Culture, geography, history and inspiration – Chinese Immigrants in Canada

From as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by other cultures and eager to know about countries around the world.

This fascination has led to traveling, learning about global holidays, attending pow-wows…

…writing to overseas pen pals, learning Scottish Highland dancing, volunteering at a First Nations wilderness camp…

…AND writing about other cultures!

Immigration to Canada – Then and Now is a new series of educational books published by Beech Street books. I was thrilled last winter when Red Line Editorial invited me to write one of these books, and am celebrating receiving my author copy of Chinese Immigrants in Canada!

An Educational Experience

What an educational experience it was for me to learn about this strong, determined, resourceful, industrious ethnic group in Canada. I have enormous respect for the Chinese immigrants and Canadian-born Chinese people who battled hardships with dignity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about Canada and immigration, until I began gathering information. What a valuable experience!

Let me encourage you to “go back to school” and have a look at some of the fascinating people groups in your country. I’m sure you will be as inspired as I am at their journey and accomplishments.  Here are some links to whet your interest!

 

 

The History of Immigration to Canada

The History of Immigration to the United States

The History of Immigration to Britain

And here is a link showing another children’s educational book I wrote for Beech Street Books about sustainability.

If you or someone you know is a teacher or librarian, and are interested in these books, you can purchase them at the publisher’s website, or on Amazon.

Sustainability Alberta Style

Alberta was formally declared a province of Canada on September 1, 1905. To celebrate the 112th birthday tomorrow of my province, and to celebrate the publication this month of my book, Respect Our World: Sustainability, I thought I’d share some of the ways that Albertans work toward sustainability. I admire the leadership Alberta has taken with innovative steps to a better environment for Canada.

Micro-generation

Micro-generation is the production of electricity on a small scale by individual home owners and small businesses, using renewable and alternative energy sources. They typically use solar and wind energy, but may use other sources of energy including biomass, microcogeneration, geothermal sources, and fuel cells.

The micro­generation regulation was recently revised to make it easier for Albertans to generate electricity for their own electricity needs.

The Climate Leadership Plan

The Climate Leadership Plan is a made-in-Alberta strategy to reduce carbon emissions while diversifying the economy and creating jobs. The Canadian government announced that provinces must enact an emissions reduction plan or pay a carbon tax in 2018, and this is a launch of a strategy designed specifically for Alberta’s own unique economy.

Innovation

Alberta is taking a leading role in promoting energy efficiency, resource conservation and environmental measures through the growth of Alberta Green Building Technologies and Products industry, with the hope that one day many of these green technologies and products will be mandatory in the construction of new buildings.

Four corporations—Bio Solutions, Energy and Environment Solutions, Health Solutions and Technology Futures – were consolidated into one innovation powerhouse, Alberta Innovates. Through it, ideas and technologies created by Albertans receive support, and innovators, businesses and researchers can now easily tap into their collective assets – cross sectoral knowledge and expertise, funding, networks and research facilities.

The Book

I found a lot of inspiration in these initiatives and many more that I ran across while writing the book. If you have kids or are a teacher, I hope you’ll check out Respect Our World: Sustainability!

Little Grain’s Big Adventure by Jacqueline Price

How very exciting! An adorable children’s book, with quality writing, unique and exotic locales and wildlife, gorgeous artwork and beautiful lyrical language!
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Little Grain is bored with his hum-drum life tumbling in the surf among all the other grains of sand, and asks his friend Little Bird to take him to see the sights of Hawaii.  He ventures even farther, all the way to the Gulf of Alaska, and a strong wind strands him on an iceberg.  Now poor Little Grain is scared, cold, and homesick for his family and his warm sandy bay.  If only he could get some help!

This book is full of exotic plants, fascinating land forms, and unusual animals of the ocean, land and air, each in turn the most beautiful thing Little Grain has ever seen.  And THIS BOOK is one of the most beautiful things I’VE ever seen!

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The lyrical and alliterative words make Little Grain’s Big Adventure a joy-filled reading experience, and on each page we can find our tiny main character making comments in little white speech bubbles.  I am drawn in, re-reading it over and over, savoring the unique, calming imagery in the language.

This story of a little grain of sand was inspired by the author’s family trip to Napili Bay in Maui, and is enhanced with brilliant, bold illustrations. As a librarian at an elementary school, Jacquie discovered a talented fifth-grade boy who agreed to illustrate her book, and brought to life all the marvels Little Grain encounters from Hawaii to Vancouver Island and Alaska, and back.  After admiring the art, I could hardly believe that the illustrator was not a professional artist.  (Yet!)

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I fell in love with this story years ago when Jacquie sent it to our children’s writers group for our feedback. How wonderful to find out she was doing a book signing at our local Chapters Indigo bookstore in Calgary!

