Selling the Story: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Five

Every book passes through many hands before arriving at your local bookstore or library. We’ve developed a six-part series, How Does Publishing Work?, to shed light on a book’s journey to publication. From developing stories and characters, to editing and illustration, through to the publishing and marketing stage, this series takes a look at all the different people and processes involved in bringing your favourite stories to life.

In part four of our How Does Publishing Work? series, we broke down the stages and creative decisions behind every graphic novel or children’s book illustration. Today, in part five, we’ll examine the sales process and learn how books travel from the publisher to your bookshelf.

Sales in a Publishing Context

Many authors, editors, and artists are motivated by a love of stories, but to ensure a story gets told, it needs to find its way to readers. This is where the sales aspect of publishing comes in. As a book nears its final stages of development, the sales and marketing teams begin working to get the book into readers’ hands. Selling a book is a complex process with many moving parts that involves publishers, authors, distributors, retailers, and the media. We spoke to Synora Van Drine, Sales Manager at Portage & Main Press/HighWater Press, to find out what goes into selling a book.

Putting the ‘Data’ in Database

The first stage of selling a book takes place long before a book is published and available in bookstores. Information about the book, from basics like the title, author, and ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to more complex information like age ranges, reading level, and BISAC codes are added to metadata software. In turn, the software distributes that metadata to retailers, including online stores like Amazon as well as your local independent bookstore.

“Soon after a book is added to the production schedule, the process kicks off with the preparation, collection, and distribution of the book’s metadata,” says Synora. “This is so that information about a book is available for everyone to find as soon as we start talking about it.”

Selling Is Strategy

A significant part of Synora’s role is designing and implementing strategic plans to sell the title. These strategies consider sales channels, which include retailers like McNally Robinson or library wholesalers, as well as promotions and campaigns.

“In addition to developing and cultivating sales channels and creating sales campaigns, I have a role to play in planning trade and customer events, and of course pitching every new title [to retailers],” says Synora.

An important aspect of strategic planning for a book release also involves how to overcome foreseeable challenges. For example, some stories are so unique, they can be hard to describe or put into a particular genre category—and that can pose a real challenge for selling the story to retailers and readers. 

“[When] a book doesn’t exactly fit a category, the challenge is making a case for the book,” Synora elaborates. “The invisible pieces—like logistics and metadata—all have a role to play in discoverability and getting a book into a reader’s hands.”

Constant Conversations

Relationship building is just as essential to a sales role as the strategic measures used to spread the word about new releases. Not surprisingly, establishing a strong relationship with booksellers and libraries is key, and it’s a highly nuanced part of the job.

“It’s important to understand what the book buyer is interested in,” Synora explains. “Analyzing what they’ve bought in the past, [current] trends, and finding that connection for your list. Also important is making sure they have all the necessary information at the right time in their selection process.”

“Selling is an ongoing conversation that happens on different levels,” she says. “Whether you’re talking to a journalist, an influencer, or the book buyer for a beloved bookstore, you’re not just conveying information about the book, but also what makes the title stand out.”

A Job in People and Publishing

Unlike many roles in publishing, which tend to be well-suited to introverts, a career in sales is driven by strong people skills, suggests Synora. It’s an ideal career for those who don’t shy away from interpersonal communication and aren’t afraid of the word ‘no.’

A Bookstore’s Perspective

We connected with Kai Bergen of McNally Robinson Booksellers to discuss the decisions a retailer makes when acquiring and distributing a new title.

PMP/HWP: How does a book buyer decide which titles their store will have in stock, and how are the quantities determined?

KB: This depends on many factors, and does vary from store to store. For me, I prefer to buy “wide and low”—that is, take many titles but few copies, and then see what sells. But we do choose some titles to feature which we will order many more copies of up-front. For those, I like to think about: 

  • Is the book considered a lead title* at the publisher?
  • What is our history of sales with this author?
  • Can I put it on a themed display, such as for a holiday? Does it “match” with other big books that are coming out? 
  • Have I or my coworkers been hearing any buzz about it on social media?
  • Has someone read an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) and loved it? 

If I know someone will hand-sell** a book, I will order more copies.

*Lead title: A book that the publisher expects will be a big hit.

**Hand selling: When a bookstore staff member offers a personalized recommendation to a customer based on a conversation about the reader’s interests. 

PMP/HWP: What are some of the internal processes that decide how a book will be featured in-store once a title has been released? 

KB: I’m lucky in that I am both a buyer and a display person, so in a way that makes both of my jobs easier. We decide on a list of books to feature each month, based on what we think will sell, and then I build displays around those titles. 

I like to make themes if I can, and I will also make displays seasonally (winter, seasonal holidays, etc.) and for events like I Love To Read Month (which is February). 

We also try to “listen” to what kinds of topics are being discussed in the world at large, so we have an idea of what kinds of books our customers are looking for. For example, in the lead-up to the U.S. election, many people were reading books on democracy, and we had a display of these kinds of books in our adult sections. 

PMP/HWP: How might an author or publisher support the book once it’s in your store? 

KB: Social media is a real force when it comes to spreading the word about books. Post about it! Engage with readers! It’s always fun as well when publishers send us fun little extras we can use to build hype around a book, such as enamel pins or even bookmarks that we can give for free with the book. 

Also, we always love it when authors come in and sign copies of their books for us (though, sadly, that has been less possible lately). In “normal times,” we hosted many book launches, and those gave a big boost to book sales. But, alas, we are unable to do those at the moment due to the pandemic. Hopefully we’ll be back at it soon enough.

PMP/HWP: Once a book has hit the shelves, what does the sales life cycle look like from the bookstore’s perspective?

KB: We run a sales sort each week to determine how many copies of each book have sold and how many we need to reorder. We also generate a bestseller list for both kids and adult titles each week. Sometimes, when a book has had a lot of buzz (Dog Man, for example), we see a lot of sales right in its first week. But often, the sales will build up gradually as people notice it and word spreads. 

Bookstores can keep books on the shelf for up to a year and still return them to the publisher—this arrangement allows us to take chances on books we might otherwise not have. 

We will return a hardcover when the paperback version is released, and we run return sorts every three months or so; if a book has not sold any copies in a three-month period, we are likely to return it. Sometimes we will return books, and then suddenly they will win a prize, or get a great review, and demand for them will renew, so we will reorder them. It’s all about watching the sales patterns and reacting to them.

In our next and final installment, we’ll look at the marketing and publicity around each new book—the driving force that helps a new release become a bestseller! Make sure to check back, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to read part six of the How Does Publishing Work? series!

Read the other posts in the How Does Publishing Work? series for a detailed look into the people and processes that bring your favourite books to life:

How to Write a Book: How Does Publishing Work?, Part One 

I Wrote a Book. Now What?: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Two

What Does an Editor Do?: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Three

Captivating Through Artwork: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Four


Written by Serge Desrosiers

Earth Day is April 22 and many educators like you will be celebrating by engaging with their students on the importance of environmental protection. To help you celebrate Earth Day, we have put together a selection of titles that share traditional knowledge from Indigenous communities across North America. By celebrating Indigenous knowledge and perspectives through beautifully illustrated images and poetic prose, these titles will inspire the next generation to environmental action.

Mothers of Xsan series
for grades 5 to 7

With five books in the series so far, the Mothers of Xsan series introduces readers to the Gitxsan people and the animals within the River of Mist (Skeena River valley) in Northwestern British Columbia. Each animal mother of Xsan and their young tell a story of the interconnection of animals, people, and ecosystems.

Written by the award-winning author Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) and illustrated by Natasha Donovan, you can purchase the series here.

Stand Like a Cedar
for grades 1 to 4


Take a walk through the forest and explore not just the teachings from nature but learn words from the Nłe7kepmxcín and Halq’emeylem languages as well! A great book for building literacy and multilingualism, environmental appreciation, and stronger community.

Written by Nicola I. Campbell and illustrated by Carrielynn Victor, you can purchase the book here.

Watch for the teacher guide coming soon! Sign up for our eNewsletter to receive up-to-date information about this resource.

The Gift Is in the Making
for grades 5 to 9

Discover Anishinaabe language, values, and teachings and immerse your students in a wondrous world where all genders are respected, the tiniest being has influence, and unconditional love binds families and communities to each other and to their homeland. 

Written by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and illustrated by Amanda Strong, you can purchase the book and audiobook here.

Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life
Siha Tooskin Knows series
for grades 3 to 6


Learn with 11-year-old Siha Tooskin (Paul Wahasaypa), as his family and community share lessons from their Nakota heritage. Explore the interconnectedness of community and environment, the roots of modern conveniences, the teachings of nature, and much more in this eight-book series!

Written by Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead, illustrated by Chloe Bluebird Mustooch, these books can be purchased individually, or as a set here. An accompanying education guide is available here.

We Dream Medicine Dreams
For grades K to 3


Drawing on her knowledge of Dene teachings, Lisa Boivin shares this healing story of hope, dreams, and the special bond between grandfather and granddaughter. Bear, Hawk, Caribou, and Wolf all have teachings to share to help us live a good life.

Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin, this book will be released April 20, 2021. You can pre-order the book here.

NEW Hands-On Social Studies for Ontario
for grades 4 to 6

These great educational resources explore communities at local, national, and global levels, past and present and build understanding of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.

