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.
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  • Tuesday, October 25, 2016 3:23 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES FROM CANSCAIP MEETING Wednesday, October 12, 2016

    President: Sharon Jennings

    Recording Secretary: Sharon Jennings recording tonight for Bev Katz Rosenbaum


    • Sharon Jennings welcomed attendees.


    • Jocelyn Shipley presented Shatterproof,  part of the Orca Currents series for reluctant readers.
    • Michael Parrish announced an offer of representation from New York Agency Dystel & Goderich for his picture book debut.
    • Michelle Nidenoff's Pictures and Words, an exhibit of illustration, fine art and calligraphy, will be on display for the month of October in the 2nd floor gallery of the Northern District Library. (Right outside our meeting room.)
    • Josephine Vaccaro-Chang will be presenting a series of interactive workshops in Newmarket using her JK-Grade Three book We Are All Colourful Friends.


    • Humber College, where PYI was hosted from 2013 to 2015, offered CANSCAIP live-streaming equipment and technicians for well below market rates. With Humber’s support, CANSCAIP launched Virtual PYI in 2013.
    • In the first year, there were about 20 registrations for Virtual PYI, in 2014 almost 30, and in 2015 more than 40. It was pretty clear that Virtual PYI had growth potential.
    • Our new PYI location at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute doesn’t have in-house tech staff and equipment for live-streaming or videotaping. We’ve been getting quotes for equipment and technicians to produce Virtual PYI.
    • Live-streaming isn’t feasible because it is just too expensive for us, but quotes for videotaping were below what we expected (although still higher than Humber). 
    • We are delighted that we will be able to offer Virtual PYI as online video in 2016. Virtual PYI makes our conference truly a national event, allowing attendees from anywhere to participate.

    GUEST SPEAKER: Joel Sutherland

    Joel Sutherland, author of Scholastic’s Haunted Canada books for Grades Four to Seven, often described as the Stephen King for kids, began his presentation with this interesting tidbit: he can’t wait for this season of The Walking Dead to start.

    Joel’s fun and lively speech was dotted with Lessons He Has Learned, and he noted that there is no one path to a writing career. His took a rather long-ish route. He graduated with a BFA in film, liked the writing part best, and began writing short stories.

    LESSON #1: Write a lot, be rejected a lot, learn a lot. “Writing short stories,” said Joel, “allowed me to be rejected often and fast”. Doing so also gave him a thick skin. But one short story, combining a haunted house and the Ottawa ice storm, so impressed a publisher that he was asked to make it novel length. The result was Frozen Blood, which sold 23 copies.

    LESSON #2: You are your own best salesperson. Joel bought several copies of Frozen Blood himself and sent them to horror authors he admired. The result? He was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (awarded to a debut horror novel).

    LESSON #3: Stock up on Kleenex and Scotch. Joel went to L.A. for the award ceremony and met an editor who bought the paperback rights to Frozen Blood. Soon after, the company went bankrupt.

    LESSON #4: You never know what will lead to what. In the meantime, Joel went back to school, earning a Master’s in Library Science, and was further inspired by his work with young people, seeing how kids reacted to the books he read to them, plus watching and learning from visiting authors. (He gets invigorated by being around like-minded people, such as through CANSCAIP.) He began a column in which he interviewed children’s authors and illustrators and asked them Five Silly Questions. He had so much fun with this that he got the idea to turn the columns into a book. Then he met a sales rep from Scholastic, e-mailed her his idea (LESSON #5: Confidence is king), and – after a lot of drafts – published Be a Writing Superstar.

    LESSON #6: Meet people and be polite. And LESSON #7: Be persistent/never give up. While all this was going on, Joel enrolled in the famous Peter Carver/Ted Staunton writing course at George Brown College, learning some tricks of the trade. And through his relationship with Scholastic, and because of his interest in haunted places (he’s stayed in a haunted hotel), he was asked to take over the Haunted Canada series.

