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1. Raising a Reader with Comics and Graphic Novels

Raising a reader: how comics and graphic novels can help your kids love to read!


Great article by Cory Doctorow highlighting a new educational resource about comics’ role in literacy. Titled “Raising a Reader” and written by Dr. Meryl Jaffee, this resource is aimed at parents and educators and is available in PDF form for free download.

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2. In Pursuit of the Perfect Storm: Part 2

In Pursuit of the Perfect Storm (Part 2):

Planning and Promoting a Book Launch and Signing
Guest Post by Karen Spafford-Fitz

In part 1 of “In Pursuit of the Perfect Storm,” Karen Spafford-Fitz described the planning and promotion that contributed to the success of her launches for Vanish. In part 2, Karen reflects on which steps were most effective.

In my previous post, I mentioned that several steps seemed highly effective while others did not appear to have a particular impact. But I am glad I undertook all of them. Each represents part of my personal learning curve in preparing for a book launch and signing.

And when planning my launches, my objectives further extended to promoting my book beyond the book launch. I wanted to place Vanish solidly in people’s minds such that they would remember it in the months ahead when book shopping for themselves and for the young readers in their lives. As a result, the steps that seemed only slightly effective in generating a strong turnout at my launches might have long-term benefits.

In the meantime, I suggest that authors connect with others whenever possible—at the dog park, at zumba classes, at block parties, at their children’s taekwondo classes and hockey games. And whenever possible, share the fact that you write children’s fiction. There is a good chance that you are the first children’s author they have met. They will probably want to know more. Tell them. I realize this is easier if you are extroverted; but hopefully it is not impossible even if you are more introverted.

As for me, I have put this challenge to myself: to broaden my reach personally and professionally by participating in more school visits and arts activities in the months ahead. I also plan to expand my social media practices in a manner that feels as genuine as possible. This combination of building trust face-to-face, along with further embracing the broad reach of social media, feels like a solid course of action. And while it may not create the absolute perfect storm when I am planning and promoting my next book launch, I am optimistic that it will be another positive step in that direction.

To learn more about Vanish and Dog Walker, Karen’s first book published by Orca, visit www.orcabook.com.

Visit Karen’s profile on Goodreads for author info and reader reviews.


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3. In Pursuit of the Perfect Storm

In Pursuit of the Perfect Storm (Part 1):

Planning and Promoting a Book Launch and Signing
Guest Post by Karen Spafford-Fitz

karen-vanishI was thrilled when Orca released Vanish, my second middle-grade novel, in March 2013. As with my first book, I planned to hold a book launch and signing in Edmonton, where I have lived for 20 years. Upon realizing that many friends and family members living in eastern Ontario also wanted to help celebrate the release of my new book, we decided to launch Vanish in my hometown of Kingston as well.

In both instances, I was pleased with the strong turnout and the enjoyable launch days—especially when it can be challenge to pack a bookstore. I thought other authors might be interested in how I planned my book launches and signings

This “warts and all” account includes not just the steps that I found effective, but also those that possibly amounted to time-wasters. I offer them all in the hope that these strategies—or variations on them—might work beautifully for other authors.

To that end, here are some ideas for how to plan and execute a successful book launch:

 Seek Out the Best Venue (three to four months before launch)

  • karen-kingstonlaunchI prefer working with independent bookstores as they are so supportive of local authors and are experts in connecting the right books to their ideal readers. I was delighted that Audreys Books in Edmonton and Novel Idea Bookstore in Kingston agreed to host my launches.
  • As the launches approached, I updated the bookstores as best I could about the approximate number of guests. They then estimated the number of books we would require for the launch days.
  • Since Vanish would likely spark renewed interest in my previous title, both stores brought in copies of Dog Walker, which also sold well.
  • The bookstore owners were pleased with the number of people who visited their bookstores. They continue to take a personal interest in hand-selling my book.

