Friday, June 29, 2007

Future Musical Ride Horses?

Could either of these two adorable foals someday become members of the musical ride? Only time will tell... but meanwhile, how much fun am I having researching this new book project? Yesterday spent the day at the RCMP breeding farm west of Ottawa... and today hung out with ride trainers, ride members, new recruits, and about 96 horses in residence at the stables in Ottawa. How cool is this job of mine, I ask you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Censor is Alive and Well and Living in Saskatchewan

This just in from Sono Nis Press, publisher of Trouble on Tarragon Island...

A librarian at a school in Saskatchewan called to complain about the age level listing for Trouble on Tarragon Island. She said the committee for their school library feels the book is not sensitive to aging women in its reference to saggy breasts and using the word 'bazoongas.' In particular, the librarian and her committee members are offended by page 11 - line 14, which refers to a boy cupping his hands in a certain way making reference to breasts, etc. The school has zero tolerance for that sort of behaviour and the librarian feels that by allowing students to read about it, the school is giving support to totally unacceptable behaviour. The solution, in this school anyway, is to pull the book from the school library. The librarian went on to say that the book should not be listed as appropriate reading material for young readers.

The school principal agrees that such behaviour is unacceptable and supported the librarian's decision to refuse access to the book through the library. Even if a child specifically requests the book, he or she will not be able to take it out on loan from the library. Not that the school is forbidding children to purchase a copy. The nearest bookstore is a mere 200 kilometers away in Saskatoon, so real keeners can, presumably, hop on their bicycles and tootle to the big city to find a copy.

All this is rather interesting since the book seems to have found many fans among the critics (it's nominated for a Red Cedar Award, a Chocolate Lily Award, and a Saskatchewan Willow Award and has had a number of very positive reviews in the media...) Note that even children who are participating in the Willow Award reading program will not be allowed to take the book out of the library, though the principal assured me in a phone conversation that the children will be given the full title of the book. Whew - that's a relief!

As for the complaint, well, I hardly think that mentioning a negative behaviour in a book condones that negative behaviour. Otherwise, children would never be allowed to read a book about the Holocaust, drug abuse, less than perfect parents, divorce, war, or a whole slew of other less-than-perfect examples of human nature. Do I condone the behaviour my characters exhibit in the challenged part of the book? Of course not - any Grade Five reader will understand that those boys were the bad guys at that point in the story.

What is the message I hoped to share about older women? That they are feisty, powerful, amazing women willing to take on the powers that be in order to stand up for their beliefs. And, yes, sometimes, the most strident among us cause (often inadvertently) some degree of consternation to our relatives. That's life. And isn't the role of fiction to hold up a mirror to what goes on in the world so we can examine what happens from another perspective? Granted, you have to read beyond the first few pages to figure all that out, but it seems young readers haven't had a problem staying interested in the story until the end of the book.

Not that the children in this particular school will be allowed to think for themselves and debate the merits of the grandmother's tactics or the boys' reactions, or the issues surrounding Old Growth Forests... Someone else, apparently, has decided to do the thinking for them. Poor kids.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Surely Not!

What astounded me when I visited was not that the circulating story about this mother tiger nursing a littler of piglets to help her overcome depression was an urban legend (obviously I had my doubts or I wouldn't have visited Snopes!), but that the photo is real! Yes, those really are piglets dressed in tiger skin outfits nursing from a tiger... but they live in the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand (and not California as was reported in the forwarded email I received) where, apparently, such species mixing and matching goes on regularly as a way of entertaining and amusing zoo visitors. Click here to read the full story...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Facebook - What Gives?

So what the heck is going on over in Facebook-land? A huge explosion of activity, that's what! It seems like everyone is Facebooking these days - yes, me too. This how I found out that KC Dyer has been to Wyoming and wants to go to Pakistan, that Harper Collins Canada is giving away frontlist titles they hope will generate lots of Facebook chit-chat, and that more than 30,000 people have joined the 'You Know You're From BC When...' group! If you are reading this and have not jumped aboard, come on over and join the fun!

In other news, Double Take (Karen Brain's biography) is entering the final phase of the writing process. The past days have been a blur of scanning, entering captions, emailing back and forth with Karen and her mother (who is a saint!) to identify people in photographs as well as give appropriate credit to various photographers, and making changes to the manuscript. Meanwhile, the designer is working on the project (using the penultimate draft) and the second editor (Dawn Loewen) is working away with a red pen. I'll get the edited version back soon and will then make a final (more or less) round of changes before the designer starts finalizing things. Suddenly, this train is moving very fast and I'm getting a little dizzy - and worried that I'll miss something important!

