March 2022



News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Links We Love
March Reading List: Graphic Novels and Comics
Author Corner: Nathan Fairbairn
Illustrator’s Studio: Michele Assarasakorn
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Enter to Win!

This month’s newsletter features interviews with Nathan Fairbairn and Michele Assarasakorn, the team behind the new middle-grade graphic novel PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together. Enter to win your own copy by following us on Twitter!

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Purchase One-Of-A-Kind Art to Support the CCBC!

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited to share the virtual Picture Book Gallery.  Award-winning Canadian illustrators are selling original art to support the CCBC’s annual Canadian Children’s Book Week program. Illustrators are donating 60% of the value of their original art in support of the CCBC.

Visit the gallery here!

Be a Friend, Share a Book!

Be a friend, share a book! Support the CCBC by purchasing this vintage style poster by celebrated children’s book illustrator Pierre Collet-Derby. Produced entirely in Canada, these prints are letterpressed by Everlovin’ Press and are signed by the illustrator. Proceeds go to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

Buy you copy here!

Writing Contest for Canadian Kids in Grades 1-6 from DC Canada!

If you’ve ever dreamed about seeing your words published for kids around the world to read, this is your chance! Our second ever DC Canada One Story a Day Writing Contest is underway, and if you’re in grade 1 to 6 and live in Canada, we want to see what you’ve got.

Submit your short stories by March 31, 2022, 12 p.m. EST.

Grades 1 and 2: 50 to 100 words
Grades 3 and 4: 150 to 250 words
Grades 5 and 6: 250 to 350 words

Winners in each category will receive a cash prize and be published in an illustrated storybook. The school with the most participants will also win a prize – lots of our books!

Learn more here!

Annual Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award

Administered by the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable, the Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award will be awarded each year at what has previously been known as the VCLR Annual Fall Illustrator’s Breakfast, but will now be the Annual VCLR Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award Breakfast.

The $2500 cash award is specifically for books in the acknowledged picturebook format famously defined by Barbara Bader in 1976 as “an art form [that] hinges on the interdependence of pictures and words, on the simultaneous display of two facing pages, and on the drama of the turning of the page.”

Submissions are due by March 31. Learn more here.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Adds Two New Prizes to Its Established Awards Program

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited to introduce two new English-language prizes that will be awarded in fall of 2022. The Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy will honour excellence in science fiction and fantasy books, written for ages 8 to 18. The David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award is a biennial award which will honour excellence in poetry written for young readers up to 18 years old. In total, $178,500 in prize monies will be awarded in 2022 through the CCBC’s nine literary awards.

Learn more here.

Your School Can Still Apply To Be a Part of Canadian Children’s Book Week!

Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading.

The upcoming tour will take place from May 1 to May 7, 2022, and will allow young readers to connect with highly acclaimed and emerging authors and illustrators. See the complete list of everyone touring here. 

Your school, library or community centre can apply to take part! There are still a few spots available: apply here to take part.

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book Week at and at

This year’s poster was designed by the Fan Brothers and can be downloaded for free! Learn more about the poster here. Download in English or French here.

View the CCBC’s New Strategic Plan

2019 was a year of transition for the CCBC. Throughout the year, we succeeded in achieving our goals, such as operational and financial stability, downsizing operations, reducing expenses and developing a fundraising strategy. When all of these goals were met in 2020, we were given the opportunity to look ahead at the future strategically.

On October 23, 2020, a strategic planning workshop was held with staff and board members. This workshop was the starting point for the creation of the CCBC’s strategic plan for 2022-2024. 

Download the full strategic plan here. Download the condensed version here.

Illustrator Sydney Smith is shortlisted for the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Award

Ibby Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) announced last month that illustrator Sydney Smith has been shortlisted for the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Bestowed biennially, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards are internationally recognized as the highest honour for creators of children’s and youth literature. The Andersen Awards, known as the “little Nobel,” were established in 1956 to recognize authors and illustrators around the world whose complete works have made a lasting and significant contribution to children’s literature.

