Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

Wishing you many books for Christmas, a happy holiday season and a New Year full of good books!

The boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Wow. I just finished reading THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS by John Boyne. What a story. Told from the viewpoint of a 9 year old, it is the story of Auschwitz through the eyes of an innocent child. Whose father is in charge of the camp. Wow.
My head is still spinning. It is so well written, so engaging, so lovely and yet so cruel and scary. A great book to use in high school.
I do feel that you need a lot of prior knowledge in order to be able to place the book in its proper context. The story also demonstrates the importance of communication. Bruno, the 9 year old with an annoying 12 year old sister, is lonely within his family. Father is solely preoccupied with his work as Commandant for the Fury (Fuhrer) and Mother is self centered and into 'medicinal sherries'.
If only they had talked to Bruno who is desperate for friends and belonging...

I can see amazing discussions after reading it, with a book club or with high school students.

Wonder Struck

Is it a graphic novel? Is it an illustrated novel?
I'm not sure but I do know that it is an amazing book. Author Brian Selznick has invented his very own genre in WONDER STRUCK, the book he wrote after his awardwinning The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Wonder Struck consists of two parallel stories: one in words, one in illustrations until the two become one towards the end of the book.
An incredible amount of detail and research makes this feel like a true story, and it fact it has many true elements, including the Panorama of New York City built for the 1964 World Fair.
The story has elements of mystery and suspense, the characters come to life and evoke emotions. A wonderful tale to share between a parent and children before going to sleep!

Facebook Updates

Join me on Facebook for recent updates, including my presentation at the Vancouver International Writers festival, as well as an amazing animal video: penguin babies in Antartica.

International Literacy Day

September 8 is INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY! What will you do to share books with someone?
Here are some suggestions:
• read to a child
• buy a book
• visit the library
• sign up to help a child or adult learn to read
• read the book JEREMIAH LEARNS TO READ by Joellen Bogart
• give away a loved,used book
• mail some good picturebooks to a literacy project
• check out my blog: and adopt a literacy project

Check here for more ideas:
International Literacy Day | Education | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organiz

Book News

Good News from Bozeman, Montana:

Press Release – Bozeman Schools Foundation

The Bozeman School Foundation’s Links to Literacy Program
On Friday, September 9th Bozeman Public School First Grade Students will receive a copy of When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruurs. This book was chosen as an age-appropriate extension of the One Book One Bozeman selection Between a Rock and Hard Place which has very strong themes of outdoor adventure. We hope that When We Go Camping will be a stepping stone in helping children learn about the outdoors and the numerous activities it affords. This book is a gift from the Bozeman Schools Foundation’s Link to Literacy Program with support from community member Patrick Donehoo and Bozeman’s Country Bookshelf.
Students will also receive a bookmark with a schedule of One Book One Bozeman activities for the entire family and a pamphlet “What’s the most powerful thing you can do to make sure your child succeeds in school?” This handout emphasizes the important role of parents in the early literacy process and outlines suggestions for reading out loud to their child.
On Friday, September 16tt, first grade students are invited to the Bozeman Public Library from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. to participate in their own camping activities with help from M.O.S.S., the YMCA, ArtSplot, The Yellowstone Foundation and R.E.I. To learn more about the Bozeman Schools Foundation and the One Book One Bozeman Project go to or

A Good Read

I must have had the book on my shelf for three or four years. But for some reason I hadn't read it yet and I recently picked it up: Tales of a Female Nomad.
It's an engaging read, makes you feel as if you are there. Rita Golden Gelman, divorced at age 57, started traveling the world and going with the flow. Without much planning, she set off for exotic locations, wanting to really learn the language and the culture. She made herself at home in Mexico, in Indonesia and many other places.

The second book, Female Nomad and Friends, is an anthology of travel stories by different women, accompanied by recipes. A fun read, opening your eyes to different worlds. Both books will make you want to travel. And cook.

The best part of the second book is that all proceeds go directly to Rotary International and are used to pay the tuition of young people growing up in a slum in India, giving them a chance at a better life. So buy this book for all of your friends, for birthday or any occasion!

