Tag Archives: Colette @ WPL

MYRCA Award Ceremony 2017

On September 29th 2017, the 27th annual MANITOBA YOUNG READER’S CHOICE AWARD was presented to Allan Stratton  for his novel The Dogs.  He was selected by Manitoban children who had read at least three books from the nominated list. Honour book winners were Kevin Sylvester  for his novel Minrs and Kevin Sands for his novel The Blackthorn Key.

Allan Stratton is a prolific Canadian author who has won numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) awards both in Canada and internationally. As he told the children who came to see him, he worked as an actor for many years, but writing was always his dream. Allan says that his greatest influence in life was his mother, who showed incredible fortitude in leaving his father and his violent abuse while he was a child in the days when such things were frowned upon. The Dogs was directly influenced from these events as is the character of Granny in The Way Back Home. Like Granny, Allan’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s and he spent much time with her in her twilight, often reading her the dedication page from The Grave Robber’s Apprentice. It reads “For Mom, who took me to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival when I was a kid”. It was a joy and surprise to her every day.

The Dogs is a mystery, a thriller, and a ghost story all rolled into one! Cameron (Cam) and his mother live life on the run from Cam’s abusive father, although the reader is never sure if Cam’s mother is justified in her fear of his return. They move into a creepy old farmhouse and Cam starts seeing the ghost of a little boy who died on the property. Cam begins to wonder if he is losing his mind. However, the barking of dogs that he knows are not there is real to him, and he dives into the mystery of the former homeowners. The true beauty of this novel is how it appeals to all age groups.  Both young and old alike enjoy the suspenseful atmosphere and the surprise ending!

Fun Fact: Allan Stratton names his characters by determining what year they were born, then looking into census records to see what the top names were at the time of his character’s “birth”.

The MYRCA award ceremony was held at the Manitoba Theater for Young People and was attended by over 300 students from Winnipeg and rural Manitoba. The ceremony is an invitation only event and the room was filled to capacity with students who read the nominees and voted for the award. The MYRCA committee was very proud to be able to partner with Thin Air, the International Writer’s Festival, who provided us with theater space and hosted Allan on their “School Stage” events during the week. Allan was able to take in several readings and was very excited to be invited during this incredible event. He told us that Thin Air is one of his favorite festivals in all of Canada!

Lisa Ferguson’s class from Victor Mager School were honoured to host the event. The grade 6, 7, and 8 students did a wonderful job presenting Allan with his award. They also produced a book trailer about The Dogs that Allan loved so much that he asked them if he could use it for his website. The students were very excited to meet him and the buzz backstage before the ceremony was electric. Allan offered the students some sage words of advice regarding nervousness before a show, and his past years of working as an actor clearly showed. Lisa’s class added some fun elements this year, as the students wrote out some trivia questions and the audience was invited to answer them. Participants were gifted with an autographed bookmark!

Allan then read from his new novel The Way Back Home .  Anyone who has a relative with Alzheimer’s will be able to relate to Zoe’s struggle as she watches her Granny deteriorate and eventual placement in a nursing home against her will. With bullies at school and parents who cannot seem to support her in a positive way,  Zoe begins to make some drastic decisions. Will they be able to find the mysterious Uncle Teddy whom everyone claims is dead but Granny insists is still alive? Recently short listed for both the Governor General’s award and OLA’s Red Maple award, The Way Back Home is a must read for any #canlit fan.

After the ceremony, attendees were invited to compete in a scavenger hunt in the afternoon. The talented and amazing (local author) Colleen Nelson organized a scavenger hunt. Students were given a map and clues where they could find hidden pictures of dogs. Once located, the students had to answer a multiple choice question about the nominees from the 2017 list. Students enjoyed running around the Forks on a beautiful fall day and were rewarded with a selection of Canadian books provided by the numerous publishers who support MYRCA every year. Thank you publishers!

Being part of the MYRCA committee is incredibly rewarding and the yearly award ceremony is the highlight of the year. The MYRCA committee is entirely run by volunteers and the ceremony is no exception, so a special thanks must go out to our volunteers – Susan C. who ran the reception table and kept all the classes organized before entry, and Susan from MTYP, the professional and gracious front of house manager who helped Lori and I seat all those excited children. Sabrina was on hand to live tweet from the event (you can follow us on twitter @Myrcaward) plus Tabitha and her students from Red River Collegiate were there to help with the Q and A as well as the book prize give-away and scavenger hunt. Lisa and Colleen made the entire day possible by organizing and putting on the event, which was a memorable day thanks to all their efforts.  We are so grateful that you all volunteered your precious time to help celebrate Allan’s achievement with our young voters. Job well done!