Announcing the 2021 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award Finalists

Every year, IBBY Canada presents the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award to a Canadian illustrator in recognition of outstanding artistic talent in a Canadian picture book. View this year’s list of finalists here.

Celebrate International Children’s Book Day With Ibby Canada, the CCBC and Storylines New Zealand


Conversation about Māori and Cree children’s storytelling (starting on the hour in your time zone) 

Join Kaumātua Ben Brown and Elder Jo-Anne Saddleback for a very special conversation about Māori and Cree children’s storytelling, and blessings for the week ahead. Hosted by Emily Riddle, Member of the Alexander Cree Nation, Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations, Edmonton Public Library.

Children’s Storytime (starting 45 minutes past the hour in your time zone)

Friday, March 25, 2022

5:00pm MST 7:00pm EDT 12:00am CET

Saturday, March 26, 2022

12:00pm NZDT

Register to attend here!

This year’s poster for International Children’s Book Day features art by illustrator Julie Flett: buy yours today!

Take your child or classroom on an adventure with MS Read-a-Thon

With over 40 years of fun, MS Read-a-Thon is a program you may remember from when you were a kid. Now you can share your childhood memories with your own kids in with the new and updated MS Read-a-Thon program. The rules are simple – read whatever you like, as much as you can!


Kids love MS Read-a-Thon and it’s never been easier or more exciting to take part. MS Read-a-Thon is more fun than ever before with a new, interactive website that lets kids track the books they read, download colouring pages and more.

Fundraising has never been easier and will help fund vital services for the MS community. You can register now to start fundraising. Registration has been extended to March 20. Time to put your reading caps on and have loads of fun! 

Annick Press is Looking for Indo-East African Illustrators

Share your portfolio by e-mailing!

Empowering Youth, One Generation at a Time: Free Resources 

The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP) is inspired by Rick’s belief in the power of youth and their ability to change the world. RHFSP raises awareness, challenges perceptions, and changes attitudes, through a variety of lessons and activities, empowering youth to take action on important issues.

RHFSP resources are designed for youth from K-12 and include age-appropriate lessons and interactive activities for every grade level. Free, bilingual, and connected to provincial curriculum, our resources are:

  • Ready-to-use
  • Deliverable online or in the classroom
  • Developed by educators, for educators
  • Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Learn more here.

Order the Newest Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News!

The Winter 2021 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News looks back on all of the good things that happened in the children’s book world this year! The Fan Brothers share their collaboration process, childhood aspirations and the inspiration behind their multi-award-winning picture book, The Barnabus Project. IBBY Canada launched the second edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea, a timely and important catalogue celebrating Canadian Indigenous picture books. Author June Hur is featured in our Keep Your Eye On column. Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher, creators of this year’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway book Maliaka’s Costume, share their excitement at having their book selected as a giveaway book. Our Bookmark! column features a list of books about COVID-19 to help a young one in your life understand the pandemic or process the feelings they are having regarding isolation or the changes in their life.

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a young bookworm in your life, we asked Canadian children’s booksellers to recommend their favourite books of 2021. And, as always, our We Recommend section has over 40 new fabulous books for you to enjoy!

Buy your copy today!


Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.

Black community group donates books to schools, libraries in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (CBC)

8 kids books recommendations that centre Black joy (The Hamilton Spectator) 

Lawrence Hill’s new middle-grade novel Beatrice and Croc Harry examines identity with a sense of fun and magic (CBC) 

B.C. teen publishes children’s book on gender identity (Vancouver Island Free Daily)

Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy’s historical graphic novel War Bears to become an animated TV series (CBC)

WATCH: Children’s author Zetta Elliott talks about her personal journey as a published author (Global News)

March Reading List: Comics and Graphic Novels

Our March newsletter is all about comics and graphic novels! Get young readers excited about reading with this list of some of our favourites, great for parents, librarians and teachers to use.

