2016 CCBC Awards Jury Comments

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by Sylvan Learning


5 to 1
Written by Holly Bodger (Manotick, ON)
Alfred A. Knopf
for ages 12 and up
“A unique and refreshing dystopia with an intriguing setting, this book is beautifully crafted and offers a thoughtful reflection on society, equality, freedom and justice… Told in alternating perspectives, and prose as well as verse, this novel allows us to imagine a future in which teens must try to survive and thrive in a desperate world created by the gender manipulation of their ancestors… Beautifully poetic and hauntingly visceral…”


The Scorpion Rules
(Prisoners of Peace)
Written by Erin Bow (Kitchener, ON)
Margaret K. McElderry Books
for ages 14 and up
“A dynamically imagined dystopian world, where children are the commodity and artificial intelligence is the highest power… Bow has crafted a novel that is original, complex, heartbreaking and beautiful… The world-building is sophisticated, featuring cleverly-plotted political machinations and richly multi-faceted characters, as well as very precise and exquisite descriptions… Unexpected turns of events, intricate relationships and devastating choices make this chilling portrait of the future unforgettable in a myriad of the ways.”


Trouble is a Friend of Mine
Written by Stephanie Tromly (Winnipeg, MB)
Kathy Dawson Books
for ages 12 and up
“In this hilarious, quirky novel readers will be quickly whisked into the sleuthing adventures of Digby and Zoe as they plunge into one hare-brained scheme after another… Tromly’s debut novel is a thoroughly delightful madcap mystery adventure that features a witty and winsome cast of characters, off-the-wall antics and a highly original coming-of-age story… It is a refreshing blend of mystery and contemporary teen issues, a quirky tale of friendship, family and outlandish escapades.”


The Truth Commission
Written by Susan Juby (Nanaimo, BC)
Razorbill Canada
for ages 13 and up
“In characteristic Susan Juby fashion, this book delivers a thoughtful reflection on the nature of truth in a package that is smart and funny and utterly original… The art school setting, the fresh and fully-realized characters and the quirky but thought-provoking plot combine to create a story that is part mystery, part family drama and wholly hilarious… A heartfelt, beautiful, tragic, funny and utterly delightful read.”


Young Man With Camera
Written by Emil Sher (Toronto, ON)
Arthur A. Levine Books
for ages 12 and up
“Unsettling and provocative, this book will leave a lasting impression on its readers… The unconventional format in which the protagonist’s photographs are woven seamlessly into the narrative help make a powerful statement about the nature of art and truth… But this book is also a stunning portrait of bullying, and of justice, or the lack thereof even in the face of truth. It provides no easy answers but leaves the reader with so much to think about.”

JURY MEMBERS: Melissa Bourdon-King, YA consultant, Sales and Technical support, TBM BookManager; Lisa Doucet, Co-Manager, Woozles Children’s Bookstore; Pamela Jeffrey, teacher-librarian, Stayner Collegiate Institute, Simcoe County District School Board.TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group


Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)
Sponsored by HarperCollins Canada


Clover’s Luck
(Magical Animal Adoption Agency)
Written by Kallie George (Vancouver, BC)
HarperCollins Publishers
for ages 6-9
Clover’s Luck is a delightfully warm, imaginative and buoyant tale of a girl who discovers confidence in herself during several days of looking after a magical animal adoption agency on her own… A wonderful adventure filled with so much magic it bursts from the page and surrounds you… George crafts a world that is a joy to inhabit from start to finish… Enchanting and engaging, this book has you smiling all the way through.”


The Nest
Written by Kenneth Oppel (Toronto, ON)
HarperCollins Publishers
for ages 11-14
“With sparse, beautiful prose and layers upon layers of tension, Oppel’s The Nest is truly unforgettable… A harrowing and taut story of how a boy copes with fear, isolation and the uncertainty of whether his new baby brother will live… Oppel’s pacing is deliciously relentless, his prose wonderfully measured and crisp, and his evocation of Steven’s anxieties and bravery thoroughly engrossing and compassionate… This is another classic by one of Canada’s preeminent authors for young people.”


The Scorpion Rules
(Prisoners of Peace)
Written by Erin Bow (Kitchener, ON)
Margaret K. McElderry Books
for ages 14 and up
“Harrowing yet humourous, pulse-pounding yet passionate, Bow’s novel is an exhilarating mix of themes and tones, forever keeping the reader guessing… A fast-paced, tightly-packed, emotional read… Bow deftly propels the story toward a hopeful and poignant culmination… Searingly intelligent, note-perfect in tone and mood, and consistently provocative, The Scorpion Rules is powerful, deeply insightful science fiction.”


