Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction’

Meet Middle Grade Historical Fiction Author Karen Autio

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews author Karen AutioAfter growing up horse-crazy and book-loving in Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, Karen Autio now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, only a little less horse-crazy and far more book-loving. Karen graduated from the University of Waterloo and worked as a software developer for several years, then decided to pursue her long held dream of writing for children. She signed up for a “Writing Fiction for Children” course at the local college, joined a writers’ group, and began writing—and re-writing—her stories.

Karen is the author of a trilogy of historical novels for readers ages 10 and up: Second Watch, Saara’s Passage, and Sabotage. She loves to interact with students, sharing her journey to becoming an author and her passion for research and the resulting “jigsaw puzzle” of transforming historical facts into a fascinating story.

Author website

Author Facebook page

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Sabotage by Karen AutioSabotage, enemy aliens, paranoia, and German spies… in Canada? Sabotage is the third book in my trilogy of Canadian historical novels for young readers (all standalone reads) in which the courage and wits of siblings Saara and John Mäki are put to the test. The trilogy tells the adventures and mishaps of this Finnish-immigrant family living in Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario, in 1914-15. From travelling on the palatial but doomed Empress of Ireland steamship, to tuberculosis sanatoriums, to the compelling untold stories of the home front in Canada during the First World War, these books bring history to life. Readers discover both how much has changed since the early 1900s and what remains timeless, such as fickle friends, new-immigrant experiences, the struggle to do the right thing, and family dynamics.

Sabotage is suitable for any age of reader from grade 4 up and is of equal interest to boys and girls. Partly that’s due to the story being told by both Saara and her younger brother John, in alternating chapters. I’m delighted that through doing research I learned the truth behind what I thought was a made-up story I’d heard growing up in Nipigon, Ontario. There actually were German agents at work in my hometown in 1915 plotting to destroy the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge.

Sabotage is a 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book Finalist and is shortlisted for the 2015 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Sabotage at

Sabotage at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Rosemary Sutcliff. Her historical novels drew me into their time periods. The characters and settings seemed so real, I felt like I was living the story. After immersing myself in one of her books for several chapters, I’d look around me, puzzled. Where am I? In particular I remember enjoying The Eagle of The Ninth and The Lantern Bearers. I’m not surprised that her writing resonated with me because of how historical fiction has become my favourite genre to read and write.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?Second Watch by Karen Autio

Two experiences come to mind. At a recent presentation to elementary school students in an Ottawa public library, the majority of them had read my book Second Watch in which my characters are involved in the Empress of Ireland shipwreck. After my presentation, a boy handed me a piece of paper. He’d been so affected by the story and the tragedy, that he’d written and illustrated a poem for me about the Empress of Ireland. What a special gift.

The other experience resulted from my presentation in a school where I did a reading from Second Watch. Afterward, the librarian told me a student who hated reading informed her he just had to get my book and read it. A couple of weeks later I received an email from the librarian saying the boy’s attitude had changed from hating reading to “I can read this!” What an honour to have been part of that transformation.

How do you stay connected with your readers?

I have a website and an author Facebook page where I regularly post information relevant to children’s book publishing and writing, my book news, and photos from my book tours. I’ve had the privilege of going on several book tours, in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. I love meeting readers whether at school or library presentations or at signings in bookstores or at book clubs. My grade 5 student editors for Saara’s Passage became friends with me on Facebook and I still keep in touch with them that way (both just graduated from high school). Whenever a reader emails me, I’m happy to reply.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

There is certainly joy and satisfaction in the writing, but I’d say my greatest pleasure as an author is to hear from readers about how they’ve connected with my characters and stories. One of my favourite emails from a young reader included her describing my books as “real page turners” and then sharing her response to my character Saara: “I think we would be friends if she was real.” Also, it’s such a delight whenever my books and presentations inspire writers of all ages and get kids reading who were reluctant or infrequent readers.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

As a kid, my future dream job alternated between children’s book illustrator and jockey! Although I still enjoy drawing, writing has become my passion. And before entering high school I’d already grown too tall to be a jockey. For several years I worked as a software developer, and since 2004 when I’m not busy writing I’m editing other writers’ manuscripts as a freelance copyeditor.

