Winter Break

Today, in my part of the world, is the last day of school until the New Year. I’d like to wish all the students and teachers a very happy holiday!

It’s been a tough year and not quite getting easier yet, but there is good news ahead with a vaccine being delivered across the country.

Please stay healthy and safe and enjoy your break in whatever ways you can. Warm wishes for 2021! It’s a good time to be cozy at home, spending your days reading some wonderful books. (May Santa fill your stocking with them!)

Happy Winter Break!

Winter Scene

As the days become shorter and the dark arrives early, I’m often thinking about what an unusual fall we are having. Like so many of us, I wish we could gather with family and friends but, alas, this is not the time to do so. Instead, I am posting this charming winter scene of a happy gathering of children, to give us a little bit of brightness in a challenging time.

This lovely picture is from a Unicef card painted by the Canadian artist, Terry Ananny. I hope you enjoy it!  In the meantime, stay healthy and well.

Ucluelet Aquarium

Now that I’m back from the west coast of Vancouver Island, I keep thinking about all the wonderful marine life (such as these beautiful sea urchins) that exists there. Karen and I were fortunate to see so many ocean creatures, both on the beach and in the Ucluelet Aquarium, which is a marvellous place to visit.

The aquarium was the first “collect and release” facility in the country, where marine animals are collected from the local waters and carefully housed and cared for in the aquarium for a few months, so that the public can see and learn about them. When the aquarium closes for the season, the creatures are returned to the ocean to live their life as before.

If you have never visited the aquarium, I highly recommend it! Another wonderful thing about our day there was finding our book West Coast Wild amongst many lovely nature books in their gift shop. If you check the photo posted here, you will see the book right in the middle of the display.

Also, for your viewing pleasure, here is a photo of a curious hermit crab.

West Coast Wild Research

I have just returned from the spectacular west coast of Vancouver Island, where Karen Reczuch and I were doing photo research for our upcoming book on tidepool creatures of this wild coastline. We had an amazing time and were lucky to find all kinds of hermit crabs, anemones, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea stars and more. Karen took some 600 photos!

I finished the text a few months ago and now Karen will begin her drawings, based on what we observed, both on the beach and in the wonderful Ucluelet Aquarium. (If you have never been there, we highly recommend a visit to this special place.)

In the photos shown here, Karen is in pink, photographing mussels and barnacles, and I am in blue, traversing the sandy beach and rocky shoreline in search of sand dollars, sea stars, crabs and interesting snail shells to show her.

The book won’t be published until Spring 2022, but it’s a lot of fun to watch it come together.

Back to School Wishes

As children and teachers head back to class, I’d like to wish them a happy, healthy start to the new school year. There are many challenges to be faced as students and educators navigate the protocols for the Covid virus, and I will be thinking about everyone and sending my warmest thoughts.

Some students, too, will remain at home doing their schoolwork online. I also wish them and their parents a happy and productive start to the year.

For educators, I have written a Teacher’s Guide to accompany my most recent book, West Coast Wild Babies. The activities listed can be used either in the classroom or in a home learning environment. Many of them can be enjoyed outside.

You can find the guide by clicking on Teacher’s Guide or by visiting Classroom Activities  on this website. There, you can also see educator’s guides for many of my other books, too.

This will be a very different year for all of us, but I know we have the strength and courage to make it through. I will miss visiting classrooms, and look forward to the day when we can see each other again.

Take care, stay well, and all the best for the new school year.

The Wild West Coast

As summer draws to a close, I think about what a challenging time the last few months have been and am hoping that you are finding ways to stay happy and well.

Schools in my area will open soon and I send my best wishes to teachers, students and parents as they navigate the new approaches to learning.

As for me, I am grateful to have had a short holiday on the west coast of Vancouver Island, a place that continues to provide me with so much writing inspiration. Once again, I was able to walk the beaches, breathe in the sea air and view the spectacular scenery of that wild coastline. Here are some of the photos I took while there. Hope you enjoy them!

West Coast Summer

Summer is here and I’m looking forward to spending time exploring the wild beaches of Vancouver Island’s far west coast (where this beautiful image is situated).

These lovely birds are black oystercatchers and they are one of the species included in West Coast Wild Babies, my most recent book. The gorgeous illustrations are painted by my talented co-creator, Karen Reczuch.

If you have a chance to visit the seashore this summer, I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful way to experience nature and unwind.

I send my warmest wishes to all the students and teachers who are now on summer break. It hasn’t been an easy time for any of you this year, and I am proud of you all!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

West Coast Learning Activities

Hello teachers and parent educators!

I hope you are staying healthy and well in these challenging times. I know that many of you are working hard to keep the children in your homes and virtual classrooms learning and happily engaged in educational pursuits. If you are looking for ideas on west coast nature activities, you might want to try some of the ones featured here.

Feel free to ask me any questions about my west coast books or send me your students’ questions. You, or they, can write to me via my contact page.

And if you’re looking for educational ideas to accompany any of my other books, please see my classroom activities page. These suggestions can easily be adapted for home or virtual learning.

I’m happy to help! Take care, stay safe and have fun. Happy learning!

New Book!

I’m delighted to announce the release of my newest book West Coast Wild Babies.

Thank you so much to Groundwood Books for publishing it and to Karen Reczuch, illustrator extraordinaire and wonderful collaborative partner. We are all thrilled with the book and have our fingers crossed that you will love it, too!

The world is a difficult and uncertain place right now and I sincerely hope that any of you who read this post are staying well and healthy. And I also hope that this book might give the children in your life a bit of comfort and enjoyment in these challenging times.

West Coast Wild Babies is available at many bookstores and can be ordered through your local store, with an online bookseller, or directly through the publisher at  Groundwood Books. If you are a Vancouverite, you might consider using the excellent curbside pick-up service that Kidsbooks has established.

And if you’d like to read an interview about the book, check it out at 49th Shelf — the wonderful website featuring an amazing collection of fine Canadian books.

My best to all of you!