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Touring In: Saskatchewan (Northern region)

Craft: Author

Genre: Picture Books, YA Fiction, Teen Fiction

Ideal Audience Size: one class to full assemblies (for presentations; one class (30 students) for workshops

Maximum Audience Size: full assemblies

Grades: Grades 2-12

Special Equipment: LCD projector and speakers

Website: www.carolinepignat.com

 

Winner of the 2017 John Spray Mystery Award
Winner of the 2017 Red Maple Award

Presentation Information

The Power of Story
Focus: elements of fiction, voice, empathy, point of view, character development

Grades 6-12
Size: from one class up to an assembly

Stories entertain, enlighten, and empower. The stories we read help us to shape the story we live. But where do these characters come from? And where can our stories take us?  In this presentation, Caroline taps into the the power of story by sharing examples from her writing, her life, and her all time favourite books and movies. Using prompts, visuals, and discussion, she shows how to plug into our inner characters and outer characters, and how to draw upon our memories, observation, and imagination as we read and write. Through her readings, we meet some of her characters and discover the four secret ingredients every character needs. She ends with a Q&A to give students the opportunity to dig deeper into specific questions about the craft or business.

Egghead — how long would you stand by?
Focus: Character Development, Empathy, and Bullying Awareness
Grades 6-8
Size: from one class up to an assembly

How long would you stand by if your friend was being bullied? How long would you stand by if your friend was the bully? This presentation focuses on Caroline’s first novel, Egghead. She shares her memories of being a bystander in junior high, her inspiration from Jerry Spinelli to write this first novel, and what she has learned about the power of bystanders.

Egghead tells the story of two bystanders: the friend of the bully and the friend of the victim. As she reads excerpts from the alternating and, at times, opposing points of view, Caroline invites students to consider things from different perspectives. What is life like for that person? How can I make a difference? She examines what it means to be a bystander, how bullying affects us all, and what we can do to make a change. Most importantly, her presentation highlights the necessity of empathy both in fiction and in life.

Download Egghead Study Guide

Poetree
Focus: poetry, plants, publishing process
Grades 2-4
Size: 1-2 classes

What makes a poem and how does it grow? Based on her new picture book POETREE, Caroline explores the power of poetry and the writing process from the seed of an idea to final book. Together, the young poets will explore the power of words, symbols, and sounds as they dig deep (brainstorm), sow seeds (draft), and weed out words (edit) to grow their own poems.

The Writer’s Journey
Grade 11-12 Writer’s Craft class / Professional Authors
1.5 hours *

Stuck at a threshold? In need of a mentor? Dreading your dragon? Wherever we are in our writing careers, writing takes courage — and lots of it. Asking ourselves the right questions can help us forge ahead and claim that treasure. Join two-time GG winner, author and teacher Caroline Pignat as she explores the call, challenges, and adventure of writing through tips, insights, and reflection. Our voices, our stories, our ends and means may differ, but every Writer’s Journey is truly a Hero’s Journey.

(* additional fees apply for 90 minute sessions)

Creative Writing Workshops
Grades 3-12
Size: maximum one class
1 hour

Through prompts, props, and activities, participants will pick up tips for creating characters with vivid voices, engaging motives, and dramatic conflict. The workshop includes Caroline’s insights on the writing process, brainstorming, editing and how to avoid writer’s block. Students will spend 30 minutes of writing time exploring the writing stations and close with a a reading circle.

Book List

Poetree
(Red Deer Press, May 2018)

Shooter
(Penguin, 2016)

The Gospel Truth
(Red Deer press, 2014)

Unspeakable
(Penguin, 2014)

Timber Wolf
(Red Deer Press, 2011)     

Wild Geese
(Red Deer Press, 2010)

Greener Grass
(Red Deer Press, 2008)

Egghead
(Red Deer Press, 2008)

Study Guides

Shooter Study Guide

The Gospel Truth Study Guide

Greener Grass Study Guide

Egghead Study Guide

Biography

Caroline Pignat is the two-time Governor Generalʼs Award winning author of eight books. She grew up in Ottawa, but regularly returned to Ireland, where she was born. On a visit there at age 16, Caroline read Seek the Fair Land by Walter Macken, the first in a trilogy about Irish history. Her uncle had given her the series and, at first, Caroline was reluctant to read it. Homework? On holidays? But as she got to know the characters and their struggles to survive in times of conflict and famine, she was hooked. For the first time, she felt history come alive. It wasn’t just facts and dates — it was story. Powerful story.

Later that year, her grade 11 homework assignment asked: what if you lived in another time and place?  For Caroline, that place was Ireland at the start of the Great Famine. She imagined herself living in 1845 Ireland just as the famine hit and wrote a scene where she realized she must leave or die. Fact inspired fiction. History inspired her story and the seed of that story took root. Many years later, it became Greener Grass, winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. She wrote two more books in that series and two more historical novels including The Gospel Truth, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature.