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This book is such a treasure.  I highly recommend it!

You can purchase a copy of Little Grain’s Big Adventure at the author’s website, www.jacquelinedprice.com.

What a beautiful present it would make for a child’s birthday or a holiday gift.  (And…..psssst!   Jacquie has another book coming out soon!)

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Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

I don`t normally forward a link to a news article, but I just found this and can`t resist.

I just adore Beverly Cleary. On April 12, 2016 she turned 100 years old–can you believe it!

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Whenever someone learns my name is Ramona, they ask if I read the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I tell them that I am pretty sure they were based on me. In the 60`s, my mom read Henry and the Clubhouse, Ramona the Pest and Henry and Ribsy to my brother and me each night, with our huge collie in bed with us.  I was very confused: how did this author I`d never met know me so well, and why did she write a whole book about me!  The illustrator, Louis Darling, even captured my unruly hair and untied shoes.

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Look, I still have them on my book shelf!

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Thank you, Beverly Cleary, for years and years of joy and laughter!

You can read a great article about her on Today Parents, here.  And if you haven`t already read one of her books, it doesn`t matter what your age, treat yourself to any one of them (especially the three above), and experience the warmth and feel-good humor of this dear author.

Also, check out my review of Beezus and Ramona (originally posted at Best Children`s Books)!

One Story’s Path to Publication

Great news! Standard Publishing will be publishing one of my stories in their teen publication, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine! This is a special thrill because it is one of my favorites.

This story grew out of a fun assignment for a writing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. The instructions were to go to a public place to observe children or teens, and make notes on their conversations. I went to my local library, where there were two teenage boys playing chess with the huge chess pieces. I had so much fun taking notes and enjoying their laughter, competitiveness and bravado. Eventually, for another assignment, I conjured up a story with a character based on one of the boys.

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Before I submitted it for publication, I took this story to my writing critique group. They gave me a lot of suggestions, which I incorporated. I sent it to a magazine for pre-teens, but they rejected it, and a year later I submitted it to a contest, which I did not hear back from.

Recently I found information about ENCOUNTER—The Magazine in a weekly newsletter called Children’s Writers eNews. I re-read the teen story I’d written a year or so before, and found it a bit confusing. I decided to submit my original story, written for the ICL class—and it was accepted!

That was an educational experience. Although I still think it is smart to get feedback and critiques on my writing, I’ll probably trust my own judgment more!

Standard Pub banner sshot-1Standard Publishing is a 150-year-old organization. If you are interested in submitting to ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, or Standard Publishing’s other periodicals, you can find their writer guidelines here and here.

 

[Chess photo courtesy of Wikipedia, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Large_chess_set.JPG%5D

Please Read Our Past Issues

A writer who wants to carefully target a magazine in order to make a sale will study samples of the magazine, as many writer’s guidelines suggest you do.  But this can get expensive.  Having gone through this experience several times, and being frugal to the core, I have a few recommendations of how to familiarize yourself with a magazine publisher’s style and preferences by getting article and magazine samples at bargain prices.  My focus is on children’s magazines, but these tips work just as well for all kinds of magazines.

Free Online Articles

You can find a lot of free samples of the articles that a magazine publishes on websites.  The best resource I’ve found for children is the group of Cricket/Cobblestone magazines, who have a webpage of free articles, as well as an entire sample issue you can read online, for each of their magazines.  I signed up for their emailed newsletter, which has links to free articles, and have gathered about a hundred of them to study so far.  Highlights for Children is another magazine that has archives online.  At HighlightsKids.com, click “Read It” and select Stories or Articles.  You’ll see a few, and then click “Read More”, where you’ll find plenty of their past stories, articles and more.

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Online Databases

A subscription to a database of articles can be pricey, and a lot of my online searches for magazine back issues and articles led me to these.  But as a help for teachers and parents, CobblestoneOnline.net has an incredible searchable database containing all their articles.  It costs $35 per year for a Single User membership.  There are also online databases you can access through your library (see below).

Writer’s Forums and Critique Groups

I found some helpful information and magazine samples on a writer’s forum I belong to, and I hit the mother lode when the leader of my in-person writing critique group gave me a pile of magazines she no longer needed!

Buying Single Issues or Subscriptions

With any luck, you can find issues at your local newsstand or book store.  But I find the selection of periodicals in the stores shrinking, especially the ones I’m interested in.  Many magazine publishers in their writer’s guidelines offer sample issues for just the cost of shipping, at a reduced price, or as a download.

If you are buying several back issues—because the more issues you study, the better you’ll understand the publisher’s needs and style—it can get expensive, so you might find it worthwhile to buy a subscription.  Do check the added cost of shipping so you are prepared.  I am interested in writing for Sunday School papers, so I ordered a set of weekly papers for an entire season at a very reasonable price.

