One World Schoolhouse Foundation on CTV News

Richard Clewes ran around St. Lucia (two marathons in two days!) to raise money for his One World Schoolhouse Foundation.

Richard Clewes ran around St. Lucia (two marathons in two days!) to raise money for his One World Schoolhouse Foundation.

There was a terrific news piece on CTV News recently about One World Schoolhouse, the foundation that brought Gabby and 11 other great kids’ picture books to St. Lucia and Grenada last year.

CLICK BELOW TO WATCH THE CTV PIECE:

CTV News: One World Schoolhouse Foundation

Please take a moment to check out the tremendous work by Richard, Sonya, Marlaina and the many volunteers who built and maintain this important foundation.

Wonder how picture books are made?

COVER 3The idea for Gabby came from some research I’d done about literacy and “kinesthetic learning”–many kids learn to read faster if they can touch actual letters, like Scrabble tiles.

Gabby’s magic book creates letters. Whatever she spells with the letters, comes to life. That makes a connection for kids between letters, words and real-life things.

In Gabby: Wonder Girl, we wanted to extend the learning a bit, with questions–question words and question marks. So we had to invent a bit of a mystery for Gabby; she finds a mysterious photo of a little girl and wants to know: WHO is it?

Wonder Girl Joyce Cake 2This is me, just a bit older than Gabby, holding a prize-winning doll cake my dad and I had baked for a father-daughter contest. And below is the photo Gabby discovers in Gabby: Wonder Girl. (Greta is my late grandmother’s name.)

Gabby Greta photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the text was written (Wonder Girl is 574 words, by the way) it was time to talk to my publisher, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. This is my first book with Cheryl Chen as my editor; she’d been enthusiastic about the idea of a question-based Gabby from the start. She poked some very intelligent holes in my manuscript, as a good edGabby versionsitor will do, pointing out where the story needed to be improved. So I rewrote… and rewrote… and rewrote. There would be 19 rewrites and polished versions by the end of it. Every word has to work really hard, especially since part of the book’s job is to help kids learn to read.

Next, illustrator Jan Dolby was given the text, to make her magic with it. It was particularly tricky, because Gabby creates questions (“Who?”) and somehow, Gabby understands that the answer is “Mrs. Oldham.” I thought the “Who?” could turn into Mrs. Oldham’s butterflies (from the second Gabby book) but I sure as heck didn’t know how! I just said, “Hey, Jan and Cheryl–figure this out, will ya?”

Long-story short… Jan pulled it off beautifully. Here’s what it looks like in the book.

Who butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the story opens, Gabby happens to be dressed up like a superhero. I love that idea, because if you’ve ever seen a kid put on a cape–they’re immediately transformed. And I wanted to portray Gabby as a powerful girl. A super girl!

Jan immediately caught onto that idea. She has all kinds of superhero t-shirts and paraphernalia. She loves superheros. She spent a lot of time thinking about “Wonder Gabby” and “Super Roy”, and studying superlogos.

Jan Superman napkin

I wonder if you picked up on the pun: “Wonder Girl” refers to Gabby as a superhero and the fact that she’s questioning, or wondering.

Incidentally, Gabby’s friend Roy is indigenous. I think it’s really important that kids in our northern and First Nations communities have picture books with kids who are like them. In this book, Roy becomes Super Roy. (Thank you to Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus and Dr. John B. Zoe of the Tlicho government and Dale Matasawagon from Canada’s Assembly of First Nations for their help in developing Roy.)

WONDER GIRL Roy Gabby Wonder Girl

I’ll be posting more about Gabby: Wonder Girl as the book is completed (we’re not quite done!) and of course, when it launches. In the meantime, please check out Jan Dolby’s website.

And please do pre-order Gabby: Wonder Girl on Amazon. If you live near me, let me know and I’ll sign your copy. If you don’t, send me your snail-mail address and I’ll send you a signed bookplate sticker.

I’d like to thank Winston, Rowan, Cheryl, Tracey, Daniel and the entire gang at Fitzhenry & Whiteside Publishing for their support, encouragement… and talent!

And, of course, Jan Dolby who I hadn’t met before Gabby came along but who I now love like a sistah. ‘Cause she’s awesome. And talented. And super-quirky. But in a cool way.

 

International Day of Pink

Gabby and Roy 2015 International Day of Pink

This CBC News article explains the powerful message sent by students wearing pink for International Pink Day today. Originally a symbol of support for a classmate who was bullied for wearing pink–now it’s an annual Canadian event against bullying and homophobia.

Day of Pink.org website.

Teachers and parents: here are some great International Day of Pink resources and downloadables!

 

Authors for Indies Day – May 2, 2015

Book City Yonge and St ClairI’ll be at Book City at Yonge and St. Clair on May 2 to help raise awareness (and have some fun!) on Authors for Indies Day.

It’s a way for authors to support independent bookstores–and thank them for all that they do for us throughout the year. We will be talking about books, recommending books and doing some readings and signings.

I’ll be joining these fabulous authors aBook City logot that location:
Angela MisriElyse FriedmanStephen Smith, Michael HarrisHelaine Becker, Kathy KacerLoren EdizelMolly Peacock, Kevin Sylvester, Charmian ChristieAnna PorterRobert Charles WilsonSharry Wilson, Charmian ChristieTerry FallisI’ll be there most of the day, so please drop by!

Oh, and here’s the Authors for Indies website so you can plan your day.authorsforindies logo