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

NOTES from March 2018 Meeting; SPEAKER Qin Leng

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.

Content Copyright © 1996-2019 CANSCAIP

720 Bathurst St, Suite 503, Toronto, ON, CANADA, M5S 2R4

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software