Saturday, 30 April 2016

COMING OCTOBER 2016, Everton Miles is Stranger than Me

Sequel to The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden, shortlisted for the OLA Red Maple Award.

'I wander around like any normal, paranoid self-absorbed teenager. Do we all think we're being chased by deadly entities, I wonder? Probably, but how many of us actually are?'

Gwendolyn Golden, Night Flyer, floats over the cornfields all summer. What draws her to the same spot, night after night? All she knows for sure, is that change is coming: she's starting high school, plus there's a strange new boy in town.

He's Everton Miles, and he's a Night Flyer, too.

Soon the mismatched teenagers face dangers they never imagined, including a fallen Spirit Flyer, kidnap, and the eternal darkness of the Shade. How will Gwendolyn handle her new life and grade nine? With help from The Night Flyer's Handbook, and her strange new friend, it might not be that hard. 

Read more on the Dundurn Press Site

I have to say that I couldn't be more excited about a book! This story, book 2 in The Night Flyer's Handbook series, takes us further into Gwendolyn's life, and through her first year of grade nine. She's a little older, wiser, and more comfortable with her strange gift of flight, but there is still a world that she doesn't understand yet. There are boys (a kinder, gentler Martin Evells turns up again), and there's the bizarre world of grade nine, PLUS there's Everton Miles, the only other teenager she's ever met who can fly, too.

At first she thinks that he's nothing like her, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that he really is, at least in the things that matter most. She has a lot to face, including nefarious forces, the loss of her father, and the deadly Shade, not to mention the "decision" she has to make at the end of the book: to fly, or not to fly, for life. She has an 800-page handbook to help her navigate all these changes, plus her old friends, her family, her Mentor, Mrs. Forest, plus (most unfortunately) a school-appointed family therapist ... but more than all that, she has Everton Miles.

Here are reviews of Book 1, The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden, which was nominated for the OLA Red Maple Award 2015. If you enjoy magic realism, YA and flight literature, you're in the right place! Stay tuned for more!

Related Blog Posts:

Judy Blume's Read-Alikes (49th Shelf)
Birdman, The Karman Line, and The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden: Magic Realism in movies and Literature
Why I Chose a Poem from Gwendolyn MacEwen as an Epigraph and more


Quill and Quire (Starred Review)
Canadian Teacher Magazine (13 year old reader)
International Blogger (Giraffe Days)

Book Trailer:

Here's the Book Trailer for Book 1.


The Night Flyer's Handbook Series is available at your library, favourite bookstore and from:

Dundurn Press

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Letter from Bergen Belsen, 1945

Here's a blog post that I repost twice a year, in April and on Remembrance Day. (Please note, graphic content.)

Today is 11/11/11, Remembrance Day. All families have their war stories, whenever and wherever those wars were fought, and today I'd like to share a small part of my family war history. There has been a letter in my family since April, 1945, which was written by my uncle, a Captain in the British army. When the British liberated Bergen Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, my uncle was asked to tour the camp and write down what he saw as a Military Observer. The original copy is carefully folded in my mother’s top bureau drawer along with other family treasures. It is torn and deeply creased, words and in a few places whole sentences missing. It’s a difficult read, be warned, and I have edited much of it here. But is important to share, I think, on this day of remembrance, so here it is:

      "I have just spent three hours amongst 50-60,000 beings who appeared, and who are-many hundreds of them-already sub-human; three ghastly, unnerving hours amongst piles of mutilated, terribly emaciated, rag-strewn corpses; amongst huts where dead and living lie thickly together; where the majority, starved in the extreme, appear-and are-more dead than alive.
     I was walking towards the main exit, trying to find words to express the final horror of the place, when I noticed the sign-- Kanteen-- above the door of a hut. What mockery the word was here! Expecting to see nothing more than a dirty, empty hut, I looked inside. I saw instead something which shocked and staggered me by its unexpectedness and yet by its implication gave the answer I had just been seeking in my mind.
    They were dancing in that Kanteen! Dancing to the tune of "Alexander's Rag Time Band." A handful of Hungarian soldiers, off duty from grave-digging, and some dozen of the fitter women and girls--were gathered around an old piano. On the fringe of the group stood a few yellow faced, emaciated men, their thin heads nodding to the rhythm. Around the sides of the hut, motionless and unregistering, sat a few deathly pale, dull-eyed youths. As the woman at the piano faltered and then again struck up "Alexander's Rag Time Band" a girl, her two eyes almost completely closed with disease, nudged a fitter companion to lead her on to the floor. With set, meaningless grins on their faces, they danced weakly around the filthy hut.
    I went out. Lying just a few yards away, on the edge of the main road through the camp, lay a heap of corpses. The strains of "Alexander's Rag Time Band" came from the Kanteen hut. Earlier the sounds of wailing women had come to me from other huts. I had to go into that Kanteen a second time to convince myself of what I had seen.
     Immediately outside, right between two huts, German soldiers were digging a huge pit. Alongside was a pile of starved bodies, incredibly fleshless, which the S.S. camp staff, driven at the double by British bayonets, were adding to continuously. A dying man propped himself up in a sentry box, watching. Men, women and young girls wandered around, forming a murmuring, weakly threatening line through which the S.S. were doubled by British guards to begin the clearing of corpses from yet another hut...
     At Belsen they are dying still at the rate of 600 a day. And tomorrow, and the day after, and for days to come in spite of all that British medical relief, intent first on checking the ravages of typhus, can do.
     Why did I visit Belsen? Given the opportunity I went because I know that in a few years only, clever people will say, 'Nonsense! Don't you realize that was just war propaganda?' And I shall know how to reply. CM, April 22, 1945"

Here are links to movies and books about Belsen:
Night Will Fall (BBC Documentary, 2015)
Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp (Book, Leonard Berney, 2015)