Interview with Jane Whittingham

Jane Whittingham is a librarian from Burnaby, British Columbia, and earned her Masters of Library and Information Sciences at UBC with an emphasis on children’s librarianship and literature. Much like the adventurous main character in her first picture book, Wild One, Jane loves to explore. And every time she jet-sets across the globe, Jane takes pictures of all the cats who cross her pat.

Jane will be featured in three events during Word Vancouver.  She will read on The Quay Stage at 12:10 PM, the CUPE Stage at 2:00 PM and she will participate in a panel on getting published in the Peter Kaye Room at 11:00 AM.  Before you head down to the Central Branch of the library, to meet her in person, here’s an interview with Jane by librarian, Mary Duffy.

Do you have any tips for parents and caregives for suggestions and techniques for reading with their own little “Wild One”?

I passionately encourage caregivers to read WITH their children, rather than TO them – reading should always be a team activity. If you want to raise readers, let your children pick the books you read together – kids are much more likely to be excited about reading when they can choose books that interest them! Then, make reading an interactive experience – get talking! Start with a book’s cover – what do you think the book is going to be about based on the title and the artwork? Ask children to describe the illustrations on each page, and talk about what they think might be happening. Work on making inferences and predictions based on the text and the illustrations – what’s going to happen next in the story? Talk about feelings – how do you think a character might be feeling in a given scene, and how does that make you feel as a reader? There’s so much going on in every picture book, and the opportunities for conversation are endless!

Kids thrive on repetition, so don’t worry if your little ones want to read the same books over and over again! Just be sure to make each reading a positive,shared, interactive experience. And sometimes, if you have a wiggly wild one, that might mean only reading for a few months at a time before taking a break – that’s ok! With reading, it’s all about quality experiences over quantity.

Jane, your new book a Good Day for Ducks will be released on September 21. Can you tell me how living in “Rain City” inspired this book?

A Good Day for Ducks was directly inspired by a winter I spent visiting local preschools as an outreach children’s librarian. The weather was invariably terrible, with Vancouver’s usual blend of rain, wind and overall gloom. But the kids at the preschools I visited didn’t seem to mind a bit! They simply bundled up in their rainsuits and pulled on their gumboots and went out into the rain, splashing in the puddles and playing in the mud. There’s a Norwegian expression that goes “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes” , and it’s true – put on a good raincoat, some sturdy gumboots (preferably brightly colored) and get outside, whatever the weather! Theres always fun to be had if you are willing to get a little messy and go in with a positive attitude.

Your first book, Wild One came out in 2017 and was also illustrated by Noel Tuazon. Have you met the illustrator? How does this collaboration work?

The process of making a picture book is fascinating because it really is all about trust. My talented editor Ann and I perfected the text, after which my work on the project was largely done! I actually had very little input into the illustrations, which is fairly standard. Illustrators are talented professionals who work best when they aren’t being hovered over by micromanaging authors! I was given a chance to look over the artwork before it was finalised in case anything really didn’t mesh with the story, but other than that, it was all in Noel’s capable hands! I can see how it could be pretty stressful for an author to give up creative control of their baby, but that’s why it’s so important to work with a publisher you respect and trust.

Both these books are essentially poems with Wild One having one line per page / picture. This is a winning formula for library storytimes and bedtime reading. Did you plan it this way?

I absolutely wrote Wild One with storytimes in mind. I do a lot of storytimes, and my toddler and preschool audiences tend to get pretty wiggly, so I started thinking about a story that would get them actively involved and hopefully harness some of that energy in a positive way! Wild One was designed to be a bit of a guessing game – kids guess what kind of animal they think the little girl is pretending to be on each page. Once each animal is revealed, kids can then act it out! So, Wild One gets kids thinking, predicting, participating and getting their wiggles out – it’s definitely a librarian-approved combination!

Your third book Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up which comes out in 2019 is a departure from your first two each featuring a poem that celebrates a spirited little girl. What was the inspiration for this one?

Queenie Quail was inspired by a conversation I had with my late father a few years ago. My dad loved watching the quail families that bobbed and scurried around his home on Vancouver Island, and he mentioned how comical and cute quails were and how perfect they would be as picture book stars. So of course my writer gears started turning, and Queenie Quail came to life! Sadly my dad never got to read the story he helped inspire, but I know he would’ve loved it.