    LESSON #8: Give non-fiction a shot. Joel was asked from the audience about submitting non-fiction proposals. Although he noted that we can obtain all this information using Google, he gave us the top three things to keep in mind when approaching a publisher/editor/agent with your proposal:

    • 1)    So What? Why is your proposal unique? What sets you apart?
    • 2)    Who Cares? What is your targeted readership? What evidence is there for a need in the marketplace?
    • 3)    Who Are You? You must show that you have sufficient authority to write this non-fiction book.

    Joel began writing horror fiction that didn’t do very well (see above re: 23 copies), then moved into horror non-fiction, which did very well, and then, by way of all his research into haunted locations across Canada, he came up with an idea for his soon to be published YA novel, Summer’s End. He had gathered lots of information on sanatoriums for the insane over the years, and…you can guess the rest.

    When asked about what is popular now in non-fiction, Joel said, “all the weird, quirky fact-type books”. Jo-Ellen Bogart mentioned The Horn Book Guide, an annual list of books by subject – a handy way to spot what is missing in the marketplace.

    Back to Joel staying in a haunted hotel…  Joel’s daughter gave him her toy bunny to help him get through the night. He propped it up on a shelf, and in the morning, the bunny was turned the other way, facing the wall. “Do not bring that bunny back home,” his wife instructed him. Sounds like a great idea for a picture book!

  • Tuesday, September 20, 2016 11:41 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES FROM CANSCAIP MEETING September 14, 2016

    SPEAKER:  Anne Shone, Scholastic Canada

    President: Sharon Jennings

    Recording Secretary: Bev Katz Rosenbaum


    • Sharon welcomed a large audience of about 90.


    • Sibling Shenanigans, an early chapter book by author Marjorie Cripps, published by Your Nickel's Worth in Regina, is a collection of the adventures of a close-knit brother and sister, with references that highlight the author’s love of quilts.
    • Theo Heras presented her new picture book, Hat On, Hat Off, illustrated by Renné Benoit, published by Pajama Press. When it’s time for a toddler to go outside, is his hat on or off? Her other new book, Reading the World’s Stories: An Annotated Bibliography of International Youth Literature, co-edited by Annette Goldsmith and Susan Corapi, published by Rowman & Littlefield. It’s the fifth volume in a US IBBY initiative, covering international children's books published in English from 2010 to 2014. Recommended Canadian books are well represented!                                                                 
    • Author Mireille Messier presented The Branch, a picture book illustrated by Pierre Pratt, published by Kids Can Press. A young girl is crestfallen when a branch from her favourite tree breaks off during an ice storm. With the help of her elderly neighbour, she finds new potential in her beloved branch and repurposes it into something to be cherished forever.
    • The Doll’s Eye, by Marina Cohen, is a middle grade novel published by Roaring Brook Press. The day 12 year-old Hadley discovers the lone glass eye under the bed in her new house is the day her life changes forever. Marina also shared the story of how her earlier version of the book was rejected, and after putting it aside for two years, Marina substantially reworked it and her editor loved the new version.
    • Rona Arato presented Sammy and the Headless Horseman, a middle grade sequel to Ice Cream Town, published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Thanks to his Aunt Pearl, 11 year-old Sammy is stuck in the Catskill Mountains for the summer with his awful cousin Joshua.
    • Barbara Reid presented Baby’s First Treasury, published by Scholastic, which includes seven of her books for and about babies.
    • Maple Moon by Connie Brummel Crook and illustrator Scott Cameron, published in 1997, has been chosen by Open Book/Open History as part of its promotion of Canadian history.


    • The list of nominees for the eight categories in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s TD Children’s Literature Awards were recently announced. Many CANSCAIPers are on the list!
    • The fall newsletter is now available, and has many terrific articles. Sharon congratulated Barbara Greenwood for another great job. Barbara is currently recovering from surgery.
    • Sad news that we recently lost two members: Nancy Prasad, poet and author, and former CANSCAIP office secretary, known as ‘the kind voice of CANSCAIP’, and William Bell, author of 19 books.  


