Are you hoping your child will pick up a book to read on their own? Without your prodding? If you are nodding your head, keep reading! The Teachers on Call in-person and online tutoring team love programs that promote reading for pleasure. Our professional tutors are also elementary, middle and high-school teachers, so this comes as no surprise. This is why we are spreading awareness for the Forest of Reading program which culminates in a huge festival celebrated virtually and in-person. Our president, Joanne Sallay, is a huge supporter as both a parent and educator and is spotlighting Forest of Reading authors and illustrators across Canada in our very own Hooked on Books series. In this blog, we learn about Kallie George from the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia and her nominated title, Crimson Twill: Witch in the City!
What is the Forest of Reading program?
Many families are looking for ideas and guidance on how to raise a reader. A great option is the Forest of Reading, Canada’s largest recreational reading initiative and children’s choice award program. Student readers get to vote to select the winners. The books chosen are all Canadian, so it is a true celebration of I Read Canadian titles featuring books, publishers, authors and illustrators from coast to coast. There are 10 reading award programs in total, including nine categories for students of all ages and one specifically for adults. It all leads up to the Forest of Reading Festival, known as the “rock concert” for reading in mid-May at the Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2G8).
How is Teachers on Call celebrating the Forest of Reading this year?
Approximately 270, 000 readers are involved annually through their schools, local libraries or at home. This includes elementary, middle and high-school teachers and students from the Teachers on Call community. In celebration of the 100 nominated titles in 2023, Teachers on Call’s president, Joanne Sallay, will be featuring interviews with Forest of Reading authors and illustrators across Canada. Fun fact, her kids participate annually in this literacy program. Her Silver Birch Express reader just wrote four book reports for the very first time, resulting in immense pride!
Did you catch our last Hooked on Books with Blue Spruce Award nominee, Nan Forler, from Waterloo, Ontario? Not to worry if you missed it, click here. For our most recent feature, read on for our interview with Kallie George and her popular title Crimson Twill: Witch in the City!
Hooked on Books with Kallie George
Book: Crimson Twill: Witch in the City
Written by: Kallie George and Illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Published by: Candlewick
Category: Silver Birch Express Award – fiction, non-fiction
For ages: Grades 3 - 4
Synopsis of Feature Book, Crimson Twill: Witch in the City, in Kallie’s words:
Crimson is a unique little witch who loves polka dots and puppies instead of pointy shoes and black dresses. It’s her first time visiting New Wart City to go shopping at Broomingdale’s! Broomingdale’s is the biggest witch department store in the world. It’s got everything a witch could itch for. Crimson is so excited. But when she rescues a lost puppy in the store, she starts on an adventure through the floors looking for its owner and finds something she never expected.
Our Author, Kallie George, from British Columbia shares her favourite reading and writing nook!
I live on the Sunshine Coast, in Gibsons, now. And my favorite place to read and write is my study where I keep all my notebooks and favorite books. But honestly, I can read and write pretty much anywhere. That’s one of the great things about reading and writing. With a book you can be transported to another place anywhere.
An Interview with Kallie George
Check out Kallie’s answers to our questions below!
What inspired you to write about a quirky and charming witch who takes adventures in New Wart City?
I came up with the name Crimson Twill when I was browsing a broom shop (of all places!). I thought it was a great name for a witch. But for a long time I didn’t know the story of Crimson Twill other than her name. Then, one night, I was walking home from a show with my husband in the city, and the city was all lit up and magical looking. It made us think how extra-magical it would be if it were a witch city. If, instead of cars, brooms were flying around and stopping at stop lights. I loved the idea of that world and that’s when the story really came together. I get a lot of my ideas when I’m out walking or hiking or talking with friends or family.
Congratulations on your Silver Birch Express Award nomination. What does the Forest of Reading program mean to you personally?
This program is truly amazing. I have had the good fortune to have other of my books nominated, and every time it is a thrill. I love that it encourages reading and I love seeing how excited kids get about the books.
How can teachers and educators use your book in the classroom?
We’ve created an activity guide for the book, with lots of fun ways to engage including imagining new places in Witch City, designing a Broomingdale’s ad or a hat, creating a spell (a poetry exercise), or writing postcards. There is a lot of world building in this story, as well as themes of friendship. I also hope it could be a good book to discuss and celebrate uniqueness.
What message do you hope readers take away from this chapter book?
One of the messages is to stay true to your unique self. Another is the immeasurable value of friendship.
You have written a series inspired by Anne of Green Gables. Are Anne Shirley and Crimson Twill kindred spirits?
What a great question! Yes, I suppose so! Anne Shirley loves to dream and imagine, and so does Crimson—in the witch world. Both are unique in their worlds. They aren’t afraid of standing out. They are kind-hearted, too.
What’s next for Crimson Twill and Kallie George?
There’s a new book coming out this year, July 11, called Crimson Twill: Witch in the Country, where Crimson’s friends visit her home in Cackle Country. Crimson wants it to be a perfect trip. She’s made a list of the fun witchy activities to do, like croaking the frogs and picking magical broom straw. But right away things don’t go to plan. I hope readers really enjoy it. I’m also working on a few other chapter books and picture books!
We hope you enjoy our interview with Kallie George. For more Hooked on Books spotlights with Forest of Reading authors and illustrators, check out the Teachers on Call blog!
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