Friday, July 12, 2013

Day Seven: Canadian Children's Book Week 2013

This is the seventh and final installment about my week long tour for TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2013. I toured in northern Saskatchewan. More on the whole idea/background of Book Week here. Catch up on: installment one, or maybe installment two, number three, number four, and if you'd like number five and number six.

Saturday May 11, 2013
I was up early. Seriously early. Like 3:45am early so I could walk around my room like a zombie doing the final packing while sipping on a Keurig hotel room coffee (surprisingly good that--especially since I'd bought real cream to put in it).

I loaded the luggage in the car with and took all my belongings and garbage out of its nooks and crannies. After spending so much time in that car over six days it became kinda like a second hotel room.
My wheels for the tour
I found the airport in the dark with no trouble (yay me) and parked the rental. Quite a few people at the airport. I’m not sure why this always surprises me. Anyway, there were no issues lining up for this and lining up for that, and then finally waiting for my flight to be called.

Flyin WestJet
As I sat in the plane the most beautiful sunrise appeared. It was like a parting gift.
Sunrise in Saskatoon
The flight was uneventful. They don’t call those early morning flights “red eyes” for nothing. I collected all my luggage (phew!), caught a shuttle bus, loaded my mini van (it felt huge after driving a compact for a week!), bought some breakfast, and drove myself home. Once home I promptly shed my glamorous touring author persona (:>) to be mom again but that’s okay. You need a life if you want stuff to write about.

Thank you to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TD Bank for this amazing thing called Book Week. To the kids (keep reading and writing!) and teachers and librarians, you were all wonderful, and I won’t ever forget how special and welcome you made me feel. And my final huge, enormous and gigantic thank you goes to my tour organizer Saache Heinrich for all her work planning and coordinating where and when I went, where I’d stay, and how I’d get there. It was flawlessly organized.

THANK YOU Saache!!
The lovely gifts and cards I received from the schools and libraries.
Random Memorable Moments

  • Being asked to power down my Kobo on takeoff. Even though its wireless was turned off. As someone who would rather read than think too much about the takeoff this was, um, not ideal. But you do what you have to do.
  • Taxiing across the runway in Toronto and having the flight attendant entertain us on the long, long journey to the terminal by telling jokes. They were groaners. Proof:
"What do you call an alligator wearing a vest? An in-Vest-i-gator."

My Saskatchewan Playlist

Thanks to all the time in the car with the radio on, loud, these songs will forever remind me of Saskatchewan:
Thrift Shop, Macklemore
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, Fall Out Boy
Radioactive, Imagine Dragons
Come & Get It, Selena Gomez
Can’t Hold Us, Macklemore
Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke
Feel This Moment, Pitbull
Hurricane, Bridgit Mendler
Don’t YouWorry Child, Swedish House Mafia
22, Taylor Swift
Get Lucky, Daft Punk
Crazy Kids, Kesha
Gentlemen, Psy
Back driving in Ontario--traffic!

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 2013 Carnival of Children's Literature

June is the end of spring and the start of summer so what better time to talk about books?! Here's a roundup of book talk on Kidlitosphere blogs that you won't want to miss. Pack a few of these recommended titles in your beach bags.

Early Literacy

  • Starting us off with early literacy, Darshana at Flowering Minds is sharing "A Fun, Fun, Fun read by debut author Tara Lazar about a trapdoor, monsters for sale, a horrible return policy, and a simple story about a brother and a sister that will make you smile." What's this great book? The Monstore of course. Head on over to the blog post to find out more about it.
  • Catherine at Story Snug recommends The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson. She says "The Paper Dolls is a beautiful story. We read the book and then downloaded paper dolls from the publisher's website to colour, cut out and help raise money for the charity, Save the Children." So please hop on over to her blog for more details.
  • At Randomly Reading Alex reviews In Andal's House by Gloria Whelan. Alex describes it as "a lovely picture book about a young boy who experiences caste discrimination during the Duwali Festival of Light." Read the full review here.


  • Susan at The Book Chook brings you talk of a book written and illustrated by Narelle Oliver. "Sand Swimmers is a fascinating book that gives readers a glimpse of Australia's so-called dead heart via elegant text and superb illustrations," Susan says. How can you not click over to her blog to find out more?
  • Gail over at Original Content enjoyed a book by Susan Mitchell. As Gail says, "I'm interested in finding environmental children's books that don't preach or instruct. The Rainforest Grew All Around is a great example of what I'm looking for. Child readers or listeners can just feel part of an environment. This book is also great because it can be read in different ways for different age groups." Head on over there to find out more.

