Featured CWILLer: Karen Hibbard

Here’s the next in our series of profiles on CWILL members.

Hi, Karen! Please give us your quick bio.
I am a freelance illustrator who draws on a long career as a visual artist. I studied fine arts at Guelph University (BFA) and later at Concordia University (MFA). I’ve illustrated picture books for Planète Rebelle (Montréal), Annick Press (Toronto), Portage & Main Press (Winnipeg) and Les Éditions du Soleil de Minuit (Saint-Damien-de-Brandon). I also do editorial illustration for magazines. 

I have been teaching art courses for ten years at the University of Victoria.

How long have you been a member of CWILL?
Ten years. I’m currently serving on the Executive Board as the Membership Coordinator.

Tell us a little about yourself. What led you to writing and/or illustrating for children? Was it a lifelong passion? Something you discovered later on in life?
As a child I loved being read to from a picture book by my parents. It really felt special as we navigated a “new world” together. And I do have three siblings, so finally I got some “alone time.” I naturally was attracted to drawing and painting and any type of arts and crafts activity. Making things, learning techniques and exploring materials continues to be a passion of mine to this day. My activities were encouraged early on by my family. I also read a lot and continue to do so to this day.   

As a young adult, I majored at university in visual arts. As an adult, I began to exhibit and participate in any art scene I was ensconced in. Around the age of forty, illustration appeared on my radar, and I began approaching publishers and editors about work. I am self-taught in illustration (with a few courses under my belt) and had to learn the industry along the way! It is different than visual art, which stands on its own. Illustration serves the text often and illustrating a story requires a different set of skills. I do write children’s verse but so far have only succeeded in being published as an illustrator. Maybe one day I will publish one of my stories!

Tell us about your latest publication. 
My latest publication was a 2021 picture book Dessine-moi un Traineau, written by Louise-Michelle Sauriol. It is a bilingual book, in French and Inuktitut (translated by Nutaraaluk Jaaka). The story follows Émile, who strikes up a unlikely friendship with an Inuit Grandmother on a chance encounter. She teaches him about her life in the Great North. She speaks Inuktitut which Émile doesn’t understand. Luckily, she is able to draw and her tales come alive on the page. Inuktitut is striking looking! Very beautiful. Even if you don’t understand it, you will love the design of the language’s characters.

Describe a favorite or fun moment from your career. Was it from a book signing or a school visit? Was it at a conference or panel? Or finding out about a particular contract or award?
I’ve done workshops in libraries for both children and adults. The workshops for children involve making Artist Books, like flip or accordion-style formats. I love the imagination and creativity of children especially. I did a workshop in Winnipeg, which was unique. The organization was set up by the visual artist Wanda Koop and is called “Art City.” It’s an after-school program and in a rough neighbourhood. Most of the participants choose to be there and dinner is served after the workshop in which all commune, gathering in a circle on little stools and eating spaghetti from colourful plastic bowls. It was amazing to see children choose art over TV and games. These kids are quite exhausted by life experiences, and can still concentrate on their own ideas and make something out of nothing. We made Artist Books that day which were inspired by sounds and onomatopoeia using the accordion-style book format. And we had fun! They have a great staff of young up-and-coming artists, art students from the University of Manitoba that facilitate the activity.

What are you currently working on? Anything you can share with us?
I am currently painting in my studio. I have a UVIC faculty show exhibition coming up that I am part of at Legacy Gallery, 630 Yates Street, Victoria, BC. It opened on April 20th, and is from 6-8. Everyone is welcome! I plan to get back to writing my children’s stories in the summer!

What is your favorite book that you’ve created?

Do you do school or library visits? Tell us a little bit about what teachers, librarians, and kids can expect during one of your visits. Feel free to link to your website, or photos/videos of past presentations.
In the not so distant past, I have done library and museum or gallery workshops for children. Often these are studio workshops and encompass image and text as well as various formats. Inspiration may be self-directed or if the organizer desires, based on a desired educational theme. There are lots of ways to make Artist Books and I can adapt a workshop to a particular group or facility. For example, without a sink or access to water, the materials used are “dry”. Also Artist Books are ideal for adaption to content and can be made from and with any material and by any technique.

Normally, I teach young adults in a university setting-printmaking, drawing, painting, photography—I am used to Powerpoint lectures and cooperative studio spaces. I also can bring in samples as a one-hour workshop requires fast turnaround on the part of participants. I have lots of approaches to teaching and art-production in my bag of tricks.

