Children’s Novels

cover of That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore

Digest Edition Now Available!

cover of That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore

That Boy Red

A novel for ages 8 and up
HarperCollins Canada April 2011
Trade Paperback: $11.99; ISBN: 978-1-55468-459-5
Digest Edition: $8.99; ISBN: 978-1-55468-460-1

It’s P.E.I. during the Depression – meet eleven-year-old Roderick “Red” MacRae, resourceful, pig-headed and impulsive, and his large and lively family, as they weather the challenges of farming through a particularly turbulent year.

Red never has much spare time. His parents insist that he go to school even if he and his older brothers are mocked as being all soft and sissy for studying instead of farming. After helping Pa with the chores, Red would much rather tinker with woodwork than do his homework, but his older sister, Ellen, is also his teacher and she simply won’t tolerate it. Red tries to be responsible, and yet all too often he lands himself in the midst of hair-raising – and hilarious – misadventures.

When Cat-less Grannie comes for her annual visit, Red doesn’t mean to start playing with her precious switch of red hair, a relic from her youth, but sometimes things get out of control. Especially when a bad-tempered horse, Flash, and cow dung happen to get in the way. Then there’s Bunch, Red’s younger sister, small, square and determined, who insists on tagging after Red, until he plays dead to throw her off – with dire results. Red muddles his way through many a catastrophe involving bad turnip crops, snowstorms, outhouses and even aeroplanes.

Then Red’s father is seriously injured, and the family’s situation looks dire. Red must step up to the challenge to finish the tobacco caddies that his Pa makes for barter at the local store.

An episodic novel, THAT BOY RED traces the coming of age of a remarkable young lad, while celebrating the strength and spirit of a Canadian family living through the Depression.

That Boy Red: Teachers’ Guide

Awards & Honours

  • Nominated for 2012 Silver Birch Fiction Award

  • Honour Book, 2012 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award

  • Nominated, 2012/2012 Red Cedar Book Award

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens, 2012

  • Girl Guides' Book Club Pick


“...Gilmore avoids the impulse to sanitize, oversimplify, or over explain; she sticks to her story, believing that the trusted tools of pacing, conflict, and character will pull her readers along. And they do. a sympathetic, believable character...and like that other famous P.E.I. literary creation, Anne Shirley, his exploits will appeal to young readers...”

Starred Review Quill & Quire, June 2011

“...captivating central characters make Rachna Gilmore’s new novel...stand out in the growing number of historical fiction books for young readers....the setting of That Boy Red resonates with the prose of another islander—Montgomery’s beloved Anne excellent choice for reluctant as well as avid readers ages 8 to 12. Here’s hoping Gilmore has sequels on the way.”

The Star Phoenix, May 28, 2011

“As a finely written work of Canadian historical fiction, That Boy Red has the potential for a wide audience appeal...As well as gaining insight into the overall farm life on Prince Edward Island during the Depression era, readers will enjoy the perspective of the spirited young boy Red.” **** /4, Highly Recommended

CM Magazine , Volume XVII Number 33

“I absolutely loved it....The writing is wonderful and the storytelling full of warmth, wit and humour....both thrilling and hilarious. I finished it in one afternoon, then immediately flipped back to my favourite parts and ended up re-reading it again!”

Mabel’s Fables, April 18, 2011

“...wry and funny...with strong and engaging characters, plots that are complex and entirely believable, and humorous moments that lighten even the darkest episodes.”

FernFolio, May 14, 2011

cover of The Trouble with Dilly by Rachna Gilmore

Digest Edition Now Available!

cover of The Trouble with Dilly by Rachna Gilmore

The Trouble with Dilly

HarperCollins Canada 2009
Trade Paperback: $12.99; ISBN: 9781554684571
Digest Edition: $8.99; ISBN:978-1-55468-458-8

Dilly can’t believe her eyes. That new kid, Gedion—Sulky-face—is shoplifting from her family’s store, and her mom is just letting it happen. No wonder her parents can’t afford to buy her those new hockey skates she’s always wanted. But as soon as Dilly tells on Gedion, she realizes that some things are better left unsaid. Gedion’s father has just lost his job and he has to put back some groceries to pay for the chocolate bars his son has stolen. Dilly decides she must do something benevolent to make up for her thoughtless action and she comes up with the most fabulous, beautiful, wonderful idea in the whole wide world. She’ll throw a Christmas party for Gedion’s family, like the ones Gedion’s father said they used to have in his old country.

