Tag Archives: MYRCA

V-O-T-E! Who will the winners be?

That’s the question on everyone’s mind these days – who will be the winner in this year’s MYRCA vote? The competition is  always fierce, but it’s even more so since this year there will be not one but two winners. There are two categories for MYRCA readers, Sundogs for grades 4 – 6, and Northern Lights for grades 7 – 9. The voting began March 18 and will continue until midnight April 10.

Throughout the year, the MYRCA committee members devote countless hours reading wonderful books by talented Canadian authors. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.  The committee members meet once a month to talk about what they’ve read. Over time more and more lists are created, which are then distilled into the final list for the year.

From that point on, the students are the ones doing the reading and discussion, then it all  comes down to the penultimate moment when they fill in the ballot for their favourites. The hardest part by far is waiting for the announcement of the MYRCA winner for the year.

There’s still time to do some reading before the end of the voting period. Here are a few of the titles to choose from. For a full list, go to myrca.ca

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

In Jenson’s  dreams, he has no problem being brave, but real life is harder. Things like finding a partner for a class project and Math are super scary. When Jenson joins the school newspaper things are still scary, but also surprising.

Restart by Gordon Korman

When Chase wakes up with amnesia his mind is filled with questions. Why does his Dad make him nervous? Why is his stepsister scared of him? The stuff in his room tells Chase he’s a middle school hero, but that’s not the whole story.

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Kamzin jumps at the opportunity to map the tallest, deadliest mountain in the kingdom. But when her sister sets off on her own to climb the mountain, Kamzin has a choice to make; save her sister from certain death, or beat her up the mountain for the glory.

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

Cam’s life is all about being someone he’s not. He and his dad are rent-a-relatives who act as friends and family members for paying customers. Pretending to be someone else was working for Cam, until he meets Albertina and Raylene,  and starts to discover who he really is.

V-O-T-E! Who will the winners be? You’ll just have to wait and see.


MYRCA Award Ceremony 2017

On September 29th 2017, the 27th annual MANITOBA YOUNG READER’S CHOICE AWARD was presented to Allan Stratton  for his novel The Dogs.  He was selected by Manitoban children who had read at least three books from the nominated list. Honour book winners were Kevin Sylvester  for his novel Minrs and Kevin Sands for his novel The Blackthorn Key.

Allan Stratton is a prolific Canadian author who has won numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) awards both in Canada and internationally. As he told the children who came to see him, he worked as an actor for many years, but writing was always his dream. Allan says that his greatest influence in life was his mother, who showed incredible fortitude in leaving his father and his violent abuse while he was a child in the days when such things were frowned upon. The Dogs was directly influenced from these events as is the character of Granny in The Way Back Home. Like Granny, Allan’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s and he spent much time with her in her twilight, often reading her the dedication page from The Grave Robber’s Apprentice. It reads “For Mom, who took me to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival when I was a kid”. It was a joy and surprise to her every day.

The Dogs is a mystery, a thriller, and a ghost story all rolled into one! Cameron (Cam) and his mother live life on the run from Cam’s abusive father, although the reader is never sure if Cam’s mother is justified in her fear of his return. They move into a creepy old farmhouse and Cam starts seeing the ghost of a little boy who died on the property. Cam begins to wonder if he is losing his mind. However, the barking of dogs that he knows are not there is real to him, and he dives into the mystery of the former homeowners. The true beauty of this novel is how it appeals to all age groups.  Both young and old alike enjoy the suspenseful atmosphere and the surprise ending!

Fun Fact: Allan Stratton names his characters by determining what year they were born, then looking into census records to see what the top names were at the time of his character’s “birth”.

The MYRCA award ceremony was held at the Manitoba Theater for Young People and was attended by over 300 students from Winnipeg and rural Manitoba. The ceremony is an invitation only event and the room was filled to capacity with students who read the nominees and voted for the award. The MYRCA committee was very proud to be able to partner with Thin Air, the International Writer’s Festival, who provided us with theater space and hosted Allan on their “School Stage” events during the week. Allan was able to take in several readings and was very excited to be invited during this incredible event. He told us that Thin Air is one of his favorite festivals in all of Canada!

