CALGARY -- Calgary children’s author Lisa Bowes is used to in-person readings.

Bowes, a former CTV and TSN sports journalist created the “Lucy Tries Sports” series to encourage young readers to get involved in sports while developing a love of reading .    These days you’ll often find the author sitting in a lawn chair somewhere in Calgary, wearing a mask, separated by two metres from her audience, leading them through a curbside reading from one of her books

“We thought we could engage Lucy's fans and early readers to remind them about her mission to stay active despite COVID and obviously to keep reading, “ said Bowes. “So curbside reads is really an opportunity for us to engage with our readers, especially when it's difficult for us to see them.”

School presentations, often accompanied by high level athletes,  were a mainstay of her business as a children’s authour

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down those venues. Bowes was forced to look for a new outlet to bring Lucy’s sports adventures to her audience. She began her #curbsidereads  programs in May.

“It was that ability to see them in person that I have really missed,” said Bowes “I encourage all authors to try to reach out to people in their neighborhood to try and bring their books and their message and the importance of reading to their kids. It's so fun - it  gives me such a boost.”

While at first glance it seems an odd setting for a reading, the children sitting across from Bowes seem to take it all in stride.

Lisa Bowes

“They are great,” said eight-year-old Nickan Tarazy, who spent the noon hour Monday listening to Bowes read from two of her books,  “because you can learn a lot of sports hearing this this summer.”

The author says keeping in touch with her audience is about more than simply selling books.

“It really is all about keeping all of us happy, you know, happiness, reminding the kids about the importance of reading (as well as) the importance of them staying active.” said Bowes. “It's really also for my mental health, to boost me, you know, to manage to continue.  You need to persevere through COVID.”

Bowes produced a short animated video with her character Lucy teaching youngsters about COVID-19 safety.  It’s been distributed by teachers during online classes.  The books have also gained traction online, with readings done by provincial government ministers, as well as a number of NHL coaches and players.

The  “Lucy Tries Sports”  series focuses on the importance of play, and participation.  The books follow Lucy and her friends as they learn skills in different sports ranging from luge, to soccer, to hockey.

Along the way Lucy is guided by coaches and teachers. The series has been endorsed by elite athletes like Hayley Wickenheiser, and Catriona Le May Doan.  The “Lucy Tries Sports” series is illustrated by Calgary artist  James Hearne and published by Orca Books.