My Teen Fiction Shelves

My Teen/Children's section

Since my previous post My Bookshelf was so immensely popular, I thought I would continue with some of my favourite books on my teen fiction shelves. As a child I read such titles as Anne of Green Gables, The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew (didn’t every girl back then?), Heidi, Little Women, Wizard of Oz, The Yearling, Chronicles of Narnia, among many others. These titles I still have on my shelves, treasured tomes that saw me through many late night adventures – and because I am a pack rat and never throw good books away! Most of the books I read as a child were written by British or American authors. The only Canadian author among those mentioned was Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables). In the last couple of decades, the field has exploded. Canadian publishers have seen the need to make more fiction available to our youngsters with relative content, local content and historical content.

The Olden Days Coat

Margaret Lawrence’s story, The Olden Days Coat, was one of the first Canadian authors I read as an adult. This particular story is dear to my heart because it involves traveling back in time. This was a book I used when I was student teaching. I think it helped to spark the students’ imagination.

When I actually started writing for children, I was very interested in what other children and teen fiction novelists were writing, so I checked out the competition. Here is a selection of some of my favourites in the field:

Carol Matas

Let’s start with Carol Matas, who was one of the first authors I checked out because the main setting for her books was Nazi Germany. Her characters were Jews trying to escape the tyranny of the time. Growing up in a primarily Jewish neighbourhood, I could relate to those children, imagining them to be my friends with all the trials & tribulations that they would have gone through had they been born into that tumultuous time. Footsteps in the Snowwas a book she wrote for the Canadian Diaries series, depicting life in our early colonial days. Carol easily draws in her reader and holds them captive with every page. Her books are hard to put down once you start.

Eva Wiseman

Eva Wiseman’s books are similar. Both authors deal with the Jewish life during the second world war. A Place Not Home was about a family who managed to escape Nazi Germany and relocated to a Canadian city. My Canary Yellow Staris about how a Jewish family is helped by the Swedish man Raoul Wallenberg, who protected many Jewish families against the Nazis. Eva is from Hungary and lived through that difficult time, so her subject matter, although fiction, is very close to her real life adventures.

Martha Brooks

Martha Brooks’ characters are set in a more contemporary time. They depict the angst and turmoil of teenage life. Her characters are all relatable and despite their rough edges, become people who you’d want to be your friends.

Anita Daher

Anita Daher is a fabulous writer who is so versatile in her work. She can write for almost any age of child. Her stories are interesting and some of her books are written so that even the most reluctant reader would be drawn into her worlds. My favourite so far, though, is Spider’s Song (I could not find my copy to photograph. I must have leant it out). Set in Yellowknife in the Yukon Territory, the story is current, dealing with internet chatting – a warning that people are not always who they pretend to be on-line. It also deals with the disturbing subject of ‘cutting’. This was the first time I had heard about it and I thought she dealt with the complexities of it very well. Oh, another reason why I think she is an awesome writer – she was the editor of my second book, Spirit Quest!

Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson writes adventures set in Canadian cities. I chose to read The Prairie Dog Conspiracybecause the Prairie Dog Central is an old steam-powered train that used to travel the tracks behind the house where I grew up. It generally only travels during the summer for excursions out to Grand Prairie, Manitoba. Occasionally, it hosts a murder mystery evening. As a child, my parents booked a Christmas excursion for us where Santa hopped on-board and handed out candy to the passengers. Anyway, Eric’s books would appeal to those boys who resist reading. The stories are engaging, easy to read and not very long.

Martine Leavitt

I was only recently introduced to Martine Leavitt. This story, Tom Finder, deals with a boy who has no memory of who he is. Tom does not know where his home is. He quickly learns how to live on the mean streets, who to trust, who to be wary of, how to get food and make enough money to get home, wherever that is. It is a touching story and explores a tough subject, but she does it very well.

