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Award Winning Author
Illustrator & Photographer
Travels from: Vancouver, BC

“Though simple at first glance, My City Speaks is a nuanced and rich text that can be a great conversation starter on differently-abled people, the importance of paying attention, and the senses.” —CM Magazine

Darren Lebeuf is an award winning author, illustrator, and photographer based in Edmonton, Alberta. His published books explore the fascinating details of the world around us. His most recent book, My City Speaks, follows the day in a life of a young visually impaired girl as she poetically experiences the sounds, smells, and textures of the city she lives in. My City Speaks received the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award. His other books, My Forest is Green and My Ocean is Blue, both received many accolades, including the Toronto Library First & Best Award, and the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award nominee. Darren has worked with schools in Canada and overseas, running workshops and giving talks. He loves sharing his passion for writing and creating art wherever he can.

My City Speaks

Kids Can Press |

A young girl, who is visually impaired, finds much to celebrate as she explores the city she loves.

A young girl and her father spend a day in the city, her city, traveling to the places they go together: the playground, the community garden, the market, an outdoor concert. As they do, the girl describes what she senses in delightfully precise, poetic detail. Her city, she says, “rushes and stops, and waits and goes.” It “pitters and patters, and drips and drains.” It “echoes” and “trills,” and is both “smelly” and “sweet.” Her city also speaks, as it “dings and dongs, and rattles and roars.” And sometimes, maybe even some of the best times, it just listens.

Darren Lebeuf uses his keen observational skills as an award-winning photographer to poetically capture sensory experiences in this charming ode to city life. The rhythmic, lyrical text makes for an appealing read-aloud. Ashley Barron’s vividly hued cut-paper collage illustrations add compelling visual interest to the text’s descriptions. Though the main character is visually impaired, she travels around the city and enthusiastically enjoys its many offerings, and actively contributes to the lyrical bustle of city life by putting on a violin performance in the park. The author’s use of limited but evocative language can help children develop an aesthetic awareness and can serve as a perfect jumping-off point for children to use their senses to specifically describe, and appreciate, their own surroundings. The story and illustrations were reviewed by a blind sensitivity reader.

My Ocean Is Blue

Kids Can Press |

A young girl’s poetic exploration of the enchanting ocean she loves.

“This is my ocean,” the young girl begins as she heads over the dunes with her mother. Then, as they pass the whole day at the seaside, she lyrically describes her ocean in simple, sensory detail. It’s both “slimy” and “sandy,” “sparkly” and “dull.” It has wonderful sounds, as it “splashes and crashes and echoes and squawks.” And it contains so many colors, from “rusted orange” to “runaway red,” “faded white” to “polished green.” Though “mostly it’s blue.” Nothing the girl experiences escapes her careful observation and appreciation. And at day’s end, she can’t wait for her next trip to the beach.

Author Darren Lebeuf, an award-winning photographer, uses spare text and a rhythmic style to create an evocative read-aloud. The vivid adjectives, both concrete and abstract, will inspire children to try to capture in words what they notice not only at the ocean, but in any natural setting. The bright, richly colored cut-paper collage illustrations by Ashley Barron add a captivating visual texture and depth to the story. The portrayal of a girl with a physical disability enjoying and actively participating in a day at the beach encourages all children to do the same in their own lives, while also offering a character education lesson in adaptability. This book has strong curriculum ties to primary nature units and life science lessons on oceans and the seaside, and it offers a perfect focus for nature-based education and outdoor classrooms.

My Forest Is Green

Kids Can Press |

With art supplies in tow, a young boy explores the urban forest near his home, then interprets what he sees with his art. The boy is a keen observer who uses poetic, rhythmic language to describe the diversity he finds through all four seasons. His forest is both “fluffy” and “prickly,” “dense” and “sparse,” “crispy” and “soft.” It’s also “scattered and soggy, and spotted and foggy.” His forest is made up of many colors — but he decides that “mostly it’s green.” Each aspect of the forest inspires the boy to create a different kind of art: charcoal rubbing, rock art, photography, sponge painting, snow sculpture, cut-paper collage. To this artist, there’s always something new to discover, and to capture!

In this delightful picture book, Darren Lebeuf, an award-winning photographer, encourages small children to look closer at and appreciate the nature that surrounds them. And by providing such a broad range of ideas for artistic expression, it’s sure to awaken the nature artist in every child. Bright, deeply textured illustrations by Ashley Barron bring the forest and the boy’s artworks to vivid life. This story provides an excellent depiction of nature-based education in an outdoor classroom. The specificity of the concrete and abstract adjectives used in the text works as a perfect complement to primary science lessons on investigating, comparing and identifying the physical characteristics of plants and animals. This book also makes for an enjoyable, lyrical read-aloud.

Seeing/Sensing Beauty All Around Us

With art supplies in tow, a young boy explores the urban forest near his home, then interprets what he sees with his art. A young girl explores the enchanting ocean she loves. A young girl, who is visually impaired, finds much to celebrate as she explores the city she loves.

Story Writing Workshops for Grades 1-6

In these 90 minute workshops, local author and illustrator Darren Lebeuf works with classes to create a mini picture book, starting from the initial inspiration, all the way to seeing their story come to life through illustrations. Students examine the writing process, character and setting, story structures, conflicts and resolutions, how text and illustrations work together, and how ideas can be communicated through illustrations. This is a fun, engaging, and often fast-paced workshop where students are encouraged to use their imaginations, and collectively choose where a story will take them. The finished story is likely to be rough and incomplete, but the journey to get there will be fun and educational! After the workshop, classes will receive a finished, illustrated print from one of the pages of their story.

Darren’s Portfolio

Darren’s “Let’s Write a Story” Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award
Shortlisted for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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