Touring In: Ontario
Craft: Author and Illustrator
Genre: Early Chapter Book, Middle Grade
Ideal Audience Size: 25 – 100
Maximum Audience Size: 250
Grades: Picture Books, Middle Grade
Special Equipment: LCD projector, Flip-chart, Markers, Small table for props
Chocolate Lily Award Nominee
Lee Edward Födi’s workshops are known for being educational, imaginative, inspirational—and fun! His sessions inspire and invigorate students of all reading and writing levels in grades K-8. Using PowerPoint presentations, Lee demonstrates how he finds inspiration for his books through drawing, map-making, prop-building, travel, and research. His sessions always include an interactive brainstorming component, so that each participant leaves with a visual output—and a broader understanding of such concepts as character, plot, setting, point of view, imagery, and style.
Each session is 50-75 minutes long (depending on the age group) and specifically includes:
- PowerPoint slide show
- Q&A with students
- Interactive brainstorming session
Popular topics for the interactive brainstorming session are described below. Teachers can choose a specific brainstorming activity to include as part of the session; otherwise, Lee has a good guage for what activity fits well with what age group. In either case, no advance preparation is required on the part of the teachers.
The Doorway to Adventure: The key to entering a new world
Good for students in grades K-8
In this workshop, Lee Edward Födi showcases his collection of doorways from around the world and explains how this collection has inspired much of his own writing, including his new book, The Secret of Zoone. He leads students in an interactive brainstorming session in which they design their own doors and consider important storytelling questions. Students will then use this brainstorming as a pathway to writing a story or a scene.
Mapping an Adventure: Discovering the path to story success
Good for students in grades 3-8
In this workshop, Lee Edward Födi delivers a presentation about his visual approach to writing fantasy-adventure stories, then works with students in an interactive brainstorming session, helping them create individual maps of a hero’s journey through an imagined world. These rough maps will serve as visual plot outlines for stories that student can write afterwards in class.
Mischief in the Market: Creating settings that sell
Good for students in grades 3-8
In this workshop, Lee Edward Födi discusses his explorations of exotic markets in countries such as Egypt, China, Vietnam, Guatemala, Thailand, and Korea, and explains how these experiences have directly inspired settings in his fantasy worlds. He then leads students through an interactive brainstorming activity in which they imagine their own markets and all of the different strange foods and bizarre items that are available for sale. This activity leads naturally to an ongoing story project that can be continued in the classroom.
Enchanted Vessels: Thinking inside the box to open a world of adventure
Good for students in grades K-5
In this workshop, Lee Edward Födi leads students in a discussion of famous enchanted vessels in mythology and discusses the inspiration for his own book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers. Lee then leads students in an interactive brainstorming session in which they imagine their own enchanted vessels. Students will then use this brainstorming as a springboard to write a story.
Enchanted Trees: Making the imagination blossom
Good for students in grades K-3
In this workshop, Lee Edward Födi showcases some of his favourite trees from around the world. He then leads students in an interactive brainstorming exercise in which they design their own trees, imagining the seed that it might come from and what type of “fruit” the tree might bear. A natural story grows out of this activity and teachers can follow up on this afterwards, in the classroom.
The Secret of Zoone (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2019)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen (Simply Read Books, 2015)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah (Simply Read Books, 2014)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve (Simply Read Books, 2014)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger (Simply Read Books, 2013)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers (Simply Read Books, 2013)
Lee Edward Födi is an author, illustrator, and specialized arts educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a daydreaming expert.
Growing up on a farm in British Columbia, Canada, Lee was subjected to various horrible chores such as cleaning up after chickens, pigs, geese, and younger siblings. He was often in trouble for his constant daydreaming. There was a time when his father harbored hopes that his son would take over the family business—but these aspirations came to an abrupt end when the young author accidentally plowed the tractor over his dad’s outhouse (thankfully, his dad was not inside at the time).
As a result, Lee went on to pursue his love of art, mythology, and storytelling, all of which (luckily) do not require any skill in operating heavy machinery.
He is the author and illustrator of the five-book series, The Chronicles of Kendra Kandlestar, which include The Box of Whispers, The Door to Unger, The Shard from Greeve, The Crack in Kazah, and The Search for Arazeen.