Lisa Ferguson’s class from Victor Mager School were honoured to host the event. The grade 6, 7, and 8 students did a wonderful job presenting Allan with his award. They also produced a book trailer about The Dogs that Allan loved so much that he asked them if he could use it for his website. The students were very excited to meet him and the buzz backstage before the ceremony was electric. Allan offered the students some sage words of advice regarding nervousness before a show, and his past years of working as an actor clearly showed. Lisa’s class added some fun elements this year, as the students wrote out some trivia questions and the audience was invited to answer them. Participants were gifted with an autographed bookmark!

Allan then read from his new novel The Way Back Home .  Anyone who has a relative with Alzheimer’s will be able to relate to Zoe’s struggle as she watches her Granny deteriorate and eventual placement in a nursing home against her will. With bullies at school and parents who cannot seem to support her in a positive way,  Zoe begins to make some drastic decisions. Will they be able to find the mysterious Uncle Teddy whom everyone claims is dead but Granny insists is still alive? Recently short listed for both the Governor General’s award and OLA’s Red Maple award, The Way Back Home is a must read for any #canlit fan.

After the ceremony, attendees were invited to compete in a scavenger hunt in the afternoon. The talented and amazing (local author) Colleen Nelson organized a scavenger hunt. Students were given a map and clues where they could find hidden pictures of dogs. Once located, the students had to answer a multiple choice question about the nominees from the 2017 list. Students enjoyed running around the Forks on a beautiful fall day and were rewarded with a selection of Canadian books provided by the numerous publishers who support MYRCA every year. Thank you publishers!

Being part of the MYRCA committee is incredibly rewarding and the yearly award ceremony is the highlight of the year. The MYRCA committee is entirely run by volunteers and the ceremony is no exception, so a special thanks must go out to our volunteers – Susan C. who ran the reception table and kept all the classes organized before entry, and Susan from MTYP, the professional and gracious front of house manager who helped Lori and I seat all those excited children. Sabrina was on hand to live tweet from the event (you can follow us on twitter @Myrcaward) plus Tabitha and her students from Red River Collegiate were there to help with the Q and A as well as the book prize give-away and scavenger hunt. Lisa and Colleen made the entire day possible by organizing and putting on the event, which was a memorable day thanks to all their efforts.  We are so grateful that you all volunteered your precious time to help celebrate Allan’s achievement with our young voters. Job well done!

If you and your child/students are interested in participating in MYRCA, there is no cost and it is easy to do. Simply have you child read, or read to them a minimum of three books from the nominated listVoting begins in late March and the winner is announced in early May. Only voters are invited to the ceremony, so get reading so you can join us for all the fun next year!


Exciting #MYRCA News!

Teachers! Librarians! Parents! There is a big change coming to Manitoba for young readers! Hopefully you are familiar with the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award (MYRCA) where students in grades 5-8 can read from a list of 18 Canadian titles and vote for their favorite. If you are looking for ways to encourage your kids to read independently, MYRCA  is a great way to get started.

For 2017, Manitoba students chose Allan Stratton’s The Dogs as their favorite book. Our kids clearly have good taste as The Dogs has won both Saskatchewan’s Snow Willow Award and Ontario’s Forest of Reading’s Red Maple Award. This September, MYRCA together with Thin Air, the Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival have arranged to have Allan Stratton appear on their main and school stages. Young readers never forget meeting their favorite author, and their energy is palpable. Schools whose students have voted are also invited to a special ceremony when Allan will receive his 2017 MYRCA Award, hosted by Lisa Ferguson’s students from Victor Mager School.

Lately, the MYRCA committee has noted the difficulty in finding appropriate titles for the full range of ages we serve. Students’ reading interests in grade 5 are vastly different than students in grade 8. The same holds true for their reading levels. Having a long list of 18 books, MYRCA selectors have always hoped that there is something on it for everyone, but in reality, there are always a few books that are too “low” for the grade 8’s and too “high” for the grade 5’s.