And I have done workshops for adults that are lecture-style about illustration/publishing industry.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself.
One day, returning from Concordia in Montréal, I noticed my duvet, wrapped around my computer, sitting on the sidewalk by my neighbourhood café. The thief came out of the café, finishing up his croissant and began to haul my stuff away. I told him in broken French that it was my stuff and to return it to my apartment. People gathered around while we argued. After, a bit of convincing, he gave in and returned my stuff across the street to my waiting apartment. I gave him a five-minute start before calling the police. This story goes on . . . as it was considered to be a lovers’ quarrel by the witnesses and I couldn’t make myself understood by the police and he was the second thief, my neighbour scaring off the thief that actually broke the door down and then frightened off, had left the stuff behind. The second thief found it (is he a thief?) and needed a coffee first before planning to haul my computer away!

Recommendations: What do you Love?
I really love great literature because it’s got it all! There’s humour, drama, romance, social interaction and dialogue, beautiful use of language, violence (Victor Hugo, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens . . .). It requires all my attention, but it’s worth it. 

Otherwise, I recommend going to galleries and museums either locally as well as when you travel. Private galleries are free everywhere.

If you could be one character from a children’s book, who would you choose and why?
I always loved the chutzpah of the character Pippi Longstocking, created by Astrid Lindgren. I read her as a kid but to this day, I wish I was as gutsy and independent as Pippi. A very inspiring character who must rely on creative problem-solving to survive this world as she finds it.

If you could go live in one children’s book, where would you choose and why?
Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows (with illustrations by E.H. Shepard) depicts a world where characters have their eccentricities, are accepted nonetheless, and help one another out of all sorts of mishaps. I find it wondrous that there is an imagined complex world mirroring our own with concessions made to allow it.  How can a tunnel-dwelling character host visits from other characters of various sizes and species? I think I would like to visit as myself, knowing that,  E.H. Shepard could manage to illustrate that! Beautiful line drawings of anthropomorphism mixed with some human folk.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with young writers and aspiring authors or illustrators?
Go ahead and explore illustration any way you wish! It doesn’t have to be the usual suspects- drawing/painting or digital. Some illustrators use plasticine or fabric or mixed media or photomontage. The idea is to try different approaches and see how you can manifest a story visually, especially for yourself and thereby the reader.

Where can people find you online?

Website: karenhibbard.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/karen.hibbard.33

CWILL: www.cwillbc.org

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Featured CWILLer: Claire Lordon

We have so many fantastic and talented members of CWILL that we have decided to start featuring them on our blog with some fun and quirky interviews. Today we’re talking with Claire Lordon!]

Hi, Claire! Please give us your quick bio.
I am an author, illustrator, and designer living in Vancouver, Canada. I create children’s books, comics, surface designs, murals, maps, and greeting cards for a number of companies. I earned my BFA in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. My work is inspired by my lifelong spirit for adventure, a love of the outdoors, and an enthusiasm for travel. I enjoy long distance running, hiking, lacrosse, curling, and snowboarding. Pronouns: she/they

How long have you been a member of CWILL?
Since 2018 when I moved to Canada. I was co-vice president for a year and now I’m a co-events coordinator.

Tell us a little about yourself. What led you to writing and/or illustrating for children? Was it a lifelong passion? Something you discovered later on in life?
I studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. It’s funny in hindsight because I didn’t take the children’s book class that was offered. I was too busy trying to become a “real artist” (whatever that means). During my last semester I realized that my passion and skills match up to creating art for children. My first couple of jobs after graduation were in surface design, working for a university, and working for a start-up. Things weren’t a good fit, and I found myself looking for work again. That’s when I signed up for a continuing education class at the School of Visual Arts. I learned all about picture books and the process from the teacher Monica Wellington. It was a wonderful class and from there I started my children’s book journey!

Tell us about your latest publication. 
The latest book that has released is Winter in the City. It’s a counting search-and-find book that came out in 2019 from Albert Whitman. I think of it as my ode to New York City. I even dedicated the book to all my friends living there.

Describe a favorite or fun moment from your career. Was it from a book signing or a school visit? Was it at a conference or panel? Or finding out about a particular contract or award?
I would have to say my first school visit. I never knew how much students admire authors and illustrators until that point. They were so excited to meet me and learn more about me and my process.

What are you currently working on? Anything you can share with us?
I’m working on a graphic memoir about when I had a brain tumour at seventeen. Unfortunately, I can’t share any art yet, but it releases fall 2023.

What is your favorite book that you’ve created?

