Friday, January 30, 2009

Thank you, South Slope School!

I spent two wonderful days this week at South Slope Elementary School in Burnaby, and want to thank everyone there: the staff, students, interpreters and, most of all, Holly Lloyd, the amazing teacher/librarian who invited me. All of you made me feel enormously welcome. 

For interested folks, you can read up on the school here.

After spending time at South Slope, I am now keen to learn some sign language. It was an inspiring couple of days.

Thank you, again, South Slope Elementary!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thank you!

A big bouquet of metaphorical flowers to Renee Norman and her students for hosting a wonderful afternoon at Fraser Valley University yesterday! Thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your day. It was heartening to see all of you future teachers, and to converse with you about students, books and learning. An extra thank you to Natalie for kindly selling our books and to David for his kind introduction. I wish you all the best of luck in your careers!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Afternoon of Children's Literature

I've been kindly invited to speak to Education students at an "Afternoon of Children's Literature Event" at the University of Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, on Wednesday. The other speakers, with whom I share the afternoon, are Ellen Schwartz and Robert Heidebreder, both friends of mine and accomplished authors. All three of us are former teachers, and have been asked to speak about our books and how our teaching backgrounds inform our writing. 

Robert (Bob) is a recently retired Kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher who won the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. Wow! That's an inspiring award! He specializes in creating wonderful, lively poetry for young children. Ellen is a versatile author, who capably leaps across multiple genres including: picture books, juvenile and YA novels, as well as nonfiction for the intermediate grades. For more information on my talented pals, check out these web links for Ellen and Bob.

It should be a fun afternoon! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Irish YA Books

I've just finished reading two superb Irish YA books: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd and War Children by Gerard Whelan. Both are powerful works of fiction that taught me far more about "The Troubles" than I've ever learned from a history book. 

In case you're interested, here's the cover description for Bog Child:

"Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she's been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him - his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what, a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls." 

"Bog Child is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit."

And for War Children

"Six stories -- one set in Dublin, the others in the countryside -- about children who get caught up in the War of Independence and suffer dire consequences."

"These stories bring to life one of the most dramatic periods in Irish history."

They're sobering books, but well worth reading. I highly recommend them!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Barista or writer?

This blog space has been a little quiet of late, and for that, I apologize. I had twice planned to write about being snowed in, storm-stayed and cabin-fevered, but I wasn't sure anyone other than like-stranded Vancouverites would have the tiniest bit of sympathy for me. After 3 weeks of having my car buried under snow, and the road in front of the house impossible to traverse unless you owned a 4-wheel drive, I may venture out tomorrow. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I've been hard at work compiling book images for a Powerpoint presentation I'm giving in Phoenix, Arizona in February. (No snow there!) The snow here (or at least being held captive by it), has also been instrumental in helping (forcing) me to ponder my next book projects. More on those soon...

While considering a particular book project today, I had an email exchange with the talented author of the Blue Jean Book, Tanya Kyi. We ended up debating the merits of a career as a barista. For your reading pleasure, I'd like to direct you to her conclusions here.

Now, I'm going to the kitchen to make myself a double shot latte.