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Meet Bookfest's 2021 Presenters!


We are so excited to share our incredible lineup of presenters this year. Our selection committee has worked hard to bring you a diverse group of authors and illustrators from across Canada.



Josée's Presentation:

Would you like to know how the illustrations for a picture book come to life ? Are you interested in finding out some ways to crank up your creativity and making some fun art ? Join Josée Bisaillon to learn about the colorful world of picture book illustrations ! She'll answer those difficult questions: Where do ideas come from ? What do I do if I want to become an illustrator ? Can we actually make a living out of drawing !?! And many more. She’ll present her travel sketchbooks, her ‘’playground sketchbooks’’ where she draws and paints everything that comes to her mind, and her ‘’picture book sketchbooks’ where the beginning of a picture book takes place. She’ll describe the steps she follows when making a picture book. You’ll also learn some fun ways to make your own art…Fun guaranteed!

As a young girl, Josée loved drawing cats and houses. She really enjoyed school and always returned home full of stories to tell. She liked being in the classroom so much that she pursued her education all the way to university, where she studied graphic design. It was there that she fell in love with illustration. Since 2005, with scissors and brushes in hand, Josée has illustrated more than 40 children’s books, as well as magazines and newspapers for adults, all around the world. Josée lives just outside of Montreal with her spouse, their 3 children, two hairless cats and many paper characters.



Mike's Presentation:

Mike’s presentation takes the audience through the production of his work (from doodles to publication), he provides drawing advice, tips on story development and hands on artistic demonstrations. Through humor, Mike offers an inspirational glimpse into the creation of a graphic novel and the ongoing journey of education, trial and error, and experience in the world of illustration. Mike does an interactive multimedia presentation which details a step by step description of the process creating the Sueño Bay Advenures series including; story, character design, thumbnail sketches, pencils, inks, color and finally publication. Several live drawing demonstrations with audience participation highlight the power of visual story telling and an open imagination. His interactive presentation encourages literature through the Graphic Novel medium to even the most reluctant readers. The one hour (flexible) presentation includes time for questions and answers.


Mike’s love for illustrative storytelling comes from an early love of reading and drawing while growing up on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Capilano College’s Commercial Animation Program in Vancouver helped Mike fine-tune his drawing skills and imagination. Work as a concept artist, texture artist and art lead in the video game industry took Mike to England and California. Mike lives with his family on sunny Salt Spring Island.


Freg's Presentation:

Doctor RIP knows a lot about death and its countless causes. Through a colorful comic strip, he reveals several statistics and astonishing unusual information about the ways of going from life to death. Hilarious! Now, if we have a comic involving a superhero: are we doing the same scenario?

Freg has published more than twenty books, under different collections: La Bande à Smikee (winner of the public's favorite prize at the Prévost Comic books festival), Léo P. détective privé (winner of the 1st prize of elementary school teachers in Quebec), Doctor RIP, Multimax as well as several illustrated books from the very popular BIG collection. In addition, the author has been traveling across Quebec for the past 7 years to offer educational activities allowing him to meet more than 4,000 students each year.



Jami's Presentation:

Jami will give a presentation including a reading and discussion of picture books and how they are created. She will also give a behind-the-scenes look at her rough sketches through to final art, so attendees will see her creative process and how art can be messy and imperfect (and that’s okay)! The presentation will exercise imaginations through interactive story building and character design activities along with some live drawing.


Jami Gigot is the Author/Illustrator of the picture books Imagination vacation, Seb and the sun, Mae and the moon and the upcoming STARBOY. In addition to making picture books, Jami also works as a visual effects film artist. Her credits include such titles as Captain marvel, Avatar and the Chronicles of Narnia.
Originally from Madison Wisconsin, she has lived in Los Angeles, and London, England, but now calls beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia her home. When not busy creating stories, Jami enjoys combing the BC shoreline for treasures with her family. You can see more of Jami’s work on her website, or follow her on twitter @jlgigot


Nadia L.

Nadia's Presentation:

Explore Caribbean songs, rhymes, and games that Malaika would learn and play in her schoolyard. This is an interactive, lively and musical workshop featuring a reading of Malaika's Costume, Malaika’s Winter Carnival, or Malaika's Surprise musical instruments, and storytelling as well.  Family will sing Afro-Caribbean songs and dances.  Fun for the whole family!  This presentation can be modified or customized for older audiences including a powerpoint presentation, discussion about the writing process and themes in the books, historical overview, and question and answer session.

Nadia L. Hohn is the award-winning author of children's books including A Likkle Miss Lou (Owlkids) and the Malaika series (Groundwood Books); Malaika's Surprise (Groundwood Books) will be released on March 1, 2021. Nadia is currently a student in the MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph. She teaches elementary school, as well as courses in writing for children at University of Toronto School for Continuing Studies, Centennial College, and University of Guelph Open University. She lives in Toronto where she is working on novels and other projects. 


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Jessika's Presentation:

Together we will explore the awesome world of Kevin the Unicorn. I’ll take you behind the scenes and share funny stories of what could have happened…but didn’t. Perhaps I’ll open my sketchbook and show you my most messy sketches! We’ll talk about story and my journey working with Disney, Marvel, DC and a few other studios. We’ll read, laugh, I might even tell a few jokes…it will be great!

Jess is a story creator who lives in a world of possibilities. Anything and everything is achievable if you really believe it is. She’s taken those words and worked her way through many awesome studios. Eventually, Jess wanted to create her own stories, so she did, and here we are. She can’t wait to hang out with you and share her excitement for story.



Kevin's Presentation:

Join Kevin Sands as he takes you into the world of the Blackthorn Key adventures! See what your life would have been like as an apothecary's apprentice in the 1600s: dangers, diseases, strange medicines, and hidden secrets! Includes a Q&A with the class.

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher. He lives in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of the bestselling Blackthorn Key adventures and the upcoming Thieves of Shadow fantasy series.



Spencer's Presentation:

Spencer seeks to inspire students to pick up pencils and paper to write themselves into the world they wish to live in. In a poetic celebration of local geography, community and history, author Spencer Sheehan-Kalina will read from his work while revealing his creative process and personal stories of overcoming illiteracy through a love of being creative and making.

Spencer Sheehan-Kalina is an artist and author who loves to spend his time riding his bicycle, swimming in the ocean and enjoying the company of loved ones. He is a member of the LGBTQ2AI+ and Maniwaki Metis community, was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently calls the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island home with his partner, their two cats and dog.



Kathy's Presentation:

Aiming always to inspire kids to read more and write more, Kathy will read aloud from some combo of something she wrote as a child, a published book, an upcoming book, and/or a work-in-progress, discussing along the way what's involved in moving from idea to manuscript to finished book. Virtual audiences may meet Kathy's dog (The Dog Who Wanted to Fly) and learn a thing or two about giraffes!

Kathy has loved reading all her life but was almost thirty before she discovered she loves writing too. She has since written a wide range of books: picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and stories in anthologies and magazines. In her almost forty years as a published author she has enjoyed the privilege of meeting with readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. In addition to her passion for reading and writing, Kathy loves photography and doing jigsaw puzzles.

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