It’s always exciting when we get to see a new cover for the first time. Birthdays: Beyond Cake and Ice Cream will be out in March of next year and is part of the Orca Origins series of non-fiction titles for kids. It was lots of fun to work with my daughter, Dani on this project, particularly when it came time to dig through family archives to find appropriate photos for the personal anecdotes.
Thanks to the team at Orca for creating such a purdy book!
Well, that was fun! When Allegra came to visit this summer she and I decided to create a book trailer for Deadpoint. Allegra is a good climber, a natural director, and a fine writer. She came up with a concept, wrote the script, played the role of Ayla, and selected the music. She also helped with the editing and handled the voice over. Yep. Pretty handy to have around, I can tell you.
One of the things I love about the various Orca non-fiction series I’ve been working on is the way each author must insert themselves into the manuscript by including relevant personal anecdotes. As a result, we are writing about topics that a) interest us on a personal level and b) have some real connection to our own experiences. Given how long and research-intensive the process of writing a book packed with information is, it’s incredibly helpful to be engaged with the material when it comes to finding the motivation needed to stay focussed and get the book done!
I’m currently working on two books for the Orca Origins series (both collaborations with Dani, who also co-authored Take Shelter). Dani and I have been sifting through boxes of family photos in search of images to illustrate personal vignettes included in various sections.
As we’ve dug through stacks of old photographs, we’ve found treasures like this one:
One of the books we are working on is about Christmas – the origins of the holiday, how it’s celebrated around the world, as well as our own memories of the festive season. This image is one being considered for the section on carols. Peter (my younger brother) and I were about 8 and 6 years old when this photo was taken. Reading from our little Golden Book of Christmas Carols, we are singing in front of a Christmas tree we cut down to help the Alberta power company keep the area under the power lines clear. This was our first or second Christmas in Canada at a house on Grizzly Street in Banff. We moved from Banff to Australia and I remember the culture shock associated with traipsing through the snow, my dad carrying an axe, in search of the perfect tree…
Looking through all these old photos has sure brought back some great memories. I wonder, though, what’s going to happen to the last several years worth of photo memories, all of which are stored digitally. It would be so easy to lose everything if something happened to my online backups… or if something happened to me. If my significant others didn’t know my passwords, would all those digital images go poof into the ethers, never to be seen again?
There is certainly something to be said for a shoebox full of actual photos, some that date back to the days of my great-grandparents.
Project: Print a few photos from each batch I take… Having hard copies of precious memories may prove to be the most durable backup of all.
Busy doesn’t even begin to describe what’s on the writing to-do list these days! As sometimes happens, two manuscripts have landed back on my desk for editing at the same time – both with similar deadlines. The first is Deadpoint in the Orca Sports series, a novel for reluctant tween readers. I’ve done a couple of these before (Venom and Razor’s Edge – both novels set in the world of horse racing).
Deadpoint is about climbing (not much of a surprise there, given how much climbing I’ve been doing over the past year or so… )
The second book is a collaboration with my daughter, Dani. She and I worked on Take Shelter together (which is doing very well – we will be in Vancouver at the Red Cedar Gala on May 7th as the book was nominated for a Red Cedar Award – very exciting!!). Our next project is in the Orca Origins series and is all about birthdays – the history of birthday celebrations, how we celebrate birthdays in different parts of the world as well as some personal stories about memorable birthdays in our family… We’ve been having a lot of fun doing the research and finding suitable photos that might accompany the text. We are well into the edits now, which is a good thing because next on the list for the same series is a book about Christmas.
At the same time, I’m beavering away on two other books – one, an adult memoir about the nature of personality and what happens when someone develops Pick’s Disease (the type of early onset dementia my mother had) and a non-fiction book for teens and pre-teens tentatively called The Young Activists Handbook.
In other news, Holiday House in the US has picked up a picture book manuscript which combines the two subjects of baseball and bricklaying… because those two topics fit together very naturally, don’t you think? They are currently selecting an illustrator and I’m pretty excited to see who that might be!
There’s also another climbing-themed project being considered by another publisher – can’t say anything more about that yet as nothing has been finalized, but suffice it to say I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to find ways to write about the climbing bug which has so thoroughly infected me!
It doesn’t matter how often it happens, it’s always an exciting day when a new book arrives! Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet is the latest in the Orca Footprints series. It’s only just come out, but already it is getting some great reviews! If you are a review reader, here are some links:
“Provides good, attention-grabbing facts…Perhaps most significantly, [Tate] conveys a sense of how trees serve as barometers to environmental health and trouble…A solid foundation, a taproot to appreciating the incredible diversity and contribution of trees to our everyday lives.” (Kirkus Reviews 2015-12-01)
“Beautiful and intriguing color photos from a broad array of sources and diverse locations give readers ample visual details of a wide variety of species and tree habitats around the globe… [Tate] champions the sheer wonder of trees, thanks to her infectious, enthusiastic tone…With accessible language and eye-catching, photo-filled layouts, this is a great pick…Very well suited to elementary- and middle-school research projects.” (Booklist 2016-02-01)
“Another well-done offering from this ongoing series…Beautiful color photographs from all over the world, make [the book] an excellent addition to libraries seeking to enlarge their selection of multicultural offerings…This well-written volume is ideal for budding researchers unfamiliar with environmental issues, and teachers will welcome this attractive, curriculum-based reading options.” (School Library Journal 2016-03-01)
From BC Book World (Spring 2016)
Since moving to a two-acre farm and planting dozens of trees, Nikki Tate has come to appreciate “why trees just might be our best friends.” As a follow-up to her children’s book about housing around the world, she celebrates the universal importance of trees in Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet (Orca $19.95).
Among other things, we learn that six of the planet’s eight species of baobab trees are in Madagascar. During the rainy season, water is stored in their enormous, smooth, white trunks that rise like 100-ft. pillars. The baobab is known as the Tree of Life because the trees produce much-needed fruit in the dry season when little else grows. Baobab flowers bloom at night and are pollinated by bats. 978-1-4598-0582-8
One of the new projects I’m working on is a collaboration with Sylvia Olsen and Jean Jordan. We are researching and writing a biography for children about Elizabeth May, Canada’s first Green Party MP in Ottawa. Elizabeth has a long history of activism and we’ve been reading and discussing which pieces of her story make sense to include in a book for children. As part of that research, I have been re-reading her book Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada. In the section in the middle with photos I came across this one that shows Elizabeth along with a number of others in Speaker’s Chambers in the House of Commons in Ottawa. The photo was taken in 1987 and it’s quite conceivable (there were a number of collectors back east who bought his work, including various on Parliament Hill) that the painting in the background is one of Dad’s. It sure looks like one of his, but the place where he would have signed is obscured, so positive identification is proving difficult. Elizabeth is a tad busy campaigning at the moment and though the group clearly chose to pose in front of the painting, I doubt she would remember anything about it, even if she had time to return my call to quiz her on this most pressing of matters. Pretty cool, though – until I hear otherwise, I’m going to assume this is one of the winter landscapes for which Dad is well known… If anyone has info to the contrary, please let me know!