Monthly Archives: February 2014

More Crayons for Coralie?

Why exactly did I schedule my book launch before the book was finished?

When I first talked to the school librarian about presenting Scissortown, she wanted the launch to coincide with Family Literacy Day. Coralie was still busy coloring, but that was no problem because I intended to read only the first half of the story anyway. The bright centre page spread made a lovely stopping place. “The Slicers and Dicers left town and everyone was happy until . . . Oh no! These pictures aren’t colored! We’ll have to finish the story another time.”

So, what was I thankful for?

Everyone was prepared. The librarian had my schedule timed to the minute. She also had the technology (and the help I needed with the technology), as well as paper, crayons and pencils.

The teachers and students were prepared to meet an author. (How else would I have been taken for Robert Munsch??)

The hours I’d spent in preparation paid off, as I used almost everything I’d brought.

The librarian introduced me and provided updates as to the number of minutes I had left. This was very helpful.

The teachers kept order, allowing me to focus on the task at hand.

They also gave me free reign. At one point I had only two minutes left, and no one batted an eye when I introduced a new activity. (I also respected their time, finishing as soon as I was told the time was up.)

The teachers had read my suggestions beforehand and chosen what they wanted. Most (except those who taught very young children) wanted me to talk about being a writer. They also wanted the students to write a story together, which we did in small groups.

What would I do another time?

I’d read book blurbs and introductions and have the older students rate them as a warm-up, as I did this time.

I’d also go over the elements of a short story again before giving the students the writing prompts. However, I’d give some consideration to developing an activity (in addition to discussion) about these elements.

I’d use Coralie’s slide show with more than just the kindergarten class. (It featured 16 original thumbnails, and followed the progression of two of them from super-rough copy to final colored picture.) The kindergartners had fun seeing Katie Kat’s progress, and I think there are ways I could use the slide show for the older ones, too.

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“Are You Robert Munsch?”

asked the grade two boy at my book launch.

Should I be flattered or what? Let’s see, millions of copies of Canada and U.S. bestseller Love You Forever sold, over 50 published books to date, storytelling gigs with thousands of children in attendance . . . . On the other hand, maybe I got my hair cut a bit too short this time. But I WAS wearing a skirt . . . .

Anyway, my book launch at the K-9 Christian school was fun.

The librarian had drawn up an interesting and varied schedule–grades eight and nine, followed by kindergarten, grade six, grade two, grade one, then a three/four group, then grade five and then seven.

I told the upper level students about my longtime dream of writing books.

But–“Not everyone can write,” my grade eleven English teacher had explained kindly. And it’s true. Not every high school student can write a story suitable for high school students.

Her colleague trashed my poem. But then, not everyone is a poet either.

The dream not only didn’t die, it didn’t even suffer much. I just kept believing I could write and getting (mostly) good marks in English.

Then, after getting laid off from my job at the college, I found my writing niche–magazine articles. Editing adult non-fiction followed, and now I’m writing picture books for children.

So, little boy, I’m not Robert Munsch. But I love doing what he loves doing–telling stories to children.

In my next post, I’ll tell you what worked for this book launch–and I’ll even tell you how I managed to have a book launch before the book was finished.

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