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1. Up the Hill and Over

When I start reading a book and the protagonist is a doctor recovering from a nervous breakdown, and he comes to a small town and settles down to practice small town medicine incognito and becomes interested in the daughter of the previous town doctor, I’m pretty sure I know exactly what I’m getting. In the case of Up the Hill and Over, by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay, I was very wrong.

It’s hart to talk about how I was wrong without giving away a couple of twists–twists that I did see coming, but not far enough ahead that I didn’t have to change my mind about what kind of book I though I was reading a couple of times. There are three specific things that complicate the narrative I expected. One of them was insanity, and I want to talk about that. The other two are a little spoilery, and I’ll mention them without giving details.

So, one of the characters, Aunt Amy, is introduced as being a little odd, and having strange fancies about things. You learn about her mental issues slowly, so at first it just seems like she’s perfectly sensible, if a little eccentric. Then you get more specific information: she believes that the sprigged tea set doesn’t like being touched by anyone but her, and that someone she refers to as “Them” is out to get her. The cause of her problems–her fiancé dying on the eve of their wedding–is typical of insane women in novels, but the details of her beliefs and their effects are so much more specific. I mean, when you’ve got a secret insane wife or something in, say, a Mary Jane Holmes novel, madness is a permanent change in state, a fundamental attribute of the character. There was a time when the woman was not mad, but now she is, and the only change possible going forward is her death.

It’s not like that with Aunt Amy. Actually, another character ends up fitting into that trope much more closely. Amy’s madness is a permanent state, but not…I guess the word I want here is homogeneous. I mean, it’s not just that she’s better at some times and worse at others. Her madness is multifaceted, and doesn’t make her any less of an agent. The development of Amy’s illness, or the depiction of it, is such that you move through being sorry for her to being scared for her to being scared for the people around her, and it’s just…really interesting. For early 20th century popular fiction, it’s very psychologically complex. There’s a fairly modern depiction of drug addiction, too, and while the, uh, legal complication that you’re probably going to suspect pretty early on is exactly what it looks like, there’s surprisingly little moralizing wrapped up in it.

I was never, at any moment, in love with this book or with any of the characters, so there were a few places where I didn’t get the emotional punch I needed to make certain plot developments work for me. At least, that’s how I’m explaining to myself the fact that bits that I didn’t think should have felt melodramatic did. I kept a little bit of an emotional distance from the book throughout, and not by choice. But I also stayed absorbed in it the entire time, and could barely put it down, and while there were bits that felt like too much, for the most part it just kept getting more and more interesting until the end. I expected a much more cheerful book when I started, but I wasn’t disappointed by any means.


Tagged: 1910s, canada, isabelecclestonemackay

4 Comments on Up the Hill and Over, last added: 7/21/2014
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2. The Comic Book War by Jacqueline Guest

It's 1943 and Robert Tourand, 15, misses and worries about his three older brothers who are off fighting in Europe with the Canadian armed forces.   So when he finds a small piece of a meteorite, it becomes a kind of magical charm for him.  Thanks to it, Robert soon, he begins to see and believe a cosmic connection between what his brother write about from the front line in their letters, and the heroes in the comic books he obsessed with.

And so, he pairs brother to comic according the their parallel experiences: favorite brother Patrick is assigned The Maple Leaf Kid, brother James and Sedna of the Sea go together because James could use her wisdom, brother George, a pilot, is paired with flying ace Captain Ice.  Their assignment: to keep his brother's safe.

It all works nicely until his mother finds a pair of torn pants and decides Robert need to be taught a lesson.  Now, she decides, his weekly allowance, his only means of buying the newest editions of the comic book that contain secret messages about his brothers, would be better spent on war stamps.  Now, Robert needs to figure out a new way to make sure he can buy his three favorite comics every month.

And it seems that ever since his found his magical piece of the universe, luck has been with him.  When his teacher announces that the student who collects the most fat for the war effort will win four completely filled books of war stamps, valued at $4.00, Robert thinks he's found the answer to funding his comic addiction.  But despite his best efforts, he didn't expect such stiff competition from Crazy Charlie (Charlene) Donnelly, a girl as much on a mission as Robert.

So, when fat collection doesn't yield the needed money, Robert decides to take a job as a telegram delivery boy.  Trouble is, Crazy Charlie has the same idea.  They are both hired, and as more and more telegrams need to be delivered, Charlie seems to be able to get around Calgary some much faster than Robert on her dilipated second hand bike compared to his sleek newish Raleigh.  Robert is so busy thinking about his comic books, he never bothers to ask Charlie about herself.  Nor does he think about what is in the telegrams he is delivering, until one arrives at his house in Charlie's hands.

At first, I didn't much care for The Comic Book War.  I found Robert to be a very unappealing character, too focused on himself and completely lacking in empathy for anyone else.  Ironically, Robert and Charlie are both loners, outsiders that could have been friends from the start, if Robert had been able to see beyond himself.  But as I continued to read, I began to see Robert in a different light, as a person who could actually have some compassion for the recipients of the telegrams he was delivering.

I also thought that Robert was a little too old to be so obsessed with comic books, even for the WWII time frame.  But this is, after all, a coming of age novel.  I began to think about how kids will use all kinds of ways to cope with fear, loss and trauma.  Robert keeps his fear about his brothers (and about growing up) from overwhelming him using magical thinking (always a good defense mechanism) that his comic book heroes will keep his brothers (and him) safe.

Charlie, who was much more in touch with reality, was a good contrast to Robert, despite her own problems in life.  I would have actually liked to have read more about Charlie, who is a story in her own right.

It is always interesting to find a Canadian story about kids in WWII because they have such a distinct perspective.  Canada was still part of the British Commonwealth in 1939, and even though it declared war on the Axis powers independently of Britain, it sent troops overseas to fight with the British Expeditionary Forces and the RAF.

Two nit-picky things did bother me.  Kids did not carry their school books to school in backpacks back them.  They used school bags or carried them in their arms.  And I did wonder about why lights were left on so freely at night.  I thought all of Canada had blackout precautions during the war.  But I could be wrong on these.

This book is recommended for readers age 11+
This book was received from the publisher

0 Comments on The Comic Book War by Jacqueline Guest as of 7/12/2014 12:05:00 PM
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3. #608 – The Highest Number in the World by Roy MacGregor & Geneviève Després

Hi everyone!