With her best friends on board, Dilly’s plan grows and grows. Soon, the whole community is involved—from pipsqueak Simon, to Dilly’s grandmother, a.k.a. The Great White Hen—with hilarious and unexpected results. But will the party be possible without Dilly having to dip into the money she’s been saving for her skates? Or will everyone say that the trouble with Dilly is she never sees anything through? With Sulky-face always glaring at her, Dilly wonders why she’s bothering with the party in the first place.

A story of friendship and laughter, good heartedness and community—and what it means to be truly generous.

The Trouble With Dilly: Teachers’ Guide

Awards & Honours

  • Resource Links Year’s Best – 2009; Fiction Grades 3-6

  • Girl Guides’ Book Club Pick

  • Canadian Children’s Book Club Program Selection (CCBCP)


“Delightful Dilly and her friends remind us of what Christmas and the whole holiday season is really about.... As heartwarming and classic a holiday tale as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.”

Our Kids Blog (, 23 December 2010

“Gilmore narrates Dilly’s story with keen attention to detail, drawing touching aspects of growing up into a story with delightfully comic overtones. A book that skilfully weaves contemporary themes of ethnic diversity and hockey culture with the meaning of community; highly recommended for ages eight-12.”

The Star Phoenix, April 24.2010

“This heart warming story not only helps the young reader to understand the difficulties immigrants face when they settle in a new country, but also teaches the importance of reaching out to make them feel welcome in a new place...everyone is capable of joining together to help those in need.”

Resource Links, 15:1

“With her slapdash approach to tests and assignments, her fiercely competitive attitude toward hockey, and her slightly awed view of Dadiji, the Punjabi-speaking grandmother who rules the roost at home, Dilly is an entirely believable character, one who may exasperate at times, but whom the reader roots for from start to triumphant finish.”

FernFolio Editor

“An exuberant, off-beat Christmas tale from Governor-General Award winning writer Gilmore.”

Ottawa Citizen, Holiday Gift Guide Recommendation, December 2009

“The young characters are full of optimism and determination but not without flaws and shortcomings. They defy stereotypes: Dilly plays hockey while her friend Simon is an amazing boy soprano. Their enthusiasm propels them through many difficulties, and they find their own strengths and resourcefulness and the same in their friends. In other words, they are interesting kids on a mission...The Trouble with Dilly will be of greatest interest to girls in grades 3-5... a gentle, positive, good-will-out type of book.”

CM, September 2009

“This lovely story about a diverse group of recent immigrants helping even more recent immigrants feel welcome in their new home will fill readers with a new kind of holiday spirit. Traditions and food from China, India, England, Greece, and Hungary come together to create a new, heterogeneous holiday celebration in which everyone who’s celebrating at this time of year feels included, whether it’s Christmas, Eid or Hanukkah.

“Dilly is a warm-hearted, free-thinking heroine trying to overcome her typically eleven-year-old flaws. She vacillates between selfishness and thoughtfulness and sometimes can’t tell the difference in what is motivating her own actions. In this heartwarming book about difference and inclusion Dilly learns about herself, about compassion and about the importance of friendship, ultimately realizing, of course, that the things that matter most aren’t things at all.”

PaperTigers, December 2009

cover of The Sower of Tales by Rachna Gilmore

The Sower of Tales

A fantasy novel
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005
Hardcover: ISBN1-55041-945-5, $21.95 CAD $17.95 USD
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-55041-590-2, $14.95 CAD;
$11.95 USD

(Illustration © James Bentley )

Calantha twirled and jumped. She’d picked the story pod for Talemeet. She had! Then her smile faded. That twisting again. Something wasn’t right.

