St. George elementary school students discover what it takes to be an author

The first place photo in the 2015 Telling Tales App Photo Contest by Wendy Rose. The Telling Tales App is generously sponsored by Cogeco.

The first place photo in the 2015 Telling Tales App Photo Contest by Wendy Rose. The Telling Tales App is generously sponsored by Cogeco.

Over 200 students from kindergarten to Gr. 4 enjoyed a private author presentation this fall. This experience was made possible as part of the Telling Tales App Photo Contest. Entrants had to take a picture of their favourite reading spot, and Wendy Rose took the top prize with an adorable picture of her son and their dog. Wendy won an exclusive “Telling Tales Author Experience” for her son’s elementary school: St. George-German Public School.

The talented author that visited was Lisa Dalrymple, an award-winning children’s writer. She shared stories, talked to the students about writing, did an interactive story reading and answered lots of great questions from the students. It was interactive, engaging and most of all fun!

Before her presentation the air was filled with excitement and curiosity. As the students looked around the room, they wondered ‘who is the author?’ Did the author have glasses? Did the author wear blue pants like Stewie’s blue tail? Were they locked in the closet or worse yet, were they in jail?

The children soon found out that ‘the author’ was the woman standing right in front of them. No bright blue pants like Stewie’s tail, but she did have a special way with words and storytelling. Kids learned that an author is someone who writes a story, and an illustrator does the pictures.

Lisa shared a special story about when her daughter Natalie was three she wanted a pet polar bear, and explained how she turned this into her very first book: If It’s No Trouble… A Big Polar Bear.

Children’s writer, Lisa Dalrymple, engages the crowd during her presentation.

Children’s writer, Lisa Dalrymple, engages the crowd during her presentation.

Lisa asked the students how long they thought it took her to write her first book. The guesses spanned a long time: One day? One week? One month? One year? This book took Lisa one year to write. She explained that one small book took a lot of work to write. Then it needed to be reviewed and edited, and then she kept fixing it to make it even better. The students learned that being an author takes hard work and determination.

After Lisa made the story the best it could be, she sent it off to 10 publishers. But none of them published her book. Instead of giving up, Lisa decided to send it to 22 more publishers.

She didn’t give up on writing either. She asked herself: what might people want to read about? And something kept telling her to write about the common five-lined skink, a small lizard. Lisa noticed signs for the skink while camping at Pinery Provincial Park and Bon Echo Provincial Park, and even when she went to Florida. This got her thinking about the skink and why they have such a colourful blue tail and why they change colour when they get older. In order to answer all these questions, Lisa did a lot of research, including going to find Stewie in his natural habitat!

Author Lisa Dalrymple with prize winners, Ben and Wendy, who took home a special signed copy of Lisa’s book Skink on the Brink and a Telling Tales prize bag.

Author Lisa Dalrymple with prize winners, Ben and Wendy, who took home a special signed copy of Lisa’s book Skink on the Brink and a Telling Tales prize bag.

She decided this would be a good story to tell, and it eventually became the book Skink on the Brink. Lisa loves to rhyme, so she made the lead character, Stewie, tell rhyming tales.

Now she’s working on a new book – a middle school novel set in the Amazon jungle.

Towards the end of her presentation one of the students asked her a great question: “When did you start writing?” Her answer shocked and amazed the students. Lisa began writing when she was eight! It was a mystery novel, inspired by the Nancy Drew series. All of the St. George students said they liked to write and draw, but didn’t consider themselves writers or illustrators – until now.

“At Telling Tales we know how important it is to expose children to stories, and introducing them to authors can help spark their own creativity,” explains Susan Jasper, Telling Tales Founder. “We wish to thank Lisa Dalrymple for helping to inspire a new generation of authors and illustrators!”

About Lisa Dalrymple

Lisa Dalrymple is an award-winning children’s author who loves to travel. She has lived in England, Scotland, South Korea, Thailand and Canada. She has also travelled throughout Europe and Asia. She now lives in Fergus, Ontario with her husband and their three children. Her books include Skink on the Brink, the winner of the 2014 Crystal Kite Award for Canada, A Moose Goes a-Mummering, and a series of picture books about a little girl and her pet polar bear. She is currently at work on her first novel for middle grade readers which is based on her time in the Amazon.

 

Photos by Kelly Russell