sue holler headshot
BOOK NOW

Biography

Sue Farrell Holler writes for children of all ages – from preschool to young adult.

Her YA novel, Cold White Sun, was a 2019 finalist for a Governor General’s Award for literature for young people – text, won the R. Ross Annett Award for children’s literature and the U.S.-based High Plains Book Award.

Additionally, her titles include the middle grade novel Lacey and the African Grandmothers that’s set on the Siksika First Nation and two picture books that are set in rural Alberta.

Her latest work is a picture book Finding Moose, released in April 2022Walking as “quiet as mice and rabbits and deer,” the characters we met in Raven, Rabbit, Deer search for the moose Grandpa knows is nearby. Written in English, it features words in the First Nation’s language of Ojibwemowin.

A journalist by profession, she writes books for children that acknowledge our critical need for human connection. All of her books are based on or inspired by true stories.

Her work for adults as a feature writer and newspaper columnist has appeared in local, regional and national publications. Her visual poem “Excerpts from a Journal” was featured in the 2020 “The Curve” exhibition and is now part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie.

suefarrellholler.com

info@suefarrellholler.com

Sue is available for both in-person and virtual sessions in Fall 2022 and is open to travel from Grande Prairie.

Presentations

Perseverance, hope and love in action are the hallmarks of Sue Farrell Holler’s work. An experienced presenter and workshop leader, her sessions are interactive, engaging and designed to get kids excited about reading, writing, and telling stories.

Sue uses props and digital photos to give a sense of the real people and places behind her stories. Whether it’s a group of Kindergarten kids sitting on the floor or senior high kids in a workshop, she always reads to the audience because, really, what’s better than having someone read you a story?

Grades K-3 – Picture books – Finding Moose / Raven, Rabbit, Deer

Virtual session – 30 minutes (Choose one book)
In-person session – 60 minutes (Both books)

“Finding Moose” is Sue’s newest picture book. Set in early spring, readers will recognize the characters from “Raven, Rabbit, Deer.” In this companion book, the grandfather and grandson search the woods for an elusive moose. Along the way, they find signs of spring, signs of moose and plenty of things that make them happy, but no moose. Or is the moose somewhere unexpected?

The “Finding Moose” virtual session includes a reading of the story complemented by photographs of the common wild plants and the telltale signs of moose. In-person sessions feature a display of actual plants. As with “Raven, Rabbit, Deer,” this book introduces vocabulary in the First Nations’ language of Ojibwemowin.

Set in winter, the “Raven, Rabbit, Deer” session includes a reading of the story about Grandpa and his grandson going for a woodland walk in which they greet the animals in English and in Ojibwemowin. Sue supplements the images in the book with photographs from one of her daily walks that show how animal tracks look in real life and discusses other ways to identify what animals might be hiding. In-person session includes a display of a rabbit skin, deer antlers, moose hair and feathers.

Curricular links

  • Social studies – community, field trips, nature, FNMI, other languages
  • Language arts – creating stories from real life, listening, reading, sharing knowledge
  • Health – empathy and understanding
  • Science – how wild plants grow and change, animals of Alberta, animal identification

NEW VIRTUAL SESSION SERIES!

Grades K-3 – The Penpal Three-Pack

Virtual sessions only (Includes three author visits)

Looking for a unique way to inspire students to write? Have you ever thought of “adopting” an author?

The Penpal Three-Pack includes three 30-minute virtual author visits and at least three letters from Sue.  Following each session, students are encouraged to write letters, stories or create drawings that are sent to the author who writes back to the class.

To maintain student motivation, author sessions are typically booked once per month in either the September-December term or January-May. (Individual classrooms only.)

An Edmonton teacher who took part in the pilot program last year described the series as bringing “excitement and anticipation” to her classroom as students practiced being authors themselves. “It was a powerful way to get kindergarten students to tell their important stories. Susan (Sue) became our special author friend, the kids looked forward to seeing her and getting letters back from her in the post,” says S. Ellett, Teacher.

Curricular links

  • Social studies – community, field trips, nature, FNMI, other languages
  • Language arts – creating stories from real life, listening, reading, writing, sharing knowledge
  • Health – empathy and understanding
  • Science – how wild plants grow and change, animals of Alberta, animal identification

 

Grades K-3 – Picture books – To the Post Office with Mama / To the Pool with Mama

Virtual session – 30 minutes (Choose one book.)

In-person – 60 minutes (Both books.)

With a combination of storytelling and reading from her picture books Sue brings students a message of perseverance and following your heart. “To the Post Office with Mama” and “To the Pool with Mama” are both set in rural Alberta.

Interspersed with reading her stories aloud, Sue talks about becoming a writer and her mother’s unfailing belief and encouragement.

