Monday, June 30, 2008

Feature: Delicious Summers with Healthy Meals

Delicious Summers with Healthy Meals
by Brynn Smith-Raska
Editorial Assistant

It is an indisputable fact that every season has a distinct smell. Fall is imbued with the rich aroma of falling leaves. Winter is bitter and harsh with the its essence of snow. Spring time tantalizes the nose with flowers and freshly cut grass. All these wonderful smells of nature permeate the world around us for 8 months out of the year. Then summer rolls around and the scents that waft through the air become strangely less natural and much more – delicious!

Anyone who has suffered through a long and sweltering summer knows the oppressive heat and glaring sun are all worth it because of what the warmth brings with it – outdoor dining. May through August have long been famous for being the seasonal hosts to barbecues, picnics and baseball games; hot dogs and ice cream cones and lemonade and potato salad are the star players of these warm month past-times.

Unfortunately, despite their scrumptiousness, these famous summer meals leave something to be desired in the nutrition department. Combine the unhealthy nature of the junk food which we often indulge in during the summer months, with the long and sometimes unregimented days that kids enjoy while out of school, and you have a recipe for disaster!

A recent study from Ohio State University has found that, contrary to what one might expect, kids often gain weight in the summer. When kids are no longer in school, under the watchful eye of teachers and coaches, their eating habits get off track and their lifestyles can become sedentary. Schools have made great strides in keeping junk food out of classrooms and hallways, but when kids are left to their own devices, apples and granola are quickly replaced with popsicles and soda.

In the study, researchers measured the increase in the BMI of students during the school year as compared to the summer months, and found the number rose more staggeringly during the summer break. The best way to reverse these findings is to eat healthfully and exercise. But everyone knows talking about living well is a lot easier than implementing healthy choices into a daily routine, especially without the vigilant eye of Mom, Dad, teacher or coach.

That's why YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition is such a fantastic tool for living well – aimed at kids, it puts the power in their hands. In addition from providing information about food (where it comes from, how it grows), author and registered dietitian – and mom – Daina Kalnins offers kids-friendly recipes for healthy snacks and alternatives to unhealthy favorites.

There are some really interesting facts about eating and hunger, too. Did you know that sometimes when you feel hungry, you might in reality just be thirsty? Especially in the summer when we all sweat from the sun's hot rays, it's easy to become dehydrated. So next time your child goes to grab a bag of chips, suggest that they take a drink of water and see if the hunger goes away. They may be surprised to find they don't want that snack anymore!

My favorite part of the book (and one kids are sure to love) is the “What Celebs Say” section: we learn from Zac Efron about his efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and the NBA's Tony Parrish's strategy of living well by avoiding a lot of sweets and working out. If busy celebs can find the time to stay fit through the summer months, why can't we all give it a go?

With recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with great ideas for working out and feeling good, YUM will seamlessly guide your child (and the whole family) through the delicious summer months. Here are five tips from Daina Kalnins and YUM to kick start a healthy lifestyle this summer:
  • When having a picnic or a barbecue, try using whole wheat bread and buns with your sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers.
  • Calcium is crucial for everyone, especially for growing bodies. Luckily, frozen yogurt is a great source of calcium, and deliciously refreshing, too.
  • Try something new! It's no secret that football players sometimes take ballet classes to improve their balance and agility. If you play basketball during the school year, why not try diving classes? And if you figure skate in the winter, maybe you could give tennis a swing. Your body will feel great, and who knows, maybe you'll discover you have a knack for kick-boxing!
  • I'm sure you've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it's easy to forget about it when you don't have to wake up early for school. But that doesn't mean breakfast isn't just as important in the summer. Eating a healthy breakfast is a meal with two perks – it will make you more energetic and give you a healthy level of body fat.
  • Instead of firing up the grill and making hamburgers, try YUM's more nutritious – and delicious! - recipe for Lentil Burgers. They're sure to be a hit!
Now, your kids can submit their delicious summer recipes for a chance to win their own copy of YUM and four other Lobster Press books - check out the YUM Summer Snack Contest!

