Away: The Seeds of Inspiration

Written by Emil Sher, author of Away

The seeds of a story are scattered everywhere. Which ones do I cultivate? is the question I carry in my back pocket. I am drawn to stories wrapped around the core of simple but enduring truths. One such truth was laid bare in “A Final Message From My Mother,” an essay I read in the New York Times Magazine. Josiah Howard described the unadorned, life-affirming messages he exchanged with his mother when he was a child. He was black, she was unwed and white, and the notes they left for each other — in the fridge, under lamps, stuffed in a shoe — were “a lifeline — a communication with each other that no one else shared.”

It wasn’t long after reading Howard’s moving essay that I began picturing a picture book, a story told entirely through sticky notes. Skip, the biracial daughter of a single mother, dreads her first trip to an overnight camp. A grandmother and a family cat were added to the mix. Qin Leng’s wonderful illustrations reveal how a deep-rooted love between a mother and daughter sprouts in the most unlikely places: on an empty milk carton, on a fish bowl, beside a plate of biscuits. Sometimes, a few scribbled words carry the soothing weight of a sonnet.

AWAY Written by Emil Sher Illustrated by Qin LengLove shines through in the sticky notes shared between a mother and daughter in this picture book about making time for family in the midst of our busy lives.

Between work and school, homework and housework, a mother and daughter don’t always get to spend as much time together as they’d like. Add to that a little girl’s fears about leaving home for the first time, and the need to stay close through handwritten notes becomes even more important. As the camp departure date gets closer, Mom does her best to soothe her daughter’s nerves. A visit from her grandmother helps to calm her fears and convince her that she’ll have a good time, even away from her mother and beloved cat. Camp ends up being a wonderful adventure – but nothing is sweeter than a back-at-home reunion.

Qin Leng’s watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement to Emil Sher’s simple text. This nuanced story about a parent and child’s unconventional way of connecting is full of humor and affection. Young readers will enjoy spotting Lester the cat as he paws his way into the story.

A Guest Post by Elise Moser on Milly Zantow

It’s easy to feel that things have always been the way they are, or that stuff we see every day has always existed. Of course, we know that’s not true — everyone knows there were not always spaceships, or air conditioning, or two-flavored, triple-layered chewing gum. But we don’t always stop to wonder where something comes from (did you know rubber comes from tree sap, and petroleum jelly was an accidental byproduct of oil drilling?) or who invented it.

When I heard that a woman named Milly Zantow invented the triangle symbol for recyclables, I was surprised. First of all, because I had never stopped to think that someone had to invent that (d’oh!). And second of all, because it was invented by a woman. And then, in my surprise, I thought, I want everyone to know a woman did this. And I want KIDS to know a woman did this.

That was the beginning of an adventure. It’s as if I found the very small end of a thread and gently pulled. The thread kept coming, appearing from somewhere in the space-time continuum. I pulled and pulled, and it got thicker. Then it was two threads, and five, and seven threads tangled together, and then a chicken’s egg popped out and chairs made of mushrooms and 2:30 a.m. trains and seagoing catamarans made from plastic water bottles rescued from the garbage — all because I was curious about that woman who created the recycling symbol. Who was she? Why did she do it?

And then it turned out that she hadn’t done it at all. What she did do was create the system of numbers, one through seven, that appear inside the triangles to identify the several categories of plastic. It wasn’t just a matter of clever graphic design (the “chasing arrows triangle” is very clever); it was even more interesting: the story of one woman’s determination, tenacity and creativity. And once I pulled this woman from the past, her whole story tumbled out with her — her childhood on a hardscrabble Oklahoma farm, the classified documents she typed as a young secretary, getting dragooned into looking after a stable full of captive cranes in the middle of a Wisconsin winter. And ultimately, putting her intelligence and energy to work to figure out not only how to recycle plastics, but make it possible on a large scale — and convince people to do it.

The story I started with turned out to be just the first thread, and following it led me to a whole tapestry of real-life characters and events. There were the times when her father woke young Milly to help fight wildfires that threatened their crops; when Milly and her husband, Woody, sponsored Vietnamese “boat people”; and of course the time when Milly phoned Henry Kissinger, at that point the American secretary of state, and convinced him to help her bring home a researcher stranded in Iran without a visa.