I am so sorry to have missed not only two days of reviews, but also replying to your wonderful comments. My new–less than a year old–laptop died, or at least it looks that way. While doing a restart, it twirled its little blue circle for close to fifteen minutes (it is solid state and should start and restart faster than you can clap your hands and say, “Abracadabra), and then it went black. It was still on, is still on, but the screen remains black and the machine silent. So off to the manufacturer, or wherever Best Buy sends computers they cannot fix in-house, for a nice one to two month vacation. Hopefully it will return refreshed and ready to get back to work. If not, well, I’ll worry about that if it happens.

So, if you visit Kid Lit Reviews and find the review is the same as the day before, I took a day off. If a review hangs around the Homepage for two or more days, a computer crisis has occurred and I will be back as soon as possible. The laptop I am using now is the one that breaks down more now than then, and the current ill machine was to have replaced. I am beginning to think CPU’s do not like me. Enough of that. Let’s move on to today’s review. The little girl, named Gabe, does not like the number on her jersey. What will the determined nine-year-old do about her situation?


The Highest Number in the WorldThe Highest Number in the World

written by Roy MacGregor

illustrated by Geneviève Després

Tundra Books of Northern New York      2/11/2014


Age 4 to 8           32 pages


“Nine-year-old Gabe (DON’T call her Gabriella), Murray eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. Her lucky number is 22, the same number as her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser. But when hew new coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. She’s crushed. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe’s grandmother, Gabriella (DON’T call her Gabe), soon sets her straight. The number 9 has a long and interesting history and little Gabe has to lots to learn about the players who wore it—including Gabriella herself. Gabe begins to see that the number 9 isn’t so bad after all . . . “


“Today, Gabe had made The Spirit, the best hockey team in town.”


Nine-year-old Gabe is the only nine-year-old on The Spirit team. Some would say this is quite an accomplishment, but not if they knew Gabe. Gabe loves hockey. She even has a tricky puck move called “The Gabe.” Her lucky number, the number she always wears, is number 22, the same number as Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian women’s hockey legend and Olympic hero. This is also the source of Gabe’s problem. She is assigned jersey number 9, not 22. She can’t play as number 9. She won’t play as number 9. So Gabe hides the number 9 jersey, never to be seen again. The Spirit’s first game is tomorrow. Gabe announced she is not playing.



Gabe knows hockey better than most. She loves hockey and is ecstatic about making The Spirit team. She should be ecstatic. Gabe is nine while everyone else is ten. This is really a big deal. Gabe assumed she would get jersey number 22 because she has always played in jersey number 22. Gabe even has a practice jersey with that number, which she wore during the team try-outs. The other players jokingly call her “Hayley.” So how could the coach not understand that Gabe wanted, no, needed number 22? Getting jersey number 9 is a deal-breaker. Gabe cannot play in “the worst number in the world.”

I understand Gabe. My number was always 14. I do not think I could have played, at least not well, in any other number. Deciding not to play is rather harsh, especially for someone who lives and breathes hockey. I feel for Gabe. What I really like about this story is Grandma’s role. She shows Gabe a picture from her own hockey days. Back then, she said, number 9 was the lucky number. The best player on every team from peewee to the NHL wore number 9, including Grandma Gabriella. Her own story is the best part of The Highest Number in the World.

Kids who love hockey, especially girls, will love The Highest Number in the World. Those that love sports in general, will like this story. I am sure there are many players out there, be it hockey, baseball, basketball, or any other sport, that can relate to Gabe’s dilemma. As a bonus, the jacket flips into a poster of young Gabe in full gear. The illustrations are terrific from vignettes to spreads. I love spread number 3. Gabe is signing her name and the number 22 on the foggy winter window, practicing her autograph. But the final page holds the best illustration. In gouache is Gabriella, young and old, hand-in-hand, in uniform and on skates, each wearing jersey number 9—the lucky jersey. There is nothing else there, yet one can picture a number 9 jersey raising up to the rafters, immortalizing one name for two great players—“Gabriella.”

final use maybe

THE HIGHEST NUMBER IN THE WORLD. Text copyright © 2014 by Roy MacGregor. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Geneviève Després. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books of Northern New York, Plattsburgh, NY.

Purchase The Highest Number in the World at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryRandom House of CanadaIndigoTundra Booksyour favorite bookstore.


Learn more about The Highest Number in the World HERE.

Meet the author, Roy MacGregor, at his website:    http://www.roymacgregor.com/

Meet the illustrator, Geneviève Després, at her website:   http://www.genevievedespres.ca/

Find other great books at the Tundra Books website:   http://www.tundrabooks.com/

Distributed by Random House of Canada:   http://www.randomhouse.ca/


Also by Roy MacGregor

Reality Check in Detroit (Screech Owls) 2/10/2015  

Reality Check in Detroit (Screech Owls) 2/10/2015 

The Boston Breakout (Screech Owls)  10/14/2014  

The Boston Breakout (Screech Owls)  10/14/2014     

The Mystery of the Russian Ransom (Screech Owls)  2/11/2014

The Mystery of the Russian Ransom (Screech Owls)  2/11/2014








Also by Geneviève Després

Best Friend Trouble  4/01/2014

Best Friend Trouble  4/01/2014

 Pas de bonbons?    1/01/2011

Pas de bonbons?    1/01/2011




Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Bobby Hull, Canada, children's book reviews, Geneviève Després, Gordie Howe, hockey, picture books, Roy MacGregor, The Highest Number in the World, Tundra Books of Northern New York

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4. ‘Bless You’ by David Barlow-Krelina

A man takes the subway. Inside his brain, a countdown clock hits zero and a little person prepares for lift-off. The man sneezes.

0 Comments on ‘Bless You’ by David Barlow-Krelina as of 6/30/2014 11:07:00 AM
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5. Inventory Magazine

Inventory Magazine on grainedit.com

I really admire this stationery system created by Anthony Hooper and the in-house design team at Inventory. Its sophistication and attention to detail wonderfully reflects the values instilled in the magazine.



Inventory Magazine on grainedit.com

Inventory Magazine on grainedit.com

Inventory Magazine on grainedit.com



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6. Canada Post Releases Stamps to Celebrate NFB’s 75th Anniversary

To commemorate the National Film Board of Canada's 75th anniversary, Canada Post released a set of five stamps this month that celebrate the government-run studio's films.

