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Sunday, February 08, 2009

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. Today, Bateman's words ringing in my ears, we explored the trail network behind Sutherland Secondary. Nature gave us a reward: the sight of two pileated woodpeckers hammering away at the trees. The wood was coming off in chunks and they'd chipped so deep, it looked more like the work of two beavers. I wouldn't be surprised if a week from now, those tree tops were down. It was impressive. When we got home, my daughter when straight for her Peterson Field Guide to confirm the sighting.

I think Robert Bateman would have been proud.

Friday, February 06, 2009

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.

I can't wait to tell my teacher friends.