monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Jun
16

Double Trouble!!

DSC_9734.jpgIMG_3131.jpgThis seems to be my week for hanging out with twins! In today's pics, you'll meet two pairs of

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Jun
15

Report from Hebrew Academy

Yesterday, I did the last of three creative writing workshops at Hebrew Academy here in Montreal.

I've been working with a group of six lively and bright 11-year-old girls. Because I wanted

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  2107 Hits
Jun
12

Saturday Afternoon On-line Chat

I spent a fun afternoon with some bright young readers from across Canada -- all without leaving my comfy chair here in Montreal.

That's all thanks to Teenrc

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  2031 Hits
Jun
11

Meet Scaredy Squirrel's Creator

This week, I got to interview Quebec picture book author and illustrator Mélanie Watt. (I'm doing a profile of her for the Continue reading

  2775 Hits
Jun
09

In Memoriam: Mary Qinuajuak

Today, I want to tell you about a very special person named Mary Qinuajuak. Photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and I met Mary in December 2009, when we traveled to Akulivik, an Inuit community in Nunavik

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  2153 Hits
Jun
07

YES Artists' Conference & Workshop 2 at Hebrew Academy

I spent the morning at the 10th Annual YES Artists' Conference, where I participated on a panel called "Creation and Inspiration: How They Made It!" Our moderator was Andy Nulman, president

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  1808 Hits
Jun
04

Hippity Hoppity Happy Writer

I was just in my car thinking how I'm feeling like a hippity hoppity happy writer. I think those words only when I'm feeling most happy. And the reason I'm HHH (see, I won't make you

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  1785 Hits
Jun
01

Cooking Up a Story

Yesterday, I did the first of three writing workshops at Hebrew Academy here in Montreal. I'm working with six Grade Five students -- all girls, and all eager to write! In my one-hour session,

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  2043 Hits
May
31

Feeling Dutch

I'm feeling Dutch these days. Could be because I keep making Dutch friends! It's also because I spent yesterday at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Netherlandic

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  2049 Hits
May
30

Two Conferences in One Weekend!

I'm just home from participating in a conference run by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Netherlandic Studies, and though I'd like to tell you about it, I'm going to do a

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  1916 Hits
May
27

Audio Interview

Today, I'm scheduled to do an audio interview for a website called TeachingBooks. They're located in Madison, Wisconsin, and through their website

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  2078 Hits
May
25

The Shadow Self

You may or may not know I review self-help books for the Montreal Gazette. A side-effect is that I can get a little unbearable when someone has a problem -- I'm always recommending books

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  1776 Hits
May
20

Snail Mail

These days, most readers contact authors over the Internet... but yesterday, I actually received two old-fashioned snail mail letters. Both are from students at Hadley Junior School in Glen Ellyn,

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  1996 Hits
May
19

Moving to a New Rhythm

The new rhythm I'm moving to is a SLOWER one. That's because my marking is nearly all done (just two late assignments left)... and I'm back at my desk most of the day. It's nice not

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  2065 Hits
May
18

Upcoming Children's Writing Conference

The bad news is that picture book author and illustrator Mélanie Watt is out of town and my interview with her has been postponed till June. The good news is I have a wide-open day, with lots

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  1716 Hits
May
17

I Used to Think Taking Pictures Was Easy...

I used to think that compared to writing, taking pictures was easy! Until, that is, I started hanging out with photographers.

Monique Dykstra is one of those photographers. We have worked together

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  1774 Hits
May
13

Louis Sachar Coming to Montreal This Summer

I was excited to learn that children's author Louis Sachar will be coming to read in Montreal this summer. You may know Sachar's YA book, Holes, which is one of my all-time favourites

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  1701 Hits
May
10

Proud Teacher Clucks

I think perhaps most of all, we teachers need to teach our students to be independent. That's why when students come to see me for help with their writing, I make a point of NOT doing all the work

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  1997 Hits
May
06

Got Talent? Then Use It!

