Yolanda Ridge

Children's Author

World Book Day

9780385674058_0Happy World Book Day!

I’m not dressing up for the occasion (although many people in the UK do – very cool!) But I am reading. And since my morning radio show asked everyone what book was on their bedside table, I feel compelled to share:

My books;

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King


Annaleise Carr: How I Conquiered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer by Annaleise Carr and Deborah Ellis

 Oliver’s books;

A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis

50 Climate Questions: A Blizzard of Blistering Facts by Peter Christie and Ross Kinnaird (illustrator)

Spencer’s books;

Fun Facts & Silly Stories 3 Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

50cq– The Black Circle: The 39 Clues (book 5) by Patrick Carman

Now I happen to think that everyday should be book day… but I’m very grateful to the organizers of World Book Day. Enjoy your read!

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When the Worst Happens

Title: WHEN THE WORST HAPPENS: Extraordinary Stories of Survival

Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi1403562658

Publisher: Annick Press

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 978-1-55451-682-7

This great non-fiction offering from BC author Tanya Lloyd Kyi challenges readers to think about what they’d do if they were facing life and death. Along with engaging artwork by David Parkins, the text provides practical survival tips such as finding friends, going back to basics and getting zen (my personal favourite).

But what really makes this book riveting reading for someone who will probably never get trapped in a mine or on a floating chunk of ice are the real life stories of young people who have faced these types of scenarios. These personal vignettes are told through a fast paced narrative that encourages readers to skip ahead pages (literally) so they can find out what happened. Interspersed with interesting facts about the bodies response to stress, fear, and deprivation (and starvation, dehydration, altitude sickness, insomnia, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, injury…) geographic descriptions and historical facts that put dangers into context, this format also allows the stories to serve as examples of each chapter’s learning point.

With the perfect mix of good story telling and education, When the Worst Happens is highly recommended for 9 to 12-year-olds (and above) – whether your an adventure seeker, bad luck finder, or armchair crusader.

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The Hypnotist

Title: The Hypnotists

Author: Gordon Kormanm4575_hypnotistsbo_4cc

Publisher: Scholastic

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9780545503228

In honour of my sons’ birthday, I thought I’d post a book by one of their favourite authors, Gordon Korman.

With so many great titles to choose from, I had trouble narrowing it down to one feature book by this prolific story teller. My whole family is a huge fan of the 39 clues (the audiobooks are highly recommended for a long car rides), Spencer loves The Everest Trilogy (and Titanic and Dive and Island...) and Oliver is really looking forward to the release of Masterminds.

But the concept of The Hypnotists, where a 12-year-old mind bender masters his talent and learns how the gift of hypnotism can be used to destroy (or save) the world, is pure genius. We are currently listening to the audio version of The Hypnotists (after reading it several times) and reading (well, my son is re-reading) the next book in the series, Memory Maze, which is just as engaging as the first.

Luckily, Gordon Korman likes trilogies so we can probably look forward to another book in this series too. In the meantime, check out any of this author’s titles – you will not be disappointed!

You will not be disappointed, you will not be disappointed, you will not be…


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Skink on the Brink

16033439Title: Skink on the Brink

Author: Lisa Dalrymple

Illustrator: Suzzane Del Rizzo

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside (2013)

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9781554552313

Stewie is a skink with a beautiful blue tail and a love of songs and rhyme. Lisa Dalrymple’s delightful picture book, aimed at five to eight-year old readers, follows Stewie the blue through the trails of adolescence accompanied by Suzanne Del Rizzo’s vibrant plasticine illustrations.

When his tail turns grey, Stewie is forced to adapt and recognize his uniqueness. It is a journey that subtly parallels his changing environment, introducing the concept of animal habitat, life cycles and endangered species. Two pages of skink facts at the end allows readers to dig deeper into the concept of extinction.

A great addition to the science curriculum, Skink on the Brink won the SCBWI Crystal Kite award for Canada. It’s also my pick for Authors for Earth Day Eco-Book of the month featured on facebook.


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The Industrial Revolution for Kids

Industrial Revolution for Kids The (2)Title: The Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology that Changed the World

Author: Cheryl Mullenbach

Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August, 2014)

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9781613746905

I had the privilege of interviewing Cheryl Mullenbach, a former middle and high school history teacher and state education department consultant, for the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. Check out this link to find out more about Cheryl’s experience writing non-fiction. Cheryl and her publisher also generously donated a copy of their book as a giveaway and the winner was announced today! Thanks to all who participated!



