About the Author

Tim Wynne-Jones

Tim Wynne-Jones is one of Canada's foremost writers for children. The author of over thirty books, he is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Award, as well as a two-time winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and of the Arthur Ellis Award. He is the recipient of many other prizes at home and internationally including the Edgar Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. In 2012 he was made an Officer to the Order of Canada. He lives in Perth, Ontario.

Books by this Author
Pounce de Leon

Pounce de Leon

also available: Hardcover
tagged : cats, friendship
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Rosie Backstage

also available: Hardcover
tagged : theater
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Stephen Fair /epub

Stephen Fair /epub

tagged :
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The Emperor of Any Place

Evan stands at the door to his father’s study. Thereis a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father ast Christmas,made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke.

He raises his hand to knock— a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning. He opens the door, steps inside, and takes a shallow breath, afraid of what might belingering on the air. But there are only the old familiar smells:Royal Lime aftershave, glue, sawdust.

This is where he found him.

He thought his father had fallen asleep. The only sign thatanything was wrong was the new model ship lying on its side on the carpet. His father had finished it the evening before—fourteen days ago. Evan had picked up the ship; it wasn’t damaged. He found a space for it on the shelf with the other ships,a couple dozen of them. He placed it there to join his father’s bottled armada. “Not so grand as an armada,” his father had once said. “More like a flotilla.”

Clifford E. Griffin III, a modest man.

It was strange doing that, picking up the boat and placing itcarefully on the shelf, pretending his father was asleep behindhim. Only asleep. There was no blood, no sign of a struggle, just the boat in its bottleon its side on the floor. And his father pitched over his desk, his face strained, his eyelids and jaw tense,rigor mortis setting in. He even died modestly.

Hypertrophiccardiomyopathy. The muscle of his heart had been thickening. Evan had watched his father rub his chest afair bit, the look on his face more annoyance than pain. And he would get short of breath when he was gardening. That was about it.

And then that was it.

Fourteen days ago. No — fifteen. Now Evan moves into the room, heads over to the desk,the chair pushed back so hard against the wall by the paramedics that it left a dent in the plaster just under the window. The chair is still there up against the wall. The plants on the sill are dead. One more thing Evan has forgotten to do. There are dried leaves on the floor.

The ambulance arrived thirteen minutes after he called 911.The fire truck got there three minutes faster. Evan stood shivering at the open front door in his boxers and T-shirt, watching the cartoon-red ladder truck pull into the driveway, wondering whether he’d somehow called the wrong number. Huge men, dressed for putting out fires, piled out of the vehicle, sniffed the air, looked up into the early morning haze for smoke or flames— the kind of stuff they were good at. Then two of them set off at a run around the perimeter of the house— one this way, one that— while three of them entered, so large, they seemed to fill up the place and suck out all the air. Evan thought maybe he was suffocating.

One of them checked out the Dockyard. Another one found a blanket somewhere and wrapped Evan up in it, made him sit in the living room, trembling even though it was July. The third fireman brought him water in a glass from the kitchen.

“Is there someone we should call?”

Evan shook his head. His dad was retired now, so he wasn’ tgoing to be late for work. Oh! The fireman meant family:another parent or auntie,an older sibling— that kind of someone. But there really wasn’t anyone. Not one he could think of right then, that is— right at that precise moment. Just him and Dad.

