Member Profile

Please note: All profiles are member-generated.

Willow Dawson

Photo: Portrait by Owlkids Books 2015

Willow Dawson’s picture book The Wolf-Birds (Owlkids Books) is a finalist for The 2017 Ontario Library Association Blue Spruce Award, The 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, The 2016 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and The 2016 Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award. Her book Avis Dolphin (Groundwood Books, Canada; Mondadori, Italy) with Frieda Wishinsky has also been shortlisted for The 2016 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature, The 2016 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and The 2016 IODE Violet Downey Book Award.

Some of her other books include, Ghost Limb (self-published), Hyena in Petticoats (Penguin Books), Lila and Ecco's Do-It-Yourself Comics Club (Kids Can Press), and No Girls Allowed with Susan Hughes (Kids Can Press). She is currently illustrating White as Milk, Red as Blood, a collection of forgotten fairy tales by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, translated by award winning translator and editor Shelley Tanaka (Knopf Canada, ETA 2018). Her books are supported by the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Dawson's illustration clients include: Knopf Canada, Groundwood Books, Penguin Canada, Kids Can Press, Owl Magazine, OwlKids Books, Annick Press, Top Shelf Comics, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., Metaviews, Jesse Hirsh, YWCA Canada and more. She teaches Creating Comics and Graphic Novels at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies and does regular Author Visits to schools, libraries and museums.

Phone number:


White as Milk, Red as Blood . Knopf Canada, ETA: 2018
Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush. Second Story Press, 2016
The Wolf-Birds. Owlkids Books, 2015
Avis Dolphin. Groundwood Books, 2015
My Girlfriend's Pregnant! A Teen's Guide to Becoming a Dad. Annick Press, 2015
The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea. Kids Can Press, 2012
Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung. Puffin Canada, 2011
Lila and Ecco's Do-It-Yourself Comics Club. Kids Can Press, Fall 2010
No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure (with Susan Hughes). Kids Can Press, 2008
100 Mile House. Excerpts published by Top Shelf 2.0, 2000's


Finalist for the Joe Shuster Comics for Kids Award for No Girls Allowed (with Susan Hughes), 2009
Finalist for the Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children's Non-Fiction for No Girls Allowed (with Susan Hughes), 2009
Strange Horizons Readers' Choice Awards: Favorite Gallery, 1st Place for Violet Miranda: Girl Pirate (with Emily Pohl-Weary), 2005
Junior Library Guild Premier Selection for No Girls Allowed (with Susan Hughes), 2008
Finalist for the ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award for No Girls Allowed (with Susan Hughes), 2009
Finalist for the Cybils Graphic Novel Award for No Girls Allowed (with Susan Hughes), 2009
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :


Presentation Description

Willow likes to work with a general framework for her presentations informed by the teachers or librarians but which is open enough to accommodate the needs of her audience in the moment. She likes to let people ask questions throughout so that she is able to gauge interest areas and adjust as necessary. When she can, Willow tries to work in how she overcame the reading and writing difficulties she faced as a child only to become both an author and illustrator today! Teachers and librarians love her because her presentations are lively, informative, interactive and inspiring.

JK to grade 3 – 60 minutes: Storytelling session plus Q&A on The Wolf-Birds.
This is a lively presentation with kids making animal sounds along with Willow as she reads from her picture book The Wolf-Birds, about wolf and raven symbiosis. She discusses her research and reveals some of the scientific information she embedded into the artwork.

Grades 4 to 7 – 60 minutes. Presentations include an overview of the book of choice with a bit of historical background and information on how she creates a graphic novel, including: research, writing, illustrating, editing and revising.

Avis Dolphin: World War I, the sinking of the Lusitania, life in the 1910’s, friendship, the power of storytelling, survival. Collaborating with an author.

Hyena in Petticoats: Nellie McClung, The Famous Five, early Canada, feminism, women’s rights, suffrage, enfranchisement, The Persons Case. Life in the 1920’s – 1940’s.

No Girls Allowed: Hatshepsut, Mu Lan, Alfhild, Esther Brandeau, James Barry, Ellen Craft, Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, girls dressed as boys, women’s rights. Collaborating with an author.

Grades 7 to 12 – 60 minutes. Biography, autobiography and memoir. Willow uses the above books as well as her ongoing work on 100 Mile House (memoir) to discuss the differences and similarities, challenges and joys of writing biography, autobiography and memoir graphic novels. This presentation includes personal stories and anecdotes, including how she found her voice and became an author and illustrator.

Maximum group sizes for presentations: 45 for JK to Grade 3. 100+ for everyone else.

Presentation Length:
1 hour
Comics, graphic novels, picture books
All grades
Audience size:
Workshop Description:

Workshops can be adjusted to suit the needs of any age group. They also work well for Writers’ Craft classes.

Character Development
Creating Tension and Drama, Creating Humour
Panel Transitions
Words and Pictures
Writing Great Dialogue
From Script to Thumbnails
Art Stages: Penciling, Inking, Colouring (includes an overview of design and lettering)
Other topics upon request

Writer-in-Residence Program – 3-10 (or more) sessions. 60-120 minutes each. Participants get in-depth, hands on experience with each stage of the process of creating a comic or graphic novel, as well as a window into the worlds of self-publishing (‘zines and webcomics) and publishing (working with Editors, Art directors, and Publishers). Each stage of the process is handled in a separate session with an end goal of developing their stories into finished 1-3 page comics that are then photocopied and bound together as a small, collective comics ‘zine.

Workshops and Writer-in-Residence programs work best with smaller groups, around 15-20 participants.

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