conference, I was amazed by the number and star-power of speakers they had. I was also impressed by the huge size of the audience (possibly a couple of thousand people).

This year's conference is now sold out, but maybe you can try for next year. As a consolation for those of us not attending, conference organizers will provide live blog coverage from the conference floor and, new this year, a twitter feed. I know I'll be following along.

Fingers crossed I can attend next year or maybe go to the New York conference in January.

Wishing happy times and much inspiration to those heading to L.A. next weekend.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Long Beach Inspiration

I'm just back from five days at Long Beach, where I go each year to get my annual dose of writing inspiration. We packed up the family and dogs and stayed in cabins on the ocean. Here's a photo of our last night at the beach. It was an amazing sunset after several days of rain. What a treasure!

More to come soon. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"World in a Garden" Summer Programs

When I was researching my recent books on small, local farms and urban gardens, I visited a wonderful community garden called, World in a Garden Project. Like many of the gardens in the Vancouver area, they use earth-friendly practices to grow their food, and believe in showing children the growing process "from seed to table."

If you are in the area and have children who might enjoy some gardening activities, you can check out a couple of their summer programs here.

This photo is from my book, Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City. It was shot by photographer, Brian Harris, and shows a boy harvesting rye at the World in a Garden community project in Kerrisdale.

Happy Growing!

Monday, July 11, 2011

All Quiet Here...

It's quiet on the blog front and there aren't many happenings to report. School's out and there are no imminent speaking commitments. My latest manuscript has been turned in and I'm awaiting the editor's comments. I should be anxious (as most writers are when their manuscripts are under scrutiny), but I am feeling remarkably relaxed. I have no idea why!

What am I doing? I'm attending to severely neglected household chores, including cleaning out my office for the first time in ten years — wow! that was a lot of stuff to clear away — and catching up on my book reading and movie watching. I'm taking some time to "fill the well" and it's a good feeling.

I just saw Midnight in Paris and am ready to move there NOW. The movie was a love letter to that wonderful city, and exquisitely photographed. Just dreamy!

I've also read a few great books including the the Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby, Irma Voth by Miriam Toews and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. All of these women are such excellent writers and I thoroughly enjoyed their books. I wish I could write like they do. Sigh. Maybe if I keep reading, I'll learn something.

How's your reading going? Feel free to send me your recommendations.

I wish you a happy summer of good books and fun times (and maybe a clean office to boot).


Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunshine — and a Nomination!

I think summer may have arrived in Vancouver. Hooray! The past few days have been sunny and warm, leading me to believe I can finally pack away my winter sweaters.

Besides the sun, I have another reason to celebrate: Up We Grow! A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farm has been selected as one of the five finalists for the Information Book Award of Canada. Hooray again! I'm thrilled with the nomination, and delighted to be named in the company of such wonderful books: 50 Burning Questions: A Sizzling History of Fire by my friend and talented author, Tanya Lloyd Kyi; Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton; Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Wallace; and Canada's Wars: An Illustrated History by Jonathon Webb. Congratulations, all! And a sincere thank you to the Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada for my nomination.

If you'd like to read more about the award, go here or here.

Sunshine and books! Could life get any better than this?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celebrating Canadian Children's Authors

In the spirit of our imminent Canada Day celebrations, I'd like to mention the blog of Lindsey Carmichael who is featuring interviews with Canadian children's authors for the entire month of July.

Lindsey is a bookseller and writer who lives in Nova Scotia, and her blog is Ten Stories Up. You can find the schedule of interviews by going here. She'll spend a week with writers of each of the following genres: picture books, middle grade nonfiction, middle grade fiction and teen books. And, a bonus: At the end of each week is a book draw or other giveaway for readers who comment on a post.

Sounds fabulous! I can hardly wait to begin reading. What better way to celebrate Canada Day than by learning about our country's talented authors.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Sci/Why Blog

Have you heard about the new blog written by a group of Canadian children's writers? It features discussions on "science, words and the eternal question — why?"

I posted my first entry today. I wasn't sure I qualified to be part of this group, and if you click here, you can see why.

Shortly after posting, I realized we are marking the summer solstice tomorrow. Maybe I should have written about that instead. The funny thing is, it doesn't feel like summer in Vancouver. Fingers crossed for sunshine soon!

