I'm getting good at finding my way to Rivière-des-Prairies! I was back this morning at Michelangelo International Elementary School to work with Miss Noemia's Grade Six students. I think you will be able to tell from today's pic that these students have a lot of personality!
When I told the students that stories need TROUBLE -- I explained that TROUBLE is like gas (or electricity!) for a car... it makes a story MOVE FORWARD -- I mentioned feelings like sadness, frustration, loneliness and betrayal. My comment led a student named Stefano to ask a great question: "Do you mean in school? Out of school? And what about sports?" My answer was ALL OF THE ABOVE. When you're writing a book, Stefano, you can set it anywhere you like -- in school, out of school, or on a soccer field. Stefano went on to explain that he has felt sad when he played both hockey and soccer: "I was always getting told, 'You're not good!'" It also turns out that Stefano's dad was a coach. So I told Stefano it sounds to me like he has a GREAT STORY to work with -- especially because publishers are really interested in kids' books about sports. Get to work, Stefano! In my opinion, too many sports stories are about star athletes. I'd certainly like to read a book about a kid who is struggling on the soccer pitch or at the arena.
Later, we got to talking about dreams, which are an important source of inspiration for writers. Gianfranco told us, "For two weeks, I had bad dreams." I think that also makes interesting book material, Gianfranco. Now write down what happened in those dreams before you forget the DETAILS!
LIke me, a student named Cassandra writes in her journal every single day. When I asked the students to do an exercise involving a memory from when they were five years old, Cassandra wrote this beautiful piece, which she allowed me to share on today's blog:
"grandma hospital cold hand sad pain nurse old bed sick card get well soon balloons"
I LOVE IT. And Cassandra's words, and the way she has combined them, tell me that she is a POET. Keep writing, Cassandra!
I finished my session by discussing my novel, What World Is Left, which is based on my mum's childhood experience during the Holocaust. I was very moved when a student named Jonathan stopped me on my way out today and said, "Maybe your mom is looking down and saying, 'Good job!'"
So, here's what I have to say to the students I worked with today at Michelangelo: GOOD JOB!! Thanks to Miss Noemia, and student teacher Angela, and to librarian Miss Ida too!