September 26, 2014

Inspiration and Delight: School Stage with Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

 by Kortnee Stevens

Hearing from Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch was, to state the absolute bare minimum, a delight. She engaged the group of grade 7 to 9 children with such ease it was obvious that she truly cares about what she does and how she does it. Skrypuch answered a number of questions, instructing us to write for a minimum of 10 minutes every day if we want to become better writers – not just on holidays or spare time. Her Q&A session was complete with brief but intense readings of her books Making Bombs for Hitler and Underground Soldier.

Skrypuch shared her experience with reading as a child, explaining how she was diagnosed with ‘dyslexia’ (back in the day they stated she just ‘wasn’t very smart’). She found reading to be a challenge and, much similar to kids these days, became bored with the book if it did not grab her attention within the first page. Skrypuch’s beliefs - contrary to the common children’s novelist - are that children are incredibly mature; perhaps even more mature than adults.

“Ask an adult what’s troubling them in the moment and they’ll respond with ‘I don’t know if I paid the VISA bill’ or ‘I’m not sure if I took hamburger out to thaw last night’. But if you ask a child whats troubling them, they’ll respond with ‘Endangered animals’ or ‘Climate change’ because they have the time to consider those things and are not constantly pre-occupied with meaningless day-to-day things. I find children are a considerably more serious audience than adults, and that is what I had in mind when writing Making Bombs for Hitler.”

Despite some microphone difficulties, the show was engaging, enlightening, and very energizing. I, for one, have a deeper appreciation for children’s novelists than before, and feel as though my ten minutes are long over-due. 

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