Shard from Greeve among Best Books for 2010

Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve picked as a best book  for 2010.

What a happy surprise it was for me to get a call from my good friend (and fabulous picture book author) Kari-Lynn Winters last week; well, whenever Kari calls it is a happy surprise, but this time even more so.


Because she called bearing some great news! The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC)  picked Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve as one of the best Canadian books for kids and teens 2010 and Kari had just picked up a copy of the magazine, hot off the press.

I now have my own copy of the magazine, and to my pleasant surprise found several of my friends also listed in this magazine as well, many of whom I have taught with at various writing camps, classes and conferences.

Rachelle Delaney is listed for her middle-grade book, The Ships of Lost Souls.

Kallie George and Paola Opal are listed for their series of board books, including Totty.

Adrienne Kress is listed for her middle-grade book, Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate.

Congratulations to all!

Authors Like Us in New York

Authors Like UsThe latest episode of Authors Like Us has just been released. In the episode my podcasting partner, James McCann, and I met a whole gaggle of authors who market themselves as the “Class of 2k10”.

What is the class of 2k1o? Well, it’s actually an ingenious idea! These writers of middle-grade and young adult fiction are all being published in their respective markets for the first-time. They come from different cities, different publishers, and different backgrounds, but they all found each other online and decided to band together to leverage each others talents to promote and celebrate their books.

No only will you hear about how they made a splash in the big apple, you’ll get to hear a delightful bonus story of how James made small children cry at a recent reading. Well worth the listen—which you can do, by clicking here.

Some members of the Class of 2K10.

Happy Jamboreen!

Jamboreen Parade

Today is the longest day of the year. But here’s something even the most ardent of Kendra Kandlestar might not know: today, that the longest day of the year, is also the biggest holiday in the Land of Een. Yes! Today is Jamboreen.

Jamboreen will be featured as a major event in the new Kendra book and I can tell you that there is no festival in the world quite like it. If you were so lucky as to attend a Jamboreen, you would find Eens dressed in colorful costumes, wearing masks or painted faces, and walking on long stilts, juggling glowing balls, or performing tricks.You would taste the grandest treats: Eenberry pie, honey trifles, and roasted acorns glazed with Een sugar. You would hear silly songs, dance to jubilant music, and play the strangest games you can imagine.

How strange are the games?

Well, here’s just a few of them:

Sneeze Race
Een contestants wear wheel-skates and try to sneeze their way across a finish line.

Boot Bang
Contestants go as high as they can on a swing and try to kick off their shoes, aiming for a long trumpet. If they succeed in getting a shoe down the trumpet, it spins down a long network of tubes, setting off a series of gears and switches until at last a melon ends up dropping—and exploding—on top of someone’s head.

Sink the Boat
This involves cramming as many Eens as possible into a boat to see how many can fit in before it sinks.

Contestants have to keep their feet in a tub full of Een fish as long as possible without breaking out in laughter.

Snore War
A game to see who has the loudest snore—though it is usually impossible to award a winner, since everyone is asleep.

There are plenty more too! Of course, the climax of the night is the Magician’s Match, in which seven Een wizards are chosen to participate in a friendly duel to see who can perform the best feats of enchantment.

Well, you can find out more about Jamboreen once I get this book finished and ready for you to read. In the meantime, I wish all of the Kendra fans out there a Happy Jamboreen!

Me on the Radio

Mr. WizIt was my thrill to appear on the Seattle-based radio program “The Accidental Guru” today with my friend and mentor, Dõv Baron.

You can check it out by clicking here. Just scroll down the page and click the “show playback” button.

I could tell you a lot more about this experience—but hey, just take a listen for yourself!

If I were a hippo

. . . I’d look like this:

Mr. Wiz as a hippo

That is, at least, according to one of the students I recently taught during my week as writer-in-residence at Charlie Lake School. Isabel, who drew this picture, is only eight years old, and she is one of the most amazing young artists I have ever met.

At first, the drawing was only of me as a hippo. But when I informed Isabel that I would never get a girlfriend if I really looked like a hippo she thought for a moment then—in a moment of epiphany— quickly added a smooching female hippo. Problem solved!

Isabel also created an amazing map (and story) during one of my workshops. This is the land of fleas (of course, it is on a dog’s back):

The world of fleas

Of course, Isabel wasn’t the only great artist or creative genius I met last week. There were so many fantastic ideas coming from the kids. During my “Costume Makes the Character Workshop,” one student came up with this mouse:

Coffee Mouse

Yes, it’s coffee mouse. AWESOME. (Just so you know, those are coffee beans adorning its tail.)

Costume Makes the Character

Costume Makes the CharacterIt’s my great privilege this week to be working as Writer-in-Residence at Charlie Lake Elementary in Fort St. John. I’ve been having great fun teaching my “Costume Makes the Character” workshop.

This is a workshop I developed with fellow author Kallie George. We get students to take a simple mouse character and then imagine it in three different roles. The students “costume” the template character either by tracing and re-drawing the mouse, or—for the younger, primary students—by simply colouring in the costumes. Finally, the kids then write a story about the life and times of the mouse, explaining how the whiskery little character came to inhabit three different roles.

It’s great fun and I never ceased to be amazed by the students’ creativity. I wish I could show EVERY mouse drawing I’ve seen this week, but here’s just a smattering of them . . .









In the Land of Giants

You would think I am an Een visiting a magical land this week, instead of the town of Charlie Lake (a small unincorporated just outside of Fort St. John in northern British Columbia).

Monster MashI’m here working as a writer-in-residence at Charlie Lake Elementary and little did I know that I would find fuel for my Monster Mash workshop (which I just happen to be teaching all this week). On my very first day here, I was whisked off for a delicious dinner at the home of the teacher-librarian—and to my great elation, found that they had decorated their stone walls with casts of some very monstrous creatures, worthy of any Kendra book.

This is a cast of a Hadrosaur’s prints:

Hadrosaur footprint

This is a cast of a foot belonging to a type of Albertasaurus:

Albertasaurus print

And this is my favourite, the cast of a Sasquatch’s footprint (notice the four toes):

Big Foot print.

And, if this place wasn’t just magical enough, check out the wonderful bell tower that adorns this stone wall:

Bell tower.

Hmm, maybe we can ring the bell as a warning, the next time we see a monster approaching. Let’s hope I just make it back home in one piece . . .

Authors Like Us ~ Adrienne Kress Interview

Authors Like UsThe latest episode of the Authors Like Us podcast has been posted. Our guest this time is Adrienne Kress, the fabulous children’s author whom James McCann and I hung out with during our recent trip to New York.

Adrienne told us all about her approach to writing her debut novel, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, and the success she’s been having with its sequel, Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate.

You can check out the interview by clicking here, or by subscribing to us on iTunes.

Adrienne Kress

Flying Feet

Flying FeetMy podcast partner and close friend James McCann is launching his new book, Flying Feet, next week . . . and YOU’RE invited! Well, if you’re a Kendra Kandlestar fan, you might be wondering what you find interesting about a book about Mixed Martial Arts. Well, I’m pretty sure that everyone’s favourite grasshopper, Juniper Jinx, would like this book! And the other thing I can tell you is that I have the honour of being the Master of Ceremonies for this launch.

Here’s the details:

Date: Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Cameron Rec Centre
Burnaby (Across from Lougheed Town Centre)
9523 Cameron Street
Burnaby, BC

There will be plenty of activities, munchies and a demonstration by PEAK PERFORMANCE TAE KWON DO.

So come on out . . . but if you can’t attend the launch, be sure to check out the book at your local bookstore!

Authors Like Us: The Street Meat Diaries

The latest episode of Authors Like Us has been posted! This is our “Sounds of BEA” episode, in which you’ll find snippets from the big book show we attended in New York, including James trying out his German with children’s author Cornelia Funke. This episode also chronicles our journey to Times Square as we endeavor to find the best street meat for James. Does he survive? There’s only one way to find out . . . listen to the show!

James with street meat.
He looks happy now, but . . .

Well, here’s some great shots of our first night in New York . . . James and I, along with fellow children’s author Adrienne Kress tried to look thoughtful amidst the bright lights of the big city. Did we succeed? You be the judge . . .

James is thoughtful
James looking ever so pensive.
Thoughtful Adrienne
Adrienne looking ever so pensive.
Thoughtful Lee
Me looking not so thoughtful.
Lee and Adrienne
Adrienne and I - not looking thoughtful at all.