The tapestry is rich with the creative ways she found to educate people. The time Milly visited a school where the kids all got Sun Drop soda (a kind of Midwestern Mountain Dew) to drink. Then she collected the empty cans and bought them from the kids, a vivid lesson in the economic benefits of recycling. The way she carried garbage bags full of recyclables when she visited local service clubs, pulling out item after item to illustrate her points as she talked. There are people woven into the tapestry, prisoners on day parole, and folks with developmental disabilities getting work experience at the recycling plant, and the retired ladies of the “Coupon Brigade,” who sorted paper and got to keep any coupons they found. The elderly dairy farmer with the long beard whom I met the night before Milly’s funeral, who used to get shredded newspaper from her to use as bedding for his cows.

Now the book is published, but the tapestry continues to grow. There are the people who knew Milly from church but never realized that the impact of her work was global. There are the local historians, booksellers and environmentalists who want to help spread her story, calling their friends to get articles written and events scheduled and books bought, posting the cover on their Facebook pages. Milly succeeded so well by cultivating an amazing community, which is the core lesson of her story. What Milly Did is nudging that community to extend itself still further — for example to the librarian four hours to the north who had never heard of Milly before but, like me, wants kids to know a woman did this.

Before Milly came along, plastics were not being recycled; she, working with the kids, the moms, the prisoners, the engineers and the volunteers, changed the way things were. Every kid who reads her story and sees that they can use their intelligence and energy to make the world better will be weaving themselves into her tapestry too.

WHAT MILLY DID by Elise MoserMilly Zantow wanted to solve the problem of her town’s full landfill and ended up creating a global recycling standard — the system of numbers you see inside the little triangle on plastics. This is the inspiring story of how she mobilized her community, creating sweeping change to help the environment.

On a trip to Japan in 1978, Milly noticed that people were putting little bundles out on the street each morning. They were recycling — something that hadn’t taken hold in North America. When she returned to Sauk City, Wisconsin, she discovered that her town’s landfill was nearing capacity, and that plastic made up a large part of the garbage. No one was recycling plastics.

Milly decided to figure out how. She discovered that there are more than seven kinds of plastic, and they can’t be combined for recycling, so she learned how to use various tests to identify them. Then she found a company willing to use recycled plastic, but the plastic would have to be ground up first.

Milly and her friend bought a huge industrial grinder and established E-Z Recycling. They worked with local school children and their community, and they helped other communities start their own recycling programs. But Milly knew that the large-scale recycling of plastics would never work unless people could easily identify the seven types. She came up with the idea of placing an identifying number in the little recycling triangle, which has become the international standard.

Milly’s story is a glimpse into the early days of the recycling movement and shows how, thanks to her determination, hard work and community-building, huge changes took place, spreading rapidly across North America.

Muffin the Rescue Puppy — Guest Post by Dasha Tolstikova

When I first saw a picture of Muffin, her name was Mimi and she did not look like a kind of dog that I would get along with very well. She seemed too tiny and too high strung and her name was MIMI, for chrissakes. So, I applied to meet an entirely different dog named Gary.

The animal shelter emailed back to set up an appointment for me to meet Mimi because they thought she might be perfect for me, and I wanted to seem game so I said I would meet her (with the hopes of meeting Gary the following weekend).

And then she was familiar. She was scraggly and feisty and feigned disinterest in a way that I knew. I thought we could live side by side. I crossed my fingers. I said that I would take her. I decided to name her Muffin.

Every day I wake up at 7:00 a.m. and take Muffin for a walk. And every day I cannot believe how lucky I got. Muffin is the most perfect dog for me. And Gary? Who is Gary?


Muffin, the day Dasha adopted her

Muffin, 3 months after living with Dasha

Dasha Tolstikova’s illustrations have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker. Her graphic-novel memoir, A Year Without Mom, has received three starred reviews and has been translated into Korean and Swedish. She has also illustrated The Jacket, written by Kirsten Hall, a New York Times Notable Book.