Happy summer wherever you are. :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beautiful Chesterman Beach

My friend and colleague, Adrienne Mason, has the great fortune to live and work in Tofino, BC, on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. As well as writing children’s books and being the editor of Know Magazine, she is co-owner of a small, independent publishing company, Postelsia Press. They have just released their newest work, 18 Meditations on Chesterman Beach, — a beach near Tofino, which may be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

I can hardly wait to get my hands on the book. I know it will be fabulous (almost as good as being at Chesterman beach myself).

To order your own copy, or find out more about the book, go here.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Farewell to Ardea Books

I was in need of some weekend reading material, so I popped over to W. 4th to pick up some books from Vancouver's newest (only 9 months old) bookstore, Ardea Books. Imagine my shock and surprise to find that a clothing store now occupied Ardea's space. Gone were the shelves of books and serene browsing ambience. Replacing them were racks of clothing and music thumping at high volume.

Another independent bookstore gone. How sad!

I was there a month ago buying books and I congratulated the owner on her wonderful store. We chatted and I asked her how it felt to be the proprietor of such a fine store. She said, "It's a scary time to be a business owner." On hearing that, I felt a twinge of worry — but never suspected that she was days away from closing the doors.

Here's a Georgia Straight article about the store.

Goodbye, Ardea Books. We will miss you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

School Visits in June

It's June and school will be out in a few weeks. Surprisingly, some of my writer colleagues and I are still doing school visits. I was on beautiful Saltspring Island (see above) last week visiting Fernwood Elementary. Tomorrow I will be meeting the students at Renfrew Elementary in Vancouver. And that will wrap up my school visits until next fall.

I was lucky to visit many schools this year and meet lots of wonderful students and teachers. Thanks to all of you for your warm welcome. Have a great summer vacation and see you next year.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Friends on the Radio

I recently listened to the interviews of children's authors, Linda Bailey and Robert Heidbreder, on CBC's North by Northwest show. Sheryl McKay is a wonderful interviewer and she was able to get them to talk at length about their writing process and why they do what they do. All three of them are friends of mine, so it was a real treat to hear them speak together.

Linda is a prolific writer and her works include Stanley's Party and a number of other Stanley stories. Robert is a children's poet, and the author of many books, including Drumheller Dinosaur Dance, shown above. (Dancing dinosaurs and partying canines. What could be more fun?!!!)

If you'd like to listen to the interviews, you can check them out on podcast. Linda's interview is here (it starts about 1/3 of the way in). Robert's is here. Check out their websites, too:

Maybe you'll be inspired to pick up your pen!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Getting Back to the Garden...

It was a happy surprise this morning to open up the Globe and Mail this morning and see a review of my most recent book, Watch Me Grow! If you'd like to read the review and see the lovely photo of my young niece watering her windowsill garden, go here.

If you'd like to read more about the book, go here, and if you'd like some child-friendly gardening and growing activities for the kids in your life, go here.

Now, if only the sun would come out so that I could actually plant my garden. :-)

Happy long weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mission Visits, Final Chapter

I'm back from Mission after visiting the last group of schools, and what lovely schools they were! Thank you to all the teachers and students who made my trip so enjoyable. It was a real treat to see the enthusiasm of the students and the dedication of the teachers.

If I were there today, I'd give you a lovely bouquet of spring flowers.

Thank you especially to Envision Financial for making it possible for a school district to hire an author to visit every school. This is a rare and worthy undertaking, and I am grateful! I know the teachers and students are, too.

Thank you, all!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Final Visit to Mission

I'm gearing up for my last trip to Mission schools next week. It's been wonderful to be their visiting author this year, and a big thank you to Envision Financial for making it possible!

I'm looking forward to meeting the students and staff at Christine Morrison School, Hatzic Elementary, and Durieu and Silverdale Schools. By the end of this trip, I will have been to every elementary school in the Mission district. What an opportunity to see the operation of an entire district and the many dedicated professionals who make it work.

I'd especially like to thank Heather Rapin, district literacy teacher, for programming all of my visits and getting me from Point A to B every day. I'd be lost without her!

See you all next week. (I wonder if the sun will come out?)