A Thousand Nights
Written by E.K. Johnston (Kitchener, ON)
for ages 14 and up
“Lyrical and elegant, A Thousand Nights is a thoroughly absorbing story of courage, the love of family, and overcoming tyranny… Immersing the reader in the heat and rhythms and life of the desert, Johnston’s tale of how a girl realizes her power to overcome the demon that has ruled her people for several years is wise, sophisticated, and compelling… It’s been said that what makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. A Thousand Nights hides an ocean.”


The Unquiet
Written by Mikaela Everett (Lethbridge, AB)
Greenwillow Books
for ages 14 and up
“Unique and unforgettable… The Unquiet grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go… With every page it pulls you deeper and deeper into a world of hopelessness and desolation filled with characters fighting for their lives… It is as if the light goes out and the grey now surrounding you becomes an actual weight on your shoulders… Original and accomplished, The Unquiet attains grace and light with a stirring conclusion.”

JURY MEMBERS: Tina Everitt, Category Manager for Teen and Romance, Indigo; Michael Johnstone, Lecturer, Department of English, University of Toronto; Joel Sutherland, author of Haunted Canada 6: More Terrifying True Stories and Children’s & Youth Services Librarian, Georgina Public Library (MLIS, Aberystwyth University)


John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by John Spray


The Blackthorn Key
(Blackthorn Key)
Written by Kevin Sands (Toronto, ON)
for ages 9-14
The Blackthorn Key is the splendidly written, thrill-a-minute account of orphan-apprentice Christopher Rowe’s adventures in the dark and dangerous world of 17th century London… Filled with clever characters and unexpected twists, this mystery will have the reader on the edge of their seat as they try to solve the series of clever and unexpected puzzles throughout this piece.”


The Case of the Missing Moonstone
(The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency)
Written by Jordan Stratford (Salt Spring Island, BC)
Alfred A. Knopf
for ages 8-11
“Filled with humour, action and suspense… The Case of the Missing Moonstone brings together two brilliant historical figures — Ada Byron and Mary Godwin — to create a quirky and charming tale of science and mystery… Stratford skillfully develops his characters and writes a light-hearted mystery that will keep young readers engaged… Young audiences will be enthralled.”


Delusion Road
written by Don Aker (Annapolis County, NS)
HarperTrophy Canada
for ages 14 and up
“Aker’s excellent storytelling abilities shine through in this thrilling mystery novel… Filled with action, tension and suspense, Aker keeps us on the edge of our seats as the story unfolds and reaches its terrifying climax… Edgy and raw in both its narrative style and word choice, Delusion Road is perfect for older readers seeking an authenticity to their reading experience… This is just the type of novel young mystery enthusiasts will clamour to read!”


The Masked Truth
written by Kelley Armstrong (Aylmer, ON)
Doubleday Canada
for ages 14 and up
“Armstrong’s first foray into the world of mystery keeps you engaged from start to finish… This gripping thriller not only has the reader turning page by page in hopes of resolution, but challenges them to face their own preconceived notions about those who are struggling with mental health and illness… The Masked Truth is an often heart-stopping but ultimately satisfying novel, in large part because of the resilience of its finely drawn protagonists.”


written by Gordon Korman (Great Neck, NY)
HarperCollins Publishers
for ages 9-12
“The setting of Masterminds is in itself, masterful… Korman brings together elements of classic science fiction with the modern suspense thriller to create a piece that will leave the reader craving more… Written from numerous points-of-view, Korman enables the reader to develop empathy for each character on a more personal level… The premise for the novel is brilliant and the cliffhanger ending leaves us wanting more… Kids will not be able to put this book down once they’ve picked it up.”

JURY MEMBERS: Gail Bowen, author; Sandra O’Brien, Editor, Canadian Children’s Book News, and former teacher; Ashley Pamenter, Coordinator of Programming, Girl Guides of Canada, and former elementary school teacher.


Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund


Avis Dolphin
Written by Frieda Wishinsky (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Willow Dawson (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 9-12
Avis Dolphin achieves a difficult goal, blending historical realism with emotional honesty to deliver the story of the Lusitania in a way that young readers will be able to comprehend… The sinking of the ship and its aftermath is paralleled by a folktale story-within-the-story presented in graphic novel form… Dawson’s gorgeous illustrations of the fantastic folktale embedded in the story give another layer to this already well-executed travel adventure.”


The Farmerettes
Written by Gisela Tobien Sherman (Dundas, ON)
Second Story Press
for ages 14 and up
“Heartwarming, satisfying and worthy of a wide audience… The Farmerettes tells of a moment in Canadian history that is little known to those who did not live through the Second World War. The compassionate strength of the young girls who worked the land while the men were at war is revealed in the strong characters and carefully woven episodic plot… Evocative setting, well-developed and engaging characters.”


Mad Miss Mimic
Written by Sarah Henstra (Toronto, ON)
Razorbill Canada
for ages 12 and up
“Well-plotted intrigue and explorations of the ethics of medical practices in Victorian England are the vehicle for Henstra’s exploration of the historic treatment of women with disabilities… An entertaining novel of a rich family trying to hide the family ‘secret’… The combination of fascinating historical information with a rich representation of the inner world of the protagonist makes Mad Miss Mimic highly rewarding.”


Uncertain Soldier
Written by Karen Bass (Hythe, AB)
Pajama Press
for ages 12 and up
“This moving historical novel presents the world’s anger towards Nazi Germany through cruelty and bullying of both main characters. Rising above this is a friendship bond that is deeper than physical pain… Both Erich and Max are uncertain of their identities and their loyalties. Their lives become inextricably entwined in this complicated and beautiful narrative of otherness and understanding.”


The Unquiet Past
Written by Kelley Armstrong (Aylmer, ON)
Orca Book Publishers
for ages 12 and up
“A disturbing moment in Canadian medical history is intertwined with the quest of two teenagers struggling to unravel their own personal pasts… Revealing a little known historical fact about psychological research and the mistreatment of mental patients in Quebec in the 1960s… The combination of historicity and lively, engaging characters render The Unquiet Past both gripping and ultimately satisfying.”

JURY MEMBERS: Shannon Babcock, Project Manager, Quebec Reading Connection and Past President, IBBY Canada; Karyn Huenemann, reviewer for Resource Links Magazine, university instructor and blogger at There Will Be Books; Sandra Stockall, Subject Coordinator K-5, Anglophone East School District (Moncton); Gail de Vos (chair), author, storyteller and Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.


Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation


The Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics
Written by Edward Keenan (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin (Vancouver, BC)
Owlkids Books
for ages 10-14
“In this entertaining and informative text, Keenan brings the concepts of civic engagement and political involvement to a level that kids can understand… This book will be in heavy rotation with classes doing projects on government, social justice and the political process.”


A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars
Written by Maria Birmingham (Brampton, ON)
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty (Toronto, ON)
Owlkids Books
for ages 11 and up
“Quirky, fun and thoroughly engaging, Birmingham’s book is a surprisingly thorough look at the many ways humans have tried to prolong their lives indefinitely throughout the ages… Half serious, half jest, this fascinating book with edgy illustrations will draw in both young scientists and mystics with a playful mix of science and folklore.”


Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War
Written by Jessica Dee Humphreys (Toronto, ON) and Michel Chikwanine (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Claudia Dávila (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press
for ages 11 and up
“Chikwanine’s heartbreaking story of his experience as a child strikes the perfect balance for young readers, exposing the harsh reality of life in a war-torn country while shielding them from the most egregious violence… The book’s success comes in no small part thanks to the graphic-novel format, expertly rendered by Dávila.”


Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat
Written by Paula Ayer (Vancouver, BC)
Annick Press
for ages 12 and up
“Smart, entertaining, informative and topical… This book engages the huge topic of food in our society in a historically sweeping yet light-handed way… Ayer goes beyond the basic messaging of healthy eating to teach kids about the history of food production… The topics within are presented clearly, with enough detail to satisfy a teen hungry for knowledge.”


Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and You
Written by Cory Silverberg (Houston, TX)
Illustrated by Fiona Smyth (Toronto, ON)
Seven Stories Press
for ages 7-11
“The topics of sexuality, gender identity, self-esteem and even consent are presented clearly and sensitively in this bright engaging book… The tell-it-like-it-is text is inclusive and sensitive, creating a resource full of acceptance for readers regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or social standing… Topics ranging from emotions to physical changes to the concepts of consent and gender identity are discussed in an age-appropriate and honest manner.”