Bon Apetit!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Interview: Jeremy Vallerand Climbs Mountain to Combat Human Trafficking

Christina Kilbourne's powerful forthcoming novel They Called me Red* addresses issues of trafficking and the exploitation of children. Working with Christina's book has greatly increased our awareness of this devastating issue, so when we discovered Climb for Captive's innovative efforts to combat human trafficking, we knew we had to tell more people about it. On July 4th, a team of six climbers will set out for the summit of Mt. Rainier with the hope of earning $14,410 to combat human trafficking - a dollar for each vertical foot of the mountain. You can help Climb for Captives reach its goal by donating through their web-site.

We spoke to Jeremy Vallerand, who will make the steep climb up Mt. Rainier, to learn more about what motivated this group of six to celebrate United States' Independence Day on the top of a mountain.

1. What inspired you and your team to climb a mountain to combat human trafficking?

A few months ago I had the opportunity to spend some time in Mumbai/Bombay India with an organization that works in the Red Light District trying to rescue children out of the brothels. I saw first hand how terrible the suffering is for the victims and I realized that the ones who are affected the most by Human Trafficking are children. When I heard that a majority of the girls were kidnapped and forced into prostitution before the age of 13 my heart completely broke and I knew that when I got back home to Seattle, WA, I would have to do something about it.

I started talking to a group of my friends about the issue of human trafficking and we began brainstorming ways that we could make a difference. It seemed natural to do something on July 4th since that is the day our nation celebrates its independence and so Climb for Captives was born. What better way to celebrate our Independence Day, our freedom, than to fight for those who can't fight for themselves.

2. Can you tell us more about the current state of domestic and international human trafficking?

It's pretty overwhelming to look at the numbers related to human trafficking both domestically and abroad. To give you a brief snapshot, UNICEF estimates that there are 2 million children exploited in the commercial sex trade every year. I don't even know how to imagine that number… 2,000,000. I do know that there are only four cities in the US with a population over 2 million and only 2 cities in Canada. That means that every year the number of children that are forced into the sex trade is greater than the entire population of Seattle, or San Francisco, or Ottawa. In fact, you would have to add the total population of those three cities together just to equal 2 million.

The good news domestically is that people are starting to become aware of the issue. In Seattle, where I live, the police department has formed a Human Trafficking Task force to focus specifically on this issue and other cities are following suit. According to most estimates, there are over 100,000 children in the US that are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and 20,000 more are being trafficked in every year. Though the numbers seem overwhelming, I really believe that we can make a difference…in fact, I believe we already are.

3. How long will it take to climb Mt. Rainier?

Mt. Rainier is the most glaciated volcano in the contiguous United States. At 14,410 feet the mountain is full of challenges that force over 50% of all climbers to turn back before the summit. Our group of six is hoping to climb to the summit in two or three days depending on the weather and the snow conditions. Altitude sickness is also a major factor for a lot of climbers so there is no guarantee that we will all make it to the summit.

4. How will Climb for Captives donate the funds it collects?

Climb for Captives is donating 100% of the funds received to the Home Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation dedicated to the eradication of human trafficking both domestically and abroad, and all of the donations are tax deductible. I recently met singer/songwriter Natalie Grant who started The Home Foundation and was very impressed by the work they are doing and by the way they use their resources. If people are interested in contributing to the Climb for Captives they can do so via our website at They can also email us any questions they have at

*Christine Kilbourne's They Called Me Red
will be released in Fall 2008. Her novel Dear Jo: The story of losing Leah...and searching for hope was shortlisted for the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards in 2007 and has received praiseworthy reviews from School Library Journal, Montreal Review of Books, and more. Read a review of Dear Jo by The Literary Word to learn more.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Contest: Win a Summer Reading Book Bundle!

