A prolific and award-winning writer of children’s books will visit Hay River and the Hay River Reserve next week.

Ontario’s Helaine Becker – who has written more than 70 books – will be here on Feb. 27 for a presentation at Chief Sunrise Education Centre and at NWT Centennial Library that evening.

Helaine Becker, an author of children’s books from Ontario, will be visiting Hay River later this month. photo courtesy of Helaine Becker

Becker said she is looking forward to coming to Hay River for the first time and returning to the North.

“I’ve been to the North a few times and have always loved it,” she told The Hub by e-mail. “I’ve wanted to come to Hay River, literally, for years.”

She used to own a company that shipped school supplies from Hay River via the barges.

Becker said her books are for everyone.

“I write everything from picture books to young adult novels, with a special emphasis on science and on humour. Frequently together,” she explained.

Her visits to schools and libraries seek to involve young readers.

“I usually introduce myself and read a poem and get kids thinking about what the purpose of reading and writing is,” she said. “Most of my sessions are usually Q&A – so I don’t waste kids’ time talking about stuff they don’t care about. We usually laugh a lot.”

Her favourite question during those Q&A sessions is: ‘Are you rich?’

Her answer is: “No – but I’m happy, and that’s better.”

It is fantastic to meet readers, said Becker. “I feel like the luckiest person on Earth to get to spend my days reading and learning and sharing what I know, then travelling around the world to get kids pumped.”

Becker’s books include the best-selling picture books A Porcupine in a Pine Tree and Dashing Through the Snow; chapter books, including the Looney Bay All-Stars series; and non-fiction works, including Worms for Breakfast, Zoobots, Alphabest and The Quiz Book for BFFs.

Her novels include Gottika, Dirk 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, which is an environmental science show on APTN.

Both an American and Canadian citizen, Becker attended high school in New York and graduated from Duke University.

Along with being an avid reader, the married mother of two sons has a number of hobbies, including being a certified pyrotechnics practitioner – meaning she knows how to set up and explode fireworks.

Christine Gyapay, the head librarian at NWT Centennial Library, is anticipating Becker’s visit.

“I really look forward to meeting her, bringing her into the schools and the communities, and showing her a bit of the North, too, because it’s always nice for us to share with the authors the area,” said Gyapay.

She noted the writers’ works are popular at the library.

Becker will also be visiting Fort Smith and Fort Resolution as part of a tour arranged by Gyapay with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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