JURY MEMBERS: Dory Cerny, Books for Young People Editor, Quill & Quire; Nadia L. Hohn, teacher, Toronto District School Board and author of Malaika’s Costume (Groundwood Books); Heather Kuipers, Owner, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore.


Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie


In a Cloud of Dust
Written by Alma Fullerton (Midland, ON)
Illustrated by Brian Deines (Toronto, ON)
Pajama Press
for ages 4-8
“An uplifting story about how compassion and one small thing (like a bicycle) can make a huge difference in someone’s life… Narrated in simple poetic language… Fullerton allows us a glimpse into the life of children from another place, who may have different struggles, but who like all children, love to feel the wind blowing as they ride their bikes… Deines’ artwork conveys a vivid depiction of Fullerton’s words, as well as creates a strong sense of character and setting for the reader.”


Written by Maureen Fergus (Winnipeg, MB)
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić (Toronto, ON/Zemun, Serbia)
Tundra Books
for ages 5-9
“Readers of all ages will relate to this hilarious story about a family dinner where everyone is too busy to pass the potatoes… Petričić’s marvellous illustrations move us along and perfectly complement Ferguson’s narrative… Both laugh-out-loud funny and touching, this is a gem of a book… A great read aloud and reminder to pay attention to each other.”


Sidewalk Flowers
Storyline by JonArno Lawson (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Sydney Smith (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 5-8
“This perfect wordless picture book takes the “reader” on a seemingly ordinary walk… Smith’s exceptional illustrations and the exquisite design of this book express so much more that it’s impossible to resist reading it over and over again… A gentle celebration of life’s sweetest moments… It’s no small feat to bring to life a story without words that engages both head and heart… Destined to be a classic.”


Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
Written and illustrated by Danielle Daniel (Hanmer, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 5-8
“In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem of animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver, or moose… Simple text, lovely illustrations… A perfect marriage of verbal text and visuals, along with ideal formatting, make this a rich read and a valued treasure for Canadian bookshelves today and tomorrow.”


The Wolf-Birds
Written and illustrated by Willow Dawson (Toronto, ON)
Owlkids Books
for ages 6-9
“This wonderfully illustrated picture book is a blend of narrative, non-fiction and poetry, thus making it a unique reading experience… Dawson’s refreshing and original illustrations beautifully portray the habitat and movement of the wolves and birds as they work together to feed themselves… That it helps young readers think about survival, interdependence and the natural world helps to make The Wolf-Birds a special picture book to share.”

JURY MEMBERS: Maria Martella, owner of Tinlids Inc., a wholesaler of children’s and teen books for schools and libraries; Janis Nostbakken, Children’s Media Specialist; Larry Swartz, Instructor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and Brock University, and author of This Is a Great Book! (Pembroke Publishers).


Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($30,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group
Pour ces informations en français, cliquez ici.


Written and illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn (Town of Mount-Royal, QC)
Éditions de la Pastèque
for ages 7 and up
“In L’arbragan, Jacques Goldstyn presents an endearing atypical character. With a singular tenderness, the author-illustrator deals with friendship and grief in an original way, placing particular emphasis on the complicity between two people and ways to honour those who have left us. Through its flexible features, Goldstyn combines details and sobriety in his illustrations with finesse. They are in perfect harmony with the themes of the book and impose a pace perfect for contemplation.”


Aux toilettes
Written by André Marois (Montreal, QC)
Illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Montreal, QC/Lisbon, Portugal)
Éditions Druide
for ages 6 and up
Aux toilette, a picture book by André Marois and Pierre Pratt, is daring in its purest form, starting with its title and beyond. A story with fantasy elements set in a classroom, what a great idea! Without providing any explanation otherwise, the author hints at the unusual through the story’s narration and succinct dialogue. The friendly atmosphere of the class is magnified by the humorous illustrations that feature characters with friendly faces, rich colouring, and intriguing details.”


Written by Patrick Isabelle (Montreal, QC)
Leméac Éditeur
for ages 11 and up
“Anyone who has ever read books by Patrick Isabelle will know that Camille is not likely to be a walk in the park. Within the first few lines, Isabelle hooks his readers by describing a disappearance that launches the plot. In the second chapter, the author takes his audience to the heart of a moving domestic violence tragedy. From that point onward, Isabelle, with his skillful narrative construction that alternates the present and the not-so-distant past, manipulates his readers readily. Readers will finish the book fascinated by his mastery and stirred by characters that are hard to leave behind. Fortunately, they will stay in the hearts and minds of his readers long after the end of the book.”


