About Joan

Joan tutuJoan Betty Stuchner’s Biography (in her own words):

I was born in Leeds England but moved to Canada when I was 18. I first attended Langara College for two years then transferred to UBC, graduating with a BA. in English Literature (1977) and a Teaching Diploma (1979). My life is full of books because I work as a library assistant at UBC and I’m also a part time teacher. And my house is like a mini library – despite the fact that I moved in 2009 and had to give away many of my books. Not an easy thing to do.

For a number of years I acted regularly in community theatre and I plan to get back to that eventually. I love being on stage! I’ve also acted on T.V. and performed as a storyteller in a few episodes of CKVU’s Tell-A-Tale-Town.

For some reason food often features in my books! When I wrote The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band I started making kugel. Now I make a GREAT fruit kugel. I never tried making bathtub peanut butter (as Prunella does in A Peanut Butter Waltz), but in honour of my book Honey Cake I have made at least twenty honey cakes – and that’s a difficult cake to get right.

After Honey Cake I took a rest from food, but returned to the performance theme. Remember how, in Sadie the Ballerina, Sadie had big dreams? We leave her just as she’s about to begin the long road to success. In Josephine’s Dream, we stick around long enough to see Josephine’s dreams come true – and how. And the book is based on a true story.

Honey Cake was launched, with great fanfare, on June 10th 2007, at Solly’s Bagelry, 7th and Yukon. Cynthia Nugent and I gave a dramatic and musical presentation, and let me assure you, Cynthia plays a mean ukelele. There was a klezmer band, good food and a wonderful crowd of people. And what a weekend: Saturday was the Spring Book Hatchings at VPL and Sunday was my launch. Too, too thrilling my dears!

OCTOBER 2007: I had a wonderful Honey Cake reading junket in Sheffield England for the Off The Shelf Reading and Writing Festival. For three days I read to school groups in six public libraries. I met a lot of dedicated teachers and library staff, as well as eager, book loving children. Sheffield is a lovely city and everyone made me feel at home.

July 16th There was a Josephine’s Dream book launch at the UBC Library, hosted by the Education Library and the Africa and Diaspora Children’s Literature Project.

Sept. 22nd – My story ‘Can Hens Give Milk’ was included in Pearson Scott Foresman’s U.S. school text READ ALOUD ANTHOLOGY, Grade 2. It’s published in English and also Spanish! The story was previously published in an issue of Spider Magazine.

CHECK OUT MY INTERVIEW on Barbara Bietz’ Blog. Google her name, then once on her website click on Blog. There I am.

November 2008: TD/CCBC BOOK WEEK TOUR: I was lucky enough to be picked as one of the Book Week authors, and spent a hectic, exciting, exhausting, thrilling week in Ontario. I feel very lucky. I met lots of inspiring children, welcoming teachers and enthusiastic librarians. Imagine spending a week talking with young readers and writers, seeing well stocked and BUSY school and public libraries, then taking a break to photograph Niagara Falls, lining up for an hour to see the re-opening of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (worth every second) and discovering the best French Onion Soup ever, at a cafe in the Four Seasons Hotel just off Bloor St. – then eating breakfast at Tim Hortons. That’s life on the road for an adventurous writer. And remember – it’s all material!

April 2010 – I’ve written a children’s musical! I based it on one of my unpublished stories, and Vancouver’s Kol Halev Performance Ensemble is hoping to mount it at the end of the year. How exciting is that? I’m not a song writer, so my songs will have to be ‘fixed’ by a real musician. My husband will direct the production and we’ve already held auditions. There’s so much talent in Vancouver. So, watch this space, okay?

CAN HENS GIVE MILK? I guess quite a few people think they can.

My story “Can Hens Give Milk?” was first published in Spider Magazine, then in a U.S. grade 2 textbook, and in April 2011 it will be published by Orca as a picture book – with a few minor changes to the text. I’ll let you know when it’s launched. I’m very excited about it. The illustrator will be Joe Weissmann. I’ve never met Joe, but from what I’ve seen of his work, he and I seem to share the same sense of humour.

Published work:

A Peanut Butter Waltz (Annick Press, 1990) Illustrated by Diana Durrand

The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band (Scholastic Canada 1998) re-issued in soft cover as Shira’s Hanukkah Gift. Illustrated by Richard Row

Sadie the Ballerina (Scholastic Canada, 2006) also released in French as Gabi la Ballerine. Illustrated by Bruno St. Aubin

Honey Cake (Tradewind Books, 2007) Illustrated by Cynthia Nugent

Josephine’s Dream (Silverleaf Press, June 2008) Illustrated by Chantelle Walther

Can Hens Give Milk? (Orca Books, 2011) Illustrated by Joe Weissmann

Bagels Come Home (Orca Books, 2014) Illustrated by Dave Whamond

Bagels The Brave (Orca Books, 2015) Illustrated by Dave Whamond

Bagels On Board (Orca Books, 2015) Illustrated by Dave Whamond


Stories and poems in the children’s magazines Spider, Ladybug, Shofar and Humpty Dumpty.