Barbara Nickel

Children’s Books

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla Book Cover


Barbara Nickel’s 2021 middle-grade novel

Cousins Peter and Ulla were born on the same day but continents apart, Ulla in Danzig and Peter in a Mennonite farming community in Saskatchewan. Though they’ve never met, they’ve become close friends through the many letters they write to one another, until the outbreak of World War Two interrupts their conversation.

Are they supposed to consider one another enemies now that Canada and Germany are at war? While Peter deals with Bruno, a bullying neighbour boy, Ulla is secretly aiding Erwina, a Polish friend severely burned after her home in the Polish Post Office was attacked by the Nazis.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla will have readers in thrall to the entwined lives of these two fiercely intelligent cousins who must confront issues of bullying, prejudice, and racial violence—some of the most challenging issues of their time, and ours.

“A thought-provoking read for ages 10-14, Dear Peter Dear Ulla provides a very human story of a critical time in history and in the lives of two adolescent children and their families…”

Highly Recommended by Canadian Review of Materials, December 2021. Read full review here. 

“Thought-provoking and well-paced, with much emotional depth and sensitivity, Nickel has created a moving and immersive portrayal of place and time, full of hope and exemplary courage–a must-have addition to any home library and an exceptional resource for classrooms and public libraries everywhere. Very highly recommended.”

Review in Canadian Children’s Book News, Spring 2022

The Mozart GIRL

Wolfgang Mozart’s sister was also a musical genius. This is the story that could have been…

Nannerl Mozart’s twelfth birthday wish is to become a famous composer. She’s already considered a brilliant musician, touring Europe with her little brother Wolfgang and playing the clavier for queens and kings in the great courts. But Papa doesn’t take her seriously as a composer, Mama usually has a list of household chores for her, and Wolfi always manages to steal everybody’s attention. This novel blends fact and fiction to bring the eighteenth century world of the talented young Mozart siblings to life.

This is a reissue by Second Story Press of Barbara’s children’s novel The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart. A new title and cover but the same story of the famous composer’s talented older sister for a new generation of young readers.

Purchase the book from Second Story Press

  • Christie Book Award Nominee
  • Red Cedar Award Nominee
  • Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Nominee
  • A Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” Selection


Boy Asked The Wind


A boy asks the wind, “Where do you live?” and follows it around the world on a pounding, rollicking, sea-foaming adventure in search of the answer.

A picture book for readers aged 7-10, with text in subtly-linked, beautifully-composed stanzas, A Boy Asked the Wind evokes winds around the world, including those in the Canadian west, off the coast of Nicaragua, Capetown and the Middle East. The illustrations are muscular and organic evocations of the power of those winds.

Illustrations by Gillian Newland

“The beautiful mixed-media illustrations are a good match for the lyrical prose.”

~Kirkus Reviews

“In this celebration of the winds of the world, poet Barbara Nickel embeds a subtle message of global unity and peace…Nickel’s poetry is stunning, vibrant with verbs and gerunds…The pictures are energetic and give us information about the various locations.”

~Quill & Quire

Read entire Quill and Quire review:

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A Boy Asked the Wind has been selected as a starred choice in Best Books for Kids and Teens 2016 published by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre:

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  • Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award Nominee
  • Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee
  • B.C. Chocolate Lily Award Nominee

Red Deer Press
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From the Top of a Grain Elevator

Children’s poetry that celebrates the seasons on the Canadian Prairies.

Take a late night combine ride at harvest, watch a brilliant quilt of northern lights or make a secret fort beneath the caraganas; these poems – written in a variety of poetic forms and rich in imagery, sound and rhythm, celebrate the sights and sounds of Barbara Nickel’s prairie roots. Kathy Thiessen’s black and white etchings perfectly complement Nickel’s verse.

Images by Kathy Thiessen

Teacher’s Guide also available

“Her [Barbara Nickel’s] collection for young readers is beautifully organized…In this collection she shows that she can write for the young with virtuosity and clarity…The sensory richness of the book makes it universal: it will make sense in St. John’s and Victoria because the writing recreates the experience…”

~ Canadian Children’s Literature

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” selection

Dundurn Press
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Teacher’s Guide:
Available free from Dundurn Press


Hannah Waters
and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach

An unforgettable tale of two lonely girls, born centuries and continents apart, whose music changes each other’s lives.

Catharina Bach sings only for her mother; she is too frightened of her famous father to even speak, let alone sing. Three centuries later, in modern-day Saskatchewan, Hannah Waters struggles to play Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, one she was supposed to have played with her mother. In this deeply moving novel, Hannah and Catharina will find and help each other discover the music within and the courage to express it.

The author’s skilful interweaving of their lives is rich in characterization and detail. Lyrical, descriptive and multi-layered, the book is poignant and enriching. Not to be missed.”

~ Ontario Library Association’s Best Bets

  • Governor General’s Literary Award Nominee (2005)
  • B.C. Book Prizes Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Winner (2006)
  • Canadian Library Association Honour Book of the Year (2006)
  • B.C. Chocolate Lily Award Nominee (2006)
  • Snow Willow Award Nominee (2006)
  • Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee (2006)
  • Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award Nominee (2006)
  • Ontario Library Association Best Bets (2005)

Penguin Canada (Out of Print)


Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been selected as a finalist for the 2023/2024 Chocolate Lily Book Award. 

Barbara’s poem “Three-in-One,” originally published in Grain Magazine, has recently appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2024  (Biblioasis) edited by Bardia Sinaee.

Check out Barbara’s 45-minute teaching video on Creating Believable Characters for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes’ In Class video library.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla was a finalist for the 2022 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been nominated for the 2023 Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Young Readers Choice Award).

The Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards (MYRCA) has nominated Dear Peter, Dear Ulla as a 2023 Northern Lights (Grades 7-9) finalist!

Essential Tremor reviewed in The Vancouver Sun. Read full review here.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla is reviewed and “Highly Recommended” in CM (Canadian Review of Materials)! Read the full review here.

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Author Visits

Interested in booking Barbara to visit your school or library? Choose from a wide range of presentations, from poetry workshops to readings of historical fiction.

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