Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing you health, happiness and many good books to read!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Peace, Joy & Love

Wishing you a festive time with family and friends, 
and many good books to read.

Happy Holidays!

Card by Unicef

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Hanukkah!

This weekend marks the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. To everyone who is celebrating, I send warm wishes for a Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thank you, Booklist!

I was happy to read a recent review of my new book, Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport. Thank you, Booklist! (This is the review publication of the American Library Association.)

If you'd like to read the review, please go here.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thank you!

Authors, Irene N. Watts and Glen Huser

Me with author, Ellen Schwartz
Thank you to everyone who came to my book launch at the Jewish Book Festival on Sunday!

It was wonderful to be in the company of so many friends, colleagues and family members. It was also great to meet new people who came because they were attending the festival or visiting the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

Thank you especially to my friend and writing colleague, Irene N. Watts, for reading her preface to my book. It was a highlight of the day!

Here are some photos taken at the event by author and pal, Linda Bailey.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Sheila Barry & Groundwood Books

Congratulations to Sheila Barry who is about take the reins as full publisher at Groundwood Books! Sheila was my long-time editor at another publishing house and I know she is perfect for the publisher role.

She and Patsy Aldana have been co-publishers at Groundwood this past year, and Patsy (who established Groundwood and had a long tenure there) is retiring to focus on other literary endeavours.

I think it is wonderful for both of them! To read more about this news, you can go here.

On another note, it is the weekend of my book launch at the Jewish Book Festival. Sunday, Nov. 25 at 1pm at the Jewish Community Centre. I'll be talking about Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport. Love to see you there!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Governor General's Awards

Congratulations to the winners and nominees of the 2012 Governor General's Awards for Literature! What a well-deserved honour for all of you!

You can read all about the books and categories here.

Well done, Canadian writers and illustrators! We are proud of you!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Launch! You're Invited!

I am pleased to announce that the Jewish Book Festival in Vancouver has invited me to be part of their program this year. I will be speaking about my new book: Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport

If you are in the area and would like to attend, I'd love to see you! Consider yourself officially invited.

The book launch is at the Jewish Community Centre at Oak and 41st on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 1 pm.

For more about the festival, go here and for more about my event, please go here or see the flyer below.

Hope you can make it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

New York, New Jersey

I've been so sorry to hear all the post-storm news from New York and New Jersey. What a terrible time the residents are having. Still no power for millions of people, others with homes lost, and many with no food, water or gasoline. I am thinking about all of you east-coasters and hoping for a speedy and safe recovery.

Today, I received a personal phone call from the New York Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. I had pre-purchased tickets to visit the museum on my research trip to NYC. The young staffer from the museum told me they were refunding the tickets because the power was still out on the Lower East Side and the museum couldn't open. She hoped I was safe and dry.

I asked her if the museum had been flooded, and she reported it hadn't. She asked me to please visit on my next trip to NYC. I promised I would.

Take care, East Coast folks. Thank you for your call.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New York Thoughts...

I had planned to fly to New York City this week to research a new book but with the news of the impending storm, decided it was better to stay put.

I will reschedule my trip for another time and try to do some research from way over here on the west coast.

As New York braces for the big hit, I'm thinking about the city's residents and those of other eastern USA/Canada areas.

Here's hoping that everyone stays safe and dry. Hold on to your hats!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's Here!

I'm happy to announce that today is the publication date for my new book. Hooray! It's been a long time coming.

Thank you to Tundra Books (a division of Random House Canada) for publishing the book, and to my editors, Kelly Jones, Kathryn Cole and Tara Walker, for their support and help.

And a huge and heartfelt thank you to the book's contributors who so generously shared their personal stories and photographs. Their memories, quotes and beautiful art bring this book to life.

If you'd like to learn more about Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport, please go here or here. And, if you feel so inclined, you can check out details of Tundra's book giveaway here.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful weekend it's been here on the west coast. Sunshine and blue sky! When I was on my walk this morning, I snapped some photos of trees in lovely fall colours. I am lucky to live in a neighbourhood that is full of giant leafy trees.

