The title of today's blog entry, "She almost made me cry -- but don't tell anyone I said that" comes from a comment overheard (not by me) in the hallway after the first of my two presentations this morning at Westwood Junior High School in Ste-Lazare.
I was at Westwood Junior to speak with Grade Eight students about how I got to be a writer, and to talk about my historical novel, What World Is Left, which many of the students had read over the summer. I guess it was my stories about interviewing my mom -- whose experience in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp, inspired that book -- that made the student almost cry.
I told the groups I worked with that when I was growing up, I had a difficult relationship with my mom. But everything changed when I learned the story of what she had been through during the Holocaust. So I recommended the students interview people in their own lives who sometimes drive them crazy. Once you know a person's story, you can't be angry with them any more.
We also talked about the importance of passing stories on -- and I told the story of my monkey man charm, and to the first group, the story of the prison guard who was kind to my grandfather after the Nazis imprisoned him in the Hague.
At recess, I met with the school's Battle of the Books team. They are hoping to make it to the final championship -- when they will have to answer in-depth questions about a number of books, including my novel, Straight Punch. It's a great project and you'll read more about it here since I am going to be one of the people asking questions on the final night of the contest, which takes place on April 23.
There were some special treats for me today. One was that Mrs. Quinn, a Grade Eight teacher, presented me with a thick white envelope -- inside are letters about What World Is Left, written to me by her students. I am looking forward to reading each one -- and to sharing the letters with my mom.
Another pleasure was that a student named Emily came to say hello to me after my presentation. (That's Emily in the white skirt in today's pic.) I have not seen Emily in many years, but I knew her and her family when she was a baby. And you know what, Emily? I'm pretty sure the first present I ever gave you was a BOOK!!
Now I'm going to do some writing. If I don't, how am I ever going to keep getting invited to visit cool schools?! Special thanks to librarian Mrs. Conroy (she's standing at the left in my pic) for arranging my visit today, and to teachers Mrs. Quinn and Mr. Savard for sharing your students. And to the students -- thanks for making my morning so much fun!
Thank you Ms. Polak for coming to our school and talking to us, it was very interesting.(BY the way, I'm the guy on the far right in the picture)