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Looking Forward...

- to spring weather arriving (and staying) in our fair city
- to submitting a manuscript that I've been working on for a year
- to visiting Mission schools again (my final visit is next week)
- to thinking about what writing project I may take on next
- to planting my garden (see top item on this list)
- to making a pie from summer fresh fruit

Sometimes when you are working hard, it helps to look up from the keyboard and see what great things are on the horizon.

I'm looking up.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BC Book Prizes Highlights

It was a grand evening at the Kay Meek Theatre in West Vancouver, with many of BC's finest writers, illustrators and publishers gathered in their finery to toast the year's best books.

Some highlights:

- meeting the Honourable Steven Point, Lieutentant Governor of BC, and Her Honour, Mrs. Gwendolyn Point, an instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley. What warm and wonderful people they are!

- bagpipes piping their Honours into the theatre

- hearing Steven Point say that he felt he had found his tribe with the BC writers

- listening to the extraordinary speech of George Bowering, winner of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence, where he paid tribute to the BC writers who had influenced him over the years. His speech was 60 words: 30 names of writers, followed by, "Thank you all."

- seeing (again) how many excellent and socially conscious writers make their home in our province. Hooray for BC! We are a prolific bunch.

- attending the festivities with my daughter, who is a talented writer, and imagining her at the acceptance podium one of these years

- finding out at the Easter family dinner table that my dad (a prolific and long-standing author) was nominated for a book of his some years ago. Can you see heredity at work? :-)

- being a finalist for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize. That was a special nomination, indeed. Thank you to the jury! And, many congratulations to the winner, Julie Flett, who wrote and illustrated Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet. It is a beautiful book and a worthy winner. See a sample of it here.

Thank you to Rebus Creative and everyone else who works so hard to host this wonderful event each year. Well done!

I can hardly wait for next year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BC Book Prizes Gala!

Mark your calendars! Thursday, April 21 at 7 pm is the annual celebration of local books and authors at the BC Book Prizes Gala. It's always a fun night, and great to see what authors wear when they get dressed up. (Most of us rarely leave our homes and don't often have occasion to don formal wear.)

The comedy team of Linda Cullen and Bob Robertson are the hosts for the night. There will be snacks and drinks, and lots of laughs. For details about location, tickets and more, go here.

(The photo above shows a couple of the contest prizes with those beautiful silver stickers on them. Is it too bold to tell you that the book on the top left is mine?)

See you there!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thank you, Mission!

I'd like to post a big thank you to the students and staff of Albert McMahon and Ecole Mission Central Elementary Schools for hosting me this week. It was great to meet you all!

I'd especially like to thank the students for being such wonderful audiences. You had excellent questions and knew so much about nature and wildlife. I'm glad that some of you had been watching the Eagle cam website. Those eggs should hatch soon!

It was a surprise to wake up to snow in Mission yesterday. Spring flowers and snow showers. :-)

Thank you for a lovely week! We'll cross our fingers for warm spring temperatures soon.



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back to Mission Schools

Hello Mission students and staff!

I look forward to being at Ecole Mission Central and Albert McMahon Schools and meeting you all this week.

While there, I will be talking about my EAGLES book and the timing is perfect. Did you know that there are live webcams of BC baby eagles hatching from their eggs this week? If you'd like to check it out, visit the website of Hancock Wildlife and watch the amazing nature scene unfold.

See you soon!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

BC Book Prizes Soiree

If you're in the Vancouver area on Tuesday, April 5, consider attending the BC Book Prizes Soiree at the Listel Hotel from 7-9 pm. It's free! Nominated authors and book-lovers alike will mingle and raise a glass to a wonderfully versatile collection of books written in our province over the past year.

For more details, go here.

I'll be there, and so will lots of other local folks. It will be fun! I promise. (We may even get a glimpse of the world-famous Mr. Generation X, Douglas Coupland.)

See you there!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mr. Rogers and I

I have been writing books for about 15 years and had all kinds of reviews (good, bad and everything in between). But never before has anyone compared me to Mr. Rogers. I take this as a total compliment! (My sweaters are almost as stylish as his.) All those years I watched him speak to my children — and many other children, of course — I admired his quiet, gentle way.

