A world-famous author went out of his way to get up close and personal with children from three New Brunswick First Nations schools this week.
Robert Munsch, the Canadian author who wrote such children's classics as Love You Forever, Millicent and the Wind and Thomas' Snowsuit, appeared via videoconference at Eel Ground First Nation School outside Miramichi on Wednesday.
Peter MacDonald, principal at Eel Ground, said Munsch must truly love children.
"This cost us absolutely zilch, nada, nothing," MacDonald said. "[Munsch] paid the cost of the videoconference and he took time out, and the man is a busy man. That was very gracious."
MacDonald had been trying for two years to get the author to appear at his school, but Munsch gets about 2,000 speaking requests a year.
Eel Ground students and children from two other First Nations schools, Metepenagiag in Red Bank and Elsipogtog near Rexton, met Munsch halfway by opting for the videoconference.
The repetition in Munsch's narratives make them favourites for reading aloud. Students followed along, shouting well-known lines and giggling at the author's own manic and animated telling of the stories.
The children had the opportunity to ask the author questions on everything from where he lives— "A town called Guelph, close to Toronto, surrounded by a lot of farms with cows and chickens and corn and wheat," Munsch said— to his favourite of the almost 50 children's books he's published.
"I'd have to say Love You Forever is my favourite. I like it the best," Munsch said.
The author led the assembly of about 100 in a round of the story's famous lullaby.
Munsch left a permanent impression on kids: principal
MacDonald said Munsch's style of storytelling ties in well with traditional teachings.
"Legends in the old days were told by a grandparent or parent, maybe about someone who got lost in a snowstorm, and how you should be careful," MacDonald said. "I think maybe the kids can see the parallel."
MacDonald said the experience has left a permanent impression on the kids.
"The looks on their faces —and you can see the excitement in them — they'll own Robert Munsch inside of them for the rest of their lives."
Munsch's visit can be heard on Eel Ground School's podcast, posted on the school website.