Coop the Great Five Ways

With Coop the Great on the MYRCA (Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards) shortlist, teachers and librarians  have found clever ways to connect readers to my down-and-out dachshund who eventually rises to greatness.  Here are four examples:

Sketchbook – Grosvenor School, Winnipeg, Grade 3, Ms Kristin Robbins class

Ms Robbins, my granddaughter Abby’s teacher, read Coop the Great aloud to the class, As she read each chapter, students drew in coil-bound sketchbooks she had provided. Each page had been divided into four boxes, and each box contained a sketch that represented a stand-out event, character or scene from that chapter. When I visited the class in December, students were eager to show me their sketches and tell me about their favourite moments from the book.

Coop models – Hastings School, Winnipeg, Grade 5/6, Ms Tracey Shields class

After Ms Shields read Coop the Great to the class, students crafted models of Coop, along with signs posting a message or theme from the story. Colleen Fowler, the school librarian, posted a photo of the models on Twitter to enter MYRCA’s win-an-author-visit contest in November.  When I saw the figures, I just knew I had to meet the artists who’d created them. Their signs said so much about what they’d taken from the story.

Fleece Dog Toys – Windsor Park Collegiate Library Learning Commons, Winnipeg

After reading Coop the Great and Missing Mike by Shari Green, both MYRCA nominated books, students met to chat about their reads and make make dog toys with fleece scraps from the clothing lab.

Winnipeg Humane Society – Windsor School, Winnipeg, grade 7/8

This message appeared on Twitter in December. “Today our MYRCA Club went to the WPG Humane Society.  One of the nominees, Coop the Great, is about a rescue animal. This was a great opportunity for us to make real world connections to the novel. Thank you so much to our guide, and to the animals we were able to meet.” Later, students followed the lead of the Windsor Library Learning Commons to create toys for the animals at the Humane Society.

Darcy’s Animal Rescue – Kristin Zaparniuk, Teacher, Louis Riel School Division, Winnipeg 

After reading the book, Kristin who volunteers at Darcy’s Animal Rescue Centre, a shelter founded by D’Arcy Johnston, snapped photos of Coop the Great in various settings around D’Arcy’s ARC and posted them on Twitter.   I had visited the shelter while writing the book, and used it as a model for Derby Animal Shelter, the fictional shelter in the book.  D’Arcy Johnston and canine mascot, Darnold also helped to launch the book so Kristin’s Twitter message had more than one special meaning for me. 

Darnold with founder D’Arcy Johnston at the McNally Robinson Launch of Coop the Great


  • maryloudriedger

    January 23, 2020 at 7:19 am Reply

    What an impact your book has had Larry and how wonderful to see all the creative ways kids and their teachers are responding to it.

    • Larry Verstraete

      January 23, 2020 at 7:33 pm Reply

      I’m just glad that readers seem to enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. There were struggles and rocky stretches, but in hindsight most of it was fun.

  • Josephine

    January 23, 2020 at 8:06 am Reply

    Amazing teachers always find creative ways to enhance learning!

    • Larry Verstraete

      January 23, 2020 at 7:34 pm Reply

      That’s the truth, and there is a lot of talent out there! Thanks, Jo.

  • gabe

    January 23, 2020 at 11:31 am Reply

    Just love seeing how the kids have embraced this little guy. What a doggone connection you’ve made.

    • Larry Verstraete

      January 23, 2020 at 7:29 pm Reply

      Thanks, Gabe. It’s been a great ride so far, and I’m thrilled that young readers seem to love the book.

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