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Touring In: Northwest Territories

Craft: Author

Genre: Picture Books

Ideal Audience Size: 50-60

Maximum Audience Size: 100

Grades: Kindergarten-Grade 4

Special Equipment: Small table (approx. 2’ x 4’) to display / organize books and other presentation materials.

Website: www.StephanieMcLellan.com

 

Shortlisted for the 2014 Crystal Kite Award
Winner of the 2001 Mr. Christie Award Gold Medal

 

Presentation Information

During her school presentations for grades K-4, Stephanie encourages children to look for and understand their own creativity by sharing the stories behind her stories, how these stories/ideas turn into books, and what it’s like to write for a living. Specifically, each school presentation has four goals:

To entertain students with a dramatic reading of Stephanie’s books so they will come to know and care about the characters and about the value of story

To stir the writer/creator inside each student by sharing the stories behind her stories, thus empowering them to see the connection between their own lives and their own potential works of art

To create a natural bridge to relevant, valuable and interesting learning (e.g. Hoogie in the Middle – a simile exercise; Leon’s Song – a mini science quiz on how frogs survive the winter)

To give students a sense of what goes into the creation of a book (the illustrator, the publisher, the ideas) and what it’s like to write for a living (i.e. the reality of supplementing this vocation with other jobs)

Each presentation lasts 60-75 minutes.

Ahead of each school visit, Stephanie creates a school specific page on her website to help teachers and students prepare for her visit by giving them access to fun activities and handouts related to her stories. Additionally, classes can opt to engage “virtually” with Stephanie for an eight week in-class project prior to her visit that leverages the unique literacy initiative Stephanie conducted with over 1,700 primary students from 2015-2017 in every province and territory of Canada, and with four grade one classes in Melbourne, Australia (see www.ChristmasWindStoryProject.com for details about this initiative). Students will be able to listen to Stephanie’s newest book (The Christmas Wind) in eight audio segments in the format of an old serialized radio show in early 2018, and when Stephanie visits in May, she’ll bring along a “movie” (for the class to keep) of the illustrations the students send her set to an enhanced soundtrack of the story.

 

Book List

The Christmas Wind
Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
(Red Deer Press, 2017).

Tweezle into Everything
Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
(Pajama Press, 2013)

Hoogie in the Middle
Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
(Pajama Press, 2013)

Leon’s Song
Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Illustrated by Dianna Bonder
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2004)

The Chicken Cat
Written by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Illustrated by Sean Cassidy
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000)

 

Biography

Stephanie is the award-winning author of five picture books. Her newest picture book, The Christmas Wind (Red Deer Press, Oct 2017) was the pivot for a unique literacy experiment conducted throughout 2015-2017 with students from every province and territory of Canada (and four grade one classes in Australia). This project had students from JK-Grade 6 listening to the story (before it was officially launched) in a format akin to an old, serialized radio show. Each week, for 8 weeks, an audio portion of a story was uploaded to their class webpages and they were asked to illustrate what they imagined. Because the book they drew pictures of was not yet on the shelves, the students had a clean, uninfluenced slate to start from. Fuelled by a desktop computer in Newmarket, Ontario, this project brought students back in time to when things were un-googleable, and wonder and wait weren’t foreign words. The project was profiled extensively in newspapers and on radio across the country, and was a Top 10 Idea in the 2016 CST Inspired Minds Learning Project Contest. Learn more at: www.ChristmasWindStoryProject.com.

From 1995-2007, Stephanie ran a mail order children’s book company called Neverending Stories. She’s written several scripts for the Gemini nominated children’s television series Roll Play, volunteered as a writer/mentor for a Story Planet initiative called The Neighbourhood Diaries, and wrote the children’s book reviews (and other columns) for Today’s Parent Magazine for 12 years.

Stephanie knew from the age of seven that she wanted to become a writer, and at age ten she transformed her bedroom into a library (complete with library cards and due dates) so that if anyone in her family wanted to read a book, they had to come through her first. As an adult, virtually every room in the house is still littered with books, with favourite authors and stories too numerous to mention. One of those favourites, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, led to Stephanie sewing not one, but two Max costumes for her children, and she was thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Maurice Sendak for Today’s Parent magazine in January 2012 for the May 2012 issue.

Stephanie is a member of The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, CANSCAIP, The Writers’ Union, PEN Canada and SCBWI. Her BA in English Literature is from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and her MBA from the University of Toronto. Stephanie currently lives in Newmarket, Ontario with her husband, and has two daughters and one son. Her “day job” is Director of Marketing for a Seminar / Coaching business.

 

Awards

The Chicken Cat

  • Winner of the 2001 Mr. Christie Award Gold
  • Winner of the 2001 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2001 Blue Spruce Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2001 Tiny Torgi Print Braille Award

Leon’s Song

  • Shortlisted for the 2006 Blue Spruce Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2006 Chocolate Lily Award

Hoogie in the Middle

  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Crystal Kite Award

 

Praise

“Stephanie’s presentations were very professional and captivated the students. Stephanie shared her passion for writing and reading and motivated the students. She was exceptional to work with. She went above and beyond to create a relationship with the students and teachers.”

—Lynda Mitchell, Principal, Bertha Shaw Public School, South Porcupine, Ontario

“Before her visit, Stephanie set up an interactive website that students and parents were able to look at ahead of time. We were able to watch a read-aloud of the story “Leon’s Song” before the visit. During the visit, the whole school was engaged. We are a K-5 school and every student was very interested in the presentation. Stephanie has made learning in my classroom authentic, engaging and fun! I would highly recommend Stephanie for presentations to all schools. She is wonderful with every age group and extremely easy to communicate with. She goes above and beyond to make sure that her visit will be memorable.”