If you and your child/students are interested in participating in MYRCA, there is no cost and it is easy to do. Simply have you child read, or read to them a minimum of three books from the nominated listVoting begins in late March and the winner is announced in early May. Only voters are invited to the ceremony, so get reading so you can join us for all the fun next year!

Colette

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Exciting #MYRCA News!

Teachers! Librarians! Parents! There is a big change coming to Manitoba for young readers! Hopefully you are familiar with the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award (MYRCA) where students in grades 5-8 can read from a list of 18 Canadian titles and vote for their favorite. If you are looking for ways to encourage your kids to read independently, MYRCA  is a great way to get started.

For 2017, Manitoba students chose Allan Stratton’s The Dogs as their favorite book. Our kids clearly have good taste as The Dogs has won both Saskatchewan’s Snow Willow Award and Ontario’s Forest of Reading’s Red Maple Award. This September, MYRCA together with Thin Air, the Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival have arranged to have Allan Stratton appear on their main and school stages. Young readers never forget meeting their favorite author, and their energy is palpable. Schools whose students have voted are also invited to a special ceremony when Allan will receive his 2017 MYRCA Award, hosted by Lisa Ferguson’s students from Victor Mager School.

Lately, the MYRCA committee has noted the difficulty in finding appropriate titles for the full range of ages we serve. Students’ reading interests in grade 5 are vastly different than students in grade 8. The same holds true for their reading levels. Having a long list of 18 books, MYRCA selectors have always hoped that there is something on it for everyone, but in reality, there are always a few books that are too “low” for the grade 8’s and too “high” for the grade 5’s.

With this in mind, MYRCA has decided that now is the time to change! Starting in 2019, MYRCA will offer two lists of 10 books each; one for grades 4-6 and one for grades 7-9. In this way we are expanding our readership into grades 4 and 9 and will be offering titles that are better suited to those ranges. The MYRCA voting system will remain the same, with participants voting once if they have read 3 or more titles and twice if they have read 6 or more. Teachers and librarians report this to be very motivating for their students, as many will read “just one more” to get that extra vote. As such, MYRCA hopes to encourage all young people to become readers for life.

Although this change is still a year away, you can still participate in this year’s MYRCA. You can start reading the fantastic titles on the 2018 list of nominees  in several ways. If you like good old-fashioned print books, WPL has all of the titles in hardcover or paperback. For the more technology oriented, you can find most of the titles in eBook and/or audiobook through WPL’s Overdrive app. If you need a great read-aloud for that long summer road trip, you can do that too! Kids are required to have read (or been read to) 3 nominees to be eligible to vote.  Here are the three I would recommend starting with:

Written in verse, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles  by Shari Green is evocative and deeply moving. While their parents attend a marriage counselling camp, Bailey and her younger brother Kevin are spending the summer with Nana Marie, whom they barely know. Bailey is struggling with anxiety and looks for solace in the strangest of places. She sometimes finds the face of Jesus in her pancakes and a piece of driftwood is certainly a magical mermaid. But the idyllic seaside town has mysteries of its own and Bailey finds herself hoping for a miracle.

 A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy is a short novella about Evelyn who is just as surprised as her classmates when they are introduced to the new boy at school whose name is Queen. The boys in her class tease him but she tries to be nice. What she discovers along the way makes for a great discussion starter about being resilient and staying true to yourself.

 

For graphic novel lovers, The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks introduces us to an Asian-inspired city that has been repeatedly conquered and renamed so many times that the original name has been lost. The divide between the wealthy military elite and the poor population is apparent to Kaidu, a general’s son and Rat, an orphaned Indigenous girl. Together they try to rescue the city in the only way they can. This is the first in a trilogy and is being made into a television series.

 

So, get those kids reading and see you at Thin Air!

-Colette

Walk or I’ll punch you.

On a frantic October morning, I had one second of inattention and fell down a flight of stairs which resulted in a snapped 5th metatarsal and a chipped ankle. I ended up in a cast and spent the entire month of November looking out my front window. With the beautiful weather, cyclists abounded, the neighbours walked their dogs, children played. Stuck with only the fish for company, I sat, seething inwardly. With nothing to watch on T.V. but the American election, I started knitting pussy hats. And thinking…

About death…I hate to break this to you but we are all terminal. And since April is Cancer Awareness Month, here are your chances: 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes; 1 in 4 will die of the disease…let that hit you…I’ll wait…Truth is we all know someone who has been affected. Looking around Winnipeg, many of our dearest friends have authored compelling books on the subject.

