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Posts Tagged ‘author’

Sylvia Gunnery interview in the Westman Journal

Posted on May 21st, 2013 by pajamapress

During her TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tour of Manitoba, Sylvia Gunnery (Emily For Real, 2012) had the opportunity to talk with Jordan Wasilka of the Westman Journal. The interview made the front page.

Here’s a sneak peek:

“‘The publishing industry is in a lot of trouble’ asserts the author, ‘but people still have faith in it. I think of Gail Winskill of Pajama Press – this company is three years old and she’s got terrific books on her list… there are people with big hearts and huge commitment and they’re doing it. They’re working so hard.'”

We regret that this link is no longer available.

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week with Alma Fullerton and Sylvia Gunnery

Posted on May 6th, 2013 by pajamapress

Alma Fullerton

Two Pajama Press authors begin their TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tours today: Alma Fullerton in Alberta and Sylvia Gunnery in Manitoba. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre interviewed both of these wonderful authors before they left.

Click here to find out why Alma struggled to read as a child

Click here to find out what famous writer’s hometown Sylvia is excited to visit.

And then click here to learn more about the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week!

Sylvia Gunnery

Alma Fullerton is the author of two Pajama Press books: A Good Trade (2012) and the upcoming Community Soup (June 1, 2013). Her novels Libertad, Burn, Walking on Glass and In the Garage have earned her many awards.

Sylvia Gunnery is the author of Emily For Real (Pajama Press, 2012) and more than fifteen other novels for young people. A recipient of the Prime Minister’s Minister’s Teaching Award, she regularly gives presentations and writing workshops young people, inspiring them to write just as they have inspired her.

Last Airlift Top 5 finalist for CYBILS

Posted on May 3rd, 2013 by pajamapress

We are delighted to announce that Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is a Top 5 Finalist for the 2012 CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary) Awards in the category of Non-Fiction (MG/YA).

The title is in good company with Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s most Dangerous Weapon (Steve Sheinkin), Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B-95 (Phillip M. Hoose), Titanic: Voices from the Disaster (Deborah Hopkinson) and Temple Grandin: How the Girl who loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World (Temple Grandin).

Congratulations, Marsha!

Jill MacLean takes Calgary

Posted on April 22nd, 2013 by pajamapress

Award-winning East Coast author Jill MacLean is taking her first official trip west this week. The lucky residents of Calgary, Alberta will be able to meet the author of Nix Minus One, Home Truths, The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy, and The Nine Lives of Travis Keating at a number of different events. These include:

Monday, April 22 6:00 pm–8:30 pm
The Calgary Children’s Literature Round Table
Headspace
1817 10 Ave. SW Calgary
Tickets only

Tuesday, April 23 12:00 pm–1:00 pm
Author Meet-and-Greet
Pixie Hollow Bookshop 4
17 1 St SW  High River

Tuesday, April 23 7:00 pm
Bookstore Signing
Monkeyshines Children’s Books
2215 33 Ave SW  Calgary

Jill will also be presenting to elementary school students at two different library-hosted readings. We look forward to hearing wonderful stories about this trip!

Sylvia Gunnery profiled in Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on April 18th, 2013 by pajamapress

“Author Sylvia Gunnery on learning, writing, eavesdropping, teaching”

by Kathleen Martin
(reprinted with permission from Canadian Children’s Book News Vol 36 No. 2, Spring 2013)

Sylvia Gunnery had to turn her writing desk away from the ocean. “I was getting distracted too much,” she says. There are trees outside the window next to her desk now, and on the day we talked, a group of ducks wandered past, peering in at her in an inquiring way.

Above Gunnery’s desk in her home at Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia, there is a small basketball hoop and ball. “They were on a huge cake (fellow writer) Nancy Wilcox Richards had as part of the launch for my book Out of Bounds at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay.”

The hoop hangs on a framed print from the Writers’ Trust of Canada that is signed by Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton and Graeme Gibson.

“They are the writers who did the groundwork for the rest of us to continue on,” says Gunnery, her tone momentarily serious. “It is a big reminder for me that they made space for us.”

Gunnery built her writing studio after she retired from teaching and after years of working in “a little corner of a space.” This studio, she says, “is wonderful. And it is full of nice things that remind me about what I care about and who I am.”

In this space, Gunnery completed her most recent novels, Emily for Real and Game Face. And, in this space, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic, Gunnery is — even after publishing 15 books — working hard at continuing to develop her skills.

How has being retired changed your writing process?

I taught because I loved teaching young people. Still do! I was not a teacher to financially support my writing. But there are lots of bonuses to being a retired teacher. The biggest bonus is time. I loved teaching and made sure I always did the best job I could possibly do to inspire my students to care about reading and writing and all the other ways in which we get to know who we are and how we fit into this world. That meant a big commitment of time. Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to write all those books during the 80s and 90s. The two months of summer were a gift! Now, I come to my writing studio in my home every day to write, to read, to research, to revise, to connect online with other writers, and on and on… And that’s a gift, too.

But you have lost daily access to your target audience!

