Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

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Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Author
Brantford, ON
Awards

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People (Winner, 2015)

Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award (Winner, 2014)

Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award (Winner, 2014)

Silver Birch Fiction Award (Winner, 2013)

Red Cedar Award (Winner, 2013)

Crystal Kite Award for the Americas (Winner, 2011)

Genres

Junior fiction (Ages 8-12), Intermediate Fiction (Ages 10-14), Middle Years Fiction (Hi-Lo) (Ages 10-14), Non-fiction, Picture books, Short stories, Teen Fiction (Hi-Lo) (Ages 12 and up), Young adult (YA) Fiction (Ages 12 and up)

Websites
Biography

Marsha Skrypuch (pronounced SKRIPP-ick) prides herself on being the only children's author in Canada who is a dyslexic princess, and has received death threats and hate mail (she also sold grinding wheels for four years, but that's a different story).

Marsha tricked her teachers into thinking she knew how to read until it all caught up with her in grade 4 when she failed the provincial reading exam. Adding insult to injury, they made her repeat the whole year. As the tallest and oldest kid in the class, she didn’t want to be seen learning to read with little skinny books and she was too proud to ask for help, so she taught herself how to read by taking out the fattest book in the children’s section of the Brantford Public Library — Oliver Twist. She kept on renewing it for a whole year.

Reading that book was a turning point in her life. She decided that she loved reading big fat fiction, and wanted to write it too. She devoured novels by the gallon.

Her grade 10 English teacher sent her to the vice principal’s office because she asked too many questions in class. She was placed in enriched English as punishment and loved every minute of it. She took a degree in English at the University of Western Ontario. She needed a language option to complete her degree but she wasn’t very good in French so she stupidly signed up for Russian. Everyone else in Russian class was a native speaker and Marsha didn’t even know the alphabet. She made herself flash cards and practiced each morning on the bus as she went to school. She got the lowest mark in the class, but she did pass!

Upon graduating, she backpacked around Europe, and then took the first job she could get when she got home: selling industrial supplies. She was the first woman in Canada to sell industrial supplies. Marsha taught herself how to design grinding wheels, recommend drills and so on.

While selling industrial supplies was interesting, Marsha never forgot her first dream, which was to become an author. She went back to school and got her Master’s degree in library science, figuring this would help her with research techniques. She worked as a librarian for a brief time, but then turned her hand to writing.

She wrote a big fat novel and got 100 rejections for it. She set that book aside and wrote Silver Threads. Expecting to be rejected 100 times as well, she sent it out a dozen publishers all at once. Within two weeks, three publishers had already approached her.

That book was published in 1996.

A year later, she went back to that big fat 100-times rejected novel, tore it apart, and rewrote it bit by bit. It ultimately became five separate books: The Hunger (Dundurn, 1999), Nobody’s Child (Dundurn, 2003), Daughter of War (Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2008), Aram’s Choice (Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2006) and Call Me Aram (Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2009).

Marsha’s had a book out pretty much every year since 1996.

Marsha prides herself on writing about those bits of history that have been shoved under the carpet. Her specialty is writing about how children are affected by war. Her settings have included World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Armenian Genocide, and the Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor).

In 2008, Marsha was personally bestowed with the Order of Princess Olha by the President of Ukraine for her outstanding contribution to the development of culture in Ukraine. And no, you don't have to call her Princess Marsha.

Presentations
Inquire about this presentation

Untold bits of history/how a non-reader became an author

Presentations by gradeMarsha is an extremely flexible presenter. No two groups are ever the same and no two of her presentations are ever the same. She likes to have a conversation with the audience rather than stand up there like a talking head. For this reason, she does not do power point. She likes to interact with humans, not technology. For most presentations, she works in why she thought kids' books were evil when she was a kid herself, and how she finally learned to read. Marsha talks about why she writes on topics that have been ignored by others and why she considers herself a librarian/detective.

Here is an example of her themes by grade:

JK to 2: 30 minute storytelling sessions using her brand new picture book, When Mama Goes To Work:

When Mama goes to work,She wears her working clothes.She combs her hair,She packs a lunch,She takes her special bag.

