Touring In: British Columbia Lower Mainland

Craft: Author and Illustrator

Genre: Picture Books

Ideal Audience Size: 30

Maximum Audience Size: 60

Grades: Grades 1-4

Special Equipment: Overhead projector, flipchart



Vicky Metcalf Award Winner


Presentation Information

Paper Collage Workshop – Grades 1 to 4 (90 min)

Materials: Overhead Projector (if available), as well as scissors, glue sticks, pencils and coloured construction paper for the class to use during the art activity.

Ashley will start her presentation with an explanation of what an illustrator does, and how she came to be one. If a projector is available, she’ll accompany her talk with a slideshow of the drawings she made as a kid up to present-day photos of her illustrations, her studio and the tools and process she uses to make her art. Ashley will pass around samples of her original artwork for the kids to view up close.

She’ll then choose one of her books as a jumping off point into a group art activity. After a fun, interactive paper collage demo, she’ll have the kids seated and ready to make their own paper collage creation. Her art activities involve little more than coloured sheets of paper, glue sticks, pencils and scissors, and yet the results are always surprising and inspiring.


Shaping Up Summer (Pond Scene)

Part of the Math in Nature series, Shaping Up Summer introduces kids to math concepts such as geometry, symmetry and spatial sense with the help of scenarios inspired by the natural world. One of the spreads in Shaping Up Summer features a bird’s eye view of a pond abuzz with all kinds of plants and animals, asking the reader to identify which objects are symmetrical versus asymmetrical. Ashley will show the kids how to simplify animals/plants into basic shapes as part of her demo (for example: a circle, cut in half, makes a matching pair of dragonfly wings, where as a circle with a triangle cut out, makes an instant lily pad). A large piece of blue felt will be placed on the classroom floor, and it will be up to the students to fill it with all sorts of real or imagined paper-collaged pond-themed critters. At the end of the activity, the class will stand around their collective pond and point out which of the animals and plants appear symmetrical and which do not, and identify any other patterns they see. But most importantly, they’ll be encouraged to marvel at their overall creativity.


Kyle Goes Alone (Rainforest Scene)

Kyle is a baby three-toed sloth who reluctantly faces his fear of being alone as he makes his way down to the forest floor to do his “business”, without his mom’s help. In addition to the social-emotional theme of perseverance, this book also introduces kids to the concept of camouflage — Kyle meets all kinds of rainforest creatures he didn’t quite notice at first as he descends the tree. Ashley will ask the class to create their own paper-collaged rainforest plants and animals, keeping in mind this idea of camouflage. A large felt tree will act as a collective backdrop for the student’s creations to be placed upon. (Even the weariest of art students will be encouraged to cut out something as simple as leaves to add as their contribution.) At the end of the activity, the class will be encouraged to share their thoughts about the rainforest animals they’ve come up with, and what part of the tree they might be found living in and why.


***If there isn’t the time or budget to accommodate an art activity, I have other ways of rounding out my class visit. We could choose a book to read aloud and afterwards I’d provide an interactive project where students take turns coming to the front of the class to reassemble some over-sized pre-cut paper shapes that, when layered correctly, form a recognizable animal or object. (A 60 minute session would be ideal in this case.)


Book List

Love You Head to Toe written & Illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2019)

My Forest is Green by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, 2019)

Gentle Hands and Other Sing-Along Songs for Social-Emotional Learning by Amadee Ricketts, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Free Spirit Publishing, 2018)

Birthdays Around the World by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, 2017)

Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2017)

Kyle Goes Alone by Jan Thornhill, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2015)

Shaping Up Summer by Lizann Flatt, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2014)

Sizing Up Winter by Lizann Flatt, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2013)

Sorting through Spring by Lizann Flatt, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2013)

Counting on Fall by Lizann Flatt, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids, 2012)




Ashley Barron is a multimedia artist who is best known for her cut-paper collage style work. Her award winning illustrations have appeared in magazines and children’s publications, as well as animations, advertising campaigns, clothing and window displays. Her playful depictions of flora and fauna combine elements of geometry, texture, pattern and a love for colour. To date, she’s illustrated ten children’s books, including the Math in Nature series, Kyle Goes Alone and Birthdays Around the World.

Ashley grew up in the Oshawa/Whitby region of southern Ontario with her parents, younger sister and their many pet dogs and rabbits. Ashley’s love for books was ignited at an early age thanks to her mother, a preschool teacher, who kept an extensive collection of children’s literature in their spare bedroom. Although Ashley was very much an outdoorsy kid, she savored rainy indoor days, which allowed her the uninterrupted freedom to daydream, read and draw pictures to her heart’s content.

Ashley’s love for art and literature followed her into adulthood. She graduated from the illustration program at Ontario Collage of Art & Design in 2007 and has been working as an illustrator ever since.

In addition to her freelance work, Ashley enjoys teaching paper collage themed workshops for both adults and children at various galleries, schools, libraries and community centers across the GTA. In 2017, she was selected as IBBY Canada and Toronto Public Library’s Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence.

Ashley lives in Toronto with her partner, Kevin, and their three cats.



Birthdays Around the World

  • 2018 – Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College, Winner
  • 2018 – Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Winner


Counting on Fall

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Best Books for Kids and Teens, 2013

Kyle Goes Alone

  • Vicky Metcalf Award for author Jan Thornhill’s body of work, 2015
  • Nominated for the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Willow Awards, 2016


Sorting through Spring

  • Canadian Children’s Literature Roundtable’s Information Book Award, 2014


Sizing Up Winter

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens, STARRED SELECTION, 2014




“Ashley was able to gear different parts of her presentation to the varying age groups with ease. The elementary students were happily entertained and engaged during her animated reading, and the senior students were quite interested in learning her paper collage process at the end, so there was something for everyone.

—Michelle Mitchell, Kindergarten Teacher at Beaverton Public School

“It was amazing for me to see what all the students did. Somehow Ashley was able to get them to be tremendously creative, using foreground and background concepts, while in some of our own library arts and crafts programs, children stick to trite rainbows, using stickers and foam shapes rather than creating something from their imaginations.”

—Leigh Turina, Children’s Librarian, North York Central Library

“What I recall best about Ashley’s presentation was her kind and approachable nature. Her talk on the making of a book was interesting, engaging, and age-appropriate. During the practical component, the way she encouraged the children in their artwork was often within the frame of a question: “What do you think?” “Do you think it could work if we did this?” “What might happen if we tried this?”

Having that many children—many of whom had never met one another before that day—work harmoniously together on a single project was remarkable. So was their achievement: they created a magnificent pond scene, which was then put on public display for the rest of the summer. This success speaks to Ashley’s talent, creativity, and leadership capabilities.”

—Emily Thompson, Circulation and Customer Service, Milton Public Library