August 31, 2013

The Hundred Story Wood: 2013 Young Writers' Workshop (Ontario)

Monday, September 30, 2013

8:45 am-3:30 am

St. John’s-Kilmarnock School,
2201 Shantz Station Road,
Waterloo Region (Breslau), ON
N0B 1M0

Registration costs $35 (includes lunch)
The full brochure can be viewed here

Ontario high school students with an interest in writing have a unique opportunity here to work with Canadian authors and a graphic novelist.  For the incredibly low cost of $35, a limited number of students will enjoy a full day of writing and learning with the following published authors (bios from EMWF):

Scott Chantler is the acclaimed cartoonist of the graphic novels Two Generals (which was longlisted for CBC’s Canada Reads: True Stories, named one of Chapters-Indigo’s Best Books of 2010, and selected for Best American Comics 2012), Northwest Passage (which was nominated for Eisner, Harvey, Shuster, andDoug Wright Awards), and the Three Thieves series (the first book of which, Tower of Treasure, won the Joe Shuster Award for Best Comic for Kids). He also teaches Writing for Graphic Novels at Max the Mutt Animation School in Toronto.

Grace O'Connell was the only author to be included on both the CBC’ s “10 Writers To Watch” and the Globe and Mail’s “CanLit’s Hottest Up and Comers”. O’Connell’s Magnified World was published as part of the Random House Canada New Face of Fiction program. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Walrus, Quill & Quire, The Journey Prize Stories and Taddle Creek, where she also serves as Associate Editor. She won the Great Canadian Literary Hunt and has been nominated for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award and two National Magazine Awards. She writes a books column for This Magazine, works as the Contributing Editor for Open Book: Toronto and teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto.

Corey Redekop's Shelf Monkey (ECW Press, 2007) was awarded the Gold Medal for Popular Fiction at the Independent Publisher Book Awards. His second novel Husk (ECW Press, 2012) was named one of the best books of 2012 by The Toronto Star said of Husk, “Redekop tosses so much into this zombie stew that instead of wearing out Corey Redekop’s debut novel his premise quickly it almost seems as though he needs a bigger pot. Corey is currently a publicist for Goose Lane Editions. He lives in Fredericton, NB. Corey is looking forward to providing an engaging workshop on how to write the surreal.

Patricia Westerhof lives in Toronto, Canada, where she writes fiction and teaches English and creative writing. Westerhof is the author of The Dove in Bathurst Station, a novel, and Catch Me When I Fall, a collection of linked stories. She also coauthored The Writer’s Craft, a textbook used in many Writers Craft courses. Her stories have been published in The Dalhousie Review, Room, and the anthology Trees Running Backward. Along with fiction, Westerhof writes curriculum, and she has presented at education conferences in Canada and the U.S.

For information about the workshops, contact Adrian Hoad-Reddick at

August 30, 2013

Telling Tales: A Family Festival of Stories (Ontario)

Sunday, September 15, 2013 
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
(Gates open at 9:30 a.m.))
Westfield Heritage Village 
Rockton, Ontario
(see details at the Telling Tales website)

Telling Tales, a free literacy event celebrating stories, is scheduled to bring the joy of storytelling, music, puppetry, and theatre to young readers for its 5th year.  Held at Westfield Heritage Village, with over 35 historic buildings on 324 acres, Telling Tales provides patrons with the opportunity to  
experience a day free of computers, internet and TV – where we return to the simple and important things in life: Storytelling, Listening, Learning, Community, Laughter, Family and Friends. (Retrieved from
Check out this list of wonderful authors, illustrators, musicians, storytellers, and puppeteers who will be attending:

Robin Baird Lewis - Illustrator
  • Red is Best by Kathy Stinson (Annick, 1992)
  • Who is Sleeping in Aunty's Bed? by Kathy Stinson (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1991)

Marie-Louise Gay - Author/illustrator

  • Read Me A Story, Stella (Groundwood, 2013)  
  • Stella! A Treasury (Groundwood, 2012) 
  • Stella, Star of the Sea (Groundwood, 2010) 
  • Stella, Queen of the Snow (Groundwood, 2010) 
  • When Stella Was Very, Very Small (Groundwood, 2011) 
  • Stella, Princess of the Sky (Groundwood, 2010)

Lynne Kittredge-Fox - Author
  • The Mighty Moon King (2011)
  • Meatball Love and the Spaghetti Tree (2012)
  • The Jungle Valley Jamboree (2012)

