Kids Book Chat #3 with Larry Verstraete

*Please note: Our Kids Book Chats have moved to Saturdays, now that school is back in session. The next one will be held October 3, at 1 pm. This event is free for members. Email the Guild manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com to ask for the Zoom instructions.

October’s Featured Author is Larry Verstraete.

Biography:

Writer and educator Larry Verstraete has always lived in Winnipeg. A former middle grade teacher with a background in science and a penchant for stories, he began writing for youngsters while still teaching.  For his first books, he dipped into a familiar subject to share stories about discoveries, inventions and daring scientific exploits.  Later, Larry widened his scope by writing true adventure stories and, more recently, middle grade novels.

Larry’s seventeen books have been on recommended reading lists and many have received honours. The most recent novel, Coop the Great, was voted MYRCA’s 2020 Honor Book by youngsters in the Sundog group. He is a two-time winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People Award (for S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet & Lost Treasures: True Stories of Discovery). Larry is also a two-time winner of the Silver Birch Award for Non-fiction (for At the Edge: Daring Acts in Desperate Times & Survivors:True Death-Defying Escapes). Honours for other books range from nominations for the Norma Fleck Award (Accidental Discoveries) and the New York Reading Association Charlotte Award (Surviving the Hindenburg) to designations such as Outstanding Science Trade Book of 2011 by the National Science Teachers Association and Children’s Book Council (S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet).

Larry has presented at conferences and festivals including Calgary’s Wordfest, Winnipeg’s International Children’s Festival, Thin Air, Winnipeg’s International Writers Festival, and to literacy groups like the Winnipeg Children’s Literature Round Table and Manitoba School Library Association. As well, he has toured several times with TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and in connection with B.C.’s Red Cedar, Ontario’s Silver Birch, the Maritime’s Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award, and the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award.

Between writing pursuits, Larry indulges in other favourite pastimes especially traveling and hiking with his wife, Jo, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.

You can find more about Larry and his books on his website  www.larryverstraete.com

Publications:

  • Coop the Great (Great Plains Publications, 2018)
  • ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016)
  • Innovations in Everyday Technologies (Crabtree Publishing, 2016)
  • Innovations in Transportation. (Crabtree Publishing, 2016)
  • Missing in Paradise (Rebelight Publishing, 2014)
  • Life or Death: Surviving the Impossible (Scholastic Canada, 2014)
  • Surviving the Hindenburg. Illustrated by David Geister (Sleeping Bear Press, 2012)
  • Case Files: 40 Murders and Mysteries Solved by Science (Scholastic Canada, 2011)
  • S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet. Illustrated by David Geister. (Sleeping Bear Press, 2010)
  • At the Edge: Daring Acts in Desperate Time. (Scholastic Canada, 2009)
  • G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet. Illustrated by Brian Lund. (Sleeping Bear Press, 2009)
  • Lost Treasures: 25 True Stories of Discovery (Scholastic Canada, 2006)
  • Survivors: True Death-Defying Escape. (Scholastic Canada, 2003)
  • Extreme Science (Scholastic Canada, 2000)
  • Accidental Discoveries: From Laughing Gas to Dynamite (Scholastic Canada,
  • Whose Bright Idea Was It? (Scholastic Canada,1997)
  • Mysteries of Time (Scholastic Canada, 1992)
  • The Serendipity Effect (Scholastic Canada, 1988)

Book Chat #5 with Lauren Carter

Our next virtual Book Chat will take place on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 7 pm. It will feature one of the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards winners, Lauren Carter. Please join us by emailing the Manitoba Writers’ Guild to receive instructions.

Lauren is the author of four books. Her poetry collections are Following Sea and Lichen Bright and her novels are Swarm and This Has Nothing to Do With You, which won the 2020 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction at the this year’s Manitoba Book Awards, where she also received the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. 

