The book that changed your life: George Murray

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      The annual Word Vancouver festival is back again with a massively varied menu of author readings, workshops, and events, set to run at venues around town from September 24 to 28. As part of the runup, we asked some of the writers on the bill to tell us about the reading experiences that shaped them. Which books gripped their imaginations early on? Which ones showed them what words can be made to do?

      Here’s what Newfoundland poet George Murray told us. He’ll discuss collections such as Whiteout at a free professional-development workshop at 3 p.m. on September 27 at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch. He’ll also be at VPL at 12 p.m. on September 28 to read from his kids’ book Wow Wow and Haw Haw.

      While I am mostly known as a poet, I have four children and have been writing kids stories for about 12 years. I just never thought to publish any until now.

      When I was young, my favourite books were what are now considered classics by Gordon Korman, Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume, but were quite contemporary at the time. I vividly remember reading E.B. White’s Stuart Little several times, wishing I could be small enough to ride in a birch-bark canoe and have my own toy car.

      I read it and Charlotte’s Web to my youngest son last year, as I had read them to his older brother years before, and savoured again the rolling peacefulness of White’s long descriptions of weather, landscape, and food. Who says kids have no attention span?