It is a fitting weekend to feel grateful. And I do.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Patience is a Virtue...

As every children's author knows, it takes a long time for a book to come out — generally one to two years after you've turned in the final manuscript. Being an author often requires a generous dollop of patience.

I am glad to say that my most recent stint of patience is drawing to a close and that on Tuesday, October 9, my new book will be released. Hooray!

The book is called Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport and it is a project I have been working on for the last couple of years. I am excited and nervous. Will anyone review it? Will anyone like it?

The wait is almost over... Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Slipping Into September...

Our west coast weather is changing and fall is definitely in the air. We have had an extended summer with lovely warm temperatures for almost the entire month of September.

I wonder if the summer-like temperatures made it more difficult to blog? That is my excuse, anyway. :-)

In spite of slacking off on blogging, I am pleased to report I have been hard at work on a new manuscript. It seems to be shaping up into something I will be able to deliver to a publisher and I am happy about that — although it may be another month before it is ready to go.

In the meantime, I hope your September is a good one. If you have returned to work or school after a summer break, I hope it is going well!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School!

To all the teachers and students who head back to the classroom today: Good luck!

I am thinking of you and sending my best wishes for a wonderful year of learning, friendship and fun.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

May the Muse Be With You!

If you are a writer participating in the 3 Day Novel contest this weekend, I wish you the best of luck! I am so impressed with people who are willing to forgo the last rays of summer sunshine to hunker down in their respective offices hunched over a keyboard. I am pleased to say that my Dad is one of those writers.

They call the contest the World's Most Notorious Literary Marathon and writers from around the world are engaged right now in creating their wonderful stories.

Little sleep, lots of coffee, determination and talent — are the main ingredients for a successful writing weekend.

To all of you writing: May the Muse be with you!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Green Prize for Sustainable Literature

I'm happy to announce that my book Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City is the winner of the 2012 Green Prize Award for the Best Community Garden Book for Children, given by the Santa Monica Public Library. To see more about the award, please go here and to read more about the book, please go here.

In addition to that lovely news, Watch Me Grow! was also named as a Best Children's Book of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education in New York. To find out more about the Bank Street List of Best Books, please go here.

A big thank you to the Santa Monica Library and to Bank Street College for these wonderful honours!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wild West Coast

It's been a few weeks since I posted and I am pleased to report that we west coasters have indeed seen the sunshine. We are thrilled!

I recently returned from a trip to the very west coast of Canada — to Long Beach and Tofino, BC. I am posting a couple of photos taken from Mackenzie beach where we stayed. The beautiful sunset photo was taken by my niece on an evening stroll down the beach. The other photo (blue sky, tide out) was taken by moi from the porch of the cabin we stayed in.

As always, it was an inspiring trip, seeing the power of the ocean and the beauty of the rainforest. It's possible there may be a book in the works. And on that note, I picked up a copy of Long Beach Wild written by my friend and fellow author, Adrienne Mason, who is a Tofino resident. It is fascinating reading. I recommend it!

Hope you enjoy the photos and are having a lovely summer.


Saturday, June 30, 2012


Now that school is out, summer has officially arrived! (Sadly, our west coast weather tells another story. The garden is soggy and the strawberries are moldy. But we don't let that dampen our spirits!)

We can look forward to sunshine (one of these days) and a more relaxed summertime pace. I wish all of you a happy couple of months! Kids, teachers, families and everyone else — go beachcombing, get your summer reading material, host a barbecue or do whatever it is you like to do best when the days are long and the weather is warm.

FYI: This blog may also be on a slightly more relaxed schedule, but come fall, the posts will be (more or less) regular again.

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sneak Preview!

"Many of the Kinder believe that their parents gave them life twice: once when they were born and a second time when they were sent to safety on the Kindertransport."

Who were the Kinder and why were they in danger? Find out more here.

I am delighted to show you the cover of my upcoming book, Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport. It will be published by Tundra Books and Random House on Oct. 9, 2012, in both hardcover and e-book forms.

It is a book I've been working on for the last couple of years and I am thrilled that it will soon be available. If you'd like to learn more about it, please check out the description on my website.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Thank you!

