Karen Rivers

Karen Rivers

Red Cedar Book Award nominee speaks in Fernie

Author Karen Rivers spoke at the Fernie Heritage Library last week.

By Shelby Cain


The Fernie Heritage Library was at it again. A week packed with three separate events bringing nationally recognized authors to our special little place on the map.

On Wednesday, I attended a unique and entertaining presentation by author Karen Rivers.  The successful event was hosted by the Red Cedar Book Club, a group of local kids dedicated to reading, led by our library dynamo Anie Hepher.  The Red Cedar Club is a provincial wide initiative, and every year the kids participating award both a fiction and non-fiction book with the coveted “Young Reader’s Choice” book award.

This year, Karen Rivers’ The Encyclopedia of Me is one of the nominated books.  Karen drove from Victoria with her two children in the backseat, and braved the mountain passes and a nearly five hour avalanche delay to make it to Fernie. The silver lining?  Her kids got to make a snowman… something they had been unable to do during the unseasonably warm Victoria winter.

Karen took the same approach to her presentation as she did to her book.  She used the alphabet as a framework for drawing out details of her life.  Some funny, some incredibly personal, some just words to use as secret weapons in a Scrabble game. The kids were as enthralled by the presentation as they were by the book.  (Even after a Dilly Bar – thanks Dairy Queen!)

I asked Kate Brennan what it was that specifically resonated with her about the main character, Tink Aaron-Martin, in The Encyclopedia of Me. “She’s funny… but different.  She’s bi-racial.  You don’t see many characters that are.  I liked that.”

Rivers mentioned in her presentation that developing a character who was both bi-racial and the sibling of a child with Autism was something she knew she wanted to do right from the start.  Both are rare characteristics in kid’s books today, and something Rivers feels we need to see a lot more of. Her final message to the kids was to do what you love; it’s the only way to find true happiness.

The winner of the Red Cedar Award will be announced in May.