Saara's Passage by Karen AutioDo you do school or library presentations?

I welcome the opportunity to present to intermediate students in schools and libraries across Canada. I love sharing my passion for researching history and writing historical fiction, and talking about the writing process. During my 60-minute interactive presentation, I:
• engage students in Canadian history with a lively, visually appealing presentation
• spark enthusiasm for writing
• focus on the immigrant experience with curricular tie-ins
• read a brief excerpt from one of my books
• reveal how family stories inspired me to write novels
• unravel the process of publishing and book design
• include time for students to ask questions

Teacher resources are available for all of my historical novels and can be downloaded from my website. For more information, please visit

Meet Children’s Book Novelist Jacqueline Guest

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews author Jacqueline Guest Jacqueline Guest is an international award winning author with eighteen published novels. She has presented across Canada and in the United States to audiences of all ages including the University of Calgary; Manitoba Association of Teachers of English; Alberta Association of Library Technicians; MASC Conference Ottawa; University of Victoria; Cultural Diversity Institute North Central Teachers Association; Young Alberta Book Society; Wordsworth Writing Camp; Dreamcatcher Aboriginal Conferences; Saskatoon Reading Council Teachers Conference; Batoche Historical Site; the Edmonton Young Offenders Centre; Mamawenig; Back to Batoche Days; Fort Calgary’s Metis Cultural Festival, the American Indian Library Association, plus a host of other conferences and engagements. Jacqueline is the current Creator in Residence for the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. She has been Writer in Residence for the Marigold Library System and is the proud recipient of the 2013 Indspire Award for the Arts. With her experience in writing, editing, promotion, touring and the business aspects of being a writer, Jacqueline feels sharing her expertise can help new authors achieve their goals faster and with better results.

Twitter account @JacquelineGuest

Author website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

The Comic Book War by Jacqueline GuestThe Comic Book War is a great novel for readers of all ages. It tells the story of how one teenaged boy discovers a cosmic link between his comic book superheroes and his three brothers fighting overseas in WW2. It all starts when a meteorite falls from space in front of his eyes and he is able to find it…

This novel will make you believe in ‘What if?’, the biggest question in the universe. What if cosmic links do exist? What if we are all connected? What if we can tap into those connections to protect our loved ones?

This story is more than a coming of age novel, it shows us how we all cope with stress in different ways.

The Comic Book War at

The Comic Book War at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Mark Twain was, is and always will be my favorite author. I have many other stars on my book shelves too numerous to mention, but Twain’s stories continue to entertain and resonate with me even after all these years.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

First books are always hard, but don’t give up! Learning to write at a professional level is just like learning how to perform an athletic event at an Olympic level – it takes years of practice and dedication to achieve your goal, but it is so worth it. We will always need new books to inspire and entertain, and new writers coming up now will provide those wonderful books.

Outcasts of River Falls by Jacqueline GuestWhen did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but was afraid to say it out loud when I was growing up in case I was ridiculed. After all, published authors don’t come from a small village like Turner Valley, Alberta, they come from New York, or Toronto, or Vancouver- big cities with fancy schools. Well, I’m here to tell you, authors do come from small towns everywhere and you don’t need an agent or fancy letters after your name. You just have to believe- and be willing to pay your dues.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

Writing a novel is like running a marathon. It is hours of grueling practice, then many more hours honing your skills, and finally putting all that practice to work as you sit in front of your computer for hours on end, creating a world where not only your characters can live, but your readers too. I sit for long hours writing, oblivious to everything around me, eating chips with one hand while the other hand juggles a cup of tea as I pound on the keys. It’s not magic, it’s hard work. 😉

I call the room where I write a ‘Scriptorium’, (I even have a sign on the door!). People who have 9-5 jobs work in an ‘office’; a writer doesn’t have such nice tidy hours, which is why I like ‘scriptorium’ better.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?Rink Rivals by Jacqueline Guest

One of the coolest experiences I have had was working at a First Nation’s school when a young boy in Grade 5 came up to me and told me he read Rink Rivals, a hockey novel about twin boys who scrap on the ice and off. I said that was great, and he became excited, telling me he read all the pages, right to the end and he was going to read another book now and that it was the first book he had ever read in his entire life! That was the ultimate compliment.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I love travelling to share my excitement about reading with students everywhere. To see a student’s excitement when they tell me about one of my books that they are reading and how the characters are so real, the adventure so exciting and the story so compelling, now, that’s worth the time, expense, long hours and effort. I wish I was better at social media and keeping my website up to date, but I’m not a tech type, and if anyone out there would like to work on my website for me, let me know!!!

