Selected chapter books we’ve read in the last year

Wednesday, December 1, 2010.

After a 14-month hiatus, we dust off Just One More Book to participate in the Canadian National Day of Podcasting, a virtual event intended to bring stale shows out of retirement for one-day in a festival-like reunion of online content creators.

In this episode, we highlight some of the chapter books we’ve read since parking JOMB last year.

Andrea’s picks

Mark’s picks

Back in the Saddle

Saturday, November 20, 2010.

If Briefly.

December 1, 2010 has been designated as Canadian National Day of Dusting Off Old Podcasts. has been sitting dormant for 14 months now.

I miss it. Mark misses it. Lucy and Bayla miss it.

So, although we were completely unprepared and the audio itself is nothing to be proud of, it was huge fun to dust off that audio equipment,drink some delicious coffee in our cozy Wild Oat home, and chirp some off-the-cuff praise for a few children’s books.

Stay tuned for audio, December 1, 2010.


Filed under: Podcast

Thank you, Eva Ibbotson

Sunday, October 24, 2010.

We were saddened to learn about the death of incredible author Eva Ibbotson. We are dedicated fans of her books. In fact, her name comes up in our home almost daily.

As a result of Just One More Book!!, we had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Ibboton on her 83rd birthday on January 21, 2008. It was an early morning affair (5amET) in order to account for the time change and turned out to be the kind of interview that refused to be edited. So, it was released as it was later that day.

We had the good fortune of corresponding with Ms. Ibbotson a few times since the interview, and she left a voice mail message for Andrea wishing her a quick return to good health following her breast cancer diagnosis last year.

In honour of Ms. Ibbotson, we have decided to republish her interview. We’ve also made a transcript of the interview available.

Thank you for a library of fantastic books. We will always enjoy them.

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year … and many more to follow

Thursday, December 24, 2009.

surgery2As surreal as it continues to be, we are making our way through this unexpected Breast Cancer Journey thanks to the support, good wishes and strong positive vibes of our generous friends, family and online/offline community.

Chemo is now underway and I believe Andrea is on the upswing of the first round. It’s an odd Christmas but we’re working towards many happy Christmas seasons to come.

We miss JOMB, the stories, authors, illustrators, listeners, the conversations. If you’d like to keep in touch, we’ve set up a Flickr photo journal here where you can check in on our progress and even leave us your thoughts.

Wishing each of you a very happy holiday season and a happy, healthy 2010 full of love, warmth and great memories.

Be well and be happy,
Andrea, Mark, Lucy and Bayla

Filed under: Podcast

The Warrior Theme

Sunday, November 15, 2009.

Pre-Diagnosis JOMB AndreaThe day after Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mark sent a personal email to every one of the 220 interview guests of Just One More Book!! asking each if they would leave a voice message on our hotline sending good wishes to Andrea. The plan was to create a CD of audio messages Andrea could listen to during recovery from surgery and during her chemotherapy treatments.

The messages started to pour in immediately (Henry Winkler responded first, within minutes). In all, 126 messages came from authors, illustrators, librarians and publishers from around the world (including England, Spain and Israel) and ranged from newcomers to celebrities.

Many of the messages were more than just good wishes. Some people recited poems or sang songs they wrote for Andrea. Some related their own experiences with cancer and others offered to speak on the phone anytime Andrea wanted someone to talk to. An overwhelming 75 minutes of audio! Plus, Andrea received a number of packages in the mail — handwritten cards with original artwork, t-shirts, books and other gifts. She even received two “bionic” candy apples.

In fact, we received so many messages that Mark realized he needed to create a summary audio clip for Andrea so she could get a quick hit of support and energy any time she needed it. The result is an audio collage called The Warrior Theme packaged over Sunshine and Starlight, a fantastic instrumental by Bjork Ostrom.

There are too many names to transcribe and link to from this post. Instead, listen carefully to everyone who contributed so far!

Filed under: Podcast

Soup du Jour: Unwavering Self-Worth Inside and Outside the Box

Friday, October 2, 2009.

