EMWF Kids: You and Me Both and Going Up!

Tuesday June 9, 10:30 a.m. EST (online)

Presenters: Authors Mahtab Narsimhan (You and Me Both) and Sherry J. Lee and Illustrator Charlene Chua (Going Up!)
For ages: 2 to 7 (but all friends welcome!)

This event will include ASL Interpretation.

A story of two classmates who love all the same things and have so much in common – they might as well be twins! A story about elevator ride to a birthday party that turns into a shared experience bursting with joy. Join the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival for a fun-filled event that celebrates friendship, diversity, and the things in life that brings us closer together! Hear the authors read their stories and get a sneak peak behind the scenes of Going Up! with illustrator, Charlene Chua.

A take-away activity will include a chance to win a copy of the books. 

Learning themes: Multiculturalism, community, celebration, counting, friendships, community


You and Me Both
Written by Mahtab Narsimhan and illustrated by Lisa Cinar
Published by Owlkids

This is the story of two classmates who love all the same things: building tall block towers and knocking them down; strawberry jam on toast; jumping into big puddles in their matching boots. The narrator and his best friend, Jamal, might as well be twins—they have so much in common! And they always stick together.

When Jamal gets a haircut, his best friend gets his cut the same way. They’re sure their teacher will never be able to tell them apart. The vibrant, playful illustrations eventually reveal that the boys each have a different skin color.

Inspired by a true story that went viral on social media, about two boys with different skin colors who got the same haircut thinking it would make them identical, this is a joyful story about friendship, diversity, and how the things we share are more than skin-deep.


Mahtab Narsimhan is an award-winning author with numerous critically acclaimed books nominated for several awards, including The Third Eye, which won the Silver Birch Fiction Award in 2009. She is inspired by life, love, and the desire to make sense of the world through stories. Mahtab is deeply committed to representing diversity in her books. You can find out more at www.mahtabnarsimhan.com.

Going Up!
Written by Sherry J. Lee and illustrated by Charlene Chua
Published by Kids Can Press

An elevator ride to a birthday party turns into a shared experience bursting with joy in this multicultural story about community, togetherness and the special feeling of belonging.

Today is Olive's birthday party, and Sophie and her dad have baked cookies. Sophie's dad holds the platter so Sophie can push the elevator button for the tenth floor. But on the way up, the elevator stops to let the Santucci brothers get on. Then on the next floor, Vicky, Babs and their dog, Norman, get in. And as the elevator ascends, it keeps stopping, and more neighbors squeeze in to the crowded space: the Habibs, the Flores family, Mr. Kwan, Vi Tweedle with her Chihuahua, Minx. Everyone is going to the party!

Playfully combining the excitement and anticipation of a party with children's universal love of riding in elevators, Sherry J. Lee's picture book story is ultimately about community and a sense of belonging. With characters from many cultural backgrounds, it showcases the everyday diversity that many urban children experience. Charlene Chua's illustrations provide loads of funny details and visual narratives that aren't in the text, making for a multilayered reading experience. The book's tall, narrow trim size adds to the effect of the rising elevator.


Sherry Lee lives with her partner, Kevin, on the third floor of a ten-story building in Toronto. Their unit overlooks redbrick houses, backyards and a huge, embracing black walnut tree. It is a wonderful place to live. They walk almost anywhere they need to go, they have a lovely community of friends in their building and nature is abundant in their neighborhood. Sherry's god-dog-child, Livy, lives one floor up with her main human, Daphne. Sherry has worked in the book industry for most of her life and has many books! She has a particularly fabulous library of children's picture books she began collecting many years ago when she worked at The Children's Bookstore.

Sherry's debut picture book, Going Up!, is concerned with many of the things she values most: community, diversity, fun, food and animals! In spite of the fact that she grew up in a beautiful rural setting, she has lived in the city now for much longer. She experiences the city as equally beautiful to the country but in its own unique ways. There are so many different ways to live; welcoming each other with respect is the most important thing of all. Instagram: @SherryJLee


Charlene Chua can't remember what her first illustration was, but suspects it was a drawing of her mum, a pony, a cat or possibly all of the above. Since then, she has gone on to illustrate many things, including magazines, packaging, advertisements and, of course, children's books. She is also the author-illustrator of Hug?.

Her illustration work has won several awards, and books she has illustrated have been nominated for the Shining Willow Award, Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards and Kirkus Best Middle-Grade books. Charlene was born and grew up in Singapore, where the days are always hot and humid. She moved to Canada in January 2007, and her first thought about her new home was, “Wow, that is a lot of snow.” She has since gotten used to living with seasons and long winters, which may be helped by her penchant for hiding in her studio for most of the time.

Charlene enjoys making art in a variety of ways. She uses computer programs like Photoshop, but she also enjoys working with pencil, watercolor and ink. When she is not making art, she enjoys cooking, reading and playing with her cats. She lives with her husband in Hamilton, Ontario.
Instagram: @charlenedraws
Twitter: @charlenedraws
Facebook: @charlenedraws

Interested in purchasing the books?

The Bookshelf (Guelph) is our bookselling partner for this event. If you would like to purchase a copy of the book from this event, you can order online at bookshelf.ca or phone 519-821-3311 x1. Free shipping or curbside delivery in Guelph. $10.00 shipping cost outside of Guelph.

Thank you to our supporters:
The Pollock Family Fund (Lead Funder, Children's Programming)
The Angel Gabriel Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Department of Canadian Heritage, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, Open Book, The Ontario Arts Council and Wellington County.