Montreal Children’s Library

Tomorrow I’m beginning a creative writing project with the kids from the Richmond Square Branch of the Montreal Children’s Library.  I’m totally stoked about this project!  It’s called “A Community of Words” and is in collaboration with the Blue Metropolis Foundation, and of course, the Tyndale St- Georges Centre, where my branch is located.

As the project leader, I’ve been organizing a group of 9 kids to participate in this 6 week creative writing workshop.  A Canadian Author, Claire Rothman will be visiting the library to help teach the kids about the creative writing process.

I’m really excited to see the ideas the kids come up with.  They have some wild imaginations and are constantly surprising me.  Working with them has been so unbelievably mind-opening to me I feel like I’ll really miss their influence when I leave.  These kids totally have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in Canada, and all over the world.  They’re not afraid to tell you what they like and don’t like, tell you your clothes look dorky, if Lady Gaga is cool, and try and cheat when you play checkers with them.   They know things you’d never expect kids to know about.  Most of them think reading is boring, though I’m slowing trying to change their minds about that.  One of them was telling me today about how Zac Efron is gay.

Most of the kids who use my library are black, and from the Little Burgundy neighborhood.  I also have a lot Bengali, North African, and South Asian kids.  Most of them speak English and French, in addition to their native language.  A lot of them have siblings who use the library, and I get to know their entire families.  Some of them are cuties and sweeties, while others are headaches and troublemakers.  After doing storytime at 3 different daycares, and seeing maybe 50 babies, then dealing with the wild animals in the library in the afternoon, I still manage to enjoy myself and find energy to play Uno, watch puppets hows, and read comic books with them.

Yesterday 3 of the boys did a puppet show for me – the first act went roughly something like this:


3 headed dragon enters stage left.

Skunk enters stage right.

Skunk: Hey dragon!  You have 3 ugly heads!

Dragon: Shut up or I’m going to melt your face off!

Skunk: I’m going to spray you!

*Sound of skunk spraying dragon*

Dragon:  AHHHH!!!

Narrator: The dragon shoots flames out of it’s heads and melts the skunk’s face off.  Then, he eats the skunk.

Skunk: AHHHHHHHHHH!!!! (as he’s being eaten)

Narrator: But the skunk smelled so bad the dragon died after he ate him.

Skunk and Dragon exit.


The end.

Overall, amazingly believable acting and truly great puppetry from these young geniuses!

I’m looking forward to this project and hope to feel inspired yet again by these awesome kids.

She works hard for the money

I have now officially been the Branch Librarian at the Montreal Children’s Library Richmond Square Branch for 1 week!  And I love it!  It’s exhausting – the kids are a handful!  But so much fun!  They’re sassy and have personality. We’ve been painting, drawing, coloring, doing science experiments, and all sorts of other awesome activities.

I’ve also moved into my new place in St. Henri, and it’s great!

A piece of my computer just broke off, so I am going to try to get in touch with AppleCare now, since it should still be under warranty….


saturday at the children’s cultural center

Saturday I went to see my friend Phouvieng who is normally the Children’s librarian at the National Library.  On Saturday she works at the Children’s Cultural Centre, doing storytelling and helping out with other activities.  I got there a little late, so I missed the story telling, but I did get to sit in on a music lesson, and learn how to play some traditional Lao instruments with the kids.

lao instruments
lao instruments

After that, a bunch of kids performed a choreographed dance for, including this one:

wearing a shirt that says "fuck off wankers".
wearing a shirt that says"fuck off you wankers".

and I hung out with these little girls:

and then ate some pho with congealed blood in it:

sep lae!
sep lae!

before I played table tennis with Phouvieng for a while, and then headed home sometime in the afternoon.  It was a lovely day!

badminton in laos

For some reason, badminton is the most popular sport in Laos, followed closely by football (soccer for my American friends).

I see people playing it everywhere.  On the street, on the sidewalk, at the Wats, at the bus station, everywhere.  And I see people selling badminton nets and rackets everywhere.

The nieces and nephews of my landlord have a pretty sweet set-up in our courtyard.  They strung up the net between a coconut tree and one of the buildings, and have actually painted on the ground the outlines of the court, which it seems were measured with a very calculated precision.

I have seen the kids playing badminton in the courtyard many times, but was always too busy/sweaty/tired to join them.  Yesterday I made my debut on the badminton court, and it was a lot of fun.  Firstly, all of the 8 year-olds are far better than me, and play extremely competitively.

Though none of them speak any English, I have learned to count in Lao, so I did comprehend that my team won one game, and lost another game, though generally they play on some kind of rotation system, with team members switching in and out and game pauses to lift the net everytime a motorcycle or car comes along .  I am hoping to make playing badminton with the kids a regular activity.

Also, one of the dogs belonging to my landlord recently had puppies, so there are a bunch of cute little baby dogs running around the yard.  They all growl at me when they see me, but that has not deterred me from trying to play with them.