Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers<br>La société canadienne des auteurs, illustrateurs et artistes pour enfants

NOTES from Past Meetings

To extend the content of our monthly Toronto meetings to our full membership across Canada, we provide notes from these meetings on our website.
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  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 1:49 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from April 10 Meeting; PANEL: S.K. Ali, Tanaz Bhathena, Karen Li, Jael Richardson (moderated by Nadia Hohn)

    Sharon Jennings welcomed the panel, and although she had thanked all CANSCAIP volunteers at the AGM earlier that evening, she thanked again the volunteers in the room tonight.


    Lana Button, our CANSCAIP liaison for IBBY Canada informed us about IBBY’s AGM on Monday, June 17 6:00 to 8:00, at the Toronto Public Library Northern District Branch.

    Werner Zimmermann In conjunction with a show of the art and studies from At the Pond, he will be having a studio open house, Saturday May 11 and Sunday 12, from 10:00 to 5:00 each day. The show will hang until May 31. Werner’s studio and Gallery Catch 23 is in Guelph at 23 Wyndham St South, second floor. Please visit: 

    Michele Nidenoff We currently have 22 illustrators confirmed with approximately 38 pieces of artwork for the CANSCAIP Art Show. The opening reception is Thursday, May 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 at the Canadian Contemporary School of Art at 109 Vanderhoof Avenue (Eglinton and Laird area). The show runs until May 31, and is open to the public Monday to Friday from 11:00 am to 7:30 pm, and Saturday from 9:00 to 12:00.

    Bev Katz Rosenbaum Bev will be offering writing for children classes for beginning writers in her home (St. Clair-Bathurst area). Each session is four weeks long. Classes are held on Thursday evenings and will run from 7:00 to 9:00. The fee is $100 + HST per session. The Spring session starts Thursday, May 2.  Advanced classes will be offered according to demand.  Bev is an MG and YA author; her new book, Who is Tanksy? is being published by Orca Books (September 2019). For more details, see

    John Corr This new CANSCAIP Member is having a book launch for Eight Times Up (Orca Book Publishers, 2019) on Saturday, May 4, from 12:00 to 2:00 at Hamilton Public Library, Central Branch. All are welcome! Story synopsis: Ever since his mom left, Riley has been a mess. When his dad signs him up for the martial art aikido, Riley meets much tougher boys, and Wafaa, a girl who is tougher than all of them put together. Riley comes to understand that it's not about winning or losing, but about finding allies to take on life together. 

    Kathy Stinson The Dog Who Wanted to Fly, illustrated by Brandon James Scott, published by Annick Press in March 2019. Kirkus Reviews calls it "A heartwarming story of the powers of affirmation and determination… expertly illustrated." Kathy is also conducting an evening workshop on May 6 on "What's Important to You as a Writer" for Kitchener Public Library -  at Country Hills.

    Kathy Kacer The Sound of Freedom (2017) and Masters of Silence (2019) are part of The Heroes Quartet, a four-book YA Historical Fiction series from Annick Press. The Sound of Freedom: Bronislaw Huberman, a famous violinist, rescued 100 Jewish musicians (and their families) from across Europe, as escape routes for Jews were disappearing. Masters of Silence: Marcel Marceau, one of the greatest mime artists of all time, rescued 150 Jewish children who were hiding in orphanages and convents in southern France. Books three and four will focus on women rescuers. Stay tuned!

    Marthe Jocelyn One Patch of Blue (Orca, March 2019): A wordless board book that follows the journey of one patch of denim as it escapes from a pair of pants and transforms into many other objects. One Yellow Ribbon (Orca, March 2019): A wordless board book that follows the journey of one yellow ribbon as it transforms into many other objects.

    Loretta Garbutt The Stopwatch (Kids Can Press, Spring 2020). A child remembers how he and Grampa used a stopwatch to time everything together. But now Grampa is gone and time has no meaning, but he’s closer to Grampa than he realizes. This story was a finalist in CANSCAIP's Writing for Children Competition.


    Nadia Hohn introduced our panel: SK Ali, Tanaz Bhathena, Karen Li, Jael Richardson 

    In this conversation about diversity in CanLit and CanYA Lit, Nadia began with some U.S. stats and facts: In 2014, 85 books out of 3500 have been written by African Americans. In 2018, the numbers were 202 out of 3,617. The numbers have grown significantly between creators of colour in 2014 to 2018 but the trend still remains. “As people of colour, we are still largely being written about instead of being the ones getting our writing published about ourselves. The numbers and sentiments are similar for First Nations and Asian Pacific peoples as well.”

    Here are the highlights of the panel’s conversation about their own experiences, how they found their voices and what the future holds.

    Jael Richardson  is the author of The Stone Thrower, and is the artistic director of FOLD (Festival of Literary Diversity).  She grew up with books she didn’t identify with, and didn’t see any writer who looked like her. Diversity means looking for a range of people writing and, for example, those who grow up in poverty can’t navigate the system and get into publishing either as a writer or an editor. It’s not just about colour.

    Jael was eventually empowered by authors she identified with. It’s about recognizing the power that you can claim to tell your own story. “When you read 10 stories a year and you aren’t in any of them, it’s a collective that says you don’t belong or you only show up as the bad guy.”

    Thoughts on appropriation: Jael wants people to consider the stories that they were meant to write. “Think about the books you’ve read recently and think about whose story is missing.” Jael is on a mission to elevate the stories we haven’t seen enough of.

    Tanaz Bhathena is the author of A Girl Like That and Beauty of the Moment. Growing up in India, there were no Farsi writers in fiction. She eventually discovered Rohinton Mistry and for the first time, discovered people who spoke and thought as she did. It was like being immersed into a different world. Even a recipe in his book amazed her. She thought ‘maybe I can do the same for teenagers.’ She didn’t know who her audience would be, but wanted to be real, in her voice.

    Thoughts on appropriation: Even when writing in your own voice, remember that your perspective is only one perspective. There are many other Zoroastrian voices from other walks of life and they should be represented as well.

    SK Ali is the author of Saints and Misfits and Love A to Z. As a Muslim, she found mostly negative representation for her culture. She grew up with books by Muslim writers but they weren’t children’s fiction. She realized she could define herself in a different way, and in university, decided to write in her Muslim voice. She felt emboldened when her prof liked that she wrote unapologetically. To find her voice she had to go against the grain.

    Thoughts on appropriation: Muslim stories have been told by others for so long. “Is it really your story to tell?”

    Karen Li is the Editorial Director at Owlkids, and has always worked at smaller publishing houses. She finds that they can sometimes take more risk with diverse stories. When children don’t see characters that look like them, they think they can’t do those things. Children are literal in how they are represented in the world.