If you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I have worked every job under the sun to support my writing habit: house cleaner, retail clerk, waitress, day care worker, core analyst in the oil industry and about a million more jobs I shudder to remember. I know how fortunate I am to have this dream job of being a writer.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I would pay to dine with Mark Twain. Not only handsome, but the most talented writer ever!

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

When I write, it has to be absolutely quiet. No music, no TV, no distractions. (I even shut the chimes off on my wall clock because it was driving me nuts!)

Do you do school or library presentations?

I travel extensively to schools and libraries everywhere. I recently was at two schools in Tanzania while there volunteering to teach an adult writing class. I have various presentations geared to tandem with curriculums. Here’s some information:

Belle of Batoche by Jacqueline GuestThe Era of the Fur Trade explores Canada’s past with a session that includes over fifty artifacts such as beaver pelts, bone fishing hooks, horn sewing needles, plus we learn the uses of the Metis Sash, and the laws for the buffalo hunt. It is very interactive with students from the audience assisting me as we paddle down the river with our canoe laden with furs or demonstrating how old fashioned aboriginal toys worked. Belle of Batoche and Outcasts of River Falls are great companion reads for this session.

Dinosaurs! This is geared for students in Kindergarten and grade one/two who dig dinosaurs. The PPT session includes fossils of bones, trees, dino poop and an actual dinosaur egg and comes complete with a coloring handout.

Ghost Messages: A Voyage with the Author, a sixty minute PPT session, tandems with my novel Ghost Messages and deals with laying the transatlantic cable in 1865,an event which changed the world for all time because it changed the way we communicate. Those texters in the audience need to know how this communication explosion we live in today started. Students see an actual piece of the first transatlantic cable, plus students can win a prize by decoding and answering a secret Morse Code question.

The Comic Book War: WW2, Meteorites and Comic Book Superheroes involves my new novel The Comic Book War. Students learn about the home front war effort including savings stamps, rationing, victory gardens and a host of other helpful facts. Plus, we explore the possibility that we are all connected on a cosmic level. Could a meteorite found by our hero connect comic book super heroes here in Canada with three soldiers fighting overseas? ‘What if?’ the most powerful question in the universe!

Jacqueline Guest’s books are published by Coteau Books, Orca Book Publishers and James Lorimer and Company. She also works with Scholastic, Pearson Canada and Rubicon for short stories and levelled reading.

World War I Historical Fiction for Youth – I Am Canada: Shot at Dawn

Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Shot at Dawn by John Wilson Historical Fiction for YouthShot at Dawn by John Wilson
Published by Scholastic Canada

I Am Canada: Shot at Dawn is the intense, thrilling and tragic story of Allan McBride, a young Canadian who, during World War I, wanted to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero and friend, Ken Harrison. Whilst growing up together on Vancouver Island, McBride and Harrison had enjoyed many childhood adventures. Just seventeen and very naive, McBride is certain that joining his friend on a World War I battlefield in France will lead to further pleasurable escapades. Harrison, who has already experienced the horrors of combat, is not at all enthusiastic about McBride’s enlistment and subsequent arrival in France. Eventually, at McBride’s insistence, the two go to battle together. The horrors of World War I trench warfare are too much for both men. Harrison is shot and presumed to have been killed. McBride suffers shell-shock and, while confused and delusional, leaves his unit. He intends to walk home. Eventually, after finding other fugitives in a forested area, he hides until he is taken into custody by his childhood friend. Clearly unwell, McBride is accused of desertion. While awaiting dawn arrival of an the executioner, Allan McBride describes his horrifying experiences in the trenches near Amiens, France.

