Sunday, March 27, 2011

I was delighted to do a return visit to Mrs. Hand's grade six class out in Carman, Manitoba last week. When I got to the school several students were watching and waiting for me - The Kulak's Daughter in hand. So first off I had to sign their books. Next, they took me on a tour of the school and introduced me to the principal, the librarian, the gym teacher, etc. They also showed me their favorite place - which was the kindergarten room. Then we headed off to their Grade six area.

I had a powerpoint to go along with my presentation and the students took care of all the technical details - which was great, because I'm still a bit of a luddite when it comes to technology. (I learn something more, and then something new comes along.)

Mrs. Hand's students had extremely interesting and well thought-out questions. They asked about Stalin, about my life as an author, and about the characters in the book. I was delighted to receive a copy of this question and answer exchange in the mail a few days later.

Thank you Mrs. Hand's grade six class! You made me feel very special, and Carman, Manitoba
will always make me think of bright, enthusiastic students and every author's dream of a teacher.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kingdom of Trolls

Just finished reading Rae Bridgman's Kingdom of Trolls. (Sybertooth Publishing, New Brunswick) It's the fourth book in her Middlegate Series which is set here in Winnipeg, but over in the magical part - you know the area - in between the cracks of reality.

In Kingdom of Trolls, Sophie and Wil, the two young protagonists travel to Iceland - obviously inspired by the author's visits over there. I got to go to the book launch back in February and was thoroughly entertained by Bridgman's expressive reading. She weaves 'an enchanted web' over her listeners and I do hope she gets many opportunities to read her work out loud. The writing style - with its Latin, Icelandic and troll sounds - begs to be dramatically presented. That said, my one minor criticism would be the way the troll words were written. I found the mix of capitals and non-capitals hard on the eye. But then, that mix does convey the gruffness of troll's speech.

Bridgman's beautiful ink drawings throughout add another dimension to the story, and I kept referring back to the colorful cover (another author drawing) when the two characters were deep in troll country.

I don't read a lot of fantasy, so this was a real treat - to escape into a plot full of talking rocks, ghosts, trolls, crystal balls, and more. My favorite lines come in the translation of one of the Latin chapter introductions: Chapter XXXVII: Observation: Problems can multiply like flies. Another observation: Gifts soon beget gifts. Third observation: The story certainly changes depending on the storyteller.

This storyteller gives readers the gift of make-believe with dramatic style and an incredibly vivid imagination.

p.s. I heard that the first three Middlegate books have been translated into Chinese. Congrats, Rae!