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A Children’s Author Visits Pearson Adult Learning Center
by Catherine

A famous Canadian children’s author, Sheryl McFarlane, visited Writing 12 class on March 8, 2007.

Sheryl McFarlane is the author of ten picture books for children, including the award-winning Waiting for the Whales and Jessie's Island. Also she's written a novel for young adults— The Smell of Paint.

She gave a speech to the students about how to write and her own writing process.

“Sound is very important,” she said. “I always read aloud while I’m writing. I change the words until it sounds good.”

Some people think the first draft is garbage, but Sheryl McFarlane has a different idea.

“Hold your first draft,” she said. “You may not only lose power but also the emotion behind it.”

She showed the students the very first draft of a story. They could see how a story starts and becomes a book.

“Critical opinion is more important to me than praise. It makes my writing better.” she said.

At the end of the class, she did an exercise with students—“Five Memories.” It showed the students how to start writing and how to produce a sentence with the five senses.

Students’ Voices

Hiromi said:

“I was amazed by her detailed research. She knows whales by the difference of their dorsal fins. She takes tons of pictures of a runner to describe it accurately. She even went to an animal center and wrapped a frozen bird to know what a bandaged eagle looks like.”

Ritsuko said:

“The most interesting part was about her publishing. She had to be involved in the profound details with the editor and the illustrator. Especially, I enjoyed her personal experience, dealing with the illustrator and the illustrations to match her images.”

Helena said:

“Sheryl's presentation is warm, simple and direct. I appreciate very much this sincerity and eagerness in her writing for kids.”

Ben said:

“Sheryl McFarlane is an excellent writer with down to the earth characteristics; also she picked every single word or picture in her books conscientiously in order to meet her standard of perfection.”