Although the I Am Canada series is suggested for nine to twelve year olds, be advised that Shot at Dawn depicts the grim reality of trench warfare. Although fascinating, it may be disturbing to some readers.

Update June 18, 2012, Shot at Dawn is nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People

The I Am Canada series website includes discussion guides, book excerpts, activities and video clips.

Shot at Dawn: World War I at

Shot at Dawn: World War I at

Exploring Themes of Adoption and Family in Post War Italy

Posted on October 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Take Me With You by Carolyn Harsden, middle grade historical fiction about adoption and familyTake Me With You written by Carolyn Marsden
Chapter book for middle grades published by Candlewick Press

Last evening I finished the last few chapters of Take Me With You by Carolyn Marsden. It was a particularly satisfying ending to an enjoyable “read.” The concluding chapters left some questions unanswered but were both positive and hopeful in tone.

Take Me With You tells the story of two orphaned young girls who both live at Istituto di Gesu in post-war Naples, Italy. The girls are best friends who each long for life as part of a family. Susanna and Pina live in poverty within the four walls of church-run orphanage, seldom venturing into town.

Susanna is referred to as a mulatta. Her mother was an Italian, her father was an American soldier. Susanna fears that her hair and skin tone will deter potential adoptive parents as she does not look like other young Italian girls.

Pretty, blond, Pina wants deperately to be adopted but discovers that her mother has not yet signed the documentation that would allow an adoption to go ahead. Pina is heartbroken when she finally meets the woman who abandoned her. She is forced to come to terms with her mother’s indifference and does so with the help of her friend and one of the nuns at the orphanage.

Recommended for middle grade readers, Take Me With You deals with serious issues with tenderness and sensitivity. The outcome is optimistic while remaining realistic. The book will primarily appeal to girls although it is entirely suitable for both boys and girls.

Lexile Level – 640L

Take Me with You at

Take Me with You at

A Look at How Paul Gauguin Discovered His Magic

Posted on October 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

A Look at How Paul Gauguin Discovered His Magic, picture book recommendation by Storytime StandoutsMr. Gauguin’s Heart written by Marie-Danielle Croteau, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault and translated by Susan Ouriou

This thought-provoking picture book introduces a young Paul Gauguin. As a child, he sails with his family from Denmark to Peru. While onboard ship, his father dies and Paul feels lost. He does not mourn like his mother and sister do. He watches as the giant sun sinks below the horizon and imagines his father’s heart. When his ship arrives in Peru, Paul, with the help of an elderly man, discovers that one can bring things to life with a paintbrush.

Best suited to children aged 6 to 9, Mr. Gauguin’s Heart in an insightful and reflective look at grief and passion.

Mr. Gauguin’s Heart at

Mr Gauguin’s Heart at

Mystery in the Frozen Lands – A Refreshing Change from Fantasy

Posted on October 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts reads Mystery in the Frozen by Martyn GodfreyThis past weekend, my son’s teacher loaned me a copy of Mystery in the Frozen Lands by Martyn Godfrey. He has ordered a class set of the book and his grade 4/5 class will be reading it later this year. What a great choice! It was very refreshing to read historical fiction – I’ve been reading so much fantasy of late.

Mystery in the Frozen Lands is set in the mid 1900’s and is told from the perspective of a fourteen year old boy: Peter Griffin. Peter is anxious to learn what happened to his uncle, Sir John Franklin. Franklin departed England twelve years earlier, in search of the Northwest Passage. Neither he nor his crew of 128 men returned.

Quite apart from creating an captivating mystery with respect to Franklin’s disappearance, Mr. Godfrey tells of the terrible hardships endured on a voyage of this kind. While enjoying the very readable story, we learn a great deal about life as a ship’s boy and especially the cruel Arctic Winter.

Mystery in the Frozen Lands at

Mystery in the Frozen Lands at

Recommended Chapter Books – What to Read After E.B. White and Roald Dahl

Posted on September 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

What to Read After E.B. White and Roald Dahl Chapter Book Suggestions for Preteens

When you’ve read all the best-known novels for preteens, here are some lesser-known recommended chapter books

I work with a grade three girl who is a very good reader. She has read almost all of Roald Dahl’s books (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The B.F.G., etc.) and also E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. The question posed Wednesday was, “What shall I read next? What are your recommended chapter books for kids like me?”

