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Kids and Teen Blog

Off To Class

by Kendal (Owlkids)
Kids / September 27, 2011

With September drawing to a close, kids have been “off to class” for a few weeks now. The grumblings about homework have probably begun, and all those recently bought school supplies might already be looking a little worse for wear. But this isn’t the case everywhere. Worldwide, there are over 100 million kids are missing out on getting an education. Sometimes, a community doesn’t have the necessary resources to build a school; other times, kids have to work to earn money for their families and can’t afford to spend time in a classroom. In even more cases, kids aren’t allowed to go to school because of their gender, their background, or their citizenship, or they live in remote areas or ones hit by natural disasters. Kinda makes you feel guilty for already starting the countdown to Winter Break, huh? 
Luckily, there are some really amazing and creative people who have stepped in to help these kids get the education they deserve. In Off to Class, Susan Hughes profiles some of the world’s most unique and unusual schools — built to overcome each community’s particular hurdle. In this book, readers will travel to Bangladesh to hop aboard a Boat School, an ingenious idea to ensure students don’t miss class during Bangladesh’s monsoon season; trek to Shree Santi Primary School in Nepal, where children from all castes are welcome; and go out on a limb to visit Grand Oaks Academy in the USA, a home school in a tree house. 
Off To Class
One of our favourite schools in the book is School-in-a-Box, which UNICEF hand-delivered to Haiti following the devastating earthquake in January 2010. Each box contains everything a teacher needs to set up a classroom on the spot, including a special can of paint that can be used to turn a box lid into a blackboard. UNICEF sends these kits all over the world to help kids get back to school after disasters, and also to places where wars keep kids from going to school. Owlkids was so inspired by this that we recently partnered with UNICEF to try and raise money to send 630 of these Schools-in-a-Box to kids in need. 
Our hope for Off to Class is that it inspires some young readers in the same way — or, at the very least, that it gets them to think about their school (and homework) in a whole new way! 

Mom Minute- September 24th is Worldwide Day of Play

by Crystal
Kids + Parenting / September 23, 2011

This Saturday, September 24th is The Worldwide Day Of Play. As the mom of a 3 year old I firmly believe that two of the very best gifts you can give your child are The Gift of Reading and The Gift of Play. 

I had my daughter in my late 20's. I found it was easy to keep her entertained and stimulated when she was a baby but when the toddler years hit I realized something- I forgot how to play! I found that we were doing the same things over and over again. Going for a walk, feeding the ducks, visiting the park and then heading home. There are so many great outdoor activities to do all year long, I think that some of us just need to be reminded. 

15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out Of The House And Connect With Your Kids by Rebecca Cohen is the perfect tool to remind parents, like myself, how to play. 

To help celebrate the Worldwide Day of Play I checked in with Rebecca to see if she had any tips and tricks for getting outside to play during these cool fall months. 

Here are three things you can do right now to engage your kids in active, healthy play:

1) Plant sugar snap peas. They are easy to grow, love cooler fall temperatures, teach your child the plant lifecycle first hand, and offer a sweet result to taste. The pea plant vines its way up a stick you plant in the ground (or in a container with drainage) - you can even make a tee pee trellis or grow them on your windowsill. Keep soil moist and in the sun. In seven days you'll have a sprout, in two weeks an even taller plant, a flower in eight weeks, and the pod will grow straight from the flower!

2) Play 15 Minutes Outside Before School. It sounds crazy, but kids will get ready faster in the morning - dressed, breakfast, and lunches made - with the promise of play time outside before they leave. Your kids will get ready so quickly that you'll have time to play with them!

3) Pack a picnic dinner for the playground. Grab some sandwiches, water bottles, and a blanket from home, then do homework and reading outside and let the kids run around to get their wiggles out before bed while watching  the sun set. The kids will be exhausted at bedtime and you'll be happy.

Thanks for the tips Rebeccah!

What activities do you and your kids do outside? Are you planning on celebrating Worldwide Play Day? Have a great weekend. Hope you find time to enjoy this lovely fall weather. 

Ivy and Bean Day November 12! Stores and Libraries Order Your Materials!

by Crystal
Events + Kids + Vancouver / September 21, 2011

November 11th is Ivy + Bean Day! If you aren't familiar with Ivy and Bean you are sorely missing out. Ivy and Bean are the lovable characters in the bestselling series by Annie Barrows. Two young girls who are sure that they won't like each other, but become best friends anyways. Their favorite activities? Bugging Bean's older sister, causing mischief and of course, spending time together. "A little bit bad and a whole lot funny", Ivy and Bean bring me right back to my childhood reading Beverly Cleary's Ramona books

What Ivy + Bean day mean's for you:

If you are a school, library or bookseller head over to the Ivy + Bean Day website, download and request materials to help you celebrate! But do it fast! Supplies are limited. 

