Readings and Performances

  • SCBWI San Diego Writers Intensive
  • Vancouver Writer's Festival
  • NCTE (Houston)
  • California School Librarians Association
  • Tucson Book Festival
  • Orange County (Calif) Children's Book Festival
  • SCBWI Canada East Keynote
  • Frye Fest
  • Harbourfront Aloud 
Children's Festival
  • 3X Canada Council National 
  • Author Tour
  • Word on the Street Festival
  • Owl Magazine Anniversary Celebration
  • Kids Can Press Anniversary Celebration
  • Hundreds of school and library appearances across Canada

Helaine Becker is an award-winning writer of books for children. She has written over 80 books, including the best-selling picture books, Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13Sloth at the ZoomA Porcupine in a Pine Tree, Deck the Halls, and Dashing Through the Snowpopular non-fiction, including Worms for BreakfastZoobotsMonster Science and Don't Stress!; and novels including GottikaDirk Daring, Secret Agent, and How to Survive Absolutely Anything.

She also writes for children's magazines and for kids television. She has written four seasons of Dr. Greenie's Mad Lab, a segment on Planet Echo, an environmental science show airing on APTN , and is hard at work on several other TV projects.

Helaine is a popular presenter and performer at schools across Canada and the US - and internationally. She was selected  to tour four times for Canadian Children’s Book Week (Yukon in 2006 Nunavut in 2008, Manitoba in 2014, and Quebec in 2019). She has presented at Vancouver Writers Fest, Tucson Festival of Book, IFOA, World Science Festival (NY), the Festival of Women Writers, Frye Fest, Weaving Words, and other major venues. She has also been the keynote speaker at SCBWI Canada East's regional conference in 2016 and SCBWI San Diego in 2019. She has also taught at International schools in Ethiopia, Peru, Vietnam and China.

Both an American and Canadian citizen, Ms. Becker attended high school in New York and graduated cum laude from Duke University in another century. She is married, with two sons, and is an active swimmer, runner, cyclist, and compulsive read-aholic.  She has an orange belt in karate and is contemplating going for her grapefruit belt. 

Helaine loves bright shiny colorful things, especially happy faces and flowers. She is crazy about fluffy dogs, coral reefs,  ice cream and color-changing nailpolish.

Photo credits: Heather Rivlin, Karl Szasz, Michael Szasz

Partial List of Publications by Helaine Becker

Groundwood Books
Pirate Queen (upcoming, 2020)

Henry Holt and Co.
Counting on Katherine (2018)
  2019 Cook Prize Shortlist – Bank Street
  2019 ALA Amelia Bloomer Project Selection
  2019 Clover Award (VT) Shortlist
  2019 NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books 
  2018 Junior Library Guild Selection
  2018 CCBC Best Books 2018 Starred Review 
  2018 Chicago Pub. Library Best Books of the Year
  2019 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books
  2018 Children’s Book Review Best Nonfiction Picture Books 
  2018 OLA Best Bets for 2018

Title IX (upcoming, 2020)
Eleanor Finds a Home (upcoming, 2021)

National Geographic Kids
Everything: Space (2015)
   2016 Silver Birch Award shortlist

Scholastic Canada
The Canadian Kids’ Guide to Outdoor Fun (2019)
Merry Quizmas! (2018)
Stress Less! (2018)
You’ve Got This! (upcoming, 2019)
Do Beavers Eat Poutine? Quiz Book (2017)
Deck the Halls (2016)
Don’t Stress! (2016)
Top Secret Quiz Book (2016)
Would You Survive? Quiz Book (2015)
Quiz Book About Me…and You! (2015)
Dashing Through the Snow (2014)
   2014 National Bestseller
  2018 CCBC Best Books for Kids/Teens 
Quiz Book for BFFs 2 (2014)
Do You Dare? (2014)
Ode to Underwear (2013)
Little Jack Horner, Live from the Corner (2013)
   2013 OLA Best Bet – Hon. Mention
   Resource Links, Year’s Best Books
A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (2010)
   2011 #1 National Bestseller
   2012,2013, 2014 National Bestseller  
   2015 100 Best Canadian Books of All Time – Today’s Parent
   Globe and Mail Bestseller 
   CBC Bestseller 
   Quill & Quire Bestseller 
   CBA Bestseller 
   Winner, CBA Libris Awards - Picture Book of the Year, 2011 
   Best Books for Kids and Teens, 2011 
   CBC Children's Book Pick, 2011 
   OLA Best Bets Top Ten Picture Book
   Resource Links, Year's Best 2010 
The Haunted House that Jack Built (2010)
The Hilarious History of Hockey (2010)
   2011 Hackmatack Award Shortlist
Quiz Book for Boys (2010)
Quiz Book for Girls (2011)
Quiz Book for Spies (2012)
Quiz Books for BFFs (2012)
Looney Bay All-Stars Fiction Series:
Vol. 1 Pirate Power Play (2006)  
   2007 ‘Our Choice’ Selection 
Vol. 2 Attack by Knight (2006)  
   2007 ‘Our Choice’ Selection 
Vol. 3 Vikings Have a Field Day (2007) 
Vol. 4 Explorers out of Bounds (2007)
Vol. 5 The Emperor Strikes Out (2007)
Vol. 6 Egyptian Slam Dunk (2008)
Vol. 7 Final Faceoff (2008) 

