2018 Governor General’s Literary Award Winners Announced

The Governor General’s Literary Awards, one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious prizes, annually acknowledge seven English-language and seven French-language books across several categories. Each winner receives $25,000.

On Nov. 29, 2018, the winners will gather in Ottawa to perform readings and sign their books for the public.

The 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award winners for young people are:

Young people’s literature — text (English): Sweep by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin Canada/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)

Set in Victorian London, Sweep revolves around a young orphan girl named Nan who sweeps chimneys for a dangerous and hardscrabble living. Nan nearly perishes in a deadly chimney fire, but is saved when a piece of charcoal comes to life as a mysterious golem-like creature. Together, the two hatch a plan to rescue young orphan chimney sweeps from losing their lives on the job for cruel masters.

“A tender story of what makes us human, Sweep doesn’t shy away from the risks of love and monstrousness of indifference. With an impeccable narrative, Sweep shows how love can breathe life into darkness and how hope can spark change. Auxier weaves a multi-layered masterpiece with endearing characters and gut-wrenching twists that are certain to instill readers with a sense of wonder and discovery for the miracle of storytelling,” said the jury, Shelley Hrdlitschka, Philip Roy and Sarah Tsiang, in a press release.

Young people’s literature — illustrated books (English): They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

A vibrant picture book by Jillian Tamaki, They Say Blue is an exploration of colour told from the perspective of a curious and inquisitive little girl. In 2014, Tamaki won a Governor General’s Literary Award for her work illustrating the graphic novel This One Summer, which was written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki.

They Say Blue is a wonderful blend of words and art, a sweeping, joyous book from cover to cover. Its lively and dynamic compositions are sure to captivate both children and those who love to read to children. Wonderfully uplifting and imaginative, it spans an entire range of emotions and colours and makes one’s heart sing,” said the jury, Adwoa Badoe, Renata Liwska and Hugh MacDonald, in a press release.

Young people’s literature — text (French): Le chemin de la montagne by Marianne Dubuc (Comme des géants; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)

Ms. Blaireau lives at the foot of the mountain. Every Sunday, she climbs the path that leads up to the top. On her way, she takes the time to greet her friends, help them, contemplate nature, and collect a few treasures. One morning, she meets Lulu who, curious to see the top of the world, decides to join her on her journey.

“A book that focuses on what matters. The interwoven text and illustrations perfectly express how important it is to pass on knowledge and find happiness not only in the big things but in the small ones too. A universal story that will resonate with everyone.”

Young people’s literature — illustrated books (French): Ferdinand F., 81 ans, chenille by Mario Brassard and Jean-Luc Trudel (Soulières éditeur; distributed by Messageries ADP)

Ferdinand F. is a man with two lives. His first, stretching from 1924 to 2005, is a long string of opportunities not taken. He trudges through the key events of the 20th century at a caterpillar’s pace. An eternal teenager at heart, Ferdinand F. is slow, almost paralyzed. Suspended between laughter and tears, he fails to realize most of his dreams, and when he does succeed, the dream is short lived. For an awkward soul like Ferdinand, happiness is always a little painful. In his second life, which is more complicated to relate, he embraces friendship and, after a number of surprising detours, proves it’s never too late to reinvent yourself—and maybe even become a hero. Both funny and sad, Ferdinand F., 81 ans, chenille is the story of a metamorphosis that’s long overdue.

“A true masterpiece: the story of Ferdinand F., an old man forgotten by society, surviving more than living. Mario Brassard’s deeply moving novel, written in poetic prose and with astounding humour, explores loneliness, but also the friendship that can come into our lives when we least expect it.”

Read the full list here.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists!

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