Meet Megan Shapka, our guest blogger for WOTS 2012, writing the first in a series of featured author interviews. When I told her to look over the author’s list and pick one to start with, she was so excited to be able to talk with Kit Pearson that she almost fell off her chair.
Here’s what came out of that conversation…
“I don’t remember how old I was when I found The Sky Is Falling, Looking at the Moon, and The Lights Go On Again in my school library, but I do remember an instant attachment to young Norah and Gavin and the way Kit Pearson told their story. I read a lot as a child and I had a passion for stories about children in historical settings. As Norah and Gavin made their journey from danger in England to safety in Canada during World War II, I rooted for them, cried with them, and tried to imagine life in their shoes as guests of war. I grew up with them as they navigated life with a host family while dealing with the typical trials of childhood and adolescence. For me, one book led to the next and I read the trilogy over and over again, borrowing them from the library and then buying my own copies. I still have them. Those worn pages document the birth of my lifelong love for the written word.
Kit Pearson, children’s author and former children’s librarian, knows the value of writing stories that kids connect with. “If you learn to love a book when you’re young, then you have a positive association and you’ll go on to find other books,” she says. “I read a lot as a child, so reading just seemed a very natural thing to me. I guess when children find books they love, especially if they are not forced to read them, but just discover them, then I think it becomes a part of their life.”
Norah and Gavin are fictional characters, but many children actually found themselves making the journey from England to Canada during WWII. Even though the story takes place in a time very different from today’s society, children still relate to the characters on many levels. Pearson believes they identify with what hasn’t changed about childhood. “I think that on the surface children are very different. They are also different because they are much closer to the adults in their life, they are more aware of the adult world, but I also believe they are just children. I think the essence of childhood has not changed at all.”
Pearson says her young readers have told her they appreciate a book where children have a separate life from adults. “I think they love it because it’s about children as victims of adult society and even though times have changed and we are much nicer to children and more respectful of children than they used to be, children are still at our mercy in a way: they have to go to school, we tell them they are still young. They feel that very keenly. So I think they identify with characters that are picked up like parcels and just shipped across the ocean out of the country.”
Pearson’s Guests of War trilogy had a lasting effect on me. I don’t remember all the books I have read over the course of my life, but to this day I can still clearly recall the story of Norah and Gavin. This positive association fueled my love of reading and writing, and now, my dog-eared copies are tucked safely in my bookshelf waiting for my daughter to be old enough to read them.” – Megan Shapka
Kit Pearson will be at the Word On The Street Festival in Lethbridge on September 23, 2012 sharing two of her new books: The Whole Truth, which was released last fall, and Nothing But The Truth, which was released this week. The books follow a young girl named Polly during the Depression in the ‘30s and they each contain a big secret, which will surely delight children and inspire a new generation of readers.“
Megan Shapka is a freelance writer and editor with a background in journalism and post-secondary education support. Megan provides professional and efficient writing and editing services, meeting the needs of customers in diverse industries, genres and styles. Many of her contracts are with Lethbridge College, where she writes and edits online curriculum and writes for Wider Horizons magazine. Megan has edited books for self-published authors and is writing two books. Contact her at http://www.meganshapka.com/