McLaughlin, Kate (Waterbury, Connecticut)

USA Today and Amazon bestseller. 2022 White Pine winner. 2023 White Pine nominee. Multiple American awards. Young Adult and Adult focus. In-person visits, airfare/travel + accommodation. Negotiable depending on location and event.

Virtual visits $250 + HST for 30-60 minutes. $400 for two sessions. Multiple session rate negotiable.

Kate is a multi-genre author with several pen names and more than twenty-years’ experience in the publishing industry. She has written for several big New York houses and has spoken at events such as Book Expo America, DragonCon and New York ComicCon. She has also taught writing classes and given workshops on writing and publishing. Born in Nova Scotia, Kate lived in Halifax, Ottawa and Toronto before moving to the US with her husband.

On the Young Adult level, Kate has done many in-school visits and loves talking to teens about books, writing and life in general. She is flexible with her presentation style, focusing on the needs of the audience rather than a set program. She is more than happy to work with teachers and educators if there are certain topics they wish to see covered and can quickly adapt if the situation calls for it. While her books tend to deal with heavier social issues, Kate is a very positive person and carries that vibe into her presentations.

Kate often talks about how young she was when she first discovered books and writing, how that love of fiction got her through her teen years, and how she was eventually able to realize her dream of being a writer. Having also self-published, she is able to speak to kids – and adults – not only on how to break into the traditional market, but also how to make it in the indy market as well. She also offers workshops on plotting, character and finding your voice through studying other writers. As a veteran of the publishing industry, she is able to speak on almost any topic if there is a preference.

Some possible topics of discussion based on Kate’s books include Human Trafficking and sexual assault (What Unbreakable Looks Like, 2022 White Pine winner), social media and the public obsession with serial killers (Daughter, 2023 White Pine nominee), and dissociative identity disorder and mental health (Pieces of Me, April 2023 release).

Kate has no requirements of venue, but preference is given to those that allow her to connect and interact with the audience.

Contact Kate to book a visit:

    Syed, Anoosha (Milton, ON)

    Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award Nominee, APALA Honor for Bilal Cooks Daal, Society of Illustrators Original Art Show, Royal Society’s Young People’s Book Prize Shortlist, featured in Netflix series ‘Bookmarks’, featured in Eric Carle museum, Otter Award nominee

    Anoosha Syed is a Pakistani-Canadian character designer and the illustrator of over twenty books, including I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, APALA honor book, Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed and her author/illustrator debut, That’s Not My Name!

    She draws inspiration from mid-century artists and her south-asian heritage, and she aims to create inclusive books that children can see themselves in.

    Book topics: Empathy, First Day of School, Self-empowerment, Food and Culture. Family, South Asian

    Rates: $350 for 60 minute session, $450 for two, Plus a travel fee of $0.50/km if outside GTA. Anoosha is open to traveling further with additional food, travel, and accommodation charges.
    Virtual visit fees: $150 for each 30 mins

    Presentation format
    Book reading + drawing demonstration (JK-3, 30min)
    Reading of a selected picture book, followed by a drawing demonstration based on the book. Q+A at the end.

    Careers: How I write/illustrate my picture books (Middleschool/Highschool, 60min) + Q&A

    How I wrote/illustrate my book ‘That’s Not My Name’, and how the publishing industry works!

    Other notes
    A projector is required for in-person visits, and microphone + podium for larger groups.
    For drawing activities, an easel with paper as well as paper, markers, crayons for the children to draw along with.
    In-person presentations for JK-2 max 30 per group, teacher/facilitator MUST be present.
    +HST
    +Travel outside of GTA

    Contact Anoosha to book a visit:

      Smith, Sadé (Mississauga, ON)

      Blue Spruce Award nominee for the Forest of Reading 2023 for her debut children’s picture book Granny’s Kitchen illustrated by Ken Daley.

