Photo courtesy of BookFest.

Vancouver Island Children’s Book Festival (BookFest) will once again be celebrating and encouraging Canadian children and youth literature. The Nanaimo event hosts authors and illustrators from across Canada and nearly all genres that can be found in child and youth literature. The day will be filled with various panels led by Canadian talent. Artists such as Kim Soo Goodtrack, one of the creators of the show Wakanheja, and writers like David Alexander Robertson, writer of the 7 Generations graphic novel series.

Events range from a family story time aimed at children five and under, sessions held by each author and artist, and a teen author panel. Although BookFest is themed around child and youth literature, there is something everyone of all ages can take away. Food trucks and a book market will fill the lunch break time slot, and the end of the day gives guests the chance to meet authors and illustrators and have their books signed.

Nearly half of the eleven authors and artists attending call BC home in one way or another. Darlene Gait has called Vancouver Island home since she was a child, and Margriet Ruurs lives on Salt Spring Island. But Canadian talent from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and Ontario will also be represented.

BookFest is Saturday, May 12, with a central location at Diana Krall Plaza. Events and panels will be held at the library, conference center, and museum and will run from 8:30 am to 2:15 pm. Tickets and schedule are available online. Individual tickets are $10 for three sessions per child. Accompanying adults are free. A Family Pass can be purchased for $25 and includes three sessions for families with three or more children.

Meet the BC authors and illustrators
Man with blond hair, wearing a blue shirt and backpack, looking away from the camera and holding his chin. There is a monkey perched on is right shoulder peeling a banana. Foliage and a rock pathway in the background.
Cale Atkinson is a BC illustrator, animator, and author. Photo courtesy of BookFest.

Cale Atkinson is an illustrator, animator, and author based in Kelowna, British Columbia. Believing in tea more than sleep, Cale is constantly working on numerous projects. His work can be found in children’s books, animated shorts, television, and games. Cale’s illustrations have appeared in projects for Disney Hyperion, Marvel, Tundra books, OWL Books, Grosset and Dunlap,, Pearson, American Greetings, Hyper Hippo Games, Lerner Books, and Scholastic. These days he’s mainly working on new children’s books.


Woman with red-tinted hair and light brown eyes looks into the camera. An out-of-focus painting of two birds and a mountain landscape hangs in the background.
Darlene Gait’s paintings and poetry celebrate her love for her Coast Salish culture. Photo courtesy of BookFest.

Darlene Gait was born on Vancouver Island and began painting as a child. Her paintings and poetry celebrate her love for her Coast Salish culture and bring to life through beautiful images the rich traditions and oral history of the First People of Canada. Darlene’s art also reflects her passion for protecting the environment and wildlife as well as her beliefs in the oneness of humanity and the beauty of its diversity. This can be seen in her children’s picture books Who’s in Maxine’s Tree and Secrets of the Dance. She is recognized internationally, her art is exhibited and held in private and public collections worldwide, and she was chosen as the BCLA Summer Reading Club artist for 2017.

A woman with red dyed hair works on a comic with blue ink. She is wearing a red sweater, a green shirt, and is smiling at the comic.
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and artist. Photo courtesy of BookFest.

Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and artist. She worked in the animation industry for several years before transitioning into writing and drawing comics full time in 2008. Her first published work was Zombies Calling in 2007. Since then, she has published a number of other graphic novels, including The War at Ellsmere, Brain Camp, Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, The Adventures of Superhero Girl, The Last of Us: American Dreams, and the Bigfoot Boy series. Faith has won two Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards, two Joe Shuster Awards, and an Eisner Award.

A grey haired lady with grey-blue eyes looks into the camera.
Margriet Ruurs is the author of 35 books for children. Photo courtesy of BookFest.

Margriet Ruurs lives on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, and is the author of 35 books for children. With a Master of Education degree from Simon Fraser University, she teaches writing workshops at elementary schools across North America. “I love to use my imagination and to dream up stories,” says this creator of many books for children. She also loves to work in schools and talk to children about being a writer, and share her love of playing with language. Her books also include historical fiction, fictional picture books, and books on writing for educators. Many of her books have won awards, including the Storytelling World Award Honor and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.

A woman with brown wavy hair and black framed glasses looking into the camera and smiling. She is holding two books. Record Breaker and Pride
Robin Stevenson is an award-winning author of twenty novels for kids and teens. Photo courtesy of BookFest.

Robin Stevenson is an award-winning author of twenty novels for kids and teens. Her writing has been translated into a number of languages and published in many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and Slovenia. Her novel A Thousand Shades of Blue was a finalist for Canada’s top literary honor, the Governor General’s Award. Robin’s nonfiction book, Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, is a 2017 Stonewall Honor book and was selected for the USSBY Outstanding International Books list, the Rainbow List, the Tri-State Review Committee Books of Note, and OLA Best Bets.

Want to read bios for the rest of the authors at BookFest? Click here.


Associate Editor Lys has lost count of what year he’s in at Vancouver Island University and is trying to finish one project before he graduates. His work is featured in Portal, Rebel Mountain Press Disabled Voices, and TransFocus. He is the recipient of the 2018 Mike Matthews Humorous Rant award.