STAR Academy is now on Facebook! You can stay up to date with the latest news about Amanda Forsythe and her friends Derek, Evelyn and Sanjay by becoming a friend. Click here to join the gang and stay in touch!
STAR Academy has just been reviewed in Canadian Children’s Book News, published by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Here’s a link to the online version of the review by Trevor Froates. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/STAR+Academy.-a0213032588
N.B. The following is not my blog, but rather is a guest entry from Amanda Forsythe. Amanda has asked that I periodically allow her to blog on my site, and since so much of my content is devoted to STAR Academy and Amanda, I could hardly say no. I hope you enjoy Amanda’s occasional musings. Sincerely, Edward Kay.
“Hello. My name is Amanda Forsythe, and welcome to Day One of my diary. For those of you not familiar with me already – and I think that’s pretty much everybody, based on my knowledge of statistical probability – I’m 11 years old and live with my parents and my younger brother Daniel (who’s a bit of a pest) in Downview. It’s a small city in a mostly agricultural county known for the high quality of its turnips. I know, how exciting. I attend Grade Six at Downview Public School. The biggest thing there is the football team, the Downview Danes.
Neuroscience isn’t really my specialty (though I admit I’m a science geek) but I’d say that most of the guys on the football team are living proof that even modern helmet technology can’t protect you against brain injuries.
But that lack of intellectual capacity doesn’t affect the team’s popularity one bit. And another five or six years of taking concussions for the Danes will give the county a new generation of turnip harvesters, who will probably be both competent and content at their jobs, except for the occasional mood swing. So I guess it’s all for the best…
I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, it’s just that Downview is one of those towns where the school board puts such a high priority on the football team (”Go, Danes GO!”) that they spend the resources there instead of on other school programs like science, math, and the arts (they got rid of the music program altogether last year to save money).
They even have a giant head of a Danish Viking on the front lawn of the school in honour of the team. I don’t have a photo of it handy but here’s a link to a Viking head just like it (which I would publish except that it’s copyrighted material).
By the way, I tend to use a lot of parenthetical elements when I write. My English teacher says I should quit doing it, but it breaks up the flow less than footnotes, which is more academically proper, but most grade 6 kids don’t use them anyhow (and this is an outlet for my personal thoughts, not a thesis anyway).
Well, I’d better wrap it up for now. Tomorrow’s a school day and I’m putting together a project on photon-sail-powered interstellar space travel. It’s kind of a hobby of mine, figuring out ways to get out of Downview. Later.
For those of you who don’t care about reading your copy of STAR Academy while having a nice, long soak in a hot bath, it is now available as a e-book to upload to your computer. You can find out more by clicking on this link:
If you do upload it to your computer and still want to read in the bathtub, I suggest you drain it first, or make sure that you’re plugged into a CSA-approved ground fault outlet. Happy reading!
This week has found Amanda Forsythe somewhat distracted from her work on photon-sail powered interstellar space travel, due to the flurry of internet chatter and media reports about the impending collision of Nibiru, also known as Planet X. Since it’s slated to happen in 2012, Amanda is naturally concerned, since she was hoping to make it to her 14th birthday and beyond. Now, there’s nothing Amanda enjoys more than a good internet controversy (although actual internet conspiracy theories are more the domain of her pal Sanjay Dosanjh).
Still, Amanda thinks it’s an interesting enough topic that she’s going to do more research on it at the STAR Academy. She hasn’t had a chance to discuss it with George yet, who is something of an expert when it comes to previously unknown celestial objects. But it’s top of her list and she’ll have more to say about it in the coming weeks – coincidentally, when I am past my Dec. 15th deadline for the first draft of the sequel to STAR Academy.
Just finished a script for season 2 of Magi-Nation. For those of you who don’t know the show, it is a world unique to itself, with lots of fantastical creatures and possibilities. So much so that it’s a lifesaver to have the highly competent Dave Dias and Shawn Kalb at the story editing helm to help me keep everything real. Or should I say unreal. They know so much about the Moonlands that I’m beginning to suspect that’s where they go after last call.
