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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  • Monday, November 19, 2018 7:03 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    Thanks to Loretta Garbutt for making these notes at our October 2018 meeting, and at all our monthly meetings. 

    NOTES from October 10, 2018 with SPEAKER Carey Sookocheff – Illustrator/author

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed us all, and reminded us that we are run by volunteers and thanked those in the room tonight: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Thereza Dos Santos, Patricia Storms, Jillian Dobson, Loretta Garbutt, and Jennifer Maruno. CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto.

    Also, a thank you to Starbucks for the coffee.

    Speaking of Starbucks, Jennifer Maruno let us know that we need a volunteer  interested in the role of ‘host’ - someone who attends meetings on a regular basis who would be a greeter, make reservations at the Pickle Barrel, coordinate the refreshment plan, and help set up the room for the meetings. The role of host can be shared. Contact Jennifer.


    Michelle Nidenhoff

    The fabulous illustrator art show in Richmond Hill (that Jillian Dobson organized) is over, and it was a tremendous success. An exhibit of 15 works from this art show were randomly selected to be displayed at our Packaging Your Imagination conference on Saturday, November 10.


    Ruth Ohi

    Fox and Squirrel Help Out, picture book from Scholastic Canada, 2018.
    When a baby bat drops from out of the sky, Fox is immediately taken with little Squeak. Squirrel is less sure. Can Fox and Squirrel come together to figure out what Squeak needs?

    Melanie Fishbane                                                                                                                                   Maud, YA/Historical Fiction, Penguin Random House Canada,  2018 release in paperback

    Maud was nominated for a Vine Award for the Best in Canadian Jewish Literature. It is the fictionalized story of L.M. Montgomery as a teenager, and her quest for education and to be a writer at a time where women were not encouraged to do so.

    Lena Coakley

    Wicked Nix- illustrated by Jaime Zollars, Publisher: HarperCollins Canada – Middle Grade 8-12. Mischievous woodland fairy, Nix, must protect the forest from its most dangerous enemies—peoples. But peoples are tricky creatures, and in the fairy forest, nothing is what it seems.

    Linda Bailey  

    Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein - picture-book biography with Tundra Books, illustrated by Julia Sarda.  

    A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels and one of the first works of science fiction.A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

    A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

    A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

    Jocelyn Shipley

    She has just launched Wildfire, in the Orca Currents series, Impossible in the Orca Soundings series, and Raw Talent in the Orca Limelights series.


    Patricia Storms introduced our speaker.

    Carey Sookocheff was born in Ottawa and grew up in in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. After studying illustration at Toronto’s OCAD (which didn’t teach children’s illustration), she worked for a number of years as an editorial illustrator, making images for the New York Times, Wall Street JournalReal Simple, and lots of other newspapers and magazines.

    In 2003 she landed a job with Chronicle Books and worked on a journal for kids going off to camp. This lovely project, as well as having children, rekindled her dream of creating/illustrating for children. Carey began by doing research; what is happening in publishing, who is working in publishing, who did she want to work with? Carey visited libraries, bookstores and covered online research. She asked herself questions: ‘How do I want to present myself and how will I get an editor or an art director’s attention’?

    Carey thought of the possible industry connections she knew from her past, so she wrote a manuscript and sent it to Michael Solomon at Groundwood, who had visited her OCAD class.

    This little step of getting someone she knew to look at her manuscript landed her the illustrator assignment for Buddy and Earl.

    Carey tried making connections using other creative methods and sent out a promo ‘card’, that was really a small book, which she sent to 250 publishers/art directors, from her personal list of people she really wanted to work with. All of this research and planning helped her achieve her goals and can help us as well. She has nine books now, including The Buddy and Earl Series, What Happens Next, Wet, and Solutions for Cold Feet.

    Carey lives in Toronto with her husband, their two kids and their dog Rosie.

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2018 5:50 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from September 12, 2018 meeting with SPEAKER Neil Christopher, Inhabit Media 

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone. Noting that CANSCAIP survives on one part time employee, Helena Aalto, Sharon introduced and thanked the many volunteers at tonight’s meeting: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Thereza Dos Santos, Patricia Storms, and Jennifer Maruno.  She also welcomed Loretta Garbutt, our new recording secretary. We have lost an amazing volunteer: Christina Senkiw who managed the CANSCAIP art collection. Christine was a great support and wonderful artist.

    Our last meeting was in June at the Guelph location and Sharon mentioned how thrilled we were that over 80 people turned out. She then thanked the team that organized the event: Kira Vermond, Lisa Dalrymple, Jean Mills, Werner Zimmerman, and Eric Walters.

    Please let our office know if you have a book launch or event coming up. This is one of the easy things that CANSCAIP can do for its Members. Case in point: Eric Walters' publisher asked us to take to Twitter to congratulate him for his 100th book, and Erid was the top Twitter trend in Canada for two days!


    Registration for our Packaging Your Imagination conference (on Sat Nov 10) opened at the end of July. We've had a great response and have already matched our 2017 numbers at this point. Don’t delay if you want to attend in person!

    In our 2018 Writing for Children Competition, 350 people registered and there were 550 entries, one of the biggest.

    Our fifth webinar was Successful School Visits by Kevin Sylvester. If you missed this live, you can still sign up to hear the webinar.

    Michele Nidenoff updated us re: the latest CANSCAIP illustrator exhibition at Richmond Hill Heritage Centre.


    Helaine Becker

    Counting on Katherine, picture book biography Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt, Jun 2018. The true story of Katherine Johnson, of Hidden Numbers fame. 

    Sloth at the Zoom, picture book, Owlkids, Aug 2018. Sloth is supposed to go to the zzzzoo, the zoo for sleepy animals. But she is accidentally sent to the ZOOM! A sweet tale about the joys of slowing down and mindfulness. 