Issues of Highlights Magazine

The Library

The local library carries magazines, but understandably only the most popular.  I still use this as a good source for a few children’s magazines that I’m targeting.  Finding the copies that circulate among the branches will be a different procedure from library to library.  At mine, I used to be able to do an online search in the library’s website, and then I’d be able to see which branch carries which magazines, but the library’s search process has changed and I can’t do that anymore.  So I called the information desk, and a very kind, helpful young lady assured me that she would make a report and send it to me.  (It turned out that she was unable to generate the report automatically, so she made it manually, and I thanked her profusely for the extra time it took her!)

Using my library membership, I also use the eLibrary to search periodicals by various criteria and look at copies of actual magazine pages.  A librarian gave clear step-by-step instructions on how to find the actual pdf’s of articles and stories (which include the great artwork).  For example, I can read all the articles published for the past twenty years for a certain magazine, and see a listing of all the articles they’ve published on certain subjects and in specific issues.

Also, don’t forget to check your library’s sale tables in case they are discarding magazines.

Schools

Talk to school librarians to find out if they are planning to discard any of their issues of magazines.  Call in the spring because some will be already preparing for the end of the school year, and you want to catch them before they throw them away.  You will save them some trouble transporting heavy loads of them and they’ll probably be thrilled to pass them along to someone who appreciates them.  I obtained boxes of past issues this way from schools, and accepted all that the librarians offered, even if they weren’t the ones I needed, because you never know if they will be useful to you or someone else in the future.  The downside of this is that you may get old issues, but you might find that even these are helpful.

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Magazines.com and eBay

On the web pages of Best-Childrens-Books.com, Steve Barancik has resources for the parents that visit his site.  He includes a section on where to obtain children’s books and magazines at bargain prices.  You can find more than just children’s reading materials at the links he provides.  The magazines I checked at the links were a huge savings from ordering them from the publisher or other magazine subscription websites.

Steve recommends looking around eBay for books (using the search word “lot” for a lot!), and using Steve’s instructions for finding magazines was just plain FUN!  I bought six recent issues of a favorite children’s magazine for a great price and low shipping cost.  (By the way, he also has web pages on how to write stories, and while you’re there, you can check out my book reviews!)

Thrift Stores, Used Book Stores, and Garage Sales

This is definitely a hit-or-miss activity, but I did want to include it, because the magazine you are looking for might be easy to find in one of these places.  I regularly make the circuit of quite a few thrift stores, looking for books to use for tutoring (or, quite honestly, for the fun of treasure-hunting for all kinds of things), but while I’m there, I take a look to see if they have other resources such as magazines on their shelves.  Depending on the store, you can pick up magazines as low as ten cents each, up to a dollar.  I don’t go to as many garage sales as I used to, for time’s sake—they are very hit-or-miss and I can’t not look at everything—but their prices would be even lower.

If you need magazine samples to study for your writing, I hope that these suggestions will save you some time and money!

Writing for Kindergarten Readers

Since I’m having so much fun writing a story for kindergarteners, I thought I’d share some of what I’m learning.

I started two stories for the Children’s Writer Contest, but I’m pretty sure they are not going to work for this young age. So I thought I’d focus on the words first, instead of the story plot first.

According to Alijandra and Tayopa Mogilner, the authors of Children’s Writer’s Word Book, the kindergarten student’s vocabulary centers around one-syllable words under six letters long, and the sentences need to be VERY short. Many of the short sentences are technically only phrases, but they are what kiddies at this age need.

What I did to get the feel for one of these stories is read her example story over and over until I got the rhythm. Then I started with the A words and looked at each word in the list of acceptable kindergarten words, hoping for inspiration.

Then I took a break and went into the library. Actually, I was already sitting in the parking lot of the library with books to return, and wasn’t allowing myself to actually go inside until I’d written a story. But the dark clouds came and the wind whipped up and I remembered the weather forecast was for thunderstorms, so I went inside after only writing a few phrases.

I looked at four “X” books, early readers, level 1, and the feel of the short sentences got locked in my head. I checked out those books, went back out to my car, opened up that list of kindergarten words again and browsed through them again. Soon I had the germ of an idea for a story. I wrote down some phrases and short sentences, but many of the words for my first ideas weren’t allowed because they were too advanced. So I had to look up the words in the “thesaurus” section of Children’s Writer’s Word Book—what a brilliant idea the authors had, to find other words at the reading level you need—and I began to re-think how else I could express my thoughts within the restrictions of the simplest words.

I started driving home, and at each light, I’d jot down a few words and phrases that had popped into my head since the last light. Now that I’m having fun imagining this story, I have enthusiasm and momentum!

Are you writing for early readers? Let me know what works for you!