Results: Highly effective

Choose a Strategic Launch Date (three to four months before launch)

  • Mid-April was my preferred date for the Edmonton launch and I began inquiring before Christmas. Audreys especially has ongoing commitments with book clubs, Stroll of Poets, etc and I was glad we pulled out our calendars early.
  • I chose Sunday afternoons for both launches as families sometimes have more downtime then. Timing the launch for the weekend was especially important for my Kingston launch as guests were travelling in from the Ottawa and Toronto areas—something they couldn’t have readily done on a weeknight.
  • I was careful to avoid long weekends but realized belatedly that my Edmonton launch fell on the final day of the Masters’ Golf Tournament. I know of one person who did not attend for that reason. (Thankfully it was not my husband.)

Resluts: Highly effective

Prepare a Guest List and Send Invitations (six weeks before launch)

  • karen-eviteI sought the advice of the marketing manager at Orca to determine which types of promotional materials would best support the launches. Orca created an e-vite that could be sent by email and a poster that could be printed and distributed.
  • This was not the time to grow shy about whether to invite this person or that person! I widely emailed the e-vite that Orca prepared. I included out-of-town people whom I thought might order a book even if they couldn’t attend.
  • I reached many people by email and replied personally as they responded with acceptances or declines. I did not use snail mail at all.

Results: Highly effective

Spread the Word via Social Media (four or five weeks before launch)

  • I relied extensively on Facebook, posting the e-vite plus creating a Facebook event for both launches. I responded personally as people replied with acceptances or declines.
  • Every week or 10 days, I reminded people about my launch. And because I wanted to avoid repetitions of “Please come to my book launch,” I looked for creative ways to do this. For example, I tied the reminders to food updates for my launch days or to wacky wardrobe choices I was presumably considering.
  • I also posted the invitation in the various writing associations to which I belong. In some instances, you can to post with other writing groups and associations that you have “liked.”

Results: Highly effective

Gear the Book Talk Toward Connecting Guests to the Characters and Story

  • karen-edmontonlaunchI provided guests with some back-story on Vanish so the characters and storyline would hopefully resonate on a personal level with them.
  • I chose readings that I hoped would encourage guests to want to hear more. My first reading was the opening chapter, which introduces my central characters and the basic situation (thereby avoiding the need for lengthy explanations to set the stage). My second reading was from a high-action scene where my protagonist realizes that a crisis is unfolding.
  • I wanted my book talk to last approximately 20 minutes (it was slightly longer)—long enough to make the event feel worthwhile for guests, but not so long they grew tired of listening. In that time, I acknowledged the bookstore, Orca, my immediate family, and the guests in general; shared some back-story; and did two readings, which were approximately eight minutes in total.

Results: Highly effective

Distribute Posters to Schools, Libraries and Small Businesses

  • Orca made posters to advertise the launches and I took them to schools, libraries, and various small businesses (eg. vet clinic, bakeries, small, local supermarkets).
  • I received particularly warm responses at the schools, whose responses included posting my invitation in visible places (parent drop-off spots, in libraries, by the front office), sharing it at staff meetings or morning announcements, and scanning it to the school’s website.
  • I drew in some people this way, especially at schools where teachers and students knew me personally from school visits.

Results: Moderately effective

Prepare Promotional Emails for Area Schools

  • Because Vanish is written for 10- to 14-year-old readers, I targeted both elementary and junior high schools within Edmonton Public School Board.
  • My email included a book synopsis and link to Vanish on Orca’s website, along with the e-vite to my launch. I also mentioned my past work within EPSB in the hopes that this might recall some previous teaching connections.
  • The only schools that replied back to me were those where someone in the front office or the principal knew me. Did the others simply hit the ‘delete’ key? Perhaps.

Results: Minimally effective

Submit Invitations to Online Community Postings

  • I relied on this step for my “away” launch in Kingston, posting the e-vite on an online guide in nearby Napanee. Because I am a Queen’s University graduate, I was also permitted to post on Queen’s Community Events page.

Results: Somewhat effective

Engage with your Audience:

This leads me to the final factor, which I feel was most significant in creating a successful book launch and signing. (Warning: This last factor is not splashy or sexy and can take years to accomplish. But the good news is that many people can put it into practice immediately.)

Talk to students. Engage with others. Tell people what you do.

