Just click your heels 3 times! The bio page includes a bunch of FAQ A lifetime of trophies All my books so far Video chapter readings. It's like storytime. Writing and author links How to reach me. Where to buy books
Will 'Root Cellar'

Duck Lady 'Duck Cakes For Sale'

Susan 'The Root Cellar'

Picture books: Non fiction:

Novels: Other:
You can find my ONLINE at:
Barnes and Noble | chapters.indigo.ca
amazon.com | amazon.ca
Booksense.com | Canadian Children's Book Centre

Amos's Sweater
AMOS'S SWEATER (illustrated by Kim LaFave)
CHANDAILLE D'AMOS (French version)

This is the story I read to you in my introduction, the one about the old, cold sheep who never gives up and finally gets his wool back Ė even though itís now made into a sweater. I still have that shawl and I still remember that old, cold Vermont sheep. I love the way Kim LaFave has brought Amos to life with his pictures and how well he has understood just how Amos felt about being shorn of his wool.

Groundwood, Toronto, l988; as Le Chandaille d'Amos, Scholastic Canada, Toronto, 1990, ISBN 0-590-73704-4     Top ~ Where to Buy

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DUCK CAKES FOR SALE (illustrated by Kim LaFave)

A lot of people get very tired of all the noise and confusion in the city. This is the story of an old woman who decides to move to the country to get away from all that. It might have worked but she feels so lonely that she gets herself a couple of ducklings to keep her company. Well, one thing leads to another and, before you know it, there is more noise and confusion in her little country house than there has ever been in the city.

I did move from the city to the country once and I loved the quiet of country life but I did not keep ducks. The idea for this story came from a visit to a friend who lived in a cottage in the English countryside. She had ducks. We had duck eggs for breakfast, we had quiches for lunch. I thought we were going have to have roast duck for dinner but my friend used all the rest of the eggs to make cakes, and lemon butter to take to people in the city. I wondered what it would be like if her whole back yard were to fill up with ducks. You can see in my story and Kim LaFaveís wonderful pictures how we figured it out.

Groundwood, Canada, 1989     ISBN 0-88899-157-6                   Top ~ Unfortunately, "Duckcakes" is out of print.

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THE UMBRELLA PARTY (illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton)

Sometimes you just canít get enough of the things you really like. This is how Christie feels about umbrellas. She loves umbrellas and everything about them: how you can keep the rain and the sun out, of course, but, maybe even more, how wonderful it is to look at the sky through all the wonderful colours and patterns. So, when she invites her friends to her sixth birthday party she tells every one that she wants an umbrella. They think this idea is stupid. They think umbrellas are stupid Ė and boring Ė but they all decide to give her what she asked for just to show her. Well, you never can tell whatís going to happen, even with something you think is as boring as an umbrella and the birthday party turns out to be one of the best ever.

Iím like Christie, I love umbrellas. I wish I werenít so forgetful because I lose them (my favourite was one with a duck-head-shaped handle). Thatís why I wrote about umbrellas but the birthday party idea was from my fatherís sixth birthday. My father told all his friends that he wanted a miniature car for his birthday and they all brought him one. When the party was over, my grandmother said, "Isnít it too bad that everybody brought you the same thing?"

My dad said, "no, I love my cars!"

One other thing you might like to know about this story is that the children at the party are named for my grandchildren. I love that Kady MacDonald Denton put a big L on Liamís shirt. In fact, I love Kadyís bright, wonderful pictures.

Groundwood, Canada, 1998     ISBN 1-895555-32-9                           Top ~ Where to Buy

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COME TO THE FAIR (illustrated by Gilles Pelletier)
ALLONS À LA FOIRE (French version)

Itís fall. The harvest is in. The Martin family is off to the fall fair with their pig, their cow their horses, the huge pumpkin Mother is hoping will win first prize Ė and a mouse that manages to have as good a time as anyone at the fair.

This story was a challenge to write because the pictures came to me and I had to make the story fit them. Usually itís the other way around, the illustrator has to make pictures to go with the story. I spent several days looking at Gilles Pelletierís happy, bright, fall-looking pictures with everyone in them busy getting ready for the fair. Then I wrote the story. But something vexed me. My publisher told me to look for the tiny mouse on every page. Gilles Pelletier had been clever, he had hidden that mouse in hard-to-find places but I found it on every page but the last one. I looked and I looked. I got out my magnifying glass and I looked again. I gave up. I took the pictures to my neighbours. They looked. They found the mouse on every page but one, the last one. Finally I called the publisher.

"Thereís one mouse I canít find," I told her, "I swear it isnít there."