Andrew Larsen - Author
  • In the Tree House (Kids Can Press, 2013)
  • Bye Bye Butterflies! (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012)
  • The Imaginary Garden (Kids Can Press, 2009)
Loris Lesynski - Author/Poet
  • Boy Soup (Annick 1996)

      Joanne Levy - Author

      • Small Medium at Large (Bloomsbury, 2012)

      Evan Munday -Author
      • Dial M for Morna (ECW Press, 2013) 
      • Dead Kid Detective Agency (ECW Press, 2011)

          Gillian O'Reilly - Author

          • The Great Number Rumble: The Story of Math in Surprising Places (Annick, 2007)
          • Slangalicious: Where We Got that Crazy Lingo (Annick, 2004)

          Kenneth Oppel - Author

          • This Dark Endeavour (HarperCollins, 2011)
          • Such Wicked Intent (HarperCollins, 2012)
          • Half Brother (HarperCollins, 2010)
          • Airborn (HarperCollins, 2004)
          • Skybreaker (HarperCollins, 2005) 
          • Starclimber (HarperCollins, 2008)

          Itah Sadu - Author
          • Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room (Firefly, 1996)

          Ken Setterington
          - Author
          • Clever Katarina (Tundra, 2006)

          Jocelyn Shipley - Author

          • How to Tend a Grave (Great Plains Teen Fiction, 2012)

          Kevin Sylvester - Author/Illustrator

          • Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
          • Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction (Simon & Schuster, 2010)
          • Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders (Simon & Schuster, 2010)
          • Splinters (Tundra, 2010)
          • Game Day (Annick, 2010)
          • Gold Medal for Weird (Kids Can Press, 2007)

          Meg Tilley - Author

          • A Taste of Heaven (Puffin, 2013)
          • Gemma (St. Martin's Griffin, 2010)
          • Porcupine (Tundra, 2007)

          Vikki VanSickle - Author

          • Summer Days, Starry Nights (Scholastic Canada, 2013) 
          • Days That End in Y (Scholastic Canada, 2013) 
          • Love is a Four-Letter Word (Scholastic Canada,  2011) 
          • Words that Start with B (Scholastic Canada, 2010)

          Eric Walters - Author
          • Just Deserts (Penguin, 2011)
          • Power Play (HarperCollins, 2012)
          • Tagged (Orca, 2012)
          • End of Days (Doubleday, 2011)

          Other performers, including musicians, storytellers and puppeteers include:
          • Robert Blunsdon
          • An Instrument for Every Child
          • Jude Johnson
          • TURKEY Rhubarb
          • Abigail Richardson-Schulte
          • Wildflower Singers Drumming Circle
          • Hamilton Public Library Puppeteers and Storytellers
          • Creative Theatre Company
          • John Lukasik
          • Studio Babette Puppet Theatre

          Telling Tales Festival has a great YouTube channel with lots of videos about the authors, illustrators and other presenters coming this year.  It is at

          See the details of locations and time here at Festival Schedule 2013

          August 29, 2013

          The Hypnotists

          by Gordon Korman
          978-0-545-50322-8 (hardcover)
          978-0-545-60272-3 (audiobook)
          240 pp.
          Ages 8-14
          August 2013
          Reviewed from audiobook

          Just like his earlier series–Macdonald Hall, On the Run, Everest, Island, Dive, Kidnapped and most recently SwindleGordon Korman will easily snag young readers with The Hypnotists if they're looking for his characteristic droll humour, kids vs. adult conflict, suspenseful thrills and unique plotting. 

          Jackson Opus, 12, has always known that his eyes change extraordinarily from violet to blue then green, but it takes a few perplexing interactions with a bus driver, a basketball rival, his ophthamologist, a psychiatrist and a hypnotist at a vaudeville show for Jax to have his hypnotic ability identified.  (Come on, that's not really a spoiler.  What did you think The Hypnotists was going to be about?)

          Selected to attend the Sentia institution of Dr. Elias Mako who,
          "has devoted his life to New York City education and is an inspiration to every single one of us" (pg. 34)
          Jax is taught how to control his ability to mind-bend (i.e., hypnotize) and challenged to mesmerize volunteers.  As an Opus, a family line well-known for its mind-bending talent, Jax is taken under Dr. Mako's personal tutelage, attempting greater challenges than ever imagined, including attempting post-hypnotic suggestion (i.e., producing a specific action after waking from hypnosis) via video.  But after making the acquaintance of the elderly, hippie-esque Axel Braintree, the head of the Sandman's Guild, a guild of "reformed" mind-benders, Jax learns more about his heritage and the extent of his own ability, as well as about Dr. Mako's true reputation.

