This Can't Be Happening at Trinity College -- Gordan Korman

Today I attended CANSAIP’s annual conference called Packaging Your Imagination. Held at Trinity college, Toronto, the day-long conference consisted of three workshops and a keynote speaker. Between the second and third workshops, there was a sit down lunch with brief speeches from the CANSCAIP organizers.

I will talk about the workshops another time. I’m still excited about the keynote speaker.

Gordon Korman will always be famous as the kid from Thornhill Ontario who wrote a novel when he was twelve as a class assignment. He sent it off to Scholastic and had it published at the age of fourteen. He was the youngest member of CANSCAIP in it’s inaugural year, perhaps ever. He has written over 50 books.

What I remember best about Gordon Korman was devouring his Bruno and Boots series. In grade eight I could not believe a kid my age had already published novels as good as This Can’t Be Happening At MacDonald Hall and Beware the Fish! These were very funny novels about a pair of teenaged boys getting into trouble at a private school.

I am still fond of those first books but Korman has branched out into adventure novels, based on research rather than daredevil experience. He said it was a new challenge to use suspense instead of humour to turn the pages.

It was a treat to hear Korman. He is as funny in person as he is on the page. Perhaps part of his success is practice. His mother drove him to his first school readings when he was too young to drive. She is still one of the first readers of his new material.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from his speech:

(When asked by a sour librarian to explain the message of his Bruno and Boots books)

“I suppose my message is to lighten up.”

(On teaching kids about books)

“What do you use more in life, your sense of humour or the ability to recognize foreshadowing?”

(On the ‘whoa cool’ factor of Mount Everest in appealing to kids)

A helicopter cannot fly in extreme altitudes because the air is too thin. If something goes wrong on the top two miles of Mount Everest, “you become part of the tour.”

(On tough crowds and faint praise)

“Eighth graders are almost like New Yorkers.”

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