Lobster Press and City Parent are giving away “Summer Reading Book Bundles” of Lobster's most popular kids' books.

Enter to win the “Summer Reading Book Bundles” for ages 3 – 7, for ages 8 – 12, and for ages 13 – 17,
by Sunday, July 20th.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Celebrating the City of Quebec's 400th with the story of Grosse Île, Island of Hope and Sorrow

by Mahak Jain
Marketing Assistant

I live in Montreal, Quebec and soon we'll be celebrating the City of Quebec's 400th anniversary. Coming from below the border as I do, it seems sort of superficial to enjoy the holiday without a brush-up on Quebec's history. Three jobs in tote, I don't have time to read lengthy history books, and the generic Wikipedia entry is a bit dry. Luckily, author Anne Renaud has made the process simpler for me - and much more interesting.

Island of Hope and Sorrow: The Story of Grosse Île is written for children, focusing on a crucial chapter of Quebec's history. From 1832 to 1937 more than four million people sailed across the Atlantic to the port of Quebec with the dream of starting a new life in the New World. The tiny island of Grosse Île, located fifty kilometers downstream from the port, served as a quarantine station for thousands of these newcomers and Renaud's Island of Hope and Sorrow carefully sketches out the ebbs and flows that make up the history of the island. Stocked with old photographs and etched drawings that re-create the hushed silence of a museum, the book includes brief "history notes" that kept teaching me new things. For example, did you know "doukhobors" are members of a Russian Christian movement or that they refuse to serve in the military because they believe war is wrong?

It's easy to overlook history in the wake of celebration. Renaud's book is most touching because it focuses on bridging the present and past, reminding us that several people ended their journey from Europe to the New World at Grosse Île - and some began a new chapter of their lives at the island. What drew Europeans to come to the New World? How did the island become a quarantine station, a stop-over with houses built for doctors and hospital sheds? Renaud writes how the island was both home and graveyard, both beginning and ending, an island sometimes thriving with people and other times waiting out cold winters for the next batch of immigrants like an animal in hibernation.

The blurbs and photos scattered around the main text were my favorite part of the book. Focusing on incidental memories, like the photograph of an old shoe, covered in dirt and discovered during an archaeological dig, the book returns us to the past, giving an unexpected gift to both children and adults. Children will especially love the miscellaneous facts the book shares - like the notice of rules posted in the cargo holds of ships that begins "STRICTLY FORBIDDEN!" or an image of Canada's first stamp sporting an askance-eyed beaver.

Anne Renaud ends her portrait of a chapter in Quebec's history with a look at Grosse Île in the present - from its transformation during World War II into a research station for biological warfare to the historical landmark it has now become. I am in full agreement with Declan Kelly, Ireland's Ambassador to Canada, when he said:
The story of Grosse Île is one which needs to be re-told to each new generation of children, Irish and Canadian, to enable them to understand where they have come from, and I can think of no better method than a book as interesting and as well written as this...
Even if I wasn't an immigrant myself, I would find it hard-pressed to remain untouched by the story of Grosse Île. Definitely a perfect addition to family reading lists for Canada Day and the upcoming Quebec City celebration.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feature: Mitigating the Reading Crisis One Book at a Time

Mitigating the Reading Crisis One Book at a Time
By Mahak Jain
Marketing Assistant

Much anxiety and biting of nails accompanied the news of a “reading crisis,” an industry illness as chronic as the cold. But librarians were not surprised by the the "Reading at Risk" report, which is available on the National Endowment for Arts's (NEA) web-site: "'It's something that librarians have known for decades,' said Ginger Bush, the director of patron services at the Minneapolis Public Library."

The report noted that a sharper rate of decline in reading occurred among individuals between the ages of 18-24 - young adults and future parents whose example may discourage their children from reading. Scholastic's 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report has reconfirmed this worrisome conclusion. The Scholastic study notes that "pleasure reading in children begins to decline at age eight and continues to do so into the teen years."

