Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm a Boo Hoo Bird

I can't believe I'm so forgetful! I even had it in my calendar, but I missed Jeremy Tankard last night. I'm a boo hoo bird for sure. He was in Victoria for the Victoria Children's Literature Roundtable which I chaired for many years. Roundtables bring in speakers, for parents, teachers, and librarians, support a Canadian Information Book Award, and do lots of literacy work. I'm so sad that I missed Jeremy because his presentations rock and his books are fabulous. He's hardly ever out here on the west coast, so who knows when I'll catch up with him again...sigh. Hope you had a great turnout Jeremy, and I hope you sold a ton of books.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last night was the BC Book Prize gala. It was awesome, and the food was sooo good, but the best thing of all was being in a huge room full of people where everyone there loves books as much as you do.

I was honored to be asked to announce one of the awards. Several people asked me to post my comments. Here they are.

I'm honored to have been asked to present the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, supported by Kate Walker & Co. and awarded to author & Illustrator of picture books, picture book stories, illustrated non-fiction books. This is a relatively recent prize, and is particularly important because it divides the awards into two categories whereas previously there was only one; meaning books for babies were weighed against books for teens. Harris, considered the matriarch of Canadian Children's Literature in English, knew how important stories were for children. In her 94 years she wrote 20 books for young people & I am fortunate to have been able to call her a friend. She often began her stories with "I bide the time..."

One of the best ways to support books for children is to buy a book for a child. If you don't have children in your life, you can always donate a book to a school in your community.

Here are the nominees in the category Of illustrated books for children.

Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock, illustrated by Carolyn Conahan, published by Charlesbridge is a creative, innovative and entertaining take on thematic science for young children supported by illustrations that illuminate and compliment the text. Read it for a whole new take on gas.

Ella’s Umbrellas 
by Jennifer Lloyd, illustrated by Ashley Spires and published by Simply Read Books is delightful and the perfect picture book to cheer up young readers on a drizzly day with a rhythmic text, bright illustrations and a message that speaks of good turns rewarded.

Maggie Can’t Wait by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by our own Dean Griffiths from here on The Island and published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside is a child centric story built around the conflicting emotions children sometimes experience when a new sibling arrives. The illustrations admirably capture the emotional range of the characters in a way that make them jump off the page.

On My Walk 
by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Christina Leist
 and published by Tradewind Books is a celebration of sounds heard by a boy, his mom and his dog on a walk. It’s told with onomatopoeic flare with the story complimented and extended by the illustrations.

Vanishing Habitats by Robert Bateman with Nancy Kovacs, illustrated by Robert Bateman and published by Scholastic Canada / Madison Press is a hopeful, engaging environmental science book for the young that does not sugarcoat the extent or significance of habitat loss. It is visually stunning, making it all the more powerful in it's message.

...and the winner is Maggie Can't Wait by Frieda Wishinski and Dean Griffins. Frieda was unable to attend but Dean is here to accept.

I only wish I could share Dean's acceptance speech here with you. It was very very moving.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day plus and update

Earth Day update: Here's another great title that I missed. Check out Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals.

Hey it's Earth Day, so do something for our planet with the help of books...eat locally, walk or take the bus instead of driving...bring cloth bags to the grocery store...carry a reusable water bottle...anything to help our planet...and pass the word along.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back Home

Back from a great trip to Calgary and the Young Author's Conference. The writing groups I had were great, and it was good to hear Michael Kusugak give the keynote. I haven't seen him for ages, and aside from being a little grayer, he was as charming as ever. He told a couple of stories I'd heard him tell before, but the highlight was his string stories. He has a new book out which has gotten great reviews so check it out. One of the things I love about this conference is running into old friends like Michael, Dennis Foon (check out the trailer to his new family movie, A Shining of Rainbows), author John Wilson, and author/illustrator Deborah Turney Zagwin.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

