Hackmatack Virtual Festival of Reading

For the first time in our 22-year history, Hackmatack is presenting a virtual festival of reading to coincide with our annual awards presentation, on May 28, 29, and 30.

We’re thrilled to present a number of 2021 French and English Hackmatack shortlisted authors. Author presentations for children will be free to attend online! There will also be presentations for authors, parents, and educators. 

The theme of the 2021 Hackmatack Virtual Festival of Reading is Building Your World. We hope you will join us.

Registration will open soon!

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Friday, May 28

Future Voices Showcase
Free admission
5:30 – 6:30pm ADT

We’re thrilled to introduce you to up-and-coming BIPOC children’s writers and illustrators. We will announce the lineup soon!

Future Voices Mentors
Free admission
7:00 – 8:00pm ADT

Join Hatem Aly, Andre Fenton, and Rebecca Thomas as they share their experience and advice for up-and-coming BIPOC creators.

Sponsored by the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute

Saturday, May 29

Worldbuilding with Ausma Zehanat Khan
Free admission 
For kids and adults
2:30 – 3:30pm ADT

Sunday, May 30

Discover the World of Science with Kira Vermond and Suharu Ogawa
Free admission
For kids and adults
11:30am – 12:30pm ADT

How Writing Can Be Your Superpower with Jenny Manzer
Free admission

For kids and adults
2:30 – 3:30pm ADT

Hackmatack Awards Presentation
No registration required

For everyone!
Sunday, May 30, 7:00pm ADT
Tune in on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Future Voices Mentors

Join illustrator Hatem Aly and authors and poets Andre Fenton and Rebecca Thomas as they share their tips and experience especially for up-and-coming BIPOC authors and illustrators. Learn how to navigate the world of publishing, how to access the marketplace, and promote your work.

Illustrator Hatem Aly
Andre Fenton author
Rebecca Thomas photo by Hannah Jackson

Hatem Aly (left) is an Egyptian-born illustrator who currently lives in beautiful New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people. He has illustrated many books for young people that earned multiple starred reviews and positions on the NYT bestsellers including The Proudest Blue with Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K . Ali,  In My Mosque with M.O. Yuksel, the Newbery Honor winner The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, The Unicorn Rescue Society series also by Adam Gidwitz with several amazing co-authors, Meet Yasmin with Saadia Faruqi,  Raj’s Rule (For the Bathroom at School) with Lana Button, and How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller.

Hatem has more upcoming books and projects in the works. You can find him online @metahatem and metahatem.com

Andre Fenton (centre) is an award-winning author, spoken-word artist, and arts educator who has represented Halifax at seven national poetry festivals across Canada. He is an author of two YA novels, Worthy of Love from Formac Publishing, and ANNAKA from Nimbus Publishing. Through the lens of fiction and poetry, Andre has facilitated workshops at over 30 schools across Nova Scotia helping young writers and performers develop their craft.

He is currently working on his third novel, The Summer Between Us, as well as a feature screenplay. Andre is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Rebecca Thomas (right) is an award-winning Mi’kmaw poet. She is Halifax’s former Poet Laureate (2016-2018) and has been published in multiple journals and magazines. She coordinated the Halifax Slam Poetry team from 2014 to 2017, leading them to three national competitions with the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.

Her first children’s book, I’m Finding My Talk, was a Globe & Mail Top 100 Pick of 2019, as well as a CBC Best Picture Book of 2019, and was nominated for both the 2019 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature and the 2019 Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Award (with companion title I Lost My Talk). The book is a White Ravens 2020 selection, chosen by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, and has been nominated for First Nations Communities READ 2020. Thomas’s first adult collection of poetry, I place you into the fire, was a CBC Best Canadian Poetry pick of 2020.

REGISTER for FUTURE VOICES MENTORS

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Author Presentations

Ausma Zenhat Khan

Worldbuilding with Ausma Zehanat Khan
For kids and adults
Free admission
Saturday, May 29
2:30 – 3:30pm ADT

Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of the Hackmatack 2021 shortlisted nonfiction book Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting. Her book explores the richness and diversity of the Islamic tradition by focusing on an event of great spiritual significance and beauty in the lives of Muslims: Ramadan. Her book also emphasizes the importance of cultural and religious diversity in a world where Islamophobia is on the rise, and where Muslim children are frequently bullied because of their faith.

Ausma also writes fantasy novels for adults. In this session, she shares her process for creating future worlds that re-imagine our present reality. Drawing on her deep understanding of the importance of cultural practices and religion in a society, Ausma will show you how she uses important cultural touchstones and maps in her worldbuilding to create vivid places, customs, and characters.

Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in international human rights law with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. A British-born Canadian and former adjunct law professor with roots in many places, she now lives in Colorado with her husband.

REGISTER for Worldbuilding

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Kira Vermond Suharu Ogawa
Discover the World of Science with Kira Vermond, author and Suharu Ogawa, illustrator
Free admission
Sunday, May 30
11:30am – 12:30pm ADT

Why don’t cars run on apple juice, anyway? Can rats burp? If you sneeze in space, will your head explode? And why do we have butts? With a team of Ontario Science Centre experts, Kira and Suharu wrote and illustrated two Q&A books that serve up fun and surprising answers to science questions from curious kids. Their book Why Don’t Cars Run on Apple Juice? Real Science Questions from Real Kids is nominated for the 2021 Hackmatack English nonfiction award.

