I Read Canadian — and I write and teach it, too!

I Read Canadian — and I write and teach it, too!

I’m so proud to be one of the “captains” for the second annual I Read Canadian Day, which is coming up on February 17, 2021, all across the country (and maybe the world)! This year, our theme is #NowMoreThanEver. 

If you are a teacher, librarian, parent, or simply a lover of children’s literature, then I encourage you to join us in celebrating!

What is I Read Canadian Day?

I’m leading the BC team along with fellow author Mahtab Narsimhan, and we are supported by a fantastic team of volunteer authors, illustrators, and kidlit lovers who have been working hard to spread awareness of the event.

IRCD is a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people. This is a day dedicated to “reading Canadian” and will empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week.

For example, we’ve asked libraries and bookstores to set up local “I Read Canadian” displays. Many schools have created challenges to get more readers involved, to see how many readers can read Canadian.

The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature.

The official celebration day is February 17th, 2021. We are also celebrating Canadian children’s bookstores on February 13th, 2021. Last year, stores hosted authors and illustrators in-store; this year that’s obviously not possible in most Canadian cities, so we have dozens of authors and illustrators creating videos to promote their local bookstores. Stay tuned to social media and get ready to see a wave of fantastic creators share their corner of Canada!

On February 17th, we challenge the nation to “Read Canadian” for fifteen minutes and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media. Young people are encouraged to read, or be read to, a Canadian book of their choice.

What we’re reading in my household

We are big readers in our house and have so many great Canadian children’s books to share. My social media feeds include posts almost every day of our son Hiro’s favorite Canadian children’s books. He doesn’t know they are Canadian, of course—he’s too young to think that way, but these are his favorite books that just so happen to be Canadian. You can see these posts on my twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. 

What I’m teaching

As a co-founder of The Creative Writing Children for Society (CWC), I lead many book discussions with the students in my classes. We’re reading Canadian for the entire month of February! Here are this year’s Canadian picks, which I’ve divided into YA and middle-grade, since I teach both age groups. If you’re looking for recommendation in these age groups, try these out!


YA books:
The Candle and the Flame, by Nafiza Azad
Caster, by Elsie Chapman
Hungry Hearts, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond 
Are You Seeing Me, by Darren Groth
All We Left Behind, by Danielle R. Graham
Crimson, by Arthur Slade
This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel


MG Books:
The Very, Very Far North, by Dan Bar-el
Music for Tigers, by Michelle Kadarusman
Embrace the Chicken, by Mahtab Narsimhan
Krista Kim-bap, by Angela Ahn
Sweep, by Jonathan Auxier
Bloom, by Kenneth Oppel
This is Your Brain on Stereotypes, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Finding Cooper, by Stacey Matson
The Secret of Zoone, by Lee Edward Födi

What I’m writing 

You’ll notice that last book is by me—because I not only read and teach Canadian, I also write it. As a fantasy writer, I’m best known for creating books that take place in other worlds, but I don’t think setting is what makes a book Canadian. (Though, I feel the need to point out here that my latest book—it’s called SPELL SWEEPER and is coming out this fall—is the first one that I’ve actually set it in a real place. The main location is a magical school called Dragonsong Academy, situated in Canada. Another important location is the Whistler Train Wreck.)

Obviously, what really makes a book a Canadian is the author and, honestly, that comes with our unique and distinctive perspective. Yes, we are a country that is very diverse. We have multiple major political parties. We have vast and varied geography, from deserts to tundra. We have one of the biggest cities in North America, and we have some of the tiniest towns you’ll ever find. We have people from many different cultural backgrounds and experiences. But, at the same time, we are a small country, with under 40 million people, and I think that provides us with a common identity. In my own kidlit community, everyone seems to know everyone—if not personally, second-hand. And I think that’s Canada in a nutshell: we are a small close-knit community.

So, please come join and celebrate our community on February 17th!

You can sign up for I Read Canadian day HERE—and, hey, feel free to check out my entire personal book list at my website.


Door of the Day: Get a handle on the situation!

Door of the Day: Get a handle on the situation!


It’s I Read Canadian day so, for Door of the Day, I’m posting this ornate handle from Old town Québec—too gorgeous to turn, if you ask me! I have a few door knockers decorating my studio space, but when I see beautiful door handles this, I wonder if I should start collecting them, too!

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

In Zoone, of course, the handles match the world that is hidden beyond each doorway. You should pay attention to those handles—they might give you a clue about whether or not you should actually go through with your journey!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


Our family continues to be trapped—as more government rhetoric swirls

Our family continues to be trapped—as more government rhetoric swirls

Earlier this week, I posted the story about five Canadian families—one of which is mine—who are stuck in Japan with the babies we are in the process of adopting. You can read that post here.

