A Good Home, Bowmanville, Local credit union DUCA, Small towns

Storytime in Small-Town Ontario

If anyone wants to know why Bowmanville, a historic town east of Toronto, is becoming so popular with young families, retirees and those in-between — many moving from big centres — the pictures below are one reason:

Blog Photo - Father and Children at DUCA Storytime

Would you believe we’re in a bank?

Yes, and it’s Storytime!

Author Viki McDonald (“Coach Tate and Team Triple 8”) and I were invited to read our stories at Bowmanville’s DUCA credit union.

Blog Photo - Cynthia and Vikki reading at DUCA

Blog Photo - Children and Storytime at DUCA1

Children and their parents sat comfortably on the blankets and comforters that the DUCA staff had spread on the floor.

Blog Photo - Girl listens at DUCA storytime

Blog Photo - Parents listens at DUCA storytime

Vikki and I sat in chairs made even more comfy with quilts that were made by the mother of DUCA manager Karen.

Are you feeling the small-town spirit yet?

Blog Photo - Cynthia reads book at DUCA storytime

We’d stop at times and ask the children questions about the storylines and they’d shout back answers, sometimes making everybody laugh.

Cupcakes and cookies were served.

The idea for a storytime came from staffer Meeghan, and was quickly accepted by Karen and the other staff. They approached me shortly after Myrtle the Purple Turtle was published. I was surprised, but also delighted.

Blog Photo - Cynthia and Timea at DUCA
Young Bowmanville resident Timea Williams with Cynthia Reyes

And now I’m going to embarrass myself a little.  When I first moved to this region a few years ago, I dropped into the DUCA branch. Taken aback by their kindness, I blurted out: “Are people here always THIS friendly?”

As you may know, I struggle with issues from a car accident, and one of them is that my brain doesn’t always co-operate with tasks that were once ridiculously easy. I also sometimes stutter and can’t get the words out clearly.  But the DUCA staff took it all in stride, and when my book “An Honest House” (which describes my efforts to learn to live with those issues) was published, I went in to share the news.

Their reaction was such that you would have thought I was family.

Blog Photo - Cynthia reads to children at DUCA

So as I think about it, perhaps Storytime in a bank — authors reading their stories and young families seated happily on the floor, listening — makes perfect sense.

And we all loved it. 

Thank you, DUCA staff! You’re wonderful.

Photos by Hamlin Grange.

 

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A Good Home, Books, Children's Books, Young readers

A Trio of Thanks!

Thank you:

To sweet Lukas and his parents for this photo.

Isn’t that a great reaction to Myrtle?

Blog Photo - Lukas reacts to Myrtle

To blogger Solo Mom Takes Flight (Sarah Pittard) for this lovely photo of her daughter, the kind review, and her mention of my wonderful older daughter   here.

Blog Photo - Daughter of Sarah P with Myrtle

And to Chip Barkel, writer and realtor, for including Myrtle in his blog post about the colour of the year. Though it’s my first time seeing purple coconut macaroons, what a delightful idea!

Blog Photo - Purple coconut macaroons

Thank you all.

#loveyourshell

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.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting and child

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 💜