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Hoogie Attends North Bay Snuggle Up and Read Event for Family Literacy Day

Stephanie McLellan reading Hoogie in the Middle at J.W. Trusler Public School's "Snuggle Up and Read" event on Jan 29/14 in North Bay, Ontario

Stephanie McLellan reading Hoogie in the Middle at J.W. Trusler Public School’s “Snuggle Up and Read” event on Jan 29/14 in North Bay, Ontario

Our family loves Northern Ontario. My husband is from South Porcupine (near Timmins), and we’ve spent much time in beautiful Temagami in all seasons of the year. North Bay has been a long favourite pit stop in our trips north. When we heard that a little school in North Bay was holding a “Snuggle Up and Read” event at which they’d be sharing Hoogie in the Middle and Tweezle into Everything as family stories for those assembled, we decided to make the drive to take part.

Our son, Tristan (the inspiration for Tweezle in the stories) was writing his grade 12 World History exam at 8:30 the next morning (I was also scheduled to sign Hoogie and Tweezle at the OLA SuperConference at 9), so staying over wasn’t an option. North Bay is only about 3-1/2 hours from our home in Newmarket, but the roads were pretty challenging there and back. We all know what this winter has been like. While my husband white-knuckled some of the rougher patches, Tristan and I discussed Napoleon and Bismarck,  the Enlightenment and Renaissance Art, and before you knew it we’d arrived at J.W. Trusler Public School.

Families arrived by the dozens in their pajamas. The gymnasium was packed. The teachers had baked cookies, and we brought some Hoogie donuts (aka Timbits with sweet jelly inside … freshly baked by one of our local Tim Hortons).

What a lovely experience. There are few things finer than cuddling up with your little ones to share a story, and that’s exactly what all these great families did. We spent hours and hours reading to our own kids as they grew up, and all we have to do is crack open one of the thousands of books we own to have the memories of those times flood back. Tristan is a little too big to cuddle with in the same way these days (he’s almost 6′ 6″ … as the story goes, he did grow up to be big), but the stories we shared as a family wove through so much of our lives. We talked about the characters and the things they did and felt. We laughed and cried together, sharing the lives of these stories. Few events are as intimate or important in the life of a family as sharing a book together.

Pajama Press wrote about J.W. Trusler’s Spontaneous Snuggle Up and Read (held on Wednesday, January 29 … two days after Family Literacy Day) in the article below. You can read the full article HERE. Thanks to Debbie Woods of J.W. Trusler for organizing such a great event and inviting me to be part of it.

Trusler-2“A small school in North Bay, Ontario hosted a remarkable event for Family Literacy Day this week.

“Inspired by the Family Literacy Day booklist compiled by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a teacher at J.W. Trusler Public School decided to organize a “Snuggle Up and Read” event, inviting parents to bring their pajama-clad children to school in the evening for cookies, milk, and story time. The evening’s feature family-themed book? Hoogie in the Middle.

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“Stephanie McLellan, author of Hoogie in the Middle, heard about the event. Undeterred by a long, snowy drive and the expectation of a small audience (J.W. Trusler only has about 150 students), she decided to attend herself. The school staff, eager to welcome an award-winning author, spread the word to families, baked cookies, and acquired enough milk and books for a crowd.

“The next day The North Bay Nugget described the event, which ultimately included over thirty families—more than 100 people: “Children came in their pyjamas and brought pillows, blankets, and favourite books. Board superintendent Amanda Meighan also read the award-winning bedtime story, ‘Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That.'”

“Debbie Woods, the teacher who organized the event, described families using blankets and pillows to create cozy campsites on the gym floor while they listened to the stories. Stephanie McLellan called it “a fantastic event” on social media, adding that “Debbie had a goodie bag for every family which included a book…”

“Pajama Press salutes Debbie, Stephanie, and the CCBC for doing so much to encourage literacy and a love of books among children and their families.”

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