News

West Coast Summer

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to visit the west coast of Vancouver Island (an annual holiday trek) and spent a lot of time walking the beautiful beaches, peering into tidepools and watching the ebb and flow of the ocean.

It was both an inspiring and restful trip — a wonderful place for a writer to unwind.

I’m back home with a notebook full of ideas, hoping to turn some of them into books one of these days (perhaps when the sunny weather disappears and the west coast rain returns).

The photos show the little cove at Mackenzie Beach where we stayed and a rocky shoreline full of tidepools.

I discovered many fascinating creatures in the tidepools: hermit crabs, giant green anemones, orange and purple sea stars, blue mussels, barnacles of every size and more. These lovely marine animals may soon find their way into upcoming book. It was fun to do the research!

Friends, Food and Summer Fun!

Summer is in full swing! I hope you are enjoying it wherever you are.

I want to thank all the dedicated teachers and librarians who have worked so hard with the children in their care over the past year. You are inspiring!

And to all the students who are in the midst of summer holidays: I hope you are having a fun, happy, relaxing time with your family and friends. You deserve it!

The art on this page is from Cooking with Bear, my most recent book. I chose it for this post because it shows two friends having fun together, cooking and eating delicious seasonal food. I love the happy smile on Bear’s face. Thank you to Lisa Cinar for this very sweet image.

In the spirit of summer fun, Bear and I suggest you take some time over the holidays to cook and eat with friends. It is a wonderful way to spend time together!

Happy summer!

Book Launch!

Here’s the amazing Lisa Cinar and I signing books at our launch at Kidsbooks for Cooking with Bear.

Kidsbooks is a marvellous store and the best place in the world to have a book party! And Lisa Cinar knows how to bring the fun!

It was a wonderful night, with friends and family, hazelnut-chocolate chip cookies (made by Bear and I) and festive bubbly! A lovely time, indeed!

Huge thanks to everyone who came to help us celebrate. It made us happy!

Hello Bear!

I’m delighted to announce the arrival of my newest book Cooking with Bear, a combination story and cookbook for the youngest readers (and cooks!).

The book is set in the spring forest where all the plants and flowers are beginning to bloom. Bear is excited to see his friends after a long winter in his den, and thrilled to be able to show Fox how to gather fresh seasonal foods and cook with them.

The young foxes in your life might enjoy trying out the 15 forest-themed delicious recipes that Bear shares in his cookbook, “Best of Bear.” Mostly local, mostly seasonal and mostly vegetarian. Lots to enjoy!

And a sweet story of friendship to accompany the recipes. Thank you to Groundwood Books for publishing this new work and to Lisa Cinar for wonderful art.

Book Launch

I’m pleased to announce the launch for my new book Cooking with Bear. Please join illustrator, Lisa Cinar, and I in celebrating our latest collaboration. Fun, food and friends! An evening to enjoy. See you there!

A Story of Spring

Many of us are in the midst of a very cold winter, donning mitts and wielding snow shovels, and looking ahead to warmer days.

We on the west coast, however, have kindly been spared the Arctic temperatures of other places.  We’re grateful to see the sunshine and blue sky today, although the air is not yet close to spring temperatures. (Update: Actually, it snowed a lot the day after I posted this!)

Why the talk of spring? There’s a new book on the horizon and it’s a spring story. Cooking with Bear will be released on April 1 and the illustrator, Lisa Cinar, and I are feeling like expectant parents, happily anticipating our newborn’s arrival.

This illustration is from the opening page of the book. It shows Bear looking outside of his den window and seeing the sunshine and green all around. He’s delighted that spring is finally here. (It’s been a long cold winter in his forest.) He can hardly wait to gather some fresh plants of spring and get cooking with his friend, Fox.

Lisa and I will be delighted when spring arrives, too, especially when we get to hold our brand new book in our hands.

Happy News!

I was very happy to hear the news that my upcoming book Cooking with Bear has received a starred review from Kirkus! I think every author dreams of such high praise from this important review magazine. Here’s what the reviewer said:

“Spring is here at last in this companion to Bear’s Winter Party  (2016), and Bear begins cooking for himself and his forest friends.

First, Bear makes watercress soup. Then his friend Fox arrives to share the soup. “Can you teach me to cook like this?” Fox asks. So Bear shows Fox where he gathers his ingredients in the forest, and along the way, they visit friends. Squirrel has gathered nuts, so Bear shows Fox how to make nut burgers. Chickadee dried berries last summer, so granola with dried cranberries is next on the menu. Beaver’s dreams of apples lead to a recipe for maple-apple crisp, and Deer and Hare’s browsing to a spring greens salad with honey vinaigrette.

The recipes provided for each dish have been taste-tested and are straightforward and clearly written. Young chefs are encouraged to cook with adults and ask them for help with anything sharp or hot. The volume subtly encourages eating seasonally and locally, using farmers markets, and planting gardens. Cinar’s colorful, large-format illustrations have a Raschka-esque flair to them, with loose, inky outlines and splashy watercolor fill; the animals’ faces are, appealingly, done in an especially childlike manner.”

“A fun, accessible first cookbook for the little foxes in our lives.” Starred review! Kirkus.

Available on April 1st! Published by Groundwood Books.

Happy New Year!

Here’s hoping you’re enjoying the holidays and looking forward to the start of a brand new year!

As is often the case, I plan to spend some time in 2019 on the beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island (see photo). It is the location of my most recent manuscript, now being illustrated by Karen Reczuch. The book is a sequel to our earlier collaboration, West Coast Wild. I can hardly wait to see her lovely art!

Wishing you the best in 2019, with happiness and health, and many good books to read!

Twas the Night…

I’ve had a lot of fun reading and re-reading a cache of seasonal books for kids and enjoying their delight at both the stories and the upcoming festivities. One of the most entertaining books for our youngest family member was Barbara Reid’s The Night Before Christmas with charming little mice as the characters. Jolly Old St. Nick also appears as a mouse.

This classic poem is illustrated with Barbara’s wonderful Plasticine art, the form she is so well-known for. I hope you enjoy her illustration of the stockings “hung with care.”

And I wish you the best of the season: Happy times with family and friends and many good books to read!

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.