Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet your mentors

N Novels
PB Picture books
NF Nonfiction


(N/PB) AIMEE REID is a former English, music, and special education teacher who has written and edited material for all ages. She enjoys helping writers shape their drafts into compelling manuscripts.

Aimee frequently serves as a judge for writing contests. She presents at conferences and festivals and in schools and libraries (both in person and virtually) across North America.

Mama’s Day with Little Gray (Random House Children’s Books) earned a place on the Toronto Library’s First and Best list. You are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood (Abrams Books) received a starred review from Booklist and was a Heather’s Pick. Welcome Home and First Morning Sun are published by Beach Lane Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster).


(N/PB) ALMA FULLERTON is an author/illustrator and editor. She writes award-winning fiction for all ages. Her first thirteen books have been finalists and/or have won over thirty awards including the Governor General (2008 finalist), TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (2009, 2011 finalist), Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award (2009), CLA Children’s Book of the Year Honor Book (2009, 2011), Golden Oak Award winner (2009), Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award Winner  (2009), Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award (2010 finalist), SilverBirch Award Honor (2010, 2014), Blue Spruce Award (2014, 2016, & 2022), Kentucky BlueGrass Award (2015) and the Marilyn Baillie picture book award (2016 finalist).

Alma has 20 years of experience mentoring and teaching both picture book and novel writing. She has taught and critiqued manuscripts for The Highlights Foundation, SCBWI Canada East, and SCBWI Florida, and led in-person and online workshops for writers at various libraries and community centres all over Canada and the U.S. Many of her past students or mentors are now published as the result of her workshops and their own hard work and persistence. She also edits manuscripts for several U.S. publishers and agents.


(N/PB) CATHERINE AUSTEN writes funny, sad, award-winning fiction for all ages. Her first children’s novel, Walking Backward, was published by Orca in 2009 and was nominated for numerous awards. She has since published four more books: My Cat Isis, illustrated by Virginie Egger (Kids Can Press, 2011); All Good Children (Orca, 2011), which won the 2012 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award; 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 (Lorimer, 2011), which won the 2012 QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature; and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 (Lorimer, 2014).

Catherine has years of experience critiquing manuscripts in face-to-face and online critique groups. She has mentored young writers and led writing workshops at elementary and high schools across the country. She was a presenting author at the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference (2012 and 2015) and a touring author in the Gaspesie’s Bookfest (2014), the TD Children’s Book Week (2014), the Hackmatack Author Tour (2013), and the Vancouver Island Children’s Book Festival (2015).

Catherine writes corporate reports for a living, which is not as much fun as writing fiction. She studied political science at Queen’s University and environmental studies at York University and worked in the conservation movement before throwing it all away to write freelance. She now works from her home in Gatineau, Quebec, where she lives with her husband and teenage sons.


(N) DEBBIE SPRING’s nine books are published worldwide. The Kayak was nominated by IBBY Canada for the Schneider Family Book Award (U.S. Award). Breathing Soccer was a finalist in the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. Both books are in the IBBY collection for Young People with Disabilities. The Righteous Smuggler was a recommended book from the Canadian Toy Testing Council, was short-listed for CBC’s “Young Canada Reads,” and received a special star rating in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Our Choice magazine.


(N/PB) DEBORAH KERBEL is a critically acclaimed, award-winning Canadian author of twenty books for children of all ages. Her young adult and middle grade novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association’s YA Book Award, the Diamond Willow Book Award and the Red Cedar Book Award, among many others. Her debut picture book, Sun Dog, was a 2019 Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Honour Book, the winner of the 2019 IODE Jean Throop Book Award, and finalist for the 2020 Snow Willow Book Award. She’s also the recipient of the City of Vaughan’s 2011 R.A.V.E. Award for her work as a Literary Arts Educator and Mentor. She’s been a guest speaker at both national and international literary festivals across Canada (Wordfest; Word on the Street; the Festival of Trees; Luminato), conferences (Packaging Your Imagination; Words, Words, Words) as well as judge and juror for provincial book awards and national youth writing competitions.

