Friday, September 27, 2013

Lane Anderson Science Writing Awards Announced!


Can you be just a little over the moon? No. Which is why I'm a LOT over the moon to have been named the winner of the 2012 Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing, in the Children's Books category for The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea.



The winner in the Adult category is Neil Turok for The Universe Within.


Congrats to Neil and to everyone who participated in this great event! And a huge thanks to the Fitzhenry Family for endowing this award and highlighting the central role of science in our lives.

Here are the deets from the official announcement:

$10,000 Lane Anderson Award Winners

Celebrating the Best Science Writing in Canada

Toronto. 26th September, 2013:  The Fitzhenry Family Foundation announced the winners of the 2012 Lane Anderson Award. Finalists and winners were feted at an intimate dinner in Toronto.

The annual Lane Anderson Award, now in its fourth year, honours excellence in Canadian science writing, by highlighting two jury-selected books – one addressed to adult readers, the other written for children and/or middle grade readers.  Authors of the winning books each receive $10,000. 

There were a total of 20 submissions for this year’s award.

“We established this award because we believe passionately that science writing, and science reporting is vitally important for every Canadian today.  Science writing, research, and knowledge impacts the ways in which we live now, the ways our children will live in future, and the ways in which our children’s children will live their lives. As Canadians, we do not pay enough attention to science. We take it for granted.  The Lane Anderson Award is dedicated towards removing that indifference, two books at a time. We thank all of the authors and publishers and judges who are helping us pass along this message. It needs to be heard and heeded.”
- Hollister Doll & Sharon Fitzhenry Directors, Fitzhenry Family Foundation  

The annual Lane Anderson Award honours two jury-selected books, in the categories of adult and young reader, published in the field of science, and written by a Canadian. The winner in each category receives $10,000.


The 2012 Lane Anderson Prize Winners are:

The Universe Within by Neil Turok (Anansi)

The most anticipated nonfiction book of the season, this year's Massey Lectures is a visionary look at the way the human mind can shape the future.  Neil Turok is one of the world’s top physicists and founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). He is currently the Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.




Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker (Kids Can Press)

Based on the idea that knowledge is power, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea shows how the ocean works and why this immense ecosystem needs our protection. Experiments using everyday materials help explain the scientific concepts. Helaine Becker is a bestselling writer of children’s fiction, nonfiction and verse.




The two juries meet annually to consider all the submissions to the Lane Anderson Award and comprise editors, librarians, and previous Lane Anderson winners.

The Lane Anderson designation honours the maiden names of Robert Fitzhenry’s mother, Margaret Lane, and his wife, Hilda Anderson Fitzhenry.  The Fitzhenry Family Foundation is a privately directed Canadian foundation established in 1987 by Canadian publisher Robert I. Fitzhenry (1918-2008).  The Lane Anderson Award is administered by Christopher Alam, a partner at the law firm of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.



Debby de Groot
647.295.2970
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Four Stars for Little Jack Horner!


Just like the cow, I'm over the moon about this four-star review of Little Jack Horner, Live from the Corner.


It's from CM Magazine and says, in part, " Little Jack Horner Live from the Corner is a fresh and wonderful attempt to modernize old nursery rhymes and is a must-have for all children’s collections."

Read the full review here. Then go buy the book at your favorite indy bookseller!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Official!

This is Chloe.
It's official - signed, sealed and in the mail - so now I can share my terrific news.

I'm thrilled to announce that from here on in I will be represented by Chloe Walker and Nick Ellison, from the Nicholas Ellison Agency,
an independent, boutique agency that's under the umbrella of the fabulous Greenburger Associates

This is Nick.

Nick and Chloe treated me to every writer's dream-come-true day last month, when we enjoyed a wonderful three-hour lunch getting to know each other. Now we're hard at working polishing up some brand new book project proposals, for subbing later this fall.

And this is me, demo'ing how I feel right now. :)







Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lane Anderson Science Writing Awards Shortlist Announced!





Thrilled to learn today that The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea has been shortlisted for the Lane Anderson Award! A previous book of mine, The Insecto-Files, won the award two years ago. I'm so excited to be back on the list again!

You can read the press release here. Congrats to the other nominees - looking forward to meeting you all at the awards dinner!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Singin' a Song in Praise of Undies




The Ode to Underwear is now available to preorder!

