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Bullying and basketball

February 10th, 2011 by Meredith

Sports novelist Steven Barwin talks about the bullying theme in his new basketball novel

Q: As a middle school teacher you must see your fair share of bullying. Was there a particular incident that prompted you to write Fadeaway? 

A: Fadeaway came about from my experiences in the classroom and from coaching a junior basketball team. As a teacher I knew I had to write a book on bullying. Cyber and social bullying are something I see all the time, especially with girls, which is why my main character, Renna, is female. My angle was to take a very optimistic, glass half full type character and force her into the role of victim and see how she reacted.  The coach character is based on me. While there wasn’t bullying on my team, I was new to coaching and this lead to a coach character who was so distracted by his coaching duties that he was oblivious to the bullying issues on the team. Besides, so much social and cyber bullying plays out below the radar of teachers and coaches.


Q: What's the hardest part for you when it comes to dealing with bullying at school?

 A: All of it! Almost all of the bullying that I see is social bullying. And more among girls than boys. It’s like they’re walking a social high wire where friendships are forming and dissolving in front of my eyes everyday. I’m amazed at how quickly a student can be left out to dry and as a teacher I get frustrated because I can’t force friendships.  When it comes to cyberbullying, I had an incident when I taught grade seven. In an online chat room, unflattering comments were said about another student and myself. Someone on the chat printed it and reported it. It was horrific to see the parent’s reaction to what their daughter had written online. I remember how I felt reading about myself and I made sure to relate that experience to Renna when she is the target of cyber bullying. 

Q: What is being done in your school or classroom to fight bullying? Do you have any advice for other teachers about how to deal with bullying?

 A: My school takes a restorative approach. The bully and the victim meet face to face each with a buddy of their choice for support. A mediator asks a series of questions to engage in dialogue centered around getting the bully to understand the victim’s feelings and the impact they’ve had on them. It’s a great approach that forces both parties to deal with the situation. As for other teachers, this can be done in the classroom as well. It’s all about keeping an open dialogue and not letting friction build up to a boiling point. Students need to know that there is zero tolerance when it comes to bullying. 

Q: What about the kids themselves, what can they do?

 A: A big theme in the book is how Renna becomes a bully by being bullied. It’s a vicious turn I’ve seen a lot at school.  First stop is a great go-to source - (1-800-668-6868).  There is a lot of very valuable information on this site. At that moment of truth when someone admits to being a victim of bullying there’s an online forum where they can reach out to others. At the very least, that’s a good place to start. For cyberbullying, the message to bullies is that what goes online stays online. The message for victims is to learn how to print the screen. It’s the best way to get proof. Clicking the Alt and PrintScreen keys will take a screen shot and it can be saved and printed. I know the research and the students have been educated about the language around bullying (bully, victim, and bystander). One of the best messages I’ve heard about anti-bullying comes from Q-Mack (see foreword inFadeaway). He empowers students by telling them to one-up their bully by going out and becoming better at something than them. The entire bully and victim scenario is all about power ­— and those who are bullied can take back the power if they want it. 


Q: You've written quite a few books about middle school kids and sports: Icebreaker,Rock DogsSk8er, and Slam Dunk, to name a few. Where do the ideas for  your characters from?

 A:  Coming up with ideas has never been a problem for me. Sometimes I think they’re floating in the air waiting from me to grab them, other times they’re inspired by something I see or hear. I’ve yet to write a book about a kid I’ve taught… it’s more about the environment, the vibe. I feel lucky being a teacher and a writer because every day I show up to school, it’s like walking into a focus group. I’m privy to tweens and their world. They’re my audience and I definitely cater my stories, my writing towards them. A big “character” in my books is also the Toronto area. Each book features a unique part of the city (Kensington Market, Castle Loma, Richmond Hill, etc.).

FadeawayIcebreakerRock DogsSk8terSlam Dunk

Q: In Fadeaway there was a scene where a group of grade 7 girls were in the cafeteria hovering around an iPhone that they weren't supposed to have. Did this scene come from a real experience?  

A: This moment was inspired by what I see at my school. When I was in grade six and seven, other kids would hover around someone who was willing to share their candy.  Now it’s the iPhone that gathers a crowd. Texting is a big part of a kid’s and teen’s world today. I see students in grades three and four with cell phones. Schools need to keep up with these changes because more kids are now going online via their smart phones than their computers. Since writing Fadeaway, my school has gone wireless and acceptance of technology brought in by the students has increased.


Q: Do you play all the sports you write about?

 A: Some of my best writing advice was from author Eric Walters. He told me that writing shouldn’t be all made up. He said experience it and write from your senses. I played ice hockey and as an adult I play floor hockey. As for rock climbing, I did research inside a rock climbing gym in Toronto and visited Rattle Snake Point. It took a while to build up the courage because I’m afraid of heights, but I eventually did go climbing. Maybe my next book should be about skydiving!