Do you do school or library visits? Tell us a little bit about what teachers, librarians, and kids can expect during one of your visits. Feel free to link to your website, or photos/videos of past presentations.
Yes! I do a variety of visits including my standard visit (book reading, drawing game, and questions), “How a Picture Book is Made”, and “How I Became an Author-Illustrator”. You can learn more here: www.clairelordon.com/visits.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself.
I did the sport of skeleton when I was in high school (It’s like luge but head first).

Recommendations: What do you Love?
I’ve recently have been loving rug making! I have a tufting machine and I’ve made custom rugs for my home as well as my first pet rug commission.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with young writers and aspiring authors or illustrators?
1. Join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators).
2. Find a critique group.
3. Keep making work.
4. Show your work (online, social media, conferences, postcards, etc..)
5. Get feedback (critique groups, critiques at conferences, online groups, etc…)
6. Repeat steps three, four, and five!

Where can people find you online?

Website: www.clairelordon.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/clairelordon

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClaireLordon

TikTok: www.tiktok.com/@clairelordon

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Literacy in the Environment (LITE)

Longtime CWILLer Vi Hughes shares with us some tips for incorporating early childhood-literacy into more child-friendly landscapes, as inspired by her project Literacy in the Environment (LITE).

LITE’s goal is to support the development of literacy skills in pre-schoolers by placing foundational reading experiences in play spaces, public spaces, gardens, everywhere children go.

I created it and worked with a city planner friend to reach out to communities, asking them to look through a child’s eyes and find ways to make public spaces ‘child-friendly.’

Child-friendly reading experiences are ones that are contextually meaningful, age-appropriate, at child height and fun. Print that invites questions and collaborative talk.

Reading Lights (more below) was a wonderful way to do this.

Here are some examples of LITE installations. Some of these I consulted on. Others were initiated and completed by others.

Pictured (L-R): playground-adjacent public art in Vancouver, train-track-adjacent playground signs inviting questions, hydro box in Vancouver (Georgia Street) celebrating Indigenous heritage, rainy day chalk poetry (appears when wet), “Let’s talk about” vocab/word clouds adjacent to subject, Chief Dan George poem mounted outside a park in North Van, forest-based story walk, playground signage at toddler-height, “buddy bench,” labelled bins, park-based story walk, two more examples of playground signage at toddler-height, park/lawn-based story walk, “1-2” rhyme stairs, VPL-CWILL BC StoryLight picture book panels (Richards St., Vancouver).

Inspiration for Libraries, Teacher-Librarians & Childhood Literacy Groups

The possibilities are endless (and LiterarySociety.ca details more in this Literacy At Play toolkit), but here are some that are fairly easy to do and relatively inexpensive:

Child-Friendly Main Entrance

Most public libraries open onto adult sections. Make a welcome sign pointing to the kids’ book section, with some current titles displayed inviting them to come read. Imagine an interpretive sign (at child height) with bright covers of books or other eye-catching, friendly, and eye-level displays.

Do a ‘Story Walk’

Reproduce pages from a children’s story or picturebook and place along a path.

This can be done very simply or mounted for greater durability. Be sure to get permission from the publisher and creators, and credit the originators of this initiative.

Photo courtesy of Nikki Bergstresser, author of Lila Lou’s Little Library. StoryWalk hosted by FVRL.

Book Murals

These can go on an outside wall or inside, and range from temporary to permanent, collaborative to commissioned.

Pictured: Kawerau Library book mural, photo by People’s Network, (CC BY-NC 2.0

Rainy Day Poetry

This semi-permanent chalk art only appears when it gets wet. Create rhymes, excerpts, and/or art at the entrance to the library or in its public spaces for people to discover. Learn more: article + shop

Buddy Benches

Place a large cut out of a book character onto a bench in or outside of the library. More permanent versions may engage a sculptor.

Kids can sit beside the character, read a blurb, and then borrow the book—plus it’s a great photo op!

Book Panels or Boards

Print panels or sandwich boards with poems or excerpts from current books. Make them bright and informative, including the titles and how to find them in the library.

These can be made for a range of costs, depending on how temporary or sturdy you want them.

More Permanent Projects

Print or etch a poem or excerpt from a book onto a rock, metal sheet, or on the pavement.

Posted in activities for kids, classroom activities, juvenile fiction, libraries & librarians, literacy | Leave a comment

Resources for Writers and Illustrators – Professional and Aspiring

This list was compiled with the help of CWILL BC members in 2007 and updated March 2022.


Publisher information

Publisher search resource.

Canadian Children’s Book Centre
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. The CCBC’s programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers.

