Winners Announced for the 2017 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

$145,000 in prize money awarded to Canadian children’s authors and illustrators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (November 22, 2017) – The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is thrilled to announce the winners of its English-language children’s book awards. The $30,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award was given to author and illustrator Jan Thornhill for The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk (Groundwood Books). An additional $12,500 was divided between the winning book’s publisher and the creators of the other four nominated titles. Six awards in total were given out:

  • The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk, written and illustrated by Jan Thornhill, won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000)
  • The Snow Knows, written by Jennifer McGrath and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
  • Canada Year by Year, written by Elizabeth MacLeod and illustrated by Sydney Smith, won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
  • The Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction For Young People ($5,000)
  • Shooter by Caroline Pignat won the John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)

The winners were announced last night at a gala event, hosted by the CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, at The Carlu in Toronto. At a gala event in Montreal on November 8, 2017, the CCBC and TD Bank Group awarded the $30,000 Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse to Même pas vrai, written by Larry Tremblay and illustrated by Guillaume Perreault. Another $12,500 was divided between their publisher, Éditions de la Bagnole, and four other nominated titles. The inaugural $5,000 Prix Harry Black de l’album jeunesse went to Au-delà de la forêt (Comme des géants), written by Nadine Robert and illustrated by Gérard DuBois. Click here for more information.

Once again, TD Bank Group partnered with CBC Books to present the Fan Choice Award. Young readers were asked to pick their favourite book from the shortlisted TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards titles in an online poll. This year, Iain Lawrence took home the $5,000 award for The Skeleton Tree (Tundra Books).

In total, $145,000 was awarded between the two ceremonies to Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers. Below is the full list of prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. Click here for the shortlists.

For more information, please contact:
Camilia Kahrizi
Marketing and Website Coordinator
Canadian Children’s Book Centre
416.975.0010 ext. 221

Sponsored by TD Bank Group

Tragic Tale

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk
Written and illustrated by Jan Thornhill (Havelock, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 9-12

“A riveting story… Thornhill tells the story of the Great Auk’s evolution and demise with a matter-of-fact elegance that makes the story both poignant and horrifying… Thornhill uses perspective brilliantly, emphasizing the wild grandeur of natural creatures one moment, and their desperate vulnerability the next… Distinctive and evocative images mesh with strong writing about the lifestyle and obstacles that are a part of daily life for this resourceful bird.”

The finalists, who received $2,500 each, were:

  • A Day of Signs and Wonders, written by Kit Pearson (HarperTrophy Canada)
  • The Skeleton Tree, written by Iain Lawrence (Tundra Books)
  • Tokyo Digs a Garden, written by Jon-Erik Lappano and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka (Groundwood Books)
  • When We Were Alone, written by David Alexander Robertson and illustrated by Julie Flett (HighWater Press)

JURY MEMBERS: Deirdre Baker, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto Star children’s books reviewer, and author; Merle Harris, IBBY Canada Executive Committee member, storyteller and retired elementary school library technician; Dr. Vivian Howard, Associate Professor/Associate Dean (Academic), School of Information Management, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University; Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Editor, CM: Canadian Review of Materials and Professor Emeritus, Children’s & YA Literature, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Michael Pellegrin, teacher and English Language Arts Specialist, English Montreal School Board.

Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie

 Snow Knows

The Snow Knows
Written by Jennifer McGrath (Moncton, NB)
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (St-Hubert, QC)
Nimbus Publishing
for ages 3-8

“Striking, lively multimedia art and brilliantly evocative text sweep young readers off to the heart of the Canadian wild to explore the lives of animals in winter… Each gorgeous turn of the page introduces a new creature and a new winter wonder with lyrical verbal grace and masterful, eye-opening visual genius.”

JURY MEMBERS: Nancy Davidson, former President and National Coordinator of Kids’ Lit Quiz Canada; Maria Martella, owner of Tinlids Inc., a wholesaler of children’s and teen books for schools and libraries; Sheba Meland, children’s publishing and editorial consultant.

Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

 Canada Year by Year

Canada Year by Year
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Sydney Smith (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press
for ages 8-12

“No one will be able to say “Canadian history is boring” after dipping into Canada Year by Year…  This highly engaging and beautifully illustrated timeline of a book features the people, places and activities that distinguish Canada… Highlights the moments to celebrate and the moments needing reconciliation and healing…  A perfect springboard to a deeper dive into Canadian history.”