When Mama goes to work,I wear my playing clothes.I comb my hair,I pack a lunch,I take my special bag.

This lively and engagingly illustrated story follows several children and their working mothers as they move through their day. From morning to night, through the daily activities of work and play, children and parents keep each other in their thoughts even when they are apart.

These two sessions take the place of one 60 minute session.Grades 2 to 4: 45 to 60 minute storytelling-in-a-box session using her chapter books, Aram's Choice and Call Me Aram. If you were Aram, what would you pack in your suitcase? Themes of immigration, multiculturalism, coming to Canada, modes of transportation, living in 1923, English as a second language.

Grades 4 to 8: The majority of Marsha's books are for this age group.

Stolen Child/Making Bombs For Hitler/Underground Soldier: bullying, World War II, immigration, coming to Canada, slavery, racism. Living in the 1940s and 1950s.

Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land: WWI, WWI internment operations in Canada, Quebec, immigration, bullying, racism, living in 1914.

Last Airlift/One Step At A Time: Vietnam war, fall of Saigon, orphans, polio, hospitals, living with a disability, English as a second language, immigration, racism, living in 1975.

Marsha LOVES doing writing workshops with this age group!

Grades 7 to 12: Marsha has four YA novels, her Armenian Genocide trilogy, The Hunger/Nobody's Child/Daughter of War, plus a stand-alone WWII novel, Hope's War.

Marsha LOVES doing writing workshops with these students!

Presentations by ThemeWWI internment of Ukrainians in Canada. Marsha's own grandfather was unjustly imprisoned in this first incident of Canada's use of the War Measures Act. She has written two books on the topic, a picture book illustrated by Michael Martchenko called Silver Threads, and a Dear Canada novel called Prisoners in the Promised Land.

Armenian Genocide – YA trilogy on this topic: Daughter of War/Nobody's Child/The Hunger. Also for younger students: Aram's Choice/Call Me Aram.

World War II – Stolen Child, Making Bombs For Hitler, Underground Soldier, Hope's War are all set during WWII in Ukraine and Germany.

Vietnam War – Last Airlift, One Step At A Time, the true story of the oldest Vietnamese orphan airlifted to safety by Canada.

Bullying – Marsha's books deal with new Canadians, and the issue of bullying is intertwined. Using examples from her books, she can talk about this issue. Marsha herself was bullied as a child and she can talk about her own experiences as well and how she dealt with them. Highly interactive – a conversation and brainstorming with the audience.

Immigration – Marsha Skrypuch's passion is Coming to Canada stories.

Ethnic Groups – Marsha has written books about Eastern European, Armenian, and Vietnamese immigrants. She can speak on this topic to students grade 2 and up.

Grades I will present to: JK to university and beyond. I love speaking at seniors' homes and doing keynotes for adults or kids.

Writing workshops? -- YES! I love doing writing workshops for students grade 4 and up.

Presentation type: Reading

Recommended levels: Junior kindergarten, Senior kindergarten, Primary (1-3), Junior (4-6), Intermediate (7-8), High school (9-12)

Fees: $375 + HST and travel per session

Inquire about this presentation

Storycrafting and editing techniques

Professional Development Workshops: Marsha loves giving workshops for teachers. She is open to any theme within her sphere of writing but especially loves giving workshops on:

Teaching history through fiction.

Engaging reluctant readers.

Teaching fun self-editing techniques to students in grades 4 to 12.

How to assist gifted student writers (of any age) without tearing your hair out in frustration.

Techniques for punching through writer's block.

Other topics upon request.

Grade 12 Writers' Craft Workshops?

Absolutely! I love doing Writers' Craft Workshops.

Venues:

Marsha can present in a classroom, library, auditorium, elevator, tree or gymnasium but she prefers a library

Is this flexible?

Yes

List any equipment or other requirements you have:

A glass of water, lunch (egg salad sandwich on brown bread) if I'm staying for the day. A table to spread my things out on. A microphone for larger groups or in the gym, or if the room acoustics are questionable.

Presentation type: Workshop

Recommended levels: Junior (4-6), Intermediate (7-8), High school (9-12)

Fees: $375 + HST and travel