Sunday, 1 June 2014

Hackmatack Tour 2014 was wonderful, thanks New Brunswick and P.E.I.

Author and daughter, Plaster Rock N.B.
The Hackmatack tour was a whirlwind and a wonderful time. I was so honoured to travel New Brunswick and P.E.I. reading from my nominated book The Gargoyle at the Gates. My daughter and I toured as guests of the Hackmatack award committee and the Canada Council (Gargoth was with us, too). From May 25-30th we traveled to the North Western side of the province, as I read to children in Oromocto, Plaster Rock, Andover-Perth and Salisbury, where I did my final presentation to a wonderful group of grade 6s and 7s. Then we drove to Moncton and ended in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on the 29th for the big award ceremony on the 30th. There are so many highlights, but I've picked ten here, chronologically.

1. There are gargoyles everywhere. The first day in Fredericton we found gargoyles on Christ Church Cathedral right around the corner from our gorgeous B&B, Carriage House Inn. By the way, Fredericton is a beautiful city, I've never visited before and I'm so glad I finally did. The houses are pretty, the St. John river is right there with a walking trail, there aren't any skyscrapers or traffic jams, just peaceful and clean.
2. Fiddleheads are delicious, but scary when gigantified. Plaster Rock is home to a paper mill and a statue of the world's largest fiddleheads, which look unnervingly like Triffids. The local library was in the high school, the kids were sweet.

3. Librarians rock the world and Tim Hortons unites us. Just saying. If not for the tremendous efforts of eight different librarians, who drove us all over the province, my daughter and I wouldn't have gone anywhere. The Hackmatack committee did a fantastic job getting us from place to place through an army of volunteers, mostly librarians but also local board directors or library-loving citizens, and I loved sitting in the front seat chatting to them all. Over the five days, we drove approximately 1000 km, with 8 different drivers, thanks one and all. And Tim Hortons makes a fantastic drop off/pick up point along the wide open highway.

4. New Brunswick and P.E.I. struggle with low literacy rates ... and a library can always use more books. Thanks to the generous supply from my publisher, Dundurn Press, I left a set of the Lost Gargoyle books and my newest book, The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden, at each library I visited.

5. New Brunswick has a lot of the "world's largest" things. Fiddleheads, above. And how about the world's largest axe in Nackawic, or the world's largest lobster, in Shediac?
 6. I have the best job in the world. I love reading to kids, answering their questions, listening to what they think about books, about reading. I played "the gargoyle shuffle" everywhere I went on a guitar the Hackmatack committee rented for me (thank you), and got kids up to dance. What, really, could be better than that?
7. P.E.I. is really red. You hear about it, but you don't expect the soil to be so very, very red. IT IS! We drove across the bridge with Mureille Mercure and Francois Barcelo (thank you, Mureille), and it takes about 15 minutes to get across, a fascinating little trip.
8. Charlottetown is gorgeous. I can't really explain how pretty it is. My daughter and I wandered around all afternoon looking at the pretty houses, the ocean, the scenic views everywhere. We also spent quite a bit of time in the Anne of Green Gables store (ahem).
9. Kids love books, wherever you go. The authors all met up in Charlottetown, and what a great bunch. We split into a few groups, and went to talk to kids around the city at different pizza parties. Here I am at Confederation Centre talking to a group of avid readers. Their questions were rapid fire: what's your favourite colour, what's your favourite book, what's your favourite TV show/movie/film star ... I tried to keep up.
10. Canadian authors rock. I had such a great time meeting my peers in Charlottetown at the end of the tour, many for the first time. Here's a picture of the ten authors on tour, and congratulations to Rob Laidlaw for winning the English non-fiction award and to Ashley Spires, for winning the English fiction award. Thanks to the Hackmatack Awards, the Canada Council for the Arts, the librarians, the committee members (Kate Watson, Nancy Edgar and countless others), the wonderful kids and the other authors for the great time. Also, many thanks to my patient and always pleasant travel companion, my lovely daughter. Until next time!
Authors on the Hackmatack 2014 tour, from left to right: Wendy Kitts, Dan Bar-El, Nancy Wilcox Richards,
Alison Maher, Alice Walsh, Ashley Spires, me, Rob Laidlaw, Jessica Kerrin, Francois Barcelo


1 comment:

Allister said...

Sounds like a heck of a trip! The giant fiddleheads are fun.