What a year :)

Like a beauty queen contestant waving her last wave, Margaret and the Moth Tree’s reign as the Silver Birch Express Award book of 2013 has come to an end.

The year ended right where it began, at the Ontario Library Association conference here in Toronto, and this time, Brit was flown in, too! (Thank you, OLA!) Brit and I were part of a panel of authors talking about what our Silver Birch award meant to us, and I want to reiterate here what we said there: it was life-changing.

Apart from the honour of being nominated for (let alone winning) a provincial award because librarians selected us, the contact we were able to make with young readers was the truly priceless thing about this whole experience.

There is nothing more inspiring than direct feedback from kids. Without that exposure, we would never have had such strong encouragement to keep going and keep writing. I really can’t emphasize enough how much this means to fledgling authors, and of course, what it means to over 250,000 book-loving kids.

To everyone involved in this wonderful program, a million thank-yous.

Long live the Forest of Reading!

 

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Margaret won the Silver Birch!!!

 

Margaret and the Moth Tree won!!!

I feel like I just want to echo everything Brit wrote last week, so I will go ahead and steal her words…

Wow!! Kari and I are so insanely thrilled… Margaret took home the Silver Birch Express Award in Toronto last Thursday! What a fantastic way to end of this whirlwind tour of Ontario. For those who aren’t familiar, the Silver Birch Express is a provincial readers’ choice award in Ontario. With over 100,000 kids voting across the province, we couldn’t be prouder to have been selected as this year’s winner in the middle grade category. The fact that we were chosen for this award by our readers makes it so meaningful to us — so much so that we are now hard at work on our next book!

As Kari and I said on Thursday, we’re so grateful to the Ontario Library Association for having us as part of the amazing Forest of Reading program. And to all the kids who took part in the program and voted: you guys are the BEST!!! Keep reading!

Thank you again, OLA, teachers, parents, and especially our readers — we’re just over the moon to have gotten to experience all this with our first book. It’s been a wild ride to share with you and Margaret!

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More photos on the Margaret and the Moth Tree Facebook page! Thanks to those who sent pictures in! 🙂

Margaret’s Whirlwind Week

 

Brit and I are back in Toronto after the most unbelievable and wonderful week on the road! We’ve been travelling from Parry Sound to North Bay to Thunder Bay with a roving band of fellow “Forest of Reading”-nominated authors — and meeting hundreds of amazing young Margaret and the Moth Tree readers in each city!

We’d heard before that the “Forest” award ceremonies are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for an author. And they really, really are.

In each place we went, we got to meet kids, parents, teachers and librarians who’d read our book. We heard questions and perspectives about our own story that we never would have expected. We got to know the other authors, and we got swept up with everybody in a sea of OVERFLOWING BOOK LOVE. And, as the icing on the cake… Margaret was the regional winner at all three ceremonies! Thank you so much to all the Ontario kids who read and voted. Your fantastic enthusiasm, curiosity and passion for books are such an inspiration to Brit and me. It’s been a huge boost to keep writing and try to return to the festival again some day 😉

We’re so excited to meet 2,500 more of you next week at the provincial awards ceremony in Toronto!!

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It all begins… next week!

 

When I was growing up, I listened over and over to an audiobook version of Charlotte’s Web read by the author, E.B. White. At the beginning of the tape, E.B. White says of his story: “I wrote it for children, and to amuse myself.” I always loved the sound of his voice saying those words, and they’ve come back to me often over the years. Now having been through the process of writing and publishing a kids’ book myself, I’m still inclined to agree with E.B. — writing for children is equal parts self-amusement (sometimes self-help!), and the desire to tell a story that a child might get something from.

Well, Brit and I definitely amused ourselves while writing Margaret and the Moth Tree. But so far, the writing for living, breathing children part has been a bit theoretical. So far, we haven’t got to meet and talk with that many child readers face to face…

This is about to change!!

After counting down the months, we’re off on a journey around Ontario for the Silver Birch Awards! Thanks to the wonderful Ontario Library Association who administer the Silver Birch and the rest of the Forest of Reading awards, Brit and I will be travelling by ground and by air with a group of fellow nominees. In each location, we’ll get to witness the announcement of the favourite children’s book of the year in each age category, as chosen by young voters! We’ll be going from Parry Sound (May 6) to North Bay (May 7-8) to Thunder Bay (May 10) to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre (May 16), with a school visit in Richmond Hill squeezed in on our off-time. Then I’ll be going sisterless to the final destination, Durham Region, on the 17th.

