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festival-banner-eng 2022

Hackmatack’s second annual Festival of Reading will bring twelve of our shortlisted authors to classrooms and libraries across Atlantic Canada, allowing hundreds of young readers to connect with authors both virtually and in-person.

But it isn’t just our readers who get to have all the fun! We are pleased to offer the following engaging sessions and resources for the public. We hope you will join us as we celebrate and support Canadian creators of children’s literature!

Thursday, May 26

Future Voices Mentors

Free admission
Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library
7:00 – 8:00pm ADT

Join author Lindsay Ruck and author/illustrator Jack Wong as they share their tips and experience especially for up-and-coming BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) authors and illustrators. Hosted by Tracey Jones-Grant, Diversity Manager at the Halifax Regional Municipality.

For more information on the panelists, view their biographies.

Presented in partnership with the Halifax Public Libraries.

Friday, May 27

Future Voices Showcase

Virtual Presentation
7:00pm ADT

Tune in to our YouTube channel to view this engaging showcase of up-and-coming BIPOC authors and illustrators! To see this year’s participants, view their biographies.

Saturday, May 28

How to Pitch a Publisher

Virtual Presentations, in French and English

Emily MacKinnon (Nimbus Publishing) and Marie Cadieux (Bouton d’or Acadie) offer advice on pitching your work to publishers, how to maximize your manuscript’s potential, and how to avoid some common submissions missteps.

7:00pm ADT: Emily MacKinnon, Nimbus Publishing
Link to Emily’s virtual presentation.

8:00pm ADT: Marie Cadieux Bouton d’or Acadie (en français)
Link to Marie’s virtual presentation

Monday, May 30

Writing a Children’s Book Series

Online Workshop with Jessica Scott Kerrin
7:00 – 8:00pm ADT

Join Halifax-based children’s author Jessica Scott Kerrin for a professional development session on how to write a book series for children! This presentation includes an overview of the types of series, challenges and strategies, helpful tools, when to end a series, and a publisher’s insights.

Price: $14

Friday, June 3

2022 Hackmatack Awards Presentation

11:00am ADT

Join us for our live, virtual awards ceremony! Everyone is welcome.

Future Voices Mentors

Join author Lindsay Ruck and author/illustrator Jack Wong as they share their tips and experience especially for up-and-coming BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) authors and illustrators. Learn how to navigate the world of publishing, how to access the marketplace, and promote your work.

Jack Wong

Jack Wong (left) was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Vancouver, arriving in Kjipuktuk/Halifax in 2010 when he left behind a life as a bridge engineer to pursue his Bachelor of Fine Arts at NSCAD University. A self-declared actual Jack-of-all-trades, he’s also tried his hand at art instruction, psychology research, bookkeeping, and running his own bicycle repair shop, to name a few—a real education for creating children’s books, if you ask him! From an early age, Jack wrote and illustrated stories as a way of synthesizing his background and diverse interests. He seeks to share his hodgepodge journey with young readers, so that they may embrace the unique amalgams of experiences that make up their own lives. His forthcoming releases include When you Can Swim (Scholastic, 2023), When I Gave Dad a Sign (Annick Press, 2023) and All the Flowers (Groundwood, 2024).

You can find him online at, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

Lindsay Ruck (right) is an author and editor from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Her first book, Winds of Change: The Life and Legacy of Calvin W. Ruck (2014) was nominated for a Dartmouth Book Award. Lindsay has proudly contributed to a number of collaborative works, including The Nova Scotia Book of Fathers, Nova Scotia Love Stories and an updated edition of Canadian bestseller, The Black Battalion: Canada’s Best-Kept Military Secret. Against the Grain is a biography of former Nova Scotia premier Dr. John Savage, and was released in 2019. Lindsay lived in Ottawa for over a decade and studied journalism at Carleton University’s School of Journalism before returning to Halifax to continue her writing career. She had the honour of acting as guest editor for a special issue of Understorey Magazine, which featured a talented group of African Nova Scotian female writers and artists. Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians (Nimbus, 2021) is Lindsay’s first book for younger readers. Lindsay lives in Dartmouth with her husband and two children. Visit for more information on current titles and upcoming events.

Future Voices Showcase

Farah Qaiser - Photo1
Hanako Masutani
Nadia Umadat Picture
Heather 3
Prajwala 1
Hui Zhou

Kiranjot Kaur
Kiranjot Kaur is a multi-disciplinary artist, author and engineer. Her work aims to celebrate her artistic influences including her Panjabi, Sikh and Canadian heritages, and lived experience being raised in a family-owned fabric store. Kiranjot’s goal in developing children’s books is to create stories and art representative of her life growing up in the Lower Mainland, and she hopes to inspire kids to dream big and recognize their own amazing potential. Among many artistic adventures, Kiranjot is currently pursuing a PhD in earthquake engineering. She lives with her three children and loving husband in Surrey, BC.

Emily Seo
Born and raised in Richmond, BC, Emily Seo has always loved science and stories. She studied sciences at the University of British Columbia, where she earned her PhD in Chemistry. She then moved abroad to take on a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh followed by a position as an Associate Editor for two chemistry journals in Weinheim, Germany. She eventually returned to Vancouver, BC and worked at UBC where she ran an interdisciplinary science facility and supervised student projects. Not wanting to give up on her dream of writing for children, she took night courses, attended workshops and participated in weekend critique groups to learn and meet others in the industry. Her experimentation with words resulted in her debut novel, The Science of Boys. She currently lives in Richmond, BC with her husband and two young children.

