I feel as if I’ve been lost for the past week or two in an alternate universe. In that universe, I’m someone who leaves her house each day and speaks to other human beings.
First, I spent a day at Chalmers Elementary in North Delta. I know a school has a good library when the first thing I see as I walk in is a castle. All the surrounding columns had been turned into trees, and great books were growing everywhere.
The next day it was off to one of my favourite libraries, the West Vancouver Memorial Library, where it always seems there’s more sunshine and light streaming in the windows than ever existed outside. There, youth librarian Shannon Ozirny had signed up a whole crew of eager writers to take part in a survival writing workshop. I’ve given this workshop a few times now, but West Van was the first place students chose to have their characters escape crisis situations by TELEPORTING TO HAWAII. Now, why had I never thought of that?
Have you ever heard of Bookfest in Maple Ridge? I had never heard of it before, and it is amazing. Hundreds of kids are plucked from their regular classes by virtue of being keen readers. They read eight books this fall, including When the Worst Happens, and they all turned up at the ACT Arts Centre — many of them in costume as their favourite characters — to spend a day celebrating books. The best part? Some of them were dressed as characters from my book!
After Bookfest, I spend two days visiting schools in Maple Ridge, including Alexander Robinson, Allouette, and Laity View. The librarian at Alexander Robinson, known as “Mr. J.,” has taught at the school for 15 years or so, but this is his first year as librarian. In the hallway, one of the students called to him: “My mom says you’re wasted as a librarian, because you’re such a good teacher.”
Which was an interesting semi-compliment. Because obviously the mom appreciated Mr. J.’s teaching skills but failed to appreciate the potential of a good librarian. And honestly, you could just tell these schools all had great librarians. The students were engaged and informed and curious, and it warmed the cockles of my writerly heart.
I am now retiring back to my regular universe for a rest. But giant thank yous to all the students, teachers, and librarians who gave me such wonderful welcomes over the past two weeks.