In this interactive session, students discover mind-blowing facts about our world and beyond, from burps to black holes, T. rexes to time travel. Coming together online, author Kira Vermond and illustrator Suharu Ogawa tell (and draw!) stories about science facts based on real kids’ questions.

Kira Vermond is a busy author and journalist for adults, teens and kids with over 1,500 articles and seven books published, including the Norma Fleck Award winning Why We Live Where We Live. She’s been a respected freelance writer, editor, copywriter and producer for Canadian national newspapers, magazines and radio for 20 years. But her real passion? Writing books for kids that don’t just examine the world, but encourage kids to think with a critical eye.

Kira lives in Guelph, Ontario with her husband, a couple of fabulous kids, and a big, fuzzy dog named Marbles – who is hypoallergenic and hyper-energetic.

Suharu Ogawa is a Toronto-based illustrator. Her love for drawing started in a kindergarten art school after being kicked out of calligraphy class for refusing to convert to right-handedness. Formally trained in Art History and Cultural Anthropology, she worked for several years as a university librarian until her passion for illustration called her out of that career and into the pursuit of a lifelong dream. Since then, she has studied illustration at Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto, Canada. (Suharu photo credit: Darcy MacQuarrie)

REGISTER for Discover the World of Science

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Jenny Manzer
How Writing Can Be Your Superpower: My Life as a Diamond by Jenny Manzer
Free admission
For kids and adults
Sunday, May 30
2:30 – 3:30 ADT

Ten-year-old Caspar “Caz” Cadman loves baseball and has a great arm. He loves the sounds, the smells, the stats. When his family moves from Toronto to a suburb of Seattle, the first thing he does is try out for the local summer team, the Redburn Ravens. Even though Caz is thrilled when he makes the team, he worries because he has a big secret.

No one knows that back in Toronto, Caz used to live life as a girl. And it’s nobody’s business. Caz will tell his new friends when he’s ready.

My Life as a Diamond, nominated for the Hackmatack English fiction award, is a funny, fast-paced story about the bravery it takes to live as your true self, no matter the cost.

Learn about Jenny’s writing process as she created her story, Caz, and his friends and family. She’ll share the inspiration for My Life as a Diamond, shortlisted for the 2021 Hackmatack English fiction award, and she has some advice for young writers who want to write books of their own—and why sharing your own story is such a powerful thing to do.

Jenny Manzer is a writer and editor living in Victoria, British Columbia with her family. She enjoys running near the Pacific Ocean and hiking in the woods. She’s not good at playing baseball, but knows lots of kids who are. Jenny is a two-time finalist for the Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize and a finalist for the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize Literary Competition.

REGISTER for How Writing Can Be Your Superpower

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Eileen and Henry Beaver Mindy Willett
Discover a Special Corner of the World: Henry Beaver & Mindy Willett with Eileen Beaver
Free admission
For kids and adults
Sunday, May 30
5:30 – 6:30pm ADT

Henry and Eileen Beaver join us from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories with author and collaborator Mindy Willett. Their book Sharing our Truths/Tapwe is nominated for the 2021 Hackmatack English nonfiction award.

In Cree, tapwe means, ‘it is so’, or ‘the truth’. Their book grew out of the experience of teaching Henry and Eileen’s grandchildren about their land and culture during a springtime visit. Learn the protocols for building a tipi, trapping a beaver, harvesting salt from the Salt Plains in Wood Buffalo National Park, and about how Henry, Eileen, and Mindy collaborated to create their book.

Henry and Eileen Beaver are respected Elders who live in Fort Smith, NWT. They have written many books with the South Slave Divisional Education Council in their community and starred in a major film called, Three Feathers.  Henry is nehiyawin known in English as Cree. Eileen is Dene Dedline or in English, Chipewyan. They are both retired from lives of political and educational leaders. They generously share their knowledge of language, culture and spiritual practices.

Mindy Willett is passionate about the North.  Sharing our Truths is the ninth book she has co-authored with storytellers from across the NWT.  Mindy enjoys all seasons and is most happy when canoeing, cranberry picking or skiing with her family.

REGISTER for Discover a Special Corner of the World

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For Parents and Educators

Anne C KellyAlan Syliboy
Irresistible History: Culture, Characters and Storytelling with Shauntay Grant, Anne C. Kelly, and Alan Syliboy
Tickets: $20
For parents and educators
Saturday, May 29
5:30 – 6:30pm ADT

How do you get young readers interested in history? Three authors talk about creating compelling stories from a variety of cultures and perspectives. Places real and imagined, vivid characters, and beautiful writing bring stories to life, sparking imagination and curiosity.

Authors Shauntay Grant, Anne C. Kelly, and Alan Syliboy will discuss how they draw on historical events, fiction, and mythology to engage children where they are – and to show them how the past is not just tales told or records in an archive, but alive and vibrant in the world where they live.