IMG_1414.jpgIn today's pic, you'll meet my "Writing for Children" class. Our semester ends

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  1733 Hits
May
02

Inside and Outside

IMG_212121.jpgToday's pic is the OUTSIDE of our house. I wanted to show off our spring garden -- still

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  614 Hits
Apr
28

All Oprah All the Time

Why, you may be wondering, is my mind on Oprah Winfrey, host of the world's most popular talk show? It's because I'm reviewing Kitty Kelley's recently released unauthorized bio of Oprah

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  2087 Hits
Apr
25

Days 3 & 4: Blue Met

It's Sunday morning, and my desk need some serious tidying. That's because it's covered with notes I took during the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, which comes to an end today. Yesterday

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  1829 Hits
Apr
23

Day 3: Blue Metropolis

I'm home, taking a little breather between Blue Met events. I did another student writing workshop this morning and this afternoon at five, I'm on a CBC panel called "The Human Face of

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Apr
22

Day 2: Blue Met

I really shouldn't be writing this blog entry! That's because in exactly 20 minutes from now, 20 dinner guests are due to arrive here! They're all friends involved in the Quebec Roots project

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Apr
21

Day One: Blue Met

IMG_12121212121.jpgIt's Day One of the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival here in Montreal  --

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  2119 Hits
Apr
19

New Friends at Macdonald High School

IMG_1010101.jpgHello hello, dear blog readers! I'm just in from a long, but happy day. I started at Marianopolis

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  2058 Hits
Apr
17

I Love Sheree Fitch

Today, I did something I haven't done for ages -- I took a class instead of giving one! I did a one-day workshop with Nova Scotia children's writer Sheree Fitch. Sheree called

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  2231 Hits
Apr
16

"The More You Can Learn the Better"

IMG_9999.jpgThat's what a student named Shaugn told me this morning. I was back at Vanier College, again because I was participating in the Kleinmann Family Foundation 17th Annual Cegep Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide.

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  1792 Hits
Apr
14

The Gift of Listening

Okay, so I'll admit it: I am not always the best listener (maybe because I do so much talking!!). But it's a skill I am working on.

Today, I was at Vanier College as part of the school

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  2296 Hits
Apr
08

Writing Lessons from a Photo Editor

IMG_77777.jpgI  know what you're thinking -- what could a photo editor have to teach us about writing?

Well, you'd better keep reading, because today, Marcos Townsend, photo editor at The

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  1860 Hits
Apr
07

YA Writer Lori Weber Pays a Return Visit to Marianopolis

My friend, local YA writer Lori Weber, came to work with my Writing for Children class this morning at Marianopolis College. Lori is the author of five novels for young adults, the most recent of which

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  2132 Hits
Apr
06

Time to Breathe!!

During the most hectic days of the semester, I sometimes feel like I don't have time to breathe. But this week isn't like that. Ahhhh... it feels good. I used the long weekend to do this &#

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  1846 Hits
Mar
31

Helping Students Gear Up for Trip to Nunavik

IMG_666666.jpgI spent part of this afternoon at Royal West Academy in Montreal West. It was a special visit

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  2124 Hits
Mar
30

Another Visit to Beaconsfield High

IMG_55555.jpgHello hello dear blog readers,

I've posted a pic from this morning's whirlwind visit to Beaconsfield

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  2190 Hits
Mar
29

Passing On My Opa's Advice

This morning, in my Writing for Children class, I passed on some advice I got long ago from my opa (the Dutch word for grandfather). I had just handed back some terrific assignments (I'd asked

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  1930 Hits
Mar
24

Handsome Editor Visits My Journalism Class

Now why, you may be wondering, would a happily married woman like myself notice that an editor who was visiting her Journalism class is handsome? Don't worry -- he's my husband!

My husband

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  1876 Hits
Mar
23

Hello Nebraska!

IMG_4444.jpgAdmittedly, today's photo is not very good. I took it at my friend Viva's house yesterday

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  2133 Hits
Mar
19

"All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy"

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" -- that's an old expression used in James Joyce's gorgeous short story "Araby." The line popped into my head when I

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  2375 Hits
Mar
17

Correcting Frenzy!

If you're wondering where I've been, the answer is on the living room couch, CORRECTING ESSAYS. My fingers are getting sore from all the writing -- that's a bad sign for my students since

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  520 Hits
Mar
11

Just So You Know...

Just So You Know it isn't only singing in the morning that makes me happy (though today is the perfect day for that old song, "Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!" --

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  1812 Hits
Mar
10

I Have an Awful Voice

I have an awful voice, but I love to sing! When my daughter still lived at home, she'd beg me to stop... and my husband does the same.

