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September 15, 2013

We met Sheree Fitch. And that’s the least of it…

KissesKissesBabyOThey didn’t have Sheree Fitch when I was a little girl. But when Harriet was very small, someone gave us a copy of her board book Kisses Kisses Baby-O, and we loved it, its rhyme and rhythm, its simplicity and lovingness. Not long after, I learned that Sheree Fitch had written a novel for adults, called Kiss the Joy as It FliesI read it for a few days in darkest January, and I remember how it lit up my life.

I think we got Peek a Little Boo sometime after that, which fast became a favourite. Harriet loved the baby faces, we loved the song, and we changed the words so they said her name (“Amazing Harriet, how do you do? Happy Harriet, huggle-wuggle you!”) to hold her attention extra-fast.

mabelAround this time, Mabel Murple was being re-issued, which was immediately beloved and resulted in Harriet’s favourite colour being purple for some time (and the purple house on Brunswick Avenue is called “Mabel Murple’s house” still). We read this book regularly, as recently as last night, and also spend a lot of time talking about it and speculating about its extraneous story (like the shadow of Mabel’s mother which is visible on one page as Mabel gets in purple trouble).

There-Were-Monkeys-In-My-KitchenWe got Sleeping Dragons All Around, and while Harriet went through a period where she found it “too scary”, that was only temporary. She loves all things dragonish these days, and so the book is a favourite (and I would like to hang a plaque on my wall that says, “We dance in the kitchen! We don’t do the dishes”). Was Monkeys in My Kitchen next? I think so. We love that one too.

night-sky-wheel-rideI had become online friends with Sheree by this point. (I interviewed her in 2010, and had also read her beautiful collection of poetry for adults, In this house are many women.) We were the lucky recipients of Night Sky Wheel Ride, which arrived  in the post on Harriet’s third birthday. I remember literally dropping everything and sitting down to read it with her on our front step, and being amazed by it. “Can you hear the mermaids murmur/beluga whales sing/ feel the whirling stir/ of every little humming phosphorescent thing?” That line blows my mind every time I read it, which is often. Recently, we got If I Had A Million Onions, which is wonderful.

I am laying this all out to illustrate how Sheree Fitch has been a huge part of our family for Harriet’s entire life, which hasn’t been a long life (yet) but still an entire one (so far) which is not insignificant. In fact, Sheree Fitch is one of the things I kept in my pocket as we knew that Iris was coming, one of the parental things we’d have about immediately this time and which would make this babyhood oh so much better that it would be in a Fitchless world.

I am laying this all out because today something extraordinary happened: we met Sheree Fitch! We went to the Eden Mills Festival, which was lacking in sun but otherwise really lovely, and rain very nearly held off too. I managed to catch Saleema Nawaz reading after I had my lunch, but otherwise spent the afternoon in the kids’ area, partly because crying babies are better tolerated there, and also because the readers were wonderful–Aubrey Davis was a particular highlight.

IMG_20130915_142126But then. Sheree Fitch. Dressed in purple (naturally). Who actually stole my crying baby and calmed her down while the rest of our family listened to readings. Sheree Fitch. In real life!! It was like meeting a rock star. Oh, I was so thrilled, but this was only the beginning.

IMG_20130915_143417I took Iris back while Sheree took the stage to read Mabel Murple. And somehow, Harriet was standing beside her. Sheree began to read, and Harriet read along with her, the whole book memorized, finishing sentences, particularly emphatic upon her favourites: “I’m a purple person and I roar away my troubles!” “Skateboard scallywag, Mabel Murple’s on the loose (and they skedaddled)” And that purple teddy bear named Snickerknickerbox, who snored.

IMG_20130915_143434It was amazing. And not just because Harriet is someone I am particularly fond of, and because I am one half of the two people who have read her Mabel Murple 3000 times, but because it was wonderful to see, how Sheree’s joy is contagious, the generosity of her spirit, how her books performed aloud are more amazing than I ever expected (and my expectations were pretty high). Because a book can get so far into a little kid’s head, and because books are so incredible, and how wonderful are these days when we get to celebrate them together.

Because we met Sheree Fitch. And also because Harriet had her Eden Mills debut, which we certainly weren’t expecting. As I watched it all unfold, it was completely clear that this was one of the greatest things I would ever witness in my long, long joyful life.

11 thoughts on “We met Sheree Fitch. And that’s the least of it…”

  1. Carrie says:

    I love this!!!! And I love Sheree too!!! Hurray for Harriet!

  2. carin says:

    I can easily imagine how this was a most purpletastic experience! It was fun just reading about… Lucky Harriet. What a life she has!

  3. Sara says:

    What a great post! How wonderful of/for Harriet. Sheree is the best of the best!

    I once gave a reading at a school down east and then answered questions after. One of my favourites (asked in a tone of hushed reverence): “Are you Sheree Fitch?”

  4. Joan says:

    And yes hurray for Harriet!!!!!

  5. Kiirstin says:

    It was certainly the best book reading I’ve ever been to, hands down. Harriet was a rock star! Sheree Fitch was also pretty great, of course… Was also nice to meet you! (I was the librarian with rainbow hair and another Harriet at home…)

  6. Melwyk says:

    I knew I should have been at Eden Mills this year! Would have loved to see Harriet’s debut 🙂 Such a wonderful story, and such a wonderful write-up of your love for Sheree Fitch!

  7. patricia says:

    So sorry I missed this, but so happy it happened!

  8. sheree says:

    But I am the one who can’t believe I met t YOU ALL finally.. and it was the MOST magical reading of MAbel Murple ever. EVer. EVER. My heart. My heart. My heart. xo

  9. Ann Ross says:

    Most precious memory, for me and my daughter; Sheree was my neighbour, Christmas Eve, she invited my children and me over for a Christmas story, magic memory. Christmas elves and sharing. I love Mabel but Inkerpinkerpendoletonalexander Rumpole will always be my favorite elf.

    1. Kerry says:

      Sheree Fitch was your neighbour? Amazing.

  10. Meredyth says:

    I loved the video-your daughter was awesome. I had the pleasure of having Sherri visit in my class twice so know how magic she is with kids of any age.. I love your blog by the way!

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