Shauntay Grant (left) is a poet, playwright, and author of children’s picture books who lives and works in Kjipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She served as the third poet laureate for Halifax Regional Municipality from 2009 to 2011, and she is a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Shauntay holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the university of King’s College. Her writing and research centres African Nova Scotian and African diasporic history and and culture. An award-winning author of children’s literature, Shauntay’s picture book Africville with illustrator Eva Campbell won the 2019 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards, the 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, and the 2019 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award. A book club edition of Africville was recently published by Scholastic Canada, and a French edition translated by Josephine Watson was released in Fall 2020 by Bouton d’or Acadie Press. Shauntay’s other honours include a Best Atlantic Published Book Prize from the Atlantic Book Awards, a Poet Of Honour Prize from Spoken Word Canada, and a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts. She teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University.

Anne C. Kelly (centre), author of Jacques’ Escape
Anne has loved to read and write for as long as she can remember. Her first publication was a class newspaper she wrote with a friend while she was in Grade four. She especially enjoys reading historical fiction—books that are set in a different time—and books about characters who discover who they really are after going through challenges in life. Jacques’ Escape is nominated for the Hackmatack English fiction award.

An English teacher at heart, Anne taught English-as-an-Additional-Language (EAL) to adult newcomers to Canada for over 20 years. She loves learning about different cultures and traditions and says she’s learned more from my students than they ever learned from her.

Alan Syliboy (right) grew up believing that native art was generic.  “As a youth, I found painting difficult and painful, because I was unsure of my identity.” But his confidence grew in 1972 when he studied privately with Shirley Bear. He then attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where 25 years later, he was invited to sit on the Board of Governors. Alan looks to the indigenous Mi’kmaq petroglyph tradition for inspiration and develops his own artistic vocabulary out of those forms. His popularization of these symbolic icons has conferred on them a mainstream legitimacy that restores community pride in its Mi’kmaq heritage. , author of Wolverine and Little Thunder: An Eel Fishing Story is nominated for the Hackmatack 2021 English fiction award.

GET YOUR TICKET for Irresistible History

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Joann Hamilton-BarryLorna Schultz Nicholson
Encouraging Boys to Read with Joann Hamilton-Barry and Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Tickets: $20
For parents and educators
Saturday, May 29
8:00 – 9:00pm ADT
Host: Ray Fernandes, Nova Scotia Public Libraries/Hackmatack board member

Encouraging boys to read can be a challenge, but two seasoned authors and a youth library specialist – all avid readers themselves – have some great ideas. They’ll discuss misconceptions like boys are only interested in sports and nonfiction, the value of positive male role models, share feedback from young readers, and talk about how to get boys enthusiastic about a wide range of books.

Joann Hamilton-Barry, (left) author of The North Atlantic Right Whale: Past, Present and Future (nominated for the Hackmatack 2021 English fiction award) loves books and wanted a job where she would be paid to spend the day reading. She started out as a teacher, but that wasn’t for her. She went back to university to become a children’s librarian. She enjoyed spending her days planning and presenting fun activities that would get kids excited about books and reading. Even though she was surrounded by books, she never had time to read for fun while working at the library. She did manage to borrow lots of great library material and wrote four books while working full time. Altogether, she worked in libraries for more than 35 years and loved it. Now retired, Joann divides her time between reading, research, writing, walking her dog, and doing projects around her house. Her favourite way to relax is to walk on the beach where she picks up plastic garbage, all while keeping an eye out for treasure and whales.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson, (right) author of Amazing Hockey Stories: P.K. Subban has published children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, YA fiction and non-fiction. Before she started writing full-time, she worked as a television co-host and reporter, radio host and reporter, theatre and murder mystery actor, fitness coordinator and rowing coach. Whew. Her non-fiction children’s books are about interesting people, and her fiction books are about friendships, school, family life and emotions and… well, the ups and downs of life. We all have those ups and downs, right? Her books have been nominated for many different awards. Lorna lives in Edmonton with her husband (Go Oilers Go) and two dogs, a whiny bichon shih tzu, and a sort-of-naughty puppy she rescued from Mexico. Amazing Hockey Stories: P.K. Subban is nominated for the 2021 Hackmatack award for English nonfiction.

GET YOUR TICKET for Encouraging Boys to Read

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For Authors

Emily MacKinnon
Pitch a Publisher: Pro Tips from an Editor with Emily MacKinnon, Nimbus Publishing
Tickets: $15
For authors of all ages
Saturday, May 29
11:30am – 12:30pm

You’ve spent hours and hours crafting the perfect manuscript. You’ve agonized over the exact wording in your cover letter. Ever wonder who actually ends up reading your carefully constructed documents? Well, now is your chance to talk with a real-life editor! Nimbus Publishing’s Emily MacKinnon will provide pro pointers (“no glitter bombs, please”) on pitching your work to publishers, tips to maximize your manuscript’s potential, and how to avoid some common submissions missteps.

Emily MacKinnon is an in-house editor with Nimbus Publishing, specializing in children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction. She has a journalism degree from the University of King’s College, and is currently pursuing a master’s in literacy education from Mount St. Vincent University.

GET YOUR TICKET for Pitch a Publisher

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