“I am the reason you walk. I created you so that you might walk this earth.”*

 

Reading Melanie Penner’s Our Hope Adventure feels like you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend. Melanie was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and when she was told that it was terminal, she wrote a blog which eventually became her legacy to her family. Although she struggled with how to accept losing all of the good in her life, she did so by taking her husband’s advice to count their blessings every day. She chose to keep focused on the gains she would achieve through her faith. She bravely told her story at many speaking engagements, using her voice to teach others about cancer and to share her absolute faith that God had a plan for her even though she faced such hardships. She challenged all of her followers “to tell someone you love what they mean to you and why you value them…..it has the power to change them and you”.

Born in Roseisle,  Melanie Penner moved to Winnipeg to pursue an Education degree. She was a teacher in the St-James School Division and member of the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church.  You can listen to her interview with Pastor Terry Janke about gains and losses (Phil 3:7 – 11). 

 

“I am the reason you walk. I gave you motivation so you would continue to walk even when the path became difficult, even seemingly impossible.”

 

As Wayne Tefs describes in Dead Man on a Bike, he was motivated to chase away his black thoughts by biking many of the world’s most beautiful cycle paths. He proclaims that a cancer diagnosis can be the best thing that ever happened to you because it gave him his “Punch in the Face” moment… Why ME? …Then comes the moment when you get “helicopter vision”. It is when you realize that all of your materialistic concerns are no longer important. He used his time on his bike to meditate about appreciating the Zen of menial tasks, of embracing love everywhere he found it and of taking solace in doing everything he could while he still had the time. He encourages his readers to be proactive; for him it was the key to well-being. Keep moving forward, keep riding, and most of all enjoy the scenery.

Wayne Tefs was born in St-Boniface, Manitoba and grew up in Northwestern Ontario. After moving to Winnipeg, he became head of the English at St-John’s Ravenscourt School. He was the co-founder of Turnstone Press and author of many articles, biographies and novels.

 

“I am the reason you walk. I animated you with that driving force called love, which compelled you to help others who had forgotten they were brothers and sisters to take steps back towards one another.”

 

In The Reason You Walk, Wab Kinew writes about how his life was also changed when his father, Tobasonakwut, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Seeking to heal their fractured relationship, Wab embarked on a journey to reconcile with his father. Tobasonakwut was a respected elected leader and a beloved traditional chief who endured a traumatic childhood in residential school. Together, they courageously attempted to repair their family bond. They did so by remembering the lessons of the Anishinaabe travelling song Nigosha anisha wenji-bimoseyan (I am the reason you walk). “We ought to recognize that our greatest battle is not with one another but with our pain, our problems and our flaws. To be hurt, yet forgive, to do wrong, but forgive yourself, to depart from this world leaving only love. This is the reason you walk”.

Wab Kinew was born in the Onigaming First Nation and is the associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg. He is a member of Midewin and an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He is currently the MLA for Fort Rouge in Manitoba.

 

“And now, my son, as that journey comes to an end, I am the reason you walk,”

 

Dennis Maione’s What I Learned from Cancer is his journey through two bouts of colon cancer, both considered primary. Maione, with the help of friends he calls the “background bookworms”, discovered through persistent research that a particular strain of the Lynch syndrome happens to be prevalent in Manitoba’s Mennonite community. As a result, he is genetically predisposed to cancer and that his children may have inherited the same gene. And indeed, they discover that his son is affected. Even though he and his son live under the specter of cancer, they live life fully. Maione gives practical advice such as how to talk to doctors and how to organize your community around you. He encourages his readers to research their conditions, get tested regularly and never to lose hope.

Dennis Maione lives in Winnipeg and is a member of the Manitoba Writers Guild, the Creative Non-Fiction Collective Society, the Manitoba Storytelling Guild and the Writers’ Union of Canada. He maintains a website and blog here.

 

“For I am calling you home. Walk home with me on that everlasting road.”

