The things you can carve with a chainsaw!

The library at Charlie Lake Elementary in Fort St. John has this amazing statue as its centerpiece:

Harry Potter statue.

At first I thought it was a promotional piece from the Harry Potter publishers, made from plastic. But then I realized there was no sneaking this beauty home . . . it’s carved from a single block of wood and pretty darn heavy!

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Monsters of Charlie Lake

I ended my week as writer-in-residence at Charlie Lake much the way I started it: Face-to-face with monsters! Well, admittedly, the monsters from the first day were merely moose. The monsters on the last day were a bit more imaginative . . . as you can see below.

Charlie Lake monster.

Charlie Lake monster.

Charlie Lake monster.

As for one of my other students on my last class, they put together some pretty nifty kingdoms!

Charlie Lake flag.

Charlie Lake flag.

Surprise, surprise—most of the flags seemed to feature monsters!

The True Story of Martha Ann Ricks ~ free this week!

Martha Ann's Quilty for Queen Victoria.My picture book about the true story of ex-slave who fulfilled dream of meeting Queen Victoria is free this week on amazon! You can download your free copy by clicking here.

I illustrated this book for author Kyra E. Hicks a few years ago—and it was a challenge! It required a lot of research, and a lot of care and attention. I will say, however, that of all the books I’ve done, it’s my mom’s favourite!

The story of Martha Ann may not be well-known—but it is true. Martha Ann was  twelve years old when her father saved enough money to purchase her freedom from slavery. In 1830, the family left Tennessee to begin a new life in the African country of Liberia. On market days, Martha Ann watched the British navy patrolling the Liberian coast to stop slave catchers from kidnapping her family and friends and forcing them back into slavery. Martha Ann decided to thank Queen Victoria in person for sending the navy. But that meant figuring out a way to make the 3,500-mile voyage to England—a seemingly impossible dream. But fulfill it, she did—after a full fifty years of saving spare coins.

Page from Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria.

More imaginings from Charlie Lake . . .

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to snow! It started as just a few flakes, but my mid-morning, this was the view outside of my classroom window:

Snow at Charlie Lake elementary.

Thankfully, nothing warms up a person quite like the imaginations of young minds! Today, I led a variety of activities, including world building, costuming characters, imagery and description, and designing advertisements for a fairytale newspaper. Here’s a few pictures . . .

Crest.

Description makes all the difference.

Fairytale advertisement.

Fairytale advertisement.

Fairytale advertisement.

Riddles, codes, and invisible ink

Just finished Day 2 at Charlie Lake Elementary; it was one full of mystery! We wrote riddles and ciphers and also used some invisible ink to craft some secret messages. These are truly invisible—at least until you heat them up.

And how do you heat them up? Well, I’m not sure how the students will manage this feat in their stories, but in order to successfully conclude our in-class activity, we used an iron.

Here’s just a few of the results:

Writing with invisible ink

Invisible ink message.

Invisible ink message.

Invisible ink message.

A student crafting a story at Charlie Lake Elementary.

Enchanted boxes and magic postcards!

I just finished my first day as writer-in-residence at Charlie Lake Elementary and rolled out some fun activities. In my workshop, I led my Enchanted Vessels: Think Outside the Box.

In this workshop, we discussed some of the many enchanted vessels throughout world mythology (my favourite is Bran’s cauldron from Celtic mythology) and then talked about my own journey to create the Box of Whispers. The students then began designing their own boxes (and of course, their keys too):

A peaceful box

A box holding all the magic of the sea.

Afterwards, I led another group in an activity in which they imagined they were on a vacation in their favourite magical land and were sending a postcard home. Some children chose a land from their favourite book, while others invented a land. I’m thinking you would NOT want to visit the Land of Swirly (though I know more than one or two pet fish who have):

A postcard from the Land of Swirley

A postcard from Hippoland.

A postcard from Candyland.

Guess who I met on my first day in Fort St. John?

I just arrived this morning in Fort St. John for my week as writer-in-residence at Charlie Lake Elementary and decided to take a Sunday afternoon walk—only to encounter a giant momma moose and her little calf!

I actually saw the calf first and approached as quietly as possible to snap the photo below. Then a soft sound from my left made me turn to see the simply enormous momma watching me somewhat suspiciously from the brush. I decided I wouldn’t get much closer after that!

Baby moose near Charlie Lake.

Mamma moose near Charlie Lake.

In my time in Vancouver, I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter many a critter along the city’s famous seawall: seals, an otter, and once even a gray whale, only a few hundred feet from shore. But this is the biggest four-legged animal I’ve ever encountered on an afternoon walk!

By the way, we’re still in the last clutches of winter up here. It’s quite warm, but the lake is still frozen over. The last time I was here, June 2010, we were able to go boating. Not this time!

Charlie Lake.

This is what happens when you mix the Troll Snot with the Mummy Dust . . .

Yesterday was my potions class with my creative writing class. I always try to find a few new ingredients—which keeps things interesting, but can also lead to unexpected problems. For example, I learned that you shouldn’t mix Troll Snot with Mummy Dust. Of course, it didn’t help that Bohmee contaminated the vial of Dragon Tears with a drop of Dragon Urine.

Sigh. Young wizards these days . . .

Potions Class

Potions Class.

Potions Class

Potions Class

Potions Class

Potions Class

Potions Class

Potions Class

A whole lot of Okis . . .

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at Walnut Road Elementary last Friday to discover row upon row of Kendra Kandlestar characters lining the walls. In anticipation of my visit the school held a colouring contest, with each grade focusing on a different character.

I loved the different interpretations!

I was able to get a few pictures. Here’s the primary grades and their wonderful Okis:

Oki colouring contest.

And here’s some of the Teenlings . . .

Teenling colouring contest.

And here’s a snapshot of the winning pieces from each grade:

Kendra Kandletar colouring contest winners.

Congratulations to ALL of the students who participated — and I hope you enjoyed your prizes (a copy of a Kendra Kandlestar book!).