Tuesday, 7 September 2021

FREE Teacher's Guide for FIREFLY!


"Of all the costumes Firefly wore, what was your favourite? Why?"

- Sample FIREFLY Teacher's Guide question, DCB Young Readers

My fabulous publisher at DCB has created a wonderful new (and also free) classroom resource for my latest book, FIREFLY

The book is an interesting, funny, and moving read about a girl discovering who she really is, by escaping her difficult home. The story is set in a downtown Toronto costume warehouse run by my extended family, and it's a book close to my heart, a book that I've always wanted to write.

I hope you'll download this free Teacher's Guide and use it in your classroom (recommended for grades 6-8). There's also a free excerpt from the book on the book page. Enjoy!

More Free Teacher's Guides for my books on the 49th Shelf Here, including OCULUM, The Gargoyle in My Yard, and Weird Stories Gone Wrong (9 free guides in all)


Me reading from FIREFLY  (YouTube)

Book Trailer

Book Launch Interview with blogger Helen Kubiw (YouTube)

All posts about FIREFLY on this blog

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

OCULUM has a sequel coming September 2022, OCULUM ECHO!


SEQUEL NEWS! I could NOT be happier to announce that my 2018, multi-award nominated title, OCULUM, has a sequel coming in September 2022. 


Here is the full announcement in Quill & Quire.

Many, many thank yous to my wonderful publisher, DCB Young Readers (the children's imprint of Cormorant Books). They are a terrific publisher, and I'm very lucky to be part of their family of great writers. 

It's been an interesting experience, writing more about the post-apocalyptic world of Oculum, a world which has fallen due to environmental collapse and pandemic, during well, climate crisis and pandemic.

Life imitating art, again. Art imitating life, again. A mobius loop of story.

More to come on OCULUM ECHO but for now, here's a video of me answering 30 questions about OCULUM in 30 minutes. Thanks to the PEEL District School Board for the YouTube video, from June 2020. I start at @43 minutes: Enjoy: Philippa answers kids questions about OCULUM

All Posts about OCULUM on this BLOG

Thursday, 26 August 2021

5 Questions About My New Book, FIREFLY!

FIREFLY is out now! It's my thirteenth book for children, and it's from DCB Young Readers, my amazing publisher. Thank you to them!

Set in a real downtown Toronto costume shop, it's a story about mental health, PTSD, homelessness and poverty. BUT, it's also about the indomitable spirit of a 13-year-old girl, and her imperfect but amazing aunt, who runs the costume shop.

You can order FIREFLY now.

Whenever I have a new book, I answer the top 5 questions I think people are going to ask about the book, so here they are, enjoy!

1. What is FIREFLY about?

Firefly has been sleeping in the Toronto park across from her mother's house for most of the summer.  Then the Bad Night happens and she gets nabbed by social services, who send her to live at The Corseted Lady costume shop with her Aunt Gayle. The costume shop has 7 million pieces in it, enough for Firefly to try all kinds of identities in grade nine at her new high school. But which one is the real Firefly?

2. What made you want to write this story?

The setting for the story is inspired by a real costume shop in Toronto, run by my extended family members: 

Read more about Thunder Thighs here

It's an amazing place, a warehouse with 7 million pieces in it! Along with all the beautiful costumes, you'd have to include the huge collections of things like buttons, eye glasses, boots, shoes, fascinators to reach that number, though. My sister-in-law started the shop in the 1980s, and built it into a very successful business, creating and renting costumes for the Canadian film, theatre and television industry. She made my wedding dress, for instance, which was used on at least one CBC franchise! Costumes transform us, but also reveal who we are. I wanted Firefly's story to be more about who she becomes, than who she was on the street, and costumes are a great way to achieve that.

3. Firefly and her mother don't reconcile by the end of this story. Is this a little unusual for a middle-grade book?

Without giving too much away, I did want to write a story that explores the long-term struggle a young person has with a parent who, for various reasons, cannot parent their child properly. There's no fast, easy way to heal and to write any other kind of ending would be untruthful. But the story isn't really focused on the past. In the indomitable spirit of a young teenager, Firefly looks forward. She's curious, loving, smart, resourceful and with help from her aunt, her friend Charlie, a good social worker and a few others, she starts a journey of self-discovery. And in a costume shop, that journey can go in some amazing and hilarious directions! 

The ending is hopeful too, and there is the suggestion that Firefly and her mother will talk again, one day. When Firefly is ready.

4. What is your favourite part of the book?

It was a real honour to write a story inspired by a family-run business, one that my kids have worked at, that I have watched grow and change for decades. I have lots of memories about it, including the carrot costume that one family member wore every Halloween, or the motorcycle cop outfit that my son loved at age 13. It's a family story, so I love that about it, although it is a piece of fiction. The book is also quite hilarious in places, strange things can happen in a costume shop, especially at Halloween (which is when the story is set). I really love Chapter Fourteen, "There's Always a Guy in a Gorilla Suit," which I think is one of the funniest things I've ever written!  I'll just leave that there!

5. What is the main message you want young readers to take away from FIREFLY?

I think any child, whether in a difficult home situation or not, will identify with the courage and humour in Firefly. We're all luminous, beautiful creatures, lit from within, and there are people who see that in us, too. The main message I want kids to hear: find your crew, and let them love you and help you. You're not alone.

BOOK LAUNCH Q&A on YouTube: Kidlit blogger Helen Kubiw interviews me on all things FIREFLY.

Firefly is a CBC Books "28 Middle-Grade Books" Pick, March 2021

Firefly is an EXPERT PICK, Canadian Children's Book Centre March 2021

Beautiful Review from CanLit for Little Canadians

Here's a short YouTube video of ME Reading FIREFLY


More about FIREFLY on this BLOG