Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What a Party!

I was in Toronto last weekend taking part in a celebration of fall titles from Groundwood Books. And what an amazing weekend it was!

The event took place at the Koffler Centre of the Arts, a venue that had a lovely vintage-style theatre, with plush red seats and excellent lighting. Children and families, and booklovers from the Toronto area turned up to hear readings from the authors and watch the talented illustrators draw.

Following each reading, the children were invited to move to the centre’s cafĂ© and common area to create a book-related craft. I saw wonderful masks to complement Danielle Daniel’s book Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox and charming farm scenes to accompany Grant and Tillie Go Walking by Monica Kulling and Sydney Smith. There were also pirate hats to go with the story Buddy and Earl by Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff. For my book, West Coast Wild, the children made glittering jellyfish with long waving tendrils cut out of ribbon.

There were yummy snacks, mugs of coffee and tea, and a congenial feeling all around as parents chatted and children played. Authors, illustrators and booklovers from near and far got to know one another. It couldn’t have been a better afternoon. :-)

Many thanks to Groundwood Books for hosting such a successful and enjoyable event!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

It's a Party!

My lovely and amazing publisher, Groundwood Books, has kindly invited me to Toronto in a few weeks (Nov. 21) to talk to children about my new book West Coast Wild. It's bound to be a fun afternoon, with a lively group of Groundwood authors and illustrators showing their latest works, and leading delightful craft activities that are theme-related to the books. (Would you like to make a sparkling jellyfish?)

If you are in the area, please join us! Check out the poster above for all the details. 

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vancouver Writers Fest

Last week, we Vancouverites celebrated books in a big way at the Vancouver Writers Fest. It was an amazing program with many talented authors.

An event I enjoyed so much was titled, Belonging, featuring memoir authors: Brian Brett, Charles Demers, Camilla Gibb and Micheal V. Smith. The theme as noted in the program was, “All sorrows can be born if you put them into a story or tell a story about them,” Isak Dinesen.

The authors each read a moving passage from their book and then spoke about events in their lives that had inspired their work. Their words, both print and spoken, were eloquent.

Much tragedy had been overcome or at least put into perspective through the penning of these books. Ultimately, there was a message of hope and love and moving forward.

It was an inspiring afternoon and one I won’t soon forget.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thank you, Teacher-Librarians!

I am working on a presentation for the BC Teacher-Librarian Association conference that takes place next week. As I prepare my slide-show, I've been thinking about my gratitude to librarians and the valuable work they do. Such a noble calling!

Much of the great learning that happens in schools is a result of the dedication and enthusiasm of the librarians who support students and their classroom projects with a librarian's wide knowledge of books and finely-honed research skills.

Sadly, funding for school libraries has dropped dramatically in recent times and most school libraries do not have a full-time librarian. Some schools have no librarian at all and the library is run by clerical staff or parent volunteers instead.

Meanwhile, many librarians have returned to classroom teaching or they shuttle back and forth between two or three schools, trying to keep all the libraries in their care up-to-date and functioning. An impossible task, I'd say.

So, in this lead up to the conference, I'd like to say an enormous thank you to the teacher-librarians of this world. You have my total support and appreciation. I know that your work is crucial to the development of literacy and the ongoing success of kids in school. I am very grateful.

See you next week!

Friday, October 2, 2015

In Praise of Story Time

When I was a teacher, I might have held the record for the longest daily story time in my school. Every afternoon, right after lunch, the students and I enjoyed book after book and were always reluctant to move on to the next activity on the program.

I was told by the teacher-librarian that I was the most frequent visitor to the school's library and, as was true in my life outside of my teaching job, I was often found in the hallways struggling under the weight of a staggering armload of books.

Why? I love books and reading. This fascination with the printed word began in the early days of my childhood and has continued until today.

Now that I am no longer teaching, I read stacks of books to the small children in my family, carrying on a wonderful tradition that began with my parents and grandparents (and likely beyond).

All this to say, let's read more to our children. Let's make story time in schools one of the most important features of the day. Let's choose a wide variety of books: long, short, old, new, wordless, poetic, books with heart, books with humour and books that celebrate who we are, in both fiction and nonfiction.

A great story is a gift to a child. One that can last a lifetime.

Let's get reading.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Behind the Scenes... A New Book

Not being a "centre-stage" kind of gal, I am feeling a bit shy about this, but here goes.

Today, my lovely publisher, Groundwood Books, has posted a guest blog by moi that is a behind-the-scenes look at how my new book West Coast Wild was created. You can read about my "Thelma and Louise" style trip to the far west coast of Vancouver Island with the amazing (and fun!) illustrator, Karen Reczuch.

Here's the link: Groundwood Guest Post.

Hope you enjoy it.

(Going back into hiding now.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back to School!

It is September and in my part of the world, today is the first school day of the year. I'm thinking about all the children and teachers who are gathering in their classrooms, full of enthusiasm and good cheer.

My friend, Margriet Ruurs, has written a wonderful book called School Days Around the World. The charming image above of students arm-in-arm is from the book and created by illustrator, Alice Feagan.

As a writer and speaker, Margriet has travelled around the world, visiting many countries and presenting in dozens of international schools. She has friends everywhere! And she knows what school is like in a myriad of places.

To find out more about schools in other parts of the world, I recommend picking up a copy of her book and sharing it with the young children in your life.

And if you are back at school this fall, I send my very best wishes for a happy and productive year!