Thursday, February 12, 2009

Red Boots in Mud Puddle

The other day we walked to the park with Tamara in her red coat in her red stroller because these days the walk is too far for her old legs. The little guy wore his red winter boots perfect for mud puddle stomping. We all had a good time. I took my camera.

This version is tiny for a cell phones. I drive my family nuts making videos.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A book promo video by Jarrett Krosoczka

I came across this funny wonderful book promo video today. I think I will post it here so I can look at it whenever I feel like laughing at this idea of writing or trying to write and illustrate and what happens next.

BOOK BY BOOK: the making of a monkey man
by Jarrett Krosoczka

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I couldn't resist posting this silly little piggy from my sketchbook. I have been writing a story this week and as I develop the characters these silly piggy characters are calling out to me to exist. I think her name is Giggles and maybe she knows Albert. And Valentines day is coming up soon and between the pigs and valentines she just appeared in colour last night as I played with Corel DRAW X4 Photo-Paint.
CWILL Question of the week posted by Tanya:
This week’s question: How do you prepare for school presentations? Do you get stage fright?

When my first book came out I had no idea it would lead to author visits. I didn't even know what an author visit was. But it was 1986 and I was green and young and rather silly.

The phone call asking me to give a talk at a Richmond school came out of the blue. The librarian on the phone was charming and most persuasive. They wanted me! And they thought I was somehow special just because I had a published book. This seemed strange and somehow it made me feel excited and that maybe I had done something quite wonderful. This I realized later was simply my ego being lured into a trap.

And so it was I managed to get permission at my day job to take one day of my precious holiday time (two weeks a year) to travel out to Richmond to give two book talks in two different schools. I was like a fly entering into a web. I thought all I was to do was read the book to a class of children. I had imagined a class of maybe thirty children in grade three would sit with me in a library and I would simply read the book to them.

Someone took me to the school gymnasium and left me there. "This is where you will speak. The students will come soon." she said to me.

I could feel my heart pounding and the sweat pouring from under my arms as the entire school of Kindergartens through to grade sevens paraded into the gymnasium to hear my presentation.

Stage fright is not the word for it. Terror might be a better word for what I was feeling.

I came quite close to passing out from not being able to breathe but somehow I managed to open my mouth to read the first sentences of my little picture book about a guinea pig. I realized my voice was totally inadequate in the space and so I began to yell out the story. To make things worse, the school's heat system had failed. The temperature was freezing so everyone was wearing coats and it seemed the entire school was shivering. I was standing there feeling absolutely terrible, my heart doing loops, the sweat pouring down and I had such a need to run out of the room for a pee. It was a disaster worse than anything I could have imagined.

When I was halfway through yelling the book, I took a breath and looked up. The older students were silent and staring. The younger students sat on the floor in front of me below my eye level staring up silently. Behind the entire student body I could see teachers standing in a long row with arms crossed looking unmoved and silent. I could tell they hated me. I was shaking the whole time.

Fortunately my brain talked me into carrying on, yelling out the story right to the end.

I think they clapped at the end. I really can't remember. I was so glad when it was over. I think I almost ran out of the school to the car where another teacher was waiting to take me to what I assumed would be another disaster. I just wanted to go home.

Fortunately, I was taken to school where the furnace was working and the librarian had arranged a library setting for a group of three classes of Ks to threes. She even gave me a cup of tea and a sandwich! This was much better. This was a piece of cake! The children were smiling and responsive and happy and bubbling. I read the story to the children and they liked it and they wanted to talk about their own pets and they wanted to start writing their own stories with pictures. We had a lively question time. I made some drawings for the children. It was good. Everyone was happy.

If it hadn't been for that second smaller school library experience, I think I would never have agreed to make another book talk. After that day I have visited many schools to give book talks over the years and I always get the feeling of butterflies in my stomach before a presentation. But nothing can compare with that first time when I felt as if I was in the centre of a bad dream.
The photo above is from a reading I gave about fifteen years ago when I was so much younger.