With this in mind, MYRCA has decided that now is the time to change! Starting in 2019, MYRCA will offer two lists of 10 books each; one for grades 4-6 and one for grades 7-9. In this way we are expanding our readership into grades 4 and 9 and will be offering titles that are better suited to those ranges. The MYRCA voting system will remain the same, with participants voting once if they have read 3 or more titles and twice if they have read 6 or more. Teachers and librarians report this to be very motivating for their students, as many will read “just one more” to get that extra vote. As such, MYRCA hopes to encourage all young people to become readers for life.

Although this change is still a year away, you can still participate in this year’s MYRCA. You can start reading the fantastic titles on the 2018 list of nominees  in several ways. If you like good old-fashioned print books, WPL has all of the titles in hardcover or paperback. For the more technology oriented, you can find most of the titles in eBook and/or audiobook through WPL’s Overdrive app. If you need a great read-aloud for that long summer road trip, you can do that too! Kids are required to have read (or been read to) 3 nominees to be eligible to vote.  Here are the three I would recommend starting with:

Written in verse, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles  by Shari Green is evocative and deeply moving. While their parents attend a marriage counselling camp, Bailey and her younger brother Kevin are spending the summer with Nana Marie, whom they barely know. Bailey is struggling with anxiety and looks for solace in the strangest of places. She sometimes finds the face of Jesus in her pancakes and a piece of driftwood is certainly a magical mermaid. But the idyllic seaside town has mysteries of its own and Bailey finds herself hoping for a miracle.

 A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy is a short novella about Evelyn who is just as surprised as her classmates when they are introduced to the new boy at school whose name is Queen. The boys in her class tease him but she tries to be nice. What she discovers along the way makes for a great discussion starter about being resilient and staying true to yourself.


For graphic novel lovers, The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks introduces us to an Asian-inspired city that has been repeatedly conquered and renamed so many times that the original name has been lost. The divide between the wealthy military elite and the poor population is apparent to Kaidu, a general’s son and Rat, an orphaned Indigenous girl. Together they try to rescue the city in the only way they can. This is the first in a trilogy and is being made into a television series.


So, get those kids reading and see you at Thin Air!


MYRCA Madness


March is a month which is special to many people for many reasons. For some, it’s because of St. Patrick’s Day, a time to celebrate their Irish heritage.  For others, it’s all about the basketball, and March Madness. Some years, Easter falls in March, which brings a bunch of reasons to celebrate. For the past 26 years, though, March is also the month when MYRCA voting starts.

And what is MYRCA? I’m so glad you asked. MYRCA or Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award was founded in 1990 as a way to celebrate the International Year of Literacy. Every year since then, the members of the MYRCA committee read and reflect on Canadian fiction that was  written for young people, in order to come up with the annual reading list. This list is available to everyone, and is a great way to promote reading and literacy.

Starting in March, any Manitoba student in grades 5 to 8 who has read at least 3 books on the list is eligible to  vote. These votes then determine which author will become the MYRCA winner for the year. The winning author gets the chance to come to Winnipeg to take part in the awards ceremony. Students from all across Manitoba take part, and it’s a momentous opportunity for students to meet the winning author in person, to ask questions and to present the prize. Past winners have included Kenneth Oppel, David Carroll, Susin Nielsen and Norah McClintock.

Check out this year’s list and you’ll be sure to find something for everyone, from laugh out loud hilarity to non stop hockey action and super scary science fiction.


Tank and Fizz: The Case of the Slime Stampede


Oh no! The cleaning slimes at Gravelmuck Elementary School have escaped and are leaving destruction in their path! Principal Weaver is sure that Mr. Snag, the beloved school custodian, is to blame.  Tank and Fizz, a goblin detective and his troll friend Tank are equally sure that he is innocent and set out to prove it.  Don’t forget to read the pictures in this very funny and somewhat slimy mystery.


Last Shot


Bryan ‘Rocket’ Rockwood has been drafted into the OHL for his skills, not his size. He’s the smallest player on the team, and his teammates and coaches don’t ever let him forget it. Rocket has the determination and the skills to make it in the NHL, but can he earn the respect of the coaches and the other players? Or should he give up his dreams for good?