Custom-written for the Ontario social studies curriculum (2018), you can find them here.

Hands-On Science for British Columbia
For grades K to 2 and for grades 3 to 5


This series focuses on scientific and technological approaches, balanced with Indigenous knowledge and perspective and is custom-written for the BC science curriculum (2016).

Browse the resources for your grade level here.

Use this selection of stories and resources to find valuable lessons of nature and community in our world to inspire you and your students on Earth Day.

You can find more books at

Learn more about how to get involved with Earth Day at

Tags: , , ,


Written by Serge Desrosiers

We spoke with author Katherena Vermette and illustrator Scott B. Henderson about what it takes to bring history alive in a book like Road Allowance Era. Coming out at the end of April, the fourth and final entry in the A Girl Called Echo series follows a Métis teenager gifted with the power to travel through time, and witness firsthand the events that shaped her people.

Katherena Vermette
is a Métis writer from Treaty 1 territory, the heart of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her National Film Board documentary, this river, won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Short, and her novel, The Break (House of Anansi), won the 2017 First Novel Award. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


  • Why was Road Allowance Era an important story to add to the A Girl Called Echo series?

Katherena: I really wanted to bring the story home to the present day. We started in Volume 1 with the Pemmican Wars (1812-1817) which is regarded as the beginning of Métis nationhood. I wanted to make sure and take all these historical events and connect them to the present, to show how we have been, and still very much are, affected by them.

  • What methods did you use for your research of the Road Allowance period?

Katherena: Lots of texts. Recorded stories. Some threads of family stories. One of the benefits of getting closer to the present day is an ever-increasing amount of documented testimony and recorded memories. I loved being able to know these stories from lived experiences and not just from historical data. Also, Jean Teillet’s phenomenal book, The North-West Is Our Mother, came out at just the right time for me and the Echo series. I have used it so much over the last two books.

  • What did you enjoy most about writing Echo as a character?

Katherena: I liked being able to write a shy girl, a quiet girl. Echo doesn’t have that much to say, but she is still such a thinking, feeling, active person. I loved that she was shown this way. That she was drawn so beautifully by Scott. 

  • Without revealing too much of the story, how has Echo’s journey through the four volumes prepared her for the end of the series?

Katherena: Everything is learning. Everything she’s seen is going with her into the future. [The A Girl Called Echo series is] a pretty traditional quest narrative. I like to think of it as an origin story. Echo is becoming a superhero.

Scott B henderson

Scott B. Henderson
(he/him/his) is author/illustrator of the sci-fi/fantasy comic, The Chronicles of Era and has illustrated select titles in the Tales From Big Spirit series, the graphic novel series The Reckoner Rises, A Girl Called Echo, and 7 Generations, select stories in This Place: 150 Years Retold, Fire Starters (an AIYLA Honor Book), and Eisner-award nominee, A Blanket of Butterflies. In 2016, he was the recipient of the C4 Central Canada Comic Con Storyteller Award.


  • Your illustrations in Road Allowance Era are so immersive; it truly feels like you’re stepping back through time. What elements of your illustrations create that effect and how are they produced?

Scott: I think it’s a combination of using as much reference as possible and my less stylized art style, but also a big part is Donovan Yaciuk’s colours. Without that, the monotonous, muted feeling in the present day for Echo, and the vibrancy and connection she gets travelling backwards through her history wouldn’t have been as effective.

  • What challenges did you overcome in adjusting to the various eras throughout the A Girl Called Echo series?

Scott: Some challenges had a lot to do with available references. As we travelled through time, there were often more and more resources for landscape, wardrobe, architecture and so on. That being said, sometimes there is reference for the time period–say end of 18th century fashion–but, was that relevant for the Canadian Prairies?

Another challenge throughout the four volumes was that, while I knew generally what each book was about historically, I didn’t always know what that would mean for Echo in the present day. What or how was her relationship with her mother going to evolve? What of her teachers or friends like Micah? For consistency, I tried to keep her look the same–those distinctive shirts, or her jean jacket, but it wasn’t always practical when she was transported into winter climates. I had to be flexible to adjust to those changes from book to book.

  • How did you approach the research for Road Allowance Era?

Scott: Road Allowance Era was a bit different [from the rest of the series], as COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult to do research, or go to libraries to find books. I had to work with more “remote reference” than usual. Luckily, the era allowed for a lot of available references despite the lockdowns.

    • How do you feel your work or process has changed as a result of illustrating the A Girl Called Echo series?

Scott: I’ve tried to use as much reference as possible for people and anatomy. Characters look more natural when referring to photos (a LOT of selfies in most cases) for angles, gestures, and anatomy. For A Girl Called Echo, I also opted to do less rendering of the art–less hatching or cross hatching and that sort of shading. This allowed Donovan (the colourist) to really make the colours jump out. My art is really incomplete without his stunning work.

To hear more from Katherena Vermette on the series, listen to her CBC interview here.

You can pre-order Road Allowance Era, and purchase the entire A Girl Called Echo series here.


Tags: , , ,

International Women’s Day Author Roundup

At Portage & Main Press/HighWater Press, not only are we proud to collaborate with incredible, groundbreaking women authors, but we are honoured to share their incredible work. In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, keep reading to learn about some incredible women authors and their accomplishments.

Sara Florence Davidson

Sara Florence Davidson is a Haida educator and scholar with a PhD in Literacy Education. Sara is an assistant professor at Simon Fraser Universityand is passionate about helping teachers incorporate Indigenous content, perspectives, and pedagogies into their classrooms—particularly in the area of English Language Arts. She is very engaged in exploring ways to merge the strengths of Indigenous and non-Indigenous pedagogical practices. You can learn more in her book, Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony. Her most recent project, The Sk’ad’a Stories Series, features beautiful books for children that bring the Haida Sk’ad’a Principles to life through the art of Janine Gibbons.

Find Jigging for Halibut With Tsinii here.
Find Learning to Carve Argillite here

Pamela Rose Toulouse

Pamela Rose Toulouse, PhD, is originally from the community of Sagamok First Nation and is a proud Ojibwe/Odawa woman that comes from a long line of educators. She is currently a professor in the Faculty of Education at Laurentian University and was among the first university-level Indigenous educators. Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse is known for her dynamic teaching, advocacy, and commitment as an educator. Her latest book with us, Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools, is one of over 50 resources she has published.

“[The author’s] background and teaching experience provide the insight, knowledge, and expertise to make [Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools] a valuable text for both the novice and experienced teacher.”—Canadian Teacher Magazine

Jennifer Lawson

Jennifer Lawson, PhD, helped shape the future of education as we know it in Canada. She took on the monumental task of creating the Hands-On series when there were no other curriculum resources of this kind. Jennifer has created something that stands the test of time, and Hands-On continues to evolve to respond to the needs of today’s classrooms. Jennifer currently teaches at the University of Manitoba and is a local School Board Trustee.

Read an interview with Jennifer here.

Jennifer Katz

Jennifer Katz, PhD, is the groundbreaking author of Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning and winner of the MCEC Outstanding Achievement Award for Leadership (2016). Dr. Jennifer Katz developed this practical Three-Block Model after teaching in diverse classrooms from K to 12 in Winnipeg and Vancouver for over 16 years. Her model is the “how-to” piece we need for creating socially and academically inclusive classrooms and has been implemented in elementary and high schools across multiple provinces and states. Her most recent title, Ensouling Our Schools[link], weaves together methods of creating schools that engender mental, spiritual, and emotional health while developing intellectual thought and critical analysis.

“At this time in Canadian history, [Ensouling Our Schools] is an important theoretical and practical book that deepens our understanding of the interconnectedness of SEL, UDL, Trauma-Informed Practice, Mental Health, and Inclusion under the umbrella of responding to the TRC. This is a tall order, but Katz and Lamoureux do it masterfully and leave the reader with incredible hope for education, youth, and the future of this Land and country.”—Exceptionality Education International

Faye Brownlie

Faye Brownlie is one of BC’s most sought-after learning and literacy experts. Faye believes that all educators—classroom teachers, specialist teachers, administrators, and district staff—should be leaders of learning. She’s the author and co-author of many books for teachers. She believes it is our common goal to work together to support the best learning possible for all learners. Faye is the creator of the successful Say Something strategy which she outlines in her book Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Responses: A Unique Approach to Literature Circles, now in its second edition. She also contributed to the It’s All About Thinking series with Portage & Main Press.

Connect with Faye here.

Shelley Moore

Shelley Moore is a groundbreaking and inspirational teacher, researcher, speaker, and storyteller that has worked with school districts and community organizations across Canada and the United States. Shelley is passionate about inclusive education, curriculum, and teacher professional development. Shelley’s YouTube Series, Five Moore Minutes is an incredible resource where she creates videos dedicated to empowering schools and classrooms to support all learners. Her book, One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion tackles such things as inclusion as a philosophy and practice, the difference between integration and inclusion, and how inclusion can work with a variety of students and abilities. Most recently, Shelley narrated the One Without the Other audiobook coming soon from your favourite audiobook retailer.

Christine M’Lot

Christine M’Lot is an Anishinaabe educator and curriculum developer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has experience working with children and youth in multiple capacities including child welfare, children’s disability services and Indigenous family programming. She is currently teaching high school at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. Christine is also the co-founder of Red Rising Education, and works to create Indigenous education resources for teachers. She is the author of two teacher guides for Portage & Main Press.

