Etta Kaner

Etta Kaner

North York, ON

Etta Kaner writes for both children and educators. The majority of her children’s books are non-fiction and have been translated into many languages. A number of her books have won awards, namely, the Silver Birch award, the Henry Bergh award, the Animal Behaviour Society award, Scientific American Young Readers Book award and the Science in Society Book award.

While her earlier books were inspired by her two daughters, many of her later books have been inspired by the elementary school students that she teaches. Etta Kaner feels that the most enjoyable part of writing non-fiction books is finding out about things that she doesn’t already know.

Etta loves to interview experts in fields with which she is unfamiliar either in person or by phone. She finds that most people are very co-operative and love to talk about their area of interest and expertise. During these interviews, she often accumulates more information than she needs for her book. When making a decision as to what to include in the book, she uses the “wow” test. She tries to choose information that will make her readers say “wow” when they read it. She also likes to include information that she discovers by serendipity.

For example, Etta was once interviewing a train engineer about train whistles. In addition to telling her about the different types of whistle signals, he told her about his experiences while working in Northern Ontario. One of those stories was about the moose that used to run out onto the tracks because the train whistles sounded like moose love calls. To avoid this dangerous situation, the engineers changed the pitch of the train whistles.

Writing books also allows Etta to create the many groaners that she likes to make up and which her family doesn’t always appreciate!

When she’s not writing or teaching, Etta loves to spend time with her family, garden, read humorous or historical fiction books, explore new places, cook and dance (but not all at the same time!) She does all of these activities in Toronto, Canada.