This month, our Hooked on Books author is Vikki VanSickle! She is an award-winning Canadian children's book author originally from Woodstock, Ontario. Fun fact, she has been referred to as, "Canada's Judy Blume". To learn more about Vikki and her books, read on!
What is Hooked On Books?
Our team at Teachers on Call loves to read and encourage students and their families to do the same. With Hooked on Books, we introduce our community to the latest children’s book with a behind the scenes author interview to learn more. There is also a chance to win the debut book in a social media giveaway, with a grand reveal of the winner(s) by the featured author themself. A large focus is introducing readers to Canadian authors and illustrators from coast to coast with a mix of emerging and well-known literary talent including Vikki VanSickle, Jess Keating and Barbara Reid – just to name a few.
About Our Author: Vikki VanSickle
Vikki VanSickle is an award-winning author and a devoted member of the Canadian children’s book industry. She has had the opportunity to live in various Canadian locations. Vikki grew up in Woodstock, Ontario, studied drama at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and completed an MA in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia. Now, Vikki calls Toronto, Ontario home!
Thank you for entering our giveaway to win a copy of Vikki's book Teddy Bear of the Year.
We gave away one copy of Vikki's book Teddy Bear of the Year courtesy of Tundra Books!
Thank you to everyone for participating in our Facebook giveaway by commenting on our post: Telling us where your favourite place to kick back and read is!
Click on video to find out our winner, selected by Vikki personally!
We’re super thrilled to have had Vikki VanSickle with us for an interview! Check out her answers to our questions.
What inspired you to write picture books for young children?
I love art and my picture book years were so magical to me. It is a dream come true to create stories that incredible artists will then bring to life! I’ve always really loved the advice, ‘write the book you want to read,’ and that’s basically what I do; I’m writing for my younger self! On the other hand, I have a lot of experience working with children and I want to create books that they will enjoy. I hope reading my books gives them the same sense of wonder that I got as a child and that they fall in love with reading, too!
Of all your books, tell us about the one that’s your favourite.
I’ve never been good at picking a favourite anything (movie, food, colour), but this is especially hard! There are things I love about all of my books. Words That Start With B was my first published novel, so it will always have a special place in my heart. I’m also really excited about my next picture book, Anonymouse, coming in early 2021. It’s about a mouse who creates street art for the animals in the city, like a mouse version of Banksy! I love street art and I’m very concerned about animals living in urban places, and those two things just clicked fully formed in my mind one day and Anonymouse was born! The illustrator Anna Pirolli did a phenomenal job. When I first saw the art I couldn’t believe I was looking at MY story!
Do you have any kind of thinking exercise you do when you’re trying to kickstart your imagination?
I’m very inspired by objects and interesting photographs. I like to wander through flea markets or garage sales and imagine where certain objects came from and what their story is. This is also a fun exercise to do with houses in your neighbourhood! Who lives there? What do the rooms look like? Is there a secret passageway? You get the idea! If I’m working on a novel and I get stuck, I try jumping to another part of the story, or I start writing from a different character’s perspective.
How would you encourage kids to start writing down their own stories?
Keeping a writing journal is a great place to start. I jot down all sorts of ideas, potential titles, or interesting names in a journal that I can flip through when I’m looking for inspiration. When I’ve decided to work on a particular idea, I write a lot of point form notes and explore all sorts of possibilities before I dive into the actual crafting of the story. In some ways, the brainstorming (or percolating, as I like to think of it) is the best part! For some kids, it might help to draw an image first. You could draw a map of the setting, a character sketch, or an image from the story.
Tell us about your latest book!
My most recent book is Teddy Bear of the Year. It’s a modern twist on one of my favourite childhood stories (and songs!), The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. In my book, teddies gather once a year for a big picnic that includes treats, games, and a service awards ceremony that recognizes the acts of kindness and service the teddies provide for their children. In the book, we experience the picnic through the eyes of Ollie, a first-time attendee. I wanted to create a cozy, magical story that celebrates small acts of kindness. The artist Sydney Hanson created such a cozy world, and there are lots of funny things going on in the illustrations that I think kids and adults will enjoy!
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