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Richard scarsbrook in Manitoba.

I am back at my desk in Toronto, drinking delicious chai tea (thanks to Sheila from Thompson) from my new Leaf Rapids mug (thanks to librarians Michele and Craig), wondering how to summarize my great experiences in a mere 300 words!

At St. Boniface Library in Winnipeg, I was introduced by a well-spoken young man named Sean, who ad-libbed that I was "completely unknown west of the Ontario border" (information to shock my publishers, located in Saskatoon and Winnipeg!). I made it my mission to extend my humble influence at least halfway into Manitoba.

On Monday, I was welcomed by students from Winnipeg's General Byng School, an attentive audience despite the distractions of Halloween. I was especially impressed by the girl costumed as "tea for two"--her head was the teapot, with a table across her shoulders carrying teacups and plates.

Tuesday, the young ladies of Balmoral Hall were in gales of laughter during my reading (we authors love it when people laugh when we intend to be funny!) and asked many intelligent questions about the craft of writing. Then it was onto a plane for Thompson, where I read to an intimate but enthusiastic crowd ranging in age from 7 to 70.

On Wednesday, I boarded a bus for the bumpy but scenic ride to Leaf Rapids (lakes, trees, and rocks galore!). When I asked the kids what sights I should see, they all agreed on "the town dump" explaining that one was almost sure to see bears or wolves there--sometimes both. (Small World Observation #1--the principal of the Leaf Rapids school is from my hometown of Leamington, Ontario.)

Thursday it was back on the plane to Winnipeg, then a drive out to Portage la Prairie, where I read to and discussed writing tricks with a great group of Grade 9 students at Yellowquill School. I got a request to read a second story--what could make a writer feel better? (Small World Observation #2--one of the Yellowquill librarians lived in Petrolia, Ontario where I taught for nearly ten years.) On Friday at Vincent Massey Collegiate, I discovered that there are Ottawa Senators fans in Winnipeg. Judging from the insightful comments from the students in Creative Writing class, I predict that Vincent Massey will produce more than one professional writer in the future. My tour finished at West Kildonan Collegiate with a great discussion about the balance between reality and invention in fiction.

I hope that now I am known to at least a few people west of the Ontario border. I know that I will fondly remember everyone I met during my wonderful week!
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Publication:Canadian Children's Book News
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:435
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