    Thoughts on appropriation: “We are always wrestling with that. I like to have conversations with authors to see if they have given thoughts as to why this is a story they want to tell. There are many ways to have this conversation and editors should.” The most moving stories are always personal ones.

    There is a lot of desire to change the makeup of the publishing industry. Here are some tangible incentives: OAC (Ontario Arts Council) offers an internship to someone with indigenous background. Check out the Ontario Book Publishers Organization to see a list of priority groups.

    Nadia Hohn is the author of Harriet Tubman, Freedom Fighter, Malaika’s Winter Carnival, Malaika’s Costume. Thoughts on appropriation: “There needs to be a humbleness when writing stories that aren’t your own. We can’t be the experts on another’s culture.”

    After many thoughtful questions from Nadia, and lots of spirited discussion, Nadia thanked the panel, saying that she loves these conversations!

    Sharon thanked the panel, noting that S.K. Ali and Karen Li presented at 2018 Packaging, and Tanaz Bhathena is a presenter at this year’s PYI conference. She thanked the panel for an informative, consciousness-raising session. “Everyone has the right to tell their own stories and to see themselves in a book.” She closed with a reminder that it is CANSCAIP’s mission to offer professional development so that these needed stories can get published.

  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019 5:21 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from March 13th, 2019 meeting; SPEAKER John Martz

    WELCOME: President Sharon Jennings welcomed a large turnout for a chilly March break evening.

    Sharon thanked the volunteers in the room tonight: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Patricia Storms, Bill Swan, Rita Bates, Gillian O’Reilly, Jennifer Maruno, Jennifer Mook-Sang, Rod Murphy, Anne Laurel Carter, Loretta Garbutt and reminded everyone that CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto. 


    NOTICE of CANSCAIP Annual General Meeting:  Members and Friends of CANSCAIP are invited to attend and vote at our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre.                                       

    Helena Aalto noted that the much-anticipated annual Writing for Children Competition is now open. The entry deadline is May 31, 2019. Please see our website for all the details. CANSCAIP had a record-breaking number of entries last year. The competition is so popular because everyone who enters gets feedback from at least the first round of readers. At the end, the finalists/winners go to editors at Annick Press/KidsCan Press/Scholastic for feedback. Pencils sharpened and at the ready!

    Packaging Your Imagination 2019 is on Saturday, October 26, and we're back at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. Our morning keynote speaker is Itah Sadu, and Jan Thornhill will give The Claire Mackay Memorial Lecture closing keynote.

    Book launches: We’ve had many lately and CANSCAP is very happy to send out an e-blast. We send an initial blast, then a reminder the day before the event. This is a nice service CANSCAIP offers so please take advantage.


    Aina Anto, illustrator for The Moon Watched it All, picture book (text by Shelley A. Leedahl) for ages 8-12, Red Deer Press, February 2019. A poetic story about companionship after loneliness, and new connections after loss. 

    Ashley Barron, author/illustrator for Love You Head to Toe, Owlkids Books, March 2019. It explores the many ways babies can remind us of baby animals. 

    Ashley Barron, illustrator for My Forest is Green, written by Darren LeBeuf, KidsCan Press, April 2019. A young artist finds inspiration in his urban forest and brings the feel of that forest inside his home using whatever art supplies he has on hand. 

    Elizabeth MacLeod, Meet Tom Longboat, non-fiction for ages 6 to 10. Scholastic Canada, published January 2019, tells the story of an Onandaga runner who was the world’s top marathoner 100 years ago. Readers find out how he became such a speedy runner, why he gave it all up to serve in World War II and how Ontario celebrates Tom Longboat each year. 

    Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky, How to Become an Accidental Genius, non-fiction for ages 9 to 12, Orca Books, April 2019. Some of the world’s most important discoveries and inventions have been made by accident. The book includes biographies of more than 60 inventors and scientists and is organized into chapters such as “Pay Attention,” “Make Connections” and “Be Persistent” to give tips to kids on how they can become accidental geniuses.

    Jennifer Maruno announced that she went to McDonald’s and found Jennifer Mook-Sang’s book Captain Monty Takes the Plunge in her Happy Meal. What a wonderful side to her hamburger!

    SPEAKER: John Martz

    Patricia Storms introduced speaker (and friend) John Martz. John is a cartoonist and illustrator from Toronto. He worked in graphic design and television before following his true love of books and comics, and has been drawing cartoons and illustrations professionally for fifteen years. John’s career in books is inspired by childhood favourites such as Richard Scarry, Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee, as well as comic strips like Peanuts. John lives in Toronto where he is the Art Director at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers and Tundra Books. His work has also been in MAD Magazine, and at The Nib.

    John told us that he found his way into kids publishing through his love of children’s books. He shared with us his first comic for Canadian Notes and Queries and his early attributes for illustration and ideas where he created a Robertson Davies’ comic. John chose his favourite scene from Fifth Business for the comic.

    John calls himself a library nerd, and it was in libraries that he found books about illustrations and comics, which brought him to picture books. Machine Gum comics began as improvisational exercises because he enjoys playing with the form of comics – “you are tricked into following the panels in a different order.”

    John’s first picture book was Dear Flyary, KidsCan Press, 2012. A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories play with the readers expectation of how we read comics. (Koyama Press)

    In Evie and the Truth About Witches, John used his favourite Frog and Toad story as a starting point of format and size and the amount of text per page. He wanted to tell a ghost story that didn’t have a happy ending. John joined Tundra as their art director after How to Give your Cat a Bath was accepted.

    With Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, written by Linda Bailey, John created the art design in collaboration with Julia Sarda the illustrator. “I wanted the right level of darkness and beauty.”

    John took us through the process of designing a new cover when Tundra re-released a 20th anniversary version of Richard Scrimger’s The Nose from Jupiter. John roughed out a new cover by using existing art, then did some mock ups from other illustrators. He ended up with a drawing of a nose as a small space ship with a Martian inside and engine thrusts from the nostrils. Great way to make something old look new again.

    John keeps his fingers in many pies and also does political cartoons/Mad magazine/interactive ipad books, type design and has made fonts for other cartoonists along with greeting cards for Hallmark. Then there is that wonderful music video for Jim Guthrie’s song, Monsters.

    John Created a video game through @tea.caf, which was exhibited at TIFF KIDS. You can also find some of his fab work at:

    Best quote from John: “Art and culture is about empathy and connecting with people. It is more than just art – commerce keeps it moving. They don’t always agree with each other.” He finished with “it’s all in the mix and he is still learning.“

  • Wednesday, January 09, 2019 6:17 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from January 9, 2019 with SPEAKER Hilary Leung - Illustrator

    WELCOME:  President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone to our first meeting of 2019, and thanked the volunteers in the room: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Patricia Storms, Jillian Dobson, Bill Swan, Rita Bates, Loretta Garbutt, Gillian O’Reilly, Jennifer Maruno, and Jennifer Mook Sang. She reminded everyone that CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto. Thanks to Rita Bates for bringing treats and to Starbucks for their coffee donation.

