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Touring In: 
NEWFOUNDLAND

Craft: Author

Genre: Early Chapter Books, Young Adult, Teen Fiction, Hi-Lo

Ideal Audience Size: 20-30

Maximum Audience Size: 40

Grades: Grades 5-12

Special Equipment: Whiteboard, plus each student should have a pen/pencil and a piece of paper.

Cost for School Readings Program: $200.00, plus 13% HST per school presentation

Cost for Public Readings Program: $250.00, plus 13% HST per public presentation

Website: moniquepolak.com

 

Presentation Information

I begin every presentation by showing students my journal –  I’ve been keeping a daily journal for more than 20 years. I explain that for me, writing is like swimming laps in a pool. I need to keep my writing muscles limber. In my talks, I like to emphasize that writing is a combination of hard work and having fun.

I take students through my writing process – from inspiration to researching and planning, to writing and rewriting (and then rewriting some more).

I also explain how I get the ideas for my books. I believe that story ideas are everywhere – and I try to help youngsters “tune in” to the stories that surround them.

Both my fall 2019 titles are historical middle-grade novels inspired by true events. The Taste of Rain tells the story of a group of students interned during World War II in a Japanese prison camp in China. Their teachers kept the children’s spirits up by following the Girl Guide code. Room For One More was inspired by a story I heard over dinner – an elderly woman’s recollection of her family’s having adopted a German Jewish war refugee during World War II.

My upcoming spring 2019 chapter book Princess Angelica, Junior Reporter is the third chapter book in a series inspired by the fact that when I was ten, I told the other girls in my bunk at summer camp I was a princess. All summer, they made my bed and got my food for me in the cafeteria. In exchange, every night, I told them stories about life at the palace.

Even during a one-hour presentation, I always make time to help students identify the stories they need to tell. I use a memory exercise to help students access material from their own lives. It’s an exercise I have used successfully with elementary school students as well as seniors.

Finally, during my talks, I always take time to explain that it was not easy for me to become a published author. I had many rejection letters before I sold my first manuscript in 2004. I like to think that I am an example of a person who did not give up on her dream. After many years of working with young people, I believe that what they will need most as they grow up and face the world is courage. I try to pass this message on in every talk I give.

Book List

Princess Angelica, Junior Reporter (Orca Book Publishers, 2020)

I Am a Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)

The Taste of Rain (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)

Princess Angelica, Part-Time Lion Trainer (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)

Planet Grief (Orca Book Publishers, 2018)

Passover Family (Orca Book Publishers, 2018)

Princess Angelica, Camp Catastrophe (Orca Book Publishers, 2018)

Bullies Rule (Orca Book Publishers, 2017)

Passover: Festival of Freedom (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Leggings Revolt (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Forensics Squad Unleashed (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Learning the Ropes (Orca Book Publishers, 2015)

Straight Punch (Orca Book Publishers, 2014)

Hate Mail (Orca Book Publishers, 2014)

So Much It Hurts (Orca Book Publishers, 2013)

Pyro (Orca Book Publishers, 2012)

Miracleville (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)

Junkyard Dog (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)

The Middle of Everywhere (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)

What World Is Left (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)

121 Express (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)

Scarred [Lorimer SideStreets] (Lorimer, 2007)

Finding Elmo (Orca Book Publishers, 2007)

All In [Lorimer SideStreets] (Lorimer, 2006)

Home Invasion (Orca Book Publishers, 2005)

On the Game [Lorimer SideStreets] (Lorimer, 2005)

No More Pranks (Orca Book Publishers, 2004)

Flip Turn [Lorimer Sports Stories] (Lorimer, 2004)

 

Biography

I am the author of 28 books for young people. Twenty-two of these books are YA or middle-grade novels; three are chapter books; two are works of non-fiction for young readers and one is a board book. I also work as a freelance journalist, mostly for the Montreal Gazette. I have been teaching full-time at Marianopolis College for 33 years. My courses include “Writing for Children,” as well as “Print Journalism.”

As busy as I am, I always try to say yes to school visits. On average, I visit 20 schools in Quebec every year. The reason I try to do these visits is that, when I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer, but, until university, I never had the chance to meet an author. There was no one to answer my questions about the writing process and the writing life. I want to give kids the information and encouragement I needed when I was their age.

Like most writers, I have an unusual interest in trouble! Though I was never a troublemaker, I was the kind of youngster and later, young adult, who found herself in troubling situations. These experiences have fueled my writing – as well as my teaching. I like to discuss how difficult experiences can help inspire compelling, moving stories.

For the last four years, I have been a columnist for ICI-Radio Canada’s most popular French-language non-news radio program, Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! On the show, I review French language YA books.

I have a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Concordia University. My MA thesis involved a psycho-biographical study of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.

I am high-energy and perhaps a little more positive than average. I believe these qualities make me an engaging, memorable presenter.