A strange title for a blog post at the beginning of autumn? It was prompted by an email I received last week from the chaplain at the Junior School at Havergal. She said:
One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is help our girls process their Covid experiences in a diary (I’m doing the same with my own children). I wanted to pair this work with a compare and contrast to the experiences of a Canadian child who has lived through other epidemics, just to give a sense of perspective as well as hope. That’s how I came across Dark Spring.
In Dark Spring Marie-Claire is living in Montreal when smallpox comes to Montreal in 1885. It’s the first book in a series that takes her through the epidemic to Christmas and the new year.
I knew last week that it was time for a new blog post, but I’d been feeling down, feeling like there was just too much heartache and hate and awfulness in the world these days and what was I doing about it? Nothing but sitting at my desk for hours on end, hammering away at a story that might never see the light of day. I knew that wasn’t a subject for a post, even if it might possibly offer company to someone else struggling with difficult feelings like fear, anger, and helplessness.
So thank you, Stephanie Douglas-Bowman, for your email that reminded me that spending time creating stories is not doing nothing. Last week I also learned that novelist Phillip Pullman said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
As suggested on the Marie-Claire page of my website, the girls at Havergal are going to write letters to Marie-Claire (one letter from grade five and one from grade six), and send them to me. I’ll see that Marie-Claire gets the letters and responds to them. (Writers can sometimes work magic, right?)
My heartfelt thanks to educators everywhere doing their best to figure out how to teach and keep kids safe and stay sane during the challenging season ahead.
Wishing courage and hope to teachers, parents, kids, to writers and readers — to everyone — as we navigate our way through the pandemic that is ours to live through.
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.