          It can't be surprising to readers of Gordon Korman's middle grade books that The Hypnotists has a couple of boy in their tweens trying to make sense of bizarre circumstances and erroneously interpreting others' actions, embedding laughs and dynamic surprises with each new development.  Imagine making a passing comment to a bus driver that "You have to get us to Ninety-Sixth Street as soon as possible" (pg. 3) and transforming the transit man into an Indy driver who refuses to stop for passengers, lights and traffic!  Or mesmerizing the lunch lady to provide more gravy for his friend Tommy's Salisbury steak ("Make sure you give him as much as you can" pg. 68) resulting in enough gravy to create a hazard on the floor and Tommy being stalked by the lunch lady.

          With the pen (word processor?) in Gordon Korman's control, the main plot of The Hypnotists–Jax attempting to thwart an evil mastermind–is embedded with the boy's introspection of his conscience and motives while others are drawn in, demonstrating their own views on hypnotism and its uses, good or evil. Always enhancing the action with a peppering of pre-teen humour
          "Aw, I don't want to see inside my mother's brain.  All those private thoughts and lady stuff.  I get skeeved out just looking at her eyelash curler" (pg. 186)
          Gordon Korman will have readers anticipating Book 2 in this series, undeniably set up with Jax's final thought and the last eleven words of The Hypnotists.

          = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

          Author Gordon Korman will be attending the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) on Saturday October 26, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at Toronto's Harbourfront.  Don't miss this opportunity to see one of Canada's legendary youngCanLit authors.

          August 28, 2013

          New Releases for Fall 2013

          If you thought your Must-Read pile was already towering, you might not want to check out this list of upcoming releases.  The tower will just become even more precarious. But if you're looking for more great #youngCanLit, there's lots coming.

          As always, I wish I could post an image of every book listed and even all those set for fall release dates but, as always, there are too many books, too little time, and too little money to purchase all these books.  Special thanks to the following publishers for generously sharing copies of their books with me:
          • Pajama Press
          • Groundwood Books
          • Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Red Deer Press, Inhabit Media, Fifth House)
          • Penguin Canada (Puffin, Razorbill)
          • Ronsdale Press
          • Annick Press
          • ECW Press
          • Fierce Ink Press
          • Scholastic Canada
          • Coteau Books
          • Random House (Doubleday, Tundra Books)
          • Orca Book Publishers
          • Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
          • Second Story Press
          • Dundurn 
          • Great Plains
          • Owlkids 
          • James Lorimer
          Thanks are also extended to those many authors who have made a special effort to get me copies of their own books, including Monica Kulling, Maureen McGowan, Cheryl Rainfield, Vikki VanSickle, Margaret McMaster and Adira Rotstein.

          Apologies to any one whom I've missed in thanking.  You are all grand!


          Picture Books
          • Anna May's Cloak by Christiane Cicioli, illus. by Susan Pearson (Simply Read Books)
          • Big Top Otto by Bill Slavin (Kids Can Press)
          • Black and Bittern was Night by Robert Heidbreder, illus. by John Martz (Kids Can Press)
          • Boy Meets Dog by Valerie Wyatt (Kids Can Press)
          • The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson, illus. by Dušan Petričić (Annick Press)
          • Mr. King's Castle by Geneviève Côté (Kids Can Press)
          • Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood Books) Reviewed here
          • The Pocket Mommy by Rachel Eugster (Tundra) 
          • The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield, illus. by Brian Deines (North Winds Press)
          • Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watts (Kids Can Press) 
          • Tweezle into Everything by Stephanie McLellan, illus. by Dean Griffiths (Pajama Press) Reviewed Here

          • Fortuna by Nicholas Maes (Dundurn)
          • The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman (Scholastic Canada)
          • Spit Feathers by Jessica Scott Kerrin (Kids Can Press) >> The Lobster Chronicles 3 

          Young Adult
          • Creeps by Darren Hynes (Penguin Canada) Reviewed here
          • Descendant by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins) >>  sequel to Starling reviewed here
          • Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass (Pajama Press) Reviewed here 
          • Kid Soldier by Jennifer Maruno (Dundurn)
          • The Night Wanderer: A Graphic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor, illus. by Mike Wyatt (Annick Press) 
          • Picture Me by Lori Weber (Lorimer)
          • Pure Fake by Beverly Scudamore (Lorimer)
          • The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Doubleday) Reviewed here

