02 With a Little Help from my Friends

Italy/United Kingdom
Viola Di Grado Italy/United Kingdom

Viola Di Grado was born in Catania, Italy. She now lives and studies in London. Her first book, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool, was the winner of the 2011 Campiello First Novel Award and a finalist for Italy’s most prestigious literary prize, the Strega.

Viola Di Grado’s appearance has been made possible by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Vancouver. Read more

Teresa Toten Ontario

Teresa Toten is an award-winning writer who was born in Zagreb, Croatia, but left for Canada that same day. She developed her broad taste in reading because of her non-English-speaking mother’s habit of filling shopping bags full of books from wildly different sections of the library. Toten has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, for The Game and Me and The Blondes. Her new novel for young adults is The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B. Read more

Host: Susin Nielsen
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Waterfront Theatre
$17 / $8.50 for school groups

Viola Di Grado’s first novel 70% Acrylic 30% Wool, written when she was just 23, was a finalist for Italy’s top literary prize. Teresa Toten has been twice-nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for her thoughtful books for young adults. Characters from the minds of these two authors are often outsiders— kids with social anxiety disorders, young adults coping with silent parents. These authors don’t preach, but rather address the experiences with which young people everywhere must cope.

Suitable for grades 10–12 and adults

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View the study guide for this event.

With a Little Help from My Friends


Viola di Grado, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool
Teresa Toten, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

Curriculum Connections:

  • Creative Writing: character development
  • Humanities: identity and diversity


  1. Ask students to write a personal response paper to one or both of the stories (1-2 pages in length). Ask them if they found the characters of these stories relatable in their struggles, their personalities, or in any other way. Why or why not? Are they likable characters? Did they root for them?
  2. Start a discussion: How did the characters of Camelia, Adam, and Robyn change and develop throughout the books they inhabit? What triggered these changes?
  3. Get the students to write a short essay about a time in their life where their own personal development took place. What events occurred and how did they influence the way they perceive the world?