Thursday, May 29, 2008


Here's the thing: I travel a lot doing POND SCUM/CREATIVITY workshops and most of the time I am far from home (no complaints - I like hotel beds with TV remotes within easy reach!). What this means though - I hardly ever do
local schools or libraries. Sure, I've done a hand-few but it's as if I'm a secret here in Montreal that only gets whispered about now and again.

Recently, however I was part of something AMAZING - the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, which for the first time this year, decided to have a separate Children's Program. It was a wonderful experience - and I was amazed that my workshop was full to the brim with 360 kids!

(that's just HALF of the huge room filled with eager brains!)

TODAY was another special LOCAL visit - thanks to the lively, efficient and oh-so-thoughtful librarian, Debbie Poirier, I was booked into the amazing Saint John Fisher School just outside Montreal (easy drive = no airplane time!)

Reason ONE why this was nice: (see picture)

(nothing nicer to this author than welcoming treats! Thanks, Deb!)

Reason TWO: Another life-lesson in my ongoing "Go with the flow" experiences.

You see, I've got my presentation down pretty good - and it's filled with humor and interactivity and cartoons and...Me. But sometimes there's a glitch... no projector, or the mic I ordered doesn't work, or the kids think I'm somebody else whose written a book about Alien-Basketball players or something.

My motto: No Worries! I pride myself on staying Zen-like and making anything work....

So today - when we were presented with a small glitch - (no easel for the drawing board I use to do my cartooning)...We went quickly with Plan B: HUMAN EASELS! (if you look closely at the picture you can see I have a kid-volunteer holding the white board while I draw).

It was actually an additional funny thing that added laughs and extra kid-involvement to the morning - and I thank each and every one of you kids who helped me out! (I'll be happy to be an easel for you anytime!)

So winding down I guess it comes down to this: I love to travel...but there's no place like home....and a great librarian who serves snacks!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Nothing makes a writer feel more like a WRITER than a labeled chair and 700 kids thrilled to be part of something incredible. POND SCUM was one of the nominated books in this year's Red Cedar Awards, which took place this past weekend just outside Vancouver.

The annual event brings kids from all around the area who take part in reading all of the nominated books and then voting for their favorite (both non-fiction and fiction). Now THAT is my kind of event - because the kids who take part are taking part out of total enthusiasm! And as you can imagine when you (well, when I) walk into a gymnasium filled with enthusiastic takes more than a chair to contain this fiction author!

Apart from the workshops we gave - there were the 2 ceremonies to announce the winners. The cool part was that the nominated authors got to walk into the ceremony in a procession fit for royalty! Each author was accompanied by kids holding a banner for their "author".

my wonderful sign holders

the hysterical Richard Scrimger

But WAIT! That's not all - instead of each nominated book simply being announced - the kids did a SKIT that introduced each book to the other kids in the audience. Some skits enacted something from the book, some read excerpts - but all of them were done by the kids who'd read the books and felt strongly about them.

Here's a picture of my great group - enacting a scene from my book that embraces the whole theme of the story. It was so perfect - and done with the kind of excitement that makes everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) seem worthwhile.

Just look at them! So amazing!

Okay, so Pond Scum didn't win the fiction award. That honor went to THE CRAZY MAN, a beautiful book written by the amazing Pamela Porter (Congrats again, Pam!). But you don't need awards when you get to have the gift of a weekend filled with kids, other writers and the most lovely organizers you can imagine.

And for a guy who spends most days talking only to his dog and staring at a computer screen - it was great to meet some other authors and hpend time hearing about their own crazy lives living on the edge of sanity and silence!

Nominees Ken Oppel, Vicki Grant, moi

So - thank you to all the kids, teachers, librarians and organizers who took part in making and this year's Red Cedar Awards such a fantastic experience - and thanks to everyone who stopped by to say "hi"! It was a great weekend!