    Sharon announced that David Booth died in December. David was an internationally respected teacher, consultant, professor, researcher, speaker and author, who gave the Claire Mackay Memorial Lecture at Packaging Your Imagination in 2016. He was an exceptionally brilliant and kind man. A celebration of David’s life will be held in the spring of 2019.

    We had five newcomers attend, a warm welcome to all. Please consider becoming a CANSCAIP member and we can show you the wonderful possibilities we have to offer.


    Thank you to Barbara Greenwood for the recent installment of CANSCAIP NEWS Winter 2019 (Volume 41). It’s 36 pages of jam-packed with good news! Please have a look on our website. Heather Camlot did a must-read profile on Allan StrattonDeborah Ellis’ PYI lecture is also printed there. Great reading.


    I Didn’t Stand Up by Lucy Falcone – debut picture book from Clockwise Press. Pub date: Dec/18. Stand Up looks at common circumstances of oppression that children encounter through the eyes of the bystander, until he or she becomes the victim.

    SPEAKER: Patricia Storms was very excited to introduce our speaker: Hilary Leung – Illustrator.

    Hilary Leung is a graduate of Sheridan College's Illustration and New Media Design programs. His self-published book The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear was licenced by Kids Can Press and available as a McDonald's Happy Meal book. His Scholastic board books Will Bear Share? and Will Ladybug Hug? both earned Kirkus stars. Hilary also works on projects for Story Planet, a non-profit organization that encourages young people to create and tell their stories. 

    Hilary began his love affair with books with his childhood bedtime reading routine, and credits his parents for helping him cultivate his love for reading. He began drawing at 3 years old – characters such as Snoopy, Garfield, and from Sesame Street. He started writing at the age of 6, creating stories in his grade 1 journal, which by the looks of it, remains in pretty good condition. The encouragement he received from his teacher went a long way and he keeps chasing this feeling. At age 10, Hilary wrote a very clever and creative pop-up book, and brought it along to show us.

    Hilary majored in book illustration, and Dusan Petricic was his teacher. He began a career working as a graphic designer for a tech company 10 years ago. While working with David Bruins, a colleague, the two of them came up with Ninja Cowboy Bear. They created a book idea, googled what they didn’t know, printed 2000 hardcover books with their own money, and then walked into 72 bookstores. 36 stores took the book on consignment. They were eventually noticed by Kids Can Press and signed a contract.

    Ninja Cowboy Bear was featured on Bookaboo:

    Now 4 years and 4 books later, a new dad with a 9-5 job, life is busy.

    Hilary contacted art director Patti Ann Harris of Scholastic/Cartwheel books, showed her a few ideas, ended up doing Will Bear Share? It earned a Kirkus starred review. As author/illustrator, he has since created a series, Will Ladybug Hug? Will Sheep Sleep? Will Giraffe Laugh? More to come.

    Regarding his process: Hilary does thumbnails and records all his ideas. He roughs up on pen and paper and manipulates in Illustrator (adobe graphics editor). His challenge was to make 3 books similar to the first one and it helps that he likes puzzles. Hilary figures out what the twist will be then writes backwards. He creates 4 spreads for the twist. This is a very satisfying process for him. Hilary loves audience testing at the toy studio where he works and gets the opportunity to reads his books out loud to a group of kids.

    A cool feature of this new books series is that the art directors at Scholastic allowed him to include his two children’s drawings in his books. You can see them posted on the walls of his characters’ homes. Hilary also had a lot of fun when being allowed to enhance the barcodes on the books, with some of his own fun illustrations.

    Here is a note of great points Hilary shared:

    • 1-       Everyone goes at their own pace
    • 2-       Plant as many ideas as possible (with a publisher)
    • 3-       When one door closes, another opens - (Hilary lost his job but then he found his way into picture books.)
    • 4-       It’s good to get out of one’s comfort zone
    • 5-       There is more than one route to publishing

    A Hilary Leung quote: “In your darkest moment, you make your biggest leap.”

  • Wednesday, December 12, 2018 8:38 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from December 12, 2018: Program – Open Mic

    WELCOME:  President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone to our holiday meeting. We got off to a late start because everyone was having too much fun to take a seat! She thanked the volunteers in the room tonight: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Patricia Storms, Bill Swan, Rita Bates, Gillian O’Reilly, Jennifer Maruno, and Jennifer Mook Sang, reminding everyone that CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto. Thanks to all who brought seasonal treats and to Starbucks for their coffee donation.

    Congratulations: Sharon invited Tziporah Cohen to take a bow. She is the winner of the CANSCAIP Writing for Children Competition, picture book/early reader category, for her story Sweet Success: The Story of Milton Hershey. 


    Patricia Storms and her co-author/husband Guy Storms, along with illustrator Milan Pavlovic, presented Moon Wishes, a picture book by Groundwood Press, March 2019. In this bedtime story, the moon shines its light to guide a journey home, glisten over the snow, and wish peace and safety for travellers, friends, and troubled hearts.

    Kari-Lynn Winters presented her On My…Series, picture books for babies, toddlers, published by Tradewind Books (2009-2018). This whimsical and engaging series for young children (illustrated by Christina Leist) introduces simple back and forth plots, using literary devices like rhyme and onomatopoeia. A Vancouver family explores different outdoor activities throughout the changing seasons. Recently, this series was chosen by the Niagara Conservation Authority and the Niagara Catholic District School Board to be transformed into a story walk.

    Hungry for…STEAM Series. ELKP to grade 3. Published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside (2016-2018).  The second in the series, Hungry for Science looks at concepts like erosion, chemical reactions, forces, pollination, the human body, structures, and life cycles, through poetry. This fun and informative picture book, co-written by Lori Sherritt-Fleming and illustrated by Peggy Collins, is the perfect fit for young science gurus. 

    Nadia Hohn is excited to present her 5th book, Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, published by Harper Collins. This book is part of the “I Can Read” Series and is illustrated by Gustavo Mazali. Nadia was thrilled to have a newly discovered photo of Harriet to use in this story.

    Randy Coates presented Stay Above the Storm, a YA title published by Baico Publishing, Inc. Javier is in grade eight, anticipating his move to high school. Problems at home lead to a vacation in Mexico, where Javier runs into a supply teacher from his past. When stranded on an island together, Javier and teacher work through a horrific secret to understanding.

    Vincent Teetsov is thrilled to announce some upcoming workshops with Toronto Public Library. He and illustrator Laani Heinar will be performing the picture book Pumpkin and Stretch with bossa nova and jazz songs inspired by the story.