Teen titles on Kobo

August 6th, 2011 by Meredith Location:  Test

Teen titles on Kobo

We’re quickly adding to the list of our teen and children’s titles available as ebooks. We’re adding more titles to key ebook vendors every week. Right now, the following titles are available at the Kobo ebook store. These and other titles are coming soon to Barnes + Noble, Apple’s ibookstore, and Sony

Visit to for these Fall 2010 titles in ebook format or read excerpts.

kobo titles.jpg

Targetted teen

February 16th, 2011 by Meredith

ScabWith a nickname like Scab, there’s little doubt that the central character in Robert Rayner’s new teen novel has been targeted by his classmates. In fact, he wears this name with a certain kind of pride as he stands apart from his peers. But he discovers that this attitude costs him the first relationship he’s ever cared about.Rayner’s novel is one of several in the Lorimer SideStreetsseries for young adults with a bullying theme. Other titles show different forms of bullying and different strategies by kids who successfully overcome the challenges it poses.

NewIn Peter McPhee's New Blood, a teenage boy's family moves him to Canada to escape the tough streets of Glasgow, only to discover that bullying exists everywhere.

KleptoIn Klepto by Lori Weber, an older sister\'s bullying induces fear in a teenage girl, causing her to act out.

Cliques and bullying

February 25th, 2011 by Meredith

Did you know?

• 44 % of young people reported bullying others online
• bullying occurs once every 7 minutes in schools
• on average, bullying episodes are brief, lasting only 37 seconds
• in a recent survey 96.3% of teenage girls said that cliques existed in their schools 
• boys are just as likely as girls to form cliques  

CliquesOur new book on cliques makes it easy for kids to understand how cliques create opportunities for bullying behaviour, and how kids can respond to the challenges of cliques among their classmates and friends.

This 2011 book, Cliques by Kat Mototsune, is part of a series that tackles bullying in a new and appealing way. The 21-title series offers information about conflict-related behaviour kid-friendly ways. Graphic-novel style visuals are combined with games, puzzles, and humour – all intended to create better understanding of bullying-type behaviour and how to deal with it.

Cliques and other series books tackle their topic from three different vantage points: the target, the instigator, and the bystander. The idea is to help every kid gain a better understanding of why they and others act the ways they do – and how to respond in ways which help bring an end to the conflict.

We’ve just published a teacher resource guide to the eight conflict and bullying-oriented titles in the Deal with It series. It’s full of great ideas about how to address these topics in the classroom.

Whether you're observing Pink Shirt Day on Feb 29, 2012, or supporting the movement to stop bullying on any other day (or everyday) in your school or community, books in the Deal With It series will help get you started.

Among the 21 series titles are:

• Cliques: Deal with it using what you have inside by Kat Mototsune 
• Cyberbulling: Deal with it and ctrl alt delete it by Robyn MacEachern 
• Bullying: Deal with it before push comes to shove 
by Elaine Slavens

Football antidote to racism for star Edmonton Eskimo Normie Kwong

April 20th, 2011 by Meredith

ChinaIn 1948, Normie Kwong became the first Chinese Canadian to play in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Normie grew up in Calgary, Alberta, outside of the city’s Chinatown during an era when many Chinese Canadian children, even some of his own family members, faced hostility and prejudice. Normie found that his love of sport helped him fit in with the other kids in his neighbourhood. 

“That’s where it all started,” says Kwong. “We would play all kinds of sports, but football was the most popular.” 

Normie Kwong played football despite his mom's protests — he was smaller than the other players and his mom feared he would be hurt. But he used his small size to give him an advantage on the field and he became one of the fastest players, earning the nickname “China Clipper” after the fast-sailing trading ships of the mid-1800s. By the time he retired from the CFL, he had played for both the Stampeders and the Eskimos and held 30 CFL records.

But his recordbreaking days weren't over yet. In 2005, Normie Kwong became the first person of Chinese heritage to serve as Alberta’s Lieutenant-Governor. Says Normie, "They talk a lot about the American Dream. Well, my story has to be the Canadian Dream. My father was an immigrant grocer who couldn’t vote until his fortieth year in Canada and he has a son who became the Lieutenant-Governor of this province. There are not many places where you can achieve that kind of success.”

The book China Clipper by Richard Brignall traces the life of this Canadian hero. In it, Brignall shows how sports can bring people of different backgrounds together.

A recent review of the book in CM-Canadian Materials discusses several ways this book can be useful in a library or classroom setting: \"… China Clipper would be a beneficial addition to the sports genre section of a library. However, it could also be part of the Chinese Canadian sub-collection or multicultural collection within a public or school library. Teachers could use it within a unit that focuses on the lives of immigrants to Canada, the difficulties they face, and the opportunities that are open to them. In this context, teachers could stimulate discussion around how Normie Kwong was able to successfully overcome the obstacles present at the time for Chinese Canadians … It is through this book that the history of Chinese Canadians can be made accessible to young readers who can come to identify with Normie Kwong, even if they, themselves, do not play sports."—    

Reviewed by Huai-Yang Lim for CM Magazine. See full review here:

Fitting in — and tough choices — for Avvy

April 16th, 2011 by Meredith

ThiefIt's not unusual for teenage girls to want to feel accepted by their peers. And some girls go to great lengths to fit in. Toronto author Ingrid Lee wanted to portray accurately some of the very tough circumstances that a daughter of recent immigrants to Canada can face when she wants to fit in.

The result is the recently-published teen novel Thief Girl,featuring Chinese Canadian main character Avvy. It's based on Lee's observations of the teenagers she encounters daily at the Scarborough high school where she teaches. 