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The Uninvited


MIMI MISSED HER TURN and screeched to a stop.
She checked the map on the seat beside her, backed up, and squinted through her own dust at the signpost.
Uppe V lenti e Rd.
"Close enough."
A deep-throated bark seized her attention. A gargantuan dog was tearing toward her from the dilapidated house on the corner.
The animal bounced up and down at her door, brindle and with far too many yellow teeth. She threw the Mini Cooper into reverse again and slewed to the left, almost hitting the ugly mutt.
"Take that, Hellhound!"
Then she thrust the stick shift forward and left the paved road, sending out a rooster tail of gravel.
Undaunted, the dog stayed on her tail - stayed with her for a hundred yards or so - then finally fell behind, his territory no longer in danger.
Mimi took a deep breath and patted the leather-upholstered steering wheel. "Ms. Cooper, we are now officially not in Kansas," she said. And the Mini's horn beeped twice in reply.
The little car was red with a black top, and Mimi had red shades and black hair. She wore a red T-back sports bra and black low-rise capris, as if the car were an accessory. Well, it was small, after all. Like Mimi - small and powerful.
Gripping the wheel tightly in her left hand, she picked up her digital camcorder from the passenger seat and held it at arm's length, aimed at her face.
"News update," she said. "This is Mimi Shapiro reporting from Nowhere!" She swiveled the wine-red JVC HDD around to take in the countryside: the empty dirt road stretching out before her, the overgrown borders and broken-down fences, the unkempt and empty fields, the desolate forest beyond them.
"Not a Starbucks in sight," she said, returning the camcorder to her face. "What do you think, Chet? Have we actually entered the Land that Time Forgot?"
"Well, Mimi," she replied in a low and amiable TV sidekick kind of voice. "you'd think the officials at the border might have warned us about this, wouldn't you? 'Welcome to Canada. Sorry we're out right now.'"
She put the camcorder down in order to negotiate a long S turn, and there up ahead - just to prove her wrong - two huge mud-stained trucks were pulled over onto the shoulder, nose to nose. Farmer One leaned on the driver's side door of Farmer Two. With both hands on the wheel, Mimi swerved around them, glad to be driv ing such a small and responsive vehicle. Both men wore ball caps, which they tipped as she flew by. They took her all in with their shaded eyes, and she wished she hadn't taken her shirt off back at the rest stop on 401.
"Oh, Ms. Cooper," she muttered. "What have we gotten ourselves into?"
She had left New York City yesterday morning and stayed overnight just outside Albany. Then bright and early this morning - way earlier than she was used to - she had set her compass due north, and here she was, though with every passing mile she wondered if maybe Marc had been lying to her. He was hardly the world's most reliable father.
"Almost there," she told herself, to calm her misgivings.
She glanced into her rearview mirror, half expecting Clem and Jed to be on her tail. She imagined them hopping into their trucks to follow the half-naked girl in the toy car. Yee-haw! But the road was empty behind her. She crested a hill. There was a house ahead, though it was hard to tell if anyone still lived in it.
She whooshed by the driveway, where an old woman with an even older dog was collecting the mail from her mailbox. The woman glanced Mimi's way, clutching a letter to her flat chest, glaring at the girl as she flew by. She was wearing a ball cap, too.
"Got to get me one of those," said Mimi.
The road was climbing now. On her right she caught the odd glimpse through the trees of a river - the Eden, she hoped, though it wasn't as impressive as Marc had led her to believe. She wouldn't put it past him to turn a creek into a river. She wouldn't put anything past him.
Lost Creek. She had seen a piece in the Tate Modern by the American artist Kathy Prendergast. It was called Lost and it was a map of the United States, but the places marked were all lost places: Lost Valley, Lost Hills, Lost Swamp, Lost Creek. All these lost places. She wondered if Prendergast had done a map of the lost places of Canada. She could use it about now. Or GPS.
A magical place, Marc had said. It wasn't the kind of word he used very often. A place to get your thoughts together.
Just then her cell phone started playing "Bohemian Rhapsody." She found it under the map, looked at the number, and threw the cell phone down. It stopped after a while but then started up a few minutes later.
"Fuck off, Lazar Cosic!" she shouted. "What part of 'leave me alone' don't you understand?"
Then she pulled the map out from under the cell phone and laid it on top. Ontario was a big province - seven times bigger than the Empire State. Surely you could escape someone in a place this large? She pressed a little harder on the accelerator.
Now the road began a lazy decline, and soon she was in the bowl of a wooded valley. Towering maples made a tunnel of the road ahead, though she could see late-afternoon sunlight glinting through the canopy, tinting the leaves with gold as if she had traveled right through summer into fall. She shuddered at the thought. Shuddered at the coolness of this leafy tunnel. She tried to reach her shirt on the backseat but swerved dangerously and gave up. There wasn't a lot of road to work with. Then she was out in the open again, and there was a flurry of tilting and rusted-out mailboxes. And then nothing . . .
In all fairness, Marc had described much of this, but he had never really gotten across the isolation of the place. But that's...

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Zoom Away

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by Tim Wynne-Jones
illustrated by Eric Beddows
also available: Paperback
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