Champlain and the Silent One Press

The Medina Journal Register, the newspaper in the village where I grew up, ran a great article on Champlain and the Silent One today, including a lengthy Q and A that I did with the reporter.  You can read it here.

Some emails are even better than chocolate

If you know me at all, you know how I feel about chocolate, but seriously…this note from a local teacher just made my whole week.

Dear Kate,

I just picked up 45 copies of your new book – it looks to be exactly what I needed to help commemorate the Quad. 

I am only a few pages in and I am so impressed with the voice in which you tell this young boy’s story. 

I’ll be finishing it tonight, even though I have papers to grade…

Thank you, Miss Miller!  I just did a major happy-dance right at my computer.

In other news, don’t forget that you have a chance to win a signed copy of Champlain and the Silent One this week (just one copy…not 45…but still…).  Just check out this post and leave a comment by midnight EST this Friday to be entered in the drawing!

Contest Time!

His tribe calls him Silent One. He hasn’t spoken since his uncle died fighting the Iroquois. But in the winter of 1609, a new language echoes through the north woods. Samuel de Champlain and his Frenchmen speak of friendship and promise to help the Innu people fight their enemies. This time, Silent One must join the war party, journey far from home, and find his voice to save his brother and his own spirit.

"Kate Messner’s sense of American history and human nature is as strong as her clear, evocative prose. Her multicultural cast of characters truly comes alive in this wonderful little novel that gives one of the best pictures I’ve yet seen of that period of early contact."
                                          –Joseph Bruchac, Storyteller and Writer

My main character, Silent One, is silent for a reason; he had a vision and gave a warning that was ignored, resulting in his uncle’s death.  He felt like his voice didn’t matter.  Why use it?

But it does matter.  For all of us.

So here’s how to enter the contest.

Election Day provides us with an opportunity to to speak in a way that matters profoundly.  Promise you’ll speak by voting on November 4th. Leave a comment here, saying so, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of Champlain and the Silent One. If you mention this contest on your blog or website and link back here, I’ll enter you twice. Just send me an email (kmessner at katemessner dot com) with the link and let me know.

If you’re not old enough to vote, you can still enter.   Talk with a parent or friend who is planning to vote, and make arrangements to go with someone on Election Day to see what it’s like.  Leave a comment that tells me you’ll be someone’s voting buddy, and promise to vote when you turn eighteen.  And then do it.  (I’ll do everything in my power to track you down and reclaim your prize if you don’t.)

Now the small print stuff…

Due to shipping costs, you must live in the Continental United States to win.   If you’re not registered on Live Journal, please remember to leave your name (if you’re under 18, please leave a first name only to protect your privacy) so that you can be entered in the drawing. It’s hard to mail books to Anonymous.

The deadline to enter the contest is this Friday, September 26th at midnight EST — right after the Presidential candidates’ first debate.  I’ll announce the winner on my blog on Monday, September 29th.

Happy Monday Things

1. My new regional MG historical novel, Champlain and the Silent One, is available for pre-order on Amazon!  Seeing it there with a cover and a blurb and everything brings it one step closer to real.  The book is due out early next month, and  I’ll be signing copies at the Burlington Book Festival on September 14th.

2. The Cybils blog is active again!  If you’re a kid-lit blogger, consider volunteering as a panelist or judge for this year’s Children & YA Bloggers Literature Awards.  I served as panelist for the Middle Grade Fiction category last year and loved every minute & every page.

3. Espresso Therapy Ice Cream is really, really good.  (It it a testament to my self control that I stopped short of finishing the pint.)

The smell of new pencils

It’s a sure sign that summer is winding down…

Not only am I spending time in my own 7th grade classroom this week, working on some curriculum with colleagues, but I’ve also gotten a sudden surge of requests for information about my author visits from teachers and librarians who are planning for the new school year. 

I’ve just updated the part of my website that deals with school & library visits, and I’m excited about some new presentations I’ll be offering this year.  One is the hands-on, historical fiction writing workshop that I piloted last year with these terrific kids in South Burlington. 

Another new presentation ties in with the Champlain Quadricentennial — the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s voyage from Quebec to what is now Lake Champlain to encounter the Iroquois.  It focuses on the first contact between Native Americans in this area and the French explorers and fur traders, using my upcoming historical novel Champlain and the Silent One as a jumping off point. 

Click here to check out my updated list of school and library presentations.

If you’re a teacher, librarian, or home schooler looking for more 400th anniversary resources, here are some additional links:

Vermont’s Celebration Site

New York’s Celebration Site
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Quad Curriculum (includes Chapter 1 of Champlain and the Silent One)
A Quadricentennial Site hosted by Champlain College

If you’re a teacher picking your last few batches of blueberries and sneaking in those last morning swims this week like I am, I wish you all the best in these getting-ready days before the desks fill with students again.

Teaching the Quad

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has a fantastic reputation when it comes to staff development for teachers, so I was thrilled to be a part of today’s workshop called Teaching the Quad, helping educators prepare for the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s voyage in 1609.  I talked about Using Historical Fiction in the Classroom and gave my first-ever reading from Champlain & the Silent One, my new middle grade historical novel that comes out in September.  For me, reading out loud from a novel for the first time is a milestone that’s always a little scary but a lot of fun!

As the last speaker, I got to relax for most of the day and enjoy the other presenters — including biographer Willard Sterne Randall, whose work I’ve admired for years.  His Benedict Arnold biography was one of my first stops when I was researching Spitfire.  Randall and his wife have worked together to put together this fantastic website focusing on Champlain and the Quadricentennial Celebration.
Also on the agenda today – Dr. Fred Wiseman from Johnson State College, who shared parts of his new documentary about 1609 as well as information about some recent archaeological discoveries that may change the way we view the lives and culture of Native peoples in the Champlain Valley. 

Sarah Lyman from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum talked more about the museum’s Quadricentennial curriculum, a 200-page treasure trove for educators that’s available as a free download here.  It includes the first chapter of Champlain & the Silent One, as well as a sample chapter of the study guide.

Joan Robinson of the Flynn Theatre got us all up and moving around with some dramatic activities relating to the 1609 encounter between Champlain and the Iroquois.

And Roger Longtoe of the El-nu Abenaki Tribe shared his expertise on Abenaki culture of the 17th century and today. 

I was especially intrigued by the wooden shield he’s holding here, since it was modeled after the ones that Champlain describes in his 17th century journals.  No matter how many times I read the descriptions, I couldn’t quite picture what they looked like until now.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of today’s workshop for me was listening to the struggles of some other researchers who have delved into Champlain’s life and the world he inhabited in 17th Century New France.  Because there are still so many unanswered questions about this time period — and so many controversial opinions — the Quadricentennial Celebration in the Champlain Valley is promising to be a time of tremendous scholarship, discussion, and discovery.