    Hubots, nonfiction, KCP, Sept 2018, is a companion book to the award-winning Zoobots, focusing on androids - robots in human shapes. Featuring the notorious creepy baby robot and more. 

    Deck the Halls, holiday board book, Scholastic Canada, Sept 2018. With the release of Deck the Halls, all three of the bestselling Porcupine in a Pine Tree books are now available in a chunky board book edition for the littlest hands. In French, too! 

    Deb Lougheed

    Bright Shining Moment, picture book, historical fiction from Second Story Press, Sept 2018. In her 1940’s Ottawa community of Hintonburg one December, Aline Sauriol comes to understand that there is a world of difference between being ‘poor’, and being ‘maybe just a little bit rich’.  

    Wild Fire, Orca Currents, reluctant reader series. Bridgewood is having one of the hottest summers on record. Despite the strict fire ban, fires keep breaking out and it looks like arson is behind them. 

    Launch - October 27, 2-5 pm, Indigo at Sherway Gardens

    Judy Weagle

    Magical Words, self-published, Jul 2018 – reluctant reader 14 and up based on respect and positive empowerment of others.

    Jocelyn Shipley

    Impossible, Orca, reluctant readers ages 12 and up. This is a dark story about a young mother who witnesses a drive-by shooting. 

    Raw Talent, middle grade, 9-12 yrs, Orca's Limelight series, Aug 2018, a story about a girl who wants to be a pop star but suffers from severe stage fright.

    Sue Irwin

    Breaking Through: Heroes in Canadian Women’s Sport, non-fiction for reluctant readers ages 12 and up, James Lorimer & Company, Sept 2018. Highlights seven Canadian women who fought for, and achieved the right to play in sports traditionally dominated by men.

    Anne Dublin

    A Cage Without Bars, YA historical novel for ages 10 and up, Second Story Press, Sept 2018, the adventures of Joseph, a twelve-year-old Jewish boy, who becomes a slave in 1493 after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Launch: October 29th, 7:30pm at the Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.

    Sue Todd 

    Illustrations for The Wild Beast by Eric Walters, Orca. Sept 2108, a creative retelling of an African folktale about the creation of the wildebeest, that incorporates a gentle message about treading lightly on the planet.

    Sylvia McNicoll

    Body Swap, YA, Dundurn Press, Sept 2018. Fifteen-year-old Hallie gets knocked flying by an SUV and her life ends without her having kissed a boy. In the otherworld, she meets the driver, 82 year-old Susan. They return to life but have swapped bodies.


    Theo Heras introduced speaker Neil Christopher of Inhabit Media Publishers who gave a wonderful and intriguing presentation, sharing with us many of the ‘insider’ stories of how he developed his business and what it is like to work with the elders of the communities.

    Neil went north to teach high school and later taught teachers at the Nunavut Teacher Education Program. This is when Neil saw the need for books about the north by people from the north, in their languages, before these languages are lost.

    With a group of colleagues and artists, they formed the Nunavut Bilingual Education Society and began to develop resources for Nunavut schools.

    In 2006, Neil partnered with two others to establish Inhabit Media, an independent trade publisher dedicated to telling northern stories. They realized that the language was still growing and that it had the ability to adapt.

    Inhabit Media has published over 200 titles in English, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqutun and French. It is the only independent publisher in the north, and the books are distributed across Canada and the US.

    Inhabit Media have been selected by the Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Express awards and have been selected Best Books by Cooperative Children's Book Centre (Wisconsin).

    Animals Illustrated: Walrus, by Herve Paniaq and illustrated by Ben Shannon, has been shortlisted for the 2018 children's Literature Roundtables of Canada's Information Book Award.

    Please check out their web site for the many wonderful and unique creations they have to offer:

  • Friday, July 20, 2018 8:49 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    CANSCAIP has endeavored in past years to hold a meeting outside Toronto, as an outreach effort to our many Members who despise Toronto traffic. Many thanks to organizers Lisa Dalrymple, Kira Vermond, Eric Walters, Jeans Mills, and Werner Zimmerman for setting up a wonderful event in Guelph. And thanks, too, to Helena Aalto, our Administrative Director, for sending out promotion information and arranging car pools.

    It was a beautiful sunny day (except for ten minutes of tornado-ish weather) as hordes of creators – published and not – traipsed between The Book Shelf (celebrating its 45th anniversary) and Werner’s studio for a tour. Around 5:00 we headed upstairs to the bookstore’s event hall where 82 of us enjoyed dinner before the meeting began. Somehow, most managed to be fed and ready at 7:00 to hear our panel of five discuss the topic: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Got Into This Business.

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone, thanked the organizers, and proudly noted that one of our founding Members, Jean Little, was in the audience, as well as the beloved Robert Munsch.


    Jean Mills presented Skating Over Thin Ice, YA fiction, published by Red Deer Press. A young musical prodigy faces a dilemma when the trio she performs with begins to falter. In her search to discover what to do next, and what will make her happy, she connects with a disgraced junior hockey star facing an uncertain future of his own.

    PROGRAM: Erin Bow, Kathy Stinson, Kira Vermond, Eric Walters, Werner Zimmerman

    Moderator Lisa Dalrymple introduced our speakers and began with the question: What is the best/worst thing about being a creator? Many mentioned the self-doubt, not feeling good enough, waiting to hear back, working with the “wrong” editor, the financial insecurity, books that get remaindered too soon, and the pressure of deadlines.

    All mentioned “joy” and the importance of remembering why we started this in the first place. There was mention of being in the flow, of being in a quiet place with one’s characters.  Everyone agreed that talking to kids was one of the best, perhaps the best, aspect of writing and illustrating books for young people. That, and the beginning of the project (and not the hard middle part). Being asked really insightful questions by kids was important and, of course, receiving the royalty cheque – getting paid for what we want to do anyway.

