Spud love

Watch Me Grow!  by Deborah Hodge and Brian Harris (Kids Can)

Watch Me Grow! by Deborah Hodge and Brian Harris (Kids Can)

Award juries and other selection committees have been very good to Potatoes on Rooftops. It has been named a Hackmatack Award finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist, Science Books & Film Book Award finalist, Ontario Library Association Best Bets selection, and a Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens selection, and it received a Skipping Stones Honor Award and an honourable mention for the Green Book Festival Award. I’ve been so busy with the books I edit that I hadn’t really noticed all this kindess towards my own piling up. Credit and gratitude to Annick Press for putting up with me as I juggled a brand new job with researching and writing a new book.
It's Our Garden by George Ancona (Candlewick)

It’s Our Garden by George Ancona (Candlewick)

Down to Earth by Nikki Tate (Orca)

Down to Earth by Nikki Tate (Orca)

Lots of other children’s books on growing food to be found in School Library Journal’s roundup, “Nurturing Learners: School Gardens and Other Growing Things,” including these colourful selections.

Edit: Potatoes on Rooftops is the winner of the Information Book Award! Thank you, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada!

Back to Tanzania

These were the first chimps I ever heard laugh:

Sadly, I didn’t catch their laughter on video, but there was a lot of it that day. The guides thought the groups we were following were a bit drunk on mbungo fruit.

Gombe Dec 09 063

I’m heading back to Tanzania in July for CODE-sponsored writing and publishing workshops with the good people of the Children’s Book Project for Tanzania, and wondering whether I dare spend the time and money visiting the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park—made famous by Jane Goodall—a third time. I’ve been working on a chimp story forever, which makes it work-related, yes?

(Those who have heard the following story before may now be excused.)

On my first visit to the country, I arrived in Dar es Salaam after midnight. I was tempted to check out the hotel grounds before turning in, but for weeks before my trip I’d been stressing out about equator-sized spiders and lizards and bugs and snakes, and ain’t no way I was going to go exploring in the dark.

I awoke in the morning to a rooster crowing (there’s always a rooster right outside your window, wherever you go in East Africa) and stepped out of my room into paradise. The beach. The flowers and palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze. The old fishing boat bobbing in the water.

Flip-flopping down the garden path, I was scolding myself for being such a wuss the night before when something fell from above, landing just ahead of my big toe with a splat.

A wet, headless rat. Seemingly boneless, organless, as though it had been eaten from the inside out. All that remained was the furry wrapper, tail and bulbous brain stem still attached to the body by a stringy spinal cord.

Not pictured.

Dar es Salaam 008

Singapore’s vertical farms

CNN Money explores Singapore’s vertical farms, tall greenhouses filled with rotating racks of plants. Powered by a low-energy water wheel, the racks circulate up and around A-frame towers, passing through a base of water that is filtered and recycled. The farms were designed and manufactured by Sky Greens.

Singapore currently imports more than 90% of its food.

In other news, Potatoes on Rooftops is a finalist for a Next Generation Indie Book Award in the Science/Nature/Environment category, and will be published in Korea by the wonderful Hangilsa.