November through January is birthday season and of course, Christmas, in our house. It's the time of year when I get the least writing done, but the most cakes baked. And those cakes matter just as much as stories, as all mothers-who-write know.
Sometimes it's nice to turn off the iPod on the way home and just read a book. I finished Hadley Dyer's Johnny Kellock Died Today this way, and it was a welcomel companion. The Norman family may be a bit rough around the edges, but the wise-cracking dialogue and thoughtful observations of main character Rosalie Norman come shining through. It was a treat to spend some time around "Mama's kitchen table" with the Normans while Rosalie figured out a few things about family secrets, friendship and how far someone will go for a fresh start. No wonder Johnny Kellock wound up an award-winner so many times over.
This was such a special visit. I lug the little student accordion that I traded my mother's old wheezy one for to almost every presentation. Just for show. And I always ask if there is someone who might be able to play it, since I can't. This time, at Confederation Park in Burnaby, we were all in for a surprise. One of the students seems to have the knack of it and played the theme song from "Star Wars" as part of her repetoire. It was a great night, I signed books in the parking lot under a cold, starry sky because it was after 9 and the school had to close. I am very glad I met so many book lovers from Confederation Park--parents, staff and kids-- many of whom have a knack for telling a good accordion story of their own!
Now this was a great moment. These two are in the Education Program at UBC. The class they are currently working with is reading Magnifico -- which made me happy to hear. We met at Authorfest 2009 on the UBC campus and they were just brimming with enthusiasm in a way I hope all new teachers are.
I'm sure the highlight for everyone was the headliner, Robert Bateman, and his powerful talk about overpopulation and consumerism. Tiffany Stone was the lighter side of the equation and got us all on our feet at one point, I'm pretty sure. Then there's me, sort of a mixed bag of sentimentalism and stories, crammed into 15 minutes. So although an animal theme brought us together, it was a very eclectic program.
Bateman had one simple piece of advice for families that bears repeating. "Every family should take a nature walk once a week." In our house, we generally do, but it is easy to retreat from nature in the winter and we haven't been out, really out, in a while. Tod…
There is a certain kind of mess in my 10-year-old daughter's room that I have a very high tolerance for. That is, books strewn all over the bed and carpet. Every once in a while I will go up and find books pulled from her shelf and sprawled everywhere. They're all books she's already read, and clearly she's looking for something. I respect it as a private thing, but it makes me curious.
It also makes me proud. Quite often, I'll find books in the mix authored by friends, and many times, that means a book of Tiffany Stone's whimsical, one-of-a-kind poetry. I'm never surprised by how often my daughter pulls these books out, the poetry is perfectly paired with block-cut style illustrations that suit it to a T.
I caught up with Tiffany at Authorfest at UBC this week. Her three children are keeping her busy, and she's getting ready to launch a book of MATH poetry. She's also keeping up with what is quite possibly the world's cutest website.