Her work has also appeared in literary journals across the country including Grain and The Fiddlehead and anthologies such as Best Canadian Stories and the forthcoming Voicing Suicide. A transplanted Ontarian, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph and has lived in Manitoba since 2013.

She is currently working on completing a third poetry collection called Furrow and the first draft of her next novel. Visit her online at www.laurencarter.ca

Report on Angeline Schellenberg’s Book Chat

The August Book Chat featured award-winning poet, Angeline Schellenberg. She read from her book Fields of Light and Stone. The first poem she read with her son because she’d written it in the ‘voices’ of her grandparents. Angeline spoke the words attributed to her grandmother and her son read the part of her grandfather. All her touching poems from Fields of Light and Stone were based on her grandparents’ emigration experience and farming life in Canada.

During the Q&A, audience members asked Angeline about her creative process; working on the book layout, the editing for publication, etc. Afterwards, four audience members shared their own poems during the Open Mic part of the evening. Danie Botha shared a poem from his book 2 Bowls of Joy. Phyllis Cherritt read about a remembrance of her mother. Penny Haywood, inspired by one of Angeline’s poems about a garden, read her own poem about a garden. Emmanuel Okoh read I Kooti, published by the Canadian League of Poets.

I find it fascinating, during these Book Chats, how the Featured Author’s readings often inspire the audience to share their work with similar themes. I highly recommend you join us for Book Chat #5 on September 9, 2020 at 7 pm with Lauren Carter, who will be featured in the next post.

Reminder of Upcoming Events

Before delving into our programs, if you are a member writer wanting to join a Writing Group, look for the link to our Writing Group Survey in your inbox. If you did not receive the email and wish to take part in the survey to find a group tailored to your needs, please email us for the link at:(manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com).
Now for our upcoming events:
August 4th at 1 pm: Kids Book Chats
We want to welcome all members along with their children and grandchildren. This free-to-members event will feature Bill Richardson reading his award-winning book The Promise Basket, and his illustrator, Slavka Kolesar. Q&A to follow. Email the Guild for the Zoom details.
August 6th at 7 pm: Writing Rants and Ramblings
Come to your video screen to chat about your writing and discuss issues that are close to your heart. All are welcome. Email the Guild for the Zoom details.
August 12 at 7 pm: Book Chat#4
All member poets (and those interested in poetry) should sign up to hear Angeline Schellenberg, ask her questions about her poetry and maybe share some of your own.  Email the Guild for the Zoom details.

Launch of new program for kids

With the success of our evening online Book Chats and, with social distancing still an issue with kids as well as adults, we have come up with a way to reach out to the children and grandchildren of members, providing some free afternoon literary programs. During the month of August, we are lining up writers for a series of Kids Book Chats, beginning with those who were a part of this year’s Manitoba Book Awards, in particular, those who wrote books that were submitted to the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Younger Category.

Each of these online meetings will begin with a reading from the author, followed by a Q&A where participants can ask questions of the author and, in some cases, with the illustrator as well. This reading series will take place every afternoon for a couple of weeks, depending on how many writers we can get on-board. We’d like to continue the series with other local writers for children and teens, too. Anyone who would like to sign up their kids or grandkids to watch, please email the Manitoba Writers’ Guild (manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com) to receive the Zoom links and instructions.

Our first Kids Book Chat will take place on Tuesday, August 4th at 1 pm with Bill Richardson, who was the 2020 winner of the McNally Robinson Booksellers Book for Young People Award – Younger Category with his book, The Promise Basket, a lyrical story which celebrates the love between a mother and her daughter. He will be joined by his illustrator, Slavka Kolesar.

As well as winning this year’s Young People Award, former radio host, Bill Richardson, was also the winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. He has written several other highly acclaimed books for children, including The Ants Come Marching, illustrated by Cynthia Nugent and winner of the Time to Read Award; the children’s novel After Hamelin, which won the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award; The Alphabet Thief and The Bunny Band, both illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff.

