Etta Kaner (Toronto)

Award winning author of over two dozen books for children ages 5 to 12, mostly non-fiction. Etta’s rate is $250.00 for a one hour session, and $450.00 for two sessions. Travel charges waived if the venue is in the GTA. Writers' Union member.

Etta is an animated, experienced educator and presenter who enjoys interacting with children of all ages. Etta has a particular interest in animals and architecture from a unique perspective. Her short-listed 2017 Silver Birch non-fiction book Friend or Foe: the Whole Truth about Animals That People Love to Hate is a book about point of view and persuasive argument, both components of all strands of the Ontario Language curriculum.

Rats, cockroaches, leeches, snakes, vultures – these are just a few of the animals that are discussed during Etta’s interactive presentation. After presenting both the negative and then positive sides of some of these animals, students are asked for their opinion: Is the animal friend or foe?

Etta then shares the secrets of how written voice and book design are used to persuade the reader to agree with a certain perspective. She also involves the children in an activity in which partners discuss and draw the positives and negatives of having unusual pets.

Time is given for Q and A about being an author, book publishing and about Friend or Foe in particular.

This presentation is suitable for students in grades 3 to 6 in the GTA. I prefer to meet in a library or classroom with space for children to work in pairs.

Group size: two classes at one time

Materials needed: Chart paper on easel or board, marker, pencils and poster paper for students, large table to display my books, water, a chair

Expectations: teachers are expected to stay with their students during the presentation and help with pairing students for the workshop component of the presentation

Follow-up Activities: I’m happy to provide teachers with follow-up activities that develop point of view using other books and activities.

 

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Ishta Mercurio (Brampton)

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Writers' Union Member. Red Maple Non-Fiction Nominee. Writer of non-fiction science books for kids and picture books.

Fees: $200 for one one-hour presentation, $375 for two on the same day, $550 for three on the same day, $650 for a full day (four presentations). No travel costs.

Skype Visits: $75 for 1/2 an hour; $100 for one hour.

Ishta Mercurio has been an actor, an environmental activist, a behaviour therapist, and is now a children’s author of both fiction and non-fiction. The daughter of a Philippine mother and an American father, she has lived in three different countries, and brings an appreciation of diversity and sense of adventure to her writing and her presentations.

Presentations:

Everything is Connected: JK-SK, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

In this presentation, Ishta uses anecdotes about her own early writing attempts, her experiments while researching her books, and her travels throughout the world to foster curiosity about the world around us, and develop the understanding that it is the connections between everything in the world that can lead to good stories. Presentations are tailored for each age group.

Writing Workshops: Fiction Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

Ishta expands upon the theme of finding unexpected connections, and incorporates traditional idea-generating writing and drawing exercises with improvisational theatre techniques to explore ways that an idea can grow into a story. Workshops are tailored for each age group.

Writing Workshops: Non-Fiction Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

How do we get ideas? Once we have a good idea, how do we find out more? Ishta works with children of all ages to discover how exploring the real world around us can lead to new and exciting discoveries. Workshops with Grades 7-8 include an interactive discussion about using the internet for research and how to distinguish a good, accurate source of information from a poor or inaccurate source of information.

Skype Visits: Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

Ishta offers Skype visits that cover the same ground as her presentations, but including a tour of her office and an interactive discussion about a typical day in the life of an author.

Ishta prefers to speak to groups of no more than 100 children, but she can be flexible if necessary. Writing workshops are limited to one classroom (approximately 30 children or fewer) at a time. Ishta requires a whiteboard/chalkboard or a flip chart for presentations and workshops of all sizes, and a microphone for large groups.

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Kira Vermond (Guelph)

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Guelph. Writer’s Union Member. Silver Birch (Non-fiction) nominee 2017. Kira Vermond is an award-winning author of four non-fiction children’s books and 1,500+ articles for adult and children’s magazines, newspapers and websites.

$250 for one hour-long session, $450 for two, and $600 for three, plus HST. (Outside local area, multiple presentations preferred and can be shared with partnering school.) Writing workshop rate is $400 + HST for a two hours. No travel charges within the Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo area.

Kira received her first (friendly) rejection letter from a kids' magazine when she was 11, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to be a writer. Today, she’s a busy author, journalist and winner of last year’s Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. Her favourite part of being a writer? Talking to kids (and adults) about writing! Those who have attended her sessions have described them as, “amazing, informative, entertaining, cool, educational and fun.” She didn’t even have to pay these people (much)….

Presentation: We’re all liars! (And that’s normal) 

You were probably taught that honesty is the best policy. So why do your parents ask you to pretend you like all your birthday gifts, even Aunt Dora’s knitted dinosaur sweater? Does “being polite” mean lying? And aren’t card players encouraged to bluff when they play poker? Talk about mixed messages! This fun and thoughtful presentation will guide students (grades 4-6) through the ethically complex maze we call deception.

From the moment we jump out of bed in the morning until we climb back in at night, we’re living with so many different sneaky lies, cheats, frauds, and deceptions, we don’t even realize they’re there! We’ll cover food fraud, bogus advertising, the placebo effect, online trickery and cheating at school (plus how to stop). Finally, we’ll prove there’s a 100% accurate lie detection method (about 50% of the time).

From spaghetti farmers in Switzerland, to rattlesnakes in ball pits (eek!) and compulsive liars who just can’t stop, this interactive and fascinating session based on Half-truths and Brazen Lies will give students something to think about long after it’s over. (Honest!)

