I will admit to being about the worst blog poster in my neighbourhood so updates on life at Bungalo Books have been few and far between (well actually zero) since my return from Vietnam in 2018. But this Covid crisis is certainly worthy of note.

Fortunately, the pandemic has not touched anyone I know but it continues to pose a risk to my family, friends and colleagues. Life has gotten more isolated so I miss being able to travel around the country to meet colleagues and young readers. But I must admit that on a day to day basis, life at Bungalo World Headquarters hasn’t changed much — rural life in the woods already meant that most business was conducted on the phone or online. (Although my satellite internet has slowed to 1/10th of its usual speed due to an increase in stay-at-home traffic for everyone else.)

Having cancelled my travel plans for the year, revenue from workshops and presentations has dried up but it means there is more reason to start work on some new editorial projects that will require a bit more ingenuity to execute.

I hope life returns to its new normal soon. Take care.


Exploring Opportunities in Vietnam

On October 5th, I moved from my lakeside house in rural eastern Ontario to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. There are about 9.5 million more neighbours in this new location than on Canoe Lake Road.


The reason for the move (until at least summer of 2018) is personal as my partner has taken a job as director of ESL at the Bilingual Canadian International School here. But I intend to apply my expertise in publishing, content development and educational outreach here as I seek new clients and creative partnerships.

At the same time, I plan to continue pursuing my interest in developing resources related to Canadian indigenous education.

Augmented Reality in a New Generation of Kids Books

Will augmented reality in picture books significantly change the way children read?

Olaf waves at the reader's camera

A book’s illustration springs into interactive life thanks to augmented reality tech.

Maybe, maybe not. But AR will certainly give parents – and teachers – another tool to make books and reading relevant to children, especially reluctant readers. Indeed, AR may increase the enthusiasm some readers have for books and actually help beginning readers to learn language basics.

While it is early days in the AR book business, our experience with it here at Mercury Connects suggests that it will prosper as publishers and readers grasp its potential.

But first I should explain how augmented reality works in books. Continue reading

Heart of the Himalaya: Update 3

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Red Cross and other relief organizations working in Nepal’s earthquake zone. We’ve heard from many people who downloaded a copy of Pat and Baiba’s Heart of the Himalaya and donated much more than the cost of the book to help the recovery operation.

Reports from the iTunes store show that 179 copies were given away during our special May offer.

Your generosity has been much appreciated.

Free Himalaya Book: Update 2

As the end of May comes closer, news coverage of Nepal’s earthquake recovery efforts has dropped noticeably even though the rebuilding work is just beginning. I’m afraid that our “Heart of the Himalaya” didn’t raise large amounts of money but a few dollars can go a long way in Nepal.

To date we’ve given away 165 copies of Pat and Baiba’s multi-media profile of the Himalaya people — although we’ve had several emails that suggest our supporters gave generously to the cause. A number of readers donated $75-$100 instead of the $10 that was requested.

A “Heart of the Himalaya” presentation in Pat and Baiba’s home of Invermere, raised a further $4,100 recently.

Thank you for your help.

Free Himalaya book: update

donate money to the Red Cross Nepal fundTwo days after Pat and Baiba Morrow announced their offer of free copies of their “Heart of the Himalaya,” 94 people have downloaded the multimedia ebook from iTunes.

The Morrows have asked recipients of their book to please make a donation to the Red Cross’ Nepal Region Earthquake Fund. They recommend a  gift of $10.

Doing What We Can For Nepal

Last week's earthquake has changed life in Kathmandu for everyone.

Last week’s earthquake in Nepal has brought renewed attention to a country that is too often in the news for tragedy on Mount Everest. Sadly today’s headlines are not about risk-taking tourists and climbers but about an entire population that has been devastated.

Adventure photographers Baiba and Pat Morrow have spent 35 years exploring Nepal and its Himalayan neighbours, sharing their love of the people in their recently published multimedia ebook, Heart of the Himalaya. This week, they are encouraging Canadians and Americans to donate funds for the relief effort that is now underway, recommending sending money to the Canadian Red Cross for its Nepal Region Earthquake Fund. Mountain Equipment Co-op is currently accepting money at its retail locations for the Red Cross and has promised to match all its customers’ donations. Likewise, the Canadian government is matching donations to relief agencies until May 25th.