  • In large part, the people who supported me at my launches are those whom I have come to know personally and professionally over the years.
  • My guests were primarily from the following groups: friends from my current and former communities; my daughters’ friends; my writing colleagues; my husband’s colleagues; friends from the dog park; students from my writing workshops plus friends they brought with them; family members; my grade 13 English teacher; my grade ten history teacher; and my high-school friends who gathered from the surrounding areas and treated my launch as a mini high-school reunion. I am grateful to all of them.



So did I create the ideal conditions for a successful book launch and signing? Did I find that “perfect storm” that I referenced in the title?

Yes and no….

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of Karen’s blog post, “In Pursuit of the Perfect Storm.” Tomorrow, Karen will reflect on the success of her launches and what she’ll focus on next time.

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4. Lou Allin wins Arthur Ellis Award for Contingency Plan

Huge congratulations to Lou Allin, whose Rapid Reads title Contingency Plan has won this year’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novella!

The Arthur Ellis Awards honor excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Lou Allin was previous shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel in 2003 for Blackflies Are Murder.

About Contingency Plan:

When Sandra Sinclair, recently widowed and the mother of twelve-year-old Jane, meets wealthy lawyer Joe Gillette, he wins her over with his kind and conscientious attitude. Falling in love faster than she ever thought possible, Sandra agrees to marry. But soon after they move into their new home, things begin to change, and Joe’s controlling behavior causes her to question her decision. When her new husband becomes seriously abusive, Sandra decides that she and Jane must leave.

When Joe makes it clear that he will not just let her walk away, Sandra discovers that it’s quite likely that he arranged his first wife’s death, and that she is now part of his “contingency plan.” She soon realizes that even the law is no defense against this meticulous and egotistical man. Fleeing to an old family cabin on a remote lake, mother and daughter prepare to live off the grid. And when Joe tracks them down, Sandra must come up with a contingency plan of her own. Buy the Book!

About the Rapid Reads series from Orca:

Rapid Reads are short novels and non-fiction books for adult readers. In our increasingly fast-paced world Orca believes there is a need for well-written, well-told books that can be read in one sitting. Rapid Reads are intended for a diverse audience, including ESL students, reluctant readers, adults who struggle with literacy and anyone who wants an high-interest quick read. Each novel in the Rapid Reads series is written between a 2.0 and 4.5 reading level. The plots are contemporary and entertaining, with adult language and themes. More about Rapid Reads.


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5. Read! Build! Play! With Lego and Doors in the Air

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 11.41.27 AMThe Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has teamed up with LEGO® DUPLO® to expand the Read! Build! Play initiative by creating the LEGO® DUPLO® Read! Build! Play! 2013 Summer Reading List.  This reading list features recommended titles that inspire play for children age 5 and under and is free to download.

To accompany the Read! Build! Play! 2013 Summer Reading List, LEGO® DUPLO® has created a free downloadable parent activity guide.  This guide includes inspirational building instructions matched with each book for children and their caregivers. Doors in the Air (Orca Book Publishers, 2012) by David Weale and illustrated by Pierre Pratt is one of five titles featured in the Summer Activity Guide for children ages 3-5.

Visit www.readbuildplay.com to download free Summer Activity Guides today. Or click here to direct download the Activity Guide featuring Doors in the Air.

More About Doors in the Air

Doors in the Air is the story of a boy who is fascinated by doors. He marvels at how stepping through a doorway can take him from one world to another. He is especially enthralled by the doors of his imagination, which he refers to as “doors in the air.” He delights in discovering that when he passes through these doors, he leaves behind all feelings of boredom, fear and unpleasantness. Doors in the Air is a lilting journey through house doors, dream doors and, best of all, doors in the air.

“Surreal in its effect, this celebration of the creative mind encourages young readers and listeners to open doors of their own.” —Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2012

“Written in Seussian rhyming couplets…[and] employing alliteration that makes reading it aloud a pleasure…Doors in the Air is a fantastical triumph, celebrating the spaces in which the ordinary and the extraordinary intersect.” —Quill & Quire, May 1, 2012

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6. Best Books for Kids & Teens 2013

Looking for the best books for your kids and teens? Of course you are! Fortunately, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre  (a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1976) publishes just such a list. And we’re thrilled to share that sixteen Orca titles made the list for Spring 2013.