I'm so excited - I've wanted to see this poem in print for ages. It's what I always end my school presentations with, and I've had so many requests for it. Now, I can say, "yes! The poem IS available!" And it's spectacularly illustrated by Mike Boldt, who also illustrated my previous picture book, Little Jack Horner, Live from the Corner.


The dynamic undies in Ode to Underwear will have you laughing. And I announce it here first: Captain Underpants, your reign is the Prince of Panties may be coming to an 'end.'

You can order copies of both books at Indigo (or your local indie bookseller, like one of my faves, The Bookkeeper) and be the first kid on the block to have a copy. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Writing - and Selling Kids Books - Workshops for Pre-Published and Professional Authors


Yes, I teach writing  and business skills. Usually over beer or coffee when I rant at my friends. But I also present at writing conferences and SCBWI chapter meetings and the like. In fact, I'll be doing several workshops next week at the When Words Collide Conference in Calgary. If you're in the Calgary area, please come by! It's an awesome program! Kidlit and YA Writers Amanda Sun, Claire Eamer, Karen Bass will also be presenting.

Here are the the most popular workshops I offer. Please keep me in mind if you or your organization is looking for a professional speaker. I also do a hilarious prezzie on humor writing, if I do say so myself.

> Basic Business Skills for Writers. ROI. B2B. Profit Centre. Supply Chain. Qualifying the Customer. If these and other business-related phrases strike fear in your heart, this workshop is for you. Learn the business basics you really need to jumpstart your writing career. Note: This class is not about the publishing business. It focuses on the skills you will need as a sole proprietor of a freelance writing business.




> The 17 Celestial Secrets of Writing Nonfiction. The Common Core Curriculum specifically mandates nonfiction books for kids. What makes nonfiction work? How do you pitch and present a nonfiction idea to agents or editors? This all-true workshop gives you the info you need to make the sale.



> Writing Picture Books - Picture Books are Opera on the page. Your books needs all of the elements an opera has - compelling character, great plot, action and drama, set design, costumes, music and dance - even if features a Pigeon. Learn the basics of how to create a compelling Carmen, a terrific Tosca, and a powerful Pigeon in 32 perfect pages.



> Poetry Primer. You've all heard it - no one buys poetry. It's not true. What they won't buy is BAD poetry. And chances are your poetry isn't up to scratch. In this workshop, you'll learn the common faults most beginners make when writing rhyming verse, and how to make your verse sparkle like a brand new espresso machine (and pack the same punch!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Red Cedar Book Award 2013-14 Shortlist Announced


The Red Cedar Award List is out! And I'm thrilled to announce The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea is on the Information Book Shortlist!

Here's the complete list of nominees. You can find more information on the wonder Red Cedar program here.


2013/2014 Red Cedar Information Book Nominees:



Bodyguards! From Gladiators to the Secret Service written by Ed Butts, illustrated by Scott Plumbe


The World in Your Lunchbox: The Wacky History and Weird Science Of Everyday Foods by Claire Eamer. Illustrated by Sa Boothroyd

Earth-friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal Of Corry Lapont by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Stephen MacEachern

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Willow Dawson

Mimi’s Village and How Basic Health Care Transformed It by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Cryptic Canada: Unsolved Mysteries From Coast To Coast by Natalie Hyde, illustrated by Matt Hammill

Secret Life Of Money: A Kid’s Guide To Cash by Kira Vermond, illustrated by Clayton Hanmer


City Critters: Wildlife In The Urban Jungle by Nicholas Read

Rescuing The Children: The Story of the Kindertransport by Deborah Hodge

Willie O’Ree: The Story of the First Black Player in the NHL by Nicole Mortillaro





2013/2014 Red Cedar Fiction Nominees:



My Name is Paravana by Deborah Ellis



Mr & Mrs Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath



Summer in the City by Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel



Torn Apart: The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi (Dear Canada) by Susan M. Aihoshi



Ungifted by Gordon Korman



Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers



Grave Robber’s Apprentice by Allan Stratton



Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis



Cat’s Cradle Book 1: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux



Redwing by Holly Bennett



Gargoyle at the Gates by Philippa Dowding



Mimi Power and the I-Don’t-Know-What by Victoria Miles














Sunday, May 12, 2013

Who Is That Masked Avenger?


