It Started Like This

Vivien Bowers was born in Vancouver in 1951, the second of four kids. Her dad was a scientist who loved figuring out puzzles, so no wonder Bowers likes that kind of mind-stretching stuff. He was a very smart man who could never remember the names of his kids, so he always got their names mixed up, or called them by the dog's name.
  Vivien at the piano

Bowers didn't become a scientist, though. She loved reading and writing so she studied English at university. Then she became a Grade 5 teacher. The part she liked most about teaching was coming up with really interesting ways to present topics (like the time she brought rotting logs into the classroom so the students could pull them apart to see what insects live inside, but one of the logs had a red ant colony living in it, and the ants started escaping ..)

For the last 25 years, Bowers has been a writer, which is just as interesting and much less noisy. She has written school textbooks, magazine articles, and books for adults and children. Like teaching, writing allows her to explore all sorts of interesting topics. Then she figures out how to present them in a way that's entertaining and very readable. Sometimes that involves a lot of bad jokes.

Bowers has two sons, 26 and 24. When they were younger, they were a constant reminder to their mother of what kids find really neat and what makes their eyes glaze over. Sometimes Bowers has used her kids in her writing. For an article about glaciers, Bowers roped them up so she could take photos of them tromping across an icefield high in the mountains, peering into 25 metre deep crevasses.

Crime Science (and the revised version, Crime Scene)

Here's a letter one reader wrote to Vivien Bowers:

Dear Vivien Bowers
I think your Crime Science is very interesting. Where did you come up with the idea for the book. Did you rob a bank or something?

Crime Science cover illustration No, she did not rob a bank. She just thinks forensic detection is fascinating, and figured kids would think that too. Actually, her first idea for a book was The Poop Book: A Serious Look at a Smelly Subject. She still doesn't understand why the publisher wasn't wild on that topic.

Maggots are one clue Bowers talks about in Crime Science. When the author travels to schools to talk about forensic detection, she often brings live maggots. They also like appearing on TV. Bowers usually packs them in her check-on luggage when she flies, because she doesn't want to have to explain to airport security why she is travelling with maggots.

Wow Canada!

Wow Canada! is based on a trip with Bowers's family across the country. Many souvenirs in the book, like the musk ox hair and the blade of wheat, were actually collected during their trip. You can see Bowers's older son, Guy, at age 12, wearing a silly moose hat on page 62. He really is a fussy eater (he still is). Joel, age 10, is standing on a cannon on page 74. To create the character Rachel in Wow Canada!, Joel was turned into a girl. (The real Joel was not impressed.) Their father really is a scientist who likes to go to bed early. Overall, the kids' impression of Canada was that it was too big. They thought their mother should have written about Hawaii instead.

Only in Canada!

After Wow Canada!, Vivien Bowers wrote Only in Canada! because there were so many other weird, wonderful and wacky things about Canada. She likes the story about the escaping weather balloon. When she visits schools she often reads the bit about nose bots. (You really don't want to know.) Her son Joel isn't sure about illustrator Dianne Eastman's idea of dressing the goose in a skirt and cowboy boots.
Only in Canada cover illustration

Photo of Rabbit and Bucko Beaver

That's Very Canadian!

For this extravaganza, Bowers has brought back whole gang from her previous books--Rachel, Guy, Moose, Goose and-yes!-Bucko Beaver! They're trying to figure out what it means to be "Canadian." Is it beavers, loonies or PEI potatoes? The book is written as Rachel's funny school report, with sarcastic comments in the margin by her older brother, Guy. Rachel has even stuck in photos of her pet rabbit. Given that Rachel doesn't actually exist you might be surprised to hear she has a rabbit. The dwarf bunny really belongs to Vivien Bowers's sons. They helped Bowers set up a photo shoot, during which the rabbit was incredibly uncooperative. Otherwise, there might have been more photos.

Cartoon of Vivien

Crazy About Canada!

Vivien Bowers ran out of things to write about Canada, so she called in the experts--and that would be you. She asked what you wanted to know about Canada, and you sent in about a trillion gazillion questions. For instance, Why are beavers teeth orange? Bowers had absolutely no idea (too many orange slushees?). She had a whale of a time researching this book, finding the answers to your questions. Why, for instance, are there no skunks in Newfoundland. Or, why is water wet? There's a new cartoon character in the book--"Vivien Bowers" herself, detective extraordinaire in the search for elusive answers. Pretty scary, huh? She has a sidekick, a boy called Morton. Morton is very nerdy; he LOVES facts and information. Bowers has a brother just like Morton, though he grew up and he turned out okay. She has also met lots of Mortons in schools she visits. Some day they will be engineers, astrophysicists or meteorologists. For now, they are the dorky kids who know everything, help out in the computer room at lunch, and take tuba lessons.

Vivien Bowers lives in the mountains near Nelson, British Columbia. She does not own a cat. She's allergic to cats. But she did have that annoying rabbit who chewed through electrical cords. She's sorry to report that the bunny finally died - of old age. R.I.P., bunny.

Hey Canada!

Hop in the car! We're off on another road trip across Canada! A lot of younger kids who loved my earlier book Wow Canada! needed something a little easier to read. This is it! Join Cal, Alice and Gran - and an escaping hamster - on their cross-Canada epic. Alice writes a blog, and is the "official worrier" on the trip. Cal nearly falls into the Atlantic Ocean trying to taste it. His favourite part of Canada is the escalators. Gran likes to sing (the kids wish she didn't) and write silly poems. I had fun making up these characters. I think you'll get along fine with them, especially if you like hamsters. As a bonus, you'll learn all about Canada: icebergs, the CN Tower, dinosaurs, avalanches, the Ogopogo, inukshuks ... and much more!