Marty Chan

During the Thin Air Writer’s Festival here in Winnipeg last fall, I came across a wonderful children’s writer, Marty Chan. He spoke to a group of third grade students about his books. Wow! Was he ever dynamic! He could really relate to the kids and got them involved with storytelling. He had students up on stage acting out a scenario suggested by his audience. I HAD to pick up one of his books to read it. As luck would have it, I picked up Barnabas Bigfoot. Ironically, my writer’s group and I were discussing what might be the latest FAD in books/movies since we thought that the whole vampire genre was becoming passe. We agreed that the Sasquatch would be the next big thing, so here we have Barnabas. As with his personal appearances, Marty injects a lot of humour into his writing. The kids who attended This Air had read other of his books, so that is a pretty good endorsement. Kids like his work. The stories are not long, easy to read and enjoyable.

Rae Bridgman

How many of you liked the Harry Potter series? How many wish there was a Hogwart’s Academy in their own home town? Well, Rae Bridgman wrote a series of books with just you in mind. Although it really has nothing to do with Harry Potter, her stories do take place in a magical town somewhere in the heart of downtown Winnipeg where a chartered bus can pass through an apparently solid brick wall to enter. Her books are published by the same company that published my books, Great Plains Publications, so of course I had to read them. Rae is a multi-talented woman who not only can write engaging stories but she also creates some of the images found on her novel covers. She is a fantastic artist. Even her signature has an artistic flare to it, incorporating bugs and dragonflies. Her books contain all the ingredients for a great read; adventure, intrigue, magic and local settings. They were all fun to read. Although Gary Paulsen is not a Canadian author, he does write to appeal to the reluctant reader. His books are full of adventure and easy to read. Hatchet, and the other books in the series, appealed to the Girl Guide in me. It made me sit back and wonder whether I would have survived as well as his character, if all I had was a hatchet to cut wood for a fire. Gary’s books are used in the classroom as well, so that is why I thought I would mention them. Finally, if I might give a plug to two friends, both in my writer’s group.

KC Oliver

K. C. Oliver was published long before I was. She managed to find an American publisher to produce her first novel, Pretty, Pretty, a mystery in the tradition of Nancy Drew. Unfortunately, her publisher was small and she was not readily able to bring her books across the border to the local markets. She was forced to do a lot of self promotion. You can find out more about KC in her blog (see blogroll below)

Chris Rutkowski

Chris Rutkowski has been writing since high school and has numerous UFO books under his belt, as I mentioned in my last bookcase post. One of the books I did not mention last time was his Big Book of UFOs. This is one of those coffee table or bathroom reader books that have tons of trivia about UFOs and Aliens, both real and in fictional. Some of the topics covered are ‘Life In The Universe’, ‘UFO Sightings’, ‘Contact’, and ‘UFOs and Society’. The factual information is presented in chunks with trivia interspersed, such as ’10 Things Often Misidentified as UFOs’. If you are the least bit interested in the subject, I recommend this book as it is pretty comprehensive. Well, I guess that’s it for now. There are tons more books on my shelves but I just presented the highlights. Maybe later, I will show you all the books on my research shelves.

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New cards

I have updated My Crafty Alterego page with some Christmas Card designs by my Stampin’ Up representative, Ashley Sokal. She designed them, I made them. I love her creative mind. If you are interested in crafty things, please check out my page when you get the chance and her blog (in the blogroll, below)

My Bookshelf

eclectic

When I do school visits to talk about my books, I have often been asked what are some of my favourite authors. This is a hard question, because I have such eclectic tastes. I like Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mysteries, Spy Stories, Adventures, Forensic Science stories, Historical Fiction, Teen Fiction and everything in between as long as I think it’s been well-written.

You might have noticed my historical fiction in the top left corner. James Clavell’s Shogun and Noble House were two of my favourites of all time. On the shelf below that are some very old books saved from my grandfather’s library, including the complete works of Shakespeare. Sprinkled among those are a few romance stories. I don’t tend to read romances as a rule, but I was trying to write one for a contest a while back and thought I should read a few to see if I could pick out the formula. The romance I did come up with was rejected because there was too much story and not enough romance. Go figure!