For Caroline, empathy is at the heart of writing. It’s what helps her to tune in to the many voices of her characters no matter when or where they lived. It’s how she can write in multiple voices: three in Egghead, six in The Gospel Truth, and the five teens narrating Caroline’s latest novel, Shooter, winner of the 2017 Red Maple Award. Like her first novel, Egghead, Shooter is a contemporary story set in high school and told in alternating voices. But Caroline takes it a step further by playing with form. As a high school teacher and mother of teens, Caroline saw the ways teenagers communicated. In Shooter, her characters express themselves through text messages, photos, their homework assignments and journals, and all that is said and not said in those awkward conversations. As we see them through each other’s eyes and through their inner thoughts, we learn how to read truth between the lines. Most importantly, we learn that we are not all that different from one another and that our stories matter.

Caroline writes and teaches in Ottawa where she lives with her family.

Awards

Shooter

  • Winner of the 2017 John Spray Mystery Award
  • Winner of the 2017 Red Maple Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2017 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2018 MYRCA Award

The Gospel Truth

  • Winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature
  • Winner of the 2015 CLA Young Adult Book of the Year — Honour Book
  • Winner of the 2016 Red Maple Award — Honour Book
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Ottawa Book Award

Unspeakable

  • Winner of the 2015 Red Maple Award — Honour Book
  • Shortlisted for the 2016 B.C. Stellar Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 CLA Young Adult Book of the Year Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Snow Willow Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction

Greener Grass

  • Winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature
  • Shortlisted for the 2009  CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2009 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2010 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards
  • Shortlisted for the 2011 Rocky Mountain Book Award

Wild Geese

  • Shortlisted for the 2011 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction

Timber Wolf

  • Shortlisted for the 2011 IODE Violet Downey Book Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2013 Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award

Egghead

  • Winner of the 2009 Red Maple Book Award —  Honour Book
  • Shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Canadian Book Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2009 Snow Willow Award

 Praise

“Caroline regularly presents at many high schools within the OCSB. She masterfully engages crowds of 100+ teens… her slideshow presentations are wonderfully crafted and polished. Author feedback from our student and parent community has been outstanding. … I strongly and enthusiastically endorse her as an engaging, relevant and interactive spark who is both a champion of literacy and a builder of positive school communities.”

—Sarah Murray, Teacher-Librarian

“Caroline instills a sense of confidence in her students while providing specific, constructive feedback and appropriate support…. Caroline has a gift to teach teenagers and help them discover their identity as young writers…. If your mission is to help young people learn from an experienced, passionate writer who will install a love of writing in her students, Caroline would be an excellent choice.”

—Bill Walsh, Principal

“I had the pleasure of working with Caroline on numerous occasions. Because of her wide-range of experience and creative ability, she is often our go-to local author for writing workshops, author visits and other literary events hosted by the Ottawa Public Library… she has done a great job inspiring our contestants through the Awesome Author’ writing workshops.”

—Jessica Roy, Librarian, Ottawa Public Library

“Caroline Pignat is down-to-earth, knowledgeable, interesting, personable, and keen to help students develop their literacy interests. We would like to make our Teen Reading Conference an annual event with Caroline Pignat as our honoured guest speaker. I would not hesitate to recommend her for future presentations. She truly knows how to gear her presentation to her audience.”

—Angela Harrison, Teacher

“Among her many presentations, Caroline recently spoke to a group of more than one hundred students and staff members…she is a very engaging speaker who is extremely comfortable speaking to an audience comprised of teenagers and adults. The entire group was very interested in what she had to say and her media presentation provided a perfect accompaniment to her talk… She possesses the perfect combination of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm necessary to be a successful speaker.”

—Cathy Harrington-Veryard, Teacher-Librarian

“This year I was blessed to have Caroline become an integral part of our Grade 7 & 8 Bullying Awareness assembly.  At this assembly of 450 students and teachers, Caroline spoke to the audience through a multimedia presentation about her novel Egghead. Caroline shared how the characters in her novel were developed and used personal experiences to relate to the audience. It was clear that Caroline was passionate about her work.  Caroline presented with a sense of humor and style. It was evident that Caroline’s teaching experience has helped her present to large audiences with much confidence.”

—Oriana Laderoute, Guidance Counsellor

“Caroline presented to 60 Library Technicians… Her enthusiasm for the craft of writing is infectious. We couldn’t wait to read her new book. I think we all wanted to write as well….I’ve been fortunate to have numerous authors visit the schools that I’ve worked in. I’ve also attended many events where authors speak about their books and their craft. I think that Caroline is at the high end of the spectrum. In my role as Library Services Supervisor I am often asked for author recommendations for school visits. I would definitely recommend Caroline to Principals and to Library Technicians.”

—Donna Presz, Library Services Supervisor