Posts by L. E. Carmichael


Rampage movie poster

Representation of (Mad) Women Scientists in Rampage

One of the reasons I started Mad Scientist Mondays was because a lot of people don't actually know any scientists. As a result, cultural depictions of science and scientists - like those in movies and on TV - have ... Read More  

The Idea Store: Sources of Inspiration for Children’s Writers

When asked where we get our ideas, writers often joke "The idea store." In an age where we can type "writing prompts" into Google and return literally thousands of starting points for our next masterpieces, it's actually not that ... Read More  

A bokiboki, a type of mongoose native to Madagascar

STEMinism Sunday with Conservation Biologist Rina Nichols

The goal of conservation biology is to maintain the planet’s biological diversity (biodiversity). So basically, it is a science born from the impact that humans have on nature. But it differs somewhat from other biological sciences because it is ... Read More  

cover of The Boreal Forest by L. E. Carmichael

The Final Forest Friday

In the three years I spent working on The Boreal Forest and preparing to release it into the world, I never in my wildest dreams expected to have to do it during a pandemic. And it's been both harder ... Read More  

Cover of Honeycake: A Family of Spices

Cantastic Authorpalooza: Medea Kalantar

I was born in Georgia, USSR and immigrated to Canada when I was four years old. I lived in Toronto, Ontario for the most part of my life. I’ve been married to my husband Esfandiar for over 28 years ... Read More  

The boreal forest is a vast and vital wilderness that is worth protecting.

How Can We Preserve The Boreal Forest?

Last week we talked about some of the reasons that the boreal forest matters - not just to those of us who live there, but to the entire world. This week, I wanted to draw your attention to some ... Read More  

In addition to providing habitat for plants and animals, the boreal forest supports people's cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic needs.

What Is a Forest For?

When I was writing The Boreal Forest, one of my goals was to shine some light on ecological processes - by showing how a forest works, I could hopefully show what a forest is for... by which I mean, ... Read More  

Teach Write: Five Tasks to Complete BEFORE You Start Writing

For the last few months, we've been talking about the first two things we must do before we sit down to write: Identify our audience Who are we writing for? Kids, adults, professional peers, our teachers? What does that audience need from ... Read More  

The Canada lynx is one of the few cat species to call the boreal forest home.

How Do You End a Book, Anyway?

This is the original draft of the final scene in The Boreal Forest: Snow falls from a flat grey sky. It hisses in the steam that rises from a hotspring. A snowshoe hare laps at the warm water. She nibbles ... Read More  

Great Tit sketches by June Steube

June Steube On the Art and Science of Nature Illustration

A special treat today: an interview with illustrator June Steube! June's specialty is science and nature illustration, and she's worked for clients as diverse as Canada Post and the Canadian Museum of Nature. She's currently illustrating her first children's ... Read More  

Squirrels are familiar denizens of both North American and Eurasian boreal forests, building hordes on both continents.

Hoards: Not Just for Dragons Anymore

Pages 34-35 of The Boreal Forest show boreal birds migrating south for the winter. That scene originally included this snippet, showing a different winter survival strategy: Red squirrels fill their winter pantries. One hauls a mushroom up a pine, wedging ... Read More  

book cover of Zebi's Dream by Farida Mirza

Cantastic Authorpalooza: Farida Mirza

Welcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children's writers! Today's guest: Farida Mizra. Take it away, Farida! My memories of growing up in pre-digital South East Asia are rich with images of living in extended families, ... Read More  

To stay warm in a boreal winter, North American martens grow thick fur - even on the pads of their feet!

Evolution of a Scene: Revision and The Boreal Forest

Today, on Forest Friday, we're going to take a deeper dive behind the scenes into the process of revision. I'm going to share every draft of the first scene in The Boreal Forest (pages 8-9), and explain how the ... Read More  

Mad Science Monday: May the 4th Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day, and welcome to my post about the science of this iconic series. Because my scientific expertise is strictly terrestrial, and because I am one of about three people on this planet who isn't really sure ... Read More  

Scientists think that white and black fur might serve as a high-contrast warning, rather than camouflage.

The Appalachian Extension: Spotted Skunks in the Southern Boreal

The boreal forest is generally considered a northern forest, because boreal species, like pines and birch and rhododendrons, thrive in cooler climates. But cool climates are also found at high altitudes, so boreal forests extend into mountain ranges along ... Read More  

Teach Write: A Common Misunderstanding About the Purpose of Children’s Literature

For the last few months, we've been looking at the purpose of different genres of writing, and the way the purpose of a document affects our approach to the task. Most of those columns focused on academic writing, but ... Read More  

Northern flickers have the longest tongues of any woodpecker in the boreal forest.

Deleted Scenes – Of Flickers and Fire

Sunbeams dance in a birch grove, sparkling off the morning dew. Rat-a-tat-a-tat! A northern flicker drums on a burned stump, then flutters to the soil. It pecks and scratches, licking up ants with its long tongue. In a puddle ... Read More  

illustration of Marla Lesage in her role as nurse

STEMinism Sunday: Nurse and Children’s Writer, Marla Lesage

I like to say that I’m very lucky because I have two careers. I’m a registered nurse – currently working part-time – but I’m also an author/illustrator/artist. My debut picture book, Pirate Year Round, was published last May and ... Read More