If requested, for a Grade 3 class, she will read a section of “Lacey” which is set on the Siksika First Nation, rather than read a second picture book.

Curricular links

  • Social studies – community, mapping, field trips, FNMI
  • Science – using the senses
  • Language arts – creating stories, listening, reading, looking for visual clues

Grades 4-6 – Lacey & the African Grandmothers

Virtual session – 40 minutes
In-person session – 60 minutes

Set on the Siksika First Nation east of Calgary, “Lacey and the African Grandmothers” is based on the true story of a Blackfoot girl who uses her ingenuity and talents to help African women who are raising AIDS orphans.

This is a story of forgiveness and hope and a strong introduction to First Nations’ culture. In addition to reading from her work, Sue will show photos of the real people and the real place behind the novel to aid discussion of what she learned while researching the story.

Curricular links

  • Social studies –community, social justice, social action, globalization (global community), FNMI
  • Language arts – oral storytelling, creating stories from real life, listening, reading
  • Health – Empathy and understanding

Grades 7-9 – Cold White Sun

Virtual session – 40 minutes
In-person session – 60 minutes

Empathy, understanding and seeking about us what is the same – rather than what is different – are the messages behind this session. Everyone has a story and sometimes the best thing we can do is listen and learn and find out what we have in common.

“Cold White Sun,” tells the story of a teenage refugee from Ethiopia who arrives in Calgary one cold spring evening. He is disoriented, alone and has no resources. Based on extensive research and intense interviews, this is an emotionally-charged novel that details Tesfaye’s life in Ethiopia, his eventual escape, and what happens to him in Canada.

As well as talking about the development and writing of this book, Sue uses photographs and an interactive and fun oral multiple choice quiz, “How much do you know about Africa?” to teach students and help them move beyond the stereotypes of what they think Africa – and particularly Ethiopia – is like.

Curricular links

  • Social studies –social justice, globalization (global community), politics, Africa/Ethiopia, refugees
  • Language arts –creating fiction from real life events, writing, listening, reading
  • Health – Empathy and understanding

Grades 10-12 & Adult – Cold White Sun

Virtual session – 40 minutes
In-person session – 60 minutes

The research and writing of “Cold White Sun” is the focus of this session in which Sue talks about how her awareness of Africa and the plight of refugees grew as she interviewed, researched and wrote about one refugee. This YA novel opened her eyes to her own culture and some of the difficulties newcomers face.

As well as talking about the development and writing of this book, Sue uses photographs and an interactive and fun oral multiple choice quiz, “How much do you know about Africa?” to teach students and help them move beyond the stereotypes of what they think Africa – and particularly Ethiopia – is like.

With broad experience as a journalist and author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, Sue is happy to respond to audience Q&A’s about “how-to” and careers in the literary arts.

Not every writer wants to be a novelist, but students who can write well need never be out of a job. If there is enough student interest, she will tailor a session specific to careers in writing – highlighting some jobs that students may not have considered.

Curricular links:

  • Social studies –social justice, globalization (global community), political science, Africa/Ethiopia, refugees
  • Language arts –creating fiction from real life events, writing, listening, reading
  • Health – empathy and understanding
  • CTS – careers in the literary arts

Writing Workshops – Grade 5-Adult

Virtual session – 60 minutes
In-person session – 60-90 minutes

Students who say they “can’t write” or “hate to write” tend to thrive the most in Sue’s writing workshops, surprising themselves and fellow students.

Especially relevant to Grade 6 students preparing for PATs and Grade 11-12 students preparing for diploma exams, Sue leads hands-on workshops designed to get students developing plots quickly and writing with intensity and creativity.

Sessions in journalism and in creative writing are available.

Curricular links

  • Language arts –creating fiction from real life events, writing, listening, reading

The Basics – All grades to adult

Virtual session – 15 minutes

Available to all grade levels and to adult audiences this is a bare bones basic Q & A session. It is best suited to a class that has read/studied one of her books, book clubs and those with a defined interest in writing.

There is no formal presentation. This is strictly a Q&A opportunity.

Presentation Fees

Virtual Visits 

  • $65 for 15 minutes
    • The Basics – Q&A
  • $125 for 30 minutes
    • Grades K-3 – Finding Moose/Raven, Rabbit, Deer
    • Grades K-3 – To the Post Office with Mama/To the Pool with Mama
  • $175 for 40 minutes
    • Grades 4-6 – Lacey and the African Grandmothers
    • Grades 7-9 – Cold White Sun
  • $225 for 60 minutes
    • Gr 10-12-Adult – Cold White Sun
    • Writing Workshop (Grade 5 and up)
  • $400 for Penpal Three-Pack

Prices do not include GST.

**Taleblazers Special**

Book any combination of sessions to equal two hours (morning or afternoon) for $400 +GST!