 

If you or someone you love is facing a cancer diagnosis, I encourage you to use your local librarian as a background bookworm. We excel at finding information. Be it cancer cookbooks, how to cope with grief or trying to reconcile with family, the library will find the resources you need. Can’t leave home? We have eBooks and audiobooks through OverDrive. Need a doctor? Look here. Every journey starts with putting one foot in front of the other, start walking!

6 months, 7 pussy hats and 1 Women’s March later, my foot is now considered healed. I wish I could say the same about the state of the world. All that sitting and thinking made me realize that I can do better. My injury was a blessing in the sense that it gave me a helicopter’s perspective of how important it is to be able to walk. I appreciate that so much more now. So, I will live in the moment. I will appreciate life. I will continue to read so that I may walk in other people’s shoes. I just had my Punch in the Face Moment (lite). When will you have yours?

In memory of Cyril Dufault.

-Colette

*This and the other similar quotes come from Wab Kinew’s book, The Reason You Walk.

 

#ReadThisGuy: Guy Gavriel Kay

kay childrean

There it is, sitting listlessly on my bedside table, the newest Guy Gavriel Kay novel, Children of Earth and Sky. It is teasing me to open it, silently pleading for me to read it. But, like a fine wine, it must be savoured at leisure, enjoyed with the perfect morsel, on a leisurely night, with absolutely no possibility of interruptions. One doesn’t rush through a book like this. So, I am waiting, anticipating the moment when I can give it my full and complete attention.

 “Writing what I do is an artistic opportunity, and it’s also an opportunity for readers who are bored with what they have been getting, with the diet they’ve been served, who like the idea of moving out of their comfort zones.”

If you haven’t met Guy Kay, he can be found at McNally Robinson whenever a new book of his is published. He grew up in Winnipeg and tells hilarious stories about his days at Grant Park High School. You can find references to his Winnipeg childhood in his book of poems Beyond This Dark House. He is most well known as the author who invented his own genre, what we now refer to as Historical Fantasy. Kay loves to take you on a journey into the past; he uses a recognizable time period but gives it a quarter turn to the fantastic by including elements of mysticism and fantasy.

“My readership is not vast and titanic but they’re loyal and they get what I am trying to do…It makes it easier for me not to do a straightforward historical or a straightforward fantasy. I can live in my hard to categorize space because I’ve had a measure of success there. “

Kay is a master of literary innovations. He loves to leave open spaces in his novels that will leave you wondering. At first, you think he accidentally left out an important bit. Later, you realize, it is a little gift for you, the reader. You can fill in these missing details as you wish. This time, Kay’s innovation is to cut from one person’s point of view to another’s in the middle of the conversation and back it up a bit, so that the reader can see how the characters are interpreting the situation differently.

“The reading process is a dialogue…It’s the reader sitting down and taking from what I can give, whatever they can take – or choose to take”

kay sailingkay lordInterestingly, Children of Earth and Sky is set in the same world as The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Last Light of the Sun and the Sarantine Mosaic (my favorite). But it is 900 years later, and so the world has changed. Kay did not want to write about the “movers and shakers” or use a quest to bring characters together. This novel is about the concerns of ordinary people; it has several protagonists, each with a different trajectory, all moving in different directions and having different goals. Kay’s main inspiration was “how we’re actually not very good at understanding each other” and how “we remember the same moments differently”. Using these ideas, he created complex characters, layered with levels of humanity who will live with you long after you finish the final page.

“We want a book to actually get its hooks into us so much that we’re altered by the interaction with it…If you are writing ambitiously, you are, in fact, hoping to change people.

kay summer

In high school, I was given The Summer Tree to read by a bookish acquaintance. She told me I was going to love it, which I doubted. As it turned out, the very second I finished it, I screamed, jumped up, walked straight out the front door and grabbed the next bus to the library and checked out its sequel, The Wandering Fire. If you are wondering why I didn’t just buy the eBook, it was 1986 and that’s how we rolled.

That acquaintance has been my best friend ever since. I am expecting her to call any time now to check to see if I’ve started IT yet. She’s probably already finished and will be annoyed… we have a strict NO SPOILERS rule. In my defense, I will say to her (in my best Boromir voice), “Tamara, one does not simply READ Children of Earth and Sky, you must SAVOUR it, like the finest, rarest, most exquisite of wines”.

Passages in italics are from the May 2016 issue of LOCUS magazine, “Journeying Guy Gavriel Kay,” by Guy Gavriel Kay, pages 7, 48-49.

 

kay read

Currently on the Toronto subway

  • Colette