The kids of Writing in the City created an incredible art and writing project in the spring of 2017. We call it Urban Life/overlooked because we discovered a world of creatures exists in our city, some we notice, most we do not—until they dig a hole under the porch, nest on the balcony, root around in the compost bin. But what if the city is as much theirs as it is our own?
The kids made preliminary sculptures out of homemade playdo, then wrote stories about a surprisingly overlooked urban ecosystem of raccoon-fish hybrids, puppies merged with kittens, slime animals that hide beneath your discarded potato chip wrappers, even Kung Fu pigeons.
Later they created papier mâché sculptures of their creatures.
Collaborating with Kyo Maclear, author of the acclaimed memoir Birds Art Life, as well as many celebrated children’s books, the Writing in the City group ended the spring session with a beautiful window display that features their stories, paintings and sculptures representing an astonishing never-before-seen world. The creatures and stories are up in the TYPE books window all through March at the Queen Street store.
It’s a mystery
Each year, Writing in the City culminates in a group writing project. In spring 2016, we wrote a mystery together (and celebrated with cake!).
Together, the kids in the workshop created a detective named Carmen J. Casper (a letter from all of our names!) and wrote a casebook of her mysteries. We even hosted the amazing Evan Munday, a local author with a terrific series for young readers called The Dead Kid Detective Agency. Evan helped us think through how to write our stories and even showed us how to draw the characters.
Our mystery was called The Casebook of Carmen J. Casper and was set in the basement of a bookstore (of course). When Carmen’s not busy solving mysteries and being afraid of snakes, she works as a bookseller.
Every child in the workshop contributed a story to the casebook and on our last day, we read our stories to parents, teachers and Word-Play board members. Thanks to Evan, our teacher candidate Corinne, volunteer Carolyn and all the kids for an amazingly fun project!
In the movies
The Writing in the City kids made stop motion animated films with the awesome support of Pazit and Hector from Together (http://wearetogether.ca/content/) studio. You can check the mini-movies out on our new Facebook page here. Here’s a peek into the process.
The window treatment
In spring 2014, the kids in our Writing in the City creative writing workshop created an amazing project they called “These are the stories in our neighbourhood.”During the nine week workshop, they discussed what makes a community and wrote stories about the Queen West area where they all live and go to school. They made collage self-portraits (above) and created a kids’ eye view map of the neighbourhood (below), which then hung in the window of TYPE along with the stories they wrote. It was an amazing celebration of their creativity and the bond they have with each other and their community.
In the news
In the spring of 2013 Toronto Life did a special package on neighbourhoods in the city and highlighted our partner TYPE books as a “Bookseller with a Conscience” for its close connection to Word-Play. We couldn’t agree more! We’re proud of our relationship with this wonderful independent bookstore.
The Writing in the City kids were featured in a CBC TV piece about TYPE and how indie bookstores are surviving the digital age. Hint: by connecting to their community through programs like Word-Play! And Susan Hay, of Global TV, featured Reading in the City’s awesome volunteers, kids, mentors and Teacher Candidates in her “Making a Difference” segment.
The Joy of TYPE Books
Bookstores are magical places for children and adults alike. None more so than our very own TYPE books. So it makes sense that a short stop-animation video imagining what happens when TYPE closes up at night went viral in January—with more 2.5 million views in a few days! Check it out here.
Filming in the City Makes a Splash
When Filming in the City kids and staff made three unique films based on Newbery Award–winning books this past summer, kids’ author James Kennedy, one of the jurors of the New York Public Library festival, was blown away. Here’s what he said on his blog:
“From 1920s German horror to 1970s kitchen-sink realism! Is there nothing this camp can’t do? These kids are natural performers, the filmmakers nailed the understated grittiness of the book, and…wait for it… Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger”! Wonderful casting [in When You Reach Me], especially the Laughing Man…. Also: I like how two kids are listed in the credits as “bullies and set decorators.”
When You Reach Me
Author Rebecca Stead saw our film based on her book and wrote in: “Please tell the kids I absolutely love it!” Check out Filming in the City’s version of When You Reach Me:
The Graveyard Book
The second Filming in the City offering was a spooky, black-and-white, silent film version of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman, who describes himself as a “feral child who was raised in libraries,” heard about the film and immediately sent word to his thousands of Twitter followers. They came in droves to see our 90-second version of the book:
Filming in the City’s funny and inventive reinterpretation of Savvy by Ingrid Law also garnered rave reviews. “Sounds like magic in action to me,” the author wrote on her blog.
Great job Filming in the City kids and staff!