In the book, the problems for Avvy go deeper than just not fitting in at school. Avvy\'s parents are struggling immigrants from China who run a food kiosk in a food court that is being targeted by local thugs. Avvy's younger brother, Tommy, gets picked on at school, and her cousin from China, who is in Canada on a temporary work visa, is hiding the fact that she's being sexually harassed by her employer.

Although her intentions are honourable, Avvy makes a bad decision to try and help her family — she steals money from a bank card she finds on the street. She soon finds that one lie turns into another as she tries to cover up what she's done. But as Avvy's mom warns, "Bad choice, good choice always come back — like ghosts."

CM Magazine calls Thief Girl "…an emotionally engaging novel" and "…a good read that relates the realistic problems of teens who don't fit in but strive to be accepted by their peers."

For an idea of  Ingrid Lee's style, check out this brief excerpt:

Thief Girl Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“#31, no onion,” I repeated mechanically from behind the counter. “No hot sauce. That’ll be $4.26. Five minutes.

”The woman ordering the food fussed over the coins, cobbling together change from pockets and pouches. I threw the money in the drawer quickly, before she could change her mind. I knew she wouldn’t be satisfied with her choice. All the signs were there, the anxious rereading of the menu and the side-glances at the plates of other people in the food court. The food would be too slimy. There would be too many strange vegetables. She should have stuck to the chow mein, or maybe some potstickers with plum sauce.

So what? It was none of my business. All I wanted to do was grab Tommy and go home. I had a history paper due in the morning.

Another customer headed for our stall. Bad luck, I thought to myself. It was Mr. Finch, one of my teachers from Oak Ridge High, the one to blame for the history assignment that loomed over me. He must have come straight from school. He was still dressed in his old wool jacket, the sleeves dipped in chalk.

“Wah!” my mother exclaimed from the cramped kitchen. She nagged at me in Mandarin. “Avvy, pay attention. This order ready to bag.

”Normally if I saw someone I knew at the food-and-trinkets court, which was hardly ever, I’d slip out of our stall and head past the bakery toward the tunnel, the wide mouth that separated us from the big mall. There, I could hide among the shoe shops and clothing stores. Too bad escape was out of the question this time. I kept my head down, bagging hot orders and taking new ones. Maybe Mr. Finch wouldn’t recognize me.

“Fried rice with egg, no pork, please,” Mr. Finch said. He patted the pocket of his jacket. “I seem to have forgotten the wallet. Good thing I keep a spare bill.

”I nodded, keeping my face angled toward the cash register. He moved aside and stood patiently by Madame Cho’s bakery next door. As soon as my mom scooped the rice meal, I bagged it, doing my signature twist to the plastic ends, nestling them inside each other. “Chopsticks?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “Thanks anyway.”

“You’re welcome,” I mumbled.

Serving Mr. Finch in our food court was a bit of a jolt. The neighbourhood where I lived was a community of immigrants. Oak Ridge High was some distance away, across a rail bridge and through a maze of suburban streets. It was definitely part of the older, richer side of town. I only attended the school because the apartment building where we lived straddled some municipal line.

For the next forty minutes, orders came faster than spatters of fat.

“Beef with black bean and rice noodle.”

“Moo Goo Guy Pan.”

“Vegetable Lo Mein.”

I operated on automatic. My mother and father kept up a constant barrage of words while they worked. They drained noodles and tossed shavings of meat and vegetables back and forth in the woks of the cooker. The noise of the food court, the drone of our old fan, and the sizzling grease added to the din. When my brother Tommy arrived from school, he made everything worse.

Tommy never could settle down and stay quiet.

“Where’s your books?” my mother nagged. “How you going to live in a big house if you don’t do homework?” She grabbed a highlighter and some papers. “Here. Put yellow line on Heavenly Meal Special, #6. Make important.”

Tommy deflated as if someone had poked him with a pin. He crouched behind the freezer with the pile of menus. Afterwards he folded them into pamphlets. I felt a little sorry for him. “So, where’s your new friend?” I asked.

“He’s just stupid,” Tommy said. He scribbled over one of the papers.

I turned back to packing and rolled my eyes. It was always the same. My brother never kept a friend for long. He was a ten-year-old misfit. Right then he was wearing blue shorts, though summer was way over, and his legs stuck out like vermicelli. One knee was skinned. “Are those guys bothering you again?” I prodded in Mandarin as I took an order for pepper pork.

I didn’t hear him answer. The lady pacing between our stall and the bakery leaned over the counter. “Is my meal ready?” she whined. “I’ve been waiting at least fifteen minutes.”

I went to the kitchen to grab her order. My dad had put together her choices, three of them, in two-and-a-half minutes, tops. And she knew it. But I kept my face quiet. We never showed irritation to the customers. That was one thing my parents had drummed into me a long time ago. “Fork or chopsticks?” I asked, adding all the extras, the napkins and sauces.

“Four forks,” she said impatiently.

My mother gave Tommy some hot rice with shrimp. It was a wonder he wasn’t as fat as a blimp, the way she was always trying to get him to eat, coaxing him with bean curd and shredded vegetables. But he stayed as thin as a stick. That’s what my mother called him — her little stick-man. “Take some food to Mrs. Dong,” she said, shoving a Styrofoam container at him. “She need to eat too.”

