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February 28, 2001

Prominent Children's Author Visits Alberta Schools

It was a whirwind three days of activity for Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch when she came to sunny Alberta in February for the launch of her latest book, Enough, or Dosyt, the Ukrainian-language version. During her trip, Marsha read from Enough to students at A.L. Horton Elementary School in Vegreville, Father Kenneth Kearns Elementary in Sherwood Park, and Afton Elementary and St. Kevin’s Jr. High in Edmonton.

Enough is a story set during the Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine, and tells of a young girl’s attempts to save her village from starvation. Our heroine, Marusia, encounters greedy soldiers and an evil dictator. She takes a magical trip to the Prairies of North America in search of food to take back to her village. While this is a heartwarming Ukrainian folktale about good versus evil in which generosity triumphs over greed, it also introduces the young reader to a tragic historical event. There are not many children’s picture books that show desolate graveyards, ominous clouds and weather-beaten crosses.

This may lead one to think that the subject matter of Enough is too serious for students of elementary school age, but the faces of the students showed otherwise. They were enthralled with Marsha’s presence, captivated by the story, and looked genuinely interested throughout her readings. Afterwards, they lined up to get her autograph. All this bears out Marsha’s assertions that she prefers “to write for children and young adults, because they’re a more serious audience” and that “kids worry about big issues.”

Elizabeth MacCallum of the National Post (Jan. 20, 2001) writes that “…Michael Martchenko’s spirited illustrations, full of specific detail right from the Ukrainian shawl lining the endpapers, give the story the weight of truth.”

In addition to the school visitations, Marsha was interviewed by radio stations CBC, CKER and the U of A’s CJSR. The Edmonton Journal set up a call-in number that made it possible to listen to a reading in both Ukrainian and English from a page of Marsha’s book. She ended her Alberta visit with a very well-attended book signing at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex where she was joined by Lubomyr Luciuk, author of the recently published Searching for Place.

The Edmonton Office of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex, the Ukrainian Bookstore, and the publishers of Dosyt and Enough sponsored Marsha’s visit to Alberta.

Dosyt, published by the Ukrainian Language Education Centre (ULEC), is the Ukrainian translation of Enough, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside. Both editions are illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

ULEC was established by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta primarily to develop educational resources for Ukrainian-language classrooms. Its most important publication is a collection of student and teacher resources entitled Nova: A Ukrainian Language Development Series. ULEC also houses a library of print and audio-visual Ukrainian-language educational materials (http://www.ualberta.ca/~ulec).


 

 

 

 

 

 

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