In a tree The McGillicuddy Book of Personal Records (Colleen Sydor)

Today I snagged a guest reader, 10 year-old Hunter McNicoll, who was enjoying The McGillicuddy Book of Personal Records (Red Deer Press)in a tree near the library. “I like that what happens is unexpected,” says Hunter. He also enjoys the interesting quotes from random famous people at the beginnings of chapters.

From Chapter Seven: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)

I had the pleasure of driving author Colleen Sydor from a Mississauga school to Paris (yeah I wish the Eiffel tower one) Ontario. Immediately I asked the Canadian Children’s Book Centre which books she’d written and when I heard about the personal records story thought it might be for Hunter. Why? Because he likes the Guinness Book of Records.

Even during her tour for Children’s Book Week not one Chapters or Indigo had a copy on hand,
so I crossed my fingers that she had brought some and would autograph a copy in time for Hunter’s birthday the next day. Hurray! She had!

Now I was warned the book was perhaps for advanced 10 year old readers. Hunter is a lively enthusiastic sports a holic and I passed the warning along to him, not as a comment on his own reading habits, more in case he found it slow slugging.

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honesty worked like some kind of reverse psychology and he snatched it up as a challenge, calling out to me during the good parts.

I can’t wait to read it myself. We’re lucky that nowadays we can just order books like these online, we don’t have to depend on the boxstores’ buyers’ decisions.

My email is sylvia.mcnicoll@cogeco.ca if you want to show/tell me what you’re reading, where and why.

The perfect passtime for summer, reading. Ahhh!!

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Reading Karma on the Deck

This is one of my favourite spots to read, on my back deck overlooking an overgrown garden, Brant Hills and in the distance a sliver of blue, Lake Ontario.  I met  the Calgary author, Cathy Ostlere, at The Writers’ Union AGM and also while writing an article on book trailers.

You don’t have to read Karma (Puffin Canada) in a sari but I was attending an East Indian/Asian themed wedding shower and was dressed this way for the event.  The 500 or so pages are in verse and follow Mata as she travels to India with her (Sikh) dad to bury her (Hindu) mom’s ashes at the time when Indira Gandhi is assassinated.

There’s a passionate yet innocent love story and in fact Mata’s sari gets unravelled at least twice.
My friend who showed me how to wrap mine promised me that this NEVER happens.
While at the shower, however, I suddenly found myself unravelling. I had to do some quick tucking.

This summer find yourself a beautiful spot and read a wonderful book like Karma.  Send me a photo and an email and I’ll post it on my blog.

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Reading Karma on the Deck

This is one of my favourite spots to read, on my back deck overlooking an overgrown garden, Brant Hills and in the distance a sliver of blue, Lake Ontario. I met Cathy Ostlere at The Writers’ Union AGM and also while writing an article on book trailers.

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have to read Karma in a sari

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What I’m reading and where and why

For Death Goes Viral, my character 16 year-old Paige Barta gets hit by a train when she walks along a track listening to an Ipod in a snowstorm. She gets another chance to relive the last week of her life and she visits BodyWorlds as she did first time through; this is an exhibit hosted by the Ontario Science Centre which features plasticized bodies, real cadavers mumified with polymar. (Oh yes I have been there for Today’s Parent Toronto.)  In researching details for the exhibit as well as the character who wanted to work in biological research of some kind I emailed Sarah Miyata, a research doctoral student who is author Cathy Miyata’s daughter.  Turned out she had volunteered at the heart, lungs, and liver table where visitors actually get to pick up a real plasticized organ.  She told me exactly what the organs looked and felt like and she also suggested I read Stiff by Mary Roach.  
It’s fascinating stuff.  The author has a wicked sense of humour in writing about all the different ways in which a dead body can be reduced, reused and recycled.  I didn’t realize that plastic surgeons sometimes practise on cadaver heads (picture them in an aluminum roasting pan on a rolling wagon with a white table cloth) or that crash test bodies (not dummies) save 147 lives a piece.  There’s a chapter that talks about how scientists grafted a head of a puppy on another dog–made me feel the same way as when I was reading Arthur Slade’s Hunchback and the dogs were partially mechanized.  
I could only read a chapter a night–as you can see I like to read it in bed.  Afterwards I had to read something fictional to cleanse my mental palate as it were.  Still I do recommend Stiff.
What are you reading and where and why?

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CANSCAIP: Bob Barton Makes Fifty Kids’ Authors Free Write

Me without my camera! For CANSCAIP’s last meeting before the summer break, Bob Barton came to introduce his new historical fiction Trouble on the Voyage with Napoleon now turned Dundurn. His introduction was also intended to show authors how to introduce their work to kids in an interactive way.

It was a dark and stormy night. Bob shakes a thunder drum (what it most resembles) to draw his audience back when he needs to give further instructions–practical point number one: finding a way besides shouting to get kids’ attention again when you need it.

But it really did thunder and lightning throughout his talk, proof that the higher powers agreed with him.

At one point he asked some fifty CANSCAIPers to write for two minutes on what they felt about being in the room. “I’ve been writing all day and now I HATE having to write again for free,” is what I suspect many of us were writing. At least I and my elbow buddy Teresa Toten were “free writing” about that.

However, it was great of fun with some fabulous tips just in time for

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the outdoor literary kid festival gigs.
(You know the kind where there’s no place to plug in a screen and projector for a Powerpoint presentation.) Besides the pressure switches off when you’re not giving the workshop and kids’ authors try everything when roles are reversed, from reading scripts, to giving imaginary lectures and interrupting with imaginary questions. So competitive too!

The writers even bought-out Bob’s supply of Trouble on the Voyage and they didn’t use loonies and toonies in ziplock bags either.

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