Find the Surviving the City Teacher Guide here.
Find the This Place: 150 Years Retold Teacher Guide here.

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty 1 territory, the heart of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Katherena is a versatile writer who has worked in numerous mediums, including novels, poetry, film, and graphic novels. Her first book, North End Love Songs won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and her first novel The Break was a Governor General’s Award finalist. The final installment in her graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo, is coming in April 2021. See a full list of her work here.

Find Road Allowance Era, Volume 4 of A Girl Called Echo, here

Listen to The Next Chapter as Katherena Vermette talks about her A Girl Called Echo graphic novel series here

Jen Storm

Jen Storm is an Ojibway writer from the Couchiching First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. Jen completed her first novel, Deadly Loyalties at the young age of 14, and also wrote the graphic novel, Fire Starters. However, her talents aren’t restricted to writing; they also rest in art. She was a contributing writer and illustrator for This Place: 150 Years Retold, and is currently illustrating book two in The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak series. To add to the long list of achievements, Jen was a 2017 recipient of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 under 40.

In her own words, Jen Storm explains how she wrote Fire Starters here.

Charlene Bearhead

Charlene Bearhead is a dedicated advocate for Indigenous education, and has served as the education lead for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as well as the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Her latest work with her husband, Wilson Bearhead, has produced the Siha Tooskin Knows series. According to The Globe and Mail, the books “will inspire and enlighten” with their vivid illustrations and narratives in contemporary settings. The stories about an 11-year-old Nakota boy were listed among CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens and identified as a selection of exceptional caliber. Find the Siha Tooskin Knows series here.

Listen to Charlene and Wilson talk about the Siha Tooskin Knows series with Alan Neal on All in a Day here.

Tasha Spillett

Tasha Spillett is a celebrated educator, poet, and emerging scholar who draws her strength from both her Nehiyaw and Trinidadian bloodlines. She is currently working on her PhD in Education through the University of Saskatchewan, where she holds a Vanier Canada Award. Tasha is most heart-tied to contributing to community-led work that centres on land and water defence, and the protection of Indigenous women and girls. Her most recent book, From the Roots Up, is the sequel to the bestselling Surviving the City.

Read Tasha’s interview with American Libraries about diversity and change in graphic novels here.

Beatrice Mosionier

Beatrice Mosionier is a Métis author most notably recognized for her groundbreaking novel, In Search of April Raintree. When Beatrice wrote In Search of April Raintree in the early 80s, there were few Indigenous authors writing about their experiences. She continues to be a leader and an inspiration for many Indigenous writers across Canada. First published in 1983, In Search of April Raintree has become a Canadian classic, has been adapted for schools, and launched the Manitoba literacy initiative On the Same Page in 2008.

Listen to Unreserved as Beatrice Mosionier talks about In Search of April Raintree here.

Lisa Boivin

Lisa Boivin, a member of the Deninu Kue First Nation, uses her images as a tool to bridge gaps between medical ethics and aspects of Indigenous cultures and worldviews. Look for her lyrical art and storytelling in her debut book, I Will See You Again, which follows the loss of Lisa’s brother and her journey overseas to bring him home. Lisa, a PhD student, strives to humanize clinical medicine as she situates her art in the Indigenous continuum of passing on knowledge through images. Her upcoming book, We Dream Medicine Dreams [link], explores connecting with ancestors through dreams through a story about life and death. 

Watch her TEDx Talk on Painting the Path of Indigenous Resilience here.

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is a writer, poet, spoken-word performer, librettist, and activist from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. Kateri is the founder and Managing Editor of Kegedonce Press, which is one of only three established Indigenous-owned publishing companies in Canada. Kateri is an incredible writer and speaker whose work has been heard and read around the world. 

Listen to The Next Chapter as Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm talks about The Stone Collection here.

KC Adams

KC Adams is a Cree/Ojibway/British Winnipeg-based artist and a former instructor in Visual and Aboriginal Art at Brandon University. KC is a tireless advocate for Indigenous communities and she shows her advocacy through her art. She has participated in both solo and group exhibitions and was included in the PHOTOQUAI: Biennale des images du monde in Paris, France. Her work is in many permanent collections both nationally and internationally. Locally, KC was the set designer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation ballet and she has also designed public-art sculptures around Winnipeg. Browse her work here.

Chelsea Vowel

Chelsea Vowel is Métis from manitow-sâkahikan (Lac Ste. Anne), Alberta. Mother to six girls, she has a BEd and LLB, and she is currently a graduate student and Cree language curriculum developer. Her collection of essays, Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada, is a national bestseller and has been since the day it was released. The book opens an important dialogue about Indigenous concepts and the wider social beliefs about the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. Along with Molly Swain, she co-hosts an Indigenous feminist sci-fi podcast called Métis in Space.

Most recently Chelsea joined actor Dan Levy for an episode of Indigenous Canada. Find it here. 

Find and purchase books by these women and other great authors on our website.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Learn About Métis History and Louis Riel With the A Girl Called Echo Series

If you live in Manitoba, Louis Riel Day is the third Monday in February. Louis Riel is a name that may be familiar to you for one reason or another, even if you live elsewhere in Canada. An important figure in both Métis and Manitoba history, Louis Riel features heavily in the A Girl Called Echo series, written by award-winning Winnipeg author Katherena Vermette.

Particularly relevant to classrooms in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, the A Girl Called Echo series can help you teach your students about Louis Riel and Métis history, or to learn about the topic yourself. Keep reading to find what the series is about and how you can use it with your students.

What is the A Girl Called Echo series about?

Métis teenager Echo Desjardins is struggling to adjust to a new school and a new home while in foster care. When an ordinary day in history class turns extraordinary, Echo’s life will never be the same. Follow Echo as she experiences pivotal events from Métis history, gains new perspectives about where she came from, and imagines what the future might hold.


During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.



Echo finds herself transported to the banks of the Red River in the summer of 1869. Canadian surveyors have arrived, and Métis families, who have lived there for generations, are losing access to their land. As the Resistance takes hold, Echo fears for her friends and the future of her people in the Red River Valley.



In Northwest Resistance, Echo travels to 1885. The bison are gone, settlers from the East are arriving daily, and the Métis face hunger and uncertainty as their traditional way of life is threatened. The Canadian government has ignored their petitions, but hope rises when Louis Riel returns to help. 


Echo returns to 1885 to find the Manitoba Act’s promise of land for the Métis has gone unfulfilled. In the fallout from the Northwest Resistance, Louis Riel is executed. As new legislation corrodes Métis land rights, and the unscrupulous take advantage, many Métis settle on road allowances and railway land, often on the fringes of urban centres.

Burnt out of their home in Ste. Madeleine, Echo’s family makes their way to Rooster Town, settling on the southwest edges of Winnipeg. In this final installment of Echo’s story, she is reminded of the strength and resilience of her people, forged through the loss and pain of the past, as she faces a triumphant future.

This Own Voices series of graphic novels explores issues around identity, isolation, and the contemporary foster care system. Ideal for readers aged 13–15 and in grades 7–9. Order your copies here. 

How can I use the A Girl Called Echo series with my students?

Studying Louis Riel and Métis history offers a great opportunity to introduce your students to Indigenous authors and books that offer an Own Voices perspective to historical events. 

Here are some ideas for using A Girl Called Echo with your students for Louis Riel Day and beyond.


Louis Riel and the Red River Resistance played a significant role in the creation of Manitoba as a province—so much so, Louis Riel is often referred to as the Father of Manitoba. After reading Red River Resistance and/or Northwest Resistance, have students review the timeline in the back of the book. Based on this foundation, students can do further research, write opinion pieces, or hold a debate about the factors leading to these resistances, as well as the creation of Manitoba as a province.

Contemporary Issues in Canada

In their research for the above activity, students are also likely to come across “Red River Rebellion,” an older term for the Red River Resistance. As a class, discuss the difference between these two terms, and the connotations of each. 

Another topic for research and discussion based on the A Girl Called Echo series is that of child welfare. Echo is a foster kid who is disconnected from her Métis heritage. Students can research issues related to  foster care and child welfare in Canada, and use this as a starting place for opinion writing, discussions, or debate.

Creative Expression and Graphic Storytelling

Graphic storytelling is an art form that has been used for thousands of years. The article, “Graphic examples of the art of storytelling” by Niigaan Sinclair, can be used as a starting place for discussion with your students. Students can explore other styles of graphic novels and compare them to the A Girl Called Echo series, then write and illustrate their own graphic novels. Blambot is a great resource with articles on topics such as writing graphic novel and comic scripts or comic book grammar and lettering styles that students can use as a reference when creating their own comics or graphic novels.

Exploration of Identity and Heritage

Throughout A Girl Called Echo, Echo learns about the history of the Métis people. Echo is a girl who lives in a foster home and doesn’t know very much about her roots. Like all kids, she expresses herself through her clothes, hobbies, and the music she listens to. As she discovers more about her Métis heritage and settles into her new school, Echo becomes more confident and involved with her fellow students. Use the series as a starting place for students to explore their own identities, heritage, or experiences in unfamiliar environments, such as when they started at a new school themselves.

