Wednesday, October 15, 2014

And the Shortlists are Out!

One of the highlights of the Canadian kidlit scene is the announcement of the OLA's Forest of Reading Awards shortlists. That was today. And it's sweeter than ever this year because Zoobots has made the Silver Birch Nonfiction Shortlist! Woo hoo Zoo!!!!!

It's an honour to be selected, and to be in such great company with such wonderful friends and colleagues like Frieda Wishinsky, Liz MacLeod, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Hugh Brewster and Deborah Ellis, among others! I'm also holding up the fist bump for all the great folks - and stellar books -  nominated in all the other categories.

I am so looking forward to meeting kid-fans at the extra school visits the award will generate, and to meeting everyone at all the great Forest of Trees festivities throughout the year! I know how much fun it all is, since I've had the great good fortune to be nominated several times before. (Psst: I've even won a few times! Boredom Blasters and Secret Agent Y.O.U. won in 2006 and 2008; What's the Big Idea? won an Honour Award in 2011.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's Shaping Up to Be a Busy Fall....

It's shaping up to be a busy fall...with six - yes six! - new books out!

I'll be presenting at a wide variety of festivals etc. Here's a preliminary calendar if you want to come on out and say hi!

SEPTEMBER 14 - Telling Tales Festival

SEPTEMBER 21 - Word on the Street

SEPTEMBER 28 - Vaughan BookFest

OCTOBER 21/22 - Vancouver Writers Festival

NOVEMBER 15 INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Bang-Up Review from Kirkus!

It's not out until October, but Orca Books gave a sneak peek of Dirk Daring, Secret Agent to Kirkus. And they liked it :) 
Here's what they said, in part:

"Friendships are strongly tested throughout the novel, which is peppered with imaginative turns of phrase and bursts of energy. The book is an enjoyable and quirky read. The author doesn’t go overboard and turn her characters into swirling cartoons: These are real kids behaving with all the creativity and energy one would expect of them. But beneath all the play and humor is a genuine emotional core, exploring the trials and tribulations all friendships endure when moving from elementary school on to junior high. A stunning last-minute twist pushes the book above and beyond. A clever romp that’s enhanced, not lessened, by its message."You can read the whole review here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The National Reading Campaign - a great idea and a great review too!

So yeah. I google myself. Name me one writer who doesn't.

Today's google turned up my dream find - a super review. From the National Reading Campaign!

My newest novel, Gottika, got this review, in part:

"The masked creature with glowing red eyes that crawls over the cover of Helaine Becker’s new novel will fascinate fans of futuristic fantasy. Gottika is a modern retelling of the legend of the Jewish golem, a magical creature created from clay and mud whose very existence challenges how we think about ourselves....Becker’s fantasy stays true to the core of the legend, effortlessly drawing readers into the story... The juxtaposition of text and comics, combined with the talents of Becker and Griggs-Burr, ensure a broad audience for Gottika. Lovers of fantasy, myths and legends, action comics, a hero’s quest, and even Dungeons and Dragons fans will want to keep reading late into the night. And this story will continue to resonate the morning after.

To read the whole review, click here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Melissa's Recommended Reading!

It was one of those ggggrrrr of a days. You know. Everything. Going. Wrong.

I was in the car, just about to head out of town for an unexpected three hour drive up to my son's camp - followed immediately by the drive back.


Luckily I was listening to CBC's Here and Now. And they were about to talk about children's books - my fave!

Melissa Bourdon-King from Mabel's Fables, the fabulous children's book store right here in Toronto, started sharing her favorites. Naturally I listened with interest. Then with surprise. And  then with utter delight.  Melissa had started talking about my own book, Gottika! Good thing I was already sitting down. And still in a parking lot.

Grrr turned to hoorah! Thanks so much, Melissa, and Mabel, and Here and Now, for taking the time to read my book. And to talk about it too. I'm so glad you liked it! Now if I could only get my own kid to read it....(S'truth...)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dashing toward Christmas. Yes. Really.

And how much fun it is to ride this particular sled!

Dashing through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells, will be available on October 1st. May I humbly suggest you order your advance copies now??? ;)

The book's a long-awaited sequel to the bestselling A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, and is illustrated with the same verve and charm by  illustrator extraordinaire Werner Zimmermann.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Q and A with Dirk Daring and Me, Agent Helaine Becker

Dirk Daring, Secret Agent, will be published across North America this fall. To get a sneak peek inside the book, and into the scary workings of my own brain, check out this Interview done at a secret location, by an anonymous interviewer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

So It's Funny. Shoot Me.

Not every book for kids has to be "good for them." Kids need a break too. Something light and fluffy. You know, a good beach book.

But that doesn't mean it should be dumb. I really hate dumb books. Books that talk down to the reader, or that are written by someone's foot. Clumsy writing is reason to throw a book at the wall.

So may I suggest Do You Dare?

