Fifth Annual Ghost Tour of Newfoundland Schools

Yikes! It’s the spookiest month of the year and I’m heading out to Newfoundland schools with The Hungry Ghosts of China, the Irish Banshees, the Jamaican Duppies and many other spine-tingling international ghosts.

This year I’ve added some local ghosts from The Ghosts of Baccalieu (www.theghostsofbaccalieu.com), the book I made with Tricon Elementary last spring. I’ll be telling children stories about the Old Hollies, Jacky-lanterns, ghost ships and even a spectral Newfoundland dog. 

I’ll be in the Clarenville/Bonavista area October 21 to 24 and St. John’s from October 28 to 31.

On Sunday, October 27 I’m giving a special ghost presentation at The Rooms for children ages 5 to 11. It begins at 1:30 p.m. Come and meet the Scottish Silky ghost and explore the world of things that go bump in the night!

There’s still time to book me into your school. Send me an email at chariscotter@gmail.com.

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October 4, 2013 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

Launching a New Book about Newfoundland Ghosts

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June 13, 2013, will mark the official launch of The Ghosts of Baccalieu—a book I’ve been working on with Tricon Elementary School in Bay de Verde, Newfoundland. The students there collected local ghost stories from their family and friends and drew pictures of ghosts and we made a book!

Last November I spent two days a week in the school exploring all the aspects of making a book with the children: storytelling, writing, editing, proofreading, design and publishing. It didn’t take long for us to discover that Baccalieu Trail may be one of the most haunted places in Newfoundland — the Old Hollies scream in the wind, dead fishermen row a ghostly longboat through Baccalieu Tickle, restless spirits lurk on the lonely barrens, and a woman in white appears on a deserted highway at midnight. The students  collected some very spooky tales that have been told and told again through many generations.

The project was made possible by an ArtsSmarts grant from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (supported by the Department of Education through the Cultural Connections Strategy), as well as the enthusiastic support from the staff at Tricon Elementary and members of the community who passed on the stories. I really enjoyed my time at the school—the children gave me a rousing welcome every time I walked into a classroom. They were especially fond of the Silky Ghost, and kept begging me to bring her back.

The Silky Ghost will be “appearing” at the launch party at the school at     1 p.m. on June 13. Members of the public are welcome. There will be selected readings from the book and the students drawings and book covers designs will be on display.

But be warned: you have to drive across the barrens to get to the school and there are some very creepy ghosts that hang out there, including a blueberry-picking ghost, a ghost that floats into cars, and a ghost that once scared a man so badly he ran home barefoot and left his new shoes behind.

The Ghosts of Baccalieu is being published by Baccalieu Books, a publishing company I have started to showcase books made by children about Newfoundland.

To buy a copy of The Ghosts of Baccalieu, go to this website: http://www.theghostsofbaccalieu.com.

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May 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm Leave a comment

Ghost Hunting in Newfoundland

I’m on the hunt for ghosts in Newfoundland and I’m hoping you can help me. Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you know someone who has? Can you tell a good ghost story? If so, I want to hear from you.

Every time I go to a school with the Silky Ghost and A World Full of Ghosts, the highlight of my presentation is when we turn down the lights and I tell two very scary Newfoundland ghost stories. The kids can’t get enough of Newfoundland ghosts, and neither can I. So I’m collecting ghost stories from all over Newfoundland to use as the basis of a book of ghost stories for children. I’m interested in traditional tales that have been told again and again as well as stories about apparitions that appeared to you last week: I want them all!

People have been seeing ghosts in Newfoundland for hundreds of years. Ghost ships sailing past foggy headlands, ghost lights dancing on the water, white figures flitting down the stairs, dark forms lying in wait on lonely paths. Since I already have quite a few stories from the Avalon Peninsula, I’m especially interested in ghosts from other parts of the province.

If you have a story, or know someone who does, email me at chariscotter@gmail.com.

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The Silky ghost terrifying children with a Newfoundland ghost story.

June 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

The Queen Makes a Winter Tour of Ontario Schools

The Queen in her coach, setting off for her Winter tour of Ontario Schools

After a rather trying Christmas, our dear Queen, Elizabeth II, will be making a bracing winter tour of Ontario with her favourite children’s author, Charis Cotter. There is nothing Her Royal Highness likes better than teaching little Canadians to bow and curtsey as she introduces Charis and her book, Kids Who Rule: The Remarkable Lives of Five Child Monarchs. http://chariscotter.com/kids_who_rule.html.

HRH has entertained children with Charis from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and finds it all a very refreshing change from her duties at Buckingham Palace.

Charis is also looking forward to visiting Ontario schools and engaging students from Grade 3 to 5 in the boisterous trivia game, RULE YOUR SCHOOL, as she quizzes them about the five child rulers in her book. This exhilarating game gets the kids on their feet as they vie for the enviable position of first place, when all the other students have to bow and curtsey to them. http://chariscotter.com/school_presentations.html#kidsrule.