As a modest reward to donors to these or other Nepal earthquake relief organizations, Pat and Baiba are offering Heart of the Himalaya copies free on iTunes (USA and Canada) until the end of May. They are recommending a minimum donation of $10 although the book will be available free on iTunes for anyone interested in learning about the region.

There is no special coupon or iTunes code needed. Just log into the iTunes store and download Heart of the Himalaya. We have set the price at $0.00. Link here for U.S.A. and here for Canada.

We are not sure what financial impact this offer will have for the relief cause but the gift will provide a small reward for people’s generosity — and give donors some insight into the Himalayan people they are helping. Thank you for your generosity.

Connect here for the U.S.A. listing. And here for Canada.

Avalanche on Everest

The April 18th avalanche on Everest that took the lives of 13 Sherpas occurred on the same part of the mountain that claimed four lives during the Canadian Everest Expedition in 1982. In his multi-touch illustrated ebook, Everest: High Expectations, summiteer Pat Morrow recalls getting swept into the collapsing snow and ice — and surviving.

Rescuers search for missing sherpas

Frantic digging after the avalanche. 1982.

On the morning of August 31, I set out from Base Camp with Rusty and two lightly loaded Sherpas to break a trail through snow that had fallen the previous evening.

By the time we reached the Traverse, the snow was boot-deep. More troublesome, however, was the strength of the wind. Whatever snow had accumulated would be wind-deposited and thus prone to avalanching.

I thought of turning back and decided to do so if I came to a slope where my feet disturbed the surface of the snow enough to release its bond with the glacier and trigger a slide. I rested in the darkness, eating a chocolate bar and drinking water, trying to get a feel for the situation. It was still early, still cold. We had worked in fresh snow for the past two weeks, but nothing we had passed through so far had been avalanche-prone. Since our arrival, the disconcerting roar of big avalanches high up on Everest seemed to go on regardless of the time of day or the weather.

I decided to press on but only got 30 paces before being enveloped in a tremendous Continue reading

An astounding loss of life

Pat Morrow, friend and author of Bungalo Books’ Everest: High Expectations, contacted me early today to say that up to 13 Sherpas died yesterday while preparing this spring’s commercial route up Everest’s South Face. Early morning sun seems to have triggered an avalanche just above the Ice Fall. As he noted, this was where his team was struck during their 1982 ascent — an accident that killed three Sherpas (Ang Tsultim, 20, Dawa Dorje, 40, and Pasang Sona, 40). Team videographer Blair Griffith, 32, was killed a day later in the same area when a serac collapsed on him.

Canadian Climber Probe for Survivors, 1982

Climbers search for three missing Sherpas. 1982.

During the Canadian Expedition’s accident 32 years ago, there were about a dozen Sherpas and a half dozen Canadians carrying supplies up to Camp One. Yesterday, there were about 100 Sherpas on the route — numbers that are required to prepare adequately for the large scale assault next month by about 500 paying customers. Sadly, the high number also means high casualties when accidents happen.

My only link to Everest and mountain climbing in general is through my friendship with Pat Morrow so I do not fully understand the allure of high summits. But working on High Expectations with him two years ago, I did come to believe that Everest’s current easy access has undermined the spirit of the mountaineering he and his colleagues pursue. Money — a desperately needed commodity in Nepal’s back country — has changed the nature of the classic Himalayan adventure from accomplishment to big-ticket thrill for the participants.

This weekend’s accident could perhaps be described as a workplace accident. If it happened  in North America — at a tourist destination like Disneyland or on a commercial white water rafting route — the government would shut it down. The loss of 13 lives to give several hundred tourists their thrill of a lifetime would be too high a cost.

But that is not how Everest works.

My thoughts today are with the families of the working Sherpas who died.

Early Literacy Step #2

Step Two: Make Reading a Habit.

Father reads book to a baby

Bedtime is perfect for story time. (Illustration by John Bianchi.)

Make daily bedtime stories and weekly visits to the library part of the family routine.

Kids will learn that reading is an important part of the household routine and they’ll look forward to  to their regular stories.

And parents will find that a book is the perfect bait for getting kids into bed at night.

As my kids got older, the switch to novels made it even harder to skip story time because we all wanted to know what was going to happen next. And our library visits often because scavenger hunts as we tracked down books by our favourite authors and illustrators.

See all 10 kid-literacy steps on YouTube.

This post brought to you by The Troubles with Bubbles, a free multi-touch ebook for the iPad. Check it out here.