Eighty-two stories came by Purolator from the Canadian Children's Book Centre. That's not an overwhelming amount, in other years I've received boxes, well over a couple hundred. The difference, however, is that these are from grade 10 students. These stories are not just a packet of writing exercises assigned by a Toronto private school teacher and turned in.
These are poems, essays, and stories about holocaust, suicide, werewolves, dragons, bullying, Canada geese, lobster fishing and more. They come from students from Nova Scotia, B.C., the Northwest Territories, and all the provinces in between. Some are from homeschooled writers, others from urban collegiate students.
What's more all of them are good. Or let me correct that and say all have kernels of greatness in them, lyrical moments, an emotional turn of a phrase, a funny line, an profound insight, a window into a different kind of life or thinking.
When you receive that many entries, the temptation is to read until the first grammatical error or lapse in view point etc. The first moment you're taken out of the storie by a miswrite, you flip it down on to the pile.
Not this time. These entries deserved better. So I'm only reading them ten at a time, right through. Sticking on little yellow post it notes to remind myself about the topic. The best ones of the days go to the top of the pile. Sometimes all ten go to the top.
Then I'll reread the top ones again. While they all deserve applause and certainly this top pile, even more, I will have to be subjective in the end and just choose the story or poem that captures my heart the most. Almost there.