I was so excited to share my news with you a few weeks ago when I found out that Milo and Georgie is nominated for a Forest of Reading Award! … But I wasn’t allowed to tell you until today… So! Milo and Georgie is nominated for a 2018 Blue Spruce Award through the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Awards! What is this all about!?? Glad you asked 😉
Each year, the Ontario Library Association picks their Top 10 recently published Canadian books (in my category, picture books), and brings them to children ages 4-7 (Grade K-2) to develop skills in reading and evaluating books based on story, text and pictures. The children read books from the list for their age group, and then THEY vote on their favourite. The winner is announced at a festival (The Festival of Trees) in Toronto in May… and over 200k people take part! Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled and can’t wait to go to Toronto and fully immerse myself in the experience. Even my dad is stoked — even though when I go away he’s stuck with my dog for a week.
I recently read Milo and Georgie at a local elementary school and secretly shared my nomination with Mrs. Gelson’s grade 3 class after they assured me they could keep a secret. I’ve written about my readings a few times before, and this one was really special because the kids has amazing critical thinking skills and asked me questions that really put me on the spot. I am not talking about the usual “Why do you like writing books?” — but, “How do you find time to write when you are working full time, getting a Master’s Degree, and have children to raise all by yourself?”
I think their inquisitiveness has something (a lot) to do with their teacher and her ability to create a space free of judgement and full of books. I have never seen a classroom with more books in my life. I swear the collection rivals most libraries. After the reading we chatted for a long time about how families come in different shapes and sizes, how some people are allergic to cats, and what everyone does in their spare time.
Then we did something I was nervous to do — share the beginning of a story I am writing for their age (early readers) and get their feedback on it. It was hard because right now it’s just words, and the book will be full of images when (not if) it get’s published… So I had to ask them to use a lot of imagination to see the story taking shape. AND THEY LOVED IT. They were 100% into my ideas and we brainstormed a bunch of ways for the character to make money (which they loved). I felt like I was in a class of literary consultants — a true testament to their teacher and their parents.
Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, a few days later, Mrs. Gelson (and you MUST checkout her blog immediately) gave me a stack of letters the students had written to me after my visit. They are priceless. I can’t even.