Speakers - The FOLD
FOLD Kids Book Fest

Speakers

Learn more about the amazing authors, poets and storytellers that will be taking part in this year’s FOLD Kids Book Fest.

Description

Speakers for the festivals are selected by the FOLD’s programming team and are revealed in the months before each festival. Past speakers at the FOLD Kids Book Fest include authors like Buffy Sainte Marie, David A. Robertson, Danielle Daniel, Dwayne Morgan, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Ruth Ohi, and Kai Cheng Thom.

This year, the FOLD is pleased to welcome authors from across the country for our second virtual kids’ festival. Tune in throughout September to find out the authors at this year’s fest!

Featured Speaker(s)

A young Mexican man stands against a leafy green background. He wears a light grey button-down shirt.
Daniel Aleman
Bio

Daniel Aleman is the debut author of INDIVISIBLE, out now from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

A Black man wearing a flat brown cap. He has a small goatee and smiles at the camera.
Khodi Dill
Bio

Author of the picture book Welcome to the Cypher, Khodi Dill is a Bahamian-Canadian writer of everything from rap songs to children’s literature; he lives and writes in Saskatoon.

An Indigenous woman with long dark hair against a beige background. She wears a dark button-up shirt.
Cherie Dimaline
Bio

Cherie Dimaline is an award-winning, bestselling author of YA and literary fiction.

A white woman with brown hair, a blunt fringe and glasses stands against a red background smiling. She wears a dark blue top with scattered green leaves.
Kelly Fritsch
Bio

Kelly Fritsch is a disabled writer, educator, and parent living in Ottawa.

A young Asian-Canadian woman with dark hair pulled back from her face and dark-rimmed glases. She stands on a green lawn and wears a jean jacket and a white sirt.
Rosena Fung
Bio

Rosena Fung is a Toronto-based cartoonist and illustrator.

A young Black woman with long dark braids, standing outside against a tree trunk. She wears a dark top with cropped sleeves.
Dr. Cylita Guy
Bio

Cylita Guy, PhD is a Toronto-based ecologist, data scientist, and science communicator who studies bats.

A Chinese-Canadian woman stands against a white background with her hands in her pockets. She has short dark hair and wears a blue denim button-down shirt over dark pants, and is smiling widely.
Jen Sookfong Lee
Bio

Jen Sookfong Lee is an author, editor, and podcaster living in Vancouver on the unceded and traditional lands of Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations.

A white trans man with shourt pale blue and pink hair sits on a flight of grey concrete steps, looking off to the side. They wear a light blue button-down t-shirt.
Tash McAdam
Bio

Tash McAdam is a Welsh-Canadian educator and author writing young adult SFF and contemporary fiction.

A white woman with long dark hair stands against a dark window. She wears dark-rimmed glasses.
Anne McGuire
Bio

Anne McGuire is an associate professor and director of the program for Critical Studies in Equity and Solidarity at the University of Toronto.

A young Black woman wears a white floral print dress and stands against a leafy green background.
Liselle Sambury
Bio

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author whose debut novel is Blood Like Magic.

A young Costa-Rican man with dark hair and a small goatee stands against a white background. He wears a black button-down shirt under a dark grey vest and black-rimmed glasses.
Eduardo Trejos
Bio

Eduardo Trejos is a Costa Rican multi-disciplinary artist. He lives in Toronto where he works as a graphic designer.

An Asian woman with dark red lipstick stands against a beige background. She is wearing a cow snuggly suit.
Xiran Jay Zhao
Bio

Xiran Jay Zhao is a first-gen immigrant from small-town China and the author of Iron Widow.

A middle-aged Indigenous man with short dark hair and dark-rimmed glasses. He has a short goatee, wears a black t-shirt, and is set against a white background.
David A. Robertson
Bio

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young people, including When We Were Alone, On the Trapline, The Barren Grounds, and its sequel, The Great Bear.

A young Mexican man stands against a leafy green background. He wears a light grey button-down shirt.

