Canadian Children’s Literature Awards

Last night, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre handed out its Canadian Children’s Literature Awards at The Carlu in downtown Toronto (except for the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse, which will be announced October 29 at a separate event in Montreal). As a proud member of the CCBC, I had the privilege of attending the ceremony.

The awards, sponsored by TD Bank Group, featured a fan’s choice award for the first time this year. Children voted online for their favourite book from all of the nominated titles. Young Annaka Leib won a trip to Toronto and had the honour of presenting the award (and looking adorable doing so as she stood on a step to reach the microphone). The award went to Polly Horvath for One Night in Coal Harbour. 

The remaining winners were:

Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

John Spray Mystery Award: The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart

The Lynching of Louie Sam

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People: The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart

The Lynching of Louie Sam

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-fiction: Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely through a Never-Ending War by Deborah Ellis

Marilyn Balilie Picture Book Award: Mr. Zinger’s Hat, written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dušan Petričić

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award: One Year in Coal Harbour by Polly Horvath

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!


Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize

Okay, this is old news now, but on October 10 beloved Canadian short story writer Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for literature. Unfortunately, the eighty-two-year-old Munro will not be attending the ceremony to receive her award due to health concerns. I have a confession to make. Despite majoring in English in university and taking a course in Canadian literature, I have read very little of Alice Munro’s work. Why, I have no idea. I suppose in part because she is known for her short stories, and I really ‘t read short stories that often. Still, I feel a bit guilty as a Canadian that I am not more familiar with her work.

On a lighter note, the CBC has created the “Who said it Quiz: Alice Munro or Jay-Z?” Despite my limited knowledge of both the writer and the rapper, I managed to score 70%. Not bad!


2012 Canadian Children’s Literature Awards

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the 2012 Canadian Children’s Literature Awards, held at the glamorous Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown Toronto. How did I score an invite? In addition to being a member of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, which puts on the annual gala, I also volunteered for the CCBC as part of the Young Adult Jury to choose books for the fall 2012 edition of its publication Best Books for Kids and Teens. I am happy to support the CCBC and all the great work they do throughout the year to promote Canadian children’s authors and illustrators. I had an excellent time at the awards ceremony and would like to thank the CCBC for putting on such a great event. ou can find out more about the CCBC here. As for the awards themselves, the winners were:

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Winner: Stones for My Father by Trilby Kent (Tundra Books)
Short list:

The Dragon Turn by Shane Peacock (Tundra Books)
No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books)
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes (Owlkids Books)
Seal Song by Andrea Spalding with illustrations by Pascal Milelli (Orca Books)

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Winner: Without You, written and illustrated by Geneviève Côté (Kids Can Press)
Short list:
Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley, with illustrations by Janice Nadeau (Kids Can Press)
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid (North Wind Press/Scholastic Canada)
Pussycat. Pussycat, Where Have You Been? by Dan Bar-el with illustrations by Rae Maté (Simply Red Books)
Small Saul by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press)

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction

Winner: Loon by Susan Vande Griek with illustrations by Karen Reczuch (Groundwood Books)
Short list:
Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan by Rafal Gerszak with Dawn Hunter (Annick Press)
Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by Nature by Dora Lee with illustrations by Margot Thompson (Kids Can Press)
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes (Owlkids Books)
Scribbling Women: True Tales from Astonishing Lives by Marthe Jocelyn (Tundra Books)

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

Winner: The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley (Annick Press)
Short list:
I’ll Be Watching by Pamela Porter (Groundwood Books)
Shot at Dawn by John Wilson (Scholastic Canada)
This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins Canada)
The Whole Truth by Kit Pearson (HarperCollins Canada)

John Spray Mystery Award

Winner: Charlie’s Key by Rob Mills (Orca Books)
Short list:
The Case of the Missing Deed by Ellen Schwartz (Tundra Books)
The Dragon Turn by Shane Peacock (Tundra Books)
Held by Edeet Revel (Annick Press)
True Blue by Deborah Ellis (Pajama Press)

Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy

Winner: What Happened to Serenity? by P.J. Sarah Collins (Red Deer Press)
Short list:
Dreamline by Nicole Luiken (Great Plains Teen Fiction)
Hunted by Cherly Rainfield (WestSide Books)
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin Canada)
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins Canada)

