Member Profile

Please note: All profiles are member-generated.

Sue Farrell Holler

Mailing her homework to her great-grandfather was a Grade 4 assignment gone bad. But as with many mistakes, it had a good ending: the failed project set Sue on a path of writing every day as she accumulated more than 100 penpals throughout North America.

That habit led her to a career in journalism where she learned to ask questions, listen attentively, and write the type of articles people keep in scrapbooks.

Originally from Cape Breton Island and now living in northern Alberta, Sue writes for children of all ages – from preschool to young adult.

Her YA novel, Cold White Sun, was a 2019 finalist for a Governor General’s Award for literature for young people – text.

It’s the story of a child refugee who flees Ethiopia and arrives in Calgary confused, frightened and very alone. Kirkus Reviews called it an “emotionally gripping work of fiction…A profound, heartbreaking narrative filled with loss, confusion, displacement, and longing.”

Additionally, her titles include the middle grade novel Lacey and the African Grandmothers that’s set on a First Nation’s reserve, and two picture books that are set in rural towns. All of her books are based on true stories.

A journalist by profession, her books acknowledge our critical need for human connection. Sue believes fervently in the power of stories to connect us, one to the other. She believes we must tell our stories and listen to the stories of others.

Sue also writes for adults. Her work as a feature writer and newspaper columnist has appeared in local, regional and national publications.

For more information: 

Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada


Cold White Sun. Groundwood Books, 2019
Lacey & the African Grandmothers. Second Story, 2009
To the Pool with Mama. Annick Press, 2000
To the Post Office with Mama. Annick Press, 1994


Governor General's Award Finalist for Cold White Sun, 2019
Rocky Mountain Book Awards, Finalist for Lacey & the African Grandmothers, 2011
Exporting Alberta Award, Cdn Authors' Assn, Honourable Mention for Lacey & the African Grandmothers, 2010
Year’s Best 2010, Resource Links for Lacey & the African Grandmothers, 2010
Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” Award for To the Pool with Mama, 2000
“Year’s Best 2000,” Resource Links for To the Pool with Mama, 2000
Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” Award for To the Post Office with Mama, 1995
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :


Presentation Description

Perseverance, hope and love in action are the hallmarks of Sue Farrell Holler’s work. An experienced presenter and workshop leader, her sessions are interactive, engaging and designed to get kids excited about reading, writing, and telling stories.


Grades K-3 – Picture books

With a combination of storytelling and reading from her picture books Sue brings students a message of perseverance and following your heart. “To the Post Office with Mama” and “To the Pool with Mama” are both set in rural communities.

Interspersed with reading her stories from over-sized books or on a Smartboard, Sue talks about becoming a writer and her mother’s unfailing belief and encouragement. She also discusses the parts of a book and how to find it in the library.

Grades 4-6 – Lacey & the African Grandmothers

Set on the Siksika First Nation in Alberta, “Lacey” is based on the true story of a girl who uses her ingenuity and talents to help African women who are raising AIDS orphans.

This session is a strong introduction to First Nations’ culture as Sue tells the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. This is a story of forgiveness and hope. In addition, she brings a smudge bowl and digital photos of the real people and the real place behind the novel to aid discussion of what she learned while researching the story.

Grades 4-6 and 7-9 – Cold White Sun

Empathy, understanding and seeking about us what is the same – rather than what is different – are the messages behind this session. Everyone has a story and sometimes the best thing we can do is listen and learn and find out what we have in common.

Sue’s newest book, "Cold White Sun," tells the story of a child refugee from Ethiopia who arrives in Calgary one cold spring evening. He is disoriented, alone and has no resources. Bolstered by extensive research and interviews over a six-month period, this is an emotionally-charged novel based on a true story that details Tesfaye’s life in Ethiopia, his eventual escape, and what happens to him in Canada.

"Cold White Sun" is a YA title with themes possibly disturbing to younger students. Teachers considering this session are advised to first read the book to determine its suitability for their classes.


Grades 10-12 & Adult

The research and writing of "Cold White Sun" is the focus of this session in which Sue talks about how her awareness of Africa and the plight of refugees grew as she interviewed, researched and wrote about one refugee. This YA novel opened her eyes to her own culture and some of the difficulties newcomers face.

With broad experience as a journalist and author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, Sue is happy to respond to audience Q&A’s about “how-to” and careers in the literary arts.

Presentation Length:
1 hour
Children's Literature
K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12
Audience size:
Maximum 75
Workshop Description:

Writing Workshops – Grade 5-Adult

Students who say they “can’t write” or “hate to write” tend to prove themselves wrong in Sue’s writing workshops, surprising themselves and fellow students.

Especially relevant to Grade 6 students preparing for provincial achievement tests and high school students facing English exams that include creative writing, Sue leads hands-on workshops designed to get students developing plots quickly and writing with intensity and creativity.

Sessions in journalism are also available.


Northern OAC WITS:
One session:
Two sessions:
Three sessions:
Four sessions:
One session:
Two sessions:
Three sessions:
Four sessions:
GST applicable