The shelves on the left contain my professional books as well as my husband’s, which also includes handyman & DIY books. (My man is quite handy.) Above the National Geographic magazines are my favourite Sci Fi and Fantasy stories as well as the ‘based on TV series’ stories (Star Trek, Babylon 5, Earth 2, X-Files, Stargate, etc).

Some of Clive Cussler’s adventure novels

Here is a stack of Clive Cussler’s rollicking Dirk Pitt stories. You may have seen the movie Sahara, which was based on one of his novels. As with any movie based on a book, there were definitely some inconsistencies. The most glaring was the producer’s choice for the actor who played Dirk Pitt. Normally I would not complain about any movie starring Matthew McConaughey, but he certainly isn’t the ‘tall, dark & handsome’ type that I had envisioned Dirk to be.

Anne McCaffrey

Hiding behind some of the other books are SciFi & Fantasy novels by Ann McCaffrey, one of my favourite authors in the genre. While I have never read her Dragon Rider series, I loved her Powers That Be series among others. I had the opportunity of meeting her when she came to WorldCon back in 1995. She was a kind and gracious lady whose talent will be greatly missed.

If you look closely at the bookshelf, again, you should see the photographs and the scrapbook of our Las Vegas adventures. When we were there in 2005, my hubby & I went to the Star Trek Adventure at the Hilton Hotel. What a trip that was! Hubby got his picture inserted into the Borg pic on the right. (Have you ever seen a Borg with a moustache? ha! ha!) I ‘joined’ the Enterprise crew in the picture on the left.

There are also books from some of my favourite local authors: Chris Rutkowski, Alison Preston, Karen Dudley and Michael Van Rooy. First, I will talk about Chris, our ‘Fox Mulder’ of Manitoba.

books by Chris Rutkowski

He investigates and writes about strange phenomenon such as UFO sightings, and Alien Abductions, among other things. His book, Unnatural History, includes information on the Lake Manitoba monster called Manipogo (something like the Loch Ness Monster). He also reveals local places where ghosts have been sighted, as well as discusses crop circles and alien encounters. He has even written a children’s book, I Saw It Too based on the eye witness accounts of children who have seen UFOs and alien creatures. He also writes a blog to keep his readers apprised of the current UFO sightings. (see the Blogroll below for his link)

Alison Preston, Karen Dudley and Michael Van Rooy are all local writers of mysteries but each has their own distinct style.

Alison Preston

Alison’s books are set in the Winnipeg neighbourhood called the Norwood Flats. She has created a set of interesting characters who reside there and the unusual goings-on are investigated by one of Winnipeg’s finest, a cop nearing retirement, Frank Foote.

Michael Van Rooy’s Criminal series

Michael’s books are set in Winnipeg’s north end, a seedier sort of neighbourhood which suits the ex-con character quite well. Montgomery “Monty” Haaviko is trying to forget his criminal past for the sake of his wife and baby son, but finds it difficult as his past often comes back to haunt him. I love his dry humour and his innovative ways of dealing with the criminal elements while keeping the police off his back. Sadly, Michael was taken from the literary world too soon, suffering a massive heart attack, so we will not have the chance to read any more of his brilliant adventures.

Karen Dudley’s Robin Devarra mysteries

Karen Dudley’s books all have wonderful titles. Each one has a bird reference that is also a pun on a murderous expression: Hoot To Kill, Ptarmigeddon, Red Herron and Maccaws of Death. Her humour is evident, not just in the book titles, but also in the way her character, Robin Devarra solves the ecological mysteries. Each story revolves around a particular bird and their environment, which is being threatened by unsavoury people and/or corporations. Karen is currently writing a completely different set of books called Food For The Gods. If you would like to keep apprised of her activities, check out her blog (in the blogroll).

Well, I think I will wrap it up for now. Next time, I will discuss all the wonderful Canadian teen-fiction authors and the books of theirs I have on my shelves. Until then, happy reading…and writing!