Category Archives: children’s literature

A Brush Full of Excitement!

One of my latest books is the biography of Canadian artist Ted Harrison. This book is proving to be a welcome addition in homes and schools everywhere and has been shortlisted for almost every possible children’s book award in Canada. Thanks to Ted Harrison’s inspiring story and to the gorgeous design by Pajama Press, this book is rapidly becoming very popular.
This is what Pajama Press’ website says about it (http://pajamapress.ca/book/a_brush_full_of_colour/):
Ted Harrison’s brightly colored and wildly imaginative paintings set in the Yukon have become synonymous with the North. His instantly-recognizable images of the land of the midnight sun hang in galleries and private collections around the world. But how did a boy who grew up in a drab mining town in northeast England become one of Canada’s most beloved and decorated artists?
A Brush Full of Colour is the story of a boy whose passion for learning would save him from a life in the coalmines. The books by the American writer Jack London and Canadian poet Robert Service fired his imagination with scenes of the wilderness and the Klondike Gold Rush. He trained as an artist, and a stint in the British Intelligence Service allowed him to travel. But Ted never stopped dreaming of the North, and when he saw an advertisement for teachers in Northern Alberta, he jumped at the chance to emigrate to Canada, where the biggest adventure of his life would begin.
Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson trace the life of Ted Harrison and the influences that would lead to his unique style as an artist. Filled with full-color examples of his vivid art, and with a foreword written by Ted Harrison, A Brush Full of Colour will provide inspiration for a new generation of budding artists.
Click here to view our gallery of Ted Harrison-inspired art created by Margriet Ruurs and the kids and parents at North York Central Library in Toronto.
Awards and honours:
2016 Rocky Mountain Book Award nominee
2016 OLA Forest of Reading Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award nominee
2015 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award Shortlist
2015 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award nominee
2015 Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award nominee
2015–2016 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award nominee
2015 Spring Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
2014 OLA Best Bet
Reviews:
“An outstanding, well-organized biography… A joy to look at and an inspiration to read.”—School Library Journal
“Seldom does an artist’s biography for children offer so many beautiful reproductions of the subject’s work. Pair this inviting book with Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song (2009), another wonderfully visual celebration of an artist following his own path.”—Booklist
“A child-friendly introduction to an iconic, wonderfully accessible and quintessentially Canadian artist.”—Kirkus Reviews
“…a must have…The text is easy to read,comprehensive, and interesting…[A] beautifullypresented book…Highly recommended…”—Resource Links
“This outstanding biography does more than just inform the reader of Ted Harrison’s life in a well organized way. A Brush Full of Colour is indicative of the spirit and passion of its subject…Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine
“This inspirational and informative biography includes many stunning examples of Harrison’s luminous artwork as well as resources, sources and a foreword written by the artist himself…”—Canadian Children’s Book News
“…this book is virtually larger than life…A Brush Full of Colour is an exemplary youngCanLit biography…”—CanLit for LittleCanadians
“The table of contents for this lovely new book from Pajama Press entices with the promise of a foreword by the artist himself, and then goes on to let the reader know that soon they will learn about Ted’s childhood, his world travels, his life in the north, and his life as a full-time artist.” – Sal’s Fiction Addiction
“Here’s a book that will be as interesting for you as it will be for your child. A Brush Full of Colour is a vibrant, fact-based picture book about Canadian artist Ted Harrison.” – Getting Kids Reading
Teachers, here is a page with activities based on the book: http://pajamapress.ca/resource/a_brush_full_of_colour_activities/
CBC Radio Fan Choice Awardhttp://www.cbc.ca/books/TDkids/fanchoice/
For an interview on CBC Radio about this book, click here to listen to the podcast: http://www.cbc.ca/nxnw/

Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road by Priscilla Galloway, Dawn Hunter

Adventures on the Ancient Silk Roadby Priscilla Galloway, Dawn Hunter

This is a gripping account of three dramatic journeys that changed the course of history.

The fabled Silk Road conjures up sights, smells and sounds of faraway lands. But traveling the Silk Road took years, and those who set out encountered bandits, starvation and treacherous storms.

“Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road” introduces readers to three great historical figures:

Chinese Buddhist Xuanzang, whose 16-year journey from China to India and back (629-645 AD) is the only source we have for huge chunks of the history and geography of this time. His successful search for Buddhist scriptures changed the course of two great nations.

Genghis Khan, bred from infancy to be a warrior, brought the Mongol clans together. He established the greatest empire the world had seen, which ruled the Silk Road from 1201 to 1227.

And the Italian merchant Marco Polo who journeyed through China from 1271 to 1295. He changed the way Europe saw the world, and his book even inspired Columbus to sail west across the Atlantic Ocean in search of China.

Beautiful photographs and art depicting the ancient routes and peoples bring the stories to life. Maps, sidebars and an afterword that updates the story of the Silk Road are also featured. This is one of those books that is labeled YA or children’s but really is an ‘everybody’ book.

Canadian Teacher Magazine

For each issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine, I contribute a column called Can Write. The column features a Canadian writer or illustrator of children’s books.
I love the opportunity to interview, and learn more about, writers from across the country and beyond. The stories of how they became writers, or illustrators, are always fascinating and inspiring. It’s fun to hear the ‘stories behind the stories’ – what triggered a picturebook or how they ended up writing a novel.

Here’s the current issue: http://canadianteachermagazine.com/articles/literacy/CTM_2014_linda_bailey.pdf

and you can go through the archives to read past columns.
Happy reading!

Petey, by Ben Mikaelsen

Petey, by Ben Mikaelsen
Petey is a touching story of friendship, discovery, and the uplifting power of the human spirit.
In 1922, at the age of two, Petey’s distraught parents commit him to the state’s insane asylum, unaware that their son is actually suffering from severe cerebral palsy. 
Bound by his wheelchair and struggling to communicate with the people around him, Petey finds a way to remain kind and generous despite the horrific conditions in his new “home.” 
Through the decades, he befriends several caretakers but is heartbroken when each eventually leaves him. Determined not to be hurt again, he vows to no longer let hope of lifelong friends and family torment him.
That changes after he is moved into a nursing home and meets a young teen named Trevor Ladd; he sees something in the boy and decides to risk friendship one last time. Trevor, new to town and a bit of a loner, is at first weary of the old man in the wheelchair. But after hearing more of his story, Trevor learns that there is much more to Petey than meets the eye.
This timeless story is recommended for all ages!
Author’s website: http://www.benmikaelsen.com/ for background information on this book.

The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care and Contribute’ by Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger, and Shelley Page

If you want to give someone a gift that will make a huge difference in their life, here is a book you should give to every parents, grandparent or educator you know!!
You probably already know Free The Children (ISBN-10: 0978437500) by Craig Kielburger, the powerful story of a 12 year old Canadian boy who ends up truly changing the world. Shocked by the concept of child labor, he actually travels to India to tackle this evil. In the process he meets Mother Theresa and becomes actively involved in freeing children from child-labor factories. Craig ended up being a life time activist, changing laws, and minds of people around the world. He started Me To We, a global organization helping children to help children.


His current book is The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care and Contribute by Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger, and Shelley Page, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, ISBN – 10:1553655052. I’m not kidding: you need to rush out and buy this book for everyone who is raising a child!!
A practical guide to raising caring kids, lending a hand and changing the world – all at the same time! With simple, every day actions to strengthen a child’s motivation to do more in the world, the book gives staggering statistics but also practical tools. As the Kielburgers reflect on lessons from their own childhood, they examine insights of activists such as Jane Fonda, Mia Farrow and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Over 200 interviews with remarkable parents, educators and experts make this is a valuable guide that will encourage children to become global citizens. A must have for all educators, parents and grandparents. See: http://www.metowe.com/

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking  by Astrid Lindgren

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

The book that I loved as a child, translated from Swedish, is now a classic. Does that show my age, too?
But really this story is ageless. As all good child protagonists, Pippi has no parents. At least not any that are in the picture. And as any child reader, I vividly remember wanting to live just like Pippi: to eat when and what I wanted. To only go to bed when I decided to. To have the freedom and the strength to make my own decisions. Pippi has even more strength than that. She can lift up her horse and do other amazing things that seem to perfectly fit the story.

