The Winner of the Great Escape Writing Contest

March 31st was the deadline of the second contest on the Audrey (cow) blog. The guidelines required that you plot out an escape by an animal (five choices were given), give a reason for the escape, use one or more objects from a list supplied, bring along another animal, and finally bring your hero to a new destination.

Since I had my parents in town over the holidays, they were recruited to serve as judges. The winner, as it turned out, managed to get his story in just under the deadline (which I suppose makes this a wonderful example of how procrastination works?).

The winner of the Great Escape contest is Nolan. He is nine years old and lives in Waterloo, Ontario. Here is his story:

One day there was a goat.  The goat’s name was George.  George hardly got fed.  He only got fed once a week because everyone forgot about him.  

One day he decided that he needed to escape the farm.  He thought hard of how he was going to escape.  He thought all night.  

The next day he found the owner’s cell phone on the ground.  There was a chicken on the farm that he got to type the numbers.  He called up his trusty partner Detective Duck.  On the phone he says, “Duck I need you.”  He knew how to say this because of his duck dictionary.  He also said, “I need to escape this farm right now.”  

A few minutes later Detective Duck showed up.  They got a fox to distract the owner so they both could escape safely.  Detective Duck and George were from Canada.  Their plan was to go to the USA.  The duck brought some hamburgers for George because Detective Duck knew that he was hungry.  George brought the cell phone with them just in case because he thought it might be useful later on. Luckily Detective Duck knew a goose named Frank who could get them to the USA.  Duck called Frank on their new cell phone.  Frank is a Canadian Goose and he can carry Duck and George to the border.

 A few hours later they reached the border and at the border they needed to give the security guard their passports.  Sadly, George forgot his passport so he needed to get a disguise to sneak past the security guard.  George disguised himself as a little boy named Nolan.  As quickly as he could, he went across the border.  Right after they got through the border, the security guard saw George’s tail.  Then the security guard started running off to catch George but luckily Frank the goose came down and started flying them to a new farm.  

George called the other animals from his old farm so they could come to the new farm with him.  Frank went and got them all.  

They all remembered their passports.  

A person named Billy found all the animals on the street.  Luckily he was a farmer and he needed animals.  He brought all the animals home in his big truck.  Inside the truck the fox started dancing because he heard his favourite song.  His favourite song was What Does the Fox Say?  Once they got to the farm Billy put them in their pens and fed them all right away.  Billy gave George his favourite…hamburgers!!  

George was never hungry again.

The End

Congratulations Nolan! A copy of Audrey (cow) will be sent to you as well as another copy for you to donate to the library of your choice.



A New Contest for a New Year

It’s 2015 so let’s begin the Audrey (cow) blog with another contest!

One of the big plot points in the book is when Audrey escapes from the farm. We’re going to explore the theme of animal escapes in the coming months and this new contest will reflect it.


This is a contest for all you writers out there (up to grade eight). I want you to plot out an animal escape and write it as if you were that animal explaining how it was done.

Step One – Choose one of these animals:

– A monkey escaping from a zoo

– A parrot escaping from its cage in an apartment

– A goat escaping from a farm

– An elephant escaping from a circus

– A lobster escaping from a seafood aquarium

Step Two – Include a reason why they had to escape and why they had to do it as soon as possible.

Step Three – Choose one (or more) of these items that must be used in some way in the escape:

– A cellphone

– A pen

– A roll of tape (any kind)

– A vacuum cleaner

– A bowling ball

– A whoopee cushion

– An alarm clock

Step Four – Include at least one other animal (your choice) that helps your hero with their escape.

Step Five – Choose a final destination where your hero ends up and explain whether they are now safe or in a worse situation.


The most creative and well written submission will win a signed copy of Audrey (cow) delivered to their home and another one for a school or public library of their choice.

Send it through the CONTACT page or directly to me at

Contestants must be living in Canada or United States, and in grade eight or less.

Deadline is March 31, 2015

The Winner of the What’s in a Name Contest!

Let me begin by thanking everyone who submitted a story for this first contest. My wish to create a place for sharing stories, images and thoughts around the theme of animals has had a nice beginning.

Let me now say thank you to the judge of the What’s in a Name Contest. There is a smart, sensitive and well-read young man living in Missoula, Montana who goes by the name of Finley. He agreed to read the story entries and choose the one he liked the best. Finley wanted it to be known that he slept one full night on his choice, so a lot of thought has gone into his decision.

Finley has chosen the story of how Griffin the cat got his name, because he loved how Griffin “was a little monster when he was a kitten.” Finley also gave a shout out to the story of Cork, the snake, because it was so funny that he was sometimes called Fluffy.

griffin the monster

So a big congratulations to Lee (and Griffin) in Vancouver! Your prize book will be coming to you right away.