    Mireille Messier presented her latest French picture book Tellement Sauvage! (Editions D’Eux) A child asks, “Dad, what do the wild animals do when we are sleeping in our tent?” The father replies, “I think they are sleeping, too.” But dad is wrong! This is a very silly story about camping and the shenanigans of nocturnal animals.

    Program: Sharon explained that because this is our annual holiday meeting, to which we bring good things to eat and great books to sell – and it is so hard to get the boisterous crowd to settle– the committee decided to have an informal evening of questions and answers. 

    We began with Christie Williamson, the manager of the children’s department at the Indigo store at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. She was delighted to organize a signing for as many of our Members as possible before tonight’s meeting. Through many questions, we learned from Christie to always show up and introduce ourselves at bookstores whenever, wherever we can. Booksellers love what they do, want to meet us and find out about our latest book – why we created it, why we’re passionate about it. ‘Word of mouth’ is often created by booksellers, but we need to be our own best marketer, too. Organize a signing well in advance of a pub date, and chat to everyone in the store! Christie informed us that managers have the power to curate their own departments, and have often influenced the Home Office based on what they hear from their customers – about diversity, for example, for parents who can’t find books that reflect their child’s life. We should do our research regarding which store might have the best audience for a particular book’s launch. She also pointed out that it was useless to replace our books on the Heather’s Picks table!

    Many questions were asked throughout the evening. ‘How is one supposed to handle the silence from an editor who has previously given notes for a revision, but after three months has not responded?’ Several colleagues volunteered advice, including an editor. Editors are often overwhelmed, and although three months is not that long, it is permissible to email the editor and ask directly if they are still interested. A cautionary note: if we haven’t received a contract, any revisions done do not mean that a manuscript will be accepted.

    Sylvia McNicoll went to Ottawa on our behalf to argue/plead our case about copyright in the schools. (More on this elsewhere.) She pointed out that many of our MPs do not know very much about the reality of creating books for children, and they were surprised to learn about our precarious financial plight. Never underestimate the power of writing that letter to your MP and explaining why we need protection around photocopying.

    Questions were asked about filing taxes on royalties earned in the U.S (you must do so), and about writing contests for children (check with your local library for best, up-to-date sources). Of interest was whether or not we need an agent. Although it is not usually necessary in Canada, check the submissions guidelines of publishers about whether or not they accept unagented manuscripts. CANSCAIP’s ‘Blue Pencil Program’ was also touted for its value in giving us a head start.

    For new creators, advice was given about checking out the library at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (local library or bookstore, too) to see who is publishing the kind of book you want to write.

    Another topic was how to submit a ‘concept’ book. Several suggestions included constructing a very detailed storybook that outlined your idea. (Publishers can’t visualize a book from nothing!) This is what Jon Arno Lawson did with the hugely successful Sidewalk Flowers, which was then illustrated by Sydney Smith. Kari Lynn Winters did the same thing with some of her ‘simple’ picture books.

    Many people recommended attending our annual Packaging Your Imagination to have a one-to-one with an editor or designer.

    Happy New Year to all!

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2018 12:38 AM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from November 14, 2018 with SPEAKER Vicki Grant

    Thanks to Recording Secretary Loretta Garbutt.

    WELCOME:  President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone to the meeting on a cold and darkish evening, and thanked all the volunteers in the room tonight: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Thereza Dos Santos, Patricia Storms, Jillian Dobson, Loretta Garbutt and Jennifer Maruno. CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto. 

    Thank you to Sylvia McNicoll for cookies and oranges and to all the others who brought goodies to share. Thank you to Helena for organizing a wonderful day at PYI. She worked very closely with Heather Camlot and Jillian Dobson. Other volunteers for that day: Barbara Greenwood, Gillian O’Reilly, Lorna Poplak, Jennifer Maruno, Caroline Fernandez, Theo Heras, Rebecca Upjohn, Michele Nidenoff, Heather Gale, Michael Stewart, and Beth Pare.

    Long-time Member Priscilla Galloway passed away on October 20th of this year. Priscilla was a CANSCAIP President and had written over 25 books for kids including, Adventures on the Silk Road, Too Young to Fight. Priscilla delighted in historical fiction, myth and high fantasy since childhood. She has asked that donations in her memory be made to CANSCAIP or The Writer’s Union of Canada.

    A message from Helena: We had a record attendance at PYI. Many have also signed up for Virtual PYI. Registration for Virtual PYI will be on our website until January.

    Writing for Children Competition: The winners of the 2018 competition were Tziporah Cohen for Sweet Success: The Story of Milton Hershey (Early Reader) and Aaron Rabinowitz for Small-Town Terrestrials (YA). Entrants were pleased with the feedback this year and we had many positive comments.


    Lana Button 

    Lana is the CANSCAIP-IBBY liaison and wanted to share the wonderful Readers and Refugee program. This is a therapeutic program for young refugee claimants from 6-12 years old living in shelters in Toronto, based on the model of IBBY Children in Crisis programs worldwide. As this is a time of stress for children, the healing experience of reading offers comfort. Program started in May.

    For more information go to:

    Ishta Mercurio

    Can Kid-lit gala or ‘the after party for TD award night’ was a huge success. Some brave souls wore costumes, and $2,330.00 was raised for Books With No Bounds.


    Sue Todd

    Trust Me, I’m Psychic – illustrator for board game/ ages 12 and up/ Spin Master Games, 2018. Sue illustrated 41 tarot-like cards for this game that tests your psychic abilities.

    Connie Clark

    Connie recently won the Penguin Random House Student Award for Fiction, for an excerpt from her novel-in-progress: Haunting Charlotte. The excerpt was published by Penguin in a small chapbook along with the two finalists' stories. The chapbook purpose is to interest people in the creative writing program at the University of Toronto.

    Theo Heras

    Our New Kittens – Picture book from Pajama Press. Alice Carter/Illustrator. Pub date: Nov. 2/18. These two young brothers have waited weeks to welcome their new kittens, and they are determined to do a good job taking care of them.

    Regan Macaulay

    Merry Myrrh, the Christmas Bat – Guardian Angel Publishing. Alex Zgud/illustrator.A sweet Christmas story about all the beauties, joys, and pleasures of the Christmas season as seen through the eyes of a brown bat family.

    Meghan Ferrari

    The Garden Young - Red Deer Press/12+ - October/18 - Fifteen-year-old Elias and his family are caught in the middle of an international conflict -the deadly crossfire between the Syrian Army and government-opposed Rebels. Eventually Elias finds himself a newcomer in North America where he comes face to face with completely new battles-culture shock, racism, and bullying.


    Cathy Rondina introduced Vicki Grant, a CANSCAIP Member for over 10 years. She has 17 books to her credit and has been nominated for many awards.

