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


Keep up-to-date on the latest news from CANSCAIP through the CANSCAIP blog, including news about upcoming meetings and conferences, industry events, awards, new creations and more.

Note: Members and Friends of CANSCAIP can submit information about events, awards and new creations for posting on the CANSCAIP blog. To submit, click here.
  • Thursday, March 31, 2016 3:00 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Wednesday, March 9, 2015 7:00 PM

    Minute Notes: Saumiya B.

    Our president, Sharon Jennings, began by welcoming all present (and we were a big crowd) and recollecting how she started off her career with her first book published by Annick Press.

    Past-president Karen Krossing shared key takeaways from her attendance at the international SCBWI conference attended by over 1200 members. Karen noted the following:

    Jane Yolen – Spoke about the importance of re-invention and genre hopping.

    William Joyce—This award-winning author/illustrator and filmmaker spoke on new media and how it is bringing democracy to storytelling.

    The kid’s division publisher’s panel noted that the climate on kid’s books is good, and the Indies are not going away. Trends are now on new media.

    Gary D.Schmidt – author of Orbiting Jupiter talked about writing to express and engender empathy in a broken world.


    • Marina Cohen
    • The Inn Between- Middle grade fiction from Roaring Brook Press.
    • Lana Button
    • Willow’s Smiles—a Kids Can Press picture book to be launched on April 3 at A Different Drummer Books.
    • Joyce Grant
    •  Gabby – published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside won the Rainforest of Reading award for Montserrat.
    • Tagged Out—middle grade reluctant sports reader from Larimer.
    • Deborah Kerbel
    • Feathered- Middle Grade Fiction from Kids Can Press.
    • Kathy Stinson
    • Harry and Walter – this picture book published from Annick Press is a hug of re-assurance.
    • Jo-Allen Bogart
    • The White Cat and the Monk—picture book from Groundwood Books.
    • Cheryl  Grossman ( a new member)
    • Cheryl won an Honorable Mention in the 84th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition for her children's story The Gardener Princess
    • Michele Nidenoff and photographer Olga Kozitska won second prize in the 2016 CAPIC (The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators) Double Vision 2016 contest. 


    Kathy Rondina extends her invitation to all to enroll for her course at George Brown in Creating Non-Fiction for Children.


    Theo Heras then introduced Rick Wills who founded Annick Press in 1975 with Anne Millyard. Annick Press, which doesn’t turn away from difficult themes, has been called a publisher built on kindness, warmth and compassion. Theo would add intelligence and innovation as well. She invited Rick to speak to us and let us know how he did it for 40 years.

    Rick began with a quick history of Annick. He and Anne co-founded Annick with deep concerns that Canadian values and sensibilities were not being reflected in books. They began well with great reception and coverage on national news—until their volunteering accountant announced they were near bankruptcy. Rick had to learn a different sort of “books” to avoid disaster!

    How is Annick unique?

    It is an owner-managed publishing company. Rick looks out for good books, distinctive literature. Annick publishes 25 books per annum. Last year it received close to 90 awards and citations. Rick insists that Annick remain an editorially-driven company, but it is always changing. For Annick and most Canadian publishers, 66-67% of sales are to the US. He also said that books are becoming more focused on the visual; the present generation is processing more visually.

    Rick is a little pessimistic about changes in the industry and publishing pressures. Right here in Ontario, Grade 3 and Grade 6 EQAO reading standards are dropping. Rick went on to highlight that what kids read doesn’t matter as long as they read. Reading for pleasure is the key. 80% of students who met reading standards in grade 3 and grade 6 went on to pass grade 10 and were reading for fun for more than one hour.

    Figures from the UK show that kids who read for fun are faring better in school.

    Dr.Stephen Krasher’s research in the field proves that kids who read fare better both academically and socially. They have more empathy, are informed voters, and are better at critical and analytical thinking.

    Rick emphasized that initiatives such as The National Reading Campaign and events such as those supported by TD will help improve skills of good readers.

    Oftentimes economic factors affect student outcomes, but reading books can even counteract the effects of poverty. Rick’s biggest frustration is that society doesn’t understand the phenomenal social good that comes out of reading.

    Some problems that face publishers today:

    • 1.     Not enough reviews
    • 2.     Loss of Indies.

    E-books are not the answer according to Rick.

    If authors and publishers can give the public powerful, relevant stories that connect, we can be part of the conversation about contemporary issues. Annick tries to do this and producing books about difficult subject and diversity is part of its identity.

    For Authors

    Rick then spoke of the importance of writing what you want to write about. He emphasized the importance of query letters. Even after you have convinced an editor, it will be used to sell the book to the sales team.

    He said it is important for creators to know their competition, to check out other books. One thing he stresses is to never tell readers to think. As writers, we must help them to connect the dots.

    Rick then went out to list some of Annick’s key non-fiction titles, books that set out to change the conversation.

    • 1.     Dreaming in Indian, an anthology of Native American and Canadian voices.
    • 2.     Patient Zero by Marilee Peters, about epidemics.
    • 3.     Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton, a YA fiction dealing with HIV, but it also a story about loyalty, friendship, loss and struggle.

    In closing, Rick emphasized Annick’s collaboration with the Top Grade program, which Catherine Mitchell told us about at a previous CANSCAIP meeting. It is an initiative that helps to bring Canadian Books to Canadian kids. Rick believes educators need help in getting good books that connect to their curriculum. He also believes kids must be given choices.

    Questions from The Audience

    Q: What is the market like for YA Non-Fiction?

    Rick said that the book needs to be very well done and ensure that subject matter ties in to curriculum. He also re-stated the importance of an impressive cover letter.

    Q: A member from the audience alluded to Rick’s mention of Dr.Stephen Krasher and highly recommended his book The Power of Reading.

    Q: Kids are visual. Is Annick doing graphic novels?

    With most graphic works they do, the writer is also the illustrator. Although they are expensive to produce, the market is growing.

    Q: Does Annick do Middle Grade?

    There is a healthy market, but publishers need a critical mass of Middle Grades to do well. They are focusing on YA in novels.

    Q: From the 25 books published yearly by Annick, what percent comes from the slush pile?

    It varies. There is no quota—just as it happens.

    Q: How do illustrators approach Annick?

    Send in samples to the Art Director, Sheryl Shapiro.

    Theo thanked Rick and said (rightly so) that we were fortunate to have Rick speak to us. Join us in April for The Puppet Mongers and in May for a panel out-of-town guests here for The Forest of Reading awards.

  • Monday, February 29, 2016 4:57 PM | Karen Krossing (Administrator)

    CANSCAIP in partnership with The Writers' Union of Canada, is pleased to announce the winners and finalists of the 18th annual Writing for Children Competition.

    A cash prize of $1,000 will be presented to two winners: for a Picture Book / Early Reader and for a Chapter Book / Middle Grade / Young Adult. Eight additional finalists have also been selected. CANSCAIP will submit the winning entries and the finalists to three Canadian children’s book publishers for their consideration. Some of the previous finalists and winners of the Writing for Children Competition have had their entries published.

    WINNER PICTURE BOOK / EARLY READER: Shelley Motz – Solomon's Football
    A young Muslim boy is whisked away from Pakistan and plunked down in a Canadian suburb. His first tentative steps into this strange, new world are eased by his love of soccer. The daughter of a refugee, Shelley Motz writes about and works on immigration issues.

    A teen boy fends for himself and tries to save his father from the gallows during Ontario’s Rebellion of 1837. Rita Bailey is a teacher, and began Rebel Moon in a novel-writing class. She continues to take courses, attend conferences and work with a critiquing group.

