Get To Know the Touring Creators Part 3

Get To Know the Touring Creators Part 3

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The countdown is on! We’re inching closer to TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and we’re taking time to get to know the 28 touring authors, illustrators and storytellers better before they travel to 175 communities across Canada. You can look at part one here and part two here.

Do you have a touring creator coming to your community? Get to know them beforehand with these interviews.

Andreas Oertel
Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Eileen Cook
Anne Glover
Mariella Bertelli
Soyeon Kim

 

Andreas Oertel


Andreas was born in Germany, but lived most of his life in Canada. He’s travelled all over the world and had a hundred different jobs — everything from rickshaw driver to health inspector — but his favourite occupation is writing. His middle grade fiction is critically acclaimed and has been nominated for several awards (Silver Birch Award, Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award, Charlotte Award). Andreas spends much of his free time visiting schools, and in 2012 and 2013 he was Writer in Residence at Lac du Bonnet’s Centennial School.

 

Do you have any tips for young writers?

My #1 tip is: Don’t try to be perfect with your first draft. Just write your story and have fun. Don’t worry about grammar, typos, or anything else. Just write it all down. If you try to make every sentence and every paragraph and every page perfect as you’re writing, it’ll slow you down and you’ll get discouraged. And you may even forget the awesome adventure you sat down to create. So finish your story first and then worry about polishing and fine-tuning it.

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

My travel essential is my trusty laptop computer. I don’t go anywhere without it. I use it constantly for making notes, checking emails, watching videos, and for Googling all sorts of crazy things.

I will definitely have a few books along for the tour, but I usually read a book-a-week, so I have no idea what novels I might be into next month.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

I can’t wait to visit with middle graders. I get a real kick out of their enthusiasm for books and reading. And if a classroom has used one of my books as a reader, I have even more fun. I love hearing student’s opinions on my characters and plots.

I’m nervous about getting lost and showing up late for a presentation. Or worse, going to the wrong school or library.

 

How did you get started in children’s books?

My first attempt at writing fiction, over twenty years ago, was a manuscript for middle grade readers. I had always enjoyed reading junior fiction, so it felt natural for me to try something in that genre. As a novice, I liked the manageable length of tween fiction, and I appreciated the challenge of writing a story that would really capture a young person’s imagination.

Anyway, after that manuscript was published, I began to feel more comfortable (and confident) with junior fiction, so I stuck with it.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

Teachers enjoy using the books in my Shenanigans Series as classroom readers because the stories touch on many school subjects (geography, science, history, etc.) and have themes familiar to middle graders (friendship, loyalty, adventure, honesty). Some of the books even have curriculum guides at the back, providing teachers with ideas for discussion and reading comprehension.

 

Find out more about Andreas Oertel at his official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

Lorna Schultz Nicholson


Lorna Schultz Nicholson has published picture books, middle grade fiction and non-fiction, and YA fiction. Lorna now lives in Edmonton with her hubbie (he works for the Edmonton Oilers so she LOVES going to hockey games) and two dogs, a whiny Bichon Shih Tzu, and a naughty, hyper puppy she rescued from Mexico. Over the years besides being a television co-host and reporter, radio host and reporter she was also a theatre and murder mystery actor, fitness coordinator and rowing coach. Whew! Thankfully, now she is full-time writer. She loves travelling to schools all across Canada to inspire children about her love of reading and writing, and she loves talking to adults about writing, and leading writing workshops. She remembers her before-published days and wants to encourage writers to keep pursuing their dreams. Being an author is a dream come true.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

This is a question that students ask me all the time when I present for author visits.  My advice is always if you want to be a writer, be a reader.  Reading teaches you language and different types of sentence structure.   You can also learn flow and pacing from reading books, as well as characterization.  Who are the characters you fell in love with and why?  Then when you write your story ask yourself the same question.  Why are you writing about this character?  What is your setting for the story?  What is the problem?  Dissecting a book can help you with your own work.  I read all the time, and have a stack of books beside my bed.  I believe that I became a writer because my mother inspired me to be a reader.

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

My one book would be my notebook, just in case while I’m travelling I come up with a new idea that I want to jot down.  (I also always have a paperback novel with me.)  AND I always take my running shoes and running gear.  Running gives me energy, helps me decompress, and also allows me to run presentations in my head or plot ideas.

 

What is one random fact about yourself that might surprise people?

