One Confession. Two realizations.

I went to a conference this weekend as a total imposter. I’m supposed to be a writer — I was even receiving an award — but I haven’t written a new idea in over a year, or maybe longer (!) Is that “writers’ block?” I don’t know. I have been writing. But in the absenceContinue Reading

Inky Girl Interview

A year ago, Debbie Ohi interviewed Suzanne Del Rizzo and me for her Inky Girl blog. In her post, Debbie included all sorts of information and terrific visuals about the writing and illustrating process for Skink on the Brink, our road to publication and beyond… Book Café loves this kind of book chat. To read the interview, please visit Debbie’sContinue Reading

On Breathing Fire & Happy Dancing

So I finished my first novel yesterday–well, the first novel I will actually confess to having written, the first novel I can actually envision maybe someday seeing the light of day.  I didn’t post anything about it because completing that final chapter did not leave me on a high. I didn’t pour a glass ofContinue Reading

Words on a Limb: Spotlight on Authors

Thank you, Lora and Mauricio of Words on a Limb for interviewing me for your Spotlight on Authors. Thank you also for your diligent research – an unexpected result of this interview being it finally nudged me into the world of Twitter! At the bottom of the Words on a Limb interview, I was surprised to findContinue Reading

Stewie visits Tasmania and the St. Clair River

Before I had published my first book, I had this dream of publication that it meant my work would be out there for other people–strangers even–to stumble across, maybe pick up and read, perhaps even take home to share or revisit later. I had understood that my book would be printed in runs consisting ofContinue Reading

Launch of Book Café – Writing Process Blog Tour

While I know that I could never commit to maintaining a full blog – and kudos to all of those who do, while keeping up with their own writing, and while maintaining an actual life – I do wish I had somewhere to post relevant book news. I have decided to let this page simplyContinue Reading

That One Spooky Night – Dan Bar-el, ill. David Huyck

That One Spooky Night – Dan Bar-el, ill. David Huyck

Grades 1-4 (Kids Can Press, 2012) That One Spooky Night is a collection of tales about a Halloween evening filled with haunted happenings and creepy characters. These linked stories are vibrant in their comic book style of illustration and scary in the way that thrills and delights young readers. Dan Bar-el is known for playingContinue Reading

Martin on the Moon – Martine Audet, ill. Luc Melanson, trans. Sarah Quinn

Martin on the Moon – Martine Audet, ill. Luc Melanson, trans. Sarah Quinn

Kindergarten to Grade 2 (Owlkids Books, 2012) Martin spends a lot of time in his own little world – a world where he attempts to catch butterfly giggles with his camera and where his mother’s smile is a big, wide river. But not today. Today is the first day of school and he will listenContinue Reading

The Stone Hatchlings – Sarah Tsiang, ill. Qin Leng

The Stone Hatchlings – Sarah Tsiang, ill. Qin Leng

Kindergarten – Grade 3 (Annick Press, 2012) The fascination of young children for stones has long been a governing aspect of life around our house.  My husband and I have grown to respect this even if we don’t always understand it the way Sarah Tsiang and Qin Leng obviously do. Their respect for the wayContinue Reading

Return to Bone Tree Hill – Kristin Butcher

Return to Bone Tree Hill – Kristin Butcher

Grades 5-10  (Thistledown, 2009) A true mystery of my favourite sort, this story kept me guessing until the very last minute. Is Charlie Castle in fact dead and, if so, who killed him? To answer these questions, Jessica has to revisit the events of the summer her family moved from Victoria, the summer she playedContinue Reading

Larf – Ashley Spires

Larf – Ashley Spires

Preschool to Grade 2 (Kids Can Press, 2012) Larf enjoys his quiet life in the woods, alone but for his pet bunny, Eric. He jogs, observes nature and, on Wednesdays, he does laundry. If he were ever discovered, people would never leave him alone, for Larf is a sasquatch, you see. While he enjoys hisContinue Reading

Up Cat / Up Dog – Hazel Hutchins, ill. Fanny

Up Cat / Up Dog – Hazel Hutchins, ill. Fanny

Preschool – Kindergarten (Annick Press, 2012) Charmingly appropriate is the idea that a board book, or in this case two, would be created around one of the first words that toddlers learn – up. Up Dog follows Dog through a straight-forward, yet eventful, kind of day. Hazel Hutchins uses 40 words to describe how DogContinue Reading

In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up – Monica Kulling, ill. David Parkins

In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up – Monica Kulling, ill. David Parkins

Grades 1-3  (Tundra Books, 2011) In the Bag: Margaret Knight Wraps It Up is the newest release in Tundra’s Great Idea Series. It is the biography of Margaret (Mattie) Knight who in 1873 became the first woman awarded a patent in the US. As in All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine and It’s a Snap!Continue Reading

My Name is Elizabeth – Annika Dunklee, ill. Matthew Forsythe

My Name is Elizabeth – Annika Dunklee, ill. Matthew Forsythe

Preschool to Grade 2  (Kids Can Press, 2011) Elizabeth loves her name. She loves that it’s nine letters long. She loves the neat things her mouth does when she says it. She loves that there is a queen named after her. But, most of all, she loves that it’s her name to use however sheContinue Reading