Memories of a CFL Legend — Guest Post By Jael Ealey Richardson

Chuck Ealey - Hamilton Tiger CatsI remember walking into the stadium at Ivor Wynne with my father a few years ago for a game. I was a grown adult at the time, but I still felt like a child.

Whenever I go places with my father, I feel this way. I feel like I’m in pigtails with bows on the end, holding onto his hand – those long slender fingers. I feel uncertain, unsteady. Even now, after I’ve written two books about him.

Perhaps I feel this way because there is still so much I don’t understand, so much I still can’t relate to. Or perhaps it’s because the fondness I feel for him is not well suited to a grown adult relationship. I still adore him in a way that only a small-framed child with a towering father can. I still look up to him from a distance far greater than the height that now differentiates us.

It was a perfect day for football – cold enough that the spirit of fall was on its way, but warm enough to enjoy the full breadth of the day without worrying about frigid toes and fingers. My father led the way the same way he always does, with the confidence of someone who knows where he’s going, who’s certain others will follow without having to look back for reassurance.

We stepped out into the stands, bright sun on our faces, the gold and black of Hamilton Tiger Cats fandom all around us. For a moment, we were ordinary. A father and a daughter at a football game. And then it happened.

“Chuck Ealey!”

One person called out, and that is all it takes in Hamilton – one shout, one name recognition. Grown men stood up and introduced my father to their family members. Big grins, hearty handshakes. Little boys and girls climbed over benches and clambered down concrete steps with papers and pens to get his autograph.

It was clear they did not know who he was – he had led the Ticats to the Grey Cup at that very stadium more than forty years ago. But they didn’t come to get my father’s autograph because they recognized him. They came because they knew – because someone told them or because they felt it – that my father was someone worth speaking to, someone worth keeping a record of.

Chuck Ealey and Jael Ealey Richardson

The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson

The African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.

Chuck Ealey grew up poor in a racially segregated community that was divided from the rest of town by a set of train tracks, but his mother assured him that he wouldn’t stay in Portsmouth forever. Education was the way out, and a football scholarship was the way to pay for that education. So despite the racist taunts he faced at all the games he played in high school, Chuck maintained a remarkable level of dedication and determination. And when discrimination followed him to university and beyond, Chuck Ealey remained undefeated.

This inspirational story is told by Chuck Ealey’s daughter, author and educator Jael Richardson, with striking and powerful illustrations by award-winning illustrator Matt James.

How to Draw a Pig Puppet by Qin Leng

Qin Leng has received a lot of praise for her beautiful illustrations since the release of Happy Birthday, Alice Babette. Today she is lending her talent to our blog to offer you a drawing tutorial: How to Draw a Pig Puppet, inspired by the puppet theater Alice visits during her walk in the park.

Happy Birthday AliceBabette Drawing Tutorial


Download a printable version.

Check out our printable resources for parents, teachers, and librarians.

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica KullingQin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. She has published numerous picture books in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, and South Korea. She has also illustrated for Save the Children and UNICEF. Her newest book is Happy Birthday, Alice Babette, written by Monica Kulling.

A Guest Post by Irene Luxbacher on Illustrating Malaika’s Costume

Only the brightest coloured scraps of paper and the most vibrant foliage would do when it came to illustrating Malaika’s Costume. A spirited girl like Malaika and the festive celebration she longed to dance in inspired intensely colourful backgrounds in my mind’s eye…

Irene Luxbacher Malaika's CostumeI began the illustrations for Malaika’s Costume by first sketching out the look and feel of the characters in the book. First Malaika and then her grandmother… My sketches are usually in pencil and ink and sometimes watercolour. I then started painting lots of different textured backgrounds with acrylic paints on canvas. But because Malaika’s story was so rich and vibrant, I decided to work in oils as well. The richness of thick, buttery oils seemed appropriate when rendering the lush foliage surrounding Malaika’s home and community, and I felt it would serve as inspiration for equally vivid carnival scenes.