Deborah’s young adult novels are Under the Moon (2012), Lure (2010), Girl on the Other Side (2009), and Mackenzie, Lost and Found (2008). Her middle-grade titles include Bye-Bye, Evil Eye (2014), Feathered (2016), and My Deal with the Universe (2018). Deborah’s picture books are Sun Dog (2018), Before You Were Born, and When Molly Drew Dogs (2019).

Deborah is also the co-author of Money Savvy Kids (Penguin, 2013) and the holiday series Quizmas, Family Quizmas, and Quizmas Carols, published by Penguin Canada and Plume U.S. Currently, Deborah has five more picture books, two board books, one middle grade novel, and one graphic novel forthcoming for publication between 2020 – 2022. In 1993, she graduated from the Western University with a degree in English literature. Born in London, England, Deborah currently lives and writes in Thornhill, Ontario with her husband, two teens, and a rescue schnoodle named Fred.


(N/PB/NF) HEATHER GALE is a former orthotist and prosthetist and now, picture book author: Ho’onani: Hula Warrior (2019).

One of her favourite parts in a manuscript process is critiquing. Belonging to three critique groups, she helps published authors polish their manuscripts and pitches every week. She has also paid for several critiques and understands how it feels when you are on the receiving end.

Heather is currently writing an MG series while working on more picture book ideas and is comfortable helping with any genre.


(N/PB) JEAN E. PENDZIWOL is an award-winning Canadian author. Born and raised in northwestern Ontario, she draws on the culture, history and geography of the region for inspiration for her work.  An instant national bestseller, Jean’s debut adult novel The Lightkeeper’s Daughters was published in 2017 in North America by HarperCollins and has been released in fourteen other languages and more than 19 countries around the world. It was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club selection, shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown, and winner of the Northern Lit Award. Her novel builds on a successful career publishing books for young readers, including the bestselling No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids and Dragons (Kids Can Press) and Once Upon a Northern Night (Groundwood Books), which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, and the TD Children’s Literature Book of the Year. Jean’s latest picture book, I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree, will be released by Groundwood Books in August of 2020. She lives in Thunder Bay.


(N) JOANNE LEVY’s love of books began at a very early age. Being the youngest and the only female among four children, she was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book. Since she left the corporate world in 2013, Joanne spends her non-writing time helping other authors with their administrative needs as a virtual author assistant.

Joanne is the author of several middle grade books, including the Sydney Taylor notable and Red Maple nominate Small, Medium at Large, Fish Out of Water, and the upcoming The Sun Will Come Out.

Joanne can usually be found at her computer, either formatting spreadsheets or channeling her younger self into books, and still lives in Ontario with her husband and kids of the furred and feathered variety.



(N/PB/NF) RACHEL EUGSTER has more than two decades of freelance and staff experience as a writer and editor. Her critiquing talents are legendary among her colleagues. With a deep understanding of language and story structure, Rachel homes in on the unsightly sag an otherwise shapely story arc, the fatal character inconsistency, or the oversight that unhinges the plot. All this, along with grammar and style corrections, is delivered with both honesty and kindness.

Rachel was a staffer at Walking magazine, and as a freelancer has edited everything from fiction to poetry to medical journals to architectural writings. Work for children is her special delight.

Rachel is the author of the award-winning picture book The Pocket Mommy (Tundra), the five-book Ingredients of a Balanced Diet series (Franklin Watts), and the play Whose Aemilia?, which she premiered in the Ottawa Fringe Festival in June 2015 in the title role. She is also widely published in newspapers and magazines, for both adults and children. Rachel is a member of SCBWI (PAL) and TWUC, and has frequently participated as a critiquer at SCBWI Canada East conferences. Early in SCBWI’s establishment in Canada, she was teasingly (but respectfully) installed as the chapter’s Grammar Queen.


(N/PB/NF) SYLVIA MCNICOLL has written over 30 books, many published internationally. Her latest young adult novels include Crush. Candy. Corpse., Dying to Go Viral, and Best Friends through Eternity; her recent junior novels include Revenge on the Fly and the soon-to-be-released The Best Mistake Mystery. She worked as features editor of Today’s Parent Toronto for eight years and taught creative writing for nine years at Sheridan College.

Currently, she teaches teens at Mississauga Living Arts Centre. She has acted as a mentor and blue pencil editor both officially, through CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and CSARN (Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network), and privately, with experienced and emerging authors, helping launch many novels.