January 29, 2014

Albertan YoungCanLit Author Trio: Author Event (Edmonton)

Mark February 8th on your calendar
if you live in the Edmonton area 

you're fortunate to have
not one,
not two,
three youngCanLit authors
Karen Bass, Marty Chan, and Karen Spafford-Fitz


Chapters at West Edmonton Mall
from 12 p. m. to 4 p. m.

Check out some of their books below, including their latest (always far left book cover).

Karen Bass
  • Graffiti Knight (Pajama Press)
  • Drummer Girl (Coteau)
  • Summer of Fire (Coteau)

Marty Chan
  • The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Barnabas Bigfoot: Bone Eater (Thistledown Press)
  • The Mystery of the Cyber Bully (Thistledown Press)

Karen Spafford-Fitz
  • Vanish (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Dog Walker (Orca Book Publishers)

Further details about the event can be found here.

January 27, 2014

When Mama Goes to Work

by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Illustrated by Jessica Phillips
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 1-5
October 2013

We know that, in these days of economic instability, many children are part of households in which parents are out of the house at work each day.  It doesn't matter whether it is a single-parent household, one with both father and mother, or even one with two mothers–bills must be paid, careers to be realized and passions to be developed, and contributions to be made outside of the home.  As adults, we understand why we go to work, but do children always understand this? 

In When Mama Goes to Work, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch ensures that they do understand, specifically that the days of working mothers and children are not that dissimilar.  Their days start the same, in preparation for the day: dressing appropriately, making lunches, tidying themselves, and packing their bags.  At work and school, the similarities continue, as they do when Mama and child are reunited.  Regardless of their day's activities, Mama and child know that they are each in the other's thoughts and hearts, and that when the "work" day is over, they will again be together.

This positive and reassuring message, which also communicates the variety of roles mothers may play within the community e.g., construction worker, medical professional, business person and care giver, is enhanced by illustrator Jessica Phillips' cheerful round-faced children and mothers.  All children will see themselves in her characters who range in their skin and hair colours, in gender, nationality, and activities.  When Mama Goes to Work is an inclusive story of everyday routines that may be unfamiliar and may seem mysterious but are reassuringly comparable and interconnected.

January 26, 2014

Grandmother Ptarmigan

by Qaunaq Mikkigak and Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Inhabit Media
24 pp.
Ages 0-4

While a grandmother ptarmigan seeks to get a little one to sleep, Grandmother Ptarmigan is actually a traditional Inuit origin tale that explains why ptarmigans cry, "Nauk, Nauk" and why baby ptarmigans fly so young.

Just as many human parents try a variety of strategies to help their young ones go to sleep, a little ptarmigan's grandma sings to him, tells him to close his eyes, and tucks him in, but he continues to demand a story.  Well, she tells him a story, obviously a little more feather-raising than she intended, though it does end with affectionate tickles. Unfortunately, the little ptarmigan is so frightened that his reaction is to fly away, much to the distress of his grandmother.

Qaunaq Mikkigak, an elder from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, shares a traditional Inuit origin tale in Grandmother Ptarmigan, written in collaboration with children's author Joanne Schwartz.   I applaud the successful efforts of these authors in divulging an origin tale from the Aboriginal Peoples of our own continent.  In addition to reaffirming the Inuit culture for young people, Grandmother Ptarmigan reminds us that origin tales do not all stem from Africa or lands with which youngCanLit readers are unfamiliar.  Along with Qin Leng's deceptively simple but effective illustrations, Qaunaq Mikkigak and Joanne Schwartz bring the origin tale to roost appropriately amidst the rich stories told by the Aboriginal Peoples of North America, here courtesy of Inhabit Media. Thank you.

January 25, 2014

2014 CBC Bookies are on!

Time's running out for the CBC Bookie Awards of 2014. These are the readers' choice awards organized by CBC Books in eleven categories:
  • Best Canadian Fiction
  • Best Canadian Non-Fiction
  • Best Canadian Book Cover
  • Best Canadian Poetry
  • Best Canadian Thriller, Mystery or Crime
  • Best Canadian Science Fiction, Fantasy or Speculative Fiction
  • Best Canadian Young Adult
  • Best Canadian Graphic Novel or Comic Book
  • Best Canadian Short Story Collection
  • Best International Fiction
  • Best International Non-Fiction
The nominated titles for the Best Canadian Young Adult book are:

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Doubleday Canada/Random House of Canada

Sorrow's Knot 
by Erin Bow
Scholastic Canada

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl
by Emily Pohl-Weary

by Cory Doctorow
Tor Books

September 17: A Novel
by Amanda West Lewis 
Red Deer Press


Go to CBC Bookies 2014 web page  and support great Canadian YACanLit by voting before Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:59 p.m.

Winners will be announced Thursday, February 6, 2014.