JURY MEMBERS: Heather Kuipers, owner, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore; Emily Moretti, educator, Toronto Catholic District School Board; Sara Spencer, Junior School Librarian, The York School.

Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

Mark of the Plague

The Mark of the Plague
(Blackthorn Key, Book 2)
Written by Kevin Sands (London, ON)
for ages 10-14

“Sands immerses readers in Restoration England, expertly capturing not just the sights and sounds of London in the 1660s, but also seventeenth-century conceptions of magic, science and the spread of disease… An exceptional story in every way… Emotionally-charged and action-packed, The Mark of the Plague reminds us of the dangers of putting profit before people.”

JURY MEMBERS: Shannon Babcock, Project Coordinator, Quebec Reading Connection, and Regional Councillor Quebec, IBBY Canada; Sally Bender, retired teacher-librarian and blogger at Sal’s Fiction Addiction; Roseanne Gauthier, Youth Services Librarian, PEI Public Library Service; Gail de Vos (chair), author, storyteller and Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

Sponsored by John Spray


Written by Caroline Pignat (Kanata, ON)
Razorbill Canada
for ages 13 and up

“Pignat is a master storyteller who has created a cleverly written psychological drama told in five distinct and believable teen voices… Each character’s complex story is slowly revealed, developing empathy and understanding for each of the teens… Filled with moments of suspense and increasing tension Pignat has created an enthralling mystery that is impossible to put down.”

JURY MEMBERS: Roxanne Deans, Director of Inventory and Outreach, The Children’s Book Bank, Co-Founder of StoryMobs, and former bookstore owner; 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.

Sponsored by Sylvan Learning

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Written by E.K. Johnston (Stratford, ON)
Dutton Books
for ages 14 and up

“Johnston has created an empowering story about the aftermath of a sexual assault… Beautifully written, and handled with sensitivity, this important story deserves a place beside books like Speak on teen bookshelves…This empowering book will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

JURY MEMBERS: Penny Chaiko, teacher-librarian, Nantyr Shores Secondary School; Tina Everitt, Category Manager for Teen & Romance, Indigo Books & Music; Rachel Seigel, freelance author and Adult Fiction Specialist, Library Services Centre.


TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Now in its 13th year, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award celebrates excellence in children’s literature by rewarding the best literary work by Canadian authors. Sponsored by TD, and administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, it is one of the largest prizes in children’s book awards. All books, in any genre, written and illustrated by Canadians and published in Canada for children, are eligible. Each book is judged on the quality of the text and illustrations, in addition to its overall contribution to Canadian children’s literature. Since the program started in 2004, 130 books have been honoured through the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award in both official languages

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award honours excellence in the illustrated picture book format, for children aged 3 to 8. Charles Baillie, retired Chairman and CEO of TD Bank Group, is delighted to give the prize in his wife Marilyn’s name. As an award-winning children’s book author and an early learning specialist, Marilyn is involved in and passionate about children’s literature. The winning book receives $20,000.

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction
The Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction was established by the Fleck Family Foundation in 1999 to recognize Canada’s exceptional non-fiction books for young people. The award honours Norma Fleck (1906-1998), who inspired a deep love of reading in her children and grandchildren. Dr. James Fleck, who initiated the award, is the son of Norma Fleck. The winning book receives $10,000.

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
The Geoffrey Bilson Award was established in 1988 in memory of the respected historian and children’s author, Geoffrey Bilson. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to the Canadian author of an outstanding work of historical fiction for young people. In 2005, the Bilson Endowment Fund was created to support this award. If you wish to contribute to this fund, please contact the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

John Spray Mystery Award
The John Spray Mystery Award was established in 2011 to honour excellence in the mystery book genre. John Spray, President of the Mantis Investigation Agency, is delighted to sponsor the prize, noting that mystery books made him a passionate reader at an early age and helped him find his chosen career. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to a Canadian author of an outstanding work of mystery writing for young people.

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
The Amy Mathers Teen Book Award, established in 2014, honours excellence in teen/young adult fiction. The prize is awarded annually with a cash prize of $5,000 to an original work aimed at readers aged 13-18. The prize was established following the fundraising efforts of Amy Mathers through her Marathon of Books. Now in its third year, the award is sponsored by Sylvan Learning.

About the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a national, not-for-profit organization and registered charity founded in 1976 to promote, support and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for children and teens. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers. For more information, please visit