      Rates: $250 plus HST for one session, $450 for two, $675 for three, $900 for a full day (four sessions). Plus a travel fee of $0.50/km if outside Toronto or Peel.

      Virtual visits: $150 plus HST for one session (60 minutes), $100 for each additional session on the same day to a maximum of four sessions.

      Sadé Smith is a Canadian children’s book author of Jamaican descent. Her books often involve food with colorful illustrations to capture the vibrancy and beauty of the Caribbean islands. In addition to writing, Sadé is also a design technologist and she is very passionate about literature. She writes books of representation for young readers. She provides games, activities, book readings and writing workshops for young students aged 3-8 (grades Kindergarten to grade 3).

      Presentations/workshops – Age group: 3-8 years old (Grades K-3)

      30 Minutes each part (split into 2 parts with a short break to accommodate for younger audiences).

      This collaborative school/library presentation includes:

      • Author introduction and background / biography
      • Introduction on writing / inspiration for the book
      • Showing of the Shelly-Ann doll to be passed around (depending on age group)
      • Topics about family, food, language, Jamaican culture and fun facts that are located on the back page of the Granny’s Kitchen book. Ask the readers/listeners about their experiences in Jamaica. Show the Jamaican flag and allow the readers/listeners to learn Patois (Jamaican language) that is shown throughout the book.
      • Colour in an empty template of the Jamaican flag and explain the colours of the Jamaican flag and what they represent. Readers/listeners can also draw and colour in their own country’s (or family background’s) flag on a blank page. Show art work.
      • A fun game involving live props (and/or a digital presentation) of cooking utensils, equipment, Caribbean foods and fruits. (Guess the name of the food/fruit/kitchen items). This is a fun and educational way for the readers/listeners to learn about new things and foods that they may not know about.
      • A live reading of GRANNY’S KITCHEN with enlarged illustrations shown on screen/projector (if needed to enhance visual effect for Storytime) followed by a Question and Comment period.
      • A quiz pertaining to the story by way of a Kahoot game or crossword puzzle, with prizes included (if in-person). (Prizes will include bookmarks with a recipe on the back, bookplates and occasionally, a signed copy of the book, depending on availability of copies on hand). Some prizes may be mailed out to school afterward for virtual presentations).
      • Social media handles and website / contact information. Information on where and how to purchase the book. Information about upcoming books and projects.
      • Information about the “Kidz Korner” tab on the Sadé Smith website where students may find fun activities and download reading and writing templates for their own use.

      Note: Workshops are 60 minutes in length and split into two parts to accommodate for a younger audience.

      To encourage interaction during in-person presentations, Sadé would prefer to meet with smaller groups at a time with a maximum of 4 groups per day.

      Equipment Required:

      • One table for presentation items and materials
      • Separate table and chair to accommodate for book sales and signings (if requested)
      • Computer with projector or television screen for displaying PowerPoint presentation from a USB drive or laptop
      • Blank paper and crayons (if children would like to draw their own flag).

      Note: Author will bring all required decorations and props needed for presentation.

      Contact Sadé to book a visit:

        Polak, Monique (Montreal, Quebec)

        Writers’ Union of Canada, CANSCAIP, Quebec Writers’ Federation, English Language Arts Network

        Monique Polak is three-time winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, recently renamed the Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Her work has been nominated for several prizes including the Arthur Ellis Award, Best Juvenile or Crime Book and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

        Presentation rates: $250 per hour. Plus travel unless I am in Toronto area for
        other reasons. I come to Toronto several times a year to visit family and friends. I charge HST.

        Monique Polak is the author of 32 books for young people – and she has two
        more books slated for publication! Monique was a long-time teacher at
        Marianopolis College in Montreal, where she taught, amongst other courses,
        Writing for Children and Print Journalism. Monique began her writing career as a reporter and her stories have been published in newspapers across Canada. A
        classic extrovert, Monique loves doing writing workshops with kids (and adults) of all ages. Monique’s mother was a Holocaust survivor who went to school with Anne Frank, and Monique has a special interest in Holocaust stories and the history of the Holocaust.

