Does it seem like a while since you heard from me? Maybe you didn’t see the announcement that my blog has moved to www.kathystinson.com/blog!
Add comment November 29, 2010 Kathy Stinson
Effective immediately, “Turning the Pages” has moved to www.kathystinson.com/blog. Please update your subscription by clicking on the RSS or email button on the new blog site.
Add comment November 19, 2010 Kathy Stinson
Before presenting Highway of Heroes at the Canadian War Museum on Remembrance Day, I had the chance to visit some of the exhibits.
Only those lucky few with tickets were allowed into Memorial Hall for the magic moment at 11 o’clock on November 11th, when the sun shines through a window onto the headstone of the Unknown Soldier. I wasn’t one of them, but program planner Lynda Fish ushered me in shortly beforehand and I was able to capture this “shortly-before” shot. The 11 o’clock moment is shown on the Museum’s website.
Because Highway of Heroes is a tribute to Canada’s fallen soldiers and the Canadians who line the bridges over the highway to honour them on their return home, I was also interested in The Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour which explores Canada’s long and rich history of honouring and remembrance. There are so many ways to honour our heroes!
Page 28 of Highway of Heroes refers to a slideshow and a song that, more recently than the artifacts in the Museum, honour our fallen and the Canadians who support them and their families along the route they travel. Pete Fisher’s slideshow and Bob Reid’s song framed my presentation, and can be watched and listened to here.
Add comment November 15, 2010 Kathy Stinson
Meanwhile, in Springhill, Nova Scotia, a student will be reading Highway of Heroes to a school assembly. Around the gymnasium will be “Bridge Ceremony” banners made by the students. O Canada will be sung. I thank the teacher who wrote to tell me of their plans.
I’m proud to have written a book that helps Canada’s young people understand that the act of remembrance can be about those who have served long ago, those who have served in recent memory, and even those currently serving. Linda Granfield has written a number of books that contribute to young people’s understanding of why we observe Remembrance Day. She has also created a video “Eleventh Day, 11th Hour” that I’m happy to help her share.
2 comments November 10, 2010 Kathy Stinson
The headline “An edible education” in the Toronto Star the other day (Nov 3) caught my eye. “Scarborough high school’s garden supplies cafeteria, inspires students and feeds community”.
“It’s believed to be Canada’s first school-based market garden,” the article says. I wondered if that was true. Cornelia Oberlander has been encouraging kids to plant vegetable gardens at their schools for years, and I could have sworn I saw photos of kids doing just that in at least one issue of Landscapes/Paysages when I was researching my book about Cornelia and her work.
Ah, yes, to be sure, but as the article goes on to point out, there have been other school gardens, but not on the scale of Bendale’s – thanks to funding from an Ontario Community Go Green Fund grant. Since planting their 26 beds last April, almost 1800 pounds of food has been harvested!
Not every school will be able to access that funding, but as Ian Hepburn-Aley of FoodShare says, “There are so many schools that could be turning their lawns into fields of food.”
Hmm. A project for a school in your community? Food for thought? It’s not to soon to start planning for spring!
Add comment November 8, 2010 Kathy Stinson
Sometimes I lament the time it takes to keep up with emails, as many people do these days. But I received a few recently that made me very glad for this way of connecting with people I might otherwise not hear from at all.
Like this one:
I just bought and read your “Highway of Heroes” book. Amazing….. You did a great job with it. I loved the pictures. My brother (Cpl Michael Starker) was killed in Afghanistan May 6, 2008 and I travelled the Highway of Heroes with my family. It was a very moving and unforgettable experience and to see it in a book now makes it timeless. Thank you for writing this book. I appreciated it.
When I wrote Carolyn asking permission to quote her message in a blog post, she said:
Yes – you may certainly use my message and my full name. I am okay with that. I really support your book and back you with it. My girls (age 9 and 11) were not able to come with me to Trenton and only heard my story. When I was able to sit down with them and share your book and show them that it was like that for me they were able to get a glimpse into what I saw that day. We all cried when we read the book together – my girls really miss their uncle alot, as do we all.
Thanks for keeping in touch.
And then there was this one:
Hello Ms. Stinson,
Your book about being adopted has been highly recommended to me by a psychologist that I have my adopted son seeing. Being from Korea he is dealing with the issues of not ‘looking’ like us and feeling different from the rest of his family. The problem is that I have been unable to find this book anywhere, it has been out of stock at Amazon for awhile now and I cannot find it anywhere on the internet or in bookstores. Do you sell it directly or have any suggestions as to where I might purchase a copy?
Thank you so much,
I was able to direct Pam to the link on the publisher’s website where she was able to order it. I hope by now that she and her son are happily reading their book.