DK Books
Our Great Prime Ministers (2017)
   2018 CCBC BEST BOOKS for Kids/Teens  

Dancing Cat Books
Gottika (2014)
   2014 CCBC Best Books for Kids/Teens
   2015 Sydney Taylor YA Notable Book

Orca Books 
You Can Read (2017)
  2017 Resource Links The Year's Best  
  2018 CLEL Bell Award Shortlist
  2018 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada  
Dirk Daring, Secret Agent (2014)
  2015 CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens Dirk Daring 2:Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (2016)

Owlkids Books
Gert and Alice (upcoming, 2020)
Sloth Goes to the Zoom (2018)
   2018 First and Best 2018 – Toronto Public Library
Worms for Breakfast (2016)
   2017 Willow Award Shortlist
  2016 Junior Library Guild Selection
  2016 Silver Birch Award shortlist
  2016 CCBC Best Books for Kids and 
  Teens – Starred Selection
  2017 Hackmatack Award Shortlist

Kids Can Press  
Emmy! (upcoming, 2020)
That’s No Dino! (upcoming, 2020)
Megabugs! (upcoming, 2019)
HuBots (2018)
  2018 Calif.Reading Assoc Eureka 
  Silver Award
Lines, Bars and Circles (2017)
  2018 Bank Street Best Books of 2018
  2017 CCBC Best books for Kids Starred Selection
  2017 Calif.Reading Assoc Eureka 
  Silver Award 
Monster Science (2016)
  2018 NYC Reads 365 List
  2017 Silver Birch Award Honour Book 
  2016 Lane Anderson Award Shortlist
  2017 Hackmatack Award Shortlist
  2017 Rocky Mountain Award Shortlist
  2016 Calif.Reading Assoc Eureka 
  Silver Award 
  2016 OLA Best Bet
Zoobots (2014)
  2015 Diamond Willow Award Shortlist
  2015 CSWA Science In Society Youth Book Shortlist
  2014 Junior Library Guild Selection
  2014 Capital Choices Best Books Nominee
  2014 Silver Birch Honour Book
  2014 CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens
  – Starred Selection
Alphabest (2012)
   2013 Shortlist – National Cartoonists’ Society Best Book Illustration
The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea (2012)
  2013 Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children
  2013 CSWA Outstanding Youth Book Award
  2013 Shortlist Red Cedar Award
  2013 Longlist – Information Book Award
  2014 Shortlist – Rocky Mountain Award

Tundra Books 
Juba This, Juba That (2011)

Fitzhenry and Whiteside 
Trouble in the Hills (2011) (YA)
How to Survive (2012) (YA)

