Save the NEW Date!

The date of the 2019 CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons conference has been changed! It will now be the weekend AFTER the May long weekend. More details are coming, but for now – mark your calendars! We hope to see you there.

CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons conference

May 24 – 26, 2019 at Queen’s House, Saskatoon

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What I Read When I Was Young: Sally Meadows

Sally Meadows is an award-winning author, singer/songwriter, and speaker from Saskatoon. Sally writes for both adults and kids, in both non-fiction and fiction. Her publications include The Two Trees (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing; 2015); Beneath That Star (Word Alive Press, 2015); When Sleeping Birds Fly: 365 Amazing Facts About The Animal Kingdom; 2018); and The Underdog Duckling (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, Sept. 2018). Sign up for Sally’s newsletter at https://sallymeadows.com.

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

I don’t recall a favourite picture book—generally, I don’t have a lot of memories when I was that young—but I know that my mother read my older siblings’ Dick and Jane books to me, and continues to occasionally send me Dick and Jane memorabilia including this colouring book re-published in 2004, and magnets featuring the characters. What’s special about this book is that I was named after Dick and Jane’s younger sister—Sally. My mother had asked my brothers and sister what she should name the new baby. Naturally they wanted the same name as the little sister in the Dick and Jane books.

 

 

What was the first chapter book your read?

I can’t say for sure, but my older siblings had The Bobbsey Twins (Laura Lee Hope) and The Famous Five (Enid Blyton) books so I imagine it might have been one of those. (I did prefer The Famous Five.)

 

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

Most likely Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) since it is the only book I have kept from childhood. My godmother gave it to me on my ninth birthday. I never really knew her, but she always sent me presents on my birthday, and I treasured them.

 

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

Yes, I reread Anne of Green Gables as an adult, but only once. I really enjoyed the CBC television series starring Megan Follows as Anne; one of my all-time favourite characters in any movie EVER was Richard Farnsworth’s Matthew Cuthbert. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase some children’s classic books but I decided not to. I am not particularly interested in rereading what I loved in the past, although I do re-watch movies that I love. I’m funny that way.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

I was definitely a comic book reader! I read a lot of different ones. Betty and Veronica was probably my favourite, but I also read Archie, Jughead, Richie Rich, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, Batman, Fantastic Four, Aquaman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, Tales from the Crypt, and Mad Magazine. I used to pore over the advertisements: I longed to get the sea monkeys and spider monkeys, but alas it was never to be.

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I preferred fiction but I also had a healthy dose of non-fiction through the two sets of encyclopaedias my parents purchased: The World Book (including its child-friendly subsidiary set Childcraft) and Encyclopaedia Britannica. As far as I remember, I rarely picked up non-fiction books at the library nor did I purchase them. Today I read equally fiction and non-fiction.

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

Yes, I liked series, and hands-down my favourite was The Hardy Boys (I was a tomboy). I did read Nancy Drew books too but wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about them as Frank and Joe. As I got older, I read a series of Sherlock Holmes books, and regularly bought Alfred Hitchcock magazines (which are still going strong today).

 

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

I lived in a number of places when I was young, as my father was in the armed forces, so I don’t have strong memories of any one library. Probably my earliest memory of a library was on one of the army bases in eastern Ontario when I was about five. It was in a small, narrow, portable-type building and had limited hours. I remember one summer visit in particular when we got a special treat afterwards. Later, when we lived in Quebec, my sister and I used to take our bikes to the local library. One distinct memory I have is searching through the card catalogue in those long wooden boxes. Although I don’t remember a lot of details about the libraries I visited when I was young, they must have had a big impact on me; to this day, libraries are one of my favourite places to be.

What I Read When I Was Young: Miriam Körner

Miriam Körner is an award winning writer and illustrator for children and young adults. Her stories reflect her love for northern Canadian wilderness and the people who make the North their home. Her young adult novel “Yellow Dog” and her picture book “When the Trees Crackle with Cold: pīsimwasinahikan” (co-authored by Bernice Johnson-Laxdal) can both be found on this year’s Willow Awards List. 

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

Good question. I only recall two picture books. One was an LP ‘Peter und der Wolf’ (Peter and the Wolf). It came with a picture book and my brother and I would look at the images as the LP was playing. Both music and text were scary and fascinating. I also remember ‘Wo die wilden Kerle wohnen’ (Where the wild things are’). At the time I did not realize that it wasn’t meant to be scary! Nor did I realize I was reading North American authors already back then.

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

No idea! I just remember reading ravenously as a teenager. Not much memories before then other than the books that scared me. There was a chapter book with a fox who stole a goose and whose tail got shot off by a farmer. I even recall the line drawing of the fox licking his bloody stump but not the title of the book. I had nightmares for many years.

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

I loved everything by Astrid Lindgren, especially ‘Die Brüder Löwenherz’ (Brothers Lionheart). The relationship between the two brothers always drew me in and the promise of a better world after death. But that’s not really a chapter book.

