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Touring In: Manitoba

Craft: Author

Genre: Picture Books, Middle Grade, YA

Ideal Audience Size: 30-80

Maximum Audience Size: 150

Grades: Kindergarten to Grade 12

Special Equipment: Flip-chart and a projector if giving a children’s writing workshop to adults

Website: www.heathertsmith.com

 

Shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award
Winner of the 2018 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award

 

Presentation Information

Heather Smith spent much of her early life wrestling with words. Not only was she a reluctant reader, she struggled with speech as well. In her presentations, Heather shares her journey from word-hater to word-lover and talks about beginnings, both in literature and in life. Her personal story demonstrates to students the importance of character growth, not only within the characters on the page, but within themselves. Heather’s presentation includes a fun interactive “Book Beginnings Game” where students guess the book by its opening and reflect on how the main character changes from beginning to end. Heather also shares her own book openings and discusses the journeys she chose to send her characters on and why. This “beginnings” theme is core to all of Heather’s presentations which she tailors by age/books as described below.

Grades 1-3 Angus All Aglow and A Plan for Pops (45 minutes to 60 minutes)

Heather will share her journey as described above and play an age appropriate Book Beginnings game. With this age group, Heather explains how her childhood speech problem had a silver lining – it helped her become a better writer. Unable to pronounce certain words, Heather became a walking thesaurus, anxiously swapping out words she wanted to say with words she could say. With this in mind, Heather invites students to play a Walking Thesaurus game in which they explore the world of synonyms. This presentation also includes a reading of Angus All Aglow and A Plan for Pops. These picture books include themes of inclusivity, empathy, and inventiveness – themes that spur on much discussion from primary groups.

(Kindergarten groups are welcome in this session. Alternately, Heather can meet with kindergarten classes separately. This presentation would be shorter (20 – 30 minutes) and include a reading of both Angus All Aglow and A Plan for Pops.)

Grades 4-8 Ebb & Flow (60 minutes)

Heather will share her journey as described above and play both the Book Beginnings and Walking Thesaurus game. With this age group, Heather will discuss how a piece of sea glass inspired her to write Ebb & Flow. Heather will explain how sea glass is formed – how a sharp shard of broken glass gets thrown in the ocean and after years of being bashed and battered in the waves becomes a beautiful, smooth, frosty gem. Heather likens this transformation to life’s journey – how sometimes it is the difficult times in life that make us stronger and better people. To demonstrate this, Heather reads from Ebb & Flow and introduces Jett, a boy who has made a terrible mistake and has a hard time forgiving himself. Heather will explain how the book’s format – free verse – adds weight to Jett’s emotional journey. This presentation ends with a Q & A.

Grades 8-12 Chicken Girl (60 minutes)

Heather will share her journey as described above and play the Book Beginnings game (high school students love this game too!) With this age group, Heather will share the journey of main character Poppy and touch on the LGBTQ themes that present themselves in her work. Heather will also discuss the craft of writing and give tips for budding writers. This presentation includes a reading from the novel and ends with a Q & A.

Writing for Children Workshop, Adults (60-90 minutes) Join Heather as she shares tips on writing for a younger audience. Whether it’s a picture book for small children or a novel for young adults, Heather will discuss the creative process – from that first spark of inspiration to the finished manuscript. Heather’s workshop will include a hands-on writing exercise and ends with a Q&A.

 

Book List

Chicken Girl by Heather Smith (Penguin Teen, 2019)

A Plan for Pops by Heather Smith, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)

Angus All Aglow by Heather Smith, illustrated by Alice Carter (Orca Book Publisher, 2018)

Ebb & Flow by Heather Smith (Kids Can Press, 2018)

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith (Penguin Teen, 2017)

Baygirl by Heather Smith (Orca Book Publisher, 2013)

 

Biography

Originally from Newfoundland, Heather Smith now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her husband and three children. Heather is the author of The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, which was named one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2017. Her middle grade novel, Ebb & Flow, has received starred reviews from both Quill & Quire and School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award. When Heather is not writing books she can be found eating toast and watching documentaries that most people would find boring. Her east coast roots inspire much of her writing.

 

Awards

Ebb & Flow

  • Shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award
  • Shortlisted of the 2019 Silver Birch Award

 

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

  • Winner of the 2018 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2018 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
  • Shortlisted for the 2018 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2019 White Pine Award

 

Baygirl

  • Shortlisted for the 2015 White Pine Award