A big thank you to Jennifer of 5 Minutes for Books for thinking I was even a tiny bit like him!

If you'd like to read her review, go here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Science — Spring Break!

I was in several Fraser Valley schools last week (in Mission, BC) and was delighted to see how engaged and interested the students were in life sciences — perfect for spring! Some of the students were happily planting seed potatoes for a school garden and others had just returned from releasing salmon fry (babies) into a local stream. The children were full of great information they were keen to share during my presentations there.

What a lovely week! Thank you to the students and staff at Windebank, West Heights and Cherry Hill Schools.

The birds are chirping, the cherry trees are in pink blossom and the sun is shining. What could be better?

Have a fun and well-deserved Spring Break!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hello again, Mission!

I'm back in Mission schools this week and looking forward to meeting the students and teachers at West Heights, Cherry Hill and Windebank. See you all soon!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Three Cheers for Vancouver!

When I checked my Google alerts today, I was thrilled to find a delightful review of my most recent book, Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City, created in collaboration with talented photographer, Brian Harris. (It features the wonderful urban gardens we have in Vancouver.)

For your reading pleasure, please see the review here.

People will be flocking to our city. :-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mission Visits, Part 1

Hooray for Mission students and staff!

I had the pleasure of being a visitor in 4 Mission elementary schools this week: ESRichards, Deroche, Hillside and Dewdney. Thank you to the dedicated librarians, Sherri Chalke, Sonja Zukowski, Ann Titford, and Joanne Soullier, who kindly invited me into their libraries and made me feel very welcome. Thank you to all the wonderful children who shared their ideas about books and wild animals.

Thank you also to Heather Rapin, enthusiastic reading advocate, and coordinator of my visits.

It was a real pleasure to meet you all!

Thank you!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hello Mission!

Tomorrow, I begin my visits in the Mission School District and (barring a huge snowfall!), I look forward to meeting the students and staff at each elementary school.

See you soon, Mission students!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Primary Literacy Day! (Part 2)

Thank you to Renee Norman, Literacy Consultant for the Vancouver School Board, for inviting me to participate in the district Primary Literacy Day. It was a wonderful day, getting to meet all of the dedicated primary teachers and to share some time talking about children and books. (Did you know that Renee, in her other life, is a poet?)

I loved hearing poet and teacher, Shannon Stewart, talk about how she gets children writing poetry. She showed us some amazing samples of student work and also read some of her own clever poetry.

Marilyn Chapman was the third speaker of the day and she discussed new developments in the Primary Program and full day Kindergarten. Most importantly, she talked about the importance of play in early learning and literacy.

To find out more about these talented folks, please check out these links: Renee's book, Martha in the Mirror; Shannon's website; and Marilyn's UBC bio.

I believe that primary teachers do some of the most important work in the world. It was great to be in their company today.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Primary Literacy Day

I'm looking forward to meeting the Vancouver Primary Teachers on Friday at their Primary Literacy Day. What a great opportunity to celebrate the teaching and learning of our youngest students!

I'm working on my presentation and getting ready to talk about books and children. What could be better than that?

See you soon. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It was a real treat to speak to education students at UBC yesterday, at the annual Authorfest celebration of books and BC authors. Thank you to everyone who came out to hear us speak! I wish you the best of luck with your practicums and in your teaching careers.

One thing I wish I had said yesterday was to remember to read to your students. Read to them every day and twice a day if you can. There is nothing more important in school or literacy education than teaching children the power of the written word. To hear you read aloud to them, sends a very strong message. So get reading! :-)


Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Here!

I'm thrilled to announce my new book: Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City. It's full of beautiful Vancouver urban garden photos shot by Brian Harris. There are backyard chickens and rooftop bees, community gardens, front yard gardens, and earth-friendly tips for growing food wherever you live.

It's at Kidsbooks now. Very exciting!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

It is a sunny, crisp day here in Vancouver, and the North Shore mountains are capped with snow. At times like this, it's easy to believe that I live in the most beautiful place in the world.

It's a perfect day to contemplate the start of 2011 and the challenges of the coming year.

I hope that your year is a happy and healthy one, full of family and friends and many wonderful things.

Happy New Year!