Who is that masked avenger? I have no idea, but if you want to know who the heck I am, I've just updated my biography.

Here it is.

Helaine Becker is the bestselling writer of more than 50 award-winning children’s and YA books: fiction, non-fiction and verse. Her chapter book series, The Looney Bay All-Stars, has sold over 175,000 copies to date; A Porcupine in a Pine Tree was a Canadian National Bestseller in 2010, and the #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER in 2011. It also received the Libris Picture Book of the Year Award from the C.B.A. She also is a three-time winner of the Silver Birch Award: for Boredom Blasters in 2006, and Secret Agent Y.O.U. in 2008; What's the Big Idea? received the Silver Birch Honour Award in 2011. The Insecto-Files was awarded the first ever Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children – an award that included a $10,000 cash prize. The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea won the Outstanding Youth Book Award from the Canadian Science Writers Association in 2013.




Helaine is in high demand as a presenter and performer at schools across North America. She has twice been selected for the Canadian Children’s Book Week Cross Country tour, travelling to both Yukon and Nunavut to present to school children. She has been a featured speaker at the Frye Festival in New Brunswick, Aloud International Children’s Festival in Ontario, Weaving Words Conference in Alberta, Literacy for Life Conference in Saskatchewan, and the Red Cedar Awards in British Columbia. She was also a featured speaker at the 2009 Orange County Children’s Book Festival in Costa Mesa, California and the 2010 Women’s Writers’ Festival in Irvine, California.



Helaine is also a highly motivational speaker and instructor for writers. She has taught seminars for CANSCAIP's annual Packaging Your Imagination Conference in Toronto, Calgary's When Words Collide Conference, and has been invited to speak at the San Diego SCBWI regional chapter next winter. Workshops and seminar topics include:



> Basic Business Skills for Writers. ROI. B2B. Profit Centre. Supply Chain. Qualifying the Customer. If these and other business-related phrases strike fear in your heart, this workshop is for you. Learn the business basics you really need to jumpstart your writing career. Note: This class is NOT about the publishing business. It focuses on the skills you will need as a sole proprietor of a freelance writing business.



> The 17 Celestial Secrets of Writing Nonfiction. The Common Core Curriculum specifically mandates nonfiction books for kids. What makes nonfiction work? How do you pitch and present a nonfiction idea to agents or editors? This all-true workshop gives you the info you need to make the sale. Helaine's published 18+ books of nonfiction for children, many of them multi-award-winning.



> Writing Picture Books. Picture Books are Opera on the page. Your books needs all of the elements an opera has - compelling character, great plot, action and drama, set design, costumes, music and dance - even if features a Pigeon. Learn the basics of how to create a compelling Carmen, a terrific Tosca, and a powerful Pigeon in 32 perfect pages. Helaine has published 9 picture books including the Canadian #1 national bestseller, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree.



> Poetry Primer. You've all heard it - no one buys poetry. It's not true. What they won't buy is BAD poetry. And chances are your poetry isn't up to scratch. In this workshop, you'll learn the common faults most beginners make when writing rhyming verse, and how to make your verse sparkle like a brand new espresso machine (and pack the same punch!) Helaine has published 6 books written in rhyming verse, including the #1 Canadian national bestseller, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, and the brand new Ode to Underwear.


Helaine is also an active supporter of literacy initiatives. She volunteers regularly for ABC Life Literacy, First Book, Librarians without Borders and the Canadian Institute for the Blind.




A New York native, she has lived happily in Toronto for more than 20 years. She has been on the executive board of CANSCAIP (the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors and Illustrators), and is a member of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, The Writers Union of Canada, SCBWI and the Canadian Science Writers' Association. She is married with two teenage sons and has the cutest dog in the world, Ella.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Crystal Kites Awards Announced!