"Of course itís there,"said my publisher. "Hang up, Iíll call you back". She did but it was a long time later. She was laughing.

"We couldnít find it, either," she said, "so we called Gilles Pelletier and he said, "maybe I forgot to put him in that picture. Iíll fix that."

He did and now you can have fun finding the mouse on every page.
McClelland&Stewart/Tundra, Toronto 1997, ISBN 0-88776-409-6(English), 0-88776-422-3 (French)         Top ~ Where to Buy

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THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES (illustrated by Laszlo Gal)

The story of the princesses who dance every night in a strange underground kingdom has been one of my favourites from the time my older sister read fairy tales to me before I could read. So, when Laszlo Gal asked me if I would like to retell one of the old fairy tales for him to illustrate, I jumped at the chance to work with this story. I read all the versions I could find Ė and there are lots of them Ė then wrote my own. When I was finished my first draft, Laszlo set to work to show in his pictures the parts of the story I wasnít telling in words. I love Laszloís magical paintings Ė and I love that the youngest princess has the face of one of his daughters. But we did have our differences. One of them came quite early in the story. In my writing, the poor farm boy goes out into the world to seek his fortune. Laszloís fist drawing showed the boy sitting on a horse, looking more like a prince than a peasant.

"Laszlo,"I said, "this is a poor farm boy, he really shouldnít have a horse."

"Itís just a farm horse," said Laszlo.

No, it isnít, itís a fine horse and this boy is dressed in velvet and lace with handsome leather boots on. And look at his fancy hat with the plume.

"Alright." said Laszlo, and off he went to paint his picture and I to work on the second draft of my story.

Some weeks later we got together again. Laszlo had finished almost all the pictures. I was thrilled until I saw the one showing our farm boy setting out to seek his fortune. There he sat on his horse, in his velvet clothes, his high boots and his hat with the plume. I was just about to explode.

"Iíll take the feather off the hat," said Laszlo, and I knew I had lost the battle. Anyway, a fairy tale is a fairy tale and full of magic of all kinds Ė and I still love Laszloís paintings.

Methuen, now Stoddard,Toronto,ISBN 0-458-93890-4, paperback 0-458-98540-6           Top ~ Where to Buy

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The twins, Jane and Elizabeth, are so drawn to a doll they see in an antique shop window that they go into the shop and buy it. From that moment, strange things begin to happen. Elizabeth has an accident. The doll is missing, almost as though taken by an unseen hand, then is found in an unlikely spot. Then the twins have visions of a girl dressed in the clothing of one hundred years ago and of a little old-fashioned house. Soon they begin to feel as though something truly dreadful will happen if they do not find that house Ė and, before they find it, something truly dreadful nearly does happen.

Double Spell was my first book. It is set in Toronto where I was living with my husband and our five children (some of whom found their way into the story, in one way or another). I am not a twin and there are no twins among my children but my friend Andrina Calder McWilliam was the mother of twins. She illustrated the first edition of this book and, of course, she used her own twins as models so I donít think itís odd that Jane and Elizabeth turned out to be remarkably like those girls.

I had a little bit of research to do for this book. I needed to go to the royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to look at the clothes people were wearing one hundred years ago and at old houses to know exactly what that old-fashioned house was like.

Peter Martin Associates, (Harper & Row N.Y) l968, Puffin Books, Canada, 1986 ;as Das Rätsel der Puppe, Herder(Vienna) ISBN 0-14-031858-5       Top ~ Where to Buy


The year is 1777. The American Revolution is one year old. Fifteen-year-old Phoebe Olcott lives in the little pioneer settlement of Orland Village in Vermont with her aunt and uncle and their children. Her father joined the revolution and was killed in the first battle. Her dearest cousin Gideon joined the other side, the Loyalist side, and is away fighting. But he isnít away. He has been found near home and killed. He had been a spy. In a hollow tree Phoebe finds the message he was carrying to the Fort Ticonderoga. Heartbroken, the one last thing she can think to do for Gideon is to carry his message to the fort, more than fifty miles over the high mountains. Her decision starts a journey that leads her into adventure, danger, near death and a land far from home.

This book was a journey for me, too. Orland village is very like the Vermont village where I lived as a child. Hawthorn Bay where Phoebe finally settles is the fictional name I gave the bay behind the old farmhouse where I lived for so many years.