January 21, 2014

Marsha Skrypuch: Author Event (Toronto)

YoungCanLit Author Marsha Skrypuch
presents her Silver Birch Fiction Award-winning novel
2014 Kobzar Literary Award nominee

Making Bombs for Hitler
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Scholastic Canada
186 pp.
Ages 8-12

its new companion book

 Underground Soldier
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Scholastic Canada
208 pp.
Ages 8-12
January 1, 2014

Wednesday January 29, 2014

 at 7 p.m.

St. Vladimir Centre
620 Spadina Avenue (below Bloor St.)
Toronto, ON

This presentation is part of A Series of Readings with the 2014 Kobzar Literary Award Nominees

In addition to a presentation about her books and launching Underground Soldier, books will be available for sale and autographing.

January 20, 2014

#CanLitChoices for "The Birchbark House"

The Birchbark House
by Louise Erdrich
Hyperion Books
244 pp.
Age 8-12
RL 4.9
This novel, winner of countless book awards including the National Book Award, is a favourite novel used in the middle grades as an example of historical fiction with the focus on Aboriginal Peoples. Written at a reading level at 4.9 (this means a child should be able to read this at the ninth month of Grade 4), The Birchbark House provides teachers with an emphasis on historical fiction and the following themes:
  • community
  • family
  • Aboriginal Peoples
  • culture conflict
  • death
While all of these themes are not present in each of the following youngCanLit, these eight titles provide a variety of options, at different reading levels, for historical fiction that has an emphasis on the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.  I encourage teachers to delve into these titles to provide your young readers with Canadian alternatives to The Birchbark House.

Blood Red Ochre
by Kevin Major
Delacorte Press
160 pp.
Ages 11-14

When a Newfoundland boy, David, travels to Red Ochre Island, to help with a school project on the Beothuk, he learns of the Beothuk way of life from Dauoodaset, one of the last of tribe, before it goes extinct.

Broken Circle
by Christopher Dinsdale
Napoleon Publishing
98 pp.
Ages 8-12

When twelve-year-old Jesse meet his late father's Wendat relatives for the very first time, he is transformed into a deer during an unexpected vision quest, and finds himself experiencing the Wendat history of the mid-17th century.  That historical period has Iroquois invading Wendat territory and the French fort at Ste. Marie seeming to be possible shelter. By presenting himself as a spirit guide, Jesse finds a way to help his Wendat ancestors.

Counting on Hope
by Sylvia Olsen
Sono Nis
299 pp.
Ages 10-14

Though twelve-year-olds Hope (whose family moved from England to an island off the coast of British Columbia) and Letia (whose tribe, the Lamalcha, make their summer home on the island) become secret friends, there is much suspicion and conflict between the settlers and the First Nations in the early 1860s on Wallace Island.

The Dream Carvers
by Joan Clark
Puffin Canada
240 pp.
Ages 11-14

A Norse boy from 11th century Greenland is captured by the Beothuk and struggles with retaining his own identity until he adjusts to their world and their ways.

Outcasts of River Falls
by Jacqueline Guest
Coteau Books
242 pp.
Ages 9-13

After her father dies, Kathryn must leave her upper class life in Toronto to live with her Aunt Belle in River Falls, Alberta. There, in the community of shacks, she learns of her Métis identity and the life of the Métis, including the grave injustices they endure.

Sister to the Wolf
by Maxine Trottier
Kids Can Press
348 pp.
Ages 10-14

In 1703, French Canadian Cécile Chesne rescues Lesharo, a Pawnee, from brutal slavery but learns more about prejudice when they travel to Fort Detroit.

by Pamela Porter
Illustrated by by Mary Jane Gerber
Groundwood Books
104 pp.
Ages 9-11

The life of the Métis living with the Blackfoot is told through the voice and eyes of a young girl, emphasizing the poverty and discrimination as well as historic events in 1960s Montana.

by Jan Hudson
168 pp.
Ages 11-15

Life on the early 19th century Canadian prairie is not easy for Sweetgrass, a fifteen-year-old Blackfoot, especially with starvation and smallpox forcing her to break a tribal taboo for which she must endure the consequences.


Leave comments if you have any other suggestions for alternatives or to select an age-old novel that needs refreshing with #CanLitChoices.

January 19, 2014

Rebel Spring

by Morgan Rhodes
A Falling Kingdoms Book, Book 2
400 pp.
Ages 12+
December, 2013

If you have not read Falling Kingdoms, the first book in this series, don't deny yourself that pleasure and the full story needed to appreciate Rebel Spring better. Moreover, some details in my review of Rebel Spring will undoubtedly be spoilers to your reading of Falling Kingdoms. So, stop, read Falling Kingdoms, then come back and read this review before your own reading of Rebel Spring. But not any sooner.

Morgan Rhodes (author of Falling Kingdoms and Rebel Spring) and Maureen Fergus (author of A Gypsy King and A Fool's Errand) must have both attended the elevate-your-readers-with-staggering-plots-but-knock-them-down-with-shocking-endings school of writing (though I suspect both have inherent talent that schooling could not supplant). Here I had been so smug about finishing Falling Kingdoms (reviewing it here just three days ago) knowing that Rebel Spring was patiently waiting on my desk to be read and appease me of any unsettled feelings I had with its prequel's startling ending. Yeah, right. More rich story lines, another unforeseen ending.

With King Corvin and Chief Basilius now dead, King Gaius has taken over the golden palace in Auranos as his primary residence and the base for ruling over the reunited kingdom of Mytica (once Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros). To further his domination over the land and his subjects, Gaius is publicly executing captured rebels and making plans to build a road from the temple of Cleiona in Auranos, through the Wildlands into Paelsia, through the Forbidden Mountains and finally across Limeros to end at the temple of their goddess Valoria. Unbeknownst to most, however, King Gaius is attacking Paelsian villages, murdering many and enslaving the hardier men to work on the road. Paelsian teens Lysandra and her brother Gregor witness such an attack on their own village. Lysandra escapes and joins Jonas Agallon and Brion Radenos's rebel group, determined to make things right. Though Brion is smitten with Lysandra, Jonas has issues with her passionate, demanding nature.

To further his plans, King Gaius announces the betrothal of his son, Magnus, to the true heir to the Auranian throne, Princess Cleiona. But Jonas kidnaps Cleiona, hoping to force the King's hand; instead Cleiona and Jonas hatch a plan for a rebel attack at her scheduled wedding to Magnus.

Surprisingly, the true object of Magnus' affection, his "sister" Lucia, has been unconscious since the attack on the palace in Falling Kingdoms. In this state, she occasionally enters a dreamscape where she meets with Alexius, the Watcher, and learns more about the magic and the role she will play in recovering it. Unlike his wife, King Gaius sees Lucia as the great sorceress she is prophesized to be and now, with the covert intervention and advice of the powerful Watcher elder Melenia, Gaius anticipates ruling well beyond the borders of Mytica.

These are just a few of the subplots that diverge and coalesce into richer roads leading to the finding of the Kindred, the source of the four elements of magic. With different parties seeking its power and few knowing the details of its provenance and dangers, the Kindred is both a charm and an atrocity, and how its nature will manifest itself remains in Morgan Rhodes' pen. In the meanwhile, her many characters, good and evil and in-between, carry the story as their motivations and passions change with new knowledge and experiences (OK, not King Gaius–he’s just evil). As the three kingdoms transform into a Mytica destined to be united by a road, so do the characters transform Rebel Spring from “just” a sequel to Falling Kingdoms into a book with its own bounty.

The title and cover of Book 3 in the Falling Kingdom series have yet to be revealed although its release has been scheduled for December 9, 2014.  The Falling Kingdoms' Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FallingKingdoms) by Morgan Rhodes hints that the title, cover and blurb will be released in February.

January 16, 2014

Falling Kingdoms

by Morgan Rhodes
412 pp.
Ages 12+

Map of Mytica (1)
The kingdoms of Auranos, Paelsia and Limeros were once united but now the three are distinctly advantaged or disadvantaged, though they live in a state of relative tolerance.  Auranos is a rich land of beautiful landscapes whose hedonistic inhabitants enjoy excessive living with luxurious homes, food and all amenities.  In the golden palace lives King Corvin Bellos with his two daughters, Emilia, his heir, and Cleiona, 16.  Auranos' neighbour, Paelsia, is considered by the Auranians as an impoverished land with savages whose only worth is in their lone commodity, wine.  Lead by their Chief Basilius, the people are ever hopeful that the magic will return and improve their lives.  The cold, frozen land of Limeros is ruled by King Gaius Damora, called the King of Blood for his penchant for killing those who challenge or disappoint him, using fear and violence to keep his subjects in line.  Surprisingly, King Gaius insists that his Queen Althea, two children, Magnus, almost 18, and Lucia, 16, and all the people of Limeros abide by the virtues of strength, faith (in the goddess Valoria) and wisdom.

When Princess Cleiona and her friend Mira accompany the arrogant Lord Aron Lagaris to Paelsia to purchase its highly intoxicating wine, the drunken Aron stabs a young man, Tomas Agallon, in front of his father, sister and younger brother, Jonas.  That single incident has Jonas and his friend Brion Radenos searching out Chief Bacilius to demand that Paelsia rise against its oppressor, Auranos, and avenge Tomas' death. Chief Bacilius and King Gaius have already agreed to approach King Corvin to demand the lands of Auranos be divided between their own two kingdoms.  If he refuses, they will take Auranos by force.  With Princess Cleiona taken hostage and her life threatened, and Jonas desperate for revenge and Magnus desperate to prove himself worthy of being his father's heir, the fall of the Auranian throne would seem imminent.

