2021 Presenters

Rhonda Donais, an Indigenous performer, is a band member of Oceanman First Nations. From a young age, Rhonda has always been passionate about her art as an entertainer. Rhonda has entertained the young at heart for over 3 decades. She has written and toured children’s shows and written in collaboration with musicians children’s songs that she has used in her performances.

Rhonda has made many TV and radio appearances as her zany clown character Tulip. In 1995 Rhonda travelled overseas to attend theatre school and then in 2005 toured as a part of an Indigenous dance troop doing her storytelling in Scotland and the Orkney Islands. Over the past 15 years Rhonda has honed her storytelling and performance skills, appearing at many different venues throughout Saskatchewan. Rhonda’s favourite stories to share are First Nations legends and stories of “how things have come to be” relating to the different tricksters and animal legends. Rhonda feels if she can make you smile for even a moment and forget your troubles, she has done her job as a performer.

Sara Gillingham is Consulting Creative Director for Greystone Kids. Sara, who previously served as Design Director for children’s publishing at Chronicle Books, is currently principal of her design studio. She is an award-winning art director, designer and the author/illustrator of books such as: How to Grow a Friend, Snuggle the Baby, The Empowerment Series and the bestselling In My Series.

Sara has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters in Illustration/Design from the Glasgow School of Art and has taught children’s book illustration at California College of the Arts and UC Berkeley Extension in San Francisco.

Kathryn Lane is associate publisher at Dundurn Press, where she leads the editorial and design teams and acquires nonfiction, as well as YA and middle-grade fiction. Kathryn has been working in book publishing for twenty-five years, starting as an editor at First Folio Resource Group, a Toronto-based packager of educational material and children’s trade books. She then moved to London where she worked in travel guides at Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness and Rough Guides. Over a decade later, she found herself back in Toronto and began at Dundurn Press as managing editor in 2015.

Established in 1998, and a member of SaskBooks since 1999, Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing (YNWP) is owned and operated by Heather Nickel of Regina, SK. Heather holds a B.A. in English from the University of Saskatchewan (1989) and attends industry-related seminars and workshops hosted by SaskBooks, PubWest, BookExpo America, Frankfurt Buchmesse, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, and the Editors’ Association of Canada. She has served on the SaskBooks board since 2007 and is its past president. To date, YNWP has published 185 titles, covering a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, YA and children’s books—both juvenile and picture books. YNWP is deeply committed to publishing books by niche writers and illustrators whose stories might otherwise not be told.

Kenneth Oppel is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Airborn, which won the Governor General’s Award for children’s literature, and the Silverwing trilogy, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. Some of his other books include The Boundless, Every Hidden Thing, and Inkling. The Nest and Half Brother both won the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award. His latest novels are Bloom, Hatch, and Thrive. Visit him online at www.kennethoppel.ca or Twitter @kennethoppel.

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. The recipient of the International Reading Association’s Presidential Award for Reading and Technology, Margriet conducts author visits, writing workshops and conference presentations from Mongolia to Israel and many places in between.

Many of her books have won awards, including the Storytelling World Award Honor and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. My Librarian Is a Camel was awarded the Teachers’ Choice Award and honored as one of IRA’s Notable Books for a Global Society.

Many of Margriet’s books reflect her interest in global issues and the environment. Together with her park ranger husband, she has lived in many places across North America. She likes to read, travel and hike. Facebook: margriet.ruurs. Twitter: @margrietruurs

Elaine Will is a cartoonist and illustrator from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She has contributed work to a wide range of different creative projects, including magazine illustration, animation storyboards, poster design, and a newspaper comic strip for Saskatoon’s Verb magazine. Elaine is most well-known for writing and illustrating Look Straight Ahead, an acclaimed mental health-themed graphic novel. She also illustrated Dustship Glory, adapted from the novel by Andreas Schroeder. Her work can be found online at www.cuckoosnestpress.com.

Elaine’s comic book work primarily focuses on mental illness and mental health. Look Straight Ahead is a coming-of-age story of a teen boy’s struggle with mental illness and his journey to recovery. Her current graphic novel project, The Last Band On Earth, also deals with mental health in an allegorical story of a rock band trapped in a semi-post-apocalyptic city ruled by demons. Elaine is also working on a short story for an upcoming mental health themed comics anthology, Through The Labyrinths of the Mind, published by the acclaimed B.C.-based collective Cloudscape Comics.

Mark Allard-Will is a published author who writes for the comic book medium with graphic novels ranging from the all-ages adventure title, Årkade, to horror with The Burning Black: The Legend of Black Shuck and more. Mark is a new Canadian, hailing from the UK, but proudly calls Saskatoon home; having become a citizen in 2019.