Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 draws to a close

Yes, 2016 has been rough. (Thanks for nothing Electoral College) but it's been an amazing year for Kids Lit, especially here in Canada.

I've been drawing personal inspiration from watching so many of my colleagues posting their artwork on social media.

If you don't follow Debbie Ohi, Qin Leng, Sydney Smith, Jon Klassen, Terry and Eric Fan on Tumblr, Instagram, twitter, Facebook... GO DO IT NOW! Not that they need my help to get followers, but just watching them draw makes me want to do it, and do it better. (and this is FAR from an exhaustive list of amazing artists who inspire me).

To close out 2016, I've been trying to draw more each day, drawing inspiration from them as well. Here are some holiday tidbits.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2016 Lino-cut print!

Happy almost holidays everyone!

It's almost time for the annual CBC Radio Sounds of the Season show here in Toronto. Each year I make a limited number of linocut prints and send them out to donors who give more than $100 to the Daily Bread Food Bank (the money goes to food banks across the province).

I've done a new version of this year's print (there's a sloppy moon on the website which I have determined was not up to CBC standards)

The new idea? A star. A beacon of hope and light in a dark world... no matter which holiday you keep (or don't) this time of year.

You can donate here.

The show is this Friday! I'l also be there doing another live doodle (with audience participation) in the atrium outside the show.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I'm never sure if anyone ever reads the Acknowledgements section at the end of my books (or any books) but I always try to make mine serve some kind of purpose. In Neil Flambé #5 I wrote an essay about what it takes to write a book.

In MINRS I tried to lay out my love for space. And in MINRS2, as promised, I elaborated on that. So, in case you haven't flipped to that page in the book yet, here is the text (with links).

Before getting to the space-themed thanks (which I promised at the end of MINRs) I need to thank my fellow authors on #AdvenTOUR 2015 – Margaret Peterson Haddix, Kevin Sands and Lisa McMann. Launching MINRs with them was an absolute pleasure… and I’m going to steal stuff from all of them for my future books.

We still meet up, when possible, for proper meals and great conversation…. and someday we might get KS to eat vegetables.

Okay, onto some more spaced-out thanks!

It was an omission in the original book to not recognize my debt to the late Walter M. Miller Jr. – author of amazing novels such as A Canticle for Leibowitz, and numerous great short stories about the moral choices humans will have to make as we head out to space.

I can still smell the musty aroma of the copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles that I discovered in my parent’s bookcase when I was 10.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye continue to inform and inspire me, just as Carl Sagan did when I was a kid.

To Christa Van Laerhoven of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Physics who kindly read my book and answered my (many) questions about exo-planets, goldilocks zones, and much more. The Dunlap Institute at UofT is an amazing group, and their Astronomy on Tap events are a blast!

Space: 1999 was another TV show that was hugely influential when I was a knee-high stargazer. I even made a model of the Eagle Transporter (which is sort of the idea for the transport ship in this book).  Then I melted holes in it with a hot pin to look like places where debris had pierced the hull. Good times.

Some more TV gold… Lost in Space, and The Jetsons. Hmmm.. I wonder if I’d spent less time watching TV and more time writing I might have actually been published before I was 30? Or, then again, maybe not. Inspiration comes from all over the place… so be open to it.

Silent Running was a movie I must have watched a thousand times as a kid… along with The Day the Earth Stood Still, Alien (which will get some cheeky nods in MINRs3), Blade Runner….

And can everyone please thank J.J. Abrams for cleansing the palate of the Star Wars prequels… The Force Awakens isn’t perfect, but it’s a great Star Wars flick.

To everyone who liked MINRs, and invited me to their schools or libraries (in person or over technology) to talk about it, a HUGE THANKS! The dedication at the front of this book is heartfelt.

And to the many booksellers who have welcomed me and hand-sold my books, I cannot say thanks enough. Special nod to Erin Grittani at Mabel’s Fables, an early champion on the book. I’ll buy you twenty $1 bottles of wine the next time we have a party. Also a nod to Evil Genius Lee Rosevere. His ethereal music was the soundtrack to writing this book.

Thanks to Ruta Rimas for edits that make the books better. Thanks again to Dominic Harmon who designed AN AWESOME cover and Sonia Chaghatzbanian who designed the whole package.

And copyeditor Kaitlin Severini, who picked over the book with a fine-toothed pencil.

And, of course, my books are always (I hope) about more than just adventure and space travel.

There are great organizations that are working today to make sure that mining practices in the future are better for everyone.

Kairos, for example. Check them out….

And, as always, it’s my family that’s the most important part of my life… and I kill off way fewer of them in this book than I did in the first one.

And that’s it for now. Look for more spaced-out thanks in MiNRs3.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book birthday for MINRS2!

Today's the day!
Hope you like it.
Here's my pic for Indigo's #ReadTheNorth campaign. (I usually pick other authors, but figured it would be ok to do a MINRS2 pic for today)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pre-order giveaway!

My book MINRS2 is out October 11th!

To celebrate I've cooked up a pre-order giveaway.

