Oh the talent of Guelph authors.
Kira Vermond, journalist and author from Guelph has been nominated for the Yellow Cedar Award for her latest children’s book, Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular which explores the world of fads by showing how they take off, spread, and how they can be crafted to lure people in.
The book also shows how fads can even be dangerous and change the course of history. Vermond said she hopes the book will help kids make fad-savvy decisions for themselves.
“I’m so super excited about this nomination for Trending,” said Vermond about the book published by Owlkids Books in Toronto.
“For years I’ve been interested in fads, trends and why people follow the herd, so this book was a true labour of love.”
The Yellow Cedar Award is awarded by the Ontario Library Association’s (OLA) 2021 Forest of Reading program, the largest recreational reading award program in Canada. While many literary prizes are selected by adults, children vote for the Forest of Reading winners each year in May.
“A lot of people ask me how I came up with this idea. You know what? It’s always been at the back of my head,” said Vermond.
She said after some initial research she quickly learned that there aren’t any books in the children’s market on the topic of trends.
“Which I thought was wild because fads are so much a part of the fabric of kids' lives. I mean they live and love by these things,” said Vermond.
“It’s so much a part of who they are especially now when we have so much online as well. So many ideas and trends and fads happen online.”
Vermond said as she began to do research on the topic, she learned how much of a role fads actually play in everyone's lives.
She gives an example of how quinoa became really popular a few years ago. “It was a fad, we all ate quinoa for a while,” she said.
Vermond said because the fad took off and then crashed after a while, the question arises about what happens to all the quinoa farmers and those people who are directly affected by the industry?
“It can have really serious and far-reaching consequences in our lives,” Vermond.
“You always want to teach children lessons in a book like this but you never want to hit them over the head with it and you never want to seem like you’re some big adult coming from high trying to teach them something because they don’t like that.”
When presenting to children in the Forest of Reading program for her previous books, Vermond said she learned that when you tell a story, kids really pay attention and so she incorporated lessons about trends in the form of a story.
“That’s what gets them engaged. That’s what keeps them happy,” said Vermond.
The book also has a podcast that Vermond produced during the free time she had as a result of the lockdown.
“And I’d been wanting to produce a podcast for years, but never had the time. So when I realized that Trending would make for excellent podcast material, I decided to jump in,” said Vermond.
The podcast, The Buzz: Kids Edition, covers everything from Crocs and unicorn drinks to beaver felt hats and propaganda. She said music and sound effects help the stories come alive, which is particularly important for reluctant readers.
“I always joke that kids’ non-fiction authors are a lot like an opening band. We work hard to create fun and interesting stories, but fiction gets a lot of the attention,” said Vermond. “I adore fiction too, but it’s nice to see the Yellow Cedar Award giving non-fiction a little love.”
She said with so much uncertainty around children’s school schedules, she knew that a free, widely available podcast would help make her book’s material easily accessible to every child learning at home or in the classroom this year.
The winners of the 2021 program will be awarded in May.
Other Forest of Reading lists include everything from picture books for the youngest readers, to novels for teens and adults. Eric Walters, famed author and Guelph resident is also nominated for a Red Maple Award for his book, Broken Strings.