I LOVE watching sit-coms!  Some of my favourites are: I Love Lucy (old, old one, watched when I was a kid and laughed my head off), Seinfeld, Friends, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family.  Sometimes I watch these shows on the plane and I laugh and laugh – out loud too.  Oh, and my favourite board game is Clue.

 

What (or who) inspires your writing or art?

My mother passed away of Alzheimer’s in 2015 and she was and still is my inspiration. She wrote poetry so I was always around her and she was writing.  She also (and this is a big one) taught me to love reading. I belonged to the public library, school library, church library and I even loved going to the Bookmobile. We always had books in our house and for that I grateful.

 

What was your favourite book as a child? Why?

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I just loved that first paragraph where Montgomery introduces Anne.  It is so brilliantly written, and Anne’s character just shows up on the page.  As does the character of Matthew.  I also love the chapter with Matthew and the puffed sleeves.  I also loved the Trixie Belden series and I really, really wanted to be in the Bob -Whites of the Glen club and have a friend named Honey.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

My books fit in well with school curriculums. The stories in my Puckster books fit in with the early Social Studies units about belonging, connecting and identity.  My middle grade series works well with Health and Life Skills as they deal with group roles, family life and body issues.  Plus, there are some health issues in a few of the books, and a character from the NWT.  My One-2-One series deals with the Best Buddies program, diversity, and differences in how people think and act.  There are also medical issues in these books, as well as topics on belonging, friendship and acceptance. I have created teachers guides for the first three books in this series and they are on my website.  (Fragile Bones, Born With and Bent Not Broken.)

 

Find out more about Lorna Schultz Nicholson at her official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

Eileen Cook


Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, THE HANGING GIRL, came out in October 2017. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.

Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

Read! The best way to learn to be a writer is by reading. When you read a story you love, figure out what it is about that book that you enjoy. If you read something that you find boring, see if you can determine what made you feel that way. The more you read, the more you learn about how stories are structured, and how you can use those same tools to create your own stories. My second piece of advice is to keep writing- the more you write the better you will be at telling the stories that only you can tell.

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

I always travel with books- I have my iPad loaded up and ready to go. The first book I plan to dive into is Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Canadian author Danielle Young-Ullman. The second thing I don’t leave home without is a knitting project. I’m always working on something and I’m currently making some gifts for friends. The upside of knowing how to knit is that if the zombie apocalypse ever happens I’ll be able to make everyone socks. It’s good to have a handy skill at times like that.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

I am most excited to meet readers! One of the things that I love best about writing for young adults is that they’re really passionate about what they’re reading. They have strong feelings about the world around them, their experiences, and the kinds of realities that they see in books. I enjoy the opportunity to interact and it always recharges my own writing.

Overall, I don’t usually mind public speaking, but I always get a bit nervous just before I start- but what really has me nervous is what trouble my two naughty dogs are going to get up to while I am out of town. I hope the dog sitter is prepared!

 

What is one random fact about yourself that might surprise people?

People might be surprised that I just learned how to swim. I grew up around water, but I’d never really mastered anything beyond a basic dog paddle or floating. It occurred to me that I was too old to be scared of the water, so I dug up some courage and took swimming lessons this past winter. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be on the Canadian Olympic team any time soon, and I’m pretty sure I sucked up at least ten gallons of pool water up my nose, but I can now make it from one end of the pool to the other. I’m proof it’s never too late to tackle something new.

 

What was your favourite book as a child? Why?

I was (and still am) a huge Judy Blume fan. I devoured everything that she ever wrote. I also loved Ronald Dahl’s books, in particular Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I think what I loved about both of these authors and their books was that they never spoke down to kids. In the case of Judy Blume, she seemed to be able to capture exactly the things I was thinking and feeling at those ages. She always nailed real life. Ronald Dahl was the opposite- his worlds were so fantastical and absurd that I felt I could escape into them.

 

Find out more about Eileen Cook at her official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

Anne Glover


Anne Glover has made her living as a performer for most of her adult life. From Tofino to Tokyo, Hamilton to Honolulu, she enthralls audiences of all ages with her unique storytelling style and her unforgettable string figures. Anne returns to performing after stepping aside for 4 years to work as a full-time classroom teacher. In addition to entertaining in schools, theatres, festivals and folk clubs, Anne leads workshops and speaks at educational and parenting conferences. She has been a mentor to several teachers on the art of integrating storytelling across the curriculum.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

My advice is simple: Get bored, and go outside! My best stories come out of times when I have pretty much nothing on the go and I can hang out where I can see plants, smell dirt, hear wind or traffic or whatever is going on. If I’m watching movies and TV shows, or if I’m on social media, or browsing the Internet – nope, no creativity comes to me at all. Don’t worry – you can catch up on all the other stuff later. While you’re young, this is the best time to develop your creativity. Facebook, Netflix and Instagram can wait! (And No, your parents and teachers did not pay me to say this!)

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

I have to have a good novel with me – something with characters I can believe and a plot that moves along fairly quickly. I like espionage stories, or non-gory thrillers. My second must-have is also a book – a book of puzzles. I have been on a Ken-ken kick for 2 years and I do them with my left hand, which keeps me busy, and entertains my seatmate in airplanes.

 

How did you get started in storytelling?

Like everyone, I told stories as a kid – things as simple as “what happened on the way to school” or “what my little brother did last night.”  I loved making people laugh and learned quickly that I was good at mimicking people and animals. I didn’t know there was such a thing as “storytelling” or that it could be my job!

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

I’m excited about working with the audiences in Quebec and sharing my stories with them. I’ve performed in Romania, Ireland, Japan, Chile, Argentine, and a lot of the USA and Canada… but this is my first tour in Quebec. J’ai très hâte!  I’m also looking forward to meeting others who work in youth literature, authors and illustrators.

 

What was your favourite story as a child? Why?

I loved the story of the Boxcar Children who found an abandoned railway boxcar and fixed it up as a place to live. They were escaping a relative they were afraid of (although it turned out he was ok after all). I have always loved the idea of making do with whatever is on hand, rather than going out and buying new things. I also like runaway stories.

 

 What is one random fact about yourself that might surprise people?

I got to operate a train engine once, and “drive” it about 20 meters down the track. No kidding!! It was very cool. (I also got to operate an excavator a few months ago, but you only asked for one… J).

 

What (or who) inspires the stories you create and tell?

The audiences. Seeing their faces while the story unfolds, or hearing from them afterwards – even 20 years later I hear from people about how my work affected them. That’s pretty inspiring. I also get ideas from watching the audience during a show. It’s like they all turn into books that I can read, and I see all these cool ideas for the story I’m telling. Sometimes I’ll make those changes right there on the spot, and they are a lot of fun.

 

How can teachers use storytelling in the classroom?

Ah—this is a topic I love, and I have led teachers’ workshops for many years. Teachers can tell their own stories to make connections with their students. Social studies is all about stories – history after all is a story (“histoire”) of other times and places. Stories can be worked into any subject and any level. Of course language arts is an obvious fit, but math and science have their stories, too. There is really no end to storytelling and what we can do with it!

 

Find out more about Anne Glover at her official website or through the Book Week website here.

 


 

Mariella Bertelli


Mariella Bertelli is an international Toronto-based storyteller who tells fluently in English and/or Italian. She performs one woman’s shows or works collaboratively with others, sometimes blending storytelling with puppetry, theatre, music or visual arts. She has participated in group shows, Boccaccio’s Decameron, the Bankelsang project, Ariosto’s Orlando, Boccaccio in the Box, and for children, she has adapted Aida and The Thieving Magpie. Mariella has told at the Toronto Storytelling Festival since 1986, where more recently she has directed group shows, like “Enjoy the World Gently. A Night of Women’s voices” for the Festival in 2016.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

Always tell a story you love. It could be something you have heard, something you have read, something you have dreamed. I guess if you want to become a storyteller, become a story listener first! Enjoying listening to stories or seeing the stories  in your mind’s eye  is the first step toward becoming a storyteller. The more you listen the more you know what you like, both in terms of the type of story and the style of storytelling. Then you can start telling the stories you love.

 

For the touring creators, Book Week involves a lot of traveling. What one book and one other item are your travel essentials?

I’m taking with me a book about Labrador as a way to totally immerse myself in the landscape and culture of the place I will be visiting soon. The book is called  “The woman who mapped Labrador : the life and expedition diary of Mina Hubbard” by Mina Hubbard. And of course I’ll be bringing my mascot, a turtle puppet that sometimes helps me to tell a story. Turtle has been with me to many places already, down to Arizona, to Italy and South Africa. Turtle loves to travel and listen to new stories.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?           

I am soooo excited about going to Labrador! And meeting the children there! Telling stories and finding new stories there.  I love traveling, especially in a place where I’ve never been before. And something about being in the North, there is so much I don’t know,  so much to discover about the North and the people who live there. Is there anything you’re nervous about? I guess I’m a little nervous about getting lost and being late for a performance. Although I’m pretty good with finding my way and never get lost except in Venice. Mostly I’m  a little nervous  because it will be my first time in Labrador and it feels like it is such a big wide land!