    Saumiya Balasubramaniam – When Grandma Wore a Baseball Cap
    Loretta Garbutt – The Riding Lesson
    Jodie Robulak – Piggies on Parade
    Ann Severn Benedek – Fred No Matter What

    Sylvia Chiang – Cross Ups
    Kristen Ciccarelli – In the World to Come
    Ruth Deakin-Nobes – The Gadget Meddler
    Tanya Trafford – St. Govan's Chapel

    CANSCAIP received close to 400 entries for the 2015 Writing for Children Competition. All the entries were evaluated by a group of first-round readers who selected entries that would proceed to second-round readers, who then selected entries to proceed to the final juries. The juries were comprised of bestselling authors Anne Laurel Carter, Ruth Ohi and Kathy Stinson (Picture Book / Early Reader Jury) and Barbara Greenwood, Susin Nielsen and Arthur Slade (Chapter Book / Middle Grade / Young Adult Jury). The first-round and second-round readers were: Karen Autio, Lena Coakley, Don Cummer, Aubrey Davis, Theo Heras, Susan Hughes, Sharon Jennings, Janet McNaughton, Jennifer Mook-Sang, Bev Rosenbaum, Valerie Sherrard, Jocelyn Shipley and Ted Staunton. CANSCAIP is grateful for the support and participation of these Members.

    The 2016 Writing for Children Competition will be announced in April.

    The Writers' Union of Canada initiated the Writing for Children Competition in 1996. The competition has grown in popularity since its inception, and in 2014 CANSCAIP took on this initiative as a partnership with TWUC. A goal of the Competition is to discover, encourage, and promote new writers of children's literature across Canada. CANSCAIP is a national organization representing Canadian authors and illustrators of children's books and children’s performers.
  • Thursday, February 18, 2016 8:11 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    MEETING NOTES: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    President’s Remarks

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed a surprisingly large crowd to the blustery February meeting. She noted that many in attendance in January had mentioned how much they learned about estate planning for creators with lawyer Marian Hebb. This topic might be a future all day seminar.

    Tonight, Sharon’s ‘monologue’ (or ‘rant’ she intimated) was on the subject of writing letters to the editors of newspapers concerning the dismal lack of coverage for children’s literature. Sharon read out a couple of her letters that The Toronto Star did print, and a couple that they did not. Two themes emerged: reviews claiming that a book for adults is breaking new ground, when in fact a Canadian children’s book had already done so; and the Star’s unwillingness (despite letters to the editor) to separate juvenile books into two lists – Canadian and international – as they do for adult titles. Sharon told us that when Member Lena Coakley’s The World of Ink and Shadows was number one on the juvenile list, the Star chose a photo of a Wimpy Diary title to showcase.

    An audience member suggested that the CANSCAIP office alert us to any such issues in order that we may inundate a newspaper with our letters.

    Sharon asked any newcomers to introduce themselves, and we met several arts students from Seneca and Centennial, all keen to hear Gary Clement.


    Rick Wilks of Annick Press will be our guest speaker.

    New Creations by CANSCAIP Members

    AUTHOR: Kate Blair
    TITLE: Transferral
    GENRE / AGE: YA - speculative fiction
    PUBLISHER: Dancing Cat Books
    SYNOPSIS: London, England, present day. This is the world as we know it, but with one key difference: medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick. The catch? They can only transfer the diseases into other living humans.
    PROMOTION/LAUNCH: Signing at Indigo Oshawa at 2pm on February 28th. The Globe and Mail called it a 'solidly engaging debut' and it got 4/4 stars from the Canadian Review of Materials.

    AUTHOR: Nadia L. Hohn
    TITLE: Music
    TITLE: Media
    SYNOPSIS: Both books are part of the Sankofa Black Heritage Collection series. Sankofa is a contemporary literacy resource for all students in Grades 4 to 8. Sankofa is designed to help promote understanding of the African Canadian narrative during Black History Month and throughout the school year.
    GENRE / READING AGE: Genre Non-fiction Multi-genre Music Grade 5 and Media Grade 6
    PUBLISHER:  Rubicon Publishing Inc.
    LAUNCH/PROMOTION: Launched February 19th at the Reading For the Love of It Conference

    AUTHOR: Nadia L. Hohn
    TITLE: Malaika's Costume
    GENRE / AGE: Picture book, age 3-9
    PUBLISHER: Groundwood Books
    SYNOPSIS: It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?
    LAUNCH: March 5, 2016 2-4pm at A Different Booklist Bookstore
    TOUR DATES: April 2, 2016 Albion Public Library (Toronto, ON), April 9, 2016 Knowledge Bookstore (Brampton, ON)

    AUTHOR: Angela Misri
    TITLE: No Matter How Improbable (book 3 in the Portia Adams Adventures)
    GENRE / AGE: YA Mystery
    PUBLISHER: Fierce Ink Books
    SYNOPSIS: Being the newest consulting detective to hail from Baker Street proves to be too much for our young sleuth, so she heads to Italy on a case with royal implications. But on her triumphant return she finds everything has changed - her friends, her family and even her very purpose are thrown into question. Will Portia Adams lose her way, or follow the clues to her new place in the world?
    LAUNCH/PROMOTION:Will be the featured book in my TD Canadian Children's Book Week tour 2016 as I travel to Manitoba!

    Guest Speaker Gary Clement

    Award-winning political cartoonist and children’s illustrator/author Gary Clement gave an inspiring, entertaining and informative presentation on his work and career. Gary first discussed his 18 year and still-going-strong stint as a political cartoonist for The National Post, outlining the challenges of creating insightful and topical cartoons on a tight deadline. (He does five per week!) He gave us a sneak preview of the next day’s cartoon, and mentioned that the U.S. Republican candidates are a cartoonist’s dream come true.

    For this audience, Gary focused on being a children’s book illustrator and author, working mainly with publisher Groundwood Books. Gary has been illustrating children’s books since 1991, starting with Get Growing by Candace Savage. He talked mainly about the three books The Great Poochini, which won the Governor General’s Award for illustration in 1999, Oy Feh So? (written by Cary Fagan), and his newest book, Swimming, Swimming, which is based on the well-known camp song, and which the audience gleefully sang out loud.

    We learned about Gary’s creative process as well as the materials that he prefers to use when drawing and painting. Gary works in watercolour and inks with Speedball pen and ink, and he prefers to use Hot Press paper because there is less texture in the paper, and the art appears cleaner and smoother when printed. Gary also discussed the challenges of getting watercolours ‘just right’ when checking proofs for printing.

    Gary also informed us that he has succeeded with his goal in life: to never feel that he has a ‘job’!

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2016 11:48 AM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)


    For January 13, 2016


    “Many of us don’t think about our careers beyond our next royalty cheque,” said CANSCAIP President Sharon Jennings as she began the January meeting, “but tonight we’re here to talk about what happens to our work in the long term—about how we can control and protect our careers even after we are gone.” 

    Our guest for the evening was Marian Hebb, here to talk about Estate Planning for Creators.


    The NEWS is here!

    Sharon directed us to the latest issue of CANSCAIP NEWS, which includes her column on being in despair as a creator, Marsha Skrypuch’s "Meet the Professional" interview with Forest of Reading director, Meredith Tutching, and VP Lena Coakley’s article on "Worldbuilding for Fantasy Authors." The featured creator is two-time GG winner, Caroline Pignat.

    Having an book launch or event?

