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Children's Book Week 2008 – A Few Highlights

Between November 17 and November 21 I met with roughly 900 kids and the many adults (teachers, librarians, and parents) who accompanied them to a total of 17 readings. Here are just a few moments from that week that I carry with me still, now that I’m home again.

1. When the bell rang to end my session with a group of Grade Eight students in Port Coquitlam, several approached me with their hands out. “Can we please just see how it ends?” I’d been reading from a short story in 101 Ways to Dance. (I’d waited till near the end of the session to introduce this book so I’d have a feel for the group and the teachers, and I could tell this was a book they’d welcome hearing about.) Eager to read how the game in “Chicken” would end, the students huddled together around my copy of the book so they could finish reading the story for themselves. As faster readers drifted away, others stepped in to take their places. Eventually one dark-haired teenage girl remained. The image of her bent over my book in that school library as she lost (or perhaps found) herself in something I’d written will most certainly help sustain me as I undertake revisions to my current ya novel in progress.

2. To a group of Grade Three kids, I was reading, in Seven Clues, the scene in which Matt’s elderly neighbour is introduced. “… His jowly cheeks pulled his mouth down in a permanent frown.” At this point, I glanced up and spotted a boy near the back of the room, his face contorted in a jowly frown, as he internalized the description he was hearing.

3. During a reading of A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It with Grade One students in Chilliwack, a lively discussion took place about all the things a tree can have in it. (Right after I read, “Can a tree have a cow in it? No. A tree can have a bird in it and a tree can have a swing in it.”) Those kids returned to their classrooms keen to get to work on writing their own books or making a big mural of all the clever things they thought of that a tree can have in it. (Or was that the group that got excited about all the things a muffin can have in it? It’s hard sometimes to keep all the groups straight!)

It’s a real treat to meet with readers as enthusiastic (and well mannered) as those I met during my BC (Vancouver & Lower Mainland) Book Week tour. Thanks Canadian Children’s Book Centre for sending me there!

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