THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY

I don’t often read “adult” books these days; in fact, I sometimes get impatient with adult novels and their detailed descriptions when maybe fewer words might have sufficed. (ie. tighter editing)

But I just finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Gabrielle Zevin, 2014), and it’s one of those perfect books – just the right length, just the right emotional heft, it’s set in an independent bookstore, it’s full of insightful lines (the ones you stop to re-read several times) and I even love the cover. Each chapter begins with a synopsis of a favorite short story of A.J. Fikry’s, recommendations to his teenage daughter, a foundling left in Island Books one day. Now I want to read those stories, too!

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Some of my favorite lines:

“Remember that a fine education can be found in places other than the usual.” (p. 27)

“There ain’t nobody in the world like book people.” (p. 254)

“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.” p. 251

“I like talking about books with people who like talking about books. I like paper. I like how it feels, and I like the feel of a book in my back pocket. I like how a new book smells, too.”(p. 255)

For sure I’ll be looking for other titles by Gabrielle Zevin. Have you read anything lately that swept you away?

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Family love – and Ollie takes flight!

Generally, I get a little nervous for book launches – you never know who will be able to make it, if anybody! This time around, I had my entire family to help out, and it was wonderful! Don, Liam and Shannon cooked up a Mothers’ Day/Book Launch surprise for me, and the kids flew in from Toronto for a gloriously perfect three-day weekend. There’s no better gift – if your kids live away, you know what I mean!

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Bachman’s Beach, Lunenburg County, NS -having both Liam and Shannon show up on a surprise visit from Toronto – best Mothers’ Day gift ever! Thanks, Don!

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Dock in – check! Liam and Charlie.

And, thanks to The Box of Delights Bookshop, friends and family, SKY PIG is officially launched, and Ollie has taken flight. It’s really fun to read this book aloud, but I need to work on my piggy snorting…

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Door prize, courtesy of daughter Shannon, who was also photographer.

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Friend, neighbour, and on book launch days – craft lady and publicity manager, Karen – she’s the best!

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Piggy cookies – it got easier after I’d decorated the first few dozen – they were a hit!

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I don’t know too many people with small children these days, but I’m grateful to the keen parents who bring their kids to book launches.

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Here’s Ollie (and Jack)!

Thank you to everybody who supports me, as both a writer and a human being – after having a new book out for four consecutive years, I’m starting to feel a little guilty asking people to come out and help me celebrate – but it truly means a lot to me when you do, both in person or in spirit through sending along your good wishes. I hope you have a good friend, like Ollie’s boy, Jack, to help make ALL your dreams come true!

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Welcome Ollie and Jack!

SkyPig_BookLaunchPoster_Web_LRWe’d love to see you on Saturday, May 7th, 11:00 am, The Box of Delights Bookshop, Wolfville, NS!

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St. Simon’s Island, Georgia – on my mind…

Well, it’s the end of the month, and I’ve been busy relaxing and procrasti-writing on St. Simon’s, not thinking about my blog, so here’s a little photo essay – truly, this is the most relaxing place I’ve ever been. Love it!

channeling my inner monkey

channeling my inner monkey

tree spirit

tree spirit

lawn art

lawn art

Pelican Pete on the Pier

Pelican Pete on the Pier

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Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island

uncommon friends

uncommon friends

Easter goodies, Georgia style (no problem filling the pews in the churches here, unlike in NS)

Easter goodies, Georgia style (no problem filling the pews in the churches here, unlike in NS)

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ready-made business for Don, in case we decide to stay…

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Most people here have a dog; some (lucky) people have a pig.

Most people here have a dog; some (lucky) people have a pig.

sunrise...

sunrise…

and sunset.

and sunset.

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FAMILY PHOTOS – BEST-BEFORE DATES?

Mum, Nance and me 1962

Mum, Nance and me 1962

So I spent most of Sunday going through old family photos, and I do mean old. My grandmother as a girl in the early 1900s, my parents as children in the 1930s/40s, and of course, my own sweet self as a toddler in the early 60s. nance and meI’m happy to say I was ruthless in choosing what to keep, what to chuck, but I still came close to filling a 300-picture album! That’s my dad and his dad, Gramps Mingo, in the header (our two dogs are also in the picture but cropped out by WordPress).

