A Good Home, Courtice North Public School, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Myrtle The Purple Turtle in the Schools, Young readers

A Great Morning with Young Readers

I spent a recent morning with dozens of young people at Courtice North Public School in Ontario.

Their teachers had included Myrtle the Purple Turtle in their recent studies. Principal Peter Bischoff invited me to visit.

Blog Photo - School Cynthia holds book and talks to students

I was nervous!

Writing for your readers is one thing. Hearing them talk about your book — and answering their questions — is quite another.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

And though I’d won awards and acclaim for my children’s TV programs in earlier years, it’s been a long time since I visited a classroom.

The first thing I noticed was that Mrs. Murphy, the teacher who introduced me, treated the students with great respect, addressing them as “Ladies and gentlemen”.

When you are nine or ten years old and are addressed as “Ladies and gentlemen”, what do you do? You live up to it, of course.

Blog Photo - School students 1

Wow. What a smart, polite and thoughtful group. Their observations about the book’s key messages about difference, the role of friends, and accepting oneself and others, were sharp and eloquent.

We talked together about why “the mean turtle” behaved so badly toward Myrtle and whether that turtle might have herself been bullied and considered it normal to be mean.

That led us to talk about a sequel.

Myrtle Picture - Thud

“We followed Myrtle through her day and saw what happened before she met the other turtle,” one astute young woman noted.

“But we didn’t follow the other turtle before she and Myrtle met. Maybe the sequel could tell us more about what happened before to make her so mean.”

“But the story is about Myrtle the Purple Turtle, so if you (focus on) the other turtle, you’d have to change the title of that book to ‘The Mean Green Turtle'”, a young man observed. 

Blog Photo - School student writes

As you can imagine, the discussion was intensive and fabulous. Mrs. Murphy had asked me to talk a bit about the writing process. Discussing the characters and story development for the sequel was one practical way of doing so.

Blog Photo - School Cynthia holds book and talks to students

My great thanks to each and all of the students.

To principal Peter Bischoff, and the teachers of Grades 4, 5 and 6  — Mrs. Fedewicz, Mrs. Posteraro, Mrs. Durst and Mrs. Murphy: 

Thank you for using my book as a learning tool and thanks for your warm welcome.  You made my week!

Thanks to Jennifer Pym-Murphy for the photos. 

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31 thoughts on “A Great Morning with Young Readers”

  1. How lovely – it’s always good to spend time with eager, imaginative children. It sounds like a thoughtful school – such a great idea to invite an author in to inspire the children. Sometimes I really miss my teaching days! 🙂

  2. That’s great Cynthia. Bet it was an unforgettable experience for the children to have you and your warmth and Myrtle visit them, and a special time for you too.

  3. What a special visit, both for you and the students. I absolutely love the perception that something had to have happened to the other turtle to make her so mean. Another important social justice theme! Will the young man have copyright on his title suggestion?! 😉

    1. Between you and me, I was thrilled when the idea was raised, because I had been toying with it myself for months. Then blogger Oscar (Hermit’s Door) mentioned it, and next the student mentioned it. It felt like great validation — I smiled from ear to ear.

  4. That sounds like a wonderful school! It treats its pupils with respect which must break down those ‘them and us’ barriers. I am so pleased you had such a productive time there! Here’s to more children’s books!

  5. What a nice experience for the students to get a chance to meet the author of a book they have read…I’m sure that doesn’t happen often. Also what a nice experience for yourself, meeting your young and enthusiastic audience.

    1. Indeed, I initiated the discussion by saying that I’d been thinking about coming back to the green turtle in a sequel, and finding out more about why she behaved the way she did. The kids took it from there, and it led to a fascinating discussion! The idea of giving more time to the green turtle was one of several I considered for a sequel, but it was YOU who got me seriously thinking about it in that wonderful review you did. THANK YOU, Oscar. Not sure if it will be the first or second sequel, but it will be a sequel!

  6. I’m glad you – and the students – had such a good time. (Though no surprise to me. :-)). But I am curious – Myrtle is a picture book and aimed at a younger reader; will you be visiting earlier grades as well?

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