Popular children’s author launches summer reading clubs for kids 

Meet Linda Bailey at your local library

By Clare Ogilvie.

"Even an experienced detective can miss things.

"Take me, for example. Stevie Diamond, girl detective, just turned thirteen. In the past year, I’ve brought five crooks to justice. I’ve been thanked by the police, congratulated by the mayor and interviewed on the six o’clock news. All that, and I still didn’t see the freight-train-sized mystery that was sitting there, right in the middle of my own family!"

So starts one of children’s author Linda Bailey’s popular mystery novels, How Can A Brilliant Detective Shine in the Dark?

The mystery investigates why long-lost Uncle Archie ran away more than 45 years ago. The story takes readers on a roller coaster ride of excitement and intrigue involving hidden caves, missing gold and an unsolved murder.

Bailey will be in Whistler July 3 to launch the library’s summer reading club. She will read from her many picture books, travel adventures and mysteries at 7 p.m. Parents and kids 5 to 9 years old are welcome.

A mother of two, Bailey began publishing children’s books a decade ago.

"I was one of those mums that hung around library story times carrying a bag of 30 picture books," she said.

"I absolutely fell in love with kids books and put my energy there and I have never wanted to do anything since."

A lover of mysteries herself, Bailey soon realized how few good detective novels there were around for young kids.

Her two girls longed for them. But they wanted stories that were not only exciting but funny.

Bailey created the tenacious and inquisitive Stevie Diamond.

"She is really the kid I wanted to be when I was about 12," she said referring to her heroine.

"I was actually a pretty timid kid but I wanted to be bold and fearless and all those things. I later became more adventurous but I wasn’t at all when I was 12, so Stevie Diamond was my idealized version of myself."

Bailey’s mysteries are not only popular with kids – voted Book of the Year by Langely and Surrey students – they have also been showered with awards, including several Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Juvenile Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada.

Not content to write mysteries, Bailey looked around for a new challenge. She found it combining her love of history, her work experience as a travel agent and the many globe-trotting journeys she has taken to produce a series of history books.

But no long list of dates to memorize here.

These histories transport the three Bikerton kids, via a magic travel agency, to different times and places in the world.

In Adventure with the Vikings a storm forces the Bikertons into the Good Times Travel Agency where they are whisked away to a Viking Camp where all manner of adventures are enjoyed, including a raid.

The stories are told using a humorous comic-book format. But at the bottom of every page are information boxes that offer all manner of historical facts about the life and times the Bikertons have found themselves in.

Comic books are often frowned on by adults; an unfortunate bias said Bailey.

"For some reason pictures don’t have a legitimacy along with books," she said.

"There are wonderful picture books that can be read beautifully by children 12 to 15 years old, but because they have pictures they somehow have less legitimacy.

"But the art can add so much.

"If they see it on computer screen or see it on a movie theatre they don’t have those feelings. They totally relate to graphic images along with the language. But, somehow, when you see it in a particular form like a comic book or picture books people have a different reaction."

Bailey has also written several popular picture books, including the Best Figure Skater in the Whole Wide World.

In addition to her July 3 evening date at Whistler Bailey will be launching the summer reading programs at the Squamish library on July 3 at 1 p.m. and at the Pemberton library July 4 at 12:30 p.m.

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