Special for Forest of Reading! As a way to celebrate reading, drawing and their book’s Silver Birch nomination, Kira Vermond and illustrator Clayton Hanmer will present together to a select number of schools in 2017! Clayton has a decade of experience “live drawing” in front of an audience. See how their engaging and hilarious rapport on the page translates to real life. Please book at least two months in advance to accommodate combined schedules. Contact for fee details.

For other presentation topics (money, bullying and cliques, why we live where we live, writing non-fiction, adult writing workshops, Q&A, etc.) please inquire using the contact form below.

Maximum number of students per session: Up to 80 students. Smaller groups (20-35) tend to work best. I’m comfortable presenting in the classroom, library, auditorium, and gymnasium. Please provide a glass of water and access to a black or white board with writing supplies. I request that a librarian, teacher or other school representative be present throughout presentations.

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R.J. Anderson (Stratford ON)

Silver Birch nominee. Writers' Union Member. Author of thrilling yet thought-provoking speculative fiction for children and teens. $300 for one hour-long session, $525 for two, $750 for three, and $900 for a full day, plus mileage for visits outside local area. Willing to travel anywhere within a 150 km radius from Stratford (which includes most of the GTA); open to travelling further if accommodation and meals are provided.

R. J. (Rebecca) Anderson was born to missionary parents in Uganda, grew up in various parts of Ontario, and has become a bestselling author in England, to her great surprise and delight. Having endured years of bullying in primary school, she loves to encourage creative young minds and inspire readers to think deeply about prejudice and discrimination.

 

Presentations and Workshops:

Rebecca is a dynamic public speaker with 20+ years’ experience. Her passion is to inspire and educate young and upcoming writers, helping them find their creative voice and take their storytelling to the next level with practical, down-to-earth advice. She also gives lively dramatic readings — no droning or mumbling here!

Although she writes fantasy, Rebecca’s stories are grounded in real-world history, folklore and science, and many of her books feature distinctly Canadian characters and settings. Ultraviolet is set in Sudbury, its companion novel Quicksilver in Kitchener-Waterloo; and A Pocket Full of Murder and its sequel A Little Taste of Poison take place in an alternate-universe version of Toronto during the Great Depression. Her books also touch on serious discussion topics such as prejudice and discrimination (Pocket), disability (Knife), mental illness and neurodivergence (Ultraviolet), and Quicksilver has been widely praised for its frank but sensitive portrayal of asexuality.

In addition to visiting numerous schools, libraries, festivals, and after-school book clubs in person and via Skype, Rebecca has taught writing workshops at a wide variety of events including Packaging Your Imagination, SCBWI Canada East, Write!Canada, Book Camp London, and the Young Authors’ Conference. She is able to tailor her content to the needs and interests of her audience, including Christian and other conservative religious schools, and is happy to work with any age group from Grade 5 to adult.

Sample presentations for general school and library audiences:
- From Brainstorm to Bookstore: The Life Cycle of a Novel
- I Became an Author – You Could Too!
- The Real-World Roots of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Sample writing workshops:
- Finding Your Character’s Voice
- Revision: The Magic Key to Successful Writing
- Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
- Get (Un)Real: Writing Authentic Fantasy and SF
- Time Management and Motivation for Struggling Writers

Further topics available on request.

Needs:

Microphone for large audiences or rooms with poor acoustics. A small podium or note-stand and a table for books and other items used in the presentation. Bottled water or hot tea appreciated, and for full day bookings, a simple bagged or cafeteria lunch.

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Sue Irwin (Grimsby ON)

Writers’ Union Member. Niagara, ON. Teacher. Nominated for a 2017 Silver Birch Nonfiction award. Grades 3 to 8. $250 for one session, $400 for two, $600 for three, $800 for four. Happy to do multiple visits in the same school or area in a day. Sessions are 45 to 60 minutes long. Skype visits $150 (45 to 60 min).

Sue Irwin enjoys every step of the writing process. A proud Canadian and avid hockey fan, she’s especially interested in the lives of her fellow-citizens, both famous and not-yet-famous. And she loves to share newly discovered facts with kids. Her work has appeared in AppleSeeds and Highlights for Children magazines. She has also written for Reading A-Z. Safety Stars: Players who fought to make the hard-hitting game of professional hockey safer is her first book.

An elementary school teacher, Sue is comfortable doing presentations with children from JK to Grade 8, but the subject matter of her book Safety Stars is most suitable for students in Grades 5 to 8. (Resource Guide.)

Having been a fan of the sport for as long as she can remember, Sue thought she knew the game well. But as she conducted her research for the book, she was excited to learn more about the history of the game, its rules, and the competitors themselves. All of the hockey players featured in Safety Stars are Canadian citizens, and many grew up in Ontario. When Sue comes to your school, she’ll highlight the hockey heroes from your hometown, whenever possible. Prepare to be surprised by the fun facts that she’ll share!

Sue’s presentation topics include:

– how she became interested in hockey. She’ll share memories of her first (embarrassing!) game experience.

– the exciting world of nonfiction

– the process of writing for publication (includes researching, writing, and revising)

– Ha, Ha! Hockey Talk (includes hockey trivia and funny quotes from professional players)

– how students’ actions can make a difference in the lives of others

– concussion safety (includes ways to reduce injury risk, concussion symptoms, the importance of reporting injuries, and treatment of concussions)

Sue enjoys interacting with her audience, and will intersperse opportunities for Q & A throughout her presentation.

