Hilary Leung
Artist, Illustrator, Author

Toronto dad Hilary Leung is one of the friendliest most creative people I know. The author, illustrator and all-around-awesome dad in TOw is the co-creator behind the kid books Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear (first self-published in 2009 now with Kids Can Press) and more recently Stego-cumulus (Scholastic, 2018) and the new board books Will Bear Share? and Will Sheep Sleep? (Scholastic, 2018.)

Our parenting paths have crossed a number of times over the years– on the ultimate (Frisbee) field pre- and post-kids, through mutual creative friends (like Toronto illustrator and artist Ellie Arscott) and on Play Dates hosted by Canadian kid- and pre-school-app company Sago Mini. All the along the way, we have enjoyed his incredible talent as an artist and storyteller and the real-life parenting comments you’ll see posted on Twitter. The new board book series draws from these daily childhood struggles. We can all relate!

We recently checked in with Hilary to find about his favourite spots in Toronto and about the inspiration behind his new books.

Fatherhood at the moment

I’m the primary caregiver for a five-year-old who is in Senior Kindergarten and a three-year-old who stays home with me. Our daily routine has been such a struggle for the longest time, but it feels like things are a bit easier now. Regardless it’s a fun age. I’m currently savouring as much time as possible with my three-year-old before she starts school in September.

Current kid challenge

The morning routine is our biggest challenge of the day. Every morning, my kids do their best to not leave our house in a timely and sane manner. They find creative new ways to sabotage my best attempts.

Smallest change biggest impact

A messy house is the least of our daily concerns. Take care of the important things first.

Favourite Toronto hood

The Junction – we love living here. We are spoiled with all the family-friendly parks and programming. There is always something to do and to be honest there too many options at times.

Favourite place to visit as a family

The ROM. It’s educational, super kid-friendly, conveniently located and not weather-dependant.

Fantasy kid-free day

In my fantasies, it’s a quiet walk or skate to High Park with my sketchbook, followed by a lunch date with my wife at a delicious Roncesvalles restaurant. In reality, I work on my new picture book projects or head to a team practice.

Perfect day in Toronto

A calm and relaxing family breakfast after a restful night’s sleep. Then an adventure to High Park with friends, followed by a picnic lunch.

Have your kids inherited your love of drawing, reading, telling stories?

My wife and I are fortunate that both kids are really into reading and telling stories. Reading books to kids is one of the biggest perks of being a parent. Our kids are currently only mildly interested in drawing. It kills me, but I don’t want to force anything – although I did include some of their artwork in all my books!