Let’s take a look at some possibilities…

Tuck Everlasting
by Natalie Babbitt
A great pick for summertime reading, this adventure is set in the 1880s and tells the story of a family who has found a source of eternal life. Very difficult decisions lie ahead as one of the boys falls in love with Winnie. She must decide between eternal life with him and a life that will come to an end.

Tuck Everlasting at

Tuck Everlasting at

Frindle (plus The Landry News, The Report Card)
by Andrew Clements
Nick has loads of ideas – he’s always trying to liven things up. His grade five teacher, known as The Lone Granger, is all business and unlikely to appreciate Nick’s antics. However, an early assignment to look up word definitions may just have potential: why not call a pen something else? How about using frindle instead?

Frindle at

Frindle at

Owls in the Family
by Farley Mowat
I love this depiction of Mr. Mowat’s boyhood. He lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and had all manner of pets. His parents must have been amazing – imagine managing a household with a dog, gophers, snakes, owls and more. The chapter that describes the new minister’s tumultuous visit is one I will never forget.

Owl in the Family at

Owls in the Family at

The Nose from Jupiter (plus A Nose for Adventure & Noses Are Red)
by Richard Scrimger
Leave your scepticism at the door and enjoy the fun. Poor Alan is a mess, there is something not quite right. His nose is stuffy, considerably stuffier than usual. Norbert, an alien from Jupiter, is an unexpected, uninvited guest in Alan’s nose.

The Nose from Jupiter at

The Nose from Jupiter at

Canadian Flyer Adventures Time Travel Series for Grade Two

Posted on September 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends the Canadian Flyer Adentures series including Beware, Pirates

The exciting Canadian Flyer Adventures time travel series for grade two has all the elements needed for success – action, adventure and fun. Generously illustrated, readers will be captivated while learning history

Canadian Flyer Adventures series written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Time Travel Series published by Owlkids Books

When young friends Emily and Matt climb a rickety spiral staircase, they discover an intriguing room filled with wonderful treasures. They are excited to imagine where and when each originated. When they sit on an old red Canadian Flyer sled, their time travel adventures begin.

In Book One of the Canadian Flyer Adventure series, they are transported to the Far North circa 1577. They find themselves aboard Martin Frobisher’s pirate ship and later help to rescue an Inuit man.

In Book Two, they face dangers during the time of dinosaurs.

Storytime Standouts recommends the Canadian Flyer Adentures series including Danger, DinorsaursI read and enjoyed both books. Likely intended for children who are reading at about a grade two to three level, the series is generously illustrated and quite exciting. Extra features include additional facts, an interview with the author and a preview of the next book in the series for grade two. It is great to see a series like this. The Canadian Flyer Adventure series will be enjoyed by young readers everywhere but will have a special appeal for Canadian children and those who gravitate toward history or time travel.

OwlKids Books’ Canadian Flyer Adventures website includes teacher resources and a map

Beware, Pirates! at

Danger, Dinosaurs! at

Beware, Pirates! at

Danger, Dinosaurs! at

Barnstormers’ Baseball, Will this Author Hit a Home Run Yet?

Posted on September 12th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Game 1 Barnstormers written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by Loren Long

Barnstormers' Baseball, Will this Author Hit a Home Run Yet? A while back, I had an opportunity to read and listen to the first book in a new historical fiction series for 7 -10 year olds. Game 1 (Barnstormers) introduces three siblings who travel with a barnstorming baseball team, The Travelin’ Nine.

Set in 1899, the first book in the series leaves us with more questions than answers: we know the children’s father died in the war and that he possessed a mysterious baseball but it unclear why the ball is significant. We also hear their uncle’s warning that great danger lies ahead but so far have only encountered mysterious visions and sounds.

For children who are fascinated with baseball and how it was played 100+ years ago,this series may yet prove very appealing. Personally, I was frustrated that the author left me stranded on second base – with many, many unanswered questions.