“All of the titles in Best Books for Kids & Teens have been handpicked by expert committees of educators, booksellers, and school and public librarians from across Canada. The reviewed materials include picture books, junior/intermediate fiction, graphic novels, and powerful teen fiction, in addition to a wide array of non-fiction, magazines and audio/video resources.” —Canadian Children’s Book Centre website

The following Orca titles were selected for the list this season. Congratulations to all the authors on their achievement!

Best Books for Kids and TeensClose to the Heel, Norah McClintock
Dead Run, Sean Rodman
Edge of Flight, Kate Jaimet
High Wire, Melanie Jackson
I, Witness, Norah McClintock and Mike Deas
Jump Cut, Ted Staunton
Kiss, Tickle, Cuddle, Hug, Susan Musgrave
Oracle, Alex Van Tol
Pieces of Me, Darlene Ryan
Prince for a Princess, Eric Walters
Pyro, Monique Polak
Redwing, Holly Bennett
Seeing Orange, Sara Cassidy
Shallow Grave, Alex Van Tol
Three Little Words, Sarah N. Harvey
Uncle Wally’s Old Brown Shoe, Wallace Edwards

CCBC members receive a copy of Best Books for Kids & Teens as part of their membership package, as do subscribers to Canadian Children’s Book News.

Best Books for Kids & Teens can be purchased at select bookstores or online at: www.bookcentre.ca.


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7. 19 Questions with Richard Van Camp

Richard Van Camp is the author of twelve books, including two board books with Orca: Welcome Song for Baby (2007) and Little You (2013).

He recently sat down (online) with Curtis LeBlanc to answer nineteen questions about books, writing and his life as an author. Some highlights: who are Richard’s top three authors? Which bands does he listen to while writing? And what will he be working on next?

Read the full 19 Questions interview here.

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8. YOUR NAME in print!

justgoneSee your name in print—and on a dedication page, no less!

William Kowalski, author of three titles in Orca’s Rapid Reads series is running a fantastic new contest through his website. The winner will have Kowalski’s fourth Rapid Read title, Just Gone, dedicated to them.





Contest Details (from William Kowalski’s website):

Have you ever wanted to have a book dedicated to you? Not just signed by the author, but actually dedicated to you, with your name in print for all eternity?

Well, your time has come. Your ship has come in. Your Eagle has landed. I’m running a contest for my readers, and the winner will receive this fabulous prize: my fourth Rapid Reads novel, JUST GONE, which is coming out later this year, will be dedicated to them and them alone. By name. Exciting? You betcha.

What’s the contest, then?


Take a picture of yourself, reading any one of my novels, in the most unlikely place or situation you can think of. Then, post it on my Facebook author page by May 1.

That’s it. How to define ‘unlikely’ is up to you. (Just be safe, please.) The title of the book must be clearly visible. You may not use Photoshop or any other kind of enhancement or alteration tool. Other than that, the sky’s the limit.

Then, post your picture on my Facebook author page. Tell your friends to come like it and lol at it. The winner will be the submission with the most likes.

Whoever is featured in that picture or owns the rights to it will earn the right to have JUST GONE dedicated to them by name.

I reserve the right to remove any pictures that are cruel or insulting to anyone. I won’t put anything obscene or disrespectful in the dedication. I really want this to be dedicated to YOU, the winner. So, you agree, by entering the contest, that if you win, you have the right to have the book dedicated to you by first and last name, or first name only if you prefer, and perhaps a brief message, such as “To John Smith, the hoopiest frood in England.”


Go forth and photograph yourselves. Have fun. Don’t get hurt. And make us lol.

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9. Seven (the series) featured on Global TV!

Last Saturday on Global TV, Jill Daum from Kidsbooks discussed the latest releases for young readers. Check out the video below for her top picks, including our very own Seven (the series).

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10. Our Wonderful Women Writers

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we’re excited to share the cooperative efforts of some of our wonderful women writers! They’ve decided to review each other’s new spring titles in the spirit of collaboration. Here, Karen Krossing showcases four new YA titles from fellow authors Leanne Lieberman, Shelley Hrdlitschka and Robin Stevenson!