THE SOCIETY OF CHILDREN'S BOOK WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS ANNOUNCES THE WINNERS OF THE ANNUAL CRYSTAL KITE MEMBER CHOICE AWARDS




The SCBWI is excited to announce the winners of the 2013 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards for our fifteen regional divisions:



Africa

• Neil Malherbe - The Magyar Conspiracy (Tafelberg Publishers)



Australia

• Meg McKinlay - Ten Tiny Things (Fremantle Press)



California/Hawaii

• Katherine Applegate - The One and Only Ivan (HarperCollins Children’s Books)



Florida/Georgia/South Carolina/North Carolina/Alabama/Mississippi

• Augusta Scattergood - Glory Be (Scholastic)



Kansas/Louisiana/Arkansas/Tennessee/Kentucky/Missouri

• Sharon Cameron - The Dark Unwinding (Scholastic)



Middle East/India/Asia

• Benjamin Martin - Samurai Awakening (Tuttle Publishing)



Minnesota/Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Indiana/Ohio

• Aaron Reynolds - Creepy Carrots (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)



Nevada/Arizona/Utah/Colorado/Wyoming/New Mexico

• Jean Reagan - How to Baby Sit A Grandpa (Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children's Books)



New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)

• Jo Knowles - See You At Harry's (Candlewick Press)



New York

• Kate Messner - Capture the Flag (Scholastic)



Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey/Wash DC/Virginia/West Virginia/Maryland

• Ame Dyckman - BOY + BOT (Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children's Books)



Texas/Oklahoma

• Lynne Kelly - Chained (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.)



The Americas (Canada/Mexico/Central & South America)

• Jennifer Lanthier - The Stamp Collector (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)



UK/Europe

• Dave Cousins - Fifteen Days without a Head (Oxford University Press)



Washington/Oregon/Alaska/Idaho/Montana/North Dakota/South Dakota

• Kim Baker - Pickle (Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan Publishers)

About the Crystal Kite Awards

The Crystal Kite Awards are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to recognize great books from the seventy SCBWI regions around the world. Along with the SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers.





About SCBWI

Founded in 1971, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is one of the largest existing writers’ and illustrators’ organizations, with over 22,000 members worldwide. It is the only organization specifically for those working in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. The organization was founded by Stephen Mooser (President) and Lin Oliver (Executive Director), both of whom are well-published children’s book authors and leaders in the world of children’s literature. For more information about the Crystal Kite Award, please visit www.scbwi.org, and click “Awards & Grants.”



Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Information Cannot Be Free, Part II



Earlier this month  an article appeared in the main section of the National Post about Access Copyright's fight for Canadian writers. The organization is fighting on our behalf to maintain our compensation for our work that is photocopied by institutions such as schools and library.

The letters in response to the original article were full of vitriol. They made writers out to be blood-sucking fiends who scam students with our outrageous demands to be paid for our work. But what is the alternative? Government handouts? Then we'd be parasites draining the government teat. So we can't charge for our services, but we can't get government support either. Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

It's a lovely utopian idea, this "information should be free" trope. In an ideal world, it would be. So should health care. And public transit. And gardening services. What about food? Yeah, I'd like that to be free too, especially caviar and truffles.

But no one really expects these goods and services gratis, do they? Yet writers' work - that should be free for the taking. We should write as a public service. From the goodness of our hearts.

I'm not quite clear on why writers come in for such misunderstanding and ire. Do people think writing isn't a "real job?" My mother-in-law might think so, because I drink a lot of coffee in my pajamas. But I work 90 hours a week, with no guaranteed income - no salary, no pension, no benefits. Words are not rain that fall from the sky. They take effort to produce, and time, and expertise. Yes - expertise.

Maybe our critics believe writing is something that anyone who can clutch a pencil can do. Yeah! Maybe that's it! They resent that we have actually sat down and done something so "easy" they haven't bothered to get around to that novel yet themselves. Or they don't recognize their own 'work,' ahem, needs a major edit and rewrite.

Or is it fear? That writers are intellectual and creative elites that wield magic they don't understand? I confess: I kind of like that idea, if not the fallout from it.

Writers are not corporate entities with huge coffers. We are not governments with enormous powers. We are not the 1% - most of us aren't, anyway. We are working stiffs, trying to get by just like retail clerks, machinists, and teachers.

The left should support us because we are workers exploited by big corporations. Shall we talk about the Big Six in publishing for a moment?

The right should support us because we are entrepeneurs who create jobs and bring wealth into our country. I've been self-employed for more than 20-odd years, have hired tons of people, and paid taxes the whole way through. Isn't this a good thing for Canada?

Clearly, society values our work. If it didn't, why would professors want to photocopy our words? Wouldn't they just write their own teaching materials?  Good content does find an audience. It should follow, then, that we are able to charge for it, just like video game producers do. Just like you, gentle reader, probably charge for your own contributive labour.

I've attached my second letter to the Post below. It was in reply to another letter, the gist of which will be self-evident.

Please write  to Letters@NationalPost.com to keep this story alive and get our plight back into the main pages. And consider contacting other media outlets as well. We need to tell our side of the story, even if that means stopping work for a moment - paying work - to do so.

---Helaine, blogging for free


"In his letter of April 25, James Homuth says, "for every author who insists they need an Access Copyright equivalent to get paid, there are at least two that can do without it." Can he please provide his data for this statistic?


He also says, "Make the content worthwhile, and you'll get paid." I'd like to see his business plan for this too. How, exactly, does Homuth think that magic happens? E-books on average pay far less than print. Magazine article revenue has stagnated for 15 years; rates for on-line articles are pitiful or nonexistent. Blogging? Not profitable, and problematical if you don't want weight-loss ads beside your posts. Self-publishing? The infamous "long tail" only works if you live as long as Methuselah - that's "if-come," not income.

The publishing business is changing at an unprecedented rate. True, writers do need to figure out new ways to make a living from our words. But "build it and they will come" doesn't work for books any more than it does for baseball parks. I'd be happy to sit down with Mr. Homuth and your own Post columnists to provide a clearer picture of how self-employed writers actually put bread on the table."





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea Wins the Outstanding Youth Award!



I'm so thrilled that my book about the ocean won this fabulous award from the Canadian Science Writers Association so close to Earth Day.


Here's the Press Release. Congrats to Jay Ingram, who won the Adult Book award, and to all the others on the shortlist. I was told it was a very tough call, as all of the books are terrific. I must say I agree, so feel very lucky indeed.

The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two $1000 annual book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public for books that were published in Canada during the 2012 calendar year.


The general audience book winner is Fatal Flaws by Jay Ingram. The youth book winner is The Big Green Book about the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker. Entries were judged on the basis of initiative, originality, scientific accuracy, clarity of interpretation and value in promoting a better understanding of science by the public.

The judges appreciated the way Jay Ingram brought excellent plain language story telling to an exceedingly complex topic in Fatal Flaws.

“The structure drove me forward as a reader. Good use of verbal imagery.”

Another judge said, “This book is well written and does not require a scientific background. The flow is good. The book provides a great overview of the status of prion diseases and does not fall into sensationalism.”

Clarity and the ability to engage the audience with a complex topic were also important factors when the judges considered The Big Green Book about the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker.

One judge commented that it is, “Clearly written with lots of information and discuses topics about the ocean and what happens in oceans. Well thought out, activities are good and relate well to the content being presented. Great use of experiments and observation. A good book for younger kids.”

The younger judges from grades 4 and 6 agreed, “I liked this book because it had many interesting experiments. I even did one myself.” “I really liked the experiments and it was very informative.”

The winners will be presented with their awards during the CSWA annual conference in Montreal at the gala and awards banquet on June 7.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Teaching with Poetry

I love the article posted on the fab blog, Teach with Picture Books about ways to use poetry in the classroom. I particularly love the sweet mention of AlphaBest.
Author and brill book reviewer Keith Schoch says:

Alphabest: The Zany, Zanier, Zaniest Book about Comparatives and Superlatives probably isn't a poetry book, since each page contains just three words (such as Fuzzy, Fuzzier, Fuzziest) but it reads like poetry, and helps kids understand how adjectives can be changed to compare two or more things. Author Helaine Becker sets the scene in a busy amusement park, and illustrator Dave Whamond delivers the goods with his spirited and wacky illustrations. Students can likewise choose a single adjective, and create images to illustrate its comparative and superlative forms.





Information Book Award Shortlist includes the Big Blue Sea...

The Vancouver Children's Roundtable released their longlist for Information Book Awards for 2013.

The link is http://vclr.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/2013-Info-Book-Award-Preliminary-List.pdf

I'm delighted to announce my own book, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea has made the first cut!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why Information Should Not Be - Cannot Be - Free


The National Post printed an article early this week about the ongoing battle regarding copyright and what constitutes 'fair usage" in Canada. Universities, such as York, no longer feel they need to pay writers for work used for "educational purposes." I'm wondering if  Michael Geist, the law professor at the University of Ottawa quoted in the article, would like to donate his teaching time since it's also for "educational purposes?"