Apocalypse Tour at Indigo

Megan Crewe, Cherly Rainfield, Leah Bobet, Maureen McGowam, and Lesley Livingston

Last week, I attended the Apocalypse Tour at Indigo Yorkdale. The event featured five authors who have recently written dystopian-ish novels: Megan Crewe (The Way We Fall), Cheryl Rainfield (Hunted), Leah Bobet (Above), Maureen McGowan (Deviants), and Lesley Livingston (Starling). I love reading YA and have read three out of the five books, so I decided to go and listen to the authors discuss their craft. The authors discussed their writing process, how they got published, what intrigues them about writing dystopian fiction, and why they love Toronto. Afterward, the authors stuck out to sign books and give out some free swag. This was a great event, and I hope Indigo will continue to host YA authors in the future.

The Word on the Street

On Sunday I braved the chilly temperature and threat of rain to venture over to Queen’s Park Circle in Toronto for the 23rd annual Word on the Street book and magazine festival. It had been a few years since I was able to attend, so I was happy to be back. My first stop was  This Is Not the Shakespeare Stage, where I was able to take in Norah McClintock, Ted Staunton, Shane Peacock, and Richard Scrimger (see photo below) as they discussed their recent collaboration on the young adult series Seven. The series is about an adventuresome grandfather who, upon his death, leaves a will outlining seven tasks, one for each of his grandsons that will take them on journeys from Iceland to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Other authors who contributed to the series include Eric Walters, John Wilson, and Sigmund Brouwer. Interestingly, the books do not need to be read in any particular order, so the “ending” of the series is really dependent on the reader. For more information about the series, visit!/main.

Moderator Dory Cerny leads the discussion with Norah McClintock, Ted Staunton, Shane Peacock and Richard Scrimger.











Next up was author Megan Crewe. Crewe discussed facing your fears through writing and talked about the inspiration behind her novel The Way We Fall, about a teenager whose island community is quarantined following the outbreak of a deadly virus.  After hearing Crewe read a passage from the book, I am adding it to my “To be read” pile! If you’ve already read it, fear not: the second book in the trilogy, The Lives We Lost, is out in February.

Next onstage was the “Out of the Ordinary” panel featuring Deborah Kerbel, Lesley Livingston, Mariko Tamaki, and Natalie Zina Walschots. Kerbel began with a reading from her latest book, Under the Moon, in which Lily’s health suffers after she loses the ability to sleep following her aunt Su’s death. She meets Ben, who works the night shift at the local drive-through, who at first seems just plain rude but who might actually be the key to saving her. Next up was Lesley Livingston, reading a storm scene from her new release, Starling. Appropriately enough, during the reading heavy rain came down and the wind was blowing. Very creepy. Fans of Livingston’s Wondrous Strange trilogy will be pleased to know that Fennrys Wolf shows up just in time to save our heroine, Mason, from the storm and he just happens to be…naked. And suffering severe memory loss. He and Mason must work together to figure out what is happening around them and who Fennrys is. Following Livingston, Mariko Tamaki read from (You) Set Me On Fire, about a college student named Allison who’s been burned before – both literally and figuratively. Allison revels in the opportunity to reinvent herself at college, but will her relationship with Shar cause her to earn more scars? Tamaki’s hilarious reading of a scene in which a college party goes horribly wrong thanks to the “Tower of Power” and its accompanying shots was certainly well-received by the crowd. Finally, Natalie Zina Walschots read a few poems from Doom: Poems for Supervillains, impressing us with her vocabulary while offering up a different take on classic bad guys like Bane.

Following the panel, I was able to get my copy of Starling signed by Lesley Livingston, and then it was off to explore the rest of the festival. Unfortunately my camera battery died and I have no idea how to get the rest of my pictures out of my (non-smart)phone, but I can say I did Kevin Sylvester rocking an awesome chef’s hat while signing books for his fans, and I also saw Olivia leaving the festival, Chirp over at Owl Kids, and Polkaroo hiding out behind the TVO Kids stage waiting to make a grand entrance. Despite the chilly weather, I had a great time and hope to return next year.