There will be another contest starting early in the new year. There will also be an interview with the illustrator of Audrey (cow), Tatjana Mai-Wyss. We’ll look at different examples of animals depicted in art. And we’ll look at other true stories about animals who have proven able to escape their situation.

If you have ideas or suggestions of topics related to Audrey (cow) that you think would be fun or interesting, please drop me a line. You can reach me using the CONTACT page. *

In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season!


 *For parents/teachers/librarians, etc.: In order to make this site safe for children to participate, no last names of anyone submitting to the site will be published.




The Final What’s In a Name Contest Submission

Just under the deadline, the last submission for the first contest of the Audrey (cow) blog has come in, along with a very fitting Christmas season photo. The story behind this dog’s name involves genealogy, and in this case, there are two strains of warrior blood coursing through his veins.

My one and only dog is named Viking Crusader. He was named that by the breeder, having been born in a “V” year. Anyhow, we adopted him at six months of age and kept the name. He’s a Cavalier, all soft and cuddly, so when people hear his name they invariably say, “What a big name for a little dog”. My ancestry has been traced back to the Vikings on one side, and to the Crusades on the other, so the name seemed appropriate all around. In addition, my daughters went to the University of Victoria, where the basketball team is named the Vikes (which became our nickname for Viking).  I’ve attached a photo of him last Christmas – he, unfortunately, passed away shortly afterwards.

Viking Christmas 2012 1

And that came from Pat in Victoria, BC. Thank you, Pat, for sharing Vikes’ story.

An impartial judge has agreed to pick the winner for this contest. All the stories with be sent to him minus the wonderful photos so that he won’t be unduly influenced by cuteness. I hope to announce the winner by the end of the week, so stay tuned!


What’s in a Name Contest: A basset hound named Fiona

The first Audrey (cow) contest is to write in and tell us what the name is of your pet or significant animal friend, and why they were named so.

So far, we’ve had two submissions that have included pictures of photogenic felines. Well, today, that all changes. Today, a sweet, gentle dog is here to balance things out. This is a story about how her true name came to her in incremental steps.

My basset hound Fiona, came to me from Oregon Basset Hound Rescue, taken from a troubled home where she was not well-loved. She came afraid of people in general and men in particular. She also came with the unfortunate name of Yoyo. I really couldn’t see myself standing in the park yelling “yoyo”, so I tried to think of names for her. I really wanted to name her Clementine, after the Sarah Pennypacker character whose first book had just come out. But “Yoyo” was so frightened and nervous when she arrived I worried a name change might be too traumatic. Then, I remembered my Scottish penpal, Fiona, and the great joy I had as a kid, receiving her letters. it was the perfect name for “yoyo” and would be an easy transition. Over the course of a week, she went from Yoyo, to Fiyoyo, to Fiona. 


And that was sent to us by Adrienne in Oregon.

Thank you, Adrienne! I hope all your grade four students are reading this too.

Next week is the December 15 deadline for this contest. We’ll have a different contest starting in the new year. But if you’re able to get a name story in over the weekend, I’ll try to have it posted right away. And remember, if you have a photo to go with it, please email it to


What’s in a Name Contest: A Cat Named Griffin

The first Audrey (cow) contest is to write in and tell us what the name is of your pet or significant animal friend, and why they were named so.

Last week, we heard about a snake. Today, I thought we were getting a fowl story but it’s actually about a cat. Oh, but what a cat. This cat has some moves on him and, as it turns out, this cat moonlights as a writer’s muse as well. Warning: another cute cat picture coming up.

My very first pet was a blind chicken. Yes, I know, most people have cats and dogs and things. But I grew up on a farm. I wish I knew what the name of that chicken was, but I was only two years old and my mom can’t remember if I gave it a name or not. 

 In any case, my cat Griffin (who is famous with my students for stepping on their stories) is named after the mythological creature. That’s because as soon as I got him, he was a little monster, so I thought I would name him after something beastly. 

 Somewhere along the line, he ended up with the nickname of “skitch.” I’m not sure where this came from, other than the fact that it also was connected to how wild and erratic he was as a kitten. He would literally fly full speed at the wall in my living room, leave up as high as the light switch and boomerang into the next room. Some sort of cat parkour, I guess.

 Well, one of the reasons I picked Griffin out of the litter at the adoption center was because of his short hair. I thought it would be low maintenance. But then he started growing really long hair. It was about this time I was writing my first Kendra Kandlestar book. I was designing a character with a lot of hair and, after fumbling for a name for a while, I decided to just take my cat’s two names, much them together, and call the character Uncle Griffinskitch. So, rather embarrassingly, when readers ask me where Uncle Griffinskitch’s name comes from, I have to be honest and tell them it’s from my cat.


