Salt Spring Connection

You know how wonderful it is to read a book that takes you into the character's world, to the point where you can't put it down and you dread coming to the end because you can't spend more time with these new found friends?
Well - that's what happened when I picked up Julie Burtinshaw's book THE FREEDOM OF JENNY. The book had been on my shelf for a while. The back cover told me the book was about slavery. As soon as I started reading, the story pulled me in. I was there with Jenny and her momma and rest of the family as they toiled the fields and worked in the kitchen as slaves in Missouri in the 1840's and '50's. Then the story took me along on the pioneer trail as the family traveled west to California where slaves could live in freedom. I learned much about that part of history. It came to life through the vivid characters.
But then the story took an unexpected turn - they moved on to Canada. First to Fort Victoria. And then... to Salt Spring Island.
When I picked the book up I had no idea it would take place here. I loved learning about the true history of the small island on which I live. I recognized places and people's names. Not only a well written book but an important part of history that I had not really read about before: black pioneers. I highly recommend it to any reader!
Win an Autographed Book!

Just came back from school visits in Victoria, BC. Cordova Bay Elementary had read many of my books and excitement had been building. The students had voted on their favorite stories and also made a large mural of (Emma) chickens. The students and teachers were wonderful.

I would like to find out how many of you read my blog regularly and how you use my site. Please send me an email ( and tell me:
- are you a teacher? Or a parent, bookseller, student?
- if so in which city and province/state do you live?
- did you find my site helpful in using books, planning an author visit or other aspects?

I will mail an autographed softcover copy of A MOUNTAIN ALPHABET to the 17th entry.
Good luck and happy reading,


Reading Good Books

It's getting close to the end of November and colder. A good time to curl up with a good book in front of the fireplace. That's just what I have been doing. Tonight I finished reading MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIHM by Robert C. O'Brien. I had heard about this Newbery winner for a long time but never actually read it. I recently bought it at Fables' Cottage bookstore here on Salt Spring Island. I loved it. Not only is it a skillfully written tale about mice and rats, it has wonderful observations about human nature. I found myself caring about the rats and their intricate way of living. I loved the 'pictures' painted in words in this fascinating novel. A good book for any teacher to read aloud, especially to students who enjoyed The Redwall series by Brian Jacques or Tale of Desperaux by Kate Dicamillo. If you would like to see a list of other books I have loved to read, check out my list of recommended books on my FOR READERS page. Happy reading.

November 10, 2008

It's a glorious Fall day on Salt Spring Island. In between editing, writing and researching I try to go outside - to sweep, bring in firewood and fill birdhouses. Just in case you think that writing is hard work, I'd like to share a letter I just received from a student in Grade Two. After listening to my presentation on writing, editing, rewriting, submitting, rejection, acceptances, contracts, publishing etc, etc. this student writes:

Just so you know: being an author is a piece of cake compared to being a second grader!
Have a good day,


Ms. Bee's Magical Bookcase

Students at Shannon Lake school in Westbank, BC made wonderful drawings based on my book Ms. Bee's Magical Bookcase. Ms. Bee is a special teacher/librarian who spends much time visiting with fairytale characters. I thought you might enjoy seeing one of the drawings:

Notice the fairy sitting on the bookcase and two of the three little pigs peeking over the top!

Big Compliment from a Little Reader

I love reading letters that children write to me. I thought I'd share this one with you:

Can you decipher it?!
She liked the 'imagination' I put in my books! I love it.

School Visits in the Okanagan

I just got back after a two week stint of visits to schools in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley. It was fun to see old friends as well as meet new teacher/librarians! I visited 13 schools, did about 30 presentations to over 3,000 students ranging from Kindergarten to Grade Seven. It was fun to share stories and information about books with all of them. A highlight was the Literacy Conference in Kelowna where I was able to speak to many teachers from places as far as Nunavut.
The only problem is that I talked so much that I lost my voice! I'm sure it will come back soon since I'm now home for a while... I look forward to getting settled into our new home (I'm finally putting all of my books onto the new bookshelves) and working on my writing!


Fall - time to read!

I just returned from a week of school visits in Ft St James, Vanderhoof and Burns Lake, B.C. I had forgotten how glorious fall colours can be. The entire area was lit up by the trembling yellow of aspen trees. Besides visiting 7 schools, I drove 800 KM! The children were lovely and excited about reading and books. Some of the teachers took me for a walk along Stuart Lake. I hadn't expected warm "summer" days in early October!
When I left I grabbed a book to read on the plane: I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven. It had been on my shelf for a while and I had no idea what a treasure it is.. It takes place in northern BC so it was very appropriate. The book deals with native people, changing societies and life in a small northern village. It was very well written - I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended, not just as YA but to anyone.

Children's Book Award Shortlisting!

News Flash: Wake Up, Henry Rooster (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) has been shortlisted for the 2008 Willow Awards! These are the popular children's choice awards for books in Saskatchewan. You can read more about the awards here:
Henry's excited! He's staying up late to read all of the shortlisted books in bed... He might even get up early to see if he is a favourite :-)

International School Visits

I'm working with schools in Taiwan, China and elsewhere in Asia to realize author visits in the spring. Today I received a copy of NewsLinks, the newspaper of International School Services. The Fall issue features my article on author visits on the front page. You can copy this link and paste it in your browser's address bar to see the sample issue:


Hello from Salt Spring Island

I've been here for a few weeks now and still unpacking, reorganizing. This was move #24 and we're never moving again! ☺
Yesterday I joined the Salt Spring Public Library. It's housed in a lovely old house with additions, full of good books.
This weekend I'm flying to northern BC to visit schools in Ft St James and Burns Lake areas. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Award Nomination

I'm thrilled to tell you that MY LIBRARIAN IS A CAMEL has been nominated for Indiana's Young Hoosier Award 2008-2009! Keep your fingers crossed!
The photo is of me and my friend Dashdondog from Mongolia. His mobile library is one of those featured in the book.


A New School Year!

Welcome to September - a new school year for most of us. I'm surrounded by boxes and boxes of books, unpacking in our wonderful new location on Salt Spring Island. It's been a hectic few weeks and my back is aching. But we're excited about our new surroundings.
I'm looking forward to speaking to students in Victoria schools and public libraries at the end of September.


Hot Summer News!

I thought I would have a nice, quiet August. Maybe get some writing done... Get ready for school visits starting in September... But things did not turn out that way. My husband, always looking for new challenges and adventures, was offered a wonderful job. We are suddenly moving! I am packing, sorting, cleaning and more packing.

As of September 1 we will be living on Salt Spring Island, one of the San Juan/Gulf Islands. Eventually we plan on running a booklovers' Bed & Breakfast.
I'll keep you posted of new developments!

Book Talk

I just finished reading my new favorite book: The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky, by Farah Ahmedi (Author), Tamim Ansary (Author).
I loved the book, couldn't put it down. The girl lived through amazing hardships and came out so strong. The book taught me much about Afghanistan and how the Taliban is even worse for the people of Afghanistan than for anyone else. I hope her book creates a deeper understanding of and appreciation for other beliefs and cultures. Farah Ahmedi is a remarkable young woman.

Letter from a school

I received a wonderful letter and drawing from a child. Thought you might enjoy seeing it!

Summer Reading

I love summer, especially when I have time to curl up with a good book. You can see what I have read and what I am currently reading here:

It's a fun website where you can start your own list of books.

Happy reading!


Shortlisting for Book Award!

Since the 'facelift' of my new website, we've been trying to add a blog.
Hopefully, this one is going to work and will allow me to add news and updates on a regular basis.

My big news for today is that My Librarian is a Camel (Boyds Mills Press) has been shortlisted for the 2008/9 Young Hoosier Book Award in Indiana! I'm excited about the fact that many readers will be reading the book.


Welcome to my blog!

This will be my very first entry. I just had my website revamped (thanks, Clint!) and hope that this blog will enable me to share news with you on a regular basis.

The school year is just coming to an end. I finished my last author visits to schools in Delta, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam, B.C. While I always love sharing stories with children, I am now looking forward to a summer of reading and writing!

Check out to see which books I am reading.