Author Archives: Margriet Ruurs

The Library of Ever

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

As soon as I spotted this novel for young readers in my local bookstore, I knew I had to own it. And it was a wise choice. As I read, I met Lenora and traveled along on her wild adventures through the ages and around the globe, all entered through a library.

Lenora is ‘hired’ as Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian and climbs her way up the library ladder, through solving problems and risking her life for knowledge. ‘Knowledge is a Light’ is the library’s slogan, chiseled in stone, and Lenore knows it’s true, especially when she encounters dark forces who want to get rid of books and ban others from gathering knowledge through reading.

I’ve read many other books with a library theme: Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library for instance. But those books are merely fun entertainment. The Library of Ever actually has a whole layer beyond its entertainment value that, almost imperceptibly, demonstrates the importance of books, research and the freedom to read.

I soon loved how this unique book blends fantasy with true questions, asked at the Help Desk and whose answers can be found only be doing research. The book is very cleverly written because we all have asked some of the questions and often have made the mistake of not enough fact checking. Reading, I learned some very interesting facts – from the highest point on earth (not what you think!) to Minoan Literature, from leap years to hieroglyphs. Readers’ minds can truly grow on this book.

Underlying all of Lenora’s adventures is the threat of Dark Forces. As the Chief Librarian states at one point: ‘the value of a Library cannot be counted in money.’ Same with the book – it was well worth the 10.- purchase price and both my grandson and I gained much more from the reading experience than just fun hours spent reading together. We kept sharing what we learned by saying “Did you know this? And listen to this!”…

Fantasy is not normally a genre I enjoy but now I can’t wait to read the next title: Rebel in the Library of Ever.


ISBN 978-1-250-23370-7

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Eric Walters is one of the hardest working authors I know.

He has written over a hundred books, gives presentations in schools day after day. He tirelessly helps and supports other writers. He spearheaded the #IReadCanadian campaign and has taken many other initiatives to help put Canadian books in the hands of children.

Now he has written a book in record time: 7 weeks. Don’t Stand So Close To Me is the story of the current pandemic. It shows Quinn, Isaac and friends and how they are all effected by the sudden school closure.  Their family lives are changed as their parents’ work demands and hours change (one is a police officer, another is a medical doctor, etc). Suddenly they only see each other and their teacher via Zoom meetings. But the story also shows how kids can take initiatives and make the best of a difficult situation, how they can even help others.

The story brings the Covid-19 situation to an understandable level for kids. It’s nice that this is a fictional novel, not an information books with facts about Covid-19 but a story in which many kids can recognize themselves. This book is aimed at 9 – 12 year olds. It’s an easy read at about 120 pages and available as e-book only until the print version comes out in September. I can see this story making a great class read to discuss (on Zoom?) and to help children see that they are not the only ones whose lives are effected.

ISBN:  9781459827899
Price: $7.99


Books for Booklovers

Every once in a while you pick up a book that – like an arrow – goes straight to your heart. Here are two books that recently did that for me. The first one is a brand-new book. A monument in itself, a tribute to booklovers and wordlovers in the broadest sense of the word: Alphamaniacs, Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word, written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.



The text is a poetic description of   26 people who made a difference in the world of language – some are writers, others invented a new style or printed books in a new, unique way.   Rather than a summation of biographiesthe author chose to use the voice of acircus ringmaster to introduce each ‘Wonder of the Word’. There is Jean-Dominique Bauby who became paralyzed except for one eye lid and ended up dictating an entire novel by blinking the letters. An astonishing feat. Jumping back and forth through the ages, the book celebrates Europeanwriters and native Americans, among others. One is Jessie Little Doe Bairdwho singlehanded saved her Wampanoag language, actually bringing it back from extinction. There’s the inventor of Klingon as well as the creator of Esperanto, a universal language created by Ludwik Zamenhof in Poland in hopes of promoting peace and understanding between people.

Each story is accompanied by a piece of art by the incredible master of collage, Caldecott Honor illustrator Melissa Sweet, making this book is a feast for the eye and ear of any booklover.

Candlewick Studio, ISBN 978-0763690663

Another book I recently fell in love with, but which was published a few years ago, is the picturebook A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston. One of those fabulous books for anyone who knows the value of stories, this one starts with a pen and a blank page. Then the main character takes us along on a celebration of books, through illustrations composed of words from those very books. While sailing the ocean, the words forming the waves are from books like Ten Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, The Swiss Family Robinson and more. Kids climb mountains of words from Peter Pan to reach the sky. They discover treasure and wander through forests made of book spines. I love this book and its powerful images, and I suspect that booklovers of all ages will love it, too.

Candlewick Press, ISBN 978-0-7636-9077-9

Happy Easter Books to share at home!

Emma was growing up… from a dandelion chick to a feathery, white hen.

But what to do with all those beautiful eggs she was now laying? She decided to make her eggs the way people seemed to want them: from scrambled to painted! But nothing pleased the farmer until Emma gave up and sat on her egg

Have fun this Easter sharing all four Emma books. You can checked them out from your local library, purchase them from your local bookstore or order here.

And here is a fun colouring sheet designed by illustrator Barbara Spurll!

Happy Easter!





Make paper bag Emma’s!

Make Emma’s Egg baskets!

Creative Resources for Being Home Alone

Now that everyone is staying home in isolation, what to do – alone or with kids?

