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One Book One Aurora culminates with author talk Saturday

October 21, 2021   ·   0 Comments

For the past nine months, Drew Hayden Taylor’s acclaimed novel Chasing Painted Horses, has weaved its magic across the community as the 2021 selection for the Aurora Public Library’s One Book One Aurora campaign.

Inspired by the Ojibwe author’s novel, which is described as a “magical, fable-like” story about a distant memory of an unusual little girl, Danielle, who leaves a lasting impression by drawing a breathtaking horse in a weekly drawing competition, readers have not only passed the book along to others, but used it as a muse for their own writing, photography, and discussion.

Now, One Book One Aurora will culminate with its grand finale this Saturday, October 23, with a virtual author talk with Drew Hayden Taylor himself.

“I think this was the absolute best book selection for this year,” says Reccia Mandelcorn, Manager of Community Collaboration for the Aurora Public Library. “Many of the books [in contention for the 2021 One Book One Aurora campaign] were very dark and during the time of COVID, people had so much on their minds, so much stress and tragedy in everyone’s life, my ‘beta readers’ in the community all wanted something that had meat in it, had substance, but was not depressing.

“I think because Chasing Painted Horses could be read on so many different levels. Like a fable, like a fairy tale, it can be looked at in terms of societal change, poverty, Indigenous communities…and it can be looked at from an artistic perspective, the whole aspect of creation and process versus product because it allowed people to read it in so many different ways.”

Throughout the duration of One Book One Aurora (OBOA) 2021, Ms. Mandelcorn says she regularly received emails from people who were relating to what they were reading. One email was received after an OBOA-hosted workshop on Birth Totems with Oneida Nation of the Thames artist Todd Jamieson who led participants in creating their own woodlands-style drawing based on their own personal birth totem.

“He spoke about creating birth totems from your own background so it was not cultural appropriation and what the meaning of the birth totems are and what they meant to him as an Indigenous person. One of the participants sent in a response and said, ‘That was just incredible. I felt as if my spirit had been cracking with exhaustion and that just filled me up. It was a beautiful way to learn about a beautiful culture.’ I have never had such heartfelt, non-solicited responses from people in the community.

“Our writing workshop with Marnie Maguire (on ‘literary graffiti’) had people from all around the world who participated along with our local community. There was one woman who had a British accent, we heard birds in the background and one of the participant asked, ‘Where are the bird sounds?’ She said, ‘I’m in Somerset, England, let me show you…’ and we looked at this beautiful magic garden. While you were sitting at home on your computers there was an expression, certainly, of community.”

Saturday’s author talk will be another extension of community.

Leading the discussion, Ms. Mandelcorn will share with Mr. Hayden Taylor some of the themes that came up as the community read his work, while the audience will be able to ask questions of their own through the Zoom platform.

“He is such an interesting man and such a literary presence in the Canadian scene, whether it has to do with his plays, his films, his novels, his political columns – it is the chance of a lifetime to meet him and even if they haven’t read the book, this will be an experience that people won’t want to miss,” says Ms. Mandelcorn.

“Personally, I really want to know where the reader exists when he is actually writing. I would like to know because he writes in so many different genres. I have received emails from people who have seen some of his plays performed almost 20 years ago. I would be very interested in when he is writing if he’s thinking about the reader at the other end. Is he writing for himself because it comes out as a process, or does the reader actually play a conversation in his mind as he is writing?

“We would love everyone to come out for this. We’re excited to be able to offer this. There are still copies available if you want to read the book and if you want to share the book and OBOA is over, pass it along to a friend or a neighbour. Just because One Book One Aurora 2021 will be done, the sharing of reading continues, so please continue to pass it on and let’s keep everybody talking!”

The OBOA Grand Finale, Meet Drew Hayden Taylor, will take place over Zoom this Saturday, October 23, at 2 p.m. Register at For more information, visit

By Brock Weir
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



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