The Scorpion Rules


The world has changed. Cities have been destroyed and empires have crumbled. The planet is now ruled by a supercomputer who has dictated that all of the ruling families must provide a child to be held as a hostage until their 18th birthday to ensure that the world will remain at peace.  Going to war means the death of a hostage.  Duchess Greta thought she was prepared to die, until she meets Elián….


There’s a lot more where this came from! You can find these titles, along with all of the others on this year’s list, at any public library or on the Overdrive site. So don’t delay, start reading today! Voting will begin on March 20, 2017, and close at midnight Wednesday, April 12, 2017. All eligible students can vote at the Winnipeg public library of their choice.

Now, when I say MYRCA you say: “Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award!”



Canadian Stories Week in Manitoba

Believe it or not, Manitoba has a great literary tradition. Did you know that we launched the first Canadian Reader’s Choice Award for kids? Waaaayyyy back in 1990, it was the International Year of Literacy and Winnipeg Public Library along with several other organizations thought it would be a great idea to try to encourage children in grades 5 through 8 to read Canadian books and vote for their favorite. Why tweens? Because that is the time when children transition to reading independently. Just like learning to ride a bike, you need to travel on familiar territory and keep practising until you get the hang of it. Reading can be challenging for kids and with that thought in mind, MYRCA was created to make reading fun.

After all, voting for a favorite book is fun! Every May, readers are presented with a long list of 18 Canadian titles. Throughout the year, kids can read their way through the 2016 nominees. As long as tweens read 3 books, they are eligible to vote in March. No fees required. http://www.myrca.ca/voting-procedures/

This year, MYRCA wanted to have a huge 25th anniversary bash. “Let’s bring in 3 authors instead of just one,” they said. “Let’s have book tours,” they said. “Let’s have readings in the Winnipeg Public Library,” they said. “Let’s have a Speed-Date-with-an-Author dinner,” they said. “Let’s ask SAGE to have a Canadian Stories Theme,” they said. “Let’s get Ace Burpee,” I said.

Yes, over here in the MYRCA committee, we dream big.

But we also work hard. Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg Children’s Literature Roundtable (WCLR)   and Manitoba School Library Association (MSLA)  partnered with the MYRCA committee to plan a week’s worth of events for all levels of interest. We decided to bring in our winner, David Carroll, and both honour book winners, Kelley Armstrong and Tom Earle. Winnipeg Public Library hosted all three at the Millennium Library and 3 more in the branches; Carol Matas,  Larry Verstraete and Jennifer Dance. Rural school visits were organized for our local authors. The WCLR’s Authors at the Round Table Dinner gave authors and fans of all ages, a chance to mingle together. MSLA hosted all the authors for teachers on their professional development day, SAGE. And MYRCA hosted the most ambitious Award Ceremony in its history. We even got Ace Burpee!

Hard to believe it’s all over. After over a year of planning, countless meetings, thousands of emails, fundraising and worrying… you wonder, was it worth it?

Happy authors

You would have to ask the kids whose bright, shining, happy faces were beaming wildly with joy at meeting the authors whose books they loved. You would have to ask the teachers who rely on the MYRCA list every year to find great Canadian books for their classes. You would have to ask the authors who are ridiculously proud to be chosen by their readers for this award. You only need to search #MYRCA25 or #Cdnstoriesweek on Twitter to see for yourselves.

This year’s MYRCA winner was David Carroll for the novel Ultra.

In it, Quinn is running the longest race of his young life and he faces many obstacles. But, like his author, Quinn is determined to stay positive. Never give up! Always believe that you can do better!  Don’t let those little voices in your head bring you down! David’s inspiring and uplifting message was appreciated by everyone he met, including Ace Burpee. Ace’s reaction upon finding out that David can repeat sentences backwards, was to test it out. True Story! Clearly pleased that David had such an awesome hidden talent, Ace’s reaction was: “I have to hang out with writers more often.”

Happy David and Ace

Yes, you do Ace. And to all those kids who asked “how can I become a writer?” I think David Carroll’s answer was perfect: “have interesting friends.” Here at WPL, we have really interesting, supportive, fearless friends. Friends who dedicate their volunteer time to working for a common goal: literacy! When partnerships work out as well as they did last week, Manitoba wins!  And we can all be immensely proud of that.