0 Comments on Canada Post Releases Stamps to Celebrate NFB’s 75th Anniversary as of 5/19/2014 4:36:00 PM
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7. Celebrating Victoria Day

Monday, 19 May is Victoria Day in Canada, which celebrates the 195th birthday of Queen Victoria on 24 May 1819. In June 1837, at the age of 18, Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as the Empire was called then.

Queen Victoria would reign for more than 63 years, longer than any other British Monarch to date. The Victorian Era, as it came to be known, was a time of expansion of the British Empire, as well as modernization and innovation following the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century.

To celebrate Victoria Day, we’ve chosen a few of her most famous quotations to illustrate her life and legacy.

Royal Queen Victoria

On being shown a chart of the line of succession, 11 March 1830
Theodore Martin The Prince Consort (1875) vol. 1, ch. 2

Queen Victoria no defeat

On the Boer War during ‘Black Week’, December 1899
Lady Gwendolen Cecil Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury (1931) vol. 3, ch. 6

“The Queen is most anxious to enlist every one who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights,’ with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety.”
–Queen Victoria, letter to Theodore Martin, 29 May 1870. From Oxford Essential Quotations.

Queen Victorias wedding

“What you say of the pride of giving life to an immortal soul is very fine, dear, but I own I can not enter into that; I think much more of our being like a cow or a dog at such moments; when our poor nature becomes so very animal and unecstatic.”
–Queen Victoria, letter to the Princess Royal, 15 June 1858. From Oxford Essential Quotations.

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (5th ed), edited by Susan Ratcliffe, was published in October 2012. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (7th ed), edited by Elizabeth Knowles, was published in 2009 to celebrate its 70th year.

Oxford Reference is the home of reference publishing at Oxford. With over 16,000 photographs, maps, tables, diagrams and a quick and speedy search, Oxford Reference saves you time while enhancing and complementing your work.

Images: 1. Queen Victoria in her Coronation Robes by George Hayter. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. 2. Portrait of Queen Victoria, 1843 by Sir Francis Grant. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. 3. Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert engraved by S Reynolds after F Lock. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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The post Celebrating Victoria Day appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Dino-Boy Abroad

 So, my eldest child, aka Dino-Boy, trotted off to Canada back in December to work with wildlife, and in exchange reports came back via Skype on Sundays – his day off. Daily life seemed to be along the lines of: prepared the feeds, cleaned out the cages, mended a fence, went to town to fetch the donated food, ate stir-fry.

The content started to vary dramatically as, having learnt how to handle wild animals, Oscar was given responsibility for his first creature – a snow hare with a limp, AND allowed to go out on 'rescues' – what a word!
             The most dramatic was catching two skunks, stuck at the bottom of an eight-metre well. There’s a video of him dangling on a rope, more Mr Bean than Ethan Hunt, and being bitten and sprayed before he can grab the skunk. The scent was so strong that people turned and stared for a few weeks afterwards. 

Oscar and Meisce
When a beaver was spotted swimming in salt water in Vancouver, Oscar was given the job of detoxifying the very sick animal. They don’t name the newcomers – too distressing if they have to be euthanised. Happily, Oscar called him Meisce after he responded to the treatment. He’s now back in the wild. 
Check out the feet!

More animals arrived at the centre and more bites. I only found out that an angry raccoon had taken a lump out of my boy when someone else tagged him – hand wrapped in ice, on Facebook. I demanded a close-up – it didn’t look too bad.

This raccoon is back in the wild
This adorable cub will be released next year

Oscar was due home last weekend, but at the end of March he texted saying he thought he might stay – he’d been offered the chance to look after the 2013 bear cubs, about to wake up after the winter but needing care until their release in summer 2014. No brainer, as Kevin Bacon would say. No surprise either, that April saw me boarding a plane with my daughter, Honor, to go and visit him.
He was big.
The same size, but bigger.
We had an amazing holiday, spending days off with Oscar and the rest of the time doing tourist stuff, but the best part was seeing him at the wildlife rehabilitation centre. It wasn’t the fabulous animals, or even the lovely people he works with, as much as the sense that he was in his element, absolutely.
White Rock B.C.

Wandering one evening along the beach at White Rock with Oscar and Honor, a bald eagle flew over. Further along a blue heron lazily flapped a few times to move out of our path. Ten years earlier, there’d been a similar scene. That time we were in Tofino, on Vancouver Island, as part of a six-week escape prompted by my husband losing his job. Bald eagles were as common as pigeons, black bears were everywhere – one crossed the road as we were walking to the beach, whales were blowing, seals collapsed on rocks.

I wonder whether that once-in-a-lifetime trip, Oscar aged nine, tipped the scales, turning the little boy fascinated by dinosaurs into the one living the life in Canada, where wildlife is truly wild (and let’s face it, bigger).

And the raccoon bite, well . . . the photo he sent was of an entirely different finger with an old wound. This one swelled up like a pumpkin, leaked pus, was as shiny as Downton silver, and had to be sliced open by one of the supervisors.
'Didn’t want to worry you, Mum.'
Me, worry?
My son currently goes into the bear den, picks up the poop, feeds them and jangles about to keep them wary of humans. The bears are around a hundred pounds each. There are four of them. Who’s worrying?

Halo - turning blacker as she sheds her winter coat
Tracy Alexander

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9. Animated Fragments #26

Animated Fragments is our semi-regular feature of animation tests, experiments, micro-shorts, and other bits of cartoon flotsam that doesn't fit into other categories. To view the previous 25 installments, go to the Fragments archive.

0 Comments on Animated Fragments #26 as of 4/25/2014 10:51:00 PM
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10. Norman McLaren Centennial Celebrations Take Over Downtown Montreal and Scotland

Animation is overtaking the streets of downtown Montreal’s entertainment district, the Quartier des Spectacles, and various cities in Scotland in honor of Norman McLaren's centennial.

0 Comments on Norman McLaren Centennial Celebrations Take Over Downtown Montreal and Scotland as of 4/10/2014 9:39:00 PM
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11. ‘Yellow Sticky Notes: Canadian Anijam’ by Jeff Chiba Stearns

An ‘Anijam’ is a collaborative animation where various artists create individual short animated segments that are linked together to make one larger film. For the first time in Canadian history, 15 of Canada’s most acclaimed independent animators have come together to create a collaborative animated film. "Yellow Sticky Notes: Canadian Anijam" is an innovative and global approach to animation filmmaking and unites animators from coast to coast, from Vancouver to Halifax and all parts in between, to self reflect on one day of their lives using only 4x6 inch yellow sticky notes, a black pen and animation meditation.

