Featured Explorer: Catriona Spaven-Donn

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar new volunteers, Catriona Spaven-Donn. Catriona is not only a fabulous volunteer who has been helping kids and youth around Toronto through other organizations, she’s also a super cool human with many talents who has also travelled to Toronto all the way from Scotland.

Check out her responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: Living on Earth is pretty cool – we can be in urban environments with huge streetcar and library networks as well as loads of choices of places to eat and shop; but then we can also be in other habitats. Earlier this year, I lived on an island 4000 metres above sea level where it was sometimes difficult to breathe and the high pressure brought tremendous lightning storms. So far, I’ve found that Planet Earth is full of places to visit, people to meet, stories to tell, and adventures to embark upon.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: This year, I worked at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is the largest book festival in the world, and I was lucky enough to hear many great writers present their work. There were sold out events for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith, both of whose novels I have very much enjoyed reading. But rather than the sit-down talks with famous authors, my favourite events happened in the Imagination Lab, where we set up cushions and tables with crayons and arts and crafts for infants and children. There, I discovered Britta Teckentrup’s wonderful world of collage and peek-through story books while working with Grade 2s to produce our own artwork. Her children’s books, such as ‘Tree’, which follows a tree and its woodland companions through four seasons, are creative and educational, with a special focus on nature and wildlife and exploring this planet we call home.

3. Favourite writers: I’ve already mentioned a couple of my favourite fiction writers, but I also read other genres like poetry and travel writing. As you can tell from my Britta Teckentrup recommendation, I love books about nature. Kathleen Jamie is a Scottish poet who writes about the Scottish landscape, which makes me feel very connected to where I grew up in the countryside outside of Edinburgh, and also in the mountainous, windswept wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: Unsurprisingly from all you’ve read about me now, I love reading and traveling! I love going on adventures and exploring hidden away spaces, and scribbling words or taking photos while I’m at it.

5. Favourite Earth food: Anything chocolate mint flavour (but sadly also dairy-free due to dietary restrictions) and tortilla chips and humous. I’m all about the snacks!

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: For one comic-making workshop with Grade 4s and 5s, seeing the character we created collectively come alive in the students’ comic panels was really exciting. I enjoyed sharing ideas about glass-eating monsters and unicorn best friends, but the best moment was one earnest comic-maker shouting out to me at the end, “I’ll miss you!” It’s great to know that Story Planet is so valued in the classrooms we visit – and it also means we’ll just have to keep going back so they don’t miss us too much!