          • Chitchat by Jude Isabella (Kids Can Press)
          • A History of Just about Everything by Elizabeth Macleod and Frieda Wishinsky (Kids Can Press)
          • Learn to Speak Film: a Guide to Creating, Promoting, and Screening Your Movies by Michael Glassbourg (Owlkids)
          • Making Contact: Marconi Does Wirelesss by Monica Kulling, Illus by Richard Rudnicki (Tundra) >> newest title in Great Ideas series
          • Pandemic Survival by Ann Love (Tundra) 
          • When I Die: A Meditation on Death for Children and Their Families by Carol Matas, photos by Bonnie Brask (Fictive Press)
          • Zebra Stripes Go Head to Toe by Sheryl and Simon Shapiro (Annick Press)

          Picture Books 
          • Circles of Round by Signe Sturup, illus. by Winnie Ma (Simply Read Books)
          • Dream Boats by Dan Bar-el, illus. by Kirsti Anne Wakelin (Simply Read Books)
          • Fox and Squirrel by Ruth Ohi (Scholastic Canada)
          • Gabby Drama Queen by Joyce Grant, illus. by Jan Dolby (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) >> sequel to Gabby reviewed here
          • A Hero Named Howe by Mike Leonetti (Scholastic Canada)
          • Loula is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve (Kids Can Press)
          • My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters, illus. by Eugenie Fernandes (Tundra) 
          • Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby, illus. by Tara Anderson (Pajama Press)
          • Oddrey and the New Kid by Dave Whamond (Owlkids) >> sequel to Oddrey reviewed here
          • Pakwa Che Menisu by Julie Flett (Simply Read Books) >> Swampy Cree translation of Wild Berries by Julie Flett
          • Sizing Up Winter by Lizann Flatt (Owlkids) 
          • Swamp Water by Robert Munsch (Scholastic Canada)
          • Ten Birds Meet a Monster by Cybele Young (Kids Can Press)
          • Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland (Kids Can Press) 
          • When Mama Goes to Work by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, illus. by Jessica Phillips (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
          • Whimsy’s Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis (Tundra) 
          • Wild Berries by Julie Flett (Simply Read Books) >> Swamp Cree version Pakwa Che Menisu

          • Apparition by Gail Gallant (Doubleday) 
          • Barnabas Bigfoot: The Bone Eater by Marty Chan (Thistledown)
          • Binky: License to Scratch by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press)
          • Curse of the Dream Witch by Allan Stratton (Scholastic Canada)
          • Death of a King by Andrew H. Vanderwal (Tundra)
          • Escape from Berlin by Irene N. Watts (Tundra)
          • Flying With a Broken Wing by Laura Best (Nimbus)
          • Home Ice Advantage by Tom Earle (HarperCollins Canada)
          • Fire in the Sky: World War I, Paul Townend, Over No Man's Land, 1916 by David Ward (Scholastic Canada) >> latest I Am Canada volume
          • The Opposite of Geek by Ria Voros (Scholastic Canada)
          • Scare Scape by Sam Fisher (Scholastic) 
          • Seas of South Africa by Philip Roy (Ronsdale Press) >> latest volume in Submarine Outlaw series; Ghosts of the Pacific reviewed here, and Outlaw in India reviewed here
          • Ultra by David Carrol (Scholastic Canada)
          • The Unkindness of Ravens by J Torres, illus. by Faith Erin Hicks (Kids Can Press) >> Bigfoot Boy series, Book 2

