Philippa Dowding

Philippa Dowding

Toronto, ON

Diamond Willow Award (Short-listed, 2018)

Silver Birch Express Award (Runner-up, 2017)

Hackmatack Award (Short-listed, 2017)

OLA Red Maple Award (Short-listed, 2015)

Hackmatack Award (Short-listed, 2014)

Diamond Willow Award (Short-listed, 2014)

Silver Birch Express Award (Short-listed, 2014)

Red Cedar (Short-listed, 2014)

Co-Operative Children's Book Centre (Short-listed, 2014)

White Raven Book (Commended, 2013)

Silver Birch Express Award (Short-listed, 2012)

Diamond Willow Award (Short-listed, 2012)


Junior fiction (Ages 8-12), Intermediate Fiction (Ages 10-14)


Philippa Dowding wrote her first book when she was nine, and has written poetry and fiction ever since.At university she studied English Language and Literature, first at the University of Western Ontario, then at the University of Toronto, where she earned a Master of Arts degree and began a career in publishing.Philippa worked as Senior Copywriter and Creative Manager for Rogers Publishing. In 2000, she struck out on her own as a freelance copywriter, a job she still enjoys. Her many clients include magazine publishers, fundraisers, advertising agencies, NGOs, movie producers, website owners and others.She has won magazine awards for Macleans, ChatelaineZoomerToday’s ParentCanada&;s History and moreHer poetry and short fiction has appeared in Taddle Creek Magazine, Middle Shelf MagazineThe Adirondack ReviewThe Literary Review of Canada and other journals. Her children&;s books have been nominated for numerous literary awards, including the SYRCA Diamond Willow, OLA Silver Birch Express and Red Maple, Hackmatack, Red Cedar and Co-Operative Children&;s Book Centre awards. Her book Myles and the Monster Outside, won the OLA Silver Birch Express 2017 Honour Book Award. Her hobbies include playing guitar, sailing and lots of dog walking. Philippa lives in Toronto with her family.

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When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Philippa Dowding has presented in hundreds of classrooms, libraries, bookstores and events in Toronto, throughout Ontario and across the country. She&;s talked to audiences of twenty to over two thousand children. Her presentation can be as long or as short as you wish, dependent on grades and ages, and will include a reading, powerpoint and textbook images, lively discussion and question and answer period, plus lots of audience participation.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

All ages: 45-55 minutes. Philippa combines the top 10 questions she gets asked into one interesting and colourful powerpoint discussion which answers questions like where do your ideas come from, when did you know you wanted to be a writer, who gets to pick what goes on the cover of your books, who writes the marketing information, what does a manuscript look like, plus much more. This informative and fun presentation about the writer&;s craft includes a short reading, a discussion of literary genre and what it means to be a writer. This presentation can be adapted for any age or size of group.

Any presentation includes audience participation, Q&A, and for younger grades Philippa can also bring her guitar.


Presentation type: Reading

Recommended levels: Primary (1-3), Junior (4-6), Intermediate (7-8)

Fees: $300 per presentation; $550 for two; $750 for three, plus travel outside GTA

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Be the Beanstalk: Grow a Story

"Dear Philippa, Thank you sooooo much! You are an amazing writer, I have learned so much from you. Please have this class again next year."- Zoey (9) 

“Dear Philippa, Thank you so much on behalf of the children in the Sophie’s Studio writing workshop for the fantastic experience of having you here for four weeks, working with the kids, writing stories, drawing, mentoring them in their wonderful creative efforts. It has been an absolutely enjoyable time and you did a super excellent job." Iana Georgieva-Kaluba, Librarian 

Philippa runs writing workshops for children 8-12, most recently with the Toronto Public Library through the Sophie&;s Writing Workshop program. Her 4-week program is called "Be the Beanstalk: Grow a Story." The following is a brief description of the four separate workshops, each one is available individually and is approximately 60 - 90 minutes in length:

1. What&;s the deeper story? Children complete interesting mad libs and worksheet prompts that teach them about the deeper story behind descriptive writing. Children are also asked to write 3-5 descriptive lines about famous paintings (The Scream, Starry Night, The Sleeping Gypsy) and interesting and unusual photographs. The session ends with a fun writing game: Wacky Headlines.

2. Who is this character really? In this interesting and fun workshop about character development, children complete mad libs and worksheet prompts about unusual characters, people in famous paintings (eg. Henry VIII, Mona Lisa, Van Gogh) and intriguing photographs. They also learn how to interview each other, then play a hilarious "story starter" game. By the end of the session, children understand that there is more to describing a character than simply mentioning the colour of their eyes or hair.

3. Bookcovers, blurbs, bookmarks and bios:  In this hands-on workshop, children learn how to design a front book cover on their own blank book, and how to write a marketing blurb and an author bio for the back cover. Blank 8 x 5.5 inch books and bookmarks are provided (an additional $25 fee is required for the materials). If possible, Philippa will have an illustrator (Shawna Daigle) join her in this exciting and fun workshop.

4. The exquisite corpse loves a blue piano: Young writers get to try their hand at poetry, with games like the Poetry Word Match, the "I Remember" and "What If?" poem,. The highlight of this session is playing a hilarious and time-honoured 200-year-old writing game called "The Exquisite Corpse Loves a Blue Piano" as a group. Children engage in this lively writing exercise that has them all squealing and eager to write and then stand in front of the class and read (even the shy ones!). The game also reinforces the differences in points of language such as description words (the exquisite), noun (corpse), action words/present tense (loves), more descriptors (a blue) and nouns again (piano). Writing games are a wonderful tool to get children wanting to write as much as possible!

Presentation type: Workshop

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

Fees: $300 per hour; $400 for 90 minutes ($25 additional for materials for #3)