This (only partly) facetious comment brings us to the crux of the matter.

Access Copyright is a collective of publishers and writers (and yes, I am an affiliate) - real people, not Borg or ants or government functionaries. The organization  manages licensing for reproduction rights to our work, and provides an important source of revenue for us. But Access Copyright has been forced into a corner. We don't want to sue universities. We love universities, and elementary schools, and libraries - all the public institutions that we rely on to keep us all educated.

But we writers simply can't afford to create work that we will not be paid for. Nor should we be asked to do so. If Professor "Information Must Be Free" won't pay for the use of our work, we will not make it available to him or anyone else.

This is already the sad case in Canada. Our children's publishing industry, which is vibrant and productive and brings tons of money into our economy, is threatened not only by the digital revolution and globalization, but by people who don't understand that writers are not public servants. We are entrepeneurs. We only make money when our books and articles are SOLD. And then, we earn only a fraction of the cover price of a book as royalties.

Schools and libraries are a big part of our business, especially for those of us who write mainly for children. Access Copyright and its licensing arrangements were set up to correct the imbalance that happens when single books are purchased by institutions who then photocopy them for entire classrooms, year after year. Licensing fees recognize the inherent value of our work, and the fact that reproduction technology robs us of legitimate income. 

But what happens if institutions decide not  to pay us for fair use of our materials? Then that market effectively evaporates - poof!

When a market disappears, so does the rationale for producing goods and services for it. Would Gilette produce razors for hairless people? No. Would coffee shops exist if no one liked caffeine? No. So how many Canadian writers and publishers do you think will produce books for Canadian schools and libraries if we can't get paid for them?

How about a big fat zero?

That's already what's happening. There's been a "chill" on Canadian subjects for kids books for the last few years as uncertainty about revenue simmers.

In the meantime, writers like me start focusing on topics we can sell internationally, where we can sell both more print and digital copies of our works. This may one day to turn out to be a boon for me - perhaps I'll wind up selling even more books overall. But it won't be so hot for Canadians, especially Canadian school kids, parents and teachers. What books will students learn Canadian history from? What sources will tell them about great Canadians? What stories will they see themselves reflected in?

None. If Access Copyright loses its legal and moral rights to collect money for my works from users, I'll be writing books set in "Chicago," not Toronto. And writing biographies of American heroes, American history, American scientific advances.

So to those who think this issue is a cash grab by a faceless corporate or government entity, think again. You're taking money from educators whose role is just as important as the teacher who uses our books, articles, etc. in the classroom. Most of us aren't rich. Taking away our livelihood does not help taxpayers, it justs shifts the expense to the welfare rolls, - a less fair, less efficient, and certainly less intelligent model than paying us for our work is.

To read the article in the Post, click here. You'll see my comment there too (a slight variation of the letter that appeared in the print edition of the Post this morning).

Please put your own comments on the Post site so our voices are heard!



Friday, April 5, 2013

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea - nommed for CSWA Science Writing Award!

The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two $1000 annual book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public. Entries, in either French or English were published in Canada during the 2012 calendar year. The winners of this year’s award will be announced in mid-April and the award will be presented during the CSWA awards banquet at the annual conference in Montreal on June 7th.




Here is the shortlist in alphabetical order for outstanding youth book published in 2012:

Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea, Helaine Becker

Earth Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More, Etta Kaner

How to Raise Monarch Butterflies, Carol Pasternak

World in Your Lunchbox, Claire Eamer

Here is the shortlist in alphabetical order for outstanding adult book published in 2012:

Bébé Illimités, Dominique Forget

Devils Curve, Arno Kopecky

Fatal Flaws, Jay Ingram

Seeking Sickness, Alan Cassels

Truth or Beauty, David Orrell

The final winner in each category will be announced in mid-April and the awards will be presented during the CSWA awards banquet at the annual conference in Montreal on June 7th.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

AlphaBest Nominated for Cartooning Award!


I'm so thrilled to announce that the illustrations for AlphaBest, by the incomparable Dave Whamond, has been nominated for the prestigious Reuben Award from the National Cartoonist's Society! Dave is also nominated in a second category, Newspaper Illustration.


AlphaBest is Dave's and my second collaboration. We also worked on the award-winning Secret Agent Y.O.U.