The school year is drawing to a close and I have finished the last of my school presentations until fall. A big thank you to the schools and teachers who invited me to visit this year. It was wonderful to meet you all!

I wish you a happy, relaxed and well-deserved summer vacation.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thank you, ICS!

I had a lovely morning at Immaculate Conception School yesterday. Thank you to Catherine Minshull and Trish Weaver for their kind invitation to speak to their students.

The school has recently created their own garden and the students had been busy building raised beds and planting seeds. The teachers asked me to speak about my recent books, Up We Grow and Watch Me Grow, both about planting seeds and growing food, with one set on a local, organic farm and the other in urban gardens in Vancouver.

Thank you to the ICS students and staff for a great morning! It was a pleasure to meet you all.

Happy Growing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Visit to Harry Hooge School

A big bouquet of thanks to Pam Rose, teacher-librarian, and the primary students and teachers at Harry Hooge School for a lovely day. It was great to meet you all and chat about books. You were a wonderful audience!

I wish you a happy June and a relaxing summer.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Back in Time

Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an invitation to visit the elementary school I attended in Grades 1-4. My parents had kindly saved my class photo from Grade 2, so I spent the morning making enlarged copies of my class photo (and my brother's) from decades ago. I can hardly wait to show these aging images to the current group of students. Will they recognize us?

I'm looking forward to visiting Ecole Inman (known as Inman Elementary, when I was a student there). I wonder if things have changed? A full report to come later...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Beautiful Saltspring Island

I'm back after a wonderful couple of days in Saltspring Island schools. Thank you to Deb Nostdal, teacher-librarian, who invited me and organized my trip. Thanks also to the students and staff at Fulford and Salt Spring Elementary Schools. It was lovely to meet you all!

And speaking of lovely, the photo above is one I snapped at a local Saltspring beach early one evening. My friend and fellow author, Margriet Ruurs, lives on the island and she took me to see her favourite beach (shown above). She also has a B&B with a literary focus. It's called Between the Covers, a booklovers B&B.  A great place to stay!

Every time I go to Saltspring, I check out the real estate listings and dream...


Monday, April 30, 2012

Hello Saltspring!

I'm looking forward to meeting the students and staff at two Saltspring Island schools this week. Hello to Fulford Elementary and Salt Spring Elementary! (It's interesting that the island's name can be spelled as either a compound word or as two words. Apparently, both are correct.)

See you soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Toronto Trip

I'm just back from a trip to Toronto where I was visiting my publishers. There are many changes going on in the publishing world right now and it seemed like a good time to catch up and chat with people face-to-face.

A few highlights, in a nutshell:

- Spring has arrived in Toronto. It was great to sit outside and eat lunch under a bright, yellow sun.
- My publishers are so smart! They were very hospitable and gave me lots to think about.
- Toronto is a vibrant, multicultural city. It was fun to see areas, such as Rosedale and the fashion district, that I had not visited before.
- I enjoyed strolling through the historic St. Lawrence Market.
- I had a chance to meet my web designer and most recent editor, who were both lovely people.

My conclusions? I need to go back soon. Lots is happening in that great city!

I hope spring sunshine has arrived where you are, too.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Reading

On this 100th Titanic anniversary weekend, I am thinking a lot about the ship that went down and the lives that were lost. I can't imagine what it would be like to be on the anniversary cruise that is marking the event by going to the location of the sinking, let alone trying to ponder the enormous and terrible circumstances of the actual event that took place in 1912.

To learn more, I just finished reading And the Band Played On by Christopher Ward — a moving account of the musicians who played as the ship was sinking. The author is the grandson of one of the musicians, a young violinist. It is an astonishing story and well worth reading. If you are interested, you can find out more about the book here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Progress Report

This week I have been writing the cover copy for a book I have been working on for the past two years and it is a great feeling to be so close to the end of the process. It's a history book that required an enormous amount of research, and a book where I was responsible for both text and visuals. No small task! I have loved working on it, but it is thrilling that my work is almost done, and I will be free to think about new projects.

