WANTED! Evil Teachers . . .

As part of a class on story-starters, my students created some wanted posters. Big surprise—many of them chose to focus on ME.

In the first one, you will notice that my sweet Abbey sees me as someone with horns, claws, and fangs. In the second, it seems I get my comeuppance from an evil butterfly. Hmmm . . . neither poster portends a kind future for me!

Aby's Wanted Poster

Amy's wanted poster.

“Just because I’m blind doesn’t mean I can’t see.”

Sorceress eye.These are the words that Kendra hears upon her visit to a very ancient oracle in The Crack in Kazah. The sorceress who utters this cryptic statement is indeed blind, but explains to Kendra that her very power comes from that which ails her. She is one of the most powerful magic-makers that the land of Een has ever known—more powerful than even Uncle Griffinskitch and Winter Woodsong.

Kendra’s visit with this oracle will cause much concern for our your heroine, especially as she is given a glimpse into her own future. Indeed, the words of the blind oracle will not only be instrumental in determining the outcome of Kendra’s adventure in The Crack in Kazah, but for her emotional journey in Book 5.

I had a lot of fun creating the oracle and her entourage of elders. Many of these elders are animals, while her captain of the Een guard is a ladybug (much in the tradition of everyone’s favourite grasshopper, Juniper Jinx).

Kendra and the Oracle.

Elder animals.

Captain Ibb in the dungeons

Wizardly Brochure

I finally have gotten around to posting the beautiful artwork that one of my students created at the recent camp I led in Korea. For this project, students were meant to create travel brochures for a magical land of their own invention. Sarang, being the oldest (and a camp counsellor), decided to do a brochure for the actual camp.

It’s absolutely wonderful. On the cover you can see an illustration of myself, fellow teacher Kallie George, and even our camp mascot, Prospero the snowy owl. This brochure is meant to be a three-panel affair, doubled-sided and folded twice. I’m just showing you the spreads before they are printed.

Wizard Camp

Wizard Camp

I was so pleased to see Sarang’s creative approach to this project. She is actually the student who helped me when I wrote Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve. Not only did she pre-read the whole book, but she helped me name Captain Raggart Rinkle and the sea monster known as the scoptacus, and even helped me fill in the back story for one Captain Dirtybeard.

So you want to be an Een

My goddaughter, Charlotte, has been campaigning to have  a character based on her in Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah. I tried squeezing her into a minor scene, but then ended up deleting the sequence during the editing process. It was such a small scene anyway, with just a mention of a new character, so I decided it wasn’t worth throwing an obstacle into the middle of the story to slow it down. So, now Charlotte has started building her case to be in Book 5, which has been greatly helped by this delightful character design.

Lotte Luana

Meet Lotté Luana. You will notice she has one long braid, which I can’t help thinking would somehow play into the character’s role. We haven’t quite fleshed out what Lotté’s story is, but I’m sure this is something Charlotte will be working on over the coming months.

So, if YOU were an Een, what would YOU look like?

The Face of Villainy

Villain.Here’s  a drawing I’ve done this week of one of the villains who features prominently in Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah. This character is just a thirteen-year-old boy, so may not seem that ominous, but trust me—he plays a major role in the events that shape this book! He’ll also figure prominently in the next Kendra book (though I’ll confess, I’m just not sure what will happen to him quite yet).

By the way, I’m almost getting ready to turn over the manuscript to my publisher. It’s close!

Who gives a hoot?

One of my students (but don’t worry, Matthew, your identity is safe here) is fascinated with owls. In fact, when I mentioned that there would be owls in Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack of Kazah he promptly began interrogating me. “What species are they? How many owls? What are they going to do?” Well, Matthew was so kind to even provide me with some owl research and, after reviewing his data, I decided I would go with snowy owls.

Here’s a couple of illustrations I’ve completed so far of the main snowy owl.

Leemus and Owl.

Leemus riding the owl.

I hope they meet Matthew’s satisfaction! There’s supposed to be one other owl in this book. I think I will make it an elf owl; seems appropriate for the Land of Een!

Toothpick Coincidence

Juniper Jinx.That’s the name of a character. Not mine though (oh, how I wish I had come up with). This is the invention of a student I taught last week at Suncrest Elementary.

We were designing heroes and one grade-four girl came up with this fabulous name for her protagonist! Toothpick Coincidence. It has quite a ring to it, I think. In fact, I encouraged the student to not only name her character this, but also her entire story.

If this delicious concept wasn’t enough, this student also came up with a very interesting sidekick. His name is GUB and (if memory serves me correctly) this stands for “Gross Underwear Bacteria.” The story itself involves a perilous journey up a nose where Toothpick coincidence has to face his greatest fear. Yes, you guessed it. Boogers.

Well, speaking of sidekicks, I thought I’d post on this page some of the illustrations of Kendra’s sidekicks that will appear in the forthcoming book, The Crack in Kazah. If the characters look a little different than they have in past books, well then that’s because . . . they are.

I could tell you more, but then what would be the fun of that? You’ll just have to wait . . .


Professor Bumblebean

Uncle Griffinskitch battles.

I hate eggs

Krakes hatching.Every kid who meets me knows this. In fact, they gleefully tease me about it. Well, I tend to take such things and use them as fuel for inspiration.

In Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve, I dropped poor Kendra right smack dab in the middle of a giant Krake hatchery, just as hundreds of eggs were about to hatch. Of course, if you are at all familiar with that story, then you know that we didn’t get to see the eggs actually hatch. Seems like a shame, so I made sure for Book IV that we revisit that eggicious locale so that we can witness the birth of hundreds of Krake chicks (or Krakelings, as they’re known) all at once.

I actually think the baby Krakes are quite adorable and cute. And there will even be a scene in which Kendra and Oki get to ride the Krakelings. This not only serves a delightful fun, but satisfies the requests of one of my readers (you know who you are, Matthew) who has implored me to have Kendra go on a Krake ride. I’m not sure this scene will turn out quite as Matthew had hoped—but I do my best. After all, I am just the humble chronicler of Kendra’s adventures, and am not always exactly in control of how they turn out.

Krake ride.

Even in Korea, you can get your geek on

I spent today in Seoul with my teaching partner, Kallie George, doing a bit of shopping and just stretching our legs. I always love to go to Insadong, the famous market street, so that I can partake in poo dough (see my post from my last trip to to Seoul), and visit some of my favourite stores.

I’ve been to Insadong many times, but this time I stumbled upon a type of toy museum that I somehow have missed in the past. I only wish my friend James McCann had been with me—he would have loved it! Just check out these photos!

Toy museum.

Toy museum Insadong.

Darth Maul statue in the toy museum.

Earlier in the day, we breakfasted at a cute café near Insadong that was filled with antique furniture and knick-knacks. Just check out some of the colours that played upon the walls:


The café also had a wood-burning stove, and we huddled close to it, craving the warmth. See, while in Seoul, we’ve been staying in an old traditional house and while it has been a very neat experience, we’ve also found it very cold. You sleep in a small room on a mattress on the floor and the only heat comes from beneath the floor. So it’s rather like camping. The bathroom is also in a separate chamber and you have to go outside to reach it.

Here’s a picture of my room (yes, even Korea, I don’t make my bed).

My bedroom in the traditional house.

Here’s the lane leading up to the house, which is over one hundred and fifty years old.


Finally, here’s a snapshot of the courtyard.


It was quite picturesque this morning. I slid open my door to see wet snow drifting down around the crooked pine. It was a moment of magic!