    In the interest of supporting each other, the CANSCAIP office is now announcing events like book launches through the CANSCAIP email. Tell the office about your upcoming events and we would happy to spread the news! We’d like to support each other.  (Email

    Canadian Writers’ Summit

    Helena, our administrative director, informed us that CANSCAIP will be part of a new multi-organization conference that will take place June 16-19. There will be sessions on writing craft, aboriginal writers, cover design, copyright issues etc. Kenneth Oppel will be CANSCAIP’s keynote speaker on the 18th and Jean Little will be the Writers Union keynote.

    Helena is on the planning committee (Go Helena!) so the kids books world will be well represented. 

    Packaging Your Imagination

    Our annual conference will be back at Humber in November. Dates to be announced.

    Writing for Children Competition

    We had a record number of entries this year which has resulted in a few delays. Winners will be announced in February.

    Volunteers Needed!

    Are you interested in volunteering for CANSCAIP? We need help in the following areas:

    • Blue Pencil Mentoring Program (organizer)
    • Writing for Children Competition (coordinating for next year)
    • Marking 

    Email Helena if interested. Volunteers do not need to be local to the Toronto area.


    Teresa Toten’s novel, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, has won ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, given to a book that embodies the disability experience. 


    The legendary Paulette Bourgeois took the floor. “It’s been a long time since I stood up with a new book,” she said.  Paulette told us that after her success with the Franklin series, she went back and did an MFA in creative writing for screenwriting. Though many of her screenplays have been optioned, none were made.  However, she was asked to write a novelization of producer Anne Tait’s film, Iron Road. Her new book  Li Jun and the Iron Road is is a historical novel for young adults about a Chinese girl who dresses as a boy and joins thousands of Chinese men blasting a path for the new railway through the "impassable" Rocky Mountains. From Dundurn Press.

    Vice President Lena Coakley told us about her new book, Worlds of Ink and Shadow. The book is a YA portal fantasy based on the fantasy worlds created by the famous Bronte siblings.  Lena did quite a bit of research for the book including traveling to the Bronte parsonage in Yorkshire twice, where she was allowed to study in the parsonage archives. 

    Jennifer Maruno was delighted to announce that she had completed the third book in her series about Michiko Minagawa, a girl of Japenese heritage living in Canada around the time of the second world war. Cherry Blossom Baseball was launched this month to a large crowd. In this installment Michiko must once again adjust to a new situation as the only Japenese student in her school—until Eddie Adams, seeing her amazing baseball skills encourages her to try out for the all boys local team. When the truth comes out, there are consequences to face. She has to make a decision: Play ball amid all the harassment, or pitch like she's never pitched before. From Dundurn.


    Paulette Bourgeois introduced our speaker, saying, “I have known Marian Hebb since 1986. A publisher was interested in my new book, then called The Turtle They Called Chicken. I joined the Writers Union and saw they had a brochure called “Help Yourself to a Better Contract.”  I turned it over, saw Marian’s name, and decided then and there to hire her to negotiate my contract.

    Since then Marian has worked tirelessly for authors. If you have received an Access Copyright payback, you should thank Marian because she was instrumental in securing those rights for authors. She is a founder and past chair of Artists’ Legal Advice Services, a governor of the Canadian Copyright Institute, and a member of the joint copyright legislation committee of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and the Canadian Bar Association.

    There is now an Access Copyright research grant in the arts in her name (The deadline has been extended to February 16th if you are interested!), and she was the lawyer for the heirs of the LM Montgomery estate. 

    “You own copyright,” Marian began. “This distinguishes you from many others who make wills.”

    Marian went on to advise us that in Canada, everyone should have a will.  However, she told us a surprising fact. Many writers and illustrators who DO have wills, forget to mention copyright! Often a lawyer may not know to advise you on this important consideration. Remember to bring this up when making a will.

    If you will be making a will soon, here are some things to consider thoroughly:

    1) Figure out what is part of your literary estate. Keep good records for your heirs. Upon your death your executors should have all your contracts and other information such as lists of where your work is published, your latest royalty statements, your agency contract, etc.  DON’t give your current contracts to an archive because they won’t be able to find them when needed. DON’T rely on your publisher to have copies of contracts. This is not their responsibility. 

    Keep in mind that your copyright assets also include stories in anthologies, joint authorship, and sound recordings of your work.

    2) Do you need a literary executor?

    Some people will name a literary executor in addition to their executer. This person would handle all matters regarding your works under copyright.

    Family members are the first place to look for a literary executor. They have an interest in keeping your work alive. Young family members such as a grandchild might be a good choice as your heirs will own copyright for many years into the future.

    If you don’t name a literary executor, your general executor will take on the task of dealing with your copyrighted work. This may be fine for you as well. A middle-ground option would be to name a “literary advisor” who wouldn’t have legal rights but can advise your executor.

    3) Consider: What happens when those executors are gone? If you appoint a literary executor and they die, their executor becomes yours. Do you want that?

    4) Consider: Do you want the work you haven’t finished destroyed? Kept? Continued by someone else? If you are an artist/illustrator, what do you wish to happen to your unsold work?

    Because you don’t know how publishing will change after you die, it’s sometimes better to leave some of these decisions to your executors and heirs. Often it’s preferable to find an executor you trust than to try to lock-in your decisions in your will. You can direct your executor with a letter that is not legally binding but which spells out your wishes.

    About Your Copyright

    • Copyright begins when something is published or recorded. 
    • To have copyright there must be a degree of originality. 
    • Creators also have moral rights that most countries recognize. They help artists retain the integrity of their work.
    • Creators can waive their moral rights but, unlike copyright, can’t give them to someone until they die.
    • In Canada copyright runs out 50 years after death. This will change if Canada signs the TPP agreement. Then it will be extended to 70 years.
    • In most of the rest of the world, moral and economic rights already last 70 years after death.
    • Although Marian isn’t in favor of TPP for other reasons, she does believe that copyright should be extended to 70 years. 50 years after death isn’t always enough time for heirs to publish. There can be sensitive issues. 
    • On the death of a creator, moral rights and economic rights pass to the person you have named in your will, or if no one is named, the law figures out next of kin.
    • Canada’s copyright law is not clear about whether things on your website published or unpublished.

    Marian ended with a wrap-up of what she considers her three most important points:

    Have a will!

    Have the word copyright in your will!

    Keep copies of current contracts!

    Our next meeting will be on February 10th and will be in Illustrators’ Night with Gary Clement!

  • Wednesday, December 16, 2015 12:13 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Wednesday, December 9,2015 7:00 PM

    Minute Notes taken by Saumiya B. Pictures by Debbie Ohi.

    Our president, Sharon Jennings began by with an anecdote (from Facebook) that said, ’People who engage in artistic activities are 73% less likely to suffer from memory decline’.

    She then informed the members about her many efforts and letters to the Toronto Star to improve and include children’s books in the best-sellers list. CANSCAIPers on the list include Robert Munsch, Eric Walters, Linda Bailey and Lorna Schulz Nicholson.

    Sharon also mentioned CANSCAIP authors who were winners at the 2015 TD Canadian Children’s literature awards gala.

    Marthe Jocelyn for What we Hide, Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.

