CWILL BC Authors and Illustrator Make Math More “App”etizing!

mathapp-dragonsurprise.jpgCWILL members Tiffany Stone, Lori Sherritt-Fleming and Scot Ritchie are serving up stories that are sparking imaginations internationally in the new app series produced by GAPC Entertainment for the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE).

MATH STORYTIME is an engaging interactive storybook app for children ages 5 to 7, and beyond.  Each wonderfully illustrated story features a unique take on a math theme, and allows users to choose to read themselves, be read to or record their own voice! Parents and caregivers can also engage their children in fun activities and ‘math talk’ through discussion bubbles that extend the learning within each story. All stories have been produced in French and English.

mathapp-eggstravagent“This was a really fun project to work on,” says Sherritt-Fleming. “I’m sure Scot spent hours trying to figure out how to fit fifty birds as well as Mrs. Aves and her students all on one screen! I also loved that I sent him a picture of the real Emilia, my cousin’s daughter and he designed a perfect caricature of her! Life inspires art!”

Tiffany Stone wrote Dragon Surprise and Scot Ritchie illustrated The Eggs-travagant Problem and Nuts About Maps.

Designed especially for a tablet or phone, you can download the app for free at GooglePlay, the iTunes App store, or go to


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Serendipity 2018 – March 3rd at UBC Robson Square

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Glen Huser: CWILL BC’s president loves “offbeat humour,” by Pam Withers

With a schoolteacher mother who wrote poetry, perhaps Glen Huser was always destined to be a writer. “She read to us every night. We definitely grew up with literature around us.”

The second of four children, Glen grew up in a tiny hamlet in central Alberta, a two-hour drive north of Edmonton. His ambition was to live in a city, which happened when his family moved to Edmonton as he entered twelfth grade.

Soon after, he attended the University of Alberta for teachers’ training, with an art education major. “I was always torn between art and English, and ended up teaching both—at first in junior high, then elementary schools before becoming a teacher-librarian,” he says. “I’ve never illustrated any of my books, but some day I might.”

His masters in English at the U of A in Edmonton led him to write his first book, Grace Lake (NeWest Press), for adults when he had a sabbatical. Though thrilled it was nominated for a First Novel Award in Canada, Glen couldn’t find the time to write more books until he retired from his job as a school board consultant in school libraries. He also wrote children’s book reviews for the Edmonton Journal, as well as movie reviews for small local magazines.

But when he retired in 1996, books began spinning off his plate – ten so far. First came the YA novel Touch of the Clown, nominated for several awards. Then Stitches, published by Groundwood Press, which won the Governor General’s Award (GG).

“It was pretty special flying to Ottawa to receive that, with a tuxedo I had to let out at the waist because I’d gained a few pounds since I’d last worn it,” he says.

In 2004, Glen moved to Vancouver, where he taught children’s literature for the Education Department at UBC, then worked for the Department of Creative Writing as an online teacher. He also became involved with CWILL BC, where he has served as our trusty president going on three years now.

In 2007 he published Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen, nominated for a GG. And the books just kept coming from then on.

Stitches is my favorite, perhaps because it was the most honored. But Skinnybones sold best, perhaps because of the humour.”

Glen is all about humour. “I would say offbeat humour is my strong point. I also work on characterization. I’d say my work is more character-driven than plot-driven. I’m also interested in style. I know you must not let it take over your book, but you have to build it in. I get a little lyrical in places, although a good editor will at times say that sounds like purple prose and will take a red pencil to it, which is good.”

His most recent interest has been writing lyrics and text for the retelling of Greek stories, for a Montreal music group. Not long ago he was treated to hearing 200 schoolchildren sing his songs in Montreal, accompanied by a small symphony orchestra. He didn’t sing along “because I’m a terrible singer.”

Glen likes to get out of his silent apartment and write in noisy restaurants. He jokes he’s a “writer in restaurants as opposed to a writer in residence. I like the hubbub around me; I like writing there.”