Today we look at a clump of four books about independent thinkers who, without fanfare or animosity, disregard the judgements of others and are simply happy being who they are.

Ingredients (books discussed):

Jump into Today’s Soup (feedback):

Join the conversation by clicking the Comments link below or sending an email to

Second Helpings (transcript of podcast):

In a society where the media, schools and, sadly, even parents often expect us to conform to prescribed,cookie-cutter ways of being, a common challenge for adults and children alike is to understand and appreciate out-of-the-box thinking or behavior in ourselves and others. With so much emphasis on conforming, being or even befriending a person who is viewed as different can be a scary and isolating experience.It’s not surprising, then, that we sometimes go to great lengths to reject or hide our unique selves — and to avoid those who don’t.

Many children’s books and, to a greater extent, movies attempt to reduce the social stigma against being different through boisterous victory-of-the-underdog themed stories in which the independent thinker saves the day and, to the rousing cheers of once-distant peers, instantly becomes the poster child of popularity. There is no denying that such victories feel great but I believe stories which present quiet appreciation, improved understanding or simply congenial co-existence go further to help children deal with different ways of being.

Before looking at the books, let me explain that I like to read to my two daughters in clumps. That is, I like to read in one sitting several books that are completely parallel in certain ways — offering similar characters, situations, or themes — but are different enough to make the clumped reading interesting. I clump by activity (riding a bike, say), by storyline (several variations on the Frog Prince story, for example) or, as in the case today, by explorations of a similar type of character (a girl that is viewed as being different). There are many books that deal with differences in, what I believe are, very constructive ways. Today we look at a clump of four books about independent thinkers who, without fanfare or animosity, disregard the judgements of others and are simply happy being who they are.

Odd VelvetOdd Velvet (Mary Whitcomb Illustrated by Tara Calahan King; 1998 Chronicle Books) tells the story of a happily independent school girl who has bypassed the consumer mentality of her peers and finds beauty and entertainment in the world around her. What I love about this story is that Violet’s unimposing enjoyment of life remains steadfast throughout… her self esteem easily withstands the taunts of her classmates and she remains true to her nature as she gradually gains the respect of her peers. Violet’s self worth is clearly not tied to her judgment by others.
The Recess Queen The Recess Queen (Alexis O’Neill Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith; 2002 Scholastic Press) relays, in snappy, what is it? Hip hop beat? the story of a school yard bully effortlessly felled by the teeny tiny independently minded Katie Sue, a kid you might scare with a jump and a boo!. Here again, the beauty of the story — for me — is in Katie Sue’s unwavering sense of self worth regardless of her noticeably different approach to life and in the fact that she takes in stride both the bullying and her offhanded deflation of the bully.
Suki's Kimono Suki’s Kimono (Chieri Uegaki Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch; 2003 Kids Can Press) is a refreshing celebration of individuality and joie de vivre. This first-day-of-school story contrasts the uninhibited and happily independent six year old Suki with her self-conscious, stiff and validation-seeking sisters — and their complete embarrassment that their little sister is wearing a kimono to school. Although I think Suki could do without the applause of her classmates, Suki’s sunny self-assurance remains constant throughout and she gains no satisfaction from the fact that her sisters’ preparation and preening brought them nothing but exasperation.
Annie Bizzanni Annie Bizzanni (Frances Halle Illustrated by Fil et Julie; 2006 Bayard Canada Books) introduces us to a creative, multi-tasking and impulsive free-spirit who lives life in large slices which she feels no pressure to complete. Although her friends are obviously amused, inconvenienced and, sometimes, scared by Annie’s quirky behavior what I love about this book is that Annie’s way of being is simply portrayed as being different — not better or worse — than that of her peers, that her friends love her for who she is and that she is very happy being herself.

Although society may expect it, we’re not cookie cutouts and we all fall inside and outside various different boxes. We might as well enjoy ourselves!

