Along the Way: a 12-part kids' book series
Written by Teresa Schapansky
Illustrated by Elly Mossman
For Teresa Schapansky, it all started with those crossword puzzles she used to compose for a television magazine. She was in her mid-teens at the time, and attending high school in Morinville.
“[I] have to admit that my writing spark had been lit, way back then,” she writes on her author’s website at teresaschapansky.com.
“That was probably the first spark, to know that I could do that. I could do things and become published. The word puzzles — and this was back in the early 80s — I think paid $30 a puzzle. You could imagine how exciting that was,” she affirmed during a phone interview from her adoptive British Columbia home.
Yes indeed, that spark was lit and has not only remained ablaze, it has been kindled to bonfire levels. The self-described lifelong bookworm has just released a new illustrated children’s book series that is not only fun to look at, but has educational and literacy promotion built right into every word.
Published at the beginning of November, Along the Way takes a cartoonish prehistoric creature named Albert on an explorative journey across the country along with some friends, starting right here in Alberta. Together, they all learn about history, geography, paleontology, and more throughout the 12 separate volumes in the series.
The books are designed to encourage young readers to broaden their imaginations and intellectual horizons, while honing their reading skills along the way. Hey, now I understand the multiple meanings of the title.
Schapansky cares so much about fostering children’s literacy that she wrote these books and is using them as part of a fundraising campaign led by Kids Strong and Free Foundation. A strong supporter of children's reading programs throughout Canada, she’s donating a percentage of the proceeds of these books over the first quarter to the Onoway Library.
Truth is, she also wrote these books for a reason much closer to home. How close? Well … as close as it can get, actually.
“My eldest daughter was nine. She could read, but she chose not to. That was so frustrating,” the bookworm revealed. “I wanted to guilt her into reading. I knew that she would read a story that I wrote, and it worked.”
That story was Imogene of the Pacific Kingdom, which seems to have had the desired effect. Schapansky’s daughter is now 30 and “still has her nose in a book,” according to the author.
“I've just been on a mission since then to encourage kids to read and then of course with the Along the Way series … it celebrates Canada. [There are] short stories and there's facts and there's points of interest all across Canada. I feel like I'm on a literacy mission here.”
Schapansky has a wealth of other books for children and young readers. The Coinkeeper series now has a handful of volumes under its belt, and each edition is produced to make it as easy as possible for the struggling reader to get into the stories and finish them as well.