          Young Adult
          • Baygirl by Heather Smith (Orca Book Publishers)
          • Destination Human by K. L. Denman (Orca Book Publishers)
          • The Hat Trick by Tom Earle (HarperCollins)
          • Kate Tattersall Adventures in China by R. S. Fleming (Cormorant)
          • Little Red Lies by Julie Johnston  (Tundra) 
          • Jeremy Stone by Lesley Choyce (Red Deer Press)
          • Morven and the Horse Clan by Luanne Armstrong (Great Plains Teen Fiction)
          • My Side by Norah McClintock (Orca Book Publishers)
          • The Night Has Claws by Kat Kruger (Fierce Ink Press) >> The Magdeburg Trilogy Book 2; sequel to The Night Has Teeth reviewed here
          • Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook (Dancing Cat Books)
          • Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl by Emily Pohl Weary (Razorbill) Reviewed here
          • Rachel’s Promise by Shelly Sanders (Second Story Press) >> sequel to Rachel's Secret
          • Shadows by Paula Weston (Tundra)
          • Snitch by Allison van Diepen (Simon Pulse)
          • So Much It Hurts by Monique Polak (Orca Book Publishers)
          • Stained by Cheryl Rainfield (HMH Books for Young Readers)
          • Takedown by Allison van Diepen (Simon Pulse)
          • Tampered by Michele Martin Bossley (Orca Book Publishers)
          • Thornhill by Kathleen Peacock (Katherine Tegen Books) >> sequel to Hemlock reviewed here
          • Touched by Fire by Irene N. Watts (Tundra) 
          • The Tree of Story by Thomas Wharton (Doubleday)>> final book in The Perilous Realm trilogy
          • The Unmaking: The Last Days of Tian Di by Catherine Egan (Coteau) >> sequel to Shade and Sorceress reviewed here
          • Until Today by Pam Fluttert (Second Story Press)
          • Urgle by Meghan McIsaac (Cormorant)
          • Whatever by Ann Walsh (Ronsdale Press) Reviewed here

          • Before the World Was Ready: Stories of Daring Genius in Science by Claire Eamer (Annick)
          • The Birdman: A Journey with the Underground Railroad's Most Daring Abolitionist by Troon Harrison (Red Deer Press)
          • The Great Bear Sea by Ian McAllister (Orca Book Publishers)
          • Is This Panama: a Migration Story by Jan Thornhill (Owlkids )
          • Looks Like Daylight : Voices of Native American and Aboriginal Young People by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books) Reviewed here
          • Northwest Passage by Matt James (Groundwood Books) Reviewed here
          • Ode to Underwear by Helaine Becker (Scholastic Canada)
          • Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs by Jill Bryant (Second Story Press)
          • Real Justice: Branded a Baby Killer by Harold Levy (Lorimer)
          • Time for Flowers, Time for Snow by Glen Huser, illus. by Philippe Béha, composed by Giannis Georgantelis (Tradewind Books) >> illustrated story and CD of opera and narration

            Picture Books
            • The Angel's Christmas by Lynn Ray (Simply Read Books)
            • The Boy and the Whale by Michael Moniz (Simply Read Books)
            • Emma by Paola Opal (Simply Read Books) >> newest addition to Simply Small board books collection
            • This Little Hamster by Kass Reich (Orca Book Publishers)
            • Mr. Got to Go Where Are You by Lois Simmie, illus. by Cynthia Nugent (Red Deer Press)
            • Murilla Gorilla and the Lost Parasol by Jennifer Lloyd, illus. by Jacqui Lee (Simply Read Books)
            • Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms (Scholastic Canada)
            • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illus. by Barbara Reid (North Winds Press)
            • On a Snowy Night by Jean Little, illus. by Brian Deines (North Winds Press)
            • Singily Skipping Along by Sheree Fitch, art by Deanne Fitzpatrick (Nimbus)
            • Spark by Kallie George, illus. by Geneviève Côté (Simply Read Books)
            • Stella! A Treasury by Marie Louise Gay (Groundwood)
            • Stinky Skunk Mel by Kari-Lynn Winters, illus. by Paola Opal (Simply Read Books) 


            • Camp X: Enigma by Eric Walters (Penguin Canada) >> Book 6 in Camp X series 
            • Dial M for Morna: The Dead Kid Detective Agency Book #2 by Evan Munday (ECW Press)
            • Driftwood by Valerie Sherrard (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
            • Four Seasons of Patrick by Susan Hughes (Red Deer Press)
            • The Great Bike Rescue by Hazel Hutchins (Orca Book Publishers)
            • The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden by Jill MacLean (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) >> new title in the Travis Keating/Prinny Murphy series of books
            • How to Curse in Hieroglyphics by Lesley Livingston and Jonathan Llyr (Puffin)
            • Panic in Pittsburgh by Roy MacGregor (Tundra)
            • Running Scared by Bev Terrell-Deutsch (Red Deer Press)
            • Sam Swallow and the Riddleworld League by William New, illus. by Yayo (Tradewind)
            • Seconds by Sylvia Taekema (Orca Book Publishers)
            • Tag Team by W. C. Mack (Scholastic Canada)

