monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

2 minutes reading time (442 words)

Home Away from Home: Riverdale High School

Today, I was back with Mrs. Scott's Grade Nine English class at Riverdale High School. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that I am working with Mrs. Scott's class on a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation educational program called Libres comme l'art. I tell the students all about what it's like to write a book and they give me input on the book I'm writing. Let's just say, for me, it's a heavenly arrangement.

Usually, the writing part of my life is a solitary endeavor. Often, I finish a chapter and read it out loud to myself (which is a good trick, but let's be honest, it's a little sad!!) Today, I read Chapters 4 and 5 to the class and... I'm very proud to tell you that when I finished reading, a student named Sarah called out, "That's good!" (Sarah, you totally made my day.)

Of course the students also had useful criticisms. Liam pointed out that I'd called a place the Old Mission Brewery when it is actually the Old Brewery Mission. Thanks for catching that, Liam. In one paragraph, I described what a teenage boy might do if he was home alone and Jared had a good suggestion: that he might blast the sound system. That goes in the book, Jared!

My favourite moment came, however, when I was explaining how I was still grappling with one big problem in my story: the motivation behind an adult's mistreatment of one of the teenagers in the story. I asked the students to jot down their ideas ... so it was kind of a group brainstorming exercise. And guess what? I walked around the room, peeking at the answers the students were coming up with ... AND ONE OF THEM WAS PERFECT!! Special thanks to Jordana, who helped me solve the problem that's been bugging me for a couple of weeks.

In all, I'm doing seven visits with Mrs. Scott's class, but I have to admit: I'm getting hooked on working with these kids. It's true I sometimes have to shush them, give them a stern look, and even stop speaking for a while (hard for someone like me to do!!), while I wait for them to quiet down... but when it comes to bright ideas, these students sure have them.

Thanks to everyone involved in the project for making it happen -- my friends at Blue Met; Suzanne Nesbitt of the Lester B. Pearson School Board; Mr. Rampersad, my favourite principal; the wonderful librarian, Mrs. Strano; Mrs. Scott and Miss Chris; and especially the students. I've never had so much fun working on a book!

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Tuesday, 05 March 2024

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