I went to the Red Cedar Awards Gala on Saturday. This is a student-choice award (the very best kind). About 100 kids from across the province were in attendance, along with their teachers and librarians. Some of my favourite authors were also there. In the photo below, you’ll see Linda Bailey (Seven Dead Pirates), Janet Whyte (Shot in the Dark), Robin Stevenson (The Summer We Saved the Bees), Jordan Stratford (The Case of the Missing Moonstone), Sharon Jennings (Connecting Dots), Jennifer Mook-Sang (Speechless), Merrie-Ellen Wilcox (What’s the Buzz), and me.
It never matters who wins a student-choice award. The reward is in the nomination — knowing hundreds of kids will read your book (DNA Detective, in this case), discuss with friends, and vote. But I did think it was funny that my daughter, when scoping out the competition, said, “Mom, it’s too bad you’re up against that animal rescue book.”
And alas, she was right!
A big congratulations to Julia Coey, who won the Red Cedar information book prize this year with Animal Hospital.
Note to self: add baby chipmunks to all future books.
I realize that little ones aren’t usually my department, but I’ve read three brilliant books lately and I thought I’d share. Just in case you have Christmas shopping still to do…
When Santa Was A Baby
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
Sweet and funny, and the kind of holiday book you can read over and over to your kid without throwing up. (A category smaller than one might think.) As a baby and then as a young child, Santa shows some unique traits — a love of chimneys, for example, and a passion for building toys. His parents make all sorts of guesses for his future. They’re wrong, of course, but the fact that the reader knows more than Santa’s parents is part of the fun.
Bug in a Vacuum
By Melanie Watt
Again, a picture book that’s designed just as much for the parent as it is for the preschooler. This poor housefly sucked into the vacuum cleaner goes through each of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief before achieving paradise. Which sounds rather awful when I put it like that, but the book is hilarious. Trust me.
By Dan Bar-el
In this chapter book, Audrey learns about her upcoming trip to the slaughterhouse and, with the help of her farmyard friends, hatches a plan to save herself. But that’s beside the point. The book is funny and wise and the sort of story that could solve all the world’s problems if only everyone would read it. So not only should you buy it for your favourite elementary-school student, you should also buy it for your great uncle who says the UN should build a wall around Syria, and for your aunt who starts every sentence with “I’m not one to gossip, but…” And then you should buy an extra copy for yourself. It’s that good.
I’m going to stop talking about the TWUC AGM soon, but I wanted to share a few favourite moments:
Watching Margriet Ruurs knit during panel discussions. This is a woman who travels the world, writes books, runs a bed and breakfast, stays active in the writing community… and knits. Women truly are amazing multi-taskers.
Hearing Thad McIlroy say, “don’t be defensive; it attracts predators.” A quirky way of telling people to embrace change.
Listening to Cynara Geissler of Arsenal Pulp Press talk about being in “all spaces” — on-line, in print, in person — as a promotion strategy.
Noticing that most of the CWILL BC members at the conference — Linda Bailey, Margriet Ruurs, Caroline Adderson, Ellen Schwartz — were dressed in brown and turquoise. How did I miss that memo, and what was I doing in pink?
Marvelling that I could spend eight hours in a room that many writers and not have a single person ask about my rather black-and-yellow eye. I decided this was probably because they were all IMAGINING their own scenarios… how frightening.
Admiring the dedication of all those people who spend hours studying things like lending rights and copyright.