Everything I need to know in life I learned from children’s literature. In addition to writing children’s books, I am also a publishing professional, Canadian Bookseller’s Association award-winning bookseller, and the resident bookwork at CTV Your Morning, curating themed kids’ book lists. I have a degree in drama from Queen’s University and a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia. Given the opportunity, I will talk your ear off about kids books.
I grew up in Woodstock, Ontario, where I spent my summers making forts in the woods near my house, searching for treasures at flea markets and hunting the shelves at the Woodstock Public Library for my next great read. In the winter I could be found figure skating or acting in local theatre. I have always been obsessed with books. I once added an “e” to my middle name (Lynn) to be more like “Anne with an E” Shirley, and in grade eight I convinced my English teacher to let me hand in chapters of my novel The Haunting instead of the assigned English projects. I loved books, cats, and singing- things I still love today! Someone once told me that the happiest adults are the ones who are doing what they loved at 12, and I can attest to the truth of this statement.
My first middle grade novel, Words That Start With B, came out September 2010 from Scholastic Canada, followed by the sequels, Love is a Four-Letter Word and Days That End in Y. These books follow the misadventures of friends and neighbours Clarissa and Benji as they navigate those tricky tween years. I was inspired by my own childhood growing up in Woodstock, and by the books of Judy Blume. Summer Days, Starry Nights (nominated for the 2015 Red Maple Award) is a coming of age story set on a summer resort in Northern Ontario in 1962; think Dirty Dancing without the dirty. I love the music of this time period and based the setting on a resort my family visited in Orillia when I was a child. The Winnowing, my first foray into science fiction, was inspired by my deep love of the TV show The X-Files and books like The Giver, The Girl with the Silver Eyes and Into the Dream. It won the 2018 Red Maple Award and was the 2019 MYRCA award honour book in the Northern Lights category.
In 2016 my first picture book If I Had a Gryphon was published, illustrated by the amazing Cale Atkinson. It grew out of an idea I had observing storytime at The Flying Dragon Bookshop and includes my favourite things: rhyme, humour, and magical pets. It was shortlisted for the Blue Spruce, Shining Willow, and Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz awards in Canada, and was a NYPL top 100 book of 2016. My second picture book, Teddy Bear of the Year, illustrated by Sydney Hanson, came out in 2020 and was inspired by the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, my own teddies, and the desire to celebrate small acts of kindness. My next picture book, Anonymouse, illustrated by Anna Pirolli, will be out in February 2021 and has already received a starred review from Quill and Quire!
I am currently living in Toronto with too many books and my cat, Barb.When not writing, I can be found at Penguin Random House Canada as the marketing director for the young readers’ program. On this website you will find book recommendations, thoughts on children’s literature, and updates on my own books and events.
Vikki VanSickle is an award-winning author and a devoted member of the Canadian children’s book industry. Frequently referred to as “Canada’s Judy Blume,” she is the author of a number of acclaimed books, including the picture book IF I HAD A GRYPHON and novels WORDS THAT START WITH B, SUMMER DAYS, STARRY NIGHTS and the 2018 Red Maple Award winner THE WINNOWING. After obtaining an MA in Children’s Literature from UBC, Vikki’s career began in bookselling at The Flying Dragon Bookshop, which earned her the 2011 CBA Young Bookseller of the Year award. She is frequently called upon to speak about kids’ books as CTV Your Morning’s resident bookworm and as Lainey Gossip’s YA mentor! Currently she balances writing with her duties as the director of marketing and publicity for Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers.