As we sit here today with a new year upon us, I’m excited by the promise of 2016 and yet I can’t help but feel nostalgic for 2015 and the adventures it held.
January 2015 arrived on a wave of excitement with the release of my first non-fiction book. Be the Change in the World (Crabtree Publishing) is a title near to my heart, all the more so as I’ve been hearing from young readers about how they’ve been empowered to make their own changes in the world. Over the past year, I’ve written three further non-fiction titles with Crabtree: Explore with James Cook, Explore with Francisco Pizarro, and Cultural Traditions in South Korea (due out in early 2016.)
While 2014 took me to Newfoundland, St. Lucia and Grenada, my travels in 2015 were much closer to home. I met readers at schools, libraries and bookstores all over Ontario. The most exciting event was, of course, my participation in the Telling Tales Festival in Rockton, Ontario. In 2010, I took my first tentative steps towards becoming a children’s writer by attending this magical day. I was lucky to meet and to observe many talented Canadian writers, among them Jeremy Tankard, Frieda Wishinsky, Kenneth Oppel and Robert Munsch. This helped me acknowledge that this vocation, too, was a lifelong dream of mine. I cannot express how thrilled and honoured I was when I was invited to participate this year as a presenter. The entire event sparkled for me–including the kick-off and the follow-up during which I was asked to give a presentation to the students at St. George-German School, a prize awarded to one talented student in the Telling Tales Photo App Contest.
In May, I participated in Authors for Indies Day by becoming a “bookseller for a day” at Manticore Books in Orillia. In October, I visited a class of students doing a “storywalk” with Hamilton Public Library. These students were following enlarged pages of Skink on the Brink as part of an interactive, physical activity leading them around their local park. I’m still beaming that HPL picked my skink book for this literacy initiative–even if I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’s a “storywalk,” not a “skinkwalk.”
I am looking forward to 2016. It will be a year of much exciting book-related travel for me. I have been selected to tour British Columbia’s Interior as part of the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, an event that pairs authors from across Canada with students in another part of our massive country. My next picture book Double Trouble at The Rooms, which is another story about Natalie and her pet polar bear, will also be coming out at this time. There will be a book launch in Ontario and another in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In June, I’m excited to be presenting at WordPlay, the literacy festival for children of all ages, on Nova Scotia’s north shore.
While I sit at this threshold between the year that has passed and the year still to come, I can see that I will have as much nostalgia on the next January 1st, even as I look forward to 2017. My first novel for middle grade readers and a book still in progress is due to be released as an Orca Currents book early in the year.
With all this to anticipate, I step into 2016 grateful for 2015 and all it held while, at the same time, looking very much forward to all there is still to come.