Picture Books

Meet Burt; he’s a June beetle. Burt wishes he had a superpower like ants who can carry 50 times their weight or some termites who can spray paralyzing venom. But when some other bugs find themselves in trouble that even their superpowers can’t get them out of, Burt discovers there is one thing that only a June beetle can do!


Hocus Pocus Takes the Train
(Hocus Pocus)
Written by Sylvie Desrosiers
Illustrated by Rémy Simard
Kids Can Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-55453-956-7
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grade 1

A magician’s rabbit is up against a fast train and a meddlesome dog in his quest to reunite a stuffed toy with its toddling owner. Even the earliest readers will delight in this second wordless comic adventure featuring Hocus Pocus and Dog.


The kids in her Mile End neighbourhood are excited to be in Maya’s newest play—a drama about freedom, equality and respect for all. But as her friends try to express ideas of their own, Maya demands obedience and loyalty in her queendom of equality. Can Maya learn to make room in her queendom for the will of the people? Available in French as La scène de Maya.


The Mushroom Fan Club
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
Drawn & Quarterly, 2018
ISBN 978-1-77046-322-6
IL: Ages 4-11 RL: Grades 2-3

Elise Gravel takes readers on a magical tour of the forest floor and examines a handful of her favourite alien specimens up close. From the fun-to-stomp puffballs to the prince of the stinkers, the stinkhorn mushroom, Gravel shares her knowledge of fungi by bringing each species to life in full felt-tip-marker glory. This title is also available in French as Le Fan club des champignons.


Poppy and Sam are back! The seasons are changing and Poppy and Sam are stocking up for a long winter’s nap. There’s just one problem: Poppy can’t sleep! Determined to hibernate like her garden friends, Poppy and Sam go hunting for advice on how to get to sleep. Available in French as Mimose & Sam : Mission hibernation.



Scaredy Squirrel In a Nutshell
Written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
(Scaredy’s Nutty Adventures)
Tundra Books, 2021
ISBN 978-0-7352-6957-6
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades 2-3

Why would Scaredy ever leave his nut tree when the world is filled with dangers? Like aliens! And a certain fluffy bunny who pops up! But things don’t go as planned for this super-prepared squirrel. When he has to venture onto the ground, Scaredy panics and plays dead. But maybe the fluffy bunny’s not so scary after all?



Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Nate’s on a mission to Earth from the planet Vega. His goal: eat pizza! Soon after crash-landing he meets Fazel, who helps him learn the ways of Earthlings. But government agents are starting to close in. Can Fazel and Nate elude the Men in Beige while they find fuel for Nate’s spacecraft? And will Nate get his fill of pizza?


The Good Fight
Written by Ted Staunton
Illustrated by Josh Rosen
Scholastic Canada, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4431-6383-5
IL: Ages 9 and up RL: Grades 3-4

Toronto, summer, 1933. Thirteen-year-old Sid and his friend Plug are looking for ways to make ends meet. Their plans take them down a path they never intended and right into the centre of the city’s boiling point—the riot at Christie Pits. Sid needs to choose how far he will go to do what’s right. And he has to choose fast.




Living With Viola
Written and illustrated by Rosena Fung
Annick Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7732-1549-5
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grade 4-7

Livy is already having trouble fitting in as the new girl at school—and then there’s Viola. Viola is Livy’s anxiety brought to life, a shadowy twin that only Livy can see or hear. Livy tries to push back against Viola’s relentless judgment, but nothing seems to work until she strikes up new friendships at school. Livy hopes that Viola’s days are numbered. But when tensions arise both at home and at school, Viola rears her head stronger than ever. Only when Livy learns how to ask for help and face her anxiety does she finally figure out living with Viola.