Tommy liked Mrs. Dong. He skipped happily across the court toward the New Worlds Market, the produce store squashed between the food-and-trinket stalls. I watched him disappear behind a table stacked high with fresh melon. No fruit or vegetable would dare go bad on Mrs. Dong’s watch. She organized her staff like a drill squad.

I took orders until my head spun. Dinnertime was the only time when every food-stall tenant in our little court was happy, the only time when it looked like everybody’s troubles were over. It was the money hour, the chance to beat the odds. It was also the time when my parents needed my help. The rest of the day they waited for customers . . .waited and hoped, just like everyone else in the rest of the stalls.

It wasn’t right, the way I saw it. Maybe the court wasn’t glitzy like the mall on the far side of the tunnel. Maybe it was just a dumpy little hole in the wall, left out during some renovation. But the cooks knew their food. Over at Bombo’s Barbecue, Bombo sliced and diced his pork like an artist. He made sure all his customers got a strip of skin, roasted crispy and golden. At the Red Green House, Mr. and Mrs. Patnam stirred up a mean curry laced with ginger and basil. And Madame Cho’s egg tarts were richer than gold.

The whole court should have been humming with business. Instead, it limped along like an old car that needed a tune-up.

Thief Girl by Ingrid Lee is a part of the Lorimer SideStreets series of hi-lo fiction books for young adults. To see more titles in this series visit:

Crush. Candy. Corpse. - Discussion Question

February 20th, 2013 by Kendra Martin

Students are reading the Red Maple nominated books now, including Sylvia McNicoll's Crush. Candy. Corpse. Provoke discussion with this question, one we asked author Sylvia McNicoll to answer below.

“Is Sunny an honest character?”

Sylvia McNicoll: One editor turned down Crush. Candy. Corpse. because she felt too uncomfortable with the main character’s lying, but a reader recently wrote to say Sunny was the most honest character she knew.  Both reactions are true and valid. 

Like Sunny I feel that honesty can be overrated, keeping promises and confidences that are harmful for example.  Giving someone a response that causes them to lose hope, is another. When my mother spiraled downwards due to Alzheimer’s Disease, I answered her question about being able to visit Germany again,  truthfully with “Absolutely not.” I should have said something gentler, like  “Of course you can.  As soon as you’re able to get out bed.”   Then there can be a million other minor and major lies that we have to weigh telling:  “Do you like my haircut?”  “Are you under  (or over) 16,  (what ever gets you the best discount or into the venue at the lowest price.) “Did you finish your homework?”  “Are you seeing that boy again?” 

Is Sunny true to herself?  Does she have morals?  Is she guilty of manslaughter, legally or morally?  These are the questions I’m hoping readers ask themselves.

Sharing successful reading strategies to get sports fans reading

November 7th, 2013 by Kendra Martin

In a recent email newsletter, we asked teachers and librarians how they get their sports fans to pick up a book and read. Here are some of your great responses!

Angi, Baton Rouge:

We had WNBA great Lisa Leslie visit our school. I had her sign our women's basketball books and then put them on display in the front of the Library. It's a great hook for boys & girls alike. In no time, I have a crowd at both of my sports shelves, then the checkout desk.

Diana, Canada:

When I give a book talk to a class, I talk about non fiction titles in the collection and pair them with fiction titles featuring the same sport. HiLo books from publishers like Lorimer are presented as "quick reads" that grab readers and reluctant readers alike.

Thanks for your feedback! These suggestions are great tips for engaging your reluctant readers!

Acclaimed Real Justice series

October 15th, 2013 by Kendra Martin
The success of this true crime series continues with two award nominations this fall!
Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - RJ-Steven Truscott cover.jpgReal Justice: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death - The Story of Steven Truscott, which won last year's Red Maple Non Fiction Award, is nominated for the Norma Fleck Award.
Real Justice: Guilty of Being Weird - The Story of Guy Paul Morin is up for the White Pine Award. Through the Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading program, your high school class can read all the White Pine nominees this schoolyear and vote on their favourite in April 2014. 

NEW! Deal With It classroom resources

November 14th, 2013 by Kendra Martin

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - DWI resource header


At Lorimer, we recognize that your students deal with tough issues every day. That's why we've developed resources that reflect contemporary concerns. Our Deal With It series provides kids with the classroom-tested tools they need to think for themselves and deal with today's most important issues.

NEW! Teacher resource guides to accompany Gangs: Deal with it before push comes to shove and Gaming: Deal with it before it outplays you.

Download the FREE guides here.

PLUS, check out the newest book in the series, Homophobia: Deal with it and turn prejudice into pride, a starred CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens selection.

“It is the visual format and illustrations that make this series so appealing and kid friendly. The information, straight-forward talk and behavior-challenging questions are well done, but the art will surely make youth pick up these books.”
—Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

Meet Lorimer Authors at OLA Super Conference 2014

January 28th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Lorimer - Childrens - OLA 2014 blog header


High-interest books for reluctant readers at this week's OLA Super Conference

Visit the Lorimer booth #422 for:

  • - 22 NEW books for reluctant and struggling readers
  • - 100% Canadian writers and settings
  • - Our new catalogue featuring 11 reluctant reader series -- including 5 hi/lo series
  • - 35+ recent and recommended titles -- including Forest of Reading nominees, Best Books selected by the Canadian Children's Book Centre, CM Magazine, and Resource Links


  • - Get free copies of our latest books signed by five of our great authors!