Equipment and Other Requirements

Venues: Flexible, but the library or a classroom is preferred.

 

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Simon Shapiro (Toronto ON)

Nominated for 2017 Red Maple and Rocky Mountain Book Awards. Writers Union member. Passionate about sparking an interest in Science. $275 for one session, $475 for two, $650 for three, $800 for four (full day). Full day price can be split between neighbouring schools. Travel fee waived for Toronto and GTA.

Simon majored in Math, Applied Math and Computer Science and later completed an MBA at York University. After retiring from a career as an Information Technology professional, one of his interests has been writing books for children. He believes that it’s important for students to be STEM-literate (Science Technology Engineering and Math). He loves to spark kids’ interest in Science.

 

Presentations

Simon’s latest book, Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas that Transformed Sports, nominated for both 2017 Red Maple and Rocky Mountain Book Awards, and is also a finalist for the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 2017 SB&F Prize, shows kids that basic science concepts are highly relevant to sports. He tells fascinating stories of people who came up with bright ideas which had a huge impact on various sports. For each innovation, he explains the science of why the innovation was so effective.

Some innovators were athletes, many of them quite young (the youngest was twelve!) But other backgrounds include scientists, a farmer and a security guard. The human interest in the stories is compelling and inspirational. A clear message is that being inquisitive and exploring can result in significant discoveries.

By telling the story of several innovators, a presentation can be tailored to demonstrate the widespread significance of basic scientific concepts such as:

  • Energy and the conversion between kinetic, elastic and potential energy.
  • Fluid resistance (air and water).
  • Centre of gravity.

Other themes that can be highlighted:

  • Disabled sports. The inventors of the sports wheelchair and the blade prosthetic were both young adults who were injured in sporting accidents. They were both determined not to let their injuries prevent them from active lives. They were dissatisfied with the quality of wheelchairs and prosthetic legs, respectively. And both came up with radically new inventions to meet their own needs.
  • Innovation as a result of crossing fields of expertise. Examples include using fiberglass fishing poles to develop vaulting poles; hang gliding technology for wheelchairs; aircraft technology for skis.

For all presentations it would be extremely helpful to have computer projection available to show a Powerpoint presentation and / or images and video. Simon will bring these on a USB (‘thumb’) drive.

The scientific concepts are best for grades 7 and up.

 

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Casey Lyall (Strathroy ON)

Middlesex County and London, ON. Writers’ Union Member. Silver Birch nominee. Middle grade author. $250 for one session, $450 for two sessions, $650 for three sessions, $800 for four (a full day). (Each session is approximately 1 hour.)

Writing Workshops: $400. (Approximately 90 minutes each.)

Virtual Visits: 60 minute Skype visits are also available for $150 a session.

Travel fees: No travel fee if booking within 100km of London, or 150km if booking for a full day. Neighbouring schools can split the full day cost.

Casey is the author of the middle grade mystery series, Howard Wallace, P.I. She is a library branch assistant experienced in running programs for both elementary and high-school-aged students. Casey aims to entertain and inform while leaving her audience excited about creating their own stories.

Presentation Details:

Casey takes students on an in-depth, behind the scenes look at her path to publication. She shares every part of the process: elementary school writing, failed projects, rejection and editorial letters, as well as revised and finished manuscripts. She offers tips and tricks for finishing a story and how to tackle the dreaded revisions. Other topics Casey will touch on include developing characters, the elements of a mystery, writing with humour, surviving rejection, the value of persistence, and how to find your voice as a writer.

Casey is a very flexible presenter and will adapt her program to suit any audience of grades three and up. Each presentation is approximately 1 hour with time allowed for student Q&A throughout.

Writing Workshops are also available for smaller groups and run for approximately 90 minutes. (Maximum size is one class.)

Workshop topics available:

Building Your Story - focus on creating a story arc, writing dialogue that crackles, and developing characters and setting.

Making Your Story Shine – focus on pacing, building tension, deepening relationships between characters, and sticking the ending. (Students should have an in-progress story to work on during the session.)

Venue: Casey prefers to present in a classroom or library space.  Maximum group size per session is 3 classes or approximately 100 students. A librarian, teacher, or other school representative should be present throughout the presentation (or workshop if the group is a full class.)

Equipment required: a glass/bottle of water and a table. A microphone for larger groups if the room acoustics require it. Lunch if booked for a full day presentation.

Casey will also deliver presentations for adult writers as well as educators looking to start a student writers’ workshop. Listed pricing would apply. Please contact her for more details.

 

 

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John Spray (Toronto and Tweed ON)

Toronto & Tweed On. Writers Union member. Fiction/Non-fiction.
$250 for one session plus HST. $400 with Arthur the boxer. Travel fee waived for Toronto and Tweed.

John has written a critically acclaimed book on the young life of Arthur Biyarslanov, a Pan-Am gold medalist boxer and an Olympian.

Arthur can accompany John with his gold medal and boxing gloves and will be there for Q&A after John’s reading. John is a seasoned speaker and yearly gives out the ‘John Spray Mystery’ award at the T.D. Book Awards. His forty years as a private investigator also add colour to his presentation. John will speak to middle-grade students, Y.A. and adults and is particularly adept at encouraging reluctant readers and readers new to English. John can do up to four, one hour presentations on any day and can travel anywhere in Ontario.

