Sunday 1 April 2012

The Meaning Of Children ebook FREE today on Amazon

You are all cordially invited 

to download  

FREE for a limited time. 

Enjoy (and no, this is NOT an April Fool's joke!) 

The Meaning Of Children ebook

TMOC is a wonderful book...

but don't just take MY word for it.

Or my mother's!! 

Please find below a selection of the honours accorded my work and also some of the many, many positive comments that have come my way...

Tooting my own horn did not come naturally to me, but it's what first-time authors with small literary publishers must do to help their books find a readership...

  • 2010 David Adams Richards Prize
  • Top 10, CBC-Scotiabank Giller Readers’ Choice Contest
  • Book of the Month, Eleanor London Cote Saint-Luc Public Library

To whet your appetite for this award winning and well-reviewed

collection, here are a slew of reader and reviewer comments 

(I'd love to add yours to the list!)

         Reader and Reviewer Response to Beverly Akerman’s  
                         The Meaning Of Children:

A keen, incisive vision into the hidden world of children as well as intimate knowledge of the secret spaces that exist between the everyday events of life. A work with a brilliant sense of story…Magical, and so refreshing for me to read. I absolutely loved it and I hope it goes on to do marvellous things. Yours is a luminous talent.
~JoAnne Soper-Cook, Author and Judge, 2010 David Adams Richards Prize

Really liked it…there are all kinds of gems in your stories.
~David Gutnick, writer-broadcaster, CBC Radio

Loved your book; read it in one sitting. Each [story] is either told by a child, or about a child. And it’s interesting because I think depending on the age of the person reading it, you relate to different ones. But especially to feminists, growing up with it, wrestling with our beliefs, and whether it worked out or not… a lot of women in this book are trapped. We were trapped by what we were brought up to believe. And then we’re trapped by the marriages we find ourselves in, and the children we have… But on the other hand, each story ends with a certain resolve. There’s that sense of okay this is my situation, but. And that’s what the meaning of children is. It’s about hope. It’s about the future.
~Mutsumi Takahashi, Anchor, CTV News Montreal (interview )

A collection of 14 short stories which covers the range of experience from the point of view of children, mums, and also aging parents as well. It’s all there in this lovely little book, short stories about life in a family that might just resemble yours. I wanted to congratulate you on the publication of this book and I hope it goes far far afield for you. A wonderful gift for mother’s day, perhaps more long lived than the usual cut flowers.
~Anne Lagacé Dowson, CJAD Radio journalist (interview )

This isn’t the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment…[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body.
~Katie Hewitt, The Globe & Mail
Akerman holds up our greatest fears, not to dwell on them, but to marvel at our commitment to life, especially to passing it on to others.
~Anne Chudobiak, The Montreal Gazette
Haunting and powerfully emotive, drawing on the subtleties of childhood, youth and parenthood that undermine us in strange and unexpected ways. Your writing is polished and mature, something I am always in awe of and why I got into publishing to begin with.
~Meghan Macdonald, Transatlantic Literary Agency

Akerman engages with dichotomies. Childhood is that safe, magical, carefree time and place — but it’s also risky, threatening, ominous and dangerous — full of impenetrable mystery around things seen and experienced, but beyond understanding. And if it’s not too much of a simplification or stating the obvious, life and the world are not gentle on children simply for being children…If, as Dostoevsky once remarked, and as is quoted on the collection’s frontispiece, “The soul is healed by being with children,” it is the tragedy of adulthood that we become so isolated from childhood — and what children offer us. Artfully, evocatively, Beverly Akerman’s The Meaning of Children reminds us of that.

Beverly’s background as a scientist, MSc and twenty years as a molecular researcher, inevitably spills into the stories…characters, the settings and her style. Intelligent, objective, open-minded but not clinical, her prose is refreshing and unprejudiced. Her characters are frank and genuine ...With The Meaning of Children, we get a beautifully written exposé on the meaning of life.
~Francine Diot-Layton, The Rover ( )

Just finished “Like Jeremy Irons.” That was a tough one. Saying I loved it feels contrary to the agony I'm feeling right now. (Perhaps I shouldn't have settled into it with a glass of wine?) Awesome writing - even if my uterus is cramping!
~Lisa Dalrymple, Winner of The Writers Union of Canada’s 2011 Writing for Children Competition 

Excellent book. Very well written. I felt like I wanted to read an entire book for each chapter rather than a short story. Very engaging. Worth reading.
~Suzanne Bowles, freelance writer, on Goodreads (5 stars)

