I’m No Bully!

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Happy Pink Shirt Day, everyone! I just spent the morning at Roncalli Elementary School in St. John’s, where Breakwater’s own Debbie Hanlon put on her Read-Along I’m No Bully! show for an ocean (or, at least, an auditorium’s-worth) of pink-shirted, anti-bullying cuties.

Kids' author Debbie Hanlon poses with Roncalli  school teachers (wearing their Pink shirt Day finest!)
Kids’ author Debbie Hanlon poses with Roncalli school teachers (wearing their Pink shirt Day finest!)

With the pages of Hanlon’s first book, The Adventures of Gus and Isaac: Backyard Bullies projected up on the big screen, the 200+ crowd of kids were all treated to a read-along led by Miss Debbie herself.

“This is a story about Isaac the Cat,” Hanlon begins. ” Now, who knows what’s different about Isaac?”

“HE HAS NO TAIL!” all the kids holler back. Many of them already know the characters: Gus, the Seagull-Who’s-Afraid-Of-Heights, and Isaac the Bob-Tail Cat.

In this first adventure, Isaac is new to the neighbourhood and finds himself a target of the neighbourhood bullies: Vamps the Cat and his cronies, Berg and Flake.

“That’s right,” Hanlon says. “He’s a bob-tail cat, and that sure makes him different! And what sometimes happens to people who are different?”

“Bullies!”

The kids have had good Pink Shirt Day training, and they have lots of ideas about what makes people bullies: usually, bullies are pretty scared themselves. Scared of people who are different. But bullying isn’t the way to combat those fears. Hanlon leads the kids in a discussion of the “bystander” role in a bullying situation, and reiterates the two things every kid needs to do if they see someone being bullied:

1. Say something! “Stop! Bullying isn’t cool!” the kids yell.

2. Tell someone! “Find an adult — it can be your teacher, your Mom, your Dad — and tell them what’s going on. An adult will help you!” Hanlon says, before leading the kids in an anti-bullying ditty she’s written herself — accompanied, of course, by a pink ukelele.

Hanlon’s I’m No Bully show is a favourite at elementary schools across the region, with frequent performances in the St. John’s area, and a recent fall tour into Central Newfoundland. Next up, Hanlon plans to hit the west coast, with stops in Corner Brook and Stephenville.

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Blue Lagoon Book List: What Books Can Our Authors Not Live Without?

Seen all those Ideal Bookshelf and Desert Island Bookshelf lists floating about these days? Us, too. So we got to thinking, which must-have books would Breakwater authors most want to be stranded with?

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Claire Wilkshire, author of the forthcoming debut novel, Maxine:

Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway

T.S. Eliot Collected Poems 1909-1962 

Leon Rooke Who Do You Love

John Metcalf Adult Entertainment

Richard Ford Independence Day

John Le Carré Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Terry Pratchett Reaper Man


+ A really good, fat dictionary like my Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary.  I think it cost $15 at Coles: best bargain ever.  I keep it by the bed so I can use it for the cryptic crosswords in the Globe.

…. (I can’t start putting Newfoundland novels on this list because I wouldn’t be able to stop.)

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Joan Sullivan, author of In the Field: 

I don’t have much of a library at home, as I tend to pass along books (I just don’t like “stuff”). But those I have include:
1. The Mandarins, by Simone de Beauvoir. What befalls a group of French intellectuals immediately following WWII. Characters based on de Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus. It is political and sensual and dramatic. When I first read it, I was younger than the main character’s daughter. Every five years or so I re-read it, and now I am older than the main character.
2. A book of Shakespeare’s Tragedies that belonged to my grandmother, Rose Hoskins. She died when I was six months old.
3. All of Lisa Moore’s stories and novels. She is my friend and I love her writing.
4. Something new from the library. Might be the latest Rankin or a writer I’ve found like Ann Packer or Steve Yarbrough.
5. Jane Austen, no explanation needed.
6. A young adult book/autobiography called We Shook the Family Tree by Hildegarde Dolson, a book I read in Grade 6 or 7 and loved and never forgot. My daughter found it for me on Amazon. Speaking of young adult novels, my daughter has a flourishing library and I constantly borrow from it, The Perks of Being a Wildflower, Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends (excellent read, by the way), The Book Thief …

Calvin Evans, author of Silk Sails: Women of Newfoundland and Their Ships and coming Spring 2013, Master Shipbuilders of Newfoundland and Labrador:

I guess my favorite books fall into two categories, as might be expected with my dual professions:, so here goes:

Simone Weil     The Need for Roots

John R. W. Stott      Basic Christianity

John Oman     Grace and Personality

C. S. Lewis     Mere Christianity

Oscar Williams, ed.     Immortal Poems of the English Language

Alister McGrath                    Passion for Truth

**and**

D. W. Prowse     History of Newfoundland

Dictionary of Newfoundland English

Gordon Handcock    The Story of Trinity

Capt. Allan Villiers    Men, Ships and the Sea

E. R. Seary    Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland

William Christian and Sheila Grant    The George Grant Reader

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… and from Jennifer Morgan, artist, children’s author and illustrator of Almost Home: The Sinking of the SS Caribou:

Okay, I couldn’t resist this excuse to not work!

Oxford’s Dictionary of English
National Geographic World Atlas
The Bible
Shakespeare’s Collected Works
Harold Bloom’s The Invention of the Human
One empty book
Edible Plants for the region where I’m marooned
A book of matches
And…since I will not have any excuse not to read it:
James Joyce’s Ulysses
and (why not?) Homer’s Ulysses also.