Irene Luxbacher Malaika's CostumeWhen I settled on a colour scheme I was happy with, I scanned all my drawings and paintings into my computer and started playing around with different compositions. Incorporating the letter paper with Malaika’s doodles into the art was a happy accident that occurred during this part of the process. I think my favourite part of working on any illustration is allowing for the possibility of surprise. Just when I think I know how a page is going to look, I stumble on a different texture, pattern or swatch of colour that changes everything!

Irene Luxbacher Malaika's Costume

Just like Malaika, I suppose, creating a beautiful costume out of a collection of fabric pieces and her grandmother’s old costume, I felt proud as a peacock to lend my collection of drawings, paintings and collage materials to such a beautiful celebration. I’m so happy I was invited to this party and hope I did Malaika, her grandmother (and their wonderful creator, Nadia Hohn) proud!

Irene Luxbacher is an artist and author living in Toronto, Canada. With more than fifteen years’ experience as an illustrator, Irene has received numerous awards for her children’s instructional and picture books. Some of her awards include the 2003 National Parenting Publications Gold Award, the 2004 Disney Book Award and the 2007 Ontario Library Association Award. In 2009/10 Irene made the USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, both for her illustrations in Andrew Larsen’s The Imaginary Garden.

Miss Lou — Guest Post by Nadia L. Hohn

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.

My first introduction to Louise Bennett-Coverely, also known as Miss Lou, was in a library book called Mango Spice and its accompanying tape recording. These materials were filled with many Jamaican folk songs arranged or written by Miss Lou, as well as music from other Caribbean islands. My younger sister and I were children at the time and were so excited to finally find a book that reflected our culture and sounded the way we spoke at home. Using these materials, we memorized the songs as I fumbled their melodies on the piano. Hearing our efforts jogged the memories of our parents who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in the early 1970s. With nostalgia and smiles on their faces, they told us of Miss Lou and her radio show, which they listened to as children.

Nadia L. Hohn, author of Malaika's CostumeEnough cannot be written about Miss Lou’s contribution to Jamaican arts and culture. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on September 7, 1919, Louise Bennett-Coverley embodies warmth, creativity and humour. Her impact has been felt throughout the Caribbean diaspora and the world. Her poems at times play on language; others comment on race, class and colonization – like calypso songs with political lyrics – harkening the African oral tradition that Jamaicans inherited. She shared the mento folk songs, proverbs and stories of Jamaica in her books, onstage, and on her radio show and Ring Ding, her children’s television show. Miss Lou added pioneer in the Jamaican pantomime tradition, drama teacher, playwright and actress to her credit. She lived in the United Kingdom, United States and spent the last twenty years of her life in Canada, where she died in 2006.

When I was asked to write about Women’s History Month for this blog, I thought instantly of Miss Lou. Although I never met her, I would have loved to. Like her, I am a teacher, an author, a budding playwright, and I love to sing and have performed Caribbean folk songs dressed in traditional costumes. Miss Lou performed in Jamaican Creole at a time when speaking the language was discouraged. Thanks to her, it was embraced internationally and she created spaces for poets like Mutabaruka and Linton Kwesi Johnson, and singers like Bob Marley and Harry Belafonte to centralize and popularize Jamaican English, Creole and patois in their work. In Canada, poets like d’bi.young, Lillian Allen and Clifton Joseph perform in this tradition. My first picture book, Malaika’s Costume, is written in “patois lite”— what I call written English that conveys the rhythm and candor of Caribbean creole yet retains the traditional spellings and grammar of English words. We owe all this to Miss Lou’s legacy.

