Heather Camlotis an award-winning children’s author, journalist, editor, and translator. Her fiction and nonfiction books combine her passions for social change, sports, arts, and history. Her debut novel, Clutch, was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2017 and a finalist for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. Her non-fiction book The Prisoner and the Writer won the 2023 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for children and youth, and was named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection as well as a Globe and Mail Top 10 Kids Book for 2022. Her latest non-fiction book is Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science Is Making Us Super. Originally from Montreal, she lives in Toronto with her husband, two teenagers, and rescue dog.
Preferred Maximum Group Size: 75-100 students or 3 - 4 classes (for both presentations)
Session 1: STEM: Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science is Making Us Super (Grades 3-7)
Format: Discussion, experiments, artwork, Q&A
Bam! Wham! Kapow!
Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science Is Making Us Super is a non-fiction book about how scientists have been extending human capabilities beyond what we were born with and uses the powers of superheroes, from flight to eternal life, as starting points.
Part 1: I will astound students with my mind-reading power with a simple game. Then we’ll zoom into what it means to be a superhero and what power they would possess if they could. We’ll create superhero identities through silly games, and students will participate in a craft activity.
Part 2: We’ll get into how science is already turning us into superbeings and what those powers look like in the real world. At my first presentation of this book, students were super-fast at pointing out Terry Fox’s prosthetic leg, which is exactly right! (Other answers: glasses, sneakers, etc.). I’ll read a few blurbs from the book to provide other examples.
Part 3: We’ll look at what science has in mind for the future through images and video clips; will we be able to regenerate limbs like the axolotl?
Students will then pick up their art tools again and design what they would like to see in the future of humans and science. Depending on the students and/or teacher, we can also do a group project, continually adding ideas to an outline of the human figure on large paper until it is completely super-human!
Part 4: Our final discussion with be around the section Super Survival, asking students whether they would want to live forever and whether we should, and if there are other ways we can live forever, like memories and photographs.
Part 5: We’ll end with a Q&A session.
Workshop 2: War and Peace: The Prisoner and the Writer and What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? (Grades 4-7)
Format: Discussion, reflection questions, hands-on art project
With the ongoing war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East, war and peace are top of mind. This session will not discuss blame or politics. It will be a conversation around how we can make the world a better place through learning, understanding, and talking.
The Prisoner and the Writer is the non-fiction account of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish military man found guilty of spying without any evidence, and another man, famed French author Emile Zola, who stood up and spoke out on Dreyfus’s behalf, changing France forever.
What If Soldier Fought with Pillows? is a non-fiction book profiling 15 people and/or organizations that attempted to solve violent issues through nonviolent means, such as sports, music, and art.
Part 1: I’ll begin by reading part of The Prisoner and the Writer and one or two profiles in What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? We’ll discuss what these stories have in common (especially nonviolent action).
Part 2: We’ll move onto our own lives. On his condemnation, Captain Dreyfus said: “My only crime is to have been born a Jew.” How would students fill in the last word of Captain Dreyfus’s quote to reflect their lives or world around them (black, poor, differently abled, the wrong gender, etc.). Note, they do not have to answer out loud. Is it a crime to be “different”?
What do we all have in common? Hair, skin, blood, legs, belly buttons, sock fuzz between our toes, families, friends, teachers, coaches… We are all people.
Part 3: As people, what do we want? Students take turns answering, showing how we all want the same things, we all feel the same things, no matter who we are.
Part 4: The last story I will read will be about Picasso and his peace mural Guernica. I’ll show the students the painting, and then together, they will make their own mural for peace. I’ve done this activity a number of times with students and the creativity and messages they include always fill me with hope.
Part 5: We’ll end with a Q&A session.
Clutch (Red Deer Press, 2017)
What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage (Owlkids Books, 2020)
The Other Side (Red Deer Press, 2020)
Secret Schools: True Stories of the Determination to Learn (Owlkids Books, 2022)
I Can’t Do What? Strange Laws and Rules from Around the World (Red Deer Press, 2022)
The Prisoner and the Writer (Groundwood Books, 2022)
Becoming Bionic, and Other Ways Science Is Making Us Super (Owlkids Books, 2023)
Have a Bite: The Delicious Yet Suspicious Things We Eat Every Day (Owlkids Books, Spring 2027)