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Gracie visits Community Services

— iPhone photos by Heather Conn

At the last minute, Community Services in Sechelt, BC invited storyteller John Conway to read aloud Gracie’s Got a Secret at their fundraising event in December 2011. John used the same puppets from the book launch. (See the post below for more details.)

He had some rambunctious boys in the audience, but with the help of Gracie and Mopey, John kept them engaged with the story. It was fun to watch the interactions.

Plenty of smiles at Gracie’s launch

— photos by Janice Williams

Author Heather Conn and storyteller John Conway

A plucky three-year-old girl who can trumpet like an elephant. A talented storyteller who brings words and characters to life with accents, puppets, and sound effects. Free goldfish crackers for a goldfish book. How can you not have a fun book launch?

Several dozen hardy listeners battled high winds and darkness Nov. 26 to attend the 5 p.m. launch of Gracie’s Got a Secret in Sechelt, BC. Local children’s entertainer John Conway was a hit at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre event with his hilarious antics and puppet interactions. He and a child volunteer shared elephant sounds while raising their respective arm like a trunk. The girl was a natural!

John used a puppet for each of the book’s three main characters to tell the story. When Nellie appeared, as an elephant puppet with tusks, I was waiting for some young voice to point out that she had tusks, but no one did. When one of her ballet slippers fell off, I felt compelled to run up and correct this “wardrobe malfunction.”

John was wonderful at prompting smiles and giggles from the audience. He invited adults to add glub-glub-glub sounds to his own fish noises for Gracie, but people seemed a tad too shy to become temporary goldfish.

— William Gelbart photo

After John read the book to the group, using three volunteers in his performance, we took a short break for free snacks: cookies and goldfish crackers, juice, and coffee and tea.

Afterwards, in the Q&A, someone asked me if I’m planning to do a sequel. The answer is yes. I’ve already got another character that I want to use with Gracie. There wasn’t room for him in this story.

Many thanks to everyone, young and old, who came to the reading. I appreciated the help with book sales from Bev from Talewind Books and her daughter.

— William Gelbart photo

Thanks to John for putting on such a great show. And a huge thank you to my husband Frank, who spent time getting everything set up and ready while I was selling books at the Seaside Centre before the event. Your help made all of the difference.

What’s Gracie’s secret?

This past weekend, Gracie had her public debut at the Sunshine Coast Arts Crawl. It was fun to do some mini-readings at The Gumboot Cafe, as part of The Writers’ Hub event. I read the first few pages of the book, stopping when Gracie met a mysterious voice in the dark. I enjoyed introducing Gracie to young and old who stopped at my display table. The young ones particularly liked the Gracie puppet that I had on hand. (To find out more about The Writers’ Hub and to see photos of the event, check out my blog post.)

I also got a chance to see the delightful storytelling show put on at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre by two talented local performers, John Conway (“The Green Man”) and Jean-Pierre Makosso. About 40 youngsters and their parents sat on the floor inside the semi-circular room, which had been transformed into an ancient forest with a giant tree in the centre. The two playful storytellers engaged the crowd with interactive tales, sound effects, and hand gestures, inviting children from the audience to pretend they were animals such as a giraffe, elephant, and monkey. The message of the two stories was that tiny seeds grow into something wonderful, and that before taking down a tree, you need to ask permission, because trees are made up of many kings, queens, princes and princesses. This show was a wonderful treat as part of the Sunshine Coast Arts Crawl.

I look forward to seeing and hearing John read aloud Gracie’s Got a Secret for my Nov. 26 book launch at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt. For more details, see my Events page.