0 Comments on ‘Yellow Sticky Notes: Canadian Anijam’ by Jeff Chiba Stearns as of 4/3/2014 11:25:00 PM
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12. Illustrator Interview Marie Lafrance

I have admired Marie Lafrance’s illustrations for French and English picture books for well over a decade. When another Canadian friend, Monica Kulling, author of THE TWEEDLES GO ELECTRIC, asked her publisher to send me a review copy of this … Continue reading

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13. Maggie Welcomes Thousands of Visitors Worldwide

Maggie Steele, the storybook heroine who vaults over the moon, has been attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. So many visitors, in fact, that she’s using a time zone map to keep track of them all.* People are … Continue reading

0 Comments on Maggie Welcomes Thousands of Visitors Worldwide as of 7/26/2013 4:42:00 PM
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14. Jane of Lantern Hill

General consensus seemed to be that, after The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill was the best L.M. Montgomery book. So, when I detached myself from the internet yesterday and had a mini reading spree, it was the first thing I read. I mean, after I finished the Nero Wolfe book I was in the middle of.

I’m sorry I’m late to the L.M. Montgomery party, but I’m not sorry I’m getting to read these books for the first time now. There are children’s books that I’ve read as an adult and wished I had read as a kid, but Jane of Lantern Hill isn’t one of them. Yes, reading it at the appropriate age would have been a very different experience, but I don’t think it would have necessarily been a better one; I have so much more context for things now. This is just me trying to rationalize, though. Mostly I can’t imagine enjoying Jane of Lantern Hill more when I was a kid than I did yesterday.

The setup is strikingly similar to that of The Blue Castle — the unhappy girl living in a strict, female-dominated household whose only escape is via her imagination, the awful aunts and uncles and the privileged cousin, etc. But Jane is a kid, and her family includes some non-awful people: her mother and father, who are estranged. Jane and her mother live with Jane’s grandmother, who basically hates everyone but Jane’s mother, and takes active pleasure in making Jane’s life miserable.

This is abuse. Her grandmother uses everything Jane does to reinforce a narrative where Jane is useless and terrible at everything and has “low tastes.” Anything that Jane does well or likes to do is either ignored or food for further criticism. Every nice thing that her grandmother gives is is secretly meant to make her unhappy. And Jane responds, as people being abused often do, by becoming bad at all of the things she’s told she’s bad at. It’s pretty uncomfortable reading.

But this is a mostly cheerful children’s book, and so there’s something irrepressibly humorous and interested in Jane that her grandmother can’t kill, and she gets to exercise those faculties when she goes away to spend the summer with her father on Prince Edward Island.

Jane’s first summer with her father is almost too perfect. They instinctively get each other, in a way that was enough like an idealized version of my relationship with my father that it almost made me uncomfortable. But only almost. What’s great about this section, though, is Jane’s confidence. Free of her grandmother’s influence, she knows she’s capable of doing all sorts of things. It’s interesting that so many of those things are in the areas of cooking and housekeeping — things her grandmother never repeatedly told Jane was awful at because she never allowed her to try them in the first place.

Even better is the fact that Jane takes some of that confidence back home with her at the end of the summer. And yes, she stands up for herself a little more, but my favorite thing is that her knowledge that she’s a capable person sticks with her and allows her to continue to be a capable person, doing better in school and becoming less clumsy. It’s great.

So, yeah, this book was so good for me in so many ways. I didn’t love the ending as much as I loved the rest, but I also don’t see how else Montgomery could have sorted things out, so I don’t really want to complain.

When I was finished with Jane of Lantern Hill I went on reading people’s recommendations/things I’ve waited for too long to read. Next up: The Adventure of Princess Sylvia, because I got mixed up and didn’t remember I was supposed to read Princess Virginia instead.

Tagged: 1930s, canada, lmmontgomery

8 Comments on Jane of Lantern Hill, last added: 6/18/2013
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15. Face

face design

Face. is an international design agency with a global perspective and a focus on branding. Founded in 2006, Face. has already created some impressive designs that showcase their modernist flair. Although many of their pieces are done in a straightforward style, they keep it fresh with fun color palettes and intriguing typography.  Having already created multiple offices across North America in their short life span, keep an eye on Face. for their next move.

face design

face design

face design


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16. Funny memories with my Dad.

My family and I each made photo collages for my Dad's funeral. I had a little fun with mine, adding some good, funny memories. I'll let this speak for itself....

You may have to right click and open in a new window in order to see it clearly. I would also recommend enlarging it in your browser a bit.

2 Comments on Funny memories with my Dad., last added: 5/3/2013
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17. Nonfiction Monday: Blizzard of Glass

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 Sally M. Walker

As regular readers may remember, last year I was on the committee for the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. In addition to our winners and finalists, the committee also publishes a list of vetted nominations (what I like to call the "long list.") I'm in the process of highlighting these titles during Nonfiction Monday.

In December 1917, war was raging in Europe. In Halifax Harbor, two ships were on their way to the action, one on it's way to pick up relief supplies, the other full of munitions. The two ships collided, causing a fire. As the munitions ship drifted, fire on its deck, it crashed into the pier and exploded, leveling most of of the harbor area and creating a shockwave that blew out almost every window in Halifax proper. 2000 people died, 9000 more were injured. Rescue and relief efforts were further dampened when a blizzard blew in the next day and dumped over a foot of snow on the area.

Until the advent of nuclear weapons, the Halifax explosion was the largest man-made explosion ever.

Walker tells this story (one that's very well known in Canada, but not so much in the US) through the eyes of children who lived around the harbor at the time. Children getting ready for school, running errands, and going about their day. She weaves these daily accounts in with the context of shipping lanes and traffic, and what was happening in the Harbor. Walker also covers the communities on the other side of the Harbor who were affected by the explosion, resulting shock wave, and tsunami. The book is also very good at detailing what happened after the explosion to everyone.

Fun fact: The Halifax coroner's office had a tested system in place to deal with a mass casualty event like this. It had been developed 2 years earlier, when they brought in the bodies from the Titanic.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at a wrung sponge. Check it out.