When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, taking in movies and cooking (“anything with pasta”). He never goes anywhere without a book, but when he’s caught up in writing a novel, “I get pretty obsessive about it. Something takes hold of me that makes me tenacious.”

He’s currently writing a novel that may turn out to be YA or adult. His only goal, he said, is to turn 76 next year – and maybe eventually illustrate one of his novels. Lyrically and with offbeat humour, of course.

Pam Withers has written 17 YA adventure novels.

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Reading Lights shining brightly in Vancouver

The ‘Reading Lights’ are all up and shining brightly.  The Vancouver Public Library had committed to a project lasting three years and we have reached that point. We can now celebrate its success.

There are 61 ‘Reading Lights’—20 completed in each year and one more from the Vancouver Library to highlight the importance of reading to young children. And what great reading they will find, in the books created by the writers and illustrators in BC.

From the feedback I have received, from authors and illustrators, parents, teachers, it is a great success.

jewish_fairy_tales_plaqueFrom an illustrator,  Sima Elizabeth Shefrin:

“I am delighted to have my illustrated images on lamp posts near schools and parks, not only because they reach so many children and adults who might not happen to stumble across my books in the library, but because they bring the world of literacy to children. As they see and play around the Reading Light plaques, these children become familiar with the partnership of words and illustrations, and this familiarity provides a path into the world of reading.  And how wonderful to have all that beautiful art displayed so accessibly around our city.”

From a writer, Debbie Hodge:

“I am thrilled and delighted to have my books included among the plaques. It is indeed a lovely honour.”


From a teacher on a field trip to the library:

“We found the story ’Binky the Space Cat’ on the corner of Homer and Robson. We then went into the library and found the book. We read the story and expanded on it: finding the animal section in the library, locating pictures of all sorts of cats, matching types of cats, drawing their own cat, and labeling all the animal parts.”

Families have reported that they enjoy using the map to locate ‘Reading Lights’ plaques around the city, checking the book on the map as they discover a new plaque.

– by Vi Hughes


Noah and Great Bear, An Adventure in the Yukon. Written by Danielle S. Marcotte, illustrated by Francesca Da Sacco. Vidacom Publications.




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Jocelyn Shipley: A sweet 16 years of writing YA

Thanks to an inspiring high school English teacher and a part-time job in the public library, Jocelyn Shipley of Parksville, BC decided as a teen she wanted to write fiction. That’s even though “I wrote a lot of bad poetry as a teenager,” she jokes.

That goal is why she never pursued another career, though she did work as a stay-at-home mom for her three kids. During that time, she co-authored and self-published two craft cook books for families, Making Your Own TraditionsChristmas and Around the Year. They are now out of print but were Canadian bestsellers, and she still gets requests for them.

It was while her kids were teens that she entered a national short story competition sponsored by Thistledown Press, and her story was chosen to be published in the contest anthology, The Blue Jean Collection. This gave her the confidence to write her first YA novel, Getting a Life, which garnered her “an uncountable number of rejections” before being published in 2002 by Sumach Press, a literary feminist press no longer in existence. She has since published 7 more contemporary YA (and the occasional middle grade) novels, as well as co-edited a collection of stories, Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls.

Her novels include Shatterproof, How to Tend a Grave, Seraphina’s Circle, Getting a Life, Cross my Heart, and also the River Boy series, which was never published in Canada but was translated into 5 languages and published by Stabenfeldt in Europe for their GIRL:IT book clubs. Her publishers include Orca Books, Great Plains Teen Fiction, Stabenfeldt and the former Sumach Press.

Jocelyn was the winner of the 2011 Surrey International Writer’s Conference Writing for Young People award. Her novel, How to Tend a Grave, won the 2012 US Gold Medal Moonbeam Award for YA Fiction – Mature Issues. She has won or been shortlisted for over 20 adult story contests.


“I’m very disciplined about writing,” she says. “I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration. I go and sit at my desk and work on something every day. I always have more than one project on the go, and try to work every day during the week.”