Everyone has fun and the students leave knowing a lot more about Ancient Egypt, Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries,  and Tibet and China in the 20th century, all seen through the eyes of the young monarchs.

The Queen sincerely hopes you will choose to brighten up the winter at your school with a royal visit in January, February or March.

For more information, contact Charis at: chariscotter@gmail.com. Or go to her website: www.chariscotter.com.

January 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

The Uncanny Students at Holy Trinity Elementary, Torbay

Why uncanny? Because they were exceptionally well behaved, attentive and quiet while I was doing my presentations. So good it was almost ‒ well – unreal! Were they enchanted? I don’t know, but it was a pleasure to entertain four classes of Grade Threes last Friday.

Holy Trinity is one of my favourite schools to go to. They have asked me back every single time I do a tour in Newfoundland, and they always make me welcome. I was at the old school twice, and they told me it was haunted. The new school doesn’t seem to harbour any ghosts, but all those good children did seem a bit supernatural to me. The library is big and full of interesting books and cosy places to sit and read them. I noticed some inspiring quotes on the walls and strangely, a few black crows and a vulture perched on the bookcases.

I usually find that Grade Threes are the perfect age for my presentation, but with these children I caught myself wondering a couple of times if my stories were too scary. They gazed at me with their wide eyes, hanging on every word. One boy sat with his hands over his ears and a look of horror on his face, but I noticed he kept dropping his hands so he didn’t miss anything.

I heard that traffic was bad, because of construction, between Torbay and St. John’s, so I got there 45 minutes early, down almost empty roads. I stopped at a vegetable truck in the rain and filled my arms with huge carrots, parsnips, turnips and homemade raisin bread.

A good day. A fun day. But I still keep wondering, Why were they so good?

Thank you, Holy Trinity, and Happy Halloween to all.

Western Bay, Newfoundland, October 2011

October 23, 2011 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

The charming students in Arnold’s Cove

Sunrise over Conception Bay

Yesterday I packed up my ghost costume, my books and a lunch for the two-hour drive to Arnold’s Cove and Tricentia Academy. My first ghost presentation of the year! I drove along to the Isthmus, that stretch of land between the Avalon Peninsula and the rest of Newfoundland. A friend told me it is often wreathed in fog, just like the misty portal to the mythical Avalon.

Sure enough, there was fog as my car climbed up and down the hills. I drove in and out of it, and soon reached Arnold’s Cove.  Seventy-five students from grades 3 to 6 were waiting for me.

The Silky ghost was especially happy to get back to dusting children’s and entertaining them with her tales. She told of a little girl named Sally who lived in … Whitbourne, just down the road. Sally was a dreadfully messy child who never cleaned up after herself and whose mother was always nagging her to clean her room. When Sally finally did clean it up, the Silky came overnight and messed it up again, just for fun.  This is a popular story wherever I go, and the students at Tricentia were no exception.  I always try to make it local, but this time maybe I went too far?

“Sally who?” they called out. “What’s her last name?” I tried to explain that I would get in big trouble by revealing her identity, but they weren’t having it. “Tell me her father’s name,” said a boy as I left. “I’m sure I know her.” I didn’t tell him but I’m a little worried now.

If there is a little girl named Sally in Whitbourne, she may soon get a reputation she may not deserve.

Thank you to the students and teachers at Tricentia, for entertaining me in turn and making me so welcome.

October 15, 2011 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Newfoundland Ghost Tour: Year Three

There’s a crispness to the wind these days and the meadow grasses are starting to turn orangey-red. And out by the ocean path, where the broken old gravestones stand high above the rocky shore, strange shadows flit from stone to stone. I’m sure I heard footsteps behind me on the boardwalk this morning, but when I turned ‒ there was no one there.

Yes, it’s that spooky time of year again when phantoms are prone to wander, looking for unwary souls or ‒ looking for candy? You might hear an Irish Banshee wailing in the night, or (heaven forbid) hear the knock of the skeletal French Ankou at your door. Or you might see an Indian Brahmadaitya up a tree, or pass by an abandoned house where a Navaho Chindi is trapped forever.

The world is full of ghosts, and I’m happy to be bringing some of them to schoolchildren in Newfoundland during my Third Annual Ghost Tour, October 11‒21. I’ll be presenting ghosts and stories from my book, A World Full of Ghosts, illustrated by Marc Mongeau. The Scottish Silky ghost will be dusting books and children and telling spooky tales from every corner of the world. I’ll play a little Ghost Ball with the students using a haunted globe, and finish it off with two very true and very scary Newfoundland ghost stories.

Turns out that everybody all around the world loves a good ghost story. I’m booking now, so send me an email and I’ll come to your school, just in time for Halloween!