Connection With Local History

If your students attend school in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, help them connect with Métis history and experience rich learning opportunities by visiting local historical sites and events. 

Before accessing resources from historical sites and museums, be sure to ask if information about Indigenous peoples was created in collaboration with local Elders, Knowledge Keepers, or Métis Senators. This will help ensure that colonial myths are not perpetuated when visiting these sites or using their educational resources. 



Is there a teacher guide to help me plan my lessons?

The Teacher Guide for A Girl Called Echo is coming soon! Stay in the know and get notified when the guide is available for pre-order by subscribing to The Exchange enewsletter.

Captivating Through Artwork: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Four

Every book passes through many hands before arriving at your local bookstore or library. We’ve developed a six-part series, How Does Publishing Work?, to shed light on a book’s journey to publication. From developing stories and characters, to editing and illustration, through to the publishing and marketing stage, this series takes a look at all the different people and processes involved in bringing your favourite stories to life.

In part three of our How Does Publishing Work? series, we explained the crucial role of editors in the publishing process. Now that we’ve reached part four, we’ll examine how the visual aspects of a book come together, whether it’s the cover art of your favourite novel or the dynamic art of a graphic novel!

Creating a Children’s Book

Children’s books rely on beautiful artwork to keep young readers (or not-yet-readers!) immersed in the story. To bring these stories to life, illustrators work in a two-part process: roughs and full artwork. We spoke to Natasha Donovan, who has created artwork for the Mothers of Xsan series as well as popular graphic novels like the Surviving the City series and This Place: 150 Years Retold, to find out what it’s like to illustrate books for kids.

The ‘roughs’ stage allows the illustrator to plan the art for each page, but even this early stage requires a fair amount of planning and research.

Before I start working on roughs, I try to compile as many reference images as I can think of—for the environment, poses, faces, buildings, et cetera.” says Natasha.

By creating sketches or digital outlines, the illustrator can confirm that they’ve conveyed all the important events and details of the story. Ideally, the reader should be able to understand what’s happening throughout the story without reading the text, just by looking at the illustrations.

Once the project starts, I’ll go through many stages of rough drafts, review, and revisions,” Natasha explains. “Usually, I start with character sketches and super-sketchy versions called thumbnails, and move on to a second draft simply called roughs.”

The editor and author review these roughs and suggest changes for the illustrator to incorporate in the full-colour artwork.

Final Artwork

Next step is the fun part, in my opinion—inks, and finally, colour!” says Natasha.

Once the roughs are complete and approved, the illustrator creates the full-colour version. In this final stage, the illustrator brings the artwork to life. Many children’s books are illustrated through physical mediums, such as watercolours, coloured pencils, or oil pastels, which can add a sense of texture and whimsy to the story. Others use digital illustration methods—it just depends on what suits the story and the author’s style.

“[When I was working on The Sockeye Mother], I had a lot more time on my hands, so I was able to ink traditionally,” Natasha recalls. “My work schedule now requires me to work digitally (which I honestly do love), but when I think about The Sockeye Mother, I can still feel my brush sliding across the paper, tracing the outline of a salmon or dotting hundreds of tiny leaves.”

Once the full-colour version of the artwork is finished, the editor and author review it one last time, and then it is ready for the designer. 

Creating a Graphic Novel

While graphic novels and children’s books share some similarities, graphic novels undergo many more stages of development before reaching the reader. We spoke to PMP/HWP editor Sasha Bouché to get a sense of the development process, starting from the moment the manuscript, or “script,” is finalized.

  • Character Design and Storyboard

Once the manuscript is ready for illustration, the artist will plan out the elements that will create scaffolding for the story: the characters, the  depiction of different events, and the overall layout of each page. During character design, the artist will think about who each character is and how to represent them visually. For example, what kinds of clothing do they wear? How do they carry themselves? How might they wear their hair? All of these attributes communicate valuable information to the reader about who each character is.

Storyboarding (also called thumbnails) is the process of planning out each page and panel, and it’s similar to the blueprint of a house. The artist creates quick sketches to plan and communicate how the events of the story will be shown, which makes it easy to make changes before the more detailed work begins. Storyboards are often created at a much smaller size than the final artwork, as they only need to give a rough idea as to what each page will look like. The editor and author review the storyboards and suggest revisions before the artwork moves to the next stage.

  • Roughs/Pencils

After the character sketches and storyboards have been completed, the artist creates “roughs” or “pencils,” in which the events, characters, and panels are sketched out in more detail and at the appropriate size for the final artwork. This allows the artist, author, and editor to discuss the direction for the artwork and make any changes early in the process.

“The editor will ensure that these sketches properly reflect the events of the story and the author’s vision of how things will generally look,” Sasha says. “Once the author and editor approve the pencils, then the artist will get to work on the inks.”

  • Inks

The “inks” phase is when the artist adapts the pencils or roughs into the outlines of the final artwork, which is sometimes referred to as the line art. When an editor or author reviews inks, the art  looks a bit like a colouring book that has yet to be filled in. This draft gives the author and editor a better sense of how the final art will look, and is the last stage before the colour is added. 

“When the editor reviews the inks, their main task is to ensure that there are no continuity errors and that all necessary world-building elements are included,” says Sasha. “They’re also ensuring that there are no logical errors in the artwork, like a character accidentally being drawn with two right hands.”

The colours in a graphic novel are often added by a different artist, so the artwork may need to be revised a bit before it moves to the colouring stage.

  • Colours
    Colours are an art form in their own right! Some artists, like Donovan Yaciuk, specialize in colours for graphic novels. Not only do colours bring the illustrations to life, but they convey energy, mood, and other emotional aspects of each scene. 

Colour is also a powerful tool for drawing the reader’s eye to important elements of the page, while separating them from the background art. For instance, an object in a bright colour that stands out in the frame is likely something the reader is intended to notice and recall later.

Another extremely important aspect of colour is consistency. “This means ensuring characters’ skin tones are correct, clothes are consistently the same colour, shadows are in the right place, et cetera,” says Sasha.

Even the overall tones and colour palette must be consistent throughout the graphic novel to create the “world” where the story takes place. Take, for example, the gritty, grungy tones used throughout The Reckoner Rises series, which transport us to the dreary streets of Winnipeg, where the evil goons from Mihko Laboratories lurk in the shadows.

  • Lettering

Once the artwork is complete, it’s passed on to a letterer. Letterers, as their name suggests, add the speech balloons and text captions to the page. There’s an art to lettering just as there is to colour; the letterer needs to format the captions to set the tone and pace of each frame while ensuring that the captions don’t conceal any important parts of the artwork. The size, shape, and even colours used in the captions all convey something important, from the volume of the speaker’s voice to how they’re feeling at that moment. In terms of the editing at this stage, “The author and editor will then review the final version to ensure that the speech balloons are attached to the correct characters and are spaced out in a readable way, as well as perform a typical copyedit of the dialogue,” adds Sasha.

Finally, after all the artwork and lettering is complete, the illustrations are passed on to the book designer where the final book is assembled and prepared for print.

What About a Book’s Cover Art?

Cover art is incredibly important! A book’s cover art serves as its first impression to the public; it needs to represent the contents of the book while appealing to the intended reader. To create cover art, the publisher commissions an artist to create multiple options, including different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes. For graphic novels and children’s books, this is typically the same artist who has created the illustrations inside, but for standard novels it’s generally an artist whose style complements the tone of the book.

“At Portage & Main Press/HighWater Press, cover art selection involves everyone in the office, not just our marketing and editorial teams. We all discuss what we like best and why, what the artwork reminds us of, if it makes us feel nostalgic for something—it’s pretty fun!” Sasha says. “We want artwork that not only reflects the overall feel of the story, but something that takes hold of the reader’s gaze, something that makes them think, ‘Hmm, this looks interesting!’”

Visual Editing as a Career

Visual editing is often one of the many responsibilities of an editor at a publishing company. However, the process of visual editing requires a different kind of literacy than copy editing!

“Imagery is a language, and visual editing requires a certain level of fluency in that language.” says Sasha.

To become an effective visual editor, it’s key to have a very keen eye for details combined with professional training and development.

Meet the Contributors

Natasha Donovan

Natasha Donovan (she/her/hers) is a Métis illustrator originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her sequential work has been published in This Place: 150 Years Retold, and the Wonder Women of History anthology. She is the illustrator of the award-winning graphic novel series Surviving the City, as well as the award-winning Mothers of Xsan children’s book series, and the forthcoming picture book biography Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. She lives by the Nooksack River in Washington State.

PMP/HWP: From your perspective, how does a graphic novel project compare to a children’s book project?
ND: In my experience, they’re pretty similar! The editorial process is basically the same—rough drafts, review, revisions, more drafts, final art. But for me, picture books feel like poetry—they’re sparse, words selected with great care. So compared to comics, picture books feel like a very contemplative process. I get to spend a lot more time with each page, trying to create something that will bring another dimension to the author’s words. 

PMP/HWP: What was your favourite illustrated project to work on, and why?

ND: I still have a soft spot for my first picture book, The Sockeye Mother, written by the inimitable Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson). I had daydreamed about illustrating picture books for years at that point, and not only was that dream becoming a reality, but I could tell that I was going to get to work with someone who shared my passion for the connection between storytelling and science.

