School Visits

One of the very few drawbacks of working at home is that I sometimes get lonely. My cats are good company, but they have yet to answer back whenever I talk to them. So naturally I love doing school visits! For more information or to book a visit, please email me at

I believe it is essential to encourage creativity and drawing in school. Doodling and drawing cartoons is a great way to enhance memory, focus and independent thought. Creative children become great problem-solvers.

I tailor each talk to the age level of the group. For kindergarten classes, I focus on the joy of drawing.  Kindergarten presentations run 30 minutes maximum.

For grades 1-6, I talk briefly about my love of drawing cartoons as a kid, and I also talk about the job of illustrating books, and how I work with an art director to create the pictures for the words in a book. My presentation focuses mainly on drawing and creating characters, but I do also discuss writing by introducing concepts such as setting, characters and action in creating a story.

In the first half of the session, using a marker and easel flip chart, I involve the children in a fun session of working together to create a cartoon character that could perhaps exist in a picture book or graphic novel. I invite the students to be my art directors, and they give me ideas of what kind of hair, eyes, nose, clothes, etc., to draw, in order to create their unique character. I find this really gets the kids thinking and contributing, feeling good about themselves and their ideas. It’s also a really good ice-breaker. At the end of the session I encourage the children to think of unique names for their character, because choosing the right name for a character in a story is very important for a writer.

In the second half of the session I become the art director and editor of a picture book. I tell them a short silly story (that I also write down on the flip chart) and encourage them to illustrate all or part of it. As well as walking around to give encouragement to the kids, I also work up at the easel, to help those who may have some challenges with thinking of what to draw.

For grades 7-12, I can do more detailed presentations using a laptop and projector. I can do either an hour presentation on illustrating books, or an hour presentation on writing picture books.



In November 2009, I went to Nunavut as part of  TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. What an unforgettable experience! I visited schools in Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake and Arviat. The kids were so enthusiastic and creative, and I felt welcome wherever I went.

The Pirate and the Penguin Play

­ Photo by Debbie Ohi.

Not long after writing The Pirate and the Penguin I realized that my picture book would make a fun play to perform for kids. With the help of my very talented husband Guy, we have performed The Pirate and the Penguin at Toronto’s Word on the Street, TINARS for Tots, McNally Robinson bookstore, Turning Pages Literary Festival, Totstock 2010, and various schools and libraries. If our schedules permit, we are more than happy to perform the play at any upcoming kid-friendly venues!