    • Packaging Your Imagination conference is on Saturday, November 19th.  PYI committee is Heather Camlot, Joyce Grant, Holly Main, and Jennifer Maruno. Registration is going great, perhaps due to the new downtown location Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.
    • Sharon noted that the CCBC’S TD Awards Gala is on Thursday, November 17, which is two days before PYI – a double great reason for out of towners to come to Toronto.  All members of CCBC get an invitation to the Gala.
    • The new PYI location doesn’t have in-house tech staff and equipment needed for live-streaming PYI. Committee is looking into market costs of rentals for Virtual PYI in 2016. Humber College, where PYI had been since 2013, offered their equipment and staff for well below market rates.
    • Two PYI volunteers needed: Communications coordinator to write weekly promotional e-mail blasts AND Virtual PYI volunteer to work with an AV company prior to and during the conference. Both volunteers would participate in the weekly PYI planning conference calls.
    • Volunteer also needed for the Blue Pencil program, in which a writer or illustrator is matched with a published author who evaluates their manuscript.


    Wed. Oct. 12   Joel Sutherland - Writing Non-Fiction

    Wed. Nov. 9    Joyce Grant and Angela Misri - Author Websites and Social Media 

    Wed. Dec. 14   Ruth Ohi and Debbie Ohi - Seasonal Books

    Wed. Jan. 1      Kat Mototsune - Diversity in Kids Publishing

    GUEST SPEAKER: Anne Shone

    Patricia Storms introduced our speaker for the evening, Scholastic Senior Editor Anne Shone, speaking on the topic ‘Is Funny Worthy?’

    Anne opened her talk by saying that obviously the answer to ‘Is Funny Worthy?’ is a resounding yes! Awards are nice, but editors are equally concerned about how the books connect with real live kids. On the same day Anne learned a book she’d worked on had been nominated for a big award, she got a text from a parent saying her son had shared a book she’d also worked on with his daycare class and they all loved it—both of those acknowledgments were thrilling! High quality books can also be books kids want to read, and a big goal of Anne’s is to create lifelong readers.

    Anne shared a childhood experience in which a teacher crossed out many of the books on Anne’s ‘Books I Read Over the Summer’ list (including stories by Enid Blyton), and the teacher’s note said, ‘These don’t count.’ Even then, Anne said, she knew the teacher was wrong.

    Funny books invite kids into the world of reading, which competes with TV and computers. Captain Underpants author Dave Pilkey is a strong advocate for kids and reading. Funny books also provide respite from the turmoil of childhood, can teach readers to look at things critically, and blast things open and get kids to look at things in new ways. Studies show that kids are more likely to read books that they choose themselves, and they often choose funny.

    It takes great skill to get humour on the page and to get it right. Anne presented some Scholastic examples. What Is Peace? by Wallace Edwards is philosophical, but his sense of whimsy comes through, and he makes the inaccessible accessible, opening up an important conversation. Ruth Ohi’s Fox and Squirrel: The Best Christmas Ever, never overtells, and her humour is deadpan. Patricia Storms’ Never Let You Go has unexpected humour as well as sweetness, which makes it different from many other books about parents expressing love for their children. Both kids and parents need to love a book, and the humour must not be at the expense of the child.

    Frieda Wishinsky’s and Elizabeth MacLeod’s Colossal Canada (non-fiction) has an energetic, fun tone. They added speech balloons and thought bubbles to photos that were a bit boring, and there are running gags throughout to engage the reader and make connections to the material. Stacey Matson’s A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius is about a kid who pushes everybody’s buttons, drives everybody crazy, but underneath the humour is the tragedy of losing his mother. Emil Sher’s Young Man With Camera doesn’t feature a traditional happy ending, but the protagonist has a wicked sense of humour and a unique way of seeing the world, which mitigates the bleakness and leaves you with the feeling the kid will be okay. In Jennifer Mook-Sang’s Speechless, the main character would have preferred to fly under the radar, but gets involved in a speech competition and learns that while he may fall on his face, he won’t die. Ted Staunton’s upcoming Bounced is a funny, touching detective story, with humour that comes mostly from the characters’ smart dialogue.