    Vicki began by telling us of her 11-year old faults: ditzy, scatterbrain, flighty, noisy, unfocussed, frequently late – all the fodder she uses to make her living because when she is in this state, she gets some of our best ideas.

    Vicki knew she was creative and went to art college. She began her career in advertising and had lots of ideas but didn’t know how to come up with them when she needed them.  To figure out how to do the work, she said: “Don’t rely on magic, figure out the process.”

    Here are some of her insightful quotations regarding the writing process:

    - An okay idea on time is better than a brilliant idea too late. This takes away the paralysis.

    - Novelty is over-rated. Don’t need to always come up with a totally original idea.

     - It’s not the idea, it’s the execution – start off with good idea and make the most of it.

    - Sitzfleisch – means buttocks and perseverance (i.e. bum in chair).

    - Clean out the closet/unclutter your brain – good ideas/bad ideas/ non pc ideas – put it out there and see what you’ve got.

    - The very worst ideas are often close to best ideas, because the worst idea will be a spark for better idea.   

    - Never let fear, decency or good taste get in the way of a great idea.

    - “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” (Linus Pauling)

    - You have to accept, when there is a lot of garbage coming out, that this is part of the     process.

    - Sex: Ideas get together and have sex, that’s how other ideas are made. Talk to someone and share.

    - Dream something up – imagine where you are in your manuscript, where it’s stuck, and plan what you are going to dream about when you go to bed.

    - Don’t worry about coming up with ideas – there is enough real stuff happening in the world that you can draw upon.

    - Steal - from your own life and lives of others.

    - Distort the truth – you can drag out your family album and take a kernel of your family story.

    - Procrastination gives you time to incubate: “You call it procrastinating. I call it thinking.” (Aaron Sorkin)

    - Go for a walk. Physical stuff really helps.

    - Share your mistakes – allow your hunch to connect with other people’s ideas. Talk to people with totally different takes on the world, or who do something very different for a living.

    - Never throw anything out; go back to earlier ideas.

    - Tell your story in three sentences – set up/complication/solution. Can be helpful if you’re wallowing.

  • Wednesday, October 10, 2018 7:03 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    Thanks to Loretta Garbutt for making these notes at our October 2018 meeting, and at all our monthly meetings. 

    NOTES from October 10, 2018 with SPEAKER Carey Sookocheff – Illustrator/author

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed us all, and reminded us that we are run by volunteers and thanked those in the room tonight: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Thereza Dos Santos, Patricia Storms, Jillian Dobson, Loretta Garbutt, and Jennifer Maruno. CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto.

    Also, a thank you to Starbucks for the coffee.

    Speaking of Starbucks, Jennifer Maruno let us know that we need a volunteer  interested in the role of ‘host’ - someone who attends meetings on a regular basis who would be a greeter, make reservations at the Pickle Barrel, coordinate the refreshment plan, and help set up the room for the meetings. The role of host can be shared. Contact Jennifer.


    Michelle Nidenhoff

    The fabulous illustrator art show in Richmond Hill (that Jillian Dobson organized) is over, and it was a tremendous success. An exhibit of 15 works from this art show were randomly selected to be displayed at our Packaging Your Imagination conference on Saturday, November 10.


    Ruth Ohi

    Fox and Squirrel Help Out, picture book from Scholastic Canada, 2018.
    When a baby bat drops from out of the sky, Fox is immediately taken with little Squeak. Squirrel is less sure. Can Fox and Squirrel come together to figure out what Squeak needs?

    Melanie Fishbane                                                                                                                                   Maud, YA/Historical Fiction, Penguin Random House Canada,  2018 release in paperback

    Maud was nominated for a Vine Award for the Best in Canadian Jewish Literature. It is the fictionalized story of L.M. Montgomery as a teenager, and her quest for education and to be a writer at a time where women were not encouraged to do so.

    Lena Coakley

    Wicked Nix- illustrated by Jaime Zollars, Publisher: HarperCollins Canada – Middle Grade 8-12. Mischievous woodland fairy, Nix, must protect the forest from its most dangerous enemies—peoples. But peoples are tricky creatures, and in the fairy forest, nothing is what it seems.

    Linda Bailey  

    Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein - picture-book biography with Tundra Books, illustrated by Julia Sarda.  

    A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels and one of the first works of science fiction.A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

    A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

    A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

    Jocelyn Shipley

    She has just launched Wildfire, in the Orca Currents series, Impossible in the Orca Soundings series, and Raw Talent in the Orca Limelights series.


    Patricia Storms introduced our speaker.

    Carey Sookocheff was born in Ottawa and grew up in in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. After studying illustration at Toronto’s OCAD (which didn’t teach children’s illustration), she worked for a number of years as an editorial illustrator, making images for the New York Times, Wall Street JournalReal Simple, and lots of other newspapers and magazines.

    In 2003 she landed a job with Chronicle Books and worked on a journal for kids going off to camp. This lovely project, as well as having children, rekindled her dream of creating/illustrating for children. Carey began by doing research; what is happening in publishing, who is working in publishing, who did she want to work with? Carey visited libraries, bookstores and covered online research. She asked herself questions: ‘How do I want to present myself and how will I get an editor or an art director’s attention’?

    Carey thought of the possible industry connections she knew from her past, so she wrote a manuscript and sent it to Michael Solomon at Groundwood, who had visited her OCAD class.

    This little step of getting someone she knew to look at her manuscript landed her the illustrator assignment for Buddy and Earl.

    Carey tried making connections using other creative methods and sent out a promo ‘card’, that was really a small book, which she sent to 250 publishers/art directors, from her personal list of people she really wanted to work with. All of this research and planning helped her achieve her goals and can help us as well. She has nine books now, including The Buddy and Earl Series, What Happens Next, Wet, and Solutions for Cold Feet.

    Carey lives in Toronto with her husband, their two kids and their dog Rosie.

  • Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:50 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from September 12, 2018 meeting with SPEAKER Neil Christopher, Inhabit Media 

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone. Noting that CANSCAIP survives on one part time employee, Helena Aalto, Sharon introduced and thanked the many volunteers at tonight’s meeting: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Thereza Dos Santos, Patricia Storms, and Jennifer Maruno.  She also welcomed Loretta Garbutt, our new recording secretary.

    We have lost an amazing volunteer: Christina Senkiw who managed the CANSCAIP art collection. Christine was a great support and wonderful artist.

    Our last meeting was in June at the Guelph location and Sharon mentioned how thrilled we were that over 80 people turned out. She then thanked the team that organized the event: Kira Vermond, Lisa Dalrymple, Jean Mills, Werner Zimmerman, and Eric Walters.