        Monique has done writing workshops for students in Grade 1 all the way to
        university.

        With her youngest audiences (Grades 1-3), Monique teaches basic story-telling
        skills, such as how to find a beginning, middle and end, and how to ensure that a story has drama. She also reads from her new picture book, The Brass Charm.

        With older audiences (this includes students in Grades 4 and up, high school
        and college students), Monique shares writing tips she wishes someone had
        shared with her when she was an aspiring author. Monique also discusses the
        inspiration behind some of her stories. And of course, expect Monique – who
        love stories – to tell some stories. You can also expect writing exercises.
        Monique is especially interested in personal memory as a source of inspiration.
        One of her exercises is designed to use personal memory to find the story
        participants in her workshops most need to tell!

        Monique can handle groups of any size! No special supplies needed – Monique’s only requirement is that students have paper and pen (or in the case of very young participants, crayons!).

        Contact Monique to book a visit:

          Campbell, Valene (Mississauga, ON)

          Valene Campbell was born and raised in Mississauga with deep ties hailing from her Jamaican heritage. Valene attended 2 HBCUs (historically Black Colleges and Universities) where she graduated with a Master of Physical Therapy, with honours. Valene is a Founder, dementia and diverse children’s literature advocate, and was recently awarded as being among Canada’s Top 100 Black Women to Watch in 2022, yet her most important role is being a mom to her little girl. 

          In recent years, Valene has rediscovered her joy of writing and has now penned three highly acclaimed children’s books from The Amazing Zoe series, published through Zou Zou Media House Inc. 

          Book 1 The Amazing Zoe Defeats The Germie Germlins (2020)

          Book 2 The Amazing Zoe, A Queen Like Me! (2020) -Named as one of the Top Recommended Reads for the TD Summer Reading Program 

          Book 3 The Amazing Zoe and Grandma’s Memory Box (2021)-This story has been utilized as a resource for the Alzheimer’s Association across the US. 

          Valene’s stories are engaging and uniquely delve into everyday ‘real-life’ topics such as hygiene, health & safety, friendship, and various social issues that humanize the experiences of children of colour. After reading any book from this series, you and your child(ren) will enjoy insightful, thought-provoking conversations that will keep are perfect for the classroom or family time at home. Valene strives to erase the invisibility of marginalized characters from Canadian literature and uses her stories to foster positive cultural exchange for young readers. 

          Books

          Program Outline 

          Picture book with a customized diversity presentation for ages 5-13. The writing workshops are best for ages 6-15.

          • Read aloud with Q & A only : (30 minutes | $250)
          • Read aloud, customized diversity presentation, and Q & A : (60 minutes | $375)
          • Read aloud, customized diversity presentation, Afro-Caribbean dance-along with a certified dance instructor and Q & A : (75-80 minutes | $650) 

          Add a second session for $350

          • Read aloud, customized diversity presentation, Afro-Caribbean dance-along with a certified dance instructor, Q & A, 1 arts and crafts activity related to the story of choice. Best when divided by grades K-3, and 4-8: (1/2 day $1200)

          Add a second session for $575

          • Valene’s Writing Workshop (Ages 6-13)

          This workshop is designed for emerging writers to develop and explore their creativity through learning the fundamentals of storytelling. Students will learn how to:

          * gathering ideas

          * creating characters and settings

          * write a short story

          * Foundational editing

          Students will also learn Valene’s tried and true formula that encourages writing prompts that spark the imagination and hone new skills. Students will feel productive and inspired to keep on writing. The best of all, it’s really fun!

          (60 minutes | $300)

          Add a second session for $175

          +travel (61 cents/KM return)

          + HST

          Contact Valene to book a visit:

            Weber, Lori. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

            SCBWI, CCBC Member. Twice nominated for the Quebec Writers’ Federation Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Prize; Red Maple Award Nominee (2023); Two-time participant of Children’s Book Week. $250 for one session, $450 for two, $675 for three, $900 for full-day. Virtual visits range from $100 to $200.

