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Awesomeness: Toronto Festival of Trees and OLA Forest of Reading

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Last week’s Festival of Trees at Harbourfront was … well, it was AWESOME. You’d think a writer could come up with a whole thesaurus’s worth of words to replace that rather tired one, but there isn’t any other word that captures what the whole experience delivered: utter awesomeness. Awesome to sign autographs and chat with long line-ups of keen Silver Birch readers, awesome to hang around with some of the best children’s authors in Canada today, awesome to be paraded onto the stage by my sign carrier and introducer, awesome to look out onto a packed audience of cheering kids whose enthusiasm wasn’t dampened one bit by the grey, drizzly weather.

And it was all, every bit of it, because kids are truly excited about reading.

The Ontario Library Association has done an awesome thing for our children. Their stellar Forest of Reading program is designed to get kids reading and talking about reading. The Festival of Trees celebrations in several cities in Ontario, packed with kids, are evidence that it works. Kids do read! Kids want to read! Kids are eager to stretch their brains to discover new things about their world and about themselves.

2014 Harbourfront Festival of Trees - Silver Birch Fiction

2014 Harbourfront Festival of Trees – Silver Birch Fiction

Record Breaker, by Robin Stevenson, was the Silver Birch Fiction winner as voted by thousands of students in Grades 4 to 6. Curse of the Dream Witch, by Allan Stratton,The Hypnotists, by Gordon Korman, and Yesterday’s Dead, by me (!), were named as Honour Books. (I still can’t quite believe it, to be honest.)

I also had the honour of attending two Forest-of-Reading-related celebrations in Uxbridge and Ajax last week. Here are some pictures of my sign carriers and introducers.

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They, too, were awesome.

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A whole Forest’s worth of reading … Festival of Trees

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Parry Sound Festival of Trees: my awesome sign carrier and introducer

Parry Sound Festival of Trees: my awesome sign carrier and introducer

The North Bay Festival of Trees on April 29 and the Parry Sound Festival of Trees on April 30 gave me two fun days of connecting with keen readers, their teachers and librarians from the Near North District School Board. Eleven authors in total made the trek north for the celebration, with lots of laughter, great workshops and chances to talk to the readers we wrote our books for.

The organizers, Karen Upper and her tremendous team, did a super job of keeping the kids reading leading up to the events, and they made our two days so much fun! These were my first ever Festival of Trees celebrations, and I’m still in awe of the enthusiasm from the kids. Having worked hard to get there by reading at least five books, they were all winners and tremendously proud of their achievements!

Festivals in Thunder Bay, London and Ottawa are keeping the excitement going. This week I’m off to related Forest of Reading celebrations in Uxbridge and Ajax, and the Toronto Festival of Trees at Harbourfront. Can’t wait!

The cheering from these keen readers at the North Bay Festival of Trees was deafening!

The cheering from these keen readers at the North Bay Festival of Trees was deafening!

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2014 Snow Willow Nomination

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I’m delighted that Yesterday’s Dead is one of the nominees for the 2014 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Snow Willow awards for Grades 7 to 9. Students across Saskatchewan will be reading and votiing on their favourite books in three categories: Shining Willow, Diamond Willow and Snow Willow. Teachers and librarians encourage reading through programs like these, and help nurture a love of good reading (and writing). Congratulations to all the nominees!

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