Why don't children read more? Do they hate reading? Do they find it boring?

Surprisingly, one of the top reasons children didn't read was that they found it difficult to find books they enjoyed. Other reasons include "too much homework" and "I would rather do other things." The first two reasons indicate that reading itself is not the problem - but it's not surprising that kids would rather do other things if we don't encourage them to read books they enjoy. Most importantly, our media-saturated society has not discouraged kids to read as much as we thought, so we need to turn our attention to discover what they do like to read.

Karen Louise Boothe, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Public Library, noted in the SLJ article that "the public needs to understand that the definition of literature has broadened beyond the standard classics to include other genres—even Japanese manga." Similarly, Claire Fripp, elementary and middle school English teacher and mother of three, recognizes that it is crucial that parents let their children choose the books they want to read:

Forget your own ideas about what constitutes a “classic” and let them choose their own books from the list, if one has been provided by a teacher. All the books on the list have some merit or they would not have made the list in the first place. If your child hasn't been given a summer reading list, create one by browsing online. Make sure your child has a say in a list you create together - the plain truth is that if your child doesn’t like the book they won’t read it—would you?
But parents need to be involved in the process even after a visit to the library or a bookstore:

Once the books are at home and you see that they are collecting dust, your best bet to a hassle free reading summer is to share the reading. Depending on age and ability parents can read the book to the child, alternate reading one page with each other, or listen to your child read aloud a few pages and you finish up the chapter. All ages love to have a story read to them—some just show their joy more readily than others.

Seem like a lot of work for you this summer? Studies show that children with parents who are actively involved in their schooling process do better at school. By showing your interest and taking the time to read with your child you are demonstrating that reading has value; that reading can be fun; that reading is something you also do—not just something you say your child has to do.

Claire's article offers more tips that parents (and teachers and librarians) can use, but most importantly, her suggestions indicate that we must not let reports of a "reading crisis" paralyze us, but teach us. Kids want to read. Kids like to read.

Claire concludes with an important reminder: "Above all show that you are enjoying the reading. You never know, you may discover some new authors that will give your “classics” a run for their money." Here at Lobster Press, we have always known that the first step to building a love for reading is a great book - so take a look at our suggestions for books that your kids and you are sure to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Feature: Clearing the Air with Great Kid's Books and the Cigarette Display Ban

Clearing the Air
by Brynn Smith-Raska
Editorial Assistant

You know that strange sensation you get when you recognize something is different, but you can’t put your finger on it right away? Like when your best friend gets a haircut, or when someone you haven't seen in a while no longer has her braces?

I had that very same curious experience recently when I went to the corner store to buy eggs. I walked in, the little bell above the door rang, and I immediately noticed that something was … different. As I walked up and down the aisles, picking up eggs and a loaf of bread and a newspaper, I racked my brain. They hadn't painted the walls or installed a new floor; the lighting hadn't changed, and the employees were the same married couple I'd seen nearly every day for the past thousand some-odd days. Then, when I was standing in line to pay, it hit me: “The cigarettes!” Where had the cigarettes gone? Normally, they are displayed behind the cash register, in plain sight of everyone who enters the store. Now, they were mysteriously absent.

When I arrived home, I opened the paper and learned the reason why I couldn't spot the cigarettes. A cigarette display ban enacted at the beginning of June now required dépanneurs, grocery stores, and gas stations to conceal cigarettes and tobacco products in an opaque case, out of the public’s view, in an effort to decrease the smoking population. By keeping the cigarettes out of sight, anti-smoking groups are hoping cigarettes will stay out of mind.... and out of the hands of impressionable children.

The government's proactive tactic is working to prevent kids and teens from picking up the habit and becoming addicted, and we all need to keep up the effort to keep kids from smoking in the first place. A positive way to get the message out that smoking stinks is by having kids deliver the message too, like they do in Let's Clear the Air: 10 Reasons Not to Start Smoking. This collection of stories and essays is written by real kids, a testament to the fact that kids care about issues surrounding smoking too.

