When TD and CBC interviewers asked me this question the night of the gala celebration of this year’s TD and CCBC Book Awards, I believe I responded with something like, “Uh, ba, da, duh, ba, uh, um, daba dah…” How often do we find ourselves thinking, after it’s too late, ‘Oh I wish I’d said…’? After the party at the Carlu was over, my brain offered up this:
“I feel as if for years I’ve been happily playing my violin, quietly off in a corner, and suddenly the whole room has turned and noticed.”
Not bad, for its connection with the book being recognized that night? Better than “Uh, ba, da, duh…” anyway.
The outpouring of congratulations and good wishes, and the sense of there being so many people truly excited for me and Dusan Petricic and The Man with the Violin has been incredibly gratifying. I do feel tremendously honoured that the book was chosen for this award from a field of so many fine books, as represented by the other finalists. And to be up on that stage with Dusan, accepting our award together — well, it felt just great! And so did seeing this Tweet from the kids I recently visited in Halifax.
— Central Spryfield (@centralspry) November 7, 2014
I posted on Facebook a “Still riding high…” update the next night and almost a week later, as I gear up for the Inspire! International Book Fair in Toronto this weekend, the good vibes continue to echo.
However, I may have been most articulate about how it feels to have won this award on stage last Thursday night, and so for those who couldn’t be there, here is what I said:
Late in 2011, I was about to ask my partner, Peter Carver, to please stop forwarding me all the stuff his friends had forwarded to him, when along came a link to a Pulitzer Prize winning story about a Washington Post’s experiment that put a world-renowned violinist in a metro station one morning at rush hour — and eventually put me and Dusan Petricic on this stage tonight.
Thank you, Peter, for sending me that link.
Thanks to Joshua Bell for agreeing to take part in that experiment. I know it wasn’t much fun playing while over a thousand people rushed past without paying attention.
Thanks to Gene Weingarten, too, for his story, “Pearls Before Breakfast”.
Gene Weingarten mentioned in his story, almost in passing, the fact that kids always wanted to stop and adults always rushed them along. Not an unusal occurrence in our rushing here and rushing there world. But I found myself imagining what the it might have been like to be one of those kids who wanted to stop that day in 2007 and listen to that man with the violin. And that’s how Dylan — someone who noticed things — was born.
Thanks to everyone at Annick Press who believed in The Man with the Violin from the moment they first saw it — Rick Wilks, Brigitte Waisburg, and Chandra who I just had the pleasure of meeting tonight, and more — and for helping me find the story’s essence. Also for hiring the best possible artist to illustrate it. (Rick, we have a long history of making good books together and I’ve loved every minute of the amazing ride this one is taking us on.)
Thank you, Dusan Petricic, for using all your talents to so brilliantly bring to life, visually, music and its impact on the boy in the story — and for recognizing that “this book is not only about music”.
Thanks to my first readers and especially Nan, Heather, Donna, Lena, Hadley, Paula, Kelly, Peter — for indulging me through many drafts, readings, and tweakings.
Thank you TD and CBC and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for all you do to support children’s literature in this country with a wide range of wonderful programs. It has been an honour to see The Man with the Violin among such a fine collection of great books through all the promotion TD has done of tonight’s awards. There’s not a single book there that’s not deserving of the prize, so I’m grateful to those who chose ours.
Thanks finally to all the kids who can identify with the boy in The Man with the Violin — for reminding us to stop and listen to — and for — the music. And not just music produced by instruments and singers but music in all its forms: In a baby’s laugh. In a splash of sunlight on fallen leaves. In the sweet squirt of the first strawberry of summer. In the voice of the child saying ‘Let’s read this book again.’
Listen for the music. May it fill your heart, your mind, your life.