I seriously debated going to Word on the Street this year when I woke up to pouring rain. But just as it was time for the outdoor book festival to start, the sun cleared and it turned out to be one of the nicest days we’ve had in a while. The festival felt bigger to me this year and not just because the tents stretched around both sides of Queen’s Park Circle, but because of all the people out enjoying the day. And no wonder: Word on the Street was celebrating 25 years! Happy quarter of a century, Word on the Street!
I started by heading to the Fitzhenry & Whiteside booth where author Karen Krossing was signing FREE copies of her middle-grade fantasy BOG. I had read this book pre-acquisition as an intern and loved it so I was thrilled to see it in print and the fact that I got a copy for free was the cherry on top.
Next I spent some time just walking around and checking out the different book vendors before grabbing a hotdog and heading to the TD Children’s Literature Tent where Stella Partheniou Grasso was reading the wacky and very-Canadian There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Puck.
Kenneth Oppel, one of my very favourite Canadian authors, had two readings at WOTS and I just had to go to both. Oppel is one of those authors who really got me reading novels in middle school. He read from his newest novel Boundless at the Amazon Bestseller’s tent gathering quite a crowd. His reading was really great, as was the Q&A afterwards hosted by Jared Bland of The Globe and Mail. I even got to ask him a question! I asked how he approaches research for his books given how Boundless deals with Canada’s railway history. I thought it was an especially nice touch that the readings at this tent were accompanied by ASL translators. His second reading was a little later in the day at the TD Children’s Literature Tent where he read from Airborn, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Afterwards, I got my (brand new!) copy of Boundless signed and probably took up more of his time than I should have, but come on, when I am I going to meet Kenneth Oppel again?
Between Oppel readings I visited the Workshop Marquee where Richard Scrimger and Marsha Skrypuch discussed the business of writing children’s books. My goodness, Richard is a fireball of energy—loved his enthusiasm and humour! Overall I didn’t find the information at the workshop overly helpful. I think it was more suited to writers who were just starting to research writing for children and weren’t really sure where to begin. But I did come away with this delightful tidbit from Marsha: “Kids books should be books kids want to hide from their parents.” This was in regards to writing what kids want to read, those books that make them stay up late reading under the covers.
Then I bought some roasted sweet corn (something I dream about all year) and some books from the wonderful folks at Mabel’s Fables.
I did get a bit bored between readings (possibly because I’d run out of cash) but I’m glad I stuck around until the end of the day because Caroline Pignat and Angela Misri were reading at the This is Not the Shakespeare Stage tent with Evan Munday hosting. Angela read from her debut Jewel of the Thames, about a girl who inherits 221 Baker Street. Then Caroline read from Unspeakable, a book about the sinking of the Empress of Ireland—her reading gave me goosebumps. Afterwards, I met the lovely authors and got my books signed.
All in all, it was another fun outing at Word on Street and a very pleasant way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.