And that story came from Lee in Vancouver, BC. Thanks Lee!

We’re coming down to the December 15th deadline so send your stories in soon! All  information is on the CONTESTS page of this blog. If you also have a photo of your pet that you’d like to include with your story, you can send it to me through this email address:

What’s in a Name Contest: A snake named Fluffy

The first Audrey (cow) contest is to write in and tell us what the name is of your pet or significant animal friend, and why they were named so. We’ve had some cat and dog stories but this time we’ve got something exotic.

My mom has a very weird sense of humor. We used to have a cat called Glinda. Her whole name was Good Witch Glinda of the South. I don’t remember Glinda because when I was only two the doctors said I was allergic to her. I would get rashes and it was hard for me to breathe so my parents had to give Glinda away.

Last year I wanted a pet for my birthday (I’m nine now) so we decided to get something I wouldn’t be allergic to so I got a corn snake who I named Cork (as in corkscrew). He’s three and a half feet long now! I like him because his skin pattern is pretty, bright orange and he wraps around my arm so I tell people he’s my living bracelet. Me, my dad and my brother like Cork but my mom isn’t crazy about him. She’s always complaining that she misses having a cat. She wants something soft she can pet. You can pet Cork! Now my mom will sometimes hold him, but when she does, she always calls him Fluffy like she’s pretending he’s a cat.

And that was from Serena in San Diego.

Thank you, Serena! Your mom indeed has a weird sense of humour. I think I would need one too if I had to pet a snake. Although there was one time when I was working at a preschool and my co-teacher booked the Snake Guy for an afternoon demo. A class of twenty 3 and 4 year olds all had snakes in their hands, around their necks or waists or going up their legs. And I, too, was holding a few snakes; something I never figured I’d ever do in my life.

Remember everyone, if you have a photo of your pet that you’d like to include with your story, you can send it to All contest information is on the CONTESTS page of this blog. Still time to send one in!



What’s in a Name Contest: A boxer named Bimbo

Yes, you read the title correctly. The first Audrey (cow) contest is to write in and tell us what the name is of your pet or significant animal friend, and why they were named so. With the following submission, there may be some confusion in the definition of certain words, but I believe the intention is sincere. So with the hope that I don’t get too many letters of concern, here it is:

While growing up we had a dog, a boxer, named Bimbo.  I loved her.  When I married and had children, I had to have a boxer.  I named her Bimbo too. The dictionary says that bimbo means a tramp and that describes her completely.  It was such a fitting name.  She loved to run all over the neighborhood.  She would stand by our back door and just wait for someone to open it and zap, she was off on a run.  I loved this Bimbo too but she was very frustrating to try and keep home.

from Brenda (who didn’t say where she was from).


Thanks Brenda! And remember everyone, if you have a photo of your pet that you’d like to include with your story, you can send it to All contest information is on the CONTESTS page of this blog. Still plenty of time to send one in!




What’s in a Name Contest: Who is Checker?

The first Audrey (cow) contest is to write in and tell us what the name is of your pet or significant animal friend, and why they were named so. Here is a response that came in last week:

We got an old cat from our grandmother who died. His name is Checker. People think he’s called that because of his fur because he’s calico which isn’t really checkered at all. But our grandmother said she named him after an old dude called Chubby Checker because she liked him, and the cat was pretty fat when she got him. Sometimes our grandmother would hold Checker’s front paws and get him on his hind legs and they would do The Twist which is an old dance.

 Kate from Windsor, Ontario

Thanks, Kate! And remember, if you have a photo of your pet that you’d like to include with your story, you can send it to All contest information is on the CONTESTS page of this blog.


We’re live! And a contest to start things off.

AUDREY (COW) is now available in stores!

Audrey on the bookshelf 1




I am hoping that this blog might become an extended conversation about not just the book, but also about animals in general. I’m hoping that is can be a space to share stories about them. The exploits of Audrey are indeed remarkable but there are lots of examples of animals doing amazing things. If you have such a story, by all means write in to tell us.

I’d like to start things rolling with a contest. It’s called: WHAT’S IN THAT NAME?

In my book, many of the characters have names that are uncommon these days – Charlton, Greta, Madge, Buster, to name a few.

Is there an animal in your life (pet or otherwise) that has an interesting name? If so, write in to tell me not just what their name is but why they were given it too. The most interesting name and explanation will get a copy of Audrey (cow) signed and mailed to you, as long as you live in North America. The deadline is December 15th . I will post as many of your responses as I can. If you have a picture of your animal friend that you’d like to share, then attach it to your email.

You can reach me at