Alfred A. Knopf, Canada, 1997     ISBN 0-394-28074-1                          Top ~ Where to Buy


Twelve-year-old Rose Larkin is an orphan who has been living with her grandmother in New York. When her grandmother dies, she is sent to an aunt and uncle who live in a dilapidated old farmhouse at the edge of Lake Ontario in Canada. Worse than this, their four kids are all noisy, nosy boys. Even worse, one of them, Sam, says thereís a ghost in the house. But the ghost turns out to be, not only Roseís only friend in this alien place, but a guide to an old root cellar, a doorway into the past, the time of the American Civil War. It is also a doorway into adventure and a friendship with a boy, Will, and a girl, Susan, that crosses time and helps Rose find her way in the today world where she really lives.

I wrote this book after we moved from Toronto to the old farmhouse where the book is set. When I began the book, it was about a girl like my daughter Katie and her four brothers but, as I wrote, Rose became Rose, not at all like Katie. (Characters in stories are just as determined as real-life people to be who they are, not who someone wants them to be, even their author.) The next thing I knew, Rose had become an orphan, the brothers had become cousins and a strange old lady showed up who turned out to be a ghost. Where the ghost came from wasnít hard to figure out; my husband Richard had seen a ghost in our house. I let Sam describe her exactly the way Richard described her to us.

I needed to do a lot of research for this book. I love doing research, hunting for the ways to make my story have real life. I read several histories of the American Civil War and of nineteenth-century Ontario. I talked to Lake Ontario ship captains. I travelled to Oswego, New York, to New York City, to Washington D.C., the places where Rose and her friend Susan travelled looking for Will who had fought in the war and not come home. I spent time in Washington in The Library of Congress, reading Civil War diaries and histories (where I found one of my own ancestors). I wandered around my own neighbourhood, imagining what it had been like in 1865. By the time I had finished, I almost felt that I had taken a trip into the 1860s.

Lester&Orpen Dennys,l981; Charles Scribner's Sons,1983; Penguin Books, l983; Heinemann, London, 1983; Deluxe ed. with paintings by Scott Cameron, Lester Pub. 1994 (now Knopf Canada); as Le Passage Secret, Flammarion, Paris,1987; as Ni Trin Til Fortiden, Host&Son, Copenhagen,1988; as Jordkällaren, Sjöstrands Förlag, Stockholm.   ISBN 1-895555-39-6
Top ~ Where to Buy

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In the highlands of Scotland, ghosts and mythical creatures are facts of life, and people who see into the past, the future and the distance are not uncommon. Mary Urquhart is one of those people. One spring morning in 1815, she hears her cousin Duncan calling her from three thousand miles away in Upper Canada. She cannot resist his call, it is too heartfelt. So, with only a bit of money an aged friend gives her, and her intense need to answer Duncanís call, she braves the trek to the west-coast port, the gruelling ocean voyage and the long way through the frightening dark forest from Montreal to Hawthorn Bay where Duncanís family has settled. But Duncan has died and the rest of the family has gone back to Scotland. Fifteen-year-old Mary is alone, haunted by her failure to reach Duncan, having to make her life among strangers who donít understand and donít entirely trust her.

This story came about because of something I read in a book by a famous early Ontario writer named Catharine Parr Traill. While I canít remember Mrs. Traillís exact words, she said that it pleased her to see that, when they came to the new country, the Scottish and Irish peasants had left their superstitions behind them. She meant their beliefs in supernatural beings, in psychic powers and in ghosts. I had already begun a story about Mary, the immigrant from the Scottish highlands and, when I read this, all I could think was how painful it would be for someone like Mary to come to a place where everything would be so different from everything she had known. And so the story grew.

Doing the research for this book took me even further afield than research for The Root Cellar had. I travelled twice to the north of Scotland to look at, listen to, smell, and feel the landscape Ė and to listen to the way the people talked. I read countless books of Scottish history, listened to hours of Scottish singers, talked to a great many psychics, and then read again a half a dozen histories of early Ontario. As for Hawthorn Bay, thatís the name I gave the bay behind my own house, the one I wrote about in The Root Cellar.
Lester&Orpen Dennys, (now with Knopf Canada), Toronto, l988; Charles Scribner's Sons, N.Y. l987; Walker Books, London, 1988; Penguin, 1988; as Skuggann Bay, Sjöstrands Förlag, Stockholm, 1988; as Une ombre Dans La Baie, Editions Pierre Tisseyre,Montreal, l989; as Skyggei Tjornebugten,KLIM,Copenhagen,l990.                 ISBN 0-88619-134-3                                       Top ~ Where to Buy
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One day Arabella Stevenson lives in a large, fashionable house in the Toronto of 1837, with her father, her mother and her brother Charlie. A month later, her father is in prison for having joined a failed rebellion against the government, her brother has disappeared, the house has been sold, and her mother lies weeping on her bed in a tiny room in a boarding house. Arabella has had to take work as a scullery maid in the kitchen of the house of a former schoolmate. But she is strong and she has courage and she manages to make a life for herself in spite of all the terrible things that happen to her.

