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Archives | Sylvia McNicoll

Inspiring Girls – Visiting Saint Mildred’s Lightbourn School

For a long time I’ve wanted to visit Saint Mildred’s Lightbourn School.  Sometimes in co-ed schools I feel like I’ve let the boys down because I’ve written female protagonist stories.  Teachers have said to me “Girls read anything, but boys won’t read anything with a girl main character.”  I don’t believe every piece of fiction should be tailored to try to get boys to read. That kind of marginalizes girls. Allow male readers the pleasure of nonfiction if they don’t enjoy following a narrative. Invite male authors in one year, and female the next to get a balance. 
  In any case, finally yesterday I had the opportunity to visit. It was a wonderful afternoon with some two hundred young readers and potential writers.  The girls asked some great questions, too.  I hope to visit them again.

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500 Show for Burlington Public Library/ Sally Armstrong Event

Thank you Burlington Public Library for hosting, not only another successful literary event: Sally Armstrong’s The Nine Lives of Charlotte Tayler evening, but for all the great programs and support you give writers as well as readers. I heard BPL’s Andrea Gordon say over 500 tickets were issued and the One Book, One Burlington celebratory night needed to move locations from a fairly large venue at Central’s auditorium to Port Nelson United Church where the beautiful stained glass windows and subdued lighting created a wonderful atmosphere for Sally’s inspiring talk. Sally spoke about the connections between history and identity and the power of women’s stories. Women can create peace. Several audience members identified themselves as Charlotte’s descendants and Sally said when she approached her computer each morning to write her story, it was as if Charlotte were waiting. After watching her sign books to her audience, I

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said goodbye and Congratulations, Charlotte. Thanks again Burlington Public Library for supplying me with wonderful opportunities that have launched my career as a writer, saved my sanity as a parent, enriched my children as readers and entertained and enlightened my whole family.

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The Tiffin by Mahtab Narsimhan on Hamilton Beach

Much of where I think would be a great place to read is not where I actually do.  Here’s where I would have liked to have read The Tiffin a very moving story of the lives changed when a message goes astray in one of those large metal lunch buckets used to deliver hot lunch all over Bombay. Kunal is the perseverant orphan who searches for family through the story and ultimately finds it, maybe not exactly in the shape and form that he wanted it.  I fancy myself as an empath which sometimes makes me take on a story too much so I found it hard to handle what beggars go through in India.  I have a 10 year old grandson with some east Indian in his background and I can too easily imagine different circumstances for him.  Pretty sure children can handle the difficult parts better than I did.  This is a powerful story.  And why I wanted to read it here is not just because of the water.  I love to be close to a lake or ocean for ultimate Zen.  But here I am close to the spirit of the girl who is inspiring my next story.  I’m waiting for her to answer my questions.  It’s easier if I’m reading a good story.
PS As soon I clean off my desk, I hope to post a close up of The Tiffin.  Or maybe that little girl stole it.

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The Yo-Yo Prophet by Karen Krossing on Sugar Beach

Early Saturday morning I was heading to an Access Copyright meeting in the Star Building at the foot of Yonge. At the south end of Lower Jarvis I happened on a location I’d heard about and always wanted to see: Sugar Beach.  And I had the perfect book to read, Karen Krossing’s The Yo-Yo Prophet (Orca Book Publishers)  Her main character Calvin actually performs and predicts from the harbourfront not far from here. I show two photos of the location only because it’s such an oddity.  You can’t swim from this beach and while it’s inviting, the setting is quite industrial with that rusty ship docked nearby.  It took all my will power to keep walking and head for One Yonge Street.  Not only could I not stop to enjoy the book at this beach but on the Go Train in I re-read the black binder full of notes for the meeting.  I only hope my sacrifices give writers like Karen MORE MONEY.    
Meetings done, I made the time to read The Yo-Yo Prophet from a more mundane setting, my dining room.I love the characters,  Rozelle especially.  She’s such a feisty big-busted girl full of spunk and innovation.  I wish Karen would write a story all about her.  I like the premise and I’m always intrigued by yo-yoing.  Can’t get one to return unless I buy a cheater automatic return.  I think I now need a trick book so I can read it again and try to perform the things Calvin did. I like the unpredictability of the story.  Calvin has problems that don’t solve themselves sitcom-like.  He acts on them and manages to shift the balance in his favour but in the end…well you’ll have to read it yourself.  And by the way, this is not a book Just for Kids.  You don’t have to wrack your brains for whom on your shopping list you should get a copy.  Buy it for yourself and enjoy.  There’s no reason young adults should always have all the fun.

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How Do You Read to a Rabbit by Andrea Wayne von Koningslow

This is my grandaughter Violet’s official first book.  I’m sure there were many other board books that she gummed along the way but How Do You Read to a Rabbit is her go-to favourite because she loves the pictures.  She loves animals, anyway, but how can you resist Andrea Wayne’s whimsical gentle drawings?  I love her Bing and Chutney characters too and have a portrait of them hanging in my bedroom.  Violet currently likes the dolphin page in her book and has learned the phrase “all wet” from it. Her dad, my son Craig, also enjoyed many Annick picture books.  I remember his favourite used to be Mashed Potato Mountain by Laurel Gugler.  I’m so grateful to Annick for those little handsized picture books that I used to carry around in my purse, the emergency stories that I used to entertain my three children in the waiting rooms of life.  They introduced my kids to reading and to many great Canadian children’s writers like Andrea. 

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