Hello hello dear blog readers! I'm just back from a whirlwind trip to London, Ontario where I visited two schools: John Dearness Public School and Mountsfield School. In all, I spoke to four groupsof Grades 7 and 8 students, and over lunch at Mountsfield yesterday, I had a little one-on-one time with a small group of very keen, very talented young writers (all girls by the way, where were the boys hiding?!).
Two of the first students I met at John Dearness were Helen and Dalton. Like the others Grade Sevens at the school, they had been working on "mind maps" of my book 121 Express. I was really excited to see their work. In small groups, they had divided a large sheet of paper into four sections: theme, characters, setting and plot -- and most of them drew a school bus in the center of the page. I actually took some photos of the mind maps, which I plan to send to Orca (my publisher) so they will know what cool stuff Canadian students are up to.
You know me, I'm always on the lookout for unusual body language. Well yesterday, I met a student (Dalton) who was twisting one foot in the air. What made that move extra interesting was that Dalton had kicked off one of her sneakers (the right one) so the foot she was twisting was only wearing a sock! One young man named Klevis looked a little too relaxed, so I taught him everything I know about how to look studious -- and if I may so myself, I worked miracles with that boy. By the end of my presentation, he was Superstudent (a variation on Superman)!
After my morning at John Dearness, teacher-librarian Angela Van Lanen zipped me over to Mountsfield. I got there just in time for pizza lunch in the library. Luckily, Mountsfield librarian Pat Haggith let me eat as much pizza as I wanted (school presentations really build an appetite)!!
Over lunch, I met 11 very motivated and talented young writers. Leanne, who's in Grade Seven, has already written 16 chapters of a book!! I only had time to read a page or two, but as I told Leanne, I was into it!! She has come up with a very interesting situation and story-line. Now, I told Leanne, she needs to think about having a strong narrative voice (or perhaps voices, Leanne, if you decide to go with four separate narrators). Another student, Missy, is working on a book about street racing, and the beginning of her book also looked promising. Rebecca, a talented artist, is working on a sci-fi piece and from the sounds of it, she's kind of obsessed with her story -- and you know what, that's a sign of a good writer!
My day flew by. Each group I spoke to was a little different -- and that is exactly what makes school visits exciting.
On the train rides (two of them) to London, I did lots of work, but on the way home, you know what I did? I looked out the window a lot and I smiled a lot -- mostly because I was remembering my visit and the young people I'd met.
Special thanks to Angela Van Lanen and Pat Haggith for bringing me down (or is it up? My writing is better than my geography!!). My world feels a little fuller since I met all of you.