FOON, Dennis

Author Tags: Kidlit & Young Adult

Dennis Foon's plays, films, books and television scripts have won awards and honors throughout the world. As artistic director of Green Thumb Theatre for twelve years, he produced a body of plays that continue to be produced internationally in numerous languages, mainly for school age audiences. Most of his fiction concerns serious issues, for teenagers. He lives in Vancouver, where he increasingly writes for the film and television industry. He has edited numerous screenplays as well as written them. His list of theatre production credits as a director, playwright and director is extensive. His Longlight Legacy trilogy for ages 11+ includes The Dirt Eaters, Freewalker and The Keeper's Shadow.

Foon has received a Gemini Award, a Writers Guild of Canada Top Ten Award, and a B.C. Leo Award for his screenplay of the CBC movie Little Criminals, which also garnered a Critics’ Prize at the Monte Carlo Film Festival and a Grand Prize at the Geneva Film Festival. White Lies, starring Sarah Polley and Lynn Redgrave, received an International Emmy nomination for Best Production, and earned Best Screenplay at the Columbus International Film Festival. Among his other accomplishments, he has scripted Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story for CTV (Gemini winner for Best Movie, WGC Top Ten Award) and Society’s Child for CBC (Blizzard Award, Best Movie, Gemini nominee, Best Movie). He co-wrote Mina Shum’s feature Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (starring Sandra Oh), and he served as story editor for Shum's first feature Double Happiness. He was story editor on In God’s Country for Shaftesbury/CTV/Lifetime and he adapted Michael Ignatieff’s Booker Prize finalist novel Scar Tissue. His Shaftesbury/CTV film about Terry Fox, simply called Terry, has been widely distributed.

DATE OF BIRTH: November 18, 1951




Kindness (Playwrights Canada Press, 2009)
The Shadow's Keeper (Novel), Annick Press, 2006
Freewalker (Novel), Annick Press, 2005
The Dirt Eaters (Novel), Annick Press, 2003
Skud (Novel), Groundwood Books, 2003
Double or Nothing (Novel), Annick Press, 2000
Chasing the Money, Blizzard Publishing 2000
The Short Tree and The Bird that Could Not Sing (The Play), Blizzard, 1998; Groundwood, 1986 (paperback 1990). Illustrated by John Bianchi
Little Criminals, Blizzard Publishing, 1996
War, Blizzard Publishing, 1995
Seesaw, Blizzard Publishing, 1993
Mirror Game, Blizzard Publishing, 1992; Playwrights Press 2002
New Canadian Kid & Invisible Kids,Arsenal Pulp Press, 1989
Skin & Liars, Playwrights Canada, 1988
Mm I the Only One? A Child's Book on Sexual Abuse(with Brenda Knight), Douglas and McIntyre, 1985
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Playwrights Press, 1983
Trummi Kaput, Canadian Theatre Review 37, Spring 1983
The Windigo, Talonbooks, 1979
Heracles, Talonbooks, 1979
Raft Baby, Talonbooks, 1979
The Last Days of Paul Bunyan/The Windigo, Playwrights Press, 1977


Sheila A. Egoff Prize for Children's Literature, 2004 (for "Skud")
Writers Guild of Canada: Top Ten Award “Torso” 2003
Robert Wagner Award, best screenplay, “White Lies” Columbus Int’l TV Festival 1998
Career Achievement Award, Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance 1998
Gemini Award, best writing in a Dramatic Program “Little Criminals” 1997
Writers Guild of Canada: Top Ten Award “Little Criminals” 1997
British Columbia Film Award “Leo” for best screenplay “Little Criminals” 1996
Chalmers Award for "The Short Tree" 1995
Scott Newman Award for "Maggie's Secret" 1990
AYA (International Arts for Young Audiences) Award, 1989
Chalmers Award, 1987, for "Skin"
British Theatre Award, 1986, for "Invisible Kids"
Jesse Awards: director of four plays receiving "Best Production for Young Audiences" at the Vancouver Theatre Awards. 1984: One Thousand Cranes; 1985: Not So Dumb; 1986: Skin; 1987: Night Light.
CBC Literary Award, 1985, for "The Short Tree and the Bird That Could Not Sing."
Hopwood Award, Fiction. University of Michigan, 1972
Writers Digest Award, 1973


Bachelor of Arts (Honors), Religious Studies and Creative Writing, University of Michigan's Residential College, 1973.
Master of Fine Arts, Playwriting (Creative Writing and Theatre) University of British Columbia, 1975.


1988-1992, Consultant, Sesame Street Canada
1975-88, Co-founder and Artistic Director, Green Thumb Theatre for Young People, Vancouver.
1983-4, Playwright in Residence, Young People's Theatre, Toronto.
1974-79, Instructor of Playwriting, UBC Centre for Continuing Education
Board member, PACT (Professional Association of Canadian
Theatres) 1978-9.

