My writing career has three distinct parts, DREAMER, DABBLER and DETERMINED AUTHOR. Just like the tortoise in Aesop’s fable, it wasn’t until I almost reached the finish line, that I realized how much I wanted to write.
Until Niagara Falls
Brenda is afraid of heights, being in the dark, and dog poop. Then she meets daring, rule-breaking Maureen and realizes their friendship is a bit like walking a tightrope — exciting but dangerous. Maureen encourages Brenda to use fire escapes, sleep outside in a tent, and walk through strange backyards.
Their friendship strains when Maureen makes fun of Harvey, Brenda’s special needs neighbour. It strains even further when Maureen borrows Gran’s bracelet and lies about returning it. Suddenly, Brenda realizes she has to be as brave as The Great Blondin, the man who walked across the falls, to get it back.
Until he discovered a park pavilion, Moose never knew life beneath a roof. His friends Beaver, Bear and Squirrel, however, all seemed to be roof experts.
Moose decides to put his antlers to good use. With his friends’ help, he soon has a permanent roof over his head. But it becomes more trouble than worth. Moose can’t lie down to sleep, can’t balance when he walks and can’t reach the tender weeds at the bottom of the pond. His friends can only offer advice from the life they know, which is no help at all to tired, cranky Moose.When a sudden storm blows his roof away, his aches and pains disappear. Moose gets a good night sleep and eats a wonderful weedy breakfast. He realizes the sky over his head is roof enough for him.
When the Cherry Blossoms Fell
This is the story of nine-year-old Michiko Minagawa. She wants to be proud of her Japanese heritage but can’t. Canada is at war. The Government has taken unprecedented actions against her community and treating all Japanese-Canadians as enemy aliens.
The night before her birthday celebration, the police arrest her father. Within days he must leave for labor camp in the mountains.
Michiko’s mother, with the help of a stranger, moves her family to a farmhouse in the country. Michiko, her Grandfather, Aunt Sadie, and baby brother Hiro all endure hunger, hardship, racial taunts and the worst Canadian winter in forty years.
Throughout it all, Michiko is uncertain of her origin. Should she be proud or hide it?
Cherry Blossom Winter
Ten-year-old Michiko wants to be proud of her Japanese heritage but can’t be. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her family’s possessions are confiscated and they are forced into deprivation in a small, insular community.
The men are sent to work on the railway, so the women and children are left to make the trip on their own.
After a former Asahi baseball star becomes her new teacher, life gets better. Baseball fever hits town, and when Michiko challenges the adults to a game with her class, the whole town turns out.
Then the government announces that they must move once again. But they can’t think of relocating with a new baby coming, even with the offer of free passage to Japan. Michiko pretends to be her mother and writes to get a job for her father on a farm in Ontario. When he is accepted, they again pack their belongings and head to a new life in Ontario.
Cherry Blossom Baseball
Michiko Minigawa’s life is like a bad game of baseball. The Government of Canada swung the bat making her family leave home base in Vancouver to live in an abandoned silver mining town in the Kootenay Mountains.
When the Government announced all Japanese must now move west of the Rockies, her father and mother take jobs on a flower farm in Ontario. Here, on second base, Michiko must once again adjust to a new life. finds it difficult to make friends being the only Japanese student at school. Until Eddie Adams, seeing her amazing baseball skills encourages her to try out for the all boys local team. When the truth comes out, there are consequences to face. She has to make a decision. Play ball amid all the harassment, or pitch like she’s never pitched before.
Ten year old Etienne Chouart yearns for a life of adventure. While delivering chickens to the Jesuit Mission in Sillery, he meets an orphan destined to apprentice at Fort Sainte Marie, the furthest settlement north in New France. Making the most impulsive decision of his life, Etienne takes the boy back to his home.
At the crack of dawn Etienne, not the orphan, paddles out into the St. Lawrence with the famous voyageur, Médard des Groseilliers right into the heart of the land of the Huron.
At Sainte Marie, Etienne meets a Huron youth named both Tsiko and Thomas. From him, Etienne learns true wilderness life and how to respect nature.
From Father Francesco Bressani, Father Antoine Daniel, and Father Jean de Brébeuf, he learns the life of piety, although other priests engage in shocking practices of conversion.
After escaping the Iroquois, witnessing the destruction of the village of Teanaustaye and death of Father Daniel, those at the mission waited for a second attack. Etienne decides he must take his fate into his own hands before the shadow of the cross falls across him as well. He breaks his vows of dedication and leaves the mission with his Huron friend, Tsiko. But first, the boys must get past the raiding Iroquois.
At the trading post, Etienne and Tsiko part ways. Unsure of what waits for him at home, Etienne returns to Quebec.
