Media kit – Fast Friends

Fast Friends book cover with award stickers
Fast Friends

Fast Friends

Winner, 2022 TD Grade One Book Giveaway
Winner, 2021 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award

Written by Heather M. O’Connor
Illustrated by Claudia Davila
Published by Scholastic Canada

Every child has a voice ― if we take the time to listen.


In this appealing, energetic picture book, two kids with different challenges and strengths find they are just what the other needs to navigate classroom life.

Tyson does everything fast ― so fast he often disrupts the class. His teacher is always saying, “Too fast, Tyson!” And often he ends up playing all alone.
Suze, the new girl, is nonverbal with special needs. Sometimes her classmates don’t know what those needs are.

But Tyson understands. Taking the time to interpret her cues, Tyson forms a special friendship with Suze, and teaches his classmates what it means to listen and understand others.

Claudia Dávila’s bright, energetic art captures the joy of moving at your own speed and connecting with a friend who can ride alongside.

Scroll down for:

  • videos
  • reviews
  • author bio
  • awards and honours
  • hi-res images of the book cover and author
  • Q & A with the author


What inspired Fast Friends?

Listen to me read Fast Friends

Author bio

Heather M. O’Connor is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer, based in Peterborough, Ontario.
Her debut picture book FAST FRIENDS, illustrated by Claudia Davila, was published by Scholastic Canada in 2020. It received a number of awards and honours, including the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.

FAST FRIENDS was also chosen for the 2022 TD Grade One Book Giveaway. This literacy initiative gave out more than half a million copies of FAST FRIENDS last year, one to every Grade 1 student in Canada.
Young readers can continue reading about Suze and Tyson in the sequel, FRIENDS FIND A WAY, which comes out this September.

Heather has also written two picture books about the Ojibwe Horse with Darcy Whitecrow. RUNS WITH THE STARS/WIIJIBIBAMATOON-ANANGOONAN, was published in 2022 by Second Story Press. It comes in English and in English/Ojibwe. ACROSS THE ICE: HOW WE SAVED THE OJIBWE HORSE will be published by Candlewick Press in 2025.

Awards and honours for Fast Friends:

  • Winner, TD Grade One Giveaway Book, 2022
  • Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, 2021
  • Finalist, OLA Blue Spruce Award, 2021
  • Short-listed, IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, 2023
  • Short-listed, IODE Jean Throop Award, 2021
  • Short-listed, Shining Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice), 2021
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, 2020
  • Commended, Toronto Public Library First & Best Booklist, 2020
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets, 2020
  • Featured title, I Read Canadian Day, 2021


Through shared understanding about their differences, the two develop a special bond and prove they might have more in common than anyone thought. ~ CBC Books

Heather M. O’Connor grounds her familial experience in a delightful story … in a way that shows rather than tells. All readers will engage with Tyson and Suze and think about how they can better demonstrate empathy and celebrate differences. ~ CM: Canadian Review of Materials

A natural storyteller. ~ Rosemary Ganley, Peterborough Examiner

[Her] words tell the story without condemnation or judgment, only emphasizing Tyson’s recognition of what Suze enjoys. ~ CanLit for Little Canadians

Tyson sees her fun-loving personality, makes her laugh, and discovers that talking isn’t the only way to communicate with others. A needed addition to the collection of Canadian picture books featuring characters with disabilities. ~ Canadian Picture Book blog

Fast Friends is available at Canadian independent booksellers and major retailers.

Awards and honours 

  • Winner, TD Grade One Book Giveaway, 2022
  • Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, 2021
  • Finalist, OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award, 2021
  • Short-listed, IODE Jean Throop Award, 2021
  • Short-listed, Shining Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice), 2021
  • Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, 2020
  • Toronto Public Library First & Best Booklist, 2020
  • OLA Best Bets, 2020


(right-click for hi-res images)

Q & A with the author

Is Fast Friends based on a true story?

Yes. It’s inspired by my own daughter and some of the wonderful friends she had in school

Why did you write Fast Friends?

I think it’s important for kids of all abilities to see themselves in the books they read.

Fast Friends was the TD Grade One Book Giveaway in 2022. What did that mean to you?

It was a huge honour! Every Grade One student in Canada — 535,000 kids from coast to coast to coast — got a copy. Teaching kids about friendship, acceptance and inclusion at that young age can change their outlook for life.