Groundwood Books had a good night at the 2013 Canadian Children’s Literature Awards celebration in Toronto on October 22. Books published by the house won three of the seven awards given out, including the largest prize for a work of children’s literature in Canada, the C$30,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.
“It was a fantastic night for Groundwood,” said publisher Sheila Barry, enjoying a glass of Champagne at the party after the awards were announced. Author Polly Horvath’s novel One Year in Coal Harbour not only took the top honor but also won this year’s inaugural TD Canadian Children’s Literature Fan Choice Award, voted on by children across Canada on the CBC Books Web site. Horvath was fogged in at the Vancouver Writers Festival and unable to fly to Toronto to attend the ceremony, but Barry accepted the awards on her behalf and conveyed her thanks. The book is a follow-up to Horvath’s Everything on a Waffle, which introduced the character of Primrose Squarp, whom the jury described as having a “quirky, precocious, philosophical perspective.” In their citation, the judges said the book makes a valuable contribution to the Canadian canon, adding that “there is an honesty to the writing, which doesn’t shy away from difficult issues but navigates through them with a gentle optimism.”
Groundwood author Deborah Ellis won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction for her book Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely Through a Never-Ending War. The jury wrote of the book, in which Ellis weaves together interviews she conducted with some two dozen Afghan children, that “the kids of Kabul tell their stories in such calm and hopeful voices that we read these deeply moving stories not with pity but with great respect.”
Annick Press author Elizabeth Stewart won two awards – the John Spray Mystery Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for her book The Lynching of Louie Sam, based on the true story of the only lynching known to have taken place in Canada. Stewart thanked Annick Press, particularly associate publisher Colleen MacMillan, for believing “that young readers would connect with this story, a travesty that happened to a young First Nations boy 130 years ago.”
The Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy went to Rachel Hartman for her novel Seraphina, published by Doubleday Canada. The jury for this award praised the fantasy novel’s “fully realized world that captivates to constantly surprise us with its richness, intelligence and sensitivity.”
Mr. Zinger’s Hat by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dušan Petričić (Tundra) won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Describing the book as “a charming, marvelous tale surrounding the art of creating and telling stories, which celebrates the budding friendship between an elderly writer and a boy who discovers his storyteller within, jury members praised Petričić ’s juxtaposition of two styles to portray a real-life setting and an imaginary world.
The annual awards are administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. The awards celebration and its largest prize are sponsored by TD Bank, which donates about C$4 million annually to support many children’s literacy initiatives in Canada.