CCBC Get Published: The Writing for Children Kit and Publishers List
This resource contains advice on submitting manuscripts and portfolios, a list of Canadian publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and more. Prices as listed.

Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia
Plenty of good information and resources to do with getting published.

Marketing advice

How to create a website
A helpful article offering step-by-step advice on options and available platforms for creating websites.

A friendly, proactive Facebook Group

Writing advice

CWILL BC Manuscript Consultants list
A list of CWILL BC authors who offer manuscript consulting services (all genres).

Highlights Foundation
Lists of articles from the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua by writers, editors and others involved in the children’s writing business.

Hope Vestergaard
Articles about writing for children, getting published.

The Purple Crayon
Industry information and articles.

Kris Writes
Invaluable business-for-writers blog.

Writing advice – picture books

Picture Books – Plan, Polish, and Publish: One Writer’s Method
by Dori Chaconas.

Writing advice – poetry

Icing the Cake: Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme
Articles about writing in rhyme by Dori Chaconas.

Poetry Lessons
By Lill Pluta.

Presentation advice

School Presentation Hints from CWILLers for CWILLers!
Tips from CWILL members on how to book a school presentation, plan it, and keep your audience mesmerized.


The Editors’ Assocation of Canada has a searchable database of editors.

This is a direct link to the Editors’ Assocation of Canada BC job hotline for new writers looking for editors.

Laura Langston Editing
Developmental and copy editing services for middle grade, YA, and adult novels by a prolific CWILL BC member and former journalist.


Writing for Kids and Teens, Marion Crook, Self-Counsel Press
A great ‘how to write and get published’ resource

Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market
An excellent industry reference book with articles and listings of publishers and their submission requirements.

Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen, Writer’s Digest Books

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books (2nd Ed), by Harold Underdown


CWILL BC Society
Children’s Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia Society – an association of published British Columbian authors and illustrators.

Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC)
A national not-for-profit organization and registered charity founded to promote, support and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for children and teens. Join and receive their magazine, plus support materials for authors, including Canadian publisher info.

CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers)
Based in Toronto. Join as Friend (associate member) or Member. Click on ‘Links and Resources’ and ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ for more information.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
An American professional organization similar to CANSCAIP based in Los Angeles with a membership of over 19,000. Full membership benefits extend to unpublished writers. They now have an active Western Canada branch based here in Vancouver.

Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable
A well-organized and fun organization with a membership of approximately 450 people who love children’s books. Typical members including teacher librarians, publishers, authors and illustrators. Receive discounts to speaker breakfasts, the Serendipity conference and other events. There are chapters across Canada.


Ink Well Vancouver is creating a supportive community of published and aspiring children’s writers through a unique workshop approach. Their master classes and weekly sessions include writing lessons, individual feedback, peer workshopping, and a welcoming environment for discussion and networking.

The Creative Academy
A group of professional and established authors, coaches and mentors who offer resources and programs.

SCBWI (Society of Book Writers and Illustrators) conferences:
Conferences are offered by different chapters. Check out:
SCBWI Canada West
SCBWI Canada East 
SCBWI Western Washington

Surrey International Writing Conference
Where: Surrey, BC
October, annually

Vancouver Children’s Literary Roundtable events
Annual events, open to the public, featuring various representatives of the literary profession from writers to illustrators to editorial directors.
Where: Vancouver, BC
Fall: Author/Illustrator fall breakfast
Spring: Author/Illustrator Breakfast
Spring: Serendipity

The Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival
Where: Vancouver, BC
When: mid October, annually

The Word on the Street
 – National Book & Magazine Festival
Where: Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto, Halifax
When: oSeptember

Word Vancouver – Western Canada’s celebration of literacy and reading
Where: Vancouver, BC
When: September

Write On Vancouver
The Vancouver Public Library’s Write On Vancouver is a day-long celebration of local writers and publishers. All levels of writers are welcome to attend free workshops, hear authors share their work, and browse the author and publisher trade fair.


Many CWILL BC members do speaking engagements and workshops at schools and libraries and the CWILL BC website offers a comprehensive list of the authors and illustrators who offer these services. Search the entire speaker’s list here to find the right speaker for your class.

Posted in getting published | 4 Comments

All the Awards | 2021 Edition

Despite ongoing impacts to book launches and live events, CWILLers had another amazing year on the awards circuit in 2021.

We hope this list of notable and award-winning children’s books by BC authors and illustrators is helpful for teachers, librarians, and book lovers. You can also browse collections of BC books for kids by new release year, awards, set-in-BC/Canada, age range, and more on our Pinterest board.

