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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.

Meet Bookfest's 2019 Presenters!



Linda's Presentation:

Dogs, dinosaurs, monsters — and more! Join Linda Bailey for a fun-filled romp with characters who will jump off their pages to say hello. Meet Stanley, who invites half the dogs in town to his people’s house in Stanley’s Party. Consider what might happen If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur lying around your living room. And find out what-the-heck is lurking under Leo’s bed in Under-the-Bed Fred! Linda Bailey loves to look at life from unusual points of view. Join her as she tells the stories behind some of her favourite characters — and takes you inside their worlds!

I was born and grew up in Winnipeg.  In my twenties, I traveled around the world, mostly by ship, working in England and Australia. Then I moved to Vancouver, where I earned a B.A. and an M.Ed. at the University of British Columbia.  Vancouver is really beautiful.  I still live here, a five-minute walk from the ocean. I'm an ex-college teacher, an ex-editor, an ex-travel agent and . . .Now I'm the author of more than thirty-five books for kids. Best known perhaps are my picture books about a dog called Stanley (Stanley's Party and others, illustrated by Bill Slavin).  Many of my books have now travelled around the world — just like me. 



Emma's Presentation:

What is it like to wake up every day and draw as your job? Emma will share her unique process of drawing on location, sharing how she first studied art, then architecture, then started a house portrait business, and then became an illustrator and writer! She will share from her many travel sketch books, as well as her books “Hand Drawn Halifax” and “Sketch By Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore”. She will demonstrate and get kids to try ‘blind contour drawing’ to truly ‘see’ what you are looking at. Emma will read from “EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street” by Sheree Fitch and ask kids to act out some of the actions of the different characters. Ie, “Lope along Giraffe” like or “Dance about like ants”.

Emma FittzGerald was born to Irish parents in Lesotho, a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa. She moved to Canada at a young age and spent most of her childhood in Vancouver, BC. These early travels have instilled in her a keen interest in people and places. Emma has a BFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia in 2004, and a Masters in Architecture from Dalhousie University in 2008. Her art practice is characterised by on-site drawing, place-based research, and a sense of the poetic. 



Gabrielle's Presentation:

I like to talk about the colours and the strong meaning or power they can have in the illustration. There is a colour for envy, for sadness, for love, tenderness... Each colour has a different emotion, even authority! I like to help kids realize that. I use my own past drawing to demonstrate my theory. I also show pictures of where I'm working, what inspires me in my work, how I came to do that job, what really is the work of an illustrator (sometime we can do other things than books). What is the procedure to do a book (creation of a character, sketches, comments and final artwork). And at the end, I illustrate a small character with the audience's help in watercolour.

After studying Fine Arts at Concordia University, Art Education at the University of Quebec in Montreal, and a few years as a painter and muralist on the island of Montreal, I took a more solid direction towards youth-illustration with the birth of my son in 2001. If my style remains traditional, it is mostly in that it is full of poetry. I love being able to translate through drawing the world in which I want to live. I love working light, and different levels and patterns. 

Gray Smith


Monique's Presentation:

Monique Gray Smith will share her personal journey of writing three books in the last year that focus on Truth and Reconciliation. The books vary from a children’s picture book to the recently released Lucy and Lola, which is a novella for ages 9-14. Monique will also talk about and read from her Canadian Bestseller, for ages 9-90 called Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation. This will be an inspiring, positive and hope filled opportunity to hear about the journey of writing about one of the most important opportunities facing Canada. 


Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent and is the proud Mom of twelve year old twins. Her career has focused on fostering paradigm shifts that emphasize the strength and resiliency of the First Peoples in Canada. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience. In 1992, Monique was a year and half sober and a client in an Indigenous treatment centre when she received her traditional name in a Lakota ceremony called Yuweepi. The name she was gifted is Mistikwaskihkos, which when translated from the Cree language to English means Little Drum. 



Michael's Presentation:

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak is a gifted and mesmerizing storyteller. In Inuit culture, storytellers learn their craft by listening to stories told to them as children. These stories are ancient and compelling, told over and over again changing slightly with each teller’s telling. Michael was introduced to the stories by his grandmother while he was traveling by dog team living in igloos and sod huts at the Arctic Circle. He weaves these stories with stories of his life, a life of rapid change and adaptation. Michael’s storytelling will transport you to another world.