Otter Lagoon 
(Sueño Bay Adventures)
Written by Mike Deas and Nancy Deas
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Orca Book Publishers, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5344-3341-0
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades 2-3

When Jenna finds a rare egg in the waters of Otter Lagoon, she unknowingly sets off a sequence of events that might mean the end of the village of Sueño Bay. Jenna can’t prevent her friends from poking around, and soon enough, the friends are in a race against time with the greatest Moon Creature of all, Lunar Serpentis.



Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
(Shirley & Jamila)
Written and illustrated by Gillian Goerz
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2020
ISBN 978-0-525-55286-4
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

Jamila moves to a new neighbourhood and meets Shirley. Both girls need a plan for the summer, so they might as well become friends. Then a kid begs for Shirley’s help finding his stolen pet gecko, and Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: she’s the neighbourhood’s kid detective!




Yorick and Bones: Friends by Any Other Name
(Yorick and Bones)
Written by Jeremy Tankard and and Hermione Tankard
Illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
HarperAlley, 2021
ISBN 978-0-06-285434-6
IL: Ages 9 and up RL: Grades 4-5

Yorick and his trusty canine companion Bones are invited to a costume party! But when Yorick arrives and meets a new friend, he isn’t sure whether she likes the real him or just who he is in disguise. Yorick needs some friendly faces to help him with these big questions… But will the answers make for a comedy or a tragedy?



Young Adult Fiction

Four Faces of the Moon
Written by Amanda Strong
Annick Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-77321-453-5
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grades 4-5

On a journey to uncover her family’s story, Spotted Fawn travels through history to confront the harsh realities of the past and reignite her connection to her people and the land. A portal allows her glimpses into the lives of her relatives. Guided by her ancestors, Spotted Fawn’s travels through the past allow her to come into full face—like the moon itself.

From the Roots Up
(Surviving the City)
Written by Tasha Spillet-Sumner
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan
HighWater Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-55379-898-9
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

In this sequel to Surviving the City, Dez is grieving her grandmother, living in a group home, and navigating her identity as a two-spirit person. Miikwan, crushing on new kid Riel, must learn how to be a supportive ally to her best friend. Will Dez be comfortable expressing her identity? And can her community celebrate her for who she is?


Grimoire Noir
Written by Vera Greentea
Yana Bogatch
First Second, 2019
ISBN 978-1-62672-598-0
IL: Ages 12-16 RL: Grade 7

Fifteen-year-old Bucky’s little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary powers. Bucky’s dad may be the town sheriff, but in the town of Blackwell, where all girls are witches, his hands are tied. As his mother’s tears cause endless rain, Bucky’s own investigation uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.


Written by Rainbow Rowell
Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Coloured by Sarah Stern
First Second, 2019
ISBN 978-1-62672-162-3
IL: Ages 12-18 RL: Grade 7

Every autumn, Deja and Josiah have worked together at a local pumpkin patch. But this is their senior year and their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last goodbye. Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. But Deja has a plan. What if their last shift was an adventure?


Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story, 10th Anniversary Edition
Written by David Alexander Robertson
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Coloured by Donovan Yaciuk
HighWater Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-55379-975-7
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 8-9

A school assignment leads Daniel to interview his friend’s grandmother, a residential school survivor. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy is adopted into a loving family. At the age of eight, Betsy is taken away to a residential school where she is forced to endure abuse and indignity. Based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation.


This One Summer
Created by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Groundwood Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-55498-152-6
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 5-6

Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have stayed at Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this summer is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. A stunning and authentic story of friendship, illuminated by subtly heart-breaking moments and pure summer joy.



Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War
Written by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys
Illustrated by Claudia Dávila
Kids Can Press, 2015
ISBN 978-1-77138-126-0
IL: Ages 11 and up RL: Grades 6-7

In 1993, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, five-year-old Michel and his friends were kidnapped by rebel militants and thrust into a terrifying and violent world — forced to become child soldiers. A compelling story of resilience and courage, this book is Michel Chikwanine’s account of his time in a rebel militia, his escape and his family’s new life in Canada.


