Yesterday I had the pleasure to be one of the featured authors of The Bookshelf, in Newmarket. This was not my first book fair, but it was the first time I was reading one of my books in front of a Canadian audience, in a town where I knew nobody and had never set foot before. But I didn’t face my potential readers alone, I went there with some of my tribe, fellow authors, founding members of the IWA (Immigrant Writers Association). It is our goal to visit as many Canadian cities as possible, to meet our potential readers and learn from established Canadian authors. So you will probably read a lot of these stories along the way.
We left for Newmarket very early in the morning. It is quite a long drive and 401 is one of the most traveled highways in the world, so we had to make sure we get there on time. We were lucky, the nice lady from Google Maps was kind enough to get us there without incidents. I was sharing the booth (and by booth I mean table) with the IWA, but to my left, I had Claudiu Murgan, to my right, I had Andreea Munteanu, the lady behind the Absolutely MAD blog (online soon). Across from me were the most famous Romanian-Canadian introvert of them all, Gabriela Casineanu and Nina Munteanu , who teaches writing at the University of Toronto. So, we can say that Newmarket was taken over by Romanian Writers one sunny Saturday morning and we were the delight of the Bookshelf!
One of the questions that all immigrants get every time they meet someone new is “Where are you from?”. Imagine the surprise of all the people passing by our tables when they heard: Romania, Romania, Romania, Romania! Where is this Romania and do all the Romanian immigrants write books? Mad, isn’t it! Well, lucky for them, the lady at the next table was not from Romania. She was from Russia. And she was very nice, indeed. She also spoke French, like most European do, parce-que tout le monde doit parler Francais en Europe, n’est ce pas?
I have had a great time, presenting my books in the Reading Lounge. I was the second author on the list, right after another children’s books author, who read a delightful story about dandelions and why they are important.
A former teacher, Judy Weagle writes precious empowering stories to help children overcome emotions and hardships.
I really loved listening to her and I have learned a lot just by visiting her booth. I am looking forward to seeing her again at the next event, in September.
When it was my turn to read, MJ, who was introducing the authors, did a great job in pronouncing my name.
Don’t worry MJ, most people don’t get it right the first time, it is a complicated name. The live event on Facebook had an amazing audience. The video has been watched more than 600 times, thank you, guys! Thank you for watching!
I am posting here the first part of the reading. If you want to see the whole thing, please visit IWA’s Facebook page, it’s all posted there. You can also see the other videos of our authors and maybe give them a thumb up, too.
There were a few kids listening to my story about the dragon who wanted to become a unicorn.
It took us most of the 10 minutes I was given to find out how it ends, but when the reading was done, I was delighted to find out that in the crowd was a little Romanian boy, Victor.
It wasn’t a huge surprise, there are lots of Romanians in Ontario, but to have one in the crowd was amazing.
Victor’s Mom was happy to meet a Romanian author. She was interested in my English-Romanian books and even bought some of them.
That gave me hope that my work is meaningful.
Maybe the best reaction I got was from the nice gentleman who adjusted my microphone at the Reading Lounge. “I had no idea it was so difficult to be a unicorn!” he said as I was going down the steps.
We shared a good laugh and for that I am grateful.
Back in the booth. People were strolling by, many stopped to flick through my books. Some told me they don’t believe in magic and fairies, others admired the beautiful illustrations. Some of them were a little taken aback by the Romanian in my books, others said there are too many words in my stories. Indeed, there are lots of words in a bilingual book. When you have a story in two languages, side by side, you have half the space you would on a regular page. But my stories are meant to be read aloud, by parents, not by little kids alone. They can help Romanian Immigrants’ kids preserve their mother tongue. Also, the English-French versions are very important for French Immersion students, as they rarely have the chance to read a story in both languages and compare the two texts. They give them a chance to understand what they are reading and improve their vocabulary. Nevertheless, I am happy every time I hear that the kids did listen to the whole thing, didn’t get bored and even said the magic words: “One more time, mommy!”.
We left Newmarket smiling. It was an amazing experience. I got lots of ideas for what I should prepare for my booth, what is important and what not. This is how we learn, by meeting our potential readers, by listening to them.
I leave you with some more pics, taken by MAD, thank you, darling.
This cute couple stopped by and were gracious enough to take a look at my book. “Ponies, ponies, more ponies, ah, there’s a Dragon!” the captain said, delighted to find something else than Unicorns in my book.
Wonder Woman picked my Prince Tulip Book and had a good laugh with Doctor Chamomile.
Some kids negotiated two books instead of just one, sacrificing their own savings. I really loved the spirit of this family so they got a 5 dollar voucher for the second book and left happy.
We will be back next year at The Bookshelf in Newmarket. I hope Victor’s Mom will bring more friends (if you read this, please contact me, I have a gift for you!).