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Meet our PYI 2022 Speakers


About Daniel Aleman

Daniel Aleman is the award-winning author of Indivisible. Born and raised in Mexico City, he has lived in various cities across North America and is currently based in Toronto, where he is on a never-ending search for the best tacos around. Brighter Than the Sun is his second novel.


About Helaine Becker

Helaine Becker is both a digital artist and the bestselling author of more than 90 books for children and young adults, including the #1 Canadian national bestseller and “enduring Canadian Christmas classic” A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Scholastic Canada) and the international bestseller Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 (Henry Holt).


About Andrea Blinick

Andrea Blinick is a picture book illustrator and art educator. She has published two picture books Outside, You Notice and Sun in My Tummy, and is working on her 3rd and 4th books. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters, and her favourite thing to do is to make an atrocious mess on her art table!


photo credit to David Stobbe Photography

About Beverley Brenna

Beverley Brenna (Professor Emerita, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan) is currently the children’s editor at Red Deer Press. Bev has worked in elementary and post-secondary classrooms and published over a dozen titles for young people—including her “Wild Orchid” series (earning a Dolly Gray Award, a Printz Honor, and placing on the Governor General’s shortlist). Visit


photo credit to Rebecca Wellman (Photo Property of ORCA)

About Sigmund Brouwer

As the bestselling and award-winning author of dozens of titles, with over 4 million books in print in multiple languages, Sigmund Brouwer’s recent non-fiction titles cover one of the most epic successes in human exploration—Apollo 11—and the equally epic failure of Sir John Franklin’s doomed attempt to find the Northwest passage.



About Lana Button

Lana Button is the award-winning author of nine picture books, including some that (gulp) rhyme. Her new books include Parent’s Magazine-approved The Cow Said Boo! and the CCBC’s Favourite Picture Books for 2021 selection, Tough Like Mum.


About Peter Carver

Peter Carver has worked in children’s publishing for 45 years, including 25 years as children’s editor at Red Deer Press, and freelancing for other publishers. He was on the staff of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for seven years, and edited the Freedom to Read kit for 22 years. A highly regarded writing teacher, Peter has taught at George Brown College, at workshops across Canada, and at his Nova Scotia holiday property in collaboration with his wife, author Kathy Stinson. His many awards include the Claude Aubry Award, Vicky Metcalf Award (three times), and Alberta’s Lois Hole Award for editing. Peter and Kathy live in Rockwood, Ontario.


About Marty Chan

Marty Chan writes books for kids, plays for adults and tweets for fun. In theatre he’s best known for his classic thriller, The Bone House, which had audiences from Edinburgh to Toronto screaming for their lives. His Orca Book, Haunted Hospital, was a Junior Library Guild’s gold standard selection and has gone into second printing. Marty works and lives in Edmonton.


About Mike Deas

Mike Deas says his love for illustrative storytelling came from his early love of reading and drawing while growing up on Salt Spring Island, BC. Capilano College’s Commercial Animation Program in Vancouver helped Mike fine-tune his drawing skills and imagination.


About Natasha Donovan

Natasha Donovan is a self-taught illustrator originally from Vancouver, BC. She has illustrated more than ten books, including the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series, written by Brett Huson, and the graphic novel adaptation of Thomas King’s story Borders. Her recent work includes The Global Ocean, written by Rochelle Strauss, and A River’s Gifts, written by Patricia Newman.


About Cylita Guy

Cylita Guy, PhD, is a Toronto-based ecologist, data scientist, and science communicator who studies bats. Her first children’s book – Chasing Bats & Tracking Rats: Urban Ecology, Community Science, and How We Share Our Cities (Annick Press) is now available. In her downtime, this friendly neighbourhood batgirl is chasing her next big outdoor adventure.


About Andrew Katz

Andrew Katz is a bilingual author based in Montreal. His third and most recent picture book is A Starlit Trip to the Library, published simultaneously in French as Voyage de nuit à la bibli (2022). As a fun extra, the book includes an original song, written by Andrew and performed by Taes Leavitt, aka Boots from the children’s music duo Splash’N Boots.



About Soyeon Kim

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born Canadian artist living in Pickering, Ontario. Her main medium is three-dimensional dioramas, where she creates a world by carefully arranging the painted and texturized paper cutouts. She is the illustrator of You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas, Is This Panama? Sukaq and the Raven, You Are Never Alone, A Last Goodbye, and Once Upon an Hour.



About Stacey Kondla

Stacey Kondla is a literary agent at The Rights Factory. Her experience includes working for Scholastic Book Fairs, managing the IndigoKids department at two Chapters/Indigo stores, and freelance editing. Stacey has a broad and eclectic list of authors and illustrators, though she specializes in children's fiction and nonfiction. She thrills in helping her clients find the best publishing homes for their work.


photo credit to Lian Leng

About Qin Leng

Qin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She has illustrated over 40 titles with publishers around the world. Her picture books include Hana Hashimoto Sixth Violin, Skinnamarink, Over the Shop and I Am Small, which Qin has written and illustrated.


About Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Tanya Lloyd Kyi is the author of more than 30 picture books, information books, and novels for children and young adults. She writes about science, pop-culture, and places where the two overlap. Tanya lives in Vancouver, B.C., where she’s a lecturer for the UBC School of Creative Writing.


About Yolanda T. Marshall

Yolanda T. Marshall is a Guyanese-born Canadian author. In 2015, after becoming a mom, Yolanda was inspired to write her first children's book. Her books are all about celebrations, inclusion and recipes, and include C is for Carnival, My Soca Birthday Party, Hot Cross Buns for Everyone. Yolanda lives in Toronto.


About Colleen Nelson

Colleen Nelson is a teacher and author from Winnipeg where she currently teaches Grade 8. Her award-winning books include Harvey Comes Home and Governor’s General nominee Harvey Holds His Own, The Undercover Book List and Schwartz Award winner Sadia.



About Sara O'Leary

Sara O’Leary grew up in Saskatoon and now divides her time between Montreal and the Bay of Fundy. She is the author of several books for adults as well as picture books such This is Sadie. Maud and Grand-Maud, and When You Were Small. You can find her online at



About Patricia Ocampo

Patricia Ocampo is senior editor at Kids Can Press, and previously worked at HarperCollins, Annick Press, Simon and Schuster, and Transatlantic Agency. Patricia is past president of the Canadian chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). She teaches children’s book editing at The Chang School.


photo credit to Stuart W.

About Liselle Sambury

Liselle Sambury is the Trinidadian-Canadian author of the Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist, Blood Like Magic. Her work spans multiple genres, from fantasy to sci-fi, horror, and more. In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to demystifying the sometimes complicated business of being an author.


About Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her books cover a broad spectrum of ages, topics and emotions. Monique is Cree, Lakota and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 30 years. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.


About Jennifer Stokes

Jennifer Stokes is the editorial director at Owlkids Books. Previous to this, she was a senior editor at Kids Can Press and the children’s manager of the now-closed McNally Robinson Booksellers in Toronto. She has worked with many talented creators on non-fiction books, picture books, and graphic novels. She’s also the co-author (with Dave Whamond) of the picture book Frank and Laverne.

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