Sasha Bouché

Sasha Bouché (he/him, they/them) has been an editor for Portage & Main Press since January 2019. Sasha is Métis from Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, Manitoba). They hold a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in English from the University of Winnipeg. Their interests include comics studies and Indigenous literature.

PMP/HWP: What kinds of skills and/or qualifications should someone have in order to

become a visual editor?

SB: I think that in terms of qualifications, visual editing requires all the necessary training for any other kind of editing. I would also say that a background in comics studies, which is my wheelhouse, and/or a background in young people’s literature is especially pertinent. As far as skills, the most important thing I think is an attention to detail, or rather a fixation on detail, because that’s where the magic lies in any graphic or illustrated text.

PMP/HWP: Before someone seeks the necessary education and experience, what kinds of traits are good hints that one could excel at visual editing?

SB: Visual editing is more than just assessing the quality of the artwork; that’s mostly subjective anyway. Being skilled at visual editing requires an understanding of how imagery can be an extension of human experience, especially in the realm of graphic novels. The goal of visual editing is to make sure that each panel or sequence makes a lasting impression on the reader. You are a kind of conduit for the audience, and in that sense, it’s your responsibility to communicate to the author/illustrator what effect their work will have on the minds and hearts of that audience. That, and making sure the characters’ eyebrows don’t disappear.

In our next installment, we’ll find out how a book arrives at your local bookstore or library. Make sure to check back, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to read part four of the How Does Publishing Work? series!

New Own Voices Indigenous Books Coming Spring 2021

Nearly a month into 2021, we are looking forward to many things: the return of warmer temperatures, longer sunny days, and new book releases! Here is a preview of our upcoming Own Voices Indigenous books for kids and teens that we will be releasing this spring. 

Whether you are looking for great books to share with your students or someone at home, these new books are certain to engage the kids and teens in your life. 

Indigenous Books for Kids 

Stand Like A Cedar
for ages 6-9
By Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrated by Carrielynn Victor

When you go for a walk in nature, who do you see? What do you hear?

Award-winning storyteller Nicola I. Campbell shows what it means “to stand like a cedar” on this beautiful journey of discovery through the wilderness. Learn the names of animals in the Nłe7kepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us. Experience a celebration of sustainability and connection to the land through lyrical storytelling and Carrielynn Victor’s breathtaking art in this children’s illustrated book.

Discover new sights and sounds with every read.

Coming Feb. 23, 2021
Pre-order Now:
HighWater Press

We Dream Medicine Dreams
for ages 5-8
By Lisa Boivin

From Dene artist and bioethicist Lisa Boivin comes this healing story of hope, dreams, and the special bond between grandfather and granddaughter.

When a little girl dreams about a bear, her grandfather explains how we connect with the knowledge of our ancestors through dreams. Bear, Hawk, Caribou, and Wolf all have teachings to share to help us live a good life. But when Grampa gets sick and falls into a coma, the little girl must lean on his teachings as she learns to say goodbye.

Masterful prose and stunning collage weave a gentle story about life and death that will touch the hearts of children and adults alike.

Coming Apr 27, 2021
Pre-order Now:
HighWater Press

The Frog Mother(Mothers of Xsan, Book 4)
for ages 9-11
By Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

To the Gitxsan of Northwestern British Columbia, Nox Ga’naaw is a storyteller, speaking truths of the universe. After Nox Ga’naaw, the frog mother, releases her eggs among the aquatic plants of a pond, the tiny tadpoles are left to fend for themselves. As they hatch, grow legs, and transform into their adult selves, they must avoid the mouths of hungry predators. Will the young frogs survive to lay their own eggs, continuing a cycle 200 million years in the making?

book four of the Mothers of Xsan series follows the life cycle of the Columbia Spotted Frog. Learn about why this species is of special significance to the Gitxsan, and how Nox Ga’naaw and her offspring are essential to the balance that is life.

Coming Apr 27, 2021
Pre-order Now:
HighWater Press

Indigenous Books for Teens

Road Allowance Era (A Girl Called Echo series, Vol. 4)
for ages 13-15
By Katherena Vermette
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Colour by Donovan Yaciuk

The Manitoba Act’s promise of land for the Métis has gone unfulfilled, and many Métis flee to the Northwest. As part of the fallout from the Northwest Resistance, their advocate and champion Louis Riel is executed. As new legislation corrodes Métis land rights, and unscrupulous land speculators and swindlers take advantage, many Métis begin to settle on road allowances and railway land, often on the fringes of urban centres.

For Echo, the plight of her family is apparent. Burnt out of their home in Ste. Madeleine when their land is cleared for pasture, they make their way to Rooster Town, squatting on the southwest edges of Winnipeg. In this final instalment of Echo’s story,  she is reminded of the strength and resilience of her people, forged through the loss and pain of the past, as she faces a triumphant future.

Coming Apr 27, 2021
Pre-order Now:
HighWater Press

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story (10th Anniversary Edition)
for ages 15+
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Colour by Donovan Yaciuk

From Governor-General’s Award-winning writer David A. Robertson comes this special edition of the timeless graphic novel that introduced the world to the awe-inspiring resilience of Betty Ross, and shared her story of strength, family, and culture.

A school assignment to interview a residential school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, who tells him her story. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy was soon adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changed. Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalled the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls—words that gave her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive.

Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. This 10th-anniversary edition brings David A. Robertson’s national bestseller to life in full colour, with a foreword by Senator Murrary Sinclair, Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and a touching afterword from Elder Betty Ross herself.

Coming May 25, 2021
Pre-order Now:
HighWater Press

Want to be the first to hear about our upcoming titles? Subscribe to our eNewsletter to receive our monthly updates direct to your inbox. Show us what’s on your Spring Reading List by tagging us on social media:



What Does an Editor Do?: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Three

Every book passes through many hands before arriving at your local bookstore or library. We’ve developed a six-part series, How Does Publishing Work?, to shed light on a book’s journey to publication. From developing stories and characters, to editing and illustration, through to the publishing and marketing stage, this series takes a look at all the different people and processes involved in bringing your favourite stories to life.

In part two of our How Does Publishing Work? Series, we explained how to finalize your manuscript, find the right publishers to submit to, and prepare your submission. In part three, we dive a little deeper into the publisher’s office to find out what happens after your manuscript has been accepted. If you’re an aspiring author, the next stage in your publishing journey will be to work with an editor—but what does an editor do?

What Does an Editor Do?

The essence of an editor’s job is to help the author polish the manuscript and its concept to meet the needs of the reader. There are several stages of editing, with each stage focused on different aspects of the manuscript. Some editors specialize in a specific form of editing, whereas others wear multiple hats and work on various elements of a manuscript. In general, most manuscripts will go through each of these editing stages, and each stage might require several rounds of editing:

  • Substantive Edit 

A substantive edit is usually the first stage of editing a book. During a substantive edit, an editor looks at the overall structure, plot, and character development, as well as other big-picture pieces of a story or nonfiction text. 

Substantive editing may also be called structural editing because the goal is to strengthen and develop the author’s ideas and the book’s structure. During this stage, the author may have to do a considerable amount of rewriting and restructuring.

  • Stylistic Edit 

A stylistic edit looks at a manuscript line by line to improve readability for the intended audience. An editor will ask questions or suggest changes to help clarify meaning, ensure coherence and flow, and refine the language in a manuscript. 

  • Copy Edit 

During a copy edit, an editor looks at the manuscript line by line to catch any grammatical, spelling, or consistency errors. The editor will also apply the rules of a style guide to the manuscript to help readers find information they need. For example, if a manuscript includes citations, an editor might use the Chicago Manual of Style as a guide to ensure the information is presented clearly.

The stylistic edit and copy edit ensure the author’s ideas are as clear as possible and create a smooth reading experience.

  • Proofread

The last stage of editing is proofreading. Once a book has been laid out by a designer, an editor will proofread the manuscript to catch any remaining errors or typos before the book goes to print.

While these are the most common forms of editing you’re likely to encounter while developing a manuscript, many other kinds of editing jobs are out there! For example, technical editors edit instructional texts to be useful to an average reader, visual editors check for consistency in elements of graphic novel artwork (e.g., consistent details for a character’s clothing), and sensitivity editors review texts to remove biased language and make the piece more inclusive. For more information about what editors do, visit the Editors Canada website

The Importance of Editing

Writers of all experience levels benefit from the editing process. Editors provide fresh perspectives. The writing process is demanding, and when you’ve spent months or years developing your story, it can be difficult to separate the story on the page and the version you have in your mind. An editor’s job is to bridge the gap between these two versions by looking at your work through the eyes of a reader. 

It’s normal for manuscripts to pass through many rounds of editing, even within each of the above stages. If you’re a first-time author, don’t be discouraged if the process takes a long time! The best way to get your book published quickly is to complete revisions and respond to your editor’s suggestions as soon as you can.

Trusting Your Editor

We recognize that, for many new authors, the idea of another person critiquing and suggesting changes to their deeply personal stories can feel a little uncomfortable. At Portage & Main Press and HighWater Press, we’re deeply committed to helping writers tell the story they want to tell. The goal of our editorial team is to help you strengthen your work and connect with readers, never to change or devalue your experience. It’s a relationship rooted in mutual trust and respect.