Save even more! Book any combination of sessions to equal four hours (single day) for $750 +GST!

In-Person Fees

Half day fee: $400 +GST  (Up to 2 hours of presentation time. Minimum 10 minute break between sessions required.)

Full day fee: $ 750 +GST (Up to 4 hours of presentation time. Minimum 10 minute break between sessions required.)

Other Bits

    • Recommended audience size is three classes for presentations and two classes for workshops.
    • Creativity and flexibility are key. Sue will work with you to deliver the best combination of time/presentations to maximize student interaction and learning.
    • If you have an idea or combo that would better suit your students, don’t be afraid to ask.
    • For in-person sessions, Sue needs approximately 15 minutes for set-up before the audience arrives.
    • A Smartboard is preferred but a screen and projector will do. Sue can bring her own laptop and will have her presentation materials on a flash drive.
    • Someone available to assist with tech setup is greatly appreciated.
    • Sue will also be asking for a table to display books and materials.

Bibliography

Young Adult

Cold White Sun

Groundwood Books, Toronto, 2019

An emotionally gripping work of fiction…A profound, heartbreaking narrative filled with loss, confusion, displacement, and longing.” – Kirkus

  • Governor General’s Award, Young People’s Literature – Text, Finalist
  • R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature, Alberta Literary Award
  • High Plains Book Award
  • Best Books for Teens 2019, Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Middle Grade

Lacey & the African Grandmothers

Second Story Press, Toronto, 2009

“A beautifully crafted and moving novel, affirming that the ordinary is extraordinary, that every moment is an important moment.” – Judges’ Comments, Canadian Authors’ Association

  • Rocky Mountain Book Awards, Finalist
  • Exporting Alberta Award, Canadian Author’s Association, Honourable Mention
  • Year’s Best 2010, Resource Links

Picture Books

Finding Moose

Pajama Press, Toronto, 2022

“Holler’s Finding Moose is an excellent addition to any bookshelf, especially for helping young learners learn a bit of the Ojibwemowin language. Lovers of nature, exploring, and spending time with dear loved ones will enjoy this story – it is a gem for all ages.”CM Magazine

  • 2022 The Children’s Book Council “April: Hot Off the Press” feature
  • Bradford Today “6 books to read to celebrate Indigenous History Month” feature

Raven, Rabbit, Deer

Pajama Press, Toronto, 2020

“Holler’s story gains from the interplay of dimensions: the affectionate relationship between the boy and his grandfather, the growing vocabulary they share, and their slow-paced appreciation of the natural world.”   — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • 2020 First and Best, Toronto Public Library

To the Pool with Mama

Annick Press, Toronto, 2000

“The language is so playful and the illustrations so amusing that the story is delightful to read.” 

– Q&Q

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” Award
  • “Year’s Best 2000,” Resource Links

 

To the Post Office with Mama

Annick Press. Toronto, 1994

“…a haunting, deeply moving study of a toddler’s enthrallment by winter, and a mother’s love.” 

– Thomson News Service

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” Award

Reviews

“Older students had a chance to harness their own creativity by generating and fleshing out stories in a writing workshop, while the younger group enjoyed the vivid imagery, animated storytelling and attention-grabbing props used to escort their imaginations to the post office, the pool, and across the grasslands.”

M. Gillis, Library Coordinator

“Sue held a writers workshop for our Junior High students, and she did a fabulous job!…Many students were beyond excited to share their stories with me during and after the workshop. Sue was really able to beat the ‘writers block,’ through use of effective writing prompt, that complement the English class perfectly! I would highly recommend Sue for any literacy program.”

H. Hargreaves, Teacher

“Sue was able to connect with students, encourage them and help inspire them to take a risk, to write and share what they had written with others. The next day, and the following week, my grade 8 students would ask if we could forego our daily reading and to do some personal writing.”

C. Perry, Literacy Coordinator

“Mrs. Holler brought the writing process alive for my Grade 5 classroom students.  She demonstrated how the germ of an idea has been fostered into a beautiful book of shared compassion and culture…In bringing her skills as an author to my students, they have been exposed not only to strong values but to the depth of the creative writing process.”

C. Morin, Teacher

“The students were spellbound by Sue’s storytelling.”

E. Scharf, Library Assistant

“Sue Farrell Holler is a mesmerizing storyteller who captives her audience. She is able to impart to students the motivation, research, and perseverance necessary to become a master writer. Not many presenters are able to keep forty-five grade 6 students engaged for over an hour on a Friday afternoon, but she did! Amazing!”  

S. Hunke, Teacher

“As a JH science teacher, I’m always leery of the value of having guest speakers.  Will it be worth the lost curriculum time?  Sue engaged this age group and the students were excited for her presentation.  Even though I may have lost time from my science curriculum, the trade-off was well worth it!”

M. Weber, Teacher