    Lisa then moved to tonight’s topic question: What do you wish someone had told you? Erin wished that someone had told her to see a financial planner. (She gave up her day job as a physicist to pursue her passion.) She had to remind herself several times about the joy she found writing. Kathy found it very important not to compare herself to anyone else’s highs and lows and to find satisfaction with what she has achieved. Eric mentioned that this is a business and hard work. Kira agreed: she takes on many assignment tasks (magazines, newspapers, Costco) as well as her creative work, and often puts in 18 hour days to meet her deadlines and her goal for annual income.  Werner chimed in as well about the hard work and business aspect. His art is a craft, a business, and it is a long, long process to build a career. Eric mentioned that even with 100 books to his credit, he still goes into every book store in his path and puts stickers (signed by author) on every book. Someone told him that this was “beneath” him at his career stage, but he scoffed, noting that this is what it takes. Kathy said that she hates the self-promoting part of writing, but agrees that it has to be done. Because, as Eric added, publishers will only do so much and we have to champion our books.

    Lisa also asked: if the muse leaves, what do you do? Erin gives herself stickers each time she finishes a task (noting that her muse is a three-year-old). Kira sets a timer for 25 minutes, grits her teeth, and tells herself  that she can do this for 25 minutes. Then she sets the timer again and again. Kathy and Eric like to go for walks, have naps (not together) – something physical to give the brain a rest. Werner confessed that he likes to wash dishes.

    Two great summary comments: Kira noted that the creator and editor are colleagues. We are not subordinates in the publishing world, nor should the relationship be adversarial. Eric reminded us to value ourselves and get paid.

    We’ll give the final word to Jean Little. “I’m 86 years old. But when I’m writing, I’m ten.”

    Sharon thanked everyone for such great advice and stated that this willingness to share our knowledge and expertise is why CANSCAIP is in its 41st year.

  • Tuesday, May 01, 2018 4:56 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from April 2018 Meeting; SPEAKERS Peter Carver and Heather Camlot


    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone and thanked the CANSCAIP volunteers.


    Newcomers introduced themselves.


    In Regan McDonell’s absence, Sharon introduced Black Chuck, a YA (14+) from Orca Book Publishers, released on April 3, 20. In this gritty young adult novel, Réal struggles with his guilt over a friend's violent death and his feelings for the dead boy's pregnant girlfriend.

    Catherine (Cathy) Rondina introduced Carey Price: How a First Nations Kid Became a Superstar Goaltender (Lorimer Books), a non-fiction book aimed at reluctant readers. 

    Mireille Messier introduced A Qui le Coco? (Whose Egg is This?), a short, non-fiction, French language book about birds, eggs and nests, illustrated by Caroline Merola. It’s a rhyming book for the 3+ crowd.

    Lana Button introduced her picture book My Teacher’s Not Here, illustrated by Christine Battuz, (Kids Can Press). Lana announced a launch celebration at A Different Drummer in Burlington on Sunday, April 15, 1-3.

    Theo Heras announced a launch for Where’s Bunny and Babycakes (presented at last meeting) at A Different Booklist on Saturday, April 21, 3-5.  


    As the CANSCAIP-IBBY liaison, Lana Button announced a meeting about IBBY’s new Children in Crisis initiative on Monday, April 16 at 7:30 at the Palmerston Library. Refugee claimants face long waits and children need support in this transitional time. Volunteer readers and committee members are needed. 

    IBBY Canada's Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award was awarded to A Pattern for Pepper, illustrated and written by Julie Kraulis (Tundra). Honour Books were also named: Town is by Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith and written by Joanne Schwartz (Groundwood), and When the Moon Comes, illustrated by Matt James and written by Paul Harbridge (Tundra).

    Michele Nidenoff, CANSCAIP’s illustrator rep, said the artwork in the upcoming art show in May is fabulous, with about 70 pieces on display. She asked for volunteers, especially with cars, to transport art, food and drink, for the opening reception on May 2.  Michele announced that she placed first in CAPIC’s Double Vision exhibit, in which illustrators and photographers are paired up to create portraits of each other.

    SPEAKERS: Peter Carver and Heather Camlot

    Peter Carver edited Heather Camlot’s novel Clutch for Red Deer Press, and they talked about the editorial process.

    Heather said Clutch is set in 1946 Montreal, the summer when Jackie Robinson was on Montreal's baseball team. The story is about a twelve-year-old boy determined to get his family out of the Jewish ghetto after his father passes away.

    The book got to Peter through CANSCAIP; it won the Writing for Children Competition in 2014! Heather refined the book in Anne Laurel Carter’s workshop. Heather, a journalist, was used to being edited and had previous worked with Anne on her writing. Anne suggested sending it to Peter, who loves baseball. By the time Heather sent it to Peter, the book was in fairly good shape. 

    Peter said Heather was smart to workshop the book with Anne. Classes are a good place to make industry connections, though the quality of writing will always win out in the end. He said when he got the submission, he was struck by the historical element and the portrayal of the community as well as the protagonist’s struggle and ultimate success. Red Deer publishes only ten books a year. It took approximately nine months to get a contract to Heather.

    Heather was intimidated at first by Peter’s reputation. She approached him at a meeting when he’d had the book for a while but she hadn’t heard from him. He said, ‘Oh, the baseball writer. We like your book—we’re going to do it.’ Later, Heather moderated a PYI panel Peter was on and he had to take direction from her, and that experience made her less scared of him!

    Peter described his editing process as putting comments and questions in the margins. He might also suggest cuts and better words. He is an author’s editor, and said it’s important for the editor and author to get along, to be harmonious. He is there to support, not to browbeat.  Voice--and keeping a kid’s voice kid-like--is the hardest thing for writers. Heather said Peter told her to listen to her twelve-year-old son, and when she did the voice in the book improved.

