TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards Night Celebrates the Best in Canadian Books for Young People, with Town Is by the Sea taking home the grand prize of $50,000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (October 29, 2018) – The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is thrilled to announce the winners of its English-language children’s book awards. The $50,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award was given to author Joanne Schwartz and illustrator Sydney Smith for Town Is by the Sea (Groundwood Books).

Awarded tonight at a gala event in Toronto, Schwartz and Smith took home the title of most distinguished children’s book of the year and the largest cash prize in Canadian children’s literature thanks to the increased support from TD Bank Group. The prize value increased from $30,000 to $50,000 this year. The publisher, Groundwood Books, received $2,500 for promotional purposes. An additional $10,000 was shared among the four finalists. Six awards in total were given out:

  • Town Is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz and illustrated by Sydney Smith, won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($50,000)
  • When the Moon Comes, written by Paul Harbridge and illustrated by Matt James, won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
  • #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
  • The Assassin’s Curse by Kevin Sands won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
  • The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook won the John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)

The CCBC and TD Bank Group worked 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, Barbara Reid took home the $5,000 award for Picture the Sky (North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada).

“We are grateful for TD Bank Group’s continuous support of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards and the TD gala event,” says Charlotte Teeple, the Executive Director of the CCBC. “The chance for us to celebrate renowned Canadian works for young people is the highlight of the year for us at the CCBC. This year we are especially grateful for the prize increase to the TD Award, making Town Is by the Sea the first title in the award’s history to receive a $50,000 prize.”

“We at TD recognize the foundational importance of early learning and how fostering skills like literacy leads to the ability to succeed with confidence later in life.  That is why we are proud to sponsor the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards, through The Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform, helping spotlight and celebrate incredible Canadian talent. The storytelling power of these authors and illustrators is helping to create a more inclusive tomorrow by opening children’s minds to new conversations and nurturing a love for reading.” says Andrea Barrack, Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship at TD Bank Group.

In total, $112,500 was awarded tonight, and an additional $72,500 will be awarded at a gala event in Montreal on November 19 with the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse and the Prix Harry Black de l’album jeunesse. Below is the full list of prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. Click here to see the shortlists.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists!

For more information, please contact:

Emma Hunter
Marketing and Website Coordinator
Canadian Children’s Book Centre
416 975-0010 ext. 221

Heather Reinsborough
Associate, Corporate & Public Affairs
TD Bank Group
416 413-3433

Sponsored by TD Bank Group

Town Is by the Sea
Written by Joanne Schwartz (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Sydney Smith (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 5-9

Town Is by the Sea is a remarkable picture book, telling the story of a young boy growing up in mid-century Cape Breton… Schwartz’s spare text and Smith’s illustrations beautifully capture life in a coal-mining community, creating a strong sense of the rhythm and comforting pattern of daily routine with an understated acknowledgement of dangers lurking underground… The beautiful illustrations make tremendous use of light and shadow throughout, emphasizing the contrast between the dazzling beauty of the sea-side town on a bright, sunny day with the ominous darkness of the mine waiting below…”

The Honour Books listed below will share $10,000.

  • Dragonfly Song, written by Wendy Orr (Pajama Press)
  • Picture the Sky, written and illustrated by Barbara Reid (North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada)
  • Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation, written by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Book Publishers)
  • When the Moon Comes, written by Paul Harbridge and illustrated by Matt James (Tundra Books)

JURY MEMBERS: Deirdre Baker, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto Star children’s books reviewer, and author; Betsy Fraser, Selector, Calgary Public Library; Dr. Vivian Howard, Associate Professor/Associate Dean (Academic), School of Information Management, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University; Michael Pellegrin, teacher and English Language Arts Specialist, English Montreal School Board; Arwen Rudolph, Rural Branch Supervisor, Palliser Regional Library.

Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie

When the Moon Comes
Written by Paul Harbridge (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Matt James (Toronto, ON)
Tundra Books
for ages 4-9

“A remarkable book in every respect…. The quietly told tale is beautifully enhanced by James’ stunning artwork. Even the wordless spreads speak volumes… This nostalgia filled adventure with friends will resonate with those who love the moon, nature and hockey… There’s a bit of mystery and magic, too, captured on these pages… An outstanding book worthy of many readings.”