    Anne encouraged writers not just to add more jokes, but to become a better writer and write the stories that speak to you. She mentioned that she read an interview with one of Seth Myers’ TV writers who said she became funnier when she started writing to please herself, not others.

    Highlights from the Q&A that followed Anne’s talk:

    • There is a recently announced Canadian award for humour in children’s books--the Joan Betty Stuchner ‘Oy Vey’ Funniest Children’s Book Award
    • The Forest of Reading award-winning titles are voted on by kids and include a lot of humourous books
    • The illustrator generally takes ownership of the humour-within-the-illustrations aspect of a book
    • The element of surprise is important but hard to get right
    • Sometimes kids pick up stuff in art that adults miss – don’t underestimate their ability to understand things
    • You can’t just “add farts” to make book a funny; there has to be something more to it (the way Captain Underpants is not just about underpants)
    • Funny is all around us; finding it and reflecting it back is the skill
    • Scholastic looks at everything across all age groups, not just funny books, and is always looking for Canadian content
    • Scholastic has a rights team; which rights they request is on a case-by-case basis

  • Tuesday, July 12, 2016 8:48 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    Notes from CANSCAIP Meeting on June 8, 2016

    To give out-of-towners an opportunity to attend, CANSCAIP’s Toronto meetings are occasionally held outside the city.  Our meeting on June 8 was held at Durham College in Whitby, and many members from the area, including Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering, Kawartha Lakes, and Peterborough were there, along with some from Toronto and Burlington.  

    The meeting was preceded by a fixed-price dinner prepared by the culinary students at the college’s Bistro 67 restaurant.  

    Kat Mototsune, the kids editor at James Lorimer Publishers, was scheduled to speak about diversity in publishing but cancelled due to illness.  However, the topic was well-covered at the meeting with the attendees participating in a lively and wide-ranging discussion on defining  and demystifying diversity.  We’ll arrange for Kat to speak at a future meeting in Toronto.  

     President Sharon Jennings hosted the meeting and co-recording secretary Saumiya  Balasubramaniam took notes. 

    Member Announcements:  New Books and Projects

    • Patricia Storms:  Presented her new picture book The Ghosts Go Spooking.
    • Jennifer Maruno and Sylvia McNicoll: Have both contributed recent articles to Write magazine, a publication of The Writers Union of Canada.
    • Nadia Hohn:  Her picture book Malaika’s Costume won the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Children’s Literature Award.
    • Heather M. O’Connor: Presented her debut YA novel Betting Game, which was included in Best Book for Kids and Teens, published bi-annually by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
    • Theo Heras:  Recently finished working on a published bibliography of children’s books for USBBY; of the 800 titles in the book, 200 are Canadian.

    Administrative Director’s Announcements (Helena Aalto)

    • Our annual conference Packaging Your Imagination on Saturday, November 19 will be held at a terrific new downtown location:  Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at Victoria and Shuter, close to the subway, hotels, restaurants, theatres and Art Gallery of Ontario, as well a short walk to the Eaton Centre and other shopping venues.  Award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith is one of our presenters, and during our lunch break IBBY Canada will present him with the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for Sidewalk Flowers.
    • The Writing for Children Competition opened in May, and the deadline for submissions is July 30. A unique and important benefit of the Competition is that every entrant receives feedback from the readers who evaluate the entries.
    • The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s AGM will be held on Monday June 27 at 6 pm at the Northern District Library. Speaker Gillian O’Reilly will talk about her passion for Canadian children’s books, which promises to be an excellent talk from her vast knowledge of the field.

