How did you get started in children’s books?
I first started “making books” at about nine years old but didn’t get a publishing break until I was 12. After entering a writing contest, my name was in the paper next to the words “honourable mention.” This led a newspaper editor to invite me to contribute articles. It was my second paying job. The first was delivering that newspaper!
Over the years I honed my skills writing for radio and magazines but was drawn to create the kinds of books I liked to read as a child. My start involved a lot of practice and finding creative ways to explore my favourite topics.
What (or who) inspires your writing or art?
I had a book-a-day habit for some time and the pleasure of reading first motivated me to write. Much of my inspiration comes from my love for the outdoors and the night sky. When passionate about subjects like science, astronomy, stories from ancient cultures, and ecology, I want to share my enthusiasm. I’m inspired to write in hopes of convincing others to also enjoy these interests!
What was your favourite book as a child? Why?
As a child, I read countless adventure stories by Enid Blyton and spent much time with a nonfiction book called Birds. Another favourite (and this won’t be a surprise) was the How and Why of Astronomy. Looking back, it’s clear the books I read as a child left an impression. I continue to enjoy birds, the night sky, and thanks to this tour—new adventures!
How can teachers use your books in the classroom?
Many of my titles partner science and storytelling, providing opportunities to attract children with different tastes. The Dot to Dot in the Sky series can be used to introduce mythology-loving students to astronomy, as well as to encourage fact-lovers to spend more time with stories. Children might choose to read beyond their initial curiosities upon seeing the series’ connections between characters and constellations, planets, the aurora, Moon, and other celestial sites. Teachers can encourage students to read by choosing a story (with a cultural connection when possible) and pointing out the relationship between the tale and how it’s illustrated in the night sky.
What are you looking forward to most during TD Canadian Children’s Book Week?
It’s enormously fun to take the usually solo experience of reading and writing and share it with groups, especially children. I’m very much looking forward to meeting the northern cultures whose ancestors created the enduring stories told in Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Aurora. I can’t wait to hear their stories. I’m also excited about seeing the landscapes that inspired the mythology. With 20 hours of sunlight, my days in Nunavut are going to be full!