Thanks for listening. I’m Andrea Ross from the Just One More Book!! Podcast and we’ve been Swimming in Literary Soup.

Interview with Rukhsana Khan

Tuesday, September 29, 2009.

Rukhsana KhanIt’s no mystery that books are powerful. They teach us skills and history, and take us to places we’ve never been or that never existed.  Many of the best books take us to a place inside of ourselves where we can connect with other stories and escape our own realities.

The Roses in my Carpets tells the story of a young boy, his mother and sister, living in a refugee camp.  The camp serves merely as a setting for this family as we experience the common reality of feeling out of place while dealing with life around us.

Author Rukhsana Khan joins Mark to talk about how books saved her, writing politics out of children’s books and her thoughts on life as a marathon and books as sprints.

Photo provided by Rukhsana Khan.

Love of Reading Gallery – Lily (age 6)

Friday, September 25, 2009.

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing authors, illustrators and book people of all walks of life and spanning both ends of careers.  Today, I break new ground for me as I interview a six year-old who’s not my own daughter.

Lily was five when she submitted an illustration to our Love of Reading Gallery, making her the youngest contributor to our collection of art.  She never named her piece so I’ve called it Books and Friends.  On this edition, I speak with blogger and budding author/illustrator, Lily, about her illustration, the tools she uses and the projects she’s working on.

Listen to interviews with other members of Lily’s family:

Be sure to enjoy all of the amazing artwork in our Love of Reading Gallery.

What’s in it for me?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009.

Raise a Reader” Canwest Raise-a-Reader is a national campaign to generate funds for local literacy programs and increase awareness about the importance of encouraging family literacy. The Raise-a-Reader program has raised $12.7 million for literacy beneficiaries across Canada since it began in 2002. One hundred per cent of the money raised stays in the community it was given to support local programs.

Today is Canwest Raise-a-Reader Day! CanWest newspapers across Canada have published special literacy editions of their local newspapers  and volunteers in bright orange t-shirts are standing on street corners across the country handing out free copies  in exchange for donations to local literacy initiatives. A handful of change can make a difference.

Andrea’s article, What’s in it for me? The family that reads together… is part of the special literacy coverage.

Filed under: Podcast

Interview with Shauntay Grant

Monday, September 21, 2009.

Photo of Shauntay Grant (by Raul Rincon)While her book Up Home may be set in the one of Canada’s most important black communities, author Shauntay Grant‘s story is universal. As noted in the jacket flap, the book celebrates growing up and remembering our roots.

On this edition of Just One More Book!!, Mark speaks with Shauntay Grant about turning a spoken word performance piece into a children’s book, the role of verse in children’s literature and sharing the experience of growing up.

Photo of Shauntay Grant by Raul Rincon.

Love of Reading Gallery – Isaac (age 10)

Friday, September 18, 2009.

We opened our Love of Reading Gallery in July 2008 and invited all illustrators to submit original artwork that promotes a love of reading.  Submissions spanned the globe including Venezuela and Romania and covered all age ranges.

On this edition, Mark speaks with artist, blogger and budding author, Isaac, now 10 (he was 9 when he created his illustration) about Bedtime Snack, his contribution to our Love of Reading Gallery and a book he’s creating with his father, author/illustrator Aaron Zenz.

Be sure to enjoy all of the amazing artwork in our Love of Reading Gallery.

Love of Reading Gallery – Gracie (age 7)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

We opened our Love of Reading Gallery in July 2008 and invited all illustrators to submit original artwork that promotes a love of reading.  Submissions came from as far as Brazil, Vietnam and South Africa and covered all age ranges.

On this edition, Mark speaks with artist, blogger and budding author, Gracie, now 8 (she was 7 when she created her illustration) about Love for Reading, her contribution to our Love of Reading Gallery, her illustration technique and a book idea she has.

Be sure to enjoy all of the amazing artwork in our Love of Reading Gallery.

Did you notice Gracie’s reference to The HICCUPotamus (on JOMB)?


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