    Please let our office know if you have a book launch or event coming up. This is one of the easy things that CANSCAIP can do for its Members. Case in point: Eric Walters' publisher asked us to take to Twitter to congratulate him for his 100th book, and Erid was the top Twitter trend in Canada for two days!


    Registration for our Packaging Your Imagination conference (on Sat Nov 10) opened at the end of July. We've had a great response and have already matched our 2017 numbers at this point. Don’t delay if you want to attend in person!

    In our 2018 Writing for Children Competition, 350 people registered and there were 550 entries, one of the biggest.

    Our fifth webinar was Successful School Visits by Kevin Sylvester. If you missed this live, you can still sign up to hear the webinar.

    Michele Nidenoff updated us re: the latest CANSCAIP illustrator exhibition at Richmond Hill Heritage Centre.


    Helaine Becker

    Counting on Katherine, picture book biography Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt, Jun 2018. The true story of Katherine Johnson, of Hidden Numbers fame. 

    Sloth at the Zoom, picture book, Owlkids, Aug 2018. Sloth is supposed to go to the zzzzoo, the zoo for sleepy animals. But she is accidentally sent to the ZOOM! A sweet tale about the joys of slowing down and mindfulness. 

    Hubots, nonfiction, KCP, Sept 2018, is a companion book to the award-winning Zoobots, focusing on androids - robots in human shapes. Featuring the notorious creepy baby robot and more. 

    Deck the Halls, holiday board book, Scholastic Canada, Sept 2018. With the release of Deck the Halls, all three of the bestselling Porcupine in a Pine Tree books are now available in a chunky board book edition for the littlest hands. In French, too! 

    Deb Lougheed

    Bright Shining Moment, picture book, historical fiction from Second Story Press, Sept 2018. In her 1940’s Ottawa community of Hintonburg one December, Aline Sauriol comes to understand that there is a world of difference between being ‘poor’, and being ‘maybe just a little bit rich’.  

    Wild Fire, Orca Currents, reluctant reader series. Bridgewood is having one of the hottest summers on record. Despite the strict fire ban, fires keep breaking out and it looks like arson is behind them. 

    Launch - October 27, 2-5 pm, Indigo at Sherway Gardens

    Judy Weagle

    Magical Words, self-published, Jul 2018 – reluctant reader 14 and up based on respect and positive empowerment of others.

    Jocelyn Shipley

    Impossible, Orca, reluctant readers ages 12 and up. This is a dark story about a young mother who witnesses a drive-by shooting. 

    Raw Talent, middle grade, 9-12 yrs, Orca's Limelight series, Aug 2018, a story about a girl who wants to be a pop star but suffers from severe stage fright.

    Sue Irwin

    Breaking Through: Heroes in Canadian Women’s Sport, non-fiction for reluctant readers ages 12 and up, James Lorimer & Company, Sept 2018. Highlights seven Canadian women who fought for, and achieved the right to play in sports traditionally dominated by men.

    Anne Dublin

    A Cage Without Bars, YA historical novel for ages 10 and up, Second Story Press, Sept 2018, the adventures of Joseph, a twelve-year-old Jewish boy, who becomes a slave in 1493 after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Launch: October 29th, 7:30pm at the Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.

    Sue Todd 

    Illustrations for The Wild Beast by Eric Walters, Orca. Sept 2108, a creative retelling of an African folktale about the creation of the wildebeest, that incorporates a gentle message about treading lightly on the planet.

    Sylvia McNicoll

    Body Swap, YA, Dundurn Press, Sept 2018. Fifteen-year-old Hallie gets knocked flying by an SUV and her life ends without her having kissed a boy. In the otherworld, she meets the driver, 82 year-old Susan. They return to life but have swapped bodies.


    Theo Heras introduced speaker Neil Christopher of Inhabit Media Publishers who gave a wonderful and intriguing presentation, sharing with us many of the ‘insider’ stories of how he developed his business and what it is like to work with the elders of the communities.

    Neil went north to teach high school and later taught teachers at the Nunavut Teacher Education Program. This is when Neil saw the need for books about the north by people from the north, in their languages, before these languages are lost.

    With a group of colleagues and artists, they formed the Nunavut Bilingual Education Society and began to develop resources for Nunavut schools.

    In 2006, Neil partnered with two others to establish Inhabit Media, an independent trade publisher dedicated to telling northern stories. They realized that the language was still growing and that it had the ability to adapt.

    Inhabit Media has published over 200 titles in English, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqutun and French. It is the only independent publisher in the north, and the books are distributed across Canada and the US.

    Inhabit Media have been selected by the Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Express awards and have been selected Best Books by Cooperative Children's Book Centre (Wisconsin).

    Animals Illustrated: Walrus, by Herve Paniaq and illustrated by Ben Shannon, has been shortlisted for the 2018 children's Literature Roundtables of Canada's Information Book Award.

    Please check out their web site for the many wonderful and unique creations they have to offer:

  • Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:49 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    CANSCAIP has endeavored in past years to hold a meeting outside Toronto, as an outreach effort to our many Members who despise Toronto traffic. Many thanks to organizers Lisa Dalrymple, Kira Vermond, Eric Walters, Jeans Mills, and Werner Zimmerman for setting up a wonderful event in Guelph. And thanks, too, to Helena Aalto, our Administrative Director, for sending out promotion information and arranging car pools.

    It was a beautiful sunny day (except for ten minutes of tornado-ish weather) as hordes of creators – published and not – traipsed between The Book Shelf (celebrating its 45th anniversary) and Werner’s studio for a tour. Around 5:00 we headed upstairs to the bookstore’s event hall where 82 of us enjoyed dinner before the meeting began. Somehow, most managed to be fed and ready at 7:00 to hear our panel of five discuss the topic: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Got Into This Business.

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone, thanked the organizers, and proudly noted that one of our founding Members, Jean Little, was in the audience, as well as the beloved Robert Munsch.


    Jean Mills presented Skating Over Thin Ice, YA fiction, published by Red Deer Press. A young musical prodigy faces a dilemma when the trio she performs with begins to falter. In her search to discover what to do next, and what will make her happy, she connects with a disgraced junior hockey star facing an uncertain future of his own.

    PROGRAM: Erin Bow, Kathy Stinson, Kira Vermond, Eric Walters, Werner Zimmerman

    Moderator Lisa Dalrymple introduced our speakers and began with the question: What is the best/worst thing about being a creator? Many mentioned the self-doubt, not feeling good enough, waiting to hear back, working with the “wrong” editor, the financial insecurity, books that get remaindered too soon, and the pressure of deadlines.

    All mentioned “joy” and the importance of remembering why we started this in the first place. There was mention of being in the flow, of being in a quiet place with one’s characters.  Everyone agreed that talking to kids was one of the best, perhaps the best, aspect of writing and illustrating books for young people. That, and the beginning of the project (and not the hard middle part). Being asked really insightful questions by kids was important and, of course, receiving the royalty cheque – getting paid for what we want to do anyway.