My wife, Marcie, with our baby, in Tokyo. Japan is a beautiful country. We love it here. But it’s not our home.

Yesterday, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Ahmed Hussen, spoke for the first time publicly on the matter, stating: “There’s a disconnect between what the Japanese government requirements were and what the organizations that were facilitating the adoptions were telling the families.”

We found this response disheartening for several reasons, not the least of which is that what he said IS SIMPLY NOT THE CASE.

So, rather than simply sitting back and taking his comments on the chin, I’ve decided to write another post and make sure OUR message is getting out there, too.

On June 7th, the lawyer for the five families provided three separate legal opinions to the Department of IRCC to explain that we have indeed followed all requirements in Japan, Canada, and the province of BC.

One of these legal opinions is from the former Chief Justice of Japan’s Family Court—in other words, an extremely qualified expert to speak about Japan’s requirements. The legal opinions can be viewed in full on a news article on Global News’s website.

The legal opinions have been in the hands of the IRCC for TWO WEEKS but, to the best of our knowledge, they have not followed up on them.

What is two weeks? Well, to us, stranded in Japan, it’s thousands of dollars in extra expenses, more lost income that can’t be earned at home, and, most importantly, more stress and uncertainty. Three of the ten parents have had to travel back to Canada to fulfil work and family obligations—which means those families have been split asunder. I was one of those parents, and after a three-week separation from my wife and son, was able to fly back to Japan on June 14th (of course, at great expense).

All of this is while we are caring for infant children. They are not a burden—they are a joy. But we are being deprived of all the normal situations that other Canadian families get to experience with new additions to the family. We haven’t been able to introduce our children to friends and family. We haven’t been able to take them to the local park, the community centre, or the library. We haven’t even been able to take them to our family doctors.

If you want to continue supporting us, please consider writing another letter to the Minister of IRCC and to the Primer Minister, Justin Trudeau himself. I have provided another template letter at the bottom of this post.

For social media posts, please tag @JustinTrudeau @HonAhmedHussen @CitImmCanada ‏and include the hashtags #BringBCFamiliesHome #5CanadianFamilies #cdnpoli.

Also, feel free to use the graphic below.


We’ve had many people asking if we have set up a Go Fund Me campaign to financially support the five families. We appreciate everyone’s concern—as a group, we have discussed this as an option to consider if our situation is not resolved in the near future. For now, we want to focus our attention on pressuring the Canadian government to hear our story and make the right decision to bring us home with our babies—and to make that decision SOON.

If you have yet write a letter on our behalf, you can use the template that is at the bottom of my previous post. If this is an additional letter, feel free to use the letter below as a starting point, and customize and personalize it as you see fit.

Email to:

You may also want to copy your MP. You can find out your MP’s email with this link.

Correspondence matters. Pressure matters. Even if you receive a stock response from a government official, they take letters from the public seriously—especially letters of outrage.

I want to reiterate the gratitude of the five families. Every letter sent to the government, every note and message on Social Media, buoys us.

Subject Line: Bring the five Canadian families home NOW

To the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen,

I am writing as a concerned Canadian citizen, frustrated to learn that five Canadian families are STILL stranded in Tokyo, Japan, while bureaucrats in your department continue to deny permanent residence visas to the babies they are in the process of adopting.

I heard you speak on this matter publicly for the first time, in which you stated: “There’s a disconnect between what the Japanese government requirements were and what the organizations that were facilitating the adoptions were telling the families.”

My understanding is that this is simply not true. The legal counsel for the five families is on record stating that he has sent legal opinions from Japanese experts to your ministry. One of these opinions comes from the former Chief Justice of Japan’s Family Court. If you ask me, this is an extremely qualified expert to speak about Japan’s requirements. So, why is your government delaying? This entire matter has now been in your hands for several weeks, and yet Canadian families continue to suffer financially and emotionally, ensnared in your cruel net of bureaucracy.

And all of this because officials in your department have decided to take authority from the US Department of State website and the Trump regime, a regime that has currently been in the news for literally ripping children from parents’ arms and putting them in, for lack of a better word, detention camps. This decision, to take action against Canadian citizens based on US immigration policy, is completely bewildering and fundamentally against the values that I hold dear as a Canadian.


These five Canadian families have spent the last several weeks nurturing and bonding with the babies. To continue stranding them in a foreign country without providing any timeline, is absolutely heartless. It also seems completely disingenuous to continue rolling out the standard rhetoric that their situation is a “priority.” How can you say that in good faith when this matter has been in your hands for over a month, and counting?


I urge you to find the political will—and a solution—to bring these five families home NOW. Your government is a self-proclaimed champion of families, multiculturalism, and immigration.