In Let’s Clear the Air, over forty kids give their reasons not to ever start smoking in the first place. Some kids have lost parents to cigarettes and tobacco, and the sadness they felt over their loss has given them an important reason to never start smoking: cigarettes kill. Other kids realize that it’s a habit that turns teeth funny colors, taints fingers and nails a sickly shade, and even threatens the health of nonsmokers. As the kids astutely point out, smoking is bad for our environment and our planet too. Did you know that about 4.3 trillion cigarette butts are littered every year? That it can take up to 12 years for one cigarette butt to decompose? Let's Clear the Air offers tons of facts like this that you might not know about smoking, but that really lend convincing and stupendous support to the decision to never, ever take up smoking.

Cassidy Sauve, a 10-year-old contributor, received the Barb Tarbox Award of Excellence for her commitment to spreading the word about the dangers of smoking and Let’s Clear the Air reminds us that the power to choose is in the hands of kids. These kids recognize that tobacco companies use advertising to trick kids into thinking smoking is a cool thing to do. With the new laws enacted here in Quebec, and also in Ontario, the government is hoping that everyone will realize what the kids in Let's Clear the Air do: that smoking is a dangerous habit and there are ten good reasons to never start in the first place. Bravo to the governments of Quebec and Ontario for helping to clear the air!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

ARTICLE: Kids Read Too - How To Get the Pages Turning? by Claire Fripp

Get the Pages Turning
by Claire Fripp

Rights & International Sales Manager

Summer Reading List!

You can hear the groans from students and parents alike as every June the teachers merrily wave the students on their way to summer vacation with cries of, “Have fun! Play outside! Don’t forget your sunscreen! Read! Read! Read! You have books to read by September. ”

Why do schools do this? Research shows that children who read during the summer holidays do better in school. It’s that simple. These students not only do better in reading, but also in writing and spelling. By reading during those long, idle summer months students are doing themselves a favour. But try telling that to someone who just wants to sleep, swim, play and hang out!

What can parents do to encourage summer reading?

To get the reading off to a great start, let your reader pick the books. Forget your own ideas about what constitutes a “classic” and let them choose their own books from the list, if one has been provided by a teacher. All the books on the list have some merit or they would not have made the list in the first place. If your child hasn't been given a summer reading list, create one by browsing online. Make sure your child has a say in a list you create together - the plain truth is that if your child doesn’t like the book they won’t read it—would you?

Next, head to the store, or library, with two or three choices. Explain that while the title may sound catchy, it helps to read the back cover to see if the story sounds interesting. Ideally the first page should be read too. Then, and this is the hard part; stand back. Browse. Have a coffee. Stay close in case there are questions or the choice is overwhelming, but choosing one’s own book gives the reader ownership. That alone may go a long way to getting the book read without a fight.

How to get the pages turning ...

Once the books are at home and you see that they are collecting dust, your best bet to a hassle free reading summer is to share the reading. Depending on age and ability parents can read the book to the child, alternate reading one page with each other, or listen to your child read aloud a few pages and you finish up the chapter. All ages love to have a story read to them—some just show their joy more readily than others.

Seem like a lot of work for you this summer? Studies show that children with parents who are actively involved in their schooling process do better at school. By showing your interest and taking the time to read with your child you are demonstrating that reading has value; that reading can be fun; that reading is something you also do—not just something you say your child has to do.

Listen up!

Still not working? Buy the CD and “read” along. If it is a longer book, listen to the story together one chapter at a time and then talk about it so you are sure they were listening and comprehending the story line. But don’t ask direct questions! Instead, ask your reader for clarification. Just say you didn’t get the point about the missing shoe and can they help. Their answer, as they roll their eyes, will let you know if they are ‘getting it”.

Another way to get students to read is to have them tape themselves. It is a long process and one you are best not to get too involved in as students like to read the story, listen to themselves, laugh hilariously and then re-read the story again but this time “with feeling”. Once done your reader can play the tape back to you as they show you the pictures and enjoy your reaction. If it is a chapter book, this process will be laborious, so surprise them by reading a chapter first and then have them tape one. Neither of you may have the energy to keep recording it, but by this time you are already into chapter three and, with luck, the reader will be hooked.

Above all show that you are enjoying the reading. You never know, you may discover some new authors that will give your “classics” a run for their money.

Claire Fripp is an elementary and middle school English teacher who has been reading to her students and her three children for 22 years. She is also the Rights Manager for Lobster Press, a Canadian publisher of quality children's books.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Ridley Bluefox and the Flying Fish of Fortune Falls
by Carrie Percy

Know a young fan of Indiana Jones? Kids who loved the professor cum treasure hunter of Spielberg fame will lap up this tale of a young explorer travelling to exotic lands in search of wonders.

Laura Dick captures the adventures in store for young hero Ridley Bluefox in her review, available in The Cambridge Times and on the Cambridge Libraries Blog. Here's a blurb:
"Ridley Bluefox is a world famous fisherman and adventure lover. He has been featured on the cover of 14 magazines, traveled all over the world in pursuit of exotic and difficult to catch fish, won many great fishing trophies and is generally up for any kind of adventure – especially those that involve a fishing pole and bait…all this by the tender age of 12. Ridley is overwhelmed with excitement when he hears about the flying fish of Fortune Falls – fish that no one has every caught before."
Ridley travels head-on into danger, armed only with mysterious bait and an ancient map - he faces wild boars, thrashing eels, and dinner-plate sized spiders - but the ultimate challenge is waiting for him at Fortune Falls...definitely an exciting treat for any young reader looking for an adventure!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Patricia G. Penny's NOT JUST PROMS & PARTIES series has received recognition for its appeal to teen readers. Focusing on contemporary themes that go beyond "proms & parties", the books are the perfect package for any teen girl looking for a quick but realistic and intelligent read. What compelled Penny to write stories that resonate with young adults? Keep reading after a synopsis of Penny's latest novel, Emily's Rebellion, to find out!

Emily has a mind of her own, a flair for defying her mother, and can’t resist getting a tattoo or dating Jeremy, a guy with a bad reputation – especially because she is forbidden to do both. When her grandmother asks her to house-sit, Emily jumps at the chance to throw a party, and makes sure to invite her new boyfriend's buddies. By the end of the night, her grandmother's jewelry is missing, and all fingers point to Jeremy.

Determined to clear his name, Emily starts digging to uncover the thief's identity, and in the process learns that her brooding boyfriend has more than his share of problems. Add to this the fact that Emily's parents are in the middle of a difficult separation, and that her brother has a gambling problem, and Emily realizes she needs to stop causing trouble and start helping the people around her.

You have written five books now as part of the ‘Not Just Proms and Parties’ series. What is the significance of this series title for you?

The title reflects the incongruity of being a teen. Teens have valid reason for sometimes feeling as though they are on an emotional roller coaster. First love, first peer pressure, first time away from home – all intense, character building experiences that must be juggled with the demands of school, part-time jobs, and extra-curricular activities. Luckily life as a teen does involve proms and parties but despite the friendships and wonderful times, it also requires some tough decision-making.
The heroines of your previous books in the series have all been different and their problems have been unique – yet they are similar in their struggle to find happiness. How are Emily’s experiences in Emily’s Rebellion different from and similar to your other heroines?

In all of the books there is a common thread of the main character trying to deal with relationships – Chelsea (Chelsea’s Ride) through manipulation, Rica (Rica’s Summer) through trying too hard to fit in, and Belinda (Belinda’s Obsession) through an obsessiveness that interferes with her already challenging love life. Karin (Karins’ Dilemma) is somewhat different in that she is trying to ignore her instincts and maintain a civil relationship with her mother’s new boyfriend, a selfless but ultimately dangerous thing to do.

