School & Library Visits

An experienced presenter who has been speaking at schools and libraries since 1994, Sue Farrell Holler’s presentations are interactive, engaging and often humorous.

“My presentations aim to honour First Nations culture and tradition while providing a sense of hope. My book ‘Lacey and the African Grandmothers,’ is set on the Siksika First Nation, which is just east of Calgary, and tells the story of how a young girl uses her talents to help women in Africa who are raising their grandchildren because the parents are sick with, or have died of, AIDS,” says Sue. It is a story of hope as Lacey tries to help both the African grandmothers and her sister, a teenaged mother who seems to be sinking into dispair. The story shows how one person – even if that person has difficulties of her own –  an find ways to help others. It is inspired by a true story.

Her picture books also have Alberta settings and a basis in fact. Both are stories set in rural Alberta that demonstrate the loving relationship between a mother and child as they do ordinary activities, such as going to the post office and going to the pool.

Elements in all three books work especially well with the social studies curriculum.

Presentations

Her presentations provide validation for First Nation’s students and cultural awareness for those who are not. As an introduction to ‘Lacey,’  she re-tells the First Nations’ legend of the ‘White Buffalo Calf Woman.’ It is a story of hope and peace. She brings a First Nation’s hand drum made by a young Siksika man and painted with the story of the white buffalo legend. She also brings a smudge bowl, and slides of the real places in the novel, and of the real people who inspired it.

School & Library Visits

An experienced presenter who has been speaking at schools and libraries since 1994, Sue Farrell Holler’s presentations are interactive, engaging and often humorous.

“My presentations aim to honour First Nations culture and tradition while providing a sense of hope. My book ‘Lacey and the African Grandmothers,’ is set on the Siksika First Nation, which is just east of Calgary, and tells the story of how a young girl uses her talents to help women in Africa who are raising their grandchildren because the parents are sick with, or have died of, AIDS,” says Sue. It is a story of hope as Lacey tries to help both the African grandmothers and her sister, a teenaged mother who seems to be sinking into dispair. The story shows how one person – even if that person has difficulties of her own –  an find ways to help others. It is inspired by a true story.

Her picture books also have Alberta settings and a basis in fact. Both are stories set in rural Alberta that demonstrate the loving relationship between a mother and child as they do ordinary activities, such as going to the post office and going to the pool.

Elements in all three books work especially well with the social studies curriculum.

Presentations

Her presentations provide validation for First Nation’s students and cultural awareness for those who are not. As an introduction to ‘Lacey,’  she re-tells the First Nations’ legend of the ‘White Buffalo Calf Woman.’ It is a story of hope and peace. She brings a First Nation’s hand drum made by a young Siksika man and painted with the story of the white buffalo legend. She also brings a smudge bowl, and slides of the real places in the novel, and of the real people who inspired it.

Choose a Presentation

This session begins with drumming with a First Nation’s hand drum, and the re-telling of the legend “White Buffalo Calf Woman” to immediately engage the audience, get their imaginations working, and make them eager for more.

The presentation moves to her picture books, “To the Post Office with Mama” and “To the Pool with Mama.” which are both set in rural Alberta.  Interspersed with reading the stories from oversized books, she describes humorously her relationship with her mother, and her mother’s belief and encouragement that she could become anything she wanted provided she worked hard.

The presentation also describes how to find the book in a library, title page, dedication, etc, with breaks for questions (and personal anecdotes) and stretches “to let the wiggles out.”

She brings along “artifacts” from the stories and enlarged photographs of the real people and settings, and loves to answer students’ questions.

 

General Activities/Curricular Ties

Social studies, art, language arts

Field trips to the local pool and/or post office, noting details on the way and how they relate to the story. Sending cards or letters to others, possibly in relation to discussions about empathy/compassion/helping others.

Both stories can be used in the “community” units of the social studies curriculum. (Both picture books are set in Alberta.)

Possible activities: map-making, comparing map in the front cover of To the Post Office with Mama with maps the children make, following the map as the story is read.

Begins with drumming and the re-telling of the legend ‘White Buffalo Calf Woman’ to introduce ‘Lacey,’ then moves into a discussion about the drum and what she has learned about First Nations’ culture through research. She generally reads from Lacey and the African Grandmothers – either a tense, emotion-charged scene, or a loving scene between Lacey and her grandmother.

When she opens the floor to questions, she puts out the seed that someone should ask about how she became a writer in Grade 4. “I use personal stories and lively anecdotes to answer questions, and always a child will ask me about Grade 4, meaning I get the chance to discuss my rather unconventional development as a writer through a penpal addiction,’ she says.

Discussion often flows into picture books, the writing process, research and/or the blending of fact and fiction.

 

General Activities/Curricular Ties

Social studies, art, language arts

Research; blending fact and fiction; using real places and events to inspire writing, editing process

Global community (citizenship)

First Nations’ culture

An interactive discussion with students (or adults) about writing as a career: What types of jobs are available for people who like to write? How do you get published? How do you prepare a manuscript? Discussion can encompass journalism, fiction, non-fiction, or all three. Also available for writing workshops with this age group.

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