Karen Autio

Karen Autio

Author
Kelowna, BC
Awards

Chocolate Lily Award (Short-listed, 2007)

Chocolate Lily Award (Short-listed, 2010)

Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book (Short-listed, 2014)

Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award (Short-listed, 2015)

Green Earth Book Award (Long-listed, 2016)

Word Award for children's novel (Winner, 2016)

Genres

Early chapter books, Junior fiction (Ages 8-12), Intermediate Fiction (Ages 10-14), Middle Years Fiction (Hi-Lo) (Ages 10-14), Short stories

Biography

After growing up horse-crazy and book-loving in Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, Karen Autio now lives in Kelowna, BC, only a little less horse-crazy and far more book-loving. Karen graduated from the University of Waterloo and worked as a software developer for several years, then decided to pursue her long-held dream of writing for children. She signed up for a “Writing Fiction for Children” course at the local college, joined a writers’ group, and began writing—and re-writing—her stories.

Karen is the author of a trilogy of Canadian historical novels for ages 10 and up and an illustrated chapter book for ages 7-12. Her book Second Watch was inspired by the tale of a silver sugar spoon from her Finnish grandmother and the wreck of the Canadian Pacific steamship Empress of Ireland in 1914. The sequel, Saara's Passage, was inspired by the mystery surrounding Karen’s Finnish grandmother’s battle with tuberculosis in a sanatorium and the letters she wrote to her infant daughter while quarantined at home with TB.Both books have been shortlisted for the BC Chocolate Lily Award.

The third book in the trilogy about the Finnish-Canadian Mäki family in early Thunder Bay is Sabotage. Inspiration for this book came from the 1915 plot by German agents to destroy the Canadian Pacific railway bridge in Karen's hometown. Told by both Saara and her brother John, Sabotage takes readers into a real-life world of espionage, sabotage, and paranoia in Canada during the First World War.

Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter tells of the heroic adventures of two young sea otters named Kah-Lan and Yamka. Karen fell in love with sea otters in 1984 while visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. The following year she took her first children's literature course, for which she wrote and illustrated a story about Kah-Lan, an adventurous sea otter. Over the years Karen revised her story and sent it out to publishers. As determined as Kah-Lan, she persisted until reaching her goal: a book in readers' hands. This chapter book is illustrated by Sheena Lott.

Karen loves to interact with students, sharing her journey to becoming an author and her passion for research and the resulting “jigsaw puzzle” of transforming facts into a fascinating story.

Karen is a member of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC Society (CWILL) and the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP). When she's not working on her next book, Karen is busy editing other writers' manuscripts as a freelance copyeditor.

Presentations
Inquire about this presentation

Bringing Canadian History Alive (book-focused presentation for grades 4 and up)

Karen welcomes the opportunity to engage students in Canadian history with a lively, visually appealing presentation. She will talk about the writing process and share her passion for researching history and writing historical fiction. During Karen's 60-minute interactive presentation, she will spark enthusiasm for writing and focus on the immigrant experience with curricular tie-ins. After reading a brief excerpt from one of her books, Karen will reveal how family stories inspired her to write novels and explore with students how family history can inspire their own stories. Also, she will unravel the process of publishing and book design and include time for students to ask questions.

Karen’s trilogy of historical novels captivate both boys and girls and work particularly well as novel studies or in reading circles to prepare the students to receive maximum benefit from her presentation.

For more information, please visit www.karenautio.com/SchoolVisits.htmland www.facebook.com/KarenAutioAuthor.

Author Video: Karen Speaks about Sabotage:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ewhSR1kmBI

Special Equipment:

Laptop and projector or Smart Board (to show PowerPoint presentation from USB drive), plus one large table or two medium-sized tables for presentation materials.

Book Sales:

Copies of books can be brought to be sold and autographed.

Presentation type: Reading

Recommended levels: Junior (4-6), Intermediate (7-8)

Fees: Please email Karen via her website www.karenautio.com to enquire about fees.

Inquire about this presentation

Kah-Lan: Blending Sea Otter Facts and Fictional Story (book-focused presentation for grades 2–5)

In this fun, interactive presentation, Karen Autio weaves together her passion for science, language arts, history, and sea otters. She also gives students insight into the challenges of writing and encourages them to follow their interests to write their own stories.

Both Karen’s chapter book Kah-Lan, the Adventurous Sea Otter and her presentation are fuelled by fascinating research about the unique characteristics that help sea otters survive. These remarkable mammals spend their whole lives in the cold Pacific Ocean. They dive for food, eat, groom, play, float, and sleep—all in the water, and rarely go to shore!

With her enthusiasm and knowledge, Karen reveals the history of sea otters, from near extinction to their recent and amazing comeback, despite continuing threats. She also explains how sea otters fight climate change by eating the sea urchins that destroy the kelp, a plant that absorbs carbon dioxide. In enabling kelp to flourish, sea otters help slow down the warming of the ocean and increase fish habitat.

Karen shares her journey as an author, starting with her childhood writing. She then notes the steps and persistence required to get Kah-Lan’s story in print (first draft to published book in 30 years must be some kind of record!), and presents sample drafts of the story and final manuscript, together with sketches and final art by illustrator Sheena Lott. She also shows students how the large folded printed pages and flat cover fit together to form a printed book.

In writing Kah-Lan, Karen played with language to express Kah-Lan’s point of view and immerse the reader in his watery world. Students learn that Kah-Lan’s home is a sea-tree (kelp) forest, old sea otters are Grand otters, and when he encounters people in the story, they are furless ones. Karen then leads students in creative wordplay to express their own new words from different animals’ perspectives.

Karen makes effective use of props, a hands-on activity, and PowerPoint images to enhance the learning opportunities for children. She shares interesting scientific facts as she connects students with the natural world through her engaging story.

This dynamic presentation includes a brief reading from Kah-Lan, the Adventurous Sea Otter and time for students to ask questions. If arrangements are made in advance, Karen will do a draw for a copy of her chapter book.

The length of presentation and depth of information shared are determined by the age range of children in attendance. To promote interaction, Karen prefers to meet with smaller groups (maximum 90 students) of similar grade level: 2–3, 3–4, or 4–5.

For more information, please visit www.karenautio.com/SchoolVisits.htmland www.facebook.com/KarenAutioAuthor.

Special Equipment:

Laptop and projector or Smart Board (to show PowerPoint presentation from USB drive), plus one large table or two medium-sized tables for presentation materials.

Book Sales:

Copies of books can be brought to be sold and autographed.

Presentation type: Reading

Recommended levels: Primary (1-3), Junior (4-6)

Fees: Please email Karen via her website www.karenautio.com to enquire about fees.