JURY MEMBERS: Nancy Davidson, Founder, Kids’ Lit Quiz Canada; Janis Nostbakken, children’s media specialist; Itah Sadu, author, storyteller and owner, A Different Booklist.

Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (Winnipeg, MB/Toronto, ON)
Annick Press
for ages 14 and up

#NotYourPrincess celebrates the talents and accomplishments of Indigenous women and dispels stereotypes… A rich collection that acknowledges the Indigenous experiences as we move towards recognition and positive change…. It empowers individuals to be proud of who they are and to demand change so that all voices are heard.”

JURY MEMBERS: Fatma Faraj, Junior School Teacher-Librarian, Branksome Hall; 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

The Assassin’s Curse
(Blackthorn Key, Book 3)
Written by Kevin Sands (London, ON)
for ages 10-14

“An enduring and entertaining addition to a compelling historical series… The mystery adventure is plotted beautifully and leaves readers with questions, and constantly in search of answers to the mystery presented… Sands’ is a skilled and talented author whose writing style succeeds in engaging readers… Mystery, suspense, murder and codes is a recipe for an entertaining, engaging and intriguing read.”

JURY MEMBERS: Sally Bender, retired teacher-librarian and blogger at Sal’s Fiction Addiction; Roseanne Gauthier, Youth Services Librarian, PEI Public Library Service; Carol-Ann Hoyte, children’s poet and Assistant Librarian, Selwyn House School; Gail de Vos (chair), author, storyteller and Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

Sponsored by John Spray

The Hanging Girl
Written by Eileen Cook (Vancouver, BC)
Houghlin Mifflin Harcourt
for ages 12 and up

“When the most popular girl in school goes missing, the class psychic, Skye, conveniently starts to have visions about what might have happened to her… The Hanging Girl is a quick paced thriller with amazing plot twists from beginning to end… It was hard to decide who to root for and who to blame… A great page turner and psychological thriller.”

JURY MEMBERS: Nancy Cooper, First Nations Consultant, Southern Ontario Library Service; Roxanne Deans, Director of Inventory, Outreach & Communications, The Children’s Book Bank; Helen Kubiw, writer, teacher-librarian and blogger at CanLit for Little Canadians.

Sponsored by Sylvan Learning

The Marrow Thieves
Written by Cherie Dimaline (Toronto ON)
for ages 13 and up

“In The Marrow Thieves, Dimaline has woven a complex, timely and poignant story about survival, the will to continue to be, and the power of love and family… Dimaline’s characters are drawn with depth and nuance and her exquisitely lyrical prose is captivating — drawing readers into a dystopian world that is too close to reality for comfort.”

JURY MEMBERS: Penny Chaiko, teacher-librarian, Nantyr Shores Secondary School; Tracey Schindler, reviewer and former teacher; Rachel Seigel, freelance author and Adult Fiction Specialist, Library Services Centre.


TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Now in its 14th year, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award celebrates excellence in children’s literature by rewarding the best literary work by Canadian authors. This year, the prize has been raised from $30,000 to $50,000 thanks to TD Bank Group. 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 aged 0-12, 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, 138 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 fourth 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 founded in 1976. We are dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for young readers. Our programs, publications and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers. For more information, please visit our website.

About TD Bank Group
The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group (“TD” or the “Bank”). TD is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves more than 25 million customers in three key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe: Canadian Retail, including TD Canada Trust, TD Auto Finance Canada, TD Wealth (Canada), TD Direct Investing, and TD Insurance; U.S. Retail, including TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, TD Auto Finance U.S., TD Wealth (U.S.), and an investment in TD Ameritrade; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD also ranks among the world’s leading online financial services firms, with approximately 12 million active online and mobile customers. TD had CDN$1.3 trillion in assets on July 31, 2018. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol “TD” on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

About TD Global Corporate Citizenship
TD has a long-standing commitment to enriching the lives of its customers, colleagues and communities. In March 2018, TD launched The Ready Commitment, a new multi-year program to help individuals and communities prosper. As part of The Ready Commitment, TD targets CDN $1 billion (US $775 million) in total by 2030 towards community giving in four areas critical to opening doors for an inclusive tomorrow – Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Through The Ready Commitment, TD’s aspiration is to link business, products, services, and community giving to help people feel more confident – not just about their finances, but about their future and their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world. For further information, visit