    Discussion on Diversity in Publishing

    The floor was then open to discussion on the topic of diversity.  Among the issues discussed:

    • Canada’s publishing industry is different from the US. Our population and cultural heritage is more diverse than the US, which is reflected in the numbers of books we publish that have diversity themes, and in the extensive diverse collections in our public libraries which play a significant role in culture in Canada. However, Canada’s children’s publishing industry is only about 40 years old, and we are still catching up with the world.
    • Appropriation of culture and the authenticity of the writer’s voice was discussed. It was mentioned that The Writers Union of Canada states there is no such thing as cultural appropriation.
    • Jennifer Maruno, who married into Japanese culture, noted a negative bias by educators against writers telling stories about cultures that are not in the writer’s blood, even if the stories themselves are authentic. Her Cherry Blossoms series, about a ten-year old Japanese girl and based on her mother-in-law’s childhood, were recognized for making a contribution to Japanese culture in Canada.  When Jennifer was invited by the Japanese Cultural Centre to a program honouring successful Japanese women, she told them was not Japanese by birth;  a lengthy and non-responsive silence ensued.  Eventually the books and her mother-in-law were honored at another presentation.
    • Catherine Rondina talked about writing Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations, a non-fiction title about cultural festivals such as Ramadan, Hanukkah, Diwali, Halloween and many others, seen from a child’s perspective. For a section  in a native child’s voice,  Cathy arranged to get approval from an expert in the native community before including it in the book.
    • Nadia Hohn discussed the We Need Diverse Books campaign and what we need to be doing in Canada to tell our stories, and tell them right.
    • The general agreement from the floor seemed to be that it is important to be true to history and that imposing current values on a historical perspective isn’t authentic.

    Sharon Jennings concluded the meeting by stating that we should all focus on good writing.

  • Sunday, May 29, 2016 12:46 AM | Sharon Plumb (Administrator)

    Edward Willett, author of over 50 books for young people including two acclaimed YA Fantasy series (Masks of Agyrima and Shards of Excalibur) will be giving a talk on Writing Young Adult Fantasy on May 30 at 1 pm CST.

    You can watch in person at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild office in Regina, SK, or online at . The talk will be archived for three weeks afterwards on livestream.

    Details are at

    Find out more about Ed at

    Thank you to the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild for sponsoring this talk with a Writing Group Grant!

  • Tuesday, May 24, 2016 6:58 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    Notes for Meeting May 11th, 2016

    Recording Secretary : Anne Laurel Carter (

    Our Vice-President, Jennifer Maruno, chaired the meeting and began by welcoming visitors and new members.

    New Creations:

    Stepping Into Traffic, fiction by Karen Rankin for ages 13 + from Thistledown Press about a sixteen year old boy who plans to make good in his eighth foster home.


    Helena Aalto announced that our PYI annual conference will be held Sat Nov 19th at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, downtown Toronto at Shuter & Victoria close to the subway and the Eaton’s Centre. 

    Helena reminded us that CANSCAIP is providing some of the programming at the Canadian Writers’ Summit at Harbourfront June 16th - 19th, 2016. 

    The deadline for the new Writing for Children competition for unpublished writers is July 31st, 2016. 

    Note: Our meeting location on June 8th only will be Durham College in Whitby (near Hwy 401). All are welcome at the dinner in the College with our speaker Kat Mototsune, the editor for children and teens at Lorimer Books. 

    Speakers Panel: 

    Jennifer Maruno introduced this evening’s panel of speakers: 

    Don Aker from Nova Scotia (right), Karen Bass Alberta (centre), and Charis Cotter from Newfoundland (left). These authors were visiting Toronto for the as nominees for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Awards, and CANSCAIP President Sharon Jennings arranged for them all to come to our meeting.

    Jennifer asked the panel the following questions:

    1)    Describe your writing environment and how long you actually write.

    2)    Where did your desire to write come from?

    3)    What advice do you have for a writer who’s maybe experiencing the doldrums?

    4)    Describe the ideal publisher.

    5)    Do you ever say no to your editor?

    6)    Do you work with a critique group? 

    Don Aker

    1)    Don wishes he was more disciplined but thinks every successful writer needs a “wife” (or supportive spouse). He wrote his first 2 novels writing from 5 - 6:30 am before his children got up and then worked all day as a teacher. He tours (now that he’s retired) and feels he has less time for writing. But when he’s home, he’s an early riser, has breakfast with his wife, goes for a walk on the beach and then works straight until 4 pm.