2021 nominations, shortlists, and wins are listed in alphabetical order below.

Angela Ahn

Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field (Tundra Books, 2021)

Nominated for the Silver Birch Fiction Award® (Grades 5-6, fiction) in Forest of Reading

Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards

Linda Bailey

Winner of the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, given annually to the author of an exceptional body of work

Visit her website for more.

Sara Cassidy

Nevers (Orca Book Publishers, 2019)

Nominated for the 2021 Rocky Mountain Book Award.

Genius Jolene (Orca Book Publishers, 2020)

Nominated for the 2021 Silver Birch Express Award

Winner of the 2021 Sheila A. Egofff Children’s Literature Prize

Rachelle Delaney

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster (Puffin Canada, 2021)

Nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award® (Grades 3-4, fiction, non-fiction) in Forest of Reading

Ann Erikkson

Bird’s-Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight (Orca Book Publishers, 2020)

Shortlisted for the 2021 Information Book Award

Shortlisted for the 2019/2020 Lane Anderson Award

Recommended Reading for the 2021 Green Earth Book Award

Leslie Gentile

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer (DCB Young Readers, 2021)

Winner of the 2021 City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize

Finalist for the 2022 Rocky Mountain Book Award

Nominated in the 2022 Forest of Reading – Silver Birch Award (grade 5-6, fiction)

Eileen Holland

Sophie Trophy (Crwth Press, 2021)

Honour book finalist in the Joan Betty Stuchner Oy Vey! Funniest Children’s Book Awards

Winner of the 2021 Chocolate Lily Book Award (chapter books)

Sarah Leach

Duck Days (Pajama Press, 2020)

Nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award® (Grades 3-4, fiction, non-fiction) in Forest of Reading

Tanya Lloyd Kyi

This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes (Kids Can Press, 2020)

Nominated for Yellow Cedar Award Nominees (Grades 5-8, non-fiction) in Forest of Reading

Mya’s Strategy to Save the World (Puffin Canada, 2020)

Honour book finalist in the Joan Betty Stuchner Oy Vey! Funniest Children’s Book Awards

Gina McMurchy-Barber

The Jigsaw Puzzle King (Dundurn PRess, 2020)

Shortlisted for the 2022 Chocolate Lily Award

Shortlisted for the 2022 Diamond Willow Award

Nominated for the 2022 Rocky Mountain Book Award

Winner of the 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award

Susin Nielsen

Tremendous Things (Penguin Teen, 2021)

Nominated for the 2022 Red Maple Award (Grades 7-8, fiction) in Forest of Reading

Princess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl (Tundra Books, 2019)

Honour book finalist in the Joan Betty Stuchner Oy Vey! Funniest Children’s Book Awards

Cynthia Nugent

Kiddo (Tradewind Books, 2019)

Honour book finalist in the Joan Betty Stuchner Oy Vey! Funniest Children’s Book Awards

Kari Rust

The House at the End of the Road (Owlkids, 2019)

Shortlisted for a 2020/2021 Chocolate Lily Award

Ellen Schwartz

The Princess Dolls (Tradewind Books, 2018)

Winner of the 2021 Diamond Foundation Prize for Children/Youth Literature as part of the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards

Zoe Si

The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe (Owlkids, 2021)

Nominated for Blue Spruce Award™ (JK-Grade 2, picture books) in Forest of Reading

Tiffany Stone

Knot Cannot (Dial Books, 2020)

2021 Gryphon Honor Book

K.A. Wiggins

Winner of the Literary Arts category in the Abbotsford Arts Council’s 2021 Arty Awards

Visit her website for more.

Posted in awards, CWILL BC news & events, information books, juvenile fiction, latest news, non-fiction, novels, picture books, readBC, Uncategorized, young adult literature | Leave a comment

Interested in writing & illustrating books for young readers?

Join CWILL BC and the Vancouver Public Library for our free upcoming event: Writing & Illustrating Kids’ Books: The Inside Story.

Join professional children’s authors and illustrators to find out how they broke into this exciting and competitive field and built their careers. Ask questions and get practical information on such topics as:

· How to improve your writing

· How to find a publisher and submit your work

· What agents do

· What to look for in a book contract

· What the financial rewards are

Panelists include Catarina Oliveira, Margriet Ruurs, Doug Savage, Mark David Smith and Cristy Watson. Moderated by Ellen Schwartz.


7:00 PM TO 8:30 PM


For more info, including the link to access the event, please visit this link or call 604-331-3603.

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