You don’t want to spend the entire time online so here are options to print colouring sheets, crafts, create treasure hunts, and much more. It is an amazing array of creative ideas, offers of free stories, books, museum visits, trips to national parks and much more.

I will try to update this list often. I also try to only use links to sites that are truly free and don’t require sign up. Enjoy your time of being creative, reading, learning and staying well.

• For educators and older students, this list includes virtual visits, musea, science activities and other very impressive stuff to do at home.

Vancouver Aquarium offers live webcams to observe sea otters, penguins and jelly fish.

• If you have learned about Egypt, why not go down into the tomb of King Tut? If you imagine it getting cooler and quieter as you descend, this is just what it’s like for real! Notice the many hieroglyphs and look at the ceiling. They tell the stories of the pharao’s life…

From Wild Babies by Margriet Ruurs & Andrew Kiss

• Over 30 different field trips, including San Diego Zoo and even to Mars!

Virtual Tours and 360º views of US National Parks. 

• Real National parks across the US will temporarily be free for all visitors, offering easier access to natural spaces during the coronavirus outbreak.  Entrance fees will be waived at all national park sites that remain open, the National Park Service effective until further notice.

• And Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico invites you to come along with a park ranger
Web cams of bears, otters and more.
• Feel like a stroll along the Great Wall of China? Now you can do it virtually:
• The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC offers free talks and activities:Royal BC Museum,

• The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has a brand new YouTube channel with interviews, demonstrations and readings of books: Bibliovideo  –
• For fans of Magic Treehouse, here are readings, recordings, games and much more about the books:
• Lots more books being read aloud here!
Room To Read offers a free library of books from around the world.
Story time from space, books being read by astronauts.
• Meryl Streep reads Charlotte’s Web!
• Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton reads (Neil Gaiman’s) books.
Children’s books read in Spanish: for those who speak Spanish but also to learn a new language.
• And in French too! Free app with illustrated children’s book to help you learn French.
• This amazing list includes Project Gutenberg’s thousands of free books as well as foreign language books and much more.
• Audible is offering free audio books while school is out:
• Interviews with authors and fun tidbits about books:

Listen to poets share their work!
• Here are 25 sources of free public domain books.
Pacific Edge Publishing offers free educational materials for homeschoolers and parents.
• This link is to Open Culture, linking you to many free books, audio books, ebooks, courses and more.
• Here is a free kids’ book about Staying Home:
• Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library donates free books to children and organizations but also offers online stories to listen to:
• And Michelle Obama reads books to children every Monday:
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA has an amazing website full of films, documentaries, filmed books, historical stuff, science for all ages and more:  It’s free but you do need to set up an account.
• Tutorials by Barbara Reid on making plasticine art!
Virtually tour several musea, in Paris, London and more, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
• NFB presents Stop Motion, Animation workshops.
• Singing is fun! Here’s an app for karaoke, including kids’ songs.
TIME FOR KIDS now has a free digital library.
• Sci/Why is a science blog by Canadian children’s science writers full of cool stories and links:
Earth – And now for something just cool and fun: have you ever been on the beach and tried to dig to China? Now you can! Except it’s not likely China where you will end up. Check it out this antipodes map!
MAPS – this site does offer books and games for sale but also has links to free crafts and apps, all related to maps and geography.


The Wall of Birds has an interactive component that lets you learn details and listen to the sounds of many birds.
• Print these scavenger hunts out to use any time:

Ghost of the Mill House


Ghost of the Mill House
Written by Margriet Ruurs
Illustrated by Claudia Davila

ISBN: 9781459820357
Price: $7.95, Orca Book Publishers

Just when Josh starts to think his break from school is going to be all chores and no cheer, his best friend, Mark, invites him to spend their break helping restore a historic home and mill in Oregon. With the help of their friends Angela and Mary Jane, and under the watchful eye of Aunt Sue and Uncle Doug, the kids spend weeks fixing up the grounds, basking in the freedom of country life and learning about the surrounding area. Not to mention eating bugs, domesticating feral cats and starring in a movie! But it’s not all fun and filming. The mill is in financial trouble, and the kids have to figure out a way to help Aunt Sue and Uncle Doug keep it running, in spite of it being haunted.

Ghost of the Mill House follows Bus to the Badlands, where we first met Josh and his classmates.

Praise for The Ghost of Mill House from Resource Links (p29):

“A valuable addition to the Orca Echoes Series. Beginning chapter book readers will appreciate the engaging plot written with energetic text, as well as the very well done, fun, cartoon-like illustrations representing a diverse group of friends.”

Fiction Ages 6-8
Pages: 104
Themes: friendship, summer adventure, haunted house, heritage site, Oregon
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 24/Sep/2019

Books + Travel = The Best!

A while ago I started a post about to amazing books I find as I travel. You can read about those earlier titles here:

I keep finding fabulous books as I travel, books that help me to learn more about the world in both fiction and nonfiction. Here are some more of my all time favourites that I am grateful to have come across:

A beautiful book about Mongolia: Hearing Birds Fly by Louise Waugh. This nonfiction story is an account of living with nomads and describes much of their lives in detail. Walking the Gobi by Helen Thayer describes the incredible feat of an American couple that walks across the country. Their endurance is amazing and the book shares lots of details about Mongolia and its people. I recognized places I visited.

In Saudi Arabia I gained a better understanding of the difficulties faces by women, by reading In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by