Pat Bourke is a children's author, editor and business writer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She loves historical research, coffee-flavoured chocolates and logic puzzles.


The new view


A shift, even just from one foot to the other, changes the view.

Since I last wrote a blog post in May 2014, my ground shifted in several ways.

We faced significant family challenges. I didn’t know whether we’d still be a family when we came out the other side, or whether we’d come out the other side at all. We did, and I’m deeply thankful for that.

We welcomed a new member of the family, but not in the usual way: an older brother, given up for adoption before my brothers and I were born, and who we hadn’t known about, contacted me. We’ll never know the reasons behind our parents’ decision, but it feels right to have him in our lives now.

We lost a dear friend and former neighbour to cancer. Sadness at the stilling of her bright and loving spirit, joy that she’d been part of our lives.

We moved from Ontario to British Columbia. This felt like being uprooted, even though it brought me back to the province where I was born.

We developed new relationships with my husband’s family, and discovered new friends in our new home to add to treasured friends in our former home.

I certainly lost things. I lost my perspective, and my sense of self for a while. I lost the joy of creating, and stopped making time for it, and so lost even more.

But I also gained things. The healing scenery out my window: mountains, trees, islands, water and sky. More new experiences with my beloved partner. More time for friends, even if we connect electronically instead of in the local coffee shop. More people in my world to love and to love me back. A new perspective, a new sense of self.

You can’t un-shift the ground, but you can take in the new view.


Awesomeness: Toronto Festival of Trees and OLA Forest of Reading


Last week’s Festival of Trees at Harbourfront was … well, it was AWESOME. You’d think a writer could come up with a whole thesaurus’s worth of words to replace that rather tired one, but there isn’t any other word that captures what the whole experience delivered: utter awesomeness. Awesome to sign autographs and chat with long line-ups of keen Silver Birch readers, awesome to hang around with some of the best children’s authors in Canada today, awesome to be paraded onto the stage by my sign carrier and introducer, awesome to look out onto a packed audience of cheering kids whose enthusiasm wasn’t dampened one bit by the grey, drizzly weather.

2014 Harbourfront Festival of Trees – Silver Birch Fiction

And it was all, every bit of it, because kids are truly excited about reading.

The Ontario Library Association has done an awesome thing for our children. Their stellar Forest of Reading program is designed to get kids reading and talking about reading. The Festival of Trees celebrations in several cities in Ontario, packed with kids, are evidence that it works. Kids do read! Kids want to read! Kids are eager to stretch their brains to discover new things about their world and about themselves.

Record Breaker, by Robin Stevenson, was the Silver Birch Fiction winner as voted by thousands of students in Grades 4 to 6. Curse of the Dream Witch, by Allan Stratton,The Hypnotists, by Gordon Korman, and Yesterday’s Dead, by me (!), were named as Honour Books. (I still can’t quite believe it, to be honest.)

I also had the honour of attending two Forest-of-Reading-related celebrations in Uxbridge and Ajax last week. Here are some pictures of my sign carriers and introducers.


They, too, were awesome.


A whole Forest’s worth of reading … Festival of Trees


Parry Sound Festival of Trees: my awesome sign carrier and introducer
Parry Sound Festival of Trees: my awesome sign carrier and introducer
The North Bay Festival of Trees on April 29 and the Parry Sound Festival of Trees on April 30 gave me two fun days of connecting with keen readers, their teachers and librarians from the Near North District School Board. Eleven authors in total made the trek north for the celebration, with lots of laughter, great workshops and chances to talk to the readers we wrote our books for.

The organizers, Karen Upper and her tremendous team, did a super job of keeping the kids reading leading up to the events, and they made our two days so much fun! These were my first ever Festival of Trees celebrations, and I’m still in awe of the enthusiasm from the kids. Having worked hard to get there by reading at least five books, they were all winners and tremendously proud of their achievements!

Festivals in Thunder Bay, London and Ottawa are keeping the excitement going. This week I’m off to related Forest of Reading celebrations in Uxbridge and Ajax, and the Toronto Festival of Trees at Harbourfront. Can’t wait!

The cheering from these keen readers at the North Bay Festival of Trees was deafening!
The cheering from these keen readers at the North Bay Festival of Trees was deafening!

1 2 12