In Emily’s Rebellion, Emily is facing changes and challenges in all of her relationships. Her parents have split up and now her mother is a pain, her BFF starts dating her older brother Frankie, her brother is becoming someone she hardly knows, and her new boyfriend seems to have more problems than she wants to admit . Her grandmother is her best ally, but Emily puts even that relationship on the line when she betrays her trust. Poor Emily has a lot to deal with!

Emily is much more rebellious than your other heroines. Why did you choose to write about rebellion and what do you think is the significance of rebellion in the lives of teenagers?

Rebellion is a means of stretching, even breaking the limits, and isn’t that a big part of becoming an independent adult? A healthy questioning of authority can be the means to change and progress – after all, we would still believe the world is flat if someone hadn’t said “Oh yeah?” and sailed away to prove otherwise.

The rebellious teen sets out to prove something but may end up learning more than he bargained for. I want the reader to see that rules cannot be broken without a certain level of risk. That said, I don’t know of any teen who hasn’t broken a rule or two on their way to saying “This is me.” It’s how they deal with the aftermath of those experiences that helps them develop character. Emily is an example of that. She’s feisty, daring and, even though she may not always show it, fiercely loyal to her family. I think most girls will relate to her and to the relationship with her mother.

Your stories provide readers a rare glance at the difficulties that teenage girls face – you have covered such topics as spousal abuse for example. What inspired you to write stories about teenagers and especially such difficult subject matter?

Although I didn’t work directly with clients, I did work at the Children’s Aid Society for some years and was aware of the issues that brought children and families into contact with us. I also volunteered as a Big Sister at one time, and have taught young people in college on a part-time basis. Coupled with my own teen experiences and those of friends and their children, I have a wealth of material from which to draw. Just listening to teens at the mall or on the street has given me ideas to incorporate into my books. The subject matter isn’t difficult – it’s simply life.

As far as inspiration, I am constantly inspired by the energy, animation and angst that teens impart in everything they do. Who better to write for and about? I love them!
The 'Not Just Proms & Parties' series is an important resource for teenage girls struggling to understand themselves and their lives. Were there books in high school that helped you do the same?

I think we often read and absorb messages without necessarily recognizing why we connect with a particular character. I always escaped into a book, literally blocking out everything around me. Though lacking in self-confidence as a teen, I most admired strong, independent characters in the books I read – Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jo in Little Women – and this perhaps helped to shape the person I am today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Great Summer Reading

Despite the intermittent rain, summer is on its way. Sink or Swim is an excellent picture book for kids looking to beat the heat: Ralph decides swimming is the best way to cool down - but everyone tells him that cows can't swim! Read the book to see how the spunky cow learns to swim and to surf. Cheryl Rainfield describes Sink or Swim perfectly in her review: "an enjoyable, funny, uplifting book, sure to appeal to any reader who's been told they can't do something--or just wants to try something new."

Looking for more summer reads? Lobster Press offers great picks for all ages:

Not Just Proms & Parties
series: each of the five books in these series is a fun beach read for teens - or anyone getting ready for a long ride in the car.
YUM: Your Ultimate Manual to Good Nutrition: with this tasty guide, you can kickstart a healthy summer!
Let's Party: Find great ideas for theme parties including Hawaiian Luau and Life's a Beach.
Come On, Mom! and Come On, Dad: these companion books suggest tons of activities, rain or shine.
The Baseball Card: a great book to have when you are in the mood to play some ball!
Ridley Bluefox and the Flying Fish of Fortune Falls: think "Indiana Jones, Jr."
Our Song: The story of "O Canada": a vibrant read about Canada's national anthem - what better way to celebrate Canada's birthday?
Going on a Journey to the Sea: kids can enjoy a vacation - without leaving the house!
I Don't Want to Go: a perfect story for kids getting ready to visit their grandparents over the summer.