John’s presentation includes tips on writing and how to get the most out any book. He also has many amusing anecdotes from his forty years as a private investigator. The book itself spans three countries, a war, both soccer and boxing and Arthur's struggles growing up in poverty. These are rich topics for both children and adults and by their very nature, spawn curiosity from inquiring minds.

John has no media set-up as the whole idea of reading is to stoke the imagination.  For large rooms or when the acoustics require it, a microphone is requested.

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Deborah Kerbel (Thornhill ON)

dkerbelWriters’ Union Member. GG finalist. MG, YA Fiction. $325 for one presentation, $575 for two, $850 for three, $1000 for four, + travel (no travel costs within GTA). Full day fee can be split between two neighbouring schools. Out of town visits require two or more bookings.

Deborah Kerbel was born in London, England, but moved to Canada before she was old enough to cultivate a posh accent or a love of marmalade. She is the author of six acclaimed novels for kids and teens. From school groups to large events and international festivals, she’s an experienced presenter and enthusiastic speaker who uses humour and an interactive style to engage her audience. Deborah loves visiting schools and meeting readers and writers of all ages. Based in Thornhill, Ontario, she’s the proud mom of two book-loving children, both of whom continue to inspire many of her story ideas.

Presentations

Deborah’s 60 min presentation consists of:
-details about her Middle Grade and/or Young Adult novels (depending on ages present)
-motivation, rejection, determination, and the rocky road to publication
-interactive PowerPoint quiz about famous children’s authors
-discussion about where ideas come from
-personal anecdotes about writing
-reading and Q&A session
-each student receives a signed bookmark

Grades: 4 - 8

Maximum number of students per session: 60-80 (flexible)
Venue: All acceptable, but library preferred.
Equipment requirements: Projector and screen, glass of water, microphone for larger groups

Workshop details:

Deborah enjoys mentoring emerging writers through workshops, library visits, and short-story competitions. Her interactive workshop is designed to help emerging writers take their craft to the next level. Participants can expect to come away with a variety of creative new ideas and material for their writing as well as the tools to implement them. During the final part of the workshop, participants will take several minutes to write a scene using some of the character traits, setting ideas, and action scenes that were collectively brainstormed within the group.

Maximum workshop size: 15

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Irene Luxbacher (Toronto)

Irene Luxbacher photoToronto ON,  Author/Illustrator, fiction and NF.  Governor General nominee, USBBY winner and Disney Adventure Awards winner.  Multi awards and nominations

$300 plus HST for 1 session.$500 for 2, $650 for 3 and $800 for 4 + travel. Fees include art supplies.

Irene has more than 17 years experience making presentations and teaching visual art to children and adults.  Her specialty is presenting for primary ages, but enjoys making presentations to all when requested. She tailor makes her presentations to compliment teacher lesson plans and current classroom topics or interest.  As the author and illustrator of both art activity books and picture books, she usually presents to 1-2 classes at one time, with groups ranging from 20-30 children.  Because Irene often brings art supplies for demonstrations and craft projects, it is preferable for classes to rotate over the course of the day if more than one presentation is requested.

Presentations by grade

Irene is easy going and flexible with her presentations. She is understanding, warm and engaging. She always makes sure students are drawn into her world of storytelling and art making. A typical presentation usually begins with a brief introduction and the reading or sharing of one of the books she’s either illustrated or written and illustrated.  After some discussion, a theme or idea is arrived at and an art demonstration or workshop follows.  Irene always tries to leave behind a class art project that will keep kids thinking about her books and leave readers with a reminder of the fun that can be had when inspiration and imagination are at play.

Here is an example of her themes by grade:

JK to 2: A 10-15 minute reading of “The Imaginary Garden” by Andrew Larsen followed Q&A on topic of your choice (i.e. gardens, seasons, environment, relationships), Ending with 30 minute group art activity such as a class garden mural project

2 to :4 A 20 minute reading of “Mr. Frank” followed by Q&A on topic of your choice (i.e. different jobs/occupations, fashion history, relationships with elderly family members).  Presentation with students creating a miniature tailor shop of the ages using collage materials.  What time period would you create clothes for? What ages? Why?

4 to 8: A 20 minute reading of “Malaika’s Costume” by Nadia Hohn. Q&A on topics such as immigration, empathy, differing cultures/customs. Presentation ending with the creation of a carnival headpiece reflecting each students own style, interests or emotions.

7 to 12: Irene would do workshops involving students in the art of storytelling through words and images for this age group.  Simplifying text and adding visual content would be discussed and demonstrated.  Some drawing techniques would be shared and students would work on the 32 page format that most picture books come in to be completed in class or at home. Students would have a chance to look through many of Irene’s books and ask questions about the process of coming up with an idea and turning it into a book.

Professional Development Workshops:

Irene loves to involve primary teachers in art making workshops that demonstrate how to make the most of a few supplies and how to ensure a successful lesson.  Ordering art supplies can be daunting and expensive if you’re not sure where to begin. Irene will bring in basic, inexpensive tools and materials and demonstrate their many uses. Irene’s professional development workshops are fun, interactive and lively and will offer teachers valuable information.  Providing a solid foundation of simple techniques that can be applied to any topic will help teachers enjoy using visual art as a teaching and learning tool on a regular basis.

Maximum group sizes for presentations: 20-30.  Workshops are ideal with 7-15 people at a time.

Classrooms or library preferred

Equipment required: A glass of water, A table to organize art supplies and books on.  Irene loves to read her books in a circle, on an open floor area with young children. A large plastic drop-sheet or two to protect desks or work areas from possible paint/glue spills.