Written and illustrated by Guy Delisle
Translated by Helge Dascher
Drawn & Quarterly, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77046-279-3
IL: Ages 15 and up RL: Grade 8

This is the extraordinary story of Christophe André, a volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières, who, in 1997, was kidnapped and held captive in the Caucasus region. Handcuffed and in solitary confinement, André had almost no contact with the outside world for 111 days. Thoughtful and intense, this graphic novel examines our will to survive in the darkest of moments. This title is also available in French as S’enfuir.


Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics
Written by Valérie Plante
Illustrated by Delphie Côté-Lacroix
Translated by Helge Dascher
Drawn & Quarterly, 2020
ISBN 978-1-77046-411-7
IL: Ages 11 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Valérie Plante stood up to her city’s patriarchal power system and became the first woman elected Mayor of Montreal. Her origin story comes alive in this captivating graphic novel—created in collaboration with Governor General’s Literary Award-winner Delphie Côté-Lacroix—following her journey from community organizer and volunteer to municipal candidate and the phone call that changed her life forever.



Crows: Genius Birds
Science Comics
Written and illustrated by Kyla Vanderklugt
First Second, 2020
ISBN 978-1-62672-802-8
IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grades 4-5

Did you know that crows make their own tools, lead complex social lives, and never forget a human face? Scientists are just beginning to unlock the secrets of the crow’s brain to discover how these avian Einsteins can be as smart as some primates. This book will make you rethink what it means to be a bird brain!


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Author’s Corner: Nathan Fairbairn

Nathan Fairbairn is a comics creator whose work on books such as Scott Pilgrim and Wonder Woman: Earth One has frequently topped the New York Times Best Sellers list. His client list includes Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and Oni Press. He is also the writer and co-creator of Lake of Fire from Image Comics, now available in seven languages.

He has won Joe Shuster Awards in the categories of Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Colourist and Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist (with  Yanick Paquette), and in 2019 he was nominated for an Eisner Award in the category of Best Coloring.  He lives and works in Vancouver, BC, Canada.​​​​​​​ 

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I spent the summer between grade six and seven writing a deeply terrible fantasy novel on looseleaf paper. I wrote short stories that no one ever read in high school. In university, I wrote for the student paper and took as many creative writing electives as I could. Once I graduated, I started sending off unsolicited scripts to Marvel and DC until they told me to stop because no one would ever read them. It was at that point that I decided to try to get into the comics industry through a side door and started training myself as a colorist. It worked! In fact, it worked a little too well.

I spent six years working full-time and supporting my young family as a colorist on such titles as Wolverine, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Scott Pilgrim, and Batman. It was only when my Batman editor was putting together an anthology of shorts that I remembered the whole reason I got into coloring in the first place was to make the connections I needed to get work as a writer. So I pitched a story to my editor, he loved it, and that was that. The sleeper had awoken. It was time to get writing again!

Art from Scott Pilgrim

What started your love for graphic novels and comics?

I was 10 years old and exploring the 100-year-old farmhouse we’d moved into, There, sitting on a dusty shelf in a cupboard, I discovered a cardboard box full of old comics that had been abandoned by a previous owner. Avengers, Conan, Shang Chi, the Hulk. It lit my brain on fire and I was hooked for life.

Where did you get the inspiration to write Paws: Gabby Gets It Together?

I wrote an original graphic novel in 2017 called Lake of Fire. It was a genre-bending, Historical Science Fiction, knights-versus-aliens, action film on paper. I was really proud of it, but it bothered me that it was too adult to share with my own children. My daughter, especially, had absolutely no interest in it. And I realized that in a decade of making comics, I’d never made one that would appeal to her. So I determined that my next book would be just for her.

How does working on an original story compare to writing for stories and characters people are already familiar with?

After the Batman short story reignited my passion for writing, I realized that I had little to no interest in working on corporate properties and have exclusively written and pitched original works since then. Maybe one day I’ll get the itch to play in someone else’s sandbox (it would be wonderfully full circle to end my career writing some of the characters I fell in love with in that dusty old farmhouse all those years ago) but for now I’m very driven to share my original characters and stories.

