Last week, Bob Kronbauer, awesome editor-in-chief of Vancouver Is Awesome, dropped by the Wednesday/Thursday Crew to chat about their blog; answer questions about his own über-positive, über-popular site; and give them tips for how to improve the Wednesday/Thursday Crew blog.

What resulted was an internet show-and-tell, the kids showing Bob their favourite online past-times, and Bob sharing his own.

As a thank you, the kids wrote about Bob’s visit on their blog. Here's an excerpt:

[Bob] said that he chose to become a blogger because he likes Vancouver. He meets famous people and he interviews them. He checked out our own Wednesday/Thursday Crew Blog and had read it. That was pretty cool. We showed him Epic Rap Battles of History. We watched the videos and talked about how cool it was. We thought that the best one was Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking. Bob is such a nice guy because he donated us a camera, and we are so excited to use it and take pictures around our school. . . Thanks Bob! Vancouver is awesome and so are you!

Bob also wrote about his visit on his own site. Then the kids started posting some of the photos they took with the camera Bob donated, including this amazing stop-motion video! Then Bob wrote about that. So they’re pretty much blogging pen pals now. Which is truly awesome. Thanks so much for being a part of the Writers’ Room experience, Bob!
Jen is a freelance editor and the former managing editor of Color magazine. She began volunteering at the Writers’ Room two days per week, and when we needed a program assistant to start a new program, Jen stepped up her commitment to three days per week and helped a group of grade 6 and 7 kids create the Wednesday/Thursday Crew blog. She now spends almost every day with KidSafe kids, as she also runs GEMS, a KidSafe girls’ group at Nightingale Elementary!

Here’s how Francis, age 6, described meeting Jen, “We met her on the first day. Then she got our names. Now she helps me and Addy.”

Francis and Addy, age 7.5, interviewed Jen.

Francis and Addy: Do you like food?
Jen: I love food! In fact, I love it all so much that it’s hard for me to pick a favourite. If I had to pick something that I wouldn’t want to live without, it would have to be seafood.

Do you like to play?
I do. I like to play lots of different games, but not computer games. I’m more into board games or basketball or making up silly games with my friends.

Do you like to play outside?
You bet. Vancouver is the best city to live in because you can play outside all year. The rain can even make some games more fun.

Do you like to skate?
I can skate, but I can’t stop so I have to go round and round and round the rink until its time to go. Then I just crash into the boards. I’m sure you guys are way better skaters and stoppers than I am.

Do you like the Writers’ Room?
Of course! If it weren’t for the Writers’ Room, I would never have met you guys. Coming here is one of the best parts of my whole week. I love being read to and working on fun projects with you and all of our other buddies.

The Writers’ Room has been lucky that our friend Alexandra Gill, the food critic at the Globe and Mail who generously donated her time to our Art of Food Writing fundraiser in October, has now visited the Writers’ Room twice. 

She easily wound her way into the primary kids’ hearts through food, letting them sample a food that represented each taste—they even liked the sour lemons!

After talking about the different tastes, each child received an apple, and, before discussing the flavour, they described the look, feel and smell—and the sound of an apple? On the count of three, everyone took a bite at once. The sound of an apple is a resounding crunch followed by a room-full of mmms. Finally, the kids wrote about the apple-eating experience. Here's just one of the great works:

I Ate an Apple!
It looked like a heart.
It felt smooth.
It smelled like a rainbow.
It sounded like a nice cracking sound.
It tasted like sushi.
It reminded me of my dog, my house, candy, worms.
—Ana, grade 4

After spring break, Alexandra returned, this time to chat with the grade 6 and 7 students about food. Whereas the primary workshop was packed with kids and energy, the grade 6/7 workshop was a chance for the eight students who attended to spend some quality time with Alexandra, tasting, food writing, and sharing their thoughts with her on restaurants that the kids and the critic had all been to. That workshop resulted in some great writing, too, like this review by Taran, grade 6:

My favourite restaurant is Top’s on Kingsway. I had the sweet and sour chicken wings. It was very awesome! It wasn’t awesome after I ate the wings! I got more on me than in me. For dessert I had banana cream pie. It was very fluffy.

Alexandra promised to return again for more fun with food, and we can’t wait! Thanks so much for being an ongoing part of our writing (and eating) lives, Alexandra!
Photo by one of the kids in the winter break program.
Lucy Xie has been a dedicated Writers’ Room volunteer since the very first week we opened. She often tutors more than once per week, and she spent every day with us over the winter break! She even completed her women’s studies practicum at the Writers’ Room, during which she took on the role of communications intern, compiled and helped design the latest Writers’ Room chapbook, and set her hilarious sarcasm aside to master the super-perky Writers’ Room e-newsletter tone.

Ana, age 11, is not easily impressed, and even she likes Lucy: “I like her because she’s good at math.”

Shirley, age 8, interviewed Lucy.

Shirley: Do you have a cat?
Lucy: No, but my family used to have one when we were in China. I do have a dog right now, though!

Do you like playing?
I love playing all kinds of games! My favorite game is Scrabble.

Are you scared?
I'm usually not scared, but I am scared of a few things, like spiders (yikes!).

Have you had a sun burn?
Luckily, I don't burn very easily in the sun. But I did get a tan recently from wearing shorts in the sun.

Are you allergic to anything?
I'm happy to say that I don't have any allergies, at least none that I know of.

Do you go to school?
I do go to school. I'm a student at the University of British Columbia. It's a really big school with many, many students.

There isn’t a lot of fighting in the Writers’ Room—except for when it comes to Blaine Menon. Every grade 3, 4 and 5 kid wants to work with Blaine. And, somehow, he manages to make time for all of them, checking in with everyone about their latest test or trip to the aquarium before settling down to help a small group of enthralled tutees. Blaine is patient, kind and jumps at a challenge—he even baked cookies with a large group of girls to demonstrate equivalent fractions! And it doesn’t hurt that the kids think he looks exactly like Brady from Pair of Kings.

Here’s what Mico, age 9, had to say about Blaine: 
“He’s helpful, because he inspires the students and he does lots of fun stuff and he’s funny and he’s an experienced man.”

Donna, age 10, was very excited to interview Blaine for this addition of Tutor of the Month. 

Donna: How old are you, Blaine?! 
Blaine: I’m 19! Though turning a whole two decades this July.  

Where are you from, Blaine?! 
I’m from Gig Harbor, Washington. I’m in Vancouver because I go to UBC. 

Why did you join Writers’ Room, Blaine?! 
To work with sweet kids like you, Donna! And to convince everyone I’m Brady from Pair of Kings.

Do you have pets? 
Yes, I have the most amazing dog at home. He is a five-year-old golden retriever and my best friend. 

Do you have any brothers or sisters? 
This is sort of complicated. I have two brothers and two sisters, though technically I’m an only child (go figure). I have an older step-brother who teaches math in Indiana, and an older step-sister who works at a retreat center in New York. I also how a younger brother (age 12) and sister (age 11) who are growing up faster than I can believe. I missed them when I went to school, so that's part of the reason I decided to tutor with elementary school kids. 

Where were you born?
Nashville, Tennessee, though I grew up most of my life in the Pacific Northwest!