Having visited every other major Canadian city, I felt like it was time to explore Toronto, so last week I packed up my family and went. It turned out to be a wonderful family vacation / business trip.
We rented a cute little condo in a great location near the Roger's Centre. We spent most of our time exploring and going on picnics. We took in a baseball game and got Felix a Blue Jays cap. Checked out China Town, Kensington Market, Queen Street, downtown, Roncesvalles, the water front...
I finally got to visit Type Books, and had quite a good time in that beautiful and well curated store. I picked up several books, including Sidewalk Flowers, which I somehow still didn't own. But it felt appropriate to purchase it in Toronto since that's where the story is set. We got delicious fish and chips from Chippy's for lunch that day and had a picnic in Trinity Bellwoods Park across the street.
I reached out to my favourite Toronto publishers and was overjoyed when a few of them were able to meet with me. It was wonderful to meet the companies I admire, to be able to put faces to names, and hopefully start some longterm professional relationships. I, unfortunately, wasn't able to meet up with the publishers that were located far from downtown since I was using public transit to get around and time was limited.
I think the highlight of this trip was finally getting to meet Christie Harkin and Andrew Larsen. These two people have been among my biggest cheerleaders over the last 5 or so years. Christie was the first person in publishing to see the potential for picture books in my work and gave me my first book contract when she was an editor at Fitzhenry & Whiteside. My first experience illustrating a picture book for a publisher was wonderful because of her. I learned so much and she's been supportive ever since.
Andrew wrote both of the books that I illustrated. How lucky was I to have been paired with him. I have been getting beautiful and encouraging emails from this man ever since the first time he was shown my illustrations for Bye, Bye, Butterflies!
A few days ago I met up with Christie and Andrew for lunch and I hugged them both. It was so great to finally meet them. And they were every bit as lovely in person as I thought they'd be.