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Last week, at a book launch that was held in the staff room at an elementary school in Vancouver, the atmosphere was electric with runaway brides, possums, a special flower, toy soldier shoes and hidden treasure.
The launch was for a chapbook called The Super Kids of Writers' Room (the third in a series) and the writing and illustrations inside were by members of The KidSafe Writers’ Room. Apparently the mustache on the cover was also the kids' idea.
The list of readers, which was posted at the front of the room, kept changing as children got stage fright and then changed their minds and read their pieces and then a few children responded to the last call of "is there anyone here who hasn't read but wants to?"
The readers spoke into a mic and one reader who couldn't read yet (he had dictated his story) got help from his older sister who whispered the words into his ear. The audience laughed, sighed, cringed (one story was pretty icky), got scared (one was VERY scary) and applauded.
The stories showed us a huge range of imagination, pulling from both fantasy and reality and mixing them up in an explosion of images. A zombie who donates his brain to a gangster chicken, a space alien who writes a book about a knight with a robot horse, and a purple unicorn who, along with a rabbit, ate a chocolate volcano.
Kidsafe Writers' Room is a program that offers after-school and school holiday tutoring for kids from inner-city elementary schools. It sounds like they get the homework out of the way as fast as they can so they can get to their writing (or dictating) and drawing.
Kidsafe survives with the help of private donations. If you want to give money to this worthy cause contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They also need volunteers, both working with the kids or doing administrative or fundraising work.
And if you get an invitation to the next chapbook launch, be sure to attend. It'll blow your mind!