Illustrator, Slavka Kolesar, has a BFA in visual studies and art history from the University of Toronto and trained as an early childhood educator. Other books she has illustrated include Ulysse by Suzanne de Serres, Le Nom de l’arbre by Stéphanie Bénéteau and Le Légende de Carcajou by Renée Robitaille, which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. She was chosen as the TD Summer Reading Club illustrator in 2017.

About The Promise Basket:

A stone when it’s thrown can cause damage, can break
but nothing can shatter the promise I make.

So begins the poem a mother writes on a scrap of paper. She wraps the paper around a stone and places it in a basket to give to her daughter on her first birthday. They are poor, but the mother is determined that gifts will be given when gifts need giving. She keeps her promise, and the Promise Basket, too.

Every time there is a need for gifts, the mother finds a pretty stone to tie up with paper and ribbon and gives it to her daughter in the basket. She continues the tradition over the years until her daughter has a baby of her own…

 

 

Book Chat #4 – Angeline Schellenberg

Book Chat # 3 with Joan Thomas was a lot of fun! Joan read a new piece of writing. Getting this sneak peak was very exciting for those in attendance, of which there were seven. Three participants read their own work during the Open Mic. The rest of us preferred to sit back and listen.

Our fourth Book Chat will take place on August 12 and will feature poet Angeline Schellenberg. This is a free-for-members-only event. If you are a current member of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and would like to take part in this virtual event, please email the Guild (manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com) to receive the Zoom information and let us know if you would also like to take part in the Open Mic, which will take place after Angeline’s reading and Q&A.

Angeline Schellenberg is a poet living in Treaty 1 territory (Winnipeg). Her first full-length collection, Tell Them It Was Mozart (Brick Books, 2016) received three Manitoba Book Awards and was a finalist for a ReLit Award for Poetry. In addition to publishing three new chapbooks, in 2019 she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Arc Poetry Magazine‘s Poem of the Year. Angeline has served as Deep Bay artist-in-residence (Riding Mountain National Park), a Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program mentor, a Poetry In Voice performance judge, and host of the Speaking Crow reading series. Her second book is Fields of Light and Stone (University of Alberta Press, 2020).

 

Book Chat # 2 with Anita Daher

On June 10, the MWG held our second Book Chat. Anita Daher was our Featured Author, who read a chapter from her newest teen novel You Don’t Have to Die in the End. After her reading, she answered some questions which inspired lively conversations on such a variety of topics including how Anita arrived at the title for her book, how chapter transitions transport the reader, story-boarding to maintain flow and setting, how to notice plot holes, the editing process, redemption (a theme in Anita’s book), getting writing grants, etc.

During the Open Mic segment, four of the seven participants read passages they wanted to share. David Cramer read from a review of Only to Sleep. Bev Greenberg shared a memory of her childhood, preparing for her uncle’s wedding. MaryLou Driedger read from her work in progress, an historical novel based on events from her father’s immigration to Canada. Barbara Lange shared a piece from her book Memories of the Moonlight Special, based on vignettes from people’s recollections of the beach train era. All readings were highly entertaining and the evening was also quite informative. It was wonderful for Anita to have the opportunity to read from her book because her launch was hampered by the pandemic.

We encourage more people to join us on July 8th at 7:00 p.m.  Joan Thomas will be our Featured Reader for the third MWG Book Chat, available to members only. If you are not yet a member and wish to join, please go to our Membership page. If you are a member and wish to participate in the next Book Chat, please email the Guild office (manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com) to register and receive the Zoom information.

In case you haven’t heard of Joan Thomas, please keep reading and learn about this talented Manitoba writer:

Joan Thomas is the author of four novels: Five Wives, The Opening Sky, Curiosity, and Reading by Lightning. In 2014, Joan was the recipient of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Prize for a writer in mid-career, and in 2019, she was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Fiction for Five Wives. She is a former teacher and book reviewer, and she lives in Winnipeg.
*Note: Joan’s books are available at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Please support our local bookstore, which supports the Manitoba Book Awards.