I absolutely can’t wait, though my nerves are getting a wee bit jumpy… What does it feel like to be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of book-loving children, cheering at the top of their lungs about how much they love to read? We’re about to find out.

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On our book becoming an eBook; Or, My Luddite life

 

My, how the world has changed…

At the risk of sounding like an old fart at the advanced age of 29, when I was young, things were so different! We passed elaborately folded notes in class instead of texts, we used landline phones to talk for hours after school (doing three-way calls if we were really fancy), and emails were sent from the family desktop or in computer labs. Before Skype came on the scene, my now-husband and I didn’t see each other’s faces for six months when I went away on a student exchange. I know that’s nothing compared to, say, The Penelopiad — but for young people nowadays, that would be unthinkable!

On top of all the technological evolution that’s happened since I was a teenager, I’m also one of those people who’s often suspected/been told that they might have been more at home in another century altogether. Over the past decade, the comments have graduated from “It’s so annoying that you don’t text” to “We’re all on Facebook… why aren’t you?” to “It’s so annoying that you don’t have a smartphone.” (Full disclosure: I still listen to books-on-tape that are actual cassette tapes, on a cassette player that makes a ticking noise due to being dropped on the ground so many times. What can I say, it’s comforting!)

I’ve since taken one step after another into the iPad-iPod-iEverything world. But to my former Luddite self, thinking back on how Brit and I couldn’t have written “Margaret and the Moth Tree” without today’s technology is amazing. And the news that “Margaret and the Moth Tree” is now available as an e-book is pretty mind-boggling.

For those of you taking part in the reading revolution… here she be on Kobo!

“Margaret and the Moth Tree” on Kobo!

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This cartoon from Debbie Ohi is true-to-life, as I observed over the holidays when I witnessed my two-year-old nephew trying to figure out why the television wasn’t a giant touch-screen. His little finger kept swiping and swiping…

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An overdue post about some highly exciting developments

 

Okay I’ll get right to it… Margaret and the Moth Tree has been nominated for a kids’ choice award!!!

This is such a wonderful honour for Brit and me, as the nominations are done by people who read a lot of children’s books — librarians and educators — and it’s hugely exciting, because the votes will be cast by students across the province!

Here in Ontario these awards are called the “Forest of Reading” (aka the Tree Awards), with a different “tree” for each age category. Margaret‘s category is the Silver Birch Express Award: fiction and non-fiction aimed at the Grade 3-4 reading level. This year’s nominees are listed here 🙂

How it works is, students at participating schools have to read five out of the ten nominees in order to cast their vote. Then in May, the Ontario Library Association holds an awards ceremony and announces the winners in front of  all the kids. This footage makes me feel absolutely giddy that Brit and I will get to attend. So many children… so much literary love… eek!

 

And there you have it: proof that kids can get just as excited about BOOKS as they can about Justin Bieber!!

 

To add to the excitement, Margaret has also been nominated for TWO other awards (eek!).

The first is one that you — yes, YOU! — can cast a vote for.

Margaret’s been nominated for Best Middle Grade Fantasy in this year’s YABC Choice Awards. Staff editors from Young Adult Books Central nominate their favourites of 2012 (huge thanks to editor Claire Johnson), and the public has until midnight on New Year’s Eve to vote. Should you care to vote for Margaret, click HERE. (Best to do a search for “moth tree” if you’d rather not scroll through every category.)

Margaret has also been nominated for a Cybils Award in the “Science Fiction and Fantasy” category. The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards are nominated by the reading public and judged by a panel of children’s book bloggers. We’re just thrilled to be included among the nominees — thank you so much, lovely online friends.

 

And lastly…

The Sisters Trogen are proud to present… Margaret and the Moth Tree‘s shiny new book trailer!

“Margaret” at WOTS Festival 2012

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!

Click here to see more WOTS photos on the “Margaret and the Moth Tree” Facebook page!

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.
 
the festival’s logo… I approve