I'm just home from a happy day at the Young Authors' Conference here in Montreal. It';s on again tomorrow, and I'm heading back this evening for a meet the parents event.
So, I've got loads to tell you about the other authors I met and about the kids I worked with, all of whom go to private Jewish day schools here in Montreal. As one of the boys told me this morning, "We got picked to come because we have big imaginations!"
The other authors doing workshops are Jordanna Fraiberg, Joyce Scharf , Leah-Perl Sholler and Alan Silberberg . Jordanna and Leah-Perl travelled from the U.S. Jordanna played professional squash as a young woman. She told students that writing requires as much discipline as pro sports: "it's about building a habit." Joyce wished the audience a good day and said, "I hope you took your dose of Imagination and your cup of Creativity this morning." Leah-Perl began writing in kindergarten and told us that she still keeps a file of what she calls "story starters." And Alan said, "We're all here for the same reason -- to let our brains bubble and grow." Now you can see why I enjoy hanging around with other writers -- they often say cool stuff!
Now I want to tell you a little about the students I worked with. All of them were bright and excited to be at the Jewish Public Library where the conference is being held. I worked with two groups of students and had both groups do two exercises. Shira wrote about being afraid when a dog was chasing her. Here's one of her lines that I really liked: "I was so afrid I thought I might faint." When I read that line, I could feel Shira's fear, and I suggested she develop that part of her story. Jonathan wrote that, "When I was younger, the smell of fresh bread helped me fall asleep." I loved that image -- and I wondered if a story might grow out of it. Kaylie remembered an old friend from pre-K, one with whom she has since lost touch. There was a sweet wistfulness to her story that touched me, too.
This afternoon, I had students imagine a character -- and then gave them time to let their characters write them a postcard. There were lots of good ones, but one I won't forget was a postcard Jordana's bubby (the Yiddish word for grandmother) "wrote" to her. In the postcard, Jordana's bubby urged her to write her zaidie's (the Yiddish word for grandfather's) story because her zaidie has Alzheimers: "Write about his jobs and his hobbies." Her bubby promised Jordana that if she did this, she would read the story to her husband.
So, you can probably tell that for me, today was a magic kind of day -- the kind of magic day that comes from being around talented young people who have, as my friend this morning told me, "big imaginations"!
Special thanks to Penny Fransblow, the librarian extraordinaire who organized this event and to Shelley Mann, event chairperson. And in case you're wondering who the other two women in today's pic are, they're Bev Grushka (left) and Claire Dalfen(right). Bev and Claire came along as chaperones, but they were also great participants in my morning workshop!