[BCBW 2009] "Kidlit"

Skud (Groundwood $18.95)

Tommy’s a model student planning to become a fighter pilot. Brad’s being scouted for Junior A hockey. Andy’s on the verge of an acting career breakthrough. Shane’s history of violence is so appalling even the teachers are afraid of him. They converge in the last year of high school in Dennis Foon’s Skud (Groundwood $18.95). At an after-school fight, Shane unexpectedly comes to Andy’s rescue. “Shane… Car thief, arsonist, drug dealer, killer,” marvels Andy. “They say he opened the door for [Miss Post], smiled, then threw her down the third-floor stairs.” 0-88899-536-9


Double or Nothing (Annick $7.95)

Born in Detroit in 1951, Dennis Foon, the founder and director with Green Thumb Theatre for 12 years, has written 20 stageplays, TV episodes by the score, and he’s won more than 15 awards for his issue-driven work. Adapted from a play, Foon’s young adult novel Double or Nothing (Annick $7.95) is about a bright and apparently well-adjusted teenager who gets hooked on the thrills of gambling. Ten-dollar wagers seem relatively harmless at first; then Kit starts making little bets with himself. The more the casinos and racetracks beckon, the more he lies to his mother, dips into his college fund, skips school and misses work. 1-55037-626-8

[Louise Donnelly / BCBW 2000]

The Dirt Eaters (Annick $12.95)

The Dirt Eaters (Annick $12.95), first title in the Longlight Legacy trilogy, introduces 15-year-old Roan, raised in peace in serene Longlight. But when marauders attack and Roan, forced to flee his devastated homeland, is taken in by warrior priests, he discovers an unsettling talent for fighting. Revenge as justification for “the most horrific cycles of violence known to mankind” has long distressed acclaimed Vancouver playwright Dennis Foon. 1-55037-807-4

[BCBW Winter 2003]

Double or Nothing by Dennis Foon (Annick $12.95)

from Louise Donnelly
In Dennis Foon’s aptly titled teen novel, Double or Nothing, we enter the high-stakes adrenaline-rush life of Kip. It’s not drugs or alcohol that gets Kip high—it’s gambling. And in this revised version of Foon’s 2001 novel, unlike a decade ago, technology has upped the ante in addiction.

While other kids let high school turn them into “nodding zombies,” Kip has the perfect antidote for Mr. Cheeseman’s droning take on Hamlet. Spike life with a little bet.
“I say the Cheese does a belch in the next twenty seconds.”
Five bucks?

His friend Bongo coughs up ten and suddenly Mr. Cheeseman has Kip’s unwavering attention.

“Will he, won’t he, will he, won’t he?”
Bongo touches his wallet, imagining the dollars he’s about to win. Or lose. Kip knows how it works. Losers panic, they get worried. They stop having fun.
Losers buy lottery tickets when the chances of getting hit by lightning are a “hundred times better” than winning the big one.

Losers are the panhandlers Kit brushes off. How they ended up hitting bottom is a “mystery,” but not a mystery he can be bothered to figure out.

Then he meets sassy, independent Joey and Kip knows he’s met “the” girl. It’s icing on the cake when her father “the King” turns out to be an actual magician and, even more tantalizing, a whiz at the racetrack.

One afternoon with “the King” and Kip walks away with five hundred bucks. Soon, though, those afternoons at the track aren’t quite as profitable. But Kip’s not worried about loaning money to King. “…when he’s flush again, he’ll pay me back. Double. It’s a total win-win situation.”

Still, the fickle “Goddess of Gambling” demands her due and Kip finds himself withdrawing more and more from his university fund to bankroll a desperate yet still hypnotically compelling King and his own escalating attraction to the casino.

Then Kit discovers on-line gambling. “It’s a gimme, a no-brainer… King didn’t know when to quit. He kept going after he lost his nerve.” But not Kip. “No stars in these eyes.” He puts down three hundred. “I’ll know by tomorrow night how much I’ve cleaned up.”

With the education fund cleaned out and hit with the startling news of King’s suicide, Kip is briefly derailed. Then the optimism of a born gambler kicks in and he’s back in the game. Working three jobs to pay for the first semester of university, Kip’s got it figured out now. Any betting he does will be with other people’s money. He’ll get a degree and become a stockbroker.

Foon, who includes potato peeler and driver for an auto crusher company on his resume, is the founder of Vancouver’s Green Thumb Theatre for Young People and the author of The Dirt Eaters, Freewalker, and The Keeper’s Shadow, which make up the young adult Longlight Trilogy.

Life, Above All, a screenplay Foon wrote for an adaptation of Allan Stratton’s Chanda’s Secrets, was nominated for best foreign language film at the 2011 Academy Awards. 978-1-55451-348-2

[BCBW 2011]