    Peter noted the title was changed from The Boys of Summer because there is a well-known non-fiction baseball book by that title.

    Peter quoted Claire Mackay: ‘You don’t have to do everything your editor tells you.’ It’s a conversation, not a dictum.  Heather said she did do everything Peter told her to—and moremaking changes up until the end!

    Peter talked about Martine Leavitt's book Tom Finder. After Peter had considered the book to be finished, Martine asked to rewrite the ending, and ended up rewriting the whole book. The writer can be right! Peter said there is always a second pass for smaller things, once the bigger things are taken care of. (And sometimes more passes.)  The most important thing is for everything to seem real.

    Heather noted the first chapter was based on a real family anecdote but she made up the rest of the story. She didn’t want to get anything wrong because it was very personal—her family’s story. Her father died just before she got the book contract, and the book became a tribute to him. She had to edit it while mourning her father, which Peter didn’t know.

    Heather talked about legal issues associated with the editing process. She had to get permission for all the newspaper and personal quotes she used to start chapters. She wasn't able to get some permissions, and some wanted to charge too much. She had to find a lot of new material at the last minute, but luckily, had newspaper connections who helped her.

    The businessman in the book was initially a real character—Samuel Bronfman—but in the end, she decided to make him a composite character, which was freeing. Heather said public places don’t like when bad things happen in their locations so watch how you use a real place.  Peter reminded authors they couldn’t use song lyrics.

    He said Heather is a very conscientious writer and there were 109 emails between them—more than average. (Many were due to the legal issues.) Peter said sometimes it’s better to talk on the phone than to email because you don’t register tone in an email. Peter said the editing process took six months (substantive edits, pickier stuff, copy edits and proofreading). By the end, he had read the manuscript seven or eight times.

    Peter talked about his background as a high school teacher and freelance editor and writing instructor. He has worked at Red Deer for 22 years. Peter never reads the book once it’s published—he’s too afraid there will be a mistake! (He once misspelled Nellie McClung in a book and it had to be reprinted.)


    Gillian O’Reilly mentioned that Tim Wynne Jones says he spends 24 hours ranting after receiving an edit letter, then he tells himself maybe he’ll try to keep them happy, and then he ends up doing everything.

    Someone asked for an example of major things that would jump out in a substantive edit.  Peter said voice, that often kids sound like adults.

    Someone asked who took on the responsibility for the legal issues and the answer was Heather took on full responsibility.

    Someone asked how long it took from starting to write the book to publication and Heather said seven years.

    Someone asked Heather if she got permission for place names and she said only for one dispensary because she had someone working there. Peter mentioned people should not use product names but generics instead.


    Sharon thanked Peter and Heather. Working with an editor is always a dance!

    At the May meeting, Theo Heras and Marthe Jocelyn will discuss writing for very young children.  

    Our June meeting will be a get-together in Guelph.

  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 7:23 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from MARCH 14, 2018 Meeting; SPEAKER Qin Leng

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone, asking those attending for the first time to introduce themselves. She also thanked volunteers: Patricia Storms, Michele Nidenoff, Holly Main, Theo Heras, Anne Laurel Carter, and Bev Rosenbaum. As always, thanks to Starbucks for their donation of coffee.


    Joyce Grant announced Sliding Home (Lorimer), a sequel to Tagged Out, with the same big-on-heart baseball team. This one features Miguel, working hard to bring his dad over from El Salvador, and Sebastian, who can’t understand why Miguel can’t always join him for pizza.

    Theo Heras introduced Where’s Bunny (Pajama Press), illustrated by Renné Benoit, a picture book for babies and toddlers. It's time for bed and two siblings tidy up, take a bath, brush teeth, head for bed and read and sing – but where's Bunny?

    Barbara Reid told attendees that an exhibit and sale of original artwork from her newest book, Picture the Sky, is on at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, launched March 4, runs through to April 12.


    Michele Nidenoff announced more details about CANSCAIP’s upcoming show in May at the Canadian Contemporary School of Art. Submissions have come in from all over Canada.

    Administrative Director Helena Aalto announced that The Writing for Children Competition is open. The deadline for submissions is May 31.

    Our Packaging Your Imagination conference (PYI) 2018 will take place on Saturday November 10. The keynote speakers are Ruth Ohi and Deborah Ellis.

    CANSCAIP received some funding for PYI 2017 from the Access Copyright.

    There will be a celebration of the life of Janet Lunn on May 22 at Toronto Public Library Northern District Branch.

    The Writers Union of Canada and Access Copyright are advising creators to write to their MPPs about the school boards’ lawsuit (they are suing to be reimbursed for the money they’ve paid over the years to photocopy the work of book creators).

    Public Lending Right (PLR) has announced that titles published more than 25 years ago will no longer receive payment.


    Patricia Storms introduced Qin Leng, illustrator of A Family is a Family is a Family, Harry and Walter, Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen and many other books. 

    Qin was born in Shanghai, lived in France, moved to Montreal, and is now based in Toronto. She talked about her training at the Hoppenheim School of Cinema and her internship at the National Film Board, where she explored different styles and media. After graduating, she worked in animation and television, and still does so, completing her illustration work on evenings and weekends. 

    Qin always drew in her spare time, and finally put together a portfolio. Qin advises new illustrators to keep their portfolio for children’s publishers small because they don’t have a lot of time. She advises ten images in both black and white and colour.  If you have a story, send the story along with a couple of sample scenes.

    Next, Qin looked at books that were interesting to her and studied the websites of those publishers for their submission process, only submitting to publishers who used artists like her. She has a painterly style so avoided those who seemed to favor artists with a modern, graphic aesthetic. Qin said the Bologna Children’s Book Fair website is a treasure trove of information.