    Lisa then moved to tonight’s topic question: What do you wish someone had told you? Erin wished that someone had told her to see a financial planner. (She gave up her day job as a physicist to pursue her passion.) She had to remind herself several times about the joy she found writing. Kathy found it very important not to compare herself to anyone else’s highs and lows and to find satisfaction with what she has achieved. Eric mentioned that this is a business and hard work. Kira agreed: she takes on many assignment tasks (magazines, newspapers, Costco) as well as her creative work, and often puts in 18 hour days to meet her deadlines and her goal for annual income.  Werner chimed in as well about the hard work and business aspect. His art is a craft, a business, and it is a long, long process to build a career. Eric mentioned that even with 100 books to his credit, he still goes into every book store in his path and puts stickers (signed by author) on every book. Someone told him that this was “beneath” him at his career stage, but he scoffed, noting that this is what it takes. Kathy said that she hates the self-promoting part of writing, but agrees that it has to be done. Because, as Eric added, publishers will only do so much and we have to champion our books.

    Lisa also asked: if the muse leaves, what do you do? Erin gives herself stickers each time she finishes a task (noting that her muse is a three-year-old). Kira sets a timer for 25 minutes, grits her teeth, and tells herself  that she can do this for 25 minutes. Then she sets the timer again and again. Kathy and Eric like to go for walks, have naps (not together) – something physical to give the brain a rest. Werner confessed that he likes to wash dishes.

    Two great summary comments: Kira noted that the creator and editor are colleagues. We are not subordinates in the publishing world, nor should the relationship be adversarial. Eric reminded us to value ourselves and get paid.

    We’ll give the final word to Jean Little. “I’m 86 years old. But when I’m writing, I’m ten.”

    Sharon thanked everyone for such great advice and stated that this willingness to share our knowledge and expertise is why CANSCAIP is in its 41st year.

  • Wednesday, April 11, 2018 4:56 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from April 2018 Meeting; SPEAKERS Peter Carver and Heather Camlot


    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone and thanked the CANSCAIP volunteers.


    Newcomers introduced themselves.


    In Regan McDonell’s absence, Sharon introduced Black Chuck, a YA (14+) from Orca Book Publishers, released on April 3, 20. In this gritty young adult novel, Réal struggles with his guilt over a friend's violent death and his feelings for the dead boy's pregnant girlfriend.

    Catherine (Cathy) Rondina introduced Carey Price: How a First Nations Kid Became a Superstar Goaltender (Lorimer Books), a non-fiction book aimed at reluctant readers. 

    Mireille Messier introduced A Qui le Coco? (Whose Egg is This?), a short, non-fiction, French language book about birds, eggs and nests, illustrated by Caroline Merola. It’s a rhyming book for the 3+ crowd.

    Lana Button introduced her picture book My Teacher’s Not Here, illustrated by Christine Battuz, (Kids Can Press). Lana announced a launch celebration at A Different Drummer in Burlington on Sunday, April 15, 1-3.

    Theo Heras announced a launch for Where’s Bunny and Babycakes (presented at last meeting) at A Different Booklist on Saturday, April 21, 3-5.  


    As the CANSCAIP-IBBY liaison, Lana Button announced a meeting about IBBY’s new Children in Crisis initiative on Monday, April 16 at 7:30 at the Palmerston Library. Refugee claimants face long waits and children need support in this transitional time. Volunteer readers and committee members are needed. 

    IBBY Canada's Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award was awarded to A Pattern for Pepper, illustrated and written by Julie Kraulis (Tundra). Honour Books were also named: Town is by Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith and written by Joanne Schwartz (Groundwood), and When the Moon Comes, illustrated by Matt James and written by Paul Harbridge (Tundra).

    Michele Nidenoff, CANSCAIP’s illustrator rep, said the artwork in the upcoming art show in May is fabulous, with about 70 pieces on display. She asked for volunteers, especially with cars, to transport art, food and drink, for the opening reception on May 2.  Michele announced that she placed first in CAPIC’s Double Vision exhibit, in which illustrators and photographers are paired up to create portraits of each other.

    SPEAKERS: Peter Carver and Heather Camlot

    Peter Carver edited Heather Camlot’s novel Clutch for Red Deer Press, and they talked about the editorial process.

    Heather said Clutch is set in 1946 Montreal, the summer when Jackie Robinson was on Montreal's baseball team. The story is about a twelve-year-old boy determined to get his family out of the Jewish ghetto after his father passes away.

    The book got to Peter through CANSCAIP; it won the Writing for Children Competition in 2014! Heather refined the book in Anne Laurel Carter’s workshop. Heather, a journalist, was used to being edited and had previous worked with Anne on her writing. Anne suggested sending it to Peter, who loves baseball. By the time Heather sent it to Peter, the book was in fairly good shape. 

    Peter said Heather was smart to workshop the book with Anne. Classes are a good place to make industry connections, though the quality of writing will always win out in the end. He said when he got the submission, he was struck by the historical element and the portrayal of the community as well as the protagonist’s struggle and ultimate success. Red Deer publishes only ten books a year. It took approximately nine months to get a contract to Heather.

    Heather was intimidated at first by Peter’s reputation. She approached him at a meeting when he’d had the book for a while but she hadn’t heard from him. He said, ‘Oh, the baseball writer. We like your book—we’re going to do it.’ Later, Heather moderated a PYI panel Peter was on and he had to take direction from her, and that experience made her less scared of him!

    Peter described his editing process as putting comments and questions in the margins. He might also suggest cuts and better words. He is an author’s editor, and said it’s important for the editor and author to get along, to be harmonious. He is there to support, not to browbeat.  Voice--and keeping a kid’s voice kid-like--is the hardest thing for writers. Heather said Peter told her to listen to her twelve-year-old son, and when she did the voice in the book improved.

    Peter noted the title was changed from The Boys of Summer because there is a well-known non-fiction baseball book by that title.

    Peter quoted Claire Mackay: ‘You don’t have to do everything your editor tells you.’ It’s a conversation, not a dictum.  Heather said she did do everything Peter told her to—and moremaking changes up until the end!

    Peter talked about Martine Leavitt's book Tom Finder. After Peter had considered the book to be finished, Martine asked to rewrite the ending, and ended up rewriting the whole book. The writer can be right! Peter said there is always a second pass for smaller things, once the bigger things are taken care of. (And sometimes more passes.)  The most important thing is for everything to seem real.

    Heather noted the first chapter was based on a real family anecdote but she made up the rest of the story. She didn’t want to get anything wrong because it was very personal—her family’s story. Her father died just before she got the book contract, and the book became a tribute to him. She had to edit it while mourning her father, which Peter didn’t know.