In the meantime, the house directly beside my home office was demolished yesterday. I listened to twelve hours of bulldozer sounds and crashing noises. I have to admit some trepidation about my ability to come up with new project ideas in the midst of months of construction work. I may have to find temporary office space at a cubicle in my local library. Or take up a new occupation. Wish me luck!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thank you, Lord Kelvin Kids!

I had a wonderful day at Lord Kelvin Elementary in New Westminster. It was an amazing school with children from all over the world. Their teachers told me that, collectively, the students speak more than 40 different languages. I wish I had been there for their multicultural celebrations held the week before Spring Break. Next year!

Thank you to the students and staff (especially Marie Stevens who invited me) for the warm reception and lovely welcome to your school!

See you again soon, I hope.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Hello Lord Kelvin!

Spring is school visit time!

I'm looking forward to meeting the students at Lord Kelvin Elementary this week. It will be great to speak to the Grade 1 and 2 classes about Canadian wild animals — always a popular topic at that age. Along with my wildlife books, I've got lots of amazing animal facts to share and real animal furs to show.

See you soon, Kelvin kids!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thank you, Shaughnessy!

A big thank you to the teachers and students of Shaughnessy Elementary for inviting me to your school yesterday and for being such a great audience! Thanks especially to teacher-librarian, Rennie Hapton, who organized the day.

It was lovely to meet you all!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hello Shaughnessy Elementary!

I'm looking forward to meeting the students at Shaughnessy Elementary next week.

Here's a photo of their lovely school. It looks like a school I taught in years ago in Armstrong, BC.

Below it is a wonderful drawing of the school made by one of the students, Zoe Luke. (I hope Zoe doesn't mind me posting it here.)

See you next week, Shaughnessy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bologna Book Fair

Some of my colleagues have just flown to Bologna, Italy, for the big children's book fair that is held there each year. Aren't they lucky?!!!

Attending the Bologna Book Fair has been a dream of mine for years — but I have not yet managed to wangle a trip there. Instead, I will spend the weekend consoling myself with a stack of good books and a tasty selection of Italian food and drink. I will live vicariously... and dream about getting to Bologna one day.

Best of luck to everyone attending the fair!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

BC Book Prizes

Congratulations to the finalists for the 2012 BC Book Prizes! May the best book win. You can read all about the nominated titles here.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Berenstain Bears...

Jan Berenstain, of the famous Berenstain Bear books, passed away at age 88 this week.

Countless numbers of children grew up loving the wonderful books created by by Jan and her husband, Stan. Together, they wrote and illustrated some 300 titles. What an amazing contribution to the world of children's books!

To find out more about Jan, Stan and their books, please go here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Novel

Author, J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame has penned a new novel for adults, apparently. I wonder if this book will sweep the adult publishing world the way that her mightily successful wizard-boy series for kids did? Only time will tell...

Read more about the new book here.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Subway Serendipity

Every morning, I read the online daily edition of Publisher's Weekly. Here's a gem I found today: Want to Get Published? Take the F Train.

The story combines a lot of elements I love: writers, YA novels, serendipity and New York.

Hmm... reading this story made me think it's time to book a trip to NYC — my favourite city in the world.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Author, Chris McMahen

Canadian Teacher Magazine has a feature interview this month with children's author, Chris McMahen. It is a delightful read about someone who is both a children's author and a full-time teacher librarian.

I especially enjoyed the article because Chris is a former colleague of mine. For years, our careers overlapped. We both started out as young teachers in a school district, high in the mountains, close to the BC Alberta border. Then we both (unplanned and unbeknownst to us) found ourselves accepting teaching jobs in rural Armstrong, BC, where we taught for many years. Chris is still teaching there today. Later, we both became writers.

I don't see Chris often, but I am always pleased to read his books and hear about his teaching career. Maybe you'd like to find about him, too. Here's the article.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Sad News...

I am so sorry to hear that two wonderful science magazines for kids have been closed down. YES and KNOW will no longer be around to give children a top-knotch reading and learning experience. My writing pals, Jude Isabella and Adrienne Mason, were long-time editors of these magazines and knew how to deliver inspiring content for their young readers.

