Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Rock Stars for a Day

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Festival of Trees, Harbourfront, May 2011, by Brian Pudden

Look out, Ontario! The Festival of Trees, sponsored by the Ontario Library Association, takes place this week on May 15 and 16.

Kids across the province from K to 12 have spent months reading books nominated for “Forest of Reading” awards such as the as the Blue Spruce, Silver Birch, the Red Maple, White Pine, and the Prix Tamarac and then voting for their favourites. This Tuesday and Wednesday, dozens of the writers and illustrators lucky enough to have their books nominated for an award will gather at Harbourfront along with thousands, yes, THOUSANDS, of enthusiastic young readers.

I was lucky enough to have one of my books nominated for an award last year, and this year my non-fiction book CASE CLOSED has been nominated for a Silver Birch award. Which means I get to attend the Festival of Trees again! Wa-hoo! I get to step up onto the stage along with my fellow nominees, have my name and the name of my book announced -- and be treated to waves of applause from the huge audience of young readers attending the big day on the lake.

Yes, it’s true, and now we all say it. It makes writers and illustrators of children's books feel like rock stars for a day!

MEREDITH TUTCHING is Program Coordinator at the OLA and directly responsible for the Forest of Reading. An enthusiastic supporter of literacy, she knows how to throw a party that kids beg to attend!

ME: Thanks for agreeing to answers some questions about the festival, Meredith! Can you explain the main purpose of the event?

MEREDITH: The event in Toronto is the culmination of the school-aged programs in the Forest of Reading. Over 8000 people arrive at Harbourfront to hear the winners of these Award programs and it is a celebration of Canadian authors, illustrators, and books, but more importantly it is to celebrate the love of reading. The day is filled with ceremonies, workshops by authors and illustrators, entertainment and much more. Due to popular demand we are taking the Festival Trees on the road this year and going to Ottawa immediately following on May 17th and then Thunder Bay on May 18th.

ME: How would you describe the event to someone who had never been before? What's the favourite thing about the event, in your opinion?

MEREDITH: I would describe it as a Rock Concert for Reading! It is organized chaos of so many exciting things to do with the authors, the themes of the books, and so much more. The favourite thing about the event is when the winner is announced and the whole venue screams with a roar. That is why the kids come to this event. All of the workshops, autographing, entertainment, and so on are the cherry on top!

ME: How many kids do you expect to attend this year (in Toronto, and at the other venues)?

MEREDITH: We expect 8000 students to participate in Toronto, 900 in Ottawa, and 1100 in Thunder Bay, plus other satellite locations are hosting their own celebrations that are not run directly by OLA.

ME: Can you give us the lowdown on what is happening at the Toronto event tomorrow and Wednesday?

MEREDITH: Each day is filled with three ceremonies and then workshops that take place throughout the day. Kids come and go to the workshops they want to attend. When they are not in workshops, or hearing the winner of a certain program being announced, they are engaged in games to win prizes, being entertained by roving performers, or getting autographs from their favourite authors. Not to mention they have the opportunity to try canoeing, visit the Tall Ship Kajama, and take in the 10th Anniversary Blue Spruce Exhibit. It is a day full of lots of buzz!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Susan Hughes

Susan Hughes is an award-winning author whose books include The Island Horse, Case Closed?, No Girls Allowed, Earth to Audrey and Virginia.

Go to Susan Hughes’s Author Page