Thursday, Jan. 30

10:30 am         Steven Barwin   Spiked (Sports Stories, Ages 10-13)

1:00 pm           David Skuy    Striker (Ages 9-12)

Friday, Jan. 31

10:30 pm           Nicole Winters   TT: Full Throttle (Ages 13+)

11:30 pm           Ted Staunton   Morgan on Ice (First Novels, Ages 6-9)

12:30 pm           Brad V. Cowan   Skinner's Banks (The Seven Stair Crew, Ages 9-12)

Books with Olympic Buzz for Reluctant Readers

February 7th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

With the Olympic buzz in the air, what better way to engage your reluctant readers than through Olympic-themed books? We've put together two great hi/lo sets featuring Olympics: true stories of Canadian Olympic medialists and novels about Canadian Olympians-in-the-making at an elite sports high school. 

The books feature positive, inspirational stories that will motivate readers to believe in themselves, persevere through challenges, and respect diversity.

True Stories of Canadian Winter Olympic Medialists for Grades 7+

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - olympic recordbooks set

Four-paperback set, Ages 12+, Reading Level grades 3.0-4.9


The 2002 gold medal-winning women's Olympic hockey team
The 2006 gold-medal winning men's Paralympic sledge hockey team
The Crazy Canucks multi-medal winning men's alpine ski team from the 70s and 80s
The Winnipeg Falcons, Canada's first gold medal-winning men's hockey team from 1920

Realistic Sports Fiction about Olympians-in-training for Grades 8+

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Podium 5 book set

Five-paperback set, Ages 13+, Reading Level grade 3.0

Topics: hockey, snowboarding, synchronized swimming, lacrosse, and soccer

Key themes: hazing, steroid use, eating disorders, peer pressure, Olympic prospects


You can pair fiction with non-fiction for grades 8 and up by ordering both sets!

Kim Firmston talks parkour, personal experience, and perspective

March 18th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Stupid coverThis month we’re excited for one of the latest additions to our SideStreets series: Stupid, by Kim Firmston. Stupid has it all: teen angst, physical activity, and art—but it also touches on more serious issues like the misdiagnosis of illness or disability (in this book it’s ADHD and dyslexia) and preserving self-esteem, even in the face of parental disapproval. Through the main character, Martin, teens discover a new way of perceiving the world, one that some can use in their own lives as well.

Kim Firmston

In this interview, Firmston tells us a bit about her background as a writer and the history of the fast-paced and exciting pasttime of parkour.

1. How did you start out writing teen fiction? 

When I was a teen all I could find to read was novels about girls who rode horses and wanted boyfriends. I couldn’t relate at all. Then I picked up The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and my world was changed. I wanted more books like that and since I couldn’t find too many, I decided to write what I wanted to read. That’s how it all got started.  Well . . .  that and another twenty-plus years of practice. 

2. Where did parkour originate from?

Parkour, or free running, was officially invented by David Belle in the 1980s, but its origin started a bit earlier. Before WWI the French naval officer Georges Hébert was inspired by the natural gymnastic skills of the indigenous African tribes he met and used it to create "parcours", an obstacle course now standard in military training. Flash forward to 1946, when seven-year-old Raymond Belle ended up in a military orphanage. Scared and alone, he decided he was never going to be a victim and trained harder than everyone else on campus, sneaking out to use the parcours course at night. In the 1980s Raymond’s son, David Belle, fed up with gymnastics in a safe, padded environment, not getting along very well in school, and looking for some direction in his life, discovered his father’s past. Deciding to train the same way his father did, mixing it with his father’s personal philosophy, and using the city as his parcours course, David found the inspiration and drive that was lacking in his life. He called this newfound activity “parkour,” and soon attracted other people who wanted not only to practice the physical aspects of parkour but also to explore the philosophical aspects.

3. What inspired you to write about parkour?

I have always thought parkour was really cool. It looks like gravity doesn’t even affect the people who do it. It’s like watching real life superheroes. I also love the philosophy behind parkour– overcoming mental and physical barriers in the most efficient and straightforward ways possible.  It’s a really positive message.

Lorimer - Childrens - Stupid 

Image Credit: 

Parkour Olahraga Ekstreme, Gerakan Ala Ninja! ~ Sealkazz Blog 


4. What research did you do about parkour for Stupid?

I had a couple of friends who did parkour, so I contacted them. They were really enthusiastic about the project. They answered questions, helped me set up interviews, and explained tricks. Through them I met other parkour practitioners, or traceurs as they are actually called in parkour speak. I was completely welcomed into the parkour community. One time I went down to the park to do some filming in order to plan out the tricks in the book and I ran into a traceur I didn’t know. He thought I was a tourist and offered to take a picture of me with my camera. When I explained the project to him, he ran some lines around the park for me to film in order to make writing them easier. A couple of the local coaches even read an early draft of Stupid and critiqued the parkour in it to help make it perfect. The parkour community is quite amazing. 

5. Did you do any training yourself?

No way! I'm like Martin in Stupid. I'm clumsy and uncoordinated and I'd probably die. Though the kids keep telling me, anyone can do parkour, so maybe I’m just chicken.