    Jonathan Auxier for The Night Gardener, Monica Hughes Fantasy and Science Fiction Award

    William Bell for Julian, John Spray Mystery Award

    Marsha Skrypuch for Dance of the Banished, Geoffrey Bilson Award

    Kira Vermond for Why We Live Where We Live, Norma Fleck Award

    Cybele Young for Nancy Knows, Marilyn Baille Picture Book Award

    Jonathan Auxier for The Night Gardener, TD Canadian Children’s literature Award


    Sylvia McNicoll :  Survival, Grades 6-12

    Sylvia paid tribute (in Swedish) to the late Paul Kropp, then translated the same from her book Survival. Her dedication to Paul will read:

    For Paul who launched a thousand reading and writing ships

    and this one small airplane.

    Brooke Kerrigan: Fisherman Through and Through, Picture Book by Red Deer Press

    Kathleen Gauer : High in the Sky, Picture Book by Skipping Stone Press

    Kate Blair: Transferral, Young Adult Sci-fi by Dancing Cat Books

    Helen Alto, CANSCAIP Administrative Director, spoke about the success of PYI . The registrations increased from 118 in 2014 to 140 in 2015, with virtual PYI numbers soaring to 44 from 23 last year. The art show numbers also exceeded 2014 figures.

    Sharon informed us that the executive board is approaching publishers asking them to let CANSCAIP know of their events, so it is easier for our members to be aware of ongoing programs.


    Patricia Storms, programme committee chair, said the special potluck night of delicious goodies was a great opportunity to learn how to produce best-selling Christmas books. She then introduced Lisa Dalrymple who has lived with chickens in South Korea, lizards in Thailand and two sisters in the U.K.

    Lisa, who is well known as the "skink lady" for her book Skink on the Brink, said that she would rather be known (suited to the occasion) as the A-Moose-Goes-a-Mummering lady.

    Lisa’s first book was If It’s No Trouble…a Big Polar Bear, which according to her did not do as well, in spite of being a Christmas book that Quill and Quire featured it in its Fall 2012 preview alongside Robert Munsch’s Finding Christmas.

    At this book’s launch in Newfoundland, while standing right in front of tall shelf stacked with multiple copies of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, her publisher expressed her views. “We need a 12 days of Christmas in Newfoundland book,” she said. At first Lisa did not think she was the right author for this project, not being a Newfoundlander, but her publisher was persistent.

    Lisa learned that the history and heritage of Newfoundland was very different from her own home province. For a Newfoundland Christmas book, Lisa figured there had to be a moose, a moose in a spruce. It was by chance that when she was talking about her work-in-progress that an acquaintance said, “Oh, a Newfoundland Christmas book. Is it about mummering?” At first, Lisa didn’t know what mummering was.  

    She discovered that mummering is a Christmas-time house-visiting tradition practiced in Newfoundland. A group of friends or family dress in disguise and visit homes within their community or neighbouring communities during the twelve days of Christmas. If the mummers are welcomed into a house, they often do a variety of informal performances that may include dance, music, jokes, or recitations. The hosts guess the mummers’ identities before offering them food or drink. They may poke and prod the mummers or ask them questions. To make this a challenge for the hosts, the mummers may stuff their costumes, cross-dress, or speak while inhaling – ingressive speech. Once the mummers have been identified, they remove their disguises, spend some social time with the hosts, and then travel as a group to the next home.

    When asked (by someone in the audience) about the challenges in producing Christmas books, Lisa said that a Christmas book has the potential to sell very well every year, but it’s a big risk for the publisher. Some won’t take that risk.

    The second half of the evening was informative and inspiring, as Werner Zimmerman discussed the visual aspects of creating Christmas books. He is a life-drawing instructor at Seneca and Humber Colleges and an award-winning illustrator.

    Werner shared slides of his rough drafts and thumbnails for his bestselling book written by Helaine Becker, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree.

    His process is to first break down the story into storyboards. Then he doodles for a while, creating character sketches and playing with colours.

    Werner often draws real-life animals. He visits places such as the zoo and the ROM where he spends several hours drawing beavers, puffins, dogs etc.

    Werner talked about how where the eye naturally falls when looking at a picture. Artists can learn to play with this to subvert expectations and to create a sense of motion through a narrative. As with words, there is also that rhythm in pictures.

    As Werner progressed through his Porcupine in a Pine Tree slides, he spoke about breaks in “picture frames” – where the illustrations begin to go in and out as opposed to back and forth. This adds variety. For the puffins' spread, he broke down the picture frame, making the birds seem to pop from the page. (Werner said he’d love to literally do this with a pop-up book, but Canadian publishers find them too expensive to produce.)

    Werner concluded his presentation with a picture of him in the Scholastic office where he was given a desk to work at. Even after all the work he does at home, there are many comments from editors and art directors to be addressed, and his art is covered with many sticky notes.


    Sharon was curious about what was on the sticky notes. Werner said that those were tiny missing or extra details, or something like a character not looking consistent throughout the work.

    Sharon then asked the industry lead time. Werner and Lisa both agreed that it was 2-3 years from acceptance to publication.

    Lisa was asked if she went through an agent. She said she did not and that it was harder in Canada to find agents that would represent picture books.

    Helena asked if it were true that authors and illustrators rarely met.  Lisa and Werner said that this is not unusual, but it was not true in Lisa’s particular case. Werner said that as an illustrator he preferred not to have an author looking over his shoulder, but Lisa said that her illustrator for Skink on the Brink found Lisa’s input useful for biological accuracy, as Lisa had become something of an expert on skinks and their habitats.

    The evening ended with merry holiday socializing and delicious treats and desserts brought out by members. Sylvia McNicoll and Debbie Ohi won the raffle for the evening – prints of Werner’s lovely paintings.


    January 13th
    Marion Hebb—founder and past chair of artists' legal services at TWUC will conduct a session on legal services at the 
    CANSCAIP meeting in January.

  • Thursday, November 19, 2015 12:08 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Books For Young People with Disabilities and Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015 7:00 PM

    Meeting notes taken by Saumiya B.

    Our president, Sharon Jennings (dressed like a poppy) began by welcoming visitors and members.  She held out Linda Granfield’s In Flanders Fields—a story of the famous poem by John McCrae—and highlighted the growing statistic of increased children’s attendance and participation in Remembrance Day commemorations. Sharon rightly pointed out that we (as writers of children’s books) are doing a wonderful job of producing those books and living up to our mandate of ‘teach and delight.’

    Helena Aalto announced that a couple (literally) of spots were available for registering for the upcoming PYI conference this weekend, November 14. She thanked the conference committee for their contributions to organizing this wonderful event: Lena Coakley (One-to-One Coordinat

    or), Heather Camelot (Speaker Coordinator), Jean Mills (Communications), Melanie Fishbane (Social Media), Jenny Watson (website) and Nicole Winters for taking on the huge job of coordinating virtual PYI. Helena also thanked Humber College who host and provide support for the conference. Melanie Fishbane asks that PYI participants  tweet at #PYI2015.

    Tied in to PYI is an amazing art show featuring over 20 great artists including Michael Martchenko, Holly Main, Barbara Reid, Ruth Ohi, and Oleg Lipchenko to name a few. Helping with the mountings is Jennifer (who writes under the nameJ M Filipowicz) and coordinating the art show is Holly Main. 


    Caroline Pignat for The Gospel Truth

    Sydney Smith and JonArno Lawson for Sidewalk Flowers


    The Jock and the Fat Chick by Nicole Winters, a debut YA romance from HarperCollins

    Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang, humorous middle grade from Scholastic


    Theo Heras (retired children’s librarian from Toronto Public Library) introduced Leigh Turina, librarian for the IBBY Collection for Young People with Disabilities and Mariella Bertelli, children’s librarian and storyteller. 

