Spending the Day with Neil Flambé (and his creator, Kevin Sylvester)

13260525World-class chef Neil Flambé isn’t thrilled when his cousin Larry moves to Japan to work on an online manga comic book. Now who’ll help him in the kitchen? But he finds a replacement in Gary the bike courier, and life, and the restaurant, moves on without Larry. That is, until the news that life may have really left Larry behind—he’s been lost at sea.

Neil is devastated. But then he checks Larry’s online manga. There’s a subtle change in the plot, something Neil and Larry had discussed—something only Neil would notice. Is this a cryptic message from beyond the grave—or is Larry still alive? Determined to find out, Neil heads to Japan to solve his next mystery.

I firmly believe that one of the ways to interest kids in reading and, more importantly, to keep them reading is to expose them to the authors who write the books that kids love. When kids have the ability to talk with an author, they develop a connection the books that cannot be matched. To that end, I recently invited award-winning author Kevin Sylvester to visit with students at two local schools.


Photo credit: Lost in a Great Book and Kevin Sylvester

Kevin’s a great guest to have for school visits. Not only is he energetic and positive (even with a persistent head cold!), but also fully engaged with the students during his whole presentation. After explaining a little bit about his background (did you know he’s a Buffalo Sabres fan? Ahem. Well, no one’s perfect), he introduced his books, both fiction and non-fiction before leading into his Life Lessons. Using really great examples from his books – such as anecdotes from “Gold Medal for Weird” about the Olympics and character quotes from Neil Flambé – Kevin led the kids into creating a list of short life coaching lines (‘Learn Spanish’ and ‘pay attention’ are only two of many).

Following that, he gave a lively and funny presentation to the kids on cartooning. Using loose drawing and some simple shapes, he broke down familiar objects (cats, birds, etc.) into objects that they could all draw themselves. The students at both schools were entranced, and their teachers have reported back that there have been many drawings in the past few days using loose circles, triangles and ice cream cones that have developed into some pretty amazing things. On a side note – even I picked up something as I now understand the difference between the “Hello Kitty” cat and standard cat drawing (hint: it’s all in the placement of the eye dots).

Interested in learning how Kevin draws the main character from his series? Check out this video, courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada.


Photo credit: Lost in a Great Book and Kevin Sylvester

Afterwards, Kevin took the time to meet with the kids one-on-one, to sign books and postcards and to have his photo taken by his many admirers. The kids loved their personalized cards and books, as he takes the time to draw something different for each person. Thanks to Kevin, and to Simon & Schuster Canada for booking the time to come to see us – we can’t wait to have you back!

About the books: “Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders” has won the 2011 Silver Birch Award, “Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction” was named a 2012 Silver Birch Honour Book, and Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse is nominated for the 2013 Silver Birch Award. Kevin has also illustrated the 2012 Silver Birch Non-Fiction winner, “Don’t Touch That Toad”, and wrote the 2009 winner, “Sports Hall of Weird”. This year, he is also nominated for the 2013 Blue Spruce award for “Splinters”, a hockey Cinderella tale. He has two books coming out later this year – “Showtime” and “Follow Your Money”, and he is currently writing the fifth book in the Neil Flambé series.


Photo credit: Lost in a Great Book and Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester appeared courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada, and can be contacted via his blog at http://kevinarts.blogspot.ca – look for the contact link.To learn more about the Neil Flambé series, visit http://neilflambe.com. All of Kevin’s books can be purchased via Indigo, Amazon and, of course, your favourite neighbourhood indie bookstore.