    Qin sent around her portfolio early in 2009 and landed her first project in the fall of that year – an Annick cover. Since then, she has gotten more and more work each year, always experimenting to find her style and medium. Now she mostly uses a brush with Indian ink and a nib with acrylic ink. She uses waterproof ink. She began coloring digitally but now prefers to do everything by hand, just revising digitally. 

    When she gets an assignment, she creates a lineup of characters to ensure there’s no redundancy, and that there’s diversity in gender and race.  She tries to keep all characters relatable. (She will sometimes make a girl look boyish and a boy look girlish.) Before doing the rough, she does all necessary research. One story required her to research different types of egg baskets.

    Before taking us through her process from rough to final (she works fast to keep a spontaneous feeling), Qin showed us slides featuring images from a new story she’s illustrating featuring a landlord couple who become werewolves.  Her editor explained that the werewolves were too “elegant” and needed to match their human counterparts.  She makes notes to herself at the rough stage. For example, for Shelter, she wrote a note so that she wouldn’t forget to make every door different.

    She loves filling in the spaces in stories. For instance, in A Family is a Family is a Family, on a page that talked about a child’s day with Dad, Qin went crazy drawing characters at a stadium event.

    She takes inspiration from everywhere. In Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, about the young Jane Austen, she did a cross-section of Jane’s childhood home, inspired by the cross-section of the submarine in Wes Anderson’s film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

    Qin’s first solo book, Je Suis Petite, which she wrote in French, was inspired by her own experiences as a kid, and the books she read in her childhood.

    The artists who have inspired her include Sempe, Gabrielle Vincent, Manuele Fior, Gipi, Beatrice Alemagna, and photographers Fred Herzog and Robert Doisneau.  She also likes checking out Zara Kids for outfits for her characters.

    After Qin’s presentation, she put some of her originals on display for us to study.

  • Friday, March 16, 2018 2:14 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from February 14, 2018 meeting: SPEAKER Milan Pavlovic

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone, expressing surprise at such a large turnout on Valentine’s Day. She thanked the CANSCAIP volunteers present: Patricia Storms, Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Theo Heras, and Bev Rosenbaum. She also thanked Karen Rankin and Rita Bates for tonight’s cookies and Starbucks for the coffee. Welcome, too, to the many first-timers in the audience.


    Sylvia McNicoll presented Norma CharlesHarry Jerome: World’s Fastest Man, a work of historical middle grade fiction. She also introduced her own Snake Mistake Mystery, another book in her Mistake Mysteries Series


    Michelle Nidenoff told us about an upcoming exhibit of art by CANSCAIP Members and Friends at the Canadian Contemporary School of Art in the Eglinton-Brentcliffe Toronto area. Works will be exhibited over the month of May. A call for submissions has been sent out to CANSCAIP Members and Friends. The works will be hung on May 2 and a reception is planned for that evening. Volunteers welcome!

    Our administrative director Helena Aalto announced that PYI 2018 will take place on Saturday November 10. Save the date postcards are already available for individuals or for writing teachers or writing group members to distribute. 

    The recent marketing webinar with Judy Brunsek is still available for viewing. You can register on the CANSCAIP website.


    Patricia Storms introduced the evening’s speaker, Milan Pavlovic, an illustrator, graphic artist, and teacher at OCADU and Seneca.  Milan began by recalling his childhood in Croatia, where he spent summers on beaches and his grandfather’s farm, which influenced his colour palette.  He also recalled playing with animal stickers with his dad and redrawing the animals.  He still loves drawing animals and experiences a childlike inner joy when he draws. Non-visual early influences included biologists David Bellamy and Jacques Cousteau and the musicians Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards.

    Milan loved comic books. Krazy Kat and Little Nemo are great for detail in drawings.  Cheap Thrills by Robert Crumb dealt with the ‘Summer of Love’ while it was actually happening, and showed Milan that comic artists could deal with real events in real time.

    Milan mentioned many favourite designers and illustrators: George McManus; Milton Glaser; Joseph Muller-Brockmann; Shigeo Fukuda; Peter Saville; John Audubon; Boris Artzybasheff; Lorenzo Matodi; and Javier Mariscal. Milan also loves medieval illustrations, noting that with some of these images, we can see a connection to modern day works like Maus.

    In Serbia, Milan was approached at an exhibition of his adult work and, asked if he’d like to do something for children, proceeded to do several books. In Canada, his first book was Hey, Canada! for Tundra. Then Sheila Barry invited him to illustrate Cary Fagan’s book Danny Who Fell in a Hole. He stressed that illustrators must be able to have conversations and be able to compromise, and that this process was especially fun with Sheila.  He argued that you can’t be a good illustrator if you aren’t a good reader; you need to grasp narrative so you can recognize the big moments.

    Milan mentioned the challenges posed by each project. In Patricia Storm’s upcoming book, Moon Wishes, every page-spread took place on a moonlit night. He used shades of colour to make each picture unique, and he gave the moon an expressive face. And he managed to sneak in animals on each page.

    Milan showed us his sketchbook, which he fills with everything that comes to mind, using pen and ink. He often designs something like an abstract landscape, and only later does he add human forms and some kind of narrative. He exhorted us to draw for no reason and not wait for a story to come. It’s a continuous process, and you can put your designs in a context later. But….Milan was wearing a tee shirt his Seneca students presented to him with ‘What’s the Story?’ written on it. This is the question that he always asks students: What’s the story? What did you want to communicate with this piece? In other words, it isn’t art until it conveys meaning.

    Milan ended by describing the joy he experiences presenting to and doing workshops with kids.

  • Monday, February 12, 2018 5:12 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from January 10, 2018 General Meeting: SPEAKER: Mireille Messier

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed us to the first meeting of the year, and thanked those volunteers present tonight: Michele Nidenoff, Holly Main, Theo Heras, Anne Thackery, Cathy Rondina and our Administrative Director Helena Aalto. She also gave a shout-out to Starbucks for their generous donation of coffee.