Re-read this book, share it out loud with a child in your life! Re-live being a child in a book in which anything is possible.

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition (April 26 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402498

Also check out Astrid Lingren‘s web page with wonderful information:
http://astridlindgren.se/en
 IBBY, the International Board of Books for Young People, administers the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award:
 http://www.ibby-canada.org/?page_id=246

Feature Movie: Library of the Early Mind

This documentary film explores children’s literature! Hooray for the creators, and those authors and illustrators interviewed.
OK, it’s very much American. Too bad they did not include some Canadian, or more international authors of children’s literature to give the study a broader scope.
Authors like Anthony Brown or Dick Bruna whose books are widely read in North America could have added a more worldly perspective.
However, this is an admirable production.

The accompanying website states that:

“Library of the Early Mind” is an exploration of the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves.
From the first stories we hear told to us to those childhood heroes that stay with us a lifetime, the impact on our culture runs deeper than what we might expect. “No one suspects the children’s writer,” says author and illustrator Mo Willems, a former ‘Sesame Street’ writer.
The film features nearly 40 prominent authors and illustrators talking about their work, its genesis and its impact. The number of books in print by the authors in ‘Library of the Early Mind’ exceeds 240 million.


It can be rented online to view directly on your computer, or you can purchase the DVD via the website. Check also to see if it is available in your local library.

http://libraryoftheearlymind.com/

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The rain forest is full of amazing animals, trees, vines and flowers. But one day a man enters the forest and the animals hold their breath. He is told to cut down the great kapok tree. The man tires and naps. While he sleeps the creatures take turns whispering in his ear what the tree means to each of them. When he wakes up, he gathers his axe and leaves. The forest can breath again.

This book – which looks at what the Kapok tree means to the creatures that live in it, and what rain forests mean to the world’s ecology – was at the forefront of the ecological movement and continues to resonate profoundly with children everywhere.

Beautifully written, with a strong message, this book can be enjoyed as a picture book and used in classrooms on many different levels.

Paperback, 40 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN
0152026142 (ISBN13: 9780152026141)

Lesson Plan: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/skill-builder/lesson-plan/48709.html
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/great_kapok_tree.php
http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/great-kapok-tree-extension-activities

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living – by Mem Fox

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living  by Mem Fox

Mem Fox, internationally acclaimed children’s book writer and educator offers insights into the learning process, language education, and the pleasure, growth, and power that reading and writing can bring.
Some of her most well known titles include Possum Magic and Koala Lou, I Do Love You.
But this title is fabulous reading for any educator, including homeschooling parents. She explains how no child will ever get passionate about filling in the blanks, but how to turn anyone into an avid reader.

At the same time I should mention Mem’s book specifically at parents:

Reading Magic is a great guide to reading with children, now in a new and revised edition. Fox reveals the incredible emotional and intellectual impact reading aloud to children has on their ability to learn to read. With passion and humor, Fox speaks of when, where, and why to read aloud and demonstrates how to read aloud to best effect and get the most out of a read-aloud session. She discusses the three secrets of reading, offers guidance on defining and choosing good books, and–for this new edition–includes two new chapters on boy readers and phonics, a foreword, and a list of “Twenty Books That Children Love.” Filled with practical advice, activities, and inspiring true read-aloud miracles, this book is a turn-to classic for educators and parents.

I have often used these books as gifts for educators or new parents. Hope you love them.

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Sometimes a book is based on such a simple yet brilliant idea, that you think ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’.
Something Else is like that.
Have you ever told a kid that he is ‘something else’? Well, Something Else is like that. He tries hard to be just like everyone else. But everything he does shows how different he is. Just when he is feeling very different, and alone, Something shows up.
Has Something Else finally met someone just like himself?

This story is perfect for every child who feels different. Also great to discuss differences and acceptance in school.

Paperback, 32 pages Mondo Publishing
ISBN 1572555637 (ISBN13: 9781572555631)
Winner of the first UNESCO Prize for Children’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance (under 8s).

Lesson Plan: talking-for-success.open.ac.uk/docs/Activity_Lesson_5.doc