Make May a Myrca Month

If you have a tween reader and are looking for new books to quench their thirst, here are some recommendations taken from the new 2015 MYRCA shortlist.

pugglyofspudFor fans of Dr Seuss: In an updated version of the Emperor’s New Clothes, Robert Paul Weston has given us a masterful example of literary prowess perfect for reading aloud to a classroom of tweens. Written entirely in verse, Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff is a cautionary tale about vanity, perfect for the Lady Gaga generation. Princess Francesca wants nothing more than to than curl up on a pillow, in her pajamas and read books all day long. But the Kingdom of Spiff is ruled by fashion and everyone is expected to dress up for the ball. When Prince Puggly is invited to the extravaganza, will he become a social pariah because of his unfashionable attire?

For dog lovers: Reminiscent of 101 Dalmatians, The Metro Dogs of Moscow by Rachelle Delaney follows the adventures of JR, a Jack Russell terrier whose human is a Canadian ambassador stationed in Moscow. Their cleaning lady has a habit of leaving the living room window open and JR takes full advantage of his newfound freedom. In his daily escapades, he meets snobby embassy dogs who actually like being on leash and scruffy stray dogs living underground in the Moscow subway. When JR discovers that his new friends are being dognapped, he decides he must solve the mystery any way he can!

For fans of the Warriors series: In The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, author Charles DeLint has teamed up with illustrator Charles Vess to create a coming of age tale about the power of choice. Lillian lives with her aunt in a little cabin on the edge of a wood teaming with mystical creatures. One day, as she is searching for fairies, she gets bitten by a venomous snake and slowly begins to die. Even though it is forbidden, the wild cats decide to use their magic to save Lillian’s life. When she wakes, Lillian is happy to be alive, but is devastated to learn she has been transformed into a kitten. Her only hope rests with the Old Possum-Witch who may have magic powerful enough to transform her back into a girl.

For fans of Percy Jackson: If your tweens have watched the movie Thor once too many times, try Loki’s Wolves, a new series written by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. It is the first in a series that uses Norse mythology as inspiration. Set in North Dakota, 13 year old Matt knows that he is the descendant of Thor and isn’t surprised when the town names him as champion. Now he must team up with friends Fen and Laurie to try and prevent the end of the world, Ragnarok. Will they find Thor’s hammer and shield before they are hunted down by Loki’s wolves? Curious tweens can check out the website devoted to the series: http://www.blackwellpages.com/

urgle_cover_largeFor fans of The Hobbit: If your teens have read the Hunger Games series and aren’t yet sick of apocalyptic fiction, Urgle by Meaghan McIsaac is a very original take on the Lord of the Flies. A society of boys is living on the edge of the volcanic Ikkuma pit. When a baby is abandoned, one boy must accept responsibility for him and raise him until he is independent enough to raise a baby of his own. Urgle is known as Useless for his inability to properly raise his younger brother Cubby. Not only is Urgle small and unable to hunt like the others, Cubby is sensitive and gets picked on for being a “mother-seeker”. When a strange man appears, hunted and wounded, the Ikkuma boys are amazed; no man has ever returned to the pit! Curious, Urgle notices things about the man that worry him, but when Cubby is attacked and dragged off by wild goblins, Urgle must learn to trust the stranger so that he may find Cubby before it’s too late.

For fans of The Fault in our Stars: Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is one of those books whose subject matter may seem uninteresting but whose characters are so realistic that you want to reach out and hug them. 14-year-old Adam is trapped in many ways. Not only does he suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), his younger step-brother, Sweetie is exhibiting the same symptoms and his mother has been receiving threatening letters which she refuses to discuss. Adam finds solace in room 13B where he goes to weekly support group meetings. There he meets Robyn and falls instantly in love with her. Will Adam find the courage to face the truth about himself, his family and the girl he loves? Keep a box of tissues handy, you might need them!

