Available for virtual tour in: Alberta, Quebec & Prince Edward Island
Genre: Picture Books, Early Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Young Adult, Hi-Lo, Teen Non-Fiction
Grades: Grades 1-12
Cost for School and Public Virtual Readings Program: $200.00, plus 5% GST per school presentation
I have presentations available for grades 1-12 and I tailor my talks to the interests and age of the group. All my talks are interactive and engaging, with opportunities for questions and discussion. I use power point to share images and photographs, structure my session, and appeal to the more visual learners. My talks are about an hour long and suitable for any size group. My creative writing workshops are best for smaller groups and I prefer to have a little more time if possible. Here are some of my presentations:
Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story* (grades 3-7)
Ghost’s Journey tells the story of how a cat named Ghost traveled to Canada when his parents–a gay couple–were forced to flee their home in Indonesia. In this session, students will learn the true story behind the book in an interactive presentation that introduces important human rights topics related to the challenges faces by the LGBTQ+ community around the world, refugee issues, and how people in Canada can help.
*This book is a nominee for the Silver Birch Express and Rocky Mountain Book Awards.
Pride Day! (K to grade 2)
A talk about the meaning of Pride Day—a day to celebrate all kinds of families and to stand up for everyone’s right to be who they are and love who they choose—followed by a story time session featuring read alouds of Pride Puppy and Pride Colors.
Kid Innovators (grades 3-8)
In this presentation I will talk about writing non-fiction and share childhood stories from the lives of innovators like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Florence Nightingale, Maria Montessori, William Kamkwamba, and others. This sessions is about 45-60 minutes long, including time for questions. I will use power point slides to share photos of myself as a kid, art from the Kid Innovators book, quotes from innovators, etc. Key points I will emphasize will be the importance of thinking outside the box, of pursuing your passions, and of believing in yourself and your dreams.
Kid Activists (grades 3-8)
This presentation will focus on writing and activism, and will be about 45-60 minutes long, including time for questions. I will use power point slides to share photos of myself as a kid, art from the Kid Activists book, quotes from activists, etc. Key points I will emphasize will be the importance of activism being grounded in hope- in the belief that change is possible and worth fighting for; and the idea that there are many different ways to be an activist. I will talk about my writing process, share some stories from the book, discuss how writing itself can be a form of activism, and encourage kids to think about what issues they care about and how they might use their own voices to take action on those issues. The talk touches on civil rights, labor rights, women’s rights, environmental issues and more.
Pride and Activism (grades 4-7; grades 8-12)
This talk focusses on the history of activism in the LGBTQ+ community, on the ongoing struggles, and on how young people are carrying this work forward into the future. It draws on my book Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. For younger audiences, I will also touch on my picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story, which tells the story of two gay refugees and was written to raise both awareness and funds for organizations supporting LGBTQ+ people who are facing persecution in many countries around the world. For teens audiences, I will talk about my new YA novel When You Get the Chance and explore some of the themes in this novel partially set at Toronto Pride.
Collaborative Writing (grades 8-12)
I have co-written two novels for teens—When You Get the Chance, with Tom Ryan, and Blood on the Beach, with Sarah Harvey. Collaborative writing offers both rewards and challenges, and the chemistry between writers and the harmony of two voices can lead to a writing process that is fun, energetic and surprising. This creative writing workshop for teens uses pairs exercise to explore collaborative writing and is best suited to small groups (up to 50 students).
My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights (grades 8-12)
In North America, one in four women has an abortion, but because there is still stigma associated with this, many women don’t talk about their experiences. People who think abortion is wrong often try to have it made illegal—but before abortion was legalized, many women in Canada and the US died or were terribly injured by unsafe abortions. Globally, tens of thousands of women still die from unsafe abortions every year. In this engaging and interactive presentation, Robin draws on her new non-fiction book, My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights. She talks about the history of the abortion rights movement and the challenges still faced by people needing abortions today. Using images and anecdotes from the book, Robin will share the stories of activists fighting for reproductive rights—like the women who drove across Canada in the 1970 Abortion Caravan. The feminist group in Chicago who taught themselves to do safe abortions during the illegal abortion era. The women who use a sailboat to provide abortions in international waters. Young reproductive rights advocates working for change in Madagascar, Turkey, Nigeria, Venezuela and more. The long fight for abortion rights is being picked up by a new generation of courageous, creative and passionate activists. This is their story.
Writing For Kids: Fiction and Non-Fiction (grades 3-7)
Fiction is all about making things up. Non-fiction is…well, the opposite! But both are filled with stories, conflict and characters. Robin will explain how she writes non-fiction, and share some of the stories from her non-fiction books. She will also explain how she writes her novels– and give participants a chance to develop their own ideas and stories!