Prove it.


Your name and address


5 Canadian families stranded by the federal government—and mine is one of them

5 Canadian families stranded by the federal government—and mine is one of them

I don’t get involved in politics on this blog—this is usually the place where I talk about daydreaming.

But right now Marcie and I find ourselves ensnared in a devastating situation, and it’s time to tell our story.

We are one of five Canadian families that have been stranded  in Japan with the children we are in the process of adopting.


Because the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) decided to delay issuance of permanent residence visas to us while they engage in a lengthy investigation that has no defined end date.

Why are they investigating?

Short answer: we’re not sure.

Long answer: we learned on June 15 that what prompted the investigation into Japanese adoptions came from a US State Department notice, which outlines new requirements for the US with regard to inter country adoptions.

So why is the Canadian government deferring to US immigration policy? US immigration laws are starkly different from Canadian immigration laws. The information on the website is merely a change in interpretation of US immigration laws under the current Trump administration.

To date, the IRCC has not provided us, or any of the four other families, or our legal counsel, with any other documents or legal opinions that undermine the process we have taken.

On the contrary, we have provided numerous legal opinions based on Canadian, BC, and Japanese law, which support the rigorous process we have followed. In fact, we have followed the same process that has been in place for ten years. The adoptions are in accordance with BC’s adoption laws and each family received a letter of approval from the British Columbia Adoption Branch before we travelled to Japan.  

We have also met all of the federal requirements in order to be issued the visa. The federal government has stopped issuing the visas, without advance notice to our families, who relied on an approved process.

Simply put, we traveled to Japan with love in our hearts, to give homes to five children. Each of us came to the adoption journey from a different starting point, but we have all arrived at the same destination, not only geographically, but emotionally.

Between the period of late April and mid-May, our five families travelled to Tokyo, Japan, and took care and custody of our children within one day of arriving.


For us, these are not our children to be adopted: they are simply our children. Like any other Canadian family, we love them deeply. We have spent weeks bonding with them, nurturing them, waking at all hours to feed them, burp them, change them. We have taken them for medical appointments. We have taken them for immunizations. We have taken them for long walks through the park. We have read to them, sang to them, soothed them.

We have done all of these things in Tokyo, Japan. It is a beautiful city in a wonderful, welcoming country. But it is not our home. We want to spend Canada Day with our children in Canada.


The pressure grows with each day, financially, emotionally, physically, and relationally. Worst of all, there is no end in sight. The IRCC seems content to watch us bleed out, providing us with no timeline for resolution. In their own words, our children are merely “prospective”—it’s as if, from their point of view, as if our babies don’t really exist.

We appreciate everyone’s support during this difficult time. If you want to help us and the four other Canadian families, you can contact the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada with the information that appears below.

Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Telephone: 613-954-1064

You can use the text below, but please feel free to personalize and customize it, especially to add your own opinions on the matter or if you want to specifically reference us.

Subject Line: Outraged to learn that 5 Canadian families have been stranded in Japan after the IRCC suspends visa issuance in reference to US policy

To the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen,

I am writing as a concerned Canadian citizen, outraged and alarmed to learn that five Canadian families have been stranded in Tokyo, Japan, while bureaucrats in your department have delayed issuance of permanent residence visas to the babies they are in the process of adopting because of a decision to take authority from the US Department of State website.

Why is the Canadian government looking to the United States for guidance on our own immigration laws and policies? This alarming decision has trapped five Canadian families in a foreign country, casting them into ongoing uncertainty AFTER they have received custody of their children.

I understand that the families have done everything in accordance with Canadian, British Columbia, and Japanese laws. They undertook this journey in good faith and conscience, following a prescribed system that has been in place for 10 years and for dozens of adoptions from Japan into Canada. They completed a rigorous program with a registered BC adoption agency and did not circumvent any system, regulation, or process. Each of the families received a letter of approval from the British Columbia Adoption Branch for their specific child to come to BC before they left for Japan. The only missing piece is their permanent residence visa for their child.

Without the visas, the five families are forced to remain in Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world, being drained financially and emotionally—and there is no end in sight.

These families have spent the last several weeks nurturing and bonding with the babies who would have otherwise ended up in state care. It seems cruel and callous to prevent them from coming home. What should be a joyous time of sharing a new addition to the family with friends and relatives has been inverted into a crisis situation.

There are children involved in this situation—babies all under the age of four months—and yet they are being treated as mere pieces of paper. Case files. The treatment of these five Canadian families—and their babies—seems counter to every value purported to be so important to the Canadian government.

This process had not been in the best interest of the children and I urge you to issue the visas and bring them home.


Your name and address