Also check out today's YA Reading List post, in honor of Yom HaShoah.

Book Provided by... the publisher, for award consideration

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18. “The Legend of Sarila” Trailer

The Legend of Sarila (La légende de Sarila) is the first 3D CGI film produced entirely in Quebec. Drawing on Inuit culture and tradition, Sarila was directed by Nancy Florence Savard,= and animated in Montreal at Modus FX. Production companies involved were 10th Ave Productions and CarpeDiem Film & TV. Budget was $8.5 million (CAN).

Sarila opened last weekend in Quebec province on 32 screens, grossing a modest $64,622 and landing in 10th place at the Quebec box office. The film has been sold to 20 countries.

(Thanks, Nicola Lemay)

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19. The Path To 10K In Sales: Strategy, Luck & Mistakes

I’ll admit my mind is blown knowing there are over 10, 000 Emotion Thesaurus books out there in the world. Becca and I are thrilled, and so appreciative to all the writers and teachers who took a chance on it. As aspiring novelists, we know just how hard it is to write and the perseverance it takes to create a book. Providing a tool to help other writers with emotion is nothing short of an honor (sappy, I know, but true. Writers rule and we love you guys!)

In that same spirit of wanting to contribute, we thought it might be beneficial to share our focus as we sent The Emotion Thesaurus into the world. We realize this is a non-fiction book, not fiction. Novels are a harder sell--instead of dealing primarily with what a audience NEEDS like NF, it is more about what they WANT, and personal reading tastes are unpredictable. However, much of the strategy we used with the ET can be adapted for fiction, so hopefully novelists will find value here regardless.  

A Bit of History...

As many of you know, The Emotion Thesaurus started on the blog as a 'set' of lists focusing on how to show a character’s feelings. Becca and I struggled with emotion, and when we could not find a good resource to help us, we created one. As it grew in popularity, readers asked us to turn it into an enhanced book version. 

We chose self publishing for a few reasons, the most important being TIME. It can take years for a book to find a publisher and then be available to purchase, and writers and teachers needed it NOW. We also discovered someone pirating our content for profit, so waiting any longer to create the book would be foolhardy. We launched The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression on May 14th, 2012.

What We Had Going For Us

PLATFORM. Becca and I have worked since 2008 to build a place within the Writing Community, providing resources through this blog and forging genuine relationships with our audience. Our attitude has always been to contribute and do what we can to add value. It was our hope that our readers would be willing to help raise awareness for The Emotion Thesaurus book. 

NICHE. Our book tackled a topic that writers struggle with, yet few resources were available to help. As writers, we knew exactly what type of tool was needed to help with emotion and body language.  

What Stood Against Us

LACK OF CREDIBILITY. Becca and I were not authors (yet), nor accredited editors, and certainly not psychologists or experts on emotion. We had a platform, but no ‘book world’ clout. How could we possibly compete with the biggies in the Writing Resource field, names like Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, James N. Frey, The Plot Whisperer, or the dozens of other incredible, best-selling authors/experts? 

SELF PUBLISHING. While the stigma is lessening, we all know bias remains. In some ways, creating a how-to writing resource and then choosing self publishing over traditional acted as a strike against us, meaning we would have to really prove ourselves with readers.

CONFIDENCE. This business is often a murky pool of feeling not worthy, not good enough.  Without a book deal in place for our fiction to give us credibility or a degree/subject-specific education to hold up, we felt naked. Putting ourselves out there and donning the hat of authority that comes with writing any sort of how-to guide was terrifying. 

The Scale Tipper

PASSION, BELIEF & TEAMWORK. As writers, we knew people needed this book. Heck, we needed it! We decided to create the best brainstorming tool we could and put all our effort into making it discoverable to those who might benefit from it. Working as a team allowed us to play off each others' strengths and aided in decision-making.


  • Set up a business
  • Paid for a professional edit
  • Hired a cover designer
  • Outsourced formatting to a HTML goddess because the book is full of links and redirects
  • Test-marketed it with a select group of writers & used feedback to strengthen

MISTAKE:  choosing a launch date and under-estimating the time it would take for setting up the business (two authors in different countries is a pain), uploading, formatting challenges, fixing last minute typos (again, our formatter Heather is worth her weight in gold!)  This created lots of down-to-the-wire stress. Test marketing the book (while super valuable) also meant enabling changes late in the game. 

First Hurdle: Launching A Book Without Feeling Like A Timeshare Salesman

For two writers who hate promoting, this was a massive challenge. Look at me! I have a book! Buy it! <---our personal nightmare. We needed a way to let people know about the ET but not be eye-bulging, book-waving maniacs about it. After many facetimes, we realized that to do this in a way that felt right, we needed to return to our AUTHOR BRAND: writers helping & supporting other writers. 

“Random Acts of Kindness for Writers” became our secret plan: instead of making our release date about us, we would do something to celebrate & thank writers. This was risky in the sense that to do it authentically, we had to steer attention AWAY from our book’s release. However, we felt the reward was twofold--traffic to our site, and it allowed us a way to pour our flag-waving passion into celebrating people who really deserve recognition and yet rarely get it. This event aligned perfectly with our pay-it-forward beliefs, driving us to do all we could to make it a success.

For brevity's sake, I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of how we set up the RAOK Blitz (but if enough people wish it, I can expand on this in a future post). Suffice to say it drew thousands of visitors and hundreds of writers participated, becoming a huge ‘feel good’ week for everyone that showcased the generous spirits of our Writing Community. :) 

Marketing Boost:  Becca and I gave away a free PDF called ‘Emotion Amplifiers’ as our RAOK gift to writers. This PDF booklet is a companion to The Emotion Thesaurus and has a similar layout. Our hope was that if a writer found it helpful, they might check the ET as well. (It’s still in our sidebar if you want a copy and helps with describing conditions like pain, exhaustion, stress, inebriation, etc.)

Second Hurdle: Reviews

A self-published book that is also non-fiction? Rough. Many professional reviewers will not take on SP books, and those that do usually only read fiction. So, instead of seeking out review sites, we put out a  call out to Bookshelf Muse readers and asked if any of them were  interested in reviewing the book. After all, the ET is BY writers FOR writers. Who better to review it? :)

We could not accommodate all the requests that came in, so we chose some reviewers strategically for their audience reach, and others through a random draw. 