Writing For Teens: Fiction and Non-Fiction (grades 8-12)
Fiction and nonfiction are different in many ways, but they also have a lot in common. Both require research, both need the right narrative voice, both can be driven by conflict, and both involve telling stories about people and what matters to them. Robin will talk about her writing process and approach for both teen novels and teen non-fiction, and will share some of what she learned writing her newest book, My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights, including stories of young reproductive rights activists from all around the world.
Becoming a Writer: Finding & Telling Your Stories (grades 4-6; 7-9; 10-12)
In this engaging presentation, Robin shares how she became a writer, where her ideas come from and what her creative process looks like. She uses examples from different books depending on the age group she is presenting to. She also discusses some of the challenges she experiences and share tips for young writers. She also facilitates a brainstorming exercise to illustrate how to develop a story through an understanding of its characters. Students will work together to develop a character, explore possibilities for conflict, and uncover the myriad of story possibilities that this leads to. In this session, Robin shares her passion for the writing process and inspires students to pursue their own creative interests. For older students, this presentation will also address the business of publishing and the editing process.
Creative Writing Workshops (grades 6-12; maximum 50 students):
A hands-on creative writing workshop for small groups. Participants will explore how they can use their own experiences and curiosity to create compelling writing and convincing characters; discuss strategies for finding story ideas; develop their skills at creating complex and believable characters; and discover how well-developed characters can help uncover new story possibilities.
Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers. Middle-grade non-fiction. (Quirk Books, Spring 2021)
Pride Puppy Picture book. (Orca Book Publishers, May 2021)
When You Get the Chance, co-written with Tom Ryan, Young Adult novel(Running Press Kids, 2020)
Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle Middle-grade non-fiction (Orca Book Publishers, 2020) (an expanded and updated edition of Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community)
Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change Middle-grade non-fiction. (Quirk Books, 2019)
Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story Picture Book. (Rebel Mountain Press, 2019)
My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights Teen Non-fiction. (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)
Pride Colors Board book. (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)
Blood on the Beach, co-written with Sarah N. Harvey. Young Adult novel (Orca Book Publishers, 2017)
Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community Juvenile non-fiction. (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)
Under Threat Young Adult Novel (hi-lo). (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)
The Summer We Saved the Bees Juvenile novel.(Orca Book Publishers, 2015)
The World Without Us Young Adult novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2015)
Attitude Juvenile novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2013)
Record Breaker Juvenile novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2013)
Hummingbird Heart Young Adult novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2012)
Damage Young Adult novel (hi-lo). (Orca Book Publishers, 2012)
Escape Velocity Young Adult novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)
Ben the Inventor Early chapter book. (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)
Outback Young Adult novel (hi-lo). (Orca Book Publishers, 2011)
Liars and Fools Juvenile novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2010)
Ben’s Robot Early chapter book. (Orca Book Publishers, 2010)
Inferno Young Adult novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)
In the Woods (Orca Book Publishers, 2009)
A Thousand Shades of Blue .Young Adult novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Big Guy. Young Adult Novel (hi-lo).(Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Impossible Things Juvenile novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Dead in the Water Juvenile novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2008)
Out of Order Young Adult novel. (Orca Book Publishers, 2007)
I was born in Yorkshire and grew up in England, Ontario and Australia. I was always an avid reader who loved stories and spent a lot of time in my imagination, but I didn’t start writing until I was in my thirties. I studied philosophy at McMaster University and then did a Master’s in clinical social work. I spent ten years working as a counsellor and teaching social work courses to university students before I began writing while on maternity leave in 2005. My first book was published two years later, and since then I’ve published more than twenty-five more. I never did go back to my old job, but I am still passionate about social justice issues and I still enjoy teaching. These days, I write, facilitate creative writing classes and workshops, and visit schools and libraries. I also spend a lot of time working to sponsor refugees to come to Canada and to support them after they arrive. I live on Vancouver Island with my partner and our teenage son.
I write for a wide range of ages and interests. I have written board books and picture books, fiction and non-fiction for middle-grade readers, and fiction and non-fiction for teens and young adults. I love teaching, and I love working with young people. My background as a counsellor and university instructor gave me a great deal of experience presenting to groups, leading and facilitating discussion, responding to questions, and encouraging people to believe in themselves and take creative risks. Discovering that being an author would give me new opportunities to speak with kids and teens about my favorite subjects (books, reading, writing, and whatever interesting topic I am currently writing about!) was unexpected and wonderful, and I have taken full advantage of any it, visiting schools and libraries and community groups whenever I can. I find I always learn something from these experiences, and gain renewed enthusiasm for my own writing—and I do my best to leave students similarly inspired and energized.