I am sad to see the magazines go, and I wish the best to the editors. Thank you for such great work!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rules for Writers

I just came across Henry Miller's Commandments for Writers. Excellent advice for those of us who apply pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) every day. For your viewing pleasure, here they are.


Monday, January 30, 2012

What Writers Read

Our local children's writers association (CWILL BC) asked its members to answer a questionnaire about what we are reading. Today, they posted my answers on their blog. If you are interested, you can check it out here. Scroll back to read other writer's answers, too.

And, another blog you might like to check out is the SCWBI Conference blog with posts written by various people who attended the New York Winter Conference this past weekend. I followed along, wishing all the while that I was there. To read this blog, go here. You can scroll back to read an exciting weekend's worth of posts.

Happy Reading! (What books are on your end table?)

Monday, January 23, 2012

First pages: Hooray!

I've been spending the last couple of weeks going over the first pages of a book that will come out next fall. I love this stage. It's the time when I get to see if my idea worked. (I think it did!)

The text and images are artfully put into place by the designer. And then a lot of tweaking begins. Other than coming up with the initial idea, this fine-tuning stage may be my favourite part of the publishing process. I love figuring out ways to make a book look and sound better.

What is the book? More to come on that later. I'll wait until I have a cover to show you.

For now, I hope all is well in your world. Maybe there's something you are fine-tuning.


New format?

Hmm... I see that Blogger has changed its format. Will I be able to figure out how to post? Let's find out. This is a test run.


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Joys of Tweeting

I recently opened a Twitter account and have had fun learning how to "tweet" or write bits of info and thoughts in 140 characters or less. It's a challenge to be concise, and serves as an excellent writing exercise for a children's writer, whose job it is to say cogent things in very few words.

Besides writing tweets, I'm reading a lot of them and especially enjoying those posted by other writers and folks in the publishing industry. Lots of them are funny and clever, and give great ideas on books to read.

Here's a tidbit I found today:

Just read a great tip from agent Michael Larsen on how to make a small fortune from writing: start with a large fortune and write full time.

See what you can learn?


Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Resolutions...

It's that time of year when we take stock and ponder our future.

Although I can easily think of a host of worthy resolutions (eat more vegetables, join a gym, dust the house on a regular basis), I am very bad at fulfilling such plans. So this year, instead, I will endeavour to:

Read more. Write more.

Those are resolutions I can keep.

Good luck with yours.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Many ways to read...

Welcome to 2012! I trust you had a happy holiday season and that the year ahead looks promising and bright.

Aside from cheery gatherings with family and friends, I spent a lot of the holidays reading. I poured over some great books and some not-so-good ones, but they all got me thinking about writing and the future of publishing.

I read in the traditional paper format, but also tried out e-books on a Kindle and an iPad. It was interesting to compare those experiences. What did I find out?

- An iPad lets you read at night with the lights out because it's backlit (great for folks who want to read when their roommates are fast asleep). The iPad also lets you look up anything you have a question about as you are reading (both a good and a bad thing since you can easily get distracted from your book). The books aren't too expensive, but there doesn't seem to be a wide choice (or not as wide as I would like). Still, it's a convenient way to read.

- Using a Kindle is similar to reading a traditional book (you can't check the internet), but it's light-weight and very portable. You can carry around many volumes on this device, which makes a welcome change for folks who are used to schlepping armloads of heavy books back and forth from the library or onto an airplane. There is no touch screen, though, so it feels a bit old-fashioned after the iPad. On the plus side, there seems to be a wider selection of books to choose from (although one I purchased cost almost as much as a hardcover volume). I also hear that I can borrow Kindle books from the library, which is excellent news.

My daughter, also an avid reader, has noticed that since I became an e-book fan, I have fewer paper books to pass on to her. That is an interesting dilemma. (I'm always happy to purchase books if I know that she and others in the family will also read them.) I can see my ability to share books will change with e-books. Hmm...

Which of the three (traditional books, iPad or Kindle) do I prefer? The jury is still out. But it's great fun trying them all. I will keep you posted.

Happy New Year!