Check out Karen’s reviews on her website.

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11. Reviews!

Looking for reviews of our recent titles? The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, published by the University of Alberta, has reviewed six of our latest titles in its Winter Reading special issue. You’ll find reviews of Agent Angus (Orca Currents) by K.L. Denman, Dead Run (Orca Soundings) by Sean Rodman, Disconnect (Orca Currents) by Lois Peterson, Living Rough (Orca Currents) by Cristy Watson, Maxed Out (Orca Currents) by Daphne Greer and Pyro (Orca Currents) by Monique Polak.

You can find the Deakin Review (and read it online) here: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/deakinreview/issue/view/1394/

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12. Sara Cassidy on CBC’s All Points West

While many families in British Columbia enjoyed spending some time together as our province celebrated its first ever Family Day, host of the CBC’s Titles and Tate Nikki Tate-Stratton got in the Family Day spirit by discussing three novels focused on the same family: Sara Cassidy’s Slick (Orca Currents), Windfall (Orca Currents) and Seeing Orange (Orca Echoes) all feature the same family, although the protagonists are two different siblings.

Listen to Titles and Tate here.

Slick: Liza, determined to prove that her mother’s boyfriend is no good, starts researching the oil company he works for. Liza discovers a lawsuit against the company for compensation that is long overdue to Guatemalan farmers. She starts a group at school called GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and launches an attack on Argenta Oil. As her activism activities increase, her objections to her mother’s boyfriend become political. She is learning to separate the personal from the political, but when her mother discovers her plans for a demonstration outside the Argenta Oil head office, the two collide in ways Liza least suspected.


Windfall: Life is full of challenges for thirteen-year-old Liza. She is already having trouble coping with the death of a local homeless man when she learns that her family’s apple tree will need to be chopped down. If that wasn’t enough, the new principal at school keeps blocking her attempts for a positive outlet by refusing permission for every project that GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and BRRR! (Boys for Renewable Resources, Really!) proposes. Liza starts to feel like she needs to create change in her world without seeking permission. When she chooses the school grounds as the site for her latest endeavor, she may have gone too far.


Seeing Orange: Seven-year-old Leland has trouble writing, but he loves drawing. He so dislikes his teacher that he conjures up Delilah, an imaginary seeing-eye dog to help him into class each day. When a neighborhood painter recognizes Leland’s gifts as an artist, Leland grows more confident about the world as he uniquely sees it. And when his family’s cat goes missing, it is Leland’s keen observation skills that lead to finding him. Leland’s newfound confidence helps him both confront and sympathize with his teacher, who only wishes Leland could be a bit more focused.


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13. What did you read today?

The National Reading Campaign’s “What Did You Read Today?” contest winners have been chosen! Read on for the message shared with us today from the National Reading Campaign.

What did you read today? Public Campaign

Congratulations to the 10 winners of the contest for the general public: Josh Siemens, Waldheim, SK; Kathy Whelan McNiff, London, ON; Jill Dean, Saskatoon, SK; Mark Young, London, ON; Charlotte Brotschi, Toronto, ON; Margaret MacDonald, Lethbridge, AB; Michael Donnelly, Toronto, ON; Natalie Brea Van Apeldorn, Vancouver, BC; and Dave Binsette, Tecumseh, ON.   They had been invited to tweet their answer to #whatdidyoureadtoday? for a chance to win a Glo e-reader, generously provided by Kobo. In recognition of the thousands of enthusiastic entries, Kobo donated an additional $10,000 to the National Reading Campaign.

The contest for children involved thousands of kids from Nanaimo to Halifax. The winning schools & libraries are: Taylor Evans Public School in Guelph, ON; Woodhaven Middle School, Spruce Grove, AB; Vancouver Island Regional Library (Nanaimo Harbourfront Branch), Nanaimo, BC; Cardiff Elementary School, Cardiff, ON; Maple Leaf School, Winnipeg, MB; Torquay Elementary School, Victoria, BC; James McQueen Public School, Ajax, ON; Shediac Library, Shediac, NB; Montreal Children’s Library (Jean Rivard Branch), Montreal, PQ; and Lord Elgin Public School, Fergus, ON.

