Please note that Alison is doing virtual presentations only in Fall 2020 due to the pandemic.
- 15-20 minute reading/Q&A – $75
- 1 session (30 minutes) – $125
- 2 sessions (60 minutes) – $225
- Half day – $400 (150 minutes of sessions divided however you’d like)
Valuing Yourself and Your World! (Kindergarten-Grade 1)
My book What Matters explores how small actions can have big impacts and opens up a discussion about how each one of us can make a difference in our environment and in our world. While the focus is on recycling, small acts like smiles or hugs are important, too! Because after all, each one of us is important and deserving of love and respect. My picture books Gerbil, Uncurled (about a gerbil who sleeps differently than the other gerbils in her busy cage) and Spare Dog Parts (about a very loving, oddly-assembled mutt) lead us into talking about valuing our unique gifts and celebrating our differences. Activity-wise, we might assemble a (felt) dog out of spare parts, root through some recyclables, scamper in a gerbil tunnel and maybe even squeak a gerbil song.
Curriculum links: Home and community; environment; citizenship; your unique place; inclusion, diversity and difference; problem-solving in a group; sharing and showing respect for others
Writing: Practice and Teamwork! (Grades 2-3)
Do you play sports or piano or speak another language? Practice makes you better, right? Same with writing! We might play my famous YES OR NO? game to dispel some common misconceptions about writing or a fun card game to show that story ideas can be found anywhere, that description, dialogue and detail make stories come to life, and that editing is super-important. We’ll also talk about how books are actually made (with some amazing original illustrations), and the teamwork involved in putting all those books on library shelves.
Curriculum links: Using techniques such as outlines, humour, dialogue, vocabulary, detail and editing to communicate ideas more effectively through storytelling; group brainstorming and problem-solving; sharing and showing respect for others.
Lost: Writing Survival Stories (Grades 4-6, and Grades 7-9)
Could there be a topic more exciting and suspenseful than survival? This popular session, which can be an interactive presentation or a writing workshop, is based on my novel Lost in the Backyard. It explores getting seriously lost, which involves action, setting, description, drama and often wet socks. We follow some of the different steps of story-writing: inspiration, research, characters, setting, plot and editing. We finally peek at the world of publishing, exploring the 20+ team of people (from author to graphic designer) that help to get a book ready for publication.
Curriculum links: Using techniques such as humour, dialogue, vocabulary, detail and editing to communicate ideas more effectively through storytelling; group brainstorming, and respect for the opinions of others; family relationships, communication, and discovering connections with others.
Write Like There’s No Tomorrow (Grades 7-9, and Grades 10-12)
What are you waiting for? There’s no magical right time to write. I wrote most of my first book in hospital waiting rooms! So, don’t wait for the diploma, the degree or the time: jump in now. In this presentation, I encourage students to journal, blurt and write honest, really ugly first drafts. My first draft of Hit the Ground Running followed months of thinking about the story, but it wasn’t pretty. I share how the kernels of stories can be shaped, tugged and polished through useful elements like dialogue, humour, atmosphere and description. We’ll also look at the oh-so-glamorous path to publication, including tons of editing, lots and lots of rejection (I’ll share some of my many rejection letters!), the necessity of hard work, a pig-headed belief in your stories, and never, ever giving up.
Curriculum links: Using effective language/symbols; setting and character to build coherent storylines; thinking critically about advertising as communication and manipulation; healthy relationships; self-reliance, resilience and leadership; building space for creativity into your life
Romp Around: Writing in Multiple Genres (YA-adult)
“Write the story you want to write, then worry about where it fits.” This was wonderful, the-sky’s-the-limit advice from my first editor. I took it to heart: I’ve written a wide range of stories I wanted to write, fitting them all along the spectrum from picture books to early readers to middle grade to young adult. I’ve written short stories and poetry, too, just because it felt right at the time. In this presentation on writing omnivorously, we look at both the joys (interest, stimulation, and freedom) and challenges (audience, language, organization, building a profile, publishers, marketing, etc.) of writing in a variety of genres.
Curriculum links: Using effective language and symbols; story as an ancient medium relevant to the technological age; thinking critically about issues; healthy relationships and life skills (such as self-reliance, resilience and leadership); building space for creativity