And last but not least, from a friend and fellow writer:
Just back from Germany and I kept forgetting to e-mail you about this conversation I overheard in a staff room in Wurzburg. The artists I was working with were talking – in German – about this book they’d been working with in grades one and two. I got a bit here and there but my Deutsch is pretty spare. Anyway then suddenly I understood what they were talking about: the colour red. And how this book was just perfect for teaching with and … I interrupted to say: Red is Best? Are you talking about a picture book called Red is Best?
Yes! They said. Our favourite. We love it. You should have seen their faces when I said knew the author, like, personally. Well, I went up two flights of stairs in their minds.
Just thought you’d want to know of how you little one was faring out their in the foreign speaking world.
Want a peek at the covers of the Red is Best translations! They’re pretty neat!
Do you fret that you’ll never get dug out from under the onslaught of all those emails? Or has a message landed in your inbox lately that made you glad for email’s existence?
2 comments November 3, 2010 Kathy Stinson
Posted here with the poet’s permission:
An Ancient Child
The doctor’s waiting room, the quiet flip
of magazine pages. My daughter’s right lung
still crackling, and I wish for recovery
and punctual doctors. Looking at the floral patterns
of china I’ll never buy, when suddenly my daughter laughs,
holds up for me to see spread across
two pages, a photo of a black child left to die
…where it fell. White eyes,
canyon cheeks, protruding teeth. She sees
my shock and says, ‘The face is funny.
Like something from Hallowe’en.’
I look again, the image so intimate,
if I lean too close I’ll smell decay.
Hear wind rattle the shacks left standing,
feel a foreign sun’s heat baking
the skin draped over a small skeleton.
An ancient child feeding birds and insects
…and photographer’s lenses. If only
I could reach in, feel the rubber
moulded into a face falling in on itself
like an old grave. Find the edge of the mask
my daughter saw and peel it off.
…Expose the child smiling
underneath, waiting to say,
…‘See, I tricked you.’
I enjoyed “An Ancient Child” in The Bridge that Carries the Road which was a Governor General’s Award finalist. I also especially liked “Mr. Phillips”, “First Day of School”, and the two poems that referred to Solomon’s Seal, one of my favourite plants in my garden. I look forward to reading more of her poetry in Where Sound Pools.
1 comment October 31, 2010 Kathy Stinson
A writer-friend of mine has been thinking lately about the possibility of having multiple viewpoint characters in a novel she is working on. Since she’s been wondering what that might look like, I sent her a copy of Fish House Secrets which is told from two points of view, as a trade for her book of poetry, The Bridge that Carries the Road.
Now I want to tell her about the book I started reading at the CNIB Recording studio this week because it has five point of view characters. (I’m reading aloud only the sections of the story that are Amelia’s. A male narrator will be reading the male characters’ sections.)
Ragged Company tells the story – stories – of four homeless people and one “Square John” whose lives intersect in a movie theatre one bitter cold winter day. It’s one of the most beautiful, sad, beautifully written, funny, wise, and moving books I’ve read in a long time – and I’ve been reading some good ones.
One of the other reasons I liked the book so much, I think, is because its author Richard Wagamese accomplished something I’ve been struggling with in the writing of my current novel-in-progress. Each one of his characters has his or her own distinct and wonderfully authentic voice. Read any page in isolation and there’s no mistaking whose version of events you are reading.
I’ve got the voice for one of my pov characters. The other two, after numerous drafts, seem still to be eluding me. Inspired by Richard Wagamese, though, I intend to love those two characters more, as he clearly loved each of is. And maybe if I can do that – instead of wishing as I sometimes do that they had not chosen me to tell their stories – maybe then I will be better able hear them speak.
In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for multiple-viewpoint novels you have loved – for kids or for adults – I hope you’ll let me know.
4 comments October 29, 2010 Kathy Stinson
Teachers making plans for Remembrance Day lessons will be interested in knowing that Fitzhenry & Whiteside has produced an online Teacher’s Guide for Highway of Heroes – both the fiction and non-fiction components of the book.
Add comment October 26, 2010 Kathy Stinson
On Sunday, October 17, the Royal Canadian Legion in Fredericton held a memorial service for soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. It was held outdoors around the monument to fallen soldiers that was unveiled a year ago. It was a moving ceremony with a laying of wreaths by various dignitaries and members of the fallen soldiers’ families from the area.
I had the great honour to meet some of those family members and to sign copies of Highway of Heroes in memory of loved ones. It was humbling to meet soldiers, too, some who have served in Afghanistan and have been involved in ceremonies in Kandahar and Trenton and back home in New Brunswick.
Before dinner, several people spoke to those who had gathered in the legion hall. Most memorable for me was Major Bret Parlee of CFB Gagetown. He spoke of his experiences as a leader of troops in Afghanistan, of what it is like to lose soldiers, the importance of sharing grief (grief which soldiers often must put off allowing themselves to feel), and of how he is inspired by the courage of fallen soldiers’ families.
A most moving context for the launch of a book. And I thank the Royal Canadian Legion in Fredericton for giving me this opportunity.
Add comment October 20, 2010 Kathy Stinson