In November of 1984, I was on a tour of the Canadian High Arctic sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the Canada Council for the Arts. It was a very long trip. (see MOIRA’S BIRTHDAY for a description of the trip.) On the last day I was telling stories at the Dene Reserve across the river from Hay River on Great Slave Lake. I could see the reserve from Hay River, but I had to drive a long way to get to a bridge. At the reserve, I was a new author and only three kids came. I was really glad that ANYONE showed up and I told a new story about each kid. 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. It was not very good, but Tina liked it. I sent her a copy, but I never got a photo of her. The dirty sox idea turned out to be a good one, and I kept telling sox stories. After about 5 years the story settled down, got good, and became one of my regular ‘tell’ stories. Then in 2003 my editor said “Hey! Let’s do the sox story.” “Yikes!” I had no photos to give to Michael Martchenko. “What to do?” INTERNET! THAT IS WHAT TO DO! I found Frederick Lepine, a Dene who has a photo and design business in Hay River. I e-mail him and say “Can you track down Tina and get photos of her when she was 6 and also take photos of the Reserve and Hay River and anything else you think might be good for a book.” Frederick is really good. He sends me a whole CD of wonderful pictures which I give to Michael Martchenko. All the buildings and backgrounds in the book are taken from his photos, as well as 6 year old Tina. Tina calls me on the phone. She is not a little kid any more, but she is really happy that SMELLY SOX is FINALLY going to be a book. I will be doing the book launch on the reserve on March 20, at the Sunrise Adult Education Centre, where the story started in 1984. Tina, who is now at school in Fort Smith, will be there with her 2 year old baby. I hope more than three kids come this time. Maybe I will make up another new story!
Written by Robert Munsch.
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Published by Scholastic Canada, 2003.