Game 1 (Barnstormers) at

Game 1: #1 in The Barnstormers: Tales of the Travelin’ Nine Series at

Middle Grade Readers Travel Through Time to the London Blitz

Posted on September 10th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve put aside the picture books and early chapter books and read two interesting books for middle grade readers that feature time travel. Suggested for children in grades six through nine, also referred to as middle grade readers, I have some reservations about the age range but enjoyed each of the books thoroughly.

Storytime Standouts looks at London Calling by Edward BloorLondon Calling written by Edward Bloor
Middle Grade Fiction published by Alfred A. Knopf

In London Calling by Edward Bloor, the central character is a seventh grade student at a private school in New Jersey. Hating school and disconnected from his family, Martin is sleeping his life away. When his grandmother dies, he is bequeathed a beautiful Philco Deluxe Art Deco radio. After he “started sleeping with the radio on … A boy – small,thin, dressed in mud-brown clothes – leaned out from behind the radio and whispered, “Johnny, will you help me?”.

At first fearful of the recurrent dream, through research, Martin confirms that his nighttime visitor is transporting him to 1940 London. Soon his directionless days become purposeful as he works to research dates, places and identities. Repeated visits to the wartorn city help him to understand how he can “help.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and particularly the portions set in the London Blitz. Having said that, I was disappointed by the following exchange,

I keep it hidden under my bed.” she smiled devilishly. “Perhaps you should check under there.”
The General stared at her dumbly. Then he smiled back, slowly, acknowledging the joke. “Uh-huh. Sounds like I’d better.”

As much as I enjoyed the book, I’m just not sure some of the nuances will have meaning for middle grade readers aged 12, 13, 14. Is an allusion like this appropriate or necessary for a book intended for children in grades six through nine?

London Calling at

London Calling at

Saluting a Canadian Picture Book Favourite: Under a Prairie Sky

Posted on June 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Canadian picture book Under a Prairie SkyUnder a Prairie Sky written by Anne Laurel Carter and illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
Canadian Picture Book published by Orca Book Publishers

It is nearly Canada Day (July 1) and my thoughts have turned to picture books with a decidedly “Canadian look.” This afternoon, I pulled Under a Prairie Sky off my bookshelf and spent some time enjoying the detailed, striking watercolour illustrations and the equally dramatic text. A terrific Canadian picture book read aloud for four and five year olds, Under a Prairie Sky is the story of a farm boy who aspires to be a RCMP Officer when he grows up. While harvesting wheat with his father, he is sent to find his younger brother before a storm arrives at the farm. Knowing that this is a job that will demand the detective skills of a Mounted Police Officer, he quickly changes his clothes, dons a Stetson and mounts his trusty black horse. He follows young Will’s trail through the fields and into the wild, taking in flora and fauna native to the Canadian prairies.

Under a Prairie Sky at

Under a Prairie Sky at

Catch my profile of John Wilson in the spring issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on May 10th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview John Wilson. He is one of my eldest son’s favourite authors. You will find my profile of John Wilson in the Spring 2011 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News.

The Paint Box by Maxine Trottier Allows A Glimpse of Renaissance Life

Posted on February 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

 A Glimpse of Renaissance Life by Maxine TrottierThe Paint Box – written by Maxine Trottier and illustrated by Stella East

Set in Venice, The Paint Box is the story of Marietta and her friend Piero. Both children are fascinated with creating art. Because she is a girl, Marietta must disguise herself when she works with her father and studies to be a painter. Piero is a slave, who longs to return to his family and freedom. He shares Marietta’s love of art. Beautifully illustrated and written, this picture book provides insight into Renaissance life and will surely inspire young artists.
32 pages, Ages 6+

Shortlisted by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for their Our Choice Award in 2005

Maxine Trottier’s website

Stella East’s website

The Paint Box at

The Paint Box at

More News

Learn to Read Printables, Games and Activities for Parents and Teachers

Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth! written and illustrated ...

Phonemic Awareness

Bolstering Phonemic Awareness, Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Bolstering Phonemic Awareness, Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Some of the keys to learning to read are noticing ...

Terrific Chapter Books for Middle Grades and Teens

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, a SLJ Top 100 Novel

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, a SLJ Top 100 Novel

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume Series for ...

Translate »