Middle Grade Fiction

  • There's so much great fiction out there, but be sure to look into these recommended reads. Start off with Jen Robinson's Book Page to find out more about a great middle grade novel. Jen recommends it because "Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a very fun middle grade novel, filled with puzzles as well as references to modern and classic children's books. This is perfect escapist fare for 10 year olds." Find more here.
  • Then go to visit Katie at Secrets & Sharing Soda for a fantastic book review. Katie says "The Quirks: Welcome to Normal is one of my favorite books of the year so far. The writing is fresh and funny, and the characters are memorable and interesting. I don't read many books outside of the realistic fiction genre, but I really can't say enough good things about this one! It's also a great choice for kids transitioning out of early chapter books and into middle grade, and for families to read together." Get all the details with the full blog post.
  • Charlotte's Library is the place to find out why Charlotte recommends The Wells Request by Polly Shulman. Charlotte says it's "one of my favorite middle grade fantasy books of the year so far." Find out why here.
  • Over at Shelf-employed Lisa recommends you order Sharon Creech's forthcoming novel The Boy on the Porch due out in September. She says "As usual, Sharon Creech shows that she is a masterful storyteller, heartwarming and relevant." Read the full review here.
  • Katy at A Library Mama won a book and fell in love with it. What book? Jinx by Sage Blackwood. Katy summarizes: "Orphan Jinx struggles with magic, secrets, and relationships with his wizard teacher and a girl in a red hood in this colorful middle-grade fantasy." The details are all here.
  • Over at Boys Rule Boys Read Iron Guy Carl has some recommendations for summer reading that will interest boys. Check out why Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Bumps in the Night by Lenore Look as well as, for more of a teen reader, Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor get his seal of approval.

Teen/YA Fiction

  • Don't miss Brenda's recommendation of Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann over at proseandkahn. Why? Brenda says: "Author Lyn Miller-Lachmann draws on some painful childhood moments to create Kiara, a lonely eighth grader with Aspergers Syndrome, in her sophomore novel." Find the full review here.

Interviews & Thoughtful Discussion

  • If you'd like to think about children's literature as a body of work, don't miss Mary Ann at Great Kids Books because she has a fascinating look at heroes in children's literature. As she says, "Children's stories permeate our culture. This is nothing new -- but lately I've been wondering what the heroes from children's literature say about our times. From Alice to Matilda to Harry Potter, what do we learn about our own times?"
  • Alison Goldberg interviews author/illustrator Janine Macbeth about her latest. Alison says "I blog about children's books with activism themes. This month I interview the talented Janine Macbeth who wrote, illustrated, and published her debut picture book, Oh, Oh, Baby Boy!, a beautiful story about engaged fatherhood. Her newly-formed independent press, Blood Orange Press, is "a literary home for diverse readers" and she ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring this book into the world." Find out more here.
  • This month the Author of blog has been following a theme. Kate Hannigan says: "I've been celebrating graphic novels throughout the month of June! And this post, June 24th, tops off the month and features a fun graphic novel/early reader called Odd Duck. With my blog, I interview the authors of children's books and talk about the inspiration and ideas behind them. This week's post is an interview with Odd Duck author Cecil Castellucci." Don't miss the whole interview.

Wrapping Up
If you've read this far, to thank you for joining me here, would you like a free PDF Teacher/Librarian/Parents' Guide to my book Sorting through Spring? It's got lots of great activities and reproducibles to have fun with K-2nd grade math patterning and sorting. You can get the direct link to the PDF file here, or browse all of great guides from my publisher OwlKids Books here.

Don't Miss July's Carnival
I hope you enjoyed this roundup of book related blog links. Next month join the Carnival of Children's Literature over at proseandkahn for a look at what made up the book buzz in July.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day Six: Canadian Children's Book Week 2013

This is the sixth installment about my week long tour for TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2013. I toured in northern Saskatchewan. More on the whole idea/background of Book Week here. Catch up on: installment one, or maybe installment two, number three, number four or even number five.

Friday May 10, 2013
I was kind of sad to be heading out for my last day of touring. So to cheer myself up I stopped at a Timmies in Saskatoon to get a coffee for the road. When I got out of my car I almost stepped on a chunk of lettuce and an orange triangular piece of cheese lying on the pavement. Literary allusion alert! Of course I thought of the cheese in Wimpy Kid, and also I’d just read “Wonder” a couple days before which itself had a reference to said Wimpy Kid cheese. Life meets art? Wish I’d taken a picture of it.

