Tag Archives: larry verstraete

Coop the Great- A Book That’s Not Just For Dog Lovers

I was once bit on the nose by a dachshund and needed several stitches. My nose ballooned up to about triple its size.  I was a teenager at the time and was soooooooo embarrassed because my Mom made me go to school despite the fact that thanks to a dachshund I looked like a clown. That’s important for you to know before I offer my review of Larry Verstraete’s new middle grade novel Coop the Great.  The main character is……… you guessed it……… a dachshund.  You have to understand that I am not really a dog person and in particular not a dachshund lover.  

So the fact I enjoyed Larry‘s book despite my lack of affinity for canines should be an indication of just how good a story it is.  The novel taught me some very interesting things about dogs and I was amazed at how Larry was able to consistently let us see the world from a dog’s perspective. 

Coop is an aging pet who struggles with health issues and some past problems with the families who have offered him a home. In that regard he is not unlike his owner Mike who is getting on in years and is dealing with cancer and heart issues. Mike has lost his wife, and is worried about his daughter Jess and his grandchildren Zach and Emma who are being threatened by an abusive husband and father. 

Larry’s publishing team from Great Plains Publications meet Darnold.

Coop enters Mike’s life from a dog shelter and when author Larry Verstraete launched his book at McNally Robinson this month he had a special guest, a dog named Darnold from D’arcy’s ARC,a Winnipeg shelter much like the one in the book.

Larry signs a book for one of our writing group members

Larry is a member of my writers’ group.  I respect Larry and am inspired by his success.  Coop the Great is his seventeenth published book for children. I am lucky I get to benefit from his expertise and experience with regards to my own work on a regular basis. I was honored to have my name mentioned in the book’s afterword as Larry acknowledged the input he receives from our writing group. 

In some ways Coop reminded me of The Littlest Hobo a television series about a dog that was popular when I was about ten years old- the age of Larry’s target audience for his book.  Coop proves to be every bit as daring and brave as The Littlest Hobo  but I liked him more than my childhood television hero. Coop is such a colorful, quirky and interesting character.  

On the cover of Larry’s book Coop has some ear buds wrapped around his neck.  It’s a clue to the exciting climax of the story that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Although Coop is definitely the novel’s main protagonist the story is also about Mike’s grandson Zack and the way he deals with his difficult family situation.  That was a helpful thing for me to read about in reference to the work I do with children, and I am sure other adults in similar professions will feel the same way. 

Larry’s book Coop the Great is an interesting, exciting and inspiring read even if you aren’t a dog lover. 

Other posts…………..

Writer or Palaeontologist?

A Glamorous Night For Manitoba Writing

Launching Not One Book But Three


Filed under Books, Writing

Writer or Palaeontologist ?

book launch dinosaurs of the deep

Dinosaurs of the Deep book launch host Terry McCleod, writer Larry Verstraete and palaeontologist Victoria Markstrom.

Who makes more money a writer or a palaeontologist?  That was definitely the ‘question of the night’ last Tuesday as Turnstone Press launched a new book called Dinosaurs of the Deep . Front and centre were my friend Larry Verstraete who wrote the book, and palaeontologist Victoria Markstrom who works at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden. Larry describes Victoria as his ‘anchor’ during the writing process.  

issak and bell

Henry Isaak and Don Bell share their story

The book launch was hosted by CBC radio personality Terry McCleod and at one point he brought Don Bell and Henry Isaak up to the microphone. Don and Henry are two teachers who began rescuing fossils from highway construction sites in the Morden area in the 1970s. Without their tireless efforts many fossils would have been destroyed. The fossils the two men accumulated in their basements and garages became the basis of the collection now on display at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. 

dinosaurs of the deepAlthough Larry Verstraete is best known as an award-winning author of books for young people, Dinosaurs of the Deep is meant for all readers. The realistic illustrations by Julius Csotonyi are sure to stimulate the imaginations of young and old alike. The book tells the story of the amazing creatures that inhabited the Western Interior Seaway which covered the North American prairies more than 6 million years ago. 


The kids at the launch were the first ones to ask questions.

Despite the fact that Dinosaurs of the Deep is not targeted exclusively at kids there were many young people in attendance at the book launch and once Terry McCleod opened the floor to questions the kids were the first to raise their hands. They asked great questions of both Victoria the palaeontologist and Larry the writer.  The query that got everyone laughing was posed by a boy who wondered if a writer or palaeontologist made more money.  After listening to Larry and Victoria describe their work the young man said he wanted to do both jobs.  Victoria and Larry assured him he could have careers in both fields if he wanted. 


Guests at the launch were treated to a cake decorated with the front cover of the book.

Dinosaurs of the Deep is an easy to read book, set up in a variety of formats to make it engaging and accessible. One page offers a set of medals for the ‘world’s largest’ inhabitants of the Western Interior Seaway.  Other pages feature case files about Seaway mysteries and one spread presents the super heroes of the ancient sea on collector type cards. 

suzy the mosasaur

One of the special guests at the launch was Suzy the mosasaur from the Discovery Centre in Morden

Reading Dinosaurs of the Deep definitely made me want to visit the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden.  The Centre offers programs that allow you to become a palaeontologist yourself and go fossil digging. I need to do that and discover what it’s like to be both a palaeontologist and a writer. 

Other posts………

Dinosaurs in Saskatchewan

Launching Not One Book But Three

Alligators All Around

1 Comment

Filed under Nature, Writing

Talk About Being in Good Company !

The nominees for the Manitoba Book Awards have been announced and three members of my writing group The Anitas have made the shortlists. Suzanne Costigan is nominated in the fiction for older children category for her book Empty Cup. Suzanne’s novel has also been selected as a featured book in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Spring 2015 edition of Best Books for Kids & Teens. 

Deborah Froese is among the nominees in the fiction for younger children category for her picture book Mr Jacobson’s Window.

Melanie Matheson is nominated in the same category as Deborah, for her picture book Hokey Dowa Gerda and the Snowflake Girl.

Some other good news for The Anitas recently was the announcement that Jodi Carmichael’s novel Forever Julia was featured in an article in Quill and Quire.  Jodi launches her book on April 16th at McNally Robinson.

Highlights for our writing group this past year have been the publication and launch of Melinda Friesen’s book Enslavement and Pat Trottier’s The Other R in Education and the great news that Gabriele Goldstone had signed a contract for the publication of three historical novels for young people.

I realize how very fortunate I am to be taking my baby steps in the world of children’s writing and publishing with people as accomplished and successful as this! I can’t thank The Anitas enough for taking me in and allowing me to become a part of their group almost two years ago.  Talk about being in good company!

Note:  Before I joined The Anitas I was part of a children’s writing group called Vast Imaginations which eventually came to an end and that’s when The Anitas took me in. Larry Verstraete was a member of Vast Imaginations and gave me lots of advice and encouragement on my very first manuscripts.  Larry is also nominated for a Manitoba Book Award this year for his novel Missing in Paradise.  

Other posts……..

Not One Book But Three

A Book Set Right Here in Winnipeg

Writing My First Amazon Review


Filed under Books, Winnipeg, Writing