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Pat Skene

By Pat Skene, Doug Keith, Illustrator
The Whoosh of Gadoosh

For All Ages

THE WHOOSH OF GADOOSH is a powerful mix of gentle verse, magic, healing laughter, letting go and living- and most of all, HOPE.

"'We wish, we wish, Gadoosh, Gadoosh,
that we could all make things go whoosh,'
That's when Gadoosh just touched her heart
And pointed to Press Here To Start."

Press Here To Start

Interview with Pat Skene

ETC: Why did you write this book?

Pat Skene: I was compelled to write this book for many reasons. I love telling stories and I believe there is a special magic in everyone. I always wonder about the lives of people I see and I believe that each person has a unique gift to share, if they are given half a chance. And, I love to laugh! In my storytelling sessions at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children, I have seen first hand, the healing power of laughter for children and adults alike. Children love to laugh and think silly sometimes, and ‘Gadoosh’ gives them a wonderful opportunity to do both! I wrote this book to demonstrate that each one of us is empowered to ‘Press Here To Start’ and make a difference.

ETC: Who should read this book?

Pat Skene: Both children and adults will love reading this book. I believe ‘Gadoosh’ can entertain very young children with the brightly colored illustrations and magical qualities of the story. It can also be read by school age children who will have fun with Gadoosh’s ‘whooshing’ antics, while appreciating a more in-depth understanding of the story line. It is a story for the children of our time. It appeals to all aspects of society, including the inner city, which I believe is often over-looked in children’s stories.

ETC: When and where should it be read?

Pat Skene: Anytime. I have had wonderful times with this story, in group storytelling sessions, in classrooms with students sitting on and around my feet and in quiet times with a child in a big chair. Another option might be to include it in the school curriculum as an opportunity for teachers to discuss community/social issues with the class, or simply as an introduction to poetry unit.

After one of my school visits, one teacher wrote:
“The students were spellbound listening to the story of ‘Gadoosh.’ The students sat in awe, waiting in suspense and moving with the flow of your voice. They loved her purple hair and magic feet. They saved their “Press Here To Start” buttons for the rest of the year and even packed them in June to take home as a Grade 3 souvenir. Come back anytime!”
(Jane Nellis, teacher Grade 3 class, St. Patrick’s School, Ajax Ontario)

ETC: Why would they read it?

Pat Skene: To meet ‘Gadoosh’ of course and join the ‘whooshing’ caper! I look around and see so many social influences on our children today. I believe that stories can be medicine to help children develop socially and emotionally, which in turn, gives them the tools they need to deal with this ever-changing world. I wrote this story in verse to allow the rhythm to lighten the tone and provide a safe place to explore the multiple meanings in the text. And, I hope, the magic buttons empower children to ‘Press Here To Start” and have fun!

ETC: How will readers feel after reading this story?

Pat Skene: Warm and wonderful! I believe ‘The Whoosh of Gadoosh’ is the embodiment of having fun and just letting go. The story is rich in imagery, magic and has a wonderful rhythm, which effortlessly carries the reader into the adventure. It brings with it an uplifting message of hope and healing and community spirit. It tugs at our social conscience, as children of our time recognize a problem, act on it and make a positive difference in the world they live in. It provides a safe place to explore new territory or simply be entertained. It has a ‘feel good’ ending that reaches in and touches our hearts. I hope it makes children giggle and fall in love with Gadoosh. I hope it makes everyone want to open up their hearts, then open up the book to read it again.

Pat Skene

Once Upon a Time...
There Was a Banker

Ask Pat Skene to share memorable career moments and you won’t hear much about her 25-year banking career, complete with designer suits, high-powered meetings, world travel, bonuses and budgets with too many zeroes to count.

Instead, you’ll hear about the children gathered at Pat’s feet as she tells them stories. Recently, one member of her audience was captivated but painfully shy, so her friends served as emissaries. Pat recalls, “After the story, her friends came up to me and said, ‘She’s too shy to ask, but she wonders if she could give you a hug.’” Suddenly, Pat and the child were embracing, with the others joining in for a heartfelt group hug.

