Sample Writing

Wow Canada! book cover

Wow Canada! Exploring this Land
from Coast to Coast to Coast

Owl Books, 1999

Winner, BC Book Prize (Sheila A. Egoff Children's Prize), Information Book Award (Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada), Red Cedar Book Award, Hackmatack Children's Choice Award
Finalist, Mr. Christie Award, Canadian Science Writers Association Award, Libris Award, Alberta Reader's Choice Award
Best non-fiction children's book of 1999 as rated by Quill & Quire magazine

Introducing...the Trip!

Our whole family is going on a trip across Canada. When my parents told us, they said we had to do it now, because in two years I'll be fourteen and "cool" and I might not want to go anywhere with my family.

"A trip across Canada? Will it be fun? Are you sure it's not going to be educational?" I've learned it pays to ask these things in my family. My mom used to be a teacher, and she can't always turn it off.

"Really fun," my parents answered together. Mom paused a moment. "And nothing remotely educational about it."

"This is a plot so Guy doesn't spend all summer inside playing computer games, isn't it?" said my younger sister Rachel. She's ten, and she thinks she knows everything.

"We hadn't even considered that!" said Dad.

Yeah, right.


We're in Toronto now, the biggest city in Canada. After our first day here, Dad, Rachel and I have figured out how to find our way on the subway. We'd make good moles. Not Mom. Every time we climb up to street level from an underground subway station, she's completely confused and heads off in the wrong direction.

We found our way to the best view of Toronto - the top of the CN Tower. We went up there yesterday. The tower is taller than both the New York Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You go up about 340 m (1,136 ft.) in a glass elevator in 58 seconds, and your stomach gets there a few seconds later. Mom told us the speed of the elevators is the same as the rate of ascent of a jet at take-off!

From the top, we looked down on the skyscrapers, the Ontario Parliament Buildings at Queen's Park, and the Skydome, where the Toronto Blue Jays play ball.

When we looked south, we saw the harbour and the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario. The lake seemed to go on forever. While Mum and Dad tried to recognize more landmarks, Rachel and I looked for squirrels. (We're heard there are lots of squirrels living in Toronto.) They are hard to spot from that far up.

Guy's Family Car Trip Survival Tips

I've discovered a foolproof way to pass time and keep my brain active when we have to spend long hours in the car. I'll write down new and different ways for kids to drive their parents crazy! Here are a few.
  1. Sleep your way through Canada's most spectacular scenery.
  2. Ask if anyone else can hear that strange, thunking noise coming from the engine.
  3. Make up another language while in the car. Speak it all day. Answer questions only in this language.
  4. Plead with your parents to play mini-golf wherever you go. It will drive them nuts thinking they have brought you to all these wonderful places and all you want to do is play another round of mini-golf.

Nunavut: On the Land

Muskox sighted!
We are camped beside the Arctic Ocean, and this morning I was snuggled way down inside my sleeping bag in the tent when I heard a yell from our friend, Sue. "Guy -- muskox! I can see one from camp!"

Normally, I'm almost impossible to get out of a warm sleeping bag on a cold morning but I was out of the tent before you could say, "Oomingmaq!" Several hundred metres away across the rolling tundra, a shaggy, brown muskox was grazing on the grass.

"Looks like a slow-moving haystack," said Mum.

"I think it looks like a hydrofoil with horns," said Rachel. That's because when the huge mound of shaggy hair moved across the hill, its feet were almost invisible.

We spent a lot of today tracking these hairy hydrofoils across the tundra
"Where are the trees?" asked Rachel as we took shelter from the wind inside some rings of piled rocks, which were apparently food caches used by the Inuit long ago.

"Too cold for trees," said Dad.

"Too cold for me, too," I said. Not that anyone paid attention.

"The Arctic gets so little precipitation, it's really a polar desert," Dad continued. "So you wouldn't expect trees, anyhow."

I've heard that other families go to Hawaii or Disneyland for their vacations, but not us. We go camping on a polar desert! 

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