Mapletree Press/Owl (Non-fiction)
Magic up Your Sleeve (2010)
   2010 OLA Best Bet – Top 10 Nonfiction
What’s the Big Idea? (2009)
   2011 Best of the Year –Resourcelinks
  2011 Silver Birch Honour Award
  2010 Cdn Toy Testing Council Best Books
  2010 CCBC Best Books for Kids &Teens
  2010 Longlist – Information Book Award
  2009 OLA Best Bet – Top 10 Nonfiction
The Insecto-files (2009)
   2010 Winner – Lane Anderson Science  
  Writing Award  
  2012 Shortlist – Red Cedar Award
  2011 Shortlist – Hackmatack Award  
  2010 CCBC Best Books for Kids &Teens
  2009 Shortlist – Silver Birch Award
Science on the Loose (2008) 64 pp. 
  2011 Shortlist – Red Cedar Award
  2009 OLA Best Bet
  2008 NAPPA Gold Award
  2008 Recommended – Canadian
  Children’s Book News
  2008 Great Books for Kids – Canadian
  Toy Testing Council  
  2008 CYBIL Nominee – YA/Middle
  Grade Non-fiction
Mother Goose Unplucked (2007)  
   2009 Shortlisted – Hackmatack Award
  2007 Best of 2007 – Resource Links
Secret Agent Y.O.U. (2006)  
   2008 Winner - Silver Birch Award 
  2009 Red Cedar Award
  2007 ‘Our Choice’ Selection
  2006 Best of the Year – Resource Links;
  Top Ten Canadian Non-fiction Books for Children – Ontario Library Association
Like A Pro (2006)  
   2007 Recommended – Canadian Toy
  Testing Council
  2007 Silver Medal Independent Publisher
  (IPPY) Juvenile/YA Non-fiction 
   2006 Nominee-Foreword Magazine Book of the Year
Funny Business (2005)  
   2007 Recommended – Canadian Toy
  Testing Council
  Shortlisted - Red Cedar Award
Are You Psychic? (2005)  
  2007 Shortlisted - Red Cedar Award
  2006 Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice Selection 
  2005 Ontario Library Association, Best Bets List 
  Top Ten Canadian Children's Books; Children’s Literature Roundtables, 
  Shortlist - Best Information Book of the Year
Boredom Blasters (2004)  
  2006 Winner - Silver Birch Award 
  2005 Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice Selection;
  Alberta Children's Choice, Shortlist—2006 Rocky Mountain Book Award 
  2004 Chapters/Indigo, Best of 2004; 
  Book Sense, Children's Picks List for Winter 2004-2005

Speeches, Workshops and Advice for Writers

Contact @helainebecker/twitter

Want to improve your craft? Get that first contract? Or get a better contract (and more of 'em!)? 

With more than 80 children's books under my belt and 20+ years experience in all facets of the publishing industry - as publishing professional, bookseller, education consultant, freelance magazine writer, TV writer, and professional markets writer - I can help. I can demystify all the markets for children's writing - trade, school, professional, school library, work for hire, and periodicals. 

When you hire me to lead an instructional session for your writer's group, you'll get no-nonsense facts, realistic assessments, industry insights, and a start-today road map your attendees can put into practice immediately.

Oh yeah - and I'm funny. And will give your group plenty of laughs as well as a good kick in the pants pep talk. No B.S. (boring speechifying)

I've spoken at: Packaging Your Imagination conference, Canadian Children's Book Centre Symposium, SCBWI Canada East (Keynote) SCBWI San Diego (Intensive Workshop) and many more. 

I also critique fiction and nonfiction. I've served as judge on several award committees including the NB Children's Book Award, Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children, Burlington Public Library, and Innisfil Public Library. 

Workshop/Speech Topics:

> Basic Business Skills for Writers **** TOP CHOICE****

ROI. B2B. Profit Centre. Supply Chain. Qualifying the Customer. If these and other business-related phrases strike fear in your heart, this workshop is for you. Learn the business basics you really need to jumpstart your writing career. Note: This class is not about the publishing business. It focuses on the skills you will need as a sole proprietor of a freelance writing business. Another Note: Helaine has been a full-time children’s author and speaker since 2002. Prior to that, she owned a school supply business and worked as a Sales and Marketing professional.

> Nonfiction Know How

The Common Core Curriculum specifically mandates nonfiction books for kids. What makes nonfiction work? How do you pitch and present a nonfiction idea to agents or editors? This all-true workshop gives you the info you need to make the sale. Note: Helaine has authored more than 40 traditionally published works of juvenile nonfiction, many of them award-winning. They have been translated into French, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Russian, Turkish, Hungarian and Chinese.

>Get your Funny On! 

Get ready to laugh out loud in this fun and funny hands-on workshop on boosting lateral thinking. Using proven techniques used by writers, comedians and cartoonists, you will learn how to unleash creative thinking skills and build upon them for side-splitting results. Association lists, the magic grid, defeating the blank page, doodling, the world’s worst first sentence and more! Lots of hands-on activities. Note: Helaine is well known across Canada as a “sit-down comedian.” She has published more than 30 trade books that include significant humor elements. She also wrote a comic segment on a kids TV show, Planet Echo.

