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Sheree Fitch

Sheree Fitch was born in Ottawa, Ontario on December 3, 1956, and she grew up primarily in Miramichi, Fredericton, and Moncton, New Brunswick. She has lived in Washington, DC, and currently resides in Dartmouth and River John, Nova Scotia, with her husband, Gilles. Fitch has a BA from Saint Thomas University in Fredericton, NB. Her MA from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, focused on the complexity of childhood in Dennis Lee’s poems and studied the interaction between the oral tradition involved in the recitation of children’s poetry and the larger community. She holds an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Acadia, St. Mary's University in Halifax, NS, and Saint Thomas University in Fredericton, NB. In addition to reading and writing, Fitch enjoys time outdoors and pursues a variety of interests including theology, going to the gym, yoga, and gardening.
Activism: Fitch is a passionate advocate for education and social justice. She has taught literacy in the Arctic and Bhutan. In addition to participating in many readings and writers’ festivals in Canada, she has read all over the world in countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, China, Belize, and Mexico. Her book, If You Could Wear My Sneakers, was written in association with UNICEF and includes poems about fifteen of the fifty-four articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Locally, Fitch is Honorary Spokesperson for the New Brunswick Coalition for Literacy and for the Nova Scotia Read to Me Program, which encourages and facilitates parents reading to their children. Fitch’s Kisses-Kisses Baby-O! was given to every newborn in Nova Scotia in 2008. Each year Fitch sponsors a writing competition for New Brunswick Youth for NB Writers Federation.

Writing Career: Fitch had her first child when she was seventeen and was a single mother of two children by the age of twenty-four. Her first book, Toes in my Noes, was written for her then two-year-old son, Jordan when she was twenty. After many rejections, during the time she was a single mother of two children, it was published ten years later. Since then she has published many books, and has most recently written an adult novel, Kiss The Joy as it Flies. Her young adult novel, The Gravesavers is currently being turned into a script for a movie.
Fitch believes that reading and writing are important to life. Fitch has “faith in the healing power of narrative and art. To heal. To whole. To tell—to connect. With an other.”
Fitch notes how she does not see the world in an overly cheerful, nonsensical way. Rather, nonsense is necessary precisely because life is so dark. Therefore, it has a redemptive quality: “People think that if you write nonsense, that’s how you see the world,” says Fitch. “I have a different theory: it’s actually a dance in the light in spite of the darkness. I started doing [children’s stories] at one of the lowest times of my life.” (Quill and Quire.)

In responding to questions about writing for children, Fitch clearly notes that writing for children should not be easy and should be held to the same standards as other literature because children, like adults, deserve good literature. She states that language should be used in a way that suits one’s readers: “Words, Words, Words. Not puerile or bombastic, pretentious, precious, or unnecessarily mellifluous just because like me you can become obsessed with word music or sometimes think you need to show off vocabulary skills to prove your worth as a writer. The right word. The only word. The cadence of words. Become a logophile. Fall in love with every letter of the alphabet and see how they slide and swoosh together in words. It's not just what you do with words or what they do for you it's what words do for your readers.”
 

Awards and Honours: 

Leacock Medal for Humour Shortlist: Kiss the Joy As It Flies, 2009; Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award: Fiction Shortlist: If I Had a Million Onions 2007, The Other Author Arthur, 2001; Winner, CBC Young Canada Reads for The Gravesavers; Winner of the Saskatchewan Snow Willow Award for The Gravesavers; Red Maple Award Shortlist: The Gravesavers, 2006; Vicky Metcalf Award for body of work in children's literature 2000; Hackamatack Award for If You could Wear My Sneakers 2000; Silver Birch Award Ontario's children's choice for If You Could Wear My Sneakers, 2000; Anne Connor Brimer Award for Mabel Murple 1996
Canadian Authors Association Mariana Dempster Award for contribution to Children's Literature, 1995; Mr. Christie's Children's Book Award for There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, 1993; Atlantic Bookseller's Choice Award for Sleeping Dragons All Around, 1990; N.B. Writer's Federation President's Award for first prize for an unpublished collection of adult poetry 1988 (later to become basis for In this House Are Many Women).
 

Principal Residences: 

Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton, NB; River John, Dartmouth, NS; Washington, DC

Video Interview:

For a list of the questions asked during the below interview, click here.
Read the entire interview transcript here.