For those of you who agree that kids need a) light, fun books too and b) books that, at the same time, don't insult them, you may find this latest book in my Scholastic Canada quiz book series is just the ticket. So pick it. (Snorf.)

 You can also read an excerpt from the book here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dirk Is Daring. Really.

I recently received my ARC for Dirk Daring Secret Agent. It's published by Orca Books, and will be released across North America this Fall. It looks sooooo good!!!! Can't wait to share it with more than just my family!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gottika has Arrived!

I'm so thrilled to finally have a copy of Gottika in my hands. You can get it into your hands too! The book is published by Dancing Cat Book sand is available from all Canadian booksellers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Are Friends For? A Meditation. Ok, Not Really.

Because it's summer, a lot of us are reading light, fun books. Some of us actually enjoy light, fun books year round. And if you're a kid who happens to be a girl, and has a BFF, what could be better than reading a fun book with her?

Just in time for summer fun - or back to school (AGH I KNOW I SAID IT!!!! WHAT A DORK!!!!), Scholastic Canada has published the third book in my Quiz Book series just for us gals.

Here are some deets about it:

Are you and your BFF still meant to be? Take these quizzes and find out!
  • Are you twins separated at birth?
  • What sports star is she?
  • Is she a princess, a peasant or a jester?
  • Are you destined to remain friends?
Whether you want to make sure you've still got what it takes to be a great best friend, or have a new BFF, or need more questions for your best-ever sleepover, The Quiz Book for BFFs 2 is another fun way to celebrate your friendship and get to know each other even better!

Raves & reviews:

Praise for The Quiz Book for BFFs:
"The 31 quizzes in The Quiz Book for BFFs will have girlfriends talking and laughing... the combination of silly and serious questions would make this an entertaining book to bring along for a sleepover." —Canadian Review of Materials

You can also check out an excerpt here.

Previous books in the series are The Quiz Book for BFFs and  

Monday, March 17, 2014


I'm so excited - this project was a long time in development. The publisher is Dancing Cat Books and they've done a great job with it. Did I say I'm excited???? The book itself will be out next month.

Here's a short description of the story:

Secrets Destroy You.
The Truth Sets You Free.

What is the most dangerous secret of all? For fifteen-year-old Dany, is it the shame that his once-vital mother now suffers mutely from “the staring sickness?” Or is it that Count Pol, the corrupt absolute ruler of Western Gottika, may be scouting the city clandestinely for teenage girls to kidnap? Could the worst secret be the mystery behind why all the kids in the Estat are only children? Or could it be that Dany’s father possesses the secret knowledge of how to bring clay to life, and transform it into a terrifying weapon – an all-powerful Gol?

When Dany’s father is framed for the murder of Gottika’s Princess Avivia, Dany is forced to confront all of these secrets. But that won’t be enough. In order to save his father, he’ll have to uncover his own family’s secret, one even darker and more disturbing than the rest.

The worst lies, after all, are the ones we tell ourselves.

Gottika reimagines a powerful Jewish legend as a futuristic fantasy with a universal message.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Zoobots Has Arrived!

They're here....the Zoobots. These very creepy, very awesome animal-inspired robots are the subject of my latest nonfiction book from Kids Can Press.

The book has been selected by the Junior Library Guild, and is now available from your fave bookseller! If the incredible pics by Alex Ries don't give you nightmares...the fact that all of these critters are under development right now should!

You'll find that Zoobots is a great pick for:
> reluctant readers
> Common Core applications
>life science
>physical science
>recreational reading - it has the WOW! factor kids love
>critical thinking and problem solving

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Repost for Black History Month -SLJ Review of Juba This, Juba That

What a lovely holiday present - a nice review from SLJ! Here's what it says:

"This modern-day version of a traditional African chant imagines an adventure that happens one evening when a dark-skinned boy follows a yellow cat to the fair. They laugh at their reflections in the House of Mirrors, take a spooky fun-house ride, and generally have a wonderful time before returning home to bed. Becker’s simple rhyme plays with opposites and is just right for clapping and bouncing along. Lightburn’s lively illustrations perfectly capture the joy of the nighttime escapade and extend the story. The boy and cat are set against backgrounds of diagonal streaks of cool colors that aptly convey movement and a sense of fantasy. This is a good choice for reading aloud to an active group of youngsters."

Juba This, Juba That is available in the U.S from Random House.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Honors for Little Jack Horner !

Nice news for Little Jack this week - it has been named a BEST BET - Honorable Mention by the Ontario Library Association. AND received a Best of the Year citation in the Picture Book category from Resource Links.

Way to go, Jack!

Monday, February 3, 2014

What's Better Than Family Literacy? Not Much!

What's better than family literacy? Not much except for Family Literacy Day! This year, a fabulous event was held at the Ontario Science Center and featured such luminaries as Robert Munsch, Ruth Ohi, Patricia Storms, Kevin Sylvester and Ken Oppel. And moi. With my boyfriend Captain Underpants.