 

 

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I reread a few middle grade and young adult novels. I thought I was reading adult books back then. Ha, was I wrong! Lots of disappointment!

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

Not when I was young. I discovered that world much later. Oh wait: I read ‘Maus’ (Mouse), a graphic novel about the Holocaust. Graphic novels were a very new genre back then I believe.

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction.

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

I didn’t seek out any series, but I was always upset that the book I just finished reading wasn’t one.

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

I remember the old building with the squeaking gigantic oak staircase that led to a room with gigantic wood shelves over towering little me and feeling utterly lost, never knowing how to find a book I would like to read. I don’t recall going there very often, but I do recall my friends Sophia and Charlotte’s living room that had a huge bookshelf with just the books from Oetinger (the publisher who published my favourite books by Astrid Lindgren and Kirsten Boje). Their mother was an editor (the first one I ever met). I barely dared talking to her who was not only in possession of the finest books (in hardcover!), but had actually talked to the authors who had written them!

Btw: 20some years later I did get the courage to contact her. She is retired now and doesn’t live in the house with the big bookshelf anymore. Which is too bad, because otherwise she might have added “Yellow Dog” to her library which will be published in Germany with my very favourite childhood publisher in 2020.

What I Read When I Was Young: Jeanette Montgomery

A whole world opened for Jeanette Montgomery when her Grade Two teacher taped a Norman Rockwell print on the blackboard and instructed the class to write a story. She wrote a three page story and was thrilled when the teacher read it to the class. Life progressed as normal through school years, marriage and children. She jumped at the opportunity to live in Australia and Saudi Arabia and, while living overseas, travelled worldwide. Several years later when she finally had a moment to catch her breath, Jeanette began putting to paper all the stories that had been rolling around in her head.

She currently works full time, is a member of two writers groups and sits on the Board for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. She writes YA fiction, poetry and has completed a YA novel, Bloodkin, for which she is currently looking for a publisher. Someday Jeanette hopes to re-write her grade two story of Rockwell’s picture A Boy Meets His Dog from an adult perspective.

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

Who of us does not hold a special place in our memories for stories that took us to new and fascinating worlds in our childhoods.

When I turned 5 years old I was allowed to get my own library card.  I don’t remember the name of the first book I borrowed but I remember the dark blue cover with a silhouette of a girl petting a puppy. Inside were wonderful water colour pictures of kids and dogs. I also remember the librarian cautioning me to take good care of the book and bring it back on time so I could get another one.

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore. The book was tattered and the spine was broken but my sisters and I read pretty much any childrens book that came through the house.  I think this one had been passed down from cousins.

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.  I was ‘horse crazy’. What wasn’t to love! From the cover art of a rearing black horse to the adventure inside the covers, I loved it all.

 

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

With so many amazing books on offer I never re-read The Black Stallion.  Perhaps it’s time.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

Mom wouldn’t let us spend our money on comic books but we had some Golden Classics in the house, again, probably passed down from cousins. My favourite was Ivanhoe. That’s probably when my love of high fantasy was born.

 

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Definitely fiction. I lived in the real world with all its problems. Why would I want to read about it!

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

My introduction to series was my brother’s Hardy Boys and Spin and Marty books. For some reason our town library didn’t carry them so I had to wait until my brother received one for a birthday or Christmas. And then I had to be patient while he read before I was allowed to.

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

 Our town library was probably my favourite place until I hit my teen years and noticed boys. The librarians were wonderful, often holding back books for my sisters and I that they knew we would enjoy. When I was 14 I went through a phase of reading myths and legends. I don’t remember the librarian’s name but she went out of her way to bring in books from other branches once I’d plowed through what our small branch owned.

During summer holidays I would go to the library with my sisters and our friends. We would borrow books, go sit on the lovely shaded front lawn of the library and read. Sometimes we would return the book the same afternoon and get a new one before going home.

What I Read When I Was Young: Bev Brenna

Bev Brenna is a professor, a hiker, a long distance cyclist, and a terrific writer. Her most recent intermediate novel is Fox Magic, a story about hope and transformation for twelve-year-old Chance Devlin after her two friends have taken their lives.

 

 

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

I liked One Kitten is Not Too Many by Dorothy Levenson because at an early age I learned to read it by memorizing the gently repetitive text. Then I felt like a “real” reader until a family member said, “Oh, that’s all very well, but you know you’re not really reading it.” Also, in the storyline, the kids “won.” Yay kids!

 

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

I read and re-read Penrod by Boothe Tarkington. It is the story of a bad boy and I relished the idea that I, too, could be bad. If only the stars would align.

 

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

Mouse Mountain by Fred Lindsay was my favourite, because it was one of three novels I was repeatedly read aloud at bedtime by my all suffering mother (“Oh no, not that one again!” she’d moan). I liked it because the protagonist was an adult, and the other characters were talking animals including a mosquito. My mother gave the mosquito a high, squealy voice when she read his part. Perhaps my interest in mosquitoes was hatched then and there.