    Leigh is a children’s librarian of over 25 years who now oversees the IBBY collection of books for young people with Disabilities. She said the IBBY collection (in over 40 languages) is open 7 days a week and is an excellent opportunity to see what amazing work people are doing in other countries.

    From over 159 submissions (across 27 countries), an outstanding collection of over 50 books is summarized into a catalogue available online through the Toronto Public Library website.

    Leigh talked about the 3 main categories and the wonderful books in each classification.

    1) Specialized Formats (such as books in braille, specialized fonts, or pictograms)

    These include wonderful books like Off  to the Park, My first Braille ABC, and Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads.

    2) Universal Access (These books provide universal access to all young people, especially those with learning, intellectual or developmental disabilities.)

    e.g The Great Big Book of Families

    3) Portrayals of Disability (general books that portray young people with disabilities).

    Leigh told us that the ALA once did a study and reported that most productions tackling disabilities were orthopedic or visual. 

    She then went into more detail, recommending wonderful books in this third category, Portrayals of Disability. Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of room 13B tackles the mental issue of OCD in a way that sets tough issues in a realistic way. Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind is the must-read story of a brilliant girl who cannot speak or write. Wonder—an inspiring story of a boy who is born with a facial difference—proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. Maggot Moon is an unforgettable story of courage, friendship and rebellion. Mallko y Papa is a book about a father’s initial struggle and ultimate acceptance of his son’s Down’s syndrome. Writing with Grace is an inspiring and informative story that delves into what it takes to face one's own prejudice, and what it means to live a full and worthy life.

    Our second speaker, Mariella Bertelli, is a children’s librarian, storyteller and a longtime member of IBBY who promotes Canadian children’s literature abroad—so much so she hosted a pancake party with Canadian maple syrup that she carried in her luggage to Lampedusa- a tiny island that looks like a stone in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea. 

    We heard first-hand about IBBY Italia’s activities in Lampedusa. Mariella shared the stories of the many Africans who try to escape poverty, terrible work conditions, and wars who die at sea or as soon as they make it to the island. Although European laws welcomed refugees, the reality told a different story. But when bodies began to wash ashore on Lampedusa, the islanders (about 6000) of them wanted to help the surviving refugees.

    Mariella and Deborah Soriah wanted to bring books to the locals and the refugees. A library would provide a wonderful public space for the wellbeing of all children living on the island. IBBY International supported the project, and many IBBY sections from around the world donated wordless picture books. The Silent Books Collection and Exhibit became a reality.

    Mariella said that they hope to expand the project to build a special study center to further reach out to the refugee kids.

    Theo Heras thanked Mariella and Leigh and urged CANSCAIP members to visit the IBBY website and join/support online for the work they do internationally.

    Before we dispersed to walk down to the concourse level to view the exquisite collection, Sharon Jennings concluded the meeting by reminding us of the Seasonal Potluck meeting with speakers Werner Zimmerman, Lisa Dalrymple on December 9th. All are encouraged to bring in books and goodies for the December Party!

  • Friday, October 16, 2015 1:22 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Minutes for Oct 14th, 2015 CANSCAIP Meeting
    Notes by: Anne Laurel Carter 

    Our new vice- president, Lena Coakely, chaired the meeting and began by welcoming visitors and new members.

    Lena announced our delight that Eric Walters has been honoured for his many contributions to children’s literature by his recent admission to the Order of Canada. She also congratulated the nominees for the 2015 Governor General Awards and The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards


    Ann Dublin: 44 Hours or Strike!, historical fiction for ages 12+ from Second Story Press.

    Nadia L Hohn: Music and Media, non-fiction for Grades 5 and 6, in the Sankofa series from Rubicon Publishing. 

    Barbara Reid: Sing A Song of Bedtime,  Illustrated Mother Goose rhymes for ages 3+ from Scholastic Canada.

    Helena Aalto announced that illustrators should email her immediately if they wish to submit their work for the artists’ show at Humber College Nov 10 - 20 and at PYI. There is still time to register for PYI Nov 14th at Humber College. Call or email Helena at the office for more information.


    Patricia Storms introduced our speaker Sydney Smith who hails from Nova Scotia and recently moved to Toronto. Sydney has received numerous awards and has just been nominated for a Governor General Award for the picture book, Sidewalk Flowers, from Groundwood Books. 

    Sydney began his presentation by showing us some of his childhood favourite books that made lasting impressions on him, in particular: the illustrations of Edward Gorey; those of Juan Wijngaard in Jelly Belly (very scary); Where the Wild Things Are; and The Church Mice by Graham Oakley. Sydney loved that darkness was allowed in these books.

    Sydney also loved the panelled art of comics. Astrix and Tintin and Calvin and Hobbs are probably responsible for his career interest in illustrating for kids. These comics gave him permission to go crazy with his imagination. He was in Gr 7 when he moved to a small town where he was the “left-out outsider” and filled the void of friendship with drawing and painting. He drew lots of bullies and super-heroes. 

    After high school he attended NSCAD in Halifax and focused his work in his sketchbook where he didn’t have to worry about making mistakes. The sketchbook was a forgiving place and fun to show friends and family. Being in Halifax there were plenty of musicians/bands around and he began to do the underpaid artwork for covers and posters around town. He even taught himself how to do stop-motion animation. 

    After trying editorial illustrations for the Globe & Mail he landed his first book illustration contract for Mabel Murple, which lead to There Were Monkeys in my Kitchen and then Toes in My Nose, all written by Sheree Fitch. With each book he felt his style become looser and he realized he could give up on his artistic “darkness” for something more whimsical. He illustrated Pit Pony by Joyce Barkhouse using his nephew as a model  which, happily, made drawing much easier. He started illustrating children's books for Maritime publisher Nimbus, and now does work for Groundwood Books. This move, like those of his childhood, gave him a chance to reinvent himself again: he left behind his careful cross-hatching and let things bleed in his sketches for a much freer style. 

    Grant and Tillie Go Walking is an homage to the artist Grant Wood done in splattered water colour and stencil. Sydney has just completed a book with Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrating her short text that follows a cat through a cathedral. He’s currently working on a Canadian history book for kids called Canada Year By Year and a chapter book by Esta Spalding called Looking Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts.

    Sidewalk Flowers Trailer
    Sydney Smith and Jason Levangie's Stop Motion Video for "Horska" by Gypsophila

  • Thursday, September 17, 2015 2:55 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
    by Sylvia McNicoll

    Raucous laughter and animated conversation delayed the start of CANSCAIP’s first Toronto get together since last June. Finally Kevin Sylvester shouted out, “Hey, we’re trying to start a meeting here!”

    At that point our president, Sharon Jennings, jumped in, welcoming everyone with a dictionary definition of society, reminding us that CANSCAIP is a society of children’s authors, illustrators and performers.

    The meeting enjoyed a full house, lots of society, and several new people introduced themselves:

    Saumiya Balasubramanian, who is looking for a start in the writing industry
    Anita Rotenda, a teacher, who writes poetry and illustrates
    Geena Grant, who is working on YA
    Anitha Robinson, a children’s author with a published YA novel
    Patricia Faithful, who is writing MG fiction
    Linda Browne, a YA author
    James Blackstone, a picture book writer
    Ann Peacock (Oshawa), who is writes poetry and short stories.
    Mike Vance, a writer, cartoonist, and singer-songwriter

    On a sadder note, Sharon also shared details of Past President Paul Kropp’s recent death, speaking about his many years of service to CANSCAIP, his love of teaching and children, and his lifelong work to encourage the reluctant to read. Sharon told an anecdote about him butting heads with the minister of his local church. They ended up best friends and Paul ended up on the board of directors.  We will miss his deep commitment, his energy and his humour.

