Away chronicles the bond between a single mother and her daughter as it unfolds through a series of sticky notes. Illustrated by Qin Leng, Away will be published by Groundwood Books in Spring 2017.

“Superb,” says School Library Journal in a starred review.  Kirkus also weighed in with a star (“Untrammeled and honest.”).


Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre  has a new home, and they’re marking their inaugural season with a production of The Boy in the Moon, Emil’s adaptation of Ian Brown’s acclaimed chronicle of raising his severely disabled son, Walker.  

Crow’s artistic director Chris Abraham is weaving dance into the fabric of a production that will include new material that has been added since the play premiered at GCTC in Ottawa in 2014.

No pension.  No regular paycheque. No sick days.  But make no mistake about it, the writing life comes with perks.  As in Emil’s week-long tour of the Yukon this May as part of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, a wonderful program run by The Canadian Children’s Book Center. Watch for his blog posts from Whitehorse and beyond.

Who hasn’t lost a mitten? When a child’s mitten goes missing the search is on, leading to an expected resolution involving a nearby bird and a mitten unlike any other.

With illustrations by Governor General’s Award finalist Irene Luxbacher. Mittens to Share has been published by Scholastic Canada and warmly embraced.  “A testament to the small, quiet times that become the most treasured moments in a family,” writes librarian Linda Ludke in Access.

Young Man with Camera is in the running for a 2016 Snow Willow Award.

It is one of ten books — including Kelley Armstrong’s The Unquiet Past and Melinda Friesen’s Enslavement — that Saskatchewan students in Grades 7 through 9 will read during the next school year, with the winner announced in Spring 2017.

As a teenage girl in Austria Lisa Jura survived the Second World War thanks to the Kindertransport, a rescue effort that saw thousands of Jewish children separated from their families and brought to safety in the U.K.  Lisa’s gifts as a pianist sustained her, and her story is told in The Children of Willesden Lane, written by her daughter Mona Golabek with Lee Cohen.  Emil abridged the original text for a Young Reader version to be published by Little, Brown this spring.  An acclaimed pianist in her own right, Mona has created a
foundation Hold Onto Your Music to nurture the arts as a response to human rights issues.

The World of Young Adult Literature: that is the theme of an upcoming issue of ALAN: Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE (National Committee of Teachers of English). In an essay titled A Witness in Red Stockings, Emil used a favourite line from Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings as a starting point to explore how Fatty Legs  reveals the trauma of residential schools from the perspective of a young girl.   Fatty Legs is written Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. The line that sparked the essay: “There is no pain on earth that doesn’t crave a benevolent witness.” 

It’s not often that a literary quote makes its way to the back of a five-dollar bill but, then, The Hockey Sweater is cut from a different cloth. This iconic and beloved story by Roch Carrier will be heard on stage at the Segal Centre in Montreal when a musical theatre version of The Hockey Sweater premieres in October.

Emil is writing the book and co-writing the lyrics with uber-talented composer Jonathan Monro in a production directed by musical theatre doyenne Donna Feore.

Plant a seed, water it and…?  Emil has received seed funding from the Stratford Festival to write a draft of a show to be considered for the Festival’s Family Series. Let the tilling begin.


They were young Jewish boys imprisoned in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp, and in the midst of despair they created a self-governing republic and a secret magazine.  

Most of the teens were killed but Vedem, the magazine, survived.

Selected poems, interviews, profiles and memoirs were published in We Are Children Just the Same, the source material for a play Emil has been commissioned to write for ACT Theatre in Seattle. 

Talk about building walls between countries leads to corrosive conversations about Us and Them, and before the mortar has dried we begin to demonize the Other: someone with a different complexion, a different religion, different beliefs, customs, traditions.  Emil is exploring this timeless and timely issue in Pang, a new work commissioned by Kids4Peace and Seattle-based Red Sun Outfit.