To make matters just a little more stressful, Joan Larson and I are also gearing up to head to Ottawa next week to research a book we are working on together. I'll blog more about that from on the road, but needless to say, my imminent departure is ratcheting up the stress levels as I try to get things finished up on the Double Take front!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Trouble on Tarragon Island Nominated!

Exciting news!
Check out this list of nominees for the Red Cedar Book Award! Very, very exciting!
Red Cedar 2007 / 2008
Fiction Nominees

* Andrews, Jan. Winter of Peril: the Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge. Markham: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
* Grant, Vicki. Quid Pro Quo. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2005.
* Heneghan, James, and McBay, Bruce; illustrated by Geraldo Valerio. Nannycatch Chronicles. Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2005.
* Horvath, Polly. The Vacation. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2005.
* Korman, Gordon. Chasing the Falconers: On the Run #1. Markham: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
* Little, Jean. Somebody Else’s Summer. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2005.
* Mitchell, Jack. The Roman Conspiracy. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2005.
* Nyoka, Gail. Mella and the N’anga: An African Tale. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2005.
* Oppel, Kenneth. Skybreaker. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2005.
* Porter, Pamela. The Crazy Man. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2005.
* Scrimger, Richard. From Charlie’s Point of View: A Mystery. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2005.
* Silberberg, Alan. Pond Scum. Bolton, ON: Fenn, 2005.
*Tate, Nikki. Trouble on Tarragon Island. Winlaw: Sono Nis Press, 2005
* Watts, Irene. Flower. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2005.

Congratulations to all the nominees! Hope to see you all at the big award ceremony next year!

Spring Launch Event in Vancouver

This is from the CWILL-BC website... A great event, by the sound of it. So, for all of you who are close enough to attend... don't miss this chance to stock up on summer reading!

Saturday, June 9th, between 1 and 3, hie yourself off to the Alice McKay room in the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

There you will find all the new material you need for a summer of wonderful reading. More than 30 authors and illustrators will be presenting their latest works. Blackberry Books will be on site, so you can pick up a new book or six from your favourite BC authors and illustrators.

These will include: Alison Acheson, Dan Bar-el, Dianna Bonder, Vivien Bowers, Della Burford, Kristin Butcher, Linda DeMeulemeester, Maggie de Vries, kc dyer, Lee Edward Födi, Dennis Foon, Diane Haynes, James Heneghan, Melanie Jackson, Heather Kellerhals-Stewart, Cora Lee, Shar Levine, Ainslie Manson, Adrienne Mason, James McCann, Victoria Miles, Max Newhouse, Cynthia Nugent, Jacqueline Pearce, Louise Phillips, Ellen Schwartz, Sima Elizabeth Shefrin, Shannon Stewart, Tiffany Stone, Joan Betty Stuchner, Diane Tullson, Kari-Lynn Winters & Pam Withers.

This event is sponsored by CWILL BC, Blackberry Books, The Vancouver Public Library and Pandora’s Collective, with support from ING Direct and Purdy’s Chocolate.

Each author or illustrator will have a table — so come out and meet your favourites! There will be treats and activities galore.

There will also be a PASSPORT table, where all attendees can collect a passport. If you collect autographs from ten or more presenters around the room, you can tear off a tab at the bottom of the passport and be eligible for a PRIZE! (Plus you get to keep the autographs…)

Bonnie Nish and Sita Carboni of Pandora’s Collective have graciously offered to help by emceeing this event. Each author and illustrator will get a brief chance to showcase his or her latest books.

There will be three presentation ’sets’ – one for each age group: Picture Books, Middle Grade/Chapter books, Young Adult/Teen books. In between sets, activity will take place at the tables, books can be bought, autographs can be obtained. Activities around the room will resume between the presentations, giving the authors a chance to sign their books etc.

Come and join us for a couple of hours of great book collecting fun — June 9th at the Vancouver Public Library.

~kc dyer

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Iago - Horse Seducer

Here's Iago - my horse whispering cat...

This is how she plays the game... First, she saunters up to Ringo and stands under his nose until he massages her back. She strolls back and forth until her back has been thoroughly rubbed, sometimes twining around between his front legs. Then, she flops down on the ground and invites Ringo to nibble on her tummy. When she's had enough of that she rolls over in the dirt so he can lip her on both sides... Every now and then she gets up and moves a few feet away. She lies down again, gives him her 'come here, big boy' look, and waits. Sure enough, he follows and begins the grooming process again. If he gets too rough, she swats him across the face or grabs his muzzle with all four paws. This goes on for ages, particularly on warm, sunny days when she's feeling particularly affectionate. Ringo is unable to resist her charms and will follow her from end to end of the paddock and back again just to have a chance to bury his nose in her soft fur!

... and when she's had enough, Iago hops up and runs away!