Debby Waldman's Blog

School Visits

Writing Workshops
All workshops and presentations are designed for students in Divisions 1 and 2

Start With A Question
A newspaper reporter by training, Debby will help students develop questions using the “the five Ws and the H” (who, what, why, where, when, and how), guide them through an interview, and teach them to turn their answers into a news story.

Writing Folktales: Making Something New From Something Old
Folktales are among the most durable stories we have: they’ve survived centuries of telling and re-telling. In this workshop, Debby, whose picture books are based on folk tales, will teach students to write their own versions of an existing story. The first session will involve looking at different versions of existing folk tales and brainstorming ideas. Students will spend the sessions writing, sharing, and editing.

One-Hour Presentations, Including a Reading  

The Four Cs – Conflict Resolution, Cooperation, Consensus Building, and Clever Rachel
Clever Rachel, set in a 19th-century Eastern European village, is about two schoolchildren who discover that they can accomplish more when they work together than when they waste time arguing about who is smarter. Debby will encourage students to address some of the main issues of the story, including the difference between “cleverness” and “wisdom” and whether Rachel and her friend, Jacob, are truly wise. A turning point in Clever Rachel is when the characters apologize to each other. Part of the discussion will focus on acknowledging when we’ve erred, how to apologize, and moving on to work together and accomplish great things.

The Dangers of Gossip
Modern technology has made it easy to spread gossip with the click of a button, sometimes leading to devastating effects. A Sack Full of Feathers, which unfolds in a 19th century Eastern European village, is about Yankel, a boy who loves to gossip. Even though his intentions are to entertain, his stories cause more trouble than he can imagine. In this workshop, Debby will engage the students in a lively discussion to encourage them to think about how and why stories change as they’re repeated, and why it’s important not to tell stories about others, even if they seem true. As a follow-up activity, students may want to create posters with pictures, sayings, or poems, to display in the school as a reminder of the dangers of gossip.

Clean Your Room!
This presentation is designed for preschoolers and Division I students. Room Enough for Daisy, co-written with Rita Feutl, is about Daisy, a little girl whose room is so cluttered she can neither find anything she needs nor appreciate what she has. Debby will put up a felt board cluttered with Daisy’s possessions. She will then invite the students to suggest what Daisy can get rid of and what she needs, and will rearrange the felt board accordingly. If there are fewer than 25 students at the presentation, the students will be invited to approach the felt board and make their own changes to the “room.”

A Picture Book is Born
Using PowerPoint slides, rough sketches from early drafts, and book galleys, Debby will take students through every step of the creative and publication process, from finding an idea and developing it into a polished manuscript, to working with an editor and illustrator, to seeing the final version in both hardcover and paperback. Students have a chance to examine the book at every step of the process, and also to see the different versions, including Korean and Chinese editions.

Rates: $350 for a half day, $600 for a full day, plus expenses.
Available to speak to large groups, but workshops are limited to 25 students.

Reviews and Feedback

It was so evident to the children that you are enthusiastic about your craft. Your presentation succeeded in making the writing process come alive.
— Krieger-Schechter Day School, Pikesville, Maryland

It was very captivating when you told us about your newspaper career and how you wrote about football. I also liked writing the character interviews from the book, A Sack Full of Feathers.”
—Nathanial, Grade 3

It was really nice to listen to you talk about your life and how you became an author and a journalist. When I grow up I want to be a hockey player but if I can’t I was thinking of being an author and you have reinforced that idea.
— Noah, Grade 3

I liked it when you explained how a book became a book.
— Evelyn, Grade 3

Thank you for your enthusiastic, informative, and thought-provoking presentations. What an inspiration you were for both students and staff! We really “lucked out” with our YABS choice.
—    Clara Tyner School, Edmonton

Thank you for taking the time to read your book to grades 4, 5, and 6. Both the students and teachers really enjoyed your presentation. Your book is excellent – a very important story for us all! Thanks again.
—    Windsor Park School, Edmonton

It was so lovely to meet you and hear your stories. We would very much like to maintain this friendship. Thank you.
The Thorncliffe Park Library Team, Thorncliffe Park Elementary School, Toronto

It’s been a delight having you visit our library. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your stories and best wishes on your forthcoming books.
—    Barrhead Public Library, Barrhead, Alberta

Reading Guides from the PJ Library
PJ Library Reading Guide for A Sack Full of Feathers

PJ Library Reading Guide for Clever Rachel