In the late 70s, I had a few stories published in literary magazines, so I thought I was on my way down that path. Then, a close friend changed my direction when he said, “You’re always telling stories about your students. Why don’t you write teen fiction?” Two weeks later, a new student was brought to the door of my Grade 8 classroom. Immediately I wondered what might have brought her to our school halfway through the school year and how might she feel about what’s happening in her life. I’m Locker 145, Who Are You? started at that very moment and it was published a year later (in 1984) by Scholastic. I’ve been stealing stories from students’ lives ever since!

 

As for having daily access to my target audience, like any other writer, I watch and listen. No matter where I am — in an airport, on a bus, in crowded school hallways, walking on the beach, waiting in a line-up — I’m always eavesdropping on teens, wondering why they’re saying what they’re saying or doing what they’re doing.

When you first began writing, you had the good fortune to bump into some of Canada’s greatest writers.

In 1976, I went to the Banff Centre for the five-week summer writing session. My focus was on short fiction for adults, and one of the session mentors was Alice Munro. Serendipity multiplied by 1,000! I’ve had so many lucky gifts in my life. Budge

Wilson, who lives less than an hour away in the summers, and Joyce Barkhouse were two of them. I met Joyce Barkhouse first, in Halifax. She was 30 years older than me. We lived in a little house on Birmingham Street where my apartment was in the basement and hers was the middle one. She could hear my noisy parties, and she’d say to me, “I’ll just put my good ear to the pillow.” When I had my first short fiction published in

Canadian Fiction Magazine, she said, “Sylvia, you are a real writer.” My spine straightened up because Joyce Barkhouse had said this. We had a wonderful friendship. We spoke of writing so much. Writers don’t come out of a vacuum. You come out of your experiences and the support of your community.

Did you always plan on writing?

Being from the north end of Halifax and reading only British and American authors in school, the idea of becoming a writer didn’t occur to me. I didn’t go to Banff until I was 30. But I always wrote, even as a little kid. I am from a storytelling family. We would sit around the table until the leftover food turned to glue because we were talking. There was constant storytelling. And when I was little, my older sister, Barb, would read to me from thick hard-covered books at night. And then we’d turn out the light and she’d say, “Okay Shrimp, tell me a story.” I’d make up stuff to tell her — always about hope and strength and moving on and joy.

You have done a lot of writing about how to teach young people to write. You’ve written two books on the subject for educators. What is your advice to people — teachers and mentors — trying to inspire new writers?

At Banff during that summer writing session, I discovered a significant barrier to successful writing in schools — choice. As well meaning and thoughtful teachers, we were always trying to come up with the best writing topics to engage our students and make them care about writing. But they were our topics. Our choices. Unless the writing themes truly belong to the students — not as a group, but individually — the writing will simply be an assignment done for marks in a course. There’s not much room for the kind of commitment necessary to real writing. When I go to schools to do writing workshops, teachers sometimes say that I shouldn’t expect much because the kids just don’t like writing. Those teachers always seem really happy when I prove them wrong. It’s not magic — it mostly comes down to choice.

I’m interested in why we choose to write the stories that we do. What do you think it was that drew you to Emily for Real?

What I started with, before I even imagined Emily herself, was the idea of family secrecy, especially the effects of secrets on the people who don’t realize the secrets even exist. My theory — and I had enough evidence for this in memoirs I’d read or from personal stories shared with me by acquaintances — was that secrecy would eventually rot a family from the inside out. But as Emily told her own present-tense story, my theory about family secrecy changed. I came to see that the family would not necessarily rot from the inside out if they all truly loved each other and demonstrated that love.

Emily’s extended family does that. Like my own did. Our house on Hillside Avenue in Halifax was home to Mom, Dad, my older sister, my grandfather Gunny, and my godmother we all called Tettie. If I fell backwards, there was always that cushion of love there to break my fall. As Emily tells her story, she comes to see that her life will not always make sense and that there’ll be lots of surprises, but she also recognizes the support that love offers.

You’ll be talking about Emily for Real as part of this year’s TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. I have also heard you speak passionately about Nova Scotia’s Writers’ in the Schools program. Why do you think these kinds of opportunities matter?

When people can see that somebody values something enough to call it a “Week,” that’s a gigantic huge message in itself. I think it’s important for the public — people going to libraries, kids in schools — to hear the language around author visits, illustrator visits, storytellers, and to realize that it’s part of their environment too. A friend visiting me said recently, “When I was in school, words were everywhere. But now — words aren’t anywhere anymore.” That’s true for a lot of people. And unless we have these celebrations and they are not token — not “book minutes” but “book weeks” — people in Canada can lose words. If we don’t say these things, they will be gone. And to be one of those messengers sent out across the land — it’s just thrilling!

—Kathleen Martin is a writer living in Halifax.

Click here to learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News

Alma Fullerton writes about shoes at The 4:00 Book Hook

Posted on February 6th, 2013 by pajamapress

The 4:00 Book Hook is a newsletter released bimonthly by a group of seven children’s book authors. In the current issue, author Alma Fullerton talks about her most recent book, A Good Trade, and why a new pair of shoes is so important to its protagonist—and to kids around the world.

“…I think it’s important for [children] to learn that even in North America, where children are expected to have two pairs of shoes for school every year, we have families that have to choose between groceries or shoes for their children.

It’s estimated that over 300 million children in developing nations don’t have shoes, and in many of those countries children cannot attend school without them. Could you imagine not being able to afford even a pair of flip flops for your child to go to school? Or if you could only afford one pair, imagine having to choose which child to send to school? For these families a pair of shoes can change the life and futures of their children
drastically.

In places like Uganda, where A GOOD TRADE is set, shoes can not only change a life, they can save one…”—Alma Fullerton

To read the full article—and to get lots of other great book news—click here for a free e-subscription to The 4:00 Book Hook.

One Step at a Time is “inspiring” —School Library Journal

Posted on January 21st, 2013 by pajamapress

“In this continuation of Last Airlift  (Pajama Press, 2012), eight-year-old Tuyet is now adjusting to life with her Canadian adoptive family, the Morrises. She is uneasy about sleeping alone after years in a crowded orphanage and is troubled by recurring nightmares of the war. In addition to the trauma she has endured, Tuyet suffers from the painful effects of having had polio. One of the book’s many touching scenes occurs when Mrs. Morris buys the child her first new footwear. She delights at the prospect of getting shiny red shoes, even though the left one could not be worn, due to her shrunken leg and twisted foot. Her mother does not give up until she finds a soft, red slipper that fits over Tuyet’s left foot, making the pair complete. Skrypuch only describes Tuyet’s first operation and subsequent therapy, and her first steps using a leg brace, an orthopedic shoe, and crutches. In her notes, she details five additional surgeries, ending with the operation that made the child’s legs the same length. To capture accurate details more than three decades after these events happened, the author interviewed Tuyet’s two adoptive sisters, her surgeon, and the hospital archivist as well as Tuyet herself. A historical note about the eradication of polio in North America and suggestions for ways to help make universal vaccination a reality are appended. The black-and-white cover photo of Tuyet’s face looking apprehensive and earnest is of a better quality than the handful of rather grainy ones in the text. An inspiring story that will appeal to a wide audience.”

Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA

Nix Minus One is “absorbing, emotionally resonant” —Quill & Quire

Posted on January 4th, 2013 by pajamapress

Available February 15, 2013

Novels written in verse are difficult to execute well. On one hand they have a tendency toward melodrama; on the other they showcase poetry’s inherent ability to communicate flashes of thought, emotion, and experience. For YA novels in which the protagonists are often dealing with difficult situations, balance comes from allowing the characters to emerge authentically without forcing their voices to fit the format’s mould. Nix Minus One achieves this balance.

Though he’s now tall and lean, 15-year-old Nix struggles to lose his “Fatty Humbolt” elementary school identity, make friends, and prevent his older sister, Roxy, from self-destructing. Nix keeps to himself, channelling his frustrations into woodworking and caring for Twig, a neighbour’s dog. But when Twig is endangered and Roxy gets wrapped up in a toxic relationship, Nix is forced to fight against his introverted tendencies and stand up for those he loves.

Author Jill MacLean effectively crafts the verse to create Nix’s voice and uses imagery to convey emotion. Nix’s acerbic tone when faced with uncomfortable situations (such as when he receives his report card or when Roxy asks him to install a lock on her door) reveals his struggle to fit in and his frustration over the differences between the person he wishes he could be, the person people expect him to be, and the person he truly is.

While Roxy’s downward spiral feels a little contrived, MacLean tempers this with Nix’s protective feelings toward her. The novel’s strength comes from the authenticity of Nix’s emotional evolution, Twig’s parallel development from a sad and lethargic dog to an active and loveable one, and the complexity of the brother/sister relationship. This is an absorbing, emotionally resonant book.

Melanie Fishbane, an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Click here to visit the Quill & Quire website

Sal’s Fiction Addiction reviews A Good Trade

Posted on November 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

The author uses clear prose and descriptive language to make the reader aware of the life that Kato lives. We hear the silence of the early morning, see the soldiers as they stand guard, feel the sloshing of the water on Kato’s bare, dusty toes, catch our breath with him as he hauls the water home and must stop to rest, and smile as he and the aid worker make their ‘good trade’.

Karen Patkau creates a setting that allows a glimpse at Kato’s life and his village, the bright and happy colors that the children wear (including their new shoes) and the muted landscape he travels over daily. Each page captures our attention and begs for discussion.

Click here to read the full review.

Marsha Skrypuch at Blessed Kateri School

Posted on November 5th, 2012 by pajamapress

On October 29, 2012, Marsha Skrypuch and Tuyet Yurczyszyn (Nee Son Thi Anh Tuyet) visited Blessed Kateri School to talk about Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War and One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way, two non-fiction books that Marsha wrote about Tuyet’s dramatic childhood. The event was such a success that it was featured in the London District Catholic School Board’s Spotlight newsletter for November, 2012.

Click here and scroll down to the middle of the newsletter to read the story and see some great pictures.