Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Best Author Visit EVER! (or "when our villains come to life") ...

Yesterday I did a school author visit at 
Kingsway College School in Toronto. It was one
of the best days I’ve ever had as an author.
It was their Silver Birch Express voting day, and they were celebrating. It was a big deal for them to be voting on their favourite books, and they had read them all, including my book, 
The Gargoyle Overhead.
The children and staff were all excited about the books, and most of them were showing that excitement by dressing up as their favourite characters.*
There were children with banjos (from Banjo of Destiny, by the wonderful Cary Fagan), children dressed as train engineers (from All Aboard! by the lovely Monica Kulling), plus lots of baseball players (Saving Arm Pit, Natalie Hyde), and clocks (The Time Time Stopped, Don Gillmour). There were a few characters from the ti-jean stories, too (Jan Andrews).
Plus, there were gargoyles! I met five wonderful gargoyles, two of them were the librarians, Judy and Rose-Mary, with wings and scary masks and horns and claws. Two of the student gargoyles even showed the class how a gargoyle would walk: an ambling, low-to-the-ground, heavy armed shuffle, apparently!
Imagine my further surprise when I met three Katherine Newberry’s, my main human character,… one of them a boy … dressed in soccer gear. 
One Katherine Newberry had a backpack with an apple and a HAND-KNITTED gargoyle which her aunt made for her. It was a truly beautiful grey and black gargoyle, with wings and scary button eyes.
The children had also just finished their medieval projects, and one whole display case was filled with gorgeous hand-made gargoyles. 
My head was spinning!!
But imagine my complete astonishment and wonder when at the end of the day, a young girl stood before me as I was packing up.
“Do you know who I am?” she grinned. I took her in. White straw hat, big glasses, dark heavy coat.
“Are you … the Collector?” I asked slowly, the light dawning.
She nodded cheerfully and skipped away. The Collector is the villain in my books, an ego-maniacal antiquities collector obsessed with the gargoyles. And yesterday, he came to life, grinned at me then skipped away.
Thanks Judy and Rose-Mary, and thanks Kingsway College School for inviting me. 
 Like I said, b-e-s-t … d-a-y … e-v-e-r.
*Unfortunately, I can’t post any photos due to privacy issues, but believe me, the costumes were wonderful!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing such a wonderful post about our school. We really appreciate it! We are the classes that made the gargoyles as part of our medieval unit. Your book is amazing and has such fantastic ideas. We really enjoyed your visit to Kingsway College School! This was our best author visit ever!
The Grade Four Classes at KCS

Philippa Dowding said...

Thanks KCS, what a nice comment. You have a great school and wonderful, creative students. I felt very honoured to be there ... take care!