Pre-order MINRs2 before October 10th and I will send you a one-of-a-kind E-doodle. Like this...

Or this...

4x6 - Fit for printing and putting inside the book MINRS2.

All you have to do is send me the following at

1. Proof of purchase (screenshot of receipt or photocopy clearly showing the book name) 

2. How you would like the doodle personalized (i.e.: To Pat! To Jim! To Xenon!)

I'll email you the doodle. You can print it off and glue it in the book or whatever you'd like. It's yours!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

MINRs2 trailer!

My MINRs2 (out Oct 11 from Simon and Schuster) trailer is up on YouTube

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's going to be GREAT!

Monday, September 12th!
It's going to be GREAT!

It's going to be GREAT!

Monday, September 11th!
It's going to be GREAT!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

School visit time!

I love doing school visits, and the time is upon us to start booking! DETAILS HERE

The presentations are high-energy and involve all sorts of lessons that teachers can take back to the classroom - lessons on working hard, thinking creatively and how to draw better stuff!

The fall is filling up fast, but there are still plenty of dates for winter and 2017. I also do SKYPE visits, and have done presentations all across North America, and even China! Twice!

GREAT, my book with the Gretzky Foundation, is out in September.

MINRs2 will be out in October.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Monster-Viewer Go!

So, there's this game out there, that seems awfully familiar. You point your tech in front of you and (miraculously) see little monsters.


Of course, you might prefer an analog version. You know - with the kids doing some reading and imagining.

Or you can think of the "Book" as a warm-up version for those kids who aren't quite ready for screens yet.

So, if you'd like some old-school, paper based Monster Viewing, you can find all the details HERE!

Monday, June 20, 2016

#SpacedOutBooks LAUNCHED!

Hello Space Lovers everywhere!

July 20th is Space Exploration Day, honouring the day humans first touched foot on the moon (that we know of anyway).

My buddy Wesley King and I have space books that we think you'll love MINRS and The Incredible Space Raiders... from SPACE!

(But there are LOTS out there and we'd love to hear your suggestions too).

So, for the next month we want to celebrate Space Exploration by giving away some FREE stuff.

Here's the deal.

Tweet us a pic of you reading, using the hashtag #SpacedOutBooks.

Each week, two lucky winners will get a copy of either MINRs or Space Raiders 

And everyone who enters will be eligible for a grand prize.

On July 20th we'll pick three schools or libraries each for a free Skype visit this fall. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

RIP Mr. Hockey

Very sad to hear the news about Gordie Howe. Although what a great life.

I was lucky enough to see him play with Hartford when I was young and he was always a huge figure in my life as a hockey fan (I have a Gordie Howe Christmas ornament), and even as an illustrator.

This is a pic I drew of Gordie for my very first book, Shadrin Has Scored for Russia. It was one of the first pen-and-ink pics that I felt actually came close to what I wanted to draw.

For the sake of context, in the book the Russians win the 1972 Summit Series - and hockey collapses in Canada. Wayne Gretzky becomes a curler and Gordie Howe moves to Moscow, where he becomes known as Comrade Hockey (check out the vanity plates).

(The book is no longer available - unless you want a copy from me. Tonnes in my attic.)

On the way!

Nice to see both MINRs2 and GREAT get nods in the Quill and Quire 

Fall Preview.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


The Writers' Union of Canada has launched a new campaign - #WhyWritersMatter

Wow. That's a tough idea to unpack - because there are so many reasons why we need writers to tell us stories, take us to new places, allow us avenues outside of ourselves and more deeply inside ourselves.

I guess my main response to the campaign is that writers - both of fiction and non-fiction - help us ask the big questions about life. Stories give us ways inside the complexities of our lives as humans, giving us new ways of looking at things. The Great Gatsby helps us ponder what true success means, what identity means... just as much as Where the Wild Things Are helps us understand (and even accept) anger and frustration.

In closing.. here are some of my author photos from my various books.

Can you guess which books?

(A: Neil Flambé 2, 4, 5, 6 - MINRs and Super-Duper Monster Viewer)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Super-Duper Monster Viewer

I use my tablet a LOT to talk to my family. They just live way too far away.

And those chats partly inspired the images from my book Super-Duper Monster Viewer (just out from Groundwood).

So I made a short video thanking the people who designed that amazing tech... even if it can be somewhat "imprecise" at times.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


The Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading is my fave reading award program.

And this year's festivities got underway yesterday in London, Ontario. 

There's even a cool app that let's you take photos like this!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Duncan's mission

You may remember this Hallowe'en picture of one of my fans, an awesome kid named Duncan.

He suffered a loss recently when his best friend Connor took his own life.

Since then, Duncan has been raising awareness and funds for Kids Help Phone. 1-800-668-6868

There was a Walk So Kids Can Talk walk in memory of Connor today. You can still donate through the LINK.

Duncan has also been baking these amazing Star Wars cookies to raise some money.

This is a great cause, and something we are often afraid to talk about. Talk about it. 1-800-668-6868

This is the booth Duncan set up at the kids market a few weeks ago to raise money and pass along the phone number. 

