Yolanda Ridge

Children's Author

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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Thicken Thou Skin


My latest thoughts on writing and rejection at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors; Thicken Thou Skin.

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Big AGENT NEWS for me… read to the end to find out!

It’s been a busy month (or two or three…)

It started with a lot of this;


as I queried agents with my recently completed, much revised (and still to be edited), work-in-progress, Inside Hudson Pickle. 

And then, as luck would have it, there was a lot of this;










as I sent out partial and full versions of the manuscript and was lucky enough to receive three offers of representation!! Which lead to this;


And now, heading into the summer (one day after Canada Day) it is all this;




Because I am now represented by Amy Tompkins of the Transatlantic Literary Agency!

I am so excited about this next chapter in my writing career. Thanks for celebrating with me!

To be continued…

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google doc II

Road Block is now a google doc too.

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google doc

Trouble in the Trees is now a google doc. Not sure about the significance of this but if you want to read it as a pdf, it’s out there in the public domain for downloading.  Good or bad?  You tell me.

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Trouble in the Trees… Rossland Style


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Book Giveaway – The Boy Problem

the boy problem3



Today on the mixed-up files I’ve posted an interview with Kami Kinard. Check it out and enter to win a copy of her new book – The Boy Problem - a great middle grade book!


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Writing Process Blog Tour

1398701236080Jennifer Ellis, author of A Pair of Docks (a clever time travel novel – highly recommended), and the newly released In the Shadow of the Mosquito Constellation  just tagged me in a series of blog posts about the writing process.

Here’s how My Writing Process Blog Tour works: once tagged, you answer four questions about the writing process and then tag three other authors. At the bottom of this post, you will find the three talented authors I managed to tag (I’m still out of breath – chasing authors can be hard work!)

And now, the questions…

What am I working on?

I am actively working on NOT checking email while I search for an agent for my latest middle grade manuscript, Inside Hudson Pickle.

My current work-in-progress, tentatively titled Fire on Red, is about Ethan Matheson who readers of Trouble in the Trees will recognize as Bree’s neighbor. During author visits, I’ve had a lot of kids (boys, mostly) name Ethan as their favourite character. In response, I’ve moved him from Cedar Grove to Rossland where he does not fit in with the hardcore biking / skiing lifestyle. Instead of making friends, he spends his time hiking the local mountains (and trying to find some trees to climb) where he meets a recluse and stumbles upon the cause of a mysterious rash of forest fires that are putting his new home town at risk.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Great question! My immediate answer is that it’s contemporary – an honest portrayal of ordinary but loveable children dealing with the everyday problems of the real (western) world. I write the kind of books I loved when I was growing up, books like Judy Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me Margaret, that made me feel like I was reading about a friend (or myself.) For middle grade readers, these books have become somewhat rare in a market that is dominated by fantasy and farce.

Why do I write what I do?

I start with a premise I love – and I come up with about a hundred of these a day (okay – that’s an exaggeration but I do get enough ideas to find it distracting). I only write when the character involved starts “speaking” to me. Not in a crazy writer muttering to themselves kind of way… in a way that makes me feel I could really bring the character to life on the page.

Without consciously meaning to, I tend to write books that give hope and indirectly encourage children to speak up and make a difference (things I wanted to do myself when I was kid but often couldn’t). I’m not sure parents appreciate this when they come home from my author visits chanting “No More Rules!”

How does my writing process work?

Once I’ve got the idea and the character I write a very brief outline. Then I start typing – at least two hours a day at my treadmill desk. I try to move the story forward as quickly as possible to get a rough draft. Then I begin the tedious process of revising and rewriting – but only if I still want to spend time with that character (which often times I do, but only after a little – or long – break).

That’s it, folks! Thanks for the tag! To find out more about Jennifer Ellis, who in addition to being a smart, talented writer is also a fellow Rosslander and great walking partner, check out her blog. And make sure to visit the websites and blogs of the three amazing authors I managed to tag;

Sara Cassidy lives in Victoria with her three kids. Her fifth novel for kids and young teens, titled Skylark, was released by Orca this spring. Skylark is about a girl who discovers the transportive power of poetry while she is living in a car with her mother and brother. Sara’s previous titles have all been Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books selections with a Junior Library Guild Selection and Chocolate Lily Award finalist among them. Rumour has it that Sara has recently finished a novel for teens with the awesome title… Yolanda. Can’t wait to read it!

Mark Smith is an English teacher who has written for journals, travel companies, marketing companies, newspapers… and also has three kids. His debut novel, Caravaggio: Signed in Blood, is being released in October by Tradewind Books. Caravaggio: Signed in Blood is a historical novel for 12-14-year olds which follows Beppo Ghirlandi as he flees Rome with the artist Caravaggio – an adventure complete with sword fights, pirate battles, and even a bit of romance.

Lindsey Carmichael may have been my sister in a previous lifetime. Our professional lives have followed a similar pattern – from science degree to graduate school (almost in the same lab) to writing for kids – but our paths have only crossed virtually (and I can’t wait to meet her in person one day). She is the author of the award nominated book, Fox Talk (highly recommended), and eight other non-fiction titles including the forthcoming, Fuzzy Forensics.

These three writers will be posting their responses in the next week or so. I learned a lot answering the questions and reading the responses of other writers “on the tour” so I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say.  For now, I’ve gotta run – have fun, everyone!

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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;  over 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 and 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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Happy Earth Day!


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