    Cathy Rondina introduced speaker Mireille Messier, who was born in Montreal, raised in Ottawa, and has published over 20 books. The Branch is nominated for the 2018 Blue Spruce Award. Mireille’s topic was “Breaking In Through the French Doors”. Mireille started writing for children through television and magazines, and although she has published 27 books, only 4 are in English. She delighted her audience with the trials and tribulations – and successes – of moving back and forth from French to English. Her first book, Mirouille, was published in 1999, the second, Twiga, in 2003 and two more in 2008 – Charlotte au chocolat and Luca. This last book was translated into English and Mireille told herself, “This is it!” She was crushed when, a few years later, the English version was pulped.

    After many failed attempts to get her books translated into English, Mireille realized that there was a barrier to doing so; perhaps those few picture book words didn’t resonate the same way; perhaps the illustrations didn’t work for publishers. Luca, which became Night Flight, also had a different illustrator and cover.

    Mireille knew she wouldn’t have the same publicity, profile, or profit if she didn’t try to publish in English, and she spoke about her difficulties in doing so, and her own self-doubt. Certainly, she felt more comfortable with word play and humour in her mother tongue. But she took courses with Ted Staunton and Cathy Rondina and soon got her big break. She sent two manuscripts to Kids Can Press; they turned the first one down, and then came the email accepting The Branch. Is it irony that Quebec artist Pierre Pratt did the beautiful illustrations?

    Mireille talked about translations, right sales, royalties, and that her mother wants to know why she doesn’t just write in French. Not to worry, Mom: she has two French picture books coming out this year, and three picture books under contract for 2019 with three different publishers.

    We ended the evening admiring the display of books Mireille brought for us to enjoy.

  • Tuesday, January 09, 2018 4:10 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from December 13th, 2017 General Meeting

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed us to this, our Holiday meeting, and commenting that it was Chanukah, quoted: “May the miracle of the light of this season stay with you all the year long.” She introduced and thanked those volunteers present tonight: Michele Nidenoff, Holly Main, Maureen McGowan, Theo Heras, Anne Laurel Carter, Jennifer Mook-Sang, and our Administrative Director Helena Aalto. Also a shout-out to Starbucks for their generous donation of coffee, and to all those who brought holiday treats.

    On November 15, we received the sad news of the death of Sheila Barry. She was the publisher at Groundwood since 2012, editor-in-chief at Kids Can Press, on the Board of Directors for The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, involved with IBBY Canada, and a dear friend to so many. She gave generously of her time to CANSCAIP, and will be forever known as the force behind so many beautiful, ground-breaking, award-winning books.


    Vladyana Krykorka presented the latest edition of Baseball Bats for Christmas, by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak (illustrated by Vladyana) and first published by Annick Press in 1990.

    Eric Walters presented three new titles. Fourth Dimension (the 4th in the Rule of Three “trilogy” is dedicated to Eric’s grade 5 teacher who told him he could be a writer when he grew up. (She is also a character in this book.) Penguin Random House.  From The Heart of Africa – A Book of Wisdom contains 15 African sayings with15 different illustrators from Africa and North America (Penguin Random House). Surfer Dog (Orca) Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, is a friendship story about a boy and his dog who surf together every day.

    General Announcements

    Lana Button urged us to join IBBY (The International Board on Books for Young People), mentioning the chance to network with like-minded souls, and the opportunity to be profiled in the IBBY Canada Newsletter.

    Helena Aalto updated us on The Writing for Children Competition, and informed us that PYI will take place on Saturday November 10th, 2018.


    Sharon introduced tonight’s fabulous panel – five women who are authors and who also work in publishing. As well, they have all volunteered their time with many of our kidlit organizations.

    Vikki VanSickle is the Marketing and Publicity Manger for the Young Readers’ Program at Penguin Random House, and the author of many mid-grade/YA books (and one picture book). Her latest is The Winnowing, nominated for the 2018 Red Maple.

    Liz MacLeod is a freelance editor, working for both Annick Press and Kids Can press, and is the author of dozens of non-fiction books. Her latest book, Canada Year by Year, won the Norma Fleck Award, and is nominated for the 2018 Silver Birch non-fiction award.

    Mary Beth Leatherdale is a freelance editor at Annick Press, the founder of CHIRP and a former editor of OWL Magazine. Her latest book, Not Your Princess, is an anthology written with Lisa Charleyboy. Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees is nominated for the 2018 Silver Birch non-fiction award.

    Naseem Hrab works as the Marketing Director at Kids Can Press and published her first book in 2017: Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend.

    Hadley Dyer was for many years the Children’s Editor at Harper Collins, before ‘retiring’ to work on her own writing – both fiction and informational. Her first book, Johnny Kellock Died Today, 2006, won the CLA book of the year. Her latest is Here So Far Away, which will be published March 2018.

    Our presenters spoke and answered questions for almost two hours. Afterwards, someone noted that this was a “killer panel”! We were treated to insight, expertise, advice, encouragement, the ups, the downs, the angst, and the joy of lives lived in the cankidlit world.

    The presenters were asked questions about their path into the publishing world – booksellers, librarians, editors – about their working day, about whether or not they can take off their editor/marketing hat as they write their own manuscripts, how often they revise and/or edit. Hadley noted that even though she is an editor, she is on the 7th draft of her latest manuscript. She warned us not to assume that just because we’ve written a manuscript, it will get published.

    Of course, we were all wondering if they each had a special ‘in’ because of their jobs, and Naseem informed us that her agent urged her to submit her picture book with a pseudonym to ensure fair treatment.

    We were urged to find a critique group of trusted individuals, to take workshops, to pursue professional development, and to join organizations like CANSCAIP. Advice was offered about seeking a publisher: check out their websites and make certain that your submission fits a publisher’s vision.