So many of the ones I kept have meaning only for me; my kids barely knew any of their great grandparents, and my parents died when my kids were still pretty young. But it was a cozy way to spend a spring-like February afternoon. I love seeing the adults from my childhood as kids, and looking at the pictures reminds me that I’ve always been loved – lucky me!

Nana and Gramps Pearson

Nana and Gramps Pearson

Nana and Gramps Mingo

Nana and Gramps Mingo, 1956

One thing I like about old pictures is seeing the familiar (but fading from memory) places I spent time/lived as a kid – things like the (now retro) kitchen curtains, furniture we had forever, backyards, swing-sets, animals, dolls, etc., including Polly, the beloved “chocolate” baby I requested the Christmas I was two (my dad wrote the letter to Santa for me, and it was included (and saved) in today’s treasure trove/purge).

Last Christmas, we scanned a couple of hundred pictures of our kids and put them on USBs for each of them, although, of course, we kept all the actual photos, too. I have a big closet shelf heaped with photographs, some in albums, lots in boxes, envelopes, all randomly organized. They’re precious to me, but I suppose they must have an expiry date – I’m hopeful a few might make their way into the hands of future generations (if my kids decide to have kids, that is).

Nance, Mum and me

Nance, Mum and me

How do you deal with photos (pre-digital, that is)? Got a few favourites?

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frosty words to warm your heart

IMG_3124So, I feel like I have to write at least one blog post every month, even when I have nothing to say (which is most of the time). Since we had our third major (and beautiful) snowfall yesterday, this morning I started reading some winter poems, including these. I wonder what Robert Frost would think if he could have known that so many school kids over the years (like me) would be committing his oh-so-familiar words to memory. And that’s a random frosty puppy picture of Charlie in 2012:)

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Wandering and Wondering through 2015

As I’ve been sitting around eating chocolates, drinking coffee and enjoying having both kids home for the holidays, I’ve also been reflecting on 2015, a busy year for me, especially in terms of writing. I did lots of wandering (14 trips by air, thousands of kilometers – a few too many, I think – Cuba, Georgia, Vancouver, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Toronto, Maine, Ottawa, etc.) and plenty of wondering, marveling at sights I saw, things I heard. I met hundreds of readers, and lots of writers, too, including Alice Priestley, the illustrator of my first book, Rainbows in the Dark (2005).

In May, one of my favorite moments was seeing the mountains in British Columbia, a glorious sight I hadn’t seen since 1981. Stunningly beautiful! P1000544Another favorite, as part of TD Book Week, was arriving at a Sikh private school, donning a bright orange headscarf (which clashed with my pink shirt), before being greeted enthusiastically by a hundred smiling five and six-year-olds, several asking if I really had written If Dogs Could Talk, one of my books with Caramel Tree Readers. So sweet.

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With fellow juror (and new friend:) Rachna Gilmore.

In  December, I had dinner at the Governor General’s house, Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, and got to enjoy the company of many of Canada’s literary luminaries, briefly. In the lead-up to that Literary Awards ceremony, as part of the jury (with David Poulsen and Rachna Gilmore), I had the privilege of reading 148 Canadian novels published for young readers in 2014/15. There’s a lot of talent in our midst!

My newest book, The King of Keji, came out from Nimbus in June, I wrote (and read) pretty much every day all year, and saw my first (and possibly last) coy-wolf while loving being artist in residence at Fool’s Paradise, former home of Canadian artist, Doris McCarthy, overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs.

Fool's Paradise - a perfect reflection.

Fool’s Paradise – a perfect reflection.

2016 looks like it will be a less busy year, but before 2017 arrives, I’m hopeful of finding homes for the two novels I think I’ve finally finished polishing (possibly, maybe, hopefully…). And, of course, lots of new ideas to start getting down on paper. Also, Sky Pig (with intricate plasticine illustrations by Suzanne Del Rizzo) 9781927485989 (2)will fly out from Pajama Press in April, 2016.

Sincere thanks to YOU for being part of my year; I hope your 2016 will be pleasantly busy, full of good health and cozy time spent with those who matter most to you. Take good care of yourself, and I hope to see you again next year!

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