Life, the Universe and Everything


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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  

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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  

One of Josée Bisaillon's illustrations for The Boreal Forest, by L. E. Carmichael, created in her signature mixed media collage/watercolour style

The Partnership Between Author and Illustrator

My previous books cover a wide range of age groups and topics, but they all have one thing in common: they are illustrated with photographs. The Boreal Forest was the first book I've ever written that has illustrations instead. ... Read More  

Cover of Weathernose by Maram Taibah

Cantastic Authorpalooza: Maram Taibah

This world appeared to me as I stood looking out across an inlet of the Red Sea. It was night and the dark spread out in front of me like a void.  There was a far-off shore, contoured with ... Read More  

Moose are an iconic species of the boreal forest. This list of resources will support learning in the classroom and at home.

The Great Big Boreal Forest Resource List

Now available - a FREE activity guide for use with your copy of The Boreal Forest! It includes suggestions for science, social studies, and language arts, and will help support a variety of elementary school curriculum outcomes. Not to ... Read More  

Gene Therapy by L.E. Carmichael - Front Cover

Mad Science Monday: Marvel’s Inhumans (That’s Not How DNA Works)

Oh, Inhumans. I so wanted to like you, mostly due to my enduring crush on Anson Mount (or rather, Cullen Bohannon of Hell on Wheels). Sadly, I spent most of the time I was "watching" you making dinner, doing ... Read More  

Because their breeding grounds in the boreal forest are protected, the whooping crane population has increased from less than 20 to more than 400.

Four Days Until the Forest!

I will be doing an online reading from The Boreal Forest TODAY as part of the #KCPSpringReading Relay. The video will go live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at 2:30 EST, but when it's over, it's gone. Don't ... Read More  

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Teach Write: The (REAL) Purpose of Personal Statements and Letters of Intent

Personal statements and letters of intent... with the possible exception of the dissertation, there are no forms of academic writing quite as likely to turn an ordinary student into a quivering ball of overwhelming anxiety. Deep breaths, all. I am ... Read More  

Lake Myvatn, in Iceland's boreal forest, is famous for flies! In summer, up to 50,000 fly larvae swarm in every square metre of lake bed.

Iceland’s Boreal Forest: Birds, Bugs, and… Vikings?

Here's a sidebar that I'd originally planned to include on pages 20-21: Iceland's Lake Myvatn is famous—for flies! In summer, up to 50,000 fly larvae hide in every 1 m2 (1.2 y2) of lake bed. Many birds eat these larvae, ... Read More