Each winner will receive $1000 worth of Canadian books for their school or library. The National Reading Campaign is grateful to the following publishers for contributing prizes: Annick Press, Cormorant Books, Fitzhenry & Whiteside Publishers, Groundwood Books, Hachette Canada, Harper Collins Canada, Kids Can Press, Nimbus Publishing, Orca Book Publishers, Pajama Press, Penguin Canada, Scholastic, Second Story Press, Simon & Schuster, and Tradewind Books. We’re working on the public campaign, and will launch the advertising element in the fall.

The #whatdidyoureadtoday? contest may be over, but the National Reading Campaign is just beginning!!

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14. 100 More Great Books to Read Together

epl800Two adorable Orca board books, Hamsters Holding Hands by Kass Reich and The Ways I Will Love You by Rachel Boehm with illustrations by Mary Jane Gerber, were selected for the Edmonton Public Library’s “100 More Great Books to Read Together” recommended reading booklet! Download it here!

And, if you’re looking for a great gift set for mom or baby, check out our new board book bundle! Three books for only $24.95 with a beautiful inscription band for personalizing your gift.

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15. Kit Pearson speaks at next Victoria Children’s Lit Roundtable

Kit Pearson, award-winning children’s author, will discuss her new books, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth, and talk about her life as an author at the next Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable on Monday, January 21. The Whole Truth won the CLA Book of the Year Award for Children and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award in 2012. The Whole Truth was shortlisted for the Bolen Book Prize 2012.

Event Details:
January 21, 2013
7:30 pm

The VCLR is open to the public. Members free, drop-ins $5, students $4. Meetings are held at the Nellie McClung Branch Library, 3950 Cedar Hill Road. Doors open at 7 pm.

For more information about the Roundtable, call 250-598-3694, find it on Facebook, or visit: www.victoriachildrensliteratureroundtable.blogspot.com.

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16. Canadian Children’s Book Center names its Best Books from Fall ’12

The Canadian Children’s Book Center recently released its guide to the Best Books for Kids & Teens from Fall 2012. We’re thrilled to announce that twenty four Orca titles were included, many of those as starred selections.

The list comprises recommended books for kids and teens ages 0-18 and helps parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and children’s literature enthusiasts stock their bookshelves with the very best books Canada has to offer

According to the Canadian Children’s Book Center, “all of the titles in Best Books for Kids & Teens have been handpicked by expert committees of educators, booksellers, school and public librarians from across Canada, so every book included in the guide is guaranteed to be a great read!” Each listing contains a brief summary of the book, the interest level listed by age, reading level listed by grade and thematic links—a simple reference tool to help readers select appropriate books by subject.

The full list of selected titles is not available online, but you can purchase a copy of the guide from the Canadian Children’s Book Center website for $5.95. We can, however, share the list of selected Orca titles. Asterisks indicated a starred selection. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators! (Click each title to learn more about the book or order a copy from us.)

All Good Children*
Box of Shocks
Breaking Point*
Charlie’s Key*
City Critters*
Cuts Like a Knife*
Dalen & Gole
Doors in the Air*
Flood Warning
Ghost Moon
Hamsters Holding Hands
I Owe You One
Justine McKeen – Walk the Talk
Kishka for Koppel
Living Rough
The Matatu
Out of Season
Power Chord
The Prisoner of Snowflake Falls*
Riot Act*
Seal Song*
Wrong Bus

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17. Reaching Those Resistant Readers

Searching for books that will hook your reluctant readers? School Library Journal recently published a list of fun, fast-paced fiction that fits the bill. These books “feature clear narratives that quickly draw readers into the action and are supported by snappy dialogue that helps move the stories along.” They feature “appealing protagonists, attractive covers, and layouts that feature generous print size and plenty of white space, and bingo, you have something to hand to the hard-to-please.” [Read full article]

Featured on this list is Dawn Patrol, by Jeff Ross. Dawn Patrol is part of the Orca Sports series, which combine mystery and adventure with sports action.

