Last week I had one of the best visits I've ever had with a group of school children. My audience, at the Trent Hills Public Library, was made up of two classes of Grade 4/5 students, their teachers and a couple of parents.
As soon as I entered the library I was greeted by the sight of a colourful banner that extended the length of the second floor gallery. "Welcome Peggy."
The children had painted it and each of nine sections was a scene from one of my books. Needless to say, I was delighted!
Then the children trooped in. They sat around me on the floor in the sun-filled hall at the top of the stairs. To my surprise, some of them were in costume, other were carrying props. All would later be revealed, I discovered.
I loved that these kids were already familiar with my books. The teachers had read, or were in the process of reading, Treasure at Turtle Lake to them, and I had geared my presentation to that book and its sequel, Trouble at Turtle Narrows. Many had gone on to read other books of mine and had earlier emailed me their questions and comments. It seemed as if we were already friends.
At the end of our time together I gave them a little quiz, ten questions about Treasure, obscure questions like what size sneaker Matt Penny wore. They were enthusiastic about taking part in the quiz and they did very well.
But they had a surprise for the author. Remember the costumes and the props? The twenty-six students in one of the classes had each taken on the role of a character in my books, even including the latest, Growing Up Ivy. The teacher told me it was the first time he'd been able to find enough different characters for each one of his students to have a role.
Each child could give me three clues, and I had to try to guess which character he or she was. It wasn't easy! Often I could recall the character, see him in my mind's eye, even the book he came from. But his name? That was another matter. They even included villains like Victor Govier, and Bus Guy/Eddie (the stringy, grey wig and the shovel should have given him away), as well as the more likeable characters. More than once the children had to resort to a "name rhymes with" clue.
Imagine being stumped by your own characters! It was great fun and we were all wearing wide grins by the time it was over.
Keep on being excited by reading, kids!