    Flipping back to a celebratory mood, Vice President Lena Coakley talked about how most of the work of a CANSCAIP president is behind the scenes, thanking Bill Swan for his outstanding work both on the scene and behind as our Past President. Some of Bill’s most notable achievements were his creation of new CANSCAIP bylaws and his development of a strategic plan to lead CANSCAIP through the years to come.

    (PAUL KROPP pictured on left)

    CANSCAIP celebrates its own

    Congratulations to these members who have been nominated for the 2016 Rocky Mountain Book Awards. This is the Alberta equivalent to the tree awards, where students will vote for the ultimate winner.

    Beck Citra, Finding Grace; Charis Cotter, The Swallow; David Smith, If; Elizabeth Macleod, Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past; Kathy Kacer, The Magician of Auschwitz; Kenneth Opel, The Boundless; Margriet Ruurs, A Brush Full of Colour; Sylvia McNicoll, Revenge on the Fly


    Helena Aalto, CANSCAIP’s administrative director, asked for volunteers to serve in one-hour stints at our Word on the Street booth September 27th at the Harbourfront. Email

    Also, September 30 is the registration deadline for CANSCAIP’s Children’s Writing Competition. Member Lisa Dalyrimple won this competition with her first book Skink on the Brink, and Jennifer Mook-Sang of newly released Speechless, is also a past winner.

    Packaging Your Imagination, our conference on writing and illustrating for children, has an amazing lineup this year! Check it out. Humber College, Saturday November 14, 2015A welcome reception the evening before will showcase our illustrators’ work to enjoy and buy.  A new item at the Saturday conference will be a One-to-One for published authors with industry experts critiquing your author website and social media skills.

    Karen Krossing spoke about a BC authors’ fundraising campaign initiated by Robin Stevenson and Sarah Harvey (inspired by author Patrick Ness’s project which raised over a million pounds) called Canadian Children’s Authors Illustrators support refugees. At the time of the meeting, over $16,000 had been raised with generous donations by Kenneth Oppel, Susin Nielsen, Orca Book Publishers and many other writers and illustrators. Anyone can donate to Doctors without Borders at this link to the fundraiser.

    Past President Nancy Hartry stepped up to announce her election to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Board of Directors.  The hottest event of the year is their gala on November 18. Join the CCBC to guarantee yourself of an invite.  Only $35 for professional creators.

    New Creations

    Patricia Storms, illustrator of The Ghosts Go Spooking written by Chrissie Bozik, sang and played the ukulele to introduce this picture book published by Scholastic Canada. Available for $7.99 She will be presenting at the Telling Tales Festival, Sunday, September 20 hosting TD Children’s Literature Table at Word on the Street, and presenting from 5:20 to 5:40 on September 27, 2015.

    Lucy Falcone, aka LM Falcone, talked about her detective mystery series in which young Max Monroe solves crimes with the help of his dead grandpa. She then introduced her third book in the series. The Ghost and Max Monroe-Case #3 The Dirty Trick, Kids Can Press, illustrated by Kim Smith.  Max helps his favourite writer in this one.  Lucy will be presenting at Word on the Street, Sunday, September 27th Harbourfront, at 3:00 p.m.

    Trudee Romanek introduced her YA in the Orca Book Publishers, Limelights performing arts series. Raising the Stakes follows Chloe and her high-school improv team as they struggle to get the national level of competition in the Cross-Country Improv Games. This is Trudee Romanek’s first full-length work of fiction. Priced at $9.95 for ages 11-14, it will be available October 13, but is being launched November 8 at an improv celebration and launch in Barrie, ON. Details will be up soon on

    Frieda Wishinsky introduced two new books:

    Avalanche, Scholastic $6.99

    In matter of seconds, Alex's world is turned upside down. What started out as an epic day to build a snow fort turns into his worse nightmare. He's caught in an avalanche! A fast-paced read for kids in grades 3 and up and the first in the "Survival" series.

    Avis Dolphin, Groundwood, illustrated by Willow Dawson

    $16.99. 12-year-old Avis sails on the ill-fated Lusitania at the start of World War 1. The power of friendship and stories help her survive the harrowing ordeal. Beautiful graphic art tells a "story within a story" in this historical fiction based on true events.

    (PATRICIA STORMS pictured on right.)


    In addition to being a published author, Anitha Robinson is also a Chartered Accountant. She will be giving a tax talk for writers on Wednesday September 30th at 6:30 at the Hamilton Public Library, Sherwood Branch at 467 Upper Ottawa Street in Hamilton. Anyone interested in attending should contact the library at 905 546-3249.

    Anitha is also available to put on a tax talk for any interested group. Fees are similar to rates charged by authors of CANSCAIP to speak at events. Specifically, $250 for a 60-minute session. Participants are welcome to bring along questions and a copy of last year's income tax return.


    The "Secrets" Panel: Five authors with moderator Kevin Sylvester  

    Sharon Jennings introduced Kevin Sylvester, broadcaster and writer/illustrator of the Neil Flambé books, which include murder and poison right from the first pages.

    Kevin said as long as he didn’t include detailed recipes he was safe from legal action.

    Kevin in turn introduced five of The Secrets author/panelists: the award-winning and bestselling authors Kelley Armstrong who wrote The Unquiet Past, Vicki Grant, Small Bones, Marthe Jocelyn, A Big Dose of Lucky, Norah McClintock, My Life Before Me, and Teresa Toten, Shattered Glass. The other two writers were unavailable. Kathy Kacer, Stones of Grace, was presenting in other countries and Eric Walters, Innocent, was in a plane over Amsterdam.  The Secrets is Orca’s new series of linked YA novels set in 1964. In it an orphanage burns down and seven girls are sent out on personal journeys involving racism, homosexuality, birth control, and mental illness.

    Kevin asked the panelists to tell us about their characters.

    Teresa Toten described Tony, who has nightmares about fire. The backdrop of the story is Yorkville in 1964, and the book includes a drug and café scene, where the reader will discover Toronto-the-not-good. While none of the girls have family, they are all on a journey to discover who they are and what makes family.

    Kelley Armstrong’s character Tess sees people who are not there and believes there is mental illness in her family. She must follow the sole clue of a phone number and address, which turns out to be an abandoned house in Quebec.

    Martha Jocelyn’s Malou is the only brown-skinned girl at the orphanage, and she receives a child’s hospital bracelet that takes her to Parry Sound, Ontario.

    Vicki Grant’s Dorothy, aka Dot, was a premature baby who wasn’t expected to make it through the first night. She was wrapped in a man’s grey coat with a tiny mustard spoon with a family crest.  Her clues lead her to a fictionalized cottage country where she encounters class distinction--and a boy. Her story has a World War II connection.

    Norah McClintock’s character Cady was twice adopted and has no interest in her past as a result of these abandonments. She was planning to leave the orphanage anyway when the fire happened.  She does have a “burning” ambition to be a reporter, though, and, in the course of a murder investigation, she closes in on the truth of her own origins.

     First question from Kevin: Why 1964?

    The short answer was to incorporate orphanages—they disappeared after 1968 when foster parenting became the norm. But the writers enjoyed getting rid of cell phones (and parents through the orphanage theme!) and also enjoyed the retro feel.

    Most of the panelists would have preferred 1968 for various reasons (Kelley said at least she was alive then) but Kathy Kacer needed 1964 for her storyline involving the last DP camp. Martha explained that her character needed to be 16 in 1964 because 1948 was the first year sperm was frozen.