MISTAKE:  We should have arranged for reviews much sooner. Due to not leaving ourselves enough time to get the book ready to go, we were unable to get a decent version out to reviewers until close to launch or after.

LUCK! Many people, after buying and using the ET, were so happy with it they wrote reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

MORE LUCK! These reviews swayed even MORE people to take a chance on the book, and they in turn became avid word-of-mouth spreaders, telling writing friends and critique partners all about The Emotion Thesaurus. This led to better sales, top 20 ranking in several (paid) writing categories for print & kindle, a strong Amazon Best Sellers Rank, and placement on the Top Rated, Best Selling & Most Wished For lists (writing).
Marketing Tactics - Swag

We chose to invest in a postcard-sized bookmark that doubles as a Revision Tool.  Many bookmarks lie forgotten in a drawer, or they end up being recycled. We wanted ours to stay right beside the computer during revisions, so we printed a ‘Crutch Word List’ on one side--words we commonly overuse and need to weed out. Our hope was that by making our swag useful, writers would hang onto it!

Spreading the word about a book can be difficult, so we put out a call (again utilizing our blog readers) and asked if people would be willing to take our bookmarks and hand them out to critique groups, or give them out at conferences and workshops. This allowed us to reach out beyond our own circle and hopefully reach new readers. 

MISTAKE (?) This was a bit pricey considering the postage involved (some were sent worldwide), and took time to get addresses and mail out. We had no way to track the effectiveness. And while I have heard from people who said they saw them at conferences or were given one by another writer, we are not sure if the ‘mail out’ idea brought a significant return. But, the postcards are super handy to have at events where Becca and I are presenting, and we can pass them out afterward to keep the ET in people’s minds. So overall, this swag was worth it!

Marketing Tactics - Discoverability

The bulk of our marketing energy went into discoverability. Because we have such an amazingly supportive audience at The Bookshelf Muse, we chose a 'grassroots' approach rather than solicit big bloggers/sites for exposure. In our initial blog post asking for assistance from readers, we utilized a sign up form so the people who wanted to help us could, and in a manner that most appealed to them. The results of this was amazing--so many people offered to help get the word out! 

One of our biggest needs was bloggers willing to host us for a visit. We were overwhelmed with gratitude to see how many people were willing to do this (have I mentioned how great you all are?) and we actually had to change how our form was worded to include offering book excerpts and reblogging previous TBM posts to accommodate the response. We ended up with over 115 hosts all told.

Attempting so many guest posts caused panic attacks, obsessive chocolate binging, feelings of inadequacy *coughs* was daunting. But Becca organized everything (SHE IS AMAZING!) and put us on an aggressive schedule that would allow us to finish them all within a 4 month window. We created a master list of topics, most centered directly on content that would tie into Emotion & Body Language, so that each post was a planned, quality post. The best thank you to those who offered to help us was to write content that would bring them strong traffic, not just exposure for us.  

GUEST POST TIP: We did our best to thank personally every person who hosted and helped. We also shared all links on our social networks to bring new people to their blogs.  We truly appreciated their time and energy, and their desire to see us succeed.

MISTAKE #1: biting off more than we could chew. This was an enormous amount of guest posts (with more requests coming in as a result of this visibility) and so it meant we were both unable to write anything but blog content for a good 4 months. We managed to get them done and we have no regrets because of the great exposure, but it also meant other things slipped. There were a few blogging relationships and opportunities we were unable to stay on top of because we were so busy posting elsewhere. We also had a tough time commenting on blogs and getting email written. With such a strict timeline to adhere to, I worried about messing up and forgetting something vital, letting a host down.

MISTAKE #2: not thinking enough about how to keep up with our own blog AND everyone else’s. Luckily as we met new people at different blogs, we found folks who wanted to guest post for us. We were able to give them exposure in return and bring some good content to the blog (LUCK!) So while we made a mistake about over committing, it worked out. 

MORE LUCK! These ‘seed’ guest posts led to some writing communities and bigger organizations contacting us. This resulted in book reviews and giveaways that were included in newsletters and offered exposure with bigger audiences. The Discoverability Tour worked!

Marketing Tactics: Giveaways

We utilized giveaways to generate interest in our book and bring attention to some of the blogs we visited. We purposefully did not host book giveaways during the month of May to encourage people to buy, not wait to win. We had a few giveaways in June and then more in July, August and September. Some were bigger exposure opportunities like being featured in a banner at the Writer’s Knowledge Base and as a prize at Ink Pageant (thanks guys--you rock!) We tried to go where our readers would be, and took advantage of opportunities that allowed us to reach beyond the Kidlit & YA writer’s network we know best in order to create inroads with Christian and other Adult genres who might not know us or The Bookshelf Muse. 

Marketing Tactics: Distribution Channels 

Becca and I talked about going KDP Select but neither of us could see the benefit to doing so right out the gate. In our minds, we wanted to ask a fair price for the books and have it available across as many channels as possible to reach readers where they are, not where we ‘chose’ to be. We distributed widely and included a PDF option for those who did not have ereaders or who felt more comfortable with PDF format. For those who like numbers, here’s the breakdown to 10,000 which we hit in September: 

Kindle (Amazon.com)
(Amazon Euro)











*Prior to September, Kobo sales were bundled with Smashwords. Once Kobo created their own distribution, we uploaded direct. Sony sales are under the Smashwords umbrella.

You will notice that Print is quite strong. We believe this is partly because many writers like 'craft' books in paperback. We also have had feedback that some original digital buyers were so pleased with the ET, they later decided to invest in a print version, too.

Pricing: We chose the 4.99 price point for digital, and 14.99 for print. We have not changed the price nor offered the book for free. In the future we may change our pricing, but for now it works well with Extended Distribution, which we sell enough through to make it important to keep.

MISTAKE: not enabling Extended Distribution right from the start. Originally we didn’t think it would do us much good, until we realized without it, we could not get onto Amazon.ca. Seeing as I live in Canada, it is important that the people I meet at events or at my workshops have a way to get the book. Not doing this before May meant a six week lag of fielding emails from Canadians unable to buy the book. 

Marketing Tactics: Paid Advertizing

We opted to not invest in any paid advertising. I think this was the right decision for us, but do see us choosing a few select ads in the future. 