Why YA? “I think I’m still a teenager at heart. In the teen years, everything is still possible. Yet it’s so difficult these days to be a teen; it’s a really, really hard time to be growing up.”

At this point, Jocelyn has six grandkids, mostly in Ontario and BC, which has inspired her to live half the year on one side of the country, and half on the other. In fact, with one son being posted to China next year, she hopes to travel there soon. In Parksville, she also owns two cows kept at a dairy and cheese-works farm she likes to visit.

Though there are no CWILL-BC members close enough to visit with regularly, she is impressed with the organization and all the work CWILL-BC does to promote its members. “It’s a close-knit community that proves you can exist as a writer or illustrator outside Toronto and have a very good literary feeling. BC has its own book world and CWILL-BC speaks to that. I really like the way CWILL-BC has built its own presence.”

To new writers, she has this advice: “Challenge yourself. Try to take risks. It’s too easy to keep writing the same thing. I recently started writing reluctant-reader books because they’re short and they challenge me to write a brisk plot. It has made me focus on structure a lot more. I’m really enjoying writing for reluctant readers.”

More advice: “Stick with it, and read a lot. Many people want to write but don’t read anything.”

When she’s not writing or traveling to keep up with family, Jocelyn likes hiking, biking, swimming, and singing in community choirs. In fact, the latter passion kindled the plot of an upcoming novel in Orca’s Limelights series, Raw Talent, about a girl who wants to sing but has stage fright.

Jocelyn is very excited to have a new novel, Impossible, coming out in Orca’s Soundings series in January 2018. This, her 11th book, is a long way from the countless rejections on her first one, making for a sweet sixteen years of publishing. For this CWILL-BCer, it’s all a teen dream come true.

Pam Withers has written 17 YA adventure novels.

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CWILL Authors Celebrate World Read Aloud Day on February 1st


Thursday, February 1st, 2018, is World Read Aloud Day, a holiday and literacy movement that is celebrating its tenth anniversary across the globe and has expanded from a small, grass roots program into over one hundred countries.

Its premise is simple: taking the time and having the resources to read stories aloud builds empathy and creates a sense of belonging to a reading community that exists world wide. Pam Allyn, founder of Litworld and creator of WRAD suggests that reading aloud can change the world. She says, “As we read we become stronger emotionally and academically. Reading fosters the development of  seven strengths: a sense of belonging, curiosity, friendship, hope, kindness, confidence and courage.”


WRAD puts literacy front and centre and, if even for a day, sheds light upon the fact that 750 million adults around the world lack basic reading and writing skills, two thirds of them women. Its hope is that by making books and stories more accessible, that this number will eventually diminish.

On February 1st this year, millions of teachers, parents, libraries, schools, families, authors and communities have scheduled read aloud events to celebrate our connection as humans through the power of story.

We at CWILL BC Society are WRADvocates, part of that chorus of worldwide storytellers who believe in the power of sharing our tales and fostering the right to literacy.

CWILL is celebrating WRAD with author readings at one of Richmond’s largest and most culturally diverse schools, Henry Anderson Elementary. Three authors, Lori Sherritt-Fleming, Suzanne de Montigny and G. Rosemary Ludlow will be igniting inspiration and curiosity in young audiences with selections from their prose. They are excited to be part of a movement that forges a lasting bond between readers and material and readers and listeners.


“Some of my warmest and fondest childhood memories are of times spent being read to or doing the reading myself to someone else. Read alouds are a gift that keeps on giving. My parents and grandparents read to me every night growing up, bringing sleep on under the safe and comforting blanket of stories, words and images. I have been able to give this gift back to my own nieces and nephews and to audiences of children on my travels, bringing that same sense of wonder to the imaginations of children who will not only read, but also write the future,” says Sherritt-Fleming.

People of all ages appreciate read alouds; they make them smile and foster communication and conversations; all of which are infectious. With a world of smiles in mind, how will YOU celebrate World Read Aloud Day?

For more information and resources about WRAD 2018 or to create your own read aloud event, visit or Scholastic’s official World Read Aloud Day page.

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