Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Steffie, Angel, Baby and More

When I was in high school, I read Fran Arrick’s Steffie Can’t Come Out to Play (1978) more than once.

I even wrote a book report on it in the ninth grade, when the assigned reading included J. Meade Falkner’s Moonfleet and Robert Westall’s The Machine Gunners. (Wanted: female characters.)

Quite likely this story of [...]

Ellen Hopkins’ Crank Trilogy

How fully can an author inhabit an addict’s world and still spin a story coherent enough to engage the teen reader?

Margaret K. McElderry Books(Simon & Schuster Books), 2004

In the 1970′s, kids might have turned to the anonymously penned Go Ask Alice (1971), which was billed as an actual diary, but was actually [...]

Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series

At the beginning of the novel, where an epigraph might appear, is a note from the author, explaing that Uglies was shaped by a series of email exchanges between Scott Westerfeld and author Ted Chiang about his story “Liking What You See: A Documentary”.

At the end of Ted Chiang’s collection Stories of Your Life, [...]

Black History Month: Four Courageous Women

Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, Claudette Colvin, fifteen years old, stayed in her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

It was March 2, 1955, but in the intervening years, this story has been all-but-forgotten. Phillip Hoose‘s work is essential reading.

Based on fourteen lengthy [...]

Saving the Owls: Who Knew

Admittedly, I chose There’s an Owl in the Shower because I had read Jean Craighead George’s classic My Side of the Mountain.

I knew of her reputation for including ecological and environmental themes in the stories she has written for children.

But when I realized that it had been published in 1995, inhabiting that curious space [...]

Kidlit, Seriously

When Penelope Lively was interviewed by Emma Donoghue in 2003, the author was tickled to have her books for children acknowledged; her writing for children was routinely dismissed and she explained that she now felt quite distanced from it.

The news of this dismissal shocked me because I came of age with The House in [...]

About Darkness: Some recent discoveries

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen. Published in 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

“There are definitely faster methods of making a picture, but few more enjoyable in a backwards sort of way.”

The artist was speaking of production, but the artwork is eminently [...]

The intersection between the Giller Prize and Scaredy Squirrel

Think there’s nothing in common between this year’s Giller Prize winner and Mélanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel series?

Take this quote from Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing: “You can only be vigilant, she thought, about a few things at a time. Otherwise it’s not vigilance anymore. It starts to be more like panic.”

Mélanie Watt takes her friend, [...]

Martha Brooks’ Two Moons in August (1990)

“There were two moons last August — one that was almost full at the beginning when Mom was alive and our lives were normal, and then a big full cheater moon at the end, one that looked down so beautifully on the world when everything was awful and changed and never would be the same [...]

Nicolas Debon’s Four Pictures by Emily Carr (2003)

There are a number of ways in which one can get to know Emily Carr.

Groundwood Books – House of Anansi, 2003

First, for the bookish, via her own writing.

Klee Wick (1941), The Book of Small (1942), The House of All Sorts (1944), and, published posthumously, Growing Pains (1946), Pause (1953), The Heart of [...]