Kids’ Lit Quiz 2020

It was a real pleasure to be the Guest Quizmaster at the Ottawa heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz this year. The contest was held at Elmwood School on Tuesday, January 21st. And even in the middle of a teachers’ strike (Go teachers! Fight for your class size!), 22 teams came out to battle.

First Place Team
The Glashan PS team (First Place) with parent coach (left) and me, Catherine Austen, Guest Quizmaster (right). Kids’ Lit Quiz Ottawa 2020

The Kids’ Lit Quiz is an international annual literature competition for children aged 10-13. It’s a fun and exciting way to celebrate the love of books and make a sport of reading. Teams of 4 players sign up to compete at local heats around the world, answering literature-related questions of all types. Most teams are school-based, but there have even been home-schooled teams in some heats.

Participants in the Ottawa heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz answered more than 100  questions in ten categories over the course of three hours. (Some of them were so hard! I was glad I was asking them instead of trying to answer them.)

The official Quizmaster, Wayne Mills,  who started the Kids’ Lit Quiz in 1991 and who writes all the questions for the competition, will be at the National Finals in Toronto this year. But it was nice to stand in his place (and in his shirt!) for the local heat. 

Glashan Pubic School took first place in the Ottawa competition, and their team will head to the National Finals on February 1st, along with Knoxdale Public School, whose team won the tiebreaker for second place against First Avenue Public School‘s Team 2. Congratulations to all three of these top-scoring teams, and to all the other teams who came out to the Ottawa Heat. Your enthusiasm, knowledge, and love of literature are inspiring.

Second Place Team
The Knoxdale PS team (Second Place) with me, Catherine Austen, Guest Quizmaster.

Whichever team wins the Canadian Finals on February 1st will go on to compete against teams from the UK, the USA, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand in July. Good luck!

Every year, each local heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz features a Guest Author Team comprised of local authors who play for fun. This year in Ottawa, authors Kate Jaimet, Holly Bodger, and Jo Rioux came out for the quiz. (And scored very well. They had the “Classic Characters” and “Book Knowledge” categories down pat.)

It takes a lot of committed volunteers to make events like this a success. If you are interested in taking part in the Kids’ Lit Quiz next year or supporting the Quiz anywhere in Canada, check out the Kids’ Lit Quiz Canada website for more information. And check out the international Kids’ Lit Quiz website to test your knowledge of children’s literature.

Awesome Authors 2020

Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest

The Ottawa Public Library’s annual Youth Writing Contest — Awesome Authors — is underway! If you’re an Ottawa resident between the ages of 9 and 18, sharpen your pencils or boot up your computer because it’s time to get writing and drawing.

Awesome Authors honours the very best poems, stories, and comics in English and French submitted by young Ottawa writers and artists from December through February each year. This year’s deadline is February 28th — that’s tons of time to get your best material polished. Read More

Writing Workshops

author visits banner

There’s a new source of funding for author visits to English-language Quebec schools: ArtistsInspire. The program administers federal funding for minority language education. Through ArtistsInspire, schools receive full funding to invite authors, artists, or other culture creators to engage their students in the arts. All English-language schools in Quebec are entitled to $1500 per year (through 2023). There’s no competition for limited funds. Just apply.

I’m proud to be listed among the ArtistsInspire authors. For schools considering inviting me, here are some of my most successful Writing Workshop topics. (And be sure to check out my Author Presentations, too.)  Read More

Book Launch of Pot-pourri 2019

Pot-pourri 2019 cover

Dozens of young writers in Ottawa will attend their book launch next week, as the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA) launches the latest volume of Pot-pourri.

Pot-pourri 2019 features all the winners and honourable mentions from this year’s Awesome Authors contest — that’s dozens of the best poems, short stories, and comics by creative kids and teens from the Ottawa area, packed into one bilingual book.

(I’ve been one of the judges of the contest, and one of the editors of the anthology, for a few years now. So I know what great work is in there.) Read More

Thieving Squirrels in Fall 2020

The Squirrels Stole my Sister is the title of my forthcoming picture book

Good things come to those who wait.

Little girl in the 70s
Me as a squirrel-taming kid. (My sister cut my bangs.)

Years ago, I wrote a story about a clever squirrel who grew tired of waiting for a daily handout, so she decided to steal a whole bag of peanuts, along with the little girl carrying it.

I have a smidge more patience than that squirrel, and today it has been rewarded. I’ve just seen Sean Cassidy‘s first finished illustration for our picture book, The Squirrels Stole my Sister — coming out next fall with Fitzhenry & Whiteside — and it’s gorgeous. Read More

Funding Author Visits

Interested in one of my Author Presentations or Writing Workshops? Good news! Financial assistance for author visits is available throughout Canada, thanks to the generous support of our governments working with the literary non-profit community.

A couple of key funding programs have looming deadlines — so if you would like to invite me or another author into your school, library, or public venue for a presentation or writing workshop next year,  check out these potential sources of financial assistance, and apply soon. Read More

MASC Festival 2019

MASC online logo
Catherine Austen speaking at MASC Festival 2019
Me at MASC, about to read from 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6

I had a great time at this year’s MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival in Ottawa. The 3-day event was held at the Canadian Aviation Museum, where over 450 children aged 9-12 came from around the region — some of them getting up at 5:00 a.m. to arrive in time! — to enjoy a day of hands-on workshops with professionals from Canada’s children’s literature community.

I was one of 6 presenters this year, giving morning and afternoon workshops every day alongside authors Cary Fagan, Karen Krossing, and David A. Robertson, and artists Britt Wilson and Soyeon Kim. (Read the bios of all of these MASC presenters here.)

You can watch a few of us give readings and talks on the YouTube channel of the sponsor, Eagle Professional Resources Inc. Check out my reading from 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6. (Be warned: there is singing.) Read More

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