Counter-intuitive to the title, for me these stories resonate with the sad truth of being a grownup. Life is that damn hard and just-under-the-surface tension saturates our existence. But the kids, they know what's going on. They may not understand all the details but they know the score. Akerman nails that sorrow, highlights it with unexpected humour, credits our resilience and almost never skips a beat.
~Chris Benjamin, Author of Drive-by Saviours, on Goodreads (4 stars)

Your book is filled with insight and wisdom and gorgeous moving stories...You are dazzling. (I had read “Pie” long ago. It is just as moving the second time).
~Hal Ackerman (no relation), UCLA Screenwriting Area Co-Chair and author of Stein Stoned and Stein Stung

Exploring the dark side of the maternal and matrimonial experience is both relevant and valuable, and Akerman is to be commended for her choice of subject matter.
~B.A. Markus, Montreal Review of Books

All I seem to read these days are parenting books. But I think I might be learning more about being a parent from Beverly Akerman's The Meaning of Children than from anywhere else. I can't put it down.
~Jenn Hardy, Writer, Editor and Blogger at

I adore your knack for leaving questions hanging in the reader's mind…and then there are those thought provoking zingers tucked neatly inside the last thought, description or action of your narrators. I haven't enjoyed short stories like this since Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy and Alice Munro.
~Rusti Lehay, Writer and Editor

Beverly Akerman is what Alice Munro was supposed to be.
~Mike Rose (received by my publisher, via email) 

A life-altering read is so rare for me, and I imagine for many writers, with a critical eye often hard to keep closed while hoping to get caught up and swept away while reading fiction for pleasure...Her stories are as diverse as her changing career path and yet string together a theme as connected as a genetic chain…Children weave their way through every tale…always sparking the reader to question where in all these stories sits their own story.
~Michelle Greysen, Writer, Editor, and Blogger 

I really enjoyed this book. If you like short story collections a la Alice Munro style, I think you will too.
~Julie Harrison, Writer, Editor, and Blogger

[You show us how] our childhood experiences affect us forever. And what we bury comes to the surface from time to time…The story about the woman who couldn't touch anything without it dying was sad and funny - loved the boys next door - and I liked PIE - as you have now given me a simple recipe that I can remember for pie crust -I am a baker. And the poor woman who had entered probably menopause and her marriage had broken without her noticing it. She was just so angry and exhausted. So many women I feel are and hide it.
~Carlene Orefici, via Facebook

I enjoyed The Meaning of Children so much that I wished there were twice as many stories! If I had to pick one, “Pour Un Instant” was my favourite. I was sad to come to the end of the book.
~Lisa De Nikolits, Author of The Hungry Mirror, on 

A great read. I loved this book. The stories are touching without being overly maudlin. It's a true literary feat while remaining a fairly light, pleasurable read.
~Alison Palkhivala, Writer and Editor, on

This morning I wrote to a friend in Victoria. I told her: ‘I finished Beverly Akerman's book and really liked it. The theme throughout is children: being a child, being pregnant, abortion, losing a child, being a father, giving a child for adoption. Touchy stuff but she has such kindness, such compassion and infuses hope and love in the saddest situation. She offers unique and surprising insights, it's never sappy or cliché. All this within the short story frame, quite a feat in my opinion. If you can't find her book, I'll send you my copy.’ Thank you for writing such an amazing book and for promoting yourself at the gym. It was a bold and creative move. I would have not known about your writing otherwise.
~Diane Des Roches, budding writer

Comments from editors and contest judges Akerman’s stories: 

“Emotional and tightly written.”
~David Bright, Gemini Magazine
“Solid and very funny. Great stuff!”
~Karl Jirgens, Editor, Rampike

“Oh, it's lovely. I like it when my body responds to writing; right now there's an ache in my throat.”
~Susan Rendell, EarLit Shorts
“The judges liked…the resistance to the happy ending, and the idea that there is often something or someone waiting for the small mistake.”
~The Writers’ Union of Canada, 2007 Short Prose Competition Jury 

“I love the mystery and the fear in this story--the ending works so well.”
~Colleen Donfield, The Sun 

“I entered all the changes…[and] just read (again) the whole thing out loud...What a fantastic essay! I love it more with each reading!”
~Sylvia Legris, Editor, Grain Magazine

The Meaning Of Children, paperback, $19.95 at,, and in fine stores.