You became a children’s librarian just a few years ago around the same time you started publishing. How has been a librarian informed and inspired your writing?

One of the best things about being a childrens librarian is all the amazing picture books I get to read every day! Not only that, I get to share picture books with audiences every week, which really helps give me a feel for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to read-alouds. I also have an increased awareness of the importance of literacy-supporting elements like rhythm, rhyme and repetition. It’s really important to me as a librarian that my books are designed with early literacy in mind. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many great children’s book authors have been librarians, teachers or ECE workers!

You will be reading on the children’s stage from 12-1 with 3 other writers for the 3-7 year old age range but you will also be speaking on a CWILL panel on how to get published from 11-12am. Any preview tips for getting published?

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Honestly that’s the best advice I can give any writer. I have been rejected more times than I care to count, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get demoralizing at times, but if you don’t put yourself there you cant get published!! Also, find and join a community of writers, whether in person or virtually – no one understands how frustrating and demoralizing it can be to put yourself out there quite like fellow writers, who can be a great source of support and encouragement!

Who are a few of your favourite children’s authors?

Oh boy, how long do we have? I’ll stick to some of my favourite storytimes books, just to keep this list manageable. These are books that I can always count on to win over an audience – Bark George by Jules Feiffer, Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell , Jane Cabrera’s singable picture books, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter, Pete the Cat (I love my White Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons ONLY), and pretty much anything by Jan Thomas.

Inspiring words.

Job Posting: Executive Director — deadline extended

The Vancouver Book and Magazine Fair (Word Vancouver) is seeking an Executive Director to provide visionary leadership in the internal operations of the organization to enable strong, diverse, inclusive, accessible, well-resourced, and sustainable programming for the community we serve.

The Executive Director is responsible for the effective day-to-day administration of Word Vancouver as well as Festival production. This is a rare opportunity for an individual or team to develop and mold their unique vision. Proposals will be accepted both from individuals and from teams.

While the position is described as full-time, year-round, we recognize that there are periods of chaos as well as lull periods with an annual festival. We are seeking an individual or team that will be able to adapt to this timeline, while being welcome to also pursue other endeavours. 

The deadline has been extended until Friday, May 11.

View the job posting on the Alliance for Arts & Culture, or download the Job Description (PDF) here.

Inspiring words.

Bryan Pike stepping down as Executive Director of Word Vancouver after 20 years

Bryan Pike has announced he is stepping down as Executive Director of Word Vancouver. Rebus Creative has been the producer for the Vancouver Book and Magazine Fair Society for 20 years, building and transforming it into a key event in Western Canada’s literacy and literary community. The festival has transformed from a one-day showcase in 1994 to a five-day celebration across Vancouver. Each year, Rebus Creative has introduced innovative new festival events, improved literacy outreach, increased participation, and showcased Vancouver’s unique artistic culture.

It is with a heavy heart that the board of directors acknowledge the passing of the torch and thank Bryan Pike and Rebus Creative for their hard work and vision over the years.

The Vancouver Book and Magazine Fair Society’s board of directors has begun the search for a new executive director—see the job description here (PDF).

Inspiring words.

Pub Trivia Night – Summer Readin’ Edition

Bring in the summer with a pint and Word Vancouver’s pub quiz on Monday, June 19 at The Cottage Bistro!

The theme is Summer Reading. Think beach reads, poolside, book clubs, and the lighter side of literature. You don’t need to be a serious scholar to join us -although everyone is welcome!

Trivia begins at 7:00 pm, so make sure you arrive early to have a drink, order some food, and get in the zone! Bring your friends, or meet new ones. Teams are 6 people (max).

There will be prizes, including books, gift cards, tasty treats, and maybe even a trophy!

Entry fee: $10 per person (cash only)

This is a fundraiser, with 100% of the entry fees going to Word Vancouver.

Check out our Facebook event for full details.

Inspiring words.

Kids’ Writing Contest

Writers aged 12 and under are invited to submit their work of fiction, 350 words or less, to the Word Vancouver Kids’ Writing Contest. The winners will have their piece published in WestCoast Families!

The submission deadline is August 27, 2017.