This story is part of a series called Dear Canada, a series of fictional diaries, supposedly written by twelve-year-old girls at important moments in Canadian history. I loved taking myself back to the rebellion of 1837 in Toronto, imagining daily life and imagining what it would be like to be Arabella, friendless in that kitchen, having to do all those hard chores when she was used to luxury, learning to build a life for herself.

If you like Arabella, you can read a short story about her in A season for Miracles, Twelve Tales of Christmas, a collection featuring many of the heroines from the Dear Canada series.
Scholastic, Toronto, 1994 (now Stoddard); ISBN 1-895555-42-6,paperback ISBN 0-7737-5845-3       Top ~ Where to Buy

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A history of Prince Edward County, Ontario, written with Richard Lunn for the 1967 Canadian centennial. (Now out of print.)

The County of Prince Edward, 1967.                              Top

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A collection of Canadian hero tales. (Now out of print.)

Press Porcepic, Toronto, l979 (out of print)                                             Top 

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THE STORY OF CANADA   (with Christopher Moore)

From the epic journeys into the unknown by the first people who crossed the Bering land bridge thousands of years ago to Roberta Bondar's landmark journey into space, The Story of Canada is as vast in scope as the country itself.

Key Porter Books, Canada, 1995, ISBN 1-895555-32-9 Paperback ISBN 1-895555-88-4                                  Top ~ Where to Buy


LAURA SECORD, A STORY OF COURAGE (illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse)

One day in the spring of 1813, American officers took over the Secord home, demanding food. Laura heard them boasting about a plan that would give them an easy victory over the British Lieutenant FitzGibbon. It fell to the gentle Laura to make the grueling trip that would alert FitzGibbon of the impending danger.
Tundra, Toronto, 2001, in the U.S. 2002; ISBN 0-88776-538-6                                          Top ~ Where to Buy


Maud's House of Dreams: The Life of Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Maud in this biography is Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, The Blue Castle, seventeen other novels, twelve short story collections, two books of poetry , and an autobiography. I felt as though I were being extraordinarily bold to be writing a biography of such a famous woman, the author of so many so well-loved books. What gave me the courage to do this was the question I always get asked when I visit kids in schools and libraries, "Where do you get your ideas?"

I decided I would answer some of those questions for Maud Montgomery (she was always called Maud) as she is no longer living to answer them for herself. So I read all her stories, poems and essays and all her published journals. Then I began where her life began to show where the ideas for her stories might have come from. It wasnít hard to figure out. Mrs. Montgomery loved Cavendish, P.E.I., where she grew up, so much, that she set almost all her books there. Whatís more, she used many of the people and many of the events of her childhood and young womanhood in her stories Ė and while she wasnít a redhead, she was a lot like Anne Shirley in many ways.

It was fun linking the stories to the real life of one of my favourite writers. If you read this biography of Maud, I hope it will send you to her stories. When I began this book, I hadnít read any of those stories for many years. I loved reading all of them again.
Doubleday Canada, 2003; ISBN 0385659334                                          Top ~ Where to Buy

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This true story about a girl caught up in the hatred of war is as relevant today as when it took place over two hundred years ago. The real Charlotte Haines was torn between the people she loved. She survived, but the scars of war were with her throughout her long and productive life.

Tundra/McClelland&Stewart, Toronto, l998     ISBN 0-88776-383-9      Top ~ Where to Buy

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The year is 1800. In the dark woods of Upper Canada there are few luxuries. Christmas will bring little cheer to the Jamieson family. When 10-year-old Lucy hears the visiting school-master describe the wonderful Christmas he as seen - roast goose, toys, bright ribbons - her imagination is fired. What if she and her small brother, Dan, were to make their parents the most splendid present of all - one hundred shining candles? But the best of plans can go wrong.
Lester&Orpen Dennys, Toronto,l990 (now Key Porter Kids) ISBN 0-88619-185-8; paperback ISBN 1-55013-636-4                                                           Top ~ Where to Buy

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THE UNSEEN   (stories selected by Janet Lunn) (Now titled: THE UNEXPLAINED)

Meet the ghost who doesn't want anyone moving into "his" house, the girl whose imaginary friend turns out to be all too real, and the white owl who foretells death and disaster. This collection of stories and poems, featuring such noted authors as L. M. Montgomery, Sharon Siamon, Brian Doyle, and Janet Lunn herself, will make you wonder what phantoms you don't see!
Scholoastic       Top ~ Where to Buy


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