If you are an Ivy + Bean fan contact your local bookstore, library or school and ask them to throw an Ivy + Bean celebration. Direct them to this page for all the info they will need to throw and Ivy + Bean party. 

Also make sure to check out all the Ivy + Bean fun and games that are available all year long on the Chronicle Books website. Every day can be Ivy + Bean day!

If you live in Vancouver you are especially lucky! Annie Barrow's will be launching Ivy + Bean Book 8: No News Is Good News with Kidsbooks on November 1st. Stay tuned for more information. 

Make sure to "like" Ivy + Bean on Facebook

Things That Make You Say, “Awww!”

by Guest
Kids / September 20, 2011

A guest post by Bart King

Cute Bart King

Writing Cute! A Guide to All Things Adorable (for readers 9-13 and immature adults) put me in an analytical frame of mind whenever I saw a baby or a duckling. This led me to conclusions about what we find cute. And if you’re good, I’ll share some of them with you. grin

For this guest blog post (thanks Raincoast Books!), I thought I’d consider the very first thing I saw today that I found cute. And here it is:

Cute Kids

My friend took this photo after her son’s Boy Scout troop lost a sailboat racing tournament (hence his tragic expression). But just as the portrait of his grief was snapped, the Scout’s sister joyously photobombed it.

I find this cute, and perhaps you agree with me. But why? What is it about this shot that makes us respond with an “Awww!”? First, just by virtue of being YOUNG, these two kids get automatic Cuteness Points. A scientist named Konrad Lorenz studied cuteness and found that almost everyone automatically thinks babies are cute. It doesn’t stop there. Anything that even LOOKS like a baby is also cute. As a child ages, he or she looks less like a baby, but there are enough reminders (chubby cheeks, smooth skin, large noggins) that we are still favorably predisposed to kids like these two.

But CONTRAST is the main reason I find this photo cute. It turns out that contrast can really enhance cuteness. So because a little girl is little, she’ll look really cute if she holds something BIG. That means a five-year-old girl holding a giant inflatable killer whale is probably cuter than if she were just standing there empty-handed.

Cute Kid / Credit Jennifer Kallis

image credit Jennifer Kalis

Anytime a little kid wears something big , the contrast is funny AND cute. Like little boys in football uniforms: No matter how well the equipment fits, those helmets always look too large. Cute! And here, this young man is in an official scouting uniform. He’s engaged in some official business regarding a small sailboat. But his thousand-yard stare is SO serious, we can’t take him seriously. And he is obviously utterly unamused by his sister’s antics. For her part, the grinning ginger jester provides a perfectly contrasting counterpoint . . . and it’s just darned cute!

In conclusion, please buy my book. It’s the cutest thing you can do today.

Notes From A Children’s Book Publicist- Volume Nine- Talk Like A Pirate Day

by Crystal
Kids + Picture Books / September 19, 2011

Argh Me Mateys! It's me! Bloody Bonnie Flint! It's Monday, September 19th 2011! And do ye be knowin' what that means? Shiver me timbers! It's Talk Like A Pirate Day

Oh the response that I got when I answered me phone 'tis mornin' with a "Ahoy ye yellow bellied sap sucker! What be wanting you?" It was my boss. He was less then thrilled, then I told him what holiday it was and he got right into it! Aye, aye he did!

Step one of talk like a pirate day. Figure out your pirate name! I be Bloody Bonnie Flint, I be. 

Step two. Find yer vessel's name. Me ship's moniker be The Fall of Atlantis. 

Step three. Study up fer Talk Like a Pirate Day so you'll be talking more like Blackbear than the land lubber you be by reading these here books. 




Step 4. Get a lesson from th' scurvy pirate master himself, Pat Croce.


Step 5. Have a few jolly pirate insults up ye sleeve. 

1. Dance with Jack Ketch, ye pox-faced swab... Prepare for yer doom!!

2. Ye'll not get our treasure, ye grog-snarfing kraken... To the poop deck!

3. We'll rip and burn yer Jolly Roger, ye mutinous swabbie... Land ho!

4. Yer doom be at hand, ye parrot-loving kraken... Belay that talk!

5. Argh, walk the plank, ye lice-infested swab... Blimy!

Step 6. If all goes wrong have this handy English to Pirate Translator bookmarked and at the ready.

Wishin' ye a grog-filled Talk Like Pirate Day me buckos!