> The Next Wave: Diversity in Picture Book Biographies

 We’re in a golden age for the picture book biography. Not only are they more sophisticated and beautiful than ever before, they are FINALLY beginning to feature a more diverse range of subjects – and authors. Learn about the imbalance in books about women subjects, and the imbalance in biographies by women writers in the children’s biography field. Find out how the new style of picture book biographies can be used to stimulate critical inquiry and literacy at all levels, from Kindergarten up to and including high school, and help readers as both “mirrors” and “windows.” And use all of this information to craft an award-winning biography of your own.

>Dreaming Up STEAM

Nonfiction for children, that underappreciated workhorse of the literary world, is currently undergoing a Renaissance. Print resources, especially in STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, are more innovative - and useful - than ever. Did you know, for example, that breaking news in science frequently appears first in children's books? In this session, we will shine white-hot laser beams on contemporary trends, explore how to evaluate STEAM children's books and produce ground-breaking, award-winning books that turn fact-finding into an adventure - and that editors will snap up!

Poetry Primer 

You've all heard it - no one buys poetry. It's (mostly) true. If you decide to buck the trend and try submitting verse regardless, be doubly-triply sure your poetry doesn't suck. 

 In this workshop, you'll learn the common faults most beginners make when writing rhyming verse, and how to make your verse sparkle like a brand new espresso machine (and pack the same punch!) Note: I've published 7 trade books of children’s verse, including Canada’s #1 National Bestseller, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree - with more than 300,000 copies sold.

> Writing Picture Books
A lot of people tell me they think writing picture books must be easy. Not on your life. Picture Books are tough - the equivalent of producing a full-scale opera on the page. Your successful picture book will needs all of the elements found in opera - compelling characters, great plot, action and drama, set design, costumes, music and dance - even if they feature a Pigeon. Learn the basics of how to create a compelling Carmen, a terrific Tosca, and a powerful Pigeon in 32 perfect pages. Note: I've published 16 picture books for the trade market (with more in the pipeline!), including Canada’s #1 National Bestseller, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree. 

>School Visits: How to Knock ‘Em out of the Park 
Is there anything more terrifying than 120 eighth graders, all their eyes on you? Yes – 120 eighth graders staring out the window. For many kidlit authors, learning how to hold an audience of under twelves is as key to a successful career as crafting the killer first paragraph. Luckily, successful school presentations are made not born. With some on-target skill development and a bit of practice, you can learn how to deliver a top-notch program for any grade range. In this presentation, you will learn about how to focus your presentation, connect with the audience, handle troublemakers (sometimes they're the teachers!) and fine tune your pacing. You’ll also learn some of the nuts and bolts of booking, managing invoices and book sales. Note: I present upwards of 50 times a year at schools, libraries  and festivals across North America and internationally. I've been selected four times to tour Canada to visit schools in remote regions including Nunuvut and Yukon. She delivered the keynote address twice for the Niagara School Division Silver Birch conference and spoke to over 4500 kids at the Peel School Board’s Forest of Reading Festival.  

Speakers Fees on Request. All speeches, workshops, etc. can be customized to meet your group's needs. 

One-on-One Critiques

I do a very limited number of one-on-one critiques of picture book texts and non-fiction proposals. These include a written review of your submission ( picture book text or nonfiction project synopsis and outline.) + 15 minute consultation via skype, facetime or telecon. $200 prepaid. 

Contact me at for further info or to book a time slot.


"Helaine Becker tells it like she sees it. A rarity among people in general, but even more so in the theoretically gentle world of children’s books. But, this is exactly what makes her such a compelling speaker, especially for other writers. She dishes out what you need to know, honestly, and adds a large dollop of encouragement. She can be funny too!" - Judy Brunsek, Director of Sales & Marketing, Owlkids Books

“You’ve told us things we’ve never heard at a writer’s conference before” – Debra, PAL author

“I wish everyone could have heard your talk.” – Christian Trimmer, Publisher, Henry Holt Books for Children

“One of the best lectures I have been to, and I'm not just saying that. I took seven pages of notes. The background information you gave for this was invaluable”.- Michelle D. – PAL author

“When the author, Helaine Becker came to the San Diego Chapter of SCBWI for a day of training, I did not anticipate the life-changing experience it was going to be. I found her presentation not only illuminating but entertaining. My pen couldn't write fast enough to capture her gems of wisdom about the creative process and publishing business. Her commonsense, professional advice was priceless. We have had brilliant, inspiring speakers through our SCBWI chapter. Helaine Becker's day in San Diego was one of the best."  - Kathleen K. – prepublished author