Non-fiction (Children)

Sandra Phinney

Sandra Phinney is a professional writer and photographer who lives on the edge of the Tusket River in Southwest Nova Scotia. She’s had a few former lives including teaching, social work and farming. Now, instead of driving a tractor and growing vegetables, Sandra wields a camera and harvests stories.

Her articles have appeared in over 70 publications and many online line magazines. She’s also contributed to several travel guides including National Geographic’s Guide to Parks Canada. Over the years, her work has garnered several writing and photography awards (which help to keep her humble.) Part of her portfolio spills into the corporate world where she does everything from writing scripts for video, to advertorials, brochures, newsletters, and company profiles.

In the book writing realm, Sandra’s penned four non-fiction books: Risk Takers and Innovators—Great Canadian Business Ventures since 1950; Pierre Elliott Trudeau: The Prankster Who Never Flinched; Maud Lewis and the “Maudified” House Project; and Waking Up In My Own Backyard~Explorations in Southwest Nova Scotia. She’s currently working on two more non-fiction books.

To satisfy her craving to teach, Sandra gives writing workshops on various topics including narrative, writing memoir, how to start a freelance business and travel writing. In her spare time she does Tai Chi and paddles in the wilderness.

Kathleen Martin

Kathleen Martin was born in Toronto, lived in Sudbury, Ontario, until she was 12 and then moved to Spring Valley in Illinois, a place that has been home to her father’s family for five generations. Her mother’s family has been rooted in Halifax for almost as long, and although her parents and older brother are still in Illinois, and she still misses hot summers and fields of corn stretching to the horizon, Halifax is where Kathleen is very happy to have ended up.

Kathleen came to Halifax by way of the University of Toronto, where she earned her BA (Honours) in English, and Queen’s University in Kingston, where she earned her master’s degree in English. She moved to Nova Scotia when Mike, now her husband, came to study the endangered leatherback sea turtle.

Kathleen is the author of six non-fiction books for children: Sturdy Turtles, Building Beavers, Floating Jellyfish, Gentle Manatees, Soaring Bald Eagles and Swimming Salmon (Lerner Publishing Group). She is also the author of Kamakwie: Finding Peace, Love and Injustice in Sierra Leone (Red Deer Press) for teenagers and adults. She is the Nova Scotia representative for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, has edited children’s fiction books for Front Street/Cricket Books in Chicago, and was an acquisitions editor for the Cricket Magazine Group.

Kathleen also writes for adults. She was the Atlantic correspondent for Marketing Magazine for a decade. She edits fiction, poetry and non-fiction books for publishers in Canada and the United States, and has written for a variety of magazines and newspapers. She previously taught communications at Acadia University.

When she isn’t freelancing, Kathleen is the executive director of the Canadian Sea Turtle Network, which allows her to spend a lot of time with fishing community members across Nova Scotia and a lot of time learning about and attempting to help sea turtles, her favourite animals.

Ron Lightburn

Ron Lightburn’s career as a children’s book illustrator was launched with his Governor General’s Award-winning artwork for Waiting for the Whales in 1991. Since then he has illustrated numerous other best selling picture books and has become internationally renowned for his sensitive storytelling skills and range of illustration styles, from the touching realism of How Smudge Came to the exuberant whimsy of Pumpkin People. During the past quarter century his artwork has graced the covers of over sixty books and has been featured in magazines, calendars, posters and advertisements across North America.


Pumpkin People review: “From the endpapers through the different styles of artwork, this book is a Canadian gem…Highly recommended for elementary school classrooms.”  – Resource Links



Anne Louise MacDonald

Anne Louise MacDonald was born with a passion for horses and a vivid imagination. She has worked with animals all her life and currently works part-time caring for critters from fish to rats. The rest of her time is spent teaching natural horse and hoof care, enjoying her two horses and writing. Her first YA novel, The Ghost Horse of Meadow Green, became an international best seller and is printed in five languages. Seeing Red is a companion book, second in her ‘Hug a Horse Farm’ series, which guarantees horses, kids with real-life problems and a bit of the paranormal. At the moment Anne Louise is working on a new novel and two picture books.

She has also presented writing workshops for children and adults, and is available for writing festivals and conference presentations.

Excepts from Anne Louise’s books are available on her website.

J. Hugh MacDonald

Born in Charlottetown, PEI and educated at St. Dustan’s University, J. Hugh MacDonald is the author of one picture book and several books of poetry. His poetry, which has also been published in many anthologies, deals with the wonders of growing up. He is now retired after thirty-one years teaching, ending his career teaching English and writing in Souris, P.E.I. A former actor and director, he has also taught theatre. Hugh lives in Brudenell with his wife, Sandra, and their six children who have taught him how to laugh and see the joy in simple things.

Pamela Hickman

“It’s neat for kids to read about things, but the best thing is for them to muck around and discover things on their own.” – Pam on why her books are activity-based

Pamela Hickman was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario. She holds an Honours Bachelor degree in Environmental Studies and Biology from the University of Waterloo. She was the Education Co-ordinator for the Federation of Ontario Naturalists for 7 years. During that period, Pamela wrote several education kits and other natural history material for children. In 1989, Pamela began a freelance writing career and has published over 35 books to date. She moved to Canning, N.S. with her husband and three daughters in 1992. Pamela divides her time between her writing, family and volunteer work in her community.

Pamela won the 1995 Lilla Sterling Memorial Award. In 2007, she also won the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Award from the Santa Monica Public Library.

Maureen Hull

Maureen Hull was born and raised on Cape Breton Island. She studied at NSCAD, Dalhousie University and the Pictou Fisheries School. Before and during her formal education she worked in the costume department of Neptune Theatre. Since 1976 she has lived on Pictou Island in the Northumberland Strait. Between 1976 and 1998 she worked as a lobster fisher; for seven of those years she home-schooled her two daughters. She began writing in 1992. She has been a Berton House Writer in Residence and during the fall/winter of 2010 she will be the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library’s Writer in Residence.

Her fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her short story collection, Righteous Living, Turnstone Press, 1999, was short-listed for the Danuta Gleed Award, and several of her stories have been read on CBC radio. Her second picture book, Rainy Days With Bear, 2004, was short-listed for the Ann Connor Brimer and Blue Spruce awards. Her first novel, The View From a Kite was published by Nimbus/Vagrant in September 2006. Her most recent work, Lobster Fishing on the Sea, was published in the spring of 2010 by Nimbus. It was also published as an e-book, as Lobster Fishing on the Susan B, by the River John branch of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library.


K.V. Johansen

Originally from Kingston, Ont., K.V. Johansen studied English and History at Mount Allison, received a Master’s in Medieval Studies from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, and another Master’s in English, from McMaster. She writes mostly epic fantasy, as well as fantasy and science fiction for young readers; she has also written short stories and literary criticism for adults. Ancient and Medieval history and languages are one of her main interests. Johansen taught workshops at the spring 2010 MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference in Ottawa. She has worked with the elementary or elementary/intermediate sessions of Writers in Electronic Residence (WIER) over a number of terms and has visited schools from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, to Austria and Macedonia. She has in the past written a large number of articles for the Nova Scotia based farm magazines Rural Delivery and Atlantic Beef Quarterly, as well as other non-fiction. She was the editor of Stalin Versus Me, the final volume of the late Donald Jack’s triple Leacock-Award-winning Bandy Papers series (Sybertooth 2005). Johansen currently lives in Sackville, NB.

A.J.B. (John or Jay) Johnston

A.J.B. (John) Johnston is the author or co-author of books and museum exhibits, as well as articles in scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers. He was made a chevalier of France’s Ordre des Palmes Académiques in recognition of his body of work on Louisbourg and other French colonial topics. The best known of his history books is Endgame 1758, which won a Clio award from the Canadian Historical Assocationtion and was short-listed for the Dartmouth Book Award.

His two latest books, his 20th and 21st, will appear in 2020. First up will be Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns (Nimbus). Then it will be Ancient World, New World: Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst (Acorn), co-authored with Jesse Francis.

In 2018, John released The Hat, a YA novel that offers a 21st-century take on the Acadian Deportation, and Something True, which was inspired by the real-life adventures of Katharine McLennan in late 19th and early 20th-century Cape Breton and in France during the First World War.

In 2017, he was Writer-in-Residence at the Center for the Writing Arts in Fairhope, Alabama. Back in 2016, John participated as a mentor to emerging writer Linda MacLean in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. From mid-April to mid-May 2017 he combined with Sarah Sawler and Norma Jean MacPhee to offer sessions for the WFNS entitled “So You Want to be Published” in Halifax, Antigonish, Wolfville, Sydney and Yarmouth.

John has written three novels in the Thomas Pichon series: Thomas, A Secret Life in 2012; The Maze in 2114 and Crossings in 2015.

Back in 2013, Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (Acorn), won three awards: “best-published Atlantic Book”, best PEI Non-Fiction, and a PEI Heritage Award. The French version of the book, Ni’n na L’nu: Les Mi’kmaq de l’Ile-de-Prince-Édouard, is now available from La Grand Marée (Tracadie Sheila, NB).

Released in 2015 was Grand Pré, Landscape for the World (Nimbus), co-written with Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc.

Most of his books are available as e-books.

John writes exhibits as well, including the “Vanguard: 150 Years of Remarkable Nova Scotians” for the Nova Scotia Museum and the ground floor of the Black Cultural Centre. The award-winning travelling exhibition Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island opened at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown and then travelled to the Museum of Canadian History in Gatienau, Quebec and other subsequent venues. More recently, John developed the storyline and texts for the revitalization of the Colchester Historeum in Truro. That exhibit opened officially in early 2016.

More information on John can be found at and on Facebook at A J B Johnston, Writer. John is on Twitter at @ajbjohnston and on Instagram at AJBJohnston.

John donates his papers to the Beaton Institute of the Cape Breton University.

Sylvia Gunnery

Sylvia Gunnery has published over 25 books for teens and children as well as professional resources for teachers of writing. A recipient of a Prime Minister’s Teaching Award, she has presented at conferences, libraries, and schools across Canada.  Since the spring of 2020, she has also enjoyed working virtually with adult writers and students through workshops, mentorships, and WITS visits.  Road Signs That Say West, her most recent YA novel, is published by Pajama Press.  In 2022, she will be a speaker at Reading For the Love of It in Toronto:  Sylvia lives at Crescent Beach, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia where she’s working on a Ya series of linked stories, what I know about next.

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