MYRCA is the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award which aims to pair readers with great Canadian fiction. Any child, resident of Manitoba may vote for their favorite book as long as they have read 5 from the pre-selected Shortlist of nominees. For more information go to www.myrca.ca, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @MyrcAward.

Some titles are not yet available, please check back soon to get your copy or download them through OverDrive.

Happy reading!


Myrca Award Ceremony 2013

boxofshocksOn September 27th 2013, the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award was presented to Chris McMahen for his novel Box of Shocks.  He was selected by Manitoba children who had read at least three of the nominated books. Of the 2195 votes that were cast through ninety-two schools and twenty branches of Winnipeg Public Library, Box of Shocks received 253 votes and had been read by 758 students. The race was a tight one, Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes received 225 votes and Undergrounders received 199. Last year’s nominees were read 8430 times! It brings a tear to my eye. Seriously.

peter-nimble088-197x300undergrounders080-198x300The ceremony was held at the Manitoba Theater for Young People and was attended by over 300 students from all over Manitoba. The MYRCA committee was very proud to be able to partner with Thin Air, the International Writer’s Festival  who provided us with the theater space and Susan who is quite frankly the most efficient front of house manager, ever! She helped us seat all 306 guests from the voting schools invited to attend. And it was obviously the hottest ticket in town for the tween age group! Free swag included a 2014 list book for their class.

Myrca 2014 046Students and fans gathered to hear Mr. McMahen read from Box of Shocks. The passage he read was when Oliver sneaks into Spike McChomp’s yard to retrieve another memento for his box. Say it with me now, SPIKE McCHOMP! Mr. McMahen then demonstrated his writing process. He stood on the far left of the stage. “First”, he said, “I have my Great Idea” (hop). “Then I write the 1st draft” (step). “Then comes Finding a Publisher” (step). “Then comes Revision” (step). Then “Revision (another step). Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision” until he crossed the stage entirely. “Then comes Publication” (hop). The students seemed horrified at the thought of so much revision! It was extremely amusing.

It was then time to officially launch the 2014 Nominees:  Heather Eby’s students created book-trailers which were premiered on the big screen. For those of you wondering, book-trailers are short videos that are designed to sell the book, just like movie trailers do for movies. The fact that they were made by the students in such a short amount of time positively amazed me. Way to go Linden Meadows School! Epic Work!

The greatest joy for any librarian is to see a room full of children absolutely excited about reading, and the MYRCA ceremony definitely delivered. Even after the formal presentations, the atmosphere was electric as the kids lined up to have their books signed by Chris McMahen. MTYP was a sea of happy faces and nervous chatter. McNally Robinson was on hand if you didn’t yet have your own copy, so books were the star of the show.

Being part of the MYRCA committee as Representative of the Winnipeg Public Library is incredibly rewarding. There are many, many hours of reading many, many books which incur the liveliest discussions; and seeing all those children engaged with reading gives me enough literary energy to propel me into the whole next year. Mr. McMahen said that we have something very special here in Manitoba, and I believe him. It was special enough to merit thanking us in his blog.

Myrca 2014 089So, Congratulations Chris! Thanks you voters! Until next year, happy reading!


Tween Road Trip Survival Guide


[Road trip + tweens = “Mom, I’m so bored!”]

…here are five reasons why making reading
a part of your family road trip is a good idea!

Reason 1.
Because nothing is more hilarious than having Dad act out a girl part.

0375967559Entertaining the kids with some great read-alouds is a great way to keep them distracted. Try Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire, a modern folktale  translated from the original Rabbit by Polly Hovarth. Madeline comes home from school to discover that her parents have been abducted by foxes. She hires Mr. and Mrs. Bunny to help her find them but they haven’t got Detective Licenses. Not to worry, the fedoras will do.

9781443119207You could also try Ungifted by Gordon Korman: Each chapter can be read by a different member of the family. Roles to read include: Donovan Curtis (I.Q. 112) the natural born troublemaker accidentally sent to the Genius Academy. Dr. Schultz (I.Q. 127) the school division’s Superintendent who will suspend him the minute he finds him. The child geniuses at the Academy: Chloe Garfinkle (I.Q. 159) and Noah Youkilis (I.Q 206) who just might learn something from a “regular” kid.