I headed south for about 1 hour and 40 minutes to Loreburn. Another lovely route.

Sprinklers span the horizon
Roadside slough?
The road ahead
Blackened field. I swear smoke was coming off it still.
Loreburn grain elevator
Loreburn Central School! Here I had a lovely greeter named Natasha, a Hunger Games fan. She showed me around the school and answered all my questions. She even introduced me to the kids for my first presentation. This time it was a workshop on writing. The kids and I had a great time coming up with story premises based on asking why about that cheese I’d seen earlier to prove that you can make up a story starting with almost anything. And then the kids came up with their own story ideas based on a photo I showed them of my cat on a skateboard.

 The staff invited me to join them for a pot luck lunch. What a feast! Pasta salad, lettuce salad, roast beef, sliced chicken, and kiwi pavlova for dessert. Yummy!

My second presentation at Loreburn was about “Sorting through Spring.” They were a great group and a wonderful way to wrap up my week’s presentations. Thank you Loreburn!

After good byes it was back up the road to Saskatoon.
Loved the contrast here

Amazing view
Abandoned building...schoolhouse? Story!
Field and fluffy clouds
Touch the clouds?
That night a group of perhaps high schoolers shared my hotel floor. Much laughter and door slamming ensued until they all left for somewhere. It was peaceful for about fifteen minutes until the clock radio alarm went off in the room next door. And didn’t shut off. For like an hour. I had to catch a flight that left at 6:00am the next morning so I finally had to call the front desk to get someone to come shut it off. Last night in Saskatchewan. :<

Random Memorable Moments

  • The duck that flew right across the road in front of me. Not sure how I didn’t hit it but very glad I didn’t.
  • Realizing a "wide load" sign here really means a wide load, as in move onto the shoulder or you’ll hit the wide load coming at you from the other direction.
  • The thrill of thinking that a tumbleweed might have just zipped across the road in front of me and disappeared into the field. It was blown vegetation of some sort. Cool.
  • Wind in action: Got out of my car to take one of the photos above and the wind blew the car door back into me. Ouch. Bruise.
  • Noting that drivers actually take turns merging at the “Zipper merge” sign. Maybe we should adopt that signage in Ontario because using “merge” alone seems to mean: quickly try to get in the appropriate lane while cutting off anyone else who might get in front of you 
  • Count for Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” on the Satellite Radio: 2
  • Count for Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know” on the Satellite Radio: 3
  • Count for Macklemore’s “Ceiling Can’t Hold Us” on the Satellite Radio: 4 

I'll have one more post about my TD Canadian Children's Book Week tour to wrap things up. It'll be here later this weekend after I take a brief break to bring you the June Carnival of Children's Literature.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day Five: Canadian Children's Book Week 2013

This is the fifth installment about my week long tour for TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2013. I toured in northern Saskatchewan. More on the whole idea/background of TD Book Week here. Catch up on: installment one, or maybe installment two, number three, or even number four
Good morning North Battleford, SK

Thursday May 9, 2013
Today it was two library presentations. First up was the public library in town so I didn’t have far to go.

The North Battleford Library lecture hall was such a great space. Okay, at first I was a little intimidated by the thought of the kids looming above me but it worked very well. Two seat sections were filled with kids. (I mentioned in an earlier post that I refrained from photographing kids although I kind of regret that now. But I’m not comfortable putting photos of other peoples’ kids on the internet.)
My view
The kids' view
This was a great group of kids. Thanks to the kids, their teachers, and librarian Linda Peterson for a great visit. From here it was north two hours to Meadow Lake. The scenery changed to be more hilly and more treed.
The ice wasn't out yet here

Lighthouse overlooking the lake
The road in front of me

Glaslyn grain elevators
A tree outstanding in its field
Cows in their field

Evergreens and trees!
The Meadow Lake Library had a great crowd. The kids came from the public school. They sat on cozy rugs in front of me. Some even got the library pillows for extra comfiness. We were in a room surrounded by books as I talked about my books and all the work a writer puts into writing a book. :> Everyone was very enthusiastic. Thanks for a great visit!

After that I had to make for Saskatoon. So it was south from Meadow Lake, a gas and coffee fill up in North Battleford, and back to the area of the Radisson flooding. All traffic was being monitored so I was flagged to stop. They handed me a map. Detour for me. No traffic as small as my car was allowed through going in a SW direction.

I will admit to having a few moments wondering about the detour because there was a lot of water around at the start of the route. Later, at one point I rounded a corner and there was a herd of bison right by the road! They were behind a fence so probably a domesticated herd but still, how cool to see actual bison in the prairies?! There were no shoulders so I couldn’t pull off the road to get a photo. Rats.
I'm going around the flooding?

Flooded fields

Some areas of caution on the detour

Debris from flooding on the detour

Lots of water lying around

A crooked house
Love the architecture of the church
Sun getting lower, almost done driving
All told the detour added about an hour to the trip. So, just over four hours of driving later I checked back into the Saskatoon Travelodge- - but this time not the room across from the parking lot door. Yay! I was so glad to be out of the car.

Random Memorable Moments
  • Seeing a couple huge farm vehicles in the A&W parking lot at breakfast
  • The sign that read “Stock at large 5 km” but sadly I never did see wandering cows
  • Second fart of the tour successfully ignored :>
  • Today’s roadside wildlife sightings went: deer roadkill, dead moose, dead deer, live deer munching grass on the side of the road!, dead deer, two live deer!, moose carcass, dead deer, Molson Canadian beer case, a live deer!**
  • Count for Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” on the Satellite Radio: 3
  • Count for Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know” on the Satellite Radio: 3
  • Count for Macklemore’s “Ceiling Can’t Hold Us” on the Satellite Radio: 7
**I see this here at home too so it wasn’t shocking to me or anything, I just don’t usually see so many large animals at one time. Eg. Today’s roadside wildlife count went: two live wild turkeys!, dead red squirrel, dead gray squirrel, dead chipmunk, about three impossible to identifys, one lucky cat.

Want to read about other days on my tour? Find:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five--you're here
Day Six--coming shortly

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day Four: Canadian Children's Book Tour 2013

This is the fourth installment about my week long tour for TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2013. I toured in northern Saskatchewan. More on the whole idea/background of Book Week here. Catch up on: installment one, or maybe installment two, or even number three.

Wednesday May 8, 2013
I was packing the car in the morning when in the grass beyond the parking lot I caught sight of this little guy (or gal). When I posted it on my Facebook page I was told it was indeed a gopher, otherwise known as a Richardson’s ground squirrel. A first for me!

I didn't have to go far this morning. My first school was Queen Mary Community School. The library had a great old fashioned tub full of pillows in it. I thought that was cool. It was a very large audience but they were wonderful. Lots of kids volunteered to be Mr Fox. An hour went by very quickly. And at the end of my presentation many of the younger children came up and hugged me and thanked me for coming. The teachers gave me a nice gift. I’m proud to now own a bright blue book bag with the school’s logo on it.
Queen Mary foyer. I love the dream catcher.
Today's lunch was a treat. Jane Parrott took me to Amy’s on Second restaurant where I had a lovely big bowl of Italian chicken soup. Excellent! So go there if you’re ever in Prince Albert. After that it was pretty much just down the street to the second school.
Westview Community School
Westview Community School had a couple pigeons perched on the roof watching me approach. (:>) As I waited for the teacher to meet me, because it was lunch recess I listened and watched kids practicing hoop dancing in the gym. That was amazing! The drums were so powerful and the girls graceful. In Ms Radke's classroom I sat in a wooden rocking chair and shared my books with the classes. Here's the beautiful envelope for the card they gave me.

Then it was off to find North Battleford via Saskatoon. It was a three hour drive with rather a lot of excitement at one point:
Sorted green farm vehicles

More sorted vehicles

Share the road
A lookout stop
Go under the tankers
And then when I was near Radisson...
This doesn't look good

This really doesn't look good

Um, what happened to the road?

OMG time to start paying attention to driving!
This flooding was very scary. That transport in front of me was kicking up some serious waves. I took it slow. At one point the car hesitated for a moment and I think my heart stopped thinking it was going to stall, but I made it through. That was a lot of water.

You can read/watch a video about the flooding here on the Saskatoon CTV news:
Cool clouds
I was so done by the time I found the motel. Good night Battlefords.

Random Memorable Moments

  • The billowing dust kicked up by vehicles racing down dirt side roads
  • Successfully ignoring a big fart in the middle of one presentation
  • Count for Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” on the Satellite Radio: 3
  • Count for Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know” on the Satellite Radio: 5