Reading on the Road or in a Bathtub
Fall is the season of book events and award announcements. I was thrilled to learn that I was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for my book Any Questions?
CBC Arts sent filmmakers to explore my studio from top to bottom, filming sketches and paint brushes, watercolour palettes and ink bottles, unfinished drawings and bits of coloured paper, my usual "artistic" mess. I was interviewed while drawing, while reading, while looking out the window. What a change from working alone in my studio!
Every year, CBC Books partners with the TD Book Awards and the CCBC to create Book Clubs in cities across Canada.The finalists are invited to meet with kids who have read and discussed their books in class. I was invited to the Edmonton Book Club where I visited the Westglen Elementary School. There the grade 2 and grade 6 paired off and did buddy-readings. Chris de la Torre of Daybreak Alberta was there to interview me as well as talk with the kids, who after reading the book together had created all sorts of fantastic art.
I was also invited to the Halifax Book Club where I had the pleasure of reading in a bathtub in a classroom at Ste Catherine's School (luckily the bathtub was filled with big purple cushions!). This is the teacher's way to encourage children to read anywhere and everywhere. Then I visited Crichton Park School in Dartmouth where the children who had each received a copy of Any Questions? had millions of questions for me, of course.
Finally, on Wednesday night at the wonderful TD Gala I was thrilled and totally surprised to win the CBC Fan Choice Award, the result of an online poll in which young readers voted for their favourite TD Canadian Children's Literature Award finalists. Seven-year-old voter Nora Vukadinovic of Calgary won a trip to Toronto to see me accept the award and meet me. We were both speechless. Although, after the presentation, Nora chatted with me about her favourite books.
I will be travelling next week to Paris to attend Le Salon du livre jeunesse de Montreuil, an immense book fair which invites authors, illustrators, teachers, parents and children to celebrate the joy of reading. The tragic events of last week in Paris which I have no words to describe, have of course colored this event in shades of darkness. I was very moved to read the letter which the organizers have sent to everyone. Here is the translation of an extract:
"(...) Culture in general and children's literature in particular are treasures that help illuminate the world, giving our young people a place to stand and grow. Children's literature tells stories that help the young of all ages understand each other, and learn about one another, face the fears that concern them, and form answers to the many questions of their lives. But also, and especially, because these books help them dream, and discover words and language, and stimulate their imagination, they introduce young people to the world in as free a way as possible, making them citizens of our planet.
Because the right to culture and freedom of expression is not negotiable, because our children have the right to imagine and dream, despite recent events we have chosen to hold the Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse -- the book fair for young readers -- that will take place from December 2 to 7, 2015, in Montreuil, a suburb of Paris.(...)"
I will be signing books all week as well as visiting schools in Paris and its suburbs.