Nadia L. Hohn, author of Malaika's CostumePerhaps one of the things that has made Miss Lou even more special to me is something that she shares with millions of women. For many women in cultures around the world, womanhood is defined by motherhood. Louise Bennett-Coverley could not experience childbirth nor have a biological child due to lack of technology in the field of fertility science during her lifetime. As a young woman, Louise Bennett had a hysterectomy—the removal or partial removal of her uterus. Despite infertility, Louise Bennett did become a mother. Along with her husband, Eric Coverley, she adopted his son Fabian whom they raised, and took in children from her community. Miss Lou was an “other mother” — a term which refers to women, “aunties”, big sisters, family friends, older cousins, grandmothers, who have taken on roles to assist in the raising of children — who nurtured children regardless of biological relation, a common occurrence across the African diaspora on the continent, the Americas and in the Caribbean. It takes a village to raise a child, says an old African proverb. Miss Lou became the village. As she redefined family and womanhood, Miss Lou displayed generosity throughout her life, gracing us with a legacy of books, poetry and videos. Still today, Miss Lou inspires and nourishes growth through her words, arts and people, and has given us a love and appreciation for a language and culture as rich as that of Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Thank you, Miss Lou, for all of the many gifts you have given to this world and for being a phenomenal woman. In your words, may we all “walk good.”

Nadia L. Hohn is a writer, musician and educator. The manuscript of Malaika’s Costume, her first picture book, won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award. She is also the author of two forthcoming non-fiction titles, Music and Media Studies, part of the Sankofa series, which won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Multicultural Non-Fiction. She lives in Toronto, where she teaches French, music and the arts at an alternative elementary school.

A Guest Post by Jael Ealey Richardson for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.

Ever since my first book came out in 2012, I have been speaking in schools about the process of writing it. At every school, without exception, a young black girl — or group of girls – comes up to talk me. Sometimes they ask a question. Sometimes they tell me how much they liked my talk. Most times they ask me to autograph a tattered notebook or a torn piece of paper.

I am always humbled by these moments. Because I remember exactly what it feels like to be them. I know what it’s like to look at a woman you are drawn to for reasons you don’t fully comprehend.

I understood this more fully last month, when I spoke to award-winning playwright Djanet Sears for the second time in my life.


The first time I met Djanet Sears, I was in my second year of university. We had read Harlem Duet in a course on African-Canadian literature. Djanet was invited to campus for a special class visit. I remember how she spoke, how she pointedly addressed a girl who wanted to know why the only white character in the play is never seen onstage. I remember feeling something like awe and admiration mixed up together. After the presentation, I tried to come up with something important to ask. I wanted to talk to her, get close to her, hear her say something meant for me alone. She was so grand, so powerful. I wanted that so desperately. But I was still awkward, unsure of myself, my blackness. What could I ask her?

“How do I find more monologues that I can perform for auditions that are written for black women?” I said.

She smiled in a way that delighted and frightened me. “Write your own,” she said.

At the time, I was interested in acting. I was not a writer. But her words stuck with me. I enrolled in a playwriting class two years later. The play I wrote – my upside down black face – was my first published work. Two monologues – one featuring a young, black girl – were published in an anthology. The project helped me get into graduate school, which is where I wrote my first book – a memoir about my father and about growing up black in Canada. It’s the book I’m asked to speak about in schools now.

I told Djanet about our first meeting when I saw her last month.  And as I shared that vivid memory of my first encounter with a published, black Canadian writer, I thought about all of those young girls with their tattered notebooks and torn pieces of paper, asking for my autograph.

You see, when women stand tall, when we occupy the world with the weight of our victories and our hardships firmly rooted in our bellies, younger women bear witness – dreaming bigger dreams with new hopes on their horizon — hopes that are full of anticipation and expectation of what might be possible for them despite the obstacles. We become their dreams, their new horizon. What a privilege. What an honor.

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

—   Maya Angelou

Jael Ealey Richardson is the author of The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The book received a CBC Bookie Award and earned Richardson an Acclaim Award and a My People Award. Excerpts from her first play, my upside down black face, are published in the anthology T-Dot Griots. Richardson has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She lives in Brampton where she serves as the Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD).

Origins of Tokyo Digs a Garden—Guest Post by J.E. Lappano

I first had the idea for Tokyo about a decade ago.

Throughout most of my 20s, I worked as a landscaper in Toronto, spending the spring, summer and fall in the tiny backyards, alleyways and rooftops of the city. The designer I worked for used native plants in his designs and hand tools whenever physically possible, taking a gentle approach and respect for the ecosystems we’d be cultivating. When I wasn’t complaining about back pain or the heat or the rain or the wind or the cold, I loved this work because it provided the space and time for daydreaming.