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

Currently Michele and I are hard at work finishing the second volume of PAWS. It’s called Mindy Makes Some Space and it’s the best comic I’ve ever made (until the next one). I’m really, really excited to share it and further adventures of the PAWS gang with young readers in the months and years to come.

Find out more about Nathan by visiting his website

Scroll to the top of this page to enter to win a copy of PAWS!

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Watch Your Favourite Book On Bibliovideo

Subscribe to Bibliovideo today to watch videos made specifically for booklovers! Don’t forget to push the bell to receive updates when new videos are uploaded.

Featured Video

Indigenous / Autochtone


I Read Canadian / Je lis un livre canadien

Telling Tales: Celebrating Stories

Illustrator Demonstrations / Démonstrations des illustrateurs

TD Summer Reading Club / Club de lecture d’été TD

Stay Home, Read Together / Lisons ensemble à la maison

Author Interviews / Entretiens avec des écrivains

Book Readings / Séances de lecture


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


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Illustrator’s Studio: Michele Assarasakorn

Michele left her home in Bangkok, Thailand, to pursue her art education in Toronto, Canada. She studied concept design for film and video games, and after graduation spent some time as a junior concept artist in the animation, film and game industry before landing a gig colouring a comic for one her idols.

Since then she has had the pleasure of colouring books for such publishers as DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Skybound and Glénat.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

I’ve been drawing before I could remember, but my formal education leaned heavily on visual development for animation and games so I actually started my art career painting in those industries. 

I then transitioned into colouring for comic books after being given the opportunity to work with a creator I admired. I fell in love with using colours to help tell a story but felt a little constricted in the medium. I travelled a lot while being able to work remotely and found myself gravitating towards illustrating events that had happened while on my adventures with my partner. The freedom of being able to tell a story through drawing (and colouring) lit a new fire in me to pursue it as a career, but I had a hard time seeing myself fit into the comic world I was used to seeing. This was before I learned that there was a whole genre of middle-grade/young adult comics that was definitely up my alley! 

When we finally settled in Vancouver, I reached out to Nathan who was another local colourist, to make some new friends. We got along so well, he ended up convincing me to illustrate his story. 

You and Nathan live in the same neighbourhood and worked on Paws: Gabby Gets It Together together. What was this collaboration like?

It is perfect!

We often met at the local coffee shops to discuss script, art direction and catch up but I’ve had a baby recently so we mostly met via FaceTime now. 

In terms of creative roles, Nathan always include me into his ideas for the story but we collaborate most on the art side since he colours AND letters it as well. 

I usually send him very loose layouts to get some feedback before I finalize the art. I’m lucky in that he gives me a lot of freedom to express myself through the character acting and shot choices so I don’t often get many notes. Honestly, I still can’t believe how easy he makes my job! Haha.

watch a time-lapse of the creation of pages for PAWS!

How does working on an original story compare to illustrating for stories and characters people are already familiar with?

PAWS is the first book I’m illustrating but I can already tell that it feels very liberating to not be confined to an established character or story. The main story in PAWS is one very close to my own life (of not being able to own a dog) and I was able to see my younger self in all 3 girls, which makes drawing them so much fun.

watch a time-lapse of the creation of pages for PAWS!

What advice do you have for young illustrators? 

I struggled at the thought of being locked into “one” career path after graduating since I enjoyed doing all creative things at school. I wish someone had told me that it is perfectly natural to transition between creative fields as you gain experience. My advice is to pick the path you find fulfilling, do your best and don’t be afraid to move on if it doesn’t make you happy anymore.  

Also, finding a community of like-minded, positive people is so important. You’ll need those cheerleaders when you’re in a hole of self-doubt. 