            Lori is the author of 11 books for youth. Her work ranges from picture book to middle grade to YA, and covers a variety of themes: family conflict, bullying, coming of age, identity, history and war. She taught English and Creative Writing for 27 years and is very comfortable speaking to groups of all ages. She loves an interactive session, where readers ask question and engage in creative activities. She has mentored many new writers and led creative writing workshops in various settings. Lori could present in French to students in French immersion.

            Presentations by Age

            Kindergarten to Grade 3: 30 – 40 minutes. Using My Granny Loves Hockey, Lori uses a fun interactive quiz about things women were and were not allowed to do 100 years ago. This leads to the story of Granny. Lori reads the book then asks kids to help identify some of the quirky details the illustrator chose to include. Kids can ask questions and Lori encourages them to talk to their own grandparents and older relatives about how life has changed since they were little.

            Creative Writing Workshop for Students grades 7 and up: Lori leads 3 sessions (1 hour each) – one on character, one on setting, and one on symbolism. Each includes a variety of creative writing exercises to encourage young writers to use concrete detail to bring their stories to life. They work well as a set, but can be done individually as well.

            Short Story Workshop for grades 7 and up: 1 hour. Using a YouTube video of “The Girl in the Purple Pants” from Deep Girls, Lori talks about the key ingredient of a great short story – that moment where it turns on a dime. She then works with students to map out a story of their own and encourages them to think about and plan that moment of epiphany or change.

            War Theme Workshop for grades 7 and up: 1 to 1.5 hours. Using Lightning Lou, which is set in World War I, and The Ribbon Leaf, which is set in World War II, Lori talks about historical fiction and the process involved in writing it. Lori talks about research, weaving in fact and fiction, developing character in a historical work. She also shares stories and artifacts from her family’s own history that she used for inspiration. She encourages young writers to mine their own families’ histories for material. In a longer session, students can brainstorm and begin coming up with ideas for their own historical character. This workshop can also be done using either book on its own.

            Telling a Story in Verse: 1 to 1.5 hours. Using excerpts from Yellow Mini, Lori conducts a poetry writing class where students relate the same event from multiple points of view, in verse. Students learn to pay attention to tone, diction, form, and rhythm in their creations. Students then read their work aloud to one another and offer critiques.

            Lori is comfortable speaking to whole classes, or combined classes, but no group larger than 45. She loves speaking to adults as well. A projector is needed for PowerPoint; other than that, paper, pens, and pencils!

            Contact Lori to book a visit:

              Bobet, Leah. (Toronto. ON)

              Fiction, Poetry, and Non-Fiction. OLA Best Bets selection. Winner of the Prix Aurora Award, Sunburst Award, Utopia Award, Copper Cylinder Award, and Lydia Langstaff Prize; shortlisted for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, Cybils Award, and Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award.

              $350 for one hour-long session, $600 for two, $850 for three, and $1000 for four, plus transit costs to public transit-accessible schools, or where transport from the nearest transit stop/station is available. For virtual visits: $275 for one session, 60-90 minutes, $175 for each additional session on the same day. Leah is happy to discuss alternate rates with high-needs or under-resourced schools.

              Fantasy novelist, bookseller, critic, and editor Leah Bobet knows the half the joy of reading is getting curious about something new. She gives inclusive, information-rich presentations that make sure to keep things fun—and emphasize the talents participants already have. She specializes in fantasy and science fiction, climate fiction, and poetry, and strongly believes in a supportive, positive presentation style that emphasizes tools over rules. The goal: to make sure students leave feeling confident, curious, and inspired.

              Leah works with groups from Grade 7 and up (adults included!) and has given presentations and workshops at Toronto Public Library, Oakville Public Library, London Book Camp, Word on the Street, the Tucson Festival of Books, and universities across North America. Presentations are tailored to fit your group’s interests and current classroom topics, and can be custom-designed for your group with appropriate lead time.