6. Do you know any teens with mis-diagnosed dyslexia?

I know way too many kids and teens with mis-diagnosed or undiagnosed dyslexia. I’m constantly frustrated by the school system, which is all over the map when it comes to helping them. While the school system as a whole says they are ready and willing to help, individual teachers can have a wide variety of ideas on how to deal with it. Even good teachers can become overwhelmed when faced with lack of funding and overcrowded classrooms. I think the biggest issue kids with dyslexia face is that many parents and teachers don’t really understand the ways in which dyslexia affects the people who have it. I’m hoping this book will help change that.

7. What advice do you have for children and teens struggling with dyslexia?

Don’t give up on yourself and don’t let others set the bar for you. Choose your own goals. Set your own standards. Dyslexia sucks, but it’s also really cool too. People with dyslexia get see the world in a way that no one else does. Be brave and be gentle with yourself when you do make a mistake. Use your strengths and work on your issues. is one of many amazing free online resources which can help. Dyslexia can actually make you successful in what you want to do if you know how to use it.

8. What were your experiences growing up with dyslexia?

I was diagnosed with a learning disability at an early age. I went to a special school in Edmonton for the first two years of my life. I really liked school back then, but even at that I struggled with reading. In Grade 3 I ended up at a regular school, and that’s when things really fell apart. I had a hard time. It wasn’t until I went to summer school that year that I actually learned to read well. But even back then I loved reading and writing. I wrote every day and I read mountains of comic books. In grade four I went to a new school and my teacher was told I had a learning disability. As a result I was sent to the back of the classroom to colour for the year. In my teacher’s mind, having a learning disability meant one simply could not learn.  Later during my journey through school I met up with some wonderful teachers who were able to help me discover the best ways for me to learn – even if they were different from everyone else’s. Now I tell people I have dyslexia right off the bat. That way when they say, “Good afternoon.” and I blurt out “Good morning.” we can laugh it off. Dyslexia always seems to make the opposite thing come out of my mouth. It can be really frustrating, like when I’m trying to give directions, but most of the time it’s just good for a giggle and no big deal.

9. What have you learned from your experience?

I actually learned more about my own dyslexia during my research. I thought I understood it pretty well, but I was blown away by how far the science has come. I was also so impressed with the parkour community of Calgary. I’m glad that the young people of my city have such amazing mentors.

10. What else would you like to tell us?

I love how the parkour philosophy applies to just about anything from dyslexia, to studying for a test, to life in general. The ideas of altruism, self-improvement, and the ability to overcome obstacles (both mentally and physically) can improve anyone’s life. If everyone took up just the philosophy of parkour, the world would be an amazing place. Of course, training in parkour is great for health too. But if you are going to try parkour, find a reputable coach or gym. Or if there isn’t one around – start small, and find videos and books which teach this. Trying to imitate the pros right off the bat or doing a big jump over a gap between buildings when you’ve never done it on the ground is a good way to die. Gravity does exist. Gyms have foam pits and foam pits are fun!

KIM FIRMSTON is the author of the SideStreets novels SchizoHook Up (a Resource Links Year's Best), and Touch. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, where she gives writing workshops for teens. Visit her website at!! 

Click here for more info or to order Stupid.


Reluctant Reader Resources!

April 10th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Lorimer is proud to publish childrens and young adult books that appeal to reluctant readers. This week, we wanted to share some resources on reluctant readers that you might find helpful for designing curricula or assembling reading lists for students. Happy planning!


Ms. Yingling Reads

Ms. Yingling reviews books for middle school students, especially boys. These include adventure books, fantasy books, historical books, humorous books, and sports books. She also follows a long list of similar blogs.


Teach Mentor Texts

Talks about using "mentor" or "anchor" texts—books that can be used as examples of good writing for students and can help them to improve their writing.


Boys Read

Transforming boys into lifelong readers. Will accept reviews of titles.


Help for Struggling Readers

Addresses technology tools and solutions for struggling readers, including "brain-training" apps.


Learning Inside Out

Provides advice on what to look for and what to avoid in remedial reading programs. Also has information on dyslexia and dyslexia resources.


Lexile Framework for Reading

Has a form that matches readers with texts, based on their lexile level.



Author Interview: Sylvia Gunnery

April 23rd, 2014 by Kendra Martin

I just received the Spring 2014 newsletter from the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP), and splashed on the front page was the smiling face of our author Sylvia Gunnery!

Sylvia Gunnery author

Author of Game Face, Out of Bounds, and Personal Best, and award-winning teacher in Nova Scotia, Sylvia is also keeping herself busy at the moment as President for the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. 

Below is a short excerpt of YA author Vicki Grant's interview with Sylvia: 


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was always writing. In scribblers, on holidays, or dutifully following teachers' instructions to write about what I did on my summer vacation or how I'd spend a million dollars. In grade 4, I wrote a story that my friend, Donna, bought for a bag of chips and gave to her older brother (who probably would've rather had the chips.) 

But all that isn't about the word realize. I was 30 before I knew in that sure, realized way that I wanted to be a writer. And that's when I sent some stories (terrible stories, really) to Banff and was accepted for the 5-week summer writing session with W.O. Mitchell, Alice Munro, Eli Mandel, Sylvia Fraser, and others. That was 1976.... In 1984, Scholastic released my first novel for teens. 

You've written black characters and male characters. Do you worry at all about 'expropriating' another's voice?

