Students at David Hoy Elementary and Fort St. James Secondary received a visit from two BC Book Prize finalists this past week.
Gabrielle Prendergast and Kayla Czaga are touring Northern BC presenting their works through talks and reading their books with students at both schools. The authors are two of 35 authors, illustrators and publishers selected as finalists for the seven prizes that are awarded through BC Book Prizes.
Bryan Pike, Executive Director with BC Book Prizes and the tour’s driver, said the showcase is a way for kids to see that books come from more than just the library.
“It’s a great chance for (students) to hear an author talk,” he said. “Kayla, who is on tour right now, she’s from Kitimat … You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest or be in a war to write a story. It’s good for kids to see that, those types of things are valuable.”
Pike said the authors read from their books and share personal experiences with students, and said often the talks trigger an interest in reading with students. “It’s a nice way for everybody to get a little inspiration.”
Kayla Czaga, author of For Your Safety Please Hold On (Nightwood Editions), is a finalist shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize an award for the author of the best work of poetry.
Czaga spoke at FSJ Secondary School to the Grade 11 and 12 English students April 16. The 23-year-old shared her perspectives on growing up and living in Kitimat, B.C. Czaga brought a unique point of view that the students were easily able to relate to, sharing poetry on being 15, her nudist father, that drunk uncle and living in a town with only one road in and out.
“When I was in high school I never thought I would write about high school … now, I have an outside perspective,” Czaga told the students. “I never really know what I’m going to write about until I write a line about a memory that happened years back, then it turns into a poem.”
Czaga relates her positive point of view to students about making the choice to become a writer and being able to make a living as a writer living in Vancouver.
“It is something that you can achieve.”
Gabrielle Prendergast, author of Capricious (Orca Book Publishers), is a finalist shortlisted for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize, an award for the author of the best original work of literary fiction. Prendergast spoke to Grade 6 and 7 students at David Hoy Elementary on April 16. She pulls the quiet group of students into conversation by talking about current books that have been made into movies and engaging students on their favourite reads. She has a way of getting the students talking by relating to writing at the student’s level.
“When a movie or a book is about a young person, it’s not normally about someone who just gets up, eats breakfast and goes to school, comes home, plays video games, eats dinner and then goes to bed,” Prendergast says. “There’s nothing wrong with being an ordinary kid … but on the other hand you know, it’s not exciting like it is in a book.”
Prendergast uses the students’ interests in movies, sports and various activities to offer advice about approaching life with the kind of adventure you might find in books and how a character might approach life.
“That’s a good way to approach your life, like you’re a person in a story book,” she said. “Attack it with gusto.”
Fact file – BC Book Prizes
The following seven prizes are administered and awarded to celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers:
Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize – Awarded to the author(s) of the best original work of literary fiction
Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize – Awarded to the author(s) of the best original work of literary non-fiction
Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize – Awarded to the author(s) of the best work of poetry
Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize – Awarded to the author(s) of the book which contributes the most to the enjoyment and understanding of the province of British Columbia
Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize – Awarded to the author(s) of novels, including chapter books, and non-fiction books, including biography, aimed at juveniles and young adults, which have not been highly illustrated
Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize – Awarded to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of picture books, picture story books, and illustrated non-fiction books for children
Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence – Established in 2003 by the Honourable Iona Campagnolo to recognize British Columbia writers who have contributed to the development of literary excellence in the Province
Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award – Presented to the originating publisher(s) and the author(s) of the book that is the most successful in terms of public appeal, initiative, design, production and content