Jen Lynn Bailey is an award-winning children’s author from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has reviewed children’s books for Quill & Quire, the National Reading Campaign, and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Book News. Jen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)– Canada East, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP), and The Writers’ Union of Canada.
Jen also holds a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Science Studies from Carleton University (environmental sciences and psychology), and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Martin Luther College. Her work experience has spanned scientific, educational, and writing domains: Jen studied indoor air quality and analyzed levels of environmental contaminants in mammals, birds, and fish. She tagged turbot and studied the feeding habits of the Greenland shark off Baffin Island. Jen was also an elementary school science and core French teacher and a professor in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. Now she works for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research where she combines her love of science, education, and writing by designing learning programs. When Jen isn’t writing she enjoys knitting, reading, hiking, and kayaking, and sometimes getting muddy at the pottery studio.
More About Me
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada, I loved stories and language right from the start, and sharing this love with other important people in my life. I memorized and repeatedly “read” a picture book out loud for my great-aunt and grandmother, made up ridiculous alliterations about my family members with my uncle, and loved listening to the stories my mom read me at bedtime. When I was very young I adored the Miffy and Raggedy Ann and Andy series, and later, when my dad took me to the Ottawa Public Library for the first time to choose my own books, I chose Beverly Cleary’s Henry and Ribsy. You can bet I made quick work of reading everything else about Henry, Beezus, Ramona, and Klickitat Street. In my grade five my teacher did a Writer’s Workshop with us and we made Trapped Ideas journals. And then, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I would narrate my life in my head, for practice. The first book I wrote was a mystery and it wasn’t very good, but I knew I’d figure out how to write a book some day.
My other love is science – I love discovering how living and nonliving things interact, which is a branch of science called ecology. To me, this is the story side of science. Through it we learn how things get along: how they help each other, how they can harm each other, and how they communicate with each other. I used another branch of science called chemistry to learn more about what Greenland sharks eat off Baffin Island during my undergraduate studies. Later I studied to become a teacher, and science was one of the subjects I excitedly shared with my students.
When I had kids of my own I rediscovered my love for children’s books. From the lyrical Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin, through A.A. Milne’s earnest Winnie the Pooh, to the boisterous stories of Sandra Boynton, we devoured each one together. Later we read the entire Junie B. Jones series. And that’s when I returned to writing.
I studied writing for children at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and I got my Master of Fine Arts in 2013. I worked with writers in the Professional Writing Program at Algonquin College where I was as a professor. I also taught adults and children how to write their own picture books at a local art school. Now I work at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, focusing on designing and improving science and engineering promotion programs.
Aside from writing, I love knitting, puzzles, hiking, camping, and kayaking with my partner, Brian. I also make amazing chocolate brownies.
…from my childhood:
When I was in kindergarten, I tried to put my then two-year-old brother in my backpack so I could take him to school with me. (He was too heavy. My backpack? Too small.)
When I was about nine and my sister about three, I made her reenact the scene in Anne of Green Gables where Anne is set out in a boat on the Lake of Shining Waters, mercifully minus the boat or water!
I was a proud member of the Eric Wilson Mystery club.
In grade 6 I had a poem published in a student anthology called Oceans on the Side, and in grade 7 I won a Remembrance Day poetry contest hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion
My best friend and I first noticed each other at the school bus stop because we wore the same big blue glasses.
…about how I live now:
I have a cat named Avocado who looks nothing like an avocado.
I tap the top of pop cans with my fingernail to keep them from exploding. (This is a thing!)
I love meander-y walks and often stop to greet the animals I meet or to notice small bugs and interesting flowers.
I am great at Poohsticks, which I would happily play any day, all day, with my kids.