I don't think of writing fiction as "expropriating" (stealing, taking, walking off with, as a thesaurus defines it.) Fiction writers explore and research and reflect on and arrive at some kind of understanding of others. It's what we must do. Right now, I am writing about three sisters from Halifax, ages 15, 17, and 20. They're driving across Canada. My sister and I drove across Canada when we were in our late 20s. Perhaps in each of these fictional sisters there is something of me and of my sister. But really, at 67, I have to work very hard to truly know each of these young characters, what motivates them, what worries them, how each will or won't influence the others, and why. I have to be inside their stories with them, listening and watching carefully in order to get their voices right. 

What do you want your readers to get out of your books? Entertainment? Insight? A peek into another world? 

My earliest motivation for writing teen fiction was to give my students a peek into their own worlds. In the early 80s when I started writing for teens, the stories offered to them through our schools were really about other worlds--books written by American or British authors, mostly. Very few by Canadians. That's changed now, through the efforts of a lot of book lovers across Canada--writers, publishers, librarians, teachers, and organizations such as the Canadian Children's Book Centre. And I do hope my books give my teen readers some insights into their own lives. 

What are the best tips you can give a beginning writer?

One tip: Get used to spending a lot of time sitting in one place, pushing forward with your writing even though doubts will probably stand right behind your chair, snickering. 

What energizes you? 

I sometimes get energy from stories (especially when they're cooking right along) but that answer is too simple. I might get my energy from the sea. There's something about negative ions in the ocean that's very positive (sorry, I had to do that). I've lived by the ocean since 1990. Right now, I can hear it hauling pebbles back into its waves and then crashing up against the shore again. But maybe that's too simple too. Could be friends. Could be family. Love. Maybe it's me carrying on Mom's attitude she seemed to grab onto even more as she'd aged--she'd sing "Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side..." 


Thank you, Vicki and Sylvia, and CANSCAIP for a great interview! 

Motorcycle book author gears up for the biggest race event of the year!

May 16th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Held on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, the International Isle of Man (Tourist Trophy) Race is one of the most prestigious motorcycle races in the world--and statistically, the most dangerous race in the world. Nicole Winters' TT: Full Throttle tells the story of one teen's obsession to fulfilll his late father's dream of competing in this race. (Watch the book trailer here!) 

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Nicole Winters- motorcycle

In this blog entry, Nicole talks bikes ("turtle chasers"), writing, and racing.  


How did you get started in children’s books?

I started as a screenwriter, writing and co-writing several scripts for film and TV. One of the stories, a kids’ film called SeaDogs, received several rounds of development funding, and the plan was to shoot it on a tiny island in the Irish Sea called The Isle of Man. When the project fell through, I grew tired of the industry--people would constantly want to remove this or that from the script because there wasn’t a budget for it. ("Remove the helicopter!" "But how else do they get rescued from the mountain?" "We don’t care!") All the fun and joy of writing seemed to be slowly crushed by the ol’ mighty dollar. That’s when I turned to writing kids’ books. Writing prose gave me back my freedom and I could let my imagination run wild--epic stories, large sets, big explosions!--without worrying about someone’s budget.

What (or who) inspired you to write TT: Full Throttle?

I first learned about the most challenging motorcycle road race in the world when I was reading about the Isle of Man for the SeaDogs project. I’d never heard of anything like the TT in North America. I was immediate hooked and drawn to the man versus himself aspect of the race, which is atypical of most Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - TT Full Throttle coversports stories where it’s typically Team A versus Team B or good guy must overcome bad guy who also wants to place first. Most people aren’t going around battling a mortal enemy (at least I hope not), but we all struggle with internal conflict. I liked the idea of writing about a hero who wants to qualify for the TT Races so badly that he starts getting in his own way.

Tell us about the race.

The TT Races were started in 1907. They are extremely dangerous, because riders are going full out on narrow streets and roads flanked by stone walls, buildings, and "street furniture" (telephone polls, grates, curbs, benches, etc). What makes the TT Races different than your typical track race is that the course isn’t 2-3 miles with 8-12 bends, it’s a whopping 37 3/4 miles with over 200 bends. You don’t just show up in the morning, ride a few laps, qualify, run the race in the afternoon and then go home--they give you a week to try and qualify. It’s considered a big accomplishment just to make it to race week. Even if you come in last, there are no losers! Riders and race organizers tell me it takes three years of participating in the TT before you can even consider a podium finish.

Do you ride motorcycles yourself?

After I return from this year’s TT Races, where I’ll be researching a sequel to TT: Full Throttle called Thunder Road, I plan on taking my motorcycle road test. I have no definite plans on what kind of motorcycle I’d like just yet (the Vincent Black Shadow would be a dream bike). I think I’ll start out with a simple turtle chaser, then work my way up from there. 

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s YA authors?

Have fun with it. I might have continued with writing scripts if people weren’t always trying to mess with the story all the time. I have no regrets about the past. In fact, what I learned from my time in film translated nicely to writing for teens--tight, fast-paced scenes, strong dialogue, lot of visuals. I guess my other piece of advice for a budding writer is to watch his or her favourite film with the closed captioning on and to study the dialogue. Notice how not a word (or a scene) is wasted. Then pick the film apart to figure out why it’s a favourite. Do the same with a hated film, only this time try to figure out how to fix it. Quite often I learn more about story writing from a terrible book or film, than a good one.