Reason 2.
Because they are a captive audience!

9781554683390This Dark Endeavour and Such Wicked Intent are Ken Oppel’s imagined prequels to Frankenstein. Here, Victor is a teenager growing up in the family Chateau with his twin brother Conrad and their cousin Elizabeth. Victor discovers secret rooms and banned books with knowledge so dangerous that they are forbidden to explore it. Of course, they can’t resist. Both books are great to read aloud. But why stress yourself? Pop in a CD and leave it to the professionals. Both are available as audiobooks on CD, read by Luke Daniels.

Reason 3.
Because it’s good to remind them their iPods can be eBook readers too! iPods, iPhones, Android tablets – they can all load library eBooks using the free OverDrive app. Here are some downloadable eBooks perfect for their fast pace and short length:

1554699789Prisoner of Snowflake Falls by John Lekich: Henry is being raised by criminals but can’t quite seem to get the “robbing” part of a B&E right. How will he survive the summer when his only guardian, Uncle Andy gets locked up again?

Guilty by Norah McClintock: Finn Newsome and Lila Ouimette are connected by a murder. Lila’s father happens to be Mrs. Newsome’s murderer but the real mystery is the motive. Why would Mr. Ouimette kill Finn’s new step-mother on the very day he was released from jail?

Reason 4.
Because a road trip is the perfect time to have a serious family discussion innocently wrapped up as a fun family book club.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen. Henry has moved from his hometown and changed schools in order to hide his family’s past. Older brother, Jesse has been the victim of bullying and has taken action against his aggressor. Find out what your teens think about bullying and school violence.


My name is Parvana. The latest novel in Deborah Ellis’s Breadwinner series, Parvana is now a young woman, trying to help girls in Afghanistan get an education. She is arrested as a possible terrorist and wonders what will become of her in jail. Discover what your teens think about life and war in the Middle East.

Reason 5.
Because all of these titles are on the MYRCA list this year. If they read at least 5 of them, your kids can vote for their favorite. Visit www.myrca.ca for more information.

Happy trails!

– Colette

How to talk so kids will read

As summer rolls around, I begin to wonder, When will I get The Call? And by The Call, I mean that yearly call from my tween’s teacher to tell me my son needs to do “summer homework” to keep his reading level up. This is no easy task. Getting him to read takes bribery, subterfuge and some good old fashioned authority (not usually a good combination during vacations). Luckily, over time, I have developed an arsenal of strategies that will help get us through this ordeal as painlessly as possible. 

1. Give choices. Although it’s tempting to drop him off at the library with instructions to “find something to read,” chances are he’ll come back with a Bone comic book and the latest issue of Nintendo Power. By challenging him to participate in MYRCA (the annual Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards), he has a choice of 18 titles that have been pre-selected to guarantee quality and kid appeal. All he has to do is read 3 off the list to be eligible to vote.

The BEDMAS conspiracy 2. Judge a book by its cover. Be shallow, it’s ok. Tweens judge books by their covers all the time. Tweens who hate reading also judge books by their length. The Bedmas Conspiracy has the perfect cover: an electric guitar, a ZZ Top wig and sunglasses and the perfect length: it is the shortest one on the MYRCA list. Rock on!

End of days 3. Refer books to Pop-culture. This is tricky; telling your tween that End of Days is just like the X-Files will work against you. I know it’s SHOCKING but no one remembers who Mulder and Scully are anymore. Comparing it to Men in Black 3D makes you seem cool and hip. Always be mindful that you, as the adult, should have no idea about what is actually cool, so be subtle.

This dark endeavour 4. Isn’t that a movie? Tweens automatically become interested in the book if it gets made into a movie. Casually mentioning that the producers of Twilight are making a movie of Ken Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor will lead them to the book. Saying it in front of tween girls, though, may get you more reaction than you cared for! Use earplugs.  

Blood red road 5. Scarcity as motivator. Complain loudly that Blood Red Road is impossible to get. Get your techno tween to place a hold on it for you. Wonder aloud daily if it’s in yet. Scream when you find out it’s waiting for you and drag (read: plan to have) your tween with you when you go pick it up. With any luck, he’ll start reading it in the car, on the way home. 

