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Mahak Jain

Mahak Jain is an editor, writer and educator living in Toronto, Ontario. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph and worked as managing editor for Owlkids and Lobster Press, two Canadian publishers of children’s literature. She has also worked as a freelance editor and as an acquisition editor for Buckrider Books in Hamilton, Ontario. Jain was born in Delhi, India and has lived in Dubai, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Montreal before settling in Toronto. Jain teaches creative writing at Sheridan College.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes

Pictures by Anu Chouhan.
Toronto: Annick Press, 2022.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

A girl explores her love of dancing and her cultural identity in a lively picture book with echoes of the real-life collaboration between Bharatanatyam icon Rukmini Devi Arundale and ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Paro comes from a dancing family. At home, she dances Bharatanatyam with her mom, and now she’s excited to learn ballet. But what if she can’t dance like the other kids in her class? Ballerinas move like fairies, while Bharatanatyam dancers seem like queens. Paro can’t be both…can she? Anu Chouhan’s vibrant, energetic illustrations emphasize themes of creative flexibility and navigating the intersections of different cultural identities.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)


Illustrated by Elly Mackay.
Markham, Ont.: Owlkids Books, 2016.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Ma misses the sun, warmth and colors of their faraway homeland, but her daughter sees magic in everything — the clouds in the winter sky, the “firework” display when she throws an armful of snow into the air, making snow angels, tasting snowflakes. And in the end, her joy is contagious. Home is where family is, after all.

The electricity in Maya’s house has gone out again. She is afraid of the dark — and her fear has been even worse since her father died. Now it feels as if the darkness will never go away.

Maya’s mother distracts her with a legend about the banyan tree, which saved the world from the first monsoon by drinking up the floodwaters, and growing tall and strong. Later that night, unsettled by the noises around her, Maya revisits the story in her imagination. She ventures deep into the banyan tree, where she discovers not darkness but life: snakes move gently, monkeys laugh, and elephants dance. Maya pushes her imagination even further to call up memories of her father, helping to soothe her fear and assuage her grief.

Elly MacKay mixes miniature-paper-theater art with spellbinding shadow puppetry to play with darkness and light, giving Maya’s real, fantasy, and story-within-a-story worlds unique treatment—and making Maya’s world come alive on the page.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Only Astronaut

Illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier.
Kids Can Press, 2023.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Avni loves being the only astronaut in her space station. She’s in charge of when she takes off and where she goes. But space exploration can be a lot of work for one astronaut. It’s time for a new mission: find an assistant. Avni crisscrosses the distant galaxies (her neighborhood) in search of the perfect partner. Does that even exist? Will Avni make space for a copilot or will it be mission impossible?

Anthology (Short story)

“The Origin of Jaanvi” was first published in Joyland Magazine. It was longlisted for the 2016 awarding of The Journey Prize. It appeared in volume 28 of The Journey Prize: Stories: The Best of Canada’s New Writers (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2016).

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Jain, Mahak, “Mahak Jain, January 23, 2019,” interview by Kim Davids Mandar, In Appropriate: Interviews with Canadian Authors on the Writing of Difference (Guelph: Gordon Hill Press, 2020), 15-30.


Mahak Jain personal website

Publisher Annick Press

Publisher Owlkids Books