Interview with Illustrator of Island in the Salish Sea

I absolutely love the illustrations for my new book, Island in the Salish Sea. Check out the following interview with, illustrator, Leslie Redhead. For more of her fabulous art, be sure to visit her blog.

Upcoming Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable

Meet writer Sara Cassidy and illustrator Eva Campbell

Author Sara Cassidy & Illustrator Eva Campbell

Monday June 4th, 7:30 pm

at the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable

Meet a new author and a new illustrator on the Canadian children’s literature scene. Sara Cassidy is the author of Windfall and Slick, two environmental mysteries in the Orca Currents series. Eva Campbell, painter, visual artist, and educator, is the illustrator of The Matatu, a picture book by Eric Walters. 

Please bring lightly used children’s picture books to donate to “1000X5” Children’s Book Recycling Project.

The VCLR is open to the public. Members free, drop-ins $5, students $4. Meetings are held at the Nellie McClung Branch Library, 3950 Cedar Hill Road. Come early and browse Tall Tales Books’ table, and bring a friend! Doors open at 7 pm.

For more information about the Roundtable, call 250-598-3694, find us on Facebook, or visit:

2012 BC Book Prizes for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

I missed the 2012 BC Book Prize Gala this past weekend, but here are your winners along with the short-listed books in the children’s and young adult category.  Congratulations to the authors, illustrators and publishers of the prize-winning and short-listed books.

Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize

Supported by the BC Library Association
Judges: Rob Bittner, Sylvia Olsen, Cathleen With

Winner! Blood Red Road 
by Moira Young
Publisher: Doubleday Canada Publishing Group

Blood Red RoadIn a wild and lawless future, eighteen-year-old Saba lives with her father, twin brother Lugh, young sister Emmi and pet crow Nero. The family resides in a secluded shed and the lake, their only source of water and main provider of food, is gradually dying from the lack of rain. But Saba’s father refuses to leave the place where he buried his beloved wife, Allis, who died giving birth to Emmi. While Saba has never forgiven Emmi for their mother’s death, she adores her twin brother Lugh. So Saba’s small world is brutally torn apart, when a group of armed riders snatch Lugh away. Saba’s rage is so wild, that she manages to drive the men away, but not before they have captured Lugh and killed their father. And here begins Saba’s epic quest to rescue Lugh, during which she is tested by trials she could not have imagined. Moira Young was born in New Westminster, BC, where she attended the UBC before heading to the UK to study drama. Moira Young lives in Bath, England with her husband.

I’ll Be Watching
by Pamela Porter
Publisher: Groundwood Books

I’ll Be WatchingIn a small prairie town like Argue, Saskatchewan, everyone knows everybody else’s business. Everyone knows that the Loney family has been barely hanging on—the father, George, reduced to drink and despair since the loss of his farm and the death of his wife, Margaret. That the four Loney children do not get along with George’s second wife, the pious, bitter Effie. Then George dies in a drunken stupor. Effie takes off with a traveling Bible salesman, and it looks as though the children are done for. Who’s to save them when everyone is coping with their own problems—the lingering depression and the loss of the town’s young men to the Second World War. Yet somehow the children find a way, under the watchful eye of their ghostly parents and through the small kindnesses of a few neighbors, but mostly by dint of their own determination and ingenuity. Pamela Porter is an award-winning author who lives in Sidney, British Columbia.

Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest
by Caitlyn Vernon
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear RainforestYou don’t have to live in the Great Bear Rainforest to benefit from its existence, but after you read Nowhere Else on Earth you might want to visit this magnificent part of the planet. Environmental activist Caitlyn Vernon guides young readers through a forest of information, sharing her personal stories, her knowledge and her concern for this beautiful place. Full of breathtaking photographs and suggestions for ways to preserve this unique ecosystem, Nowhere Else on Earth is a timely and inspiring reminder that we need to stand up for our wild places before they are gone. Caitlyn Vernon grew up on BC’s Pacific Coast and now calls Victoria home. Caitlyn has a background in biology and environmental studies and is currently a campaigner with Sierra Club BC, working to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. Nowhere Else on Earth is her first book.

The Runaway
by Glen Huser
Publisher: Tradewind Books

The RunawayLeroy “Doodlebug” Barnstable likes to call himself the quickest draw in the west—with a crayon. It’s 1923 and Doodle is on the run from a couple of abusive cousins when he stumbles into a travelling Chautauqua show where it’s easy to get lost in a crowd—but also easy to lose your heart. Glen Huser has won a number of awards such as the Mr. Christie Award, the Governor General`s Award, and the R. Ross Annett Award. A teacher-librarian for most of his life, he continues to write, pursue his artwork and coach students working on their own books for young people.