—Amy Kitchen, Grade 2/3 Teacher at J.L.R. Bell Public School, Newmarket, Ontario

“My Grade 3 class and I had the pleasure of working with children’s author, Stephanie McLellan, during the 2015-16 school year. Throughout the year we had snippets of her book, “The Christmas Wind” released to us, one week at a time, over an 8 week period. After Stephanie read each of the parts, my students were able to visualize what they heard and draw and colour an illustration to match. My students thoroughly enjoyed working and conversing with Stephanie through audio and email messages during the 8 weeks. I am thankful for the opportunity and the hard work that Stephanie put in to make this project happen. Once we were finished we also had the chance to have Stephanie come to our school and read several of her books. She was very enthusiastic during her presentation. She gave us insight into her books and how they came about. My students were overjoyed to meet her, after only hearing her voice over many weeks. Overall, the experience was wonderful and one that I would participate in again, gladly! I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Stephanie!”

—Michael Sloan, Classroom Teacher. Pinecrest Public School. Timmins, Ontario

“Our school has had visiting authors in the past, but Stephanie was one of the more memorable visitors. She presented to two groups of students, Kindergarten to grade three, and grades four to six. Both presentations were age appropriate and extremely engaging. Stephanie was able to connect to the students through her personal stories and experiences. The students were very excited to hear about her family and many related to some of the characters in her stories. During the presentation Stephanie provided the students an opportunity to share their personal stories, and allowed for open dialogue. As teachers, we recommend Stephanie for presentations to all students. We are sure that Stephanie would be able to fit the presentation to meet the needs of all grade levels.”

—K-3 Teachers, Amos Comenius Memorial School, Hopedale, NL (Valerie Rideout Flowers, Kayla Legge, Pearl Cobb, Brittany Higden)

“Thank you for your visit to Newton Library! You have such a warm way of presenting, and the students were sincerely interested in what you had to say. They were so engaged in what you shared with them about the writing process, as well as the stories and memories about your personal life. As a result – all of your books are currently checked out of our branch. We enjoyed your visit and look forward to reading what you write next!”

—Julianne Mutimer, Youth Services Librarian, Newton Library, Surrey, BC

“As a result of her enthusiastic storytelling and interaction with the whole group, Stephanie developed a wonderful rapport with students and teachers in a very short time. Throughout the presentation, it was clear that Stephanie has a love of literacy, a love of learning and a love of children. I would highly recommend her presentation to other schools as I’m sure they would enjoy it as much as we did.”

—Sharon McLean, Teacher, J.L.R. Bell Public School, Newmarket, Ontario

“Stephanie provided students with a lot of insight into how she developed her ideas for her stories. They came to realize that they too can write using their personal experiences. The students loved seeing the first book that Stephanie wrote when she was seven. The students also had an opportunity to listen to Stephanie reading her books. She engaged students with her loud, clear, expressive voice. The characters in Stephanie’s books and the information in the session left a lasting impression on the students. They all left talking about The Chicken Cat, Leon, and Hoogie!”

—Allison McGeorge, Teacher-Librarian, Northern Lights PS, Aurora, Ontario

“Our school was very blessed to have Ms. McLellan come to our school. Her visit went way beyond the presentation we had on the day she visited. She was awesome! Prior to her visit, she sent a letter to our students to tell them how she was looking forward to visiting. She even sent a link so the children could play games and hear the stories. However, even without this, I had no problem getting my children excited about her beautiful stories. On the day of her visit, she brought keepsakes for the students, she read them her stories, and made them come to life. The students were especially intrigued to see photographs of the real people, her children, who were the inspiration for the characters in her books. Several of my students have mentioned her visit during our library classes this year. If you are considering having Ms. McLellan visit your primary or elementary school, you should go ahead. Her visit was a wonderful addition to our school year — one I will never forget and I am sure the children feel the same.”

—Teena Spurrell, Teacher-Librarian, A.P. Low Primary School, Labrador City, NL

“The students were thoroughly engaged as Stephanie read each of her books and listened intently. The students were intrigued as Stephanie shared the development of the ideas behind each story. They were thrilled to see baby pictures of her children and compare those to the pictures of them now and the characters in her books. Many of the students were motivated to write monster stories about their own family members for several weeks after. Stephanie also shared samples of her own work from when she was younger. This allowed the students to see that the ideas she actually writes about now are similar to the story topics she had as a young girl thereby validating all the stories they write each day. More than one student said they too were going to begin a writing journal to keep a record of all their ideas for the future. I would highly recommend a visit from Stephanie McLellan to any school or literacy group looking to engage their youngsters and excite their writers.”

—Zandra Smith, Integrated Literacy Support Teacher, Holy Family Catholic Elementary School, Bowmanville, Ontario

“Stephanie’s presentation was excellent, engaging and inspiring for our students. She enthusiastically shared her stories, invited the children into the development of her characters using storyboards and had the students participate in a writing activity using similes. She provided an extension to her visit by including links and attachments to her website which generated much excitement and interest. We enjoyed her visit and her books tremendously and would not hesitate to invite her to return.”

—Raffaela Marcantonio, Teacher-Librarian, St. John The Baptist School, Hamilton, Ontario

“What a great afternoon! The kids were really impressed with your work! They were bubbling with the idea of writing their own books … so many ideas! I am very passionate about children’s literature and I want to thank you so much for taking the time to make yourself available for presentations to schools.”

—Jeanne Tyrrell, Grade 5 Teacher, Cloverdale Catholic School, Surrey, BC