Lappano1 One of the urban gardens Lappano helped install & maintain while daydreaming about Tokyo Digs a Garden (Credit: Todd Smith Design)

Before long, the idea for Tokyo appeared: nature transforming a city overnight. Through some magic, the boundless imagination and creative destruction of childhood, Tokyo and Kevin let the wild loose across the city.

I’m intrigued by the idea that “the wild” is not something we have to leave our own backyards to see; even in the parking lots of high-rises, nature it’s there waiting for us to discover. It doesn’t take much coaxing to show itself. Lift a brick, or look in the cracks of pavement and there it is, in its cool, muddy potential.

I sat with the idea for about ten years before I decided to finally write something down.


A view of Lappano’s workspace with intern pictured (bottom left)

And I didn’t do it alone. Our daughter Maia (my trusty four-year-old editor in residence) helped with the early drafts. I’d read the story aloud to her, and it became painfully clear when something worked or when something didn’t. (Kevin the cat and his quest for ice-cream earned a more prominent role because of her notes!) Amelia, our youngest, also loves Kevin, but is more captivated by Kellen Hatanaka’s detailed and vibrant illustrations, and wants to know more about each and every thing on the page.


Amelia & Maia – celebrated book critics & self-proclaimed wildlings

Since becoming a parent, stories, like the natural world, are joys to discover. My wife Stephanie is a library enthusiast; she comes home weekly with bags and bags of picture books that the four of us happily devour. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to add Tokyo Digs a Garden to the vast literary territory that’s out there for children, parents, and all book lovers to explore. With any luck, it can help to transport us into a space where nature thrives and endures in the wildness of our imaginations.


Lappano poses with a woodland gnome in Guelph, Ontario. Nature is full of surprises!

Groundwood Logos SpineTokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings with his family and his cat, Kevin. For years, highways and skyscrapers have been built up around the family’s house where once there were hills and trees. Will they ever experience the natural world again?

One day, an old woman offers Tokyo seeds, telling him they will grow into whatever he wishes. Tokyo and his grandfather are astonished when the seeds grow into a forest so lush that it takes over the entire city overnight. Soon the whole city has gone wild, with animals roaming where cars once drove. But is this a problem to be surmounted, or a new way of living to be embraced?

With Tokyo Digs a Garden, Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka have created a thoughtful and inspiring fable of environmentalism and imagination.

Gertrude and Alice: Gay Icons — Guest Post by Monica Kulling

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.

Gertrude and Alice: Gay Icons

Over the years I’ve written a few biographies. My first subject was handed to me on a silver platter, so to speak. An editor I was working with asked me if I’d consider writing about Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance. I agreed to give it a go. Without the new evidence now available, I wasn’t able to solve the mystery of the intrepid aviatrix. However, I did conclude that I admired her courage and jaunty sportiness. Since then, every woman I’ve written about — that list includes Harriet Tubman, Margaret E. Knight, Emily Carr, Lillian Gilbreth and Mother Jones— has impressed me with her courage, artistry, inventiveness, industry, intelligence and feistiness.

So, what do I admire about Gertrude Stein and her life partner Alice B. Toklas? I most certainly admire their devotion to one another, their intellectual rigor, their joyful approach to living. They created a salon at their home at 27 rue de Fleurus where many an aspiring artist dropped by to talk shop, eat brownies and basically bask in the glow of Stein’s genius. And oddly, that self-proclaimed genius still inspires. It’s tough to put one’s finger on why this is so, given that most of Stein’s writing is indecipherable and borders on the ridiculous. Then again, how can you not admire a person who exudes such self-assurance; who, in fact, made undaunted self-confidence her métier? And that is one of the things I hope kids will take away from Happy Birthday, Alice Babette. Trust yourself. Dare to fail. Dream big.

Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. The third book in the series, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, was nominated for the 2012 Governor General’s Award for illustration and chosen as the 2012 Simon Wiesenthal Honor Book. In addition, Monica’s work has been nominated for numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Lumpito and the Painter from Spain, Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity and The Tweedles Go Electric. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

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