    2)    He became a writer because he didn’t know how to teach writing and had to in the classroom. He went back to do his Masters and one of his courses was the Martha Vineyard 2 week Writers’ Course where he had to face a blank page and create/write every day and read something at the end of the 2 weeks. The instructor told him his piece was publishable and he started writing and struggling WITH his students. Writing a story with the critiquing support of a class, he won the Atlantic Writing Competition and didn’t look back.

    3)    Don quoted Phillip Pullman saying Plumbers don’t get plumbers block, Writers don’t get writers’ block. It’s a matter of putting one word down after another. Don remembers writing a novel about a young man coming to terms with his brother’s suicide and feeling stuck about the scene where the boy found his dead brother. Sitting beside a woman on a plane, as usual he questioned her intensely and she told her story about seeing the towers come down in Manhattan and first reactions which were of shock. That conversation enabled him to write the scene: the boy would go and do something normal.

    4)    Don believes the most important quality is promotion. Harper Collins has had excellent editors who have helped him make the best book. They also helped him laugh at himself. Don suggests writing competitions are an excellent way to get exposure.

    5)    He had a book in 2012 he hated and asked the publisher to delay it. When he got a new editor, every suggestion she made was excellent and he trusted her and the book as a result was much better.

    6)    He had a critique group early in his career and liked it. He no longer does because he became too busy. His first reader is his wife whose opinion he respects.  

    Karen Bass

    1)    She has an office where she squirrels away to write a first draft. She feels she wastes her morning time on social media before settling down to work 2 - 10 pm.  When she’s doing research she has no schedule.

    2)    Karen was always an avid reader and when her daughter was four she went to work at the local library and took a writing course and got hooked.

    3)    Karen went through a crisis when there were medical emergencies in her family and had to set it aside. Karen thinks instead of trying to empty yourself on the page, go fill yourself up with reading or travelling or any kind of life experience.

    4)    Karen feels she has a great publisher, Pajama Press.

    5)    Karen feels they are mostly right although she has argued a historical fact when she knows she’s right. She has hired a freelance editor.

    6)    Karen lives in a small community and has two trusted readers not a critique group. 

    Charis Cotter

    1)    She lives near the water 90 minutes from St. Johns and begins her day with a walk, thinking about the story. She often sits on her couch looking out over the water when she’s not at her desk.  She feels she’s like a cat, getting tea, getting up, and finally settles down to a couple of hours in the morning, and couple in the afternoon 3-4 hours in a day. If she’s editing a story she can spend longer.

    2)    Charis loved daydreaming as a child and put herself in her stories. As an adult she wrote her first novel for her nephew (which didn’t get published). She worked freelance as an editor for publishers. It took her five years from her nonfiction books to make the switch to writing fiction.

    3)    Charis has recently thought about writers’ block and her only advice is to persevere. If Charis is stuck she writes about anything, the weather, her family, anything. Keep at it.

    4)    Charis would like to be taken her out to expensive lunches, respect her ideas, listen, give her a great advance so she could live on it, they’d market and sell her books. Charis doesn’t have an agent but uses Sally Keefe Cohen to negotiate her contracts.

    5)    Charis generally tries to trust her editors and consider their questions and suggestions although she will fight for something she feels strongly about.

    6)    Charis prefers to work on her own.

  • Friday, May 13, 2016 3:07 PM | Sharon Plumb (Administrator)

    Award-winning author and professor of Children's Literature Beverley Brenna's presentation "Writing the World for Today's Kids: Diversity Essentials" is now available on YouTube!.

    Beverley gave an overview of Canadian books that have characters with diverse abilities (all 134!) and provided 10 tips for writing about such characters. She also identified some gaps in topics in existing books, and read from some of her own work. Her website is .

    Thank you to the Saskatchewan Writers Guild for sponsoring this talk through a Writing Group Grant.

    You can watch her presentation at

  • Wednesday, April 27, 2016 1:11 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Notes for Meeting April 13th, 2016

    Recording Secretary : Anne Laurel Carter (

    Our president, Sharon Jennings, chaired the meeting and began by welcoming visitors and new members.