Entries from the CBC-Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers’ Choice Contest:
Johanna from Kelowna: "As a social worker in child protection I really appreciated the focus and the insights into the lives of children demonstrated in the work The Meaning of Children by Beverly Akerman. Our children are our future and deserve more attention, love and nurturing. Beverly's book is a method to that purpose; she touched my heart to its core."

Kathe from Montreal: "I have been savouring the stories one by one. I don't want this book to end. She writes so simply but powerfully, and her characters stay with you."

B Maurene from Montreal: "If the reality of Akerman's skilful weaving of tales that can be all too true of the way parents, families, and cultures place their hopes and dreams on children hits home to contemporary child bearers, she could be building a better world. Few who embark on the journey of parenting ever realize how great the responsibilities are or how to meet the individual needs of children, particularly those with difficulties. A should read for college and university students, and a must read, among the hundreds of pregnancy and child rearing how-to manuals, for parents attending pre-natal classes."

Marla of Thunder Bay: "Beverly Akerman is an extraordinary writer and I believe she deserves it."

Suzan of Ottawa: "It was an absolute joy to read. I laughed out loud at some stories and wept shamelessly at others, all the while savouring every skilfully handpicked word. One cannot read The Meaning of Children and not be moved in some way by the stories therein. It is a beautiful quilt, made of exquisitely crafted pieces which when taken as a whole is so much more than a sum of its parts."

Eva from Maple Ridge: "The Meaning of Children should win because it is important for the reader to view situation from the child's perspective."

Lynn from Belle River: "Beverly Akerman would be a good candidate. Enlightening and refreshing."
Paula from Cornwall: "In her book The Meaning of Children, Beverly Akerman gives us a snap shot of the reality of childhood in diverse family situations. As and educator, I understand too clearly that the reality that childhood is not always a "Norman Rockwell" moment, but rather is a reflection of the very complex perception of an individual child, whether pleasant or challenging, the question remains, is the individual child free to be themselves or are they encouraged to put on a mask to face their personal circumstances?"

Rusti of Stony Plain: "This collection of short stories was stunning, captivating, wrenching and hopeful. I wanted more when I finished the book."

Ken from Saskatoon: "The author's insight into the minds of children and the lives touched by those around them allow the reader to truly appreciate how impressionable these young minds are, and how the events in our lives can effect how children perceive, and register them. It also reminds me of how important my son is to me, as when I face conflict or stress in my life, all of the problems disappear intantly when I see him smile at me."

Kayla from Timmins: "This author should make it to this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize because she writes books on life's reality which is a subject that may teach kids like adults about some of life's matters."
Rocio from Mississauga: "I think Beverly Akerman, with The Meaning of Children, should be considered, because throughout her book she shows how children can change our world, with their hearts, dreams and tenderness. They do not even know how much this world changes for the best just because they are part of it, and that is really touching and marvellous."

Pauline from Montreal: "Beverly Akerman's The Meaning of Children takes an eyes-wide-open look at real families. No sentimentality here yet there's a ring of truth to the often quirky situations people find themselves in that made me smile with recognition. A wry smile at times, but Akerman writes pitch-perfect prose. This is Canadian story-telling at its best."

Felicia from Boisseavain:"The book touches on a lot of the biggest parental 'what ifs.' Kidnapping. Hate crime. Death by drowning. Suicide. Even so, it would make a good gift for a new mother. Akerman holds up our greatest fears, not to dwell on them, but to marvel at our commitment to life, especially to passing it on to others. Says one character, looking back, 'Life had been perfect ' but I'd been too busy to notice."

Valerie from Toronto: "As an early childhood educator I feel it really conveys the voices of children and parents in our society."

Frances from Port Coquitlam: "An in depth look at the inner turmoils of a child's life and/or those who care for them and how life experiences can have such an impact on our stories and journeys through life. An interesting study on this subject."

Kimberly from Shawnigan Lake: "I believe Beverly Akerman's, The Meaning of Children has amazing insight with its many stories. I loved them all, Life is what happens in the meantime. Great read and would highly recommend."

Mona from ND Ile Perrot:"I'd like to suggest Beverly Akerman. Her book, The Meaning of Children is written with a refreshing sincerity. Loved it!"

Carrie from Spruce Grove: "I think that it takes a special kind of skill to coordinate short stories into a piece that is well written and thought provoking- without losing one's initial objectives."