 

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I re-read lots chapter books I read as a kid, and consider the “chronotopic” movement (see Bakhtin’s definition of this, from his applied work on Einstein’s theory of relativity)  through time and space as I read them. When I read Anne of Green Gables, for example, I remember exactly how it was to be a nine-year-old reader. I’m also interested in how I now gravitate towards different characters during adult re-readings, in contrast to the subjects I focused on when I was a kid. Current readings of Anne see me relying heavily on Marilla and Matthew. Old is interested in old! Maybe readers really do like to “read up.”

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

I read comics voraciously but do not recall any of them. I treated them a bit like candy. And in those days, perhaps they didn’t have the same substance that many comics do today.

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I preferred fiction simply because that was what I had the most access to, I think. Also, the non-fiction of my childhood was very text heavy. Today’s non-fiction for kids is often glorious!

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

I read the Anne series out of love, and the Nancy Drew series out of greed—trying to have a higher stack on my bedroom floor than my friend’s stack. Beating my friend turned out to be easy, however, as when my sister moved out, I fell heir to her dozen ancient Nancy Drew books. At that point, I stopped competing and turned to other things. Many really great series’ books—such as most of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books—I didn’t discover until I became a teacher. My own kids enjoyed the “Redwall” series—that was a lengthy and joyous find!

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

The children’s books in our local Saskatoon library seemed limitless. I knew I could never read them all, but I dragged in a big basket every Saturday, and I really tried! And…I’m still trying!

What I Read When I Was Young: Melanie McFarlane

Melanie McFarlane is a part-time author and full-time claims adjuster, living in Moose Jaw with her husband and two daughters. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. She likes to write dark stories from the past, present and future for teens and tweens. She has four novels traditionally published and believes that a writer’s strength comes from their writing community.

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

Little Blue Ben, by Phoebe Gilman. I obsessed over this book as a child and still have my copy! It’s written in rhyme, and I know the opening lines by heart… Little Blue Ben lives in the glen, with his brother blue cat and his mother blue hen… It’s the first fantasy story I can remember (what human had a cat for a brother and a hen for a mother!).

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

I definitely do not remember that far back 😉

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

Charlotte’s Web. I also still have that copy! I loved the magic and mystery that Charlotte was a spider who could communicate through her web.

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I did read it to my children, but they weren’t quite as taken with it as I was.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

Outside of Archie comics, I didn’t read any until I was a teen. Archie comics were the easiest to find back in the 80’s because they were at grocery stores (usually near the checkout). But when I became a teen I remember my younger brothers obsessing over the death of Superman – and that was when they sucked me into their world of superheroes.

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I’ve always preferred fiction over non-fiction. We grew up very poor, so escaping into stories was the only holiday/adventure I had for a long time.

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

 

In middle grade I read the Hobbit and LOTR and loved it. I also obsessed over Choose Your Own Adventure Books and the Fear Street books, but as high school progressed I learned about Ray Bradbury and nothing was ever the same again.

 

 

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

From kindergarten to grade 3 we lived in Midale, and I only remember the school’s library – massive and beautiful with all of its shelves of pretty books. Once we moved to Moose Jaw, we lived quite a ways from the public library and all I remember is that my parents were always working. So I relied again on my school library until I was old enough to go across town on my own.

 

What I Read When I Was Young: Dianne Young

Dianne Young is primarily a picture book writer, who lives in Martensville. Her newest book, Grampa, Will You Tell Me A Story?, will be out in October.

 

 

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

I loved the rhythm and the rhyme of it and the pure silliness. I remember that my parents had friends that we would go visit, whose kids were older than me so weren’t terribly crazy about having to play with me. But they had a whole set of Dr. Seuss books! Every chance I got, I would sneak into the living room (while our parents played cards in the kitchen) and hide in the corner by the book shelf and read their Dr. Seuss books. Bliss!

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

I borrowed it from the book trailer that came to the parking lot in front of the Safeway (?) on Grant Road in Regina when I was in grade four.

 

 

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

My first always remained my favourite. Island of the Blue Dolphins was so exciting! And it was about a girl! A strong, independent girl.

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I did, and loved it just as much the second time around.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

I sure did! Like every kid I knew I read a lot of Archies, but I think my favourite was Casper the Friendly Ghost.

 

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction, unless it was fairy tales or tales from other lands.

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

I was, and still am, a fan of series. I started with The Bobbsey Twins, then moved on to Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames. I don’t remember reading a lot of Nancy Drew, because I soon discovered Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous sleuth and was hooked on them.

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

We moved every three years when I was growing up, so I have a few different libraries that I have great memories of – the public library in Prince Albert that my dad would take us to (I remember the children’s section being downstairs and the picture books were under the window); the book trailer in Regina that I mentioned earlier, that my friend Leslie and I would ride to on our bikes; the tiny little library in Meadow Lake that always had that dusty book smell to it. I loved them all.