So, I was trying to decide what to bring this afternoon to read on the plane to Calgary where I'll be doing a couple of Young Author workshops. I was considering the second in the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen, but when I went looking through my "to be read" pile, which, by the way, has grown into a pile plus a whole bookshelf...all I could find was the third book. (:
I'll just have to let romance go until I can hit one of my fav. independent bookstores to pick up the second book. While looking, I did run across a fantasy title that my friend's son gave me for Xmas. It isn't new, but The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss did win the Quill Award, and I noticed that Ursula LeGuin blurbed it and I love her books, so I think I'll give it shot and let you know how it goes when I get back.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eric Walters and Impossible 2 Possible

So this morning I was going through my email and heard from friend and fellow author Eric Walters. Now Eric always has something crazy on the go; sometimes it involves tigers at book launches, or a press release in New York with NBA players, or building schools in Africa, so I opened up his message with interest. "I wonder what Eric's up to these days," I asked myself. But even from a guy whose been full of surprises over the years, Eric's news was a bit of a shocker. It seems he's hooked up with high performance athlete Ray Zahab and the Impossible 2 Possible Team. The plan is to run 250 kilometers across sand dunes and hard pack of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia to raise funds for Ryan's Well Foundation. Now I have to tell you that Eric is no elite athlete; I'm not saying he's in terrible shape. It's just that he's an average guy my age who lives in the suburbs, has kids, and plays a little recreational sports when he has time...But there is something just a little bit different about Eric and you only need to have a short conversation with him to know what that is...the guy is crazy committed to making the world a better place for kids. An even more obvious thing about Eric is that his commitment is infectious. So, this brings me to back to his latest venture. All I can say is I'm glad it's you Eric and not me pitting yourself against an unforgiving environment while trying to keep up with much younger elite athletes. I'll be watching the video feeds and following the blogs that will be broadcast to schools across North America though Eric. And I know a whole lot of other people will be too. The well of funds that this crazy venture brings in is gonna cost you in aches and pains that you've never imagined buddy. But then I'm guessing you know that. I'm also guessing that wild horses wouldn't be able to stop you from doing it. Way to go Eric and good luck.

You or your school can help Eric out by raising funds and donating online at the above website.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yeah Calgary Young Authors' Festival

Calgary Young Authors' Festival is coming up this weekend. I love going to this festival. It's a district-wide one day program for kids from grades 4-10 who love writing or illustrating. The teachers are fantastic, and so are the 1200 or so kids who attend every year. While I'll only see about 50 in two separate workshops, they'll pack the high school gym for the keynote speech. This year my workshop, Rock Your Writing, is going to be on editing. Sound boring?...No way! Editing is the heart and soul of any creative profession. I've asked kids to bring in a first page and will take them through a couple of different ways to edit. We'll be ditching the passive voice, blasting boring verbs out of existence, and trolling for the perfect hook to reel in readers. We'll be cutting and pasting and building characters that jump off the page. I'm so excited.

I'm just hoping that any and all snow storms hold off until after I've come and gone. Now that I think about it, a chinook wouldn't hurt either!

In the meantime though, the rest of the week is work work work on the new novel.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Shine of Rainbows

Thought I'd pass along this bit of news from my film-maker friend Dennis Foon. His new family movie, Shine of Rainbows will be opening this weekend in Vancouver, Langley and Victoria. It's based on the Lillian Beckwith novel of the same name. Go see it if you get the chance.

Cinemark Tinseltown in Vancouver
Cineplex Colossus in Langley
Empire University 4 in Victoria

Here's the link for the trailer.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter Weekend

Had a lovely few days with my lady friends and a fantastic few days of writing. Woke up this morning to a tree down over my front walkway. I'm headed to Vancouver right after work to see my lovely three daughters; hopefully the ferries will be running and we won't encounter any other trees down on route. I have the chocolate eggs for the easter egg hunt (yes my girls still want an easter egg hunt every year even though they're in their 20's) and I have the turkey roast pan packed for our turkey dinner on Sunday. I think I'm expected to make apple pies on Saturday as the other baker in the family is putting in a 12 hour nursing shift at Vancouver Children's Hospital. Still, it will be fun to see everyone, and of course the ferry always gives me a few hours of reading time. I've got a pile of books I'm whittling away at. I just finished The Earth, My Butt, & Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler and I'm hoping to get through Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught. Hope all of you have a lovely easter weekend.