SONES: Last May I was invited by the city of Detroit to come and read from my YA novel in verse, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know--because the brilliant teens of Motor City had voted it their favorite book of the year. I would be speaking to an audience of 500 middle school and high school aged kids.
I’ve learned, over the years, that kids this age love it when I act as if I’m utterly embarrassed on stage. The more humiliated I appear to be, the more the more delighted the audience becomes. So, in my standard speech, I usually include a bit about how I learned how to make animated films when I was seventeen years old. Then I project a Power Point image onto the screen behind me--a still from an animated underwater fantasy I made called Just a Fishment of My Imagination.
I explain to the audience that, in this film, the clam in the lower left hand corner of the screen opened up its mouth and a smaller clam hopped out. Then that clam opened up its mouth and an even smaller clam hopped out. Then that clam opened up its mouth, and so on and so forth, until there were five clams sitting there. “Then,” I say, pausing for dramatic effect, “the clams sang a song.” I pause again, and finally I ask in a small trembly voice, as though mortified at the mere thought of what I am about to propose, “Would you like me to sing you the song?”
This question is always met with rousing enthusiasm by the audience. So, then I clear my throat and launch into a blush-worthy rendition of, “Down in the middy of an itty bitty poo, swam three little fiddies and a mama fiddie too. Swim said the mama fiddie, swim if you can. And they swam and they swam all over the dam.”
Now, in every other city where I have sung this song, the audience has listened and laughed, and applauded when I finished. But in Detroit--the home of Motown--as soon as I began to sing, the entire audience started rocking back and forth, and clapping their hands, and beating out the rhythm of my words with their feet. I have never felt such a connection with an audience before. By the time I got to the nonsense chorus--“Oomp boomp didum dadum wadum, choo!”--the whole audience was singing along with me! It was totally awesome. I can’t wait for my next trip to Detroit…
Put your hands together and come see Sonya on Y.A. Author Night at Vermin on the Mount on Sunday, November 7 at 8pm.