Crystal from Nanaimo: "The Meaning of Children is my submission as it is told through the voices of children. What can be better than to hear 14 different stories of growing up and dealing with important issues? Each child tells their stories so vividly and honestly, you feel sorry for them, as if you know them. This book is extremely well written and gripping."

Catherine from Whitby: "Well written, captivating perspectives on life's stages."

Rajini from Canada: "I think that Beverly Akerman should make the long list. Akerman's The Meaning of Children is a dark, thought-provoking read that is certainly worthy of the 2011 Giller Prize."

Comments from readers of the award winning “Pie,” from The Meaning Of Children:

Your voice is so distinctive, and the story leaves me aching. Wonderfully meaningful writing. 

A superb voice. 

Got a lump in my throat from this one. Who knew one can write about pie to this effect? I like the way you compare men to pies "holding them close is the making of men, not the ruining" and then in the next paragraph say "but you can only compare a boy and a pie so far" when talking about mending there are always scars. I also like the way the mother tries to mask her scars and her grief, but can't. And it’s the not making pies anymore that’s the most telling.

This is so well set up, and at the end you get that "oh, no" feeling. The ending hurts; I agree with Beate. Wonderfully written; deft and powerful ending.

This is a marvelous piece. Great work, Beverly. Made me think of Patty Griffin's song "Making Pies".
I made pies your way for 20 years, wonderful - crisco, ummm - no more - we worry too much about cholesterol. But we are still alive, so phooey! A great piece.

Nice story. I'm craving some pie now. Can't wait to get back to the US and smother my face in all that fatty deliciousness.

Nicely done to perfection. Smells good too.

Love the voice of this story. I'd listen to all kinds from this narrator. Front porch stuff. Let's get this on tape stuff. The live forever stuff.

What everyone else said. Times three. Just beautiful.

Holy-boly, Bev. Yeah, I cried when where this was going broke through the crust. "But you can only compare a boy and a pie so far." What a blood-pie of a story. Hit the heart. Great work. 

This is a magnificent story. Touched an benchmark of elemental sadness on the human scale, but ever so lightly, ever so lightly...

Such a strong voice I can hear her in my mind. Literary fiction at its best! 


Like Water for Pie. This is wonderful, and yes such an alive and honest voice. Well done! 

Love the deceptive simplicity of the voice, love the way the emotion crept up on me and then overtook me. Love.

Congratulations on your top contender finish in the Glass Woman Prize, Beverly! I love this story so very much. I adore the voice and style of the narrator, and the way she works through the story, through the heartache, until we share it too. And the pie! Love it.

So deftly balanced, the literal and the foreboding..."one thing I know, holding them close is the making of men, not the ruining." And then very near the end: The tart bleeding into the sweet. Oh, my I'd like another piece of pie...Big lump in the throat fav!

Amazing story. It deserves every honor.


And finally, if anyone's bothered to read this far (aside from my parents), here is a list of selected awards and recognitions for my creative writing...which I've only been doing since 2004:


2012 National Magazine Award submissions (two)
2011 Finalist, Aesthetica Magazine Creative Works Competition (UK)
2011 Top 10, CBC-Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers’ Choice Contest
2011 Winner, Short Article Writing Award, Professional Writers Association of Canada
2011 Honourable Mention, Features Writing Award, Professional Writers Association of Canada
2011 Finalist, Colophon Prize, Enfield & Wizenty (declined)
2011 National Magazine Award submission
2011 Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction and nonfiction
2010 Commendations List, Aesthetica Magazine Creative Works Competition (UK)
2010 Travel Grant and Reading Support from Canada Council/Playwrights Guild of Canada
2010 Editor’s Choice Award, Best New Writing 2011/Eric Hoffer Prize
2010 First Prize, The Vocabula Review Well-Written Writing Contest
2010 Finalist, 7th Glass Woman Prize
2010 David Adams Richards Prize, Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick
2010 Pushcart Prize nomination
2010 Best of the Net nomination (Sundress Publications)
2009 First Prize, Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest
2009 Canada Council Travel Grant
2009 Writing Studio, The Banff Centre for the Arts (Five-week residency)
2009 Honourable Mention, Potomac Review Fiction Contest
2008 Second Prize, Sheldon Currie Fiction Prize
2008 Honourable Mention, David Adams Richards Prize, Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick
2008 Summer Fishtrap Fellowship
2007 Finalist, TWUC Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers
2007 First Prize, Fog City Writers Short Story Contest
2005 Finalist, TWUC Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers

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