McNally Robinson Writing Contest for Kids


One of the ways I started honing my writing skills was by entering contests, and so I am thrilled to be the guest judge of the McNally Robinson kids’ writing contest, open to grade 5 & 6 students in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. 

This year the theme is “I have always wanted to….” go into space, be a back-up dancer, live with elephants, go back into the past or forward into the future. Think of something you really want to do, and then write a story about how you would do it and what it might be like. This is a great prompt, and one I have used myself! For example, I have always wanted to live on a summer resort and so I wrote about it in Summer Days, Starry Nights. I have always wanted to write an episode of my favourite TV show The X-Files, and so The Winnowing was born! See? Fun!

Writing submissions should be between 500 and 1000 words, and may be fiction or non-fiction. Please note that this contest is only open to grade 5 & 6 students in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Entries will be accepted in-store or via email until Friday, March 23, 11:00pm. 


Saskatoon: writingcontest.saskatoon@gmail. com

For more information, visit the Kids desk in your nearest McNally Robinson bookstore, or call: Winnipeg 204-475-0492 / Saskatoon 955-1477.

Best of luck to all the entrants!


October 2017 Events


I’m hitting the road in October to talk about The Winnowing (with a few If I Had a Gryphon story times in there for good measure). I’d love to see your smiling faces! Check the Events Page for the most recent updates.


Oct 14, 2-3pm

Make it an Indigo Weekend Teen Takeover: Indigo Burlington

1250 Brant St, Burlington, ON


Oct 15, 3-4pm 

Celebration of Stories Festival : If I Had a Gryphon Storytime 


 Milton Centre for the Arts, 1010 Main St. E, Milton, ON


Oct 22, 11am

Books & Brunch Event Sponsored by Blue Heron Books

Wooden Sticks Golf Club, 40 Elgin Park Dr, Uxbridge, ON


Oct 28, 2-3pm

Chapters Vega Signing

3050 Vega Blvd, Mississauga, ON


Nov 4, 10-2pm

 Festival of Readers

festival of readers

St Catherine’s Public Library, Central Branch, 54 Church Street, St Catherine’s, L2R 7K2


The Winnowing Book Launch


Fall is just around the corner which means sweater weather, pumpkin pie, and The Winnowing! I’ve been busy working on some guest posts for The Winnowing blog tour and booking events for the fall. Full details coming soon, but for now here is everything you need to know about the Toronto book launch!

When: Tuesday, August 29th 6:30pm

Where: Supermarket Bar & Restaurant, 268 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON. Kensington Market

This is a public event, kids and friends welcome!

Books will be sold by beloved Toronto institution and indie bookseller Bakka-Phoenix.

Trivia master and kid lit author Evan Munday will be hosting a round of trivia around 8pm. He will be focusing on related topics (children’s books, 1980s pop culture, science fiction, etc). There will be prizes, so bring your brainiest pals!


Fall 2016 Events


Can you tell a sasquatch horn from a manticore tooth? What about a phoenix tail feather from a gryphon wing feather? Me and my magical bag of pet clues are going on the road this fall to Rockton, Milton, Calgary, and Vancouver. Will I see you there?


Sept 10th, 10am:  Story Mobs, Toronto, ON

What a fantastic event! Check out participant (and actress) Cynthia Galant’s video here:

September 18th, Telling Tales Festival, Rockton ON

  • If I Had a Gryphon Presentation, Cathcart School House, 12:30
  • Meet the Publishers Talk, Mountsberg Church, 2:45

Sept 24th, 11:30am: Indigo Milton Storytime


Calgary Wordfest

Oct 12th, 10:00-11:30am, Glenbow Museum Theatre- with Ruth Ohi

*If you are a teacher in the Calgary area looking to book a presentation, click here

Vancouver Writers’ Fest

Oct 18th, 10-11am, Revue Stage-  Creatures, Kids & Communities with Alice Kuipers & Roy Henry Vickers

Oct 19th, 1-2pm, Performance Works- Chain Reactions with Lisa Moore &
Owen Laukkanen-Matthews

Oct 20th, 1-2pm, Revue Stage- Read it Again, Please! with Monica Kulling & Olive Senior





What’s in the bag? Do you know any young pet detectives who could help me solve a magical mystery?