Catherine Austen has a "devil" of a time at Nova Scotia schools

June 26th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Spring—a time when everyone, including writers, wants to be out and about, not stuck indoors. 

Just a brief peek at how some of our children's book authors are taking advantage of the season! 

Catherine Austen, author of 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 and 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6, spent a few weeks this spring touring schools, libraries, and bookstores in Nova Scotia as part of the Canadian Children's Book Week 2014.  

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Sacred Heart

Catherine spoke to Grade 5 and 6 students at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax, and Grade 4-6 students at the Pictou Landing First Nation School. Reading from Chapter 11 of 28 Tricks , Catherine does a spectacularly spooky devil voice! "The students always crack up," she says. 

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Pictou school

Click here to visit Catherine's web site. 


Ongoing and Upcoming: 

Johnny Boateng, author of Hustle, spoke at the graduation of his former high school on June 13th and will also be dropping by Vancouver area local elementary and middle schools for some readings.  

Jodi Lundgren, author of Blow, will be speaking at the Red Deer Public Library on Wednesday, July 30th. 


Happy summer! 

"IF I WAS BITTER, THAT WOULD MEAN THEY WON." – Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

July 3rd, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Lorimer's Real Justice stories are short narrative biographies of young people who fell afoul of the justice system and were wrongfully convicted. Throughout their ordeals, they maintained their innocence and fought back, eventually proving that they were not guilty. 

With compelling storylines, a readable page layout, and black-and-white photos, these books are a must for young readers who like crime biography--but with a twist of social activism and awareness. Curriculum tie-ins to high school and middle school history, law, and social studies make them useful in the classroom. They are also useful for adult literacy programs in libraries and prisons. 

Here's some info on the latest in the series, coming fall 2014!

Real Justice: Jailed for Life for Being Black 

The Story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Hurricane Carter cover


Rubin Carter was in and out of reformatories and prisons from the age of twelve. At twenty-four, he became a winning professional boxer and was turning his life around. But Carter was very vocal about racism in the local New Jersey police force. In 1966, local policemen arrested Carter and a friend for a triple murder. The two were convicted and sent to jail for life. Carter spent nearly twenty years in jail, proclaiming his innocence. 

A teen from Brooklyn, Lesra Martin, heard Carter's story and believed he was innocent. He and a small group of Canadian lawyers contacted Carter and began working with Carter's lawyers in New York to get him exonerated. In 1985, a judge released Carter, ruling that Carter's conviction had been based not on evidence but on racism.

Photos (credit:

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Hurricane Carter boxer


 "There is no bitterness. If I was bitter, that would mean they won." - Rubin Carter 

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Hurricane Carter activist


"I never agreed to wear the prison clothes, eat the prison food.... I felt to do that would be to implicitly agree that I was a criminal settling into the routine of a prisoner who'd accepted that title..." - Rubin Carter  


Articles (with video and timeline) 

Globe and Mail

Toronto Star



Check out one of our fall treasures!

August 7th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

One of our upcoming kid's books this fall has its protagonist puzzling over a map that leads not to buried treasure, but to something even better!  

Here's an excerpt: 

Now, since I’m pretty sure you’re not going to come visit me anytime soon, I’d like to play a little game with you. A challenge, if you will. I am going to give you a clue to one of the spots. It’s the easiest one to find, and it might just be the easiest one to skate.

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Sinkhole Map


Need a gift for the young skater in your life? Preorder the book here.


4 Tips to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

June 13th, 2018 by Nicole Duguay

Don't let your students be affected by the summer slide: try these four tips to encourage summer reading so they can be on their 'A' game when they return to school in the fall. Many studies show that reading is comparable to attending summer school when it comes to preventing summer learning loss. 

1. Give them choices!

When we visited two high school classrooms, we engaged reluctant readers simply by giving them a wide variety of books to choose from. No single book can please everyone, but given the right book, any student can become a lover of reading! Try an end-of-year class trip to the library to teach students how to find books they like, even outside of school.

Hot tip: Watch our webinar to learn more about our high school visits and how we engaged reluctant teen readers!

2. Start a book club!

A Toronto book club for at-risk youth helped us learn that building a sense of community around reading also helps encourage further reading and discussion. Try starting a summer book club and let the students pick what they will be reading over the break. They'll be encouraged to read when in a group and eager to discuss the books they loved with their friends.

Hot tip: Watch our webinar to learn more about how a book club we attended reaches at-risk youth!

3. Get the parents involved!

Over the summer it can be hard to make sure students are maintaining the reading skills they built during the school year. Let their parents know about the benefit of reading to prevent learning loss and establish reading goals that will fit into their summer schedules. Parents can make sure reading fits into their daily routines, arrange visits to the library, ensure that books are brought along on trips to the beach, etc.

4. Give them age-appropriate books at their reading level!

A high percentage of students are reading below grade level, but books written at levels for younger kids don't successfully engage teens, and books written for teens can often be too intimidating because of their difficulty, causing frustration and reading abandonment. Let your students know that books about the things they care about at their reading levels do exist! Make sure your classroom and school libraries have hi/lo books available that will keep students interested and build their reading skills! 

Hot tip: Check out the hi/lo SideStreets series to find edgy teen fiction, or the hi/lo Sports Stories series for fast-paced middle grade fiction! Both of these long-standing series have proven to hook reluctant and struggling readers!


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