Amaya James

Amaya is an illustrator, author, and fan of all things art. She lives in small-town Ontario, Canada, with her mom, dad, two sisters, and dog Jax.

At the tender age of four, she began taking a serious interest in drawing. Amaya started with simple sketches and following YouTube tutorials. Now, she begins creating with pencil and paper and then translates her sketches to digital art using Procreate. She also enjoys other art forms, such as singing, dancing, painting, and sculpting.

Amaya has the most vivid imagination. She often sees characters in everyday items and nature. You can usually find her with a sketchbook or iPad in hand so that she can quickly capture her ideas as they come to mind. The characters Amaya envisions are not just images; they often come with personalities, stories, and backgrounds.

At just nine years old, she published her first book, “Afro, No!” in October 2022. Her first offering explores the sometimes complicated relationship that young black girls can have with their hair and speaks to the beauty, uniqueness, and joy that comes with the pain and challenge of getting their hair done. The book was co-written by her whole family and illustrated by Amaya.

When asked what she imagines for her future, young Amaya happily responds with, “More drawing, more writing, more art!”

Amaya in the media

Amaya on Instagram @myzeelovesart

Booking Amaya

Author Visit FAQ for Schools

What grades are best for this sharing?
Generally, any grade can be inspired by Amaya's journey. In particular grades K - 6  will have great questions and relate to Amaya the most personally.  Grades 7 and 8 would benefit from asking questions about her process and the tools she uses to go from doodling on paper to publishing a book. 
Does Amaya prefer all grades at the same time or multiple smaller groups?

Amaya is flexible with this and can accommodate what works best for your school. She won't mind spending a few hours at the school and sharing with multiple smaller groups. We find that students may feel more comfortable asking questions when the age gap isn't too wide, but she does best with a maximum of two or three groups in total.

Is there a fee to have Amaya visit?

We are grateful for the opportunity to share Amaya's book and her journey with the hope of inspiring her peers. We do not have a set fee, but schools generally offer an honorarium for which we provide an invoice. The average honorarium is $200 and $50 for each additional session.

What setup or format does Amaya prefer?

Ideally, a three-person setup is most comfortable for Amaya. She sits in the center, between a moderator and one of her parents, while she shares about herself, reads her book, and responds to questions. We can provide a PowerPoint deck with the illustrations from the book so that all students can see them as Amaya reads. The moderator helps encourage conversation and facilitates audience questions. In addition, Amaya does best with a maximum of two or three presentations in one booking, and she is more comfortable when she can sit on the same level as the audience (e.g. seated in a chair on the gym floor, as opposed to the stage).

How long is a typical presentation?

Generally, Amaya starts by reading her book after she has been introduced by the school administrator/staff. This is followed by a facilitated Q&A with students, the timing of which is at your discretion. Usually, altogether this runs between 20 - 30 minutes total per presentation.