Charis Cotter’s Third Annual Newfoundland Ghost Tour: October 11‒21, 2011

chariscotter@gmail.com

September 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Hackmatack, Moose and Nova Scotian Hospitality

Driving the Cabot Trail

WOW!! Just got back from my Cape Breton and Halifax tour for Hackmatack. My book, Born to Write: The Remarkable Lives of Six Famous Authors, was nominated for the 2011 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award and  I was invited down east to tour some schools and attend the award ceremony.

I had so much fun and was treated like a queen by all my hosts. I got there in the middle of a rainy deluge, but I didn’t care. I love the East Coast, rain, fog, sun or snow!  The rain stopped long enough for me to glimpse the famous winding road, headlands and rocky beaches of the Cabot Trail, whetting my appetite for another trip soon I hope. I also saw my first moose of 2011, right ahead of us on the road, and snow banks (in May!) in the highlands.

The Giant Fiddle of Sydney and Me

I had a wonderfully warm reception from Chris Thomson and Tara MacNeil, from the Cape Breton Regional Library, who ferried me around and fed me and made sure everything ran smoothly at the schools. The students and staff were also very welcoming at the four schools I visited:

Cape Smokey Elementary, Ingonish

North Highlands Elementary, Cape North

Brookland Elementary, Sydney

Étoile de L’Acadie, Sydney

A bumpy little Dash 8 flew me from Sydney to Halifax, where I met up with the other Hackmatack finalists for a party and an exciting ceremony where the winners were announced. I didn’t win ― but yes, I guess I did, because being nominated for this great award means that students read my book and the whole trip was like a prize: meeting new book lovers, staying in a fancy B & B in Sydney and a haunted hotel in Halifax (TRUE!!)

Highlights

* The introduction from my presenter at the ceremony, Gwyneth Fountain, in grade 5 at Sacred Heart School: her enthusiasm about my book made my day.

* The funny questions from students: How old are you? How much money do you make?

Showing the picture of Madeleine L'Engle and her dog at Brookland Elementary

* The serious questions from students: Are you proud of writing Born to Write? What were the echoes from your childhood when you wrote it?

*Six pillows on my Princess and the Pea bed at the B&B and the stool I had to climb on to get into it.

* The pilot who said we couldn’t take off for Sydney because “the boys who are supposed to wave us out have disappeared.”

* Kate Watson, Scott, Steve, the Hackmatack board members and all the wonderful volunteers who make the Hackmatack reading program such a success.

* My fellow nominees, children’s writers from all over Canada: you rock!

The Princess and the Pea high bed at the B & B in Sydney

May 16, 2011 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Is the Silky Ghost from Edinburgh?

On Saturday morning the Silky stood in for me at Chapters on Kenmount Road in St. John’s, and told spooky international ghost stories to children for a couple of hours.

Everyone had fun! Two groups of children sat for 45 minutes each, picking countries on the Ghost Ball for ghost stories, and the Silky cooperated with tales from Jamaica, China, Finland, Africa and many more. All the books sold out!

One little girl’s family came from Scotland, which made the Silky just a tad nervous. She can be a bit embarrassed about her over-the-top Scots accent. But as the father thanked her and said goodbye, he asked if she was from Edinburgh.

“No!” said the Silky.

“Where are you from then?” he asked.

The Silky laughed again and dropped her voice to a whisper. “It’s a fake accent,” she confided. “It’s not real.”

He shook his head. I don’t think he wanted to believe it. “I could have sworn you were from Edinburgh.”

That got me thinking. Maybe she is from Edinburgh.

November 2, 2010 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

Grade 3s Rock and Rule!

There’s something to be said for finding the exact right age for a school presentation and a book. With A World Full of Ghosts, it’s always been Grade 3 for me! They’re at that magical age of 8, old enough to listen but young enough to see ghosts everywhere.

At Holy Trinity school in Torbay last week, I was treated to a room full of Grade 3s and the presentation just sailed along. I love that when it happens: the kids are with me every step of the way. At the end, when we turn out the lights and I warn them to sit closer to their friends, the room ripples with anticipation and then I tell the them the story that was too frightening to put into the book: The Old Hag, the ghost from Newfoundland.

I met more enthusiastic students in Paradise last week, at Holy Family School, and I also drove to Whitbourne Elementary. That must be a particularly haunted part of Newfoundland, because the kids were bursting with ghost sightings of their own.

On the pretty drive back home along Trinity Bay I saw an old business sign that gave me pause: “Job’s Insurance.” Hmmm. I wonder.

So now my Ghost Tour is finished for another year. It was a great success: I met lots of kids, sold lots of books, had enormous fun scaring them with my extra-scary Newfoundland ghost stories. I went to places I’d never been before (Paradise, Whitbourne, Mount Carmel) and visited wonderful schools with many ghost-loving students.

Just one more event tonight: the award ceremony for the St. John’s Public Libraries Ghost Story Writing Contest. The Silky is rolling up her sleeves. Rumour has it that the dust at the A.C. Hunter Library is shocking.

November 2, 2010 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

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