A Good Home, Jessica Charnock's Hooked Rugs, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Rug-Hooking Show

Myrtle Goes to Ottawa

That Myrtle!

Our favourite purple turtle is set for another excellent adventure.

Blog Photo - Myrtle1

Myrtle the Purple Turtle will be on display this Spring at the Annual Conference of the OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild) in our nation’s capital.

That’s both Myrtle-the-book and Myrtle-the-star of a wonderful hooked rug. 

Myrtle Book Cover

Blog Photo - Myrtle Rug 2

The creator of the rug is Jessica Charnock. If her name sounds familiar, that’s because she and Jean Long are the couple who are translating Myrtle into French. (Coming this spring.)

“There will be a show of rugs from all over the province and our group, as usual, will be represented,” says Jessica.  “And that’s where Myrtle will be, together with the book.  Our Area Representative loved the idea.”

Blog Photo - Jessica making rug

Jessica started hooking rugs in 1996. Myrtle is # 69 in a journey of beautiful creations. 

“I fell in love with an old Grenfell rug that belonged to a friend and which she later gave to me.  I knew then that I had to learn this craft.  I found out about a group of hookers in Cobourg and they were happy to introduce me to the craft which I picked up right away and learned very quickly. 

Lac Baker

“Of course, the fact that my home is a century + old log house, I chose to hook my rugs in a more primitive style. 

“At first, of course, I was hooking them for ourselves, then when I realized that friends and family liked them, I made some for family and friends. Some were also given as wedding presents and some were made on commission.” 

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The piece below captures part of family history:

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“My husband’s ancestor Philip Long — a Scottish soldier, a King’s mail courrier — built this establishment at the mouth of Madawaska river on Temiscouata-sur-le-Lac in Cabano, Quebec. This was an inn where travellers would stop overnight on their long trip from Quebec  to Fredericton, New Brunswick.”

Every rug has a story.

“I hooked this rug (below) from a photograph which was taken when we first purchased our canoe in 1969 from Chief Dan Sarrazin of the Golden Lake Reserve, the builder of canoes.  It is an authentic Algonquin birch bark canoe which is still in our possession. 

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“About three years ago, we became curious and decided to go back to Golden Lake Reserve with the photograph and see if we could locate the little boy, the Chief’s son, who was about 10 at the time.  We did meet with a few people and it finally was the librarian who identified the boy.  We were lucky to meet with him and as soon as we showed him the photograph he recognized himself and we had a lovely visit with him.  He was then 45 years old.” 

As you can imagine, Myrtle’s illustrator Jo Robinson and I are doubly-honoured with both Jessica’s rendition of Myrtle and its inclusion in the OHCG’s annual conference.

 

Blog Photo - Myrtle Rug 2

Jo’s reaction:

“Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! That is the most brilliant thing! A bit over-excited here, but that really is the most amazing feeling that someone did that.”

Ditto!

Myrtle and other gorgeous hooked rugs from across Ontario will be displayed at the Ottawa Conference & Event Centre, May 4 to 6.    

Huge thanks to my dear friend Jessica and the OHCG.

~~

Photos by Jessica Charnock

(Loghouse photo by Hamlin Grange)

 

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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. 

Book lovers, Book Readers, Canadian life, Children, Myrtle The Purple Turtle

Siblings Reading

There’s something about watching a child read a book you wrote.

It warms the heart.

That intense concentration, that look that says the rest of the world doesn’t exist right now.

Reading was like that for me as a child — I got entirely lost in the worlds of the books I read. 

Myrtle - Boys reading

Meet Jian Noa, 10, and younger brother Taj, 7. The brothers attend a French school in Toronto. Taj has been teaching himself to read in English and was proud to be able to read Myrtle.

They and their loving grandmother brought the book for me to autograph, and Taj read the book to me, and we all had a great visit.

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Earlier, at a Christmas party hosted by friends in the countryside northwest of Toronto, I had the pleasure of meeting two other readers. In the middle of a room filled with adults — talking, drinking, eating appetizers, moving around — I noticed two children sitting on a sofa reading Myrtle.

Siblings Claire, 6 and Josh, 8, were totally absorbed in the book.

They read every page to each other as if they were the only people in the room.

When I asked what they thought of the book, they both responded with “I loved it.” When I asked why, Claire said: “I love the pictures and all the colours.”

Josh’s response nearly took my breath away: “I loved it because it teaches kids that it’s not how you look, it’s how nice you are that matters”.

Wow. Isn’t that wonderful?

 #loveyourshell 💜

2018 Colour of the Year, A Good Home, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Purple

The Future is Purple

So says Pantone, the colour people. (But they call it ‘ultra violet’, mind you.)

And so declared Lauren, for whom Myrtle was originally written. She promptly created this image using a picture from Myrtle the Purple Turtle

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I seem to be spying purple everywhere these days! Here’s Queen Elizabeth, looking very fashion-forward:

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~~

And what’s better than a box-fort? I love this photo of Nadine Janetta’s two daughters Ella (4) and Leah (2). (Eldest daughter Brooklyn is only partly in the photo.)

Nadine, who lives southwest of Toronto, says, “It was the perfect cozy place to cuddle up with your book.”

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read by girls in box

“The girls have fallen in love with Myrtle and her friends in this well-told story of self acceptance – Myrtle the Purple Turtle has become the most read and asked-for book in our home.”

Ella, who is 4, says she likes the picture of me in the book. (Thanks, Ella!) She likes the book “because Myrtle falls asleep on her back” and  “because she wants to be the same as the other turtles because she is purple”.

Brooklyn, who is 8, says: “It shows me that everyone’s different and you can’t change that.”

Nadine is one of three winners in the Myrtle giveaway in October.   The others are bloggers Alethea Kehas (New Hampshire) and Brad Volz (Arkansas). 

Their responses to Myrtle are lovely.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle
Myrtle the Purple Turtle, by Cynthia Reyes, illustrated by Jo Robinson

Alethea says Myrtle is “a beautifully written and illustrated tale of friendship and acceptance. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it as much as my niece!” 

Brad calls Myrtle “a timely and timeless story most needed in our troubled world. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a delightful book to help teach children to embrace both their uniqueness and shared humanity.” 

Thank you all! And remember: #loveyourshell!