Farah Qaiser
Farah Qaiser is a genomics researcher by training, now taking a detour into the world of science policy. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Toronto, where she carried out DNA sequencing to better understand neurological disorders. Now, Farah works as the Director of Research and Policy at Evidence for Democracy to promote the use of evidence in government decision-making. Farah is passionate about building an engaging and inclusive science culture through outreach, policy and communication efforts. Her extensive volunteer and community experience includes co-founding the Toronto Science Policy Network, writing about science and scientists for various media outlets (including Forbes), and organizing Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons to create pages about under-represented scientists. Farah currently serves as a member of the Canada Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, on Let’s Talk Science’s Board of Directors, and on 500 Women Scientists’ leadership team.

Hajer Nakua
Hajer Nakua is a neuroscience PhD Candidate researching the relationship between brain organization and mental health symptoms in children at the University of Toronto. She is currently pursuing a Fulbright Fellowship exchange at Stanford University. Beyond her research, she is also a science communicator whose focus is to make science accessible to youth who have been excluded from scientific conversations. She has served as the Chair of the Organization of Human Brain Mapping (OHBM)’s Student and Postdoc Special Interest Group; a volunteer-led committee which creates events and resources to enhance the careers of graduate students and post-docs in neuroscience. Hajer’s passion to make science more accessible led her to create a science communication Instagram platform, which currently has over 5,000 followers, and is one of the only English-Arabic neuroscience communication platforms on Instagram, and as such, has cultivated a community of youth from North America and the Middle East all motivated to learn more about their brains.

Hanako Masutani
Hanako Masutani is a parent, teacher, and writer. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in journals such as Geist, ARC Poetry, Grain, and The New Quarterly. Hanako is also the proud daughter of Matsuki Masutani, who published his first book of poems in 2021 at the age of 75.

Nadia Umadat
Nadia Devi Umadat was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Graduate Diploma in Refugee and Migration Studies from York University. For several years, she was employed as a Youth Mental Health Counsellor with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Seen (2023) is her first children’s book and is based on her personal experiences supporting survivors of the Syrian civil war. She uses the pronouns she/her and identifies as a PoC.

Heather O’Watch
Heather is a Nakota and Cree woman from the Okanese First Nation located in Treaty 4 Territory. She lives in Regina, Saskatchewan with her partner and 4 dogs. She is currently undertaking a Masters Degree in Public Policy (MPP) through the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. Heather also works as a research coordinator with the Circle on Philanthropy & Aboriginal Peoples in Canada where she supports Indigenous led philanthropy. Her passion for being a storyteller started at an early age with writing. Heather enjoys sharing, creating, and honouring stories of her own experiences around family and culture. Heather’s upcoming book Auntie’s Rez Surprise is set to be released in 2023 by Second Story Press.

Prajwala Dixit
Prajwala Dixit is an author, journalist, doc filmmaker and theatre practitioner whose works have been produced and published by local and national organizations that include The National Film Board of Canada, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, POV, JSource, Newfoundland Quarterly, Breakwater Books, The Arts and Culture Centre, RCAT and Artistic Fraud. Her work, often, marries the two worlds she belongs to – India and Canada – whilst elevating melanin rich voices. Winner of the Arts and Letters Award and silver finalist at the Atlantic Journalism Awards, Prajwala also spearheads an annual fundraiser called Diyas For Diversity that has raised over $9000 to add 178 new titles to the public libraries of NL with the goal to amplify literary diversity while creating a community art installation that speaks to mental health in St. John’s with The Rooms. She calls Bengaluru and St. John’s home where she lives with her family, consuming stories through film and books.

Hui Zhou
Hui is a non-fiction writer, the author of “Running Wild with Bossy Boy”‒ a creative non-fiction children’s book – and a retired entomologist. Many of her prose have been published in print since 1990’s in China and in Canada since 2006. The latest one, “Chinese family found ‘Grandpa Santa’ before immigrating“, a story about her daughter, was published on four Atlantic Daily Newspapers by Saltwire on December 3, 2021. Hui is writing more books for children and her Nonfiction Collection for all ages.

Valerie Wood
Valerie Wood is an emerging children’s author with her picture book, Vee In Between set to be published in May 2023. She is also a curator at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. In both her literary and curatorial work, Valerie is passionate about challenging traditional historical narratives by centering the experiences of marginalized peoples. You can reach her @valeriekaiyang on Twitter or at

Michelle Wang
One autumn Monday, Michelle Wang couldn’t find a book to read aloud to her Grade One class, so she wrote one! It Must Be Autumn is the first book in her It Must Be Seasons series. Be sure to also check out the award winning follow up, It Must Be WinterIt Must Be Spring and It Must Be Summer are to be released in 2022. Michelle lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, four children, and a couple of jokester squirrels outside her kitchen window. When not cheering on her favourite hometown sports teams or playing random songs every time she walks by a piano, Michelle can be found reading a book to avoid cleaning her very messy house. Michelle and her family are excellent leaf pile jumpers. For more information please visit:

Nyanza Julian
Nyanza Julian is a Mi’kmaw woman from Millbrook First Nation. Within her 26 years of life, Nyanza’s greatest accomplishment is her daughter. As a single mom, the foundation of family will remain in the forefront of her values. Along with her daughter, Nyanza is also a mom to her fur babies, 1 dog and 1 cat. She has grown up on the Millbrook reserve and has learned from watching her community, her people and listening to stories. As a life long learner, it’s important to welcome in new knowledge at all ages and remember that children are our greatest teachers as it is their future that we are building.

Canada Council for the Arts
Province of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Public Libraries
Delmore "Buddy" Daye Learning Institute
Prince Edward Island Public Library Service