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Touring In: Nova Scotia

Craft: Author

Genre: Middle Grade, YA, Picture Books

Ideal Audience Size: 100-300 kids for Grade 6-9 presentation, and max 40 for the Kindergarten to 3 presentation.

Maximum Audience Size: 300

Grades: Kindergarten – Grades 3 and Grades 6 – 9

Special Equipment: Projector, speakers and assistance from someone familiar with school’s IT.

Website: www.susinnielsen.com

 

Governor General’s Literary Award Winning Author

 

Presentation Information

Confessions of a Word Nerd – Hour-Long School Presentation for grades 6-9

Susin talks about her journey from nerdy, offbeat kid to published author, sharing excerpts from the diary she wrote when she was 11, and even her 7th grade school photo, in a fun power point presentation. She discusses her own upbringing with a single parent mom, where there was little money for extras. But Susin had a big imagination and a library card, and she often found refuge in books. She also had one teacher who encouraged her to pursue her writing (as she had a decided lack of ability in many other areas). Nielsen also discusses one or more of her books (which can be tailored to the wishes of the school), and does a short, engaging reading. Her talks are interactive, and she leaves lots of time for students’ questions. Her presentations are engaging and funny and her stories are relatable to her audience. She leaves students feeling inspired to pursue their passions through hard work and perseverance.

 

Hour-Long Writing Workshop – Creating a Protagonist – maximum 30 participants – Grades 6 and up (no more than two grades in one workshop)

Good stories start with good characters. The more we get to know our protagonist, the more we know how she would react in any given situation. In this workshop, we will have fun creating young protagonists “on the fly” by answering a series of questions. Then you’ll be given a series of opening lines to choose from (or, create your own!) and asked to write the beginnings of a first chapter. Based on what you now know about him/her/them, how will they react in this particular situation? What tidbits will you reveal about your character? Can you write toward a chapter ending that will make us want to keep reading? A fun, engaging workshop.

 

½ Hour Presentation for Kids K-3  – maximum 40 kids

With a new picture book out in January 2019, I’ve created a shorter presentation for younger kids. Princess Puffybottom … and Darryl is the story of a very spoiled and contented feline, whose life is disrupted by the arrival of a puppy. There are parallels, of course, to first children who suddenly have to share the attention with a new sibling. I’ll ask the kids questions about their pets, and show them slides about my own two cats and tell them how they, and some dogs I know, were the inspiration for the book. Then I’ll read the story aloud – it’s guaranteed to get a lot of giggles.

 

Awakening Your Inner Teen – Writing Workshop for Adults – Max. 12 participants, 1 ½ hours

Good YA starts with good characters. The more we get to know our protagonist, the more we know how she would react in any given situation. In this workshop, we will focus on creating authentic, flawed and relatable young characters. Many of you may have a project on the go, and you’re welcome to come with a character you’ve been spending time with. Or just come prepared to create on the fly, which can result in some unexpected discoveries (and can also just be fun).  We’ll start by taking a trip down memory lane, and rediscover our young selves – for better and for worse – with some writing exercises that will tap into your emotional memories. Later, each of you will start to create a protagonist by answering a list of increasingly challenging questions.

 

Lastly, I will give you a number of opening sentences (or you can create your own) and ask you to write the beginnings of a first chapter. Based on what you now know about him/her/them, how will they react in this particular situation? What tidbits will you reveal about your character? Can you write toward a chapter ending that will make us want to keep reading?

Please Note, I also give talks and presentations to adults and teacher/librarians; if you’re interested, please enquire. 

 

Book List

No Fixed Address (Tundra, September 2018)

 

Princess Puffybottom … and Darryl by Susin Nielsen, illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller (Tundra, January 2019)

 

Optimists Die First (Tundra, 2017)

 

We Are All Made of Molecules (Tundra, 2015)

 

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (Tundra, 2012)

 

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom (Tundra, 2010)

 

Word Nerd (Tundra, 2008)

 

Teacher’s Guides

Word Nerd

We Are All Made of Molecules

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

 

Biography

Susin Nielsen always wanted to be a writer. Well, aside from a few years when she wanted to be an actor. Specifically she wanted to play Anita in West Side Story. There were only three problems: She couldn’t sing; she couldn’t dance; and she could only passably act.

She turned her sights to TV and got her start feeding cast and crew muffins and bologna sandwiches on the award-winning television series, Degrassi Junior High. They hated her food. But they saw a spark in a spec script she wrote, and she went on to pen 16 episodes of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. She also got her first crack at novel writing when she wrote Shane, Wheels, Snake and Melanie four books in the Degrassi series. She vowed that one day she would write an original young adult novel.

In the meantime, the TV world kept her busy. She’s written for a lot of Canadian TV shows, and still does on occasion. If you’re curious, you can see her full list of TV credits on IMDB. And yes, she’s met quite a few Canadian celebrities. But no, she has not met Drake.

Finally she wrote that young adult novel. The first was called Word Nerd. It was published in fall 2008 by Tundra Books.  Her second novel, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom was published by Tundra in fall 2010, and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen followed in fall 2012. In spring of 2015 her novel, We Are All Made of Molecules, was published in Canada, the US and the UK, followed up by Optimists Die First, which was published in 2017. Her books have won multiple awards, including The Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, and the UK Literacy Award. Susin’s books have been translated into French (European and Quebec editions), German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, Romanian and Turkish, and, coming soon, Spanish.