What is Real
by Karen Rivers
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

What is RealDex Pratt’s life has been turned upside down. His parents have divorced and his mother has remarried. When his father attempts suicide and fails, Dex returns to their small town to care for him. But he’s not prepared for how much everything has changed. Gone are the nice house, new cars, fancy bikes and other toys. Now he and his wheelchair-bound dad live in a rotting rented house at the back of a cornfield. And, worse, his father has given up defending marijuana growers in his law practice and has become one himself. Unable to cope, Dex begins smoking himself into a state of surrealism. He begins to lose touch with what is real and what he is imagining. And then there are the aliens…and the girl-of-his-dreams…and the crop circle… Karen Rivers’ books have been nominated for a number of awards, including the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Award and the Silver Birch Award. Karen lives, reads and writes in a yellow house near the beach in Victoria, BC.

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

Supported by Ampersand Inc.
Judges: Julie Flett, Dionne Risler, Judith Saltman

Winner! When I Was Small
by Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Publisher: Simply Read Books

When I Was SmallCurious little Henry from the award-winning books When You Were Small and Where You Came From has a new question for his mother in this charming new picture book. “What was it like when you were small?” he asks. His mother proceeds to describe her adventures to him, all about when she was little – very little! Sara O’Leary is a playwright, fiction writer, and literary journalist. She teaches Writing for Children and Screenwriting at Concordia University in Montreal. Julie Morstad is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist known for her surreal, whimsical work. Illustrator of numerous children’s books, including Singing Away the Dark and When You Were Small and its two sequels Where You Came From and When I Was Small, Julie has exhibited her work in galleries, animated two music videos with her brother, filled up stacks of sketchbooks, and made countless pots of soup and many loaves of bread. She lives in Vancouver with her family.

Dalen & Gole: Scandal in Port Angus
by Mike Deas
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Dalen & Gole: Scandal in Port AngusDalen and Gole are refugees on Earth in a race against time to save their home planet from an evil plot. With seconds to the finish line, Dalen and Gole lead the distant world of Budap’s annual Junior-Jet Race. Suddenly they are overtaken. Left behind in a cloud of mysterious purple exhaust, they realize something doesn’t add up. Looking for clues, the two friends uncover a tunnel that leads them to Earth. They arrive in Port Angus, once a lively west coast fishing community. The fishing industry is dying, and Dalen and Gole find themselves embroiled in a sinister plot to steal fish and send them to Budap. Pursued by government agents and angry aliens, Dalen and Gole are in a race against time to save both their own distant world and the fishing community of Port Angus. Mike Deas is the illustrator of the bestselling Graphic Guide Adventure series. He and his wife, Nancy, live in sunny Victoria, BC.

Grandpa’s Girls
by Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrated by Kim La Fave
Publisher: Groundwood Books

Grandpa’s GirlsA young girl delights in a visit to her grandpa’s farm. She and her cousins run through the fields, explore the root cellar where the salmon and jars of fruit are stored, swing on a rope out the barn loft window, visit the Appaloosa in the corral and tease the neighbor’s pig. The visit is also an opportunity for this child to ask Grandpa what her grandmother, Yayah, was like, and explore the “secret room,” with its old wooden trunk of ribbons, medals and photos of Grandpa in uniform. There is a wonderful blend of fun and family history in this visit to a grandparent, but also the realization that there can be some things about the people we know and love that will always remain a mystery. Nicola I. Campbell is an award-winning author of children’s books who lives in Vancouver, BC. Kim La Fave has illustrated many award-winning books for children. He lives in Roberts Creek, BC.

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?
by Dan Bar-el
Illustrated by Rae Maté
Publisher: Simply Read Books

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?In the classic nursery rhyme “Pussycat, Pussycat,” Pussycat travels to London to visit the Queen. But where else does Pussycat go? These vivid, dreamy poems and illustrations reveal the rest of Pussycat’s adventures. The trips take readers to far-flung, magical places of the world and also deeper into Pussycat’s heart, as they learn what he wishes for, what soothes his sorrow, where he hides when he is scared, and what happens when he gets lost. Dan Bar-el’s book Things Are Looking Grimm, Jill won the 2008 Silver Birch Express award, and his funny picture book Alphabetter was chosen for the BC government Ready, Set, Learn program. Rae Maté graduated from Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1986. She enjoys teaching 2- 3 year olds at Parent and Me art classes at Arts Umbrella in Vancouver and paints in her home studios in Vancouver and Hornby Island, BC.