Learn To Speak Dance

by Kendal (Owlkids)
Kids / September 13, 2011

With over 800,000 people tuning in to the season 4 finale of So You Think You Can Dance Canada last weekend, I think we can safely assume there are a whole lot of Canadians out there fascinated by the world of dance. That’s not to say that everyone wants to take centre stage, though — maybe it’s the choreography that you find fascinating, or the costumes, or the lighting. Maybe it’s the judges’ banter you find entertaining, or you just love seeing all the different dance styles from around the world in action. Put simply, whether you’re a performer or not, dance is a pretty cool art form to explore. 

Luckily, Owlkids has got a book to help kids do just that.

Whether for an aspiring pro or a curious onlooker, Learn to Speak Dance by longtime dancer and dance teacher Ann-Marie Williams is a chance for kids to experience — and be inspired by — the world of dance as never before. They’ll learn how to choreograph steps, design costumes, mix dance styles, shoot a dance video...even about some of the careers available in the dance industry.

But this book isn’t an audition, a lecture, or a strict “how-to.” It’s just about having fun and seeing just how far your own two feet can move you! Check out this video starring four young students from the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre in Toronto to see what I’m talking about. These young dancers got their hands on Learn to Speak Dance and worked with author Ann-Marie to put together this cool video:


Mom Minute- Holding on to Those Last Minutes of Summer

by Crystal
Craft + Excerpts + Food & Drink + Kids + Parenting / August 31, 2011

The last days of summer are upon us, and this mommy is doing everything she can to make the most of every last moment. From buying flats of blueberries to make freezer jam, to visiting the water park and spending lazy afternoons eating PB&J in the shade of a big oak tree and running through the spray, to visiting the farmers stand every weekend to buy the freshest, local produce that money can buy. 

To help you hold onto these last, lazy days of summer here are two summertime recipes that you can make with the help of your little one. 

What's summer without spending at least one afternoon setting up a lemonade stand? No lemonade stand is complete without a sweet treat to go with your lemonade. When flipping through a copy of Cutie Pies for Kids recently these Beach-Style Lemonade Pies looked like they would be a fun summertime treat. 


Beach- Style Lemonade Pies

For Crust:

-2 cups Nilla wafer crumbs

-4 tablespoons butter, melted


For Pie:

-1 can (21 ounces) lemon pie filling

-2 cups whipped cream

-Thin lemon slices


To make crust, combine wafer crumbs and butter in a medium bowl. Press into the bottoms and sides of 12 minie pie pans or paper cupcake liners and chill for at least 2 hours before filling.

In a large bowl, fold together lemon pie filling and whipped cream. Spoon creamy lemon filling into prepared mini pie pans. Garnish with lemons slices. 

Makes 12 mini pies


Beach Style Lemonade:
Photograph by Zac Williams from Cutie Pies for Kids by Jennifer Adams.  Reprinted with permission by Gibbs Smith.

My daughter and I love taking trips to the farmer's stand together. She helps me pick what fresh, local produce she would like to try. She loves peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, apples-- basically if it's fruite she loves it, wish I could say the same for vegetables. 

When I cracked open my copy of Cake Mix Cooking For Kids this morning the Mini Cupcake Kabobs recipe immediately caught my eye. The recipe calls for strawberries, pineapple and bananas but really I think you could substitue any fresh fruit you have available. I bought a mini cupcake pan at the beginning of this summer with the intention of making mini muffins with my little girl. I think this weekend might be the perfect opportunity to give it a test run with the below recipe. 

Mini Cupcake Kabobs


-1 Strawberry or pineapple cake mix

-Ingredients listed on back of box

-20 hulled strawberries

-1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks

-2 to 3 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks

-20 wooden skewer sticks


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mis according to package directions. Prepare mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 tablespoon batter into each cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden around edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack where the cupcakes can completely cool. Repeat process with remaining batter. You will have 80-84 mini cupcakes when you are done.

On each wooden skewer, thread cupcake, banana chunk, cupcake, strawberry, cupcake, pineapple chunk, and a final cupcake.

Makes 20 kabobs


Mini Cupcake Kabobs- Photograph by Zac Williams from Cake Mix Cooking for Kids by Stephanie Ashcraft. Reprinted with permission by Gibbs Smith.

I hope you, and your kiddos enjoy these recipes. If there are any specific ideas you would like to see in my Mom Minute posts or my Notes From A Children's Book Publicist posts please let me know through our comment form.

Also don't forget to enter our contest to win the fantastic new card game Quallop!

Happy (last days of) Summer!

Beastly Books!

by Kendal (Owlkids)
Kids / August 26, 2011

One of the things that sets Owlkids apart from other children’s book publishers is our ability to really talk to our readers through our three magazines, Chirp, chickaDEE, and OWL. They write to us with all their questions and comments, and we write back (and listen to what they have to say)! Well, we have yet to hear from a kid who does not absolutely love our Beastly Book series. (In fact, I have yet to meet an adult who does not love these books, too!) 

