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CCBC Events Announcement

Larry Verstraete

Author

Contact Information

http://www.larryverstraete.com

lverstraete [at] mts [dot] net

Winnipeg MB

p. (204) 256-2756

Selected Bibliography

Lost Treasures: True Stories of Discovery
(Scholastic Canada, 2006)
Survivors: True Death-Defying Escapes
(Scholastic Canada, 2003)
Extreme Science
(Scholastic Canada, 2000)
Accidental Discoveries: From Laughing Gas to Dynamite
(Scholastic Canada, 1999)
Whose Bright Idea Was It?
(Scholastic Canada, 1997)
Mysteries of Time
(Scholastic Canada, 1992)

Location: Winnipeg, MBAvailability: nationalAvailable: any time

Reading Location:

libraries, schools

Grades:

3 to 8

Audience Size:

80 to 100

Fees:

$250.00 per hour-long session, with rates reduced to $225.00 per session for schools or libraries booking multiple presentations in the same location. Further reductions are offered for Winnipeg/Manitoba presentations where limited travel is required. For out-of-province presentations, a minimum of 8 sessions over a 3 day period are needed to make the trip feasible. Depending on the locations of schools or libraries, Larry can do up to 4 one-hour sessions in a single day.

Language:

English

Readings

Writing non-fiction can be exacting at times, but also satisfying, challenging, and down-right exciting. That’s the message I try to share with students. My sessions incorporate drama, role play or other forms of audience interaction, allow plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the process of writing non-fiction books. I bring along the tools of my trade – samples of drafts, references and resources, and, of course, my books. Depending on the audience and topic, I’ll also have other gear – gadgets, props, multimedia equipment. The tools and props help me to connect with the audience to share the excitement of reading and writing non-fiction in a very real way. Usually, I require 60 minutes to cover the presentation described, but I’d be happy to tailor my visit to whatever schedules, formats or groupings are needed.

I offer a range of themes, from a general session to more specific ones based on topics from my books:

General Session:
Using stories of my own experiences coupled with stories selected from my books, as well as a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate finer points, students learn about a writer’s habits, the pleasures and pitfalls of writing non-fiction, and what it takes to publish a book.

Treasure Hunter:
Step into the shoes of the treasure hunter and discover the how’s and why’s of treasure seeking. In this interactive presentation, youngsters learn about the challenges and rewards of treasure-seeking. Later they are introduced to a different kind of treasure hunt – non-fiction writing where facts become golden nuggets of information and true stories are the writer’s reward. A PowerPoint presentation shows students how Lost Treasures was written. Related Books: Lost Treasure: True Stories of Discovery; Mysteries of Time

Survival: What Does It Take?:
In life-threatening situations, survival often goes to the swift, brave and lucky few. But what other factors spell the difference between life and death? How can we increase our own chances of survival? Using stories from Survivors: True Death-Defying Escapes as a backdrop, we explore the topic of survival and examine the process of writing the book.

Behind the Breakthrough:
Every invention and discovery, great or small, has a story to tell. Many of the stories are little-known and unusual, even bizarre. With a mixture of props, drama, and story-telling, we explore the stories behind inventions and breakthroughs used by youngsters every day. Time is reserved to discuss the invention-patent process, the writing process, and to answer audience questions. Related Books: Accidental Discoveries, Whose Bright Idea Was It?, Extreme Science

Special Equipment:

LCD projector and screen

Book Sales:

I bring a limited number of books and would be delighted to autograph them, but a more suitable arrangement would be to order copies in advance so that they can be shipped to the school or library prior to the reading.

Workshop Location:

libraries, schools

Grades:

4 to 8

Audience Size:

30 to 50

Fees:

$250.00 per hour-long session, with rates reduced to $225.00 per session for schools or libraries booking multiple presentations in the same location. Further reductions are offered for Winnipeg/Manitoba presentations where limited travel is required. For out-of-province presentations, a minimum of 8 sessions over a 3 day period are needed to make the trip feasible. Depending on the locations of schools or libraries, Larry can do up to 4 one-hour sessions in a single day.

