Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Top 5 Memories from Forest of Reading 2017

Well, the OLA Forest of Reading adventure is over for another year. My 6th book, Myles and the Monster Outside, was nominated for the Silver Birch Express award, and WON HONOUR BOOK!

A thousand, thousand thanks to the OLA for  running such a spectacular reading program for tens of thousands of young Ontario readers. Thanks also to the super-hero librarians, teachers and educators who bring Canadian books into Canadian schools and libraries, and to publisher Dundurn Press for letting me tell such a weird little story. SUPER thanks to Shawna Daigle, the wonderful series illustrator.

Thank you to the school who posted this!
Finally, thanks to Ontario school kids, who read so many books, and picked the story of anxious Myles and his monster, as one of their winners!

The Forest of Reading is always a major event in the life of any writer, and here are my top 5 memories from this year:

1. FOREST FRIDAYS. This year, the OLA ran a pilot project, called Forest Fridays, which was entirely online. Each week, one nominated author presented in the Friday lunch time slot, using Adobe Connect, talking to kids across the province, and across the country, in lunchrooms, gyms, libraries and classrooms, for 45 minutes. My Forest Friday was March 24: here's the link to find out more.  We had @ 100 schools and close to 1000 kids listen in.

Best FOREST FRIDAY Question: What would you say to an aspiring writer?
A: Keep writing, write what you're passionate about because your readers will feel that passion and enjoy your story, don't let anyone tell you you can't be a writer.

Myles WINS the London Regional Award!
2. LONDON FESTIVAL OF TREES: Driving to London for the first of the 3 major festivals in early May, I got a ride with the Executive Director of the Forest of Reading and author, Richard Scrimger (Lucky Jonah). We laughed all the way (Richard will do that to you!). That night I had dinner with authors Teresa Toten (Shattered Glass), Helaine Becker (Worms for Breakfast), Kira Vermond (Half-Truths and Brazen Lies), Niki Tate (Deep Roots), Richard Scrimger, Karen Bass (The Hill), and we talked late. The Festival the next day was fantastic, with 1700 kids, and Myles WON the Silver Birch Express London Regional award! Thanks to all for a great day!

Best London Festival of Trees Moment: a young boy came up to me after my presentation, to tell me that Myles and the Monster Outside, "blew him away." When I asked why, he considered very carefully, then said, "It's the care you put into it." Awww. Thanks young man, that's a keeper.

Rock Star Moment on stage with Shawna (L) in Toronto
Photo courtesy Riley Murray
3. TORONTO FESTIVAL OF TREES: If you've ever wanted to feel like a rock-star ... the Festival of Trees in Toronto is just the ticket! This year, I got to share the experience with my awesome illustrator, Shawna Daigle, who rocked the stage wherever we went. We did a signing, a presentation, and the award ceremony together. It was Shawna's first Festival, and it was so fun to share it with her.

Best Toronto Festival of Trees Moment: Standing on stage with Shawna at Harbourfront, and holding up our favourite books: Charlotte's Web and Animalia. I said, "Books unite us, inspire us, and stay with us, our whole lives." Thanks Toronto!!

Second Best Moment: telling Kevin Sands (The Blackthorne Key) about my Star Trek: TNG script from 1987, and apologizing for it being so weird. His response? "We're writers, nothing is weird."

Thanks Maggie Ewert for the pic; Chi-Cheemaun, Toronto

4. SAULT STE. MARIE Festival of Trees:
Part of the excitement of being a nominee for the Forest of Reading, is travelling and talking to kids and librarians in other cities  you've never been to before. This year, I joined the Festival in Sault Ste. Marie. Yep, I'd never visited. It was so fun to fly in over the lake, to talk to the hosts, other authors, and the local librarians at a party the night before.

Me with my sign holder and presenter, in Sault Ste. Marie!
 It was fun to be part of the literary and school community in a fairly remote part of my home province.
And ... Myles won the Algoma Regional Silver Birch Express Award, THANK YOU!

Best Sault Ste. Marie Festival Moment: talking to my sign holder, Matteo, who was SO EXCITED about talking to me, because he loved my book. It's just so inspiring to meet a young reader like him.

At left: What authors do after the Festival of Trees!
L to R: Vikki VanSickle (If I had a Gryphon), Joel Sutherland (Haunted Canada 6), Me, Helaine Becker rocking her pink bag, (Worms for Breakfast), Rob Laidlaw (Elephant Journey), Shane Peacock (The Artist and me)

5. Winning Silver Birch Express Honour Book.
Yes, I can honestly say, that winning Silver Birch Express Honour Book 2017, was one of the thrills of the year. Congrats to all the nominees this year, and to Jess Keating for her Honour book win (Pink is for Blobfish) and to Andree Poulin who won the Silver Birch Express top spot for The Biggest Poutine in the World. We chatted afterward, I congratulated her, and she said (because she is totally cool) ... but we all win right?
View from the stage, Toronto Festival of Trees Ceremony

And that's pretty much the whole idea.

We do all win, the nominees, the libraries, the schools, the publishers and mostly, the kids. Thanks to all for another fantastic Forest of Reading year! Keep reading, everyone.

Forest of Reading Posts from Previous Years:
Red Maple, 2015: The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden
Silver Birch Express, 2014: The Gargoyle at the Gates
Silver Birch Express, 2012: The Gargoyle Overhead
All Forest of Reading Posts


R.J. Anderson said...

Congratulations (again) on MYLES's success in the Forest of Reading! I was so thrilled to be a nominee this year and it was a pleasure to meet you.

BTW, your TNG spec script from 1987 can't possibly be weirder than my "Star Trek: The Third Generation" serial fanfic from 1990. :)

Philippa Dowding said...

Thank you for the kind words, R.J., and many congrats to you, too. It was fun to meet you, as well.

Re: TNG scripts. I think the weirdness-gauntlet is down! We'll have to compare notes, and scripts, sometime soon!

Thanks for dropping by.