              Recent presentation topics include:

              Writing Urban Fantasy: Finding Magic in Your Neighbourhood

              A workshop-style presentation for fantasy readers, geography classes, 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 our everyday surroundings.

              Where It Comes From: Worldbuilding, 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 repurposing, reusing, sharing economies, and how making it yourself can be a lot of fun.

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

              Above and Toronto’s Secret Spaces

              Using Leah’s 2012 novel Above as a jumping-off point, this presentation digs into Toronto’s (very real!) underground sewers, tunnels, and abandoned places to explore the cooler side of local history, and how our neighbourhoods are made of not just buildings but experiences.

              This semi-interactive presentation touches on fantasy-novel worldbuilding, but prompts students to explore how people move through the same spaces in different ways, consider whose stories we tell

              —and think about how we design space for the society we want.

              This presentation is a great fit for classes focusing on Canadian history, social studies, or geography.

              Poetry is music

              Poetry can be intimidating—or not! This presentation draws on pop songs, contemporary poetry, and music theory to show participants how to think of poetry as a house made of sound. The goal: to take down obstacles between poetry and readers.

              This presentation is a great fit for English or music classes, or as an extracurricular for school choir groups.

              Equipment: Leah is happy to work with groups of up to 75, though workshops will run best when capped at 20 participants. Screen and projector appreciated for Powerpoint presentations; clear sound equipment for poetry 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 strictly gluten-free lunch or snacks (celiac-safe) are greatly appreciated.

              Contact Leah to book a visit:

                Beddia, Lea (Joliette, Quebec)

                CANSCAIP and SCBWI member, two-time recipient of Canada Council of the Arts grants. Member of Quebec Writers’ Federation and selected mentee for Young Adult fiction in 2020.

                Workshops are best for ages 9 to 17. $250.00 for one sixty-minute session. $450 for two sessions. $675 for three sessions and $900 for 4 sessions. + travel (50 cents per kilometer, round-trip for Lanaudière, Laurentides, Montreal, Laval, Mauricie regions.

                Virtual Visits: $200 for one 60-minute session, $100 for each additional session on the same day, up to four sessions in one day.

                Lea is an experienced English Language Arts teacher who loves to talk about books and writing. As a writer of books for striving readers, she is passionate about bringing accessible literature to all readers and second language learners. Lea believes anyone can be a writer and all it takes is the right tools, some hard work, and the right encouragement. She wants to bring the power of writing to all types of learners. She is experienced working with students will learning difficulties, and can offer flexible workshops to accommodate all learners. She provides graphic organizers and worksheets, including editable digital copies for learners using assistive technologies. She has also been known to bring tasty snacks!

                Writing Workshop Topics for ages 9 to 17

                Workshops are conducted in English, but Lea is comfortable speaking French to second language learners. She can answer questions/provide translation and communicate fluently in French. Participants who speak languages other than English or French are encouraged to teach Lea some new words!

                All workshops use a combination of large and/or small group discussion, group activity/game, writing, revising, and sharing.

                Writing Makes Sense: Showing vs. Telling

                Lea will use a combination of discussion, group activity and writing to create strong sentences using sensory details.

                Words for Humanity: Using Conflict to Write About Emotions

                Based on the “Cards Against Humanity” or “Cards Against Maturity” game, with an age-appropriate and positive twist, we will create solutions to problems for our characters.

                From Memory to Fiction

                Based on the game “Clue,” students will use detective work to piece together memories to create a setting, a character and/or a conflict as a stepping stone for their own creative writing.

                Dialogue that doesn’t drag: using dialogue to build character.

                Using video clips of well-known characters, students will predict what/how characters will speak. We will use character charts, to create personalities and with them, a way to let characters speak that is dynamic and exciting.

