Nationview PS students write children’s book

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Some of the Authors of “The Little Lonely Potato” pose with their book

A journey that started in January of 2022 has reached a significant milestone, as students from last year’s grade 4, 5, 6 class at Nationview Public School officially launched their book, “The Little Lonely Potato”. The book launch took place at the Nationview PS gymnasium on January 30, with a proud mix of students, parents, and UCDSB dignitaries in attendance.

“The Little Lonely Potato” began as a project not just to allow the students to experience the joys of authorship, but also to share a message that everyone is different, and that this difference is good. It was Jeannette Froese-LeBlanc’s grade 4, 5, 6 class that took on this expressive project.

“I guided them as they went through the process, but the ideas and the work is all theirs,” Mme Froese-LeBlanc told the audience at the book launch. “I’m very proud of their accomplishment!” The book was written and illustrated by students Teagan, Keira, Colton, Jacob, Wyse, Gordon, Molly, Colby, Skyler, Ethan, Fizza, Nikolye, Conner, Gabriel, Ellasyn, Preston, Tyson, Makayla and with help from Mme Froese-LeBlanc. In addition to parents, several representatives from the UCDSB were present at the book launch including Dan McRae, Principal of Equity and Inclusion, Superintendent Susan Rutters and Trustee Larry Berry.

Mme Froese-LeBlanc explained that the class brainstormed ideas and chose their audience and set about to write the children’s book. The students had to create original characters, and they made the illustrations for the book out of coloured clay, using knowledge of middle ground and foreground which they had learned in class. The class learned how to blend colours, use different layers, and construct certain critical things such as clouds using only clay.

“The students wrote the story and then divided up the jobs,” said Mme Froese-LeBlanc. “Everyone worked on something on each page. The book features everything from hidden animals to illustrations created from clay.”

“Once all the pages were made and the story written and agreed on, a group met at recess to photograph the clay tiles,” explained Preston, one of the book’s authors. “Then another group met over several recesses to crop and input the images into the printer’s program and the text was added. This project took five months and I think we did a fantastic job. It was also a great motivator for us to work hard on our French so that we can have the most time possible for art and working on the book. We would also like to thank Ms. McConnell’s class for taking on the job of PR and advertising! Members of her class also did the set up and were the door greeters, thank you!”

“I made all of the clay potatoes with Molly – actually, the idea of a potato as one of the characters was my idea,” explained Teagan, another author. “At first the class just added it to the list of character ideas, but I convinced them! It’s a really good idea. A potato is just a potato—it’s not a girl or a boy—or it’s both. It doesn’t matter—it’s a potato with feelings and ours met a lot of nice animals on the way from the garden to the pond. All of the animals are gender neutral, too. As a class we talked about how this book needs to include everyone and not say he or she, or someone might feel left out.”

“In fact by NOT saying he or she in the whole book, everyone can enjoy it and everyone will make their own connections to the story and the moral that we are all different and that is a good thing,” added Keira, another one of the book’s authors.

In response to a question from a student at the book launch, Mme LeBlanc was unable to say for sure whether the book will be published via mainstream publishers, but she asserted that she is confident the book is good enough to be distributed as such.

Currently, parents can buy copies directly from the online publisher used to create the copies for the book launch. Mme Froese-LeBlanc has that information for interested fans of the book. The school’s principal, Mrs. Candy Campbell, is looking into other avenues to get the book printed. “It’s very original and it has a great message.”

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