I'm already hard at work on our next book, a planned 'sequel' to AlphaBest. It will feature another fun and funky part of speech.

The winners of the Reuben will be announced May 25th in Pittsburgh, PA. Fingers and toes crossed!!! Go get em, Dave!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Win Valuable Prizes - Really!

The Annual CNIB Braille Writing Competition  is now under way!



This competition is open to primary and secondary students who are blind or partially sighted and live in Canada.

Entries must be in braille, postmarked no later than May 31, 2013 and accompanied by a signed entry form.

Prizes are awarded in two categories - short story and poetry. There are four grade levels: 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12.

Braille accuracy and creativity are given equal weighting.

Computer braille is accepted, but all braille contractions must represent the work of the student, not braille translation software.

Use the braille you know. Entries may be in uncontracted, partially contracted or fully contracted braille. If an entry is in partially contracted braille, the student should also send a teacher's letter explaining which contractions have been taught to date; the teacher's letter may also explain any special circumstances.

The awarding of any and all prizes is at the discretion of the judges, and all decisions are final.

CNIB may, at its discretion, publish the stories/poems submitted by the award winners of each category.

Prizes

Grades 1st 2nd 3rd

1, 2 & 3 $75 $50 $25

4, 5 & 6 $125 $75 $50

7, 8 & 9 $150 $100 $75

10, 11 & 12 $200 $150 $100



Judge



We are excited to have Helaine Becker as this year's Judge. After the stories and poems are marked for braille accuracy, she'll be reviewing them for originality and creativity!



Helaine is the award-winning author of more than 50 children’s and YA books, including the #1 National Bestseller, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree. She is also a three-time winner of the Silver Birch Award: for Boredom Blasters, Secret Agent Y.O.U. and What's the Big Idea? The Insecto-Files won the Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children.



Helaine is in high demand as a presenter and performer. She has twice been selected for the Canadian Children’s Book Week author tour, travelling to Yukon and Nunavut , and has been a featured speaker at the Frye Festival (NB) (twice), Aloud International Children’s Festival (ON), Weaving Words Conference (AB), Literacy for Life Conference (SK), and the Red Cedar Awards (BC). She was also a featured speaker at the 2009 Orange County Children’s Book Festival the 2010 Women’s Writers’ Festival (California).



For more details, go to http://www.cniblibrary.ca/iguana/www.main.cls?surl=braillecontest#Judge
Please print form, fill out, and mail in with braille entry for the contest.


Financial assistance for the Braille Creative Writing Contest is provided by the Canadian Braille Literacy Foundation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Family Literacy Day at the Ontario Science Centre

On Sunday, January 27, 2013, ABC Life Literacy Canada will proudly celebrate the 15th annual Family Literacy Day with an array of author readings and performances, as well as engaging interactive literacy activities, at the Ontario Science Centre. Participating authors include:




Family Literacy Day Honorary Chair, Robert Munsch (Paper Bag Princess, Finding Christmas, Love You Forever);

Wayson Choy (The Jade Peony, All That Matters);

Barbara Reid (Zoe’s Year, Read Me Story, Picture a Tree);

Helaine Becker (Little Jack Horner, Live from the Corner, AlphaBest, The Quiz Book for Spies);

Susan Hughes (Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World);

Marina Nemat (Prisoner of Tehran);

Objibwa storyteller, Aaron Bell;

Kara Harun, host of TVOKids afterschool block The Space; plus

Special appearances from Captain Underpants, Chirp and the Gruffalo.

“We are thrilled and delighted to celebrate this Family Literacy Day milestone with leading authors at the Ontario Science Centre,” said Anthony Alfred, Interim President of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “Learning can happen at any time. Practicing literacy together for just 15 minutes a day has tremendous benefits for both children and parents.”



Ontario Science Centre CEO Lesley Lewis added, "Reading has always been an important part of my life. Some of my fondest memories are of reading together as a family when my children were younger. The Ontario Science Centre is delighted to partner with ABC Life Literacy Canada to support Family Literacy Day."



All Family Literacy Day performances are included with admission to the Ontario Science Centre. Visit the online box office to purchase your tickets in advance for Sunday, January 27th, 2013. Please note that main stage author readings and preformances will be floor seating on a first-come, first-serve basis; schedule subject to change.



Because: Science!

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