Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Kid Lit Can, with Susan Hughes: Looking back, Looking forward

Share |
Susan Hughes

Welcome to autumn and the return of my Kid Lit Can column! Because to me, September is a time to look back on the summer and to look forward to new beginnings, I've asked seven Canadian kid lit creators to share their favourite summer memories and their fall looking-forwards with us. But first, to kick it off, here are mine:

I went on a wonderful trip to Cambodia and Malaysia this summer. Highlights were visiting two remarkable schools that I'd featured in my book Off to Class (OwlKids Books), one a "portable school" made of bamboo panels in Bangkok, the other a school built on a dump site in Phnom Penh which offers rice in return for student attendance.

And this fall? I'm looking forward to having three new chapter books published: #1 Bailey's Visit and #2 Riley Knows Best (the first two in The Puppy Collection series, Scholastic) and Four Seasons of Patrick (Red Deer).

Now let's hear from some other creators, coast to coast, as they look back and forward.


Kallie George, a Vancouver-based author and editor, has written
 numerous children's books, including The Melancholic Mermaid (Simply Read Books), illustrated by Abigail Halpin. She also teaches creative writing workshops.

"My best summer moment — perhaps my best moment ever — is getting married on August 9th. Not only was I marrying my dream boy, the day itself was perfectly magical — and book themed! I had a book-paper bouquet and my centerpieces were paper cut-out fairy-tale scenes (made by illustrator Kathie Shoemaker).

"As for the fall, I am super excited about my new book, Spark (Simply Read Books), which is an early reader illustrated by the amazingly talented Geneviève Côté."


Dan Bar-el lives in Vancouver, BC and is the author of several chapter books, one graphic novel, and many picture books, including Not Your Typical Dragon (Viking).

"Half this summer was devoted to visiting relatives in France (yeah, I know, it’s a burden), but one week was given to exploring Normandy and Brittany for the first time: a wonderful, fascinating experience that involved eating way too many crêpes. Among the highlights was Mont Saint-Michel, which like the Grand Canyon, is still spectacular no matter how many photos of it you’ve already seen.

"This fall, for me, will be about sharing my latest picture book Dream Boats (Simply Read Books) and getting two more picture books ready for their spring release dates. Also, avoiding crêpes."


Hélène Boudreau is a Markham-based author of over a dozen non-fiction and fiction books for kids, including the Real Mermaids tween series (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) and I Dare You Not to Yawn (Candlewick).

"Our family’s annual summer trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia was blessed with good weather, great fishing, and fun new experiences this year. On the long drive home, my daughters and I wiled away the miles brainstorming ideas for a new tween series I’ve been working on.

"As we head into fall, I am really looking forward to gathering all those scribbled notes and sketches from our trip and adding them to my work in progress. It’s amazing what 19 hours trapped in a car can do to get the creative juices flowing!"


Tara Anderson, illustrator of That Stripy Cat by Norene Smiley (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), studied art at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Many of her folk paintings are inspired by the antics of her barn cats who roam her farm in Tweed, Ontario.

"My summer was happily spent growing organic garlic and veggies. The highlight of my summer was my wedding day on the 22nd of June.

"I look forward to a busy fall of promoting Nat The Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby (Pajama Press) and illustrated by me! After all that hard work it's really exciting to share a finished book with young people and educators."


Peggy Collins is a mother, professor, author and illustrator of children's books such as Tooter's Stinky Wish by Brian Cretney (Fitzhenry & Whiteside). She lives north of Napanee, Ontario, close to the woods and water and has a very messy and creative house!

"My favourite summer moment? My husband, my two kids and I were on a canoeing trip in Algonquin Park. On the third day, a huge thunderstorm hit. We built a lean-to and took cover. When we emerged, trees were down everywhere, including one across our canoe. Thank goodness we had duct tape. We were able to repair the three holes in the canoe and paddle out safely!

"What am I looking forward to most this fall? The smell of the leaves and crisp mornings. Cool sleeps. And squash soup!"


Lori Weber lives in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. She juggles two jobs: teaching English at John Abbott College in Montreal and writing for children. Her most recent young adult novel is Picture Me (Lorimer).

"My best summer moment was also my worst. I was alone in a cottage when a severe storm knocked over several huge trees, downing power lines and blocking the mountain road. No running water, no phone, no car, no family, no way out. It was a scary night, but now it’s a great story to tell.

"This fall, I look forward to meeting Catherine Austen, who is coming to speak to my young adult fiction class. I’m a big fan."


Susan Tooke lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is the illustrator of numerous books including the newly published Lasso the Wind: Aurélia’s Verses and Other Poems, text by George Elliott Clarke (Nimbus).

"This summer, my husband and fellow artist, Richard Rudnicki, and I spent time on Long Island and Briar Island for a wonderful escape from urban life. These islands bordering the Bay of Fundy are edged by an amazing granite coastline home to thousands of gulls in their Briar Island rookery. Hiking the trail between the Western Light and the Gull Rock Road, we were surrounded by swirling gulls protecting their young.

"This fall, Lasso The Wind: Aurélia’s Verses and Other Poems (Nimbus) will be launched. George Elliott Clarke, Toronto’s poet laureate, is a master. I am excited beyond words for having the opportunity to create the visual story of these poems."


Susan Hughes is an award-winning author of children's books — both fiction and non-fiction — including The Island Horse, Off to Class, Case Closed?, No Girls Allowed and Earth to Audrey. She is also an editor, journalist and manuscript evaluator. Susan lives in Toronto. Visit her website,

1 comment

Jan Andrews lives down the end of the road on a lake in Eastern Ontario. She's been writing Canadian children's books for a long time, is the 2012 winner of the OLA Forest of Reading Silver Birch Express Award and has a new YA novel -- The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley.

Great summer memory? Going to Rome. My first time ever. Loved the city for its generosity and exuberance, its colours and its life. While there attended FEST (the Federation of European Storytelling Annual Meeting). Ninety one storytellers from all over Europe and indeed the world. Got to tell at Raccontamiunariastoria, a great Italian Festival. Met wonderful people and listened to fine tellings of fascinating tales.

Off now to the Thin Air Writers Festival in Winnipeg. forward to another fascinating experience.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Related item from our archives