Child Soldier. Sharing Michel’s story.

February 3, 2016 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment


Last spring I met Michel Chikwanine to discuss the fall publicity plan for his graphic novel CHILD SOLDIER: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War (CitizenKid/Kids Can Press). A smart, gregarious, friendly man, you’d never know from his joyful, positive attitude the kinds of horrors he witnessed as a kid growing up in the middle of a decades-long civil war in the DRC. He is dedicated to sharing his story about being abducted and forced into combat by a rebel militia group at the age of five. It’s a hard story to tell, but he knows it can help raise awareness of the issue and end the use of children in armed combat.

After our first meeting, I went to work ensuring that we got him as much media play as possible. I feel confident that we did as much as we could over the two months we had with Michel (he’s currently a very busy student at U of T). See links below.


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Michel joined Shad in studio at the start of his CHILD SOLDIER book tour (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)


Part of the strategy for this book was a book tour, and Michel gamely agreed to tour over 4 weeks to NY, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa for writers’ festivals and media. His New York schedule included an invitation from the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations to speak to the Friends of Children and Armed Conflict. With help from the amazing Alison Grand and her team at Grand Communications, Michel had stops at NPR, FoxNews and NY1 as well. It was a very busy two days.


Michaela and Michel outside the UN gates prior to his address to Friends of Children and Armed Conflict

One of the highlights from his tour were the back-to-back presentations he did in Toronto at the Toronto Public Library. The morning session was for students, with the Atrium of the Reference Library packed with kids from four area schools. Our host was YTV’s Carlos Bustamante and the illustrator Claudia Dávila joined Michel for the Q & A. CityTV covered the morning event in its evening news that night.

Part II saw the Atrium filled with an older, but no less enthusiastic crowd for an evening event that included co-author Jessica Dee Humphreys and special guest Lt. Gen (ret) Roméo Dallaire, who gave a heartfelt introduction to Michel — an exceptional honour and stamp of approval for the book as well. There is much more to come for Michel, and I was so fortunate to be a part of the book’s launch, just a small piece of Michel’s ongoing story.



Entry filed under: Kids Can Press, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

been a long time …

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