*Irene uses art materials that are non-toxic and tools that are age/skill appropriate.

Virtual Visits: $150 plus HST, 60 minutes, Skype.

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Danielle S. McLaughlin (Toronto)

Danielle 4 Digit CounterJun 14, 2015 11Toronto ON. Writers’ Union Member. Specialist in critical thinking for social justice workshops for grade 2 and up. Her book That’s Not Fair! Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms was the Kids Can Press Citizen Kid publication for 2016.

Danielle’s rate is $250 for one session, $400 for two. No travel charges will be incurred within Toronto. Transportation/accommodation fees will apply outside the Toronto area.

Mme. Justice Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said of That's not Fair! Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms, “This book will open up different perspectives, competing interests and, in the end, an understanding of the give-and-take of life in a democracy. A great contribution to a rights-based young citizenry.”

Danielle is the former director of education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust. She has nearly thirty years of experience presenting highly interactive workshops and seminars for children and adults of all ages. She also specializes in workshops for teachers and educators. All of her presentations involve a rights-based, critical thinking approach.

That’s Not Fair! Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms: grades 2-6. Help Mayor Moe, Councillor Bug and the City Councillors make decisions about handling problems in their city. What would happen if your city had the same problems? What should we do?

In addition to her children’s book, Danielle writes a monthly blog on Huffington Post Canada about education, schools, and the rights of students and teachers.

Presentations:

Danielle writes and speaks about rights and freedoms, bringing current events and issues to each presentation. She begins by asking her audience to tell her what they know about their rights and quickly leads into stories, both true and imaginary, where rights conflict with one another. She guides her participants to ask relevant questions and to make their own choices and decisions. She encourages diverse opinions and respectful discourse.

Danielle uses books, short videos and classroom activities to keep the level of student engagement very high. Students are encouraged to offer their points of view throughout the workshops. She ends with a book signing, if requested to do so.

More details:

Danielle is happy to speak to grade 2 and up. She prefers to be in a classroom or library that can accommodate up to 50 students, but will also speak to groups of over 50 in auditorium or gym settings. A lapel mic and wireless mics for audience participation will be needed in larger groups.

For grades 2-5 Danielle prefers to speak for one class period - usually about 45 minutes. For grade 6 and up, a class period or one-hour session is preferred. Adult seminars require 1-2 hours.

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Christie Harkin (Aurora)

christieharkinAurora, ON. Christie is a Toronto-area publisher and editor of many award-winning children/ young adult novels and picture books. She is also a former English and ESL teacher/tutor and experienced presenter. $175 for a 1.5 hour session. $350 for one half-day session (3 hours). No travel fee for York Region or Toronto. Standard kilometrage for other areas.

Christie is the former producer/host of Bookmarks: The Book Report Show for Kids, a cable-access TV show that gave children the opportunity to talk about books and interview authors on television.

These Topics can be tailored to suit all grades from Junior to High School:

The Publishing Process (1.5 hrs)

How is a book “made”? What does it take to become a published author or illustrator? Students will learn about the publishing industry and process of getting a book published. Audience limit: flexible/negotiable/large group.

Self-editing and peer-editing: Why a good editor is a writer’s best friend (1.5 hrs)

  • Stages of writing (preparation, the writing process, revision)
  • What to look for in your own work and in your partner’s work when you are editing
  • Common errors and bloopers
  • How to be critical and encouraging at the same time
  • What to do when you are STUCK
  • Peer-editing workshop

Crafting your own picture book: Presentation and workshop: 1.5 hrs

  • Thinking about AUDIENCE
  • Thinking about STORY
  • Thinking about ILLUSTRATION
  • Turning the page: Thinking about DESIGN
  • Picture book planning workshop

Diversity on the Bookshelf: Who are books for? Presentation and workshop: 1.5 hrs

  • Discussing the role of books in addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, race, gender, ability, socio-economics, and sexuality.
  • Exploring books that present characters and scenarios that both represent and challenge students’ experiences
  • Shelf-study workshop; evaluating a collection critically

Workshop: The Literary Journal: (2-hour minimum)

Students will workshop the creation of a class or school literary publication using submissions that are collected in advance. They will learn to examine submissions critically and consider topics of inclusion, voice, diversity, style, balance, and merit. Working in groups, they will formulate a “vision” for their publication, begin to select pieces, make editorial notes, and create a preliminary table of contents.

Requirements: Water, projector/screen and apparatus to connect a laptop for PowerPoint presentations, microphone if the space warrants. Classroom presentations and workshops: Audience Limits: 40 students per session.

 

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Heather Stemp (North Bay)

heatherstempwp1North Bay, ON, Writer's Union Member. Historical fiction for middle grade and YA readers. Red Cedar Nominee

$250 plus HST for 1 session, $450 plus HST for 2 sessions, $650 plus HST for 3 sessions, and $850 plus HST for 4 sessions, plus travel.

Heather is an experienced presenter with small and large groups. Thirty years of teaching have prepared her for settings that include the classroom, library, and auditorium.

What Teachers Can Expect

Heather believes in interactive presentations. She uses her middle grade historical fiction, Amelia and Me, to take grade 3 to 7 students on a trip to Harbour Grace, Newfoundland in 1932. From there, Amelia Earhart began her solo transatlantic flight. This location was also where she met Heather's aunt, Ginny. Their meeting was the beginning of an incredible adventure.