 

What was your favourite story as a child? Why?

My favourite story as a child was a story my father had made up and that he used to tell us children about a very hungry wolf – il lupo mannaro – It was the way my father told us the story and the words he used that made us giggle in fear, anticipation and pure joy. No matter how many times  he told us the story, at the end, when the chicken and the children were safe and the wolf too, we exploded always  in peals of laughter and we felt quite satisfied that all was well.

 

What (or who) inspires the stories you create and tell?

Many things! Sometimes it’s a memory, sometimes it’s a book, sometimes it’s the landscape, sometimes it’s another storyteller. Always I look for a story that speaks to me, that is meaningful and that it makes me feel some emotion, compassion, fear, joy, sorrow, peace. I can find inspiration just about anywhere.

 

How can teachers use storytelling in the classroom?

Storytelling can be a powerful and empowering tool. It’s another way to support the curriculum. There are many ways to introduce the oral tradition in the classroom, such as asking a riddle or telling a proverb, saying a rhyme or doing a chant.  It’s a nice short way to suspend other activities and make the children stop and listen. It’s like switching gears, entering the place of memory and of the imagination, engaging the mind in a different way. It can help to calm the children, to regain their attention, to move from one activity to another, to engage another part of their mind.  Telling a whole story can be a treat, a rewarding way to start or finish the day. I find that some of the children who may not do well in more educational activities, often shine at listening and retelling the stories they have heard.

 

Find out more about Mariella Bertelli through the Book Week website here.

 


Soyeon Kim


Soyeon Kim was born on a snowy day in Seoul, South Korea. Ever since she was young, she loved to draw, paint, and create art with anything and everything that she can find. At the age of 8, she decides to become an artist. Chasing after her dream, she moved to Canada in 2000. As a Toronto-based artist and educator, she specializes in work that merges fine sketching and painting techniques to produce three-dimensional dioramas. Her previous children’s books include Wild Ideas – Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking, Is This Panama? and You Are Stardust, for which she won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. Her most recently illustrated book is Sukaq and the Raven.  As an illustrator and art educator, Soyeon has the experience with school visits, a guest speaker and providing engaging art workshops based on her picture books.

 

Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring creators out there?

My advice to all of aspiring creators is: “give lots of love to all the things you create!”

Everything deserves some love, and more love especially if it’s what you have created! It’s always important to learn to love your work, and this way you will also learn how to grow as an artist.

 

What are you most excited for about Book Week? Is there anything you’re nervous about?

What I am most excited about Book Week is meeting all of creators and readers out there! And I am also excited to see what they will be creating during the diorama workshops!

As much as I am ready to share and talk about my art, I am ready to be inspired by them.

There is one thing that I am nervous about… which is travelling with my dioramas! This is my first time to fly with dioramas (they have never been on airplanes before!)

 

How did you get started in children’s books?

I started illustrating children’s books when I was a student at York University. I was participating Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition as a student with all of my dioramas, where I met the editor-Mary Beth from Owlkids. After the exhibition, Mary Beth emailed me asking if I would be interested in illustrating a children’s picture books-You Are Stardust, and guess what I said? Yes, that’s how I really started in children’s books!

 

What (or who) inspires your writing or art?

Nature inspires my art the most!

Science was one of my favourite subjects ever since I was young (beside art). I also loved playing outside rain or shine. Nature was just full of wonder, and it still is never-ending surprises!

 

What was your favourite book as a child? Why?

My favourite book as a child was The Little Mermaid.

As a child (and now an adult), I have always loved everything about the ocean: salty water, whale, fish, and all of the sea creatures. I also admired the little mermaid for her adventurous, brave, and curious characteristics. The Little Mermaid is still one of my favourite books, and I hope to illustrate the story one day.

 

How can teachers use your books in the classroom?

You Are Stardust and Wild Ideas are great introduction to science and art for K-6 students. There is an educator’s guide to You Are Stardust developed by OISE, University of Toronto that you can find here.

Is This Panama? is also a great book that you can use in the classroom to introduce and discuss about a migration. It also offers a map of Wilson’s warbler’s journey and explanations of animals that the warbler meets on the way. You can find more information here.

Sukaq and the Raven can be used in the classroom to introduce the traditional legend from Inuit storyteller (Roy Goose).

 

Find out more about Stephanie Soyeon Kim through her official website and through the Book Week website here.