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Cooking with Bear

I’m excited about my upcoming book, Cooking with Bear, that features both an illustrated story and a cookbook with forest-themed recipes for kids.

It was a project that spanned a couple of years, with me spending oodles of time in the kitchen coming up with recipes and testing them to make sure they were reliable. I tried to use ingredients that could be easily found in most kitchens or local stores and farmer’s markets. And I hoped to make the recipes fun and relatively simple for children (with adult help) to execute.

The kids in my family inspired me and helped me try out many of the recipes. My daughters, too, were enormously generous with their advice about cooking with kids. (And I have not forgotten those years of cooking classes with Grade One students when I was still a teacher.)

I’m not usually the kind of cook who follows a recipe exactly. I like to try out new things and be a little experimental in my approach but in this case, I had to be very disciplined and decide such matters as: “Is it 1/4 tsp of salt or 1/8 tsp?” It was hard to stick to the rules!

The book won’t be available until April 2019 but it is being printed now. Thank you to my wonderful publisher, Groundwood Books! I’m looking forward to seeing some advance copies before too long.

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s one of the first illustrations in the book, created by the lovely and talented Lisa Cinar. It shows Bear in his kitchen cooking watercress soup and his friend Fox, who has followed his nose to the den, hoping to be invited in for a delicious spring lunch.

Nature Book Nook


I was delighted to see a mention of West Coast Wild in a review of nature books posted on Twitter and Facebook by Nature Book Nook, a group from Portland that is dedicated to finding and exploring great nature books for kids. I hadn’t heard of the group previously but I will definitely follow them now. I’m always happy to see books that celebrate nature.

And if you’re interested, here are the kind words they posted:

“As residents of the Pacific Northwest, West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet by Deborah Hodge and also illustrated by Karen Reczuch, struck in us the desire to explore more of our region – while we live in Portland, Oregon, the landscape and flora/fauna presented in this book is from coastal British Columbia. From A (for Ancient Forests) to Z (for Intertidal Zone), each letter of the alphabet brings alive just one part of this ecoregion (a temperate rainforest), which taken altogether create the whole of a wild landscape. Humans show only twice – one figure craning their head high to peer up at the tree canopy at the beginning of the book and two children exploring along a sandy coastline at the end. With all the species of plants and animals (both marine and terrestrial) shared in between, West Coast Wild is a reminder that there is much more going on in our world than each of us will ever be able to experience. Where we encounter nature, whether in an ancient forest or along an intertidal zone, we we are only scratching the surface – and the more wild we allow some spaces to remain, the better.”

A big thank you to Nature Book Nook!

Fall Festival Time


The rain outside my window is falling heavily now after days of bright sunshine and beautiful autumn foliage. We are clearly into the west coast rainy season.

It’s been a good time for literary festivals in our area over the last month or so and I’ve been pleased to both attend and present at some of them.

First up, was CapFest at Capilano University where they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their school. As part of the festival day, I was invited to kick off their storytelling series and speak to the public about what stories mean to me and to share some of the books I have written. It was lovely to see so many aspiring writers in the crowd!

Next, I attended the Vancouver Writers Festival and had the opportunity to listen to some talented children’s authors including: Christopher Paul Curtis, Susan Nielsen and Rachelle Delaney. It’s always inspiring to hear authors talk about their books and where their stories come from, and this was no exception. It was an excellent session!

And yesterday, I had the great pleasure of participating in Authorfest UBC, presenting to Education students as part of their Language and Literacy studies. This is one of my favourite audiences – all student teachers and keen to use books by local authors in their practicum classrooms. It’s always an enthusiastic group and a real privilege to be invited to speak to them.

Rainy days and books: Is there any better combination? I don’t think so. Happy fall reading!

Fall Books

My friends have been busy! It is fall book season and I’ve been attending launches of talented local writers to hear about their new books. It’s exciting to have my desk piled high with copies of their original and compelling stories.

What am I reading? Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey is a story for kids about how the idea of Frankenstein came to young Mary Shelley in a dream. The story is wonderfully accessible for younger readers and is full of amazing art by Julia Sarda.

Lost Boy by Shelley Hrdlitschka is a sequel to her earlier work, Sister Wife. Both are stories of a polygamous community similar to that in Bountiful, BC. Each features a teen protaganist and how their experience is shaped by their time in the repressive community. Sister Wife describes young girls who must marry men with many wives, and Lost Boy features teen boys who are banished from the community. Powerful stuff!