King’s men on horseback, riding through the Plains. Rumors and fear. Fingers flicked to ward off evil, whenever the Sorcerer Odhran is mentioned. Something is definitely not right, and Calantha isn’t the only one to feel it. The Seers and the Gatherers all agree - the Essences have become twisted, hard to read. But why? No one seems to know.

Trying to shut out the discord, Calantha loses herself in the tales of the story pods - the story pods whose seeds are scattered nightly by the Sower of Tales. But then the unthinkable happens. There are story pods in the fields as always, but there is no new growth. Where are the seeds? What will become of the Plains folk without the Tales to bring them together? Has the Sower of Tales abandoned them?

In desperation, Calantha sets off on a harrowing journey to seek the Sower of Tales, only to be burdened with a terrifying task. Others will help her, if Calantha can trust them. Her dearest dreams - and her worst nightmares - will guide her, if Calantha can face them.

And she must. For the fate of the Plainsfolk, the fate of the Sower of Tales herself rests in Calantha’s hands. And her one passion, the Tales, will make her more vulnerable - and more powerful - than anyone could have known.

Sneak preview! Read chapter one in PDF format.

Get Acrobat Reader for PDF

The Sower of Tales: Teachers’ Guide

Awards & Honours

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice 2006

  • National Chapter IODE Violet Downey Award, 2006

  • Nominated for 2006 Red Maple Book Award

  • Nominated, Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award, (MYRCA) 2007


“In her first fantasy novel for young adults, Rachna Gilmore has created a wonderful quest story.... Calantha is a strong, intelligent and likeable heroine, with whom readers will identify. The story is interesting and well thought out, and there are enough twists and turns along the way.... Overall, this is a highly enjoyable, fast-paced read, and it contains all of the elements that make for great fantasy.”

Canadian Children’s Book News, Winter 2006, Vol 29, No.1

“Ottawa writer Rachna Gilmore (whose picture book A Screaming Kind of Day won the 1999 Governor General’s Award for text) delves into the world of juvenile fantasy for the first time with impressive results. The Sower of Tales...will delight most readers of the genre, young and older alike. As successful fantasy must, The Sower of Tales incorporates both considerable originality and, simultaneously, a fidelity to the tropes of the genre....What Gilmore does with this standard template, however, is daring in both its ambition and success. ...the novel is suspensefully rooted in well-drawn characters and emotionally affecting. Gilmore’s created world is impressive...”

Quill & Quire, November 2005

The Sower of Tales...from critically acclaimed Governor General’s Award winning author Rachna Gilmore...spins a captivating tale....The plot takes some unexpected turns which keep the reader interested and captivated to the end.”

CM, October 2005

“This is a classic hero’s journey, with a likeably stubborn heroine driven by real sense of urgency.”

Booklist, December 2005

cover of A Group of One by Rachna Gilmore cover of A Group of One by Rachna Gilmore

A Group of One

Henry Holt, 2001
Now available in paperback (in Canada)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005
Paperback: $12.95 ISBN: 1-55041-925-0

Illustration first cover © Tim Hall
Illustration second cover © Farida Zaman

Hey Tara, what’s your mother tongue? That’s the kind of question that makes fifteen year old Tara Mehta’s blood boil - especially when it comes from a teacher, who should know better. Why can’t people get it through their heads that she’s Canadian? Sure, her parents were born in India, but Tara has lived in Ottawa all her life - she’s as Canadian as everybody else. There are more important things than where her family came from. Jeff, for instance. The new boy with the blue eyes and the brain that actually works.

But then the grandmother she’s never met, her father’s mother, decides to come for a visit. Tara and her sisters Nina and Maya know little about their grandmother, apart from the fact that she was heavily involved with the Indian Independence movement with Mahatma Gandhi - and that she was not happy with her son’s marriage.

When Tara sees how this upcoming visit transforms her lively, upbeat mother into a mass of tensions, and threatens the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of her home, she undertakes to find out more about the dreaded grandmother. What she learns convinces her that her grandmother is a cold, harsh woman, who is stuck in the past.

Tara grimly resolves that her growing relationship with Jeff is not going to be scuttled by the presence of this unwelcome guest. She is ready for battle, and when her grandmother arrives, Tara keeps her firmly at arm’s length.