Your first draft is never your best or final version, and a great editor will help your work reach its potential.
––Brandon Mitchell, author

Working with an Editor

The editing process looks a little different depending on the kind of manuscript you’re working on. We reached out to writer, illustrator, and comic creator Brandon Mitchell, as well as Jennifer Lawson, the creator and series editor of the Hands-On collection for educators, to learn more about the role of editing in their work.

Brandon Mitchell

From Listuguj, Quebec, Brandon Mitchell is the founder of Birch Bark Comics and creator of the Sacred Circles comic series, which draws on his Mi’kmaq heritage. He is the author of “Migwite’tmeg: We Remember It“ in This Place: 150 Years Retold and five books for the Healthy Aboriginal Network  as well as a co-author and illustrator for Jean-Paul’s Daring Adventure: Stories from Old Mobile.

PMP/HWP: How would you describe the role of the editors that you’ve worked with when developing your graphic novels?
BM: I’ve worked with many editors, and every experience has been different—but in a positive way! I see them as a guiding light or an extra set of eyes. Your first draft is never your best or final version, and a great editor will help your work reach its potential. I have found that editors are great at keeping me on point. They have helped me flesh out a concept or an idea that I may not have caught in my first (or even second) draft. It reminds me of being back in college; we were always encouraged to share our ideas and not to fear feedback. It can be scary to share an idea, but when you get a fresh perspective, it helps your idea grow. 

PMP/HWP: Can you give an example from a specific project in which the editor’s contribution helped to elevate the overall piece?

BM:Migwite’tmeg: We Remember It” [part of the graphic novel anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold] was like a giant puzzle to me. I had an outline, I had the beats, I knew what I wanted to say, but it was the structure and flow that got me. All the pieces were there, I just didn’t know how I was going to piece them together. I was so grateful for my editor, Laura [McKay-Keizer]. The story evolved into a stronger piece with each submission. She would catch things that I missed from my outline, caught when there was an idea or scene that needed more, and encouraged me to expand or shorten a sequence. One of the things that stood out near the end was making sure the events took place at the right time. A lot of overlapping events took place in a short amount of time, and I had to show that. After a little back and forth, we finally cracked the code. It was a great collaboration.

PMP/HWP: What’s something that you think aspiring writers may not know or expect about working with an editor that you wish you’d known in the early days of your career?

BM:  I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I really enjoy collaborating on projects. Maybe because it was ingrained in me in college, but I truly believe you can’t catch everything yourself! That’s why it’s always good to get a fresh set of eyes on what you’re creating, whether it’s a story or an illustration. A great editor is a fresh set of eyes to help get the best out of your work; don’t be scared of feedback.  

Jennifer Lawson

Jennifer Lawson, PhD, is the creator and series editor on all of the books in the Hands-On collection. In addition to her writing, Jennifer teaches in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba, and is a local School Board Trustee. She is a former classroom teacher, resource/special education teacher, consultant, and principal. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with her husband, Barry, and sons, Devon and Jeremy.

PMP/HWP: How would you describe the role of an editor when developing educational texts like the Hands-On series?

JL: The first role of an editor is to be a second set of eyes. With the Hands-On books, I have classroom teachers and consultants providing input, so the books go through many drafts before they even reach an editor. Yet, with each new draft, there are still things that I miss. We have a structure developed specifically for the series, so part of the editor’s role is to double-check that formatting to ensure that we are consistent. That second set of eyes always catches something!

PMP/HWP: Can you give an example from a specific project to help illustrate how the editing process works for these kinds of projects?

JL: Our most recent series is Hands-On Science for British Columba. This series took on a modified format that includes a multi-grade approach and infuses Indigenous knowledge and perspectives and land-based learning. To this end, I needed to reconfigure how information was presented within the lesson plans and modules in a way that was vastly different from any of our previous books. In turn, the editors studied the new structure to ensure that we maintained consistency throughout. Of note, one really significant benefit of working with the editorial team on this project was their knowledge of Indigenous perspectives. Many times, I turned to them for input and advice on content and writing as a result of their professional learning in this area.

PMP/HWP: What would you say are the most important qualities for an editor to have?

JL: There are many important qualities for an editor, but these are the ones I find most essential:

  • Attention to detail, in both content and writing.
  • Being committed to developing an understanding of the content that goes beyond copy editing. It is very helpful when editors are able to contribute ideas to enhance the lessons.
  • Time management and organizational skills.
  • Interpersonal skills—it is really important to develop a positive working relationship between editor and author!

In our next instalment, we’ll take a closer look at the art that draws us into our favourite books, from cover design to graphic-novel illustrations. Make sure to check back, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to read part four of the How Does Publishing Work? series!

I Wrote a Book. Now What?: How Does Publishing Work?, Part Two

Every book passes through many hands before arriving at your local bookstore or library. We’ve developed a six-part series,
How Does Publishing Work?, to shed light on a book’s journey to publication. From developing stories and characters, to editing and illustration, through to the publishing and marketing stage, this series takes a look at all the different people and processes involved in bringing your favourite stories to life.

In part one of our How Does Publishing Work series, we covered the key elements of writing a book, from developing plot and character to the process of writing a manuscript. Now, in part two, we’ll explain how to finalize your manuscript and submit it to a publisher, with a few insights from our managing editor, Laura McKay-Keizer, and writer/artist Jen Storm!

What do I do when I’ve finished the first draft of my manuscript?

Manuscript refers to the draft of your book that you will submit to a publisher. Before submitting your manuscript, make sure to revise your manuscript thoroughly and edit it to the best of your ability. A publisher’s first impression of you is based on your manuscript; think of publishers as potential employers and your manuscript as your resume. Your manuscript is ready to be submitted once you feel it’s the best possible representation of you and your work. If you aren’t sure how you might improve your manuscript, Laura has a few suggestions for new writers.

“Most libraries have writer-in-residence programs. The writer-in-residence at a library is often a professional writer who is available to consult on your manuscript, usually free of charge. The library is also a great place to look for listings for creative writing programs or writing groups in your area, who may be able to provide helpful feedback. Some writers also choose to hire a freelance writer or editor to work with them on the revision process.”

What is copyright, and how does it affect my manuscript?

When developing a book, it’s extremely important that your work is 100% your own. Copyright is a form of law that protects authors from anyone using their work without permission. Intentionally using someone else’s work violates copyright law and is considered a form of stealing; this is something a publisher takes very seriously. This page can help you learn more about copyright law in Canada.

Who is my audience, and how does it affect my manuscript?

As you revise your manuscript, spend some time thinking about the readers who might be interested in your book. Most authors find it helpful to develop an audience profile, which helps you think about who your readers are. To create an audience profile, write a list of characteristics your ideal reader might have. Some questions you can ask yourself while creating an audience profile might include:

  • How old is my reader?
  • What are their favourite book genres?
  • Where do they live?
  • What are their interests?
  • How do they find out about new books?

You may also find it helpful to think of your audience profile as a character by giving it a person’s name, or even adding a picture next to the profile to give them a “face.” You can even create a secondary audience profile if you feel that more than one kind of reader will enjoy your book.

Many publishers will request information about your ideal audience as part of your query letter (a type of cover letter) when you submit your manuscript. Thinking about your book’s audience as you revise will help you prepare your submission later, and will also help you choose publishers to submit to. 

I’ve finished editing my manuscript. Now what?

Once you’re confident in the quality of your manuscript, the next step is to submit it to a publisher. Traditional publishers are companies who licence an author’s work and handle the process of producing and selling a book. If a publisher likes your manuscript and wants to publish your manuscript, they’ll work with you on a contract that outlines how your book will be used, how long the licence will last, and how you’ll be paid for it.  

So, how do I find a publisher that might be interested in my book? 

In general, publishers have niches, which means they specialize in a certain kind of book for a specific audience. For example, Portage & Main Press publishes a wide range of innovative and practical K–12 educational materials, while HighWater Press publishes books by Indigenous authors with a focus on children’s books, young adult literature, general fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels. 

The best place to start is by looking at books that are similar to yours! Flip open the books that inspired your story and you’ll notice that one of the first pages contains information about the publisher and the edition of the book. This is called the “imprint page.” The imprint page will have the name and logo of the book’s publisher, as well as information like their address and website. Another great tool for finding publishers in your niche is this publisher search tool by the Association of Canadian Publishers.

Once you’ve found a publisher that interests you, do some research online about the kinds of titles they publish. If people who fit your audience profile would like a lot of their titles, they might be a great fit for your book!

Most publishers are up-front with their niches in their Submission Guidelines, which are commonly found on the publisher’s website. If you review the Submission Guidelines for Portage & Main Press and HighWater Press, you’ll see a description of the kinds of books we do publish, the kinds of books we don’t publish, and instructions for submitting your manuscript.

How can I improve my chances of getting published?

This resource is filled with helpful, straightforward resources for emerging writers. Most of the questions you might have about getting published, establishing yourself as an author, and accessing resources are all covered! 

What if my book is rejected? 

If you submit your manuscript, and the publisher sends you a rejection letter, don’t be discouraged! 

“There are many reasons why a publisher might reject your book, and they don’t mean your story is bad or not worth telling,” says Laura. “They may have already published something too similar, they might not feel that their audience is the right one for your piece, or they might just be too busy for a new project at the moment.”