Book Synopsis: Everything stops making sense for extreme surfer Kevin Taylor after his parents die in a plane crash. When Kevin disappears, leaving only a cryptic note, his best friends Luca and Esme have no choice but to try and find him. Their journey takes them to the coast of Panama, where they must confront unfriendly locals, a surfer who seems bent on destroying them, and monster waves. As their hope dwindles and time runs out, the mystery of what really happened to Kevin’s parents deepens, and Luca and Esme begin to wonder if they are in over their heads.

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18. Bestsellers galore!

What a great end to the week! Here’s last week’s bestseller list for children’s books in Canada:

1. Between Heaven and Earth (Seven the Series)—Orca Book Publishers

2. Kiss, Tickle, Cuddle, Hug—Orca Book Publishers

3. Last Message (Seven the Series)—Orca Book Publishers

4. Lost Cause (Seven the Series)—Orca Book Publishers

5. Gubby Builds a Boat Gary—Harbour Publishing

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19. Deborah Ellis wins with mystery novel at Hamilton Literary Awards

Congratulations to Deborah Ellis and Pajama Press!

Deborah Ellis has won the Reliable Life Insurance Award for Children & Young Adult Book for her YA psychological thriller True Blue. The award was presented on November 12, 2012, during the 18th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards at Theatre Aquarius’ Norman and Louise Haac Studio Theatre in Hamilton, Ontario. Ron Ulrich, artistic director of the host theatre, announced the award and shared the compelling first chapter with the audience.

True Blue has met with critical acclaim in both Canada and the United States. School Library Journal said, “True Blue is about the courage to believe in oneself and fight for what’s right, even when it’s the hardest thing to do. A book worthy of any school curriculum.” Kirkus Reviews said protagonist Jess “grabs readers’ attention and never lets it go.”
True Blue has also been nominated for the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award and the John Spray Mystery Award.

Pajama Press books are distributed in the United States by Orca Book Publishers. View Pajama Press titles here and learn more about True Blue here.


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20. Seven (the series) flying off the shelves

It’s been nearly a month since the publication of Seven (the Series), and boy have these books taken off. In fact, we’ve already had to reprint the entire series because booksellers can’t keep them on the shelves! Shane Peacock (Last Message) reported that he recently dropped in to his local Chapters store to sign a few copies, but couldn’t because the store was completely sold out: Shane said, “They were very excited that a 7′ author was in the store…and said the series was selling extremely well, a sort of phenomenon for them. They said kids, mostly boys (!) were coming into the store regularly asking for it. Nice to see.”

The Seven panel at the International Festival of Authors

The authors of the seven titles in the series, Eric Walters (Between Heaven and Earth), John Wilson (Lost Cause), Ted Staunton (Jump Cut), Richard Scrimger (Ink Me), Norah McClintock (Close to the Heel), Sigmund Brouwer (Devil’s Pass) and Shane Peacock (Last Message) have been visiting schools and bookstores across the country, including stops in Kingston, York, Hamilton, Peterborough, Mississauga, the International Festival of Authors in Toronto and the International Writers Fest in Vancouver.

Response to the series has been overwhelmingly positive from booksellers, teachers, and most importantly, from readers. Of Lost Cause, one teen reviewer wrote, ”I had to force myself to take a break for food or sleep once in a while. I just wanted to keep reading. This was an excellent book and I’m happy I picked it up to read.” (YALSA YA Galley Teen Review). The titles have been featured in Kirkus Reviews (Devil’s Pass was named a Critic’s Pick!), CM Magazine, Canadian Children’s Book News, Quill and Quire and many more publications! Visit the In the News page at www.seventheseries.com to read review excerpts.

Visit www.seventheseries.com to learn more about the books and authors, to download excerpts from each title, and to watch the trailer.

Individual titles and the Seven (the Series) bundle ($59.95 for all seven books) can be purchased online from Orca Book Publishers.







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21. Victoria Fall Book Launch

Please join Sara Cassidy (Seeing Orange), John Wilson (Lost Cause), Alex Van Tol (Shallow Grave and Oracle), Sean Rodman (Dead Run), Lou Allin (Contingency Plan), Sheryl McFarlane (Island Santa—author) and Sheena Lott (Island Santa—illustrator) as they launch their new books this fall!

Come meet the authors, enjoy some refreshments and get a book signed. All ages welcome.

