Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrating agriculture literacy week

All across Canada this week, schools are celebrating the first ever Agriculture Literacy Week, an initiative funded by Farm Credit Canada to create awareness about the importance of farming.

It was my pleasure yesterday to talk to five Grade 4 classes at McKenzie Lake Elementary in Calgary, AB not only about agriculture, but also to share my book Fields of Home, the first in a series of graphic storybooks following the adventures of Chase Duffy and his grandfather, an Alberta canola farmer.

The kids were absolutely fabulous - all 125-ish of them! I was prepared for questions about being a writer, or farming, or canola... What shocked me was the number of questions about Chase.

Girls were dying to know his favorite color, flavor of ice cream, or whether he has a girlfriend. The boys wanted to know how fast Chase can run, his favorite brand of running shoe - and whether he has a girlfriend.

But the experience was an eye-opening reminder about the importance of character development. I didn't have to fake my answers because I know my character. I write as Chase every Friday on his blog, update his Twitter (@SupermanDuffy) daily, and post to his Facebook profiles a few times a week.

I can tell you whether Chase would eat an Aero chocolate bar (yes, as long as it's not mint), and what his favorite CFL football team is (Hamilton Tiger-Cats.) I don't know all of my characters this well. But I should. For sure the main ones.

In a few weeks, the second book in the Chase Duffy series, Gotta Jet, launches and the next few months will be a whirlwind of canola-related activity. But yesterday was all about McKenzie Lake Elementary and the fabulous Grade 4 students who made my first big reading an experience worth writing home about.

Huge thanks to Farm Credit Canada for supporting this initiative, and to Simone and the rest of the team at the Alberta Canola Producers Commission for believing in me and letting me share Chase's adventures.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Mayberry


  1. Oh, how interesting. I totally never would have thought of agricultural literature at ALL. But I've read a couple good books that have farms as fairly central, my favorite of which is A Painted House (John Grisham--it's my favorite of his books--a coming of age, sort of)

  2. So awesome that you were able to bring that character to life more fully by knowing the answers to the questions from the kids. I bet they are excitedly waiting for the next Chase book to come available to them.
    Good show!

  3. That's so wonderful! Reminds me of a couple of books. One is The Wizard of Oz, which begins and ends on a farm. The second is a "fact" book in the US called The Farmer's Almanac. Non-fiction, but magical.

  4. I found your blog listed on the A to Z Challenge. I'm trying to start visiting everyone early since there are a ton of blogs! I'm your newest follower. *smile*
    Giggle, Laugh, Cry