This morning, the students in my Writing for Children

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  1840 Hits
Mar
08

Uh Oh, Beautiful Weather in Indiana!

IMG_333.jpgNow you may be wondering why beautiful weather in Indiana would cause me to go, "Uh oh!"

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  3961 Hits
Mar
07

March Break Coming to an End... and a Lovely Book

Hello out there, So if you're like me, your March break is nearly over. I have to be back in my classroom tomorrow morning at 8:15. All I can say is YIKES. Not because I don't want to see my

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  1554 Hits
Mar
02

Special Day with Another Gang of Talented Young Authors

Hello, hello, it's me again (well, who else would it be? It's my blog after all!),

So I'm just back from the final day of this year's Young Authors' Conference in Montreal

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  1894 Hits
Mar
01

Report from the Young Authors' Conference

IMG_22222.jpgI'm just home from a happy day at the Young Authors' Conference here in Montreal. It'

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  2177 Hits
Feb
28

Super-Conference!

IMG_1111111111.jpgSo I'm just back from Toronto, where I attended the Ontario Library Association's

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  2275 Hits
Feb
24

Writers Share their Writing Secrets

Even when I was growing up and getting published was just a dream, I always loved reading what writers had to say about writing. I remember hoping that if I paid careful enough attention, I'd figure

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  2274 Hits
Feb
22

Can You Spell

IMG_111111.jpg"Theriatrics" was the word that won Christopher Scarvelis the Canwest Canspell Regional Spelling Bee here in Montreal yesterday.

Scarvelis, 13, goes to Loyola High School -- and let

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  1941 Hits
Feb
18

A Story That Made My Arms Get Cold

The way I know if a story feels amazing to me is that my arms get cold  when I hear it (or tell  it). Just ask my students -- they've been there in class when this has happened to me.

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  1638 Hits
Feb
15

Trouble -- in a Story -- is a Fine Thing

If you've read my books or been in one of my classes, you'll know by now that I have an unnatural interest in trouble. Not in my own life, of course, but in my stories! (And for those of us

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  1779 Hits
Feb
13

Thinking About Reviews

You write a book and if you're lucky enough, like me, to find a publisher, you send it off into the world... and then, people read it and respond.

I know of one author -- short-listed for

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  1913 Hits
Feb
12

Meet Neale McDevitt

Yesterday, Montreal journalist and short story writer Neale McDevitt came to do a talk at Marianopolis College and also

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  2170 Hits
Feb
08

Work and Play... and an Upcoming Conference

This morning, in my "Writing for Children" class at Marianopolis College, I was trying to explain a tricky concept. The students are beginning work on the texts for their own picture books

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  1579 Hits
Feb
05

A Visit with our Friends at Tukisiniarvik School

Photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and I spent this morning with our friends at Tukisiniarvik School in Akulivik, Nunavik. Now how did we manage to

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Feb
03

Courage

I've been thinking a lot lately about courage. Maybe because the man in the room next to my mom's at the rehab centre has had an arm and a leg amputated on account of his cancer, yet he still

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Feb
02

Proud Teacher Checks In

One of the courses I'm teaching this semester at Marianopolis College is Print Journalism. This week, students had to write a letter to the editor.

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Jan
29

Laying An Egg

Since my mum got sick before Christmas, I am spending more time chatting with my dad. (Quick report: my mum is doing much better, but is still not well enough to return to her own house.) Well, this

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  2262 Hits
Jan
28

12:19 P.M. on January 28, 2010

I record the time and date, because I'm about to jump into a new project. I've spent the last little while on the floor in my office, reviewing notes. And now, I'm going to do it -- write

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  1732 Hits
Jan
26

The Air Is Thick With Stories

IMG_22.jpgLately, I've been telling students how to me, the air feels thick with stories. What I mean is there

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  1834 Hits
Jan
25

Home Invasion Gets Mentioned on CBC Sunday Edition

Yesterday morning, I came home from a run to find a message on our telephone -- it was my friend Deena, calling from the side of the road near Hamilton, Ontario, where she lives. She had been listening

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  2221 Hits
Jan
21

Names, Names, Names!

So it's almost the end of my first week back as a pumpkin (I should say teacher -- that's a reference to a previous blog entry where I said I felt a little like the pumpkin in Cinderella

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Jan
19

The Baby Starts Kindergarten

What baby? My daughter's 26, a long way past kindergarten!