Daniel Aleman

Daniel Aleman is the author of INDIVISIBLE, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. He was born and raised in Mexico City and is a graduate of McGill University. After spending time in Montreal and the New York City area, he now lives in Toronto, where he is on a never-ending search for the best tacos in the city.

A Black man wearing a flat brown cap. He has a small goatee and smiles at the camera.

Khodi Dill

Khodi Dill is a Bahamian-Canadian writer of everything from rap songs to children’s literature. Author of the picture book Welcome to the Cypher, which introduces young people to the transformative power of hip-hop, Khodi hopes that his writing will engage youth in both social justice and the arts. He is a proud father and partner who lives and writes in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

An Indigenous woman with long dark hair against a beige background. She wears a dark button-up shirt.

Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline‘s The Marrow Thieves was named one of the Best YA Books of All Time by TIME magazine after winning the Governor General’s Award and the Kirkus Prize. Her novel Empire of Wild, an instant bestseller and Indigo’s Best Book of 2019, was featured in The New York Times and the New Yorker. A registered member of the Georgian Bay Métis Community, Cherie lives in her home territory and is writing for television, finishing a new novel, and adapting Empire of Wild for stage and screen. Hunting By Stars, the hotly anticipated sequel to The Marrow Thieves, was released October 2021.

A white woman with brown hair, a blunt fringe and glasses stands against a red background smiling. She wears a dark blue top with scattered green leaves.

Kelly Fritsch

Kelly Fritsch is a disabled writer, educator, and parent living in Ottawa. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University and director of the Disability Justice & Crip Culture Collaboratory. As a disability studies scholar, her work mobilizes social and cultural theory, arts-based research, and everyday hacking and tinkering to explore the generative frictions of disability. She is co-author of We Move Together, a children’s book engaging community-based practices of desiring disability, and co-editor of Disability Injustice: Confronting Criminalization in Canada and Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle.

A young Asian-Canadian woman with dark hair pulled back from her face and dark-rimmed glases. She stands on a green lawn and wears a jean jacket and a white sirt.

Rosena Fung

Rosena Fung is a Toronto-based cartoonist and illustrator. Her first graphic novel Living With Viola is published by Annick Press. Her editorial clients include The Globe and Mail, The Boston Globe, Chronicle Review of Higher Education, CBC Arts, PLANSPONSOR, Maisonneuve, Bust Magazine, Avenue Magazine, Swerve Magazine, and Tridel Corporation. Her works have been featured on CBC Docs and CBC Arts. When she is not drawing, Rosena can be found teaching illustration, vending at zine fairs, and going to the library. Her favourite activities are reading, eating snacks, cats, and learning to play the guitar. Her name is pronounced “Rosanna”.

A young Black woman with long dark braids, standing outside against a tree trunk. She wears a dark top with cropped sleeves.

Dr. Cylita Guy

Cylita Guy, PhD is a Toronto based ecologist, data scientist, and science communicator who studies bats. Her first children’s book – Chasing Bats & Tracking Rats: Urban Ecology, Community Science, and How We Share Our Cities – published by Annick Press, is now available for pre-order. In her downtime, you can find your friendly neighbourhood batgirl chasing her next big outdoor adventure.

A Chinese-Canadian woman stands against a white background with her hands in her pockets. She has short dark hair and wears a blue denim button-down shirt over dark pants, and is smiling widely.

Jen Sookfong Lee

Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised in Vancouver’s East Side, and she now lives with her son in North Burnaby. Her books include The Conjoined, nominated for International Dublin Literary Award and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, The Better Mother, a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award, The End of East, The Shadow List, and Finding Home. Jen acquires and edits for ECW Press and co-hosts the literary podcast, Can’t Lit.

A white trans man with shourt pale blue and pink hair sits on a flight of grey concrete steps, looking off to the side. They wear a light blue button-down t-shirt.

Tash McAdam

Tash McAdam is a Welsh-Canadian author and educator. Their publications include ‘The Psionics’ series (Nine Star Press), and the JLG Gold Standard Selections ‘Sink or Swim’ and Blood Sport (Orca Books) as well as multiple anthology contributions. They are a recipient of the Shoot for the Moon fund for trans writers, and a founding mentor with the Trans Tipping Point Program.

