GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Just in time for pride month, the Eden Mills Writers Festival (EMWF) will be hosting EMWF Kids: The Fabulous Zed Watson, a literary scavenger hunt of a lifetime, starring an endlessly endearing non-binary tween.
The Fabulous Zed Watson, co-authored by child-parent duo Basil and Kevin Sylvester, is a vibrant and exuberant story about friendship, identity and belonging.
The book features illustrations by author and illustrator Kevin Sylvester, and an own voices perspective based on Basil’s experience.
“The main character of The Fabulous Zed Watson is a non-binary character so we wanted to host it during Pride Month to show our support for pride and that no matter how you identify, you can be celebrated and respected and also represented in literature,” artistic director Nicola Dufficy explained.
The online event will be held June 15 at 10am and will be accessible through a Zoom link to be posted on the EMWF website at the time of the event.
The event is free for anyone to attend, however people interested in attending must pre-register before the event. Individuals can register right up until the event starts.
“The event is open to anyone, but we have been publicizing it to students who are learning at home or teachers who want to share it with their class and anyone who is interested in the book,” Dufficy said.
The event will include a reading from both authors, doodling, an interview conducted by Andrew Whitfield from the Hillsburgh Wellington County Library Branch and games, including a bingo card illustrated by co-author Kevin Sylvester, available to people watching the event.
“We really understand that books are a way for children to see themselves in stories so for any youth that are LGBTQ2s+ it’s important to have representation in the books that they read,” Dufficy explained.
“Or for children who don’t identify that way, we also know that books are a great way of opening them up to meeting different types of people and living new experiences through the books that they are reading.”
Dufficy said she hopes introducing children to a character like Zed Watson in a fun-filled adventure, who happens to be non-binary, will help them to be more inclusive and welcoming of different people that they meet throughout their lives no matter how they identify.
“I like that it’s not, first and foremost, it’s not supposed to be didactic and to be teaching kids about people who identify differently,” she said.
“It’s really about a good story and a chance for them to see a non-binary character in action.”
This is the EMWF’s second year of running virtual events.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been hosting events from the spring right through to October, with about two or three events each month.
“We decided to do it that way to be able to publicize books closer to when they were published,” Dufficy explained. “It offers an opportunity to promote so it’s been really fun doing it that way and spacing it out.”
The June event will be the final children’s event for the spring. The next children’s event will be hosted in October.
Events are free, open to anyone through registration and will be available in ASL interpretation.