No, the baby is the new manuscript. About six seconds ago, I submitted it to my wonderful editor Continue reading

  1780 Hits
Jan
18

Pumpkin Turns Into Carriage

In the fairy tale Cinderella, a pumpkin is transformed into a carriage. I feel a little like that pumpkin today... or maybe more like the carriage! This was my first day back at Marianopolis

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  1688 Hits
Jan
17

I Shouldn't Be Writing this Blog Entry!

The reason I shouldn't be writing this blog entry is because I have a ton of things to do... but I've got lots to tell you, dear blog reader, so here I am, writing a blog entry when I shouldn

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  2083 Hits
Jan
13

On Thin Ice!!

Today photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and I were out "on thin ice." Usually, that means people are getting into trouble, but not us! We went out snowshoeing this morning on Lake Mistissini

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  2314 Hits
Jan
12

Hello from the Cree Nation of Mistissini

So today's entry comes to you from the Cree Nation of Mistissini. I am writing to you from a computer at Voyageur Memorial School, where I'm working with photographer Thomas Kneubuhler on a project

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  1734 Hits
Jan
10

Heading Back to James Bay

Tomorrow morning, really early, I'm catching a plane to James Bay -- this time, I'm headed for a town called Mistissini. I'll be meeting up with photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and we'

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  1748 Hits
Jan
07

The Most Special Dress in my Closet

IMG_99.jpgMy day started with an e-mail from a reader named Elise. Elise wrote to say that her favourite part of

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  1787 Hits
Jan
06

Ordinary Things... and a good day at the computer

Today, driving home from the hospital (my mum is beginning to recover, but it looks like she may be in the hospital for a while still), I heard a wonderful interview on CBC Radio with Scottish author

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  1522 Hits
Jan
04

Ups and Downs and Finding Ways to Handle Them

Well, there've been a lot of ups and downs around here the last few days. My mum who has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks, was getting a little better last week, and then she took a real

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  1630 Hits
Dec
29

Ever Notice How Life Takes the Shape of a Story?

Maybe it's because I spend so much time writing and reading stories, but to me, it often feels that life takes the shape of a story. What I mean is that life has beginning, middle and end; there

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  2839 Hits
Dec
28

Thinking About My Mum

IMG_222.jpgI've been away from the computer for a few days -- not just on account of the holidays, but also because my mum has not been well. She came down with a mysterious virus last week and she's

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  1779 Hits
Dec
21

Stories that Just Won't Go Away

I know I need to write a story when it just won't go away. It's kind of like a pesky fly in summer... only it's a good thing, and not pesky in an annoying way.

Last week, when I got

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  3215 Hits
Dec
17

Stories Worth Hiding

IMG_555.jpgHello, hello! Today I had fun with more teenagers -- I did two writing workshops at St. Thomas High

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  1993 Hits
Dec
16

Return Visit to Lake of Two Mountains High School

IMG_1537.jpgSo I'm back from "le Grand Nord," and feeling very inspired by the stories I heard,

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  1972 Hits
Dec
10

More From Me in Akulivik

IMG_1607.jpgIt's Day Three of our visit to Akulivik. Winds today are gusting at 45 kilometers an hour. so my morning run only lasted 10 minutes -- after which I went into the house where I'm staying and

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  1844 Hits
Dec
09

"Ai" from Akulivik

IMG_1596.jpgSome Inuit say "Hi" the way we do in Montreal, but most say something that sounds more like "Ai." This morning, my new friends here at Tukisiniarvik School in Akulivik were teaching

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  2317 Hits
Dec
08

New Friends in Puvirnituq

IMG_1594.jpgGood morning today from Puvirnituq, a village of 1,600 people on the Hudson Bay side of Nunavik. It took about 90 minutes to fly here yesterday from Kuujjuaq, which is on Ungava Bay.

I spent

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  2263 Hits
Dec
03

Hello from Kuujjuaq

IMG_1578.jpgToday I am writing to you from Jaanimmarik School in Kuujjuaq. I have lots to tell you, but I cannot find some punctuation marks on this computer -- so you will have to excuse me if I don t include

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  2678 Hits
Dec
01

Hello from Kangiqsualujjuaq

IMG_1571.jpgIf Kangiqsualujjuaq is too hard for you to pronounce, you can just call it George River. I'm

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  2927 Hits
Nov
29

Heading to the Far Far North!