    New Creations:

    Stepping Into Traffic, fiction by Karen Rankin for ages 13 + from Thistledown Press. Book Launch is May 1st at 2pm in the Lillian H. Smith Library rotunda.

    Shire Summer, fiction by Noelle Jack for middle grade readers from Archway Publishing. For  Book Launch details check out:


    SCBWI members remember to vote for Crystal Kite Award. Voting ends April 14th at 5 pm.

    A week of inspiration and feedback for your YA Novel

    with Anne Laurel Carter

    at the University of Toronto Summer Writing School

    Mon-Fri July 11 -15, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

    Downtown Toronto Campus

    Helena Alto announced that our PYI annual conference will be held Sat Nov 19th at the Li Ka Shing Institute, downtown Toronto at Shuter & Victoria.

    Don Aker, Karen Bass and Charis Cotter will be visiting Toronto from Nova Scotia, Alberta and Newfoundland and part of a lively and informative panel discussion for our May meeting.


    Catherine Rondina introduced our two talented speakers and siblings, Ann and David Powell. They formed Puppetmongers Theatre in1974 and have become internationally recognized and awarded for their decades of fine work.

                Ann began their presentation by showing us a gift she received from her brother when she was eight: her first marionette (with useful instructions in the box). They both loved playing with the dog on strings, received more puppets as gifts, and began making their own. Their puppet creations and story-telling grew as they did and both Ann and David eventually graduated from OCAD.

                David showed us the first marionette he made as a boy: a wolf made of cardboard covered in cloth whose body could slink and pounce and whose jaws opened wide to reveal a long red tongue.

                They love to perform on stage, visibly moving their puppets in front of a clever background set designed and built by them to enhance the story they are telling. They took their first show, The Miller, to Iran and came home to create a story and puppets fitted with rods into the back or into the top of the head based on a style of puppets from that country. Puppet bodies were rag doll and of different sizes to denote social status. They used cranking movie boxes in which the audience viewed pictures painted on a scroll of paper that enhance the story.

                Invited to festivals, they became more and more inspired by creative ideas they’d seen around the world in Object Theatre. They showed us numerous video clips of their past performances to illustrate how they used shadow puppets on the wall to show violence and puppets made from fabric, wood, bricks, whatever material and tradition they needed to enhance the telling of a particular story. Large and small puppets can show characters in the foreground or the background of the story setting.

                Ann often uses ideas from fairy and folk tales to inspire her works. For both of them, the goal has been to tell stories to contemporary audiences in historical ways that spoke of a slower and more relaxed time.

                They don’t tend to sketch but see the puppets in their heads, then make them. They also don’t start by writing out a script but use storyboards to visually help them tell the story, then create the puppets needed as characters. Then the puppets tell them what they will say. As puppeteers, they are on stage and part of the show. They visibly move the puppets’ bodies and arms (which have no joints). David explained that he feels and directs the puppets’ movements from his fingertips.

                In the eighties (as now) when funding collapsed for their performances in schools, they diversified their work and began performing live in theatres. They continue to create and performed shows for adults, families, and children and offer workshops to other puppeteers and the general public called: Teach Your Puppet To Act.

                Puppeteers often start their careers as children who discover the delight of acting out a story using puppets as their characters. Watching Ann and David perform and interact throughout their unique presentation gave us the magical sense that we were watching a brother and sister who were lucky, talented and creative enough to maintain a life-long enjoyment of playing and telling stories to each other as children.

  • Monday, April 18, 2016 8:21 PM | Sharon Plumb (Administrator)

    Children's author and professor Beverley Brenna will give ten tips for writing about differently-abled kids. Her award-winning fiction portrays characters with exceptionalities and her perspectives call for titles that reflect contemporary kids with diverse abilities.

    If you live in Regina, Saskatchewan, you can attend this talk live on Monday April 25, 2016 at 2 pm at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild office. If you aren't fortunate enough to live there, or if you can't come then, you can watch Bev's talk online live or for about two weeks afterwards.

    For details, see .

  • 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.
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