                Words, Words, Words: Beyond the Thesaurus.

                Based on the game “Taboo,” and incorporating improvisation/acting students will explore their vocabulary by acting out adverbs, describing movements and using action words instead, to create a scene.

                These workshops are ideal for groups between 10 and 20 participants. Lea prefers small settings for workshops such as a classroom, library or other space large enough to move around, but not so large that she cannot connect with each participant.

                Tech requirements include a blackboard/whiteboard and a screen for the dialogue workshop with internet access, speakers, etc. Participants will require writing materials, including assistive technologies for students who use them in the classroom on a regular basis.

                Contact Lea to book a visit:

                  Shiell, Mike (Georgetown, ON)

                  Mike’s books have received numerous awards and commendations including being shortlisted for the Red Cedar award (2021 & 2023) and the Hackmatack award (2023).

                  In person visits: $300 for 1 session, $550 for 2, $750 for 3 and $900 for 4/full day (may be shared with a neighbouring school), + travel (50 cents per kilometer, round-trip).

                  Virtual Visits: $200, for one session, 60 minutes, $175 for each additional session on the same day. For virtual sessions, mornings; 9am – noon ET is preferred but he is flexible on this.

                  Mike was a guest speaker at the 43rd edition (2022) of the Toronto International Festival of Authors for both “Linty: A Pocketful of Adventure” and the “Gross Science” Series with writer Edward Kay.

                  In addition, Mike has over 25 years’ experience working as a director, animation supervisor and animator. He has directed and supervised a number of children’s shows including the Emmy awarding winning, “The Backyardigans” and “Mike the Knight”.

                  Mike is the author and Illustrator of “Linty: A Pocketful of Adventure”. “Linty” is a hilarious and offbeat graphic novel for early readers. Silly and engaging with loads of heart, it’s the perfect book to place in the hands of any reluctant or emerging reader. Every day is pretty much the same for Linty: Some cardio. Sightseeing (“So blue!”). Solo Marco Polo. Until one day, everything changes! The relatable emotions of the lovable main character as portrayed in the story and the expressive illustrations support social-emotional learning with themes of making friends, embracing what life throws at you, and finding the courage to try new things.

                  Mike is also the illustrator of 7 other titles published by Kids Can Press.

                  Presentations by age:

                  5 – 10yrs: “Linty: A Pocketful of Adventure”

                  Mike aims to make his presentations as fun, positive and interactive as possible. Mike’s sessions include; “draw-along-with-Mike”, selected readings of Linty, showing animated clips of Linty and a question and answer period. Mike also talks about what inspired him to create Linty, the creative process when writing and illustrating children’s books and also what it’s like to be a full-time author, illustrator and animator. Mike’s Linty presentations include lots of fun and laughs but there are also some educational and inspirational moments to take away.

                  Group size: Any but 15 – 30 is ideal especially for the segment where he asks volunteers to come up and draw with him

                  A/V and other needs for in person: Monitor/Projector to present animated clips (MP4s) and images, smart board or white board, paper and coloured pencils and a drawing surface for each child, either a clipboard or table and a microphone will be needed for larger groups.

                  A/V and other needs for virtual visits: Students should come ready to draw and ask questions! 

                  10 – 15yrs: What It’s like to be a writer and illustrator and how I got here.

                  For all those aspiring writers and illustrators, Mike does a 1 hour session (workshop) in which he discusses the inspiration that lead him to create Linty, his creative and writing process and his path to becoming a full time living as an author, illustrator and animator and what that career is like. At the end Mike opens up the floor for questions and further discussion.

                  Group size: Any but 15 – 30 is ideal.

                  A/V and other needs for in person: Monitor/Projector to present animated clips (MP4s) and images, smart board or white board and a microphone will be needed for larger groups.

                  Needed for virtual visits: Students should come ready to talk about their work, their inspirations and aspirations to ask lots of questions! 

                  Contact Mike to book a visit: