The un-event

Oh. My. Goodness.

Here is the introduction I was supposed to give for Robert Heidbreder at UBC’s Authorfest last Thursday evening:

I was very excited to accept this opportunity, because my 7-year-old daughter is one of Robert’s biggest fans. She discovered his work last year when her grade-one class read Don’t Eat Spiders, and she’s been chanting his poetry around the house ever since.

Doing my research for today, I learned that Robert was an elementary school teacher for 30 years. In 2003, he won the Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence. It was during his time as a teacher that Robert began writing for young children.

I’m sure those kids in his classroom inspired Robert, but when I read a book like Lickety-Split, I see something else. Something that obviously helped Robert be as good a teacher as he is a writer.

Even though he’s an adult, by the looks of him, he’s managed to keep his child-like sense of humor. His wonder and sense of discovery and curiosity.

Kids look at the world from a different point of view, and it’s not just because they’re only three feet tall.

I recently walked through my kitchen, where my kids were playing with Tinker Toys. I heard my daughter tell my son: “We’re really good at this. We could probably be real spaceship designers, if anyone would hire a seven-year-old and a five-year-old.”

Childhood is another planet, and most of us, sometime around grade seven or eight, we move to a place that doesn’t spin quite so fast or bounce quite so much. Robert… well, judging by his work, I don’t think he ever moved off that planet. He has a little more bounce and spin than most of us.

I am thrilled to introduce him here today.

But I didn’t introduce him, because I was busy looking like this…

…except with more wrinkles. I had the flu, and it was a doozie.

So, I missed Authorfest. Thankfully, the lovely Kathryn Shoemaker filled in for me. A friend came and collected my son for the morning. I was supposed to organize a fundraising contribution for my daughter’s class, and another friend took care of that. Min came home from work early to feed the kids lunch.

It was almost worth being sick just to remind myself of all the wonderful people in my life.

Almost.

This could be dangerous

My February calendar is booking up faster than a socialite’s dance card. Well, okay, I have three engagements. But for someone who doesn’t usually leave her neighbourhood, that’s a lot!

  • On February 2nd, I’m introducing Robert Heidbreder at UBC’s Authorfest. I don’t actually know Robert Heidbreder, and I may be making up his entire introduction (I wonder if he remembers that mud wrestling stage of his career?), but my daughter is such a big Don’t Eat Spiders fan that I had to say yes to this event.
  • On February 23rd, I’m speaking to two groups of students at Dr. R.E. McKechnie School. It’s always good to have the opportunity to warp young minds.
  • On February 25th, I’m speaking at Serendipity. I have 20 or 30 minutes to divulge everything I know about making non-fiction interesting to kids. And, I’m going to use Keynote for the first time. Because I’m crazy like that.

You will notice that I’m sounding quite cheerful about these impending public speaking engagements. That’s because they’re all still safely in the future. I find that full panic strikes about 72 hours prior. You can check back with me then.