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Meet our PYI 2020 Speakers


About Adwoa Badoe

Adwoa Badoe is the author of two young adult novels, Aluta and Between Sisters, as well as a collection of folk tales and several picture books for children. She is an oral storyteller, specializing in the folk tales and legends of Africa. In her former lives, she taught and performed African dance and practiced medicine.


About Steven Barwin

Steven Barwin is a writer and teacher. He wrote on nine television shows and the NASCAR and WWE interactive board games. He is the author of fourteen sports-themed and teen realistic fiction books.


About Terrilee Bulger

Terrilee Bulger has been in the book business for 35 years as a bookseller, sales rep, publicist and publisher. She is now the General Manager and co-owner of Nimbus Publishing, the largest English Canadian book publisher east of Toronto, in Halifax. She is also the owner and Publisher at The Acorn Press.


About Heather Camlot

Heather Camlot is the author of the nonfiction What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? (Owlkids Books) and the novels The Other Side and Clutch (both Red Deer Press). She is speaker coordinator of Packaging Your Imagination conference as well as a journalist, editor and translator. 


About Gary Clement

Gary Clement is a Canadian artist, cartoonist, illustrator and writer. He’s the author and illustrator of several children’s books, among them The Great Poochini, which earned Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Illustration. Gary has also illustrated many other books, including My Winter City, written by James Gladstone. He draws a daily political cartoon for The National Post and his illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and more.


About Paul Coccia

Paul Coccia is the debut author of Cub, a hi-lo from Orca Books. Paul has a Specialist in English Literature from the University of Toronto and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Paul lives in Toronto with his three dogs and is often baking when not writing.


About Natasha Deen

Natasha Deen is the author of novels that include In the Key of Nira Ghani (Red Maple Honour Book) and Thicker Than Water (Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection). When she’s not writing, she enjoys visiting libraries and schools. She also spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. 


About Jackie Farquhar

Jackie Farquhar is the Editor of Chirp magazine, Fiction Editor of Chickadee, magazine, and Contributing Editor OWL magazine. She has also edited four non-fiction books for children.


About Nan Froman

Nan Froman is the Editorial Director at Groundwood Books, where she has worked for many years. She edits picture books, as well as nonfiction and translations.


About Loretta Garbutt

Loretta (Jafelice) Garbutt has been a voice and animation performer in Toronto for over 30 years and worked at Mabel’s Fables bookstore. Her first picture book, A Stopwatch from Grampa, was published by Kids Can Press in April 2020 and received a starred review from Kirkus and the School Library Journal. Loretta's second picture book release is spring 2022.


About Nadia Hohn

Nadia L. Hohn is an award-winning author of books for young people such as Malaika’s Costume, Malaika’s Winter Carnival and A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice. In 2018, she was granted the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Writers Award. Nadia is completing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at University of Guelph-Humber, and teaches in Toronto schools and at the University of Toronto School for Continuing Studies.


About June Hur

June Hur was born in South Korea, raised in Canada, and studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She is the author of The Silence of Bones, a YA historical mystery set in Joseon Dynasty-era Korea. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020.


About Andrew Katz

Andrew Katz just wants to write, but he sometimes has to clear away his dishes, much like Nino in Andrew’s second picture book, I Just Want To Be Super! Andrew also co-wrote How To Catch A Bear Who Loves To Read. The French version, Comment attraper un ours qui aime lire, was nominated for a 2020 Forest of Reading Award.


About Uma Krishnaswami

Uma Krishnaswami was born in India and now lives in Victoria, B.C. Her latest novel, Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh, published by Tu Books/Lee and Low, won an Asian Pacific American Award for Literature and the FOCAL award from LA Public Library. Uma teaches Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.


About Karen Li

Karen Li became publisher of Groundwood Books in 2020. She had been the editorial director at Owlkids since 2014, and previously worked for many years at Kids Can Press.  


About Deb Loughead

Deb Loughead is the author of more than 40 books for young people. She’s conducted workshops and held readings at schools, festivals and conferences across the country. Her latest novels are The Secrets We Keep, a YA mystery from Dundurn Press, Bright Shining Moment, from Second Story Press, and Wildfire, the fifth in a hi-lo mystery series from Orca Books.


About Irene Luxbacher

Irene Luxbacher is an award-winning illustrator and sometimes author of more than 20 books for children. In 2009, her illustrations for Andrew Larsen’s Imaginary Garden were nominated for the Governor-General's Award, and in 2019 her book Deep Underwater was a finalist for the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver award.  Malaika's Surprise is Irene's third collaboration with Nadia L. Hohn.


About Elizabeth MacLeod

Elizabeth MacLeod is an award-winning author of more than 65 non-fiction books for kids. Dinosaurs, murder, horses — Liz has written about them all. She’s been an in-house editor at OWL magazine and Kids Can Press, and a freelancer for other publishers. Her recent books include Canadian Women Now + Then, Meet Terry Fox and Super Cats.


About Brian McLachlan

Brian McLachlan is a cartoonist who's worked for The New Yorker, Nickelodeon, The Nib, Owl and more. He's also the author of the award-winning Draw Out the Story: 10 Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics, and the upcoming graphic novel/role-playing-game hybrid, Complete The Quest: The Poisonous Library.


About Carmen Mok

Carmen Mok is an award-winning illustrator of picture books. She recently illustrated Grandmother’s Visit by Betty Quan, selected as the picture book honour title of Asian/Pacific American Awards, and on the short list for the IODE Ontario Jean Throop Book Award. In 2018, Carmen received the Exceptional Portfolio Award and the Storyteller Award from SCBWI Canada East.


About Gillian O’Reilly

Gillian O’Reilly edited Canadian Children’s Book News for 20 years, and is a recipient of the Claude Aubry Award for distinguished contribution to children’s literature. She’s written two non-fiction books for young readers: Slangalicious: Where We Got That Crazy Lingo and The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (co-written with Cora Lee).


About Monique Polak

Monique Polak is the author of 29 books for young readers. She is a two-time winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and YA Literature. Monique is a frequent contributor to the Montreal Gazette and has been teaching at Marianopolis College for 34 years.


About Shelley Tanaka

Shelley Tanaka is the long-time fiction editor at Groundwood Books. She is also the author of more than two dozen books for young readers. She teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts, in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Gayna Theophilus

About Gayna Theophilus

Gayna Theophilus is Rights and Sales Director, Acquiring Editor at Annick Press in Toronto. She holds an MA in World Literatures in English, does freelance research and writing on occasion, and has always been passionate about amplifying voices from underrepresented communities.


About Teresa Toten

Teresa Toten is a multi-award-winning author of YA novels. Among other accolades, she has won the Governor General’s Literary Award and an American Library Association award for The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b. Her books are available around the world. She is the author of a dozen novels including Beware That Girl, which is being developed as a series for Quibi. Teresa is also the proud owner of a deeply, deeply neurotic dog.


About Frieda Wishinsky

Frieda Wishinsky has written over 70 picture books, chapter books, novels and non-fiction books. Picture book biographies are one of her favourite genres. She’s written biographies about Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Frederick Law Olmsted and most recently, Emily Roebling (How Emily Saved the Bridge). Frieda loves sharing the writing process.

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