His new series, Zoone, is being published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, starting with The Secret of Zoone in March 2019.
Lee enjoys mythology, history, and the mysteries of the universe. During his free time, he is a traveler, adventurer, and maker of dragon eggs. He especially loves to visit exotic places where he can lose himself (sometimes literally!) in tombs, mazes, castles, and crypts.
Lee is an engaging public speaker, specializing in presentations and workshops for children of all ages. He has taught programs in Canada, the United States, England, South Korea, and Thailand. He’s worked as a writer/artist-in-residence at numerous schools, including leading art therapy sessions for at-risk teens.
Lee studied at the University of British Columbia and has a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Fine Arts. He is a member of several organizations dedicated to children’s literature. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Marcie, son Hiro, and unhelpful cat Griffin.
Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers
- Shortlisted for 2015 Chocolate Lily Award (novel category)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah
- Winner of the 2012 Mom’s Choice Award (fantasy chapter book category)
- Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Award (fantasy chapter book category)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger
- Shortlisted for 2008 USA Book News (children’s fiction category)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers
- Winner of the 2007 Mom’s Choice Award (chapter book category)
Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers
- Shortlisted for the 2007 Surrey Book of the Year
I’ll Follow the Moon (illustrator)
- Third place for the 2007 Chocolate Lily Award (outstanding picture book)
“Thank you for your commitment to do such a great job for the students at Sir Alexander McKenzie. You were the perfect author for the Festival’s Executive Director to witness in action in the classroom—she saw the best of the best. In ten years of doing this, you are definitely in the top three. I hope that we can get you involved in the Festival programs again!”
—Ilona Beiks, Education Coordinator, Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival Canada
“Thank you so much for helping Central plant the seeds of writing. So many kids are now excited about journaling their ideas and sketches. This never happened before . . . everyone at the staff meeting yesterday was so impressed by your work with our kids.”
—Elaine McEachern, Learning Support Teacher, École Central Elementary, Fort St. John, BC, Canada
“One of the best things about Lee was the impression he left on our students. He showed how he was able to achieve his dream of being an author, even though he wasn’t the greatest artist or writer as a child. He gave hope to all students that no matter where they are at this point, if they have a dream, they can do something every day to work towards their dream. We also appreciated his presentation style. He’s very friendly and funny. He was extremely organized and came with all sorts of props to show the students how he gets his ideas flowing. In addition, one of our students emailed him to ask him about the writing process and she was very excited that Lee emailed her back! I would definitely recommend Lee for any school groups as well as teen and adult groups interested in the creative writing process.”
—Mika Sato, Teacher Librarian, Daniel Woodward Elementary School, Richmond, BC, Canada
“Lee’s visit to our school was truly amazing, all the students were inspired by his writing advice and fantastic stories. The interactive drawing workshop was very popular, the students were engaged and excited about exploring their own creative thoughts. I had many comments from staff saying how wonderful the author visit was and how much their students liked it. The teaching guides Lee provides to accompany his books are full of fantastic activities. We are currently using the ‘My Creature’ worksheet so students can build on the characters they created during the workshop, creating a name and many other details about them. What I really loved about the presentation was how Lee was able to connect with the students, introducing them to his own childhood and how he creates his stories and characters. The author visit really promoted reading and inspired all the students to explore their own ideas. I would definitely book Lee again for our school, he was brilliant.”
—Michelle Trenholm, Library Information Specialist, FFCA North Middle School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
“I had reports from a number of parents that their children came home very excited about writing. Many of these children had never shown that much interest in class. One of them is even carrying around their own sketch book. Your visit has inspired the children to be writers!”
—Lorraine Sharpsteen, Teacher Librarian, Charles Dickens Annex, Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Mr. Födi delivered a very dynamic and engaging workshop. It was a very diverse group of students from grades 1 to 6 and all were incredibly engaged! His stories, pictures and humour kept everyone hanging on each word and the entire audience came away feeling completely inspired. Mr. Födi was down to earth and accessible – he made each of us feel that we could accomplish anything we set our minds to!”
