Hooked on Books with Kevin Sands’ Thieves of Shadows Series

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in English Tutoring, Featured, Hooked On Books, Local, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

Hooked on Books with Kevin Sands’ Thieves of Shadows Series

Who wants to take a reading adventure? Look no further than fantasy writer, Kevin Sands, and his award-winning children’s books. It may surprise you that he did not begin his career as a writer. In fact, he held a multitude of interesting roles first including researcher, business consultant, teacher, and professional poker player. His literary career began in 2015 when he captivated middle grade readers with The Blackthorn Key Adventures. The Thieves of Shadows trilogy followed next and has been recognized for two years in a row in the 2023 and 2024 Forest of Reading program. In our latest Hooked on Books blog, our in-person and online tutoring service is honoured to feature Kevin Sands. Read on for our interview with Kevin for a glimpse into his magical books, the Forest of Reading initiative and what he is writing next!

What is the Forest of Reading program?

Run by the Ontario Library Association, this initiative is Canada’s largest recreational reading program where children and young adult readers select the winning books. The titles chosen are all Canadian, so it is a true celebration to spotlight books, publishers, authors and illustrators from coast to coast. There are a total of nine categories — six English and three French — reflecting various reading levels and genres. Each category has 10 nominated titles. More than 250,000 readers participate annually in the Forest of Reading program. This includes our elementary, middle, and high-school tutors (who are also certified teachers) and students from the Teachers on Call community. The year-long celebration culminates in the 2-day Festival annually in May when the winners are revealed.

Read on for our Hooked on Books interview with one of the Forest of Reading’s most popular authors, Kevin Sands!

An Interview with Kevin Sands

Please describe your Thieves of Shadows series for us, and Seekers of the Fox in particular.

Thieves of Shadow is a fantasy heist adventure series. A band of young thieves get hired to steal a magical jewel, the Dragon’s Eye, from the most dangerous sorcerer in the city. But they soon find themselves bound to the Eye, a sinister, sentient artifact with its own agenda. Each book is its own heist, which the five young friends have to pull off to survive.

In Seekers of the Fox, one of the gang has been gravely injured, so they make a deal with the Eye to save him. In return, the Eye forces the thieves to search for the Dragon’s Teeth, a pair of swords with extraordinary powers, and the search leads them into danger once more. Old friends, new betrayals, and an even more daring heist culminates in a confrontation that will take all the gang’s skill and cunning to survive…if they can.

Your Thieves of Shadows series is a huge hit with Forest of Reading fans. Your first book was recognized as a Red Maple Award winner in 2023 and your second novel in this series is nominated for 2024. What does the Forest of Reading program mean to you personally?

The Forest of Reading is one of my absolute favourites, because very few awards get so many kids reading across Canada, and no other award lets you meet so many readers over the course of the year. The festival in May is the best part—it’s been described as a rock concert for books, and that’s accurate as anyone can say. I’m always thrilled, and incredibly honoured, to be part of it.

You have a diverse resume having studied theoretical physics, and having worked as a researcher, business consultant, teacher, and professional poker player. What inspired you to add professional writer to this list?

I never thought of being a writer when I was young. But I’ve always loved stories, so when a friend encouraged me to try my hand at it, I discovered I loved it. I consider myself very lucky to have ended up with the best job in the world.

How have your previous educational experiences studying science and working as a teacher contributed to your writing?

Not all that much, at least not directly; writing is a pretty different career from everything I’ve done before. But a degree in physics is really a degree in problem solving, and that’s always a useful skill, especially when plotting a book. And effective teaching is really about storytelling; the better you can shape a story, the easier it is for students to learn. So, there are definitely a few concepts that transfer over.

Living in Ontario do you have a favourite reading and writing nook?

I work from home, so I get to read and write while overlooking a wooded area with a creek running through it. Plenty of wildlife makes its way through there during the day, including a family of deer, turkeys, and coyotes, plus countless birds. I’m lucky to have such a lovely spot for it.

For fans and educators interested in organizing online or in-person appearances, where can they find you?

I can always be reached through the contact form on my website at kevinsandsbooks.com. I book appearances throughout the year, so if you’re thinking of having me talk to your school, library, or group, please contact me anytime!

What are you writing about next?

I’m currently working on my first graphic novel. It’s an adventure about a pair of unlikely friends: a fox and a gosling who have to travel across a post-apocalyptic land to save their homes. I’m having a lot of fun with it—and I hope readers will love it, too!


If looking for further Forest of Reading inspiration, check out the full list of 2024 nominees

Related Articles View All

Forest of Reading 2024 Winners Revealed at Rock Concert for Reading Festival

Teachers on Call's Joanne Sallay shares the 2024 Forest of Reading winners, as well as tips to maintain strong reading habits for the rest of the school year and summer.

Hooked on Books with Susan Allen’s “Count Me In”

In our latest Hooked on Books, we interview Susan Allen about "Count Me In", her debut leadership memoir.

Looking for a tutor?

We are here to help your student excel. Contact Teachers on Call today to get started with our award-winning tutoring services.

Get Started Today

Contact Us