COLUMN: Viewpoint – It was bittersweet

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/05/2022 (268 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Last week was bittersweet for me. As an author it was certainly memorable because my novel Lost on the Prairie was nominated for two awards.

The first was the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award. (MYRCA). Every year a panel of teachers, teacher librarians, public librarians, university professors of children’s literature and children’s booksellers look at all the books published by Canadian authors in the past year for students in Grades 5-8. They select what they consider the 10 best books. During the following year kids across Manitoba are encouraged to read the MYRCA books or have them read to them by their teachers or parents. In spring children vote for their favorite book.

Being on this list of nominees was a big surprise to me because it includes many well-known and well-established authors. But having my book selected is such a gift because it will give Lost on the Prairie exposure in schools and libraries around the province and hopefully result in many invitations to visit classrooms and communities to talk about my book.

Lost on the Prairie was also nominated for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award by the Manitoba Book Awards committee. This award which is for the best first book was won last year by my former SRSS teaching colleague Andrew Unger. Andrew won the award for his novel Once Removed. I was very excited to be on this list of nominees as well because it will give my book lots of great media exposure till June 9 when the winner will be announced.

Although being nominated for these awards last week was amazing it was in a way bittersweet because last week was also Mother’s Day and so I was sad my mom who died in 2013 wasn’t here to witness the recognition my book received. The story in Lost on the Prairie is inspired by an event that happened as my grandfather, my Mom’s Dad, was immigrating to Canada as a young boy.

I dedicated Lost on the Prairie to my mother because she was my biggest writing fan. When I was 10 years old Steinbach had a huge snowstorm. I wrote a story about it for my Southwood School Grade 5 teacher Mr. Helmuth Klassen, and he submitted it to The Carillon. They printed it. My Mom cut out the article, pasted it onto a colorful background and framed it. I still have it.

I have been a Carillon columnist since 1985 and for the first 25 years of that time Mom faithfully cut my Carillon column out of the paper every single week and saved it. Thanks to her I have large envelopes full of the hundreds of columns of mine from my first years working for the paper when there was no internet or e-mail, and I was still typing my columns on a typewriter and personally delivering them to Derksen Printers each week.

When I was a young mother and took on writing assignments for magazines, anthologies, curriculums, plays, histories, speeches, and book reviews Mom was always ready and willing to step in to help me with childcare so I could do take advantage of these writing opportunities.

Mom was a great listener, and she would have been excited to hear about the award nominations my book received last week. One of my siblings once said that when something good happened to them they never quite believed it was true till they told our mom about it. I wish I could have shared my book news with Mom.

Being nominated for two writing awards last week was great but also bittersweet.

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