              Young Adult
              • Ace's Basement by Ted Staunton (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Simon Pulse)
              • Attitude by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Caught in the Act by Deb Loughead (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Crash by Lesley Choyce (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Cut the Lights by Karen Krossing (Orca Book Publishers)
              • The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon's Gate by Marty Chan (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) >> debut of a new fantasy series
              • Finding Melissa by Cora Taylor (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • A Fool’s Errand by Maureen Fergus (Razorbill) >> Gypsy Kings Book 2
              • If Only by Becky Citra (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser (Groundwood Books) Reviewed here 
              • Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts (Simon & Schuster) >> sequel to Dark Inside (White Pine Award winner 2013)
              • The Rule of Thirds by Chantel Guertin (ECW Press) Reviewed here 
              • September 17 by Amanda West Lewis (Red Deer Press)
              • Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow (Arthur A. Levine)
              • Tag Along by Tom Ryan (Orca Book Publishers) 
              • Tomorrow by C. K. Kelly Martin  >> sequel to Yesterday reviewed here
              • Totally Unrelated by Tom Ryan (Orca Book Publishers)
              • Triggered by Vicki Grant (Orca Book Publishers) 
              • Victoria by Silvana Goldemberg (Tradewind)
              • Who I'm Not by Ted Staunton (Orca Book Publishers)


              • Brilliant! Shining a Light on Sustainable Energy by Michelle Mulder (Orca Book Publishers)
              • The Bug House Family Restaurant by Beverley Brenna, illus. by Marc Mongeau (Tradewind) >> poetry
              • Cat Champions: Caring for our Feline Friends by Rob Laidlaw (Pajama Press)
              • Do You Know Chameleons? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) >> this series is in graphic format
              • Do You Know Crocodiles? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Do You Know Crows? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Do You Know Leeches? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Do You Know Porcupines? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Do You Know Rats? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Do You Know Spiders? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Do You Know Toads? by Alain M. Bergeron, illus. by Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Lasso the Wind: Aurélia’s Verses and Other Poems by George Elliott Clarke, illus. by Susan Tooke (Nimbus)
              • Legends, Icons and Rebels: Music That Changed the World by Robbie Robertson (Tundra)
              • A Maritime Christmas Treasury (Nimbus) 
              • Pay It Forward Kids: Small Acts, Big Change by Nancy Runstedler (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
              • Shanghai Escape by Kathy Kacer (Second Story Press)

              Picture Books
              • Elly and the Balloons in the Sky by Danny Appleby (Tundra)
              • Little Chicken Duck by Tim Beiser, illus. by Bill Slavin (Tundra) 
              • T is for Tumbling by Julie Morstad (Simply Read Books)
              • A Very Hockey Christmas by Gilles Tibo, illus. by Bruno St-Aubin (Scholastic Canada)

              • I am Algonquin by Rick Revelle (Dundurn)

              Young Adult
              • The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook (Simon Pulse)
              • The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston (Razorbill)
              • Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson (Fierce Ink Press)

              • Righting Canada's Wrongs: The Komagata Maru and Canada's Anti-Indian Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century by Pamela Hickman (Lorimer)

              Picture Books
              • Paper Hearts by Sandra Van Doorn (Simply Read Books)

              (Just a teaser!)  

              Picture Books
              • Eerie Dearies by Rebecca Chaperon (Simply Read Books)
              • Snow White and Rose Red: A Brothers' Grimm Story, retold by Kallie George, illus. by Kelly Vivanco (Simply Read Books)
              • Bye, Bye Evil Eye by Deborah Kerbel (Dancing Cat Books)
              • The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding (Dundurn)
              Young Adult
              • I Am Forever by Wynne Channing (Jet & Jack Press) >> sequel to paranormal romance What Kills Me
              • Lives of Magic by Lucy Leiderman (Dundurn)
              • Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance (Dundurn)

              You know where to get these, don't you?
                @yourbookstore   @yourbookstore   @yourbookstore  

              Support #youngCanLit

              Buy Canadian!

              August 26, 2013


              by Darren Hynes
              Razorbill/Penguin Canada
              309 pp.
              Age 13 +
              August, 2013

              Just to be clear:  Creeps is not a creepy book.  It may be unsettling for some readers by the horror of the protagonist's reality but it is neither supernatural nor blood-curdling.  In fact, Creeps is the descriptor that 15-year-old Marjorie Pope uses for herself and the protagonist of the story, Wayne Pumphrey, also 15.  And perhaps being a little different in Canning, Labrador is all it takes to feel like a creep there.

