An award-winning writer and producer of children’s television, Cheryl Wagner was creator and show-runner of the highly successful 100-episode preschool series THE BIG COMFY COUCH. Big Comfy Couch was awarded two Emmys, a Gemini and an ACT Award of Excellence.
Cheryl was also creative producer on Gemini-winning preschool program POKO and was co-creator of the animated series Bo on the Go.
Cheryl’s career in children’s entertainment began in theatre as a puppeteer and clown. She’s very proud of and grateful for her years working closely with Jim Henson on Fraggle Rock and Ernie Coombs on Mr. Dressup.
Vicki Grant has been called “a superb storyteller” (The Canadian Children’s Book Centre) and “one of the funniest writers working today” (The Vancouver Sun). She began her career as an advertising copywriter, moved on to writing scripts for Theodore Tugboat, Big Comfy Couch and her own Gemini-winning series Scoop & Doozie before graduating to YA fiction. Her novels have won The Red Maple, The Arthur Ellis Award and CBC’s Young Canada Reads as well as been shortlisted for The Edgar, CLA Children’s Book of the Year and numerous Forest of Reading awards. Her latest novel, 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You, has been translated into 17 languages and recently optioned for film.
Amy is the author of the children’s book One Christmas in Lunenburg and spent most of her adult life as a wordsmith in one form or another. She’s written passionately about life in Nova Scotia as a contributor to CBC Radio, as a contributor to Saltscapes Magazine, and as a copywriter for Nova Scotia Tourism. Her current gig is Director, Sales & Marketing at Blue Ocean in Halifax. Amy cherishes the books that made her laugh as a kid and instilled a life-long love of reading. To be perfectly honest, Ramona Quimby still makes her laugh out loud.
Vikki VanSickle is an award-winning author, educator, and advocate for children's books. Frequently referred to as 'Canada's Judy Blume,' her novels include the Words That Start With B trilogy, Summer Days, Starry Nights, and The Winnowing. Her picture books include If I Had a Gryphon, Teddy Bear of the Year and Anonymouse. Vikki started her career as an independent bookseller and spent 12 years working in children's publishing. When she isn't writing, Vikki curates a kids' book segment for CTV Your Morning and is an advocate for menstrual equity.
Paul Coccia is the author of the award-winning Cub, The Player, and the upcoming titles I Got You Babe and On The Line cowritten with Eric Walters. He has a specialist in English Literature from UofT, an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and is recommended on several Pride and LGBTQIA2S+ must-read lists. He’s often found baking in his Toronto kitchen with his nephew, three dogs and gray parrot with a red tail.
Heather Doepner is a seasoned youth services librarian at Halifax Public Libraries. She is a lifelong learner of languages, music and techniques for making things but reading is her daily bread. Heather enjoys fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels and picture books by the pile, sometimes reading aloud to her two wunderbar sons far past bedtime. She gets great satisfaction from helping emerging and fully fledged readers find the next “just right” book.
Pearl has an extensive background in education and communications, with a particular passion for children and youth-focused initiatives. In addition to designing and implementing programs, she has been a board member for a number of organizations dedicated to underserved youth. She believes that humour is a key ingredient in helping children and youth thrive, and Funny Pages’ focus on literacy and laughter is a winning combination.
Chad Lucas is the author of two middle-grade novels, THANKS A LOT, UNIVERSE (2021), and the forthcoming LET THE MONSTER OUT (2022), both from Amulet Books/Abrams Kids. He has a background in journalism, where he's spent time as a newspaper reporter, parenting columnist, freelance writer, and part-time writing instructor in the University of King's College journalism program. He's currently working as a director of communications in the provincial civil service. He hails from the historic African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville, and his family of six currently leaves just outside Halifax.
Rashida Symonds is an African-Canadian woman with Indigenous ancestry. She is an educator at the Nova Scotia Community College and has worked in education in many diverse capacities. Rashida is a writer and speaker who is instrumental in creating curriculum for African-Canadian Studies courses used in Adult Education Programs in Nova Scotia. She works within her community as a mentor, counsellor, and advocate for those needing support to rebuild and enrich their lives. She is working to promote and facilitate restoration in all communities, with a special focus on her historic Black Nova Scotian community. Her brands Unify Tribe and Mighty Royal Energy help to promote literacy, wellbeing, education, and self-awareness.
David is a corporate lawyer with the law firm Stewart McKelvey in Halifax, where he works with companies, boards of directors, and investors. He is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University and the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. As a lawyer, David spends all day every day reading big dusty old books and hopes the books he gets to read as part of the festival are much, much funnier.