Shortlisted for Houston Readers’ Choice Award!

I was so excited to get the news this week that I was short-listed for this inaugural award offered by the Houston Public Library Foundation.

The city has been my literal (and literary) home for the past four years and I’ve been involved in everything from the local chapter of the SCBWI, RWA, Inprint, Brazos Bookstore, Blue Willow Bookstore, Houston Writers’ Guild, Houston Writers’ House and Writespace. While it’s a massive city that can be hard to navigate, I’ve managed to find amazing author friends, critique partners, and opportunities to grow and learn.

Libraries have been central to this. They are so important to communities – for literacy, yes, but also as a connector and place to gather – and I am thrilled to get to attend this upcoming fundraising gala to support Houston’s.

Of course, the opportunity to hang out with local authors and bookish folks is a big draw too. I know that whether I win the award or not, it will be a magical experience!

If you’d like to support my nomination, you can VOTE here before September 20th.

Good luck to all the finalists!

“Sure to inspire the next generation of aviators”: Reader Review of Alis the Aviator

Thanks to Storytime with Stephanie for this thoughtful review!

Oh the alphabet book…so, so many on the market so how does an author, illustrator or publisher set theirs apart from the crowd? Well first you tap the incomparable Kalpna Patel (aka @ghostfaceknitter) as your illustrator and then you choose a somewhat uncommon subject, throw in a little history lesson and you have a unique alphabet book sure to inspire the next generation of aviators. Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail choose real life pilot Dr. Alis Kennedy as her inspiration for Alis the Aviator an alphabet book full of flying machines, 26 to be exact. While this book is very interesting and will certainly appeal to those young fans of flying machines and adventure but it’s the illustrations that take it to the next level.

The incredibly talented Kalpna Patel creates the most gorgeous vignettes all made from cut paper. The detail in this book is out of this world. Each and every detail in the illustrations is intentional and precise. It’s vivid and playful and so engaging. If you want to see more of her work, you may already be familiar if you ever peak in the windows at Type Books and Type Book Junction in Toronto. Her cut paper designs grace the windows of these lovely independent bookstores and she also organizes the craftapalooza City of Craft.

Now back to the story itself, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail gives us a lovely flowing rhyming adventure featuring different historical means of flying. This book is lovely for a read aloud or to curl up and learn more about flight. It’s the historical information and photographs of Dr. Alis Kennedy at the back that will extend the life of this book beyond the early years. Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and designer Kelly Hill’s inspiration to include not only information about Alis, who not only a pilot but a veteran of the Canadian Navy Reserve and a humanitarian, but also information about all the modes of flight found in the book. Such an important choice to ensure this book weaves its way into readers hearts for years.

Teachers love Alis the Aviator!

It has been so heartening to hear from readers of all backgrounds. I love that teachers all over the place are using Alis the Aviator to connect their classes with aviation, history, and women’s stories!

This review just came to me from a kindergarten teacher and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

My kids love pointing out airplanes and helicopters when they see them in the sky – there’s something so magical about human flight! That’s one of the reasons Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail’s Alis the Aviator makes for such an engaging ABC book. Built around the aviation theme, this book offers kids (and parents!) a glimpse into the history of aviation in Canada.

Amazingly, there’s a different aircraft for every letter, prompting lots of potential discussion around the different types of planes and their functions. Kalpna Patel’s cut paper illustrations beautifully render the aircraft-along with landscapes around Canada-in a way that captures the child-like wonder inspired by flight; they are at once magical and accessible, pulling kids into the book and inspiring questions about the different crafts.

If that weren’t already enough, the book includes a biography of Alis Kennedy, one of the first Indigenous commercial pilots in Canada (after whom the book is titled) and a glossary that gives additional information about each of the aircraft mentioned in the book. So much fun packed in one little alphabet book! 

Special deal on Alis the Aviator through CAHS!

If you’re looking to buy a copy of Alis the Aviator and support a terrific aviation history organization at the same time, I encourage you to order through the Canadian Aviation Historical Society!

When I started researching my first book – For the Love of Flying – back in 2007, it was the CAHS that helped me track down the best resources and connections. After becoming a member and volunteer, I moved into the role of president (the first woman to hold that position in the organization’s 50-year history!). I appreciate their commitment to preserving and celebrating Canadian stories for future generations, and I’m so glad I got to partner up with them on this.

Click here for more information on ordering your copies!

Orders need to be in by September 15, 2019!

Hot Houston Fun at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum

It was a scorching summer day, but with music, ice cream, and lots of planes, we had a blast sharing Alis the Aviator with more folks in Houston!

More great photos and coverage of the day by Mark Reyes at Houston Press!

Mile High Fun with Alis the Aviator!

What a blast this weekend in Denver, Colorado! Thank you so much to the folks at Second Star to the Right bookstore, who invited me in to do story time on Saturday. I got to meet some adorable future aviators, eat these delicious cookies, and talk about books and writing with new friends.

And, of course, I got to spend lots of time with good writing pal, Laura Mitzner, who is creating smart and relatable YA with psychological twists. It was so neat to be working on our manuscripts-in-process in the Garden of the Gods and the Botanical Gardens.

I feel like great things are growing in Denver and can’t wait to get back soon for another visit!

Flying into Fun at the Lone Star Flight Museum

It was so lovely to share Alis the Aviator with little plane nuts and their families last week in Houston! My son, Andre, was my co-pilot during these story times, which was so neat since I wrote the book for him in 2014 back in Edmonton.

Celebrate Kalpna Patel’s Amazing Artwork!

If you live in the Toronto area, go to Type Books on Thursday, July 11th from 630-830pm to meet the incredible illustrator for Alis the Aviator.

The party is FREE and open to the public.

Get event details and RSVPby clicking here!

And if you can’t make the event, check out this cool behind-the-scenes video about Kalpna’s cut-paper art creations.

If you’re a subscriber to Quill & Quire magazine, you can also check out the feature they just did on her. It’s really great!

Interview on Book Echoes



Thanks to my friend and critique partner, Connie B. Dowell, for interviewing me on her podcast! It’s my first one focused on children’s writing but also strays into all the parts of the writing life I’m passionate about (in under 15 min) 

We were huddled around her iphone recording this at one of the Houston Library locations last month.

Connie is a history geek like me and writes YA historical mysteries. Her latest release is Dead Man’s Jazz!

The Houston Chronicle features Alis the Aviator!

It was great to chat with Joy Sewing last week for a bit about Alis the Aviator. And I was excited to learn about her book for young people, Ava and the Prince: The Adventure of Two Rescue Pups (I love animals so much – rescue dogs especially!).

Thanks again, Joy!

“With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, children’s book authors are celebrating the milestone with an array of titles focused on everything from space exploration to aviation.

One of the these is “Alis the Aviator” by Missouri City resident and Canadian native Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail about the life of Dr. Alis Kennedy, the first Indigenous woman to obtain a commercial pilot’s licence in Canada. Metcalfe-Chenail will be doing a story time at the Lone Star Flight Museum, 11551 Aerospace Ave., at 9:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. (Tickets are $5 per person; free for 3 and under.)

“I grew up around aviation, so there was lots of exploration in my childhood,” Metcalfe-Chenail said. “In flight and in space, there’s this sense of following your dreams.”

Click here to read the whole article and see the other featured books, including:

  • Look Up With Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars”
    by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Lorraine Nam (currently on my desk as a mentor book for a work in progress!)
  • “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon”
    by Joyce Lapin and illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli
  • “Out There” by Tom Sullivan
  • “Destination Moon” by Seymour Simon
  • “Baby Astronaut” by Dr. Laura Gehl and Daniel Wiseman


© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.