Beastly Book
These doodle books are so much fun. Every drawing scenario is just a little bit ridiculous (okay, sometimes a lot ridiculous) and really encourages artistic creativity. And the best news is we’ve just added two more titles to the series this summer. My Beastly Book of Twisted Tales is a twisted take on childhood favourites (think “Draw the baby of the Little Mermaid and Captain Hook”) and My Beastly Book of Hilarious Heroes is all about not-so-super heroes (think “The Human Stone has fallen overboard. Draw him underwater.”)
Beastly Book 2
Want to try out some of these scribbling activities yourself? We have free downloads from all four books on our website and an activity kit for teachers, booksellers, and librarians, too! 

Mom Minute- Read Em And Weep! Win the new card game Quallop!

by Crystal
Contests + Kids + Parenting / August 24, 2011

When I was a kid, especially during summer break, my days were filled with a lot of card playing. My mom loves cards, my grandpa loved cards and that was passed along to my sister and I. 

One of our favorite things to do, as we played our winning hand was to shout out "Read em and weep!" Is this a regular card saying? I have no idea. In my family it is. 

When my husband and I first got together we played a lot of cards as well. Whenever we took a plane or ferry, went on vacation, or had a tv-less night the decks of cards would always come out. Once we had our daughter, sadly, the card playing ended. I'm looking forward to playing cards with her as she gets a bit older. Some of my favorite memories of my Popa were of playing cards with him. 

I think the cards may be coming out again at the Allen household sooner than expected thanks to Chronicle Books new game Quallop. Created by Forrest-Pruzan Creative (the creators of the best boardgame ever- Cranium) this is the most fun, addictive, card game I've played in awhile. 

This morning my good publicist buddy Danielle and I cracked open a pack of Quallop and tried our hand at this fun new game. 

The game is a bit like Tic-Tac-Toe or Connect Four but in card version. Kids as young as the age of 6 should be able to understand the concept but adults will have equally as much fun playing. This would be the perfect game to take to the cabin, on a road trip or on an Earth Hour night by candle light. 

Here are photos of Dani and I playing Quallop. 

1. Take shrink wrap off package. Take out cards. Read instructions. Players decide if they want to be circles or squares. (I chose circle because aqua is my favorite colour.)

2. Shuffle deck. 

3. Open up game board (which also doubles as a handy package to store the cards in). Deal each player one card. Figure out who's birthday is next, that player goes first.

4. Take turns laying a card on the gameboard. Once a space is filled with a shape it can only be covered by that same shape or by a card with a blank space on it like the one that Dani is holding. The goal is to get 4 of your shape in a row either horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

5. Sometimes that happens super fast like this time when Dani won.

6. And other times it takes almost every single card in the deck like this time that I won. (Incidentally if you do play every single card it's a tie and you start over again.)

So now the really fun part! Want to win a set of Quallop of your very own? There are 3 ways to win.

1. Tweet: "@raincoastbooks and I <3 Quollop, the addictive new card game. I want to win a set! Do you? http://ow.ly/6c3Oq" Then come back here and tell us you tweeted.

2. Like Raincoast Books on Facebook and post on our page "I <3 Quallop, the addictive new card game." Then come back here and tell us you like Raincoast on Facebook.

3. Post here the phrase that you yell out when you win a hand of cards.

 Contest closes in two weeks on September 7, 2011.

Read em and weep. wink

Insanewiches; 101 Ways to Think Outside the Lunchbox

by Danielle
Food & Drink / August 19, 2011

Are you bored with lame ol'sandwiches? Well there's this new book out from St. Martin's Press that will have you excited for lunch again. Filled with fun, quirky and easy to make recipes Insanewiches; 101 Ways to Think Outside the Lunchbox will help you rekindle your love for the luncheon meal that everyone loves to hate. The book came from a wickedly popular blog insanewiches.com. The creator of the site, Adrian Fiorino, was born into food culture and raised on a steady diet of offbeat humor. He draws inspiration from the most unexpected sources: cell phones, puzzles, power drills, and even sports cars.

Some recipes that included are:
-The Rubix Cubewich---the sandwich that started it all
-The Pancake Popwich---an irresistible breakfast on a stick
-The Sumo Sandwich---a heavyweight that’s overstuffed with steak, chicken, salmon, and assorted mushrooms, radish and scallions
-The Pumpkin Cheeseburger and Along Came a Spider---kooky concoctions the kids will love,

-Cosmo Martini Sandwich---made with a cranberry muffin and orange slices, just for the girls.

So take a stroll to your local bookshop and pick up a copy, then go to your grocer and grab some ingredients to construct some of these outrageous concoctions!

Oh and of course ENJOY!!

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