A local artist and longtime friend of author Sally Gilchrest-Unrau is doing a reading at Pembina Hills Arts Council on July 30 to support Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Group.
Sam’s Weird Afternoon follows a little boy named Sam. Every day his mom reminds him to put his shoes away after he takes them off, but Sam doesn’t do that. One weird afternoon he finds that he can’t take off his shoes, and different shoes start appearing on his feet until the room is filled with shoes, leaving Sam to deal with the aftermath.
Gilchrest-Unrau published Sam’s Weird Afternoon in 2010, and spent a lot of time that year promoting it, doing readings around the region. “She was a crafter and a quilter, just a very creative spirit,” longtime friend Tammy Hendrickx said. “At the time Sally wrote this book, she told me a lot about it. I don’t know if she had more stories, but this was the one that was important to her. She worked really hard on it.”
Gilchrest-Unrau died of cancer in 2015. “She was a well-known community member,” Hendrickx said. “She worked with children a lot and this was kind of her dream. She’d read a lot of books to children in her time and this was one story that she had in the back of her mind to publish.”
Hendrickx said Gilchrest-Unrau’s husband mentioned that he still had a bunch of her books left, and asked Hendrickx what they should do with them. “He said, ‘I don’t want to make money with them or anything,’” Hendrickx said. “I said what if we did a reading and all the proceeds go to something?”
Hendrickx approached South Central Cancer Resource, who suggested she pick a cause that would benefit children. They suggested Candlelighters, and Hendrickx said it turned out to be a good cause to support.
Candlelighters recently took a trip to Winnipeg to take kids to the movies, and had facepainting and other activities there. “I think [they’re] very important,” Hendrickx said. “These children got to go with their friends, people who they feel comfortable with, and have a lot of fun. When you’re in that boat together it’s great to support each other, and just looking at the pictures it looks like they had a great time.”
There will be copies of Sam’s Weird Afternoon available to purchase for $7, and all proceeds will be going to the Candlelighters. The reading takes place at Pembina Hills Arts Council at 12:15 p.m. on July 30.
Leading up to the reading, a sculpture of Sam will be hiding in the art gallery. He’ll be on a new shelf every day and if kids find him, they can enter a draw. The name of the winner will be drawn at the reading, and they will win a copy of the book and a pair of purple shoelaces that Sam has in the book.
The 30th also kicks off a new art program for kids, so families can come earlier to hear a reading of Sam’s Weird Afternoon.