I'll leave you with what Duncan wrote me about his friend.

"Connor was a kind and caring person.  He loved reading, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, board games and art.  He was creative and really smart. He was in the book club at school and used to be a library helper.   He was a grade 8 student and was going to go to a specialized robotics programme for grade 8. Connor took his own life in February.  He had just turned 14."

Friday, April 15, 2016


Just announced.

MINRs is one of TWO Canadian Library Association Honour Books!

And my friends Ken and Jon won for The Nest!

Seems like a good day for a celebration.

I guess I'll open this bottle of wine Simon and Schuster sent me when the book got nominated!

Sunday, April 3, 2016


It is School Library Month right now, so I thought I'd share a part of my school presentations that deals with my favorite part of the school.

I loved my school library (Lewiston-Porter in Western New York). It was where I met George Gershwin (we had an audio room where you could listen to LPs), Beatrix Potter and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was the one part of the school where I felt that I also had a say in what I learned and how I learned.

It was also the place where I learned I was going to be a writer.

This is the story I tell (right after I instruct the kids to bow down to their own teacher-librarian... which they do).....

I walked into my library around 4th grade. My teacher-librarian had set up a movie screen, which was a little odd (back in the stone age).

She said that this was a movie about writing. She said that I would know, when it was over, if I was going to be a writer.

Then I reenact the movie.

You see a scared young girl running through the forest. You only see her, not what's chasing her. 

She looks back and screams, then trips and falls in a puddle.

She gets up soaking wet, looks back and screams again. She begins running again.

Suddenly, right in front of her, in the middle of the forest, there's a door.

The door opens a crack and a light shines through. She runs through the door, closes it.... and that's the end of the movie.

The kids always groan.

Then I repeat what my librarian said to me... What happens next?

I wanted to know what happened so badly that I went home and wrote four different possible endings.

The kids always have some idea in their own heads too... so I point out that they are writing too.

So, if you are in a school that's lucky enough to have a teacher-librarian, make sure you take some time this month to bow down to them! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I started my SKYPE touring today with a couple great chats - with schools in Maine and Texas.

If you're interested, the details are all on the home page.

Here are some nice pics that Madeline (from St. Thomas Squinas in Dallas) took from today's talk.

Monday, March 7, 2016


Got some great news this week!

MINRS is up for the CLA book of the year!

And its also been nominated in not one, but TWO categories in the TOME Student Literacy Society book awards in Georgia!

And, after an amazing visit to Manitoulin Island this week, I got home and the nice folks at Simon and Schuster sent me a present!

There’s a great study guide that the good folks at Simon and Schuster have set up at the site for the series,

There’s also a silly trailer video I made that’s up on YouTube.

If the kids have any questions, I’d love to answer them. They can tweet me anything. They can also write me, or email me or contact me HERE.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Neil 3-D

About a year ago I made a clay bust of Neil Flambé's head... but never finished it.

Decided this was the week.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Postcards! Doodles!

The great folks at Simon and Schuster make up postcards for my latest books.

I've been signing them all day, and always put a free doodle on there as well!

I pass them out when I do my school visits (more info on that HERE).

Neil Flambé #6 - Neil Flambé and the Duel in the Desert - is in bookstores February 23rd!

Sunday, January 31, 2016


My book Baseballogy gives kids an introduction to the history, rules, stats and more of baseball.

Today (Jan 31) is Jackie Robinson's birthday. This is an infographic of how the game changed after 1947.

The book was just named an Ontario Library Association Best Bet for 2016!

Friday, January 22, 2016

One month countdown!

Neil Flambé and the Duel in the Desert comes out in in ONE MONTH!

This is the 6th book in the series.

Neil finds himself in Arizona, searching the desert for a lost gold mine.

Neil is being chased by an evil crazed sheriff named Joe Aprende. (I was doing school visits in Phoenix and Chandler a couple of years back and visited the Kyrene Aprende school - and they made me promise to name a character after them!)

I always open and close the Neil books with maps or postcards from the place they visit. Larry doodles all over them. Here's the endpaper version.

You can find out what all those doodles mean on February 23rd.

So, maybe a giveaway to celebrate.

I've got an original version of from the cover (see below) to give away. All you have to do is tag me on twitter (@kevinarts) or instagram (@sylvesterartwork) with the hashtag #NeilCactus

Bonus points if you add a pic of you reading an earlier book from the series.

I'll pick a winner on the book birthday for #6.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

9th planet? Old news....

Big news that there appears to be evidence (because of the wobbles of other objects in the Kuiper Belt) of a 9th planet!

Sounds familiar to me.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Glamorous life of a writer/illustrator

I was recently interviewed by

We used an older image of my in my attic studio for the page.... and it looked so tidy!

Well, I just handed in the rewrite for MINRS2 (due out in September - actually one of 4 books I have coming out in 2016!)

I tend to focus on one thing when I'm working... work.

This is what my studio looks like this morning...


Time to clean.