    On doing the research

    Kelley spoke about digging up photos just to describe what her character would see coming out of the subway.  Kelley’s daughter, a master’s student in library science, fact checked the story, adding various interesting details that she discovered along the way.

    Vicki had already done a lot of research for a novel set in wartime Halifax. “It was inspired by my dad's story. He was just 17 when he enlisted. He became a bomber pilot, meaning he had only a 50% chance of surviving his tour of duty.  I thought, there's a great situation to throw a teenage protagonist into. Researching THAT book led me to a bunch of ladies in their late 80s and early 90s who were in Halifax during the war. Their stories about love and dating all those gorgeous young men were so fabulous, I convinced CBC-TV to let me do a documentary on them called "Dancing Was My Duty." 

    “All that turned out to be great background for the Secrets series. When I heard it was going to take place in 1964, I did the math and realized there was a very good chance my character’s father would have been in the war. My dad survived his tour of duty more or less intact, but I realized long after he died that he suffered from what we’d probably call PTSD today. My older brother told me our Dad woke up screaming all his life. I put a bit of Dad in all three veterans in my book.”

    Norah McClintock picked up on the war theme in her book, too. During WWII, her dad trained for two years with the 761st tank battalion before the soldiers went overseas. Cady’s clue is a newspaper clipping of a tombstone. Thomas Jefferson, the man buried beneath it, turns out to be a black former soldier accused of murdering someone.

    How did you coordinate?

    Teresa and Eric did much of the organizing.  The group met a number of times to discuss the common characters in the novel. They downloaded pictures from the Internet for reference.

    Teresa says she always wanted to write with a group of writers, and from time to time in meetings she would pinch herself at the amount of talent around the table, “Fighting, arguing, laughing (with them) is an absolute joyous thing.”

    They had a “bible” on series details that they routinely disregarded. Kelley has co-written before, but this series involved even more meetings and emails going back and forth to discuss which characters were going to be in the orphanage, because, for example, Kelley did not want her character on site. Sara’s boyfriend bullies Malou (Marthe Jocelyn’s character), and while those two stories feature identical dialogue, the thought processes described are different. One discussion changed the race of the cook at the orphanage because Martha needed no brown people to be around for her character. 

    And what about the authors not present? What did they write about?

    Kathy’s character Sara discovers she is Jewish through a Star of David left at the orphanage, and this leads her to a DP camp.  The love of her life ends up being a jerk, and, as with all seven books, there are painful but ultimately joyous happenings.  Sara ends up in an okay place.

    In Innocent, Eric’s character’s clue leads him to Kingston where her father is in prison for murder.

    (MARTHE JOCELYN pictured on left.)

    Questions from the audience

    Sharon was interested to know if the trend of a multi-author series will be the wave of the future, but Teresa answered that such a project required enormous amount of effort by the publisher (in their case Orca). The corroboration efforts were largely based on good will, and good faith. No sequel is currently planned.

    Mabel’s Fables Bookstore offered the book for advance sale. The actual publication date for the Secrets series is September 29.

    We hope all meetings are this packed!

    October is Illustrators’ Night with Sidney Smith and a guest appearance by IBBY’s new Artist in Residence, John Martz. See you there!

    Social media friends: Would you kindly tag your photos on Twitter with @CANSCAIP using the hashtag #Canscaipmeets 

    Or post them on our Facebook page:



  • Monday, June 22, 2015 11:13 AM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Recording Secretary:

    Our new president Sharon Jennings chaired the meeting. At our creative May meeting, over fifty members attended the field trip to hear Susin Nielsen and Susan Juby at the North York Library,which made it a great success, not only for the library but for the authors and the bookstore selling their books.



    Details for the CANSCAIP Writing for Children Competition have been announced. This year there will be two winners of $1,000 each:

    • picture book/early reader 
    • chapter book/middle grade/young adult  

    See the CANSCAIP website for more information.


    Helena Aalto, CANSCAIP's Administrative Director, announced that details will soon be on website for CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination conference in November. This year, One-to-One manuscript and portfolio critiques will be available on the same day. And we'll also have something new--website/social critiques. We will again have Art Show in November where pieces can be sold. 

    The conference will be held on Saturday, November 14th so SAVE THE DATE!

    TD Book Week Call for Applications

    Want to be a book week touring author, illustrator or storyteller? Information is on the CCBC website. Deadline is June 30th.

    Call for Applications

    Toronto Public Library’s Young Voices has a call for an e-writer in residence with a June 26th deadline. Remuneration is $10,000.00.


    Anne Laurel Carter will be leading a YA Novel writing course this summer,  July 13-17, at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies (details at:

    TWUC Survey

    Sharon Jennings announced TWUC's disappointing results from their recent national survey: we are earning 27% less from our creative work than we were in 1998. 

    TWUC considers this an emergency. Sylvia McNicoll encouraged us to attend TWUC’s annual meeting next year and join the discussion table.


    Catherine Rondina recently published a piece, A Famous Egg, in the anthology on food “Dear Tomato”, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte, and published by  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


    Nominations and award winners will be announced at our September 2015 meeting.


    Patricia Storms introduced the speaker, Julie Kraulis, an artist, author and illustrator.

    Since completing her Bachelor of Design in Illustration at OCAD, Julie spends most of her days in her studio with a pencil or paintbrush in hand, working on a wide range of projects from fine art to illustration to picture books. 

    Her dream (since high school) came true when Tundra Books published her first two books, Whimsy's Heavy Things and An Armadillo in Paris.

    Julie has worked as a freelance artist full-time for 5 and 1/2 years and finds it a demanding beast, but one worth the challenge. Work ebbs and flows and  no day is like the last. 

    She incorporates moving  - a walk or run - into her days because it helps her sift and unravel things in her mind. Her work includes fine art, illustration, house & people’s portraits, logos & corporate work. 

    Music, books, conversations, podcasts and Instagram inspire her. 

    There are Meccas of inspiring ideas around the world and Instagram is an excellent place on the web to find them. In particular, she’s inspired by French artists. 

    In terms of her technique, Julie loves working on a soft wood panel, usually pine. She covers it with gesso, then paints thin layers of oil paint, and works with a graphite pencil. 

    She uses varying degrees of sandpaper to create varying degrees of texture. 

    When she was 28 years old,  Julie signed her first contract as an author-illustrator with Tundra for Whimsey’s Heavy Things which has a slightly autobiographical theme - how to cast off the heavy things that weigh you down.

    An Armadillo in Paris (also  Tundra) concerns Arlo who is humble, covered in armour, and hates the cold ( a little like Julie).

    It’s the first book in a series about Arlo who explores cities, looking for a monument. 

    How did Julie get her lucky break? She was introduced to a freelance designer who works for Tundra and to whom she showed her portfolio. The designer’s important advice:

     Fill your portfolio with work that exemplifies the work you want to do. 

    Julie pitched her stories to this freelance designer and Tundra called her in for a meeting. Her third book Arlo in New York will be out next year.

    From the time she signs a contract to seeing the book on a shelf takes 2 years. The art itself takes 2-3 months of full-time work. 

    In terms of process, words and images happen simultaneously for her. She does small thumbnails to figure out where the text will go and the graphic design of the book.

     Then she goes to black and white linears, to size. Then she moves it to final art work which is the real joy. 

    Our next Toronto CANSCAIP meeting will be held on September 9th.

