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Children’s author and playwright Emil Sher spoke to students at New Glasgow Academy

Emil Sher has strong family ties to New Glasgow. He spoke to students at New Glasgow Academy on Feb. 6, 2018
Emil Sher has strong family ties to New Glasgow. He spoke to students at New Glasgow Academy on Feb. 6, 2018 - Brendan Ahern

Students at the New Glasgow Academy English language arts enrichment group received a visit from children’s author and playwright Emil Sher this morning.

He spoke to students from grades three, six and seven about the writing process and about the themes woven into his latest young-adult novel, Young Man with Camera.

The novel takes a close look at the expression ‘what you see is what you get’ and flips it on its head.

“More often than not, it’s not the case. There’s so much more to what you see,” said Sher during an interview. Sher is based out of Toronto but has strong family ties to New Glasgow. 

As part of his presentation, he showed the class photos taken by celebrated photographer Diane Arbus.

“She took photos of people on the margins of society,” he told the class. “If you are marginalized, you live on the sides. Sometimes because of circumstances, or the way we’re treated, we end up on the margins of society.”

The novel’s main character is one of those people who live on the margins, but takes comfort in photography and the work of Diane Arbus. Following his inspiration’s lead the protagonist befriends others who live on the sides and finds that there is certainly a lot more than meets the eye.

Jill Fraser teaches English language arts at New Glasgow Academy.

“We’re speaking all the time about reading and writing strategies, but something like this to me instills a love for writing,” she said. “While they’re working with me they can reference that, and then they feel like authors—‘I’m doing the same thing he did, I’m taking a picture, I’m writing a story’.

For Sher, presentations like these are all a part of being a children’s author.

“If you have a story then you are a writer,” he said during a short interview after the presentation. “To validate that is so important. “Just write and express yourself. To encourage kids to express themselves is so essential to being heard and taken seriously.”

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