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January 27, 2013

We visit the Intergalactic Travel Authority to meet Gabby

IMG_0244We ventured westward today for our first visit to the Intergalactic Travel Authority, an out-of-this-world cafe at Bloor and Dufferin. The cafe was inspired by the 826 storefronts in America , which run literacy programs for young people. Apart from the usual coffee and baked goods, customers at the Intergalactic Travel Authority can also purchase black holes in cans, robots and monsters, plus BOOKS, the proceeds from which fund the cafe’s literacy programs.

IMG_0243Which take place through the cafe’s magical spaceship doors…

And we got to walk through those amazing sliding doors today because we were there for the launch of Joyce Grant‘s picture book Gabby, illustrated by Jan Dolby. (Joyce, a longtime literacy advocate, contributed a wonderful post to 49th Shelf this week for Family Literacy Day with tips for raising a reader.)

IMG_0242Gabby is a fabulous book about a funny little girl who must deal with the consequences when she drops her book on the floor and all its letters fall out upon impact. When she starts picking up the letters now scattered all around her room, she is amazed to discover that the letters, when assembled in a precise manner, start taking on a life of their own. With the C, A and a T, Gabby makes a cat, but then it needs feeding, and trouble starts brewing when the next letters she picks up happen to spell “bird”.

IMG_0245It’s a perfect book for Harriet, who is just beginning to understand how letters get together to make words. (Her partiality to the letter H, however, means that she’s not really bothered by the other 25 in the alphabet. Perhaps this book will help her get over that?) How letters with their individual sounds each have their own particular powers. Older readers will delight in guessing which words Gabby’s errant letters spell, as attested to by these kids’ reaction when Joyce was reading to us. The illustrations by Dolby are bright and fun, and subsequent readings reveal all kinds of hidden surprises.

IMG_0239Though we in our family have a tendency to like any place where the cake is particularly abundant, we had an especially wonderful time today at the Gabby book launch. We were happy to pick up a copy of the book and have it signed by author and illustrator (who kindly noted with her autograph that H is indeed for Harriet!). And a book launch at such an extraordinary venue? It isn’t every day when you get the privilege of walking through a pair of sliding spaceship doors.

Isn’t reading wonderful?

Gabby page 8

3 thoughts on “We visit the Intergalactic Travel Authority to meet Gabby”

  1. Laura says:

    Here in London, I volunteer at the Ministry of Stories (accessed via the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop), also inspired by 826 Valencia and Co.

    Rock on, Story Planet!

  2. m says:

    So great. I need to add this book to our library.

    (When we used to take long roadtrips, we’d play the letter game, where we’d have to name as many countries or animals or things that begin with a certain letter, and try to work our way through the alphabet. We never made it into the latter half of the alphabet, but it was a good game for the kids and building those early literacy skills. Sounds like Harriet would be at the right age to start it, especially if you begin with H.)

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