Alex Van Tol has the bit between her teeth in recent years. In the spring of 2015 the Victoria freelance writer and editor is releasing her ninth and tenth titles in less than five years, while continuing to work on an adult novel.

Along with her third non-fiction title-this one for the Royal B.C. Museum-Van Tol, a self-described 'recreational list maker,' has fashioned another very serious novel for young readers; this time about an over-anxious teen named Chick who feels burdened by his father's overbearing and impossible expectations. Chick copes by making lists, lots and lots of lists. It helps a lot to have a budding romance with Audrey on his debating team, but her advice to simply confront his father is hard to take. Never concede defeat once you've even raised your sword, she tells him. Chick: Lister (Orca $9.95) is for 10-14-year-olds.

The non-fiction title is Aliens Among Us: Animals and Plants in British Columbia That Don't Belong Here (RBCM $19.95) for 8-12-year-olds. It identifies more than 50 species of animals and plants that have invaded British Columbia. Promotional material states: "Would you know what to do if Dalmatian Toadflax or Giant Hogweed landed in your neighbourhood?... Van Tol exposes the invaders, and explains both how they got here and what they're doing to the environment. In this first-ever children's book published by the Royal BC Museum, Van Tol has harvested the knowledge of museum biologists to alert the next generation of responsible environmentalists. Her list of serious invaders includes the colourfully named Purple Loosestrife, Violet Tunicates, Eastern Grey Squirrels and Yellow Perch, which tend to take over an area and crowd out or destroy native species. She names the creatures that can eat their way through an ecosystem, like Smallmouth Bass, Gypsy Moths and American Bullfrogs, and the vandals like Norway Rats and European Starlings that cause damage to property. Van Tol also points out the species that might cause serious harm to humans and other animals, such as Rockpool Mosquitoes, Giant Hogweed and Poison Hemlock. Some aliens, like European Wall Lizards and Giant Garden Slugs, haven't yet posed problems in BC - at least not that we're aware of - but they still need to be watched. And finally, Van Tol raises the alert on species that haven't yet arrived but may be coming soon, like Northern Snakeheads, Fence Lizards and Zebra Mussels."

In Van Tol's young adult story, Knifepoint (Orca, 2010), Jill is enduring a brutal summer job on a mountain ranch, guiding wannabe-cowboys on trail rides. On a solo ride with a handsome stranger she ends up in a fight for her life with no one to help her. Knifepoint was also published in Spanish in 2011.

Her second young adult novel, Gravity Check (Orca, 2011), concerns a boy named Jamie who stumbles upon a marijuana grow-up operation during his mountain biking camp in the backcountry.

In Van Tol's third book for young readers, Viral (Orca, 2011), Mike falls in unrequited love with his best friend, Lindsay - who is suddenly part of the 'in' crowd. When she gets drunk at a party and someone films her in an uncompromising situation, the footage goes viral - and it's up to Mike to help her.

BOOKS:

Sonia Sotomayor: U.S. Supreme Court Justice (biography) (Crabtree Publishing Company 2010)

Dolores Huerta: Voice for the Working Poor (biography) (Crabtree Publishing Company 2010)

Knifepoint (Orca, 2010) 9781554693054 $9.95

Gravity Check (Orca, 2011) 9781554693498 $9.95

Viral (Orca, 2011) 9781554694112 $9.95

Knifepoint (Published by Orca in Spanish, 2011) 9781554698639 $9.95

Redline (Orca, 2011) 9781554698936 $9.95

Oracle (Orca, 2012) 9781459801325 $9.95

Shallow Grave (Orca 2012) $9.95 978-1-4598-0202-5

Chick: Lister (Orca Currents 2015) $9.95 9781459810006 [Ages 10-14]

Aliens Among Us: Animals and Plants in British Columbia That Don't Belong Here (RBCM 2015) $19.95 (Ages 8-12) 978-0-7726-6853-0

Liam Hemsworth (Crabtree Publishing, 2015) $9.95 978-0778780830

Dead Man?s Curve (Leap Books, 2016) 978-1616030810


Food Freak (Orca 2016) $9.95 978-1-4598-1339-7

Great Bear Rainforest: A Giant-Screen Adventure in the Land of the Spirit Bear (Orca 2019) $29.95 978-1-4598-2279-5. Co-writer Ian McAllister

[BCBW 2019]