Then Tara finds out how her grandmother came to join the Independence movement... How will this unsettling new information impact on Tara’s life and affect her relationship with Jeff and her other friends? Most importantly, how will it impact on her own understanding of herself and her place in the world in which she lives?

A Group of One: Teachers’ Guide

Awards & Honours

  • Honor Book, 2002 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award

  • New York Public Library 2002 Books for the Teen Age List

  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Choices, 2002

  • Bank Street College of Education’s 2002 “The Best Children’s Books of the Year”


A Group of One meets a difficult challenge: it explores issues of ethnic and Canadian identity in a manner that is both authentic and respectful of opposing views. Woven into the story are details of life in a typical junior high school...and remarkably incisive perspectives on how families can be both the same and different, even when they share a common heritage....great reading.... Highly Recommended.”

Canadian Materials, Vol 8, No. 7, November 2001

“...a wonderfully engaging—and at times deeply moving—story of estrangement and acceptance, of isolation and expectation.... Gilmore... injects her characters with a frailty and an ability both to inflict and feel pain. They are alive with tense anxiety, spilling their hearts with the quietest of gestures...”

The Ottawa Citizen, November 18, 2001

A Group of One is a complex and compelling novel that deftly tackles a range of difficult issues especially relevant in today’s multicultural world...framed within a thoughtful, poignant family drama that plays just as big a part as does the discussion of the meaning of being Canadian.”

Quill & Quire, November 2001

“The strength of Gilmore’s novel lies in its refusal to simplify things.... Tara argues that lines and boundaries are limiting and that “everyone’s an individual. A group of one.” Tara’s narration contains just the right amount of slang and sarcasm, and her fight for the right to choose her own identity will resonate with young people—a group all too often lumped together and mislabeled.”

Horn Book, September/October 2001

“...emotional, thoughtful story.”

VOYA, August 2001

“The climax and resolution...are dramatic and satisfying. a strong protagonist. An excellent vehicle for discussion.”

School Library Journal, July 2001

“ this skillful novel about loyalty, forging a sense of self, and history, both personal and political...Gilmore effectively establishes the loving chaos of Tara’s family.... Gilmore is particularly adept at portraying the two formidable women and their relationship with each other; she similarly shines in conveying the laughter, love and also irritation of the distinctly individual sisters. Readers will embrace Tara as she stands up to her family and her school to bravely claim her own history, and along the way, reappraises her own assumptions.”

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2001

“Gilmore paints a realistic picture of a teenager who considers herself a native of her country yet subtly different— a group of one. This is also a realistic portrait of a loving family caught up in everyday life, but stopped short when faced with a challenge to its easy assumptions.”

Booklist, May 2001

“Irreverent and sassy, Tara-my-Stara (as her hip mom calls her) is determined to be a “regular Canadian,” not a hyphenated one.... Tara’s first-person narrative flippantly relates the ups and downs of contemporary family life and the on-again off-again relationships with Jeff and Erin, her longtime best friend....This independent heroine wrestles with the themes of cultural identity and personal individuality, adolescent issues in Canada and the US....”

Kirkus Reviews, May 2001

cover of Mina’s Spring of Colors by Rachna Gilmore

Mina’s Spring of Colors

Fitzhenry & Whiteside; 2000
Hardback: $19.95; ISBN: 1-55041-549-2
Trade Paperback: $11.95; ISBN: 1-55041-534-4

Mina is excitedly looking forward to her annual Holi party - a wonderful Spring festival from India, where people fling coloured powders and water at each other. It is a time of laughter, colour and a time for renewal and forgiveness. All her friends love the party and can’t wait to come, even the new girl, Ashley, whom all the boys are crazy about.

Mina hopes that her grandfather, Nanaji, who has just moved in with them, won’t be too much of a pain. When she was little she adored him. She still loves him, of course, but why does he have to be so fussy? And the way he talks...Mina won’t admit even to herself how uncomfortable she is around him. Then, at a school Open House, Mina overhears Ashley making fun of her Nanaji’s accent...

How will Mina deal with Ashley? She can’t possibly invite Ashley now, but will the other kids in her class take sides? What will her party be like this year?

