Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Literiffic Day

A big thank you to the students and staff, especially teacher-librarian Karen Ferguson, of Moody Middle School for inviting me to your fabulous Literiffic Day. It was good to meet you all and speak to audiences who clearly love books as much as I do.

Also presenting today were fellow authors, Glen Huser, Diane Tullson, and Dan Bar-el.

Thank you for the Moody Middle School coffee mug and pens, both of which will get extensive use in my office over the next few months. They are perfect gifts for a writer.

I would have loved to take part in your school-wide Jeopardy game today. It sounded like great fun.

Take care, have a wonderful summer and keep reading!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

No Moon

I've just finished reading No Moon, the latest novel from talented author, Irene Watts. It's the story of 16 year old Louisa Gardiner, employed as a nanny, who sails on the Titanic with her two young charges.

I won't tell you what happens but I can say that it is a lovely book with a well-told story and interesting historical detail. I know that Irene travelled to Halifax to visit the Maritime Museum and study the Titanic catastrophe. Her research clearly paid off — we learn a lot about the social order of the time and how this played out in who survived the sinking of the mammoth ship.

Even though it is a brand-new book, Irene has already received some excellent reviews, including a starred review in Quill and Quire. Well done, Irene!

If you're looking for a great read, pick up this book. I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sneak Preview!

I opened the mail today and found an advance copy of my newest book, due to hit the stores in August. Very exciting!

To research this book, I spent a year visiting an organic, cooperative farm in the Fraser Valley. Not only did I learn a lot about sustainable farming, I came to LOVE organic butter (something of an occupational hazard for a sedentary author).

A big thank you to Brian Harris, the wonderful photographer for this book! Check out his website here.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More on Literacy for Life

The Literacy for Life Conference was inspiring!

The organizers, John Barton and Judy Ostrander, newly retired school principal and vice principal, gathered together an amazing group of people to share books and ideas on literacy. It was the fifth conference they have successfully organized.

About 4000 Saskatoon students and their teachers were invited to the university campus to hear authors speak. The organizers were excellent fundraisers and managed to get the wide support of their community and business leaders in order to host the conference. This allowed all the students to attend at no cost to themselves. Wow!

I was one of the authors kindly invited to speak, and was impressed by both the organization of this massive event, as well as the genuine enthusiasm and interest we encountered from all of our audiences.

Over the courses of two days, I did 8 presentations and each of my audiences probably held 250 students and teachers. Thank goodness, I had developed a slide-show presentation and was given a microphone. Otherwise, I would have been thoroughly intimidated! There was no need for nervousness, however. Every presentation I made was received with warmth and kindness. Thank you, Saskatoon students and teachers!

Also on the program were authors: Frieda Wishinsky, Marie Louise Gay, Marsha Skrypuch and 5 others, including illustrator, Bill Slavin. It was so much fun to spend time with the other presenters, and really learn from each other (and share lots of laughs).

Our hosts provided us with the legendary hospitality that the prairies are so famous for. We dined at a huge banquet, ate a catered dinner at one of the host's homes, and had a third dinner at a wonderful "Eaton's Catalogue House" on a farm just outside the city. This was a house that was ordered out of the catalogue in the early 1900s and shipped in pieces on the train. When it got to the farm, it had to be assembled. The house was still in excellent condition and we dined on farm-fresh food, including homemade bread and butter. Mmm...

As a gift to the presenters, each of us received two pieces of beautiful art from talented Saskatoon students. One of mine was a wonderful portrait of me with a huge smile, drawn by Samantha in Grade One. The second piece of art was a detailed etching of prairie grain elevator by Benjamin in Grade Six. They are gifts that will find a place of honour in my home. Thank you, Samantha and Benjamin!

I will remember this conference fondly. I was sad to leave the people, but glad to come home to the sunshine. Even though it is mid-May, it was snowing in Saskatchewan! :-)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Saskatoon Students, Staff, Teachers and Organizers of the Literacy for Life Conference,

Thank you for an amazing week in your city! It was wonderful to be in the midst of your legendary prairie hospitality and to meet so many people who love books.

I could not have had a better time.

With my sincere thanks and best wishes,