Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


Once Upon a Story: Five Tips For Aspiring Story Writers

Book Cover A Squiggly Story

Writers' block is not just the bane of literate. In A Squiggly Story, a new picture book written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Mike Lowery, a young boy wants to write stories as avidly as his big sister does, but even though he knows his letters, he can't write many words yet. Can he write a story anyway?

With his sister coaching him, the boy figures out how to make it work. And what he learns and the advice he gets turns out to be applicable to writers of any age. 

Here, Andrew Larsen shares with us five tips to get a story started...and finished. 


1) Don’t be afraid to begin. Every story starts with a single word and every word starts with a single letter.

Illustration A Squiggly Story Larsen Lowery


2) Write what you know. Ideas for stories are everywhere. They’re in your imagination. They’re in your memory. They’re in your family. Sometimes they’re tickling your funny bone.

Illustration A Squiggly Story Larsen Lowery

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On Our Radar: The Summer Edition

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet and elsewhere. 



Book Cover The Dancehall Years

The Dancehall Years, by Joan Haggerty

Featured at at All Lit Up as part of their "Where in Canada" series: 

The dancehall is Bowen Island with its medley of tides that rise and fall below the building. Over the years and generations, it stages the loves and deaths, arrivals and disappearances of the characters in such a way that they might be dancing still.

In fact, the dancehall was torn down in the early sixties along with the hotel and most of the cottages. In the novel, the building still stands, rotating above the wharf.  It’s the dancers that are rotating of course—there’s always a dosey-doe or an allemande left to exact—but, to Gwen,  the whole building swings to the summer music of the day, a Benny Goodman clarinet solo or a Glen Miller swing saxophone.

Read the entire feature here.



Book Cover Out of the Orchard

Out of the Orch …

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Seeds of a Story: Part One

On Thursday, the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards will be presented in Toronto. We asked the nominees to tell us about the seeds of their stories, the places from which their inspiration grew. Here are some of their responses. Part Two appears tomorrow. (Update: you can find it here!)


Graffiti Knightby Karen Bass

Nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

"Graffiti Knight started over a cup of coffee. I had driven out to a friend’s farm for a visit, and we were discussing the progress of the novel I was currently revising. Talking about a young adult novel must have triggered the thought, because my friend mentioned that her father had been a teenager in Leipzig, Germany, during and after World War II. The conversation veered to other things. I knew that Leipzig had been in what was called the Soviet Zone, and over the following year, the idea took root that a teenager in post-WWII Leipzig could make a great YA story. When my friend’s father agreed to let me interview him, the story took off."


Brothe …

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A Conversation with Andrew Larsen, WOTS Toronto

wots Toronto logo

The Word On The Street is coming up, and we're partnering with WOTS Toronto to bring you author interviews, contests, and lots of snaps on the day!

When: Sunday, September 23, 2012—11:00 a.m.
Where: Queens Park Circle
, Toronto, ON M5R 2E8

As part of 49th Shelf's #Fest2Fest, Julie  Wilson is speaking with authors across the country (and abroad) who are appearing at literary festivals to promote their latest books. And I've been lucky enough to get in on a bit of the action!

Book Cover Bye Bye Butterflies

Andrew Larsen will appear at Word on the Street Toronto 2012 at the Children's Reading Tent at 11:50 AM - 12:10 PM

KC: When a recent newspaper article noted the absence of dads from children’s books, I immediately thought of your latest book Bye Bye Butterflies (illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli), which begins with a small boy and his father walking through their neighbourhood. Was evoking the father/son relationship a deliberate choice on your part? Are there other exceptions, any other great dads in picture books that you’d like to point to?

AL: I think I read the same …

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What I Read on my Summer Vacation: Guest Post by Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen (in a hat!)

As a stay at home dad, it’s never easy to carve out time to write. Summer presents a whole new set of challenges. This past summer I was able to do some writing in the very early morning, before the rest of the house was awake. On the whole, however, my kids’ summer vacation meant that I had to take a vacation from writing. So, instead, I read. What a treat! I so seldom get a chance to read. And with the beginning of the new school year I resolve to read even more. Meanwhile, here are some of my recently read favourites:

Chapter Books

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan:

Quirky and delightful, Cary Fagan’s Banjo of Destiny tells the story Jeremiah Birnbaum. Jeremiah is the unconventional child of wealthy parents who appears to have it all. In fact, it all counts for nothing. The greatest thing he has is his passion to learn to play the banjo. Overcoming numerous hurdles, to say nothing of his foolish parents, Jeremiah follows his heart and discovers that he is capable of creating much more than just good music.

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