Jack
Award Winning Children’s Author
Illustrator of Children’s Books
Travels from: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

“This lovely book about a hardworking Chinese Canadian father, and the daughter who helps him by translating English, is exactly the type of book I wished existed when I was a kid. So many immigrant and refugee kids will be able to relate to this story about assisting their parents with a new language. Beautifully written and illustrated by Jack Wong, the characters feel unique, but easily relatable. I am so glad this book exists in the world.” — Bao Phi, author of the Caldecott Honor and Zolotow Award-winning A Different Pond

Jack Wong (黃雋喬) is the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award-winning author/illustrator of WHEN YOU CAN SWIM (Scholastic) as well as the forthcoming picture books THE WORDS WE SHARE (Annick Press, Fall 2023), and ALL THAT GROWS (Groundwood Books, Spring 2024).

Jack was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver. In 2010, he left behind a life as a bridge engineer to pursue his Bachelor of Fine Arts at NSCAD University (Kjipuktuk / Halifax, Canada). A self-declared actual Jack-of-all-trades, he has also tried his hand at bookkeeping, teaching art, managing a psychology research lab, and running his own bicycle repair shop, just to name a few—a real education for creating children’s books, if you ask him! The books that Jack writes and illustrates are indelibly marked by his hodgepodge journey—a perspective he seeks to share with young readers so that they may embrace the unique amalgams of experiences that make up their own lives.

Jack's Featured Titles

All That Grows

Groundwood Books |
Children’s

A boy discovers he has much to learn while observing plants with his older sister ― a story about cultivating patience and letting knowledge grow.

As a boy walks around the neighborhood with his older, green-thumbed sister, she tells him all about the plants they see ― magnolias that smell like lemon cake, quince trees that will bloom the most beautiful red, daffodils that are the flower of Mother’s Day, and even dandelions, whose greens can be eaten with spaghetti! How does his sister know so much? And how can she tell whether a plant is a flower, vegetable or weed, anyway?

The boy’s head spins as he realizes how vast the universe is and how much there is to learn … until he resolves to let his knowledge grow in its own way and time, just like the mysterious plants he has decided to nurture in the garden.

The Words We Share

Annick Press |
Children’s

A young girl helps her dad navigate life in a new country where she understands the language more than he does, in an unforgettable story about communication and community.

Angie is used to helping her dad. Ever since they moved to Canada, he relies on her to translate for him from English to Chinese. Angie is happy to help: when they go to restaurants, at the grocery store, and, one day, when her dad needs help writing some signs for his work.

Building off her success with her dad’s signs, Angie offers her translation skills to others in their community. She’s thrilled when her new business takes off, until one of her clients says he’s unhappy with her work. When her dad offers to help, she can’t imagine how he could. Working together, they find a surprising solution, fixing the problem in a way Angie never would have predicted.

A gorgeously illustrated picture book from up-and-coming author-illustrator Jack Wong (When You Can Swim, Scholastic) that is at once a much-needed exploration of the unique pressures children of immigrants often face, a meditation on the dignity of all people regardless of their differences, and a reminder of the power of empathy.

When You Can Swim

Orchard Books |
Children’s

Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Picture Book Award

A reverent celebration of learning to swim among a diverse cast of children and families who each experience the mysterious joys of water in nature.

In this exploration of what it truly means to swim, expansive vignettes introduce sandpipers, tannin-soaked lakes, and the feeling of a small waterfall on sun-soaked shoulders. But what about those who are afraid of the water’s mysterious ways and resist learning to swim? Painting a compelling picture of the many joys and surprises that the water holds, artist and author Jack Wong has delivered an empowering, poetic journey that invites children to discover their confidence within to receive the warmth and wonder of the natural world.

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When You Can Swim: Reading, Drawing Activity (for young audiences)

In this presentation (best suited for young audiences Pre-K to Grade 2), I first introduce the inspiration behind my picture book, WHEN YOU CAN SWIM, in kid-friendly terms: “I didn’t always like swimming, and I’m still a little scared of the water. So how did I become someone who wrote a book about it?” I then read the book, and finally, I give a drawing demo: a trick for drawing things floating in water! Depending on the group, audiences can follow along during the demo, or try out the trick for themselves—when done as a group drawing on a large sheet of paper, this creates the effect of a big lake with all manner of characters and objects floating together.

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The Words We Share: Reading, Writing Activity (for elementary grade audiences)

In this presentation (envisioned for students in Grades 2-4), I first introduce and read my school-aged picture book THE WORDS WE SHARE, then lead participants in a prompted follow-along writing activity: take something that’s mundane, make it the extreme version of that thing, make it go wrong, and come up with a solution! Participants will see that this is the pattern my book also follows, and learn that they can use inspiration from real life to share their experiences and perspectives with others in an engaging way.

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Writing/Illustrating Workshop (for adult writers)

In this presentation for aspiring writers and artists, I share stories from the writing and illustrating of my various picture books — with each anecdote illustrating a hard lesson learned that now informs a principle I hold about the creative process.

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"How Basketball Made Me a Better Artist" (for creatives, high school-aged and up)

No interest or experience in basketball necessary! In this deceptively oddball but analytical and engaging narrative talk, my interest in basketball is used as an example to introduce and illustrate my notion that the best way to learn an artistic skill is to learn something else at the same time.

When You Can Swim Draw Along Link

Jack’s Illustrations/Poetry in Motion Link

Jack’s Sketchbook Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada, 2023
Blue Spruce Award Nominee, 2023
Horn Book Award in Picture Books
30 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2023, CBC Books
Editors’ Best Book Pick, Amazon
Editor’s Pick, “Fully Booked” Podcast (Kirkus Reviews)
Book of the Month, FOLD Kids (Festival of Literary Diversity)
Best Summer Reads for 2023, Publishers Weekly
12 Best New Children’s Books, Book Riot
Loan Stars Junior Top 10 Pick, BookNet Canada
35 Exceptional New Picture Books, Imagination Soup
44 New Books for Summer Reading, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
19 Summer Reading Recommendation for Kids, Northern Virginia Magazine
Hot Summer Reads, Lansing State Journal
Summer Picture Books Pick, Christian Science Monitor
12 Canadian Books for Younger Children, CBC Books
2024 Notable Children’s Books, American Library Association
4 starred reviews from:
Publishers Weekly,
Kirkus Reviews,
BookPage,
The Horn Book

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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