Sheryl McFarlane: Introducing The Blue Canoe

July 5, 2024

Welcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children’s book creators! Today’s guest: Sheryl McFarlane. Take it away, Sheryl!

Hi, I’m Sheryl McFarlane and I’m so excited to share my new picture book, The Blue Canoe. It’s published by Familius and beautifully illustrated by Laurel Aylesworth.

Every cabin day is a paddle-on-the-lake day.
You’ll be paddling with us too, coming-soon baby.
Mom and me and you in our blue canoe.

A mother and daughter love to canoe on the little lake at their family cabin.

Interior spread from The Blue Canoe

With her mother expecting a new baby, their paddling time together provides a perfect opportunity to explore local flora and fauna and for the girl to imagine being a big sister…playing in the water like the otter family they pass, and teaching her new sibling boat words like a rope is called a painter.

Interior spread from The Blue Canoe


Still, she worries about the changes a new baby will bring…

Interior spread from The Blue Canoe

Interior spread from The Blue Canoe

Mom doesn’t dismiss her daughter’s worries but gives honest and reassuring answers like…Yes, I’ll be busy sometimes, but we will continue to paddle on the lake together.

Interior spread from The Blue Canoe

The Blue Canoe is a poignant picture book conversation that addresses big feelings.

It’s perfect for growing families who value the beauty of nature.

Interior spread from The Blue Canoe

When my children were young, we had a lakeside cabin. My husband and I loved the outdoors and loved sharing nature with our young children. Ours was a battered, grey canoe held together with duct tape and  badly in need of repairs.  It was not as pretty as the one Laurel painted, but we had marvellous lake adventures paddling together. The flora and fauna pictured here are only a sample of what you might discover if your family takes up canoeing. Happy paddling!


The Blue Canoe by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Laurel AylesworthCanoe Words
  • Aft: Toward the rear, or stern, of the canoe.
  • Bail: To empty water from a craft by scooping it out with anything from a sponge to a tin can.
  • Belly: The bottom of the canoe.
  • Bow: The front or extreme forward end of the canoe.
  • Gunnel: The section along the top of the canoe from stern to bow where the sides meet; a strip along the top of the canoe’s sides.
  • Paddle: The instrument used to propel a canoe through the water.
  • Painter: A rope attached to the bow or stern of the canoe, used for tying, towing, or lining the canoe. A painter can also be used as a safety line in case of a capsize or a rescue.
  • Port: The left side of the canoe when facing the bow.
  • PFD: Personal Flotation Device. Always wear a PFD when canoeing.
  • Starboard: The right side of the canoe when facing the bow.
  • Stern: The rear of the canoe.
Classroom Activities

As a former teacher, I loved using picture books to introduce a theme or concept. Here are some fun ways for primary and preschool teachers to extend the learning.

  • Create a list of all the birds found in The Blue Canoe. Use a birding guide to help identify each species of bird. How does that compare with local birds?
  • Create a list of the animals found in The Blue Canoe. Put them into categories; for example, insects, birds, amphibians, mammals. Are local animals different or similar?
  • Create a food web based on the plants and animals in the book.
  • Older kids may enjoy creating an origami canoe. Use a rectangular sheet of paper paper to create an easy origami canoe. 
  • Discuss the feelings the little girl has about a new baby and the ways that talking about feelings can be helpful.

The Blue Canoe is available through your favourite Indie bookstore, via Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and Target.

Children's author Sheryl McFarlaneSheryl is the author of eighteen books for kids. She lives in Victoria, BC where she enjoys gardening, beach walks with her little dog, Karl, gardening and stocking her little free library. Visit her at

1 Comment on ‘Sheryl McFarlane: Introducing The Blue Canoe’

  1. Congrats on this beautiful, heartfelt book!

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