Atlantic Books Today – Atlantic Book Awards Nominee(s)

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature

Jan L. Coates, A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk (Red Deer Press)

How does it feel to be nominated?
I’m honoured and grateful, and hopeful the recognition will enable Hare to provide further support for Wadeng Wings of Hope and the important work Jacob is doing in Sudan.
In 140 characters or less (a la Twitter) tell us what your nominated book is about: 
Inspired by the childhood of Jacob Akech Deng, SMU graduate and former Lost Boy of Sudan, this novel is about an extraordinary journey of courage, perseverance and hope.
 
Who or what is your major influence when writing? 
Other writers for young people, whose books I read and analyze in attempting to figure out what makes them so good.
What compelled you to become a writer?
My mother owned a bookstore in Truro for twenty-five years, and I grew up immersed in the world of books, but it was really sharing books with my own kids that made me decide to try writing for young people.
 
Of all living and deceased authors, who would you like to meet and why? 
John Irving, because my writing life would be complete if he could just share a few choice secrets to help me write a book like Owen Meany.
Briefly share 3 things about yourself that we don’t know: 
1) Inside, I’m still twelve years old.
2) I’m scared of water.
3) I want to live in France someday.

REAL WAR vs. VIRTUAL WAR

I had an amazing “teachable” moment last week during a book talk with students.  I read a short passage from HARE, and the students were really interested. They had lots of questions, but the one that almost left me speechless was this: “So, when the war came, did the huts all get blown up and burned – like,  totally destroyed?” I said, “Yes. With grass roofs, they would burn very quickly.  Why?”  To which the student responded, “Oh, that’s what happens in this game – Call of Duty (I think that was the name) Everything gets burned right to the ground.”

I seized the moment and we had a thoughtful chat about what a child like young Jacob, struggling to survive during a real war,  might think to see young people playing a virtual war game with many similarities to that child’s daily life.  I hope our discussion might make some of the kids in that class think twice the next time they’re involved in playing a virtual war game. Even better, maybe some of them will read HARE, or other books about kids living in crisis, and broaden their understanding of the world and come to realize that war is no game.

As a side note, I had another student tell me today that he couldn’t remember ever having watched a movie without violence! Isn’t there enough real violence everywhere in the world that kids don’t have to be exposed to it in movies and on TV on a regular basis? As entertainment? Yikes!