Shake Awakes
by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Marc Mongeau
Publisher: Tradewind Books

Shake AwakesKids still not up? Still sound asleep? Snoozing rug-bugs in a heap. Time to do whatever it takes. Read aloud from… SHAKE AWAKES! Slimy, Stinky, stuffed with dread—these poems will scare kids out of bed! But, hey, kids, there are poems for you, to wake up sleepy grown-ups too! Elves, Green goo—oops! —stuff that breaks—you’ll find them all in… SHAKE AWAKES! Robert Heidbreder has been enchanting children with his joyful poems and rhymes and his brilliant performances for more than two decades. Robert is the author of nearly a dozen books for children, including the award-winning Drumheller Dinosaur Dance. He is recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, presented to him by Jean Chretien. Robert lives in Vancouver, BC. Marc Mongeau is the published author and illustrator of many children’s books. He currently lives in Quebec.

Coming soon, 2012 Caldecott and Newbery Award winning books

Yep, it’s that time of the year again.  The announcement of the 2012 winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Medal is mere days away.  And, although these awards may not have as wide an appeal as film and television awards,  the blogosphere, schools and libraries are all abuzz with excitement.  Each year, thousands of kids get a kick out of choosing “Mock” Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners and comparing their favorites with those of the judges.  In fact, The American Library Association has created a tool kit to help teachers and librarians ramp up the excitement, Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections Tool Kit.  It’s a little pricy, but invaluable for schools and libraries.  What fun.  For those of you who’d like a little help narrowing down the contenders, you could hardly do better than Betsy Bird’s predictions over at A Fuse #8 Production.  Personally, I can’t wait til Monday when the winners of these and some other sixteen awards will be announced because I just know that I’ll have a whole lot of great books to put into my ‘to read’ pile.



The Guardian’s Christmas List for Children’s Picgure Books

If you have a thing for picture books, as I do, you’ll want to check out The Guardian’s list of recommended picture books.  It’s rather different than the NYT’s list.  Here are two of the books for the list.


Ok, to be fair, these were the only two books that featured ahem…bodily functions.  But I found it quite interesting that Harvey, The Boy Who Couldn’t Fart and The Pop Up Book of Poo where chosen alongside Mother knows Best! and A River of Stories.  Some of these titles almost seem to come out a different time and place…


And Christmas Eve At The Mellops’ is actually  a reprint from the 1970’s.  What an interesting mix of sensibilities.

2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Thanhha Lai was given an early Thanksgiving present last night when she was honored with the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature  for Inside Out & Back Again.  Lai, who immigrated with her family from Vietnam as a child and who spoke no English when she arrived, describes her award-winning first novel as “the floral beauty of Vietnamese with the practical, spare version of my English.”

Two publishers, two best sellers!

It’s always nice to get a bit of good news.  Just heard  through a writer friend, the wonderful Marsha Skrypuch,  that A Pod of Orcas is Fitzhenry and Whiteside’s number  one selling title…and that includes both adult and  children’s books!  Hurray!  Not only that, but Orca Books  number one seller is another one of my picture  books, Jessie’s Island, which has been a continuous best  seller for the last 19 years!

Check out the 2011 Chocolate Lily Short-List for a good summer read

Yes, summer is starting to wind down.  If your children are starting to complain about being bored, here’s some great titles to keep them busy the for the rest of the summer… BC’s Chocolate Lily short-list for children’s books.

Hannah and the Spindle Whorl by Carol Anne Shaw (Ronsdale Press)
Silver Rain by Lois Peterson (Orca Book Publishers)
Follow the Elephant by Beryl Young (Ronsdale Press)
Ghost of Heroes Past by Charles Reid (Ronsdale Press)
No Moon by Irene N. Watts (Tundra Books)
Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen (Tundra Books)
Liars and Fools by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers)

Grade 3 to Grade 5 Chapter Books
Emily by Julie Lawson (Penguin)
The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw by Lois Peterson (Orca Book Publishers)
Ben’s Robot by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers)
Black Dog Dream Dog by Michelle Superle (Tradewind Books)
No Pets Allowed by Irene N. Watts (Tradewind Books)

Picture Books
Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward, illustrated by Julie Morstad (Simply Read Books)
Great Lakes and Rugged Ground: Imagining Ontario by Sarah N. Harvey and Leslie Buffam, illustrated by Kasia Charko (Orca Book Publishers)
Stanley’s Little Sister by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Bill Slavin (Kids Can Press)
The Little Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Greystone Books)
Where are You Bear? by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Sean L. Moore (Owl Kids)
Compost Stew: an A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals (Tricycle Press)

Laurel Snyder’s Bigger Than A Breadbox Skype Tour

Are you a teacher looking for a great deal?  Well Laurel Snyder has one just for you…she’ll be doing a Skype tour of 100 schools in 100 days, and it’s FREE!  Yep, you read that right.  FREE!.  And, the icing on the cake is that the first 30 schools who sign up will get a free copy of her new book, Bigger Than A Breadbox.  It may sound crazy, but Laurel is serious, so don’t delay, sign up for her Bigger Than A Breadbox Skype tour” today.

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