Mina’s Spring of Colors: Teachers’ Guide

Awards & Honours

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice Award, 2001

  • Short-listed: 2001 Silver Birch Award

  • Short-listed: 2002 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award


“The author has captured beautifully the ambivalence of Mina’s feelings as she begins to see her grandfather through the eyes of others. This is a necessary stage in the growing-up process, one that will strike a chord with readers, adolescent or older...this is a book that is interesting for its insightful story line and also for its unusual background. Definitely a recommended read....Highly recommended”

CM Magazine, Volume VIII Number 1, September 7, 2001

“Gilmore, a Canadian writer who won the Governor General Literary Award for text in 1999, offers a clear portrayal of the nuances of Mina’s emotions. The first-person narrative...will hold readers’ interest with its clearly drawn depiction of Mina’s family, her school life and her current dilemma.”

Booklist, June 2000

“Gilmore convincingly portrays the turbulent emotional life of an eleven-year old, with equally violent outbursts of anger and love. Recommend this fine title to younger adolescents.”


“...a marvellous middle-reader novel...and will captivate readers...”

Reader’s Showcase

“...a simple tale, told quickly and well.... Gilmore ties the strands into a most satisfying conclusion.”

Georgia Straight, April 2000

“In her new novel, Rachna Gilmore, winner of last year’s Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature, again shows her empathetic insight into young people’s concerns and her gift for capturing the lively contemporary slang of their conversation....Gilmore’s resourceful, stubborn Mina is a thoroughly credible character....a valuable addition to Canadian children’s literature.”

Starred ReviewQuill & Quire, May 2000

“Gilmore’s lively, sensitive story is notable for the authentic voice and feelings it gives to its preteen characters.” (Susan Perren’s choice for the best of summer’s children’s books)

The Globe and Mail, June 24, 2000

“This very real tale with convincing characters is a strong follow-up to A Screaming Kind of Day, for which Ms. Gilmore won the 1999 Governor General’s Award for children’s text.”

Ottawa Citizen, May 14, 2000

cover of A Friend Like Zilla by Rachna Gilmore

A Friend Like Zilla

133 pages; Second Story Press, 1995
Trade Paperback: $5.95; ISBN: 0-929005-71-6

(Illustration © Alice Priestley)

Nobby, short for Zenobia, is delighted to be holidaying with her family on Prince Edward Island. Hoping she’ll find someone her age to play with, she is disappointed and uncomfortable, at first, to find that the only kid around is Zilla, who is much older. Zilla is warm and friendly, but Zilla is developmentally delayed - which means she learns more slowly. But soon Nobby discovers that Zilla is a lot of fun and they become firm friends.

Then Nobby’s Uncle Chad arrives at the cottage and everything changes. Uncle Chad is smart and sure and full of himself. He can’t stand anything or anyone being less than perfect.

Will his attitude towards Zilla destroy the girls’ friendship? Will Nobby manage to overcome her own dislike of Uncle Chad? When Uncle Chad gets into serious trouble, will Nobby and Zilla be willing to help?

French Translation: Un nuage sur l’île rouge;
Éditions d’Acadie, 1999

A Friend Like Zilla: Teachers’ Guide

Awards & Honours

  • Short-listed: Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award, 1998

  • Short-listed: Mr Christie Book Award, 1996

  • Short-listed and Regional Winner: Silver Birch Award, 1996

  • Short-listed: International Reading Association 1996 Children’s Book Award

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice, 1995


“This is a cliché-smashing chapter book from an experienced author who has always been unafraid of breaking barriers and taking readers on original and important paths.”

Toronto Star, March 30, 1996

“...a delightful story.... There are real people in this story with all the contradictions of their emotional strengths and ideal novel for readers under the age of 13. I heartily recommend this book for parents who want a little substance to go along with their child’s reading pleasure...a grand read.”

The Evening Telegram, St. John’s, August 27, 1995

The Evening Telegram, St. John’s, August 27, 1995 “This is a brave book. Rachna Gilmore writes from inside the mind of a pre-teen child with unerring confidence.... A Friend like Zilla makes for exciting reading.”

Quill and Quire, May 1995