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In 2019, Eric Walters sparked the creation of a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people, to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature. Join Eric in conversation with local children’s literature advocate Michelle Dimnik to hear more about the #IReadCanadian project, how it started, and why it matters.
A recording of this event is currently available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0CmaRXoKJ0&list=PLwxD1mhfh1qZ_JNq3GNkBu3CA-Y98BB7i&index=7
Thirteen-year-old Robbie leads a double life. It’s just Robbie and his dad, but no one knows that his dad isn’t like most parents. Sometimes he wakes Robbie up in the middle of the night to talk about dying. Sometimes he just leaves without telling Robbie where he’s going. Once when Robbie was younger, he was gone for more than a week. Robbie was terrified of being left alone but even more scared of telling anyone in case he was put into foster care. No one can know. Until one day when Robbie has to show the tough new girl, Harmony, around school. Their first meeting ends horribly and she punches Robbie in the face. But eventually they come to realize that they have a lot more in common than they thought. Can Robbie’s new friend be trusted to keep his secret?
Thirteen-year-old Quinn and her friends can’t believe their luck when spring break is extended an extra two weeks—even if it’s because of some virus. But when the impact of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic becomes apparent, everyone, not just the students, has to learn to adjust to their new reality. Quinn’s father is an ER doctor and has to self-isolate to protect his family from the virus. Isaac’s mother is the chief of police and now has to enforce new physical-distancing bylaws. Reese can’t visit her grandmother in her care home anymore. And their entire school has moved to online classes. Sacrifices have to be made to keep everyone safe, but there’s more to life than rules and scary news reports. In an effort to find some good in all this uncertainty, Quinn comes up with an idea that she hopes will bring the entire community together.
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school.
Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
Eric Walters is one of Canada’s best-known and most prolific writers of fiction for children and young adults. His books have won over 120 awards, including thirteen separate children’s choice awards, and have been translated into thirteen languages. He lives in Guelph, Ontario, and is the co-founder of Creation of Hope, a charity that provides care for orphans in the Mbooni district of Kenya. In 2014, Eric was named a Member of the Order of Canada “for his contribution as an author of literature for children and young adults whose stories help young readers grapple with complex social issues.”
Michelle Dimnik is a retired teacher, formerly with Lethbridge School Division. During her thirty-three year teaching career, Michelle served as a Teacher-Librarian (Elementary and Junior High), Resource Room/Learning Support (Elementary) and classroom teacher, grades 1, 3, 4 & 5. Throughout her career and in retirement, Michelle has volunteered and has been instrumental in many reading and literacy programs including: “One School One Book”; “One District One Book”; and the Rocky Mountain Book Award: an Alberta children’s choice book award celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year (http://rmba.info). She is committed to bringing the love of reading and the power of story to children and young adults.