Now, back to the first draft of the STAR Academy sequel…
It’s less than five weeks until I’m due to deliver the sequel to STAR Academy to my editor, Amy Black, at Random House / Doubleday. So it’s only appropriate that I procrastinate by writing about one of my favourite subversive passtimes, which is to sneak as many secret Canadian references as possible into the STAR Academy series so that people in other parts of the world will know about all the weird and wonderful things we do here.
I am frequently asked about the creepily Gothic location of the fictional STAR Academy as seen above. No one seems to think that anyone in their right mind would pack children off to school in a building located on a hilltop in the centre of a graveyard. Hence, they presume it is purely the creation of my warped imagination. However, the truth is that while I was delighted to borrow the idea, I was beaten to the punch by more than a century, and by fellow Canadians at that. Notby the creators of a work of fiction, I should stress, but rather by serious-minded educators, who, for reasons best known to themselves, decided that it would be an excellent idea to build a school that looks like it was last occupied by the Munsters, then locate it in the middle of a cemetery. Perhaps they thought that it would encourage students to pay attention to the blackboard and not look out the windows during class. As for those children who did choose to look out the window and daydream, I wonder what became of them? Could David Cronenberg have been a former student? Even he wasn’t, he should have been (he’d be a great director of a film version of the novel, come to think of it.) The point is, this scarifying edifice actually exists, and so far as I’m aware is still in use. I’m not saying exactly where it is, however, because I’d rather keep that mystery going a little longer, and encourage readers to solve that little bit of mysterious Canadiana on their own. Here’s a clue: the building I modeled the STAR Academy after is a different colour than the one on the cover of my novel. And I discovered while living in a region of Canada sometimes referred to as the Right Coast.
While I’m at it, there are a few other secret Canadian references in STAR Academy. One might wonder, for example, where the surname for those aviation-minded Zurakowski brothers came from. The Constellation Hall is largely modeled after the Great Hall at Woodsworth College, which was my college when I attended U of T. But the celestial ceiling design is inspired by an amazing church somewhere in Atlantic Canada (yes, you’ll have to do your own research on that too!)
As for George’s Studebaker Starlight, it comes as a surprise to many to discover that this very jet-age, futuristic car was built right in Canada in a little place that inspired Brian Eno in his sonic adventures, and which we in the Golden Triangle affectionately refer to as H_ _ _ _ _ town. There, another small bit of Canadiana mystery to be solved.
I will be in Ottawa on Saturday, November 21st for book signings at several Chapters Indigo stores in Ottawa and the surrounding area. Will possibly visit some smaller independent stores as well. It will be something of a homecoming (always an opportunity for neurotic reflection), as I was born in Ottawa, left shortly afterward – I had no say in the matter either way – and returned just in time to misspend some of my misspent youth there. While surviving the journalism boot camp at Algonquin College, I did internships at the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa magazine before joining a rock band and making that my career instead for several years (see aforementioned reference to misspent youth). More deets on signing locations closer to the date. Possibly more neurotic reflections too.
Was at the new Chapters Indigo branch in Milton, Ontario, yesterday to sign copies of STAR Academy. It’s a really nice outlet, just a few months old, with an intimate boutique feel. They actually have a working librarian on staff part-time in the kid’s department, which is something you don’t see very often – but I’d like to! Great idea.
The Vancouver-based Lyceum of Literature and Art has chosen STAR Academy for its Grade 6 reading program beginning November 25, 2009. The Lyceum was founded by Dr. Christianne Hayward and according to its site, the book club programs are designed to “help families interact around quality literature…to promote the sharing of values, effective communication around challenging subjects, and a love of literature in a warm and stimulating setting. Select books are presented to help families navigate through the ‘tough and tender’ issues they encounter throughout life.”
Very gratifying to have had STAR Academy selected for a program with such a positive goal. I hope that a Superior Thinking and Advanced Research experience will be had by all. If you’re interested, you can find a link here.