Where We Got Extra Lucky

  • Winning Top 20 Best Blogs For Writers with Write To Done a few months before The Emotion Thesaurus released. This raised our profile significantly, and at a critical time.
  • Once sales started climbing, Amazon would send out mailers to people who purchased writing related books, and sometimes The Emotion Thesaurus was listed as a ‘Those that purchased X might also like’ pick.
  • A price war between B & N and Amazon. For the last week of September, the two duked it out, lowering the book’s price daily until the discount put it under 10 bucks. Average sales nearly doubled for print (although sales dipped that week for Kindle).

A Few Extraneous Mistakes

  • Not soliciting endorsements. We didn’t do this in advance of publishing the ET because we were worried about being turned down, worried about getting the cold shoulder because we were newcomers and new authors. Now more than ever we are seeing an acceptance of SP, and of Traditional authors making the leap. Endorsements probably would have helped us greatly and so moving forward we’ll be seeking them out.
  • Not believing in ourselves enough at the start. I think we wasted a lot of energy on doubt because we hadn’t published before (except in magazines) and we were afraid that while we felt The Emotion Thesaurus added value, others would not. The response to The Emotion Thesaurus has been nothing short of phenomenal and knowing that Illinois State University is using it in their Creative Writing curriculum makes us incredibly proud. A self published book going to University...who would have thought?

Thoughts to Leave You With

Looking back, I believe we did two things right that led to everything else:

First, we created a book that readers are very happy with, and it fulfills a need in a way that they are excited to share it with people they know. (We are so, so, SO grateful to this word-of-mouth. Thank you all for doing this!)

Second, we live our brand: writers who help and support other writers. This is who we are! We love writers and have forged genuine relationships with our readers. When we needed help to spread the word, people responded, and more than that, became our advocates. There are not enough thank yous in the world for me to say what this means to us.

If I can encourage writers planning to publish to do one thing beyond the above, it’s to be authentic in whatever you do. When you build your platform, start in advance and think very hard about what your brand will be. Be yourself, be likable, do what feels right and resonates with who you are. Understand your audience, their likes and dislikes, and search them out. Use keywords to find blogs, forum discussions and hashtags that will help you discover people who might be interested in a book like yours. Interact, be genuine and think about how you can add value, not how you can market to them. Focus on giving, not getting. Trust that the rest will come. :)   

Do you have any questions about what we did or why? Becca and I are happy to answer if we are able. And again, the biggest, squishiest, bacon-filled thank you for all your support of us and the ET. Your word-of-mouth has allowed writers and teachers everywhere to discover this book! 

38 Comments on The Path To 10K In Sales: Strategy, Luck & Mistakes, last added: 10/17/2012
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20. Waterloo Festival For Animated Cinema Announces Feature Film lineup

Every year at this time I find myself jealous of the people in the vicinity of Kitchener-Waterloo in Northern Ontario, Canada. No, not because of the weather, but for The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. I’m thankful, however, this event is happening anywhere in North America as it’s the only annual festival devoted to “showcasing the latest unreleased international animated feature films”. The festival just announced the first 12 films (several more to be announced shortly) of the 12th edition of the Festival – and it looks like an incredible program with a strong set of productions from Japan and Europe. The films confirmed so far include:

A LETTER TO MOMO • Director: Okiura Hiroyuki (Japan, 2011)

ANIME MIRAI • Directors: Kawamata, Miyashita, Kaiya and Tomonaga (Japan, 2012) A compilation of “four delightful films that point to the future of anime”

ARRUGAS (Wrinkles) • Ignacio Ferreras (Spain, 2011)

ASURA • Director: Sato Keiichi (Japan, 2012)

AZ EMBER TRAGÉDIÁJA • (The Tragedy Of Man) Director Marcell Jankovics (Hungary, 2012)

BABELDOM • Director: Paul Bush (U.K., 2012)

BLOOD-C: THE LAST DARK • Director: Shiotani Naoyoshi (Japan, 2012)

HEART STRING MARIONETTE • Director: M Dot Strange (U.S.A. / Iceland, 2012)

JENSEN & JENSEN • Director: Craig Frank (Denmark, 2011)

MARCO MACACO • Director: Jan Rahbek (Denmark, 2012)

STRANGE FRAME • Director: G.B. Hajim (U.S.A., 2012)

WOLF CHILDREN • Director: Hosoda Mamoru (Japan, 2012)

The 12th Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema runs November 15th to 18th, 2012. All screenings will be held at The Chrysalids Theatre, 137 Ontario Street North in Kitchener. For more information on each film and how to obtain festival passes click here.

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21. Secession: let the battle commence

By James Ker-Lindsay

There has rarely been a more interesting time to study secession. It is not just that the number of separatist movements appears to be growing, particularly in Europe, it is the fact that the international debate on the rights of people to determine their future, and pursue independence, seems to be on the verge of a many change. The calm debate over Scotland’s future, which builds on Canada’s approach towards Quebec, is a testament to the fact that a peaceful and democratic debate over separatism is possible. It may yet be the case that other European governments choose to adopt a similar approach; the most obvious cases being Spain and Belgium towards Catalonia and Flanders.

However, for the meanwhile, the British and Canadian examples remain very much the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, states still do everything possible to prevent parts of their territory from breaking away, often using force if necessary.

It is hardly surprising that most states have a deep aversion to secession. In part, this is driven by a sense of geographical and symbolic identity. A state has an image of itself, and the geographic boundaries of the state are seared onto the consciousness of the citizenry. For example, from an early age school pupils draw maps of their country. But the quest to preserve the borders of a country is rooted in a range of other factors. In some cases, the territory seeking to break away may hold mineral wealth, or historical and cultural riches. Sometimes secession is opposed because of fears that if one area is allowed to go its own way, other will follow.

For the most part, states are aided in their campaign to tackle separatism by international law and norms of international politics. While much has been made of the right to self-determination, the reality is that its application is extremely limited. Outside the context of decolonisation, this idea has almost always taken a backseat to the principle of the territorial integrity of states. This gives a country fighting a secessionist movement a massive advantage. Other countries rarely want to be seen to break ranks and recognise a state that has unilaterally seceded.

