A “Desert Island” Author

photo by Kirsti Wakelin

photo by Kirsti Wakelin

That’s how I was introduced last week before speaking to the Children’s Literature Roundtable in Vancouver. “The great thing about Kathy is that she is the ultimate desert island writer,” said Shannon Ozirny, a dynamic young grad student, soon to be fantastic librarian. “Now, I know you’re all wondering, ‘What the heck is a desert island writer?’ Well, let’s say that you’re stuck on a desert island with a baby. If you had to pick just one author’s books that would satiate that baby through all the years until it was big and strong enough to swim for help, well, you gotta pick Kathy Stinson.”

Shannon, with black hair and striking black-framed glasses, went on to very cleverly tie a number of my titles to a desert island experience: “That baby wonders why mommy and daddy look different under their coconut shells? You’ve got The Bare Naked Book. Baby grows into a toddler and refuses to stop wearing her favourite palm tree skirt? That toddler will find a fast friend in Red is Best. Toddler turns into a child and thinks she’s got things pretty rough on that desert island? Introduce her to Our Canadian Girl hero Marie-Claire and the [smallpox] epidemic of 1885. And when that child grows into a teen, you can pass on Becoming Ruby and 101 Ways to Dance which will reassure her that growing up is a strange, beautiful thing, desert island or not. Simply put, Kathy Stinson is a one stop shop for growing up.”

Shannon said more about my “astonishing flexibility” and “graceful touch” and other nice things about my writing and my books. It was the funniest and most flattering introduction I’ve ever been given. Kathie Shoemaker, who asked Shannon to introduce me, told me that Shannon has just completed a Master in Children’s Literature with a Thesis on the Easy Readers. Kathie said, “I attended her defense which was the most brilliant I’ve ever attended. She is the next Sarah Ellis.”

Shannon Ozirny is definitely a young woman whose name to watch for in library circles, and – who knows? – perhaps (like Sarah Ellis, librarian and children’s book author extraordinaire) on library shelves as well. A google search turns up her name many times already as a book reviewer.

I wish Shannon all the best in her upcoming career and hope that life creates some reason at some point for our paths to cross again.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson

1 Comment

  1. Janet Barclay on November 19, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    That is so wonderful – I love the way that Shannon expresses herself, and hope she will show up on library shelves some day!

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