Students will be offered a hands-on experience in order to explore the geography, history, food, dress, music, and dancing of Newfoundland. Themes such as friendship, family, bullying, conflict, and early aviation can be explored further at the teacher's request. Heather is happy to examine topics that meet the curriculum expectations for a particular grade. Presentations are geared to the interests and needs of each group.

In grades 8 to 12, Heather uses her YA historical fiction, Taking Flight, to examine topics related to aviation, World War II, the Ferry Command, Amelia Earhart, Purdue University in 1936, women in higher education, and men and women in non-traditional roles. The impact of world events on family, relationships, and the community may be included. She is happy to explore the writing process with grade 8 to 12 students as well.

Because of her experience in curriculum writing, Heather is interested in collaborating with teachers. One of her sessions can be a noon hour or after school workshop which focuses on reading and writing strategies. This can be done in conjunction with school readings.

Equipment Required: A glass of water, a cup of coffee. A table to spread her things out on. A microphone for larger groups or in the gym, or if the room acoustics are questionable. A screen and projector for PowerPoint.

Virtual Visits: $90 plus HST, 60 minutes, Skype.

Download Writers-in-the-Schools subsidy form here: WITSApplication

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Leah Bobet (Toronto)

LeahBobetwp1

Toronto. Shortlisted for the Cybils Award, the Aurora Award, the Sunburst Award, the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Award, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy; OLA Best Bets selection; winner of the Lydia Langstaff Prize.

$275 for one hour-long session, $500 for two, $750 for three, and $950 for four, plus travel outside Toronto. Happy to discuss arrangements with high-needs schools.

With a wide range of experience in the books and reading world, award-winning novelist, bookseller, games writer, and editor Leah Bobet gives inclusive, information-rich presentations that help students develop new skills—and recognize what they're already rocking! Leah has given presentations and workshops at Toronto Public Library, Essa Public Library, London Book Camp, Word on the Street, the Tucson Festival of Books, and more.

Leah believes in fitting the presentation to the students' needs, not asking students to bend to fit the presentation: every presentation is custom-tailored to fit your group's interests and the topics they're studying right now. The goal: to make sure students leave feeling confident, curious, and inspired!

Recent presentation topics include:

The Secret History of Toronto

Using Leah's 2012 YA novel Above as a basis, this presentation gives students a quick history of Toronto's oddities, dead architecture, secret subway stations, and more, with an emphasis on how the city has grown in welcoming diverse citizens and helping out its most vulnerable. This hour-long presentation, with a Q&A at the end, discusses how writers meld history into brand-new stories and the treasures you can find digging in your own figurative back yard.

Reading and the Writing Life

A 15-minute reading from Above or An Inheritance of Ashes, followed by an in-depth, practical, and occasionally goofy presentation on Leah's path to publication, the writing life, what novels are and can be, finding one's own voice as a writer, and fitting writing into the rest of your life. Includes an in-depth Q&A session so students can focus on the topics that matter to them.

Writing Urban Fantasy: Finding Magic In Your Neighbourhood

A workshop-style presentation for fantasy readers or Writer's Craft groups, this presentation introduces students to the core concepts of writing urban fantasy and finding places in one's everyday world where magic can fit. Includes a 30-minute writing and sharing activity, and focuses on the basic skill of reading and writing fantasy: seeing wonder in the everyday.

Where It Comes From: World building, the Apocalypse, and All Our Stuff

Using Leah's 2015 YA novel An Inheritance of Ashes as a basis, this presentation talks about the everyday things we use—sugar, plastic, soap—and how many people's work goes into building our average day. Through showing how Ashes builds a post-apocalyptic world without industrialization, the group discusses re-purposing, reusing, sharing economies, and how making it yourself can be a lot of fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SS-G24mPGc

This presentation is great for classes focusing on sustainability, materials science, or environmental studies.

Leah is happy to work with adult or student groups of all sizes, although workshops will run best when capped at 30 students. She requires a screen, projector, and laptop for Powerpoint presentations. If the room is larger or has difficult acoustics, a microphone is appreciated, as is a bottle of water; for multi-presentation days, a low-sugar snack is greatly appreciated.

Virtual Visits cheerfully accepted, at $150 for 60 minutes via Skype or $175 for 90 minutes.

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Martin Springett (Toronto)

Martin Springett 1Toronto. Writers' Union Member.  GG nominee, among others, and winner of the Aurora Award for fantasy illustration and the Ruth Schwartz Award for picture books.

Please note: Martin is not scheduling school and library visits at this time.

Martin’s fee is $250 per one hour session. An all day visit, typically four sessions, would be $900.

Martin Springett has been an illustrator of fantasy book covers and children’s books since 1984 when he illustrated the covers for Guy Kay’s classic fantasy trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry. He has won the Aurora Award for fantasy illustration, the Ruth Schwartz Award in the children’s picture book field for The Nightwalker and been nominated for the Govenor Generals Award for Who. His books include Mei Ming and The Dragon's Daughter, The Follower and Too Many Suns. Martin created his first authored and illustrated book, Jousting With Jesters in 2006, and in, 2011, Fitzhenry and Whiteside released Breakfast On A Dragon's Tail. Kate and Pippin, An Unlikely Love Story, was released in 2012 and has won numerous awards including The Blue Spruce award.

