Sylvia McNicoll

Sylvia McNicoll

Burlington, ON

Rocky Mountain Award (Short-listed, 2015)

Arthur Ellis Crime Award for YA (Short-listed, 2013)

Ontario Library Association Red Maple (Short-listed, 2013)

Saskatchewan Snowy Willow Award (Short-listed, 2013)

Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award (Short-listed, 2013)


Junior fiction (Ages 8-12), Intermediate Fiction (Ages 10-14), Middle Years Fiction (Hi-Lo) (Ages 10-14)


Born in Ajax, Ontario to German immigrant parents (the enemy in that post WWII era) Sylvia McNicoll moved with her family several times, always with libraries and books as her constant. From third grade on she lived and was educated in Montreal, Quebec. In grade four she discovered a passion for writing "compositions" at the same time as her brother&;s teacher pronounced that he would never be able to read. He was two years older than Sylvia in the same grade and she ended up coaching him before tests.The teacher turned out to be wrong, of course, but the pronouncement stuck and he quit school in grade nine. 

 Meanwhile Sylvia obtained her BA (Specialization in English, minor in economics) at Concordia at night while working in corporate cash management. It was only when she paused from working to have her three children that she pursued her passion for the pages. She also became passionate about accessibility in reading for children; her brother became the best read biker she knows.  Through a writing for children course at Sheridan College given by Paul Kropp, a well-known literacy advocate and developer of materials for reluctant readers, Sylvia wrote her first novel Blueberries and Whipped Cream.

She went on to write over 35 award winning novels that are published in eight countries. She also taught Creative Writing at Sheridan College and edited Today&;s Parent Toronto for eight years.Today she continues to write and teach at Mississauga Living Arts Centre, giving presentations and keynotes across Canada. She considers her greatest writing strength her interest and empathy for people but growing up listening to and understanding three languages also gave her an ear for dialogue. 

Sylvia McNicoll loves writing, kids, and dogs, and reading, always reading. She wants to share and help children develop that love of literature and libraries and books, too. She believes that all children can enjoy reading as long as they are presented with material that engages them. Sylvia strives to write that material: strong stories with empathetic characters that children will find irresistible.

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Mistakes that turn into masterpieces--The Great Mistake Mysteries

Sylvia McNicoll actively engages her audience with props such as her X box ( a collection of famous errors that turned into amazing inventions) scripts, short readings and visuals of characters, settings and covers, in development as well as finals. She will exchange annecdotes about her own mistakes and how they gave her the idea. Together with the students she will show how to develop one of their mistakes into the structure of a story.

Presentation type: Reading

Recommended levels: Junior (4-6)

Fees: $250 plus mileage.