WARBIRD, a historical fiction for readers 8-12 years of age, is about life at Sainte- Marie. It is also about the relationship between Etienne and a Christian Huron youth named Thomas. From him, Etienne learns true wilderness life and how to respect nature. From the Jesuits, Etienne learns to lead a life of piety. When the Iroquois attack a nearby village and kill Father Daniel, Etienne learns about war.
Today, one is able to stand in the midst of Sainte-Marie’s replicated buildings and get a true sense of the age.
Fourteen year old Jonny Joe wasn’t like any of the others at Redemption Residential Christian School. An orphaned white boy in a school full of Indians, he spoke English and a only a little of their native jargon. He knew nothing of their legends and beliefs. Life on Keeper Island was nothing but school, work, and hunger.
After a truck load of firewood lands on top of him, Jonny wakes in the infirmary to find an old man beside his bed. Jonny has seen this man with the long flowing hair before watching from the woods but the other boys claim he’s a ghost. He tells Jonny a strange story and gives him an arrow head. Jonny hopes the man is a long-lost relation, until he also realizes no one else can see him.
The unwanted companionship and too-friendly advances of Father Gregory over the summer holidays disturb Jonny, as does his strange dream of a wolf. He joins Ernie, the only other boy at school for the summer, in an escape to a mountain cave. When Jonny and Ernie leave the cave the next morning, the world they knew no longer exists.
Kalaku, no longer a ghost, takes Jonny and Ernie to the winter village of the native people across the bay They witness the raising of a totem pole in honour of a new chief; a pole Kalaku has carved and they take part in a potlatch ceremony. Jonny follows the old man to his house in the forest to apprentice. There he becomes skilled in the art of carving and discovers his animal spirit.
When a steamship enters the cove, the party of sightseers includes a photographer, government surveyor and an old miner looking to homestead. With them come a priest, two nuns, and a disease that annihilates most of the people in the village.
Jonny and Ernie return to the cave in the mountain to wait for and warn Kalaku of the deadly disease. But after a night of thunderstorms, they find themselves back in the present.
To their surprise Redemption Residential has been hit by lightening and burned to the ground. Both boys are now free to follow their own path of life.
To honour the people of the ancient village, Jonny carves a totem pole for their lost burial grounds. His talented reputation draws a girl to his side. A girl who holds the key to his true parentage.
15 year old Richard Fuller wants a bike. He sets out with his young neighbour Tommy to enquire about picking fruit to earn a wage. Mr. Vogel offers him delivery work at the Queenston dock. Seeing a steamer for the first time, decides he wants to see the world.
Mr. Black, the baker that lives up the street, also hires Richard to help with deliveries. Military man, like Richard’s deceased father, he entertains him with army stories and teaches him Morse code. Mr. Black invites Richard to attend the opening ceremonies of the 1939 military camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The monotony of Richard’s existence ends the day the Canadian Army demonstrates its efficiency and strength. Infatuated with army life, he takes part in training camp under an assumed name. When war looms on the horizon, Richard makes the most impulsive decision in his life. He enlists.
Richard travels to England with the newly formed 1st Canadian Division, witnesses the Battle of Britain, the death of a German pilot, an unwarranted animal massacre and gets caught in the London Blitzkrieg. When his true age is discovered, Richard faces court-martial.
Returning home, Richard learns Mr. Black is dead, his bakery in disrepair, and Mr. Vogel’s farm up for sale. No longer a boy, he uses his deferred pay and a loan from a bank to buy his farm.
Bookstores I Love
A Different Drummer
Located in a renovated turn of the century brick home, A Different Drummer Books has a magical top floor. That’s where they keep the children and young adults books.
Ian Elliott cares about books, authors and reading. Ask him for a book and he will have it in your hand no matter what.
Renowned for author readings, the store is a perfect venue for book launches. Cherry Blossom Winter and Kid Soldier both made their debut here.
It also has a magical garden.
513 Locust St., Burlington, ON, Canada L7S 1V3
Woozles Children’s Bookstore is Canada’s oldest. Besides having the widest collection of reading material for children of all ages, the walls of this bookstore expand into local schools and community events. Woozles sends out three newsletters a year, hosts Book Fairs, Book Clubs and the Battle of the Books!
My first visit was on a rainy day during the Hackmatack Awards and I was welcomed with open arms by Lisa Doucet.
134-A Mill Street, Halifax, NS, Canada B3J 2I6
Mainstreet Trading Company
Located in the beautiful village of St. Boswells, in the Scottish Borders, The Mainstreet Trading Company has received many awards for its collection of books, events and delicious café foods.
2010 – Names Children’s Bookseller of the Year
2011- Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year
2012 – Independent Bookshop of the Year
2018- Britain’s Best Small Shop
Vivian has been with the shop since it opened.