  • Monday, April 13, 2015 12:03 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Bill Swan took the podium for the last time as CANSCAIP President. Earlier that evening, we CANSCAIPers held an Annual General Meeting to vote in a new board of directors. (Drumroll, please!) Your new board is:

    President: Sharon Jennings (pictured)

    Vice President: Lena Coakley (one year)

    Treasurer: Maureen McGowan (one year)

    Member at Large: David J. Smith

    Friend at Large: Lorna Poplak

    Bill Swan will now become our Past President—an advisory position—and will also take on a new role of investigating grants and sponsorships for CANSCAIP.

    Many, many thanks to Past President (or is it Past Past President now?) Karen Krossing, who headed up the nominations committee. In addition to the slate above, Karen also made recommendations to the new board regarding the appointed positions. These will be announced next month.  (Note that Recording Secretary is now an appointed position according to our new bylaws.)


    With that we rolled right into the meeting. The afore-mentioned Karen Krossing had a new work:

    Punch Like a Girl by Karen Krossing, YA fiction, Orca Book Publishers, ISBN 978-1459808287, $12.95.

    When 17-year-old Tori shaves her head in the middle of the night, her parents are stunned. When she punches a stranger at the mall, even her friends are shocked. Nobody understands why she’s become so moody and violent. It takes one small girl’s bravery to show Tori the value of speaking up rather than lashing out.

    It was a night for Past Presidents, because our other new creation was by Gisela Sherman:

    The Farmerettes, by Gisela Tobien Sherman, Second Story Press, ISBN 978-1-927583-64-7, $12.95.

     The Farmerettes follows a group of teenage girls over the summer of  1943, as they work on Highberry Farm in Winona, to replace the men who have left for war. Their stories are woven together with fun and friendship, the hard work and simple pleasures of farm life, romance, tragedy, history, self-empowerment, and hope.

    (There is a correlation here: volunteer for CANSCAIP=Get published. Just saying.)


    Jennifer Maruno introduced the evening’s speakers, remarking that she was leaving the programming committee on a high note. 

    Kathy Kacer has won the Silver Birch, Red Maple, Hackmatack and Jewish Book Awards, and was a finalist for the Geoffrey Bilson and Norma Fleck Awards. She has written many unforgettable stories inspired by real events, many of them about the Holocaust. Her books have been published in many countries including Germany, China, Slovenia, Thailand, England, Japan, and Belgium.

    Her son, Canadian actor Jake Epstein, made his professional theatrical debut in a Soulpepper Theatre Company production of Our Town. He became well known after being cast in a lead role as Craig Manning on the television show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Epstein attended the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal and graduated in 2008. He made his Broadway debut in Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and originated the role of Gerry Goffin in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

    These two talented people have come together to write a new play, Therefore Choose Life, which will open at the Harold Green Jewish Theatre on April 18th. Based loosely on a true story, the play is about a Holocaust survivor who remarries and starts a new life in Canada. When a letter from the past arrives unexpectedly, he is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma about leaving his wife of thirty years, or returning to his first and true love.


    Kathy: The project started for us about six years ago. I was in between writing projects and Jake had just finished touring the play, Spring Awakening.

    Jake: I had come back to Toronto and didn’t have an apartment, so I was living with my parents.  My mother and I had talked in the past about writing something together. She had already written one play, an adaptation of her book The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser, which had toured Canadian schools.

    Kathy: Then I heard a story about a man who gets a letter from the wife he thought he had lost in the Second World War. For some reason, I thought it would work better as a play than as a novel. Jake and I spent about four months writing the first draft.

    Jake: In our play, the man who has lost his first wife has moved to Toronto and married again. Twenty-five years have passed. He gets a letter saying that his first wife is alive and has been living in communist Russia. She is coming to Toronto to find him. His second wife, his son, and his son’s girlfriend all become entangled in the choice this man has: stay with his second wife, or return to the first.

    Kathy: I was interested in the Holocaust element. What is the impact of that journey for this elderly man?

    Jake: I was interested in telling the story of the second generation, of the children of survivors. In a way it’s my mom’s story, which is something that, for all her writing, my mom has never told.

    Kathy: A lot has been written about the effect of trauma on the children of survivors. We inherit the trauma of our parents.

    Jake: Once we were done with the draft, the question was, what do we do with it? I called a bunch of actor friends and we had a table read. You cringe through your first draft. We started applying for grants and festivals and found help with the Harold Green Theatre’s In the Beginning: A Jewish Playwright's Festival, which has a mandate to encourage and discover new Jewish Canadian playwrights.

    Kathy: We have access to actors because Jake is an actor, but we also cold called actors we admired. I was surprised to learn that actors love to be in these kinds of projects. They want to be the ones considered.

    Jake: The main reason I got Beautiful was that I was in on the ground floor. Ideally, the writers start rewriting the part with you in mind.

    Kathy: We revised. We received a grant, and with the funding, we approached the Harold Green Theatre again to do a joint workshop with us.

    Jake: We did a weeklong workshop with Harold Green. We got to try out some casting.

    Kathy: In terms of the writing process, we started by talking. A lot. In the beginning, we had days of conversations about the themes that interested us.

    Jake: Then we started mapping things out. We had to be on the same page about what each character’s emotional journey would be. Then Kathy and I took ownership of different scenes.

    Kathy: We started out by saying I would write the older voices and Jake would write the younger. 

    Jake: We’d email each other scenes and then start to revise and rewrite each other’s writing.

    Kathy: Then we would merge our work. The pattern was: Go away and work—Come together and merge. Once we had a draft, we’d sit together and duke it out.

    Jake: What was really fascinating was that once we started table readings and getting feedback, we’d both take a scene away to revise and sometimes we’d independently come up with the same lines. We really both got on the same page.

    Kathy: Each time we brought our scenes together we would get closer and closer to what we both thought the story was.  I just want to mention the phenomenal cast. Jake is acting in the play…

    Jake: Hey I need to write a gig for myself!

    Kathy: …and we were thrilled that Sheila McCarthy asked to audition for a role. She wasn’t what I had in mind but she turned out to be fantastic. I learned that in playwriting, the more you give away the more space you leave for others to bring something to your work.

    Jake: Also in the cast are Lisa Horner, Amelia Sargisson, and Avery Saltzman. It’s directed by Rachel Slaven.

    Kathy: We wanted to end by asking each other the following question: Jake, what was it like to work with your talented mother and would you do it again?

    Jake: Well. I’m kind of on the spot here, Kathy.  Actually, it’s been great. When this started, I knew that the idea of writing with my mom sounded a bit disastrous, but it’s been such a joyful experience. I was the first reader of a lot of my mom’s books. As a young writer to have a mentor who is also your parent has been a gift.

    So I guess I should ask the same question of you.

    Kathy: I always said that whatever happened with this play, the opportunity to write with my child was a golden opportunity. We came to it with great respect for other’s writing and thinking. I learned that we share the same kind of work ethic, which is so essential when you have a writing partner. We came to this as equals, and we had to work at that, but it’s never felt within the writing process that one was an authority figure. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.


    Q: How much rehearsal time do you get?

    A: For this play it was 3.5 weeks, which is longer than some. That’s because this piece has never been done before. There is no blueprint.

    Q: What’s the impact on the rest of your family.

    A: They’ve been quite involved. They’ve been at every table reading and feel a part of it.

    Thanks so much for joining us, Kathy and Jake!

    Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 13th. Keep an eye on the CANSCAIP website for more details.

    (Past President, Sylvia McNicoll and our guest, Jake Epstein)

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