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Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth

Title: Compost Stew5224072

Author: Mary McKenna Siddals

Illustrator: Ashley Wolff

Publisher: Tricycle (2010)

I just featured this title on the Authors for Earth Day Facebook page as the Eco-Book of the Month. It is scheduled for release in paperback in October. Here’s my blurb:

This rhythmic, rhyming picture book starts with a call out to environmental chefs to mix up a batch of compost stew from scratch. And alphabetical list of ingredients follows with creative entries for some of the more challenging letters. Beautifully complimenting the text, Ashley Wolff’s collage-style illustrations (made from newspaper, tea bags, grass clippings and other recycled materials) show the wild, red-haired heroine cooking up the recipe till she is left with rich, crumbly compost stew. The result is a light, fun delivery of an important earth-friendly message that begs to be applied to home and extended in the classroom. Additional acitivites, teaching resources and lesson plans are available through the author’s website. Dig in – you will not be disappointed!



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Minne & Moo: Hooves of Fire

Title: Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire

Author and Illustrator: Denys Cazet

Publisher: Creston Books

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 987-1-939547-08-8

Minnie & Moo, the bovine stars of numerous picture books, finally return to the 9 to 11 year-old market;  more than ten years after their first chapter book, Seven Wonders of the World, was published by Atheneum.

In Hooves of Fire, Minnie and Moo organize and judge the First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival on the farm. The book starts with a letter to the reader from Minnie, which introduces the important characters, sets up the story, and delivers one of the funniest lines in the book; “That idea is dumber than licking an electrical socket”.

While I would agree with the starred Kirkus review that describes Minnie and Moo as the funniest cows on the early – reading circuit, I felt that some of the humour missed the mark. A lot of it was too mature (wordplay on popular culture references that are no longer popular) and inappropriate for the target audience (sexual chicken references, for example). But there was a lot of base humour as well, including the inclusion of port-a-potty races, manure being mistaken for “Ma knew her” and an abundance of  words that rhyme with butt.

The poems, songs, and jokes performed by the animals are quite clever and kept me reading through sixteen chapters of barnyard banter and minor disasters. Despite layers of foreshadowing, it isn’t until three quarters of the way through the book that the money box finally goes missing. This is followed by two chapters of high energy chase which includes a satisfying turn of events when Elvis, the obnoxious rooster, helps Minnie, Moo, and the Boarzinni brothers capture the guilty fox. (No need for a spoiler alert as there really isn’t much mystery here).

The book itself is beautifully designed- the kind that gives you faith in the perseverance of print books in a world of digital – with wonderful, detailed pencil sketches. There is a curriculum guide designed for ages 9-11 which will appeal greatly to teachers looking to bring Minnie & Moo’s antics into the classroom.

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Plastic, Ahoy!




My friend, Patricia Newman, has a new book out that is perfect for Earth Day!

Check out my review on the Authors for Earth Day facebook page.

Plastic, Ahoy! is aimed at students in grades 4-8. But it’s also an interesting and important read for anyone who uses plastic – in other words, everyone!


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Don’t Turn the Page!

dontTitle: Don’t Turn the Page!

Author: Rachelle Burk

Illustrator: Julie Downing

Publisher: Creston Books

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 987-1-939547-06-4

I have to admit, when I first saw the title of this book, I expected a funny adaptation of:

Mo Willems’ “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” or

Mélanie Watt’s “Have I Got a Book for You!” or

Michaela Muntean’s Do Not Open This Book!

But the similarity to these titles ends with the exclamation mark.

Instead, Don’t Turn the Page! is a cozy book within a book that belongs on the bedside of every toddler. Starting with the beautiful cover, this book encourages parents and kids to snuggle up together and get ready for bed. But like most toddlers, Sami the porcupine doesn’t want to go to bed because she is not tired. Gently and patiently, Mama plays along – getting Sami to read a book about a sleepy cub as he goes through his own bedtime routine. And before Mama can turn the page, Sami’s putting on her pyjamas, brushing her teeth, and cuddled into bed.

With beautiful illustrations and a rhythmic narrative that gradually slows as the story progresses, Don’t Turn the Page! will not get kids excited like the pigeon- but it will put them to sleep. Exactly the outcome every parent wants at the end of a busy day.

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Fox Talk

Title: Fox TalkFox-Talk-cover-231x300

Author: L. E. Carmichael

Photographer: Jody Bronson

Publisher: Ashby-BP Publishing (August, 2013)

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9780988163874

Interest: Ages 7 and up

In the interest of self-disclosure, the author of this wonderful non-fiction book for kids is a friend of mine. But when I picked up the book at our local library, I did not expect to love it so much.  And my 8-year-old son found it just as fascinating.  An interesting topic, laid out in an easy to understand format, I highly recommend Fox Talk for children of all ages (and adults)! Although I won’t be getting a pet fox anytime soon, it helped me understand – and appreciate – animal communication.nI’ll be listening closer next time my cat meows or dog barks.

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