A white woman with long dark hair stands against a dark window. She wears dark-rimmed glasses.

Anne McGuire

Anne McGuire is an associate professor and director of the program for Critical Studies in Equity and Solidarity at the University of Toronto, where she teaches in the areas of critical disability studies and disabled childhoods. She is the co-author of the children’s book We Move Together (AK Press, 2021). Her monograph, War on Autism: On the Cultural Logic of Normative Violence (University of Michigan Press, 2016), was awarded the 2016 Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities.

A young Black woman wears a white floral print dress and stands against a leafy green background.

Liselle Sambury

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. Her debut novel is Blood Like Magic.

A young Costa-Rican man with dark hair and a small goatee stands against a white background. He wears a black button-down shirt under a dark grey vest and black-rimmed glasses.

Eduardo Trejos

Eduardo Trejos is a Costa Rican multi-disciplinary artist. A lover of color, insatiable reader, and parent of two boys,he lives in Toronto where he works as a graphic designer. He is the illustrator of We Move Together.

An Asian woman with dark red lipstick stands against a beige background. She is wearing a cow snuggly suit.

Xiran Jay Zhao

Xiran Jay Zhao is a first-gen immigrant from small-town China who was raised by the Internet​. A recent graduate of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, they wrote science fiction and fantasy while they probably should have been studying more about biochemical pathways. You can find them on Twitter for memes, Instagram for cosplays and fancy outfits, TikTok for fun short videos, and YouTube for long videos about Chinese history and culture. Iron Widow is their first novel.

A middle-aged Indigenous man with short dark hair and dark-rimmed glasses. He has a short goatee, wears a black t-shirt, and is set against a white background.

David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young people, including When We Were Alone, On the Trapline, The Barren Grounds, and its sequel, The Great Bear. When We Were Alone won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. The Barren Grounds, book 1 of his middle grade fantasy The Misewa Saga, was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and lives in Winnipeg.

The FOLD is a remarkable and wonderful event for authors and attendees alike. What an amazing community, dedicated to the vital need for inclusive stories and the critical role they play in building a better world.

Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her

Field Guide to the North American Teenager is my first novel and FOLD was my first Canadian literary festival. While American and Canadian culture overlap quite a bit, especially when it comes to bookshelves, Canadian literature is unique and I was very heartened by to be embraced by that community I consider home despite residing in the US. It was a homecoming I didn’t know I needed!

Ben Philippe, author of Field Guide to the North American Teenager

The Festival of Literary Diversity was an absolute joy–the organizers thought of *everything* and by anticipating authors’ needs, they freed us to focus on connecting with the audience and each other. There was no pretension, no posturing–just very genuine conversations with invested writers and engaged readers.

Zetta Elliott, author of Dragons in a Bag

I have been to a lot of writers festivals and the FOLD is definitely near the top of the list of those I want to be invited back to.

Harold Johnson, author of the memoirs Clifford and Firewater

Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.

Kathy Page, author of Dear Evelyn, winner of the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Wherever I go in Canada and find another writer of colour, we eventually end up gushing about how great the FOLD is, how by normalizing diversity it liberates us to talk to audiences about craft. It’s hard to imagine the literary landscape returning to a prehistoric pre-FOLD era.

Ian Williams, Author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Reproduction

FOLD is a festival experience unlike any other I’ve had. The FOLD team strive to create a space that’s welcoming and engaging, while allowing for curiosity, ingenuity and the fostering of real community – and they succeed, every year.

Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out On The Ground

The FOLD is one of the most important literary events on this continent. By focusing on diverse voices and giving authors space to share their stories and speak their truths, it is revolutionizing the writing and storytelling realm as we know it.

Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon Of The Crusted Snow

Being part of the FOLD community has provided me with a strong sense of belonging. Sharing diverse stories and listening to different voices that broaden my understanding of the world has impacted me as a person and motivated me as a writer.

Ann Y.K. Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

Stay Connected

Sign up for the FOLD Kids newsletter!