This past weekend I had my very first experience of The Word on The Street festival, where I got to read Margaret and the Moth Tree to a crowd of strange parents and children for the first time! (They were strange to me, that is. I’m sure they were quite normal overall.)
This was my first time being a “featured author” somewhere, and I had no idea what to expect…
My date for the day was my baby sis, Emily, who very kindly carried my belongings for me when I was otherwise occupied (and was a good sport about being asked repeatedly if she was Brit Trogen!).
As soon as we stepped out of the subway by the Royal Ontario Museum, we were right in the middle of the action. Queen’s Park Circle was full of tents and people, and I did a double-take when I saw a giant Olivia the Pig walking around. We made our way through the hubbub to a lovely lunch for the participating authors and illustrators, at Hart House on the University of Toronto campus, which is really beautiful and looks a bit like Hogwarts.
The first person I made eye contact with and thought, “Hey, I’ve met that person somewhere — where have I met that person?” turned out to look familiar because he was Vincent Lam, the Giller-prize winning writer. I had this realization midway through eating a pastrami sandwich. Surreal moment number one.
When it was time to take my turn at the children’s tent, my nerves were immediately eased a bit by the sight of a tent full of people in chef’s hats, and the author-illustrator Kevin Sylvester giving his reading in full chef’s get-up. (Kevin’s children’s series, the Neil Flambé Capers, is about a boy chef.) Watching him sketch illustrations in front of the audience as he talked, I wished that I was an illustrator as well as an author! But I suspect the story of Margaret would not be better told by me drawing wonky-looking moths on an easel…
Right as I began my own reading, the sun decided to hide and it started drizzling… but since I was telling the story of Brit and me coming up with the idea of writing a book on a stormy car trip, the rain seemed appropriate. It seemed fitting for poor Margaret’s fate in the opening chapters, too!
In the signing tent, the strangest and most wonderful moment of the day happened: a little girl whose mother had bought Margaret and the Moth Tree for her at the festival that morning had read the ENTIRE THING. Cover to cover. She and her mom came to get her copy signed, and she told me she’d been looking for a book report book and was going to do Margaret. Amazing. 🙂The Word on The Street takes place in six cities across Canada every September. Learn more about WOTS here.