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Story book ending

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River Reserve (Mar 08/04) - Tina Fabian says it's both a bit surreal and an honour. She's the main character in the latest book by world-renowned children's writer Robert Munsch.

NNSL Photo

Tina Fabian and her two-year-old son Nolan Beaulieu hold a copy of Robert Munsch's book "Smelly Socks." Munsch originally made up the story for Fabian during a visit to the Hay River Reserve 20 years ago. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The story of how she ended up in the book "Smelly Socks" goes back 20 years to when Munsch was a relatively unknown writer touring the NWT. His visit included a stop at Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve, where he read for just three children and made up a story about each.

One of those children was then six-year-old Fabian, and Munsch made up a story about her that has now become an illustrated book.

She says she does not recall a lot about that day in 1984. "I remember when he was telling the story about my socks and we were all laughing."

On his Web site, Munsch recounts the origins of his new book. "The only story that I remembered and wrote down was "Dirty Sox." Tina, one of the kids, had very colourful sox, and I made up a story where she kept switching her dirty sox for other people's clean sox."

The story eventually became what Munsch describes as a "tell" story, which he would recount at appearances. In 2003, his editor suggested the story finally be put into a book.

Fabian, who is now a mother of a two-year-old son, says it's nice to read the book to her child. "It's exciting because he knows it's me in there."

She is currently studying office administration at Aurora College in Fort Smith.

"Smelly Socks" is illustrated by Michael Martchenko, based on photos of the Hay River Reserve and the town and of Fabian when she was a child. Many local sights can be seen in the book, such as the Eh Dah Cho Store, Chief Sunrise Education Centre and the Hay River high rise.

Book launch

Munsch will revisit the Hay River Reserve on March 20 for a book launch of "Smelly Socks" and a reading at Chief Sunrise school. He will also read at Hay River's NWT Centennial Library.

"We're obviously honoured he would come up and do a reading at the school," says principal Brent Kaulback, who adds all students are excited.

Kaulback was present back in 1984 when Munsch first made up the 'Smelly Socks' story. "At the end of the story, he said, 'One day I'm going to publish that.'"

Munsch's visit to the NWT 20 years ago also led to the already published story "Moira's Birthday," which is about Moira Green of Hay River.