Martin Springett's presentation covers a wide range of topics. As an author, illustrator and musician, Martin uses all his creative skills to engage students in the art of story telling; from flights of fantasy in Breakfast On A Dragon's Tail, to the true life tale of Kate and Pippin, An Unlikely Love Story.

From the original sketches, in the case of Breakfast On A Dragon's Tail, to the first photos that Martin saw of Kate and Pippin, to the finished books on the School Library shelf, Martin will take students through the journey that is the creation of a book. Martin uses a slide show to draw the students in to the world of each book, drawing on the spot, (a gentle art lesson) and live guitar music, usually at the end of the presentation. Students usually love to hear The Dragon, as well as see Martin create a dynamic drawing of one.

For older grades and adult audiences, Martin focuses on the more technical aspects of creating images for picture books and book covers. In his long career as an illustrator Martin has created images for almost all areas where illustration is required.

Martin has also created two graphic novels, What's For Dinner, an all ages book, and The Gardening Club, a companion graphic novel to his vinyl LP of the same name, which is being re released in May 2016.

Martin is comfortable with audiences of all sizes, although in elementary schools, 60 students in a library is ideal.
Set up is - lap top and projector for slide shows / easel with unlined paper for drawing on the spot / a table to display books and original art works. One cup/bottle of water.

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Susan Aihoshi (Toronto)

Toronto author of Torn Apart, about the Japanese internment in WWII Canada. Writers' Union member. 150-kilometre distance from Toronto. $175.00 plus HST per session. Travel costs by public transit would apply outside Toronto, as Susan does not drive.

Susan begins with a short introduction explaining how the research and writing of her first book, Torn Apart, has changed her life. As a third-generation Japanese Canadian, the history of her people held little interest for her until she approached it from a personal view. Hearing stories from her mother and other family members, as well as others not related to her, Susan now realizes that history is more than what happened in the past—it’s what we choose to remember.

A reading of selected excerpts from the book follows the intro. Afterwards, Susan gives a visual presentation of period and other photographs, which help illustrate both the reading and the background of the book.

The presentation ends with a Q & A session with the audience. A one-page preparatory list of questions is available for handout in advance, if students have not read the book.

Susan can tailor her presentation to suit particular subject areas (English, Creative Writing, History, Social Studies).

Length of presentation time: 45 minutes to an hour, or one period.

Maximum 2 sessions per day.

Susan will present to Grades 4 and up, including high school students.

Maximum number of students per session: 50, although Susan is flexible and has presented to much larger groups in an auditorium setting.

Susan is comfortable in a classroom or a library.

Equipment required: projector and screen, lectern (music stand, table or desk), to place book while reading, portable microphone (if room size is very large).

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Arlene Chan (Toronto)

ArleneChan2016Toronto. $250 for one session, $400 for two, and $550 for three. No travel charges within the Greater Toronto Area.

Arlene has written seven books about Chinese festivals and the Chinese in Canada. Arlene has given hundreds of presentations to students from grades one up to grade twelve. She was a guest author at the 2014 Toronto International Book Fair and the 2013 Word on the Street.

Here’s what Vivien Keiling, Youth Services Librarian, Vaughan Public Libraries, has to say about Arlene’s presentation:

Presenting to school-aged children is not an easy thing - they're easily distracted and aren't always that interested in hearing what the presenter has to say. Arlene Chan was amazing - she was able to take a large group of  11 year-olds (65 of them) and keep them engaged, interested, and enthusiastic for a full hour presentation [about the dragon boat festival]! The children were asking tons of questions and even after it was time for them to leave, they didn't want to go! Arlene was a fantastic presenter - the best author visit I've had.

You will enjoy 60 minutes of lively and interactive presentations geared for the age of the audience. As a retired librarian, who planned and presented programs at the Toronto Public Library, I know what teachers and school librarians expect, and how to keep students engaged. (I’ve also been a guest on many television and radio shows, like CBC Radio’s Here and Now and Fresh Air.) There’s always lots of time for questions. I’m at ease in making presentations in classrooms and libraries.

Best for grades 1-6. Audience up to 80 children at a time. A separate room is preferred to contain the noise of excited children during their simulated dragon boat races.

Special Occasions:

 “The Dragon Boat Festival” – May/June, depending on lunar calendar. Best for grades 1-3. Preferred audience size of 30. This presentation can be scheduled as two 30-minute presentations instead of one 60-minute one.

“The Moon Festival” – September/October, depending on the lunar calendar. Best for grades 1-6. Audience up to 80 children at a time.

“Chinese New Year and other Celebrations” – January/February, depending on the lunar calendar; Asian Heritage Month in May. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

Historic Events:

“The Role of the Chinese in the Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway”

Righting Canada's Wrongs: the Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century

The Chinese Community in Toronto: Then and Now. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

People in History:

“A Proud Chinese Canadian”. The Spirit of the Dragon: The Story of Jean Lumb. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

Immigration:

“Canada’s Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies, 1885-1967”. Righting Canada's Wrongs: the Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

Equipment and other Requirements

Projector or SmartBoard for Powerpoint presentations

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Kate Blair (Toronto)

kateblairwp1Toronto. Writers' Union Member. Debut novel Transferral gathering rave reviews.

$200 for 1 session, $375 for 2, $500 for 3, $600 for 4 sessions. Limited to visiting schools accessible by public transit, or where a teacher is able to provide transport from the nearest transit stop/station - no travel costs within Toronto; actual transit cost elsewhere in the GTA.

Presentations suitable for grades 3 to 12.
kateblairwp2
Kate Blair has been a museum curator, a clown and a ride operator at a theme park, she has lived in four countries on three continents. Her young adult novel, Transferral, explores ideas around justice, punishment and class in an alternate version of London, England. She holds a degree in history and a masters in museum studies with a specialty in education.

Kate loves to share her enthusiasm for reading, writing, and finding your place in the world. Presentations are tailored to meet the needs of the age group, and are flexible, responding to the curriculum and the interests and curiosity of the students. She has years of experience in museums leading school workshops and presentations with all age groups, keeping students engaged and entertained.

Kate draws on her own struggles with concentration and fitting in at school to connect with students. She presents on the importance of passion and time - rather than talent - inspiring students to pursue what they love and to put the work in, rather than believing they should only focus on what they've been told they are 'good at'.

Kate’s presentations can cover a variety of topics, adapted to suit the audience and their interests, including the following:

The importance of failing; how no-one is any good at anything when they first start.

Why being the odd one out at school is a good thing.

Writing a book: what does it take and how do you get started? Including: how to spark ideas; how to create characters; how to keep your reader reading; how to edit and how to research.

Topics related to Transferral: Crime and punishment – what is the purpose of justice? A brief history of crime and punishment in London. Democracy and other ways to change the world around you.

All venues, library preferred.
Maximum group size: 200
Equipment and other requirements:
A microphone and podium for larger groups, or if the presentation is in a gym or auditorium.
A flip chart.
A glass of water.
Lunch (a sandwich is fine) if Kate is booked for morning and afternoon.

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Lana Button (Burlington)

LanaButtonwp1

Burlington. Lana charges $300 for one session, $500.00 for two, $750.00 for three and $900.00 for full day, plus travel from Burlington. Writers’ Union Member.

She shares her stories Willow’s Whispers, Willow Finds a Way, and Willow's Smile, and opens up discussion around empathy, self-esteem and self-reliance. And she always welcomes questions!

Lana is an Early Childhood Educator and former actress who feels at home when surrounded by a group of young children. She loves reading, singing and interacting with her audience! Her lively presentations are sure to keep the attention of young children learning about picture books, about themselves and about each other. Her goal is to leave her audience cheering!

Presentations:

FDK-3 (about 45 minutes) Lana introduces Willow.

She shares her passion for picture books and her journey of bringing Willow to life. Her story is not only a literary step-by step lesson in how a picture book is made it’s a lesson in personal perseverance and determination, told in an engaging age appropriate way.

She shares her story Willow’s Whispers and opens up discussion around empathy, self-esteem and self-reliance. And she always welcomes questions!

FDK-3 (about 45 minutes) Bullying Awareness

Lana focuses on bullying awareness and prevention with her story, Willow Finds a Way. She reads the story and engages the children in discussion around recognizing bullying behavior and in finding ways to stand up to bullying.

Lana loves audiences big and small. She can present to as many as 120 children per session, and will present in classrooms, libraries and gymnasiums.

She just needs a microphone for large groups.

Lana loves family literacy events! She aims to entertain and inspire the whole family with her writing experiences and her stories.

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Bill Slavin (Millbrook)

Millbrook, ON, fiction and non-fiction, Award-winning author/illustrator including the Blue Spruce and Silver Birch Awards, Grades 2-6

$300 + HST per 1 hour session, and $250 + HST for additional sessions, plus transportation/accommodation.

Bill Slavin has illustrated over one hundred children’s books, fiction and nonfiction. Titles include Stanley’s Party by Linda Bailey, winner of the 2004 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award and Transformed, winner of the 2006 Norma Fleck Award. Recently he has published the third book in his graphic novel series, Elephants Never Forget. Today he is lives in Millbrook with his partner, Esperança Melo, who is also an artist and book illustrator.

Illustration as Story-telling

Bill Slavin's school presentations revolve around a discussion of illustration as a form of story-telling, with the intention of inspiring students to go ahead and create their own stories. He shares his early work with the kids, including his very first book he did back in Grade 3, Zok the Caveman (possibly the most important thing he shows them, as it gives context!) He also discusses the process he goes through to create a picture book, from manuscript through thumbnails and pencil drawings to finished art and usually includes a reading from one of his books in conjunction with showing the original art. His presentation ends with his doing a character sketch for the kids (which will be left with the school), along with a discussion of some basic drawing principals.

Each presentation lasts for about an hour, with slight change ups in the above description depending upon the age of the audience. His preferred audience is Grades 2 - 6 and audience size can be up to 125 children. During the presentation he shows original book art and sketches and reinforces what he's showing with projections of the art (if the AV equipment is available), leaving room for lots of Q & A.

Bill's aim in the presentation is to demystify kids' relationship with art and make it real, tangible and immediate so they can go forward and have the confidence to create their own stories.

Audience Size:  125 maximum (it's best if the kids are seated on the floor or on mats)
Preferred Grades Grades 2-6
AV Requirements:  A laptop linked to a projector. If available he will bring his presentation as a Powerpoint document on a key.
Venues: All, library preferred
Other Requirements A table to organize his work on and a glass of water to wet his whistle!

Signed Books
A signed book can be a chance for kids to make a lasting connection with a visiting author. If any of the kids would like to order a book before the visit, Bill can put you in touch with his local book distributor who would be pleased to provide order forms and make arrangements to have books shipped to your school prior to the presentation.

Please note: Bill's surname is pronounced SLAY-vin.

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