Yesterday, I got an email. It wasn’t just any email, it was an email from my favourite childhood author of all time. Of ALL TIME. I nearly died. Well, actually no, I didn’t. But I was pretty ridiculous about it. Fangirl-ish even.
The email was from Kit Pearson, and she had read one of the papers that I had written for a children’s literature class (my professor had sent to her a while ago). Sorry, can we revisit that thought? Kit Pearson read something I wrote. *faint* Okay, okay, that’s a little dramatic. But ten-year old me really would have fainted.
Here’s a tid-bit of her email:
“What you say about encountering the book, and later encountering me, gave me a tremendous lift. Thank you for expressing what you felt about the book so beautifully…”
One of my friends asked me to post my paper here. Since it’s long and come on, no one really wants to read about my ridiculous childhood years and all the books I obsessed over throughout it, I’ve just posted the part that is essentially a fan letter to Kit Pearson. Warning: it’s fangirl-ish and kind of smushy, so maybe stop here if you’re not into that.
“…I read everything and anything Kit Pearson had ever written, and found myself completely enamoured by Awake and Dreaming (Pearson, 1996). I read it, and re-read it, and read it again. The book itself took on the magic that it contained within it for me. When I read it, I was a part of an alternate world, just like Theo was with the Caldors. I will happily admit that through this book, Kit Pearson stole my book-loving heart, enlarged it five sizes, handed it back to me, and inadvertently set me on the path to becoming a children’s librarian.
That magical year, a few other students in my class shared my interest in Awake and Dreaming (Pearson, 1996). When we found out that the book had been nominated for the Red Cedar Book Awards, arrangements were made for us to travel from Vancouver to Victoria to attend the awards. I was in book heaven. When we arrived at the awards, it was the very first time I had found a place where book loving was the norm. On the soccer field, softball diamond, and ice rink, where I still spent most of my time before and after school, I didn’t get to share that interest with anyone. At the Red Cedar Book Awards I was completely surrounded by an enthusiasm and verve for children’s literature that was not only fascinating to a child, but completely infectious. While I primarily remember being entirely overwhelmed and infatuated by my surroundings, I do clearly remember standing impatiently in line to meet Kit Pearson. I also remember being completely star-struck and tongue-tied when I met her.
Our adventure didn’t end there. After attending the awards, my friend and I had one thing left to do while we were in Victoria. Mrs. A., being the fabulous teacher that she was, had challenged us with a dare. Since we had planned to go to the Ross Bay Cemetery to find the gravestones from the book anyways, why not go after dark? So, that night, my friend and I convinced her father to take us to the cemetery and wait at the gate for us while we went in. A few steps into the cemetery, we stood side by side, staring into the dark. Not wanting to give up on a dare (from a teacher, no less) we steeled ourselves and launched into the park, running with pounding hearts and thumping feet. Suddenly, there were loud footsteps behind us. We ran faster. Then, shouting. We kept running, our hearts in our throats and our breath ragged from sprinting. Finally, another voice, calling our names. We stopped in our tracks and turned to see a security guard with a flashlight frantically chasing us, and my friend’s father frantically chasing the guard, stumbling in the dark. Apparently, you weren’t allowed to be in the cemetery after dark. So, we were escorted out of the cemetery by the grumbling (and breathless) security guard. When we got back into the car, our imaginations went wild. For those brief, incredible moments while we were running, we had become a part of the same magic that Kit Pearson had created for Theo.
The experience changed my perception of books forever. Mrs. A. was right, of course, there was far more to books than just reading them; a true reader can find a way to experience them and bring them alive in their own world. Arranging for us to attend the awards was Mrs. A.’s way of showing us that books weren’t just meant to be read, they were meant to be experienced. Until attending the awards and meeting Kit Pearson, I had never really thought about what was behind a book—the writing, the author, the other students, teachers, and librarians who were just as invested in the book as I was. Through attending the Red Cedar Book Awards, I didn’t just develop as a reader, but as a person. I found others who were as enthusiastic about books and reading as myself, and it provided me with much needed sense of belonging.”
Okay, okay, I just read it too, and holy sap. But, for the record — it’s all true! Now, excuse me while I go stare at Kit Pearson’s name in my inbox.