    In one way or another, they all said something along the lines of ‘get over yourself’ when receiving a rejection and resubmit – again and again and again. There was some discussion about marketing and sales, about promoting ourselves, about the need for diversity. Everyone agreed on the importance of being a great and avid reader.

    At the end, they were asked what brings them the most joy, the paid job or the writing, and they all agreed: the writing.

    We adjourned for a last hour of delicious desserts, the buying of each other’s books, and the chit-chat of good colleagues and friends. 

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 8:31 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)


    President Sharon Jennings welcomed attendees. 


    Gwenda, an author-editor, joined as a friend. 

    Tina joined in September. She is an author who also works at Indigo. 

    Vincent and Lonni are collaborating on an illustrated book. 

    Ashley Barron is an illustrator. She just completed her term as Illustrator-in-Residence at Orchard View Library. 


    Gillian Chan presented her young adult mystery The Disappearance, published by Annick, featuring a fictional group home. Gillian urges readers to ‘embrace the strange’. 

    Theo Heras presented her new picture book, Baby Cakes, illustrated by Renee Benoit. The two kids from Hat On, Hat Off are now in the kitchen baking. 

    Deb Lougheed presented the fourth book, Payback, in her Orca Currents series set in a Bracebridge type town and featuring a hero who gets in scrapes and solves crimes. Deb also presented Crackerjack Debutante, a collection of poems by Deb and Jack Livesay.


    Lana Button, CANSCAIP liaison with IBBY Canada, announced IBBY’s General Meeting on Monday, March 3rd at 8:30. IBBY Canada introduces Canadian children’s literature around the world and also promotes international books in Canada, as well as providing bibliotherapy in troubled regions. IBBY membership will be discounted at this weekend’s PYI conference. 

    Teresa Toten will be appearing on a CCBC panel called Getting It Done on Monday, December 4th at 6:00 PM in Room 200 at Orchard View Library. This is a free event. 

    Gillian O’Reilly announced the Friends of the Osborne annual Helen Stubbs Memorial Lecture featuring Deborah Ellis on Reading and Freedom at 7:00 PM at TPL’s Lillian Smith branch on Thursday, November 9th at 7:00 PM. 

    Helena Aalto reminded CANSCAIP members of the upcoming PYI conference with a great lineup of speakers, including Arthur Slade and Richard Scrimger. 

    She is in need of a person to act as a timer for the one-on-one sessions at PYI. 

    She also reminded everyone of the upcoming (January) Judy Brunsek marketing webinar. 

    Lena Coakley attended an IFOA panel with representatives from the TAC, OAC and CC on grants and brought handouts. Her big takeaway: they want to hear from you. Don’t be afraid to call and ask questions. 

    GUEST SPEAKER – Amanda West Lewis

    Theo Heras introduced Amanda, a Renaissance woman who has written novels alone and with Tim Wynne-Jones and many craft books for Kids Can, and is also an artist and calligrapher, actor, director, producer, and Executive Director of Ottawa Theatre. She recently co-produced Brian Doyle’s novel Down to Low for theatre. 

    Amanda talked about the role of a co-producer for the Down to Low adaptation. She worked with an adapter, raised money, did contracts, organized venues for readings and performances through the entire process. 

    While Brian is so well respected in the literary community, few theatre company people had heard of him. As well, the show required seven actors and three musicians and no theatre companies were willing to take on a show with this many people involved.  All this led to the decision to independently produce the show. 

    A budget of $100,000 was settled on for a two-and-a-half week run. Amanda knew Doyle fans would help fund it. As well, they did an Indiegogo campaign and received some grants. 

    Big challenges, in terms of the play itself, were not to lose Doyle’s unique voice, and to keep the sense of storytelling without relying too heavily on a narrator on stage. 

    These issues were solved with the help of talented collaborators. The designer came up with the idea of creating a bar-like stage that involved the audience. The actors and musicians and costume designer also provided solutions to these challenges. Theatre, unlike novel writing, is collaborative, and brainstorming with your team is a big part of it. Brian was there all along the way, too. 

    To solve the narrator problem and bring scenes to life, narrator Tommy became younger Tommy after a sentence of a scene and then stepped into the scene as the younger version of himself. (This solution was decided on after a workshop presentation with two different Tommys.) 

    To solve the problem of Frank’s drinking-driving scene for a family audience, more background was provided by Brian (the character only started drinking after coming home from war), which was incorporated into the play. 

    The show opened on Brian Doyle day and was a big hit. 

    It has been programmed into the National Arts Centre’s 2018 season.  Amanda is currently consulting with the designer on tweaks for this move into a much larger venue. 

    In response to a question about the script’s suitability for both an adult and children’s audience, Amanda said they did not change the script for the different audiences. It remained the same, geared to a family audience. 

    In response to a question about how they handled Bridget’s one arm, Amanda demonstrated how the costume designer managed it. 

    In response to a question about how whether she wants to adapt more of Brian’s work, Amanda said that her co-producer (and the adapter of the show), is adapting more work. 

    Someone asked if the musicians were brought on more for music or sound effects, and Amanda said both. 

    Asked about the possibility of a tour, Amanda said that isn’t something she’d want to take on. 

    Asked for advice for a writer adapting her own book, Amanda recommended using an adapter familiar with theatre, or getting input from playwrights and directors. 

    Asked what she is currently working on, Amanda, who just received her MFA in Children’s Writing from Vermont College, said she is working on a novel and thinking (because of her MFA experience) about her writing very differently. 


    Sharon reminded members of the December holiday party, featuring a panel of publishing people who are also authors:  Vikki Van Sickle, Naseem Hrab, Liz MacLeod, Mary Beth Leatherdale, and Hadley Dyer.

  • Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:58 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    NOTES from October 11 meeting SPEAKER: Sue Todd


    President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone and introduced some attending CANSCAIP volunteers and staff: Rita Bailey, Patricia Storms, Michele Nidenoff, Holly Main, Rob Morphy, Theo Heras, Anne Laurel Carter, Bev Katz Rosenbaum and Helena Aalto

    Sharon thanked Barbara Greenwood for another outstanding issue of CANSCAIP News and noted that attendee Jo Ellen Bogart did a great job on the Jean Little profile. 


    Three people, attending for the first time, introduced themselves. 


    Celebrate with author Sylvia McNicoll as she launches The Artsy Mistake Mystery at the Art Gallery of Burlington on Sunday, November 5 from 2:00 - 3:30. 

    Melanie Fishbane has several events promoting Maud

    • Saturday, October 14 at 6:30: Book signing at Chapters in Peterborough
    • Sunday, October 22 at 11:00: Books and Brunch with three other authors, presented by Blue Heron Books and held at Wooden Sticks in Uxbridge. Tickets are 25.00 and include food.
    • Saturday, November 11: Melanie is on the Breaking In panel at our Packaging Your Imagination conference. 


    Picture book author Lana Button is CANSCAIP’s new liaison with IBBY - International Board on Books for Young People. IBBY’s Canadian branch was founded in 1980 with a mandate to introduce Canadian children’s literature to the world as well as bring international works to Canada’s attention. IBBY Canada gives out awards and grants and also nominates Canadians for prestigious international awards. Their Children in Crisis fund offers bibliotherapy and helps replace libraries that are destroyed due to war or natural disasters. This year, IBBY has nominated Kenneth Oppel and Isabelle Arsenault for the prestigious international Hans Christian Anderson Award (the little Nobel). Lana urged CANSCAIP members to get more involved with IBBY by volunteering. 

    Sharon passed on message from Teresa Toten about BookShout, on Sunday, October 22 from 1:30 to 6:00 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bluma Appel Salon. This is the TPL’s inaugural festival of reading for young adults. The afternoon will feature some of YA’s current stars, including S.K. Ali, Kelley Armstrong, Elly Blake, Vicki Grant, Melanie Florence, Lesley Livingston, Richard Scrimger, and Teresa. There will be presentations, questions, and signings. This event is free but you have to register. 


    CANSCAIP’s Administrative Director Helena Aalto noted that our Packaging Your Imagination conference will be on Saturday, November 11. This year, you will be able to buy an audio recording of any additional sessions for an extra $25. Virtual PYI will be offered once again. 

    Our September 20 webinar on grants, given by Heather O’Connor, was very successful. Forty-two people registered. Anyone who missed it can still buy/watch the video recording. 

    Helena noted that at our September meeting she had forgotten to thank Melanie Fishbane for her two years of overseeing CANSCAIP’s social media presence. 


    Sharon relayed the message sent by Eric Walters: Sue Todd’s illustrations on their latest picture book collaboration, Wild Beasts, are “quite frankly, simply brilliant.” 

    Patricia Storms (programming committee) introduced Sue Todd.  A graduate of OCA (now OCADU), she was initially a freelance designer who took up lino carving in her spare time. She has created art for advertising, editorial, and publishing (first for educational books and now trade). She has also created book covers, posters and tee shirts. Her work can be found in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. She has recently taken up portrait painting and is also working on her first graphic novel. In addition to making art, Sue enjoys opera, yoga, and cycling. 

    Sue said she came late to the lino cutting technique, (using ordinary linoleum flooring), but now she has been doing it for twenty years, and the technique provided her with a second career. 

    She began with a slide show on the different tracks her career has taken. She pointed out that it’s useful for artists to make and see their mistakes and failures along the way. She reminded us it’s a journey and that artists are always learning. She did a ton of advertising illustrations for about ten years. These jobs were challenging because the deadlines were incredibly tight.  She did a lot of work for business and legal magazines, until stock images took over from illustrations.  She never tried licensing (wants to) but her work has wound up on products, including Walmart shopping bags. 

    Sue reminded us it’s never too late to bloom. She came very late to children’s trade publishing. She got her first two trade book commissions only in the last couple of years, for books by Tomson Highway and Eric Walters. 

    A highlight of the evening was Sue’s demonstration of her lino cutting technique, pointing out that whatever you carve is a reverse image; it is the space around the line that gets inked. She brought all her tools, and showed us how to carve – always away from the body! Once the linoleum is clamped down and carved, Sue spreads ink evenly on a platen. She uses a tabletop printmaking press for small works, but does larger pieces by hand. Sue mentioned that she likes every stage of this process—thinking of the image, carving it, printing it, and coloring it (computer or analogue). 

    Next, Sue puts printmaking paper on the plate and presses on it to make her print. Her initial thumbnails, only two inches, usually end up being remarkably similar to the final product. She refines and colors the illustrations in Photoshop and likes to use textured backgrounds.  She scans in Kraft paper and colorizes/darkens. 

    Her second trade book was with Orca. She’d mailed them postcards for years and they finally wrote back saying they had a project for her – An African Alphabet, written by Eric Walters. She talked with the editor about how the animals were to be presented (friendly but not anthropomorphic), and she did her sketches after reading about the animals’ habits and habitats. 

    Sue mentioned she had signed a boilerplate contract for her first book, but on An African Alphabet, she hired Sally Keefe Cohen (met through CANSCAIP), who negotiated contract changes for her. 

    She also noted the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket. She buys mailing lists, sends postcards and bulk emailers, and also has a presence on several websites. 

    She quoted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: ‘In the realm of ideas, everything depends on the real world, all rests on perseverance.’ 

    She cited as creative inspirations, among others: Barbara Klunder, PeeWee’s Playhouse, Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, mythology, Jim Flora, and George Walker. Sue ended by inviting us to try printmaking with the equipment and linos she brought with her. 

    Sharon thanked Sue for her generosity in sharing her experiences.  





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