—Lesley Kathnelson, Teacher, Hopewell Public School, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
“Lee Edward Fodi has presented at both the schools I have worked at the last two years. Most recently, he came in for 2 days and did 6 sessions with different grade groups, ranging from kindergarten to grade 7, on brainstorming and the writing process. In these sessions, he modelled idea generation and development using sketching and brainstorming in which students collaborated on a group idea, as well as produced their own idea. Students all walked away with either a story starter, an idea, or a mapped out story plan, which they were so excited about and could bring back to the classroom to use for a writing activity.
Both teachers and students left the library telling me how much they enjoyed the sessions. Lee is a very engaging speaker, and was able to keep everyone from K-7 totally engaged all the way through. He was happy to speak to large groups in the gym, or to small groups in the library, and students of all ages were equally involved in both styles. Even with the large groups, he did a writing/drawing/brainstorming activity with all grades which everyone was engaged in and many students collaborated on.
He is a very capable instructor, and is able to manage behaviour and participation with many sizes, ages and types of groups. He talked about his books as well, which students were very interested in, but his focus was very much on the creative process, on the patience and practice it takes to get good at writing and illustrating, and on where his ideas come from.
In particular, he talked about many different ways of accessing writing and brainstorming, which made all students feel capable and excited. I left the sessions inspired to write stories, and I wasn’t the only one!”
—Kyla Macdonald, Teacher Librarian, General Gordon Elementary, Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Lee is a fantastic presenter. Whether it is for a small class in the library or the entire school in the gym, he has the ability to keep the students engaged. He has motivated the students in the school from grades K-7 to want to become writers themselves, and he has inspired them to never stop being creative. Both students and staff have commented that they thoroughly enjoyed his presentations and appreciated his writing tips. It was a pleasure to have him at our school to present his imaginative and intriguing books, and share his writing process with the students.”
—Kathy Lam, Teacher-Librarian, Queen Mary Elementary School, Vancouver, BC, Canada
“On behalf of Central Community School, I would like to thank you for coming and sharing Family Literacy Day with us yesterday. The students are still buzzing about Mr. Fodi and his chickens, Oki and the onion, and how drawing and writing are related. The older ones are pressing us to get your new books into our school library pronto! Feedback from the teachers was very positive. They found the students to be thoroughly engaged in your presentation, especially the interactive portion.”
—Lynn Robinson, Central Community School, Coquitlam, BC
“Everyone at Talmey is raving about your presentation! Students have borrowed your books and our partners at the Richmond Public Library have stocked additional copies. Thank you for being so personable and willing to share your experiences as an author and illustrator. I will be recommending your presentation to other teacher-librarians in the District.”
—Sandy Goldman, Talmey Elementary School, Richmond, BC
“The students loved his dynamic presentations and how he was able to answer their questions. The teachers were impressed with his material and the way he was able to manage, engage, and inspire the students. Many teachers have already asked when we can have him back. I would highly recommend having Lee visit any educational institution because the experience would definitely enrich student learning. It certainly enriched ours!”
—Shobna Nathan, Teacher-Librarian, Mountainview Montessori, Surrey, BC, Canada
“As a local author and illustrator, Lee has been leading workshops at our school for the past 10 years. During my first year at this school, I was informed that he would be joining us in the spring for a writing workshop. I made the decision to start reading one of his novels, Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers, to my class of six- and seven-year-olds. My students quickly became engrossed in the story and soon began writing their own Kendra spin-off stories, drawing Kendra pictures, and playing Kendra-themed games at recess.
When the time came for Lee to visit our class, the students felt that they were meeting a celebrity. It was amazing for them to hear about all the things that inspired him in his writing, and to learn about his creative process as both an author and an illustrator. Lee proved to be not only a gifted writer, but passionate speaker as well. To say that the students were inspired by his workshop would be an understatement.
Since then, I have had the pleasure of witnessing him lead a variety of engaging and creative workshops in my classroom. Lee’s ability to connect with students on a personal level was made very clear this year. We continue to ask Lee to return to our school each year because of his passion for literature,his infectious creativity, and his ability to inspire students.”
—Elizabeth Kok, Grade One Teacher, Mulgrave Elementary, West Vancouver, BC, Canada