I’ve been gathering props and breaking out the vocal exercises all in preparation for events and storytimes across Ontario for IF I HAD A GRYPHON. Come join me (and maybe a magical creature or two) on the following dates for stories & activities:

Tuesday, Feb 9th, 10:30am, Chapters Brampton, Storytime & Signing 

Saturday, Feb 13th, 11am, Chapters Ajax, Storytime & Signing 

Sunday, Feb 14th, 11am, Indigo Yonge & Eglinton, Storytime & Signing 

Saturday, Feb 20th, 2-3:30pm, TPL Lillian H Smith Branch, Book Launch  Storytime

Saturday, Feb 27th, 11am, Chapters Guelph, Storytime & Signing 

Sunday, Feb 28th, 2pm, Cardboard Castles, Creemore, ON, Storytime & Signing

Monday, Feb 29th, 6pm, Thornton Public Library, Storytime & Signing

Saturday, March 5th, 11am Chapters Milton, Storytime & Signing

Saturday, March 12th, 10:30-noon, Woodstock Public Library, Storytime & Signing


The Best Moments in Children’s Books, 2014


There were some shining moments in the children’s book world in 2014. This year we encouraged children to practice their reading with cats, celebrated graphic novels, established a new YA award in Canada, and took a stand on diversity.

Mac Barnett’s TED talk

Barnett’s books are funny, clever, and sophisticated, but never at the expense of child appeal. It comes as no surprise that the author himself is an engaging ambassador for children’s literature. In his TED talk “Why a good book is a secret door,” he discusses the human aptitude for imagination and gives plenty of real-life examples from his days as a camp counselor to his work at the inventive writing & tutoring organization 826LA, and his own writing.


Berks ARL Book Buddies Program 


I mean come on. Look at this picture! So cute I had to post it twice. This story of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County Book Buddies program went viral in February, due largely to this image of a little boy reading to a shelter cat posted on Reddit. Encouraging children to read AND comforting cats? I am in.




This grassroots organization of diversity crusaders has come a long way. After BookCon announced an all-white, largely male line-up this spring, authors and readers took to the internet to make it known that #WeNeedDiverseBooks. To their credit, the organizers responded, and a panel entitled “The World Agrees: We Need Diverse Books” was added to the programming. Months later, after significant media coverage and successful crowd-funding campaigns,  WNDB is a full-fledged organization. Featuring grants, book lists, tips for bringing diversity into the classroom and an upcoming festival, it is safe to say that #WeNeedDiverseBooks is transitioning from a moment to a movement.


THIS ONE SUMMER wins the Governor General’s Award for Illustration


In an insightful piece in The National Post this fall, Anna Fitzpatrick discusses the potential impact of Jillian Tamaki‘s GG win on the perception of comic arts. With the ever-growing popularity of graphic novels and memoirs for children (El Deafo, Sisters, Through the Woods and the upcoming Roller Girl), the ever-growing attendance at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and a TCAF pop-up shop at the Toronto Public Library this month, it is hard to deny that graphic art in all it’s permutations is commanding more respect. This is fantastic news. Just think of the amazing crossover and genre-bending books there are to come!


The Amy Mathers Teen Book Award is Established

amy mathers

Book-lover and CanLit advocate Amy Mathers began her marathon of books, reading her way across Canada one YA book at a time, in January 2014 hoping to raise enough money to fund a much-needed award for Canadian YA. At the TD Children’s Literature Award Gala in November it was announced that her dream would become a reality. The first Amy Mathers Teen Book Award will be awarded in 2015. This is great news for the vibrant and diverse range of YA books published by Canadians.  Follow Amy’s journey and peruse her book reviews on her website or connect with her on twitter.

Now doesn’t that make you feel good? Here’s to a great 2015! Happy holidays, friends!


Summer Days, Starry Nights Shortlisted for the 2015 Red Maple Award


I could not be more thrilled to be among the fantastic writers on the 2015 Red Maple Award list. The OLA Forest of Reading is one of the largest children’s choice award programs in Canada and attending the Forest of Trees ceremony in Toronto is one of my favourite days of the year. If you have any doubt about the state of reading in this country, this is a program to check out. But don’t take my word for it:


If you get the chance to go to Harbourfront and witness the 8000+ school children screaming for their favourite book, I highly recommend it. You will leave grinning and feeling like the world is in excellent hands. Mark Medley did a fantastic article about the event in The National Post. Read it here.

I have created some resources to compliment the Summer Days, Starry Nights reading experience. Please check out my resources page to find:

-Discussion questions and a list of related activities

Pinterest Inspiration board– Here you will find a collection of images that inspire the setting, the clothes, and some of the characters in the book

Playlist– I have pulled together some videos of artists and musical groups that are mentioned in the book or inspired the characters of Bo, Gwen, and Johnny

I am also available for school visits and have a quantity of Summer Days, Starry Nights bookmarks available for your schools and libraries. Leave me a message in the comments and I’m happy to put together a package for you (while supplies last).