Available for IN-PERSON visits in: Toronto (+ regions 1.5 hours or so drive from Toronto)

Home Location: Toronto

Craft: Author

Genre: Picture Books, Middle Grade Fiction, Teen Fiction, Hi-Lo Books for Reluctant Readers

Target Audience: Kindergarten – Grade 8

Cost for School and Public Presentation with CCBC subsidy: $200.00, plus applicable taxes


Workshop Information:

Picture Book Talk (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Audience: Grades K to 3

Duration: 60 min (or 30 min for younger audiences)

The goal of this talk is to inspire a passion for reading and to promote a deeper understanding of ourselves, our world, and the community around us. Karen will start by introducing herself as a writer through childhood photos and writing, relating to the idea that we are all full of stories. She will then introduce her picture books Sour Cakes and One Tiny Bubble through pre-discussion, reading, and follow-up activities (for 30-min sessions, she may present only one picture book). Through Sour Cakes, Karen will encourage students to develop social-emotional learning about sour moods in oneself and others. Through One Tiny Bubble, Karen will encourage students to consider their connection to life around them through a STEM discussion of pre-history evolution and our Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). Karen will discuss what is fiction versus nonfiction in relation to Sour Cakes and One Tiny Bubble. She will then facilitate an oral story-writing exercise with the group. She will conclude with a Q&A, and if time permits, she will share with older audiences a sneak peek of her upcoming novel for children titled Monster vs. Boy.

Story Workshops

Karen delivers customized workshops for all ages. Workshops typically include a discussion of specific story techniques as well as inspirational exercises designed to generate character and story ideas. Karen’s technique promotes intuitive storytelling using a variety of stimulating activities, including word and character games, story dice, photos, and masks. Creative work is shared through positive peer discussion.

Oral StoryPlay Workshop

Audience: Grades 1 to 3 (30 students maximum)

Duration: 60 min

In this oral story-writing workshop, Karen Krossing will explore how to build characters and stories. She will start by introducing herself as a writer through a character she created, relating to the idea that characters and stories live inside us all. She will then guide students through the process of making up an imaginary creature together, followed by students drawing individual creatures they invent. Next, Karen will guide the group in inventing a shared story orally, discussing the terms character, setting, and story problem. She will point out their story’s features, such as the climax and ending. Finally, Karen will use story dice to guide the group in creating an oral story together, discussing story structure as they create. Karen will encourage students to follow up the workshop by writing and/or drawing their own stories. If time permits, she will share with older audiences a sneak peek of her upcoming novel for children titled Monster vs. Boy.

Customized WordPlay Writing Workshop

Audience: Grades 3 to 8 (30 students maximum)

Duration: 60 to 120 min (depending on audience needs)

In this hands-on workshop, Karen Krossing will share a variety of stimulating creative writing activities that promote intuitive writing. She’ll make writing fun with fresh and inspiring story-starters, and she’ll invite students to explore new characters and create captivating scenes. Karen will begin by sharing a comic she wrote as a kid, relating to the idea of playing with words to explore story-writing and the idea that characters live inside us all. She will then facilitate several interactive writing activities (about 25 min for each), which can be customized to suit the needs of the audience. Educators can select from the following activities or discuss other options with Karen:

  • Six-Word Stories: Karen will introduce ways to write six-word stories using samples written by kids. She will provide writing time, followed by practice in how to listen and respond to six-word stories shared by volunteers from the group. She will conclude with tips on how to use six-word stories in their writing.
  • Who-Are-They Game: Karen will share a portrait photo by a professional photographer and introduce ways to create characters based on photos. Students will each select a photo and create a character from it, with volunteers sharing with the group. Karen will conclude with tips on how to use photos to spark writing.
  • Creating Character Voice With Masks: Karen will discuss the concept of a character’s voice and point of view. Using a diverse selection of character masks, students will write, followed by volunteers sharing with the group. Karen will conclude with tips on how to use character voice to improve their writing.
  • Who-Lives-Here Game: Karen will discuss setting and what it says about a character. Using a selection of photos of unusual homes, students will write about who lives in the homes, followed by volunteers sharing with the group. Karen will comment on how characters are defined by their settings.
  • Creating a Believable OtherWorld: Karen will discuss how to create a fully imagined fantasy or science-fiction world for a story. Students will consider the rules and features of their world, explore it by drawing maps, and imagine the characters who inhabit it.
  • Villains and Heroes: Karen will guide students through the creation of their own villains and heroes followed by scene-writing with the two characters in conflict.

Karen will conclude the workshop with a Q&A about writing, answering questions about topics like how to overcome writer’s block and the editing process. If time permits, she will share a sneak peek of her upcoming novel titled Monster vs. Boy. She will offer handouts of techniques discussed, writing tips, and places for young writers to submit their writing.

Book List

Monster vs. Boy, Charlesbridge Publishing, July 2023, Watertown (middle-grade fantasy novel).

One Tiny Bubble: The Story of Our Last Universal Common Ancestor, Owlkids Books, illustrated by Dawn Lo, October 2022, Toronto, 32 pages (nonfiction picture book).

Sour Cakes, Owlkids Books, illustrated by Anna Kwan, 2021, Toronto, 32 pages (fiction picture book).

Punch Like a Girl, Orca Book Publishers, 2015, Victoria (BC), 240 pages (teen novel).

Bog, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2014, Markham (ON), 230 pages (middle-grade fantasy novel).

Cut the Lights, Orca Book Publishers, 2013, Victoria (BC), 128 pages (hi-lo teen novel).

The Yo-Yo Prophet, Orca Book Publishers, 2011, Victoria (BC), 248 pages (teen novel).

• “Profanity,” Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls, Deb Loughead and Jocelyn Shipley (eds.), Sumach Press, 2008, Toronto, 12 pages (short story for teens).

Pure, Second Story Press, 2005, Toronto, 245 pages (futuristic novel for teens).

Take the Stairs, Second Story Press, 2003, Toronto, 183 pages (linked short stories).

The Castle Key, Napoleon Publishing, 2000, Toronto, 170 pages (novel for children).

• “Dragon’s Breath,” Opening Tricks, Peter Carver (ed.), Thistledown Press, 1998, Saskatoon (SK), 13 pages (short story for teens).


Karen Krossing is the author of many books for children and teens, and a mentor of new and emerging voices. Her titles include the picture books One Tiny Bubble and Sour Cakes, as well as the novels Monster vs. Boy, Bog, Cut the Lights, Punch Like a Girl, and The Yo-Yo Prophet. She won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Canada and has been a finalist for the Ontario Library Association White Pine Award and the Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award. As a speaker, Karen offers book talks, where she discusses her work and promotes literacy. She also nurtures young creators through oral story-play and writing workshops. Karen lives with her family in Toronto, on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinabeg and the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit.