Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Interview with "Our Powerful Planet" Author Tim O'Shei

Our Powerful Planet author Tim O'Shei has written over 40 kids' books. He published his first national magazine article at 16 and had his first book contract by the age of 20. An inspiration to all aspiring authors, he was nice enough to answer a few of our questions on the environment, what inspires him to write, and his favourite kids' book.

What inspired you to write Our Powerful Planet?

We all have to do more to help our Earth. Period. I'm absolutely convinced of that, and I have been for a long time. Writing this book is my chance to make a difference by teaching kids about our planet and inspiring them to treat it well.

What was your research process like? Were you familiar with the material prior to writing the book?

Ha! Ask my editor, Meghan Nolan, about the research process! It was long, hard, challenging, sometimes frustrating -- and incredibly rewarding. Why challenging? Well, Earth is a tough place to "understand." If scientists knew exactly how it worked, we'd be able to predict every bit of weather and cure climate change in a snap. Meghan and I really worked well as a team trying to dig up the vital information and the most interesting facts. Why frustrating? Frankly, it's difficult to convey some of these concepts in a children's book. That's where Meghan pushed and pushed me. She made suggestions, ordered rewrites, gave pointed feedback, and ultimately helped me craft a book that I'm proud to hold in my hands. She was like the coach; I was the athlete. She made me sweat -- and it was worth it. We've got a book that's loaded with crisp, clear and sometimes alarmingly information ... must-know stuff. It'll make kids think.

What was the most interesting fact you stumbled upon? What’s your favourite weather phenomena?

A large hurricane creates more energy than every human on the planet uses in an entire year. I wonder if someday we'll learn how to harness the energy of a hurricane and use it. If we could do that, our energy crisis would disappear as quickly as a bolt of lightning. Which leads me to my favorite phenomena -- ball lightning. This is a type of lightning that shows up as a fizzy, glowing, basketball-sized sphere. It hisses and pops for a few seconds, and then it's gone.

How much of a role do children play in impacting the future of this planet?

A very big role. Think of it this way: If every kid recycled, avoided wasting paper, and walked or biked whenever possible, this planet would be much healthier. (So would we, by the way, thanks to the extra physical activity.)

What are the little, everyday things we could do to have a greener lifestyle?

The goal is to stop putting so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Cars and fuel-burning machines put CO2 into the air. Trees absorb CO2, so when we cut them down, more of it gets trapped in the atmosphere. Little things make all the difference when everybody does them. Kids can cut down on how much fuel their family uses by walking, biking or riding a scooter. When you have to drive somewhere, see if your family can carpool with others. Cut down on paper by doing your assignments online, borrowing books from the library, and donating old books to the library. There are some side benefits to all of this: When you walk, ride or scoot, you burn calories and build muscle. When you do your homework on the computer, it turns out neater. And when you borrow books from the library, you save money.One more thought: Kids can also take a leadership role in their schools and communities by organizing programs like recycling drives and water-saving days.

Time for a hypothetical: would you rather ride a tornado or take a journey to the center of the Earth?

Whew, that's a tough one. Let's see ... Roller coasters are fun, so riding a tornado sounds cool. But then again, tornado winds can hit 200 miles/320 kilometers per hour. The world's fastest roller coasters are only a little more than half that fast. Sounds pretty dangerous -- not to mention a surefire way to mess up your hair -- so maybe I'll take a journey to the center of the Earth. Then again, the core of the planet consists of molten iron -- that'll melt your hair and skin off! I suppose what I'd do is build a heat-resistant traveling machine that spins as fast as a tornado to dig through the Earth's rocky crust on a whirlwind journey to the center of the planet. Since nobody has ever gone there, who knows what new phenomena we'd find!

And of course, what was your favourite book as a child?

Ribsy, by Beverly Cleary. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Kuhanek, read my class this story of a lost dog and the boy who loved him. Something about that story captured my attention and I wanted badly to read it myself. The catch is this: Back then I struggled mightily with reading and writing. But Mrs. Kuhanek gave me the book at the end of the year, and I managed to read it over the summer. I fell in love with reading through that book, and my love for writing following quickly behind.