In true high fantasy style, Falling Kingdoms is a dense weave of subplots, each based within the kingdoms, between kingdoms and even in a world beyond the kingdoms, notably Sanctuary, the realm of the Watchers.  I haven't even mentioned the magic; the race to locate the Kindred; the romantic interests of Cleiona, Jonas, and Magnus; the kidnapping of a child sixteen years earlier; the prophecy; exiled Watchers; Emilia's devastating illness; and the deceptive leader of the Paelsians.  And readers will never predict in which direction the tale could turn. At 412 pages, Falling Kingdoms may appear to be a big read but there is no way that Morgan Rhodes could have managed to squeeze everything in that she did in fewer pages.  After all, it took George R. R. Martin over 800 pages to tell the story of A Game of Thrones (Bantam, 1996), a book to which Falling Kingdoms is regularly compared (though I personally find Falling Kingdoms a much more approachable read, never trying to impress the reader with its epic proportions).  As such, Morgan Rhodes effectively packs a lot into her text, without being verbose or excessive.  If she hadn't, I wouldn't have been so eager to jump directly into the sequel to Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring (Razorbill, 2013), which I will review in my next post.

(1) Map of Mytica: Retrieved from http://www.fallingkingdoms.com/extras.html on January 16, 2014.

† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

If you haven't enjoyed Morgan Rhodes' Falling Kingdoms yet, and my review here is insufficient to grab your attention, perhaps visiting the website for the series at http://www.fallingkingdoms.com/ or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FallingKingdoms will spark your interest.

January 14, 2014

Books to add to New Releases for Winter/Spring 2014

Well, it was bound to happen.  Several books that I'm excited about reading in this new year were not included in my post titled New Releases for Winter/Spring 2014 http://canlitforlittlecanadians.blogspot.ca/2014/01/new-releases-for-winterspring-2014.html

The following titles will be added to that post but, in case you never plan on returning to it, I'd really like to make sure you know about these:

Young Adult

A Breath of Frost (Book 1 in new series, The Lovegrove Legacy)
by Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury Juvenile US

Nomad (sequel to Swift)
by R. J. Anderson
Orchard Books

Picture Books

Splat! Starring the Vole Brothers
by Roslyn Schwartz

Young Adult

Camp Outlook
by Brenda Baker
Second Story Press

Soldier Doll
by Jennifer Gold
Second Story Press


Every Day is Malala Day
by Rosemary McCarney
Second Story Press

Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking
by Sarah Elton
Illustrated by Jeff Kulak

Picture Books

Dolphins SOS
by Roy and Slavia Miki
Illustrated by Julie Flett
Tradewind Books

Here Comes Destructosaurus!
by Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

by Michael Black
Illustrated by Debbie Ohi
Simon & Schuster

Whoosh! A Watery World of Wonderful Creatures
by Marilyn Baillie
Illustrated by Susan Mitchell
Owlkids Books


Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home
by Michelle Mulder
Orca Book Publishers

Severn and the Day She Silenced the World
by Janet Wilson
Second Story Press

Picture Books

Music is For Everyone
by Jill Barber
Illustrated by Sydney Smith

Shadow Chasers 
by Elly MacKay
Running Press/Perseus Book Group

Wow Wow and Haw Haw
by George Murray
Illustrated by Michael Pitman
Breakwater Books



Behind the Scenes
by Meg Tilly
Puffin Canada

by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Alexander Griggs-Burr
Dancing Cat Books

The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Puffin Canada

Young Adult

by Caroline Pignat
Puffin Canada



A Children's Guide to Arctic Birds
by Mia Pelletier
Illustrated by Danny Christopher
Inhabit Media

Young Adult

Jamie's Got a Gun
by Gail Sidonie Sobat
Illustrated by Spyder Yardley-Jones
Great Plains Publications

My apologies to authors or illustrators whose works I had omitted.  To amend that, I hope this extra post with cover images of most books will help.

January 13, 2014

Lumière: Book Launch (Sarnia)

Join author

Jacqueline Garlick-Pynaert

 for the launch of her new
steampunk fantasy
The Illumination Paradox, Book 1
Amazemo Books
458 pp.
Ages 12+
December 2013

(The following description was retrieved from Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19541871-lumiere)
One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.

After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.

Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.

Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.

Sunday, January 19, 2014
 2 - 3 p.m.

The Book Keeper
Northgate Plaza
500 Exmouth Street
Sarnia, ON
Phone: 519-337-3171

Check out her website at http://jacquelinegarlick.com/ or for information about the Limited Edition Collector's Copy of Lumière, go to http://www.lumierethenovel.com/