              There's obviously something about Wayne that makes him the target of Pete "The Meat" Avery and his posse–Kenny, Bobby and Harvey–who relentlessly abuse him physically and verbally.  In the written but unsent letters he records in a journal, Wayne gives voice to the questions, fears, confusion that he refuses to express to Pete, his parents, his older sister Wanda, and others.  In fact, that's how Wayne becomes better acquainted with Marjorie Pope, a girl who wears her poverty without shame and ignores the sexual rumours Pete doles out about her.  When she witnesses one of Pete's attacks on Wayne, she distracts The Meat with comments about his biological father and early childhood with which he has issues.

              In Wayne's efforts to belong to something, anything to help get through high school, he auditions for the school's production.  Although he doesn't earn a role, Mr. Rollie, the drama teacher, sees some leadership potential and asks him to be his assistant director.  Dealing with his dad's alcoholism, his mother's constant threat to leave because of her husband's drinking, and Pete The Meat's abuse, Wayne recognizes that
              "...I'll take the job anyway because it's good to have somewhere to go and something to do and someone other than the wall to look at and say stuff to." (pg. 59)
              Marjorie, on the other hand, wins the lead role in the play, mesmerizing everyone with the emotional depth of her performance.  However, she's probably just as happy to have someplace else to go, away from her mother whose husband's death has unhinged her, even believing that Marjorie feels no grief over her father's passing.

              The threat of leaving Canning for elsewhere, anywhere, is a common theme amongst Creeps characters, and often distracts Wayne from his worries of Pete The Meat but not always.  This is especially true after Dad insists on confronting Pete's parents about their son's abuse of Wayne and causes the assaults to escalate.

              While Wayne may believe that his reluctance to stand up for himself is because
              "...sometimes I don't feel like I'm worth very much..." (pg. 226)
              he is the only one who doesn't seem to consider running away.  There's Dad who leaves the daily grind of working in the mine by indulging in drink.  His mother wants to run away in reaction to his drinking.  Wanda is planning on taking off for Toronto with a friend.  Marjorie often thinks of escaping her mother's bizarre behaviour and reactions.  But, even with the psychological and physical degradation that Wayne experiences, he is more likely to contemplate the why's and how's rather than react, ultimately helping him to understand others better.

              I truly hope that the anguishing circumstances that Darren Hynes so evocatively portrays in Creeps are not the norm of small towns in more remote areas such as Labrador and not the high school years that the author experienced.  No one, young or old, creep or not, should ever endure the humiliation too easily sketched by Darren Hynes' harsh word choice and graphic imagery.  Creeps may adhere to the old adage that "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger"–as happens for Wayne and Marjorie, thankfully–but be prepared for the wretchedness of anticipating the worst for the characters while still knowing that some degree of deliverance is forthcoming.

              August 22, 2013

              A Mountain of Friends

              by Kerstin Schoene
              Translated by Natalie Hyde
              Fitzhenry & Whiteside
              32 pp.
              Ages 4+
              August 2013

              I wish I could enlarge the cover illustration of A Mountain of Friends by Germany's Kerstin Schoene even more than I already have so that readers might appreciate the scale at which this small penguin, eyes crinkled with pleasure, can produce such a heartwarming and fully embracing hug of appreciation for his friends.  Without going into song, I can really feel the overwhelming love extended from his heart to his wingtips.

              Courtesy of Canadian author Natalie Hyde's loving translation, readers of all ages will feel for this little guy who is heartbroken that he cannot fly.  After all, he is a bird, right? And birds fly, right? 
              "Just once I want to soar above the clouds..."
              he laments regularly.  His friends include a kangaroo, a giraffe, an elephant,  a rabbit and a goldfish (in his bowl), and they enlist the help of everyone, reader included ("Yes, you!"), to be a friend and help Penguin.  With a turn of the book (literally) and a little help from a lot of friends, the little bow-tied and top hat-wearing seabird has no problems reaching the clouds.

              Though the message may seem very simple, it's one with which a lot of young children are unfamiliar.  Is it our competitive world or the need to succeed above others that drives so many of us to excel, to do that which is extraordinary?  Children understand play but do they comprehend that teamwork can reach far beyond sport competitions (in which there are still winners and losers) and be based in cooperation to achieve one goal for all?  If not, A Mountain of Friends, brilliantly illustrated by Kerstin Schoene, and translated by Natalie Hyde (author of over 30 books of non-fiction and fiction, including Saving Armpit, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011) may help them understand that by pulling together, the impossible can be achieved.  And without stepping on others' toes.  Maybe stepping on their heads, as in A Mountain of Friends, but not their toes. Delightful!

              August 21, 2013


              by Ann Walsh
              Ronsdale Press
              200 pp.
              Ages 12+
              September 2013

              Could any single non-profanity hold as much antipathy as the teen dismissal of, "Whatever"?  It's used frequently by sixteen-year-old Darrah Patrick whenever she feels an answer is expected but honesty will not be appreciated.  With her brother, not yet 10, diagnosed in the past year with epilepsy, Darrah feels neglected by her parents whose every worry revolves around Andrew. So, when her mother insists on taking Andrew to the hospital after he has a seizure, rather than taking Darrah to her final audition for a community theatre production, Darrah is not pleased.  In fact, she pulls the fire alarm at the hospital as her only chance to escape and recapture that opportunity.

              Although she tosses off the seriousness of the situation with her "whatever", Darrah is in danger of being charged with setting a false alarm during which an elderly woman, Mrs. Johnson, is injured.  Even when Darrah is given the option of participating in the Restorative Justice program, rather than going to court, she's not too concerned.
              "I was a good actress, I would con everyone." (pg. 11)
              Her biggest concern is getting everything resolved before Halloween so she can attend a party!  

              At the Restorative Justice Circle, Darrah is directed to apologize to all parties and to assist Mrs. Johnson while she heals, even though the elderly woman denies that Darrah caused her injuries when the teen raced down the stairs.

              Mrs. Johnson reminds Darrah of her very proper grandmother, now passed. She has knitted slippers at the door for her guests, enjoys her garden, cooking and baking, and keeping up on the news.  The teen does as she's asked–reads the newspaper, bakes biscuits, prepares tea, washes dishes–and though she believes Mrs. J is opinionated, Darrah finds herself learning much from the elderly woman.   Happily, Darrah is learning to cook, something her fast-food-fed family appreciates immensely, while also making the acquaintance of Mrs. Johnson's grandson, Robin, 17.  

              Perhaps most surprising is Darrah's growing maturity ("whatever" is heard less often) and compassion regarding her brother's epilepsy.  With the focus turning from herself to those around her, she begins to see evidence that Mrs. Johnson is going blind, although she promises to keep her condition a secret.  But, secrets become the premise upon which Whatever's plot both expands and wraps up.  And like all secrets, some come out, some stay hidden, some need to be exposed, and some should be protected.

              While I have only read Ann Walsh's Forestry A-Z (with Kathleen Cook Waldron; Orca, 2008) and Flower Power (Orca, 2005), it's evident that the author, a resident of Williams Lake, British Columbia, finds fodder for her writing within her community.  In Whatever, Ann Walsh who is a facilitator with the Williams Lake Community Council for Restorative Justice applies her experience to illuminating the process by which Darrah's wrongful acts are handled.  But perhaps more significant is the effect that Darrah's consequences have on everyone, even beyond the Justice Circle, highlighting the value of restorative justice.  I suspect that Darrah's arrogance would have flourished if she'd been incarcerated.  Instead, that "whatever" arrogance dissipated, to the benefit of all.

              It's a skill that a writer can introduce a character that you despise at first read, like self-centred, inconsiderate Darrah, and have them evolve into a person whom you might consider befriending.  Ann Walsh does this with and for Darrah.  While Whatever has an engaging plot that hinges on justice, secrets, and responsibility, I believe it is superseded by the development of its characters, primarily Darrah, driven by the consequences of her actions.  Even Darrah's mom, whose workaholism drives her to helicopter parent Andrew while neglecting other family issues, becomes a more sympathetic character as the story progresses.  She may still find it difficult to disregard the doctors' advice that it is not necessary to bring Andrew to the hospital each time he has a seizure, but she shows her appreciation for Darrah's efforts towards her brother and the family.  Moreover, Mrs. Johnson herself comes full circle, from the victim of an inconsiderate teen to the culprit whose secrets and actions impact others.  Luckily, Ann Walsh and Darrah both recognize that Mrs. Johnson's actions are never thoughtless and give her the courtesy to extend a virtual "Whatever" should anyone think otherwise.