Cairo Kelly and the Mann – Kristin Butcher

Cairo Kelly and the Mann – Kristin Butcher

Grades 4-8  (Orca, 2002) Pitched perfectly at boys aged 10-14, Cairo Kelly and the Mann tells the story of two kids who love and respect their favourite umpire almost as much as they love baseball.  When “the Mann” is removed from the Umpires’ Association after his refusal to write a test proving the skills heContinue Reading

Me and the Blondes – Teresa Toten

Me and the Blondes – Teresa Toten

Ages 18+; Young Adult  (Penguin, 2009) At the same time hysterically funny and deadpan serious, Me and the Blondes is an engaging read for girls aged 13-16. From Auntie Eva’s unforgettable life philosophies – “You got to inspire za boobies.  A beautiful too-big brassiere vill … encourage zem to fill up za cups” – toContinue Reading

The Tiffin – Mahtab Narsimhan

The Tiffin – Mahtab Narsimhan

Grades 4-8  (Dancing Cat Books, 2011) There is a reason why The Tiffin has been listed as one of Quill & Quire’s 15 “Books of the Year” for 2011. There is a reason why this book is receiving critical acclaim. And there is a reason why I absolutely loved it. Actually there are many reasons.Continue Reading

Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings – Hélène Boudreau

Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings – Hélène Boudreau

Grades 5-9  (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010) I knew I would love Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. I had read the great reviews. I enjoy the author’s quirky, somewhat “out-there” sense of humour. And I always love a book that draws me into an alternate world and allows me to stay there, happy for the duration,Continue Reading

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War – Marsha Skrypuch

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War – Marsha Skrypuch

Grades 2-6  (Pajama Press, 2011) What I love about Marsha Skrypuch’s writing is how she explores stories often considered too complex, too controversial or too emotionally-charged for a book. Then she addresses these stories to children – delivering them openly with respect and candor and with their deepest humanity intact so that each reader, childContinue Reading

Trouble in the Hills – Helaine Becker

Trouble in the Hills – Helaine Becker

Ages 12+  (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011) Nailed it! Inside Helaine Becker, there must reside the soul of a 15-year-old boy. I know this because I just spent the afternoon pulled into into the world of Cam Stewart, the mountain-biking, adventurous and somewhat rebellious main character of Trouble in the Hills. Grounded by his father, CamContinue Reading

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? – Dan Bar-el, ill. Rae Maté

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? – Dan Bar-el, ill. Rae Maté

Preschool to Grade 2  (Simply Read Books, 2011) Dan Bar-el’s creative extension of the Mother Goose rhyme is a lyrical journey perfectly accompanied by Rae Maté’s dreamy paintings. As the illustrations show, a young girl is asking Pussycat to recount tales of his travels which the pair re-enact by puppet show under the light ofContinue Reading

The Vole Brothers – Roslyn Schwartz

The Vole Brothers – Roslyn Schwartz

Preschool to Grade 1  (Owl Kids Books, 2011) When you’ve created a series as well-loved and successful as the Mole Sisters, it makes sense to keep doing what you’re doing. The Vole Brothers is related to Roslyn Schwartz’s earlier series in many ways but it also has much to offer that is fresh and unique.Continue Reading

Saving Arm Pit – Natalie Hyde

Saving Arm Pit – Natalie Hyde

Grades 2-6  (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011) The Harmony Point Terriers are having a rough season. They’ve lost their first 3 games, their old coach and – thanks to vandals changing the town sign to read Arm Pit – they’ve even lost their name. It’s understandable that, when they suspect the Harmony Point post office isContinue Reading

Merci Mister Dash! – Monica Kulling, ill. Esperança Melo

Merci Mister Dash! – Monica Kulling, ill. Esperança Melo

Preschool to Grade 2  (Tundra Books, 2011) Red-headed Daphne is a real wild child, while poor Mr. Dash is a proper posh pup. He lives with Madame Croissant, assists in her Gift Shop and tactfully finds ways to avoid Daphne’s weekly visits. Alas, however, the day arrives that he does not gather his newspaper andContinue Reading

The Last Loon – Rebecca Upjohn

The Last Loon – Rebecca Upjohn

Grades 2-4  (Orca Book Publishers, 2010) When his mom flies to England to care for Granny, Evan is left to spend Christmas break with “ex-con Aunt Mag.” Worse than that, Aunt Mag lives in the middle of the nowhere – probably to hide from the eyes of the law. It takes a while before EvanContinue Reading

My Cat Isis – Catherine Austen, ill. Virginie Egger

My Cat Isis – Catherine Austen, ill. Virginie Egger

Preschool to Grade 2  (Kids Can Press, 2011) Who has never marvelled at the affinity between a goddess and a feline friend? My Cat Isis takes a loving look at the similarities and differences between an ancient Egyptian divinity and a boy’s cat. The story is a back and forth dialogue between mythology and theContinue Reading

Cinnamon Baby – Nicola Winstanley, ill. Janice Nadeau

Cinnamon Baby – Nicola Winstanley, ill. Janice Nadeau

Preschool to Grade 2  (Kids Can Press, 2011) In this modern fable, Miriam is a baker who combines ingredients and song to create wonderfully delectable varieties of bread. Her aromatic cinnamon bread draws Sebastian into her bakery and a year later they are married. A beautiful cinnamon baby with dusky skin is born and theContinue Reading