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I’m currently drawing the second volume of PAWS called Mindy Makes Some Space and I can’t wait to share it. I think Nathan and I both agree that it’s our best work together yet! 

Find out more about Michele at her website

Scroll to the top of this page to enter to win a copy of PAWS!

Experts’ Picks

Booksellers’ Picks

Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit


Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:

Firefly by Philippa Dowding (DCB, 2021) Ages 9-12

After a particularly traumatic incident, Firefly finds herself living with her Aunt Gayle…at The Corseted Lady costume shop. As she adjusts to the wonders of hot baths, orange juice and a real bed, she also begins to settle into a new life where she goes to school, works in her aunt’s shop and makes a new friend. Living in a costume shop gives Firefly the opportunity to be something/someone new every day. But while putting on a costume may make her braver on the outside, it doesn’t take away the painful memories of her life with Joanne-the-mother. Yet somehow the unlikely collection of people in her life who care about her and want to help, just may make all the difference. This award-winning book is a poignant exploration of grief that touches on many heavy topics, but with a light touch that leaves readers feeling hopeful and more conscious of the fact that there is often so much more going on in people’s minds and hearts and lives than what we see on the surface. The characters are deftly-drawn, the setting is unique and Firefly’s story is moving and thought-provoking.


—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 6013 Shirley St, Halifax, NS B3H 2M9

Librarians’ Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.


While We Wait written by Judy Ann Sadler and illustrated by Élodie Duhameau (Owlkids Books, 2022) Ages 3-7

Waiting is no easy task for preschoolers – or adults.  While a little boy and his grandmother sit at home expectedly, they while away the hours by occupying themselves in creative pursuits.  The elegantly crafted text lyrically conveys just how active the act of waiting can be: “get up and pace and look outside, then sit and rock and knit and rock and sit and knit and wait. We hear the clock, ticktock, ticktock, and sit and knit and wait.” In Élodie Duhameau’s charming illustrations, the child’s emotions are palpable, from exasperation (when he understandably unravels and has to lie on the floor for a moment) to loving devotion (when he cradles his newborn sibling in his arms).  Judy Ann Sadler expertly stitches warmth and originality into the fabric of this sweet picture book about a close-knit family and the fine art of patience. 



—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

Fight Like a Girl, written by Sheena Kamal (Penguin Teen, 2022) Ages 14 and up

Whenever Trisha’s father comes to visit from Trinidad, Trisha’s Scarborough home becomes a place of violence. To avoid the contentious relationship between her parents, 18-year-old Trisha escapes to the Muay Thai kickboxing gym that she loves. When a car driven by Trisha accidentally hits her father on a rainy night and kills him, Trisha isn’t sorry he’s gone but she can’t recall clearly what took place before her father’s body stumbled into her path. One thing is for sure: something strange is going on judging by the looks shared between her mother, Auntie Kay and the next-door neighbour Pammy. What really happened that night?

Sheena Kamal’s novel addresses many attention-worthy topics. Of primary importance is the power dynamics viewed in the key relationships of the female protagonists. Violence is strongly featured in the form of spousal abuse, the physical abuse Trisha experiences from her mother, and in the kickboxing ring. In addition, the significance of kickboxing is intriguing: does Trisha fight to demonstrate control in her life or because she feels like she doesn’t have any control, whatsoever? The book also addresses the enormous pressure exerted on children of first generation immigrants who are often expected to be successful in the new country while maintaining the cultural standards of the families’ countries of origin. The dialogue employed is somewhat raw and profane but is authentic to the characters. There has been some criticism of Fight like a Girl because the preoccupation with food and weight loss may be viewed as unhealthy. However, in the context of the Muay Thai environment, the preoccupation is a reality where fighters have specific fighting weights.

Young adults who enjoy fast-paced, suspenseful novels with unexpected twists would find this an appealing title. Discussions regarding sex and the use of profane language would render this book more suitable for mature teen audiences.



Robin Ahamedi is a library technician living in Ajax, Ontario.

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