Bookmatchmaker Blog offers service learning opportunities

Check out my new blog aimed at supporting organizations that bring books and children together. If your school is looking for a service learning project, this is the place to go:

You can donate one book or many! Supporting any of the projects listed will make a difference in the life of a child through books.
If you are a teacher/librarian you might like to follow this link for a new study on the impact of school libraries on children's learning:

School Visits

I just returned from school visits to Surrey and Kelowna. Spoke to some 4,000 kids during 9 days. Tomorrow I'll be in a Victoria school to speak to 8th graders about MY LIBRARIAN IS A CAMEL and MY SCHOOL IN THE RAIN FOREST.
Next school year (2011-2012) I will be in many schools across North America as well as international schools. In February 2012 I'm booked to speak at Wisconsin State Reading Conference. If you are in a school near Milwaukee and would like me to come, please let me know.

Book Reviews


The devastating tsunami that hit Southeast
Asia in 2004 was the source of many sad events. However, it also brought
forth a heartwarming story. A baby hippo was separated from its mother by
the tidal wave. The baby hippo found an unlikely but faithful companion. An
130 year old tortoise adopted the baby hippo as its own. Mzee, the tortoise
was not terribly friendly but became protective of the hippo, who was named
Owen, who relaxed and started to eat again. The story of these two unusual
friends, Owen and Mzee, was written down and photographed by Craig
Hatkoff and his 6 year old daughter Isabella. The large picture book is now
accompanied by a website with more details and activities for students:
Owen and Mzee, The Language of Friendship, by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff,
ISBN 0439899591

The same tsunami lead Canadian author Eric Walters to write his novel Wave, a juvenile fiction novel. Sam and his parents leave his sister behind in snowy New York to spend Christmas on the beach in Thailand.
Little did they know that their lives were about to change forever. The first
part of the story is written in the voice of 12 year old Sam, the latter part
in Beth’s voice - making this a book that will appeal to both boys and girls.
Once the tsunami hits, the book becomes a page turner.
Waves, by Eric Walters. Doubleday Canada, ISBN 978-0-385-66443-1
Also available as e-book.

Making Change, Tips from an Underage Overachiever, is the remarkable nonfiction book written by sixth grade student Bilaal Rajan. Bilaal, a Canadian, became interested in the plight of children around the world at age four. His book can serve as a how-to guide for children who want to help make the world a better place. Through examples of fund- and awareness raising and real life activities undertaken by children, they will see first hand how they can make a difference. With a foreword by the CEO of Unicef Canada and practical activities to visualize success, this book is a perfect guide to global awareness for children.
Making Change, Tips from an Underage Overachiever, by Bilaal Rajan. Orca
Books, ISBN 1554690013

Check out Bilaal’s website here:

A Mayan Library

In south-east Mexico is a small Mayan village. 137 children attend a, very poor, school here. It has no electricity and no running water. But the children are keen on learning. A group of US and Canadian volunteers has spent the past several years fundraising to build a small library for the school. Now the men of the village have made shelves and furniture from branches. The shelves are ready for books! Several authors, including Pam Withers, have mailed me their books in Spanish. I'm taking about 50 pounds of books, paper, pencils and other school supplies.
I can't wait to share books and stories with the children in this Mayan village!

W. Allan Hancock

Today I met Allan Hancock, the illustrator of Amazing Animals. He is a very nice guy. He and his family came to Salt Spring for our book launch. His paintings are now on display at Art Spring. It was a joy to meet him and to see his amazing art.

Amazing Animals - an amazing book!

To the launch of my newest book: Amazing Animals, The Remarkable Things Creatures Do. Published by Tundra and illustrated by W. Allan Hancock.
The launch takes place on Saturday March 12, 2 PM at ArtSpring on Salt Spring Island.
Join us if you can! Or order the book at your local bookstore.

Bring the World to your Classroom

If you are a teacher or a librarian, you might like to participate in my global bookmark exchange. Simply email me the number of children participating and I will link you to a group elsewhere in the world. Thousands of students in over 30 countries have already sent each other handmade bookmarks. On it they write one sentence (in English and in any other language they may speak) about their favorite book!
Have fun, share books, be creative and learn about the world!