We'd been apart for so long...and oh the reunion was sweet.

The captain fell in love with me when he read The Ode to Underwear and realized we were a perfect pair.
That's Patricia Storms holding Ode to Underwear.
The cape says "Reading Gives You Superpowers!"

After our tearful reunion, we enjoyed hanging with Robert Munsch, Patrica Storms and Ruth Ohi too!

The event was sponsored by ABC Life Literacy, a great organization!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reading Olympics - Going for Gold with Kidlit Quiz!!!

International Literacy Competition Seeks Canada’s Best Readers

An international literacy competition, Kids’ Lit Quiz, will find Canada’s top readers in a tournament known as the ‘Sport of Reading’ next week. And guess who will be on the team of children's writers? You guessed it - Moi! Our team, Always Write, includes Jennifer Maruno, Susan Hughes, Adira Rotstein and me!

For two decades, Kids’ Lit Quiz has been inspiring youth to become lifelong readers by channeling knowledge of children’s books into a fun and challenging tournament.

Today, the competition continues to thrive despite distractions like video games, cell phones and computers. In fact, participation rates have continued to rise amongst girls and boys in recent years.

In the style of popular learning competitions like the Scripps Spelling Bee, Kids’ Lit Quiz is a highly spirited and intense team event for students around the world.
Are you a KLQ Quiz Whiz?
Who had two nasty aunts called Spiker and Sponge?[1]
Who owned a faithful dog named Snowy?[2]
A clip from the 2013 Canadian National Final can be seen here:
KLQ Canada 2013 Heats and Final
Event Details;
3 Regional Heats and National Final
Date: Monday February 3                            Date: Tuesday February 4
Time:  1pm                                                 Time: 9am  AND 1pm
Location 1:                                                          Location 2:
Our Lady of Fatima CS                                 Queen Victoria Public School
3176 St. Clair Ave. E                                    100 Close Ave
Scarborough On M1L 1V6                                      Toronto, On M6K 1V6

National Final
Date: Wednesday February 5
Time: 7pm            Location: Havergal College, Brenda Robson Hall
      1451 Avenue Road, Toronto, On M5N 2H9


Kids’ Lit QuizTM is an annual literature competition for children aged 10 to 13 (grades 5 to 8).   Over 1000 schools compete worldwide from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, to New Zealand and Australia.  The competition celebrates children’s literacy and the love of reading.  During the competition, known as “The Sport of Reading”, student teams are quizzed on a wide range of topics, in categories ranging from poetry to authors to settings or characters.  They learn the quiz categories only minutes before the quiz. Anything published in English from nursery rhymes to comic books to the Hunger Games is fair game.
This is the fourth year that Canada will field a team at the World Final of the International Kids’ Lit Quiz TM.
Teams of students from Public, Catholic and Independent schools from across Ontario are competing in the tournament. For the first time in Canada teams from BC will also compete. Southridge School from British Columbia will field two teams at the Canadian tournament being held in Toronto February 3, 4 and 5, 2014.
Eight teams will advance to the National Final where the winner will be asked to represent Canada in Cornwall England at the Kids’ Lit Quiz TM World Final.
Kids’ Lit Quiz Canada is a not for profit organization and is run by volunteers.
Nancy Davidson, Kids’ Lit Quiz Canada National Coordinator, at: 416 992-6903
Twitter: @kidslitquiz_ca
Facebook: Kids Lit Quiz Canada

[1] James (from James and the Giant Peach)
[2] Tintin

Friday, January 17, 2014

What Are YOU Doing on Family Day, Feb. 17?

What are you doing for family day? I'll be presenting two fun and informative workshops for kids about the legend of the Golem at The Jewish Literary Festival in Toronto.

The Golem is the subject of my upcoming Young Adult novel Gottika, which will be published by Dancing Cat Books this spring, and includes some dramatic illustrations by new talent Alexander Griggs-Burr.

In my workshop, we'll talk about the story and its influence on pop culture (you'd be surprised!), watch some funky videos and create comic strips based on the tale. So please come out and meet the Golem with us!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I'm Wild about this Junior Library Guild Selection!

What a way to start the new year. My latest science nonfiction project, Zoobots, from KCP,  has been picked as a Junior Library Guild selection!  Alas, you'll have to wait to read it - it won't be pubbing 'til Spring.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's Your Bold Vision?

It started with an idea:

"When 23 men met in Charlottetown PEI in 1864, their collective thinking and visioning ultimately led to the formation of Canada. We want to know, what do 23 women envision for our country for the next 150 years?"

Now that idea has turned into an exciting national conference, for which 23 female 'visionaries' will be selected to draft their own view of what Canada should look like in the future.

I'm delighted to announce that I've been nominated to participate! I hope I have enough vision.....

Please check out A Bold Vision to find out more about this innovative project, and for ways you can be involved too!  

Because: Science!