Her new novel, No Fixed Address, hit the shelves on September 11, 2018 and received starred reviews in Kirkus, School Library Journal and Quill and Quire. She has a new picture book coming out in January 2019 with Tundra, called Princess Puffybottom … and Darryl.

 

Awards

Word Nerd (2008)

  • Winner of the 2010 OLA Red Maple Award
  • Winner of the 2010 Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Winner of the 2010 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award
  • Winner of the 2010 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award (Snow Willow)
  • Winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year – Silver 2008 Juvenile Fiction
  • Nominated for the 2010 Golden Oak Award
  • Nominated for the 2009 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2009 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2009 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards

 

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom (2010)

  • Winner, VOYA’s Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
  • Gold Medal Winner, ForeWord Book of the Year Award
  • Winner, 2011 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award (Snow Willow)
  • Winner, 2012 Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Winner, 2012 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award
  • 2011 International White Raven Selection
  • Canadian Library Association 2011 Honour Book
  • Nominee, 2012 Red Maple Award
  • 2011 BC Book Prize Nominee
  • 2011 Chocolate Lily Nominee
  • An Ontario Library Association’s “Best Bet” for 2010

 

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

  • Winner of the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award, Children’s Text
  • Winner of the 2017 UKLA Award, 12-16 category
  • Winner of the 2013 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, Best YA Book
  • Winner of the 2013 Canadian Library Association’s Children’s Book of the Year
  • Winner of the Michigan Library Association’s 2013 “Thumbs Up” Award
  • Winner, OLA’S Forest of Reading 2014 Red Maple Award
  • Winner, 2013 Saskatchewan Snow Willow Award
  • Nominated for the 2013 TD Children’s Literature Award
  • 2013 Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award nominee for Best Children’s Book
  • 2013 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee
  • 2013 BC Book Prizes nominee, Sheila Eghoff award
  • 2016 OLA Golden Oak Nominee

 

We Are All Made of Molecules

  • Longlisted for the 2016 Carnegie Medal, UK
  • Nominated for the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award, Children’s Text
  • Winner of the 2016 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Winner of the 2017 Prix des Libraires, Quebec
  • Winner of the 2017 Prix Farniente, Belgium
  • 2016 Canadian Library Association Honor Book, Young Adult Novel category
  • 2016/17 Texas Lonestar Award Nominee
  • 2016/17 Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee
  • A USBBY 2016 Selection for Outstanding International Books
  • 2016 OLA Red Maple Award Honour Book
  • 2016 Saskatchewan Snow Willow Award Nominee
  • 2017 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee
  • 2017 Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee
  • Kirkus Reviews “Best Teen Books of 2015”
  • Quill & Quire’s “Best Kids’ Books of 2015”
  • The Globe 100’s “Best Books of 2015”
  • 20 Best YA Books of 2015″ in The Telegraph (U.K.) – 5 out of 5 stars (Martin Chilton)

 

Optimists Die First

  • Longlisted for the 2018 UKLA award
  • Nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal
  • Nominated for the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, 2018
  • An OLA White Pine Award Honour Book, 2018
  • Nominated for the 2019 Saskatchewan Willow Award

 

Praise

“It was wonderful from a teacher’s perspective to see the kids so engaged – even the kids who usually tune out, they loved it!”

—Paula Jasper-Hall, Dalhousie School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

“Susin was an amazing presenter for our middle school students. Her sense of humour and warmth was contagious. She used both of these to help our students understand how she turns her own experiences and observations into novels. Susin manages to be inspiring and relatable at the same time, something learners of this age really need …We would have her back in a heartbeat.”

Sophia Hunter, Crofton House School, Vancouver, BC

 

“If I could book Susin Nielsen to visit my school every year, I would! She is extremely friendly, funny and easy to talk to. Her love of writing is evident in the passionate & very honest way she talks about how she became a writer. Susin is extremely approachable and relatable to teens because she’s been there, in the shoes of her characters.  The students at my school love the way she puts into words exactly what they’re feeling, but are hesitant to express. She holds their attention the entire time she is speaking and sharing. She is one of the most down to earth people I know and I look forward to seeing her each time I have the pleasure of hosting her. If you haven’t read her books or had the honour of meeting her, I suggest you do so as soon as possible. I guarantee you won’t regret it.”

Enza Notte, Allandale Heights PS, Barrie, Ontario

 

“I have had the great pleasure of having Susin Nielsen present to the junior students at our school three times over the last ten years.  Each time, Susin gave fantastic presentations.  She was entertaining, dynamic, knowledgeable and had a room of 75 twelve-year-old boys engaged, laughing and “with her” throughout.  With the aid of multi-media and personal artifacts, Susin took our students on a journey through her life, the stories of her novels as well as through the creative writing process.  Each time our students were left excited not only about her novels (which we could not keep on the shelf of our library for months after her visits), but about the writing process and how authors get ideas and develop meaningful stories and characters.  I hope to have the opportunity to have her back at our school again soon!”

Dianne Landry, Loyola High School, Montreal Quebec

 

“I don’t think any student has previously threatened to kidnap the guest speaker out of adoration! The writer’s craft students were so hyped on your talk that they are devouring your books and fighting each other for the chance to speed read them next!  You are a wonderful and engaging speaker!”

Sarah Murray, St. Joseph High school, Winnipeg, Manitoba