    Heather talked about legal issues associated with the editing process. She had to get permission for all the newspaper and personal quotes she used to start chapters. She wasn't able to get some permissions, and some wanted to charge too much. She had to find a lot of new material at the last minute, but luckily, had newspaper connections who helped her.

    The businessman in the book was initially a real character—Samuel Bronfman—but in the end, she decided to make him a composite character, which was freeing. Heather said public places don’t like when bad things happen in their locations so watch how you use a real place.  Peter reminded authors they couldn’t use song lyrics.

    He said Heather is a very conscientious writer and there were 109 emails between them—more than average. (Many were due to the legal issues.) Peter said sometimes it’s better to talk on the phone than to email because you don’t register tone in an email. Peter said the editing process took six months (substantive edits, pickier stuff, copy edits and proofreading). By the end, he had read the manuscript seven or eight times.

    Peter talked about his background as a high school teacher and freelance editor and writing instructor. He has worked at Red Deer for 22 years. Peter never reads the book once it’s published—he’s too afraid there will be a mistake! (He once misspelled Nellie McClung in a book and it had to be reprinted.)


    Gillian O’Reilly mentioned that Tim Wynne Jones says he spends 24 hours ranting after receiving an edit letter, then he tells himself maybe he’ll try to keep them happy, and then he ends up doing everything.

    Someone asked for an example of major things that would jump out in a substantive edit.  Peter said voice, that often kids sound like adults.

    Someone asked who took on the responsibility for the legal issues and the answer was Heather took on full responsibility.

    Someone asked how long it took from starting to write the book to publication and Heather said seven years.

    Someone asked Heather if she got permission for place names and she said only for one dispensary because she had someone working there. Peter mentioned people should not use product names but generics instead.


    Sharon thanked Peter and Heather. Working with an editor is always a dance!

    At the May meeting, Theo Heras and Marthe Jocelyn will discuss writing for very young children.  

    Our June meeting will be a get-together in Guelph.

  • Wednesday, March 14, 2018 7:23 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from MARCH 14, 2018 Meeting; SPEAKER Qin Leng

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone, asking those attending for the first time to introduce themselves. She also thanked volunteers: Patricia Storms, Michele Nidenoff, Holly Main, Theo Heras, Anne Laurel Carter, and Bev Rosenbaum. As always, thanks to Starbucks for their donation of coffee.


    Joyce Grant announced Sliding Home (Lorimer), a sequel to Tagged Out, with the same big-on-heart baseball team. This one features Miguel, working hard to bring his dad over from El Salvador, and Sebastian, who can’t understand why Miguel can’t always join him for pizza.

    Theo Heras introduced Where’s Bunny (Pajama Press), illustrated by Renné Benoit, a picture book for babies and toddlers. It's time for bed and two siblings tidy up, take a bath, brush teeth, head for bed and read and sing – but where's Bunny?

    Barbara Reid told attendees that an exhibit and sale of original artwork from her newest book, Picture the Sky, is on at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, launched March 4, runs through to April 12.


    Michele Nidenoff announced more details about CANSCAIP’s upcoming show in May at the Canadian Contemporary School of Art. Submissions have come in from all over Canada.

    Administrative Director Helena Aalto announced that The Writing for Children Competition is open. The deadline for submissions is May 31.

    Our Packaging Your Imagination conference (PYI) 2018 will take place on Saturday November 10. The keynote speakers are Ruth Ohi and Deborah Ellis.

    CANSCAIP received some funding for PYI 2017 from the Access Copyright.

    There will be a celebration of the life of Janet Lunn on May 22 at Toronto Public Library Northern District Branch.

    The Writers Union of Canada and Access Copyright are advising creators to write to their MPPs about the school boards’ lawsuit (they are suing to be reimbursed for the money they’ve paid over the years to photocopy the work of book creators).

    Public Lending Right (PLR) has announced that titles published more than 25 years ago will no longer receive payment.


    Patricia Storms introduced Qin Leng, illustrator of A Family is a Family is a Family, Harry and Walter, Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen and many other books. 

    Qin was born in Shanghai, lived in France, moved to Montreal, and is now based in Toronto. She talked about her training at the Hoppenheim School of Cinema and her internship at the National Film Board, where she explored different styles and media. After graduating, she worked in animation and television, and still does so, completing her illustration work on evenings and weekends. 

    Qin always drew in her spare time, and finally put together a portfolio. Qin advises new illustrators to keep their portfolio for children’s publishers small because they don’t have a lot of time. She advises ten images in both black and white and colour.  If you have a story, send the story along with a couple of sample scenes.

    Next, Qin looked at books that were interesting to her and studied the websites of those publishers for their submission process, only submitting to publishers who used artists like her. She has a painterly style so avoided those who seemed to favor artists with a modern, graphic aesthetic. Qin said the Bologna Children’s Book Fair website is a treasure trove of information.

    Qin sent around her portfolio early in 2009 and landed her first project in the fall of that year – an Annick cover. Since then, she has gotten more and more work each year, always experimenting to find her style and medium. Now she mostly uses a brush with Indian ink and a nib with acrylic ink. She uses waterproof ink. She began coloring digitally but now prefers to do everything by hand, just revising digitally. 

    When she gets an assignment, she creates a lineup of characters to ensure there’s no redundancy, and that there’s diversity in gender and race.  She tries to keep all characters relatable. (She will sometimes make a girl look boyish and a boy look girlish.) Before doing the rough, she does all necessary research. One story required her to research different types of egg baskets.

    Before taking us through her process from rough to final (she works fast to keep a spontaneous feeling), Qin showed us slides featuring images from a new story she’s illustrating featuring a landlord couple who become werewolves.  Her editor explained that the werewolves were too “elegant” and needed to match their human counterparts.  She makes notes to herself at the rough stage. For example, for Shelter, she wrote a note so that she wouldn’t forget to make every door different.

    She loves filling in the spaces in stories. For instance, in A Family is a Family is a Family, on a page that talked about a child’s day with Dad, Qin went crazy drawing characters at a stadium event.

    She takes inspiration from everywhere. In Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, about the young Jane Austen, she did a cross-section of Jane’s childhood home, inspired by the cross-section of the submarine in Wes Anderson’s film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

    Qin’s first solo book, Je Suis Petite, which she wrote in French, was inspired by her own experiences as a kid, and the books she read in her childhood.

    The artists who have inspired her include Sempe, Gabrielle Vincent, Manuele Fior, Gipi, Beatrice Alemagna, and photographers Fred Herzog and Robert Doisneau.  She also likes checking out Zara Kids for outfits for her characters.

    After Qin’s presentation, she put some of her originals on display for us to study.

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