I Read to a Room of Over 150 Students...

…and I survived!

I’d like to thank the staff and students of J.B. Tyrrell Senior Public School of northwestern Scarborough for having me over to read to the grade sevens and eights. Thanks especially to the teacher librarian Mr. Bennett for arranging this. I spoke for two hours — an hour each for each grade — in the gymnasium. I was a little startled by the number of people who turned out: over 150 per session, but everybody heard me and they listened.

I know from experience that it can be impossible to keep quiet while sitting for an hour in a crowded gymnasium, so this is quite an accomplishment, but I’d also like to thank Marsha Skrypuch for advising me to invest in my own portable sound system (and thanks also to the staff of the school for having a backup sound system ready, just in case). Credit go to both the students and the teachers, who had clearly come out to listen.

Before I went to the gymnasium, I had a meeting with Mr. Bennett, who was enthusiatic about my book, his library and his school. And J.B. Tyrrell seems to have a lot to be proud about. They have an active library support group in their students, and a strong participation rate in last year’s Red Maple Awards (where schoolchildren vote to decide who has the best book for grades 7-9 in a particular year). The teachers have clearly made literacy a priority in this school, and the students look like their flourishing.

I gave my revised presentation, cutting back on my fan fiction experience and focusing on the point that we all like our stories, and that persistence is the key to getting published. We were pressed for time, so some questions were left unanswered, but I enjoyed myself, and the students were very kind to me. I sold the six copies of The Unwritten Girl that I brought and received orders for another eight. These are being filled out and should be to the students shortly.

The visit was a considerable boost to the ego, thanks to the students who stopped me in the hall afterward to ask questions or bid farewell to “Mr. Famous Author Dude.” Heh. Drop the word after Mr. and you just might have it.

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