“As exciting as my career was, nothing ever gave me the rewards I get from children,” says Pat, who retired from the banking business four years ago to pursue her passion for writing.

An avid storyteller, Pat visits schools, libraries, the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, spinning tales for wide-eyed children of all ages. She is also a story inventor; her first children’s book, The Whoosh of Gadoosh, is scheduled for release in June 2002 by Illumination Arts Publishing of Bellevue, Washington.

“The children sit around me on the floor as I tell them stories, and they just can’t get close enough,” Pat says. “By the time I’m finished, they’re usually sitting on my shoes.”

Pat always dresses in her trademark storytelling shawl and injects her tales with so much enthusiasm that the spellbound children become active participants in the process. “Storytelling is a special magic,” she says. “Sometimes I don’t use a book or other materials, other than my shawl, which is a very versatile prop. I tell the story eye- to-eye with nothing between us. The story goes from my head to their hearts.”

The children’s responses have helped Pat refine her craft. “I’ve learned in my previous life as a banker, how important focus groups are to marketing and product development,” she said. So, she began her storytelling sessions in classrooms to receive real time feedback from children. She quickly discovered how eager they were to participate in the story development process and how much they love the cadence and symmetry of rhyming stories. And, of course, kids love fantasy and adventure.

The Whoosh of Gadoosh combines all these elements, even sneaking in a message of kindness and altruism. “Gadoosh is the embodiment of fun and just letting go,” says Pat. In this wonderful story, everywhere Gadoosh goes, she ‘whooshes’ colorful magic triggered by children’s laughter. Inspired to find Gadoosh a place where she is most needed, the children take Gadoosh to a children’s hospital.

Pat’s whimsical vocation seems such a natural extension of her cheerful personality that it’s hard to picture the business life that dominated her adulthood.

“I was the vice president of a bank, with thousands of employees over the course of my career,” she says. “I’ve supervised offices from coast to coast, traveled around the world, and found my way through a myriad of strategies and consultants. I was a self-professed workaholic and I loved every relentless minute of it. Twelve-hour days were certainly the norm, and I was on call every weekend. I made a lot of money, but at some point, the perks started to feel like golden handcuffs.”

The job was taking a physical toll, as well. Pat had developed lupus, a rare autoimmune disease that frequently rendered her fatigued and pain stricken. The hardest part of the disease was hiding it from her co-workers. “In keeping with my superwoman image, I never wanted the people at work to know I was in pain.

“One morning, I had an epiphany,” she says. “Although I was at the height of my career, I could see myself growing older without acting on my passion. I needed to write about all the stories that were locked up inside of my head, before it was too late.”

Initially, it seemed inconceivable to simply abandon all that power and responsibility. But Pat’s husband, Bob, and grown daughter, Chantell, strongly encouraged her to follow her heart. She gave a year’s notice to her employer to ensure an orderly transition. Pat’s new life had begun.

“When I walked away, it was the most incredible, invigorating feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” she says. “Having worked since age 16, I always felt a driving need to succeed in a man’s world, to make money, to put food on the table. But suddenly, I could do the things I wanted to do rather than the things I had to do. It was like I sprouted wings. I’ve never looked back.”

Today, she and Bob, also a retired banker, have exchanged their urban life in Toronto, for a country home in the idyllic setting of Cobourg, Ontario, just one hour outside of the city, but galaxies away from the boardrooms she left behind. They love to travel and linger over early morning tea. And now she has the time to write stories about all the wonderful characters who live in her imagination. “I have to say the last four years have been the best of my life,” she says. “Physically, I’ve never felt better, and I don’t take a single medication.”

Pat hopes that the sparkle she sees in children’s eyes during her storytelling will serve as a beacon for them to follow their own dreams. “I’ve never felt such a sense of peace and connection as when I’m with them,” she says. “It’s taken me a lifetime to find my way to this wonderful place.”