Language:

English

Workshops

I offer the following two 90-minute writing workshops, but would be pleased to tailor these or other sessions to the specific needs and situations identified by teachers and librarians.

Getting at the Truth:
How do non-fiction writers get at the facts behind a story? In this interactive workshop, students go behind the scenes of the research process to find out how to obtain, verify, and record information, organize references, and report facts accurately yet still creatively. Interview procedures and protocols are covered as well as ways of utilizing reliable Internet resources.

Writing a Rollercoaster Story:
How do you know that you have a fictional or true-life story worth telling? How can you keep readers interested, involved, and satisfied all the way to the end? In this interactive and practical session, we examine the nature of stories and how to develop gripping scenes and smooth transitions that will take the reader on a rollercoaster ride of tension from smooth start to roaring end.

Special Equipment:

LCD projector and screen

Book Sales:

I bring a limited number of books and would be delighted to autograph them, but a more suitable arrangement would be to order copies in advance so that they can be shipped to the school or library prior to the reading.

Biography

I grew up in Winnipeg not far from where I still live. My childhood was relatively carefree, filled with hours spent reading, dreaming, playing with friends, and occasionally writing a story or two. Becoming a serious writer, however, was a remote idea, placed at the tail-end of a long list of ambitions headed by cowboy, superhero and other more thrilling ventures.

In high school, science took over as a major interest thanks to several gifted teachers who made the subject come alive. I attended university, obtained degrees in science and education, and became a teacher. My writing career began as an off-shoot of my teaching one when I chanced upon a magazine ad for a correspondence writing course while waiting for a haircut in a barbershop.

On a whim, I clipped out the ad and enrolled in the course. One of my first assignments was to write a non-fiction article for children. I chose lightning as my subject, a topic that fascinated the scientist in me. During my research for the article, I discovered a story about Benjamin Franklin and a nearly fatal electrical accident the inventor had years before his well documented flying-a-kite-in-a-thunderstorm experience. The Franklin story was odd and interesting – a definite kid pleaser and great opener for the article I planned on lightning.

Inspired by the Franklin story, I began to look for other equally odd stories in science where accidents, mistakes and minor disasters played a part in discoveries or inventions. There were lots of them, I found. I wrote one short article after another, some as assignments for the course, others just for my own satisfaction. By the end of the correspondence course, I had a collection of more than 20 true-but-strange stories, almost enough for a book.

That collection of stories about fruitful mishaps, blunders and coincidences in science eventually became my first published book, The Serendipity Effect, which later was republished under its present title, Accidental Discoveries.

Since then I have published other non-fiction books for young people, several on the subject of science, all having true-life stories at their core. My most recent release, Lost Treasures: True Stories of Discovery (Scholastic Canada, 2006) was the winner of the 2007 McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award. My previous book, Survivors: True Stories of Death-Defying Escapes (Scholastic Canada, 2003) received the Silver Birch Award in 2004 and Red Cedar Award in 2006.

In addition to writing for young people, I also write for educational textbooks and journals, and conduct sessions in science and writing for youngsters, teachers and parents around the country. Between these pursuits, I indulge in other favourite pastimes – travelling, hiking, biking, woodworking and stained glass.

OTHER PRESENTATIONS:
I offer the following professional development sessions for teachers and librarians.

Stories in Science:
Every invention and scientific breakthrough has a story to tell. In this 60 minute session, learn about ten of science’s most unusual, kid-fascinating stories, and find out how to use them to capture your students’ interest and teach them what science and invention are all about.

Teachers Who Write:
Like me, many writers of material for children and the educational marketplace are, or were, teachers, librarians, or other school-related professionals. In this 60 minute session, get an insider’s view of the teaching-writing connection. Find out how the two activities strengthen and complement each other, and learn how the publishing industry works, how to market your material, and how you can be successful at both.

Marketplace Writing Strategies for the Classroom and Home:
A 60 minute session for teachers, librarians and parents that explores the inner workings of the book publishing industry and, in particular, the relationship of editor to author which in many ways parallels that of educator to student writer. Discover practical ways adapted from the publishing world of enhancing the writing of youngsters in your charge.