My long underwear and thermal socks are packed! First thing tomorrow morning, I head to Nunavik. The Kativik School Board has invited me to visit four Inuit communities: Kangiqsualujjuaq, Kuujjuaq, Povungnituk

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  1560 Hits
Nov
26

New Friends In Harrington Harbour

IMG_1568.jpgIMG_1546.jpg

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  3315 Hits
Nov
22

Time To Hit the Road

...or in my case, the sky.

Tomorrow afternoon, my photographer pal Monique Dykstra and I head for Harrington

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  2144 Hits
Nov
18

By Golly, I Won!

IMG_02.jpgI really wasn't expecting to win the Quebec Writers' Federation Prize for Children's and

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  1963 Hits
Nov
17

Meet David A. Poulsen

IMG_01.jpgIMG_00.jpgThis

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  2041 Hits
Nov
12

Special Day with Special Students

IMG_1.jpgIMG_11.jpgI think I've told you that this year again, I am working on a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation

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  1887 Hits
Nov
10

New Friends at The Priory School

I knew I was going to have a good afternoon at The Priory School yesterday when I opened my book bag, laid my books out on Mrs. Riggs's desk... and I was SWARMED by students wanting to see the

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  1558 Hits
Nov
09

Back At My Desk!

Our hiking boots are back in the closet -- and I'm back at my desk!

Oh, it was a good vacation! And oh, I am looking forward to getting back to my miracles manuscript! Except for writing

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  457 Hits
Nov
02

What's Better Than a Four-Day Hike in the Grand Canyon?

IMG_1533.jpgIMG_1635.jpgThere's only one thing better than a four day hike in the Grand Canyon: THE SHOWER AFTERWARDS!!!

The hike was amazing. We saw a California condor

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  1402 Hits
Oct
30

Helloo helloo from the South Rim!

We're at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and after our backpacks are loaded, we'll head down to the base of the canyon. We've got a laptop with us, but of course, we'll be out of

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  1639 Hits
Oct
28

Go Take a Hike!

Actually, "Go take a hike!" is a very rude thing to say!

Except in our case, that's exactly what we're about to do: go and take a big hike. My husband and I are heading back

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  1624 Hits
Oct
27

Meeting the 2009-2010 Quebec Roots Team

Since 2006, I've had the great privilege of participating in an exciting educational program called Quebec Roots, run by Montreal's Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation. The program allows writers

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  1802 Hits
Oct
23

Report on a Very Happy Launch

IMG.1555.jpgI'm always telling my students not to use the word "very," but today, well, you'

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  1952 Hits
Oct
22

Launch Day... and a great old radio interview

Today is launch day. In less than 90 minutes, I've got to be at Babar en ville, Montreal's number one kids' bookstore, to launch my two new books: The Middle of Everywhere and <

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  1505 Hits
Oct
20

Back to Kindergarten!

What, you may ask, was I doing today in a kindergarten class?

Having fun -- and working!

Lately, I've been concentrating mostly on my new manuscript. I've done some book reviews

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  1901 Hits
Oct
19

On Not Being Able to Read a Book Without a Pencil...

Can you read a book without a pencil between your fingers? Not me. When we're at the beach or on a hike, my husband always thinks it's strange that I can't read a book without a pencil.

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  1870 Hits
Oct
15

Inside and Outside

For me, writing is an inside thing. I don't mean that I write indoors (which I usually do), I mean that I write from my inside. I've heard some writers say that they write for an imaginary

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  1917 Hits
Oct
13

Coffee Date With Fellow Writers

I'm buzzing -- could be because I just had a latte with three kid-lit writers... but it's also because of the shared energy at our table.

Joyce Scharf, Continue reading

  2080 Hits
Oct
08

Stories that Stick

Today's blog entry is inspired by a comment I got from John Abbott College English teacher Lesley Checkland-Orr. Lesley wrote to say that on her drive home this week, she thought about something

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  2092 Hits
Oct
06

Happy Day at John Abbott College!

IMG_1111.jpgThe truth is -- I miss teaching. It's a great privilege to be on sabbatical  and to be writing

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  3191 Hits