If you want to be a winner, you have to practice…that goes for basketball, or writing.

Forsythia  & Magnolia about to flower

Forsythia & Magnolia about to flower


I love this time of year.  The longer days.  The gorgeous blooms in my garden.  Watching excessive amounts of college basketball.  And – most importantly – choosing a winner for The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Writing Contest. As in past years, I’ll be the judge for the grade four category.

Writing and March Madness basketball are two of my favorite passions. It’s true that writing is a solitary endeavor while basketball is very much a team sport. But, the two activities have a lot more in common than you might think. Both basketball and writing are based on practicing a set of skills, and both rely on participants mastering those skills.

Unlike college basketball coaches, I don’t expect perfection from the young writers from across Canada who submitted stories. However I do want to see some sense that they are starting to develop their writing skills. It’s easy to tell when a young writer has spent extra time at their writing. They’ve figured out the importance of story with a beginning, middle and end.  They’re starting to understand how to develop their characters.  And, they are better at using engaging and interesting language.  All these are indicators of time spent honing their craft.
While the NCAA is in the process of choosing their best teams to compete, I’ve narrowed my choice down to the top five stories. Soon, I’ll have picked a winner, and two runners up. If you end up winning the contest, congratulations.  If you didn’t, take the time to revise your story and make it stronger.  Keep practicing.  Keep writing more stories.  Keep working to get better at something you love.  You can bet that all those NCAA basketball players will be  out on the court honing their b-ball skills and getting better at doing something they love too!


Family Literacy Day

A sunny day in January, but no gardening for me!  I still have twenty books to read…

And speaking of reading, Family Literacy Day is coming up on January 27th. ABC Life Literacy Canada has a whole host of tips for making literacy a priority in your family.  The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is celebrating with a list of great books for you and your family.  Be sure to check it out.

Happy reading!




They’ve arrived!

I’ve been waiting for the stories from the 2012 Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Writing Contest and I just got the call that they’ve arrived.  I have stories from grade 4 again this year.  Guess what I’ll be doing for the next while!

If you missed the contest deadline this year, there’s always 2013.  And, don’t forget that dozens of authors and illustrators will be touring the country to promote books and reading all week long. Your school might even be lucky enough to be hosting a visiting author or illustrator.

Winning entries for the writing contest will be announced during Book Week, May 5-12.

Writing Contest for Kids & Teens

Book Week 2012 Writing Contest for Kids & Teens

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is running a Writing Contest for Kids & Teens in celebration of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2012 (May 5 – 12, 2012).

The contest is open to students in Grades 4 to 12. One winner from each grade will receive a $250 gift certificate to the bookstore of his or her choice!

Deadline for entries is February 1, 2012.

More information is available here.

New Award honoring Monica Hughes

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has just announced a new children’s book award which I’m so excited about, The Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Sponsored by Harper Collins Canada, the award honors the late, great Monica Hughes whose was a powerhouse in the field of science fiction and fantasy for young readers.  Our Roundtable brought Monica Hughes out to speak on three separate occasions, and each time was a real treat. I had the pleasure on taking her out for dinner on two of those occasions, and found that she was as humble as she was talented.  Books like The Isis Trilogy, Invitation to the Game, The Golden Aquarians and The Maze, are among my favorites, and are as current and thought-provoking today as the day they were written.

Thank you Harper Collins Canada for stepping up to the plate and honoring one of our finest writers for young people.