I’ve gone to the Willamette Writer’s Conference both as a participant and as a presenter for many years. More than a dozen years ago, before I had my first book contract I won a Kay Snow Award. At that conference I met the amazing and generous Kirby Larson, who had only one published book at that point and was a decade away from her Newbery Honor win for Hattie Big Sky.
Well all these years later I decided to enter the Kay Snow contest again with a story called The Last of the Name. It’s a tale dear to my heart about Irish immigration during the Civil War era. What a thrill to once again receive a 3rd place honor. I’m very much looking forward to once again spending time August 4th and 5th with my wonderful Portland writing community. I think there is still time to sign up workshops and pitching sessions with agents, film agents, and editors. Hope to see you there!
When I was teaching grade school full time, both on the reservation and off, this is exactly the sort of picture book I wanted–a contemporary slice-of-life story about a First Nations family celebrating something important to their culture. I’m particularly exited because this story comes from the salmon fishing peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Author Willie Sellers spins a lively tale of a boy’s first salmon catch using a playful and breezy tone but still conveying many important cultural details, such as preparing for the salmon fishing trip by praying in the sweat lodge and offering tobacco to the Creator. He captures the boy’s nervousness about the steep trail and swift waters of the river. He demonstrates the many steps in preparing dried salmon, with clarity and good humor. Willie Sellars is a T’exelc–a member of the Williams Lake Indian Band. He is a life long fisherman and perhaps what I love the most about this book is the way he conveys the warmth and humor of this family in his story.
The illustrator Kevin Easthope is also from Williams Lake, BC. His illustrations are fresh and fun and colorful. They do a great job of putting the reader in the thick of the action whether it’s climbing the steep riverbanks, reaching over the water with a dipnet or running way from Grandma.
I would heartily recommend this book to any one working with grade school students or anyone interested in the culture of the Pacific Northwest. There is a teachers guide for this book and a free coloring page from the publisher. If you’d like to hear the author and illustrator talking about the collaboration, here’s a you tube of them with some great footage of actual dipnet fishing. This book’s Canadian publisher is Caitlin Press. It has been endorsed by the Tk’emlúps Chief Shane Gottfriedson and noted author and Xat’sull Chief Bev Sellers.
I’m a huge fan of Oregon’s Battle of the Books program and I’ve just learned of a great opportunity to get the books your school library needs to participate for free.
Due to an unique LSTA funding opportunity, public and private schools who are committed to participating in the 2017-18 Oregon Battle of the Books program, may apply between now and July 15, 2017 to receive OBOB grant books for their school libraries. July 15th is the cut-off date to complete the online OBOB Book Grant application.
Here is the link on the OBOB website for the OBOB book grant for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. Just hit the “Apply now” button!
I have wrapped up the last of the meetings of the League of Exceptional Writers with a brilliant presentation by Kate Berube. Heartfelt thanks to this year’s League Mentors, Janet Sumner Johnson, Kate Ristau, Susan Hill Long, Laura Stanfil, Fonda Lee, Elizabeth Rusch, and Dan Gemeinhart.
The League of Exceptional Writers is a free mentoring program sponsored by the Oregon SCBWI and Powells. Our goal is to help avid young writers and illustrators find their fellow book people and learn about the business and craft of making books. Our past mentors have included authors, illustrators, poets, comic book and graphic novel artists, editors and literary agents. They’ve presented League meetings on everything from how book cover art is chosen to how to write a hilarious scene or a drop dead scary one.
As the Youth Outreach Coordinator I am now looking for next years League Mentors. Every participating mentor will appear on a flyer sent out to schools and libraries all over the region. They will be put on Powells on line calendar and Powells will order in a copy of your book to feature during the presentation. For this reason mentors need to have a book in print in a format that Powells is able to sell. The exception would be editors, agents and art directors who would speak to the book-making profession. The Oregon SCBWI offers a modest honorarium for each mentor. Our league members especially love it when 2 writers present together so you are very welcome to propose a team presentation. Please email me with a proposed session topic and information about you and your books. firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Second Saturdays from October to May from 2-3pm
Where: The Cedar Hills Crossing Powells 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd. Beaverton, Oregon
Who: Young avid writers between the ages of 8 and 18 are invited. In practice most of them are between the ages of 10 and 16.
The calendar for the 2017-18 school year will be
Oct 14 Feb 10
Nov 11 Mar 10
Dec 9 Apr 14
Jan 13 May 12
Thank you for considering serving our young readers.
A lot of the work of being an author is the dull and dry sitting at a desk (even when that desk is in a tree) and writing day after day. But every now and then an event comes along that you know you’ll remember forever. The American Indian Cultural Festival in The Dalles last week was just such a moment. It was a celebration of literature and poetry and music and dance. It involved a group of books that I admire and authors I feel honored to share the stage with: Elizabeth Woody, Oregon’s Poet Laureate, Craig Lesley, acclaimed author of contemporary western literature, and National Book Award winning writer Sherman Alexie.
I was lucky enough to spend time with an adult book club and share a poetry reading with some truly outstanding young poets. I got to hear the culture club from Lyle school in Washington give their very first performance in the Sahaptian language with traditional dancing. They were simply amazing. I’m so proud of all they’ve accomplished in a year. I meet with some avid writers in the North Oregon Juvenal Detention Facility, and best of all I got to dance with the Taholah drum group from the Quinault Reservation. My favorite part of the whole thing was the series of classrooms who came to hear me and the Taholah drum group speak. They had all kinds of great questions about the culture and art of the Quinault and Makah and the practice of tribal whaling. It was the sort of mind-opening conversation that cultural festivals are made for. I am very grateful to Julian Peterson and Marko Black and all the tribal dancers from Taholah who shared their songs and prayers and dances so generously, and who invited the students to dance and drum along so whole-heartedly. I know those are memories the students will always cherish.
Thank you to Jim Tindale the librarian at The Dalles School District who made this all happen in conjunction with the great booksellers at Oregon’s oldest bookstore Klindt’s who sold all the books and hosted many of the events. Tina Ontiveros is the manager at Klindt’s and Joaquin Perez is the owner. The fundraising for this event was truly a community affair with donations coming from area schools and libraries, educational foundations, local congregations, Oregon’s poet laureate program, the Wasco County Cultural Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, and the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde. It’s inspiring to see so many community members come together in support of literacy and the cultural understanding of our local American Indian communities. Thank you!