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

NOTES from January 2019 meeting with SPEAKER Hilary Leung

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.”

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