Monday, November 5, 2012 (that’s tonight!)
7:00pm Bolen Books
#111-1644 Hillside Avenue,

We’ll see you there!

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22. Write On! Catherine Austen visits Ottawa Teen Author Fest

Find out what it takes to write like a pro from a panel of published authors.

Catherine Austen, author of last year’s award-winning dystopian teen fiction title All Good Children, will be part of a YA discussion panel in Ottawa as part of Teen Author Fest. Catherine will be answering questions with YA authors Lesley Livingston and Max Turner. The panel is a free public event for young writers.

Event Details:

Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Ben Franklin Place, The Chamber, 101 Centrepointe


See all Ottawa Teen Author Fest events here.
Learn more about Catherine Austen on the Orca website.

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23. Nowhere Else on Earth a Victoria Book Prize finalist!

Congratulations to Caitlyn Vernon, whose Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest has been named a finalist for the 2012 Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize. The winners will be announced at an awards gala at the Union Club of Victoria on October 10 at 7:30. Tickets are $15 and are available now at Bolen Books, Munro’s Books, Ivy’s Bookshop and the Victoria Book Prize Society (250-589-8430).

About Nowhere Else on Earth
You don’t have to live in the Great Bear Rainforest to benefit from its existence, but after you read Nowhere Else on Earth you might want to visit this magnificent part of the planet. Environmental activist Caitlyn Vernon guides young readers through a forest of information, sharing her personal stories, her knowledge and her concern for this beautiful place.

Full of breathtaking photographs and suggestions for ways to preserve this unique ecosystem, Nowhere Else on Earth is a timely and inspiring reminder that we need to stand up for our wild places before they are gone.

Visit the book’s dedicated website at www.greatbearrainforest.ca to view photos from the book, download the study guide and access additional resources.

Or Purchase Nowhere Else on Earth from Orca Book Publishers.


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24. Seven (the Series) authors team up at Vancouver Writers Fest

The launch of Seven (the Series) is just around the corner, and just a few days after the launch, three of the seven authors (Norah McClintock, Shane Peacock and Richard Scrimger) will team up at the Vancouver Writers Fest to discuss their parts in the project. If you plan to be in the Vancouver area on October 16, 2012, this would be a fantastic event to attend. Tickets are available to individuals and school groups, and you can download a study guide right from the online ticket office.


Purchase tickets to Seven: the Series at the Vancouver Writers Fest
Learn more about Seven (watch the trailer and download excerpts too!) at www.seventheseries.com 

Event Details
Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012—1:00-2:30pm
Location: Granville Island Stage
Cost: $17 / $8.50 for student groups BUY NOW

Event Description:
A unique and ambitious series is launching just days before this year’s Vancouver Writers Fest—seven Young Adult novels published simultaneously, stemming from the fictional instructions of a dying man to his seven teenaged grandsons. Each grandson is thrust into challenging and sometimes dangerous events to fulfill his grandfather’s wishes—ranging from tattooed gangs close to home, to near-impossible tasks set in Iceland, France, Spain or Tanzania. Three of the seven exceptional Canadian authors chosen to write these stories will talk about their part in this unusual project. Readers can look forward to Scrimger’s sense of humour, McClintock’s sense of mystery and Peacock’s dark plotting.

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25. Reeling in Reluctant Readers webinar

Teachers and librarians are always looking for new ways to connect with children and teens categorized as “reluctant readers.” On September 25, 2012, you can participate in a free hour-long webinar that addresses that need.

Joining Orca’s publisher, Andrew Wooldridge, will be a reading specialist and literacy coach, along with a representative from Saddleback Educational Publishing. The webinar will cover strategies and resources effective in reaching struggling readers ages 10 and up, as well as present books that combine high-interest topics with accessible writing. You’ll also hear about new releases and best-selling series from Saddleback Educational Publishing and Orca Book Publishers.

Register now.

Have a question about “reluctant readers”? Please email [email protected] before September 24 and we will attempt to answer your query in the webinar. Questions addressed during the webinar will receive a sampling of current titles valued at $100. So keep them coming!

Webinar details:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 1:00 pm (Central Daylight Time)



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