Box of shocks 6. Plead ignorance. Pretend you can’t figure out how to download books on the iPod. Get your tween to do it for you. Conveniently use Box of Shocks as an example and voila! Your tween has a book right in his hands that he doesn’t even have to bother to remember to return. 

7. You scratch my back, I’ll bake fudge. Promise to make any recipe he wants from The Case of the Missing Deed after he reads it. Chances are he’ll pick the Fudge recipe and everyone is happy when there is chocolate. 

The case of the missing deed Peter Nimble and his fantastic eyes : a story / by Jonathan Auxier.Peter Nimble and his fantastic eyes : a story / by Jonathan Auxier.8. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Peter Nimble and his fantastic eyesFind books comparable to authors tweens already like. Fans of Roald Dahl will love Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes, just be sure to mention he’s a blind orphan pickpocket hero with a secret. Mention it while watching Oliver Twist during family movie night for best results. 

Timber Wolf9. Appeal to their rebellious nature. A little reverse psychology can work wonders.  Wait until your tween gets upset and it clouds their judgment. A timely placed “Whatever you do, DO NOT read Timber Wolf” may be all you’ll ever need. 

I tend to pick my battles and reading is usually, necessarily, one of them. My librarian side thinks ‘reading should be fun, reading should be its own reward.’ Truth is, reading is work for the reluctant reader and it really isn’t any fun until you become proficient. By using these tactics, you may find that his (read: your) summer reading will get a little easier one book at a time.


Actual Conversation with Actual Tween about MYRCA

It’s spring break and while I am busy trying to renovate the bathroom, my tween is getting bored playing his same old video games.

“Can we go shopping for a new one?” he asks.

Well, “NO.”


I want to say: Can’t you see I am busy? But it comes out: “Because when I was your age, I had to use my imagination to entertain myself. Go read a book.”

Tween rolls eyes.

“Get the laptop and look up: www.myrca.ca. It’s the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Reader’s Choice. You know, like the Teen Choice Awards… the one where they give out giant surfboards?”

A spark of recognition floats into the tween’s eyes.

“Well, you choose the winner, you! Not me, not your teachers, not the librarians, YOU!”

“That’s cool. I loved The Lightning Thief.”

The Emperor's Code

This is where I know I’ll lose him, but I valiantly try in spite of the drywall mud forming to a hard crust all over my hands.

“It’s a Manitoban award, the books are all Canadian. You can’t vote for The Lightning Thief because it’s not on the list.”

Tween sighs mournfully.

“You know, a lot of people read through a lot of books to pick the list, just take a look at it… See? You’ve already read all the 39 Clues; The Emperor’s Code is on there. Isn’t that the one where Dan gets lost in China and goes on tour with Justin Beiber?”

“It wasn’t Justin Bieber, he went on tour with his superstar cousin, Jonah Wizard.”


Dear George Clooney, please marry my mom

“Um, Mom, why is there water running down the stairs?”

As I run back the bathroom, I can hear the click clicking of the laptop keys.

“Hey Mom! Dear George Clooney is on the list, I’ve read that one too. Violet feeds cat poop to her baby twin sisters. It’s hilarious! Then she tries to get George Clooney to marry her Mom because she’s dating a man named Dudley Wiener!”

As he laughs hysterically, I wonder why, exactly, that is funny, but I am too busy mopping to care.  

“And my teacher had us do a project on The Adventures of Jack Lime. First he read it out to us in class and then we had to make a movie trailer.”

I come back downstairs to see my tween looking up books on the library’s website. I may not be a plumber, but I think I have this parenting thing down pat.

Adventures of Jack Lime

“Can we go to the library? It says I can vote anytime during spring break.”

“I have to drive your sister to Millennium for the Hunger Games party.   You can vote then.”

“Awesome. Can I call on Hunter now to see if he wants to make another movie trailer with me?”


“We can feed poop to his baby sister!”

As tween runs out the door with the video camera, I think to myself, maybe I should stick to renovations. It’s much easier.