The 2017 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today at Burlington’s Frontenac Public School. The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from the school – a jury of grade 3 and 4 students selected the recipients of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 7 and 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award. Each student read the books individually and then worked together with their group to reach consensus and decide on a winner. This process makes it a unique literary award in Canada.
Winner of the Children’s Picture Book Award Category
The Night Gardener
by the Fan Brothers (Toronto, Ont.)
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
“The Night Gardener is a very hopeful story,” said student jurors in grades 3 and 4. “At first it is a little scary, then just mysterious. But by the end, the drawings get more colourful, the people get happier, and a community develops.” One juror noted that “the detail in the drawings helped to tell the story,” adding, “I loved the birds sitting on the bird tree and the cats sitting on the cat tree!”
“We are extremely honoured and humbled to receive the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award,” said authors/illustrators Eric and Terry Fan. “Awards like this are personally the most gratifying for us, knowing that young readers responded to our book in such a positive way.”
Eric and Terry Fan both studied illustration at the Ontario College of Art and Design. The Night Gardener is their first book together. They were also named as finalists for the 2017 Schwartz Children’s Book Awards for illustrating The Darkest Dark, by writer and former astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category
by Wesley King (Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S.)
Paula Wiseman Books
As one of the student jurors in grades 7 and 8 summed it up, “This book was my favourite. I could not put it down.” The jurors said that they “really felt for Daniel as he struggled with the unknown,” and that the book “helped [them] understand Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).” They recommend this book “to help raise awareness of OCD, and to show people that they don’t have to face it alone.”
“Winning this award is particularly meaningful because it recognizes a story that I am truly passionate about, and because it is a reflection of my favourite critics – young readers,” said author Wesley King. “I am also thrilled that OCDaniel continues to be read and used to help understand people around us.”
Wesley King has written four novels for young adults, including The Incredible Space Raiders from Space! and The Vindico. He is a first-time nominee and laureate of the Schwartz Children’s Book Awards.
About the Awards
Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
This year’s selection committee comprised Dory Cerny (Books for Young People editor and reviewer, Quill & Quire, Toronto), Susan Chamberlain (owner, The Book Keeper, Sarnia) and Laura Murray (children’s librarian, Peterborough Public Library).
The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters.
The Ontario Arts Foundation administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, which manages the nomination and jury process. These awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.