You can visit Tim O'Shei on his website by clicking here. For green holiday craft ideas, please click here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Perks of Interning at Lobster Press

Feature written by: Eric Lavigueur

One of the greatest things about being an intern at Lobster Press is getting the inside scoop on upcoming releases. Not only do we get excited at the prospect of getting to play our part with the work in progress, but we also become overly excited about the reaction once the book is actually released. Not to rub it in anyone’s face, but all the interns here have already read books that the world will only get to see come Spring 2009 (okay maybe that was intended to make you a bit jealous).

Among those great titles being released very soon, I am particularly proud of, and anxious for, the third book in the Penelope series. Penelope and the Preposterous Birthday Party, written by Sheri Radford and illustrated by Christine Tripp, is sure to please all fans of colorful and zany picture books. Sheri Radford once again brings the reader along for one of Penelope’s misadventures, and considering how much fun it was to follow along with her Humongous Burp and her encounter with the Monsters, I cannot wait to see the final version of this book. I am going to try to not give away any spoilers but let’s just say that when Penelope throws a party you can never be sure of who or what is going to show up with a present in hand.

Part of my excitement for this book stems from the memories it brings me of reading my favorite books as a child. Penelope’s crazy antics along with Christine Tripp’s wonderful illustrations remind me of my favorite Robert Munsch books, and that is certainly the highest compliment I can give to Sheri and Christine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2009 Red Maple Award: Lobster Title Shortlisted!

Island of Hope and Sorrow: The Story of Grosse Île by Anne Renaud has been shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association's 2009 Red Maple Award!

We are very excited by this news. We posted a review of Island of Hope and Sorrow, knowing that Renaud's non-fiction book for children was too finely told to overlook. This recognition by the Ontario Library Association has only confirmed our belief in the importance of sharing a chapter of Canada's history with a new generation!

More about Island of Hope and Sorrow: The Story of Grosse Île:

From 1832 to 1937 more than four million people sailed across the Atlantic to the port of Quebec with the dream of creating better lives for themselves in the New World. During this period, a tiny island called Grosse Île, located fifty kilometres downstream from the port, served as a quarantine station. Its mission was to prevent ship passengers from spreading diseases to the mainland.

Award-winning Montreal children's author, Anne Renaud, tells the story of the island, which served both as gateway and graveyard for the thousands of people who landed on its shores, and of the caring island workers who welcomed them.

Anne Renaud is the author of three books for children. Her first book, A Bloom of Friendship: The Story of the Canadian Tulip Festival, was shortlisted for the Silver Birch Award, the Hackmatack Children's Choice Award, and the Red Cedar Book Award. In mid-October, she appeared at Pier 21, as well as at nearby schools and libraries, in conjunction with Canada's Citizenship Week to speak about her latest book for children, Pier 21: Stories from Near and Far.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Reviews Coming This Month

Two Lobster Press titles were recently reviewed by ForeWord magazine.

ForeWord magazine (which focuses on independent book publishers and has a readership of approximately 20'000 librarians and booksellers) will feature reviews on Lobster Press' Emily's Rebellion (part of the Not Just Proms and Parties series) and They Called Me Red. The reviews will be featured in the November/December issue of the magazine.

The review for Emily's Rebellion is highlighted in a section titled "Beyond Sex Ed" which noted that books like the ones from the NJPP series "can all help girls make it through those years of hormones and painful learning experiences" and states that while the NJPP series is aimed at reluctant readers and ESL students, the books are "suitable for any teenage girl with a busy schedule."

They Called Me Red was also reviewed. In the review, author Christina Kilbourne was complimented for her tact in dealing with a sensitive topic such as human trafficking. The reviewer noted that "Kilbourne gets the dread across [and] the sex necessary to advance the storyline is handled tactfully; fear and circumstances of imprisonment are the main focuses."