monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

3 minutes reading time (596 words)

Book Makers Meet Up (don't you love the term book maker?)

I’m moving house, which means I’ve been packing boxes. And packing boxes! But today, I took a short break from – you guessed it, packing boxes! – to have a Zoom visit with grade three students at Park Avenue Public School, in Holland Landing, Ontario. A few weeks ago, their teacher, Miss Abalos (a writer herself -- that's her face that's visible at the top of today's pic), read the kids my picture book The Brass Charm, illustrated by Marie Lafrance (Scholastic). The book is based on an experience my mum had when, as a child, she was imprisoned in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp. It was my mum’s fourteenth birthday and a stranger, also a prisoner, gave my mum a brass monkey man charm.

So the first thing I did in this afternoon’s Zoom was show the students the charm – which I wear every day around my neck. I also told them it isn’t just people who have stories, it’s objects too. And I encouraged the kids to ask their friends and relatives about the objects they treasure. What are the stories behind these objects?

We also talked about the value of curiosity – and how it leads to learning and stories! So I was very pleased that the students had prepared excellent questions for me. I’m going to share a few of them in today’s blog entry.

Violet (I love the name, I must steal it for a book, and also Violet’s wonderful braids!) asked me, “Are you still in touch with Elodie?” I loved that question because I MADE ELODIE UP! I took that as a great compliment because every author wants their characters to feel real!

Jacob wanted to know how old I was when I wrote my first book. I explained that I published my first book at age 44, but I wrote my first book when I was eleven. Jacob told me, “I’m also a book maker!” I told him to keep at it, and to continue writing. I stopped writing for a while when I was a grownup – and I told Jacob never to let that happen to him.

Tefenet (another great name!) asked me, “Will you pass on the brass charm to your kid?” I explained that I already made silver replicas of the charm, and have given them to my daughter and soon-to-be-stepdaughter (which explains the moving houses!). When I asked Tefenet about her name, I learned something super interesting. She told me, “I’m named after the Egyptian goddess of moisture.” I told Tefenet she needs to write that story – about a modern-day Tefenet and the ancient goddess whose name she shares!

And now to end with something funny … Mosawer announced he had two questions. “Was it true you lost your house?” (That’s something that happens in the book.) I told him no, I never lost my house, but when I was around his age, there was a terrible storm in Montreal and two houses on the street where I lived lost their roofs. That memory stayed with me for over fifty years and found its way into my story…. Okay, now to get to the funny part. I heard Mosawer ask Miss Abalos, “Can I use the bathroom now?” so I called out, “Was that your second question?!!”

It does feel good to laugh. Especially after a day of packing boxes! But it especially feels good to hang around with kind, smart young people! Thanks to all of you for our time together, and to Miss Abalos for setting up today’s visit!

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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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