Other local fall books I’ve been enjoying or looking forward to reading include: Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis (a story that takes place during the time when American draft dodgers found sanctuary in Canada), Miles to Go by Beryl Young (a Saskatchewan story set in the 1940s) and No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (about a young boy who lives in a camper van with his mother).

What a creative, prolific bunch out here on the west coast!

Congratulations to them all!


Culinary Adventures for Kids

For the last year or so, I’ve been hard at work on a combination story and cookbook for young readers. It’s been oodles of fun, spending much time in the kitchen, both on my own and with the eager kids in my family, testing out all sorts of yummy recipes. The work has almost wrapped up and the book is about to go to print, with an anticipated release date of April 2019.

The book is titled Cooking with Bear: A Story and Recipes from the Forest and is a sequel to my earlier story, Bear’s Winter Party, both published by Groundwood Books.

In this new book, Bear gives cooking lessons to Fox, who is tired of eating the same old thing. The two of them visit their forest friends for ideas and to collect local ingredients, then return to Bear’s den to cook up a feast. Along with the story, the book also contains 15 forest-themed recipes for kids who are keen on adventures in the kitchen. (Watercress soup, anyone?)

If you scroll down the blog to a previous entry, you can see the front cover of the book that I posted earlier. The art I’m showing here is the illustration for the back cover, with two very happy friends, kitchen tools in hand.

Lisa Cinar has once again created wonderful art for the book. She and I are very excited about its release. We hope you’re going to love it!

September Start

In my corner of the world, on the lovely west coast, today is the first day of school.

It is a bright sunny day, which bodes well for the students and teacher who are headed back into the classroom.

Wishing you all the best of luck as you start this new school year!

And many good books to read!

Sneak Peak


I’m very happy to post this preview of the cover of my upcoming book — a combination picture book and cookbook for kids, to be published by Groundwood in Spring 2019. There will be more postings about the book over the next few months. But for now, I hope you enjoy the charming cover created by the wonderfully talented Lisa Cinar.

As the School Year Winds Down

West Coast WildThe sun is shining brightly and students everywhere are on field trips, camping adventures, picnics and many other fun end-of-year activities.

It’s been wonderful to be in schools this year and see the excitement and enthusiasm of students as they learn new things, and to admire the hard work of the dedicated teachers who guide them.

This year, I had the pleasure of participating in family reading at the school of my youngest family member. Parents and grandparents are invited into the classroom once a week to read and share books with their children. It’s encouraging to see both literacy and family love in action, and participating in the reading has been a highlight of my year.

On that note, I’m wishing all the students and teachers a well-deserved and happy summer holiday!

And I’m looking forward to spending some time on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I plan to wander the shoreline and poke into some tide pools and see what amazing nature I can find.

These lovely sandpipers on the surf line were painted by Karen Reczuch in our book West Coast Wild. With any luck, I’ll be seeing a flock of these little birds again soon.

Happy summer, all!

A Spring Launch

I recently attended a launch of new spring books published by Groundwood. It was a great evening at Kidsbooks hearing about a variety of fun and interesting titles, and catching up with my writer friends.

The books included The Snuggly by my friend, Glen Huser, and is the charming story of a little boy who thinks a snuggly is a great place to carry all manner of things — until it’s not!

Children’s poet and my friend, Robert Heidbreder, introduced his book Rooster Summer, a nostalgic and poetic look back at his childhood growing up on a mid-western farm in Illinois.

And finally, I met Nancy Vo, the author and illustrator of her first book for kids, The Outlaw, a story of a mysterious stranger who rides into town.

Much great spring reading from talented people!

West Coast Spring

After a very long fall and winter of rain, we west coasters are happy to see the sunshine! Along with the sunny days comes warmer temperatures and, best of all, trees in full blossom. My magnolia tree is blooming brightly and the ornamental cherry trees are decorating the streets of our fair city.

In the spirit of new beginnings, I’m happy to report I have two spring manuscripts in the works. One of them is on its way to becoming a book titled Cooking with Bear to be released by Groundwood next spring. And the other is a west coast nature manuscript, recently submitted to my publisher for consideration. (My fingers are tightly crossed.)

If spring has not sprung for you yet, I trust it will happen soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the blossoms via this post. Cheers!