Judging Panel

Every year, we curate a 12-strong judging panel comprised of previous KW4K winners, award-winning Canadian authors, established poets, editors, journalists and avid readers. This year, we are honoured to have award-winning authors Ekiuwa Aire and Andrea Lynn Beck, and Oscar-nominated film director, Graham Annable, join our panel.

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Sumal Ashfaq

Sumal Ashfaq is a ninth grader residing in Southern Ontario. She’s an aspiring writer and poet who loves experimenting with different styles of literature. Sumal draws her inspiration from numerous novels, and the outdoors, capturing them both in her writing and as doodles in her sketchbook. The Wonder of Words was selected as one of the winners of the 2020-2021 Kids Write 4 Kids Contest. She is excited to be on this year’s judging panel!

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Olivia Hashem

Olivia Hashem is fourteen years old, and last year she won the Kids Write 4 Kids contest with her story, ‘Learning to Fly’. Olivia adores reading, writing, and acting. In fact, she is currently on track to publish her very first novel. She is honored to be coming back this year to judge some amazing pieces!

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Ekiuwa Aire

Ekiuwa Aire is an award-winning children’s book author. She is passionate about sharing positive stories on African history with children. Ekiuwa’s debut title Idia of the Benin Kingdom has been the recipient of the Children’s Africana Book Awards, Kidsshelf Book Awards, and Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her second book is titled Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba. You can sign up for her newsletter to receive new releases on upcoming books at her website.

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Graham Annable

Graham Annable is a cartoonist and an Oscar-nominated film director. He has worked nearly 30 years as a professional in the animation industry — video games, television, and movies — and has simultaneously maintained a strong output of published comics and stories throughout the years. From the Harvey-nominated Grickle books to his popular series, Peter & Ernesto, a graphic novel narrative for early readers that won the 2021 Canadian Silver Birch Express Award, Mr. Annable continues to bring his unique storytelling abilities to a wide variety of mediums. His upcoming work is a graphic novel for middle school audiences.

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Andrea Lynn Beck

Andrea Beck is an award-winning author illustrator of 19 picture books, including recent fiction/nonfiction titles about Canada and the world. She first published with her Elliot Moose series and consulted as the underlying creator for its television show, which aired for 10 years. Her book, Good Morning, Canada, was chosen for the TD Grade One Giveaway in 2017. Her stories have a theme of friendship, connection, and focus on children as a community. Andrea has travelled from coast to coast and way up north, visiting hundreds of schools and libraries in Canada, inspiring children to explore their inner author / illustrator.

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Jeffrey Canton

Jeffrey Canton is the children’s book columnist for The Globe and Mail and a lecturer at the Life Institute and the Baycrest Classroom. For 15 years, he lectured in the Children’s Studies program at York University. Jeffrey’s long been connected with the children’s literature community in Canada, working for Toronto Public Library and Canadian Children’s Book Centre. He has also served as the national executive director of The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair and was on the jury for the IODE’s Violet Downey Children’s Book Award. In 2019, Jeffrey was the recipient of Storytelling Toronto’s Alice Kane Award.

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Inderjit Deogun

Inderjit Deogun is the Books for Young People Editor/Senior Editor at Quill & Quire. Her aim is to increase diversity in children’s literature and help young people find books that not only acknowledge their presence but also celebrate their potential. Inderjit’s work has appeared in the Canadian Children’s Book News and CM: Canadian Review of Materials. Her love of reading began as a child with E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. As an adult, her reading list continues to be long and never ending!

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Emily Keeler

Emily M. Keeler is a writer and editor in Toronto. Her writing has been published in the Guardian, CNQ, the Los Angeles Times, the Globe and Mail, the New Inquiry, Brick, and collected in Best Canadian Essays. As an editor, Emily has helmed the National Post’s book section and has served as a senior editor at The Walrus and Toronto Life. Many moons ago, she was also the Toronto editor for Joyland, a website devoted to short stories. Currently, Emily is at work on a novel about being perceived.

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Dwayne Morgan

Dwayne Morgan began his career in the spoken word in 1993. Affectionally called the Godfather of the Canadian spoken word by his peers, Morgan is the author of 14 published and 9 audio collections of his work. Morgan is a 2021 finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award, a 2016 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a 2013 inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame. To date, Morgan has shared his work in 18 countries internationally.

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Becky Toyne

Becky Toyne is a freelance books columnist, writer and editor. She is the “Should I Read It?” columnist for Day 6 on CBC Radio One, and has been talking about books on CBC radio shows across Canada for more than a decade. Her writing about books, authors and publishing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star, and on open-book.ca. A former bookseller and career-long literary cheerleader, Becky has spent the better part of twenty years sharing her enthusiasm for books and the magic of reading.

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Jed Churcher

An avid writer since childhood, Jed is an award-winning advertising writer and creative director, Jed has spent over 20 years writing for many of the world’s biggest brands. However, none of that compares to the joy he felt while reading bedtime stories to his kids when they were younger. Even better were the nights he’d improvise stories about the adventures of Abby, their family dog, and the countless ways she’d save the day.

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Stephanie Lang

Stephanie’s parents taught her to read before she was old enough for school. Kid’s versions of Don Quixote, Beowulf and Greek myths were as familiar as Dr. Seuss and fairy tales. A love of the interplay of words and images has remained a constant in her life, from her studies at the University of Toronto and OCAD, to her work in graphic design. In her spare time, she reads and writes poetry, plays the ukulele, and tries every craft she can get her hands on.