Rejection is something all authors have experienced, and is a normal part of the submission process—so don’t give up. Take it from Jen Storm, who published her first book when she was fourteen years old.

“Don’t let rejection make you feel inferior or unskilled,” says Jen. “Move to the next thing and save it for another publisher.”

Who will review my manuscript?

Once you submit your manuscript, it will likely end up in the inbox of an acquisitions or managing editor like Laura.

“Once I receive and review a manuscript, I’m looking at a lot of different things,” Laura says. “I’m checking if the story is unique and whether we’ve published anything similar. I’m asking if it’s right for our audience. And, to some extent, I’m looking for a little more information about you; do you have a social media platform or website, and are they appropriate for our audience?”

When Laura finds a good fit, she reaches out to the author to discuss the next steps. What follows is a long process of editing, revising, and the many other steps that go into making and marketing your book, which we’ll cover in future parts of this series.

“Publishing takes longer than most people think,” Laura explains. “Children’s books and novels take at least a year, and graphic novels take about eighteen months, but these time frames can vary. A lot depends on an author’s ability to complete revisions quickly!”

How quickly will I hear back after submitting my manuscript?

After submitting your manuscript, be aware that you won’t likely hear back right away. Acquisitions editors often wear a lot of different hats within the publishing company, and may  have a very busy inbox. If you don’t hear back within six months or so, you can send a follow-up to check on your submission. However, sometimes your best bet is simply to be patient.

What’s it like working with an editor?

Once your manuscript has been accepted, you’ll begin to work with an editor to fine-tune your manuscript. Editors look at manuscripts from a totally new perspective; they’re looking for ways to strengthen your story and make it even better for the reader. For Jen, this was a huge learning curve that helped her career in the long-term.

“I was young during my first time working with an editor, and I didn’t learn the terms and skills in high school that were expected of me,” she says. “For example, I didn’t understand what character development actually meant, or how to take their critiques and make a stronger scene because I didn’t understand the editor’s language.”

Jen’s experience is very normal for new writers, so keep in mind that you don’t need to know everything right away. The important thing is to keep working and continue learning, which is exactly what Jen did.

“The publisher ended up having the editor work with me piece-by-piece over a year, and it was a huge learning opportunity for me that I never forgot. They were very encouraging and helped me get my story where it needed to be.”

Meet Writer & Artist Jen Storm

Jen Storm is an Ojibway writer from the Couchiching First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Jen completed Deadly Loyalties, her first novel, at age fourteen. Fire Starters (an AIYLA Honour Book) was her first graphic novel. Jen was a 2017 recipient for the CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 Under 40. She can be found on Instagram @jenstorm_art where she shares her passion for creating art and updates on future projects.

Meet Our Managing Editor

Laura McKay-Keizer (she/her/hers) is a writer and Managing Editor at Portage & Main Press/HighWater Press. She holds a Bachelor of English Literature (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba, and started her career as a copywriter (which has very little to do with the copyright law we just covered!). She became an editorial assistant at Portage & Main Press in 2016, and has worked for the company ever since. 

Would you like to be an editor someday? When asked what skills are essential to succeed as an editor, Laura had lots of great advice.

“Ideally, you should have a tendency to pick out typos, be comfortable asking lots of questions, and be extremely detail-oriented,” she said. “It’s also crucial to have really good communication and diplomacy skills; editing is Diplomacy 101 because you’re communicating sensitive feedback about someone’s deeply personal work.”

Tags: , , ,

A Holiday Gift Guide for the Readers on Your List

Around the world, holiday shopping—and holiday celebrations—may look a bit different this year. Books are a perfect gift to give from afar, and our titles are available to order online, from the comfort of your home. We have something for all the readers on your list—and a few things you might want for yourself! All of these books are available directly from our website as well as from your favourite local bookstore. 

In this holiday gift guide, you’ll find 

To make sure your books arrive in time for the holidays (December 25), keep these dates in mind when ordering from our website: 

Shipping Location Last Order Date

YK, NWT, NU – Monday, December 7, 2020

NL, SK, BC – Monday, December 14, 2020

AB, MB, PEI, NB, NS – Wednesday, December 16, 2020

ON, MontrealFriday, December 18, 2020

Greater Toronto – Monday, December 21, 2020

And make sure to subscribe to our enewsletter to receive information about special offers, including a deal for Cyber Monday!


Books for Kids (Ages 4–12)

Ispík kákí péyakoyak/When We Were Alone (Bilingual Swampy Cree/English Edition)

Written by: David A. Robertson
Illustrated by: Julie Flett
Translated by: Alderick Leask
Ages: 4 to 8
Themes: empowerment, resistance, perseverance, culture and traditions, importance of family, colonialism
Perfect gift for: Swampy Cree speakers and learners, kids interested in Cree culture, those interested in history

An empowering story of resistance that gently introduces children to the history of residential schools in Canada. 

In When We Were Alone, a young girl notices things about her grandmother that make her curious. As she asks questions, her grandmother tells her about her experiences in a residential school.

The bilingual edition of this Governor General’s Award–winning book features the text in Swampy Cree syllabics and Roman orthography, as well as the original English. 

Order your copy here.

Find related activities for both families and school communities in the free parent/teacher guide.

Siha Tooskin Knows Series

Written by: Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead
Illustrated by: Chloe Bluebird Mustooch
Ages: 9 to 11
Themes: values, Nakota culture, sharing culture, emotional intelligence
Perfect gift for: kids interested in Nakota culture, families with new babies, boys with braids, powwow enthusiasts

Paul Wahasaypa (aka Siha Tooskin) is a young Nakota boy living in a modern, urban community. He is guided by the knowledge and traditions of his family, his people, and his ancestors. Experience the spirit of love and community alongside this 11-year boy and his Indgenous relations.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Gifts of His People, Paul learns about the origins of many modern conveniences and inventions. There’s so much to learn about the earliest forms of technology, travel, medicine, and food from right here on Turtle Island! 

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Sacred Eagle Feather, Paul’s Mitoshin explains the teachings about where eagle feathers come from and why they are so sacred.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Strength of His Hair, Paul is nervous about starting at a new school. Mitoshin reminds him how strength of character can be found in the strength of his hair. Perfect for boys with braids!

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Catcher of Dreams, Paul imagines the future of a new baby sister and listens to Mugoshin’s teachings about dream catchers.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life, Paul learns how strength, generosity, kindness, and humility are all shown to us by grandfather rocks, towering trees, four-legged ones, and winged ones.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Best Medicine, Paul isn’t feeling well, and he learns that there are answers for him from both the healing practices of his people and from Western medicine.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Offering of Tobacco, Paul knows it is important to show honour and appreciation when taking plants from the earth or knowledge from a learned person. Join Paul and his teacher Mrs. Baxter as they learn about the protocol of offering tobacco. 

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance, Paul has invited his friend, Jeff, to his first-ever powwow! Follow along as Jeff learns all about the dances and their beautiful traditions.

Order all eight books as a set and save! 

Find related activities for both families and school communities in the free education guide.

Mothers of Xsan Series

Written by: Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)
Illustrated by: Natasha Donovan
Ages: 9 to 12
Themes: life cycles, ecosystems, sustainability, Gitxsan culture
Perfect gift for: nature lovers, kids interested in Gitxsan culture, kids interested in science

The Mothers of Xsan series brings science to life with striking illustrations and lyrical language. With traditional Gitxsan formline art and language woven together in verse, these stories bring the poetry of the Xsan river valley ecosystem into your home. 

Follow each Mother as she teaches her young what they need to survive. 

The Sockeye Mother explores the life cycle of a sockeye salmon. 

The Grizzly Mother follows a mother bear and her two cubs from birth to adulthood.

The Eagle Mother shows how bald eagles enrich their entire ecosystem.

Watch for The Frog Mother and The Wolf Mother, coming in 2021!

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanaw (The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak, Bk. 1)

Written by: William Dumas
Illustrated by: Leonard Paul
Ages: 11 to 13
Themes: coming of age, Rocky Cree culture, rites of passage
Perfect gift for: history lovers, kids interested in Cree culture, Manitoba classrooms

Out of an important archaeological discovery comes this unique story about a week in the life of Pīsim, a young Cree woman who lived in the mid-1600s. In the story, created by renowned storyteller William Dumas, Pīsim begins to recognize her miskanaw—the path for her life—and to develop her gifts for fulfilling that path. Brought to life by the rich imagery of Mi’kmaw artist Leonard Paul, the story is accompanied by sidebars on Rocky Cree language and culture, archaeology and history, maps, songs, and more.

Order your copy here. 

Find related activities for kids in the free teacher guide and accompanying iOS app, which includes a Cree narration of the story read by an Elder.

Books for Teens (Ages 12–18)

A Girl Called Echo Series

Written by: Katherena Vermette
Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson
Colour by: Donovan Yaciuk
Ages: 11 to 15
Themes: resistance, empowerment, identity, intergenerational trauma, history, racism, colonialism, social justice, strong female character, family, coming of age
Perfect gift for: history buffs, comic readers, tweens, people interested in Métis history and culture, young adults

Métis teenager Echo Desjardins is struggling to adjust to a new school and a new home while in foster care. When an ordinary day in history class turns extraordinary, Echo’s life will never be the same. Follow Echo as she experiences pivotal events from Métis history, gains new perspectives about where she came from, and imagines what the future might hold.

In Pemmican Wars, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.

In Red River Resistance, Echo is transported to the banks of the Red River in the summer of 1869. All is not well in the territory, as Canadian surveyors have arrived and Métis families, who have lived there for generations, are losing access to their land. As the Resistance takes hold, Echo fears for her friends and the future of her people in the Red River Valley.

In Northwest Resistance, Echo travels to 1885. The bison are gone, settlers from the East are arriving daily, and the Métis and First Nations of the Northwest face hunger and uncertainty as their traditional way of life is threatened. The Canadian government has ignored their petitions, but hope rises when Louis Riel returns to help. 

Watch for the final volume, Road Allowance Era, coming in 2021!

I Will See You Again

Written & illustrated by: Lisa Boivin
Ages: 12+
Themes: grief, healing, Dene culture, familial love
Perfect gift for: art lovers, families experiencing grief, youth interested in Dene culture

Presenting “a fresh understanding of death and grief” (Publishers Weekly), this book is a breathtaking journey through art, loss, and love from interdisciplinary artist and bioethicist Lisa Boivin.

When the author learns of the death of her brother overseas, she embarks on a journey to bring him home. Through memories and dreams of all they shared together, and through her Dene traditions, she finds comfort and strength. 

Find related activities and lesson plans in the free reader’s guide for teachers and families. 

Get your copy of this lyrical book in time for the holidays.

Surviving the City Series

Written by: Tasha Spillett
Illustrated by: Natasha Donovan
Ages: 12 to 18
Themes: coming of age; friendship; identity; issues; gender roles; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People; young love; relationships; community; kinship; grief
Perfect gift for: tweens, young women, LGBTQ2S+ youth\

A contemporary graphic novel series exploring the lives of two young women. Follow best friends Dez and Miikwan as they navigate the challenges of growing up Indigenous in an urban landscape.

In Surviving the City, Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick to care for her. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?

In From the Roots Up, Dez is grieving, living in a group home, and coming into her identity as a Two-Spirit person. Miikwan and Elder Geraldine don’t really understand what Dez is going through. Will Dez be comfortable expressing her full identity? And will her community relearn the teachings and overcome prejudice to celebrate her for who she is?

Find related activities and lesson plans in the teacher guide, which includes curriculum correlations and lesson plans for Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba. 

The Reckoner Trilogy

Written by: David A. Robertson
Ages: 12 to 18
Themes: mental health, coming of age
Perfect gift for: superhero fans, mystery readers

Cole Harper is the hero Wounded Sky First Nation needs. In this page-turning trilogy, Cole and his friends must fight against the mysterious evils that threaten their community. 

In Strangers, Cole travels home to find his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

In Monsters, a creature lurks in the shadows of Blackwood Forest, the health clinic is on lockdown by a mysterious organization, and long-held secrets threaten to bubble to the surface. Can Cole learn the truth about his father’s death?

In Ghosts, Cole Harper is dead. Reynold McCabe is alive and free. Mihko Laboratories has reopened the research facility and is working to manufacture and weaponize the illness that previously plagued Wounded Sky. People are missing. The community has been quarantined. What deal did Eva strike with Choch? Who will defeat Reynold and Mihko? Time is running out.

With a brilliant portrayal of what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder, this is a superhero origin story like nothing you’ve read before.

The Reckoner Rises

Written by: David A. Robertson
Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson
Colour by: Donovan Yaciuk
Ages: 15 to 18
Themes: mental health, coming of age, culture
Perfect gift for: superhero fans, comic book readers, mystery lovers

Acclaimed writer, David A. Robertson, delivers suspense, adventure, and humour in this stunningly illustrated graphic novel continuation of The Reckoner trilogy.

In Breakdown, Cole and Eva arrive in Winnipeg, the headquarters of Mihko Laboratories. They are intent on destroying the company once and for all, but their plans are thwarted when a new threat surfaces. When Cole becomes mired in terrifying visions, Eva must harness her newly discovered powers to investigate Mihko without him. Are Cole’s visions just troubled dreams or are they leading him to a horrible truth?

Watch for Version Control, coming in 2022.

This Place: 150 Years Retold

Foreword by: Alicia Elliott
Written by: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, Chelsea Vowel
Illustrated by: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, Jen Storm
Colour by: Scott A. Ford, Donovan Yaciuk
Ages: 15+
Themes: resistance, empowerment, activism, social justice, colonialism, culture and traditions, racism
Perfect gift for: graphic novel readers, comic lovers, history buffs

Soon to be a CBC podcast, hosted by Rosanna Deerchild!

This Place: 150 Years Retold is a groundbreaking graphic novel anthology that re-frames Canada’s history, present, and future through the perspectives of Indigenous writers. Through the anthology’s 10 beautifully illustrated stories,  readers will encounter Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and even time travel.

Gain a new perspective on the past 150 years—and beyond—by ordering your copy today.

Find related activities and lesson plans in the accompanying teacher guide, with curriculum correlations for Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia.

Perception: A Photo Series

Photo Series Created by: KC Adams
Foreword by: Katherena Vermette
Critical Essay by: Cathy Mattes
Ages: 16+
Themes: social justice, empowerment, stereotypes, bias, identity
Perfect gift for: art lovers, coffee-table book readers, teens and adults interested in social justice 

From award-winning artist KC Adams comes a mash-up of social action art and flash biography that compels readers to look, then look again.

After a racist, high-profile social media post surfaced in artist KC Adams’s home city, she decided to challenge people to “look, then look again” at Indigenous people in Winnipeg. This brilliant collection of portraits was first displayed on billboards, buildings, and bus shelters around the city. Each image aims to replace dehumanizing assumptions with positive truths about the subjects’ identities.

Get the book in time for the holidays.

Find related activities and lesson plans in the free teacher guide.


Books for Adults

The Evolution of Alice (Reissued Edition)

Written by: David A. Robertson
Foreword by: Shelagh Rogers
Themes: community, grief, healing, friendship, loss of a child
Perfect gift for: readers of women’s fiction, short story lovers

Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, this is a novel where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters.

Alice is a single mother raising her three young daughters on the rez where she grew up. Life has never been easy, but she’s managed to get by with the support of her best friend, Gideon, and her family. When an unthinkable loss occurs, Alice is forced to confront truths that will challenge her belief in herself and the world she thought she knew.

The Evolution of Alice is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community.

Reissued with a new story by David A. Robertson and foreword by Shelagh Rogers!

Get your copy of the new edition today.

One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion

Written by: Shelley Moore
Topics: inclusion, inclusive education, bias, differentiation, diversity, universal design for learning
Perfect gift for: teachers, educational assistants, school administrators, aspiring educators, special ed teachers, resource teachers, parents of children with disabilities

In One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion, Shelley Moore explores the changing landscape of inclusive education. 

Presented through real stories from her own classroom experience, this passionate and creative educator tackles such things as inclusion as a philosophy and practice, the difference between integration and inclusion, and how inclusion can work with a variety of students and abilities. Explorations of differentiation, the role of special education teachers and others, and universal design for learning all illustrate the evolving discussion on special education and teaching to all learners. ]

Get this book for the teacher on your list.

Watch for Shelley’s second book, All for One: Designing Individual Education Plans for Inclusive Classrooms, coming in 2021!

Catch a Fire: Fuelling Inquiry and Passion Through Project-Based Learning 

Edited by: Matt Henderson
Topics: project-based learning, inquiry, collaboration
Perfect gift for: teachers, educational assistants, school administrators, aspiring educators, parents who are homeschooling

This book will inspire, challenge, and engage you—and transform your teaching and learning.

Each chapter in this book is written by a different educator or team about their experiences with project-based learning, both in and out of the classroom. They reflect not only on the how of project-based learning, but more importantly, on the what and the why. They offer insight into how connecting with learners, honouring their experiences, and promoting deep and rich questioning can be the path to powerful projects and learning. Their writing and thinking is saturated with empathy, expertise, a desire to improve their practice, and an acknowledgment of the need to collaborate.

Get your copy in time for the holidays.

Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Responses: A Unique Approach to Literature Circles (2nd Edition)

Written by: Faye Brownlie
Topics: literacy, literature circles, choosing books for students, teaching strategies for reading and writing
Perfect gift for: teachers, educational assistants, school administrators, aspiring educators, reading tutors, parents who are homeschooling

Faye Brownlie’s Say Something strategy will encourage your students to have not only grand conversations, but also thoughtful responses.

Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Responses is built upon the premise that all students can become active, independent, thoughtful readers. The structures and strategies in this book are proven to help students develop confidence and competence in their reading. Student engagement with text soars through participation in grand conversations with peers and reflecting on reading with thoughtful, written responses. This unique approach includes:

  • student choice in books
  • students reading at their own pace, thus creating flexible groups
  • literature circles where students discuss the shared text they are reading
  • strategies for teaching written response
  • strategies for co-creating assessment criteria
  • additional activities to develop and deepen comprehension
  • book lists

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out our catalogues for more ideas, as well as information about reading and grade level for each book.

Portage & Main Press catalogue (books for teachers, education)

HighWater Press catalogue (books for kids, teens, and adults by Indigenous authors)