Please email your submissions to: or mail them to the Word Vancouver office:

#901 – 207 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC  V6B 1H7

Please clearly state your name, age, and your contact details with your submission.

Good luck!

Inspiring words.

Flash Fiction Contest Winners Announced

Word Vancouver is very pleased to announce the winners of our first Flash Fiction Writing Contest:

Adult Category: Evelyn Schofield
Youth Category: An Xu
Child Category: Isla McGlashan Green, Malcolm Taylor, Ella McLaren-Kennedy, Noah Diguangco, and Judi Li

Congratulations to you all!

Inspiring words.

Venue Changes for Word Vancouver 2016

Due to the recent flooding in the lower level of the Vancouver Public Library, all downstairs programming has been relocated. Perspective Point and Port of View, as well as the Mini–Manuscript Consults and Blue Pencil Sessions, will now be located on level 3 of the library, to the left when you get off the escalator. The Underground exhibitors and activities will be located outside on the North Plaza (Georgia and Homer side of Library Square) and the moat exhibitors will be located in the promenade. The Silent Auction will be outside in the T8 tent.

Please see the updated site map below:


Inspiring words.

Literary Pub Trivia Night

We had so much fun last time, we’re doing it again!

The metaphors have been sharpened. The plots are thickening. The pens have been thrown down…

The board of Word Vancouver invites you to its third evening of literary pub trivia to help raise funds for Western Canada’s largest celebration of literacy and reading.

With trivia written by local literary luminaries, word wizards, and poetic prophets, push your lit smarts to the limit. Fabulous prizes to be won and always fun to be had! So bookmark your page, get your team together, and come out to test your literary knowledge against the biggest book nerds in Vancouver.

Sunset Grill
2204 York Avenue, Vancouver

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

• Cover charge: $10 per person **CASH ONLY**
• OR Dinner & Cover Special: $28 — Gets you a burger (veggie/chicken/beef) and a draft beer / glass of wine. Includes 15% gratuity. ($10 going to Word Vancouver) **CASH ONLY**
• Anything else ordered from the menu will be handled by the Sunset Grill and can be paid with cards.

• Maximum team size: 6
• We recommend you arrive between 6–6:30 pm so you have time to order some food and drinks.
• Trivia starts at 7 pm
• Invite your team members to RSVP on the Facebook event
• Our host is the affable crime noir author Linda L. Richards.

Inspiring words.

Word Vancouver 2016 Writing Contest

Flash fiction: Show us who you are and what you’ve got


Flash fiction gives you the opportunity to show the world your literary star quality… in 250 words or less.

The purpose of the contest is to inspire communication and creativity. The contest is open to all styles and genres.

Rules: Submit original stories only, of up to 250 words. Entry fee must accompany stories, as applicable. Contest closes on September 15. The contest will be judged by professional writers.

Two winners, one from the adult entrants and one from the youth entrants, will be chosen. They will each get the opportunity to read their flash fiction at the 2016 Word Vancouver festival, and their stories will be printed in a local magazine.

There will be one winner and nine finalists from the child entrants, and they will each receive a prize.

Email submissions to

The $10 entry fee can be paid by mailing in a cheque or by using the “Pay Now” button in the right-hand column of the website.


Adult entrants (18 years or older)—fee is $10 per entry (entrants may submit more than one entry; however, a $10 fee must accompany each entry)
Youth entrants (12 to 17 years old)—no entry fee
Child entrants (up to 11 years old)—no entry fee

Inspiring words.

Reading Lights Initiative Launched

Reading Lights celebrates the work of BC children’s book authors and illustrators and offers unexpected encounters with an array of stories for children and their families near parks, playgrounds, schools, and libraries throughout Vancouver.

Intended to spark an interest in stories and reading, the program features excerpts of books and illustrations on lamp posts across the city for all to enjoy.

Twenty Reading Lights plaques have been installed as of January 2016, and the project was officially launched at the Vancouver Public Library on Family Literacy Day, January 27.

Reading Lights is a collaborative project of Vancouver Public Library and the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC Society.

Explore this interactive map and discover more about these exceptional children’s books and the authors and illustrators who bring them to life, including Word Vancouver author Ashley Spires (pictured above).

Inspiring words.