When a decision is taken to recognise unilateral declarations of independence, it is usually done by a state with close ethnic, political or strategic ties to the breakaway territory.Turkey’s recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are obvious examples. Even when other factors shape the decision, as happened in the case of Kosovo, which has been recognised by the United States and most of the European Union, considerable effort has been made by recognising states to present this as a unique case that should be seen as sitting outside of the accepted boundaries of established practice.

However, states facing a secessionist challenge cannot afford to be complacent. While there is a deep aversion to secession, there is always the danger that the passage of time will lead to the gradual acceptance of the situation on the ground. It is therefore important to wage a concerted campaign to reinforce a claim to sovereignty over the territory and prevent countries from recognising – or merely even unofficially engaging with – the breakaway territory.

At the same time, international organisations are also crucial battlegrounds. Membership of the United Nations, for example, has come to be seen as the ultimate proof that a state has been accepted by the wider international community. To a lesser extent, participation in other international and regional bodies, and even in sporting and cultural activities, can send the same message concerning international acceptance.

The British government’s decision to accept a referendum over Scotland’s future is still a rather unusual approach to the question of secession. Governments rarely accept the democratic right of a group of people living within its borders to pursue the creation of a new state. In most cases, the central authority seeks to keep the state together; and in doing so choosing to fight what can often be a prolonged campaign to prevent recognition or legitimisation by the wider international community.

James Ker-Lindsay is Eurobank EFG Senior Research Fellow on the Politics of South East Europe at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of The Foreign Policy of Counter Secession: Preventing the Recognition of Contested States (2012) and The Cyprus Problem: What Everyone Needs to Know (2011), and a number of other books on conflict, peace and security in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean.

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22. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Book Week Writing Contest for Kids & Teens

Holly Kent, Sales and Marketing Manager at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, recently emailed and asked if we could share with our readers about a great contest open to young writers in grades 4 to 12: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s annual Book Week Writing Contest for Kids & Teens. This national contest is a much anticipated part of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and the deadline for entries is fast approaching.

Young Canadian writers are invited to send in a sample of their best writing (stories and/or poems, fiction or non-fiction) not to exceed 1,500 words.  Judging is done by noted writers from across Canada and the winner from each grade will receive a $250 gift certificate for the bookstore of his or her choice. Two honourable mentions from each grade category will also receive $50 gift certificates.

All entries must be postmarked by February 1, 2013. The winners will be announced during TD Canadian Children’s Book Week May 4 – 11, 2013.

Contest details and entry forms can be found here.

To learn more about The Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the wonderful work they do, be sure to read Holly’s Guest Blogger posts that she wrote for us in August 2012.

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23. Family Literacy Day ~ January 27th, Canada

The weekend is upon us and tomorrow, Sunday, is Family Literacy Day in Canada! Created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27, Family Literacy Day raises awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. Taking time every day to read or do a learning activity with children is crucial to a child’s development. Even just 15 minutes a day can improve a child’s literacy skills dramatically, and can help a parent improve their skills as well.

Even if you are not Canadian you can still participate in Family Literacy Day!  Check out these 15-minute activites to get started and here The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has put together a list of books that share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations. To see the list of  events taking place across Canada on Family Literacy Day click here.

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24. “Cattle Call” by Matt Rankin and Mike Maryniuk

Cattle Call (2008) offers a fascinating glimpse into a world that is completely foreign to me. It made a strong impression when I saw it a few years back in Ottawa and I’m delighted to report that it’s every bit as exhilarating to watch again now that it’s been posted online.

Directed by Matt Rankin and Mike Maryniuk, the film uncovers the inherent art within livestock auctioneering, which filmmaker Werner Herzog once described as “the last poetry possible, the poetry of capitalism.”

Filmmakers Rankin and Maryniuk capture the madcap energy of their subject matter by deploying a rapid-fire assortment of techniques, including stop-motion, cut-outs, open-exposures, hole-punching and rubbing Letraset directly on the celluloid. They manage to turn this experimental grabbag into a mightily entertaining film—a testament to their skills as animation filmmakers. Their unconventional approach also shows that the documentary format in animation offers a range of nonliteral and non-narrative possibilities that extends beyond the formal limitations of live-action documentary.

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25. LMM Journals Read Along: Volume I

Want to know more about the Read Along? Click through for the introductory post and reading schedule.


It is will great excitement I welcome you to the LMM Journals Read Along! Picking up this first book has, in many ways, felt like coming home. If you are an Anne fan, you will be delighted to see phrases and circumstances that feel very Anne-ish. If you're an Emily fan, you'll see parallels between Maud's upbringing and Emily's.

Here you'll find school girl spats, small-town social events, a year with her beloved father (and ill-humored stepmother), a proposal from her former teacher (!), many, many heart-broken suitors, teaching, writing, an engagement, loneliness, the sale of ANNE.

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born November 30, 1874 in Clifton (now New London), Prince Edward Island, Canada. "Thirty-four years later, in 1908, her first novel, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, put Prince Edward Island on the literary map of the world. When she died in 1942 Montgomery had published over twenty books, hundreds of short stories and poems, and her name was known far beyond the English-speaking world."

Before her second birthday, Maud, as she liked to be called, lost her mother. Her father quickly left for the mainland, remarrying and leaving Maud to be raised by her mother's parents. She began journaling as "a tot of nine" but destroyed those early copies. "Surviving are ten handwritten volumes that were begun when she was fourteen and date from 1889 to 1942." This first volume includes the first two of those ten journals, covering her PEI years "from ages 14 to 36" (including a year with her father in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan).

Without siblings, raised by older relatives, and intellectually ahead of her class, Maud often felt isolated and different from those around her. She "viewed her journals as a 'personal confidant in whom I can repose absolute trust'."

"Because the journals are so full and frank and cover such a long period, and because they are the work of a successful professional writer, they provide a degree of information, anecdote, and personal history that makes them unique in Canadian letters. The interest attached to the autobiographical content is obvious. What may not appear so obvious in this first volume is that the complete journals of L. M. Montgomery provide a fund of engrossing social history covering more than half a century and draw the reader surprisingly far into the depths of one woman's life."*

As I read, I'll share favorite quotes on Twitter, using the hashtag #lmmjournals. Make notes as you read or just enjoy. And please consider returning Monday, 25 February to join the discussion of Volume I.

Be sure to keep a second bookmark at the notes section at the back of the book. Extra details are given here.

Happy reading!

*All quotes taken from the introduction of the first volume

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