L’épopée de Petit-Jules
Written by Maryse Rouy (Montreal, QC)
Éditions Hurtubise
for ages 11 and up
“An adventure novel taking place in the Middle Ages, L’épopée de Petit-Jules emphasizes friendship, mutual support, loyalty and trust. Maryse Rouy also manages to skillfully recreate the everyday medieval atmosphere. Through successive touches, she describes the locations, explains the customs, and includes cultural or social commentary, all without burdening the story.”


Le prisonnier sans frontières
Written and illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn (Town of Mount-Royal, QC)
Bayard Canada
for ages 6 and up
Le prisonnier sans frontières is a hymn to freedom of expression and justice denouncing all forms of censorship and oppression. The sharp illustrations offer a luminous look on a dark reality. Through imprints of poetry and realism, they show us the sorrow of a father locked up in prison, his isolation, and the maliciousness of the blue squares when a police officer punctures a child’s balloon without reason. Goldstyn teaches both little ones and older children that sometimes a simple gesture can have a very positive impact.”

JURY MEMBERS: Raymond Bertin, cultural journalist; Rachel DeRoy-Ringuette, children’s literature consultant; Félix Guénette, librarian; Sophie Kurler, librarian; France Lapierre, educational consultant.



Missing Nimâmâ
Written by Melanie Florence (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by François Thisdale (Carignan, QC)
Clockwise Press
for ages 10 and up
“Sympathetic text married to exquisite illustrations… The story follows an orphaned First Nation child through the major incidents of her life, nurtured and beloved by her grandmother and watched over by the spirit of her mother… There’s a soft sadness, together with a vibrant hopefulness in the illustrations… Florence’s words and Thisdale’s illustrations fuse to create a powerful emotional impact.


The Nest
Written by Kenneth Oppel (Toronto, ON)
HarperCollins Publishers
for ages 11-14
“A creepy but thought provoking story full of tension… Artfully crafted through words and illustrations, this suspenseful story of terrible choices and courageous actions takes place as a family cares for a baby clinging to life in its first days… Taut storytelling, interspersed with haunting illustrations in a page turning realistic, verging on fantastical suspense novel… Destined to become a classic.”


That Squeak
Written by Carolyn Beck (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by François Thisdale (Carignan, QC)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
for ages 8-11
Ethereal watercolour paintings heighten the emotion in this story of loss and new friendship, centring on an offer of help to fix a bicycle and shared, stolen bike rides… First person narrative and atmospheric illustrations perfectly capture teenage angst, misjudgment, acceptance and eventually, deep friendship… Detailed illustrations by Thisdale contribute new and deeper meanings to the poetic prose of Beck.


The Wolf-Birds
Written and illustrated by Willow Dawson (Toronto, ON)
Owlkids Books
for ages 6-9
“A realistic look at life for ravens and wolves and a great introduction to children about the reality of nature… This book is beautifully written in sparse text with earthy, primitive, and yet elegant illustrations… Active verbs move the story along and circular patterns in the illustrations remind the reader of the circle of life.”


A Year of Borrowed Men
Written by Michelle Barker (Vancouver, BC)
Illustrated by Renné Benoit (St. Thomas, ON)
Pajama Press
for ages 7-10
“A compassionate war memoir of a young German farm child… This exquisitely illustrated eight year old’s memory of World War II is a timely reminder that kindness and understanding win against fear and mistrust of “the other”… Universal themes of friendship, caring, power, and freedom are unfolding in this tale told from the point of view of young girl… Soft watercolour illustrations by Benoit are a perfect match.”

JURY MEMBERS: Merle Harris, IBBY Canada Executive Committee member, storyteller and elementary school library technician (Alberta); Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Editor, CM: Canadian Review of Materials and Professor Emeritus, Children’s & YA Literature, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Gigi Nadeau, Librarian Consultant, Riverside School Board; Barbara Kissick, former children’s librarian, Confederation Centre Public Library; Shelley Stagg Peterson, Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and former member of the jury of the Notable Books for a Global Society of the International Literacy Association.


For more information about these awards, please visit www.bookcentre.ca/programs/awards/