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Rachna Gilmore

Rachna Gilmore was born in India in 1953 and lived in Bombay. Her family moved to England when she was a teenager. Gilmore completed a B.Sc. (hon.) at Kings College, London. Upon moving to Canada, she completed a B.Ed. at the University of Prince Edward Island. Gilmore is a prolific, widely respected writer of literature for children and young adults, but she has also written fiction for adults using the pseudonym Rachna Mara. She lived in Ottawa from 1990 until her death on February 1, 2021.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Aunt Fred is a Witch

Illustrated by Chum McLeod.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1991.
PZ7 .G5536 A96 1991

Synopsis (from the National Library of Canada catalogue record)

When Leila is invited to spend the weekend with her Aunt Fred, she takes a necklace of garlic because her cousin Jeremy claims that Aunt Fred is a witch.

Awards and Honours

1991 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Catching Time

Illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin
Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Scurry and worry, bustle and whirl. When a family’s hectic schedule leaves no room for family fun, Sara decides to take matters into her own hands. With a preserve jar from Mom’s cupboard in one hand, and a butterfly net in the other, she sets out to capture time itself. But where can it be? Is it underneath a desk, or is it twinkling in the sunlight?

Fiction (Juvenile, chapter book)

Ellen’s Terrible TV Troubles

Illustrated by John Mardon.
Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1999.

Fiction (Juvenile, chapter book)

Fangs and Me

Illustrated by Gordon Sauvé.
Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1999.

Awards and Honours

1999 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Flute

Illustrated by Pulak Biswas.
Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2011.
PZ7 .G5536 F58 2011

Publisher’s Synopsis

Her parents swept away by a catastrophic flood, Chandra finds solace in her mother’s flute. Set in India, The Flute is an enchanting tale of the power of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.

Fiction (Juvenile, Novel)

A Friend Like Zilla

Toronto: Second Story Press, 1995.

Awards and Honours

1995 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice
1996 International Reading Association Children’s Book Award (Nominated)
1996 Mr. Christie Book Award (Nominated)
1996 Silver Birch Award–Ontario Library Association (Nominated)
1998 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award (Nominated)

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

A Gift for Gita

Illustrated by Alice Priestley.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1998.
PZ7 .G5536 G54 1998

Awards and Honours

1999 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice
2002 Saskatchewan Young Reader’s Choice Award for Grades K-3 (Nominated)

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Grandpa’s Clock

Illustrated by Amy Meissner.
Vancouver: Orca Book Publishers, 2006.
PZ7 .G5536 G73 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis

“Slow and steady,” that’s how you make a grandfather clock. Grandpa should know. He and Cayley have made many clocks together. Now they are making Cayley’s very own, a Lord Nelson. Then, one night, Cayley awakes to the sound of a siren. Grandpa is gone.

Fiction (Juvenile, Novel)

A Group of One

New York: Henry Holt, 2001.
Markham, ON: Fitzenhry and Whiteside, 2004.

Synopsis (from the National Library of Canada catalogue record for the Holt ed.)

Learning from her grandmother that her family was active in the Quit India movement of 1942, a rebellion against nearly two centuries of British occupation, gives fifteen-year-old Tara new pride in her heritage, but she still objects when her teacher implies she is
not a “regular Canadian.”

Awards and Honours

2002 Bank Street College of Education–The Best Children’s Books of the Year
2002 Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Choices
2002 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, Honor Book
2002 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age List

Island Morning book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Island Morning

Illustrated by Brenda Jones.
Charlottetown, PEI: Acorn Press, 2015.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Island Morning is a gentle story of a girl and her grandfather’s early morning walk through the fields of Prince Edward Island. On their journey, they see gentle pastures, farm animals, scenic vistas and a glorious sunrise. But this walk is about more than just viewing the beautiful scenery. It is also about the special time between grandfather and granddaughter and how they see the world through each other’s eyes.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Jane’s Loud Mouth

Illustrations by Kimberly Hart.
Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Ragweed Press,1990.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Lights for Gita

Illustrated by Alice Priestley.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1994.
PZ7 .G5536 L54 1994

Awards and Honours

1994 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice
1995 American Bookseller Pick of the Lists

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Making Grizzle Grow

Illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts.
Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2007.
PZ7 .G5536 M34 2007

Publisher’s Synopsis

An imaginative, endearing story about what happens when your temper gets the better of you. Making Grizzle Grow is also about love–the kind that doesn’t disappear just because you get mad.

Fiction (Juvenile, Novel)

Mina’s Spring of Colors

Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2000.

Awards and Honours

2001 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice Award
2001 Silver Birch Award–Ontario Library Association (Nominated)
2001-02 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award (Nominated)

My Mothe is Weird book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

My Mother is Weird

Illustrations by Brenda Jones
Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Ragweed Press, 1988.
Charlottetown, PEI: Acorn Press, 2012.

Fiction (Short stories)

Of Customs and Excise: Short Fiction

Published under the pseudonym: Rachna Mara.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1991.
PS8576 .A73 O38 1991

Publisher’s Synopsis

From India to England to Canada – stories of women whose lives are intertwined in a clash of cultures, class and race.
… Mara links together a number of very different women. As they strive to escape the confines of traditions and duties, the women become irrevocably joined across oceans and decades.

Awards and Honours

1992 Commonwealth Book Awards–Best First Book (Canada and Caribbean Region) (Nominated)
1993 Ottawa-Carleton Book Award (Nominated)

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Roses for Gita

Illustrated by Alice Priestley.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1996.
PZ7 .G5536 R67 1996

Awards and Honours

1996 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

A Screaming Kind of Day

Illustrated by Gordon Sauvé.
Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1999.

Awards and Honours

1999 Governor General’s Literary Award-Children’s Literature, Text, English language (Winner)
1999 Chapters Write for Canada selection
2000 Canadian Children’s Book Centre starred selection

Fiction (Juvenile, Novel)

The Sower of Tales

Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2005.

Fiction (Juvenile)

That Boy Red

Toronto: HarperTrophy Canada, 2011.

Awards and Honours

2011 OLA Best Bets for Children and Young Adults (Ontario Library Association)–Junior Category (Honourable Mention)
2012 CLA Book of the Year for Children Award (Canadian Library Association) (Honour Book)
2012 Silver Birch Award-Fiction (Forest of Reading, Ontario Library Association) (Nominee)

Fiction (Juvenile)

The Trouble With Dilly

Toronto: HarperTrophy Canada, 2009.

Publisher’s Synopis

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.  Dilly decides she must do something 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.


Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)


Illustrations by Sally J.K. Davies.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1989.



Illustrations by Renné Benoit.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 2006.
PZ7 .G5536 W43 2007

Publisher’s Synopsis

A little girl can’t measure up to her mother’s perfect behaviour as a child — until Grandma visits and reveals what her mother was really like!

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Wild Rilla

Illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1997.
PZ7 .G5536 W45 1997

Anthology (Memoir, Juvenile)

Gilmore, Rachna. “Snapshots From the Fringes.” In Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting Into Canada, edited by Teresa Toten. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2010, 17-28.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Chilana, Rajwant Singh. “Rachna Gilmore.” In South Asian Writers in Canada: A Bio-Bibliographical Study. Surrey, BC: Asian Publications, 2017, 247-248.
Z1376 .S68 C45 2017

Rahman, Shazia. “Resisting Women: Orientalism, Diaspora, and Gender.” Ph.D. diss., University of Alberta, 2002.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses


Rachna Gilmore obituary that first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen around Feb. 13, 2021

Entry from Writers Union of Canada

Profile by Dave Jenkinson from CM Magazine

Publisher Acorn Press

Publisher Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Publisher HarperCollins Canada

Orca Book Publishers

Publisher Red Deer Press

Publisher Second Story Press.

Canadian Children’s Book Centre