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak was born in 1948 in Qatiktalik (Cape Fullerton), NWT (now Nunavut), on the west coast of Hudson Bay. In the fall of 1954, an airplane landed on the water in front of the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. It took Michael and some of his friends south to Chesterfield Inlet. And so began another kind of nomadic life, this time not in pursuit of seals, walruses, whales, caribou or fish but education. But he never forgot the years he spent travelling on the great expanse of sea ice on Hudson Bay, living in igloos and sod huts and the stories he heard every night, falling asleep in the flickering light of a qulliq – a soapstone, seal oil lamp. Today, Michael lives in Rankin Inlet, on the west coast of Hudson Bay. He writes books for children and travels, telling the stories he heard when he was little. 



Kit's Presentation:

My presentation consists of discussion about how I became a writer and my writing process with an emphasis on, and short reading from, my latest novel, BE MY LOVE, about a young teenager coming out as a lesbian in 1951.

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta on April 30, 1947 and lived there for the first eight years of my life with my parents, Kay and Sandy, and my two younger brothers, Ron and Ian. When I was eight my family moved to Vancouver. We lived there for four happy years.  I loved the lushness and the sea and the mountains and, for the first time in my life, I made two good friends. When I was thirteen my family moved back to Edmonton. I was devastated. Once again, books saved me: I devoured them, literally! I was so involved in the story that I didn't notice that I was nibbling at the corners of the pages. One book I consumed was L.M. Montgomery's EMILY OF NEW MOON. When I finished reading it I decided that, like Emily, I would also become a writer. I finished high school in Vancouver, attended university at UBC and U. of Alberta, and completed a library degree at UBC. It was while working as a librarian in Vancouver that my first children's book, The Daring Game, was completed and published. My books soon became popular enough that I could afford to write full time. In 2005 I moved to Victoria to live with my partner, Katherine Farris. 



Jordan's Presentation:

Jordan Stratford... has been pronounced clinically dead, and was briefly (mistakenly) wanted by INTERPOL for international industrial espionage. He is an ordained priest, has won numerous sword fights, jaywalked the streets of Paris, San Francisco, and São Paulo, and was once shot by a stray rubber bullet in a London riot. He lives on a tiny windswept Pacific island populated predominantly by realtors and carnivorous gulls. He's the author of the Middle-Grade Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series from Knopf / Random Penguin, which is being adapted to a video game by Hololabs in Victoria BC, and has been optioned for television. He has been featured on c/net, io9, boing boing, WIRED, and Reading Rainbow and is represented by Heather Schroder, Compass Talent, New York.


J's Presentation:

At the festival J will present a program  he calls “Saturday Morning Comic-Toons” which will consist of a handful of short comic book readings involving audience participation (similar to Reader’s Theatre).

J. Torres is a Filipino-born Canadian comic book writer. He is perhaps best known for his run on DC Comics' Teen Titans Go, the Eisner-nominated Alison Dare, and the Junior Library Guild/TD Summer Reading Club title Bigfoot Boy. Winner of the Shuster Award for "Outstanding Writer," Torres has worked with characters from A (Archies) to Z (The Mighty Zodiac) and many more in between (Avatar, Batman, Ninja Scroll, Simpsons, WALL-E, Wonder Woman, Yo Gabba Gabba, and X-Men to name a few).

Torres was born in Manila and raised in Montreal where he was educated at McGill University (and pretty sure he took a lit class with Justin Trudeau). He is married with two sons and currently resides in a suburb of Toronto. 

Sally's Presentation:

In honor of my noble ancestors and knowledge and wisdom keepers, I feel it is important that people have an understanding of what life was for Kwakwak a’wakw people’s before colonization. Our people lived in harmony with all living things and spirits. Kwakwak a’wakw
people’s connection with our creator is through our ceremonies, gratitude and taking utmost respect for all spirits. In writing these books is one way of passing on knowledge and continuing the journey of our ancestors.


Sally Williams is from the Gwawa’enuxw First Nation located within the Kwakwaka’wakw Territory in British Columbia. Her Gwawa’enuxw noble ancestors sacrificed many things in their lives during the historic colonization. Their resilience in maintaining their way of life is what allows people today to continue to pass on the teachings to the next generation. Sally’s passion is to uphold and share the teachings of her noble ancestors and her people’s knowledge and wisdom keepers. 





Nancy's Presentation:

She will read a Western picture book story (The Outlaw), learn about how the book was made, and discover Nanaimo’s frontier past. The Outlaw  is a spare and powerful story set in the Old West in which people in a small town live in constant worry of another visit from the Outlaw. Then the Outlaw suddenly and mysteriously disappears. Time passes, and one day a stranger rides into town.


Nancy Vo is an illustrator and picture book maker.  She lives in the Great White North (aka Canada) with her husband and children.  Nancy's children also like to draw pictures of her with pinker teeth and longer eyelashes than she actually has.

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